by ARCA Racing Series PR
(TEMPERANCE, Mich.) – It’s not often a Minnesotan gets to race at his home track in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, but that’ll be the case when the Akona 250 presented by Federated Car Care rolls off the grid Saturday night, June 1 at Elko Speedway.
In fact, the event at Elko marks only the second time in ARCA history that the 61-year-old tour has raced in Minnesota – the other being a year ago for the inaugural running of the Akona 250 at Elko.
However, thanks to an opportunity with Cunningham Motorsports, Jonathan Eilen, from nearby Hampton, Minnesota, is entered in the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsport Dodge for Elko.
Eilen, the 2012 ARCA Midwest Tour champion, cut his teeth on the Elko track from 2001 forward.
“Elko’s only 20-30 miles from home, so I definitely consider it my home track,” Eilen said.
“I won a title there back in ’02 in the Hobby Stock division. I was rookie of the year the first year. Then we moved into the sportsman division, then up into late models. We actually won the inaugural ARCA Midwest Tour race at Elko in 2007, so we’ve built up quite a following there over the years. Being on the (ARCA Midwest) tour over the last few years, we haven’t had the opportunity to race there too much, so I’m definitely looking forward to this one.”
Cunningham Motorsports is renowned for providing great opportunities for up and coming drivers to advance their careers. Cunningham groomed the careers of Parker Kligerman and, most recently, Alex Bowman, both of whom are competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series tour fulltime. The teams also field the fulltime ARCA entry for veteran Tom Hessert.
“We couldn’t be more pleased to have Jonathan in our car for Elko,” said Cunningham Motorsports co-owner Kerry Scherer.
“He drove for us one time at Berlin back in 2009 and did a spectacular job. We’re excited to have him back, and we know he’s going to do a great job. He’s such a great kid, and comes from such a great family. We’re very excited about this.”
Eilen, who was nearly unknown to the ARCA Racing Series in ’09 at Berlin, had raced his way into the top-five, but got involved in someone else’s wreck late in the race.
“I know that Cunningham Motorsports is one of the leading competitors in the ARCA series, so I’m very excited to back with them. We were either going to win that race at Berlin, or finish second, so I definitely feel like we’ve got some unfinished business to take care of,” Eilen added.
“I know the track (Elko) pretty well, and we’ve got a pretty good following of sponsors and fans over there, so we should have quite a few people cheering for us when we get back in town. A win at my home track in the ARCA series would be as big as it gets.”
Eilen also drove an ARCA car during open testing at Daytona Int’l Speedway in December of 2012 through ARCA’s “Road to Daytona” program under which champions from ARCA’s additional touring series get the opportunity to drive an ARCA car at Daytona.
Raceday at Elko starts with ARCA Racing Series practice from 2-2:45 p.m., with final practice following from 3:15-4. Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell starts at 5:30 with the Akona 250 set to take the green flag at 8.
Akona 250 Discount Tickets on Sale at 36 Menards Stores Across Minneapolis
Tickets are on sale now for the Akona 250 presented by Federated Car Care at Elko Speedway. Tickets are $20, compared to $30 on race day, and will be available at 36 Menards stores in the Minneapolis, Minn. market.
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.