By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
The ARCA Menards Series East heads to Dover International Speedway this weekend for the General Tire 125. The race marks the halfway point of the 2021 season.
Last weekend at the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway, Sammy Smith overcame a very early penalty to earn the victory. His second career and second straight victory in the ARCA East Series. Mason Diaz threw out an impressive performance finishing second and moving into second in the points standings with a 15-point gap between him and Smith.
Friday’s race will be the 31st ARCA Menards Series East event ran at Dover. The previously known NASCAR K&N Pro Series East raced at the track from 1987 through 2019 and last season was the first race under the ARCA banner. The track formerly hosted the season finale. Since 2011, there have been eight different winners. During that time period, Austin Hill and Sam Mayer have been the only repeat winners. Mayer is the defending race winner but is not entered in Friday’s race. None of the previous winners from Dover are entered in this weekend’s race meaning there will be a first-time Dover winner.
BREAKING IT DOWN:
Joe Gibbs Racing will double it down this weekend with the No. 18 and No. 18E. Sammy Smith and Ty Gibbs will compete on the same track in the ARCA East Series for the first time on Friday. Both drivers coming off of victories in their respective series. Smith won at Nashville last weekend and Gibbs earned the victory at Kansas earlier this month. Smith has never made a start at Dover while Gibbs has one career start to his credit. He finished 12th last season after being involved in an accident while battling for the lead with 15 laps to go. Gibbs will be chasing his second career ARCA East victory while Smith will look to hold down the fort for Joe Gibbs Racing in the East.
Visconti Motorsports and Diaz have shown up to battle this season finishing fourth, second, and second to start the season. He currently sits second in points and is still chasing that elusive victory in the ARCA East Series. Diaz told Kickin’ the Tires after last weekend’s run that it felt like a victory for their team. He will make his 10th career ARCA Menards Series East start on Friday and enters the track that held his career-best finish before 2021. Diaz finished third last season at Dover and will look to better that this weekend.
“Another one, another one…”, that has been the slogan for Joey Iest and the David Gilliland Racing team this season. Iest earned yet another fifth-place finish last weekend at Nashville and moves into fourth in the ARCA Menards Series points standings. Iest won’t be alone this weekend either as team owner David Gilliland is entered in the No. 17. Gilliland’s experience at Dover crosses all of the NASCAR Touring Series including 19 Cup, three Xfinity, one Truck, and one ARCA East start. He finished second in last season’s race to Mayer and will look to earn his first East series victory. Gilliland will also be there to help with Iest as he looks to chase down the points lead.
Jade Buford will run the ARCA Menards Series East to get some laps before Saturday’s Xfinity Series race. The Nashville native has 12 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and is running full-time this season. Buford will run the No. 11 entry for Andy Hillenburg, the same entry that earned the pole and finished third last weekend at Nashville with Mason Mingus.
Venturini Motorsports returns to the East Series for the first time in 2021 with Drew Dollar and Jesse Love. Dollar made his Dover debut last season finishing a solid fifth place while Love will make his Dover debut this weekend. Dollar has been solid this season in the main ARCA series but will not race at Toledo next weekend. This will be Dollar’s fourth career ARCA East start and Love’s third. Love will use this race to get some track time before making his season debut in the ARCA Menards Series next weekend at Toledo.
Since the NASCAR Xfinity Series will be racing this weekend, RSS Racing has entered Kyle Sieg. Sieg will make his season debut in the East Series after running two races last season. The impressive younger brother of Xfinity Series veteran Ryan Sieg made his ARCA East debut last season at Dover finishing 11th. 2021 has been big for the driver of the No. 28 as he fired off hot in the ARCA Menards Series finishing top-five in the first two races. Though they are not running the full schedule, Sieg sits fourth in points.
Much like Jade Buford, JR Motorsports driver Josh Berry will be earning some track time before the Xfinity Series race on Saturday. Berry will pilot the No. 41 Bruce Cook Racing entry that has been driven by Carson Kvapil in the first three races of the season. The now Xfinity Series race-winner will make his first start in the East Series since 2019 and make his fourth overall start. He finished third in his last race at New Hampshire and will look to earn not only valuable track time but also the victory.
Justin Carroll makes his return to the ARCA Menards Series East this weekend. A staple driver in the East Series, Carroll has 17 previous starts. His career-best finish came at South Boston in 2018 where he finished runner-up to Tyler Ankrum. Despite having many starts in the East Series, Carroll has just two starts at Dover. Mechanical issues plagued the team last season relegating him to a 14th place finish.
Young’s Motorsports has added former JR Motorsports’ late model driver Connor Mosack to its program this season. Mosack will make his ARCA East debut this weekend. In 11 starts in the CARS Late Model Stock Tour, Mosack has tallied three top-five and eight top-10 finishes. He’s finished third twice. Mosack has also been competing in the Pirelli Trans Am Series.
The General Tire 125 will be shown live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold at 5 p.m. ET. It will also be broadcasted live on MRN and SiriusXM (XM channel 391, online channel 981). NBC will show a delayed version of the race on NBCSN on Friday, May 21, at 12:30 a.m. ET. Tickets are available by clicking here or by calling 1-800-441-RACE.