DUQUOIN, Ill. — Four races remain in the ARCA Racing Series season as the Toledo, Ohio based series heads to DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on Labor Day for the Southern Illinois 100.
The second of two dirt races on the ARCA calendar, DuQuoin is sure to put on a great show just as Springfield did two weeks ago. With a points battle being tightly contested and with the presence of several series veterans in the grid for Monday, here’s a glance at what to expect down in southern Illinois.
CAN A.J. FIKE SWEEP THE DIRT RACES?
In his 51st career start in the ARCA Racing Series, Galesburg, Illinois’s A.J. Fike finally broke through and claimed his first series win in ARCA’s last race out – the Allen Crowe 100 at Illinois State Fairgrounds.
Fike was the dominant driver at Springfield, leading 60 of 104 laps en route to his maiden series victory with RFMS Racing as he now sets his sights on Monday’s Southern Illinois 100.
A sweep of the duel dirt races is not out of the question for Fike as it is certainly a doable accomplishment. In the last 20 years, the feat has been accomplished on five different occasions with Frank Kimmel pulling the double off in 2001, 2002, 2005 and 2008. Parker Kligerman was the last driver to sweep both Springfield and DuQuoin in 2009.
Fike was strong all weekend at Springfield two weeks ago and he has to be considered a favorite entering the fourth-to-last race of the 2015 ARCA season.
VETERANS KIMMEL AND SCHRADER SITTING IN THE CATBIRD SEAT
When you think of DuQuoin State Fairgrounds in recent history, two names come to mind – Kimmel and Ken Schrader.
Dating back to 2001, the two series veterans have claimed eight of the thirteen races held at the mile-long clay oval with Kimmel taking five wins (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2008) to Schrader’s three (2006, 2007 and 2013.)
Kimmel ran well at Springfield but fell out of contention for the win late after dropping a cylinder with less than 10 laps to go in the Allen Crowe 100. Schrader, on the other hand, handed over driving duties of the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts machine to ARCA/CRA Super Series standout Hunter Baize and will thus make his 2015 dirt debut on Monday.
KIMMEL MAKING CAREER START NO. 500
With 10 championships and 80 race wins to his credit, Kimmel has just about accomplished everything there is to accomplish in the ARCA Racing Series. Continuing to move forward with his career, Kimmel will make his 500th series start in the No. 25 Ansell/Menards Toyota later on on Monday afternoon.
Although he’s had several close calls with victory lane this year, the 10-time champion is still yet to drive into victory lane this year. Working on a 29-race winless streak, Kimmel seeks to snap it at DuQuoin – a track that he’s won at eight times in his illustrious career.
POINTS BATTLE TIGHTENING UP HEADING INTO DUQUOIN
Troubles for championship leader Grant Enfinger at Springfield have tightened up the points standings heading into the fourth-to-last race of the season.
A loose electrical connection on Enfinger’s No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet has allowed Josh Williams, Austin Wayne Self and Tom Hessert to respectively close to 150, 180 and 195 points out of the lead.
Enfinger, Williams and Hessert each looked stout at Springfield two weeks ago; and if one of them were to encounter issues in today’s race, there will be major championship implications involved.
CAN ENFINGER REPEAT AT DUQUOIN?
A common trend throughout the season has been Enfinger repeating race wins at tracks that he won at in 2014.
The current points leader repeated at Daytona International Speedway and Mobile International Speedway to kick off the season and his most recent win this year came at Berlin Raceway, a track that he took the checkered flag at last year.
The Fairhope, Ala. native enters today’s Southern Illinois 100 as the defending winner of the Labor Day race and has his eyes set on 2015 win number five. Enfinger was strong at Springfield prior to dropping out of contention for the win early on, can he strike back on Labor Day?
Photo Credit: ARCARacing.com