ARCA NOTES: DAYTONA WEDNESDAY By Jeremy Troiano and Matt Kentfield
Leicht Escapes, Beck Steels, Diercks Dreams & More
DIERCKS LIVING THE DREAM
In the Midwest, the name Justin Diercks often strikes fear in those around him. Over the last two years, no one, not even NASCAR Midwest Series mastermind Steve Carlson, has won more races or championships.
up until a few years ago. I never looked at it as much more. Then, once we started winning races and championships, it was a little different. It turned into a lot more work.“
While his Yates teammates Stephen Leicht and Matt McCall have a set schedule of Busch Series and ARCA Series races set, Diercks’ schedule will be determined as the year goes on based on results and his ability to adapt.
“I’ve had a lot of fun with the team and everyone so far. This is a great bunch of guys who know what they are doing. We have everything we need financially and equipment-wise to do this right.”
BOWSHERS STILL A FAMILY
Now, all that hard work has paid off for Diercks. During the off season, he was signed to a driver development deal with Robert Yates Racing. As part of that deal, Diercks will race in several ARCA and Busch Series events with ML Motorsports, which will be supported by Yates.
“Last year at this time, I was sitting and watching this race,” said Diercks, who won the last two-straight Midwest Series championships. “Now, I’ll actually get to race down here. This was a big off season getting to sign with Robert Yates Racing. They put this deal together to come and race with ML Motorsports in ARCA and Busch. Everything looks real positive.
“We used to just do racing as a hobby. It was just for fun
While the ARCA Series has continued to grow, especially with the influx of younger stars and bigger and better cars, there are still some “old school” things in the series.
One of those is the ever-popular Bowsher family. Led now by Todd, who has been voted the Speed51.com ARCA Most Popular driver during the last two years, the team is back in Daytona for another year of racing.
And while the Bowsher patriarch, former star Jack, battles several health problems, the Bowsher team remains upbeat.
“He still wants to come racing, so that is why we are here,” said Todd, with a smile. “He wants to be here, so we are going to come. It’s still a lot of fun.”
BECK SHOWS HER YELLOW AND BLACK
The lady with the biggest smile on her face in the Daytona garage area on Wednesday afternoon was Pennsylvanian Jayme Beck. It wasn’t just because she’s one of the four women entered in the ARCA 200. It was more because of her favorite team winning the biggest game of the year on Sunday.
“Oh I’m a big Steelers fan,” said Beck, who wore her Steelers sweatshirt with pride all afternoon. “I was so happy to see them win. Heck, I’m from Pennsylvania, of course I was pulling for them.”
The only thing that may make Beck happier than seeing her team win the Super Bowl would be to have a strong showing in Saturday’s race. She still knows that with almost 70 cars in the garage on Wednesday, just making the show will be an accomplishment.
“I don’t really have a plan yet for qualifying other than I want to send people home. Then I’ll just see how things shake out. If the car is fast then maybe I’ll just go right to the front and hopefully stay out there. If not, then we’ll wait and make some adjustments and make a move late in the race.”
Beck, along with Erin Crocker, Amanda Gogel, and Christi Passmore, make up the strongest showing of women ever in ARCA Daytona history.
“I think it’s amazing that there’s four women entered in this race. I think it shows that anyone can do it. I’m a firm believer in that if you have any kind of goals, no matter what you’re doing, nothing can stop you if you work hard at it.”
SAFETY ALWAYS ON HIS MIND
Justin Diercks is making his ARCA debut this weekend. (51 Photos)
Jack Bowsher (right) sits and watchs as his son's team goes to work.
It was the bright blue color.
Kimmel, the seven-time and defending ARCA champion, showed up to Daytona with his new look and new primary sponsor, The National Pork Board.
“It is a little different,” smiled Kimmel. “With our new sponsor, The National Pork Board, they wanted different colors and that is what they get. It is a different change for us and hopefully, we can have the same outcome.”
Many have started to become familiar with the bright orange colors of Advance Auto Parts. But when they pulled out of ARCA, the Pork Board stepped up and Kimmel’s looks changed with it.
“I’m not really superstitious,” added Kimmel of the blue color. “Maybe later in the year, I will change my tune, but for the most part, I believe it is a ‘you have what you have.’ It is just paint on a racecar though. As long as we do good on the racetrack, we’ll make the sponsors happy and everyone will be happy.”
LOTS AND LOTS OF CARS
Heading into Daytona, there were over 70 cars pre-entered for this weekend’s ARCA 200 at Daytona. There were all kinds of numbers of cars being thrown around in the garage area as to exactly how many cars were actually on grounds and how many more were expected.
ARCA officials said there were 66 cars on the grounds on Wednesday, with another three or more expected to still show.
Saturday afternoon’s race will start 41.
BOBBY BLOUNT TAKES OVER PLYMOUTH SPEEDWAY
While Stephen Leicht’s #66 stuck out for being one of the best looking cars in the garage area, there was something else that stuck out.
Leicht’s car was built with an escape hatch. It is to no one’s surprise either, as a few of Robert Yates Racing’s Cup cars are also built with escape hatches as well.
“Lets just hope we don’t have to use it, other than in Victory Lane,” said Leicht.
“KING” KIMMEL’S NEW LOOK
Things looked a little different when the #46 rolled through tech line on Wednesday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway. It wasn’t the new Ford Fusion body. Nor was it a new hair style.
“This was part of the deal when I signed on to do this stuff at the track; it couldn’t conflict with any of the ARCA races that Matt (Hagans, team owner and driver) or Donny Lia run. The track runs on Sunday nights, so it shouldn’t conflict with any of the ARCA races. Any time I have to be away from the track, my family can take care of all the stuff while I’m gone.”
One thing is for sure for Blount when the Plymouth race season begins. He’ll find himself on the opposite end of some racers’ gripes about the way things at the track are being run.
“I’ve been racing pretty much all my life and the entire time I’ve been the one yelling at the track officials. Now I’ll be the one getting yelled at.”
RUSSELL HAS A LITTLE ADDED HELP
As if being an ARCA Crew Chief and Super Late Model car owner wasn’t time consuming enough, Bobby Blount has added race track promoter to his repertoire. The former short track star from Indiana is part of a team that has purchased Plymouth Speedway (IN) and has been given the management and promoter’s duties.
“The track is close to home and where my family has been racing for a long time,” said Blount. “It had been closed for a while and if it stayed closed another year, then it’d probably be gone altogether. It’s a sort of an early retirement present to myself.”
Blount will be juggling his responsibilities at Plymouth Speedway with being the Crew Chief for the Hagans Racing #9 Dodges.
Bobby Blount (left) talks with Bob Schact on Wednesday.
Florida driver Tim Russell is still geeked up about his ARCA debut this weekend at Daytona. The Late Model hot shot purchased a car from Chip Ganassi Racing and has motors from Ernie Elliot.
But he’s got a little bit of extra help this weekend as well.
Veteran Busch and Truck Series crew chief Timmy Kohuth is helping Russell this weekend. Kohuth has spent time as a crew chief for Ted Musgrave and Ken Schrader, among others. He also helped lead Joel Kauffman in the Hooters Pro Cup Series in 2004.
LOTS OF CUP & BUSCH TEAM INFLUENCE
As is always the case at Daytona, there was a lot of NASCAR Nextel Cup and Busch Series influence in the garage area on Wednesday.
Stephen Leicht and Matt McCall are entered in the event, driving cars for Robert Yates Racing. Their development teammate with Yates, Justin Diercks, is also entered in an ML Motorsports car.
Erin Crocker will make her first Daytona start, driving for Evernham Motorsports, while Burney Lamar will make the start while driving for Kevin Harvick Inc. Roush Racing has entered a car for its full-time Busch Series driver, Danny O’Quinn.
Several other teams in the garage area, while not officially tied with Cup or Busch teams, have a lot of Cup and/or Busch influence either through cars, engines or driver development deals.
FROM BNS TO ARCA, CAREY DOES IT ALL
After spending the 2005 season with NASCAR Busch North (now Busch East) Series superteam GRIZCO Racing, Tom Carey, Jr. has joined with Robert Yates Racing to help bring RYR development driver Stephen Leicht ARCA success.
Carey spent last season as the crew chief for Brad Leighton’s #25 Chevy housed in the same stable as BNS champ Andy Santerre. A multiple time BNS winner and former Craftsman Truck Series driver, Carey was in the Daytona garage turning the wrenches on Leicht’s #66.