ARCA Rookies Erik Jones, Chase Elliott fast in Pocono testing

06 Jun 2013
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Rookies Erik Jones and Chase Elliott were among the fastest in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards open testing at Pocono Raceway Wednesday. Both 17-year-old drivers will be making their superspeedway debuts in Saturday's Pocono ARCA 200, live on SPEED at 1:00 p.m.


"Our day really improved throughout the test," Jones said.


"The car got better and I improved a lot too. This place is a little intimidating at first, but once you get a little used to it, your confidence goes up, and you get more comfortable. The tunnel turn is so fast and so much fun. Each corner is so different; it's like being at three different tracks. I think we have a shot at it on Saturday. This place is new to me, but I never go into a race thinking we don't, at least have a shot to win."


Jones posted the fastest lap of the day at 170.736 mph.


Elliott also commented on his first laps at Pocono.


"This is really a whole new experience for me; I've never been on a place this big," Elliott said.


"The car felt really good, as best as I can tell. I know the car's fast. If we're not completely up to speed, it's just me not carrying enough speed through the corners. I'm still getting used to what this place is all about, and what it needs from a driver.


"This track is so much fun to drive with the corners being so different. There's so much to learn about this place, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be here, and learn what this place is about. It's a lot of fun just to be here and understand the sport just that much more. I'm really excited about the ARCA race on Saturday. It's going to be a big day."


Elliott was also asked about his father Bill Elliott's input on Pocono.


"He really hasn't said a lot to me about Pocono. He never raced on the new pavement, so I think he wants to be careful about sharing information. I've got a great team with Hendrick Motorsports. He knows I'm surrounded by great people, and he's comfortable with what they can teach me."


Elliott was third quickest overall at 169.252 mph.


Brennan Poole, assisting the Venturini Motorsports drivers with the open test, was second fastest overall. However, The Woodlands, Texas former Pocono ARCA winner is not scheduled to race at Pocono this Saturday.


Cunningham Motorsports' Tom Hessert was fourth fastest overall.


"I'm really pleased with the car," Hessert said.


"We unloaded pretty good, made a few changes and made it better. This is the best I've been here in a long time. Big thing here is getting into the corners, obviously, being that they're all different. The back end works so good here; the trick is getting the front end to work just as well."


A.J. Henriksen, one of six drivers testing for Venturini Motorsports, was fifth on the speed charts.


"When the car's this good, it's sort of like riding a bike. You feel like you never forgot how. I'm pretty familiar with this track, but we don't race as much as we used to, so it really helps when you're able to get in a car that handles so well. Makes it fun. Since they repaved this place, I'd have to say it's a little less forgiving though. You get out of the groove, and you're done."


Will Kimmel, in a second Cunningham Motorsports Dodge, was sixth.


"It's been great," Kimmel said. "Cunningham's got a pretty fast car here. I think we're going to be really good on long runs, which I think will play into Saturday's race. This place keeps you guessing all the time though. The way you have to run these cars now, you've got to find different ways to get into the corners so you're coming off them with enough speed to get down the straightaways. We have a really good car. All good."


Roulo Brothers Racing's Mason Mitchell was next up on the charts. Mitchell, like Jones and Elliott, took his first laps today at Pocono.


"It's big; it's smooth; it's fast; I absolutely love it," Mitchell said.


"It's one of those tracks you've heard so much about. It's so cool to watch it on TV, so to be here and be part of it is really amazing. It's a triangle. How cool is that?"


Justin Boston, another first-timer at Pocono, was eighth.


"I've never been to a track like this," Boston said.


"I can definitely see where getting a good balance in the car between the different corners is critical to overall success here. Every corner here is like going to a different track. When you get through the tunnel turn good, it's the best feeling. After coming down that long straightaway, and then getting into turn one - it's really an amazing feeling. It's really cool."


Mason Mingus and Spencer Gallagher rounded out the top-10.


Mingus got an assist today from the 2009 ARCA Racing Series champion and Pocono ARCA winner Justin Lofton, who served Mingus in an advisory role.


"Justin (Lofton) has been very successful here, so he's really been able to help me out," Mingus said. "He went out and baselined the car, so I'm just kind of taking mental notes from there. I'm picking his brain every chance I get, and I'm getting more comfortable with the track. I'm listening to everything he says, and I'll just take it from there.


"This track is amazing," Mingus added. "It's got so much grip. I have no idea what it was like before they repaved it, but I'm getting a good feel for it now. It's so much fun to drive. I've got a lot to learn, so this test day is really critical."


Mingus is currently second in championship points, 60 points away from nine-time champ Frank Kimmel. While Mingus will be making his career-first start at Pocono in this Saturday's Pocono ARCA 200, Kimmel will be making his 41st start on the Long Pong, Pa. superspeedway. Kimmel is also a three-time Pocono winner. Kimmel was not, however, among the drivers testing at Pocono.

In all, 20 drivers among 13 ARCA teams tested Wednesday.


There were two on-track incidents, both in turn one where 17-year-old Taylor Ferns and George Cushman backed into the wall. Neither driver was injured, but both cars were damaged such that each could not be prepared in time for more testing.


Saturday's Pocono ARCA 200, the 56th ARCA race on the Pocono triangle since 1983, is live on SPEED at 1:00 p.m.


The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is among the leading auto racing sanctioning bodies in the country. Founded in 1953 by John and Mildred Marcum, the organization administers more than 100 events each year in multiple racing series, including the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, the ARCA/CRA Super Series, the ARCA Truck Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour, plus weekly racing at Toledo and Flat Rock Speedways.


ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
Pocono Raceway Open Testing (6-5-13)

1 15 Erik Jones Toyota 52.713 170.736
2 15a Brennan Poole Toyota 52.845 170.309
3 9 Chase Elliott Chevy 53.175 169.252
4 77 Tom Hessert Dodge 53.327 168.770
5 55 A.J. Henriksen Toyota 53.506 168.205
6 22 Will Kimmel Dodge 53.788 167.324
7 99 Mason Mitchell Ford 54.060 166.482
8 25 Justin Boston Toyota 54.116 166.309
9 32a Justin Lofton Toyota 54.333 165.645
10 32 Mason Mingus Toyota 54.432 165.344
11 23 Spencer Gallagher Chevy 54.501 165.135
12 82 Sean Corr Ford 55.069 163.431
13 5 Bobby Gerhart Chevy 56.537 159.188
14 13 George Cushman Chevy 57.125 157.549
15 86 Nick Igdalsky Chevy 57.319 157.016
16 35 Milka Duno Toyota 57.458 156.636
17 07 Brian Kaltreider Ford 57.639 156.144
18 06 James Swanson Ford 64.690 139.125
19 48 James Hylton Ford 66.958 134.413
20 55 Taylor Ferns Toyota No Time

ARCA Racing PR

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Steven B. Wilson

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