By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
It’s a home game for many in the ARCA Menards Series this weekend.
The series heads to the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, North Carolina for the General Tire 150.
Last weekend, the ARCA Menards Series took to Toledo Speedway for the Herr’s Potato Chips 200 to kick off the 2021 Sioux Chief Showdown event. Ty Gibbs didn’t lead the entire race but led the laps that mattered securing his third victory of the 2021 season. Corey Heim came in second and kept the points lead as the two teams bring the championship battle to their own backyards.
Saturday’s race will be the 22nd career ARCA Menards Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. Charlotte was originally on the schedule last year but was shifted to Kentucky due to the pandemic. Ty Majeski earned the victory in the last race at Charlotte in 2019 while Brandon Jones tallied the victory in ARCA’s return to Charlotte in 2018. The series was on hiatus from Charlotte between 2004 and 2018.
Holding three races in 1996 and 1997, the series raced at Charlotte twice a year from 1998 to 2003.
Previous winners from Charlotte include; Frank Kimmel, Adam Petty, Mario Gosselin, Kirk Shelmerdine, Ryan Newman, Kerry Earnhardt, among others.
BREAKING IT DOWN:
Heim will make his Charlotte Motor Speedway debut on Saturday Night. The current ARCA Menards Series points leader has been solid this season picking up where Gibbs fell off. In five races so far this season, Heim has finished worse than second just one time and that was at Kansas, he still finished third. Heim did compete in the open test earlier this month finishing fifth fastest.
In every race this season, so far, Ty Gibbs has been a contender. 60% of the races this season have seen Gibbs in victory lane and the other 40% has been held by Heim. Much like Heim, the only experience that Gibbs has at Charlotte is in the open test. And much like he has done all season, Gibbs won that too. He will be running double-duty again this weekend running the Xfinity Series race before the ARCA Menards Series event. The Charlotte, North Carolina native is looking for a victory in his hometown.
Thad Moffitt has been making some moves in the points standings and enters Charlotte third in points. After earning a third-place finish at Phoenix, Moffitt has not finished outside of the top-10. He finished sixth at Talladega and Kansas and then last weekend at Toledo finished fifth. The Trinity, North Carolina native has just one start in the ARCA Menards Series at Charlotte in 2019, he finished 10th. A Petty has an ARCA Menards Series victory at Charlotte in the past. Adam, Thad’s cousin, earned the victory in 1998. Thad’s grandfather Richard also has five victories to his name at Charlotte.
As we have noted in the past, Nick Sanchez has really found his groove after nearly winning at Talladega. He’s finished third twice including last weekends race at Toledo. With his solid performance last weekend, Sanchez has now moved into the fourth position in the points standings. The battle between him and Moffitt will be an interesting battle to watch for sure as the season inches closer and closer to the end. Sanchez also participated in the ARCA test which is his only experience at Charlotte.
Drew Dollar will be running double-duty this weekend racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday. In his NCWTS debut at Daytona, Dollar finished 10th and will look to kick off the weekend with some extra momentum. Dollar has zero starts at Charlotte but did participate in the open test earlier this month. So far this season, Dollar has tallied three top-five’s and four top-10 finishes along with the pole at Daytona.
After being initially on the entry list for Toledo, Kyle Sieg and RSS Racing pulled their entry. Officials from the No. 28 team confirmed to Kickin’ the Tires that they would only run the companion events that run with the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Sieg fell to 7th in points after missing Toledo but will look to snag his first career victory on Saturday. In just seven starts in the ARCA Menards Series, Sieg has tallied two top-five and five top-10 finishes including a fourth place finish at Phoenix. Sieg will for sure be one to watch in the field on Saturday.
Jack Wood was also missing from Toledo but for good reasoning. Wood made his NASCAR Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series debut at Circuit of the Americas last weekend. So far this season Wood has tallied one top-five and two top-10 finishes. GMS Racing has only raced in the ARCA race at Charlotte one time and finished second with Sheldon Creed in 2019. Wood finished eighth in the open test earlier this month.
Bret Holmes will make his 85th career ARCA Menards Series start on Saturday Night. Like Dollar, Holmes will be running the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday Night. Since ARCA returned to Charlotte in 2017, Holmes has competed in both earning top-10 finishes in both races. In his last ARCA start at Kansas, Holmes didn’t even complete a lap after getting loose in the entrance of turn three, Scott Melton t-boned the No. 23. Both drivers were checked and released from the infield care center.
Parker Chase will make his ARCA oval debut after running the Daytona Road Course race last season with Chad Bryant Racing. Chase will pilot the No. 25 with veteran crew chief Kevin Reed on the box. Chase earned a 10th place finish in his debut last season and has been working on racing ovals after his craft has been in sports cars. He finished 9th in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona last season.
Dave Mader III returns to the car for the first time since his second-place finish at Talladega last month. Though Mader has been racing in ARCA since 1983, Charlotte Motor Speedway is a track he’s never competed at in the ARCA Menards Series. Mader does have experience at Charlotte in both the NASCAR Xfinity and Cup Series. He has four starts at Charlotte in the NASCAR Xfinity Series with an eighth place finish in 1990. His final NASCAR Cup Series start came in 1992 with Melling Racing where he finished 39th after being involved in an accident.
After solid showings at Talladega and Kansas, Greg Van Alst will try his hand at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Van Alst finished a career-best seventh at Kansas and was a contender for victory late at Talladega before being spun by Nick Sanchez. He finished the open test earlier this month in 11th and will look to contend for the victory Saturday night.
ARCA Menards Series East championship contender and New Smyrna winner Max Gutierrez will make his second start in the ARCA Menards Series. Gutierrez finished 14th in his debut at Bristol last season and has competed full-time in the ARCA Menards Series East this season. Gutierrez will at least make three more starts in the ARCA Menards Series as the races at Iowa, Milwaukee, and Bristol are combination races with the East. Gutierrez showed speed in the test finishing sixth in his debut on a mile-and-a-half track.
The General Tire 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway will be shown live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 7 p.m. ET. The race will also be broadcast live on PRN and Sirius XM channel 391. Fans will be permitted and tickets start at $35 and can be purchased by clicking here or by calling 1-800-455-FANS (3267).