ARCA Trucks Return for 3rd Best Western Challenge and Local Sportsman Return for 15th Nationals


Staff member
The ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series returns to the 156th Illinois State Fair as part of Conservation Day and in conjunction with the Tony Bettenhausen 100 USAC championship race on the World's Fastest One Mile Dirt Track. The 2008 race held on Saturday August 16 with be the third running of the Best Western Challenge for the Lincoln Welders Truck participants.

A record twenty-four trucks entered the Illinois State Fairgrounds last year on a rainy Saturday that saw practice, qualifications and the race affected by mother nature. The starting field was set using practice times and Springfield rookie Frank Wilson, Jr. of St. Mary's, West Virginia set a new track record of 34.778 (103.514) in his Ford. By virtue of ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series rules, the top four qualifiers were inverted giving Wilson the outside second row slot and it took less than a lap for him to assume the lead. He was never headed and led all thirty circuits of a rain shortened race enroute to his first one-mile dirt track victory.

2006 ARCA Truck champ Paul Hahn of Canton, Michigan leads the 2008 title chase in a quest for his second championship. He is being chased by 2006 ARCA Truck Rookie of the Year Nick Gullatta of Cleveland, Ohio. Gullatta finished second in the Best Western race last year and won the Best Western Challenge for the trucks at DuQuoin in 2006. Third through tenth in the 2008 ARCA point chase are Steve Christman of Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mike Young of Toledo, Ohio, Norm Weaver of Clarksburg, West Virginia, Robbin Slaughter of Grove City, Ohio, Bill Withers of Columbus, Ohio, Ash Hawkins of Canfield, Ohio, Duane Bischoff of St. Leon, Indiana and Tim Schafer of Canfield, Ohio.
Slaughter and Withers are two time ARCA Truck champions while Christman has raced on the Springfield Mile in modified stock car competition. Weaver scored an emotional win in the first Best Western truck race held at Springfield in 2006. Thirty-two drivers have participated in the 2008 ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series which has 15 races on the slate.

The 15th running of the Sportsman Nationals takes place in conjunction with the 46th ARCA Allen Crowe 100 on Sunday, August 17 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Featuring area short track stars the Sportsman Nationals have become the "Daytona 500" for the weekly racers who compete at short tracks throughout the central part of the state. The 20-mile main event has seen some great action over the last 15 years and produced some emotional results as well as leading several of the Sportsman drivers into the ARCA RE/MAX Series.

Four qualifying events have taken place which lock in several drivers to the Sportsman Nationals starting field and qualifying events may be held on the 17th if needed for additional entrants who make their way to Springfield to enter the 15th Sportsman Nationals. The first qualifier for the Sportsmen was held May 31 at Macon Speedway and won by Jeff Graham of Stonington.
Qualifier number two saw Jason Unzicker of El Paso win at Fairbury on June 21. The third qualifier ran at Macon Speedway on July 5 as Jeff Graham won again, with Rick Roedel of Shelbyville taking the July 19 qualifier at Macon.

Tim Dick of Monticello led the last two laps in his Davis Farms Chevrolet to win the 2007 Sportsman National event beating 5-time winner Wes O'Dell to the finish line. He is expected to return along with three-time winner (2001, 02, 03) Jeff Leka of Buffalo, two time winner (1997-98) winner Dennis Vandermeersch of Springfield, Bill Berghaus of Chapin, Shannon Eskew of Ashland, Tony Griffin of East Peoria and Mark Littleton of Arenzville.
Littleton and Leka will be doing other duty during the fair, Leka is on the preliminary entry list for the USAC Tony Bettenhausen 100 and Littleton entered in the ARCA Allen Crowe 100.