By Don Radebaugh, ARCA Racing Series
There's always a first time for everything and so it shall be for ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards championship leaders Austin Theriault and Dalton Sargeant.
With the 55th running of the Herr's Potato Chips 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds mile dirt coming Sunday, Aug. 20, it's worth noting that neither Theriault nor Sargeant has turned a lap in competition, certainly not in a 3300-lb. ARCA machine on a dirt track.
"No pressure, but at the same time, there's pressure," said Theriault, the championship leader with just seven races remaining.
"I've got to get ready to adapt quickly…that's the biggest thing. Don't box yourself in. A lot of guys have ideas what they think it's going to be like, but I'm not sure that's the best thing. Be ready to adapt, and act."
Whether it's dirt or asphalt, some of the same rules apply.
"I've got to do what I do for every race…try not to put our team in a bad situation and get a good finish. It's one of those things…you just gotta go do it and stay out of trouble."
Still, Theriault understands he's got a quick learning curve coming at Springfield.
"I have to learn how to drive it…that's my job. I think we'll be in good shape. I like tracks that are slick…where you have to find grip."
Runner-up championship driver Dalton Sargeant is looking forward to his first dirt track experience, but admits he has no idea what to expect.
"I'm actually really looking forward at trying my hand at some dirt racing this weekend in Springfield," said Sargeant.
"Coming from a road course background I'd never dream that I'd be competing on a mile dirt track. I really have no clue on what to expect, I've watched the previous ARCA races over and over and it looks like fun but really don't know what it's going to be like sliding in the first turn on my first lap on a dirt track."
Sargeant has already reached out to ARCA's defending champion Chase Briscoe, who came from a dirt track background.
"I've reached out to Chase Briscoe to talk about what to expect and how to even race an ARCA car on dirt and he's given me a lot of good feedback. We just need to go out and minimize our mistakes at these two dirt tracks and get a good finish without tearing up any equipment.
"I'm excited to say the least, I love the challenge that these two races present and welcome it. Making my dirt debut in the middle of a championship battle will be a challenge to say the least."
10-time ARCA Racing Series national champion Frank Kimmel is the all-time Springfield winner with eight wins, his most recent in 2012. Over the years, championship stock car winners at Springfield include Curtis Turner (’63), Don White (’66, ’67, ’72), Al Unser (’72), Jack Bowsher (’73), Roger McCluskey (’74), Ramo Stott (’76, ’77, ’80), AJ Foyt (’79), Joe Ruttman (’80), Dean Roper (’81, ’82, ’83, ’83, ’85, ’86), Bob Keselowski (’87, ’88, ’89, ’93), Bobby Bowsher (’91, ’92), Tim Steele (‘96, ’97), Ken Schrader (’98), Bill Baird (’99, ’04), Justin Allgaier (’06), Parker Kligerman (’09), Kimmel (’00, ’01, ’02. ’03, ’05, ’07, ’08, ‘12), Kevin Swindell ('14), AJ Fike ('15) and Justin Haley ('16).
Herr's Potato Chips 100 Schedule
Practice for the Herr's Potato Chips 100 is scheduled from 9-10 a.m. with General Tire Pole Qualifying following at 11. The 55th annual Herr's Potato Chips 100 starts at 1:30 p.m. All times are local Central.
Live on MAVTV
The Herr's Potato Chips 100 will be live on MAVTV. ARCAracing.com will feature live timing and scoring and live chat of all on-track activity throughout the afternoon.
Discounted Tickets at area Menards
Now's the time to buy your discounted tickets for the big show, on sale now at 10 Menards stores in Illinois through Saturday, August 19.
Fans can save $10 off the $30 gate price at two Menards stores in Springfield (Menards North and South), as well as stores in Champaign, Effingham, Forsyth, Normal, Pekin, Peoria, Quincy and Washington. Discounted tickets are $20 at Menards for ages 12 on up. Kids, 11 and under, are still $10 at the gate. For more information and the complete listing of stores offering discounted tickets.