Despite a field full of veterans, youth trumped age and treachery in qualifying for the Menards 200 at Toledo Speedway Saturday afternoon.
Chris Buescher, a 17-year-old Roush Fenway Racing development prospect, was the only driver to eclipse the 16-second barrier at Toledo, scoring his second career ARCA Racing Series pole after also setting the fastest time in practice earlier that afternoon. Buescher will share the front row with Mikey Kile out of the Venturini Motorsports stable. Kile, currently fourth in ARCA points, extended his streak as the only full-time driver in the series to qualify in the top five for every 2010 event.
Buescher was last on an ARCA track back at Salem in April, where he was among the fastest cars in the field before an unscheduled green-flag pit stop trapped him off the lead lap for the rest of the afternoon (he still finished 12th).
A number of drivers making their 2010 ARCA debuts enjoyed solid qualifying efforts. Ageless Ken Schrader, a four-time Toledo winner, at one point held the provisional pole and will start third in his first of only two scheduled ARCA starts this season. NASCAR Truck Series regular Matt Crafton will start seventh racing as a teammate to Frank Kimmel, and AJ Frank will start 12th in the No. 15 for Venturini Motorsports (Toledo marks the first race of 2010 that Alli Owens will not drive the No. 15).
Each of the top-three drivers in the ARCA standings faced their own issues throughout Saturday afternoon. Points leader Justin Marks qualified fifth, but was struggling with a miss in the motor through much of practice (the Win-Tron Racing No. 32 team also had engine issues at Texas last month). Steve Arpin, back after a three-week stint with JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, will start eighth in a car that was, as he put it, “dirt-tracking” all around the paved 1/2 mile. And Patrick Sheltra struggled to an 18th-place qualifying effort with a car that is proving impossible to turn in the center of the corners.
32 cars took time on Saturday and will start the Menards 200. The only incident was a spin by Nick Igdalsky in his first ride with Mark Gibson Racing and the No. 59 team exiting turn 4 on his second qualifying lap. Igdalsky made no contact with the wall.