Contenders Drive Different Routes to Top; Championship Week News & Notes

Contenders Drive Different Routes to Top; Championship Week News & Notes

(TOLEDO, Ohio - October 6, 2010) - Though separated by just 20 points atop the ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards standings, Patrick Sheltra, Craig Goess, and Tom Hessert found slightly different ways to amass their leading point totals.

When considering only race points in 19 events to date, Sheltra (No. 60 Sheltra Motorsports Toyota) has earned the greatest share among the top three drivers, with 3225 to Hessert's (No. 77 Cunningham Motorsports Dodge) 3200 and Goess's (No. 81 Eddie Sharp Racing Toyota) 3160. These totals include only points earned for finishing position. Two hundred points are awarded to the driver finishing first, with each driver in succession to 40th place earning five fewer points (1st - 200, 2nd - 195, 3rd - 190...40th - 5, 41st - 5).

Goess gained significant ground in Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell throughout the year, as drivers earn bonuses of 15, 10, or five points for qualifying first, second, or third, respectively. Goess drove to a series-high three poles to earn 45 points, and qualified third three times to earn 15 more points, for a total of 60. Hessert earned 25 qualifying points on the strength of four top-three efforts, and Sheltra qualified in the top three twice, earning just 15 bonus points.

While Sheltra has the finish and Goess the start covered, Hessert has made his mark within races, having led a series-high 387 laps over eight different races. Hessert has led the most laps twice, which gives him 50 lap leader points for the year. Goess earned 40 and Sheltra 30.

Hessert was penalized for an infraction at Salem Speedway on September 18, and lost 25 points. Each driver has earned an additional 1225 points through series bonuses for entry and consecutive starts, per ARCA's 2010 Official Rule Book.

Below are additional notes as the ARCA Racing Series moves to Rockingham Speedway for Saturday's American 200 presented by Black's Tire and Auto Service.

Rockingham Finale: The American 200 presented by Black's Tire & Auto Service is the 20th and final race of the 2010 season. It will determine the 2010 ARCA Racing Series champion.

Title Fight Among Tightest Before Rockingham: In one of the closest championship battles in series history, there is very little breathing room for the top three drivers. Just 20 points separate Patrick Sheltra, the points leader, from third-place Tom Hessert. Craig Goess sits in second, just 10 points behind Sheltra and 10 points in front of Hessert. Past precedent may be on Sheltra's side, as there are only two times in the past 21 seasons in which the points leader heading into the final event of the ARCA Racing Series season failed to clinch the title.
A third instance nearly happened last season, when Justin Lofton held a 15-point lead over Parker Kligerman headed into the Rockingham finale. When the race ended, Lofton earned the championship by a mere five points over race winner Kligerman.

In the 2008 season finale at Toledo Speedway, five drivers entered the championship weekend with a mathematical chance to earn the title, with Scott Speed leading the standings over Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier. Speed was the points leader at the conclusion of the nine consecutive races leading into Toledo, but finished fifth in the final point standings after a series of on-track altercations between Speed and Stenhouse eliminated both from contention. Meanwhile, Allgaier won the Toledo race, his sixth victory of the season, to earn the 2008 championship for his Illinois-based family team by 50 points over Frank Kimmel.
In 1989, Bob Brevak entered the final event of the year 15 points ahead of Bob Keselowski but lost the title by 65 to Keselowski. In 1995, Bobby Bowsher and Andy Hillenburg were tied in the points standings heading into the 19th and final event of the year at Salem Speedway and Hillenburg won the title by 45 points.

Best, Worst Stretches: Racing for a championship often requires, as drivers like to say, a streak of "good points days." Below are the best and worst five-race stretches of total points amassed for each of the top three championship contenders. Totals do include lap leader and qualifying bonuses but do not include series entry bonuses.

Sheltra: Best - Races 15 through 19 (Illinois State Fairgrounds, August 22 to Salem Speedway, September 18): 980 total points; Worst - Races 9 through 13 (Iowa Speedway, July 10 to New Jersey Motorsports Park, August 15): 675 total points.

Goess: Best - Races 7 through 11 (Pocono Raceway, June 5 to Pocono Raceway, July 31): 980 total points; Worst - Races 1 through 5 (Daytona International Speedway, February 6 to Talladega Superspeedway, April 23): 755 total points.

Hessert: Best - Races 9 through 13 (Iowa Speedway, July 10 to New Jersey Motorsports Park, August 15): 955 total points; Worst - Races 4 through 8 (Texas Speedway, April 16 to Michigan International Speedway, June 11): 710 total points.

Closest Final Margins in Series History: Ron Hutcherson and Dave Dayton tied atop the ARCA Racing Series standings in 1974, the only such time in series history that two driver champions have been crowned. Iggy Katona's 4.5-point final advantage over Nelson Stacy in 1957 is the series' closest margin in which a sole champion has been crowned.

Below are the closest final driver championship point margins in series history:

Tied - Hutcherson and Dayton, 1974
5 - Justin Lofton over Parker Kligerman, 2009
10 - Larry Moyer over Marvin Smith, 1981
15 - Bob Dotter over Bill Venturini, 1983
20 - Benny Parsons over Les Snow, 1968
25 - Bob Dotter over Bill Venturini, 1984
30 - Ramo Stott over Tom Bowsher, 1971
35 - Marvin Smith over Delmar Clark, 1978
40 - Bobby Bowsher over Bob Keselowski, 1992
45 - Andy Hillenburg over Bobby Bowsher, 1995
50 - Justin Allgaier over Frank Kimmel, 2008
60 - Marvin Smith over Moose Myers, 1979
60 - Bob Dotter over Marvin Smith, 1980
65 - Bob Keselowski over Bob Brevak, 1989
80 - Dave Dayton over A. Arnold, 1976
90 - Tim Steele over Frank Kimmel, 1997

The largest points spread in the final championship standings occurred in 2001 when Frank Kimmel won the title over Jason Jarrett by 1,180 points.

Contenders at "The Rock": In three previous starts at Rockingham, Sheltra's average finish is only 24.7. However, Sheltra finished second at Rockingham in 2009. Hessert also has three starts at Rockingham, with a better average finish of 12.7, and a best finish of ninth in 2008. Goess has two starts at Rockingham, with an average finish of 12.5 and a best finish of eighth in 2009.

27 Different Champions in ARCA's 58 Years: With 58 consecutive years of competition nearly complete, there have been 27 different champions. They are, in order:

Jim Romine (1953)
Buckie Sager (1954)
Iggy Katona (1955, '56, '57, '62, '66, '67)
Nelson Stacy (1958, '59, '60)
Harold Smith (1961)
Jack Bowsher (1963, '64, '65)
Benny Parsons (1968, '69)
Ramo Stott (1970, '71)
Ron Hutcherson (1972, '73, '74)
Dave Dayton (1974, '75, '76)
Moose Myers (1977)
Marvin Smith (1978, '79)
Bob Dotter (1980, '83, ‘84)
Larry Moyer (1981)
Scott Stovall (1982)
Lee Raymond (1985, '86)
Bill Venturini (1987, '91)
Tracy Leslie (1988)
Bob Keselowski (1989)
Bob Brevak (1990)
Bobby Bowsher (1992, '94)
Tim Steele (1993, '96, '97)
Andy Hillenburg (1995)
Frank Kimmel (1998, '00, '01, '02, '03, '04, '05, '06, '07)
Bill Baird (1999)
Justin Allgaier (2008)
Justin Lofton (2009)

Sheltra Aiming for Driver/Owner Honor: If Sheltra earns the 2010 ARCA Racing Series championship, he'll be the first driver/owner to win driver and car owner titles in the same year since 1969, when Benny Parsons earned the driver and owner title in the same season. To date, there are only five drive/owner combination champions. Driver/owner champions in the same season include Jim Romine (1953), Buckie Sager (1954), Iggy Katona (1955, '56, '57, '62, '66, '67), Jack Bowsher (1963, '64, '65), and Benny Parsons (1968, '69).

A True X-Factor; History of the 25 Car at Rockingham: Venturini Motorsports has a history of success with the No. 25 car at Rockingham Speedway, with wins in two of the three races it has competed in there. Sean Caisse won in a Venturini Motorsports No. 25 in April 2009, and Joey Logano won the 2008 ARCA race at Rockingham in a Venturini Motorsports No. 25, leading 257 of 312 laps and earning the pole award. In last year's Rockingham finale, Steve Arpin was a contender early in the No. 25 car, leading 20 laps before he fell out of competition with a broken transmission.

Allen M.

Larry Moyer 1981 in his rookie year with ARCA won the series championship and was also the car owner of the #11 with his then wife Cindy Moyer.