It’s seven down and four to go for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards as its summer stretch of eleven races in eleven weeks continues on this weekend as the series makes it’s annual stop at Iowa Speedway for the Fans with Benefits 150 on Saturday July 7.
The eleven-week stretch began at Toledo Speedway in May, and has seen the series make stops at Charlotte, Pocono, Michigan, Madison, Gateway, and Chicagoland before heading for the seven-eighths mile tri-oval located in Newton, Iowa. The series will also make stops at Elko Speedway in Minnesota, Berlin Raceway in Michigan, and a return trip to Pocono over the following three weekends before its teams have a few well-deserved weekends off.
The eleven consecutive weeks on the road offer challenges for teams and crews. Logistics, just getting back and forth and getting cars ready, is the main one.
“Each year we’re faced with a long stretch in the schedule. But this year we’re the middle of an eleven week stretch on the road. It’s definitely a challenge,” said team owner Billy Venturini. “We’re very fortunate to have a great group of guys dedicated and focused on making it happen. Everyone is jamming nonstop. Logistics has been one of the biggest hurdles. We’re lucky if we have three days at the shop between races before loading and getting the haulers back on the road. There’s little room for error.”
The Iowa track presents a unique challenge because it blends characteristics of short track racing with the speeds of intermediate track racing. That means the mechanical setup of the chassis and the aerodynamics of the body will be crucial, as will a previous record of success.
“Well, Iowa will be a place I lean heavily on crew chief Kevin Reed,” said Venturini, winning car owner of the last series race at Chicagoland with driver Michael Self. “He’s been much better there than I have through the years. Fortunately tracks Venturini Motorsports has had a strong history at through the years we were able to get wins at this year with us really working well together. Chicago, Madison, Salem have all probably been our strongest tracks as a team but at Iowa I’m leaning on Kevin because he was very good there last year.”
The trip to Iowa will also give stock car fans an open wheel fans a unique weekend of racing as the ARCA Series runs in conjunction with the Verizon IndyCar Series for the only time of the year.
“It’s very unique that we get to race the same weekend as Indycar,” said 2014 ARCA Racing Series champion and Iowa native Mason Mitchell. Mitchell will return to the cockpit for the first time in a year this weekend in the Fans with Benefits 150.
“It’s very rare we get to be part of a race weekend with such a world renowned series,” he continued. “Iowa has a lot of challenges for a driver, multiple grooves, the ever changing track conditions, epecially with the different tire compounds the open wheel cars use, and the weather, but I love it. I always keep track of the Indycar race at Iowa. Watching those cars work around the track is a treat.”
The Fans With Benefits 150 will be the 12th ARCA race at the track dating back to its opening season in 2006. In the eleven previous races there have been eleven previous winners and nine different General Tire Pole Award winners. Previous winners include Steve Wallace, who won the inaugural event in 2006, Frank Kimmel, Parker Kligerman, Ty Dillon, Alex Bowman, Mason Mitchell, Chase Chase Briscoe and last year’s winner Dalton Sargeant. The only driver to ever win the General Tire Pole Award more than once was Ty Dillon, who did it in 2010 and 2011.
The Fans with Benefits 150 at Iowa Speedway is a one-day show, with practice scheduled for 12:45 pm ET/11:45 am local. General Tire Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 4:45 pm ET/3:45 pm local, and the 150-lap race will go green shortly after 9 pm ET/8 pm local. ARCARacing.com will have live timing and scoring throughout all on-track activities, and the race will be broadcast on a delayed basis on MAVTV.