Ryan Blaney was charging, but Ty Dillon had too much left in the tank. Dillon, a rookie and the points leader in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, held Blaney's late rally at bay to take his sixth victory of 2011 in the Ansell Protective Gloves 200 and extend his impressive lead atop the series point standings.
Dillon (No. 41 Hemelgarn/CIPT Chevrolet) led 71 laps, including the final 39 in a race extended to 203 laps, to earn his eighth victory in 15 career starts. The 19-year-old now leads Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/ActivArmr/Menards Ford) by a commanding 360 points atop the series standings. Kimmel and Grant Enfinger (No. 36 Hoosier Tire Midwest/RaceTires.com Dodge) passed Chris Buescher (No. 17 Reliance Tool/David Ragan Ford Ford), who fell to fourth.
The race was the first for the ARCA Racing Series at Lucas Oil Raceway - the former Indianapolis Raceway Park - since Bob Schacht's victory in 1985.
'I've got to thank Ryan Blaney for racing me clean," Dillon said. "He's a heck of a wheelman and I can't thank him enough. Two in a row. We've had fast cars everywhere we've unloaded. I'm so happy for Chevrolet, Hemelgarn Enterprises, and the Childress Institute for Pediatric Trauma. Everybody's helped out. These guys are awesome. That last pit stop was great. We dialed it in and were just able to hold on there at the end."
As has become custom in the series, Dillon started the day quickly. After finishing second to Blaney (No. 15 Seal Wrap Chevrolet) in practice, he won the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell - his second consecutive and fifth of 2011. Dillon ran away from the green flag, building his lead over James Buescher (No. 4 Great Clips Chevrolet) to 1.675 seconds through four laps. Blaney passed Buescher for second on the fifth lap, and by the time they hit the start/finish line again, Dillon had extended his lead to 2.012 seconds. Dillon's lead grew to 2.374 seconds by Lap 10, when he lapped Benny Chastain (No. 75 AARP Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet) to leave just 30 cars on the lead lap.
Seven laps later, Dillon approached Bobby Gerhart Racing teammates Bobby Gerhart (No. 5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet) and Brandon Kidd (No. 7 Brioschi Chevrolet), who ran 25th and 26th. Dillon lapped them on Lap 18, and moved his advantage past three seconds two laps later.
Blaney started to gain then, however, closing to within a second four laps later as Dillon encountered heavier traffic. By the time the top three reached Lap 30 and only 20 cars remained on the lead lap, Blaney and Buescher had cleared most traffic and had Dillon clearly in their sights. Just behind them, Chad McCumbee (No. 1 ModSpace Ford) and Casey Roderick (No. 08 Randy Hill Racing Chevrolet) drove fourth and fifth, respectively.
Blaney moved close in Turn 3 on Lap 31, and passed Dillon one lap later, leading the 32nd lap by 0.132 second. Buescher worked closely on Dillon on the backstretch of Lap 34, and then passed for second the next lap. Chastain spun soon after that, bringing the field to caution.
McCumbee, Chad Hackenbracht (No. 58 Hampton Farms Chevrolet), Tom Hessert (No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet), Enfinger, and Max Gresham (No. 25 Gresham & Associates/Lauren Briant Chevrolet) were among the contenders that pitted before the green flag flew again on Lap 41.
Blaney led the ensuing restart easily, eventually building a 1.403-second lead at Lap 48. Buescher started to close as the run went on, but found himself hardly closer than a half-second as Blaney continued to roll. Chastain spun for the second time on Lap 60, collecting Kenzie Ruston (No. 55 MelMark Pipe & Supply Toyota) along the way. Buescher and Dillon both pitted on the caution, but Blaney did not. McCumbee, who had pitted earlier, followed Blaney in second, with Enfinger and Hessert behind him.
Blaney led from the Lap 66 restart, but behind him, Buescher was gaining considerably. He bolted from seventh to fourth within a lap, just before Sean Corr (No. 82 Live United/Empire Racing Ford) suffered an expired engine that brought another caution. He then moved to third during the caution period, setting himself up for a run at Blaney. Blaney led at the Lap 77 restart, and again at a Lap 84 restart after a Roderick incident.
With Buescher now second, Dillon passed McCumbee for third. Buescher and Dillon both drove within two seconds of Blaney over the ensuing laps, and Dillon eventually closed his gap to the lead to less than a second.
Buescher looked outside of Blaney on Lap 97, but could not complete the pass. He finished the move, however, on Lap 99, just before Brett Hudson (No. 94 Hudson Performance Drivelines Dodge) spun and struck the Turn 4 wall. Buescher led out of the Lap 104 restart, and Blaney, who pitted to close Lap 101, was back in 10th. Blaney moved to fifth by Lap 114; meanwhile, Buescher led Dillon and George, who had assumed third when Blaney pitted.
A caution period set up a Lap 123 restart, and Dillon trailed Buescher by approximately a quarter-second. Buescher's lead grew to 0.653 second at Lap 130, when Gerhart spun in Turn 4 and down the frontstretch to bring another caution. On the ensuing restart, Hackenbracht ran into George, lifting his back wheels off the track. Jared Marks (No. 8 Mad Croc Energy Drink Dodge) slammed into George, and Joey Coulter (No. 16 Rip It Energy/Darrell Gwynn Foundation Chevrolet) spun nearby, bringing out a red flag that lasted nine minutes and 18 seconds.
The restart out of the red flag produced some of the night's most exciting racing, as Dillon made a run on Buescher, and Blaney, who had improved to third, ran within a quarter-second of the lead. Blaney had a wheel inside Dillon on Lap 145, but could not improve to second. A caution period brought a Lap 154 restart, and Dakoda Armstrong (No. 22 Cardinal Ethanol/ICM/Murex Dodge) led when Dillon and Buescher and the other leaders pitted.
Armstrong, racing in his home state and looking for his second victory of the year, led until Lap 165, when Dillon moved by him in Turn 3. Buescher and Blaney both followed, and again the top three was just as it had been at the start: Dillon-Buescher-Blaney.
Dillon's lead grew to 1.681 seconds by Lap 182, when Blaney passed Buescher for second. Blaney appeared to have a clear shot at Dillon, but the points leader had too much left, as Blaney could get no closer than 0.614 second with five laps to go. A late caution flag flew for a Turn 1 accident on Lap 197, but Dillon drove away cleanly on the race's final restart, winning the extended event by 0.676 second.
"It just came to me," Dillon said of the restart. "I was waiting for it all day. We had an awesome car on the restart all day. We weren't as good, I don't believe, on the really long runs, but at the beginning of a run, we were on fire."
Blaney's second-place finish was an improvement on a sixth-place result in his ARCA debut at Winchester in June, and Buescher finished in the top five for the ninth time in 22 ARCA starts. Buescher's race was only his first of the weekend at Lucas Oil Raceway, as he will participate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races at the track Friday and Saturday. He had not raced in ARCA since last April, at Talladega.
Armstrong finished fourth, and his former teammate Hessert finished fifth for Ken Schrader Racing.
Ryan Glenski, who was making his ARCA debut as the winner of Andy Hillenburg's Fast Track Blue Collar Hero Driver Challenge, ended the race sixth. McCumbee, Josh Williams (No. 02 SW Florida Cable Construction/Fields Auto Parts Ford), Enfinger, and Hudson rounded out the top 10.
The race finished in one hour, 46 minutes, and 26 seconds, at an average speed of 78.504 mph. 10 caution flags slowed the race for 56 laps.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards will visit Pocono Raceway for the second time this season on Saturday, August 6, as Tim George Jr. will aim to defend his June victory in the Pennsylvania ARCA 125. The 50-lap, 125-mile race - the 13th this year for the ARCA Racing Series - will air live on SPEED at 3 p.m.
Practice at the Long Pond, Pa. track begins at 1:40 p.m. Friday, August 5, and lasts for 80 minutes. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell follows at 5:40. The race will be the 53rd on the 2.5-mile triangle since 1983. ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring coverage of all on-track events.
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.