After setting the fastest time in practice, Chandler Smith closed Saturday night celebrating in victory lane after scoring his fifth ARCA Menards Series victory of the season in the rain-shortened Herr’s Potato Chips 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsbug, Indiana.
The Jasper, Georgia racer took the lead from his Venturini Motorsports teammate Christian Eckes on lap 161. The next time around, a heavy sprinkle turned into a rain shower necessitating a caution flag. The field circulated behind the pace car for five laps before ARCA officials put out the red flag. The rains persisted and officials were forced to end the race 37 laps before its scheduled conclusion.
“It was meant to be,” Smith said. “We couldn’t have timed that pass out any better than we did.”
Eckes was disappointed with second, but was able to lock up the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge championship.
“We’re obviously disappointed with second,” Eckes said, “but it’s our sixth top-two finish in a row. We really have things turned around after a tough stretch in the summer. We’d have liked to have had that caution for rain a few laps earlier though.”
Ty Gibbs started from the General Tire Pole and was the dominant driver throughout the first half of the race. Gibbs led the first 143 laps before contact with Joe Graf, Jr while battling for the lead resulted in Gibbs sliding into the wall and damaging the right rear corner of his car. The damage led to a flat right rear tire that put Gibbs into the wall again four laps later. The damage was too severe for Gibbs to continue leaving him 15th at the finish.
“I don’t even know who that guy is or what happened out there,” Gibbs said. “We had a really great car. I am pretty bummed. Most of all I am sorry for my guys, the deserved a win here tonight.”
Graf had rejoined the lead lap after receiving the free pass under the second caution of the night. He pitted for tires under the yellow and knifed his way through the field racing against other lead lap cars that had not yet pitted. The resulting caution from Gibbs’ crash allowed the remaining lead lap cars to pit, ending Graf’s chances to win. He finished tenth.
Sam Mayer finished third a day after locking up the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship with a win at Dover International Speedway. Corey Heim finished in fourth, with Hailie Deegan in fifth.
Combined with a sixth-place finish by teammate Michael Self, Eckes assumes the ARCA Menards Series championship lead by 20 points with only the season finale at Kansas Speedway remaining.
There were four cautions for a total of 25 laps. Bobby Gerhart spun in turn two on lap 52 to bring out the first caution, while Dick crashed in the same turn on lap 97 to bring out the second caution. Gibbs’ accident at lap 146 brought out the third yellow flag of the night while the rain at lap 162 was the final yellow of the night.
There were three lead changes among four drivers. Gibbs led a race-high 143 laps, Graf led seven laps from laps 144 to 150, Eckes led from lap 151 through lap 160 and Smith led from lap 161 to 167 when the race concluded. With those seven laps led, Smith locks up the 2019 Valvoline Lap Leader Award.
The ARCA Kansas 150 at Kansas Speedway will close the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season on Friday, October 18.
ARCA Menards Series
Lucas Oil Raceway – Clermont, IN
Herr’s Potato Chips 200 – October 5, 2019
1. Chandler Smith
2. Christian Eckes
3. Sam Mayer
4. Corey Heim
5. Hailie Deegan
6. Michael Self
7. Travis Braden
8. Bret Holmes
9. Carson Hocevar
10. Joe Graf, Jr.
11. Bobby Gerhart
12. Tommy Vigh, Jr.
13. Mike Basham
14. Scott Melton
15. Ty Gibbs
16. Howie DiSavino III
17. Tim Richmond
18. Dick Doheny
19. Brad Smith
20. Eric Caudell
21. Darrell Basham
22. Benjamin Peterson