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Sunday, October 12, 2008

No shortage of excitement in ARCA finale

A four-way battle for the championship … Beating and banging among the series’ top leaders. … Drivers duking it out for the win as the race comes to an end.

Now that’s what I call a great final race of the season … and it was great to see, because it’s nothing we’re likely to see in a Cup season finale anytime soon.

For those of you who missed it, Penske developmental driver Justin Allgaier won his sixth ARCA race of the season Sunday at Toledo Speedway and also claimed the series title, while driving for a team run by his family. It was an amazing story, but his win and championship weren’t even the most exciting news to come out of the race.

Entering the race, Allgaier was in third, 110 points behind the leader, soon-to-be Red Bull Cup driver Scott Speed. Roush developmental driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was close behind in second place. Going into Sunday, the smart money was on one of these two drivers taking the championship.

But shortly after the race started, Stenhouse and Speed were doing some furious racing against each other and Stenhouse apparently felt he had waited long enough to pass Speed, giving him the chrome horn and sending him up into the wall, ruining Speed’s car.

So the title is Stenhouse’s, right? Wrong.

Speed decided that if he couldn’t win, Stenhouse wouldn’t either. Limping his wounded car back on the track, he drove straight into Stenhouse and send him hard into the wall. Right after the wreck, Speed freely admitted it, saying “He wasn’t going to win the championship that way.”

So after all the smoke had cleared, Allgaier -- who also made an impressive run in his Nationwide Series debut this weekend in Charlotte and will run at least 10 races for Penske Racing in the series in 2009 -- was in the points lead. Assuming he stayed out of trouble, and there was a lot of trouble on Sunday, the title was his. He avoided all the wrecks, and even stayed racy and battled for the lead with a few laps to go even though a wreck could have cost him the title.

That kind of attitude and dedication to winning is what could make him a NASCAR star one day, though hopefully by the time he makes it to Cup the equipment at Penske is a little more reliable.

Allgaier ended up beating nine-time series champ Frank Kimmel by 50 points in the final standings, and Speed and Stenhouse dropped to third and fifth in the standings, respectively.

Though I hope I’m wrong, I doubt the Homestead weekend will be anywhere near as exciting, as I fear Jimmie Johnson will have the Cup title sewn up before the drivers even arrive in South Florida. I find it strange that in series like ARCA, the competition can be so tight, but NASCAR can’t make Cup racing more competitive despite the implementation of the Chase, which is supposed to keep things closer toward the end. I suppose it's possible Johnson's team is just that much better than everyone else.

Regardless, it’s OK.

After watching this ARCA finale, at least I can say I saw an exciting final battle for a stock car racing title this year.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Now that flake Speed goes right into a Cup car? omg

October 13, 2008 at 7:47 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

News flash from Daytona. Some minor tweeks coming to the chase next season.
The points will be reset every week during the chase so that no one will come to Homestead more than 12 points out.
According to Brian France,"we created this thing to add excitement, & we're going to keep tweeking on it untill we get some."


October 13, 2008 at 3:23 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What puzzled me was why ARCA did not black flag Stenhouse and send him to the back during the first 3 1/2 laps for rough driving..? But they didn't. Even I knew Stenhouse wasn't not going to let up until he wrecked Speed. Speed only had to finish 17th or better to get the championship, not Stenhouse who was 2nd. (Stenhouse said he did not think Speed would come back on him. Maybe he should get the dumbest driver championship.) His best hope was to wreck Speed. When they sat Speed out for the rest of the race they should have sat Stenhouse out, too.

October 14, 2008 at 4:25 PM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

I agree that ARCA helped create the situation by not telling Stenhouse to back off before he wrecked Speed. His explanation after the race that brake issues caused him to wreck Speed was pretty weak, as he was riding his bumper for several laps.

October 14, 2008 at 10:20 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yea i was there on pit road on the wall watching the whole battle between them and Speed was Blocking him not letting him pass and anyone with half a brain would have done the same thing. eventhough he wrecked him the so called cup driver should have sucked it up and drove the ill car. Thats whats wrong with the drivers these days they cant drive it unless its perfect. Allgaier is twice the driver either of them are and he has car control and temper control he deserves it. Speed admited to wrecking him on perpose and thats not a good driver i wouldnt even trush him to drive a go-kart

October 15, 2008 at 12:59 PM 

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