Ryan Unzicker Dominates Springfield Dirt Race for First ARCA Menards Win

Ahead of Sunday’s Illinois Truck & Equipment Allen Crowe 100 on the Springfield Mile at the Illinois State Fairgrounds, rookie ARCA Menards Series driver Hailie Deegan said the one-mile dirt track would be tough even for experienced dirt racers.

Nobody told that to Ryan Unzicker.

The 39-year-old dirt track ringer from nearby El Paso, Illinois, won his first career ARCA Menards Series race Sunday in his 20th start. After starting on the pole, he led all but one lap and dominated the race from beginning to end.

“To lead all 100 laps here at the Springfield Mile, I don’t even know what to say yet,” said Unzicker. “Very proud of my team, and I’m glad we got this new race car.”

Unzicker indeed was in a new No. 24 RJR Transportation/Hummingbird Winery Chevrolet for Bill Hendren, who said during Sunday’s ARCA Menards Series broadcast on MAVTV he knew he needed a new car after Unzicker placed ninth at Springfield last season.

Hendren, whose tenure at Springfield goes back to the 1970s, has longest active streak of any participant in the Illinois Truck & Equipment Allen Crowe 100.

Deegan, who led at the line on a Lap 101 restart, finished second after a wreck with three laps to go took contenders Michael Self and Corey Heim out of the race and pushed the race to overtime.

Self’s DNF paved the way for Bret Holmes, who finished third at Springfield, to clinch the 2020 CGS Imaging Four Crown championship for the second year in a row. Contested annually since 1984, the CGS Imaging Four Crown tests the mettle of ARCA Menards Series drivers at four distinct types of racetracks found on the ARCA schedule – an intermediate speedway, a short track, a dirt track, and a road course.

In addition, Holmes improved his overall ARCA Menards Series championship lead to seven over Self heading into the season finale in two weeks.

Taylor Gray and Kelly Kovski rounded out the top five Sunday at Springfield.

Mike Basham and Drew Dollar finished sixth and seventh, respectively, with Heim and Self credited for eighth- and ninth-place finishes after their crash on Lap 97.

Ty Gibbs, who had won the previous two ARCA Menards Series races entering Sunday’s Illinois Truck & Equipment Allen Crowe 100, got caught up in a Turn 4 accident on the opening lap. He finished 10th.

The 2020 ARCA Menards Series season will conclude Friday, Oct. 16, at Kansas Speedway. The race will air live on FS1 at 7:30 p.m. CT / 8:30 p.m. ET.

— ARCA Racing —