The ARCA Menards Series returns to Elko Speedway for the first time since 2019 with a close points battle brewing between Corey Heim and Ty Gibbs.
Heim won the June 25 General Tire 200 at Pocono Raceway, ahead of Gibbs who led the most laps but finished second after losing the lead to Heim on the final restart.
Heim and Gibbs have won every ARCA Menards Series race in 2021. Gibbs has won five races and Heim has won three races. Heim leads the points standings by three points because of Gibbs’ 27th-place finish in the April 24 General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway, which Heim won.
Heim and Gibbs each made their only Elko Speedway start in the 2019 race. Gibbs finished second driving for Joe Gibbs Racing while Heim finished fifth driving for Chad Bryant’s team.
Gray returns after injury
Taylor Gray will return to the ARCA Menards Series for the first time since the March 12 General Tire 150 at Phoenix Raceway.
Gray was cleared to race July 6, which is two months after he was injured in a single-car accident April 8 in Statesville, N.C. He suffered a fractured L4 vertebra, left foot and ankle in the accident.
Gray will drive for David Gilliland Racing, which is the team he finished ninth with driving their No. 17 Ford at Phoenix.
Moffitt, Sanchez among ten drivers making Elko Speedway debut
Thad Moffitt and Nick Sanchez are two of the ten drivers making their Elko Speedway debut Saturday.
Moffitt, the grandson of Richard Petty, is currently third in the ARCA Menards Series points standings, 53 points behind leader Corey Heim.
Sanchez, the 2019 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award winner, is currently fourth in the standings, 79 points behind Heim.
The ten drivers making their Elko Speedway debut are as follows: Nick Sanchez, Jesse Love, Taylor Gray, Daniel Dye, Gracie Trotter, Adam Lemke, Thad Moffitt, Ron Vandermeir Jr., Owen Smith, Bryce Haugeberg.
Ron Vandermeir Jr., a Sheridan, Ill., native, will make his ARCA Menards Series debut at Elko Speedway in an independent entry. His father, Ron Sr., will serve as his crew chief.
Bryce Haugeberg will make his second ARCA Menards Series start at Elko Speedway and will drive for Andy Hillenberg.
Haugeberg finished 25th in his lone ARCA Menards Series start at Phoenix. He is a native of West Fargo, N.D., which is four hours away from Elko Speedway.
18 drivers are on the entry list for Saturday’s race.
2019 ARCA Menards Series Elko Speedway winner Chandler Smith is not entered in the race.
The ARCA Menards Series is one of four divisions racing at Elko Speedway Saturday night. The track’s Late Models, Thunder Cars and Power Stocks divisions will also be racing.
Saturday Elko Speedway schedule (all times Central):
2:00 p.m. Local Division Practice
3:30-4:30 p.m. ARCA Racing Series Practice
4:30 p.m. Local Division Qualifying
5:30 p.m. ARCA General Tire Qualifying
6:00 p.m. Local Division Features
7:45-8:30 p.m. ARCA Driver Autograph Session
9:00 p.m. ARCA Menards 250
The ARCA Menards 250 at Elko Speedway will be broadcast Saturday night at 10 p.m. Eastern (TV: MAVTV, NBC TrackPass).