Five Uniquely Different Tracks on Tap to Settle 2019 ARCA Menards Series Championship

Five Uniquely Different Tracks on Tap to Settle 2019 ARCA Menards Series Championship

With the first three quarters of the ARCA Menards Series season in the record books, attention now turns to the final five races of the season. Who succeeds over those five races – two one-mile dirt tracks, two wildly divergent short tracks, and a 1.5-mile intermediate superspeedway – will determine who the 2019 series champion is and who asks “what if” over the off season.

Next up is the first of those two one-mile dirt tracks, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield on Sunday August 18. The race itself dates back to 1963 when NASCAR star Curtis Turner came north and stole the glory from the USAC stock car regulars. The event transitioned to an ARCA-sanctioned race in 1983 and has been a part of ARCA’s late summer schedule ever since.

In 2018, Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) surprised everyone – including himself – with his first career dirt track victory. Currently second in the championship standings, Eckes would like to repeat last year’s performance to close the gap on his Venturini Motorsports teammate and championship points leader Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota). Self is a noted road course racer and a superspeedway specialist, although two of his three 2019 wins have come on short tracks.

The ARCA Menards Series teams will stay in dirt track mode following Springfield. Unlike previous years, the 2019 visit to the DuQuoin State Fair Magic Mile will be a Saturday night trip to the on August 31, a first in the event’s long history.

Last year, open wheel ace Logan Seavey scored his first career ARCA Menards Series victory in just his second career start. He’ll return to defend his victory, and potentially take valuable championship points away from his Venturini Motorsports teammates Eckes and Self.

Once the Illinois dirt tracks are in the rear view mirror, the series then turns its attention to a pair of Indiana short tracks.

The eighteenth race of the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season, set for Saturday night September 14, is the 106th visit to the high-banked half-mile Salem Speedway. The track has hosted more ARCA races than any other, and the action never disappoints.

Last year, Self found himself in a bumper-banging duel with Zane Smith. The two made contact and Smith went for a spin down the backstretch, which resulted in Smith spending some time behind the wall for repairs. When he returned to the track, he retaliated and sent Self hard into the outside wall.

The controversial incident last fall didn’t deter the Salt Lake City, Utah native as Self earned his second win of 2019 in the rain-shortened April visit to Salem. Self isn’t the only championship contender with success at Salem; Eckes picked up his first career ARCA Menards Series win at Salem in April 2018. They will both be favorites to win, but will also have to deal with Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota).

Smith led 199 of 200 laps at Salem last September en route to his second career series win. The seventeen-year-old Talking Rock, Georgia native has been the dominant force on short tracks in 2019, winning four races on paved tracks under a mile in length.

The final Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge race of the season comes up with the Herr’s 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway. The flat five-eighths mile oval in Clermont, Indiana is about 15 minutes away from the hallowed ground of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and is adjacent to the dragstrip that serves as the host of the famed U.S. Nationals for the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

Eckes earned his third win of 2018 at Lucas Oil Raceway last October. Combined with his April 2018 wins and Salem and Springfield, Eckes has won at three of the tracks that host the final five races of the season.

But based on the topsy-turvy nature of the 2019 season, the final race of the season, at Kansas Speedway, is where the championship will likely be decided. Self won at Kansas in 2017, and if he can hold serve through the dirt tracks and short tracks leading into the finale, perhaps he will have a leg up to lock down the 2019 ARCA Menards Series championship.

ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring during every on-track session at each of the final five races of the 2019 season. New users can register for free with a valid email address at www.ARCARacing.com/login.

Remaining 2019 ARCA Menards Series schedule

Aug 18 – Springfield Mile, 2:30 pm ET MAVTV

Aug 31 – DuQuoin Mile, 9 pm ET MAVTV

Sept 14 – Salem Speedway, 7 pm ET MAVTV

Oct 5 – Lucas Oil Raceway, 8 pm ET MAVTV

Oct 18 – Kansas Speedway, 8:30 pm ET FS2

 

 

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