Danica Patrick made her first laps in an ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards stock car during a rain-shortened test session at Daytona Int'l Speedway on Friday afternoon.
Patrick, one of 26 drivers who posted a time during the 35-minute single car run session, was 12th quickest on the charts with a time of 51.095 seconds (176.142 mph) around the 2.5-mile superspeedway. A trio of three cars fielded by long-time ARCA Racing Series team Venturini Motorsports comprised the top three positions in Friday's test session, led by fulltime series competitor Mikey Kile (49.804 seconds/180.708 mph).
The first of a three day ARCA test session was shortened to just 35 minutes after rain plagued both morning and afternoon at the Daytona Beach-based superspeedway. Patrick was able to make just four laps at full speed during the session.
"It's still a car once you get in it, "Patrick said during a post test media center press conference on Friday. "I feel most comfortable once I'm at speed actually. Everything from getting into the car to getting the car started--that part feels quite different to me. It's not normal to me. The car gets pulled out to pit lane and you get in the car when its in its pit stall in an IndyCar and the getting strapped in part is something that I've been familiar with for a long time now so everything is a little bit different but once I get out there I feel good. I feel comfortable. These cars can run more lanes on the track. You're all the way to the wall and the car is good to go there. It's easier to drive there and in an IndyCar you can't use quite as many lanes usually. That's just one of the first things I noticed. The gear shifter has more travel. You have to pull something and no more paddle anymore. The clutch is long. It's just different stuff. But I wouldn't say that there is any instinctual stuff that is different which is the best part, right? Because I just get to be a driver and I get to do what I'm used to. I feel comfortable once I get going. "
"It does have a little bit of a grassroots feeling because there are a lot of cars sort of unpainted and everything but it's still a car that I need to learn and I'm unfamiliar with. I have a lot to learn so I'm glad I'm here."
Although Patrick garnered most of the media attention during Friday testing at Daytona, Venturini Motorsports posted the fastest time overall with driver Mikey Kile, who plans on running the entire 2010 ARCA Racing Series.
"It's good to unload off the trailer fast," said Kile. "It was not a sticker run. It was a run in race trim. We didn't get a lot of laps but this team worked hard during the off season. With three Venturini cars at the top of the charts it shows how hard they worked."
Kile was followed on the charts by teammates Steve Arpin in the No. 55 Toyota (50.098 seconds/179.648 mph) and Daytona Beach, Florida native Alli Owens in the No 15 Chevrolet (50.375 mph/178.660 mph).
Brandon McReynolds, son of veteran NASCAR crew chief/SPEED commentator Larry McReynolds, was fourth fastest with a 50.375 second/178.660 mph lap around the 2.5-mile speedway during his first laps in an ARCA speedway car. McReynolds does not plan to compete in the February 6 Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 but will use this weekend's test session to build his superspeedway racing resume and gain track time. He is testing with 2009 ARCA Car Owner Champion Eddie Sharp.
Joey Coulter rounded out the top-5 in his family-owned No. 16 Chevrolet with a 50.627 second/177.771 mph lap. Bryan Silas, Nick Igdalsky, Lance Fenton, Grant Enfinger and Matt Lofton rounded out the top-10.
ARCA Racing Series teams will return for two additional full days of testing on Saturday and Sunday.
For a complete recap of Friday test speeds, visit http://www.arcaracing.com.