After a week off, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returns to action at the Toledo Speedway and the excitement is beginning to build for the third short track race of the season.
Competitive racing and smart strategy in Nashville was highlighted by Chad Finley going to victory lane for the first time of his career. Smart strategy also highlighted Salem which witnessed Dalton Sergeant lap the entire field for the first time since 2006.
Austin Theriault enters Toledo with a padded points lead over a new second-place driver in the form of Shane Lee, who joined Theriault as two of the drivers who were able to survive the big one at Talladega. Kyle Weatherman fell from second to fourth in the standings after being involved in a wreck at Talladega, while Dalton Sargeant also found himself in that same crash.
Theriault comes to another new track for the first time this weekend. He’s been able to hold the points lead since his victory at Daytona and with four straight top-5 finishes in four races. The concern of coming to a new track can’t be that big especially when his team owner, Ken Schrader, has had much success at Toledo gaining five victories including his most recent in 2015. Advice from the short track star could certainly help Theriault gain his second victory of the season..
Lee and Sargeant represent Cunningham Motorsports, the team who brought home the victory last season with Myatt Snider. Lee will drive the same car on Sunday in his debut race at Toledo that Snider celebrated with last May. Lee has 14 starts in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, and has only finished outside of the top-10 once this season when he finished 12th at Nashville. His teammate Sargeant already has a victory this season at Salem and he has the experience at Toledo, having one start last season where he finished second.
Venturini Motorsports brings another stout lineup to the track with two drivers returning, and one driver making her ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut. Natalie Decker will make her ARCA Racing Series debut behind the wheel of the No. 25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota Camry. Zane Smith and Christian Eckes return again this weekend. Eckes had a very good showing at Nashville where he gained a career best finish of third. He also led his first laps of his career at both Nashville and Salem. Zane Smith, one of the newest members of the NASCAR Next program, will make his third start of the season. He gained his career best finish at Salem where he finished sixth.
Of all the championship contenders, Weatherman has the most experience at Toledo with three starts. His best finish came last season where he finished third. He has been creeping in on his second career victory and has led a total of 138 laps this season with a best finish of second at Nashville. Weatherman led four laps a few weeks ago at Talladega but as noted above, he was involved in the big one, ending his evening early.
Gus Dean is sneaking in on the championship hunt following redemption from a rough start to the season at Salem and Talladega. Dean has one start at Toledo last season where he finished seventh. He was able to finish second at Salem and sixth at Talladega which moves him up to sixth in points. With Justin Fontaine still injured, a new face makes his appearance in the No. 33 Toyota. Tyler Dippel will make his season debut and his first start since Salem in 2015. Dippel has three starts in the series with a best finish of fourth coming in his last start in the series.