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Rewind ARCA Menards: Takeaways from Dover Motor Speedway

Rajah Caruth stands by his vehicle during qualifying for the General Tire 125 for the ARCA Menards Series East at Dover International Speedway in Dover, Delaware, on April 29, 2022. (Amanda Rhoades/ARCA Racing)

The ARCA Menards Series East returned to action on Friday afternoon at Dover Motor Speedway to drive the General Tire 125, the series’ 32nd visit to the 1.5-mile concrete oval.

The Monster Mile proved no match for Taylor Gray, who drove a new Ford Mustang to his first East Series win after leading most of the race for David Gilliland Racing in No. 17.

FULL RESULTS: General Tire 125 in Dover

It was a significant win for Gray who took a big bite out of the lead Sammy Smith had in the East Series standings ahead of Friday’s race.

Below are the key points from Friday’s General Tire 125, starting with Gray’s first ARCA Menards Series East win.

Taylor Gray had the car to beat Friday afternoon at Dover Motor Speedway during the General Tire 125.

That car featured the new Ford Mustang body, which made its debut on the ARCA Menards platform as the automaker works to replace the Ford Fusion body that has been used in ARCA competitions for the past few seasons.

It’s almost as if Gray had a few extra horses when he took the number 17 from the Ford Performance Racing School on the track. During the combined practice/qualifying session, Gray set an East Series track record with a lap of 160.915 mph, breaking Ruben Garcia Jr.’s previous record of 157.143 mph. erased in 2018.

He backed up his incredible qualifying lap by dominating the race, leading 116 of the 125 laps and coming first at the checkered flag 1.456 seconds ahead of runner-up Jesse Love.

Perhaps more important than the win for Gray is his win in the East Series points standings. The win, combined with a fifth-place finish by defending champion Sammy Smith, allowed Gray to close within two points of Smith after three races.

The battle between Gray and Smith continues as the East Series heads to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on Saturday night for the Nashville 200.

Venturini Motorsports came ready to race Friday afternoon with four cars competing in the General Tire 125.

In the end, it was Jesse Love who gave the team its best shot at victory as the two-time ARCA Menards Series West champion battled Gray for the lead multiple times.

Love was the only driver besides Gray to lead Friday afternoon. He led nine laps after taking the lead from Gray on a restart on lap 30, but Gray regained the lead just before the scheduled break on lap 40.

The driver from Menlo Park, California, chased Gray for the rest of the race, but was never able to overtake him.

In addition to Love, Venturini Motorsports also lined up cars for Conner Jones, Jake Finch and Jonathan Shafer on Friday afternoon. All three drivers made their debuts for the team.

Jones was the best of that trio, coming home third to get his best result on the ARCA Menards platform. Finch finished sixth in his second East Series race and Shafer was seventh in his ARCA platform debut.

Rajah Caruth stands by his vehicle during practice/qualification for the General Tire 125 for the ARCA Menards Series East at Dover Motor Speedway on April 29, 2022. (Amanda Rhoades/ARCA Racing)

Rajah Caruth continues to approach his first win on the ARCA Menards platform.

The current points leader of the ARCA Menards Series returned to the East Series on Friday, finishing fourth in the No. 6 Rev Racing Chevrolet, after finishing in the top five for most of the race.

It was his third East Series top-five career for Caruth, who won doubles at Dover Motor Speedway by also competing in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race for Alpha Prime Racing.

Unfortunately things didn’t go as planned on Saturday as mechanical issues sent him to the garage early resulting in 38th place.

  • After finishing second in the final East Series race at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway, Leland Honeyman struggled to eighth place on Friday afternoon. He remains third in the standings, 16 points behind leader Sammy Smith.
  • Christian Rose equaled his best East Series finish with a 10th place finish at Dover. He is currently fourth in the East Series points standings.
  • The General Tire 125 was slowed by four warning flags, including two stoppages, and had two head changes between two drivers.