Shawn Szep Newest ARCA Truck Series Winner With Triumph At Lake County Speedway!
By: Kevin Schwarze
Painesville, OH (June 6th, 2015) — “If you’d have told me when I started racing in the ARCA Truck Series in 2009 that I’d have to wait until 2015 for my first win…I’d have said you’re absolutely crazy! There would have been no way!”
Shawn Szep had no reason to believe he’d have to sweat out the better part of almost six seasons (he didn’t compete in 2010) to taste victory in an ARCA Truck. In his first year after sorting out all kinds of mechanical gremlins in two races, he had a promising run of fourth at Iowa after coming from the back. So it wasn’t a matter of if but when!
He was 2011 Holley Performance Rookie of the Year and had solid runs. But some of those mechanical gremlins returned. An oil belt here, a cracked rotor there, etc. And although the Marysville, Ohio resident had a career best finish of second five times, it wasn’t that elusive checkered flag. Then came a bleak 2014 when he was laid off from his job. Yes racers have sponsors but on the domestic front when running short tracks, those things have to be solidified and Szep’s wasn’t and began fielding offers to purchase his equipment and he missed a few races.
However, he pulled himself up his boot straps, created his own job which is known as Technicom Electric and thriving, and retooled for 2015, even purchased the Chevy V8 604 engine! The results as they say, were marvelous as Szep visited his first Lincoln Welders Victory Lane in the ARCA Truck Series Saturday night at the beautiful Lake County Speedway on the shores of Lake Erie in north east Ohio!
“When all that (bad) stuff happens you kind of think it’s time to get out of it. But I always had that determination to never give up!”
And it seemed this race wasn’t gonna be any different. Starting 10th after first time Rocco Kirsch Pole winner Brandon Huff rolled an eleven for the invert, Szep narrowly missed the slowing truck of Brad Yunker who lost a transmission right at the drop off Denise Engle’s green flag. It left a trail of fluid almost the entire length of the track and a lengthy clean up ensued.
The second try saw the two front row starters Katlynn Leer and Brian Brewer get together as they got to the start finish line. Leer continued but Brewer crossed up in front of the entire field and Huff had nowhere to go but into him. Szep dove to the grass and literally stopped on an access road and almost the entire field sustained damage and because of that officials allowed all teams to work on their trucks during the red flag.
After another long sweep up, longtime competitor Bob Mikolajczyk bolted into the lead for his first ever laps out in front of an ARCA Truck Series race. However, Szep powered past on lap four and led the rest of the way. The race was now his to lose as Cody Quarrick, Jeff Myers Jr., Chris Bailey Jr. and Billy Strehle were tooth and nail for runner up. And that racing was fierce.
After a the midrace break and restart, Bailey jumped into second but after a few laps he was a sitting duck and was freight trained by Myers and Quarrick…which is the norm at the tight, flat Lake County oval. Then he and Strehle got together and spun on lap 86, bunching the field for a final 15 lap run to the end at lap 100.
On the restart, Szep pulled out to his usual lead to leave Quarrick and Myers battling for runner up. With ten laps to go, Myers got around Quarrick but ARCA Truck Series officials (who had warned him earlier) felt he “used the bumper” and black flagged him to give the position back, which he did and that’s the way the race ended: Szep, Quarrick, Myers Jr., Bailey and Strehle with Mikolajczyk sixth, the last truck in the lead lap.
“I’m telling you, those last 15 laps after the last caution I was never more focused in a race vehicle than right there, explained the 44 year old who just celebrated his birthday the Monday before. Then he added, “and I didn’t care what my lap times were but when I kept hearing my spotter say ‘four five six seven back’, I knew we were pulling away!” He concluded with a chuckle, “with about five to go I sort of looked to the racing gods and asked ‘please don’t let anything break’!”
Szep continued, we have great sponsors and wouldn’t be here without them. Amsoil, EA. Schaeffer Oil Company, Prostar Designs, DEI. And my crew chief Craig and the crew Jeff and Jim and my fiancé Camie and my boys! And the entire ARCA Truck family! I can’t thank all of them enough for their support in all of this!”
Szep made his first ARCA Racing Series start at Toledo Speedway last month and gave a shout out to his car owner: “I’ve got to give a special thanks to Brian Finney of Finney Racing Enterprises for hooking us up with an awesome shock setup!”
“And I can’t forget my new company Technicom Electric. Hey, maybe that was the difference right there,” the newest ARCA Truck Series winner added with a wink.
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The ARCA Truck Series completed its fifth full season presented by the Phoenix Management Group of Ohio, LLC, (or PMG) of Millersport, Ohio in 2014, under a licensing agreement with the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA).
The ARCA Truck Series (ATS) ran exhibition races late in 1998 with the first full season in 1999. Today, the series has grown into one of the most versatile in short track racing, having taken popular four cylinder, V-6 & V-8 sealed crate engine powered trucks to asphalt tracks of many sizes under one mile, road courses, and numerous dirt tracks in its history.
The Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) is among the leading and most diverse auto racing sanctioning bodies in the country. Founded in 1953 by John and Mildred Marcum, the organization administers more than 100 events each year.
Following the ARCA Truck Series has become easier than ever lately! For in-depth stories, continually log on to ARCATruckRacing.com. You can now also follow the series on Twitter at @ARCATruckRacing, there is an “ARCA Truck Series” Facebook page, “ARCA Truck Series” on YouTube and “ARCA Truck Racing” is on LinkedIn.