ARCA: Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series Notes, Pocono
18 July 1998ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series Notes, Pre-Pocono Int'l Raceway
By Don Radebaugh
The Pepsi 400k marks the return of the #66 Phoenix Air Ford team to ARCA competition since driver/owner Mark Thompson suffered injuries in the Atlanta ARCA race this past March. David Murry of Cartersville, GA will drive the car with veteran crew chief Don Strait turning the wrenches along with Bob Bissinger.
Legendary driver/car owner Jack Bowsher will reach another milestone in the Pepsi 400k at Pocono. The 3-time ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series driving champion and 2-time car owner champion will make his 200th consecutive start as a car owner in ARCA competition dating back to the 1989 Daytona ARCA 200. 13-time ARCA winner Bob Strait will be aboard the Bowsher-owned Zinsser Paints Specialties Ford. After 10 events in '98, Strait, currently 4th in points, is going after his 8th top-10 finish.
Tim Steele, who will attempt to win his 5th consecutive ARCA race at Pocono, is also entered in his father Harold's familiar #16 HS Die-Softech Ford. Steele, and current ARCA point leader Frank Kimmel, recently tested Winston Cup cars at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; Steele for car owner Bud Moore, and Kimmel for the Bill Elliott/Dan Marino owned team after they released Jerry Nadeau as their driver.
Drivers from 14 states will represent 43 teams that have filed entries for the ARCA Pepsi 400k, a record amount for an ARCA/Pocono event. Of the 43 entered, 7 are Pennsylvania drivers, including Bobby Gerhart, Tom Eriksen, Steve Bramley, 5th in points Andy Belmont, Tim Bainey, Jim Lamoreaux and 9th in points Norm Benning.
Also entered is Bobby Hamilton Jr. in a #43 Pontiac Grand Prix fielded by his father Bobby. Hamilton Jr. finished 5th at Pocono back in June of this year in his first ARCA start. Making his return to ARCA competition is Hueytown, Alabama driver Jimmy Kitchens who will drive a '97 Ford Thunderbird for Doc Watson. Other than Steele, Andy Hillenburg is the only other past ARCA driving champion on the entry list.
The Mountain Dew 400k will be the 27th ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series event held on the 2.5 mile triangle at Pocono since 1983. Veteran ARCA driver Bob Schacht and 3-time champion Steele are tied for the most wins at Pocono with 6 followed by Bob Keselowski with 5. Mike Wallace has 3 and Jimmy Horton is the only 2-time ARCA winner at Pocono, and 1-time winners include Ben Hess, Bobby Jacks, Jeff Purvis and Lee Raymond. Even though 8 ARCA races have been won from the pole at Pocono, all-time Pocono ARCA winner Schacht has never won from the pole. Other than one Chevrolet victory with Jeff Purvis in July of '94, Ford has been victorious in 9 of the last 10 ARCA races at Pocono dating back to 1993.