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Roulo 'Really Satisfied' To Achieve Championship Goal; ARCA News & Notes
Posted by: newsla on Oct 23, 2012 - 06:24 AM
NASCAR News
Roulo 'Really Satisfied' To Achieve Championship Goal; ARCA News & Notes


Gary Roulo and brother Russell have led the Roulo Brothers Racing team in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards since the mid-1980s, and by now their story is familiar.

 

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Before 2010, the team had won 22 races but had never contested a full season in the series. That year, Chris Buescher (No. 17 Reliance Tool/BeavEx Ford) drove to victories on two occasions at Toledo Speedway, marking himself as one of the top rising short track drivers in ARCA. Still, though, the team ran a partial schedule, giving up the pursuit of championship glory.

Three wins in the final four races of 2011 - the team's first full campaign - created momentum for the team's 2012 season, which wrapped up in the Kansas Lottery 98.9 at Kansas Speedway on Friday. Buescher finished eighth when all he needed was a top-15, giving him and the Roulos a first championship in just their second full season.

What might not be known about the Roulos' effort is its size relative to other teams in the ARCA garage. The team does receive some support from Roush Fenway Racing, but Roulo said after Friday's race that many would be surprised at the true magnitude of the No. 17 team's effort.

"A lot of people wouldn't really understand what it takes to do this in our format," said Roulo, who is based in Midlothian, Ill. "I won't even count myself, but my brother Rusty, Chris, and my son David are primarily the core people that have been preparing cars. We do have a lot of good people that have been at the race track over the years that helped to pull all of this together, but I don't think most people would realize how small of a group we are compared to a lot of the teams we're running against.

"There were a lot more variables, hurdles, and challenges with new surfaces at tracks and car changes, so I'm really satisfied to be able to jump over all of those hurdles and make the changes we needed to make. We really worked hard to catch up to what we needed to do differently."

Like the co-owner and crew chief, Buescher said that the experience of the partial seasons helped in the 2012 title drive.

"We've been around this thing for four years now, going back to the short track years," he said. "It definitely helped doing that, getting the experience by going to those places to showing up for the whole season. It took me a while to really adjust to these big tracks, and I think that might have been where we lost a little bit of it (in 2011). We were really strong last year as well, but had a little better year this time."

Buescher is tied with Bob Strait as the team's all-time leading winner; each has nine wins. Other notable names such as Ken Schrader, Joe Ruttman, and Dave Weltmeyer have driven for the team, but Roulo said Friday that Buescher's championship places him on a higher plane in the team's history.

"Chris has done a great job, of course, and this has validated a lot of what we've been able to do in the past," he said. "I'm really happy for the opportunity. Big names have driven for us in the past and there are a lot of accomplishments there, but Chris has stood out on his own and created his own accomplishments. Rookie of the Year, the superspeedway challenge, second in points, and now 2012 champion, the wins. I think he stands out from the crowd and has done a great job."

In the end, Buescher finished with a 75-point lead over Frank Kimmel. His four wins (Alex Bowman) and 16 top-10s (Kimmel) tied for series leads, and he led all drivers with 12 top-fives. Buescher, who will celebrate his 20th birthday next week, is the second youngest champion in ARCA history; only 2011 titlist Ty Dillon was younger.

Bowman Reflects on Win, Special Awards: Alex Bowman (No. 22 St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Dodge) left Kansas Speedway Friday night with his fourth race win trophy of the year, his second at Kansas Speedway, and a host of important series awards. Among those awards were the prestigious Team Messina Rookie Challenge, won by four points over Brennan Poole, and the Aaron's Lap Leader Award, won by a substantial margin over Poole.

"Leading all those laps says a lot about our year," Bowman said. "We had a race-winning race car probably 15 of the (19) races. Like I've said, we had a ton of bad luck, leading at the (New Jersey) road course, pit strategy, something always seemed to bite us. But you'll have that. It was really cool to get to run a full year. It was a struggle to find funding every week but it was definitely worth it to get to work with these guys. I feel like if we wouldn't have had so much bad luck, we might be still standing out in Victory Lane doing all the championship stuff."

Cunningham Motorsports co-owner Kerry Scherer joined Bowman in his post-race winner's press conference and gave high praise to the young driver from Tucson, Ariz. Asked how he would rank against other drivers in Cunningham's history, Scherer did not have to think for long.

"It doesn't take too many fingers on my hand to get to Alex Bowman, as far as talent," he said. "I would say, I can't think of anybody, with the possible exception of Parker Kligerman, who was successful a couple of years ago, who has been able to accomplish what Alex was able to accomplish this year. He's just an amazing driver. He didn't just win four races this year; he had 10 top-three finishes. Not top-fives, top-threes. That meant that more than 50 percent of the time this year he finished in the top three, an amazing accomplishment. I would rank him right at the top."

Strong Finish for Swindell: Venturini Motorsports' Kevin Swindell (No. 55 Curb Records Toyota) charged past several drivers in the final laps to finish second in the Kansas Lottery 98.9, completing an impressive stretch over his final four races of the 2012 season.

After leading every lap to win at Chicagoland Speedway in July, Swindell finished third at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis and the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield. No other driver finished with four top-threes in his final four races this season, although Bowman came close with a win, two runner-up finishes, and a fifth-place finish.

Enfinger Close Again: Grant Enfinger (No. 09 Casite.com/Motor Honey Ford) made just six starts in 2012, but finished in the top three in half of them. Enfinger's third-place finish for Team BCR Racing in Friday's Kansas Lottery 98.9 was his 14th top-three result in 43 career starts.

Brennans Complete Top Five: Brennan Poole's (No. 25 Colt Ford/Average Joes Entertainment Toyota) fourth-place finish at Kansas Speedway was his first top-five finish since early August at Pocono Raceway, but more than enough to give him the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge Award over Frank Kimmel.

Another Brennan, Brennan Newberry, rounded out the top five. Newberry (No. 92 NTS Motorsports Chevrolet) impressed in both of his ARCA Racing Series starts this season, finishing fourth at Michigan in June and fifth on Friday night. The 21-year-old has spent most of his season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, making 10 starts with a best finish of 19th at Michigan.

Four Starts, Four Top-10s for Iowan Mitchell: Mason Mitchell (No. 6 J&S Ag Services Chevrolet) earned another top-10 by finishing seventh in his Kansas Speedway debut, making himself 4-for-4 in the top 10 in his partial 2012 schedule for Eddie Sharp Racing. Mitchell hopes to make a run at a full schedule in 2013 and is currently pursuing sponsorship to do just that.

Reed, Will Kimmel Each Earn Sixth Top-10: Will Kimmel (No. 68 Mallory Ignition Ford) scored his sixth top-10 of 2012 with a ninth-place finish at Kansas Friday, doubling his career high for top-10 results.

Ryan Reed (No. 15 JDRF Ford) finished in the top five just once in his first nine starts this season, but did not finish outside the top 10 in his last five. He was 10th at Kansas Friday, his first start since early August at Pocono.

Frank Kimmel on Upward Trend, Ties a Katona Record: Frank Kimmel (No. 44 Ansell/Menards Toyota) finished sixth to end the year with 16 top-10 finishes, tied for most in the ARCA Racing Series with champion Chris Buescher. Kimmel was unable to catch Buescher in the final point standings, of course, but may be on the right side of an upward trend.

After his ninth and most recent title in 2007, Kimmel has finished second in points in 2008, third in 2009, and fourth in 2010, all before rebounding to finish third in 2011 and second in 2012.

Whether or not 2013 will complete the trend and be the year for Kimmel's 10th title remains to be seen, but one thing is for sure: the 50-year-old will have the chance to break Iggy Katona's record for consecutive top-10 finishes in the series point standings. Katona's record of 79 series wins is the most notable record in ARCA, but he also finished in the top 10 of the point standings in each of the first 21 years (1953-73) of the ARCA Racing Series.

Kimmel first finished in the top 10 in 1992, in fifth, and completed his 21st season in the top 10 on Friday.

Hessert Top-10 for Fifth Straight Year: Like Frank Kimmel, Tom Hessert reached a similar milestone with a top-10 series finish. Hessert, who did not race at Kansas, finished 10th in the final standings for his fifth consecutive top-10 year.

Hessert is the 23rd driver in ARCA's 60-year history with five top-10 finishes in a row, and the first outside of Kimmel to accomplish the feat since Jason Jarrett (2001-05).

The other 19 drivers to complete the feat over five or more consecutive years are: A Arnold (1971-76), Andy Belmont (1998-2002), Norm Benning (1997-2002), Bobby Bowsher (1989-96), Bob Brevak (1983-87), Glenn Brewer (1990-95), Delmar Clark (1976-80), Dave Dayton (1972-76), Bob Dotter (1980-92), Dick Freeman (1962-67), Bobby Jacks (1981-86), Bob Keselowski (1986-94), Paul Parks (1958-62), Lee Raymond (1982-87), Marvin Smith (1978-83), Les Snow (1965-69), Nelson Stacy (1956-60), Bill Venturini (1983-88), and Paul Wensink (1964-70).

Career High for Bujdoso: Robert Bujdoso (No. 91 Checkered Express Ford) finished 14th in the Kansas Lottery 98.9, and was the only driver in the top 20 who earned a career-best finish in the race. The Bowsher Motorsports driver has finished in the top 15 in each of his three ARCA Racing Series starts.

"What a great way to end the year," Bujdoso said in a team press release. "We started off 23rd and I had a really good start. I moved up a few positions and avoided all the wrecks. A lot of hard work came with this. Thanks to Bowsher and all these guys. We were able to communicate well about the car and I can't thank them enough. It's great. A top-15 in each of the three races I've done. We might not have had the best equipment out there tonight but we did everything we could to get the best out of it. Tonight was fun - the most fun I've had yet."

Mansfield Wins Truck Series Championship: Danny Jackson had led the ARCA Truck Series point standings for most of 2012 and won Sunday at Lake County Speedway in Painesville, Ohio. That was not enough, though, to top Levi Mansfield, who secured his first championship in the series.

Mansfield had a strong weekend, finishing first in Saturday's 10-lap "Dash for Cash," which featured each of the weekend's top six qualifiers. Mansfield made that field by winning his third pole of the 2012 season. He had been strong in practice, finishing first in the first session and fourth in the second.

Banquet, Testing on the Way: The 2012 ARCA Racing Series Championship Awards Banquet is scheduled for Saturday, December 8, and will be held in conjunction with the International Motorsports Industry Show (IMIS), which will begin two days prior. The banquet will take place in a new location, the Indiana Convention Center in downtown Indianapolis.

Testing for the ARCA Racing Series' 50th appearance at Daytona International Speedway, in February 2013, will take place from December 14-16.

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