ARCA Town: Off-Season News and Notes
Getting Ready for Daytona and More
Carter buckles into the #46 ride. (ARCA Photos)
CARTER SETTLES INTO BIG RIDE
When the #46 Ford rolls off at Daytona, it may look much the same as it did in years past, but in reality, much has changed inside the Larry Clement-owned camp.
For one, the famous ARCA RE/MAX Series machine will be without its longtime occupant – nine-time champion Frank Kimmel after he announced he was forming his own team for 2008.
Clement will still be the car owner however, but the car will have a new cast of characters in and around it in 2008, most notably, a new driver.
That new driver is Denver, North Carolina racer Matt Carter, son of longtime NASCAR Cup crew chief/car owner Travis Carter. And if the stars line-up just right, Carter hopes to make a full run at the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2008.
At the onset, the prospects look pretty good. Although Carter, a veteran of the Hooters Pro Cup Series, has never raced at Daytona, the next two events – Salem Speedway and Iowa Speedway – are familiar territory to the second-generation racer.
“I had never seen the place (Salem) until last year when we went there with our Hooters Pro Cup team,” said Carter. “We sat on the pole with a new track record and finished second in the race, so we felt pretty good about that.”
Carter also felt pretty good last year at Iowa where he won the race, which was event number two in the Hooters Pro Cup championship series trail.
From there though, the ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule gets blurrier for Carter who will be visiting tracks, for the most part, he’s never seen before.
“From the middle on out, the tracks on the schedule are ones I’ve never been to, so that could be challenging. But I’ve never really had any trouble adapting to new tracks in the past, so I’m not too concerned. It’s one of those deals where I don’t know any bad habits yet because I’ve never raced there. I’ve actually only been racing for about seven years, but we’ve managed to run pretty well everywhere we go.”
Next stop – Daytona Int’l Speedway for the 45th annual ARCA 200 at Daytona.
“I’ve always dreamed about racing at Daytona, but I never thought I’d actually get the chance to run there, so it’s huge deal; especially since I practically grew up there going with my Dad over the years.”
Carter’s father Travis Carter is renowned among high-level NASCAR players with an impressive history that dates back to the 1960s. The senior Carter’s first claim to fame was crew chiefing Benny Parsons to the 1973 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. Carter followed with another Cup championship with Cale Yarborough in 1978. After working with the likes of Harry Gant and Bobby Allison, Carter moved onto the team ownership role employing drivers such as Geoff Bodine, Hut Stricklin, Butch Miller, Rick Mast, Darrell Waltrip, Todd Bodine, Jimmy Spencer, and even a short stint with Frank Kimmel, whose Pork sponsor helped Carter get through a portion of a Cup season.
“I’m looking forward to being there again with Dad. He’s just going to hang back and let us do it, but he’ll be there for guidance if we need it.
“Right now, we’ll have three guys from our shop working with us at the track – two from the Hooter’s deal. Larry Clement is planning on spotting for us.” Clement also spotted for Kimmel in the 46 car en route to their nine titles together.
Despite the newness of the Daytona race experience, Carter tested well there back in December.
“I was real comfortable in the test. But that had a lot to do with the car. We unloaded and the car was good. In just a few laps we had worked up to third quick. The car drove real good. But I never really got the chance to run side-by-side either; I’ll figure it out as I go.
“To be honest with you, I’m not really feeling the pressure; not yet anyway. I mean, my Dad’s not putting any pressure on me; no one is. I’ve always put the pressure on myself; it doesn’t matter if it’s Daytona or wherever. I’ve always been that way.
“Bottom line, I just don’t have any race experience at Daytona. But I’ve always been pretty smart about my racing in the past and didn’t do stupid stuff, so hopefully I can back that up. The car were bringing is an excellent car and we’ll have a Roush Yates motor too, so we have every reason to believe we’re going to run well. There are big shoes to fill in that 46 car, no doubt. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Frank Kimmel. I only hope we can have an ounce of the success that he had here.”
The 45th annual ARCA 200 at Daytona is LIVE on SPEED at 4:00 pm ET Saturday, February 9th. The first practice is Thursday, February 7th from 12 noon to 5:00 pm. SIM Factory Pole Award Qualifying is 12 noon Friday followed by final practice from 5:10 to 6:15 pm.
TEN TEAMS TEST AT TALLADEGA
As has become the standard over the last ten years, five-time Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart took advantage of his last free weekend before the Daytona kick-off to test one final time in preparation for the 45th annual ARCA 200 at Daytona Saturday afternoon, February 9th.
The test took place at Talladega Superspeedway Saturday and Sunday, January 26th and 27th, where ten teams participated. All unofficial speeds recorded were from single-car runs. There was no drafting.
Wayne Hixson Motorsports tested with two drivers, rookie Brandon Kelley and veteran Ron Cox, in the no. 23 Chevy. Their unofficial speeds were comparable with Kelley at 180.650 and Cox at 180.401.
Florida drivers' Steve Bramley and Dewayne Bryan were next with Bramley, in a Chevy, posting a speed of 180.339 and Bryan at 180.224.
Open-wheel veteran Brian Tyler made an appearance in the 01 Toyota Camry, coming away with an unofficial speed of 179.405.
Also in attendance was Phoenix, Arizona's Gabi DiCarlo, who in Doug Stringer's Chevy, posted an unofficial speed of 179.390.
KENTUCKY DATE GETS CHANGED
Officials from Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR, and ARCA have announced a date change to the July NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series/ARCA RE/MAX Series race event weekend for 2008. The ARCA RE/MAX Series Kentucky 150, originally scheduled for Friday, July 11th, will now take place one week later on Friday, July 18th, 2008. The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Built Ford Tough 225 presented by the Greater Cincinnati Ford Dealers will also be rescheduled to the following weekend, set for Saturday, July 19th. Both events are LIVE on SPEED.
"We're pleased to cooperate with Kentucky Speedway, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Speed Channel in moving our event date to July 18," said ARCA President Ron Drager. "We have great relationships with all three entities and this kind of lead time allows everyone associated with the ARCA RE/MAX Series to plan for July 18."
The ARCA RE/MAX Series will begin converging at Kentucky Speedway on Thursday, July 17th. The weekend includes a two hour, fifteen minute practice session beginning at 11:30 a.m. on Friday, followed by SIM Factory Pole Qualifying at 4:30 p.m. and the Kentucky 150 at 8 p.m. Eastern.
The July 18th Kentucky 150 will mark the second of two Kentucky Speedway appearances for the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2008 and the series’ 17th
After a mix of rain and sleet prevented all on-track activity Saturday morning, the skies cleared off in time for testing to begin at 2:30 local time Saturday afternoon.
Gerhart, in the same Lucas Oil-sponsored Chevy Monte Carlo that won last year's Daytona race, was unofficially fastest overall with a speed of 184.320 mph. "The car was wicked fast," said Bill Gerhart, Bobby's brother and crew chief. "The test went very well. We feel like we are very well prepared for Daytona. We're going to have to be. We think the competition will be stronger than ever."
Shelby Township, Michigan driver Robb Brent, in a Ford owned my Ron Keselowski, was unofficially second fastest at 183.250 mph.
Blake Feese, in a second Gerhart Chevy, was third at 182.705 mph. Feese, entered at Daytona in a Sadler Brothers Ford, won at Talladega in 2004.
Kalamazoo, Michigan veteran Larry Hollenbeck, also in a Chevy, was fourth fastest at 181.364 mph.
Bobby Gerhart is going for another victory at Daytona and if his Talladega test is any sign, he chances should be good.
appearance at the track since 2000. Last year, a pair of first time series winners made trips to victory lane at Kentucky Speedway, with Roush Fenway Racing’s Erik Darnell winning the Buckle-Up Kentucky 150 in May and Eddie Sharp Racing’s Michael McDowell finding victory lane in July.
Former ARCA RE/MAX Series race winners at Kentucky Speedway include nine-time and defending series champion Frank Kimmel, Chad Blount, Darnell, Ryan Hemphill, Kyle Busch, Brad Coleman, McDowell, Ryan Newman, Tim Steele and Steve Wallace.
GULLATTA TRADES TRUCK FOR ROUSH MUSTANG AT DAYTONA
Just two weeks ago, ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series veteran Nick Gullatta was asked to test for the Rehagen Racing team in advance of this past weekend's Fresh From Florida 200 Grand-Am KONI Challenge 3 hour endurance race at Daytona International Speedway in the No. 52 ROUSH®/Valvoline/PILOTI Mustang FR500C.
Officials from the Automobile Racing Club of America have announced the expansion of the ARCA West Late Model Challenge Series. Under the terms of the expansion, the NEWALTA Late Model Challenge Series will combine with ARCA West to become the ARCA West Late Model Challenge Series in 2008.
“Uniting the NEWALTA LMCS with the ARCA West Late Model Challenge Series will strengthen the ARCA brand and Late Model Racing in the Northwest,” said Richard Michaud, president of ARCA West. “We’re excited about the opportunities this merger presents.”
The former NEWALTA LMCS, the largest touring stock car series in Western Canada in recent years, has a technical and procedural rules package very similar to that of the ARCA West LMCS. Plans call for standalone events in both Canada and the U.S. as well as a number of companion events.
The 2008 schedule, which will be released in full in the coming weeks, is expected to include venues that were on the 2007 NEWALTA LMCS Schedule as well as the ARCA West tour, plus the possible addition of some new venues.
Craig Ball has been appointed director of racing for all of ARCA West’s operations in Canada.
"The partnership with ARCA West enhances our commitment to the sport of stock car racing in Canada," said Ball. "I believe the timing is perfect and it provides the drivers, teams and corporate partners of the Series a new level of challenge and opportunity in oval racing in North America."
The ARCA West Late Model Challenge Series features template bodied, straight rail late models with drivers from throughout the Pacific Northwest and Canada competing in a fast, fun and affordable touring series. The series is a licensee of the nationally-based Automobile Racing Club of America and provides a West coast connection to the ARCA Sanctioning body.
GOSSELIN AND OWENS ALSO TEST AT TALLADEGA
Mario Gosselin and his new DGM Racing teammate Alli Owens have been to Talledega
Superspeedway twice in the past couple of weeks for testing in preparation for the
upcoming “ARCA 200” at Daytona International Speedway.
“Our first test session was cut short by rain,” said Gosselin, “so we decided to go back
when the opportunity arose.” “We tried several different combinations, learned some
things and are really happy with our results from the first session, but there were still
quite a few items left on our list (of things to try) when we got rained out. So we went
back and did some additional testing in an effort to try to find a little more speed.
Overall, Alli and I are very happy with our racecars. Testing is done and we are ready
to race. We are both excited and really looking forward to Daytona.”
The “ARCA 200” is scheduled for Saturday afternoon, February 9th, 2008. The event
will be broadcast live on SPEED at 4 pm eastern and will serve as a show-opener for
the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series All-Star race, the Budweiser Shootout, which is scheduled
to be run later on that same night.
Mario Gosselin (MarioGosselin.com Photo)
Gullatta had never been to Daytona; in fact, he had never even attended a race there. He shows up, jumps into one of the Rehagen cars, and posted a P2 in just his fourth session in the car. He had held P1 for a while until one of the regulars showed up and nipped his time. Discussions were held about Gullatta joining forces with Rehagen Racing, but no funding was available for a fifth car.
Gullatta was asked to come down to Daytona anyway and arrived Thursday to drive the Jim Click Racing Teams No. 154 ROUSH®/Valvoline/PILOTI Mustang FR500C. This is another ROUSH PERFORMANCE® connected, Rehagen Racing prepared mustang and Gullatta was fast again. The effort, with shared driving duties with teammate Jamie Slone, was qualified in 15th starting position.
When Gullatta took over the car at the halfway point, it was in the top 10 but going down on power. Speculation was that they had dropped a valve. Gullatta was still able to make up a lap lost earlier in the race and got the Click Racing Mustang up to 11th, but the power just wasn't there. Gullatta was battling with Alex Barron, Andy Lally and other top notch road racers from across the US. They finally got by him, but he battled his way back to 16th position, where he finished.
"We had car that could have won this thing," Gullatta said. "I'm just happy to have run competitively and finish the race in a good position. When you consider 92 cars started, 16th doesn't sound too bad."
Gullatta's plans are to compete, for the third consecutive year in the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series driving for Stan and Judi Rosen with the possibility of picking up a ride in the Koni series where the dates don't conflict. "I guess I showed them that us ARCA truckers can turn left and right."
The Fresh From Florida 200 was taped for a Saturday, February 2 broadcast on SPEED Channel at 8 p.m. Eastern. The next event on the KONI Challenge schedule will take place at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., on May 26-28.
Gullatta was the ARCA Lincoln Welders Truck Series Rookie of the Year in 2006, and finished second in championship points in '06 and '07 with an average finish of 5.4 in 23 starts. When not racing, Gullatta is employed by the Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company as a Development Engineer and High Performance test driver. Nick and his team did most of the tire testing and development for the Ford GT and the Corvette Z06 program. He'd like to do some more Koni-Challenge racing as his commitments allow.
ARCA WEST HAS BIG THINGS IN STORE