LONG POND, Pa. – Ever since Frank Kimmel’s streak of eight consecutive championships was ended by Justin Allgaier in 2008, the ARCA Racing Series has played host continually to wide-open competitive title races. Until last year, that is, when Richard Childress Racing obliterated the ARCA field to the tune of nine wins and an easy title win for Ty Dillon.
But with the departure of both Dillon and Tim George Jr. to the Truck Series for 2012, the ARCA ranks have returned to their unpredictable self. Now, as the series heads to Pocono for the first of its two mainstay races, a frontrunner is finally starting to emerge.
With the first practice session concluded and qualifying approaching, it was looking to be more of the same in time trials. Alex Bowman, driving for a Cunningham Motorsports operation that came agonizingly close to winning the crown in 2009 and 2010 with Parker Kligerman and Tom Hessert III driving, led the charts the same way he already led the series with three poles in the first six races of 2012.
But when it counted on Friday afternoon (June 8), it was another powerhouse operation in Venturini Motorsports and driver Brennan Poole that claimed the pole and the top starting spot for Saturday’s 200-miler.
Poole wasn’t done either, leading the happy hour practice session held a few hours later. Considering the practice session held later in the day was intended to provide a testing grounds of sorts for teams to practice long runs on the new Pocono asphalt, there’s no way Poole can’t be considered the favorite heading into race day. After all, new pavement or not, Pocono racing is defined by long stretches of green-flag runs.
Perhaps more significant, though, than snatching a pole from Cunningham’s No. 22 team and being the frontrunner for a Pocono trophy is that in the larger scheme of things, Poole and his No. 25 team have effectively positioned themselves to take control of this title chase once and for all.
Momentum is key in any form of motorsports, and following up a dominating win at the Elko Speedway last weekend (Poole led 148 of 200 circuits) with a pole run and having the fastest car on the long run suggests that Venturini’s flagship car has it.
More importantly though, between Pocono and next weekend’s race at Michigan, the next two tracks on the circuit are intermediate ovals that lend themselves to big-name teams with big-time horsepower under the hood.
There’s hardly a better stretch of races for the No. 25 team to catch fire; after all, if they’ve already figured it how to run short-tracks, they’re halfway home on the ARCA schedule and now are coming into events where their level of resources and speed will prove a tremendous advantage.
Further, though Venturini hasn’t scored a trophy at Pocono since a collaborative effort with Joey Logano and Joe Gibbs Racing back in 2009, they’ve run well enough to do so; Max Gresham won a pole at the track driving the No. 25 last season while Mikey Kile led 67 laps and thoroughly dominated the spring race at Pocono in 2010 before losing the race late on pit strategy.
The team Poole is driving for knows this track and has been knocking on victory lane’s door long enough that it’s a matter of when, not if, they’re going to score the W.
Saturday may well be the day.
About the author
Richmond, Virginia native. Wake Forest University class of 2008. Affiliated with Frontstretch since 2008, as of today the site's first dirt racing commentator. Emphasis on commentary. Big race fan, bigger First Amendment advocate.
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