By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
For the first time of 2021, the ARCA Menards Series turns right this weekend. The series heads to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first time since 1965.
Ty Gibbs continued chopping down the points lead that Corey Heim currently holds down to just 10 points after sweeping the day at Charlotte Motor Speedway last weekend. Gibbs won both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and ARCA Menards Series event on Saturday. Heim managed to bring home a second-place finish.
The last time the ARCA Menards Series raced on a road course was in 2020 on the Daytona Road Course. The return to Mid-Ohio was slated for last year but was canceled due to the pandemic. As noted above, 1965 was the only time that the ARCA Menards Series has ever raced at Mid-Ohio. In that race, Jack Bowsher picked up the victory.
BREAKING IT DOWN:
Heim has been able to use Talladega against Gibbs as he has kept with the solid finishes and kept the No. 18 in second in points. The Marietta, Georgia native will make his first ARCA Menards Series start on a road course. Friday’s race at Mid-Ohio will mark the 23rd career start. He’s the only driver to finish top-five in every single event so far this season. He’ll have to post a strong run Friday if he wants to leave Ohio with the points lead.
Last year’s race at Daytona Road Course for Gibbs was one to remember as he went head-to-head with road course veteran Michael Self. Self will not be a hurdle this weekend as Gibbs looks to capture his first checkered flag on a road course in his ARCA career. Gibbs did earn his first career victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series earlier this year at the Daytona Road Course so he has experience winning while turning right.
Much like the rest of the field, Thad Moffitt has only one career start in the ARCA Menards Series on a road course (Daytona 2020). Moffitt currently sits third in points just waiting to pounce on the opportunity. He has finished top-10 in five of the six races this season so far including a career-tying third-place finish at Phoenix. The improvement has been evident for the No. 46 and on Friday, he’ll look to continue to contend for the championship.
Nick Sanchez was impressive last weekend at Charlotte going up against Gibbs late for the win and ultimately finished fifth. Sanchez has two straight top-five finishes for the first time in his ARCA Menards Series career and is looking stronger and stronger as the season progresses. Sanchez has zero starts on a road course so Friday will be a curveball for sure but with the way he’s been racing lately, a knock out of the park is a high probability.
Drew Dollar sits fifth in points even after missing Toledo. He also ran the road course race at Daytona last season finishing 12th. He has managed to finish top-10 in every race this season including three of the last five races inside the top-three. He’s also finished on the lead lap in every race he’s run this season. This will be his last race in ARCA until Pocono later this month. He is slated to run the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at Texas Motor Speedway and Nashville Superspeedway.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular Austin Hill will make his return to the ARCA Menards Series for the first time since 2018. Hill has three career starts in the ARCA Menards Series with the best finish of 10th at Chicago. Hill has experience running road courses in the ARCA Menards Series East at Watkins Glen, Virginia International Raceway, and New Jersey Motorsports Park. He also has started at CTMP and Daytona Road Course in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Hill and Hattori Racing Enterprises will surely be a threat to win the race Friday.
Stanton Barrett has not been behind the wheel of an ARCA Menards Series car since 2001. Barrett will pilot the No. 12 entry for Fast Track Racing in his first ARCA start since he finished fourth at Memphis in 2001. Barrett has experience at Mid-Ohio, unlike a good chunk of drivers. Barrett has competed in three races at Mid-Ohio with the best finish of 20th in 2016.
NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Brandon Jones will be double-dipping along with Gibbs. Jones will pilot the No. 25 for Venturini Motorsports in his first start in ARCA since Michigan in 2018. Jones finished 10th in his only road course start in ARCA at New Jersey Motorsports Park in 2015. Jones joins Barrett with experience at Mid-Ohio but he’s seeking to gain a little bit more by running the ARCA race prior to the Xfinity Series race. He has five starts at Mid-Ohio with the best finish of 10th in 2019.
The Dawn 150 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course will be broadcasted live on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 6 p.m. ET. The race will also be broadcasted live on MRN and Sirius XM channel 3916. Tickets can be purchased by clicking here or by calling 419-884-4000.