The battle for the season-long General Tire Pole Award has heated up over the last three weeks as Sheldon Creed, driver of the No. 28 United Rentals Toyota for MDM Motorsports, has hit his stride in qualifying and earned the last three consecutive pole awards in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Creed is now one behind Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 20 Craftsman Toyota for Venturini Motorsports, in the season-long standings.
Smith and Creed are the only two drivers so far in 2018 to have earned more than a single General Tire Pole Award. Others include Natalie Decker (Daytona), Todd Gilliland (Charlotte), Michael Self (Talladega), Noah Gragson (Pocono), and Brandon Jones (Michigan).
Creed, the overall series championship leader, earned the General Tire Pole at Gateway, Chicagoland, and Iowa; he went on to win from the pole at Gateway and last week at Iowa. He’s started from the front row in five of the last six races; the only race he didn’t fire off from the front of the field in that stretch was when he started 12th at Madison.
Until recently, Creed has not been known for his prowess in qualifying. In 17 career starts in 2016 and 2017, he had only earned one previous General Tire Pole Award, that at Kentucky last September.
For Chandler Smith, he’s never known anything but starting from the pole in his ARCA Racing Series career. The then fifteen-year-old earned the General Tire Pole in each of his first four series starts at Nashville, Salem, Toledo, and Madison. He’s the only driver in ARCA’s modern era to earn the pole in each of his first four series starts. He started an uncharacteristic seventh at Iowa on his way to a second-place finish. Smith won from the pole at Madison, his first ARCA Racing Series win.
The ARCA Racing Series uses three qualifying formats throughout the season. At restrictor-plate tracks, the series uses group qualifying with 6-8 cars on track for four minutes per group; for intermediate tracks, the series debuted timed session qualifying at Charlotte which gives all teams 20 minutes to make as many laps as they’d prefer, but once you pull onto pit road your qualifying attempt is official; and short tracks and the two one-mile dirt tracks, the series still uses single-car qualifying to determine the starting grid.
The Sioux Chief PowerPEX 250 is a one-day show, with practice scheduled at 3:15 pm ET/2:15 pm local; General Tire Pole Qualifying is set for 6:45 pm ET/5:45 pm local; and the green flag will wave over the race at 10 pm ET/9 pm local. The race is scheduled to be televised live on MAVTV; ARCARacing.com will have live timing and scoring and live track updates for all on-track sessions for registered users.