By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
For the first time since 2020, the ARCA Menards Series heads to Lucas Oil Raceway Park on Friday Night for the Reese’s 200.
Now that the series is past the halfway point of the season, these final 10 races will set the tone for who will be hoisting the championship trophy in just a short 73 days in Toledo, Ohio. Entering this weekend’s race, Rajah Caruth keeps his points lead by just a mere two points over teammate Nick Sanchez. Daniel Dye is also within the picture nine points behind. The common thing between those three, none of them have a start at Lucas Oil Raceway Park.
Friday’s race will be the 14th ARCA Menards Series race at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. The series made its debut on the track just outside of Indianapolis in 1983 with Marvin Smith picking up the victory. Past winners at LORP include Ty Dillon, Frank Kimmel, Brandon Jones, Travis Braden, Chase Briscoe, Dalton Sargeant, and Christian Eckes. The winner of the last two races though, just won his fourth NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race last weekend at Pocono. His name is Chandler Smith earned back-to-back victories in 2019 and 2020 at LORP and is the only driver to do so.
Rajah Caruth, as noted above, enters Friday’s race with the points lead. Caruth has really had a breakout season with REV Racing and is in hot pursuit of his first ARCA Menards Series championship. Back to short track racing this weekend which is the kind of track that Caruth has the most starts on. Caruth is coming off a fourth-place finish last weekend at Pocono, his fourth straight finish inside the top 10. Consistency has been the name of the game for Caruth as he’s only finished outside the top 10 twice in the first 10 races.
Finishing second at Pocono, Nick Sanchez finally snapped his streak of finishes outside the top five. A streak that began after his victory at Kansas earlier this season. A sixth place finishes at Berlin and two straight 11th place finishes at Elko and Mid-Ohio have allowed Caruth the opportunity to build his points lead away from his REV Racing teammate. Sanchez will have to roll hard off his momentum from Pocono if he doesn’t want to fall too far away from Caruth.
Daniel Dye is still within reach of taking the points lead but will need to mount up stronger consistency. Finishing fifth at Pocono, Dye is within nine points but as we noted will need to find the top-five more consistently. He’s failed to finish top-five in back-to-back increments since finishing third and second back at the start of the season. Though there haven’t been back-to-back top-five finishes, he’s on a string of top-10s that date back to Berlin where he finished seventh.
Despite not running the full season, Taylor Gray is making a charge for a solid finish in the ARCA Menards Series points standings. Since earning his first career ARCA Menards Series victory at Phoenix earlier this season, Gray has had a strong season. He’s only finished outside the top-five once and that was because of a blown engine at Iowa.
Winning at Mid-Ohio and last weekend at Pocono, Gray is seeking to win three in a row for the first time in his career. A driver has not won three ARCA Menards Series races in a row since last year when Ty Gibbs won four in a row in a span from Kansas to Mid-Ohio. Gray currently sits ninth in ARCA Menards Series points, 182-points out of the lead but he isn’t the best of the six-start drivers.
Sitting eighth in ARCA Menards Series points, Sammy Smith is the best of the non-full season drivers. Smith earned his first finish outside of the top 10 last weekend but his season has been stellar leading into it. He did have a run-in with Jesse Love’s crew chief Shannon Rursch following the race. Smith hadn’t failed to finish outside the top-three in his first four starts of 2022 and earned back-to-back victories at Berlin and Elko. He’s been strong on the short tracks in 2022 but has never raced at Lucas Oil Raceway Park in his career.
— Davey Segal (@DaveyCenter) July 23, 2022
Dylan “Mamba” Smith will make his ARCA Menards Series debut Friday at Lucas Oil Raceway Park. The Randolph, Vermont native has two career starts in the ACT Late Model Tour and one career start in the CARS Pro Late Model Tour. His career-best finish in the CARS Pro Late Model Tour came at Hickory in 2020 where he finished 10th. His debut will come with Young’s Motorsports.
Mandy Chick will also make her ARCA Menards Series debut at Lucas Oil Raceway Park on Friday racing the No. 74 Dynamic Drivelines-JRC Tax-323.TV-HD Five FK Rod Ends Chevrolet SS for her father’s team. Chick will also be racing at the Milwaukee Mile, Salem Speedway, and Toledo Speedway this season after making her debut. Mandy earned the 2016 NASCAR Missouri State Rookie of the Year and finished top-10 in the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour from 2017-2021.
Lebanon, Tennessee native Dylan Fetcho will make his ARCA Menards Series debut with MAN Motorsports. Fetcho has become a superstar at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. He’s had success racing quarter midgets, legend cars, and now pro-late models for his family-owned team. He’s earned a championship at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and has won at South Alabama Speedway. MAN Motorsports made their ARCA Menards Series East debut at Nashville back in May with Tanner Arms where he earned a sixth-place finish.
The Reese’s 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway Park goes live on FOX Sports 1 starting at 6 p.m. ET. The race will serve as an appetizer for Friday Nights NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff opener. Tickets for Friday’s race start at just $35 and get you into two races. You can purchase tickets by clicking here.