Photo: Aaron Bearden

Chase Purdy disappointed, but confident after ARCA Iowa run

By Aaron Bearden, Open Wheel Editor

MDM Motorsports driver Chase Purdy brought home his fourth-consecutive top five in Saturday’s Fans With Benefits 150. But unlike his other results, Purdy was far from content to be so close to his first ARCA Racing Series victory at Iowa Speedway.

Purdy surged in the final run to the checkered flag to claim a third-place finish in ARCA’s lone 2018 trip to Iowa – a strong run, but one that fell short of what the Mississippian believed he was capable of that night.

“It’s a really solid finish,” Purdy told Motorsports Tribune. “But as fast as our car was, I don’t know if I can really be too content with that.

“We could have won. We struggled early on in the race, but my guys did an awesome job of putting us back into it, and getting us in position to make things happen.”

After running a relatively quiet race, Purdy found himself in the middle of the top five during the final 40-lap run to the checkered flag. Early contenders Michael Self and Riley Herbst had fallen out of the event, and after passing teammate Zane Smith with 25 to go Purdy found himself chasing down leaders Sheldon Creed and Chandler Smith.

The 18-year-old had one of the fastest cars on the track over the final 20 laps, but he was too far back to reel in Creed and Smith on pace alone. The Toyota prospect needed a caution to close up the gap.

But the caution never came. Purdy could only watch on as Creed drove off to his third ARCA win and Smith followed a close second.

“We rolled the corner so much better (than the leaders), and we could really get back in the gas better,” Purdy said. “We were about 26 (car-lengths) back from the leaders, and we got within five. We got there pretty quick, and if we would have had 10 or 12 laps, I think it would have been a different story tonight.”

The run marked Purdy’s 10th-career ARCA top 10, coming in just his 15th start. But positive stats offered the young driver little solace as his quest for a first ARCA victory again fell just short.

“You want to keep as much momentum on your side as possible, and I feel like we’re oh-so close these last few weeks,” Purdy said. “Granted Chicagoland (Speedway) last weekend we just scratched off a top five. But we were close a couple weeks ago.

“I’m proud of my guys for all they’re doing for me, and I hate that I couldn’t get the win done for them tonight.”

Purdy has spent the better part of the season watching MDM Motorsport teammates Creed and Zane Smith combine to win six races and battle for the championship. With his organization continually finding success, Purdy claimed his inexperience to be the cause of his comparative struggles to find victory lane.

“MDM has great personnel, and all of the guys on here are pretty high-caliber drivers,” he said. “They’re smart, and know what to do.

“I think if you put good people together with a great driver, things like this happen. I think it’s showing, and right now what I lack compared to the others guys is experience. That’s just something I’ve got to learn. I learned a lot tonight, so we’ll move on.”

But while he blamed himself for his No. 8 Toyota’s lack of a signature win, Purdy also remained confident that his team will find a way to snatch a victory in the coming months.

“We’re going to keep digging,” he said. “We’re knocking on the door. I felt like we were prepared tonight, and if we keep that up chances to win will come.”

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Aaron Bearden is a Contributing Writer for Motorsports Tribune, handling coverage of both the Verizon IndyCar Series and ABB FIA Formula E Championship. A native Hoosier, Bearden has attended races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway since he was three years old. He can be found on social media at @AaronBearden93.