(TOLEDO, Ohio - March 1, 2012) - The first short track race of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season always carries a high level of intrigue, and that will most certainly be the case next weekend at Mobile International Speedway in Irvington, Ala.
Just three weeks after opening 2012 and ARCA's 60th Anniversary Season on the high banks of Daytona International Speedway, the ARCA Racing Series will hold its first event ever at Mobile's half-mile oval.
Over 40 cars are entered, and 35 will start. Among the entries are: 2011 Rookie of the Year Chris Buescher, who won two short track pavement races at the end of last year for Roulo Brothers Racing; nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel, who is in his first season with ThorSport Racing; Alex Bowman, a two-time ARCA winner now driving for Cunningham Motorsports; and Chase Elliott, the son of NASCAR champion Bill and winner of the 2011 Snowball Derby, among other accomplishments. Elliott will make his ARCA debut.
Cale Gale, a full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver who calls Mobile home, will enter for Eddie Sharp Racing. Grant Enfinger of Fairhope will search for his first ARCA victory. Other Alabama drivers entered are Thomas Praytor of Mobile and Daryl Eustace of Scottsboro.
Practice will begin at 1:30 p.m. Central on Friday, March 9, and will last for three and a half hours. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell will follow that, starting at 7 p.m.
The 200-lap, 100-mile Mobile ARCA 200 will start at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 10. ARCA Racing Series drivers will appear on the track for an autograph session just before the race, at noon.
"ARCA Racing Series short track racing has proven to be highly competitive and entertaining regardless of the venue, and we look forward to bringing our superspeedway-style, full-size stock car racing with live pit stops to Mobile in a long-distance event," said ARCA Racing Series president and CEO Ron Drager.
Although the event marks ARCA's first appearance at Mobile, ARCA Racing Series history in Alabama reaches back to 1961 when, on November 5, Ernie Derr won a 250-lap race at Birmingham. ARCA race events at the Fairgrounds in Montgomery in 1962 and at Huntsville Speedway in 1963 and 1965, and a long tenure at Talladega Superspeedway (1969-present) have kept ARCA's presence in Alabama alive over the decades.
"Having the ARCA Racing Series come to Mobile International Speedway is a real honor for me and our track," said Rick Crawford, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veteran and the speedway's manager and promoter. "In the Truck Series we spent many weekends around the country sharing track facilities with the ARCA Racing Series and these guys put on a heck of a show. I can't wait to see them on my home track. The effort to bring the ARCA Racing Series to Mobile is a team effort, and wouldn't be possible without the Mobile Convention and Visitors Bureau, Mobile Sports Authority, and our elected officials."
Opened in 1964, Mobile International Speedway is Alabama's fastest half-mile and is currently host to the Sunoco Gulf Coast Championship Series and Miller Lite Late Model Series, along with a regular schedule of Saturday night racing. Lee and Ida Fields purchased the track in 1972 and for almost 40 years the duo produced "The Fastest Fun Around." In 2011, the track embarked on a new era of track management when Mobile native, multi-time track champion, and all-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts leader Rick Crawford returned to Mobile to become the track's manager and promoter.
Mobile International Speedway has a long history with numerous racing legends, having attracted Alabama Gang racers Bobby Allison, Donnie Allison, and Red Farmer. Notably, Farmer won his 500th feature race at the track.
The complete 2012 event schedule - featuring 20 races at 18 tracks - is available at ARCARacing.com.