Bell found himself right in the middle of all the action. Somehow, he made it out through all of the carnage and was able to earn a sixth-place finish..
“Wow how eventful!” said Bell in explain his night. “That last lap. I don't know what else to say. I just picked a hole and went for it.”
"When I passed Billy (Venturini), I was looking at his windshield. I could see his helmet, everything, we were nose-to-nose. There was a hole between him and the fence and I went for it."
ARCA DAYTONA LEFTOVERS
Wrecks, More Wrecks and Plenty of Pissed Off Drivers by Jeremy Troiano & Matthew Dillner
BIG WRECK #1 FALL OUT
ARCA Racing at Daytona isn’t all that different from Busch, Truck or Cup racing at the track. A bunch of cars normally get in a pack, normally race side-by-side at 180-plus mph and, sometimes, they touch and things happen.
to put the blame on anybody in particular. We tore up enough cars that maybe one or two people will think about and it wont happen next time.
“It looked like the 08 of TJ Bell got loose on the outside and just came down (the track),” said David Ragan, who was making a start in his own car for Daytona and probably took the hardest shot of anyone when he went from the bottom of the track to the top and slammed into the wall nearly head on. “I happened to be on the inside lane. He caught me in the right rear and shot me up into the wall. I don't know what happened after that.
”We had such a good drafting car. Both Chad Blount and Justin Ashburn helped me out there throughout the day. We were just hanging out on the bottom line. That is absolutely the best way to get around here. The guys that were on the outside were just struggling.
“In the ARCA Series when the top cars pit some of the back cars stay out and that congests things in the front of the pack. It's just a shame that so many good cars got tore up. I know Chad is not too happy. When you pit in the ARCA Series and the whole field doesn't come down you get some guys up front that really shouldn't be up there. It gets everyone in a jam. I guess it's learning and we have to keep on learning and hopefully this wont happen again.”
Former ARCA Rookie of the Year Bill Eversole (2003) returned to the ARCA Series at Daytona, but his race lasted just 39 laps.
“I seen them sliding up there,” said Eversole. “All I saw was smoke! One of the cars on the top side, it was an orange car was sideways up there. He came down and tagged one of the guys and from there we were all along for the ride. We junked a racecar so it's a tough deal.”
While many fingers seemed to point toward Bell, after the race, he didn’t quite know what happened.
“I thought we were done (in that wreck),” said Bell. “I got a really good run on whoever was in front of me. I checked up and as soon as I did the guy behind me must have had a run like I did and turned me completely sideways. I was smart enough not to correct it and we saved it and came out of it pretty good.”
SECOND “BIG ONE” EVEN BIGGER
With just two laps left in the already shortened race, a wild 13-car pileup on the backstretch produced the second “big one” of the night and the scariest of all. The accident started when Joey Miller spun coming off of turn two. As Miller slid down the track, he just clipped the left rear of Todd Kluever, sending Kluever onto his roof. Kluever then slid down the track upside down and got hit by two different cars before doing a number of barrel rolls and coming to rest on his wheels.
Johnny Loenard was one of many taken out early on. (51 Photos)
rolled, but it seemed like a lot. It was a wild ride.
“I’m pretty disappointed we didn’t get to finish up front where we ran for the whole race, but I guess that’s how it goes.”
“There at the end, the 9 (Miller) finally lost it,” said Larry Foyt. “You knew it was going to happen one way or another. I went up high and just stayed in the gas. I guess he got into the 60 (Kluever) because all I saw was the bottom of the 60 and I hit him pretty hard. It is a bummer because we had a good car.”
Todd Kluever got torn up in the late race melee.
The car of Dan Shaver also got upside down in the accident while nearly 10 other cars piled into the accident as the backstretch nearly became completely blocked.
The accident eventually sent a total of 11 drivers to the infield car center and Shaver and Billy Venturini to the local hospital with various injuries.
“I thought we had a shot to win,” Kluever said. “The car ran great all night. I had a lot of fun racing until the very end. I saw Joey Miller spin in front of me and I think he came back down the track and got into me. My car slid on the roof for a ways but then got hit again which flipped me several times. I don’t even know how many times it
Some of those included in the accident included Venturini, Shaver, Kluever, AJ Henriksen, Foyt, Joey Miller, Christi Passmore, Todd Bowsher, Kyle Krisiloff, Ken Weaver, GR Smith, Doug Reid, Mario Gosselin, Chad McCumbee and Joe Cooksey.
"I really hate the way the race went with all of the accidents. The past couple of years we've actually gone pretty accident-free," said Frank Kimmel, who settled for runner-up honors a second year in a row here. "Tonight it seemed like every wreck we had it seemed like there were four or five, six cars involved it. That's bad because you're going to hear that it was a crash-filled race."
Todd Bowsher might have summed it the best though.
“We didn’t put on a very professional show. It was very ugly out there.”
GIBSON’S FALL OUT FROM “BIG ONE” COULD BE A BIG ONE
ARCA veteran Mark Gibson might have been the most upset regarding getting caught up in the first “big one” of the day.
Now, the Florida driver will think long and hard about coming back to Daytona.
“I have no idea what happened,” said Gibson. “Someone just checked up. You knew it was going to happen. We all had to check up. Someone hit the back of me, I hit the car in front of me, he hit the car in front of him. It is just Daytona racing. I’d trade this place for another DuQuoin and I’d be satisfied any day of the week.
“The problem to me is that you’ve got some teams coming over where to prove something to get a driver approved and the driver is wanting to impress everybody they can and is taking to many chances. That’s fine if they want to do it in Busch or Trucks or Cup, but we don’t have the kind of budget they have to rebuild our cars.
“I know I don’t like racing at Daytona anymore. This is home, bur we’re gong to have to think long and hard about coming back here next year honestly.
“You can’t afford it. It’s gotten out of hand.”
FOYT DISAPPOINTED AFTER RUN
Larry Foyt, making a return to racing in the ARCA Series driving a car for BAM Racing, had probably one of the best cars, but had to overcome a one-lap penalty from ARCA officials to get back up front and was in line for a good finish before getting involved in the last “big one.”
“Dag gone how about that Advance Auto Part crew they did a great job.
“Oh boy it was exciting. There was a lot of stuff going on. Thank God I was up far enough that I wasn't in the middle of it. I could just follow the guys ahead of me. The car was so good I just decided to be patient. It didn't work out but I will take it.
“We get the most improved position award and I think that pays 50 dollars so that's better than nothing right? It's pretty special to come from the back like that. Before the race I was pretty nervous and anxious. I don't get that way very often. I didn't really know what to expect but we had a great race car and a great night.”
HAGANS RACING IMPRESSIVE
Hagans Racing made their superspeedway debut with not one, but two cars in the field on Saturday. And it was an impressive debut, as team owner Matt Hagans finished fifth, while fulltime driver Joey Miller ran in the lead pack all day, got spun out with two laps to go and recovered to finish seventh.
“This was the team’s first plate effort and I think that the results show the depth and quality of this team,” said Hagans. “We qualified in the top five with Joey’s car and we were the best ARCA team in qualifying. The cars that beat us all had Hendrick or Roush engines.
Hagans own entry, the #64, did not have a Hagans Racing powerplant. Instead, they elected to save their second motor as a back-up for Miller’s #9 car and keep a test engine that was down about 20 horsepower in the boss’ car
“The car had been entered to assure a spot in the field for Joey,” said Hagans. “The #9 team had no provisionals, so we entered a car from another team for me in case qualifying got rained out. We were down on horsepower, but it ran pretty good, so we stayed out there.”
“I really thought that the finish would be the other way around. I knew that we both could get into the top ten at the finish. I was running 12th at the second to last caution and all that I saw ahead of me was a sea of yellow tape on bumpers [showing a driver’s rookie status]. I couldn’t stay right up with the lead pack all day, so I had a little time to react to anything that happened. I drove through about six wrecks during the race. There’s probably a lesson to be learned there about patience.
“I had a great time,” said Hagans. “I had a lot of fun just going out there and racing. I’m not 18 anymore and I know that experience gets you through these races, but I don’t ever want to grow up.”
TJ BELL ESCAPES LAST “BIG ONE”
There were several thrills throughout the race on Saturday, but for defending Rookie of the Year TJ Bell, the biggest thrill might have been the final “big one” with just a few laps to go.
Joey Miller (#9) had a good run going before getting caught in Big One #2, he still finished 7th.
“Someone got into the back of me a little bit coming out of the corner there,” said Miller, who was the first to spin in the accident. “You just can’t get into someone in the corners here. You are going to get them messed up. I spun it down toward the infield and around. Luckily, I kept it out of the wall and we were able to drive back by all those other guys.”
"We had a decent car and a good chance for a top 10 finish," said Gosselin. "I hate that we tore up our car up but that's the chance you take whenever you go racing, especially here.”
“Apparently, after I left, someone without a helmet reached over and picked up a lug nut and we were penalized a lap. It is a shame because we had a great car. We would have been in the lead at that point. What a bummer.
“We were a lap down then we were back up to the front. I was probably in fifth there. There were some guys working with me well there. We were bump drafting and working toward the front. We knew it would be hairy at the end. I wanted to get in the top five.
“It’s a bummer because the car was awesome”.
“KING” KIMMEL WORKS HARD FOR SECOND PLACE RUN
Multi-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel worked hard in racing from the rear of the field to the front at Daytona to finish and impressive second in at Daytona International Speedway.
The ARCA opener at Daytona was no different.
Not one, but two “big ones” happened at Daytona. The first happened at lap 39 in turns one and two took out six cars and involved several others. Those who had their day ended because of the accident included Mark Gibson, Chad Blount, Bill Eversole, David Ragan, Johnny Leonard and Ed Kennedy. Tim Steele and a few others were also involved, but were able to continue on.
The accident appeared to start when TJ Bell checked up, resulting in several other cars to check up as well. Contact was then made and the accident was on.
Those involved all had their side of the accident.
“It's Daytona,” said Chad Blount. “It's just a shame because we had such a good car. I'm really disappointed. It's hard to say nicely what happened. I guess it's people racing a little aggressive. I'm not going
Kimmel ,who posted the fastest speed in final practice Thursday, did not get the opportunity to qualify for failing to successfully complete technical inspection by the established deadline. Therefore, he had to start “shotgun” on the field (41st) and work his way up.
“Heck of a day huh?” said Kimmel. “What a lot of fun that was. I have to thank JJ Yeley because he pushed me all the way to the front there. Our car was so good on the bottom of the racetrack there. They had to really block to stop me. Congrats to Bobby Gerhart but I believe this is the best chance we ever had to win this thing.
"We knew we had a car that would race fine, but our qualifying position just really made the day harder than it needed to be. There was only one wreck in front of me all day-everything else was right next to me or behind me.
I just had to pay attention and keep the car clean so I'd have something left for the final laps. We are in sixth place, we are in one piece so now we can go home and go out tonight and have a few beers.”
GUERITY HAPPY WITH FOURTH
Rookie Mike Guerity finished a career-best fourth in his ARCA Daytona debut and was a little excited about it at the end of the night to say the least.
“We got hung out, we were two- and three-wide there,” said Guerity. “It was a lot of fun.
“We were able to run them back down. We had a shot to do something. I hope everyone is ok on the back stretch. There was a lot of wrecking.
“We wanted to win this thing, but to come out here and get a top five and do what we did and to have a car that is in one piece at the end of the race, we are pretty happy. To race with guys like Gerhart, Kimmel, Yeley and everyone… that is awesome. We’re just happy to be in this situation.”
SES STAR RICHARDSON LOVES FIRST DAYTONA RACE
Racing at Daytona in an ARCA car is well different then running at Lanier National Speedway in an NASCAR Southeast Series car. Just ask Robert Richardson.
Richardson made just his second career ARCA start on Saturday and first at Daytona.
“It was wild for us,” said Richardson. “We got pushed up into the wall early in the race. We were door to door and he just pushed up into me. I don't know what happened there. I guess it was a racing deal. It kinda just ruined our day right off the bat. We spent much of our day on pit road trying to repair the car.
”All in all the board says we finished 26th so we will take that and go on to Nashville.
“This is my dream come true to come here and run this place. Hopefully next time we come here we will be a little better and get a top ten out of the deal.”
JJ YELEY LEARNS DAYTONA
Even though JJ Yeley is an accomplished racer and is now a regular in the NASCAR Busch Series, he is still learning racing, especially on the superspeedways.
"The biggest thing that I was preaching to myself was to be patient. Last year I really learned lot from IROC. You need to have a partner and just be patient.
“It wasn't bad. I just didn't use my head enough out there. The car wasn't quite good enough to make any moves by myself so I had to always follow someone. Lucky enough at the end Kimmel got by me and for some reason my front bumper and his back bumper was a perfect match. He sucked me up real well and I pushed him real well. I definitely think we had a shot at second or to push Frank past the 5 car for the win.
“It's a catch 22 because my oil light kept coming on but my gauges were good. I noticed a little smoke the last couple of laps. So I'm afraid that the engine was laying down a little bit so a couple of laps more and who knew what would happen. We are happy with a third place finish and we will take the experience and hopefully it will transfer to a win in the Busch car next week.
“You sit around so long there and a lot of guys get impatient and loose there focus. Out here you always have to be concentrating. You sit around for a while and you get hot in the car. It definitely could have played a big part of why everyone was running into each other.”