The ARCA Racing Series, which has served as a springboard for many NASCAR drivers, just got a lot closer to the sanctioning body. On Friday, in a press conference at Talladega Superspeedway (where ARCA and NASCAR’s Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup Series will be racing throughout the weekend), NASCAR announced its intention to purchase the series. The move will fully take place in 2020, meaning the series will remain under Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) sanctioning for the 2018 and 2019 seasons.
“Our NASCAR family has long had a special connection with our friends at ARCA, and this is a logical step in demonstrating our commitment to the next generation of racers,” NASCAR Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President Jim France stated. “This continues the legacy our sport was built upon and will deliver the great racing our fans expect.”
France is no stranger to major series changes. In 2012, he helped facilitate the merger between Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series, resulting in what is now the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
Sanctioned by ARCA since 1953, the series has maintained a symbiotic relationship with NASCAR. The two’s schedules share similar tracks, while ARCA has produced drivers like Cup drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ty Dillon, Xfinity drivers Chase Briscoe and Justin Allgaier, and Camping World Truck Series regular Grant Enfinger.
ARCA President Ron Drager added that despite the move, staple tracks like Salem Speedway, Toledo Speedway, and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds will not leave the ARCA schedule.
With the ARCA Racing Series’ acquisition, speculation has arisen over the number of series now under NASCAR’s control. Besides NASCAR’s national series, the body also sanctions regional series like the K&N Pro Series East and West, the Whelen Modified Tour, and the Whelen All-American Series. Super Late Model and other short track series also host races around the country. ARCA’s other series, such as the CRA Super Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour, will presumably remain under ARCA control.
In early April, Autoweek‘s Matt Weaver wrote about potentially combining the ARCA Racing Series and the K&NS Series. With the high concentration of series, he believed the “NASCAR ladder system has one too many steps”, and due to the similarities between an ARCA and K&N car (both featuring Five Star-developed composite bodies), a consolidation – or at least making the cars interchangeable between series – would be practical for both parties.
“My only fear and reservation is that I have strong memories of NASCAR acquiring the old All-Pro Series,” Weaver tweeted regarding NASCAR’s purchase. “It worked for awhile under NASCAR, but then bigger tracks were added to the schedules and costs grew. I do hope this is a win for NASCAR, ARCA and the short track community.”
Sheldon Creed currently leads the ARCA Racing Series standings.