It’s only fitting that at the end of the decade we witnessed a big change with the merger of the ARCA Menards Series and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. With age limits being lowered in NASCAR's top-three series during the 10-year run, ARCA and K&N have missed out on some drivers who might have stuck around longer.
The parity in the ARCA Menards Series couldn't have been any better during the decade, with 10 different champions in 10 years. In 2013, the series saw Frank Kimmel win his final title and race in the season finale at Kansas Speedway. The 10-time series champion raced against so many of the up-and-coming drivers that it’s almost easier to make a list of who he didn’t race with.
ARCA was a stepping stone to the NASCAR ranks for stars such as Ty Dillon, Chris Buescher and Chase Briscoe, who have all gone on to win races in NASCAR's national touring series.
Out west, we saw the battle of the super teams at the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West level. Gene Price Motorsports and Billy McAnally Racing each took three championships with multiple drivers. Mike Curb won two championships and Bob Bruncati Racing had two titles with Derek Thorn.
From the west to the east, we saw Dylan Kwasniewski win in the west and then the east the following year. He was just one of many big name drivers to win titles in the K&N East ranks. Kyle Larson, William Byron, Justin Haley, Harrison Burton and Ben Rhodes have all moved on to upper levels of NASCAR after becoming champions on the K&N circuit. Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez, Cole Custer, Bubba Wallace and Brett Moffit all spent time racing in the series as well.
Sadly the decade saw the end of the Pro Cup Series, which Jack McNally tried to save for years before throwing in the towel to the heavy cars. Luckily, race fans got the CARS Tour out of the end of the Pro Cup Series, which has allowed for great Late Model racing in the southeast.
Notable Drivers of the Decade:
On the ARCA side, Grant Enfinger was one of the top drivers with 16 ARCA wins, a championship and a runner-up points finish. Clay Rogers was the top Pro Cup dog with 13 wins and a pair of championships before the series folded in 2014. Greg Purlsey was the best in the west for a four-year run when he was third in points each seasons. Overall, he won 19 times and took home two championships. There were too many NASCAR K&N Pro Series East drivers to single out one, so how about crew chief Mardy Lindley who won three titles with three different drivers.
Notable Races of the Decade:
In May of 2010 at Iowa the East-West combo race came down to a three-wide finish with Max Gresham beating Ty Dillon and Bubba Wallace. We saw Kyle Larson wrap up a K&N East championship at Rockingham in 2012 after Brett Moffitt made contact with Tyler Reddick on the final lap. It was Reddick’s first start and his first win.
Zane Smith’s win over Joe Graf, Jr. by .028 seconds at Talladega in 2018 in the ARCA series still puts the term close to a whole new meaning. And who can forget Hailie Deegan’s first win via a bump-and-run move on the final lap out west at Meridian in 2018?
-Story by: Elgin Traylor, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Brenda Meserve / Speed51