Gerhart Takes The Fifth at Daytona by Amy Hayes
Veteran Driver Captures Number Five at Track in Car Number Five
“A lot of blocking was going on and guys were cutting down in front of my nose. I tried to stop and ended up hitting Damon Lusk there and caused that wreck. You’re there in a hole and a guy turns left on you and you don’t expect it. I thought there was too much blocking going on today.”
The resulting incident sent Damon Lusk and Tim Russell to the garage a few laps short of the finish which caused the race to be red flagged to allow time for the clean up crew to clean up the carnage. That resulted in the race ending with a green white checkered finish. So instead of four laps to hold off Mitchell, Gerhart only had to do it for two.
And then, when all was said and done, the numbers don’t lie. Bobby Gerhart led the most laps, 54 of the 80 ran in the ARCA 200, earned his record setting fifth Daytona ARCA victory and stamped his name in the history books of the ARCA RE/MAX Series.
Five was a good number for Bobby Gerhart at Daytona. He drove the #5 Chevrolet to his fifth victory at the track. (51 Photos)
The numbers added up for Bobby Gerhart in the ARCA 200 event at Daytona International Speedway. 70 cars pre-entered for the event, 66 showed up for inspection. 42 made the race, and one the #5 that Gerhart wheels, was left in victory lane. It was Gerhart’s fifth career, and third straight, victory in the event.
“It was an awesome race car all week,” said Gerhart. “The car was great in qualifying, I could tell right away with this car it was something special. The wrecks were kind of a diversion. I knew I had to be patient and then the race was all mine. It was mine to lose is the way I saw it. I never really got excited on the radio and I don’t think I even said two words [all day].”
It wasn’t too hard of a battle for Gerhart to fight, there were just a few mishaps behind him that caused a little bit of a delay on his way to victory.
Gerhart started up on front row, just one spot off of the pole, and when the race began, he quickly made his presence known. Pole Sitter Erin Crocker quickly lost the top spot as Gerhart made his presence know and passed right on by her.
It was smooth sailing for Gerhart from there.
The only time that it got a little hairy was after Mario Gosselin had played some pit strategy which allowed him to get out in front of Gerhart after a caution. But Gerhart wasn’t going to be denied his day, and before long he was running side by side with Gosselin for the lead.
Two cars running side by side doesn’t always last long, and it didn’t last too long for Gosselin as he slid up the track and made contact with the wall.
After that, there wasn’t anything standing in Gerhart’s way. Several more cautions occurred throughout the race including an early one that took out Steve Wallace. Gerhart never had any threats on the restarts after Gosselin, and cruised all the way to victory lane with a rookie, Marc Mitchell and then Jeremy Clements following close behind them.
“Winning at Daytona means everything,” added Gerhart. “I fundamentally wake up thinking
about it every day. There is a lot of hard work that goes into this whole effort. We are not an over budgeted team that can waste a lot of money. We work hard to make every penny count. I drive the race hauler to get down here and that is just a small example of what ever one else does inside this race team to pitch in. I am just so proud of this race team.”
Marc Mitchell was the highest finishing rookie in the second spot and it was a hard earned second place finish. Mitchell had to start all the way from the back, and had to settle for second as Gerhart was car lengths away as they crossed the start finish line on the last lap.
“This was a great finish,” said Mitchell. “I was late to the drivers meeting and started from the back and went from the back to the front. Second place was not a bad finish for me. Gerhart had a good car, he was able to run two car lengths ahead of me. The only way I was going to get him is what I did on that last lap. I laid back a little bit and tried to get a run on him, but I thought better of it and finished up second.”
And what better place to have your first ARCA Daytona start than in your own backyard?
“I grew up in Tallahassee, FL and my mother’s family owned a hotel across the street from the race track, so this was a bit of a homecoming for me. It’s great to come back here and have a great finish like I did.”
Many thought that this time would be Frank Kimmel’s day to finally earn that elusive Daytona win, but as he was working his way up through the field during the final laps, in position to go after Gerhart, bad luck found his way to the No. 46.
“We had a car that capable to win this race and we ran fifth with it,” said Kimmel. “We got ourselves in a bad position after our pit stop and we got to far back. There were just too many cautions, I could pass people under green if I had some help, Timothy Peters in the (No. 31 car) helped me in the draft a lot. If I had him behind me for most of the race I could gotten a better finish.
Gerhart shows his favorite number of the day in victory lane.
Gerhart leads the top four cars at Daytona on the final restart.