ARCA Making 50th Trip to Talladega
May 3, 2012 | 10:16 A.M. EST
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 at Talladega will begin Friday at 5 p.m. (ET). (Photo: ARCA)
Jim Vandiver is 72 years old today, a man over 35 years removed from his perfect ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards record at Talladega Superspeedway: two starts, two wins.
Even if Vandiver is no longer the same young driver who swept two ARCA races five years apart, he's still the name that stands first on the long list of winners at the historic 2.66-mile oval, where ARCA will race Friday for the 50th time in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250.
Vandiver led 132 of 188 laps on October 26, 1969, allowing him to top Ramo Stott and Freddy Fryar in ARCA's first appearance at Talladega. Since then, Stott earned two wins of his own and Vandiver then won in 1975, paving the way for a rising driver like Mark Martin, then just 22, to win in 1981. Alabama Gang drivers Davey Allison and Red Farmer and fellow Southern star Grant Adcox of Tennessee won 11 straight races at Talladega between 1983 and 1988.
Since then, winners have included Tracy Leslie, Jimmy Horton, Charlie Glotzbach, Tim Steele, Frank Kimmel, and Bobby Gerhart, among others up to Ty Dillon in last year's thrilling finish. If Dillon's last-lap pass of Kimmel from 2011 is any indicator of what's to come in Friday's 94-lap event, ARCA's 60th Anniversary Season is bound to get more exciting.
The trip to Talladega is a drastic change of pace for many ARCA Racing Series teams just winding down from Sunday's race at the 0.555-mile Salem Speedway, a rough, high-banked oval in southern Indiana. According to new ARCA points leader Brennan Poole, the smooth, wide, and numerous grooves at Talladega should create an action-packed race, as usual. Poole compared Talladega to the only other large track on which the series has raced this year, Daytona International Speedway.
"Daytona's really tough to pass on, when you start in the back; it's such a ‘bottom' race track," said Poole, who finished seventh in the season opener at Daytona. "At Talladega, we can move around. I hope this time I won't be starting in the back and I can have better track position. The Venturinis have a great engine program and great chassis, along with smart people working on these cars. I feel like we're going to be right there in the mix of everything and have a shot at winning the race."
Will Kimmel finished third at Daytona, showing that he has the superspeedway power necessary to remain in the top 10 in points. He, too, compared the two mammoth superspeedways, just before driving the fastest lap in open testing at the track earlier this month.
"Talladega is so much easier to drive (than Daytona)," Kimmel said. "That's just because Daytona kind of throws you into the turn and the turns are pinched...and the track itself at Daytona is a little more narrow. Here at Talladega, you've got so much room to race, so you can really give each other a lot of room and run wide open, two- or three-wide really, really comfortably here."
Practice on Thursday, May 3 will begin at 11 a.m. (ET) and last for three hours, and will be followed by Menards Pole Qualifying at 6:05. The series will hold a final practice Friday morning, from 11-11:55 (ET).
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame 250 at Talladega will begin Friday at 5 p.m. (ET) and air live on SPEED.
In a fitting tie to the race name, ARCA will also be represented at Thursday's International Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The Hall of Fame is located on Talladega Superspeedway property, and this year will induct Richard Childress, last season's champion team owner in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Ty Dillon, grandson to Childress and the 2011 ARCA Racing Series driving champion, will be recognized on stage at the ceremony.
In addition, ARCA will unveil its newly-designed wing within the International Motorsports Hall of Fame that evening. The walls of the ARCA wing will feature a more modern look and honor each of the 29 driving champions of ARCA's previous 59 seasons.