(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

4 Burning Questions: ARCA Just Can’t Stop Going

Will the new ARCA be a success or failure?

This week, NASCAR officially unveiled their new direction for ARCA and what is now known as the K&N Pro Series East/West.

Much of the format information had already been announced by NASCAR a year ago. But Wednesday’s announcement finally put names in places.

Instead of the ARCA name going away, it is instead expanding. The ARCA Menards Series will stay as-is. The two regional series will now be known as ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West respectively. Each of the two regional series will have ten races each, with their main focus being on short tracks. I’m sure there will be exceptions to the rule, such as the annual West companion race at Sonoma Raceway or a race at Dover International Speedway for the East.

The main ARCA Series will be twenty races. Ten of those will be at short tracks, and will be open to East and West drivers in a series-within-a-series titled the ARCA Short Track Challenge. The other ten will be at bigger racetracks, such as the infamous race at Daytona International Speedway. Pocono Raceway will also be staying on the ARCA schedule, having already been announced for a Thursday one-day show before the three national touring series arrive on Friday during the Cup double-header weekend.

Most of this is great. The ARCA name, as synonymous as it is with being a circus, doesn’t deserve to die. Car count issues have long been a problem for all three series, and putting everybody under one rules package is going to definitely help with that. If an ARCA driver wants to enter a K&N race, well, now they can with their usual car. If Hailie Deegan wanted to enter Daytona next year, now she can with her West car if owner Bill McAnally has no other cars available.

Now, that’s the good part of the announcement. There were two not-so-good elements of the announcement.

One is the lack of dirt racing mentions. NASCAR neither confirmed nor denied that dirt racing would return to any of the three series. The only time dirt came up was them announcing that the season-opening West race will now be held at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Bullring instead of being held at the Dirt Track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. That’s not a great sign for the series’ future on dirt, in addition to being a very redundant sentence to type.

Speaking of redundancy, there are the names of the series itself. Read this paragraph out loud and don’t stumble over your words:

The ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West are two regional racing series that do not count towards ARCA Menards Series points. Instead, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West may compete in the ten ARCA Menard Series short track races, which count towards the ARCA Short Track Challenge. These are in addition to each region’s ten separate races, which again do not count towards ARCA Menards Series points even though it’s the same rules package and their names are literally ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West.

They really couldn’t at least retain the Pro name? I’d have kept the two regional circuits as ARCA Menards Pro Series East/West, and called the main ARCA series ARCA Menards Elite Series. It’s understandable that they have similar names due to having the same title sponsor now, but they really had to essentially use the same name for three separate series? It just seems like it’s going to cause nothing but confusion for casual, new fans trying to get into any of the three.

Is the new IndyCar safety visor a bad thing with how ugly it looks?

No.

Safety should always take priority over looks.

This doesn’t deserve any more of a response.

Who will be the 100th winner at Dover?

Dover is celebrating its 100th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race this weekend. The one-mile concrete oval is only the 10th track in the history of Cup to get to triple digit races, with the ninth track coming earlier this year when Talladega Superspeedway hosted its 100th race in the spring. Michigan International Raceway also enjoyed its 100th Cup race last year. Bonus points to the first person in the comments who can name the other seven.

There have been some great moments in the history of Dover, such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning in 2001, Matt Kenseth prevailing in a duel with Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson in 2016, Rusty Wallace beating a field of just eight cars running at the finish in 1993. My personal favorite moment came in 1981, when Junie Donlavey, the gentleman owner from Richmond who fielded cars as early as 1950 and as late as 2002, got his lone win in Cup with driver Jody Ridley.

Dover is a roller coaster of a racetrack, much like Kevin Harvick’s record there. The No. 4 team usually brings one of the fastest cars every race weekend, but something really dumb almost always happens to them, like a slow pit stop or a mechanical failure. Harvick’s two wins at Dover since joining SHR featured him leading over half of the race.

Elliott, meanwhile, is a must-have for any fantasy team this week. Elliott has just one finish outside of the top five in his seven start career at the “Monster Mile”. The defending race winner has entered this weekend with plenty of momentum after charging to a win last week at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL.

Who will advance at Dover?

The first cut-off race of the 2019 NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs comes this weekend at Dover, and there’s still plenty that could happen.

In the 12-driver field, two- Christopher Bell and Cole Custer– have clinched spots in the Round of Eight, regardless of what happens on Saturday. If Bell, Custer, or somebody not in the playoffs win at Dover, both Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric will lock themselves in.

Justin Allgaier, with 40 points over the current cut line, is in solid shape to advance. Chase Briscoe is also fairly safe, with his own 35 point cushion.

Noah Gragson is 26 points above the cut line. Two great first stages could get him into the next round alone. But an early exit will definitely give him a lot of trouble.

Michael Annett is eleven points ahead of both Brandon Jones and John Hunter Nemechek for the eighth and final position in the playoffs. With the underfunded Ryan Sieg (-47) and Justin Haley (-49 with just three top five finishes this season) being all but out without surprise victories, expect a three-driver duel over 200 miles in the first state to determine that final Round of Eight spot.

Support Frontstretch on Patreon

About Michael Finley

Avatar
Michael has watched NASCAR for 15 years and began covering the sport five years ago. He is a graduate of Salisbury University and a proud member of the National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA).

Check Also

Reel Racing: The Humanity of Born Racer

This weekend’s Saturday night race at Texas Motor Speedway marks the long-awaited opener of the …