On what started out as a dreary, rainy Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway, there wasn’t much hope that the General Tire 200 in the ARCA Menards Series would be able to run at its scheduled time of 1:00PM ET.
However, the skies eventually cleared, the track was dried, and though the morning practice session was washed out, the race was able to start on-time with warm temperatures and sunny skies.
Eric Caudell and the No. 7 Doug Design Ford for CCM Racing started the race in the 17th position, with the starting lineup set based on car owner points standings.
Caudell quickly worked his way up into the top 10 and spent most of the race there, running as high as sixth at times.
The first caution of the day flew for one of two scheduled competition cautions on lap 10. Crew chief Jeremy Petty decided to stay out with the leaders. Caudell reported that the car was “wobbly” in the corners but otherwise running well.
During the second competition caution and the scheduled break for pit stops, Caudell was reporting a vibration and low fuel pressure. Petty decided to bring the No. 7 car down pit road for fuel and right side tires. The team was able to maintain their 10th-place position for the coming restart.
After the green flag waved once again, Caudell was mostly able to keep it in the top 10, though some close calls and near-misses occasionally shuffled the No. 7 car back. The Oklahoma native continued to struggle to keep the car on the bottom lane, but was still able to work back up into top 10.
Spotter Joe “Jelly” Campbell was able to help navigate Caudell through some crashes that occurred in front of the No. 7 car,as well as providing helpful information about what lanes were fastest and potential drafting partners.
The race saw four stops for cautions, including two competition cautions and two red flags.
The last restart of the race was a one-lap sprint to the finish. Caudell started 10th and was able to gain one spot to finish ninth before the checkered flag flew, his third career top-10 finish.
“This was one of our greatest runs as a team,” said Caudell post-race. “We changed so much on the car after Daytona. We changed the rear end, we changed the transmission … Jeremy and those guys at the shop, that car was totally taken apart and those guys really worked to reset it up. We came out to run as good as we could possibly run and let it all hang out. I think we made it to sixth, the car was great in the draft. Draft racing is where you can lose a bunch of positions at once, so that happened a couple times. We fought our way back up and were running 10th a lot. I’m so happy with the team effort and the car.”
All three of Caudell’s career top-10 finishes have come in his last six starts and he maintains a streak of top-20 runs that goes back to February of 2019.
The No. 7 CCM Racing team will compete again in the ARCA Menard’s Series this weekend at Kansas Speedway. Caudell has six previous starts at the 1.5-mile track, with a best finish of 10th at the track last October.
The Dutch Boy 150 will take place on Saturday, May 1, 2021 at 1:30PM ET. The race can be viewed on FS1 or Fox Sports Go, with radio coverage on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM (XM channel 391, online channel 981).