TOLEDO, Ohio -- There is no cookie cutter template to follow when chasing down an ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards Championship but Eddie Sharp Racing comes pretty close. The team, led by veteran car owner and former driver Eddie Sharp, has been in the championship hunt the last three years running and embarks on the 2010 season with second-year driver Craig Goess ready, willing and able to capitalize on last year's successes.
The 28-year-old rookie out of Greenville, North Carolina stood in the shadows for much of 2009 while his ESR teammate, second-year ARCA driver Justin Lofton, engaged in a championship run that included six race wins, five Menards Pole Awards presented by Ansell and the Hoosier Tire Superspeedway Challenge Championship. Lofton joined fellow points challenger Parker Kligerman in taking up the majority of the series' TV time and post-race media interviews while Goess stood in the background, winless in his rookie season but quietly building up his resume with top-10 finishes and solid experience.
Goess is following the exact same path that Lofton took during his two-year ARCA Racing Series career-spend one year learning and one year winning.
"I just want to win races," said Goess. "That was my goal last year and we weren't able to accomplish it. I've never been one to give up on my goals and so I think that is the main reason I am back for a second year of ARCA competition. We want to win races and it would be great for everybody if we could win a championship too but race wins is definitely the main priority this year."
Car owner Eddie Sharp has learned that a key aspect to driver development is, well, developing drivers. And often, that can't be accomplished in just one season of ARCA Racing. So while Goess spent much of 2009 acclimating himself to the ARCA Racing Series-learning how to race full sized stock cars on speedways, short tracks, road courses and even one-mile dirt ovals, 2010 will look much different. Goess is now a second-year veteran and leads the stable of Eddie Sharp Racing competitors-it's his turn to prove that he can be a bona-fide championship contender.
"Last year at Daytona I was the first car out at the first practice and it was my first ARCA Racing Series race at Daytona," said Goess. "It was the beginning of the season and there was no holding back. I just put the throttle down not knowing what to expect and I just remember thinking 'oh, please don't let me do anything stupid.' So luckily that worked out. I think I will feel more confident going into Daytona and every track that we race at this year with the exception of Palm Beach and Texas since those tracks are new to the schedule. But at both Palm Beach and Texas I will have that familiar feeling that I had all of last year of not knowing what to expect."
Goess also heads into the 2010 season reunited with crew chief Johnny Allen, whom he worked closely with while competing for Team ESR in the NASCAR Camping World East Series.
"I thought it was important to be with a crew chief that I was familiar with and who I had chemistry with," said Goess. "And many of the guys on the team are people I have built a relationship with over the past several years at Eddie Sharp Racing. It just makes it that much easier to come back in 2010 and be successful right away."
Goess and his Eddie Sharp Racing Team begin the 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards with the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona Int'l Speedway on Saturday, February 6, 2010. The race is live on SPEED beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern.