By Christian Koelle, Staff Writer
The ARCA Menards Series will continue to fill the void left by NASCAR’s top-three series this weekend at Winchester Speedway.
Ty Gibbs dominated last weekend at Iowa Speedway en-route to his sixth victory of 2021 and heads to Winchester with the points lead by just four points. He now has the same amount of victories he earned last season, which is the most in a single season in his career.
Daniel Dye continued his impressive debut in ARCA finishing second while Taylor Gray, Corey Heim, and Nick Sanchez rounded out the top-five.
Add to this, one of those six victories from 2020 came at Winchester Speedway as he’s the defending race winner and was the first winner at Winchester, in ARCA, since 2017. Saturday’s race at Winchester will be the first back-to-back race at the track since the series raced from 2011 through 2017. Despite many tracks facing the fire in 2020, Winchester managed to remain on the schedule despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Saturday’s race will be the 26th ARCA Menards Series race competed on the high banks of Winchester Speedway. 10-time ARCA Menards Series champion Frank Kimmel has the most victories at Winchester with six victories, most recently in 2013. Tim Steele is just behind him with five Winchester victories. Dakoda Armstrong, Alex Bowman, Brandon Jones, Austin Wayne Self, Chase Briscoe, and Kyle Benjamin have also earned victories at Winchester.
BREAKING IT DOWN:
The defending race winner and current points leader Ty Gibbs heads into this weekend’s race with a four-point lead over Corey Heim. Snapping his losing streak at just three last weekend at Iowa, Gibbs looks to continue growing his points lead as the summer heat gets hotter. Earlier this year, Gibbs had four victories in a row from Kansas to Mid-Ohio. He’s gone back-to-back just five times in his career and will look to make it six times Saturday with a victory at Winchester. He’s also looking for some Winchester history as a driver hasn’t gone back-to-back at Winchester since Kimmel did so in 2003-2006.
Corey Heim hasn’t fallen off, he’s just not been as good as Gibbs. Finishing fourth at Iowa Speedway last weekend was a solid result for the No. 20 team but they were just a tad off and that’s something they can’t do very often if they want to remain in the championship picture. Heim hasn’t competed in the ARCA Menards Series at Winchester but has two Winchester 400 starts to his credit. He finished second to Stephen Nasse in 2019 and finished 20th in 2018.
Thad Moffitt will make start No. 40 Saturday Night in the ARCA Menards Series. He’s the highest placed driver in points without a start at Winchester under his belt as none of those previous 39 starts were in Winchester, Indiana. In fact, Saturday’s race will be the first at Winchester to feature a member of the Petty family. Moffitt is 80-points behind Gibbs but has a pretty solid gap over third-place Nick Sanchez, who also has zero starts to his credit at Winchester.
Since coming onto the ARCA Menards Series scene at Elko Speedway, Daniel Dye has been on absolute fire. He hasn’t finished outside the top-10 in his three starts, has two top-five finishes, and earned his first career victory at Berlin a few weeks ago. The conversation in the media center at Iowa had Dye’s name mentioned multiple times as a championship threat, had he competed in the full season. Had the race at Iowa been a 200 lapper, he might’ve landed victory No. 2. Dye hasn’t competed at Winchester yet in his career, but that hasn’t stopped him from succeeding in 2021.
“We’ve been building some momentum over the last few weeks, so to go to Winchester and race again this weekend with the GMS 21 Chevrolet is exciting,” said Dye. “Chad (Bryant) has had a bunch of success there and our GMS cars have been fast every weekend, so I’m confident we’ll have another great shot this weekend. I’ve never seen Winchester in person, but everyone talks about how much fun it is to race at and all the action that usually takes place. Hopefully, we can battle for the win with our Race to Stop Suicide car on Saturday night.”
Taylor Gray finished third last weekend at Iowa and was the only driver other than Ty Gibbs to lead a lap. Gray competed in last season’s race at Winchester finishing fifth after starting fifth. The one-lap Gray led Saturday night at Iowa added to his laps-led a total of 2021 that is now at 16, the first 16 of his ARCA Menards Series career. It hasn’t taken much time for Gray to knock off the rust, he just needs that little bit of umph to catch the No. 18.
Venturini Motorsports’ lineup is a bit different this weekend, including a move that was just announced earlier this week. Parker Chase will make his second oval-track start with Venturini Motorsports this season after finishing fourth at Charlotte. Winchester will be the second of five slated starts for Chase, his next will be at Bristol in September.
After competing with Young’s Motorsports in five races this season, Toni Breidinger will return to Venturini Motorsports for the first time since 2018. She made her ARCA Menards Series debut with Venturini Motorsports in 2018 at Madison earning her career-best finish of 10th. She has two back-to-back 12th place finishes this year at Talladega and Kansas, so far her best finish of the year.
The Calypso Lemonade 200 at Winchester Speedway goes live on MAVTV at 8 p.m. ET and also be streamed via NBC Sports Gold: TrackPass. ARCA will broadcast an audio version of MAVTV’s broadcast via the ARCA website. Tickets for the Calypso Lemonade 200 start at $25 and can be purchased by clicking here. Camping is also available for purchase via the website.