LONG POND, Pa. -- Both of the champions at Pocon International Raceway yesterday would like nothing more than to leave the two racing divisions and move up to a higher level.
Jerry Knowles, winner of the Winnebago/Cedar Ridge RV 150, is seeking sponsorship so he can make the jump from Sportsman to ARCA. And Bob Schacht, who won his 17th career ARCA race in the Champion Spark Plug 150, figures that he will move up shortly and compete on the Winston Cup circuit full time.
The two races were an appetizer for today's prime event, the Champion Spark Plug 500.
Schacht, driving a car that was first used professionally in 1985, finished with a speed of 153.641 mph, holding off challenges from Jimmy Horton and Jerry O'Neill in a close finish.
"I looked in the mirror and [Horton] wasn't far back," Schacht said. "He and Jerry were going at it pretty good. I thought if they kept working on each other I could get out of their way. I got messed up by a slower car and they got closer so I turned the mirror down so I didn't know they were there. I just waited for the checkered flag."
The first-place finish was Schacht's sixth ARCA victory at Pocono -- and his first since 1989 -- moving him ahead of Bob Keselowski for the all-time lead in ARCA victories here. Has Schacht found a secret for his success at Pocono?
"The biggest thing I think with Pocono is you've got three different corners. You don't want to compromise, but you're either good in two or you're bad in one. You've just got to get the right combinations. You can't be just good in all three of them or you won't be fast."
In the earlier race, Knowles took control of the lead when Tim Bender was forced to pit for fuel on the 40th lap. Knowles made it to the finish without a pit stop.
"We figured we could make it when we started," Knowles said. "That was the easiest way to win the race. I ran the engine on half-throttle."
"We definitely were gaining on him at the end," said Bender, whose average speed of 138.105 mph was .504 behind Knowles. "It seems like that every time we run one of these 150-milers, he can go all the way without a pit stop, but I can't do it."
Knowles emphasized what the victory will do.
"We'd like to move on up [to a higher division] as soon as money allows," he said. "This has opened a lot of doors running the Sportsman."