Tuesday, July 28, 2020

ARCA: Local racer Russ Lane gets first last-place finish in a wreck eerily similar to that of Preece

by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor

Russ Lane finished last for the first time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Friday’s Dawn 150 at Kansas Speedway when his #8 Make It Rain / Invest Wisely by Vercie Lark Toyota crashed after completing 19 of the race’s 100 laps. The finish came in Lane’s second career series start.

Most ARCA fans knew of Russ Lane from his series debut, which came earlier this season at Pocono Raceway. However, Lane has a much longer story to tell. Now 23 years old, his childhood homes included towns in Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas. A lifelong race fan, Lane picked up local racing at age 18 and started road racing with the National Auto Sport Association (NASA) three years ago, picking up the points title in the American Iron division in 2019. He also some unfortunate news when his car, trailer and tools were stolen out of a storage shed near his Kansas home last year about a month before NASA nationals. The car was eventually found, and the local community pitched in to help him get to nationals, where he received the Spirit of NASA award for his travails.

At the beginning of 2020, Lane decided to go oval racing and got in contact with Jack Irving from Toyota Racing Development, who pointed him towards an old Venturini Motorsports car. Lane purchased the car and, while looking for a place to house it, came across Empire Racing Group. In the end, Lane, a mechanic by trade, found not only a place to house his car but also a job opportunity, as he now wrenches on his car and others in the Empire shop for a living. His Pocono debut, cut short by oil line issues, carried sponsorship from NASA’s Central Region. This “home track” race at Kansas was funded by LetsMakeItRain.com, the website for a book published by Kansas City-area financial manager Vercie Lark which aims to help low- and middle-income families stabilize their finances.

Car counts at intermediate tracks continue to suffer in 2020. The Kansas race saw only 18 entries hit the track. In total, there were 20 entries filed, as Eric Caudell (with his own team) and Howie DiSavino III (with Win-Tron Racing) withdrew before the weekend.  Riley Herbst filled the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car, taking the place of Ty Gibbs. Venturini Motorsports shuffled their lineup, putting Ryan Repko in the #20 and Corey Heim in the #12, borrowing points from Fast Track Racing – presumably to grab a better starting spot based on owner points. Fast Track welcomed back Ryan Huff to their lineup in the #10, as he ran double-duty at Kansas, making his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series debut on Saturday. Current Truck driver Tyler Hill returned to the team, driving the #11, and Mike Basham piloted the #01. Con Nicolopoulos returned to Wayne Peterson Racing, taking the place of Tim Richmond. Jason Kitzmiller continued his sporadic schedule, and Derek Griffith returned to Chad Bryant Racing after Kody Swanson held the seat last week. Caudell shifted from his own team to Kimmel Racing, keeping that entry full-time for the year and rounding out the part-time entries.

Bret Holmes was as fast in practice as he would be in the race. His lap of 31.669 seconds was good for a quarter of a second over the field and was almost ten seconds ahead of the last-place runner in practice, Con Nicolopoulos, who ran a lap of 40.646 seconds. As the Kansas race was a companion weekend with NASCAR, there was no qualifying - instead, the lineup was set by owner points.
That left the final starting spot to Lane, who had only one previous start with his team (Russ Lane Racing). After one lap, Lane was already up to 14th place, passing Kitzmiller, Brad Smith, Basham and Nicolopoulos, who took over last place. He was lapped for the first time on lap six, followed by Smith and Basham a lap later, and was lapped for a second time on lap ten.

Lane had been solidly plugging away until Lap 20, when he got loose off of turn two and spun to the inside of the track, making broadside contact with the inside SAFER barrier that sent the car momentarily off the ground. The Fox Sports 1 broadcast team mentioned the wreck's eerie similarity to that Ryan Preece just a day before during the NASCAR Cup Series race, as both were high-energy impacts that left their cars in shambles.

Lane went to a local hospital Saturday for follow-up testing for a concussion. The results of those tests have not been publicly disclosed.

This article could have very easily gone a different direction, as Mike Basham also retired after 19 laps, but timing and scoring placed him ahead of the wrecked Lane. Nicolopoulos and Smith were the next two cars to quietly retire from the race. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Hill, seven laps down. It is unclear if Hill had any extended problems and if so, what those problems were.

18) #8-Russ Lane / 19 laps / crash
17) #01-Mike Basham / 19 laps / unknown
16) #06-Con Nicolopoulos / 33 laps / unknown
15) #48-Brad Smith / 67 laps / unknown
14) #11-Tyler Hill / 93 laps / unknown

1st) Toyota (4)
2nd) Chevrolet (3)
3rd) Ford (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing, Wayne Peterson Racing (2)
2nd) DGR-Crosley, Kimmel Racing, Reeves Racing, Russ Lane Racing (1)


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