Saturday, April 1, 2023

Ryan Unzicker Victorious in Postponed and Rain-Shortened ARCA Event at DuQuoin

Ryan Unzicker celebrates after being crowned the winner of the ARCA Menards Series race at DuQuoin.

Rain, rain, and more rain. That has been the story of the last two race weekends, and Monday’s already-postponed ARCA Menards Series event on the dirt in DuQuoin was no different.

The race, which was originally scheduled for Sunday night, finally began on Monday and would only make it 78 of 100 scheduled laps, before inclement weather would return to the track, handing Ryan Unzicker the win.

It’s the second ARCA Menards Series victory for Unzicker, with his first coming on the Springfield Mile – the series’ other dirt track – in 2020. Of the 40-year-old’s 24 starts in the series, all but one has come on a dirt track.

The race started out with a bang, as title contenders Rajah Caruth and Daniel Dye traded paint in the opening laps, leading to both of them eventually spinning out and suffering minor damage.


Dye’s GMS Racing crew would repair his No. 43 Chevrolet SS, sending the 18-year-old back on track to tackle the remainder of the race, where he would go on to score a top-five result.

Although Caruth’s Rev Racing team would do the same, the No. 6’s race didn’t last much longer, as the engine dramatically expired and sent the third-place man in points to the garage for a 17th-place finish.

Just prior to the race’s first scheduled break, Amber Balcean and Toni Breidinger would suffer race-ending issues in the closing laps, a pair of significant blows to teams still looking to put down consistent results.

More front-runners suffered mechanical issues throughout the event, as Jesse Love had to prolong his stay on pit road to fix the throttle body on his Venturini Motorsports entry, while Taylor Gray, had to migrate to the garage with brake issues.

Despite being put a lap down, Love didn’t waste much time getting to the lead after scoring the free pass, doing so fairly cleanly, that is until he got into Corey Heim, his Venturini Motorsports teammate battling for a spot inside the top-five.

The two-time NASCAR Truck Series winner would stop on track, drawing a caution flag, as well as a five-lap penalty for intentionally causing a caution, the second penalty of that nature handed out during the race.

With rain approaching, Unzicker and Love went door-to-door for the top spot on what ended up being the final restart of the event. In the end, it was Unzicker who edged out the 17-year-old to capture the lead, and what would soon be known as the win.

Sammy Smith, despite having no rear bumper on his Toyota Camry, finished in third, while continuing to maintain a gap of 26 points to Love in the Sioux Chief Showdown, which will wrap up at Bristol in two weeks’ time.

Daniel Dye would rebound from an early-race spin to finish in fourth, while Nick Sanchez – who continued to lead the ARCA Menards Series points – rounded out the race’s top five.

Greg Van Alst, Tim Monroe, Joe Cooksey, Corey Heim, and Kelly Kovski completed the top-10 in the event, with only nine cars running at the race’s conclusion.

The turnaround to the next event on the ARCA Menards Series schedule has gotten even shorter with the event running on Monday, as the series tackles Kansas Speedway for the second time this year on Friday at 7:00 pm / ET.

ARCA Menards Series Points:

RJ Starcevic
RJ Starcevic
Owner/founder of @NASCARReport on Instagram - Host of The Drivers Meeting Podcast - Contributor for

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