Fifteen-year-old racer Tyler Dippel made a statement in his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut at the Illinois State Fairgrounds on Sunday. Competing inside the top five and challenging for the lead in the nationally televised race, the young driver from Wallkill, NY let everyone know he will be a force to be reckoned with in the series next race at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds dirt track, and possibly in non-dirt races beyond that.
During the week before the race, Tyler commented: “I’ve been racing on dirt for more than half of my life, so I’ll be bringing that experience with me to Illinois. I know that the dirt and the surface is so different when I race up north compared to anywhere else. This will also be my first time on a dirt track that’s a full mile long. I’m excited for the opportunity to make my ARCA debut with Lira Motorsports!”
It was apparent that Tyler would need to call on his experience early in the day on Sunday, when rain cut the one hour practice session short, then forced the cancellation of qualifying. The starting grid for the SuperChevyStores.com 100 was set by car owner points, placing Tyler’s No. 58 Lira Motorsports Ford in the 11th position. Tyler had only run a few practice laps when he took the green flag for the start of the race.
Despite the lack of practice time, Tyler was racing inside the top ten almost immediately. He made his only pit stop of the day from the 9th position on lap 26, coming in for four tires and fuel during a caution period. It was this pit strategy by Crew Chief Teddy Brown that would give Tyler excellent track position just before the midway point of the race.
On a restart from caution on lap 46, Tyler took over the 4th spot when he was able to stay on the track while several other competitors made their first pit stop of the day. Tyler took full advantage of his track position, racing past the third and second place drivers at the time, 2014 SCOTT Rookie of the Year Austin Wayne Self and 10-time champion Frank Kimmel, to take over second place by lap 60. Tyler was able to reach the back bumper of eventual race winner AJ Fike, but was not able to get around him.
Misfortune in the closing laps shuffled Tyler to a 12th place finish in his series debut. First, on a restart late in the race, he would get into oil on the track from the blown engine of a competitor that had brought out the caution, causing Tyler to lose a few spots. He would then be spun out from behind during the green-white-checkered finish to the race.
“On the last lap, the car two spots ahead of me chopped off the car in front of me, and the guy just practically came to a stop,” Tyler explained after the race. “The guy behind me got into me – the field just stacked up and I got the worse end of it.”
Tyler will return to the seat of Lira Motorsports No. 58 ARCA Series car for the Southern Illinois 100 presented by Federated Car Care on Labor Day, Sept. 7th.
“This race went really well for my first time out there. I was happy overall, but we didn’t get the finish this team deserved. I probably used up the tires racing up to second place… no doubt this was a top five car, and I feel like we’ll be even better in two weeks. We had a bunch of sponsors on the car that helped make my ARCA debut possible, so I really want to thank Mohawk Northeast, D &A Concrete Contractors, Prestige Plumbing and Heating, Tycar Trenchless Technologies and Lebanon Valley Speedway, in addition to Lira Motorsports sponsors Momo, TraqGear and Ford Performance.”