by Gregg Paul
The ARCA Midwest Tour presented by SCAG Power Equipment and Lester
Buildings 2013 crop of rookies vying for the top spot have a lot of
pride, prestige, and awards to shoot for this season. The pride and
prestige of being named the top rookie in any given year
is always reason enough to fight to win. However, the awards package
that the ARCA Midwest Tour has supplied definitely makes it more than
worthwhile to throw your hat in the ring.
Those awards consist of a free engine lease for the 2014 season from
McGunegill Engine Performance, a bare chassis from Pathfinder Chassis
and $2,500 in tech support, an "A" body package from Five Star Bodies,
and a $5,000 Roltek transmission.
Certainly a prize list such as this, has garnered the attention of those drivers competing for the awards.
"This is a pretty good deal that's actually better than winning a
championship at most tracks," said Dennis Prunty. "My track championship
didn't do anything like that."
Team Spiked Island Touring Star and current Rookie points leader James
Swan concurred with Prunty's assessment on the rookie program.
"The Midwest Tour rookie of the year program is second to none," said
Swan. "The awareness and list of possible contingency prizes make it so
worth giving it everything you have! With the exceptionally high level
of competition and knowledge among my competitors,
I never thought I would have a chance at being this year's "ROY"
because this is my first year driving a super late model."
Team Vita Ice Touring Star Jeremy Miller added his take on the rookie program.
"The rookie program has great incentives to it," said Miller.
"Pathfinder Chassis giving you a chassis. Roltek Transmissions,
McGunegill going to let you use a motor, these incentives are great.
It's definitely worth trying to run the series full time."
The 2013 Rookie battle began as a race amongst five drivers. Through
attrition and the perils of racing the battle has left just three
drivers in contention for the coveted rookie title. Heading into the
Marshfield 100 at the Marshfield Motor Speedway on August
31st, James Swan holds a twenty point lead over Dennis Prunty. Jeremy
Miller is in third place, 67 points behind Swan.
Each contender has had their share of ups and downs throughout the 2013
campaign. Each has missed making the starting lineup for a race. Each
has had their share of good and bad finishes as well. Jeremy Miller set
fast time at Madison International Speedway
for the Border Wars 2, and has one top five and three top ten finishes.
Unfortunately Miller failed to start two feature events and has had bad
luck in several others.
"We started the year with a brand new car and ended up destroying it at
Madison," said Miller. "We rebuilt the car and just have been struggling
ever since. We had a few hit and miss runs where we ran decent, then
the next race we'd struggle. I'm definitely
taking my rookie lumps, I know that. It's just been one of those years
where I'd wish I could forget it. I've never had a year like this, I'm
used to season after season of running for points and have quite a few
championships and then this year I had a lot
higher hopes than where we're at. I know the competition is a lot
Prunty never figured he would be in a position to contend for the rookie
title, yet has persevered through the hardships this season.
"We really had no intention on racing the full season," said Prunty.
"There were some conflicts in the scheduling and we were just going to
take it easy and do whichever ones we could and see how it goes. We went
to Toledo and finished in 7th and thought we'd
be in the top five in points, and thought we'd have a shot at this.
We've had some horrible luck and I am surprised I am as close as I am
being only 20 points out. We broke the rack in Madison, broke an axle in
Wausau, had the engine missing at the Milwaukee
Mile, and go to Grundy and had a mishap. So it's pretty amazing that
we're within 20 points."
James Swan looks at the ARCA Midwest Tour in a whole new light now that
he is competing in it. Swan leads the rookie points, but it is mainly
due to his consistent finishes. Swan has only one top ten, but has been
the highest finishing rookie at several other
"I am even more impressed with the ARCA Midwest Tour than I was before,"
said Swan. "I have always looked from the outside at the Tour, as the
ultimate racing series in the country. Now that I've been racing with
the series, I've come to realize that most of
the fans I meet during the autograph sessions have the same opinion!
The owners, competitors, sponsors, and officials are all so
professional, it's no wonder the Tour has prospered, and continues to
Swan discussed how his rookie rivals have impacted his racing throughout the season.
"I've been in Jeremy Miller's shadows for the few years that we've raced
together," said Swan. "Dennis Prunty has been racing super lates for a
while, and even won a championship! I didn't know enough about Bobby
Kendall or Nick Barstadt, but they were equally
competitive. I've always raced, and not worried about the points,
because when you try and make things happen, that's usually when
accidents or mistakes happen."
Prunty is hoping his luck can change and he can make a run at closing the gap between he and Swan.
"If I have some good luck towards the end of the season, maybe I can be
right in there," said Prunty. "As far as the other competitors, we
really thought Jeremy Miller would have had it wrapped up from day one,
but he's had some bad luck and hasn't been up
in there that much. James Swan is 20 points ahead of me and he's done a
lot of traveling in the past and I think he'll be pretty good here
these last few races."
James Swan is so impressed with how things have gone with the Midwest
Tour, that he has already made plans regardless of how the rookie battle
"I've been asked by a friend if I thought I had a chance of winning a
Midwest Tour race, and I said maybe I could get lucky and luck into
one," said Swan. "I've also said that there are probably ten drivers
that I may never beat, but my team and I never give
up! I also believe that we are getting better by understanding the
cars, and procedures, and even making friends as a bonus. We are all so
proud to be a part of this series, that we will be back again next year,
no matter what the outcome is this year."
Jeremy Miller knows he has his work cut out for him if he wants to gain
ground on Swan and Prunty, but that has not slowed his determination or
effort to make a late charge at the title.
"There are a lot of race tracks I've never been to with a super late
model and there's so many different things that you do to those cars
than you do to a limited late that I am used to running," said Miller.
"The competition is tough. I'll gain some points
here, have a bad run and fall out of a race and they gain points on us.
It's kind of one of those things if you gain ten, then you lose ten the
next week. If you have one good run where you qualify good, run in the
top five, you gain a ton of points if your
competitors don't have a good day. By no means are we out of the deal
yet. It's just going to be a tall order to take. We definitely have to
get our program better before we start worrying about anybody else."
There are three races remaining to see just what that outcome will be.
The race within a race will be a battle to the finish between drivers
who by this time are no longer rookies, yet yearn to wear the crown as
Rookie Of The Year.
Be sure to follow the ARCA Midwest Tour on Facebook (midwest tour) and Twitter (@midwesttour).
more about the Automobile Racing Club of America Midwest Tour, by
logging on to arcamidwesttour.com. For questions call the
ARCA Midwest Tour office at (630) 212-6022 or Tim Olson at (612) 327-5831 or Steve Einhaus at (262) 729-4111 or e-mail Tim Olson at
firstname.lastname@example.org or Steve Einhaus at
ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards has crowned 30 ARCA national
champions in 60 seasons since 1953, and has toured over
200 race tracks in 26 states since its inception. The series has tested
the abilities of drivers and race teams over the most diverse schedule
of stock car racing events in the world, visiting tracks ranging from
0.375 mile to 2.66 miles in length, on both
paved and dirt surfaces as well as a left- and right-turn road course
in its most recent season.
by John and Mildred Marcum in 1953 in Toledo, Ohio, the Automobile
Racing Club of America (ARCA) is recognized among the
leading sanctioning bodies in the country. Closing in on completing its
sixth decade after hundreds of thousands of miles of racing, ARCA
administers over 100 race events each season in four professional
touring series and local weekly events.
# # #
2013 Midwest Tour Marketing Partners: SCAG
Racing, Lester Buildings,
Calypso Lemonade, Spiked Island Adult Lemonade, DOC 360,
Menards, Advanced Engine Concepts, AP Racing, Bassett Wheels, Best Buy
Stores, B&B Racing Engines, Butlerbuilt, Choice Hotels, Comp
Cams, Crane Cams, Fel Pro, Ferodo, Fivestar, Ford Racing, Hedman
i-gogs, Intercomp, JE Pistons, Joe's Racing Products, JRI Shocks, Lane
Automotive, Lefthander Chassis, Miller Welders, Performance
Friction, Quartermaster, Racing Electronics, Roltek
Transmissions, Schaeffer's Oil, Simpson, Sunoco Race Fuels, The Swiss
Chassis, McGunnegil Engine Performance, RaceTeamGear.com, Tesar
Engineering, Tilton/Sonic, Ultra Cool Brake Fans, VDL, Wegner
Automotive, Hoosier Racing Tire, Alan Kulwicki Musuem, Gandrud
Chevrolet, and Rock Auto.