Speed51.com takes a look at some of the storylines going into the first "Border Wars" event, pitting the ARCA/CRA Super Series against the ARCA Midwest Tour in the 7-Up 150 this Saturday at Ohio's Toledo Speedway.
Big Returns in Big Ways
Donny Reuvers also returns to full time action in the Midwest Tour for the first time since 2008. That year and in 2007, he was second in the series points before he ended up racing closer to home with select starts since then. Reuvers didn't even start a race in 2013, so Toledo will be his first start since Elko in 2012.
"It's good to be back as we missed traveling a bit over the past few years," said Reuvers. "We have a brand new Lefthander chassis that we will be taking to Toledo which will be the first time the car has been on the track so we get to shake that down before go racing."
Reuvers, like just about every other Midwest driver, has not had a chance to make a single lap this off-season given the snowy winter that was seen throughout the region. Forecasts for Toledo calls for sunny skies with temps in the 60's both day which is great for drivers and fans.
"Bottom line we want to run good, but we have not been racing on the tour for a few years so our starting goal is to make the show in Toledo and go from there," added Reuvers. "I got a taste of Toledo a year ago as I went over and helped Joel Theisen out and I said I need to come back and run this next year. Now I have the chance to race there."
Brian Campbell returns to the CRA Super Series in a full time role, but his first task will be to win at Toledo and defend the turf for the CRA teams. Campbell won the first ever JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour race that was held at Toledo.
"We run good at Toledo and we want to put last year behind us as we did not get to run the show," said Campbell. "We are running for the overall championship in CRA and we want to get a good start and come out strong."
Campbell is no stranger to winning at Toledo, having won the Glass City 200 in 2007, a JEGS race in 2011, and a CRA win in 2012. He'd love to come out of Ohio with another win, but a good solid start would also go a long way.
"Toledo has been real good to us over the years," said Campbell. "We want to win Border Wars to add to our accomplishments and success."
Traded to the Other Side
In 2014 Ross Kenseth will be a CRA guy for select events after having run two full seasons on the Midwest Tour. Kenseth has been "traded" in a way to the CRA squad when he signed with Boyne Machine Racing. The plan is to run select events on both sides, but he's listed as a CRA regular for Border Wars.
Boris Jurkovic, who has 60 starts in CRA, will now run a full season with the ARCA Midwest Tour. Jurkovic was third in the CRA points back in 2008, winning at Plymouth and Illiana.
"This is very strange," joked veteran Brian Campbell out the changes. "I see Ross like every day cause he's living up here in Michigan racing with the Boyne team. I also heard that Boris is running the Midwest Tour in 2014 which also threw me off. We have to have a rivalry like the Red Sox and Yankees and we have guys changing sides, but it's all good because both place are great series with great competition and together it's even stronger."
There may be some playful joking from both sides about the rivalry, but the respect is there as each side knows how special this race and Illiana, the site of the second Border Wars event later this season, will be.
Not in Action
Perhaps one of the biggest surprises at Toledo will be seeing Johnny VanDoorn not in a racecar. The winner of the 2013 Border Wars event at Toledo will be serving as a crew chief for Canadian driver Dwayne Baker this weekend.
"It's going to be weird not being down there driving," said VanDoorn. "At the same time it will be cool to be down there working on Dwayne's car, which is my car from last year, and we will making him 'Stan Donner,'" an homage to
VanDoorn won big shows in 2013, including Border Wars, the Berlin 251 and the Redbud 300. All the success led to a branching out and a change of pace in 2014. VanDoorn Racing Development was stated up between himself and his brother Butch. As the business continues to grown there will be time for VanDoorn to run races later this season.
"As Butch and I are building VRD's business up, part of that process requires me to take a little step back from driving and focus helping our customers."
VanDoorn has three CRA wins at Toledo and a pair more in Outlaw Late Model action.
Also on the sidelines is Dan Fredrickson who won the 2013 ARCA Midwest Tour title. He will not be chasing points in 2014, but running a limited schedule. When the series headed to Toledo a year ago Fredrickson finished 12th as the sixth highest Midwest Tour driver.
Travis Braden had an amazing 2013 season in CRA action with a total of four wins. Braden had to come from behind to do so after radiator problems ended his day early at Toledo last spring. Now Braden will have an opportunity to redeem himself in the second Toledo Border Wars event. The add fuel to the fire for motivation Braden didn't even get to start the Madison Border Wars race after having mechanical trouble in practice.
Other Champions Defending Turf
Brandon Watson will race under the east banner for CRA after winning the OSCAAR title in 2013. Watson, from Stayner, Ontario, will hope to help have a good showing for his team at Toledo. Casey Johnson comes in as the defending Big 8 Series champion. Johnson, who is a native of Edgerton, WI will fill the hole left by Rich Bickle who ran his last season behind the wheel out of the same home town.
The CRA team will throw two hats in the ring as legit ringers. Donnie Wilson is fresh off his win at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville with the Southern Super Series. Wilson had not won a Super Late Model race since 2005 and had several near misses on the way. Now that one is under his belt he's ready for the next one.
"Hey let's drive to the next one now," said Wilson before he left Nashville. "I like racing the high speed tracks and I am looking forward to Toledo."
With top-10 runs in both CRA and JEGS races in the past at Toledo it should be no surprise to see that Chad Finley will be a threat to win the Border Wars title for the CRA side. Finley is an at-large driver who runs select races around his home state of Michigan and are Indiana and Ohio. He will likely be in the mix somewhere during the afternoon.