After eight months, 20 races, a flurry of event postponements and more than 2,700 laps turned on the track, the 2020 ARCA Menards Series season came to a close with Friday’s running of the Speediatrics 150 presented by The NASCAR Foundation at Kansas Speedway.
In addition to crowning a first-time series champion, Bret Holmes (No. 23 Golden Eagle Syrup Chevrolet); and a first-time AMS race winner, Corey Heim (No. 10 Craftsman Toyota), the final round of ARCA Menards contingency award hardware was also doled out after 100 laps around the 1.5-mile oval.
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For the final superspeedway race of the season, the starting lineup was set according to owners’ points with Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy Toyota) taking the General Tire Pole Award, rolling from the top spot for the sixth time in 2020. Gibbs’ six pole starts were the most among all ARCA Menards Series drivers in 2020, with only Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) and Chandler Smith (No. 20 JBL Audio Toyota) coming close to Gibbs’ mark with four poles each.
Riley Herbst, Gibbs’ teammate in the No. 18 ride and a two-time pole sitter, was the only other driver to start from the pole multiple times. Eight different drivers won General Tire Pole Awards this season.
Gibbs never had the chance to lead a lap Friday, however, because outside front row starter Holmes quickly proved why he was one of the pre-race favorites by leading the first lap. Holmes held the spot for 18 laps until Heim was able to pick his way to the front from his ninth-place starting position.
Heim worked his way past Holmes on Lap 19 and never looked back, leading the final 82 laps on his way to his first career ARCA Menards Series victory. Heim claimed the Valvoline Lap Leader and Richmond Water Heaters Halfway Leader awards for the Speediatrics 150. He was the eighth different halfway leader of the season, a category dominated by nine-time halfway leader Gibbs this year.
Gibbs had already clinched the yearlong Valvoline Lap Leader award well in advance of the Kansas finale with 969 laps led this year, but Holmes was able to add 18 more laps to his season total and grew his career-best single season mark to 393 laps led, the third-highest total on the season.
Heim, 18, became a superspeedway winner in just his third start at a track 1.5-miles or more in length. Calling the shots from the top of the pit box was crew chief Kevin Reed Jr., who is not much older than Heim himself at just 22.
Reed Jr., previously a two-time winner in what is now known as the ARCA Menards Series West with Hailie Deegan as his driver, was lauded with Cometic Crew Chief of the Race honors for his guidance of Heim. Mark McFarland, crew chief of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing effort, had already clinched the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year award before the series rolled into Kansas.
Though McFarland had an excellent 2020 overall, the season did not end on a very positive note as Gibbs spent 40 laps in the garage with mechanical issues, leaving the No. 18 as the final car running at the finish in 14th place.
Much like Heim, Derek Griffith (No. 22 Original Gourmet Lollipops Ford) had to slice through most of the field before settling in near the front of the pack. Griffith was given the 13th starting position by owners’ points, but he drove up to third place at the checkered flag to earn not only his best career AMS finish but also the K&N Filters Hard Charger award for improving his position the most over the course of the 100 laps.
The Speediatrics 150 marked the seventh and final race in the General Tire Superspeedway Challenge, a prestigious award for car owners based off of their team’s performance at the bigger tracks on the ARCA Menards Series schedule. Entering Kansas, the standings were led by Coy Gibbs’ No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing team, but after driver Ty Gibbs had to spend an extensive amount of time in the garage to fix a mechanical problem, the race was blown wide open.
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With a runner-up result, Holmes was able to add to his overall season championship by winning the General Tire Superspeedway Challenge for his father and car owner, Stacy Holmes. Bret piloted the No. 23 Chevrolet to one win, six top fives and seven top 10s across the seven superspeedway races on the calendar.
Cathy Venturini’s No. 25 Venturini Motorsports Toyota finished second in the Superspeedway Challenge standings with driver Self while the Gibbs entry dropped to third in the final rankings.
A significant factor in Holmes’ championship run this season was his consistency and ability to stay on the track and out of trouble. Holmes recorded a single DNF in March at Phoenix and finished off the lead lap just one other time, at Lucas Oil Raceway in July. Holmes turned 2,709 of a possible 2,714 laps on his way to taking the S&S Volvo Laps Completed title for the second year in a row.
Holmes bettered his 2019 showing in which he completed all but nine laps, though he was running at the finish of all 20 races last year.