Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park (IRP) is the only track on the ARCA Menards Series schedule that the series did not visit last year.
It is back on the schedule this year though, and 24 competitors will race for 200 laps around the 0.686-mile short track in Clermont, Indiana.
Although this is his first ARCA start this year, Chandler Smith is atop the favorites. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular hops into the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Toyota for the Reese’s 200. Smith will use this race in preparation for the Truck Series playoff opener there , which will follow the conclusion of the ARCA race on Friday night (July 29).
Smith previously won back-to-back ARCA races at IRP.
“I suppose, because honestly turn 3 at Pocono and turn 1 at Phoenix — which I feel like I’m respectable at — are very similar to IRP as far as the banking and all, it’s pretty flat,” Smith said in a press release. “So I would never have thought of myself to be a good flat track racer, but for some reason if I look back on my history, I show to be pretty decent at those. I guess flat tracks are kind of in my wheelhouse a little bit. I don’t know why that is, but I have a good history with them.”
Tom Hessert will make his third and final ARCA appearance this season, back in the No. 55 Venturini Motorsports Toyota. In six starts at IRP, Hessert has three top fives and six top 10s, with a best finish of second in the 2012 race.
“IRP is a lot tougher,” Hessert told Frontstretch. “It’s harder to pass, it’s faster, harder on tires. Be competitive; we’re in a great racecar, have a good team and be in contention.”
Hessert seeks his first win this season and the seventh of his ARCA career. He has no intention of returning to ARCA full time, but this is the best series for him.
“ARCA was always just a great place for us,” Hessert said. “Great relationships with the people and the teams, lot of racetracks that I know and, in the stage of my career that I’m at, coming in for a few races this year, it’s great to come back and give it a shot.”
Fellow Venturini driver Jesse Love is no stranger to short tracks either. The two-time ARCA Menards Series West champion has one win — at Salem Speedway — seven top fives and nine top-10 finishes in his ARCA short track career.