Thursday, April 27, 2023

ARCA: At Talladega, Monroe goes back-to-back in more ways than one

PHOTO: Jared Haas, @RealJaredHaas

by Ben Schneider Staff Writer

Tim Monroe finished last for the 5th time in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway when his No. 12 Fast Track Racing Toyota fell out with drive shaft issues after completing 5 of 76 laps.

The finish came in Monroe’s 21st career ARCA start.

Coming off of a last-place finish at Phoenix, Monroe’s Fast Track Racing entry was again expected to “start-and-park” at Talladega. As the first to pull into the garage, Monroe locked up back-to-back last-place finishes for the first time in his ARCA career. It was also Monroe’s second consecutive last-place finish at Talladega, as Monroe spun in the early laps of last year’s race and subsequently was the first to retire from on that day as well

In total, 35 cars appeared on the entry list. Due to the withdrawal of Kevin Campbell’s No. 82 MU Tigers Chevrolet, only 34 took part in the race. Of those, 33 participated in a Friday practice session, with every entry except A.J. Moyer’s No. 06 Wayne Peterson Racing team completing at least two laps. Alex Clubb’s No. 03 Yavapai Bottle Gas Ford brought up the rear with a time of 1:08.3, though the team reportedly struggled with engine issues during the session. Monroe, meanwhile, was just inside the Bottom Five of those that took time, placing 29th on the timing sheet with a time of 56.665 seconds.

Due to cost-saving measures, ARCA officials elected to set the field by 2022 owners’ points, handing pole position to Taylor Gray. Gray, however, suffered engine trouble of his own during the session, forcing him to start at the rear of the field.

Per Kickin’ The Tires’ Seth Eggert, Monroe pulled into the pits on Lap 8, heading to the garage shortly thereafter. Following Monroe up the running order was Clubb, who completed just two more laps before parking his own entry with electrical trouble. In separate but related incidents, Greg Van Alst and Amber Balcaen’s races both ended after 15 laps. Balcaen’s car began slowing on the backstretch due to a clutch issue, causing a stackup among the leaders. As Van Alst closed in with a massive run, he was turned into the wall by Scott Melton, ending any hopes the Daytona winner had at sweeping the season’s superspeedway races. Rounding out the Bottom Five was Kevin Hinkle, one of several drivers taken out in an accident on the restart following Van Alst’s crash. Commenting on the incident on Twitter, Clubb would later say, “I’m happy we threw in the towel when we did!”

Up front, the race was dominated by two drivers: Venturini Motorsports’ Jesse Love and Rev Racing’s Andres Perez de Lara, who had been ineligible to participate in the Daytona race due to ARCA’s age restrictions. Perez de Lara led 28 laps on his way to a fourth-place result, while Love led 35 laps including the final eight to take his first victory of the season. The result places Love second in the championship standings behind Frankie Muniz, who finished ninth in Saturday’s race.

34) #12-Tim Monroe / 5 laps / drive shaft
33) #03-Alex Clubb / 7 laps / electrical
32) #35-Greg Van Alst / 15 laps / crash
31) #15-Amber Balcaen / 15 laps / clutch
30) #0-Kevin Hinkle / 21 laps / crash

1st) Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota (1)

1st) Fast Track Racing (2)
2nd) Brother-in-Law Motorsports (1)


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