COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – The ARCA Menards Series, the highest steppingstone in American stock car racing before NASCAR, will return to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course next year as the support race for the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

The Menards Series, which features the NASCAR drivers of tomorrow, will race the 2.258-mile road course in Morrow County on Friday, June 4, according to ARCA’s full 2021 schedule release. The next day, Saturday, June 5, the Xfinity Series will take the track.

ARCA, the Automobile Racing Club of America, based outside Toledo in Temperance, Michigan, has a long history of providing support races for NASCAR events. Eleven of 20 Menards Series races next year coincide with NASCAR weekends, including the Xfinity Series undercard at Mid-Ohio.

The Menards Series last ran at Mid-Ohio in 1965, when Dayton area native and three-time ARCA champion Jack Bowsher drove his Ford to victory by half a lap.

Mid-Ohio track autumn fall
An aerial view of Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio, on Nov. 13, 2012. (NASCAR Media)

ARCA was scheduled to return to Mid-Ohio in 2020 before the COVID-19 pandemic canceled the track’s ARCA and NASCAR events slated for Memorial Day weekend.

“We have worked diligently with Craig Rust and his team at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for several seasons trying to get the ARCA Menards Series back on their schedule,” ARCA president Ron Drager said last year in anticipation of the 2020 race.

Unlike Southeast-based NASCAR, Toledo-based ARCA has its roots in the Midwest. A majority of the Menards Series’ races in 2021 will be held at Midwest racetracks in states like Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois.

ARCA also focuses on short tracks, as 11 of 20 races will be on tracks of a mile or less in length, including Toledo Speedway on May 22.

The Menards Series features smaller-budget teams than those in NASCAR, as well as drivers in their teens and early 20s trying to climb the ladder. The last five champions were all 23 years or younger when they won their titles. 2019 champion Christian Eckes, for example, won the championship at 18, and in 2020, 17-year-old Sam Mayer won five races.