Race Weekend Central

ARCA Minimum Speed: Too Lenient, or Just Right?

Following the last ARCA Menards Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a controversy surrounding the minimum speed rule within the series was brought to light via social media. 

The incident in question occurred early in the going of the General Tire 150 when AJ Moyer was parked after 12 laps due to the inability to meet the minimum race pace.

Moyer and the Wayne Peterson Racing No. 06 were 18 seconds off the lead pace in qualifying, and 14 seconds off the pace in practice. The team also couldn’t find any additional speed during the race. According to ARCA Public Relations representative Charles Krall, the team was reportedly fighting a mechanical issue.

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“I understand at Charlotte, there was a car that was well off the pace,” Krall said. “He had been fighting some mechanical issues, we gave them the opportunity to come down pit road and fix it, and they weren’t able to fix it, and they didn’t come back out. He was fighting a clutch issue and an axle problem.” 

However, fans on social media took quick notice of the abundance of the speed difference between Moyer, as well as a few other lapped cars, and the leaders during the race. Many fans posed the question: What exactly is minimum speed in ARCA and is it too lenient?

The answer to that question, according to Krall, is somewhat fluid, based upon a number of factors, but mainly dependent on what track the series is racing at on any given race week.

“It varies by track,” Krall said. “Depending on the fastest lap in qualifying, in practice, and the race, it could vary between 107% and 120% of the fastest lap.” 

The race directors also factor in the ability of each car to hold a consistent line while getting lapped. The ideal scenario for those directing the race is for lapped traffic, no matter what speed, to be caught by the leaders while running the same line each time. While it doesn’t make the cars any faster, it does make them more predictable, giving the leaders a safer avenue to navigate around them. 

“If someone is off the pace, and is staying out of the way, that’s one thing,” Krall added. “Being off the pace, and being in the groove is another thing.” 

While the rules are the rules, it’s also important to remember what the basis of ARCA as a whole is in the first place, a series intended to give inexperienced drivers that valuable experience.

Like any racing series, there are slower teams and faster teams, and with such, the way some drivers get experience looks different from others. To want to deprive only specific drivers, as well as teams for that matter, of the often valuable experience ARCA offers isn’t a fair assessment, solely because a team can’t afford to be as competitive as others. 

This is something that fans and competitors alike have to accept, and it’s something that isn’t necessarily new to modern-day ARCA. Smaller-budgeted teams have become extremely prevalent within the series over the last decade or so, which gives way to situations where a car might be excessively off the pace from time to time.

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In fact, the incident that sparked social media outrage at Charlotte was hardly a one-time thing. At the General Tire 150 alone, there were three cars that qualified over nine seconds off the pace from pole sitter Jesse Love. However, as previously mentioned, as long as the slower cars are safe and consistent while being lapped, it’s part of what makes ARCA so unique. 

“That’s the whole point of this series, is to come out and get experience,” Krall said. “We’re not gonna park someone on lap 2, it’s unfair, you have to at least give them a chance to make the car faster, or fix the problem,” 

However, it remains the race director’s job to make sure the track is a safe environment for all of those on it, which leads to the minimum speed rule, and the happy medium that the rulebook states. 

“We understand that we do have some cars that are slower than they would like, and certainly the rest of the field would like,” Krall said. “We give them the opportunity to get their cars up to speed, and if they make that pit stop and are unable to make that speed, we bring them down pit road and park them,” 

For now, however, the national division of the ARCA Menards Series enjoys another week off, before returning next week. On Saturday, June 17, the Berlin ARCA 200 is scheduled at the Berlin Raceway in southeastern Michigan and is to be televised on FOX Sports 1 at 8 p.m. ET. 

About the author

Josh joined Frontstretch in 2023 and currently covers the ARCA Menards Series. Born and raised in Missouri, Josh has been watching motorsports since 2005. He currently is studying for a Mass Communication degree at Lindenwood University

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steve whitenburg

its a Wayne Peterson car going any speed don’t matter to them. For years he tells those driving for him to just go take a few laps an if they end up in the front. He will pull all his cars in an take off the needed parts so they can stay up front. He has been doing it for years. Was told all of this by his EX -drivers. His cars have no business out there except to raise the car counts. He maintains for the owner point.

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