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What to watch for in Saturday's ARCA race at Talladega

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The ARCA Racing Series event at Talladega Superspeedway was postponed until Saturday afternoon due to inclement weather and will now air on FS2 at 6 p.m. ET after the NASCAR Xfinity Series race and Monster Energy Cup Series qualifying.

Once it does begin, there are several interesting storylines to follow throughout the conclusion of the General Tire 200. From a tightly contested early championship battle to the end of an era for a certain type of car, this race has a little bit of everything.

First, let’s focus on the championship battle.

Austin Theriault won the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway and backed it up with finishes of fourth and fifth at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville and Salem Speedway. That’s pretty impressive consistency for the Ken Schrader Racing youngster.

Dalton Sargeant took his No. 77 Cunningham Motorsports entry to victory lane at Salem after finishes of fourth and ninth. That’s good enough to be just 15 points behind Theriault and tied for second with Kyle Weatherman with finishes of eighth, second and third for Mason Mitchell Motorsports.

And then there’s Shane Lee and Bret Holmes rounding out the top-5 within 100 points of the lead. It’s still early, but it’s good to see early parity this season between the expected championship contenders.

  1. Austin Theriault Ldr.
  2. Kyle Weatherman -15
  3. Dalton Sargeant -15
  4. Shane Lee -55
  5. Bret Holmes -95
     

Remember that ARCA pays five points for winning the pole, leading a lap and leading the most laps respectively. The winner gets 235 points, second gets 220 points and each position pays five less points than the one prior.

So this is still a wide-open affair.

Gus Dean set to hit reset on season at site of only victory

Defending ARCA Talladega winner Gus Dean is not currently amongst the championship leaders but expected to be at the start of the season.

Due to a crash at Daytona and a mechanical issue at Nashville, Dean’s championship aspirations with Win-Tron Racing took an immediate hit. The 22-year-old responded with a second-place finish last weekend at Salem and he’s at least in a position to call the first two weeks a mulligan.

Now Dean returns to the site of his only victory with a lot of enthusiasm. Dean felt he would have contended at Daytona in February too but was wiped out in a multi-car crash not of his own doing.

As a result, crew chief Kevin Cywinski and team had to completely rebuild their restrictor plate car in advance of this race.

“I was laying back when we got taken out at Daytona,” Dean said. “Our No. 32 GREE Toyota was fast…we just found ourselves at the wrong place at the wrong time. This week at Talladega, we’ve got a game plan and I like it. Hopefully, it pays off in a big way.”

End of an era for ARCA steel-bodied cars at Talladega

The General Tire 200 represents the end of the line for steel-bodied cars at Daytona and Talladega.

The composite body cars that have become more standard over the past two seasons will be mandatory at both restrictor plate tracks next season. These bodies are manufactured by Five Star Bodies are also used in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and resemble their Cup Series counterparts.

The composite bodied cars were first eligible in 2015 on tracks one mile and less in length. Eligibility was expanded in 2016 to all tracks except the restrictor plate events at Daytona and Talladega. Effective in 2018, the composite body is the only eligible body for Daytona and Talladega, while both composite and steel bodies remain eligible for competition at all other events.

At some point, ARCA will completely abandon the steel-bodied cars but that date has not yet been set.

Dega Debuts a Plenty

Talladega is often the home for both series debuts and track debuts since NASCAR hopefuls need to make at least one start on the high banks in ARCA to do so at the highest levels and the General Tire 200 is no exception.

Here are the notables:

Spencer Davis: 18-year-old Late Model and NASCAR Modified veteran

Riley Herbst: 18-year-old full-time Joe Gibbs Racing rookie who missed Daytona because he was still 17

Justin Haley: 18-year-old full-time GMS Truck Series racer whom missed Daytona and Atlanta because he was still 17

Starting Lineup set by 2016 points after qualifying rainout

  1. Dalton Sargeant
  2. Noah Gragson
  3. Tom Hessert
  4. Austin Theriault
  5. Kyle Weatherman
  6. Shane Lee
  7. Spencer Davis
  8. AJ Fike
  9. Ed Pompa
  10. Thomas Praytor
  11. Willie Mullins
  12. Eric Caudell
  13. Brad Smith
  14. Bret Holmes
  15. Will Kimmel
  16. Ray Ciccarelli
  17. Don Thompson
  18. Con Nicolopoulos
  19. Riley Herbst
  20. Brandon Lynn
  21. Bo LeMastus
  22. Gus Dean
  23. Justin Haley
  24. Mark Thompson
  25. Bobby Gerhart
  26. Ricky Sanders
  27. Caesar Bacarella
  28. Leilani Munter
  29. Bryan Dauzat
  30. Codie Rohrbaugh
  31. Benny Chastain
  32. Terry Jones
  33. Andy Seuss
  34. David LeBeau
  35. Sean Corr
  36. Cody Lane


By Matt Weaver

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