Chris Windom Impressive In ARCA Debut On The Dirt
Chris Windom Impressive In ARCA Debut On The Dirt
SPRINGFIELD, Illinois (August 22, 2011)
Knight Motorsports Management
August 22, 2011
- - Many people in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards had never heard of Chris Windom before Sunday’s Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds (Springfield). However, upon the conclusion of the race, the driver of the No. 32 Champion Brands / Win-Tron Racing Dodge Charger had quickly earned a name for himself in the 14th race of the season.
On the heels of a top-10 performance the night before in the USAC event held at the historic one-mile oval, Windom was optimistic about climbing into his 3,400-pound race car Sunday morning. It was something he had yet to ever experience let alone tackle on what can be defined as a grueling dirt track.
Quickly, the rookie showed quality adaptation as he had placed the 11th fastest lap overall in the lone one-hour practice session of the day. With qualifying set for just an hour later, Windom and crew chief Mike Chaffee had some time to consult where they mutually agreed on minor tweaks to their No. 32 Champion Brands / Win-Tron Racing Dodge Charger.
Luckily for Windom, the team drew the final position in Menards Pole by Ansell qualifying allowing the avid dirt competitor to watch and learn from his competition during their one lap of qualifications. Windom exceeding the team’s expectations in qualifying, when he mounted the eighth fastest lap overall.
A solid starting position with a confident-rookie driver at the helm, the Lakeville, Minnesota-based team was ready for battle. Taking the green flag shortly after 1:00 p.m., it appeared that Windom was still in race mode from Saturday night as he quickly maneuvered his Dodge Charger into seventh inside the race’s first quarter.
When the race’s first caution flew on lap 36, Windom had maintained his No. 32 Champion Brands / Win-Tron Racing Dodge Charger well into the top-10. Under the yellow, Chaffee elected to bring his driver to pit road for a mandatory trip to pit road. Within seconds, the car returned to the track with a full tank of gas.
Still holding a presence safely inside the top-10, Windom would complete the first 50 laps of the race impressively. Just two laps later though, the team’s day could have taken a dramatic turn if not for the impressive car control by the West Lafayette, Indiana native. As the field exited turn one, contact between the No. 32 and No. 17 ensued with Windom going into a heavy 360-degree spin. Splendid throttle control kept the car off the outside wall but ultimately resulted in an unexpected trip to pit road.
With little damage done to the team’s automobile, Windom returned to racing conditions with four new tires and a mission. Restarting outside the top-10 in 11th, the Win-Tron Racing protégé sliced and diced his way through the strong field and rose to fifth within four laps of retaking the green.
After another competitor lost a motor and crashed in turn three on lap 63, yellow flag conditions once again yielded the competition with Windom showing he had one of the fastest cars in the field.
Restarting fifth inside the race’s final thirty circuits, he would find himself in a torrid battle with Grant Enfinger and Springfield native Kelly Kovski. After a few laps, the ARCA rookie would overtake the No.39 of Kovski and set his sights on third place runner and nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel. Easily passing the champ on lap 87 and rising to third, the team knew a caution would allow them a potential chance at their second victory of the season.
The yellow the team had hoped for would waive with 10 laps remaining when Brad Smith crashed on the backstretch. A four-lap shootout would allow Windom to flex his muscle and try and maneuver past ARCA pros Chad McCumbee and Tom Hessert. Despite a gallant effort which included another late-race caution, Windom would have to settle for third in his inaugural ARCA Racing Series debut, a finish the team wasn’t afraid to boast about.
“Chris did a superb job for us,” said Win-Tron Racing co-car owner Nate Thiesse. “He had zero experience in one of these ARCA cars and for him to conquer Springfield the way he did was impressive. No doubt that his experience and success on the dirt paid off for him in a stock-car, but I think he surprised a lot of guys out there.
The spin may have actually helped us a little bit. We had newer tires than much of the field, so we were able to easily maneuver past some of the guys on the bridge of the top-10 and find ourselves back where we were within two laps. From there, it was determination from Chris that soared us up to third. Everyone was pretty happy at the end of the race.”
Still gleaming from his effort Windom offered, “It was a good day. I cannot thank Nate (Thiesse) and the Win-Tron Racing team enough for the opportunity. I was worried about getting comfortable in the racecar but once I put that out of my mind, everything really came together. I also want to thank Kurt (Smith, Rising Star Management) and Nate again for allowing me to make my ARCA debut at Springfield.”
When asked about the contact with Buescher, Windom replied, “Man, I didn’t think we would recover from that as well as we did. I knew that we had better tires than some of the other guys at the end, but I also knew we lost a lot of track position. Thankfully, the stout car the Win-Tron bunch put underneath me allowed us to recover from it.”
Next up for the ARCA Racing Series is an overdue return to Madison International Speedway for the running of the Herr’s Live Life With Flavor 200. The one-day show is set for Friday, August 26 with the green flag scheduled to waive just after 8:30 p.m. local. The series returns to the half-mile short track for the first time since 1973.
Further information including driver opportunities with Win-Tron Racing is available by visiting win-tronracing.com or contacting Nate Thiesse at 612.306.1641
For more on Champion Brands LLC and their extensive line of products, please log on to championbrands.com or championsusechampion.com.
PHOTO CAPTION: Chris Windom, driver of the No. 32 Champion Brands / Win-Tron Racing Dodge Charger in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards for Win-Tron Racing.
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