Archive for March, 2011

DJ Safety Rookie of the Year Candidate: Marcus Jones

March 24, 2011

“I have an addiction. And that addiction is called racing!” It doesn’t take long in talking to The ARCA Truck Series presented by the Phoenix Management Group’s newest DJ Safety Rookie of the Year contender Marcus Jones to find that out!

“I started racing at 16 in the Hobby Stock division in Washington, Indiana. I had no money and was working for my dad at our concrete business. After a while, the opportunity presented itself to where I could become more a part of the business. Since I had so little into my racing, I went to work full-time for my dad and soon, we created Jones and Sons, Inc. in 1970 in Vincennes, Indiana. Anything to do with concrete, ready mix, cinder blocks, supplies, that’s what we do. In 2004 we put up the Terre Haute plant. But, that fire still burned inside.”

The racing fire that is. That addiction burned so bad that after a while, he went to his uncle, champion drag racer Sam Jones, about helping fund his circle track aspirations. Unfortunately he was lovingly told, “you’re on your own,” but with the simple message that if Marcus wanted bad enough, he could find the funding himself, but little and it becoming harder to find, Jones was almost forced out of racing all together. Also, the business and his family were looming larger in his life.

After a few years, Jones eye began wandering back to competition. New racing fans would know the name Rollie Helmling as the current Motorsports Development Director for the State of Indiana, appointed by new governor Mitch Daniels, or as the former President of USAC, but Marcus met a sprint car and midget owner in Helmling in 1990, who at the time was employing one John Andretti, nephew of racing legend Mario Andretti. But Andretti, who Jones said he thoroughly enjoyed working with and still keeps in close contact today, was ready to move on to the Indy cars and with his departure, a young driver by the name of Jeff Gordon stepped behind the wheel. Surrounded by future talent in the region like the Kinser family, Tony Stewart and the late Kenny Irwin, among others, it wasn’t just Gordon’s arrival (whom Jones also lauded as a “nice kid, very talented, knew a lot about what was going on around him and on the track”) and the budding careers that Marcus remembers most, but his education at the feet of the legendary owner. “I learned a lot from him. Engines, chassis, how to run a team, and I also learned that I wanted to drive.”

But Jones had a decision to make – get out of racing, or potentially lose his family. So Marcus quit the four wheel business “cold turkey”, as he explained it, and returned to his home and company, but as he laughed when talking about his domestic efforts, “I wish I knew now what I didn’t know then!” Not watching it or barely even following results, that fire almost consumed him – he was still a fan as his lack of competition almost burned him alive.

In the movie “Shawshank Redemption”, the lead character says to his friend, “get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’”, and that seems to be what happened in a discussion between Marcus and his daughter in 2005. “She asked me if I was going back to racing. So, I signed up for the Gordon/Andretti Driving School at Kentucky Speedway. At the end of the day, the instructor was pleased with how well he thought I did. We got along well.” Jones, now married to Penny, who, as he says, “understands my passion”, then spent a year and a half buying racing packages and, as he explained, bought more and more where he would learn drafting, leading, following, passing, and took it “straight to the top”, which led him to the P.R.E. School in Kansas where he continued broadening his learning curve, being put in race situations, more drafting, and finally a “6 car 10 lap shootout”. When it was over, the father of five recalled, “the owner said he was impressed how I handled it all and asked if I would like to be an instructor because he thought I was good with people, how fast I got up to speed, how level headed I was and liked how I handled the race situations they put us in.” So for one year, Jones went throughout Kansas, to Texas, Talladega, St. Louis, and also started running karts again to, as he said, become more “smooth”. There were many runner-up finishes, but unfortunately no victories.

P.R.E soon folded, and Jones called the ARCA Series presented by Menard’s Vice President of Competition Joe Wells about a possible entry into the sanction. Wells suggested Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track Driving School in North Carolina. But Jones began to share his teaching jobs and school work and the people he worked with and where he drove and finally Wells was able to issue him his Master License for competition. However, it didn’t quite work out that way.

“I worked with Norm Benning on his crew for a while. I greatly respect Norm and what he has done. He’s a very nice man and a tough driver, but with the equipment we had looked at that he was offering, I didn’t think it would be good for my career or my reputation I was trying to build as a driver to race in it, so it just never worked out to compete for Norm.”

But out of the blue, Jones was surfing the net and happened upon and saw an ARCA Truck for sale “cheap”, so he bought it and he, Dan Eakins and Doug Miller put it all together with a goal of running three fourths of the 2010 events and to keep the truck in one piece. So they took the white and red #55 to Lorain County in Ohio for his first event last June. Despite two right side flats, they finished 12th. Next up was Motordrome in Pennsylvania, where the newly christened “Marcus Motorsports” team claimed their first top ten in eighth. With that success, Jones was ready for his favorite track, Salem Speedway, and after running as high as fourth, he encountered problems and spun, but recovered to finish 6th.

“This team is made up of three equal parts: Best One Tire, who have stores in Michigan, Indiana and Ohio; Jones and Sons, Inc., and our team, Marcus Motorsports, whom I’m so blessed to have found. They’re all volunteers, but without them, I wouldn’t want to do this – I couldn’t be here,” stated the 56-year-old. He even addressed the issue of his age. “I admire guys like Mark Martin, who’s what, 54? (52). The team and I had a meeting and we said, we don’t wanna be doing this if we aren’t having fun. Sure, we’re taking it seriously, but we don’t wanna be doing something we hate. I love what I’m doing and I want to show that my age doesn’t matter! I know some people may look at me differently because of my age, or my backing, but I think that I can help the ARCA Truck Series. I have a very strong commitment to the ARCA Truck Series, which has excellent young drivers and I believe a great stepping stone to other places like the NASCAR Truck Series, for example. And, I feel our team can help be a building block for the next up and coming young drivers.”

He continued, “Mark Martin raced around here (Indiana) when it was dirt and it was for next to nothing. There was very little to no money. I wonder how many of these drivers today would do that – race for next to little or no money?”

Jones can boast at least one victory, even before the 2011 ARCA Truck Series starts: he is the first to purchase the S347J Ford Crate Engine through the new program the series and the legendary car manufacturer set up. “I made a choice, just like everyone else has a choice. I chose to go this way because I think the Ford will be great for the series. We’re all starting at the same level – we’re all even with this program I feel at this time and I’m excited to be working with Ford and I feel it’s going to save the series. We’re almost finished with a truck we purchased from Gary Esterline, I picked up the Ford engine Wednesday (March 23rd), I hired Tonya McAllister and MPM Marketing and I’m happy to be making the plunge! I’m really excited!”

Okay, so what are this season’s goals for the father of children Salina, Rachele, Justin, Shawna and Morgan?

“The team agreed that the DJ Safety Rookie of the Year was within our reach because maybe we’re not ready for the championship.”

Following his family’s advice to return, now there is another goal Jones has attained – a full-time gig in racing to feed that addiction, to which, for most people, there seems to be no cure — other than participation that is! And Marcus Jones has proven that no matter the age, competition behind the wheel knows no age limits for any speed addict!

Kevin Schwarze

Marcus Jones Buys First ARCA Truck Series Approved Ford Racing V-8 !

Click here to buy a New ARCA Truck Series Approved Ford Racing V-8 !

JEG’S High Performance Joins the ARCA Truck Series in 2011



Millersport, OH (03/16/11) Phoenix Management Group officials announced at the 2nd Annual ARCA Truck Series Winter Competitor Meeting that JEGS High Performance of Delaware, Ohio will be the exclusive wholesaler for the newly approved Ford S347JR engine for the series. In addition, JEGS they will post awards for the competitors at every event.

“There is not a better company in the high performance parts industry.” said Tom Cumbow, Phoenix Management Group General Manager. “Their accomplishments in delivering the best in high performance parts, their remarkably successful racing teams, and their dedication to Cancer Research with the JEGS Foundation are all reasons we are proud to be associated with JEGS.”  

Jeg Coughlin Sr. started JEGS High Performance in 1960 in downtown Columbus, Ohio when he struggled to find the quality parts he needed to bring his own hot rod up to his performance standards. Fifty years later, sons John, Troy, Mike and Jeg Jr. now own the company and run the day to day operations. What started out in a small, non-descript shop, now employs over 350 associates and has over 300.000 square feet of warehouse space.  

The Coughlin brothers have made a name for themselves in business and at the race track. The brothers, all four deeply involved in drag racing, proudly use JEGS products in their racecars and now boast six world championships and 15 divisional titles to their credit. Their familiar yellow and black JEGS transporters, seen at national and divisional events, are packed with a host of spare parts for their racecars, which are all available through JEGS.

Ordering the Ford S347JR engine will be easy from JEGS High Performance. Competitors can order on-line at, on the phone at 800-345-4545, or visit either one of their retail stores, ask for the Ford S347JR engine and have it delivered to their door. They offer same day shipping if order by 9pm, guaranteed customer satisfaction, and a no hassle on-line return policy.

For more information on JEG’S High Performance, please contact them at 800-345-4545 or at

For more information on the ARCA Truck Series can be found at The next event for the ARCA Truck Series is May 14, 2011 at Toledo Speedway, Toledo, Ohio.


Tom Cumbow

Phoenix Management Group, General Manager


2nd Annual Competitor Meeting a Huge Success!

Toledo, OH (03/14/11) For the second year in a row, the ARCA Truck Series, presented by the Phoenix Management Group (now also known as “PMG”), held its Winter Competitor’s Meeting on March 12th in downtown Toledo, Ohio at the Park Inn Hotel. Started last year almost out of necessity but also as a courtesy to their members, the ARCA Truck Series remains the only major touring race sanction in the country that holds such an event. Present were PMG Chairman of the Board and competitor Frank Wilson, General Manager (and former ATS champion crew chief) Tom Cumbow — who also presided over the presentation, Operations Manager/Treasurer and former two-time ATS champion Robbin Slaughter, Board Member  Ed Yoak of Ed and Co. Racing Supplies, and Board Member and longtime competitor Craig Meyers.

Proceeding the meeting, the Board and officials met to refresh what was expected of a race day steward, how to handle situations such as on-track injuries, how to deal with potentially unruly people, as well as their representation of the ARCA Truck Series and how to work together with the fine speedways that allow the circuit to visit that particular weekend.

The meeting started out with announcing the ARCA Truck Series Special Sponsors. Ed & Co. Racing Supplies who is sponsoring the “Hard Charger Award, Fire Tiger Fire Suppression Systems who is sponsoring the “Pole Award”, DJ Safety Equipment who is sponsoring the “Rookie of the Year”, Safety-Kleen who is sponsoring the “Crew Chief of the Year” and CGS Imaging sponsoring the “Race to the Wrap”. As well, Hoosier Racing Tire, Lincoln Welders, Bassett Wheels, Racing Electronics, Sunoco Racing Fuels, Butlerbuilt Seats, Landrum Springs, Bilstein Shocks, TNT Rescue, FireAde, Intercomp, Whelen Engineering and Schoenfeld Headers were officially vetted as ARCA Truck Series sponsors.

Cumbow introduced Mike Delahanty of Ford Motor Company, who was on hand to answer the many questions and take part in the lively debate of the announcement of the Ford S347JR crate engine that PMG made competition legal for 2011. Introduced also was JEGS High Performance as the exclusive engine wholesaler and Scorpion Racing Engines as the exclusive engine rebuilder and engine recertifier. PMG assured the competitors that as soon as the weather cooperates, they will accomplish more testing on the Ford power plants.

Also present to sign on the dotted line were John Hoffman and James Hart of Arctic Racing Air, a company who sought out the ARCA Truck Series to get the word out about their driver cooling systems. They established a program designed to allow drivers to try their apparatus in race conditions, hand it to the next competitor for the following event, and at the season ending 2011 ARCA Truck Series Championship Banquet on November 12th, a unit will be given to one lucky recipient.

The point fund was also presented to be at least $15,000 minimum if all events are completed and computerized scoring will be made available to those with the capability during the season. The 2011 rulebook was handed out, too, and Cumbow went over the small but important changes inside the booklet. PMG also dropped the minimum age requirement one can compete at from 16 to 15 years of age. Competitors on hand were, among others, three-time champion and all-time ARCA Truck Series race winner Paul Hahn, Ashley Hawkins, Brad Yunker, Mike Young,  Paul Vanderhoff,  and DJ Safety Rookie of the Year candidates Shawn Szep, Marcus Jones and Zac Carter who are just part of the record high count rookie class. And car owners who were able to attend were the mending Ray Schafer, Rick Hahn, Doty Bischoff, Kenny Kirsch Sr., Paul Young, Rick Hahn among others. In all, over 20 teams were represented.

The ARCA Truck Series released its Missions Statement as well at the meeting, stating: “The mission of the Phoenix Management Group is to provide a safe, affordable and competitive touring race series, which competes in a regional area, to be used as a stepping stone for competitors who have ambitions to compete at a higher level of motorsports, and the veteran competitors alike.” To dovetail with that, ATS also released its Vision Statement: “The Phoenix Management Group believes this can be achieved by building partnerships with regional and national companies, as well as partnerships with regional tracks and grass roots racers. We also believe that board members personal achievements and ambitions must be set aside for the betterment of the group.” +Truly attainable goals!

Kevin Schwarze

Wilson Motorsports and Team Wilson Driver Development have signed Deana Groves and Jenny Thomas as part of their driver line-up for 2011 ARCA Truck Series








For Immediate Release

(St. Marys, WV) 9 March 2011- Wilson Motorsports and Team Wilson Driver Development announced today that Deana Groves and Jenny Thomas will be a part of their driver line-up for 2011 ARCA Truck Series season.  “I am excited to announce these two young ladies as part of our driver line-up,” exclaimed Frank Wilson, team owner.  “They both are committed to racing and they have shown to have a lot of ability.”
Groves, of Morgantown, WV is the daughter of modified racer Dave Groves.  She was a 5-time feature winner at the Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex and a second place finisher in points at Roaring Knob and Elkins Motor Speedway in 2010.  She was also the first female to qualify for a feature at Carl Short’s Dirt Track World Championship and the first female to win a feature at the Roaring Knob Motorsports Complex.  She is a graduate of Fairmont State University with a B.S. in Health Sciences.  She is employed with Melvin’s Transmissions.
“I’m looking forward to working with Team Wilson,” said Groves.  “My dad has known Frank for years so we feel it is a good fit for me and my career.”  You can follow Deana in her racing endeavors at

Thomas, of Moundsville, WV comes from a racing family as well.  She is the only female to win a feature at the historic Tyler County Speedway where she raced in the ultra-competitive Street Stock division.  She is a graduate of John Marshall High School in Moundsville, WV and is currently employed as a courier for FedEx.  “I’ve wanted to try asphalt racing for years,” said Thomas.  “Working with Frank and his team gives me the opportunity I’ve always dreamed of.”
Both have a trailblazing personality and an enthusiasm that is infectious.  Both have a goal to be the first female to win an ARCA sanctioned event and both have the drive and desire to make it to the highest levels of auto racing.  Check to track their progress during the 2011 racing season.

Wilson Motorsports is currently seeking marketing partners from the ARCA Truck Series; the ARCA Series presented by Menard’s, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the NASCAR Nationwide Series. For Team Wilson driver or sponsorship information contact Brandon Gregory at and/or phone (304)991-8092 or (304)483-2536. Join Team Wilson’s Facebook page at

Ford Racing Joins the ARCA Truck Series in 2011 !

Millersport, OH (03/05/11) Phoenix Management Group officials announced today that they have reached a multi-year agreement with Ford Motor Company to use the Ford S347JR V8 Sealed Race Engine as an additional option under the hood beginning in 2011 season for the ARCA Truck Series .

“We are very happy to be on board with the ARCA Truck Series”, Mike Delahanty, Program Manager of Ford’s Sportsman Circle Track Racing. “This is a superior race engine which will allow the competitors years of success at an economical price.”

Ford racing’s involvement continues at the track as well. Any team which uses the Ford S347JR engine and scores a victory will receive a bonus of $200 from Ford Racing. If no Ford S347JR wins, then the highest finishing S347JR will receive $100. In addition to the bonus, at the 2011 ARCA Truck Series Championship Banquet, Ford Racing will recognize the top three Ford S347JR powered teams with bonuses of $200, $100, and $50 respectively. Ford racing has also guaranteed pricing on rebuilds, from cylinder head service, short block service, to a complete rebuild thru the 2013 race season.

“Having the support of Ford Racing in the ARCA Truck Series, will not only allow the competitors to have more choices for under the hood of their trucks, but shows the racing community the strength and the stability of the series,” said Tom Cumbow, General Manager of the ARCA Truck Series.

The S347JR Ford engines which are legal to run in the ARCA Truck Series will be sold exclusively thru a designated warehouse. All engines purchased in the program will be delivered to the competitor’s race shops, which is included in the purchase price. Any competitor, who purchases a Ford S347JR engine that is not from the designated warehouse, will have to have it recertified before it can be run in the ARCA Truck Series. Phoenix Management Officials will announce the designated warehouse and the only approved engine rebuilder/certifier at the 2011 Winter Competitor Meeting on March 12, 2011, at the Park Inn Hotel in Toledo, Ohio. Ford officials will also be available at the meeting to answer any question from the competitors.

For more information on the ARCA Truck Series, please visit

For more information on Ford Racing, please visit

The next event for the ARCA Truck Series is the 2nd Annual Winter Competitor Meeting on March 12, 2011 at 1 pm at the Park Inn Hotel, located at 101 N Summit St, Toledo, OH 43604.


Tom Cumbow