ARCAracing.com Asks, 'Where Are They Now?'; Montgomery Takes Alice Cooper to Victory Lane

ARCAracing.com Asks, 'Where Are They Now?'; Montgomery Takes Alice Cooper to Victory Lane

TOLEDO OH (11-5-09) - The ARCA RE/MAX Series has always been a stepping stone into the highest leagues of NASCAR. From Benny Parsons and Kyle Busch, to Justin Allgaier, the series is the go-to-tour for working your way up through the ranks.

And for some, like Daytona ARCA winner Chase Montgomery, it can also be a place to come back to.

"I would love to come back and run with you guys (ARCA)," said Montgomery, who still lives in the Nashville, Tennessee area.

"I've been talking to a big company about that. As you might expect, when you're talking to some of these companies, the first thing you hear is, ‘let's go Nationwide racing'. That's not a bad idea, but what I tend to tell them is that, as a start-up deal, it's better to start with ARCA where I think we can have some great runs right off the bat. We can get the exposure companies are looking for, race at some really high-profile venues and get recognition."

Montgomery certainly knows all about having ‘some great runs' in the ARCA RE/MAX Series.

At 18 years young, Montgomery became the youngest Daytona polesitter in history in 2002. The next year he went one better winning the ARCA 200 at Daytona in his father Ray Montgomery's Pontiac Grand Prix. Montgomery was joined in victory lane by recording artist Alice Cooper, whose logo, as a special promotion, appeared on the car. In 34 career starts overall between 2001 and 2003, the up and coming rookie racer finished fourth in championship points in 2002. From there, Montgomery set his sights on NASCAR.

"When I left ARCA I went with Brewco in Nationwide in '04. Then we raced trucks (Camping World Truck Series) in our own deal for one year. Then in '06 I went over to Bobby Hamilton Racing to run his truck deal. I have lots of respect for Bobby, Sr.; we just didn't see eye to eye. So I took a year off in '07 to look for sponsors."

Like a lot of folks these days, Montgomery, who definitely wants to return to racing fulltime, is still searching for that sponsor.

"I'm still chasing the dream. I can say that I've worked constantly on chasing sponsorship. It's just not like it was 15 years ago when owners would pursue sponsors then look for drivers. If you want to race these days, you've got to bring more to the plate than the desire. But I can assure you, the desire's still there in me. The passion's still there. I just need to find a way to get back."

In the meantime, Montgomery's done what everyone has to do sooner or later - earn a living.

"I've actually started a small import business. We're importing high-end garden furniture out of Bolivia. In this economy, it's probably the worst time to start a business, but I'm pretty happy overall with it so far. I'm not losing any money, and I think it has the potential to grow. I grew up with a desire to succeed like my father did. It's nice that it's my company but it's also a lot of responsibility. I'm learning a lot about how to run a successful business, learning a lot about the retail side of it. So far, so good."

But it would be better for Montgomery if he could find a way back into racing, which is where he wants to be.

"I ran a late model last season (2008) down at the (Nashville) Fairgrounds. Think I ran 15 of the 20 races, but that was it. Been helping a new guy trying to come up. Trying to teach him what some of the mistakes I made were so he doesn't make the same ones.

"But do I want to come back to racing? Absolutely. I grew up with it. All I ever did was come home from school and work on my racecars. I missed my senior graduation because I was racing with you guys at Charlotte. But I don't regret that. I still have my diploma; I just didn't walk down the line to get it.

"I still have the passion inside; I don't think you can ever shake that once you get it. I saw the article you guys did on (Ryan) Hemphill; it was really interesting. Reminded me of myself. Actually, Ryan and I are really good friends. He's gunna come here this weekend and hang out. We always get out the old Play Station and reminisce. He's in his old Trim Spa car and I'm in the Alice Cooper car. We'll beat and bang till 3 in the morning."

No doubt, some of Montgomery's best racing memories revolve around the "World Center of Racing" in Daytona Beach. montgomerycooper.jpgAnd it was at the famed 2.5-mile Daytona speedplant where Montgomery introduced rock star/recording artist Alice Cooper to stock car racing. It ended up being one heck of an introduction after Montgomery steered his way into the Daytona winner's circle. Cooper - in a press conference earlier that same day - climbed out of Montgomery's covered-up car in the media center to the delight of the press who bounced questions off Cooper and Montgomery for the next half hour. As things would turn out, both celebrities would enjoy the ensuing victory lane celebration together. It was a very cool moment.

"I haven't talked with Alice in some time, but I ran into an old friend recently who knows Alice and he said he asked about us, so that was nice to know.

montgomerycoopervldaytona.jpg"Daytona was obviously huge. Got the pole our first year, then to come back and win it our second year; I'm definitely proud of that. I can promise you, my Daytona trophies here in my office stay polished.

"I tend to think about the ones that got away though, more than anything. Like at Winchester when we were leading, then got caught up in a wreck. Going to Charlotte and sitting on the front row our first time there. Sometimes I think I did so well because I was stupid enough to do some of the things I did. I remember walking up to Jason (Jarrett) at Charlotte and him telling me you could run through one and two without lifting. At the time I was stupid enough to do it. Well, we did it; I didn't lift. Somehow - I have no idea how - we came out the other end ok."

After Montgomery cycled through the ranks, he's come full circle on a variety of thoughts about his overall racing experience.

"When we went and did our Nationwide and Truck deal, I admit, I was getting burned out. I used to stress all night about it. To be honest, we kind of got spoiled in ARCA. It's (ARCA) a very laid back atmosphere without a lot of pressure. In NASCAR, there is so much pressure to perform that it took the fun out of it. I think it really set me back. When you love what you're doing; and I loved racing with ARCA, I think your talent tends to rise. I mean, it's just a bunch of good ole boys having fun.

"When I raced ARCA, I developed a really solid relationship with Frank (Kimmel). We used to cut up all the time. And I could walk up to him at anytime and ask for advice, and he'd always help me. That meant a lot to me; it still does. Seems like if I tried to walk up to some of these high-profile guys in Nationwide or the trucks, they just weren't interested in helping me. When I sat on the front row at Kentucky alongside Frank, I didn't even know Frank real well at the time but he was the first guy to congratulate me. When I won Daytona, he was the first one in victory lane to congratulate me. I miss that. Frank shaking my hand meant more to me than anything. I'm not sure there's a race driver out there who I have more respect for, and I don't care what series you're talking about. And I know I'm not the only one he's helped over the years. I'm just one of many. But I do miss that.

"We were just a late model team that decided to go ARCA racing. And we showed we were capable of doing it. I would absolutely love to come back and run with you guys. I need to come back to ARCA and get a fresh start. I know I can still compete; I just need that chance.

"And I do appreciate you guys thinking about me."

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