Ken Schrader raced his way back into the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards history books Sunday at Toledo Speedway with his 16th career series victory in his 61st series start. By doing so, Schrader, who led a whopping 163 of 200 laps, surpasses Iggy Katona (winner at Daytona in 1974 at 57) as the oldest winner in series history.
Katona turned 57 just two months prior to his win at Daytona; Schrader, on the other hand, will be 58 upcoming on May 29. The win was Schrader's fifth at Toledo, and first on the northwest Ohio half-mile oval since 2006. Further, Schrader had not driven an ARCA car prior to his victory at Toledo Sunday since September of 2010. By leading the majority of Sunday's race, the Fenton, Missouri veteran has increased his overall laps-led total to 2,226 laps-led in 35 races. Schrader is already entered for the next ARCA event on tour - the Akona 250 presented by Federated Car Care at Elko (Minn.) Speedway on June 1.
Benjamin also makes ARCA history as youngest polesitter
While Ken Schrader became the oldest driver to ever win an ARCA race, 15-year-old Kyle Benjamin became the youngest driver in ARCA history to ever earn the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell on Saturday afternoon, circling the half-mile oval in 15.872 seconds, for an average speed of 113.407 mph. Benjamin, who finished second in his series debut at Mobile, surpassed Clint King as the youngest polesitter in series history. King won the pole at Madison Int'l Speedway on his 16th birthday in 2011.
From 15 to 78, driver diversity stands out at Toledo
The front row of polesitter Kyle Benjamin and Ken Schrader at Toledo provided an interesting look into the contrast and the diversity in drivers in most any ARCA field. A full 42 years (almost 43) separated 15-year-old Benjamin and nearly 58-year-old Schrader. Benjamin, who led the first 22 laps, no doubt would have been a bigger factor in the race had a gear not failed on his Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet. A similar comparison in row two was also noteworthy. Thirty-three years separate rookie and third placer qualifier Mason Mingus from fourth place qualifier Frank Kimmel, who turned 51 on April 30. A full 63 years separated the youngest driver in the field (Kyle Benjamin/15) and James Hylton, who will be 79 in late August.
Five in, five different winners
With five races down in 2013, there have been five different winners - John Wes Townley at Daytona Int'l Speedway, Grant Enfinger at Mobile Int'l Speedway, Tom Hessert at Salem Speedway, Frank Kimmel at Talladega Superspeedway, and Ken Schrader at Toledo Speedway. The year that produced the most different winners was in 2006 when 17 different drivers raced their way into Victory Lane.
Veteran Kimmel, SCOTT Challenge Rookie Mingus battling for title
Win Tron Racing's Mason Mingus inched closer to Frank Kimmel in the championship points battle with his second place finish in Sunday's Menards 200. Mingus chopped 10 points off Kimmel's lead by finishing one spot ahead of Kimmel in the race, and by qualifying third, which earned the Brentwood, Tennessee rookie driver and extra five points. Mingus is now just 20 points away from Kimmel headed into the next event on tour at Elko (Minn.) Speedway on June 1. Mingus's runner-up run also ties his career-best finish of second that he had just earned last time out at Talladega Superspeedway. Mingus was also awarded the SCOTT Challenge Rookie of the Race award at Toledo.
Kimmel spins and battles back to third
Frank Kimmel recovered from an early-race spin off turn four to finish third in Sunday's race. "I think we had a brake-bleeder come loose on the right-rear midway through the race and I spun the thing out one time," Kimmel said. "But the guys fixed it on our next pit stop and we fought back in a great short-track battle. What a great crowd we had at Toledo (Sunday). I'm sure they got their money's worth." Kimmel also commented on his current points battle with rookie Mason Mingus. "Mason does a great job; he did it again (Sunday) and it's going to be like that all year long. There's some other competitors out there who are going to be tough, too -- so there's no way this is a two-man race, by any means."
Points battles tight further back
While the championship points battle is plenty tight up front between leader Frank Kimmel and Mason Mingus - just 20 points between - the points battles further back are also quite close. Currently, just 85 points unofficially separate third through seventh. Hessert, who finished 10th at Toledo, leads the aforementioned group with 1105 ahead of rookie Mason Mitchell (1055), Josh Williams (1050), Grant Enfinger (1045), and Justin Boston (1020).
Career-best finishes for three of top-10 at Toledo
Among the top-10 finishers in Sunday's Menards 200 at Toledo, there were three drivers who earned career-best finishes. They are Baltimore, Maryland's Justin Boston, who finished fourth in a Venturini Motorsports Toyota; Hinckley, Ohio's Matt Tifft, who finished fifth in his series debut in a second Win Tron Racing Chevrolet; and Austin, Texas's Austin Wayne Self, who finished sixth in a Cunningham Motorsports Dodge. It's also worth noting that Springfield, Illinois's Kelly Kovski finished ninth in his first-ever series start on pavement in an Allgaier Motorsports Dodge. Kovski, who started 26th, also earned the CGS Imaging Hard Charger award for advancing the most positions. 2008 ARCA champion and NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Justin Allgaier sat atop Kovski's pit box during the race.
Flat right front spoils Enfinger's Victory Lane hopes
Grant Enfinger was the closest competitor to Schrader for most of the Menards 200. A flat right front tire late in the race took away any chance he had at the win. For several laps, however, he and Schrader were side-by-side, racing through and around lapped traffic. It made for a lot of cheers from the packed house at Toledo Speedway. "That was so much fun racing against him," Enfinger said. Schrader said he knew Enfinger's car was smoking a lot. "I didn't think he was going to make it to the end of the race," Schrader said. "When he went off, I thought it would be a little bit easier."
ARCA heads to Elko Speedway next; discount tickets on sale at area Menards stores
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will head north next - to Elko, Minnesota for the sixth race of the 2013 season at Elko Speedway on Saturday, June 1. Race tickets are currently available at 36 Menards stores throughout Minnesota, and will be on sale for $20 - a $10 discount off the at-track price - until Friday, May 31, the day before the race. The ARCA Racing Series will hold two practices on June 1, from 2-2:45 p.m. and 3:15-4. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will follow at 5:30, and every driver in the starting field will sign autographs for fans on the track from 6:30-7:30. The 250-lap race will begin at 8. All times are Central. ARCAracing.com will feature live audio and live timing and scoring of all on-track activity. Ken Schrader has already filed an entry for the race.