Random Lugnuts, ARCA Edition: Texas
Topics: Rattlesnake 150, Nur Ali What is Random Lugnuts? It's random bits of stock car racing commentary written on an irregular basis by an irregular racing fan. The name is a reference to the lugnuts that go flying off a car during a pit stop: you never know where they are going to go, what they're going to do when they get there, they can be annoying, they're often useless after a race, and every once in a while someone gets hit and they don't know exactly where it came from.
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April 17, 2010
The ARCA Racing Series was in Texas last night for the Rattlesnake 150. As a preview to the NASCAR races, the Speed TV cameras were in town at the same time and the race was televised for just the second time this year.
Between Daytona and Texas were races at Palm Beach and Salem. Steve Arpin and Justin Marks came out of those tied for the lead in points, with Patrick Sheltra 35 points back in third.
Qualifying for the Rattlesnake 150 was rained out, which left Nelson Piquet, Jr. on the pole. I really liked Nelsinho's white, light blue and green Qualcomm paint scheme. It stands out from the field of black and red and yellow, but in a more subtle way than Frank Kimmel's painfully bright Menard's/Ansell car stands out from the field. My wife and I both liked the paint scheme.
Nur Ali put on a show for his hometown fans, but not the kind of show he was hoping for. A local sponsor helped him secure 900 tickets for the event, and perhaps he was a little too eager to impress when he backed his car into the wall all by himself on the third lap. Wrecking yourself on lap 3 is one thing, giving away 900 tickets to do it in front of a big group of hometown fans is another. Actually, it's the difference between a regular FAIL and an EPIC FAIL.
Sorry, Nur. But it did get you and your sponsors (Budweiser and Tara Energy) some TV time. And a mention in this article. So it's not all bad.
The next yellow was on lap 14, and it would help make the finish rather impressive for one driver. Mikey Kile got loose and his car walked up the track until it got into Joey Coulter and they both spun sideways. Patrick Sheltra and Steve Arpin were behind the spin, but Arpin couldn't get slowed down fast enough and got into the back of Sheltra, pushing him into Mikey Kile's car. All had sheet metal damage and were able to continue, but with some aerodynamic changes.
This was almost halfway through Justin Marks' run of leading the first 39 laps. More like running away from the field, but complaining of engine trouble. One points leader in a wreck, one in the lead but expecting engine trouble, and third place in points also in a wreck. It looked like there might be a big change in the standings by this point in the race.
Mikey Kile had trouble all day. Or rather, he was causing trouble. After his lap 14 wreck, he would turn Alex Kennedy around cutting through the grass at the end of the frontstretch. On a lap 45 restart he would bump into his teammate Steve Arpin, another close call for the points leader.
The ARCA drivers left their mark on Texas Motor Speedway, literally, when first Alli Owens and then Alex Kennedy ran through the infield between the finish line and pit road. Owens went first on lap 27 and then Kennedy on lap 33. Perhaps eager to get a long green flag run in the books, ARCA didn't drop the yellow flag on either incident. They did, however, when Tom Berte came out of turn 2 and kept turning, going hard into the inside wall.
With 18 laps to go Ricky Carmichael scraped the wall trying to make a pass. He may be the Greatest Of All Time on two wheels in dirt, but he's struggling to make it in four wheels on asphalt. Perhaps he's enjoying the novelty of not having to find more trophy space in his house every time he goes to a race, but I do appreciate the determination. Other drivers who turned to stock cars and don't win right away after finding success in another form of racing go right back to where they came from pretty quickly without putting in the years and effort it takes to be successful. His effort should be rewarded with a bit more attention from the broadcasters, especially after The Danica Patrick Show they broadcast from Daytona for a driver who only won one major race.
Carmichael made it back to pit road but couldn't get stopped before rolling back out onto the track, and the caution flag flew with 14 laps to go. The safety crew made it out to the #4 Monster Energy car, and I'd just like to say that as much as I'd enjoy a job at the racetrack I wouldn't want to be the safety crew member who had plumber's crack on national television.
There was a restart with 9 laps to go, when Steve Arpin passed Grant Enfinger for the lead. Yes, Steve Arpin, back from his wreck on lap 14, charged into the lead. Craig Goess passed Enfinger with 6 to go, and tried to chase down Arpin. Joey Coulter crashed with 3 laps to go, but in the green-white-checkered end none were able to catch the "bruised lemon" car of Steve Arpin, who welcomed new sponsor Mike's Hard Lemonade into ARCA with a trip to Victory Lane.
Perhaps the suggestive advertising of racing sponsorship works, too, as Mike's Hard Lemonade not only made it to Victory Lane in Texas last night but then made it into my wife's shopping cart this morning.
With the win Arpin took sole control of the points lead, but not by much as Justin Marks' engine did hold together for a fourth place finish. Patrick Sheltra finished 7th, holding a lead over 4th place of 90 points but falling farther behind Arpin and Marks.
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