ARCA: Pit Strategy Pays Off for Justin Allison; Third-Generation Driver Scores First-Career Win at Pocono

RaceChaser Staff ARCA, Featured, Northeast, Stock Cars 0 Comments

LONG POND, Pa. – official release – ARCA photo — Howard Bixman was watching the weather radar on three different phones Friday during the early stages of the ModSpace 125 Friday at Pocono Raceway. As soon as he saw what appeared to be a clearing of the skies, Bixman and Teddy Brown called their driver, Justin Allison, down to pit road for fuel.

That move ended up paying off about 25 laps later when Allison inherited the lead and went on to win his first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race.

“That was definitely the right call,” Allison said after pulling his No. 88 Ford into victory lane. “We didn’t talk about it or plan to pit early, but all of a sudden, when the caution came out, they were like ‘pit now, pit now.’ I’m happy with the way things worked out.”

Will Kimmel tied a career-best by finishing second and Tom Hessert third. Brennan Poole finished fourth after leading a race-best 31 laps and Justin Boston fifth. Poole and Boston pitted under a green flag before lap 40, allowing Allison, Kimmel and Hessert to take over the top three spots.

The ModSpace 125 was delayed by rain for nearly an hour when a shower came through the Long Pond, Pa. area just as driver introductions were starting for the original start time of the race. The rain lasted only a short time, however, and after the track was dried the race began.

After a couple of early cautions, Allison, Kimmel and Hessert all pitted for fuel – topping off. ARCA Racing Series requires all cars to pit at least once before 10 laps to go. Poole, Boston and Mason Mitchell all waited to pit and once they did, they were passed.

Hessert said he was surprised more teams didn’t try the strategy.

“The first time we pitted it was to make a track bar adjustment,” Hessert said. “We kept coming down and topping off, just in case. At that point, I tried to save fuel to make sure we would make it the rest of the way.”

Kimmel used the same strategy. He said his dad, team owner and crew chief Bill Kimmel, made the call.

“That’s where having an experienced crew chief comes in handy,” Kimmel said. “Dad made that call. He’s been in these kinds of situations so many times, he just knows and things happen. He made a great call.”

Kimmel’s teammate, Michael Lira, started fourth and finished 10th.

“Obviously it was a big day for us,” said Kimmel, who drove the No. 69 Messinas-Circle Track Magazine-Ingersoll Rand Ford.

The polesitter Mitchell led early in the race, but was passed by Poole, driving in his first ARCA race of the season in the No. 66 The Identical Movie Toyota. After his green flag stop, he finished seventh, behind Nick Igdalsky in the No. 86 PA State Police-H&K Group-Fox Realty Chevrolet.

Mitchell, in the No. 98 Musselman’s-Wildlife Foundation of Florida-TTS Ford, did take over the series point lead, however, after Grant Enfinger, Frank Kimmel and Matt Tifft were involved in an early-race crash. Enfinger had the point lead heading into the race, but finished 26th place after running just 12 laps.

“It was just one of those racing things,” Enfinger said. “Frank and I have raced each other a long time and always clean.”

Austin Wayne Self in the No. 22 AM Technical Solutions Dodge and Cody Coughlin in the JEGS Toyota also grabbed top 10’s in the ModSpace 125. Roger Carter finished 11th in the Extreme Stunt & Driving Team-Acceler8 Productions Dodge.

The race took just over an hour to complete. There were two cautions for 15 laps. Mitchell, Poole and Allison were the only drivers to lead a lap.

Justin became the third member of the Allison family to win an ARCA race. Davey won eight times and Bobby once. Justin’s win came at the 2.5-mile tricky triangle.

“It’s pretty cool to win here,” he said. “The Allison’s have a lot of history at this track. It definitely means a lot to get this first win here.”

Bixman, the team manager and owner, said the team was watching the radar and figured the race would not be stopped by rain.

“We watched it,” he said. “We were looking at the radar and it just started clearing up.”

Team  BCR has now won five times this season — four with Enfinger and one with Allison.

“It’s just about everybody on the team being in the right place and working together,” Bixman said. “When Enfinger left for GMS Racing, it sort of through our team a little, but we’ve stuck with the program on the No. 88 and that’s important. It paid off today.”

Friday’s race will re-air on Fox Sports 1 at 3 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 2 and again at 10 a.m. Aug. 5 on the same channel.

The ARCA Racing Series next heads to the short track of Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan for a Saturday, Aug. 9 race.

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