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Aug 13, 2014 - 06:28 AM
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Local Champ Strickland Faces Stiff Competition In 7-Up 125 Saturday At Flat Rock' Ragan, Kenseth, Gilliland Entered
Posted by: newsla on Aug 13, 2014 - 06:27 AM
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Local Champ Strickland Faces Stiff Competition In 7-Up 125 Saturday At Flat Rock' Ragan, Kenseth, Gilliland Entered


It would be the perfect scenario...taking a big swig of ice-cold 7-Up from the 7-Up Winners Circle at Flat Rock Speedway after winning the 7-Up 125.

 

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ARCA veteran Dennis Strickland hopes to be that guy; however, the Carleton, Michigan driver, despite his 11 ARCA championships, knows it's going to be a tall order.

"There's some bigger name drivers that are going to be there that pretty much know how to race," Strickland said.

"So, I can't sit back too much and take a chance on getting lapped. So I just have to see how the race unfolds and just hang with them, ride a little bit, and then save whatever we can for the end of the race."

The 'bigger name drivers' that Strickland was referring to are NASCAR Sprint Cup Series veteran and former ARCA winner David Ragan, current ARCA CRA Super Series point leader Ross Kenseth (son of NASCAR Sprint Cup champ Matt Kenseth), and Todd Gilliland, son of Sprint Cup veteran David Gilliland.

Strickland will join a great cast of local drivers entered, including Flat Rock outlaw late model winners Eric Lee and Stan Yee, not to mention three-time ARCA CRA Super Series champion Scott Hantz. Hantz won both of the ARCA CRA 7-Up 125 events at Flat Rock the past two years. Ali Kern, from Fremont, Ohio, finished second last year at Flat Rock, and is also entered. Former Glass City Gold Cup champion Brian Campbell is also entered.

Despite the ultra-competitive entry list, Strickland has also amassed some serious credentials over the years, coming as the defending Glass City 200 champion. The 56-year-old driver has earned 11 ARCA championships in a combination Gold Cup titles, Toledo titles and Flat Rock titles, all in outlaw late model cars.

That said, Strickland has a gozillion laps around the Flat Rock quarter-mile oval, but the ARCA CRA template car is a new animal for Strickland.

"If I get the car going decent, it'll be an advantage (his Flat Rock experience) because I'll know how to race the race as far as what the track's going to do for me late in the race. I pretty much know the do's and don'ts of a tight, small track like Flat Rock so that should help me a little bit, but, like I said, as long as we get the car going decent, which we still got a little work to do, so we'll keep adjusting on it and see if we can get the car better."

As the elder statesman presses toward 60, he says he has to approach each race a little differently than when he started racing more than 30 years ago.

"I have to be more careful on how much more I exert myself in the racecar so that I'm a hundred percent at the end of the race. I don't want to use up all my energy early in the race...when I might need it at the end. I'm in decent shape for my age, so how long am I going to do it? I don't know. I always say a couple years, and then, next thing you know, it's five years, so we'll just take it as it comes; I'll know when I'm ready."

Travis Braden, the 2013 ARCA CRA Super Series champ, who has been fast qualifier for two years running in this event, is also entered in the 7-Up 125.

Another entry is J.J. Haley, who earlier this year became the youngest driver to ever compete and win a pole in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.

The ARCA/CRA drivers will host an autograph session for fans in front of the main grandstand at approximately 6:30 p.m.

In addition to the 7-Up 125, the track's ARCA Praxair Figure 8's and the DTS Drive Train Specialists Street Stocks will also be in action on the August 16 race schedule.

Practice will begin at 3:30 for the ARCA CRA cars, followed by Figure 8 and Street Stock practice. Time trials begin at 5:30, the autograph session is set for 6:30 and racing begins at 7 p.m. All tickets will go on sale race day at 3:30 p.m.


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