(TOLEDO, Ohio - October 8, 2012) - The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, celebrating its 60th Anniversary Season in 2012, is again steering for the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds "Magic Mile" dirt, where the 60th running of the Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Car Care will come alive this Sunday, October 14.
The event was originally scheduled for September 3; however, torrential rains caused the race to be postponed. Here's what to watch for as the 19th of 20 races this season unfolds.
Championship Title Fight Tight at the Top
The national championship battle is coming down to a five-wide fight with 19-year-old Chris Buescher (No. 17 Roulo Brothers Racing Ford) leading over 50-year-old Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell-Menards Toyota). Rookie Brennan Poole (No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet) and rookie Alex Bowman (No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge) are the other players in the mix. Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 Tastee Apple Chevrolet), currently fifth in points, is mathematically still in, too.
Stakes High for Buescher and Kimmel at DuQuoin
Buescher, the defending DuQuoin race winner, currently leads Kimmel by 85 points. However, Kimmel dominated with a convincing victory on the Springfield mile dirt in late August, and heads to DuQuoin as a five-time winner of the Southern Illinois 100. The event at the DuQuoin mile dirt will prove absolutely critical in the quest for championship, which will culminate just days later at Kansas Speedway.
Kansas Speedway Finale Follows DuQuoin Dirt Track Classic
Just days after the Southern Illinois 100 at DuQuoin, the world's most versatile tour heads further west to the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway for a Friday night championship finale under the lights on October 19. The 12th annual ARCA Kansas Lottery 98.9 will determine a national champion, the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge champion, the Team Messina Rookie Challenge Award, and much more. But first, the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds will play a big role in determining the aforementioned championship battles.
Team Messina Rookie Challenge, Aaron's Lap Leader Battle Big at DuQuoin
Alex Bowman (Tucson, Ariz.) is the current Team Messina Rookie Challenge leader headed to DuQuoin. However, Bowman's lead is closely contested by Brennan Poole (top, The Woodlands, Texas), who drives for Venturini Motorsports. Poole trails Bowman by just four points for the 2012 Team Messina Rookie Challenge title. Bowman also leads Poole in the Aaron's Lap Leader special award category, having led 487 laps in 11 races. Poole trails in second with 472 laps led in seven races.
Reliable Buescher on Track to Complete Every Lap in 2012
Buescher and the No. 17 Roulo Brothers Racing Ford have completed every lap - 2687 in all - over 18 races so far this year, and lead the pursuit of the S&S Volvo Laps Completed Award. If Buescher can complete all 100 laps at DuQuoin, and then all 99 laps in the Kansas Speedway finale, he will become the first driver to complete every lap in an ARCA Racing Series season over a full year's schedule. Frank Kimmel, Buescher's closest challenger for his first series title, has completed only four fewer laps and stands in second place for the award, but Buescher is the driver on the brink of finishing the milestone of race-over-race reliability.
Nine Illinoisans Entered at DuQuoin; UMP National Late Model Champ Unzicker Entered
DuQuoin always attracts an interesting assortment of Illinoisans to the line-up. This year's entry list includes a strong contingent from the Land of Lincoln, including Mark Littleton (Arenzville), A.J. Fike (Galesburg), Kelly Kovski (Springfield), Rodney Melvin (Benton), Joe Cooksey (Centralia), Joseph Hughs (Springfield), Shane Cockrum (Benton), Mike Affarano (Shorewood), and Ryan Unzicker (El Paso). Unzicker is the 2011 UMP Late Model national champion.
Kimmel: King of the Clay
Nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel is the all-time, modern-day ARCA dirt winner with 14 wins overall at Springfield, the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds, and West Virginia Motor Speedway. His record at Springfield is especially incredible where, in his last 16 events there, he has won a record eight times. His record at DuQuoin is also impressive. In addition to what could be a good points day, Kimmel could also secure another milestone at DuQuoin with what would be a record sixth victory there. Currently, Kimmel is tied with the late Dean Roper in all-time Southern Illinois 100 wins - each have five victories in the prestigious stock car classic. Kimmel can also surpass Billy Thomas as the all-time Southern Illinois 100 lap leader. Should Kimmel lead 12 laps Sunday, Thomas's record will fall. Thomas has led 437 laps at DuQuoin to Kimmel's 426. Kimmel's most recent victory at Springfield was his 76th career ARCA win, just three shy of Iggy Katona's all-time win mark of 79.
Venturini Motorsports Times Five at DuQuoin; Armstrong, Chili Bowl Champ Swindell, More
Venturini Motorsports has entered five teams at DuQuoin, including Indianan Caleb Armstrong in the No. 15 Everfi-Drive For Savings Chevrolet and the No. 55 Curb Records Chevrolet with Kevin Swindell in the driver's seat. Swindell, the son of World of Outlaws Sprint Car champion Sammy Swindell, has won the last three consecutive Chili Bowl Midget Nationals events. Swindell, in his first ARCA start on dirt at Springfield in late August, finished third behind winner Frank Kimmel and runner-up driver Alex Bowman. Other Venturini Motorsports entrants include Brennan Poole in the No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet. Poole, from The Woodlands, Texas, is still very much in the championship hunt in third position, 175 points from the leader Chris Buescher. The remaining Venturini Motorsports entrants are Nelson Canache (Caracas, Venezuela) in the No. 35 Venezuela Tourism Chevrolet, and Ryan Unzicker (El Paso, Ill.) in the No. 66 RJR Transportation Chevrolet.
Past Southern Illinois 100 Winners List Impressive
The past winners list of the Southern Illinois 100 includes some of the greatest names in motorsports. Jay Frank won the inaugural Southern Illinois 100 in 1950. Just some of the winners who would follow include Marshall Teague, Indy 500 winners Jimmy Bryan and A.J. Foyt, Fred Lorenzen, Don White, Norm Nelson, Jack Bowsher, NASCAR champions Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart (right, in 2003), Bob Keselowski, Frank Kimmel, Billy Thomas, Ken Schrader, Parker Kligerman, and most recently, Chris Buescher, in 2011.
Oldest to Youngest
Sixty-one years separate the oldest driver from the youngest driver entered in the field for Sunday's Southern Illinois 100. James Hylton, who turned 78 on August 26, is the oldest, while high school senior Mason Mingus is the youngest at just 17. Mingus, who drives the No. 32 Diamond Equipment Toyota for Win-Tron Racing, is the captain of his Tennessee high school's state championship wrestling team. Hylton was the 1966 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year.