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Joe Graf Jr. hopes to shine under the lights in DuQuoin

DUQUOIN, Ill: With a breather in the ARCA Menards Series schedule, Joe Graf Jr. and his No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE racing team saddle up again for a return to the dirt in Saturday night’s Southern Illinois 100 at the historic Du Quoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds.

Earlier this month, Graf Jr. showcased speed on the dirt at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and had hoped to capitalize on a strong sixth-place qualifying effort. However, a late race spin in the race left little opportunity in the closing laps for a rebound leaving Graf Jr. to solider on for a 10th place finish in his third career dirt track ARCA start.

This weekend, Graf Jr. is feeling refreshed and ready to get back to business and catapult his Chad Bryant Racing team into the top-five under the Du Quoin lights.

“I feel like we got robbed a little bit at Springfield,” said Graf Jr. who sits fifth in the ARCA Menards Series standings. “We had a decent day, made some strides, but just had some misfortunate that kept us from a better day.”

Even though Graf Jr. earned his 10 top-10 finish of the season at Springfield, Graf Jr. nor his team led by championship crew chief Chad Bryant aren’t satisfied. Looking for his second career ARCA Menards Series win, Graf Jr., 21, is determined to put himself in contention before the season concludes in mid-October.

“We’re a better team than what we’ve shown,” added Graf. “It hasn’t come from the lack of effort, but we’re determined to make the best of the remaining races and hope we can add a couple top-fives and maybe even a win by Kansas in October.”

But before Graf Jr. can focus on getting back to the norm of asphalt racing, 100 laps on the dirt under the lights in Du Quoin stand in front of his No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE team with the Mooresville, N.C.-based team and driver ready to execute.

“I’m ready to get after it,” Graf added. “Night racing on the dirt should be a lot of fun. It’s going to be a little different and we’re going to have to make sure we keep up with the adjustments from practice and qualifying but once that green flag drops, it’s go time and I’m going to do everything I can to get our No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford Fusion up front and stay there.”

For the 17th straight race, EAT SLEEP RACE, a racing lifestyle apparel company headquartered in New Jersey returns as the primary sponsor of Graf Jr.’s No. 77 Ford for the 100-lap race.

“We just launched some really cool hats with EAT SLEEP RACE, so I encourage everyone to check them out,” sounded Graf Jr. “It’s been great to see EAT SLEEP RACE get all kinds of exposure this season. Fall is on the horizon and EAT SLEEP RACE will have some great items available then too.”

While juggling racing in ARCA and the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Graf Jr. has also returned to New York where he’ll continue his college education at New York University where he is beginning his sophomore year pursuing a degree in business, media and sports management.

“It’s going to be a busy fall, but I embrace it,” added Graf Jr. “I’m very lucky that I’ve been able to be a student at NYU while also following my dreams of being a professional race car driver.

“My internship at Richard Childress Racing earlier this year allowed me to learn so much that I plan to use that knowledge to the best of my ability and apply it to my everyday college life at NYU.”

Entering Du Quoin, Graf Jr. has 35 ARCA Menards Series starts to his credit with one win (Berlin (Mich. Raceway, 2018), seven top-five and 18 top-10 finishes to his credit. After 16 races, he stands fifth in the championship standings with four races remaining.

In addition to his ARCA Menards Series presence, Graf Jr. has made two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts for Richard Childress Racing. He’ll compete in at least one more race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway respectively on Fri. Sept. 20, 2019.

For more on Joe Graf Jr., please like him on Facebook (Joe Graf Jr.) and follow him on Twitter (@JoeGrafJr) and visit his brand new website at JoeGrafJr.com.

For more on Chad Bryant Racing, please like them on Facebook (Chad Bryant Racing) and follow them on Twitter (@ChadBryantRace). Also, visit the new ChadBryantRacing.com.

The Southern Illinois 100 (100 laps | 100 miles) is the 17th of 20 races on the 2019 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule. Practice begins Sat. Aug. 31 with an hour practice session planned from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. General Tire pole qualifying is set for shortly thereafter at 5:30 p.m. The race is set to take the green flag shortly after 8:00 p.m. The event will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the day’s festivities. All times are local (Central).

Corey Heim ready for dirt redemption on the DuQuoin dirt

DUQUOIN, Ill.: After an impressive performance in his debut on the dirt in the ARCA Menards Series earlier this month at the famed Illinois State Fairgrounds, an intense restart saw Corey Heim’s potentially first career ARCA win sputter from second to seventh when the checkered flag waved.

Having the opportunity to dissect the Allen Crowe 100, Heim has dusted off the dirt and is refocused for Saturday night’s Southern Illinois 100 at the historic DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds.

“We were so close,” said Heim. “I know things got very interesting and bumpers were used late at Springfield and I’m sure if roles were reversed, I would have done the same thing – but our finish wasn’t any indication of our performance throughout the race and that’s frustrating for me as a driver – because I don’t settle for anything less than perfection.

“At Springfield, we were almost perfect. “He (Michael Self) was down on the inside and he pushed me up the track and used me up. I got up into the loose dirt and gave up a lot of spots. It’s disappointing to go from second to seventh but that’s part of racing for the win.”

Heim isn’t having to do much to prepare for his 11th career ARCA start and second on the dirt, other than learning from the closing laps of Springfield and hoping to lead more than a season-high 11 laps two weeks ago.

“I’m pumped to get back to the race track, dirt or not,” added Heim. “I don’t have a lot of ARCA Menards Series starts left this season, so it’s important for me to make most of these last couple starts at DuQuoin, Salem and Lucas Oil.

“We’re bringing the same car we ran at Springfield and I hope that will play into our hands since I’m familiar with the car and how it felt on the dirt. Having the opportunity to race at night compared to the day will certainly present its potential challenges, but I don’t think its anything that myself and my crew chief Paul Andrews can’t overcome.

“I’m just ready to win.”

Heim’s limited ARCA stint with the Mooresville, N.C.-based team has been impressive. Having never seen much of the tracks he’s visited this season; the teenager has shined. In 10 starts, Heim has delivered five top-five and nine top-10s finishes, including a career-best fourth twice at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and the 2.5-mile speedway of Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

“Chad (Bryant) and Paul (Andrews) have made sure that we’re going to the track fully prepared to win. I’ve had great race cars all year long. I’ve made some mistakes, but I’ve learned for them and I feel that has made me a better job in the second half of the season and I think that’s shown with our on-track performances.

“Hopefully we can go to DuQuoin and win. My 2019 in the ARCA series certainly hasn’t given me any breaks, so I’m hoping we leave with a finish that my team and I deserve. If not, I’ll try again at Salem and then at Lucas Oil. I can’t believe how fast the year has gone, but it’s not over yet.”

Andrews, a former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship crew chief is upbeat about DuQuoin too.

Our performance at Springfield was great, end result was disappointing but that’s racing, now it’s time to move on to DuQuoin with a lot of momentum,” offered Andrews.

“Now that Corey’s has dirt experience and knows a little of what to expect we should be better yet. Everyone at Chad Bryant Racing loves DuQuoin and have come close to victory several times, hopefully, we can do it with Corey on Saturday night!”

For more on Corey Heim, please like him on Facebook (Corey Heim Racing) and follow him on Instagram (@corey.heim) and Twitter (@coreyheim3).

For more on Chad Bryant Racing, please like them on Facebook (Chad Bryant Racing) and follow them on Twitter (@ChadBryantRace). Also, visit the new ChadBryantRacing.com.

The Southern Illinois 100 (100 laps | 100 miles) is the 17th of 20 races on the 2019 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule. Practice begins Sat. Aug. 31 with an hour practice session planned from 2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. General Tire pole qualifying is set for shortly thereafter at 5:30 p.m. The race is set to take the green flag shortly after 8:00 p.m. The event will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the day’s festivities. All times are local (Central).

ARCA Menards Series Rookie Corey Heim Reloaded for Another Run at ARCA Dirt Track Victory at DuQuoin

With two miles to go in the Allen Crowe 100 at Springfield, it looked like Corey Heim (No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities Ford) was sitting pretty. He was in second place, right alongside leader Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) as the field was readying for a two-lap dash to the checkered flag. When the green waved, Self took off and Heim stayed right with him through turns one and two and down the backstretch of the one-mile dirt oval.

But turns three and four is where it all went awry for the seventeen-year-old Marietta, Georgia native.

Self pushed him up the track. Just like a paved track where loose rubber accumulates throughout the race, the upper groove of a dirt track is covered in loose dirt from the course of the race. Heim went sliding through 100 miles worth of loose dirt, and as he fought for traction and control he dropped from second to seventh.

The fact he was second with a couple of laps to go belied Heim’s dirt track experience level. The race at Springfield was the first time in Heim’s racing career he had ever been on dirt.

His ninth top-ten finish in ten career ARCA Menards Series starts was a consolation prize of sorts, but Heim was still disappointed with the result.

“He did what I would have done,” Heim said. “He was down on the inside and he pushed me up the track and used me up. I got up into the loose dirt and gave up a lot of spots. It’s disappointing to go from second to seventh but that’s part of racing for the win.”

Heim won’t have to wait long to reload and try for his first career series victory. When the ARCA Menards Series goes green in the Southern Illinois 100, he’ll also have another chance at scoring a win on dirt as the series makes is second appearance on dirt with a traditional Labor Day weekend stop at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds. With a stock car history that dates back to the 1950s and ARCA’s history at the one-mile oval dating back to 1983, Heim would like to add his name to a list of winners that includes Jerry Unser, Don White, A.J. Foyt, Rusty Wallace, and Tony Stewart.

It’s a lofty goal for a young man who only has a couple seasons of stock car racing experience under his belt.

“We’re going to DuQuoin to win,” added Heim. “I’m putting pressure on myself to win and finish what we started at Springfield. Paul (Andrews, crew chief) and the entire Chad Bryant Racing team have worked hard to bring me fast, competitive cars no matter what type of track we’re competing at.

“I learned a lot at Springfield and even though DuQuoin will be run at night, I’m hopeful that what I learned a couple weeks can be applied to Saturday night and it will bring Chad Bryant Racing another checkered flag this season.”

For the vast majority of its existence, the Southern Illinois 100 has been run under the often-intense southern Illinois sun. The heat and humidity, mixed with the often dusty track surface as a result, made the DuQuoin race one of the most challenging on drivers and demanding on equipment throughout the entire season. For the second time in the race’s history it will be run under the lights on the Magic Mile, and for the first time in the event’s history, it will be run on a Saturday night. As the opening race of a two-day race weekend – Sunday’s traditional USAC Silver Crown Series race remains unchanged – track conditions should be vastly different than year’s past. It will be cooler, and the track’s surface will not have any rubber worked into it when the ARCA Menards Series takes to the track.

Those differences will create enough of an unknown that it should level the playing field even more for Heim as he continues to gain dirt track experience.

“I’m really not sure what to expect with the track conditions especially practicing and qualifying during the day and racing at night,” added Heim. “I expect the handling of our race car will change, so I’ll be leaning on Paul (Andrews) to make the right adjustments and I know he’ll expect me to do everything I can to keep ourselves in contention.

“I only have three ARCA Menards Series races left this season and I’d like to win all three of them if I can, but it’s going to take perfect execution and making sure we don’t stumble when the opportunity is there for the taking.”

The Southern Illinois 100 on the Magic Mile at the DuQuoin State Fair is set for Saturday night August 31. Practice starts at 2:30 pm CT, General Tire Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 5:30 pm CT, and the race will go green shortly after 8 pm CT. The race will be televised live on MAVTV; ARCARacing.com will have live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates for registered users.

Illinois State Fairgrounds | Allen Crowe 100 Race Recap

Team: No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford Fusion
Driver: Joe Graf Jr.
Follow the Team: @ChadBryantRace; @JoeGrafJr
Start: Sixth
Finish: 10th; Running; (100 | 102 laps completed)
Unofficial Driver Points Position: Fifth

Joe Graf Jr. Quote: “It was an okay race for us. We had a good qualifying effort and we were able to maintain our track position during the early stages of the race, but after the rain came the track conditions changed and we didn’t seem to have the grip we needed.

“I can’t thank EAT SLEEP RACE enough for their support and hope we can make some gains at DuQuoin in a couple weeks.”

Next Up: Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds on Sat., Aug. 31, live on MAVTV at 8:00 p.m. (Central).

For more on Joe Graf Jr, please like him on Facebook (Joe Graf Jr.) and follow him on Twitter (@JoeGrafJr) and visit his website at JoeGrafJr.com.

For more on Chad Bryant Racing, please like them on Facebook (Chad Bryant Racing) and follow them on Twitter (@ChadBryantRace). Also, visit the new ChadBryantRacing.com.

About EAT SLEEP RACE:

EAT SLEEP RACE (eatsleeprace.com) is a racing lifestyle apparel company based out of New Jersey.  Since 2001 the brand has offered a full product line including accessories and apparel for men’s and ladies.  As one of the pioneers of motorsports apparel, the brand has deep roots in the racing industry and was created to offer fresh designs for all racing enthusiasts.

The company has expanded to now offer a dedicated children’s product line of apparel and accessories branded as the Fast Kids Club with it’s hot selling ABC book for future race car drivers.

Illinois State Fairgrounds | Allen Crowe 100 Race Recap

Team: No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities Ford Fusion
Driver: Corey Heim
Follow the Team: @ChadBryantRace; @CoreyHeim3
Start: Sixth
Finish: Seventh; Running (102 | 102 laps completed)
Unofficial Driver Points Position: 13th

Corey Heim Quote: “I was trying so hard to win that race. We were there with a shot in overtime. Unfortunately, We just got pushed up into the loose dirt in Turns three and four.

“If I was in that position that’s what I would have done too. It sucks we lost all those positions. We stayed patient all day and worked the bottom groove and did what we needed to do. It’s disappointing to end up seventh after the day we had.

“We’ll regroup and try again at DuQuoin in a couple weeks.”

Next Up: Southern Illinois 100 at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds on Sat., Aug. 31, live on MAVTV at 8:00 p.m. (Central).

For more on Corey Heim, please like him on Facebook (Corey Heim Racing) and follow him on Instagram (@corey.heim) and Twitter (@coreyheim3).

For more on Chad Bryant Racing, please like them on Facebook (Chad Bryant Racing) and follow them on Twitter (@ChadBryantRace). Also, visit the new ChadBryantRacing.com.

Corey Heim optimistic for ARCA Menards Series debut on the dirt

SPRINGFIELD, Ill.: Following a much-needed two-week break for the ARCA Menards Series, racing resumes this Sunday from the famed Illinois State Fairgrounds and for Chad Bryant Racing rookie Corey Heim, he sees the Allen Crowe 100 as another opportunity to showcase his potential.

Heim heads to Springfield on the heels of a career-best fourth-place finish at the tricky 2.5-mile triangle of Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and while the 1.0-mile dirt track of the Illinois State Fairgrounds will offer its own sense of awkwardness for Heim, he’s determined to execute and capture his seventh straight top-10 finish.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know have any knowledge on dirt or what to expect with an ARCA car,” Heim said.

“With that being said, I’m going into Springfield and even DuQuoin not knowing what to expect, but I feel like it’s going to be a ton of fun.

“It’s a pretty short day, so hopefully I can get things figured out in practice and qualifying and then make some good moves during the race.”

No matter what happens at Springfield, the track time will be critical for the 17-year-old Heim.

On Labor Day weekend, he’ll make a return trip to the dirt at the DuQuoin (Ill.) State Fairgrounds, another 1.0-mile dirt track with similar characteristics to Springfield.

For Heim, Springfield will be a test but a test he hopes to master.

“I’m going to be leaning on Chad (Bryant, team owner) and Paul (Andrews, crew chief) to help me with any mistakes early so I can be on game for the race. We’ll just go and see what happens.

“I think I can take what I learn from Springfield and build on it in DuQuoin. My goal is to run up front in these ARCA Menards Series races, even at these dirt tracks where the racing will be completely foreign to me.

“I only have four more races with Chad Bryant Racing and my goal is to get a win in any or all of them. I have my goals set high, but I think my Chad Bryant Racing team will give me competitive race cars as usual, that I can compete for wins with.”
For more on Corey Heim, please like him on Facebook (Corey Heim Racing) and follow him on Instagram (@corey.heim) and Twitter (@coreyheim3).

For more on Chad Bryant Racing, please like them on Facebook (Chad Bryant Racing) and follow them on Twitter (@ChadBryantRace). Also, visit the new ChadBryantRacing.com.

The Allen Crowe 100 presented by Lucas Oil (100 laps | 100 miles) is the 16th of 20 races on the 2019 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule. Practice begins Sun., Aug. 18 with an hour practice session planned from 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. General Tire pole qualifying is set for shortly thereafter at 11:00 a.m. The race is set to take the green flag shortly after 1:40 p.m. The event will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the day’s festivities. All times are local (Central).

Triple duty weekend ends on the dirt at Springfield for Joe Graf Jr.

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – One of the busiest weekends of Joe Graf Jr.’s 2019 racing season will conclude with Sunday afternoon’s Allen Crowe 100 at the Illinois State Fairgrounds aboard Chad Bryant Racing’s No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford Fusion.

Graf Jr. will trek from Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway where he’ll partake in a double-dose of action in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race on Thursday night – while making his third career NASCAR Xfinity Series start on Friday night in the Food City 300.

While Bristol provides an opportunity to gather laps and gain experience in the NASCAR world, once Friday night is behind the 21-year-old drive, he’ll seek his second career ARCA Menards Series win in the first of two dirt races this season.

“Yeah, it’s going to be a busy couple days, but I’m excited about that and can’t wait,” said Joe Graf Jr. “A lot of people including Chad Bryant Racing have put a lot of effort into making Bristol and Springfield possible and without everyone’s support, I know this triple-duty weekend wouldn’t be possible.”

After a two-week break from ARCA competition where Graf Jr. earned his ninth top-10 finish of the season at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway, the sophomore ARCA Menards Series driver invades the Illinois State Fairgrounds hunting his second top-five finish of the year.

“It goes without saying, I’m disappointed that we haven’t been able to run top-five or contend for as many wins as I would have liked to this season,” added Graf Jr. “There’s still some time for us to do that though. Chad (Bryant) wants it. I want it more; I just hope that we can have a smooth day on Sunday and give us a head start on DuQuoin in a couple weeks.”

Graf will make his third ARCA start on the dirt this weekend. Last year in his Springfield debut, he started sixth but found himself entangled in a late-race caution.

Fast forward 12 months later, Graf Jr. is hoping to take what he learned from Springfield and DuQuoin combined and lead Chad Bryant Racing to their fourth win of 2019.

“The dirt is a lot of fun,” sounded Graf Jr. “Momentum and throttle are critical for mastering places like Springfield and DuQuoin. I learned a lot about tire conservation last year too.

“The biggest obstacle is doing all you can to avoid spinning out, but I’m a lot more optimistic about Springfield than I was last year, and I hope I’m able to show that with our finish on Sunday.”

With the end of the season a little more than two months away, Graf Jr. realizes that the championship is a far stretch, but says winning is not.

“It’s a top priority to win before the end of the season,” he said. “These guys on the No. 77 team deserve it and so does EAT SLEEP RACE and all of our other partners. They have worked relentlessly this season and a win or two would be really cool.”

For the 16th straight race, EAT SLEEP RACE, a racing lifestyle apparel company headquartered in New Jersey returns as the primary sponsor of Graf Jr.’s No. 77 Ford for the 100-lap race.

“We just launched some really cool hats with EAT SLEEP RACE, so I encourage everyone to check them out,” sounded Graf Jr. “It’s been great to see EAT SLEEP RACE get involved as they have with the stock car side of things and with them on the Xfinity car and the ARCA car, it would be great to cap off the weekend with our strongest finish of the year.”

Entering Springfield, Graf Jr. has 34 ARCA Menards Series starts to his credit with one win (Berlin (Mich. Raceway, 2018), seven top-five and 17 top-10 finishes to his credit. After 15 races, he stands fifth in the championship standings with five races remaining.

In addition to his ARCA Menards Series presence, Graf Jr. has made two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts for Richard Childress Racing. He’ll compete in at least two more events at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (Aug. 16) and Richmond (Va.) Raceway respectively.
For more on Joe Graf Jr, please like him on Facebook (Joe Graf Jr.) and follow him on Twitter (@JoeGrafJr) and visit his brand new website at JoeGrafJr.com.

For more on Chad Bryant Racing, please like them on Facebook (Chad Bryant Racing) and follow them on Twitter (@ChadBryantRace). Also, visit the new ChadBryantRacing.com.

The Allen Crowe 100 presented by Lucas Oil (100 laps | 100 miles) is the 16th of 20 races on the 2019 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule. Practice begins Sun., Aug. 18 with an hour practice session planned from 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. General Tire pole qualifying is set for shortly thereafter at 11:00 a.m. The race is set to take the green flag shortly after 1:40 p.m. The event will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the day’s festivities. All times are local (Central).

About EAT SLEEP RACE:

EAT SLEEP RACE (eatsleeprace.com) is a racing lifestyle apparel company based out of New Jersey. Since 2001 the brand has offered a full product line including accessories and apparel for men’s and ladies. As one of the pioneers of motorsports apparel, the brand has deep roots in the racing industry and was created to offer fresh designs for all racing enthusiasts.

The company has expanded to now offer a dedicated children’s product line of apparel and accessories branded as the Fast Kids Club with it’s hot selling ABC book for future race car drivers.