FLAT ROCK, Mich. (Aug. 10, 2017) -- On the heels of an ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards high-banked thriller at Winchester Sunday, to the Kalamazoo Klash Wednesday, to Flat Rock Speedway Thursday, Chase Purdy and Raphael Lessard are making the rounds.
Both drivers tested ARCA/CRA Super Series cars on the Flat Rock quarter-mile Thursday afternoon in preparation for this Saturday's (Aug. 12) Level Pebble 200, a combination of the ARCA/CRA Super Series going 125 laps and the ARCA Super 6 Gold Cup outlaw late models going 75.
It was the first Flat Rock appearance for each driver.
"It reminds me of Anderson…maybe a little Kalamazoo," said Purdy, who hails from Meridian, Mississippi. "There's definitely an art to mastering these little tracks…smooth on the wheel, smooth on the throttle. It's important to have good rotation for the smooth exit off."
Lessard, a Toyota Racing Development driver from St. Joseph Quebec, had a similar experience.
"It's fun but you gotta be so smooth on the throttle on exit…you're always turning," said Lessard. "There is literally no straightaway so you have to be smooth all the way around. The smoother you are, the faster you are. This place is completely different than any other track I've raced at."
Lessard finished a career-best 10th at Winchester last Sunday with Purdy just ahead in seventh in his ARCA Racing Series debut. Purdy is set to race in two more ARCA Racing Series events this year at Salem Speedway and Kentucky Speedway for his superspeedway debut.
"We're actually doing a throwback scheme at Salem so that's going to be cool," Purdy continued. "Mason Mitchell Motorsports always runs well at Salem, and Kentucky will be my superspeedway debut. I've got that first race in so I have a better understanding of how the ARCA cars feel. They're definitely harder to turn than the late models…it's a complete different feel…one-hundred percent. You can literally turn the late model with the throttle. The ARCA cars don't turn as well. Winchester was my first time doing live pit stops. I've got a lot to learn, but we'll get there. Pit stops are harder than they look."
Both drivers will join a star-studded field of ARCA/CRA warriors for the big show this Saturday night at Flat Rock including 2-time ARCA/CRA champion Travis Braden, who's on a roll with three consecutive wins at Lucas Oil, Kil-Kare Raceway and Kalamazoo Speedway where the Wheeling W.V. veteran conquered the Kalamazoo Klash Wednesday night.
Also entered for the Level Pebble 200 at Flat Rock are Dalton Armstrong (New Castle, Ind.), former Flat Rock outlaw late model champion Eric Lee (Macomb, Mich.), current Flat Rock outlaw late model points leader Justin Schroeder (Canton, Mich.), second-generation ARCA racer Hunter Jack (Auburn, Mich.), former ARCA/CRA champions Scott Hantz (Angola, Ind.) and Johnny VanDoorn (Coopersville, Mich.), and second-generation late model standout/Glass City 200/ARCA Gold Cup champion Harold Fair, Jr.
Schroeder and Fair are pulling double-duty at "The Rock" competing in the ARCA/CRA Super Series and the ARCA Super 6 Gold Cup outlaw cars.
Toledo Speedway will kick off the local track action Friday night, Aug. 11 with the Late Model Sportsman Silver Cup Series 50-lap feature plus a 50-lap Factory Stock race, Figure-8 Train race and Kids Power Wheels Demo.
The ARCA Midwest Tour is also back in action this weekend with the Mid-Summer Showdown at Golden Sands Speedway in Wisconsin Rapids, Wis., a brand new venue for the Touring Stars. The event is scheduled to go off under the lights Saturday, Aug. 12 on the tricky high-banked short-track.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is off this weekend in preparation for six straight weeks on the road, which starts next Sunday, Aug. 20 on the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile dirt in Springfield. The Herr's Potato Chips 100 is set to get the green flag Sunday afternoon at 1:30. The Road America road course follows on the heels of Springfield Sunday, Aug. 27, followed by the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds (Sept. 4), Salem Speedway (Sept. 9), Chicagoland Speedway (Sept. 14) and Kentucky Speedway (Sept. 22). Kansas Speedway will wrap ARCA's 65th consecutive season Oct. 20.
A look back to Wednesday's Kalamazoo Klash; Braden cashes in on 3rd straight win
Two time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Travis Braden did not have the best car in Wednesday night’s Kalamazoo Klash 125 at Kalamazoo Speedway, but took full advantage of a restart on lap 121 to pass race leader Johnny VanDoorn on the outside en route to his third straight ARCA/CRA Super Series Powered by JEGS win in front of a packed house.
“It feels great to get this win,” said Braden. “We wouldn’t have had a chance if that caution had not come out with four to go. Johnny (VanDoorn) was gone…nobody was going to catch him. We got lucky to have that opportunity. It was a gamble by Johnny on taking the top or the bottom for that restart. I wasn’t sure the top would work, but it did, we got a great jump and used the momentum to get the lead and the win. This car has been awesome. It’s really cool to get three wins in a row for this team.”
Braden led from lap 50 through lap 85 when VanDoorn got around Braden after several laps of very hard racing. VanDoorn looked to be on his way to his third victory of the season when the caution flag flew, setting up the last four-lap shootout when Braden got the jump and the win.
With the win Braden picked up the $5000 first place check and picked up the $1200 Team Construction Clean Sweep Award and was awarded the AR Bodies Cool Move of the Race Award for his pass on the outside to get the win. VanDoorn finished second and picked up the Sweet Manufacturing Sweet Move of the Race Award for his lap 86 pass of Braden.
“Just made a bad call,” said VanDoorn. "Choosing the bottom; it’s my own fault. You always go with your gut and I should’ve gone with my gut. You just couldn’t get going on the bottom. The guys gave me an awesome car. It was a fun race…just a bad call on my end.”