What happened: The Automobile Racing Club of America — better known as ARCA — was purchased by NASCAR in a deal announced Friday morning at Talladega Superspeedway. ARCA will continue to operate under its current structure through this season and all of next year until things get reorganized in 2020.
What it means: It’s hard to grasp all the motivations at play here, and I don’t think they’re obvious yet. NASCAR already has the K&N East and West Series, which are somewhat on the same level as ARCA. So what gives? Well, Kevin Harvick said something interesting recently, and it might be telling: “Everybody wants to go run ARCA” to advance their careers after Late Models instead of running K&N. “ARCA runs on more ISC race tracks than the K&N East or West does, so the kids that are coming up through the series want to be on those racetracks,” he said. “That conversation shouldn’t ever be had. It should never be a thought.” Perhaps NASCAR is looking at this purchase as an opportunity to combine ARCA with its K&N Series and address exactly what Harvick was talking about, thus cementing its place as the organization for stock cars on every level (from NASCAR Home Tracks to Cup).
News value (scale of 1-10): There are two different values for this one. If you’re just a NASCAR Cup Series fan, this isn’t huge news for you — maybe a 4. The impact most fans would likely notice is around the support races during a Cup weekend. But if you’re a grassroots stock-car racing fan who follows the sport at all levels, this is a big day and might be as high as an 8.
Three questions: How will the NASCAR ladder system change in light of this acquisition? Will ARCA still be able to have its own identity, or will it get NASCAR-ized and called something like “K&N Midwest?” Is there any chance some of the short tracks ARCA runs could be a venue for a NASCAR national series race, such as the Trucks?