DEWTITT, Mich. – When Chad Finley Racing (CFR) re-launched earlier this year for a limited ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule, the Dewitt, Michigan native knew his family was taking a gamble.
Working off limited funding and countless of hours in their small-family owned shop north of Detroit, driver Chad Finley knew that performance was important not only for himself, but the members of his team.
And while his return to the series didn’t go as hoped in June at Michigan International Speedway, Finley bounced back in spectacular fashion at Lucas Oil Raceway in this past Friday night’s Sioux Chief PowerPEX® presented by Jive.
Despite bringing the older-style steel body car to the race track, Finley and crew chief Bruce Cook were able to hold their own through practice and qualifying. When the 200-lap race took the green flag, Finley quickly showed that he had a car capable of winning.
Flirting inside the top-five for much of the race, Finley’s hard work would take a detour late in the event when the team was forced to pit for a second time during the final stops after a loose lug nut fell off their No. 51 All-Star Performance / Auto Value Toyota Camry.
Mired at the end of the lead lap group and with passing extremely difficult around LOR, Finley was able to slice and dice his way through traffic, climbing to fifth at the checkered flag. While the result was impressive for Finley and his team, the driver left the track with more to be desired.
“I’m really proud of our efforts at Lucas Oil,” said Finley. “We had a great car and the guys did a phenomenal job despite the hiccup in the pits. We were able to fight our way back through the field, but just ran out of laps to get back to our highest position of third. We’ll take LOR in stride and focus on Chicagoland.
“The guys at the shop have busted their tails to make sure we bring a competitive product to the track each week. Now, our good finish last weekend will only give us more motivation to keep working on our cars and come back to the next race faster than what we were before. We feel we should go ahead and make the investment now in the composite body. As good as we ran at LOR we still feel the best we had was a second place car with the rules package we have today. We race to win so it may cost us not going to Kansas by making that investment in the body but we feel it is what needs to be done to help us get to Victory Lane.”
While Chicagoland is still relatively a month and a half away, Finley and his father Jeff Finley are focused on keeping the momentum while improving their program with the prospect of gaining additional support for his return to the Windy City.
“I think a reason you saw our team come out of the box so strong at Lucas Oil is that we were incredibly prepared,” said team manager Jeff Finley, a former ARCA driver himself. “Chad, Bruce and the guys at the shop have busted their tails to make sure we bring a competitive product to the track each week. Now, our good finish last weekend will only give us more motivation to keep working on our cars and come back to the next race faster than what we were before.”
With hopes of increasing their schedule for next season, the Finley’s know strong performances will aid in their attempt to find more sponsorship for next season.
“We hopefully have two races left this season and we just need to go out there and run like we did and hope it helps in the long-haul,” said Chad Finley. “My dad, Bruce and the guys want to do this more than four times a year in 2017 – but we’ll need some financial help to make it happen. The ARCA Racing Series has never been more affordable, thanks to the spec motor – but you still need sponsors to pay for the engines, tires, travel, etc. Believe me, I’m proud to be back in ARCA and just hope we can stay around for a little more longer this time.”
In addition to Chicagoland, Finley is hopeful to compete in season-finale at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 14.
In 12 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards starts between, Chad Finley has mounted four top-fives and seven top-10 finishes, including a pole at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway in 2009. Finley’s career-best finish is third, twice, including his most recent ARCA race at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway in Oct. 2010.
Follow Chad Finley on Twitter @Chad_Finley.
PHOTO CAPTION: Chad Finley drives the No. 51 All-Star Performance / Auto Value Toyota Camry at Lucas Oil Raceway. (Photo Credit: R&S Racing Photos).