One of the most intriguing story lines to follow throughout the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season was the transition to circle track racing for 2018 NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock champion Tanner Gray.
Gray was the youngest driver to ever win an NHRA national championship at just 18 years of age, and in doing so had collected wins in some of the biggest and most prestigious races on the straightline calendar, such as the annual U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway, held annually every Labor Day weekend.
Teamed with DGR-Crosley Racing, Gray made his first series start at Five Flags Speedway in March. An eighth-place start led to a twelfth-place finish. His first top-ten finish would come in his second series appearance at Salem Speedway where he finished seventh.
That was the first of four consecutive top-tens that also included an eighth-place at Toledo, a sixth at Charlotte and a season best fifth at Michigan.
A pair of DNF’s at WWT Raceway and Chicagoland interrupted his momentum, but he closed the season on a high note as he earned his first career General Tire Pole Award for the season finale at Kansas on his way to a sixth-place finish.
Gray also chased the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship, scoring his first circle track win in a 100-lap dash at South Boston Speedway, also from the pole. Gray would end the K&N Pro Series season with six top-five finishes and a third-place in the final series standings. Not too bad for a guy whose previous racing career involved races that lasted about six seconds and didn’t involve any turns.
ARCA’s 67th season will come to a close when Christian Eckes will officially be crowned the 36th ARCA Menards Series champion on Saturday, December 14 at the Championship Banquet held at the Indiana State Convention Center, held annually in conjunction with the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show. Tickets to the black tie gala, which are also available to the general public, are on sale now.