Tuesday, June 1, 2021

ARCA: D.L. Wilson’s race over as it starts in Charlotte

PHOTO: Donis L. Wilson via Facebook

by William Soquet
LASTCAR.info Staff Writer

D.L. Wilson scored the first last-place finish of his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s General Tire 150 at Charlotte Motor Speedway when his #12 Wilson Traditional Metals Toyota retired with a blown engine without completing any of the race’s 100 laps.

The finish came in Wilson’s tenth series start.

Donis “D.L.” Wilson of Texas has an illustrious career in racing. He became a fan in 1975 after watching a program at Heart O’ Texas Speedway just outside of Waco. His driving career began in 1987 in enduros and Wilson gradually progressed, jumping to IMCA Modifieds in 1995 and later moving to IMCA Southern Sport Mods - all on dirt. He switched to asphalt racing in 2007 and moved through the pro truck, asphalt modified and pro late model divisions, winning two championships along the way. In 2016, he met Fast Track Racing owner Andy Hillenburg and ran the Daytona test for the team in 2017. He debuted in ARCA in 2018, running four races over the next three seasons for Fast Track Racing.

Coming into 2021, Wilson joined forces with longtime Central Texas car owner Ed Thompson and Thompson Racing. Thompson acquired two ARCA chasses - a short track Chevrolet from Empire Racing and a superspeedway Toyota from Ken Schrader Racing - and had them prepped at the Fast Track Racing shop in Charlotte. Wilson's planned a seven-race schedule of Daytona, Phoenix, Talladega, Charlotte, Michigan and Iowa. In the end, the team wound up closely collaborating with Fast Track Racing and also used the team’s #12 owner points under listed owner Michelle Hillenburg.

The season hasn’t been all peaches and cream, however. Multiple sponsors have been late to pay or have not paid at all, putting the Thompson Racing team in financial jeopardy, and at Phoenix and Talladega, Wilson’s #12 was adorned with the phrase “I am a filler car” just behind the door number. Despite that, Wilson’s lone DNF heading in to Charlotte was due to overheating at Toledo and he held the fifth position in the point standings before the Charlotte race.

The Charlotte field featured 26 entries on the first version of the entry list. Three cars didn’t make it to the starting grid: Wayne Peterson Racing’s 06 entry with Con Nicolopoulos behind the wheel, and two Cody-Efaw affiliated entries. One had backing from The Ticket Clinic, a firm focusing on traffic tickets, and the other had backing from Hype Motorsports, the team that Jett Noland’s family campaigns in various racing series.

Of those remaining, a number of interesting stories emerged. Dave Mader III and Andy Jankowiak expanded from just a drafting-track schedule. IMSA racer Parker Chase debuted on an oval with Venturini Motorsports, and New Smyrna winner Max Gutierrez made his series debut for Rette Jones Racing. A number of drivers continued part-time schedules, including Drew Dollar, Chris Hacker, Jason Kitzmiller, Kyle Sieg, Tim Richmond, Greg Van Alst, Scott Melton, Charles Buchanan Jr. and Toni Briedinger. Fast Track Racing placed Tony Cosentino, Jason Miles and Owen Smith in its cars as well.

Practice and qualifying were combined at Charlotte. Much like the race itself, Ty Gibbs led the session. At the bottom of the charts were Buchanan and Brad Smith, the only two cars in the 36-second range. 

Smith was the last car on the grid, but it did not stay that way for long after the start of the race. Almost immediately after the green, the engine in Wilson’s car quit and he slowed considerably. The #48 car of Smith also worked his way past Buchanan and was five seconds up on the #87 by the end of the first lap. The MRN crew first noted Wilson crawling along the backstretch on lap two, and eventually the car stalled on its way to pit road, causing the caution to be flown on lap four. Wilson was later listed out without completing a single lap.

Cosentino was the next driver out, citing handling issues for his demise after 11 laps. Fast Track teammate Miles was the lone casualty from a late-race accident, finishing with 85 laps complete. Toni Briedinger in 20th was the last car running, 11 laps down after a stint in the garage to fix engine problems in her Young’s Motorsports entry. Brad Smith rounded out the Bottom Five, ten laps down in 

23) #12-D.L. Wilson / 0 laps / engine
22) #11-Tony Cosentino / 11 laps / handling
21) #10-Jason Miles / 85 laps / accident
20) #02-Toni Briedinger / 89 laps / running
19) #48-Brad Smith / 90 laps / running

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

1st) Fast Track Racing (2)
2nd) Brad Smith Motorsports, Kimmel Racing, Rette Jones Racing, Young’s Motorsports (1)


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