ARCA: Date With the Dirt; Return to Springfield Marks 11th Confirmed Race on 2016 ARCA Slate

RaceChaser Staff ARCA, Dirt Track Racing, Midwest, Stock Cars 0 Comments

TOLEDO, Ohio – official series release – ARCA photo —

It’s one thing to win an ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race.

It’s another to win one in front of your hometown fans.

A handful of ARCA Racing Series drivers got to experience such a thing in 2015, including A.J. Fike, the winner at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, Ill, and he’ll have a chance to do so again in 2016.

Officials from the ARCA Racing Series, Track Enterprises and the Illinois State Fair announced on Tuesday that the ARCA Racing Series will return to the one-mile dirt track on Sunday, Aug. 21, 2016. It will be ARCA’s 354th all-time race on dirt.

With ARCA’s roots reaching back to 1953, much of the tour’s rich history developed over the decades on dirt tracks across America.

“Springfield’s always a big deal,” said Fike, who hails from nearby Galesburg, Ill. “It [was] my first ARCA win, and seeing it back on the schedule is definitely good.”

Fike joined Springfield’s storied history in August, winning the race while fellow Illinois native Kelly Kovski — a true hometown driver hailing from Springfield — finished third. In 2014 the two drivers were in contention for a win when they jumped the final restart. Needless to say, it’s an exciting venue for racing.

“Every year when I see it (Springfield) on the schedule, it gets me excited,” Kovski said. “I’m local — my friends and family get all pumped up and rally around it. Springfield always gets a lot of attention. You take these asphalt cars and put ‘em on dirt, and it doesn’t get any better.”

“For me, it’s an opportunity to race in front of family and friends. And the possibility of putting your name in the record books along with some of the winners there would be the ultimate pay-off. I’d love to be able to give that win to my dad … he’s worked so hard and spends a lot of money on this deal. He’s so dedicated to that race. I think winning it would be bigger for him than me, and it’d be the biggest thing in my career too.”

The on-going legacy of one of America’s oldest state fairs has certainly included a sizeable chunk of auto racing over the years – its tenure dating back more than 70 years to 1934 when Billy Winn won the first-ever championship race event on the mile horse track. Jay Frank was the inaugural 100-lap stock car race winner in 1950.

The race, annually named in honor of Springfield resident Allen Crowe who lost his life in a sprint car crash at New Bremen Speedway, is one of two dirt-track venues on the annual ARCA Racing Series schedule, the other being at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds.

Frank Kimmel, the 10-time series champion, is the all-time Springfield winner with eight. NASCAR veteran Kenny Schrader has won a stock car race at Springfield, as has Curtis Turner, Al Unser, A.J. Foyt, Bob Keselowski, Bobby Bowsher, Justin Allgaier and Brennan Poole.

Fike says it is not an easy place to win at.

“There’s a certain skill-set to finessing these heavy ARCA cars around that place,” he said. “Once the track takes rubber, you’re still searching for grip … working the throttle just right so you don’t burn off the right rear (tire) and get all four to hook up. It’s really easy to overdrive, so you really have to manage it carefully all the way. I couldn’t be more excited about seeing Springfield back on ARCA’s schedule.”

The race announcement is the 11th event of ARCA’s 2016 calendar to be announced, and the complete schedule will be announced by Thanksgiving.


2016 ARCA Schedule to Date

Feb. 13 — Daytona International Speedway — Daytona Beach, Fla.
Apr. 29 — Talladega Superspeedway — Talladega, Ala.
June 3 — Pocono Raceway — Long Pond, Pa.
June 10 — Michigan International Speedway — Brooklyn, Mich.
June 26 — Winchester Speedway — Winchester, Ind.
July 9 — Iowa Speedway — Newton, Iowa
July 30 — Pocono Raceway — Long Pond, Pa.
Aug. 21 — Illinois State Fairgrounds — Springfield, Ill.
Sept. 15 — Chicagoland Speedway — Joliet, Ill.
Sept. 23 — Kentucky Speedway — Sparta, Ky.
Oct. 14 — Kansas Speedway — Kansas City, Kan.

CREDIT: ARCA Racing Series

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