Christian Eckes and Michael Self Look to Continue Pocono Streak; Venturini Motorsports Teammate Harrison Burton Looks to Break It in General Tire 200

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In June 2006, the Carolina Hurricanes beat the Buffalo Sabres to win the NHL Eastern Conference Final and advance to the Stanley Cup Final. Serbia’s union with Montenegro came to an end. Pluto, which at the time was still considered a planet, was discovered to be orbited by two moons which were named Nix and Hydra.

On the tenth day of the month, a young racecar driver named Chase Miller won an ARCA Menards Series race at the 2.5-mile Pocono Raceway triangle. It would be his only series victory, making him the 245th different driver to win a series race since ARCA was founded in 1953.

Miller started 34th, the deepest anyone has started at Pocono and gone on to win. He led 24 of the race’s 88 laps and beat Mario Gosselin to the finish line by 1.6 seconds. Pole starter David Stremme had transmission issues at the start and finished last in the 40-car field.

While every race is meaningful for someone, and this one certainly was a great memory for Chase Miller, for many this is just another ARCA race at Pocono.

But Miller’s win started an improbable streak has stretched thirteen years and has spanned 26 races.

Over that time, no driver has repeated as an ARCA Menards Series winner at the track dubbed “The Tricky Triangle.”

The list of drivers that have won over that time is impressive. Future Monster Energy Cup Series champion Joey Logano won in 2009, driving a Toyota for Venturini Motorsports. Two-time NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. won in 2008 driving for Roush Fenway Racing. Grant Enfinger, the 2015 ARCA Menards Series champion in 2015 and is now a contender for the championship in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, won in 2016.

Justin Allgaier is a Pocono winner. Ty Dillon. Brennan Poole. Chase Elliott. Cole Custer. Chase Briscoe. Harrison Burton. All Pocono winners. All drivers who are contenders for wins and championships in the three national NASCAR series.

Logano has gone on to win 22 times in the Cup Series and won the series championship in 2018. He’s already won once so far in 2019 and sits first in the series standings as it approaches the halfway point of the series’ regular season.

The Team Penske driver credits that experience in ARCA ten years ago for helping him get valuable experience on the big tracks like Pocono.

“ARCA was a great place to go to get experience on the bigger tracks,” Logano said. “Pocono, when you go there for the first time, it’s so difficult and different. Having that experience there helped me as a driver quite a bit. It gives you the ability to learn. It’s a good learning tool to get you some experience until you get to the next step in Trucks or XFINITY.”

That experience paid off for Logano, who won at Pocono in the Cup Series in 2012.

Two drivers who race for the same organization Logano won with in 2009, Venturini Motorsports, have a great chance of extending the streak in Friday’s General Tire 150 are Christian Eckes (No. 25 JBL Audio Toyota) and Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota). Both have won races so far in 2019, with Self a two-time winner at Five Flags Speedway and Salem Speedway, and Eckes winning at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. Both are in the hunt for the series championship, with Self leading and Eckes in fourth.

Series rules prohibit drivers under 18 years of age from racing on most superspeedways, but Pocono is an exception. Drivers 17 years of age can race at Pocono, and Eckes ran both last year as a seventeen year old. He finished 11th in June and 13th in July, something he’d like to improve upon this season as he chases the series championship for the first time.

“It’s a really cool racetrack,” Eckes said. “They call it the Tricky Triangle because it’s pretty tricky. It’s fun racing. I felt like our cars were good there last year on the short run, but we weren’t where we needed to be on the long runs. I think we’ve learned a lot this year that hopefully will translate to helping us there.”

Self is also making his first run at the ARCA Menards Series championship, and like Eckes he has previous experience at Pocono. He finished third in June race in 2017 behind race winner Riley Herbst and second-place Brandon Jones. Self is confident on the big tracks and another solid run could help catapult him towards the series title.

“I really like it,” Self said. “It’s one of my favorite tracks. I had an absolute blast the one time I raced there. We aren’t looking at the championship just yet. We aren’t even talking about it. We just want to go win. Those are the types are tracks I enjoy racing on, so we don’t want to get caught up in the stress of racing for points just yet. I want to come out and enjoy these tracks and go get some wins.”

One of two drivers in the field who could potentially end the streak is also a Venturini Motorsports driver. Harrison Burton (No. 20 DEX Imaging Toyota) won the June race in 2018, his second career ARCA victory. He scored his third series win in the season opener at Daytona and is chasing the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The other, Riley Herbst (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota) won the June race in 2017.

The son of 19-time Cup Series winner and current NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton, the younger Burton would like nothing more than to end that streak of no repeat winners. He just doesn’t want to talk about it.

“We talked about it last year and I ended up fourth in the July race,” Burton said. “Of course, we want to go and win. We always want to win. I just don’t want to jinx it so we’re not going to talk about it until it happens.”

The battle for the ARCA Menards Series championship continues in the General Tire #AnywhereIsPossible 200 at Pocono Raceway on Friday, May 31. Practice starts at 9 am ET, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 12 noon. The race is scheduled to start at 5:45 pm ET and will be televised live on FS2 with a same day replay on FS1 at 8 pm ET. ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat for free at ARCARacing.com. New users may join for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login. For tickets, log on to PoconoRaceway.com or call 800-RACEWAY.

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