Blount Wins ARCA RE/MAX Series Fuel Mileage Gamble at Kentucky Speedway
ARCA RE/MAX Series driver Chad Blount won a fuel-mileage gamble at Kentucky Speedway tonight and held off a late charge from pole winner Erin Crocker to bring home his series-leading fourth victory of the season in "The Channel 5 150."
Satisfied with his tire and car performance, Blount pushed his No. 67 Foretravel Motorhomes Chevrolet 65 laps into the 100 lap race without making a pit stop. He held the lead and was running low on fuel on Lap 67 when T.J. Bell spun his No. 48 DefiantClothing.com Chevrolet in the backstretch to bring out the fourth caution of the race.
The break in the action allowed Blount to pit but it cost him the race lead for the first time when Crocker, who pitted on Lap 29 during the third caution period, stayed out to lead her first of five laps on the night.
"The team did a real outstanding job giving me good fuel mileage," Blount said. "We just new it was a matter of time that somebody would've run out of fuel before us or we'd catch a caution. Who would've figured that we'd ever go green that long?"
The race restarted with Crocker in the lead on Lap 73, but it Blount took less than one lap to regain the top spot.
His lead, however, was threatened on Lap 74 when a critical caution flag flew for a multi-car incident in Turn 1 that began when the No. 12 High Tech Construction -DGM Racing Dodge of Dawayne Bryan pinched the No. 20 1-800-4-A-Phone Pontiac into the wall coming out of the frontstretch.
Blount narrowly beat Crocker off pit road after the ensuing pit stop and raced away to a one-second lead following the Lap 86 restart while four-time Kentucky Speedway winner Frank Kimmel and his No. 46 Advance Auto Parts / Pork Producers Ford lurked behind the pair in third.
"Clean air is so important with these cars because they're so aero dependent," Blount said. "I knew that we were going to have to get after it on the restart if we stood a chance to get back out in front and keep the car in clean air."
His strong restart set up a dramatic closing-laps battle with Crocker. She cut Blount's lead to as little 0.155 of a second with five laps remaining with a strong run through the middle of Turn 4.
Blount remained focused, weaved his way through lapped traffic and held off Crocker's final attempt at a pass with two laps to go and took his second career Kentucky Speedway win and his fourth top-two finish in as many starts at the track.
"We definitely felt we had something for him," Crocker said. "I started sliding the nose out a bit and couldn't keep up. The nose slid bad in Turn 4, we got real tight and I couldn't get around him. I would've liked to have a win, but I'm happy with the finish. I still have a lot to learn."
Crocker ties Shawna Robinson for the ARCA RE/MAX Series record for best superspeedway finish by a female and posts the best finish for a female driver at Kentucky Speedway.
Sarah Fisher set the previous track benchmark with a third-place Indy Racing League IndyCar finish on August 27, 2000. Robinson finished second at Daytona International Speedway in July 2001.
Blount led a total of 95 laps in the race to secure his eighth top-five and ninth top-10 finish through 11 races this season.
"I knew if we kept our momentum up and I kept it on the bottom, we would have enough to hold her off," he said of Crocker late-race heroics. "We just got real, real, real tight and in the last 10 lap run we were sliding the front tires. She had a good run. Congratulations to Ray (Evernham) and everybody over there, but this is a pretty sweet win."
Joey Miller (No. 9 Country Joe Racing-Eagle Creek Aviation Dodge) finished third, Kimmel was fourth and Justin Allgaier (No. 2 Hoosier Tire Midwest-AG Tech-Trashman Pontiac) completed the top five. The official race attendance was 15,205.
Racing continues tomorrow at the speedway with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series "Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers." Tickets are still available and can be reserved at the main entrance of Kentucky Speedway at Gates 15 and 16 up to race time.
Gates open at noon with the final NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series practice. The USAC Ford Focus Midget Car Series takes to the paved quarter-mile track at 1:30 p.m., NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series qualifying follows at 5:00 p.m., and international recording artist Billy Ray Cyrus takes the WUBE-FM B-105 Country Sound Stage at 6:30 p.m., for an exclusive prerace concert. Drivers will take the green flag for "The Built Ford Tough 225 Presented by The Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers" at 8:15 p.m.
~ Kentucky Speedway ~