Surprisingly, the driver who was the talk of the ARCA Menards Series garage after the first session of on-track activity Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course was not Ty Gibbs.
But after 42 laps around the 2.258-mile road course, Gibbs was the one burning up the frontstretch, celebrating in Victory Lane and stacking up special awards from the Dawn 150.
Friday afternoon’s General Tire Pole Qualifying appeared to be playing out in Gibbs’ favor. But in the closing seconds, Corey Heim jumped to the top of the board with a lap of 1:27:877/91.502 mph, clearing Gibbs’ time by more than half a second.
As the Dawn 150 was only the second AMS race at Mid-Ohio, and the first since 1965, Heim easily cleared the track record set by Homer Newland to earn his first career General Tire Pole Award.
An early spin by Kris Wright put the field under caution after the first turn. Heim was passed on the restart by NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Brandon Jones. Heim and Jones led the three laps apiece before Gibbs arrived at Jones’ bumper and took over the point on Lap 7. Gibbs held the top spot through the second yellow flag of the race, a caution called jointly for a spin by Russ Lane as well as the midway break, earning Gibbs the Richmond Water Heaters Halfway Leader award for the fourth time this season.
That’s when things got interesting at the front.
Heim got a terrific jump on Gibbs when the race restarted, but it was too good. Race control issued Heim a pass-through penalty for jumping the restart, allowing Gibbs to retain P1. Jones put up a fight with Gibbs, even being credited with the lead briefly after the final restart of the day. But Gibbs pulled away to win while leading 35 of 42 laps, claiming the Valvoline Lap Leader award for the day.
In the yearlong Valvoline Lap Leader standings, Gibbs continues to trounce the competition, leading 525 laps on the season. Heim added three more laps led to his second-place total, now 94.
The fans voted Gibbs’ early pass for the lead as the Reese’s Sweet Move of the Race, adding another accolade from his performance at Mid-Ohio.
Gibbs also was named the Bounty Rookie of the Race, and he continues to close on Heim in the Bounty Rookie of the Year standings. A pair of penalties bit Heim at Mid-Ohio, taking a chunk out of his still-healthy lead of 290-272 over Gibbs.
Mark McFarland was named the Cometic Crew Chief of the Race for leading Gibbs to victory. Shannon Rursch, crew chief for the No. 20 Venturini Motorsports effort with Heim, leads the Cometic Crew Chief of the Year standings by 12 points over McFarland.
While Gibbs could already be considered a road course ace, other drivers just look forward to finishing road course races. Thad Moffitt would identify more with the latter of those two categories, finishing in 11th as the last car on the lead lap when ARCA visited the Daytona road course last season. But at Mid-Ohio, Moffitt seemed to run better with each lap of experience he gained, moving from ninth to third by the checkered flag and earning K&N Hard Charger honors for picking up those six positions.
The Dawn 150 served as the second leg of two of ARCA’s in-season championships: the CGS Imaging Four Crown and the Sioux Chief Showdown. The CGS Imaging Four Crown counts drivers’ race points from one event at each of the different track types: a superspeedway (Kansas), a road course (Mid-Ohio), short track (Winchester) and a dirt track (Springfield). Thanks to wins at Kansas and Mid-Ohio, Gibbs is two-for-two so far and leads the standings with 86 points. Moffitt sits second with 79 points while Nick Sanchez is third with 78 points. The Four Crown will resume at Winchester on July 31.
The Sioux Chief Showdown is the most prestigious of the in-season championships for the ARCA Menards Series. Consisting of 10 races at short tracks and road courses, it features some of the strongest competition across the entire ARCA Menards Series platform. With wins at Toledo and Mid-Ohio, Gibbs tops the Showdown standings with 86 points, while Moffitt and Sanchez are tied for second with 80 points apiece. The Sioux Chief Showdown will resume at Elko on July 10.
The ARCA Menards Series will be back in action on Friday, June 25, at Pocono Raceway for the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200, also the fifth round of the General Tire Superspeedway Challenge. The race will be televised live on FS1 starting at 6 p.m. ET with radio coverage by MRN/Sirius XM.