BROOKLYN, Mich. - Brandon Jones spun, then he won the 36th running of the Corrigan Oil 200 Friday afternoon at Michigan International Speedway. But it was way more than that.
Jones, fighting a wicked-loose race car, had to track down Kyle Weatherman in the closing laps to secure his fourth career ARCA Racing Series victory and second consecutive at Michigan.
Jones, from Atlanta, Georgia, caught a break when Weatherman’s car slipped up the track off turn two and slapped the wall creating the opening that he needed to get under the former leader. From there, he sailed off into the sunset, winning by a whopping 20 seconds over second-place finish Austin Theriault.
“We got worried at the end,” said Jones. “Our car was tight but we loosened it up too much on that last stop and the car went away. Not sure what happened to the 78 (Weatherman)…if he cut a tire or not, but he got into the wall and we got underneath. It was a great day…being able to sit on the pole and win the race…sweep the day. Clean air was key today.”
Weatherman dominated much of the race, leading 71 of 100 laps, but couldn’t close the deal in the end.
“It was just unfortunate,” said Weatherman. “I don’t know if something broke or what happened. I’m just so proud of all the hard work and effort from this Mason Mitchell Motorsports team. We’ll be at Iowa next…maybe we’ll get ’em there.”
Theriault soldiered through an ill-handling car that got good enough in the end to finish runner-up. The Fort Kent, Maine driver also padded his points lead in the process.
“There’s a lot of fight in this team,” said Theriault. “This car only has two races on it so far. We really struggled in the beginning…car was aero-tight, bad in traffic…but once we got in clean air we started picking ’em off. We’re still searching for the consistency in our balance, but it came in there at the end for us. I’m feeling really positive in the overall direction we’re headed.”
Dalton Sargeant also battled the new-car blues, but made it up to third in the final running order.
“First off…I just want to thank this entire Cunningham Motorsports team,” said Sargeant. “Coming from last week at Pocono, this team built a brand-new car in four days…just a remarkable effort. We weren’t where we wanted to be when we unloaded, but the team took some huge swings at it and got it better. Feel like the guys never gave up and got us a top-three finish today.”
Jones won the General Tire pole award and surged out to a full second lead over the first 11 laps. But then he got caught up in oil from Justin Fontaine’s car and went into a long slide through the corner, spinning completely sideways before coming to a stop at the bottom of the track. Jones eventually made his way to pit road for four fresh General Tires without losing a lap. That gave the lead to Weatherman, who led the next 37 laps before he too had to come to pit road for gas and tires. That handed the lead back to Jones until he came to pit road for his final stop.
Vinnie Miller, fastest in practice the day before, took his turn up front for six laps while Weatherman and Jones charged back through the field. Weatherman got to Miller first and took control on lap 60. From there, Weatherman managed to hold off Jones until his brush with wall on lap 93, just seven laps from the finish. With Weatherman gone from the leader mix, Jones pulled away from the field.
Bret Holmes finished fourth.
“We had a good run today,” said Holmes. “We had a top-three car…it was just my lack of experience. We’re learning and moving forward. I’m excited about the progress of our team.”
Gus Dean, who was running third on the last lap, cut down a tire and held on for fifth at the checkered flag.
“This place is a lot of fun,” said Dean. “It took a pretty big learning curve today…I’ve never been this free on a big track like this. Really proud of this Win-Tron team today.”
Three cautions slowed the race for 25 laps, the scariest incident for Zane Smith, who cut a right-front tire in the corner and made hard contact with the outside safer barrier. He was okay and climbed out under his own power.
The next event for the ARCA Racing Series will be the Montgomery Ward 200 at Madison International Speedway Friday night, June 23.
ARCA Racing Series
Michigan International Speedway – Brooklyn, MI
Corrigan Oil 200 – June 16, 2016
1. Brandon Jones
2. Austin Theriault
3. Dalton Sargeant
4. Bret Holmes
5. Gus Dean
6. Ty Majeski
7. Kyle Benjamin
8. Codie Rohrbaugh
9. Spencer Davis
10. Vinnie Miller
11. Nick Higdon
12. Chad Finley
13. A.J. Fike
14. Kyle Weatherman
15. Shane Lee
16. Riley Herbst
17. Sheldon Creed
18. Eric Caudell
19. Thomas Praytor
20. Brad Smith
21. Morgen Baird
22. David Sear
23. Zane Smith
24. Con Nicolopoulos
25. Mark Muenier
26. Justin Fontaine
27. Mike Basham
28. Rick Tackman
29. Wayne Peterson