This weekend’s General Tire 150, the sixth round of the 2018 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, has been a uniquely special round for the series for a number of reasons. Not only does it mark the series’ return to Charlotte Motor Speedway after. 14-year hiatus, but it also marks the first-ever time that ARCA has set a starting lineup by multiple-car, timed-session qualifying.
The MDM Motorsports trio of Zane Smith, Sheldon Creed, and Chase Purdy come into the weekend holding the top three spots in the standings, with Joe Gibbs Racing’s Riley Herbst and Venturini Motorsports’ Natalie Decker rounding out the top five. They’ll be challenged by a number of talented young drivers who are sure to mix up the running order at the finish. With all that in mind, we’ll be following along with these three storylines tonight:
Can Sheldon Creed reclaim the points lead from teammate Zane Smith?
The 2018 ARCA season so far has been a battle of consistency versus victory, as Creed entered Sunday’s Toledo race with the points lead despite having yet to win a race this year. But when Smith won his second round in a row, and third overall this season, he finally claimed the championship lead from his MDM Motorsports counterpart. They’re only separated by 30 markers coming into this race, the equivalent of six finishing positions, so there’s no reason the lead can’t change hands again tonight.
Which of the part-timers showing up for this race will have the best results?
Todd Gilliland is the obvious favorite out of the part-time drivers this weekend, as his DGR-Crosley Racing Toyota absolutely smoked the field in Charlotte open testing and won the pole. But he’s not the only young NASCAR star making his ARCA season debut, as Joe Gibbs Racing Xfinity Series driver Brandon Jones returns to the series in a fourth MDM Motorsports car. Meanwhile, Venturini Motorsports goes for its third win of the season with its #15 car with Daytona winner Michael Self behind the wheel.
How will the field react to the shortest race-to-race gap of the 2018 season?
Just four days ago, the ARCA field took the green flag at Toledo Speedway for the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care. Tonight, they’ll go green once again in Charlotte. There are two four-day gaps on this year’s schedule, with races on the dirt at DuQuoin and the oval at Lucas Oil Raceway in September separated by the same timeframe. This one doesn’t switch surfaces, but will go from a short track to a speedway, testing these young drivers’ abilities to adapt to different styles of oval racing.