For the third consecutive event, there will be a larger ARCA Menards Series field this year than last year. After only 16 drivers competed in the messy ARCA event at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds last season, 21 are signed up for this weekend’s event.
One of the reasons some riders are running both events is because of the Performance Seed Dirt Double. Jesse Love won the race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, also called the Springfield Mile, earlier this season and has a chance to claim the $50,000 prize if he too wins DuQuoin.
Otherwise, the driver with the best average finishing position from the two ARCA dirt track events this season will claim a $5,000 prize. Considering that first place in DuQuoin pays a base purse of $6,000, the additional prize money is a huge financial incentive for ARCA competitors.
Even with a DNF last year at DuQuoin, Love finished 10th. The two-time ARCA Menards Series West champion is optimistic for this year’s 100-lap race at the 1-mile dirt track.
“But yes, DuQuoin will also be important,” Love said. Racing news now. “It’s going to be difficult to win there as it always is, but I feel very sure of myself. I feel pretty loose and like I said, confident. I feel great. DuQuoin will be fun. The car will be fine, so I just have to do what we did this weekend. [winning at the Illinois State Fairgrounds] and it should be fine.”
– ARCA Menards series (@ARCA_Racing) August 22, 2022
Despite a horrendous crash on the final lap, Buddy Kofoid piloted the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota to second place at the Springfield Mile. However, he is not competing at DuQuoin. Instead, Corey Heim will drive the No. 15.
By racing only the DuQuoin and not the Springfield Mile, Heim is not eligible for the bonus money. However, he will have a speedy No. 15 Toyota.
Heim has also run well in ARCA dirt events. He won the 2021 Springfield Mile event and has one top five (third place in 2019) and two top 10 finishes in his two starts at DuQuoin.
—CraigsCache (@CraigsCache) August 22, 2021
Ryan Unzicker finished third in the 2022 Springfield Mile event, and has three top fives and seven top 10s in nine starts at DuQuoin. Additionally, Unzicker won the 2020 Springfield Mile event in dominant fashion.
Unzicker’s team, Hendren Motorsports, is making its last ARCA outing at DuQuoin, so Unzicker would like nothing more than to send his team owner, Bill Hendren, to retire with the trophy and prize money as well.
The five drivers in the front straight ARCA power rankings are hungry for victory and prize money.
Championship points leader Nick Sanchez left the Milwaukee Mile with a bit of swagger as there are only five ARCA races left this year.
“I think we have a lot more to improve on gravel and I guess that’s good starting fifth. [place at the Springfield Mile]Sanchez said. front straight after finishing fifth at the Milwaukee Mile. “I think we have a lot more potential in our dirt program and we just have to tune into that. I think it could have used a little more at the end of that dirt race and it was what it was. But yeah, I’m looking forward to DuQuoin.”
Sánchez leads Daniel Dye by 11 points and Rajah Caruth by 16 points.
Dye finished seventh, the lowest of the trio, at Springfield. In a current streak of nine races in the top 10, including six in the top five, Dye is ready to cut Sanchez’s points lead if Sanchez struggles at DuQuoin.
Meanwhile, Sanchez’s Rev Racing teammate Caruth has been consistent, with seven top fives and 16 top 10s in his 20-race career at ARCA.
However, Caruth has only led 34 laps this season and has started 10 consecutive ARCA events without leading a lap.
To retake the championship lead, Caruth will need strong performances for the rest of the season. Although he took home a sixth at the Springfield Mile, Caruth is ready to tackle the 1-mile dirt track in DuQuoin, Illinois.
— Rajah Kirby Caruth (@rajahcaruth_) August 31, 2022
Sammy Smith dominated the most recent ARCA race this season with a commanding win at Milwaukee. Tied for the series lead in wins, Smith finished fourth in his first dirt track event earlier this season at the Springfield Mile. Smith’s predecessor, Ty Gibbs, finished second at DuQuoin last year; Can Smith improve that by one point?
Taylor Gray is also tied for the ARCA lead in wins. Currently on an eight-race top-10 streak, Gray has three top-fives and four top-10s in his four ARCA dirt starts, with his best finish of third at the 2021 event at the Springfield Mile. . Back for his second start at DuQuoin, Gray will look to improve on his fifth-place finish there last year.
Long-time team owner Andy Hillenburg saw one of his drivers, Bryce Haugeberg, trapped in the last lap crash at the Springfield Mile. Hillenburg has two talented dirt track drivers in his stable this week: Ken Schrader and Joe Cooksey.
Schrader finished ninth at the Springfield Mile this season, but has been a regular contender at the DuQuoin. In 16 ARCA starts there, he has three wins, 12 top-fives and 15 top-10s. In addition, he has earned three poles and led 162 laps. Schrader knows how to drive a race car at DuQuoin, and he should be a competitor driving the No. 11.
Cooksey has done 16 ARCA races at DuQuoin, most recently in 2018. Cooksey has five top-five and 14 top-10 finishes there, with a best finish of third twice, most recently in 2006.
Although he hasn’t competed in ARCA since the 2018 DuQuoin event, Cooksey intends to challenge for the win.
“This may be, maybe the last time I go,” he told ARCA Racing. “I’m going to hit it hard. I’ll have a meeting with my team. If they’re not willing to lose a limb, maybe this isn’t for them. When we show up at DuQuoin, we’ll be on it. It’s not just a good time; we come to the race I’m excited to go.”
The combination of Schrader and Cooksey also increases Hillenburg’s chances of victory.
“We definitely take it seriously, but whatever happens, it’s going to be a good time,” Cooksey added. “Andy Hillenburg is usually excited. We’ll come out with years of stories from one weekend. He is going to be good, but he [Hillenburg] he also knows he’ll have a better chance with the two of us in his cars.
The ARCA field will take the green flag in the Rust-Oleum Automotive Finishes 100 at 9 pm ET with television coverage provided by MAVTV Motorsports Network and available on FloRacing.
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