ARCA Crown Huge For Roulo Brothers
TOLEDO, Ohio – Gary Roulo and brother Russell have led the Roulo Brothers Racing team in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards since the mid-1980s, and by now their story is familiar.
Before 2010, the team had won 22 races but had never contested a full season in the series. That year, Chris Buescher drove to victories on two occasions at Toledo Speedway, marking himself as one of the top rising short track drivers in ARCA. Still, though, the team ran a partial schedule, giving up the pursuit of championship glory.
Three wins in the final four races of 2011 – the team’s first full campaign – created momentum for the team’s 2012 season, which wrapped up in the Kansas Lottery 98.9 at Kansas Speedway on Friday. Buescher finished eighth when all he needed was a top-15, giving him and the Roulos a first championship in just their second full season.
What might not be known about the Roulos’ effort is its size relative to other teams in the ARCA garage. The team does receive some support from Roush Fenway Racing, but Roulo said after Friday’s race that many would be surprised at the true magnitude of the No. 17 team’s effort.
“A lot of people wouldn’t really understand what it takes to do this in our format,” said Roulo, who is based in Midlothian, Ill. “I won’t even count myself, but my brother Rusty, Chris, and my son David are primarily the core people that have been preparing cars. We do have a lot of good people that have been at the race track over the years that helped to pull all of this together, but I don’t think most people would realize how small of a group we are compared to a lot of the teams we’re running against.
“There were a lot more variables, hurdles, and challenges with new surfaces at tracks and car changes, so I’m really satisfied to be able to jump over all of those hurdles and make the changes we needed to make. We really worked hard to catch up to what we needed to do differently.”
Like the co-owner and crew chief, Buescher said that the experience of the partial seasons helped in the 2012 title drive.
“We’ve been around this thing for four years now, going back to the short track years,” he said. “It definitely helped doing that, getting the experience by going to those places to showing up for the whole season. It took me a while to really adjust to these big tracks, and I think that might have been where we lost a little bit of it (in 2011). We were really strong last year as well, but had a little better year this time.”
Buescher is tied with Bob Strait as the team’s all-time leading winner; each has nine wins. Other notable names such as Ken Schrader, Joe Ruttman, and Dave Weltmeyer have driven for the team, but Roulo said Friday that Buescher’s championship places him on a higher plane in the team’s history.
“Chris has done a great job, of course, and this has validated a lot of what we’ve been able to do in the past,” he said. “I’m really happy for the opportunity. Big names have driven for us in the past and there are a lot of accomplishments there, but Chris has stood out on his own and created his own accomplishments. Rookie of the Year, the superspeedway challenge, second in points, and now 2012 champion, the wins. I think he stands out from the crowd and has done a great job.”
In the end, Buescher finished with a 75-point lead over Frank Kimmel. His four wins (Alex Bowman) and 16 top-10s (Kimmel) tied for series leads, and he led all drivers with 12 top-fives. Buescher, who will celebrate his 20th birthday next week, is the second youngest champion in ARCA history; only 2011 titlist Ty Dillon was younger.