Shortly after the racing community rings in the new year, the attention of the stock car segment of the industry turns to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway as the ARCA Menards Series takes to the 2.5-mile tri-oval for its first on-track activity of 2020.
The open test is the first opportunity teams will have to work with new drivers, crew chiefs, and other new team members and it’s a chance for drivers to knock the rust off after a couple of months of inactivity.
A unique aspect of the series test at Daytona brings champions of ARCA’s branded tours – the ARCA/CRA Super Series and the ARCA Midwest Tour – to make laps at Daytona with Andy Hillenburg’s Fast Track High Performance Racing Team. This year’s invitees are CRA champ Greg Van Alst and Midwest Tour rookie of the year Gabe Sommers.
For the first time, ARCA Menards Series East and West champions will also be invited to participate. East champion Sam Mayer ran eight ARCA Menards Series races in 2019 for 2015 championship-winning team GMS Racing, but since he is just 16 years of age, none were on tracks longer than one mile in length. ARCA test policy allows drivers under 18 years of age to test on tracks like Daytona, so Mayer will strap into one of Hillenburg’s cars and get his first experience at Daytona.
West champion Derek Kraus had success in Florida to start 2019 as he won the East opener at nearby New Smyrna Speedway, but like Mayer, he does not have experience at Daytona. Kraus turned 18 in September, which means he would be eligible to come and compete in the race at Daytona should he so choose.
Defending series champions Venturini Motorsports swept the top four positions in last year’s open test at Daytona with Leilani Munter leading the way with the fastest lap of the weekend at 184.064 miles per hour, nipping out eventual series champion Christian Eckes, eventual race winner Harrison Burton, and series runner-up Michael Self.
The Daytona Open Test is set for Friday and Saturday, January 10 and 11 with Sunday January 12 reserved as a rain date. ARCARacing.com will have live timing & scoring throughout the weekend. The ARCA Menards Series returns to Daytona for the Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire in Saturday, February 8. The race will be televised live on FS1, with the green flag expected shortly after 4:30 pm ET.