Springfield, Illinois – (August 23, 2016) – Cunningham Motorsports grabbed two top-5 finishes yesterday on the Springfield, Illinois dirt, with Ken Schrader taking fourth and Chase Briscoe the fifth spot. It was a disappointing finish for both drivers, who have lots of dirt track experience.
With extreme rain pounding the track throughout the week before Sunday’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards event, adjustments were made so that racing could go on as scheduled. All team haulers were parked outside the track…meaning much more physical labor for the crews, as they hauled all equipment and cars from the parking lot to the pit area.
Track crews worked tirelessly to prepare the racing surface. Due to the additional track prep time and the extra unloading time for the crews, ARCA Series officials cancelled qualifying to give the teams more practice time…setting the starting lineup based on practice times.
Ken Schrader – The iconic veteran, Schrader piloted the No. 22 Ford on the one-mile dirt. After putting up the 7th quickest time early in practice, Schrader made a few more short runs to get his car turning like he wanted in the corners.
Taking the green flag from the 7th spot gave Schrader a good view of the dust cloud that covered the cars for most of the race. Crew chief Paul Andrews called his driver to the pits under caution on lap 21 for four General Tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Conditions in the pits were tight, at best, with Schrader blocked out of his pit stall, dropping him to 9th on the restart. Schrader couldn’t make any forward progress, forcing Andrews to call him back to the pits to remove a rubber from the right rear tire during the next caution.
After restarting 11th on lap 42, the track started to come to the No. 22. Shortly after halfway, Schrader began picking up one spot at a time. With seven laps remaining, Schrader had moved up to 6th. After the final caution flag flew, setting up a green, white, checkered finish, Schrader lined up 5th and grabbed 4th from teammate Briscoe as they came out of turn four for the final time, when Briscoe went high in the corner.
After climbing from his Ford, the filthy veteran said, “This definitely wasn’t what I was hoping for, but we ended up having an alright day. It turned out to be a solid day, finishing higher than we ran all day. It was a great opportunity to run with the Cunningham organization.”
Chase Briscoe – Briscoe set the quickest practice time in his first practice run, earning the pole position for the drop of the green flag. Briscoe held the lead to his first and only pit stop, under caution on lap 21. His crew bolted on right side General Tires and filled him with Sunoco fuel. After restarting fourth, a few more quick cautions slowed his forward progress. He retook the point on lap 44 and held it until he went too wide (up into the marbles) going around a lapped car on lap 75.
Quickly after losing the lead, caution flew again for a separate incident. With Briscoe restarting 2nd, he was relegated to the outside lane, where the leader ran him up the track in turns 1 and 2 when the green dropped, forcing him back to 4th. With a couple of cautions flying in the final 15 laps, Briscoe struggled with the handling on the Big Tine No. 77. On the final green, white, checkered laps, Briscoe coulnd’t hold the car in the bottom, preferred groove…allowing teammate Ken Schrader to grab the 4th spot from him, dropping Briscoe to 5th.
In spite of increasing his championship points lead to an unofficial 510 points, a disappointed Briscoe said, “It was nice to get back on the dirt, where I felt like I had the upper hand, experience-wise. As far as the big picture goes, it was a good day for us. But, to say I’m disappointed is an understatement. I feel bad for all of the guys…I completely gave away a win.”
He continued explaining, “Growing up racing on dirt you know that once the track ‘rubbers up’ you can’t run out of the rubber. I made the mistake of trying to go around a lapped car out of the rubber, which just gave the lead away. This race will definitely be one that I look back on throughout my entire career.”
After an ‘off’ weekend, the teams will travel to the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds for the General Tire GRABBER 100, the second and final dirt race of the 2016 season on Sunday night September 4, under the lights. Stay tuned for the announcement about Briscoe’s DuQuoin teammate.