Southern Illinois 100 Features Tight ARCA Point Battle

DuQuoin State FairThe 60th running of the Federated Car Care-Southern Illinois 100 takes place on Labor Day at the DuQuoin State Fair with two youngsters locked in a duel for their first ever ARCA Racing Series presented by Menard’s crown including the defending race winner. A five time Southern Illinois 100 race winner recently broke a long losing streak in the ARCA series and has asserted himself into the point battle as well. Add in some ringers and the 60th Southern Illinois 100 has plenty of excitement for race fans on Labor Day.

Chris Buescher and Brennan Poole were locked in an epic battle for the 2012 ARCA championship with just 10 points separating them prior to Springfield. Buescher became the second 19 year old to win the Southern Illinois 100 as he led 60 circuits in giving the Roulo Brothers of Chicago their second DuQuoin win. He has two ARCA wins in 2012 and ten top ten finishes in thirteen starts. Poole, driving for Billy Venturini, also has two victories and ten top ten’s in 2012. While the point landscape changed after Springfield and again after Buescher’s win at Madison, Wisconsin a familiar face enters DuQuoin with a good chance at a victory.

Five time Southern Illinois 100 winner and nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel of Indiana broke a winless streak that dated back to Salem in 2008 when he won at Indianapolis in July and backed that up with an unprecedented 8th win at Springfield. The dirt victory put Kimmel solidly in the running for an unprecedented tenth ARCA crown and with his dirt track experience he could enter or leave DuQuoin with the point lead. He is currently 60 behind Buescher and 12 laps in front at the “Magic Mile’ would make him the all-time stock car lap leader at DuQuoin.

Ten consecutive pole positions for the Southern Illinois 100 were won by drivers with significant open wheel experience until Ty Dillon broke the streak in 2011. Dillon has moved on to the NASCAR Nationwide Series but a new streak could be started as 2010 winner Steve Arpin of Canada returns and the son of a former World of Outlaws champion is set to make his debut. Kevin Swindell of Tennessee is slated to make is DuQuoin ARCA debut behind the wheel of a Venturini stock car and the son of Sammy Swindell has lots of experience to glean from his father about running the big mile dirt tracks. Sammy has numerous victories on the big tracks and holds the world record lap for a sprint car at over 145 miles an hour at Springfield! Add in former pole sitter A.J. Fike of Galesburg and Tom Hessert (driving for Ken Schrader) and the pole and race could go to an open wheeler on Labor Day. A newcomer from the open wheel ranks is Darren “the Hawk” Hagen whose experience on the dirt miles is limited to the USAC Silver Crown Series.

ARCA regulars Chad Hackenbracht, Ryan Reed and Alex Bowman are currently in the top ten in the ARCA point standings and expected at DuQuoin along with veterans Darrell Basham and the ageless James Hylton who can add to his record as being the oldest stock car driver ever at DuQuoin.

Centralia’s Joe Cooksey is a popular figure at the “Magic Mile” and he returns for another shot at the Southern Illinois 100. Benton’s Shane Cockrum is entered with West Frankfort owner Brad Hill while Benton’s Bill McCreery is slated to have former UMP National Champion Rodney Melvin of Logan behind the wheel again. Former UMP National driving champion Ryan Unzicker has a ride with Venturini.

The lure of DuQuoin dirt has enticed NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, Ken Schrader, Andy Petree and Red Famer onto the clay in the last ten years and rumors abound that more than one NASCAR driver has been considering a deal to run at DuQuoin. Any such entry would be contingent upon their standing for the NASCAR Chase and the race at Atlanta on September 2.

Practice for the ARCA machines is slated for 9 a.m. with pole qualifying at 11 and the 60th Federated Southern Illinois 100 slated for 1.

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