By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
The ARCA Menards Series goes short track racing for the first time in 2021 on Saturday.
The Series heads to Toledo Speedway in Toledo, Ohio for the Herr’s Potato Chips 200. Saturday’s race will also kick off the 2021 Sioux Chief Showdown. Sam Mayer earned the title in the Sioux Chief Showdown last season but will not defend that title in 2021.
The last time the ARCA Menards Series competed, Ty Gibbs put a whooping on the field leading every single lap at Kansas. Despite Gibbs earning the victory at Kansas, Corey Heim continues to lead the points standings by 13 points over Drew Dollar. Dollar isn’t entered in this weekend’s race at Toledo, there is a 23 point gap between first and third place Gibbs.
Dollar, Kyle Sieg, Jack Wood, Bret Holmes, and Toni Breidinger are not entered in this weekend’s race. Five drivers will continue running full-time.
In 2020, Toledo hosted three ARCA Menards Series events with Mayer taking a complete sweep of the season. Saturday’s race will be the 51st ARCA Menards Series race in the history of Toledo Speedway. Before Mayer swept the season last season, there had been six different winners since 2015. Todd Gilliland, Myatt Snider, Harrison Burton, Zane Smith, and Chandler Smith all earning victories from 2015 through 2019.
Mayer, Gilliland, Snider, and Burton all earned their first career victories at Toledo.
BREAKING IT DOWN:
As noted above, Heim enters with the points lead. He has one career start at Toledo Speedway coming in 2019 with Chad Bryant Racing. Saturday’s race will be his first short track start since he raced at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2019. In his first race at Toledo, Heim finished 10th. Heim enters Saturday’s race as the only driver to finish top-five in all four races run so far this season. Heim is still chasing his first pole of the 2021 season and could obtain that Saturday as the series will have qualifying preceding the race.
There’s fire, then there’s Ty Gibbs. Gibbs has been extra hot during the month of may going 3-0 so far. Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole in the ARCA Menards and ARCA East Series has swept the month of May so far with Gibbs winning at Kansas and Dover and Sammy Smith winning at Nashville. Gibbs has one career victory at Toledo coming last season in the East Series but was outdueled by Sam Mayer in all three ARCA Menards Series races last year. Gibbs is still chasing down Heim after the accident at Talladega set him back. Toledo would be the perfect place for that to happen as in his career in ARCA, he’s finished third or better in four of the three starts. Gibbs finished runner-up in the Sioux Chief Showdown in 2020 by just five points, he’s a sure favorite to pick up the title in 2021.
The Sioux Chief Showdown in 2020 was where Thad Moffitt began making big splashes last season. Moffitt competed in seven of the 10 races and finished 12th SCS points. Moffitt has four starts at Toledo including his second career start in 2017. In those four starts, Moffitt has the career-best finish of eighth coming last season. Moffitt is currently in his career-best string of finishes finishing third, sixth, and sixth. He enters Toledo 38 points behind points leader Heim in the points standings.
Nick Sanchez is really beginning to come out of his shell. After a rough start to 2021, Sanchez took the momentum from coming so close to victory at Talladega and has run with it finishing 10th at Kansas. Sanchez has two career starts at Toledo, one in the East and one in the Main Series. He finished fifth last season at Toledo in the East Series and finished 10th in the ARCA Menards Series race.
Jesse Love will represent the ARCA Menards Series West, in a way. Love is competing full-time in the ARCA Menards Series West and part-time in the main series. Last season the representation from the East and West was heavy but currently, in this first race, that isn’t the case as Love is the only representative from the other two Series. It will be his second start in the ARCA Menards Series with Venturini Motorsports and first this season. He ran the East race at Dover last weekend before bad luck struck the organization and both Love and Dollar ended the race behind the wall. The defending ARCA Menards Series West champion has a career-best finish of sixth in the ARCA Menards Series he gained last season at Winchester.
The bad luck has to have run out for Gracie Trotter. She hasn’t finished inside the top-20 yet this season crashing in all three of her starts. At Daytona she was involved in the “big-one”, She didn’t even complete a lap at Phoenix after being involved in an initial start accident, and at Talladega she and Richard Garvie made contact and put them behind the eight ball early. When luck does go her way though she’s solid, she finished ninth at Iowa last season with Bill McAnally Racing.
Mark Rette Racing returns to the ARCA Menards Series this weekend with former JR Motorsports late model driver Adam Lemke. Saturday will be their eighth start in the ARCA Menards Series and first since Brittney Zamora raced at Daytona earlier this year. In 11 starts in the CARS Late Model Tour, Lemke has the career-best finish of third at Orange County Speedway in Rougemont, North Carolina. Lemke will represent the late model world in the first Sioux Chief Showdown event of 2021.
The Herr’s Potato Chips 200 at Toledo Speedway will be broadcasted live on MAVTV starting at 8 p.m. ET. The race can also be streamed live on NBC Sports Gold: TrackPass. A live race broadcast will be available on ARCARacing.com. Tickets are available for purchase for $30 at the gate and can be purchased in advance at select Menards locations in Ohio and Michigan. To see if your local Menards has tickets, click here for a list of participating stores.