ARCA Daytona Test Wraps Up
Buescher and Lia Are Quick, Kimmel Tries Out New Car, Speed is Up to Speed and More
For the third consecutive day, morning showers delayed the start of on-track activity, but a two hour "single car" session kicked off the final day of the test, with Ryan Fischer setting the pace at 181.605 mph. Roush Fenway Racing teammates Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Eric Darnell were just off Fischer's pace, each toping the 181 mph mark.
The balance of the day was then dedicated to drafting practice, and when the final checkered flag fell to end the session, Country Joe Racing's James Buescher had run the fastest lap of the weekend, touring the 2.5 mile tri-oval at 182 mph-plus. Buescher, piloting the 2nd of two Kevin Cywinski/Mike Chaffee-prepared Dodge Chargers (#9) was fourth quick in the morning single car run.
The three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series test at Daytona International Speedway came to a conclusion at 5:00 pm Sunday evening, with 79 drivers and 68 racecars participating, and only one on-track incident. Through it all, James Buescher, the youngest winner in ARCA RE/MAX Series history, posted the quickest lap of the weekend.
Buescher's #9 in Daytona testing. (ARCA / Don Bok Photo)
Donny Lia, who ran a partial ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule in 2006, was second quickest in the afternoon drafting session, posting a speed of 182.678 in the #92 Toyota.
Newcomer John Townley, in the #65 RAB Racing Dodge, was third fastest at 182.615 mph, with Stenhouse, Jr and Darnell rounding out the top five. A total of 35 cars took to the track during the afternoon drafting session.
Other notables from Sunday Afternoon:
* Gabi DiCarlo - 16th...179.845
* Scott Speed - 21st...179.072
* Frank Kimmel - 26th...178.010
The ARCA RE/MAX Series will return to Daytona International Speedway on Saturday afternoon, February 9th, for the 45th running of the Daytona ARCA 200.
F1 DRIVER TAKES FIRST LAPS AT DAYTONA
Scott Speed's first visit to historic Daytona International Speedway was "very cool."
I've never been here before so it's very cool to see the home of stock car racing," said the former Formula 1 driver in town over the weekend for a three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series test session in preparation for the ARCA 200 ARCA RE/MAX Series race on Feb. 9. "It's cool to see how close the track is to population. Most tracks are in the middle of nowhere. Not this one. That's pretty cool."
Speed, who back in 2002 won the Red Bull Driver Search, a program aimed at putting an American talent into Formula One, is behind the wheel of the Red Bull Toyota Camry with Eddie Sharp Racing this weekend in preparation for February's ARCA 200. In October, Speed tackled Talladega Superspeedway - his debut in a stock car as well as his first ever race on an oval track. He qualified seventh and finished in the same position.
"Daytona is quite a bit more difficult to drive than Talladega especially in the draft because the track is a bit more bumpy, especially where the 2 tunnels are," the 24-year-old pointed out. "I think in February you're going to see more of the guys that can drive better in the front of the pack as opposed to Talladega where they hang out in the back."
Either way, Speed is happy to get his time on the high banks in preparation for the 2008 ARCA RE/MAX Series season-opener.
"Overall I'm happy and definitely excited to finally see Daytona and hold my own on the track," the California native said. "It'll be cool to come back here in a couple of months and race."
KIMMEL'S SPEED SECRET
After the second day of testing, nine-time defending ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel unveiled the secret of going fast here at Daytona:
"Get behind a Hendrick car and the car runs real fast," said Kimmel. "But they won't let me qualify like that so we've got to get it better than that. We're still tweaking and we'll be ready come February. We've had a lot of success in the ARCA Series but it would be a thrill to win here. You almost need to put a ‘Daytona Win" on your resume and what a thrill it would be to do that this year."
GERHART FEELING GOOD
Bobby Gerhart, who owns a record five ARCA 200 victories, gave a thumbs-up on his health during the final day of ARCA 200 testing.
Gerhart was diagnosed with a left brachial plexus injury and a T6 compression fracture after an accident at Pocono Raceway in early August. The injury cut short his season and he has been rehabbing with the goal of getting back in the driver's seat for this weekend's three-day test.
"I feel great," Gerhart said. "It's probably the best therapy that I could have. I'm in real good shape. I got a clean bill of health and I'm all healed up. I've been exercising. I've hired a trainer for about a month and a half. By February, I'll be better than I have in about 10 years. It just feels good to be back at Daytona and I'm looking forward to coming back for another good Speedweeks."
Scott Speed (R) talks with Dario Franchitti at the Daytona ARCA test. (DIS Photo)
Kimmel's new #44 at Daytona. (DIS Photo)
Bobby Gerhart's #5 (DIS Photo)