TORC Chicagoland Race Report – Ruppel Keeps Top 10 Streak Alive
Chetek, WI (July 25, 2012) – As one of the leading privateers in the TORC PRO-Light division, Eric Ruppel looks forward to the tight and temporary tracks like Chicagoland because everyone gets to the event without any track time on the race course. Since joining the TORC PRO-Light ranks last year, Ruppel has finished in the money at least once during every TORC event. Even after a difficult weekend, the #73 J & H Transmission/McGunegill Performance/A & J Landscaping/Motor Fist/BFGoodrich Tire Ford kept its streak intact.
The stadium style course was more technical than previous years which provided more opportunities for overtaking your fellow competitor, but it also created more places to make a mistake. Either way, the .7 mile long track kept all the racers”up on the wheel” and the packed house of spectators on their edge of their seats.
Qualifying saw Ruppel take a conservative approach and ended up thirteenth fastest of the seventeen PRO-Light competitors. After qualifying, Ruppel participated, with other TORC racers, in NASCAR Fan Fare, a unique fan experience for Chicagoland season ticket holders. This was an opportunity to bring TORC race trucks and drivers over to the Speedway to introduce short-course racing to the 5,000 fans that participated in the event.
Thursday – Round 7
As the sun began to set behind the packed grandstands, the seventeen PRO-Light racers lined up for fifteen laps of door to door action. When the green flag few, the #73 J&H Transmission Ford quickly gained a couple of positions. At the mandatory yellow Ruppel knew he had to take bigger gambles to move through the field. On the restart he tried to time passing a couple of trucks just as he crossed the start/finish line. Unfortunately USAC thought the #73 Ford made the pass too soon on the restart, and Ruppel had to come in for a stop and hold penalty. This sent the blue Ford Ranger to the back of the running order. At the end of fifteen laps Eric Ruppel finished fourteenth.
After a brief explanation on the restart procedure at the USAC trailer, Ruppel and crew chief Kent Kramer brought the race truck back and began discussing the morning changes to the truck.
Friday – Round 8
After starting way back in fifteen position, the Motorfist supported Ford Ranger was in the top ten at the midway caution period. Again Ruppel knew the final seven laps would have to be his best to break into the top five. The second half of the race Ruppel had a great battle with Ross Hoek as the two racers moved past othercompetitors. With two laps to go the J&H Transmission Ford was in seventh place right on the bumper of Hoek. Then a couple of miscues let three racers past, putting Eric Ruppel back to tenth place at the finish.
“We really were racy tonight,” remarked Eric Ruppel. “Ross and I really had a great race going, then I just made a small mistake and that’s all it took for me to move back a few spots. The competition is so strong throughout the entire PRO-Light field. We keep making small adjustments and our truck gets faster and faster. Even with my hiccup at the end, we still get a check from the event.”
Next Race: August 11-12 at Bark River Off-Road Raceway in Bark River, Michigan.
- Mike Reusche, words
- Chris Hord, pics