Illinois Drivers Invade ARCA at Springfield Mile Dirt; 8 Illinoisans Entered; Nat’l Late Model Champ Unzicker, ARCA Vets Cooksey, Kovski & Fike Competing
(TOLEDO, Ohio – August 16, 2012) – As the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards entry list continues to build momentum for this Sunday’s 50th Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile dirt in Springfield, so too does the interest from the locals.
Last check, eight drivers from Illinois are shaking off the dust on their ARCA cars. Apparently, the lure of racing with ARCA’s finest fulltime competitors, combined with the tradition of this historic race in their home state, is just too much to avoid.
El Paso, Illinois’s Ryan Unzicker leads the charge. Unzicker, driving for fellow Illinoisan Bill Hendren, is the 2011 UMP Late Model National Champion and has a strong contingent of fans that follow his career. In two career ARCA starts at Springfield, Unzicker finished a career-best sixth in 2003. This year, he expects to make 85 starts across UMP, World of Outlaws, and ARCA, among others. He has seven wins in 62 events so far this year and currently ranks fourth in UMP’s national standings. This month alone, he will compete in 12 different races.
Centralia’s Joe Cooksey, who has the most ARCA experience, finished a career-best second at Springfield in 2004, and has six top five finishes there. With more than 140 career ARCA starts spread out since 1996, Cooksey typically competes just twice each season, at Springfield and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile dirt, which is even closer to home. “As long as I have two nickels to rub together, I’m going to race at Springfield and DuQuoin,” Cooksey said. “We still have this crazy idea that we can win there.”
Local Springfield favorite Kelly Kovski, driving for Justin Allgaier Motorsports, is another strong candidate for victory lane. In seven previous starts at Springfield, Kovski has never finished lower than 14th, and more often, closer to the front. Kovski finished sixth, three times, in 2007, 2010 and 2011. Kovski also spent a full season on the ARCA tour in 2011, serving as Grant Enfinger’s Crew Chief. Enfinger is returning the favor this Sunday in Springfield and will serve Kovski as his crew chief. Justin Allgaier is still the only Springfield native to ever win a championship race at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in more than 70 years of sanctioned championship auto racing. Allgaier won the Allen Crowe 100 in 2006, passing fellow Illinoisan Bob Strait on the final lap.
Galesburg, Illinois driver AJ Fike has been close to victory at Springfield with finishes of fourth in 2009 and fifth in 2010. He also earned the Menards Pole presented by Ansell in 2004.
The other Illinois drivers in the field include Mark Littleton (Arenzville), Rodney Melvin (Benton), Joseph Hughs (Springfield), and newcomer Shane Cockrum (Benton).
Nine-time ARCA Racing Series champion Frank Kimmel is the all-time Allen Crowe 100 winner with seven victories on the historic fairgrounds mile dirt track. Curtis Turner won the inaugural Allen Crowe 100 in 1963. Just some of the winners who would follow also include Don White, AJ Foyt, Jack Bowsher, Al Unser, Ramo Stott, Dean Roper, Bob Keselowski, Ken Schrader, Springfield native Justin Allgaier and Parker Kligerman.
Practice for the August 19 Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds is scheduled from 9:00-10:00 a.m. with Menards Pole Award Qualifying presented by Ansell following at 11. The 50th annual Allen Crowe 100 starts at 1 p.m. All times are local.
ARCA Celebrating 60th Anniversary Season
2012 is the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards’ 60th Anniversary Season, featuring 20 races at 18 tracks. The complete 2012 event schedule is available at ARCARacing.com.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 26 states since its inception. The series has tested the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, visiting tracks ranging from 0.375 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course in its most recent season. This year, the series visited Alabama’s Mobile International Speedway and Minnesota’s Elko Speedway for the first time.
Founded by John and Mildred Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in three professional touring series and local weekly events.
Griffin Hickman, ARCA
(419) 574-2685 (mobile)
Don Radebaugh, ARCA
(419) 450-0611 (mobile)