(Photo: Jeff Curry/ARCA Racing)
When Jesse Love won last month’s Atlas 100 at the Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, he won more than a trophy.
The win gave Love the chance to compete for a $50,000 bonus courtesy of Performance Seed and the new Performance Seed Dirt Double this weekend at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. The new program, which was announced in June, features a $50,000 prize for any driver who can sweep the two miles of dirt on the ARCA Menards Series schedule.
Love cruised through the first stage of the Performance Seed Dirt Double by dominating the Atlas 100, leading every lap from the pole in the No. 20 Toyota for Venturini Motorsports.
Now Love heads to DuQuoin for the Rust-Oleum Automotive Finishes 100, where he will try to sweep the dirt miles and claim the bonus.
ARK at DuQuoin: List of entries | Full calendar of events
It should come as no surprise that Love is the driver chasing the big Performance Seed bonus. The 17-year-old from Menlo Park, California grew up racing dirt and has extensive experience in Sprint Cars and Midget Cars. He is also a regular competitor at Millbridge Speedway in Salisbury, North Carolina, where he periodically runs Micro Sprints.
Love recently returned to his roots racing a Midget in the Xtreme Outlaw Midget series at Iowa’s Davenport Speedway. He won his heat race and led early in the show before he was caught in a crash and eliminated from the race.
If Love doesn’t win the Rust-Oleum Automotive Finishes 100 to collect the $50,000 bonus, there’s still a chance he could take home a $5,000 bonus. The driver with the best combined average finish at Springfield and DuQuoin will win $5,000, but that bonus is available to anyone who competes in both races.
Potential contenders for that bonus include Love, Ryan Unzicker, Sammy Smith and Nick Sanchez. Each of those drivers finished in the top five at the Springfield Mile.
A warm welcome to Joe Cooksey
It’s been a few years since Joe Cooksey last raced in the ARCA Menards Series, but there’s no better place for him to return to ARCA competition than DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
Cooksey lives about 40 miles from the one-mile dirt oval in DuQuoin, Illinois, a place where he raced 16 times during his ARCA Menards Series career. He made his first start at DuQuoin in 1996, finishing ninth after starting 30th.
In his 16 starts at DuQuoin, Cooksey has posted five top-five finishes and 14 top-10 finishes. He even won the pole at DuQuoin in 2000, leading 12 laps that day before finishing fourth.
Cooksey last raced in the ARCA Menards Series in 2018, finishing ninth at DuQuoin while driving for Wayne Hixson. On Sunday, he will drive for Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Racing team and join veteran Ken Schrader for the Rust-Oleum Automotive Finishes 100.
The 56-year-old Cooksey will be looking to turn heads on DuQuoin’s “Magic Mile” this Sunday, and if all goes well, maybe even contend for a win. He has never won in ARCA competition, earning a best finish of second at Michigan’s Flat Rock Speedway in 1999.
Corey Heim looks to turn it into Heim Time at DuQuoin
Sunday’s Rust-Oleum Automotive Finishes 100 at DuQuoin was not originally on Corey Heim’s schedule, but schedules are subject to change.
Heim was originally only scheduled to compete in six ARCA Menards Series events this season with Venturini Motorsports, and the race at DuQuoin was not among them.
However, there was an opening in the No. 15 Toyota Camry this weekend, and Heim was available to fill it.
The two-time ARCA Menards of Daytona Series winner has two previous starts at the DuQuoin dirt mile, posting third in 2019 and seventh last season. However, he does own a gravel victory in the ARCA competition after winning at the Springfield Mile last season.
Heim has been keeping busy this season. He began the year by winning the inaugural ARCA Menards Series race at Daytona International Speedway and has since posted two victories in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition (Atlanta Motor Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway). He also triumphed in a Stock Car Late Model during the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson 200 at South Boston Speedway in Virginia in July.
- Just like he did on the Springfield Mile, Ken Schrader will pull double duty at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. In addition to competing in Sunday’s ARCA Menards Series event, Schrader will also pilot a UMP Modified on Saturday and Sunday.
- NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race winner and 2015 ARCA Menards Series champion Grant Enfinger will be on hand Sunday working as crew chief in the No. 16 Chevrolet driven by Kelly Kovski.
- Will Kimmel, who hasn’t won in the ARCA competition, has come close to winning at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds before. He matched his career best finish of second in 2018, finishing behind race winner Logan Seavey at DuQuoin.