On some occasions, pure speed is the answer, and in others, good fortune is what's necessary to win a race. Ty Dillon's run in Saturday's Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 150 at Chicagoland Speedway used some of both, and the rookie points leader won for the fifth time in eight career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards starts.
One day after his high school graduation at Forsyth Country Day School in North Carolina, Dillon (No. 41 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet) assumed the lead on Lap 85 of 100 when Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 Tastee Apple/CGH Motorsports Chevrolet) blew a right front tire and lost a lead that had grown to more than nine seconds.
Hackenbracht had led 45 consecutive laps, edging his margin over second place from under one second at Lap 50 to 2.5 seconds by Lap 65, and then from six seconds at Lap 70 to 9.176 seconds through 84 laps.
Dillon, who had been second since passing Chris Buescher (No. 17 David Ragan Fan Club/Roulo Brothers Racing Ford) on Lap 70, eased into the lead as Hackenbracht's car struggled to pit road; he did not relinquish the advantage. He held the lead on a Lap 91 restart, and held it again on another restart at Lap 99, distancing himself from Buescher both times to win for the third time in 2011.
"That was our game plan, to stay patient all day," said Dillon. "We came in that second or third stop, and we were really loose. Something was wrong with our left rear tire; it never gained any pressure or anything. I told (the crew) we were going to have to come in and pit, because we can't win the race like this. Once we got fresh tires and got everything back to where it was supposed to, we came back through the field. By then, (Hackenbracht) was so far out front and it was his race.
"Unfortunately, that happened to him, but the caution helped us and put us where we needed to be. We had a really fast car."
Dillon also won at Talladega Superspeedway in April and Toledo Speedway in May.
Josh Richards, a two-time World of Outlaws Late Model Series champion, finished third in the No. 25 Kentucky Fuel/Texas Corral Toyota for Venturini Motorsports. Richards had won the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell earlier in the day and led the first 11 laps, although mostly under caution. Tim George Jr. crashed in the second turn of the second lap, a disappointment for the veteran after qualifying a career-best second.
Soon after the green flag flew on Lap 11, Richards gave way to teammate Kyle Fowler (No. 15 Lauren Briant/Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet). Dillon and Hal Martin (No. 55 NOLA Motorsports Park/U.S. Forensic Toyota) followed, sending Richards down to fourth. Fowler extended his lead on Dillon to more than a second, but Sean Corr spun on Lap 16 to bring out the race's second caution flag.
Fowler again led after the Lap 21 restart, but charging through the field and into the top 10 was Hackenbracht, who had started 30th after ignition issues left him unable to attempt a qualifying lap. Friday, Hackenbracht had shown signs of speed when he led the series' lone practice. By Lap 22, he was 10th, and five laps later, he was seventh.
Hackenbracht passed Matt Merrell for fifth on Lap 30, but Fowler continued to extend his lead over Dillon and seemed to be in control. Merrell hit the wall between Turns 3 and 4 on Lap 37 to bring out another caution flag, and all of the leaders pitted two laps later.
Fowler experienced trouble on the pit stop and exited outside the top 10. Hackenbracht took the lead on Lap 40 while still under caution, edging Martin and Andrew Ranger (No. 53 Van Dyke Baler Ford) off of pit road.
At the Lap 45 restart, Hackenbracht began to pull away and show a level of in-race dominance not recently seen in the series. Dillon, who had restarted fourth, moved past Ranger for third, but Hackenbracht was getting away, and getting away fast. He led Martin by 1.571 seconds at Lap 54 and by 1.905 seconds a lap later, before Corr spun again at the entrance to pit road to yield another caution period.
The green flag flew on Lap 60, with Hackenbracht leading and Dillon back in ninth. Five laps later, Hackenbracht led Martin by 2.5 seconds. By Lap 70, he truly seemed the class of the field.
Dillon gained position, though, moving to sixth by Lap 62 and over Grant Enfinger for fifth two laps later. On Lap 70, he passed Buescher for second, putting him in position to seize the advantage when Hackenbracht would have his untimely bad luck.
"I hate that happened for (Hackenbracht)," Dillon said. "You never like to see that happen to anyone with such a good car like that. He'd been fast all weekend. That's just really unfortunate for him."
Hackenbracht expressed obvious disappointment after his 15th career start and his most likely shot at a victory to date.
"I told the guys probably 10 laps into us leading the race, 'Thanks for this car. It's a rocket ship,'" Hackenbracht said. "It really was. We had a nine-second lead when the tire blew, and I had no warning. I may have run over something. It sounded like it was in the center of the car so I didn't think about it at all. I felt like we had it in the bag, almost."
Chad McCumbee (No. 1 ModSpace Ford) was consistent as usual after starting 13th. He moved to eighth by Lap 40 and fourth at Lap 50 - the race's halfway point. He maintained that position through most of the second half, finishing fourth and earning a top-five for the second consecutive week.
Ranger finished fifth, a strong follow-up to the win in his ARCA Racing Series debut 12 days earlier at New Jersey Motorsports Park.
Tom Hessert, Frank Kimmel, and Grant Enfinger finished sixth, seventh, and eighth, respectively. Brent Brevak was ninth and Maryeve Dufault 10th; the top-10 finishes were the first in each driver's career.
Stefan "Bear" Rzesnowiecky was 11th in his ARCA debut, and Hal Martin finished 12th after falling from second on Lap 69 with a cut left front tire. Corr ended the race 13th, and Hixson Motorsports teammates Rob Jones and Levi Youster were 14th and 15th, respectively.
Six cautions yielded 36 laps of yellow-flag racing, and the race finished in one hour, 27 minutes, and 45 seconds for a winning average speed of 102.564 mph. Dillon's winning margin was 0.307 second.The race's start was delayed for five hours and one minute, and began at 10:01 p.m. Central after inclement weather at the speedway forced ARCA and Chicagoland Speedway officials to make a revision to the original schedule.
Complete race results are available at ARCARacing.com.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returns to action Saturday, June 11 in the Pocono ARCA 200 at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania. The event is scheduled as the seventh of 19 on the 2011 ARCA Racing Series schedule.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards features 19 events at 16 tracks on its 2011 schedule. The series has crowned an ARCA national champion each year since its inaugural season in 1953, and has toured over 200 race tracks in 28 states since its inception. The series tests the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule of stock car racing events in the world, annually visiting tracks ranging from 0.4 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course.
Founded by John Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA administers over 100 race events each season in two professional touring series and local weekly events.