Roush Racing has paired NASCAR Nextel Cup Rookie driver of the No. 6 AAA Ford Fusion, David Ragan with Roulo Bros. Racing to run the 2007 Daytona ARCA Race on February 10th at Daytona International Speedway.
Ragan, who competed in his first Nextel Cup race at Dover last fall, will be running full time Cup and Busch Series schedules in 2007, with AAA and Discount Tire respectively as full time sponsors. He is eager to get as much seat time as possible going into the start of the season.
"I've been to a lot of the tracks that are on the NASCAR circuit in the trucks last year," said Ragan. "That should help a little, but I am going to have to learn the ins and outs of these places in order to stay out of trouble, starting with Daytona. I am real fortunate to have AAA as a sponsor in the Nextel Cup Series this year so it is pretty cool that they will also be the primary sponsor on my ARCA car."
Brothers Gary and Rusty Roulo, who serve as crew chief and car chief respectively, are no strangers to the ARCA Series. With 22 ARCA RE/MAX Series wins under their belt and a roster of past drivers including Darrell Waltrip, Ken Schrader, Jimmy Spencer, Dick Trickle, David Green and many others, experience is one thing that their team is not lacking.
"I have had the opportunity to work with David going back to 2004 in ARCA, as well as the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series as crew chief and spotter," said Gary Roulo. "He has a great attitude and dedication to racing."
Over the past two seasons, Roulo Bros. Racing has worked with several of Roush Racing's development drivers including Ragan, Erik Darnell, Danny O'Quinn, Jr. and Peter Shepherd.
BOBBY JONES RACING SEES DOUBLE FOR LAKELAND
Over the years Bobby Jones Racing has made their mark at every track they have raced at, Lakeland will be no different. Today, Bobby Jones Racing announced they will be bringing two cars to The Construct Corps/Palm Beach Grading 250 at USA International Speedway in Lakeland.
"We are going to run Chase Pistone and AJ Henriksen in our cars at Lakeland" says team owner Bobby Jones. "I am really excited about Lakeland, our cars are really good and we are putting two really talented drivers in our cars for this race. We are definitely going to be a team to watch during this race."
Chase Pistone will run the No. 50 and AJ Henriksen will be behind the wheel of the No. 88 for Team Jones for the Lakeland weekend.
The Construct Corps/Palm Beach Grading 250 will take place on March 24th at USA International Speedway. This is the first time the ARCA/REMAX series will be in Lakeland, Florida.
David Ragan (L) talks with fellow Roush racer Erik Darnell. Ragan is planning to use the Daytona ARCA race to gain more experience at the superspeedway. (NASCAR Photo)
Chase Pistone will have a teammate for Lakeland.
Krug began racing the dirt tracks in Nebraska at age 17 and was an instant winner. At age 18, Krug moved to the asphalt high banks of I-70 Speedway in Odessa, Missouri where he dominated in the Late Model Division, winning a record six feature wins in a row. In 2005, Krug continued winning in late models on the dirt and pavement tracks throughout the Midwest. In addition, he competed in three ARCA RE/MAX Series events, qualifying in the upper half of the field for each.
“We’re looking forward to taking Josh (Krug) to Daytona,” added team owner Wayne Hixson from his race shop in Soddy Daisy. “We have a good car, and a good engine, and based on last year I know that Josh can get the job done from the driver’s seat. A strong run at Daytona is important to getting us moving in the right direction. I’m confident that we will be strong.”
Krug’s partnership with Hixson Motorsports began last season, when Josh Krug Racing and Hixson Motorsports joined forces for four speedway races, including Krug’s two career top ten finishes. It was that partnership last season that led to Krug moving into the driving seat of the #23 for the season opener at Daytona. Hixson Motorsports has been racing in the ARCA RE/MAX Series since 1990 and full time since 1999. Hixson Motorsports captured Rookie of the Year honors in 1999 with Ron Cox behind the wheel, and earned the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions in races in 1999, 2001, and 2002. Hixson Motorsports has also finished in the top 10 in the ARCA RE/MAX Series championship points standings 4 times, with a best finish of 4th in 2001, 8th in 1999, and 9th in both 2002 and 2003. In the last three seasons, the team has fielded cars for Krug, Cox, Joe Cooksey, Jason Jarrett and Ricky Sanders. While running without primary sponsorship and on a limited budget, the team has managed 6 top-5 finishes and 36 top-10 runs, with the most recent a 3rd place finish by Cooksey on the Springfield dirt in 2005. Prior to competing full time in ARCA, Hixson Motorsports competed in select events in the NASCAR Sportsman Series during the 1990s.
The Hixson Motorsports team will have several new faces when they roll into Daytona. Crew Chief Mark Haehn, who joined the team midway through 2006, returns and will continue going over the wall to change tires. Fourth year Jackman and Tire Specialist Roy Shipley, and Josh Hixson, who has filled multiple positions with the team, including Tire Specialist, Tire Changer, Tire Carrier and Catch Can Man, return as well. They will be joined on the road crew by newcomers Roger Adams (Tire Changer) and Vicki Smith (Scorer). Other positions on the team and over the wall crew are still being finalized.
GERHART LEADS TALLADEGA SUPERSPEEDWAY TEST
No driver/team is arguably more serious about Daytona than Bobby Gerhart Racing.
In fact, the Lebanon, Pennsylvania-based team tested Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in preparation for the fast-approaching ARCA 200 at Daytona Int’l Speedway on February 10th.
Chase Pistone, a hometown driver from Cornelius, NC pairs up with Team Jones yet again, this time at Lakeland. The combination has always proved to run at the top.
AJ Henriksen, also a hometown driver from Mooresville, NC, is slated to run the Pocono 200 on June 9th and the Pennsylvania 200 on August 4th in the No. 88 Dodge Charger for Team Jones. After Pocono, Henriksen will race four more races for Team Jones with sponsorship already acquired. Future races will be announced by Team Jones on a later date.
KRUG JOINS HIXSON TEAM FOR DAYTONA
Josh Krug will be behind the wheel of the Hixson Motorsports #23 ARCASimRacing.com, Bigford Enterprises Chevrolet when the ARCA RE/MAX Series rolls into Daytona early next month to open the 2007 season. Krug, a 20 year old University of Nebraska freshman from Omaha, Nebraska, will be making his first trip to the Daytona International Speedway as a driver, and it is something he has looked forward to for a long time.
“I'm looking forward to driving at Daytona,” Krug said. “We were there a couple of years ago as spectators during Speedweek, and I couldn’t wait until I came back as a driver.
"We haven’t raced an ARCA RE/MAX Series race since Kentucky last July and I’m anxious to get back in the racecar. The ARCA RE/MAX Series is a great organization run by quality people who have always treated us well. ARCA is also made up of a lot of quality competitors that I have enjoyed racing with.”
To date, Krug has made 8 starts scattered over the last two seasons. In 5 starts in 2006, Krug posted two top-10 runs, with his first being a 10th place finish in the spring event at Kentucky. He backed that finish up with a 7th place effort at Michigan in June. A strong qualifying effort at Kansas Speedway was wiped out by an early race multi-car accident. Since Krug was not running the full schedule, he had to make each race on speed because there was no chance of starting races with a provisional. Krug was 5 for 5 in his attempts in 2006, placing his car in the top half of the field each time.
After three days of extensive testing at Daytona in mid-December, the Gerharts felt they needed one more restrictor plate run before they could make final determinations regarding Daytona, the marquis event on the ARCA RE/MAX Series tour
“Conditions were very tough,” said Billy Gerhart, crew chief for his brother Bobby. “The highest the temperature got was 44 degrees, and it was extremely windy.
“There was a really bad head-on wind going down the backstretch. Even though the wind made it difficult, we still learned a couple things…..mainly what gear ratios we’ll need at Daytona.
“It was also the first time we tested with the new laser-cut (restrictor) plates. The speeds are down quite a bit from last year. Whereas last year Bobby sat on the pole at 185-plus, the pole this year should be closer to 180. We’ll have to see on that, but the speeds are definitely down. Of course, that typically means the cars will be even closer.”
Bobby Gerhart, in his familiar #5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, unofficially posted the fastest speed at 181.473 mph. Teammate AJ
Henriksen, in the #7 Eagle Warranty Chevrolet, was second on the charts at 180.889. Brad Coleman, testing a third BGR Chevrolet, was third overall at 180.811.
“We still haven’t completely decided which car will be our primary car at Daytona,” added Gerhart. “We’ll make that call tonight. Speed-wise, both cars we tested were identical. At this point, we’re leaning toward using the same car we won with last year; it drafted a little better.
“But we still learned enough that we thought the test was beneficial. For the most part, we’re ready to go. The cars are all set-up…..we just need to detail them. They need to be decaled and that’s pretty much it. We’ll load ‘em this weekend, and the three trailers will head out Sunday night. Guess the guys will have to listen to the Super Bowl on their radios; that’s the way it worked out this year.
"But overall, we thought the test went well for everyone. The only on-track incident was for a dog that got loose on the track. No kidding; it took about a half-hour for track officials to lasso him. It sure was cold though."
Gerhart, looking for an unprecedented fifth Daytona triumph, is already the only driver in history to win four ARCA 200s at Daytona. Gerhart is also in search of what would be a record fifth consecutive Daytona pole.
Three other drivers also tested with the Gerharts at Talladega including third-generation racer Steadman Marlin. Marlin, in a #14 Chevy Monte Carlo, unofficially posted a speed of 180.304.
Butch Jarvis, in a 2005 Monte Carlo, also tested posting an unofficial speed of 180.140. Rookie Justin South, in the #59 HD Supply Dodge out of the Cunningham Motorsports stable, unofficially posted a speed of 179.658.
The ARCA RE/MAX Series garage at Daytona opens Tuesday, February 6 at 3:30 pm for inspection only. Garage opens at 7 am Wednesday morning for the first full day of inspection prior to the cars taking to the track for the first time on Thursday for a five hour practice session from noon to 5 pm. Pole qualifying is scheduled to roll off Friday at noon with final practice to follow at 5:10.
The 44th annual ARCA 200 at Daytona is LIVE on SPEED Saturday, February 10 at 4 pm ET.
Josh Krug's #23 car. (ARCA Photo)
Bobby Gerhart is aiming for another Daytona victory. Based on the results of his recent Talladega test session, it is within his grasp.