ARCA Menards Series East racing on a Floridian half-mile paved oval provided an epic finish in the 2021 season-opener at New Smyrna Speedway on Feb. 8.
Your move, Pensacola’s 5 Flags Speedway. The Pensacola 200 Presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions is here.
The ARCA Menards Series East on Saturday (Feb. 27, 5 p.m. CT / 6 p.m. ET) moves from the home of the famed World Series of Asphalt to the home of the annual Snowball Derby for another short-track event, this time in the westernmost city of the Florida panhandle.
Which is good news for the drivers who established themselves as the top contenders in the opener at New Smyrna, all of whom are entered in Saturday’s race at 5 Flags. It’s even better news for those who enjoy watching stock car drivers compete on this kind of track layout.
Pensacola 200 Presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions
WHAT TO WATCH FOR:
When Saturday’s Pensacola 200 Presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions arrives, Sammy Smith and Taylor Gray will have waited 19 days to redeem themselves for what feels like a missed opportunity.
Rookie driver Max Gutiérrez earned his first series win when he stole the lead from Smith and Gray on the final corner of the last lap at New Smyrna. What appeared to be a battle for the victory between the field’s strongest pair of cars turned into a three-wide finish and a bit of an upset as a result.
"Just a last lap deal," said Gray after the race. "(Smith) moved me, and … didn’t do it right. Whatever. I’m not going to say too much more before I get in trouble."
Both Gray and Smith understandably left New Smyrna in a state of frustration. Yet they should arrive at 5 Flags with optimism.
Gray and Smith, both of whom are slated to run the full ARCA Menards Series East schedule in 2021 and compete for the championship, led a combined 111 of the 175 laps at New Smyrna. They established themselves as title contenders despite their disappointing finish.
ARE YOU KIDDING???
– ARCA Menards Series (@ARCA_Racing) February 9, 2021
And then there’s Gutiérrez, who is bringing his No. 30 TOUGHBUILT Ford to 5 Flags to defend his season-opening victory. Though his win at New Smyrna was viewed as a surprise, he showed enough speed to suggest that he, too, will have a say in the 2021 series championship hunt.
Other drivers who displayed impressive speed at New Smyrna and are entered in Saturday’s race at 5 Flags are Parker Retzlaff, Joey Iest, Mason Diaz and Daniel Dye.
The complete entry list for Saturday’s race at 5 Flags can be found here.
|RACE||Pensacola 200 Presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions|
|PLACE||5 Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida|
|DATE||Saturday, Feb. 27, 2021|
|TIME||5 p.m. CT / 6 p.m. ET|
|TV/LIVE STREAM||TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold (live)|
|TRACK LAYOUT||Half-mile paved oval|
|EVENT SCHEDULE||Saturday, Feb. 27: Garage opens at 8:45 a.m.; Practice at 12:15 p.m.; Qualifying at 2:30 p.m.; Race at 5 p.m. (All times CT)|
|@ARCA_Racing, @NASCARRoots, @5FlagsSpeedway, @_TrackPass|
CREW CHIEF HANDOUT: The starting field for the Pensacola 200 Presented by Inspectra is limited to 26 plus provisional positions. This event will be run under the 2021 ARCA Menards Series East rules, procedures, regulations and specifications.
QUALIFYING: Starting positions will be set by two consecutive lap qualifying. No adjustments or repairs may be made on cars after taking the green flag at the start/finish line. All cars must make a qualifying attempt, and all drivers must practice before they can qualify.
RACE PIT STOP: All cars will be required to make at least one pit stop prior to the last 10 laps of the race. Break pit stop procedure is in effect for this race. Adding or moving tires to or from pit box once the race has started is prohibited. There will be two competition caution periods, one at or near Lap 75 and another at or near Lap 150.
The maximum tire allotment available for this event is as follows: Per ARCA Rulebook, maximum number of tires allowed in pit box for use in race is six (6). The maximum tire purchase at track for the event is as follows: four tires for practice, an additional 10 tires for qualifying and race.