The ARCA Menards Series’ annual pre-race practice at Daytona International Speedway offers drivers from across the motorsports spectrum a chance to gain knowledge and experience at one of the most legendary venues in the country.
When the series returns to the track for its lead-in to the 2023 season on Jan. 13-14, six drivers will have earned opportunities to make laps around the famed World Center of Racing via the “Road to Daytona” program, which for the first time includes the champions of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series.
Modified Tour champion Jon McKennedy and Weekly Series champ Layne Riggs will join ARCA Menards Series West champion Jake Drew, ARCA Menards Series East Bounty Rookie Challenge winner Leland Honeyman, ARCA CRA Super Series super late model top rookie Bobby Van Meter and ARCA Midwest Tour super late model rookie of the year Harley Jankowski as participants in 2023.
Each of the drivers will make laps in cars prepared for the practice session by Andy Hillenburg, the 1995 ARCA Menards Series champion and two-time ARCA winner at Daytona, and his Fast Track High Performance Racing Team.
Emotions run high for each of the drivers as they head to Daytona Beach.
“I feel very fortunate to get the opportunity to test,” McKennedy said. “In a car prepared by former Daytona winner and ARCA champion Andy Hillenburg and his people. Daytona is the pinnacle of racing, and I’m very excited to feel the sensation of driving a car around a high banked superspeedway.”
Added Jankowski: “I’m just a small one-car, low-budget driver who does all the work on the car and pays for everything out of my own pocket. Working full time plus trying racing is a struggle at times, but it all paid off this year even though it was a long shot. We never give up.
“Being able to drive at Daytona has always been a dream of mine that I thought would never come true. I can’t wait to make some laps. I even thought about bringing the motorcycle down and pulling up like Cole Trickle did in the movie Days of Thunder.”
The Road to Daytona program is supported by Ilmor, General Tire, Sunoco, Eibach and JRI Shocks.
Former Road to Daytona participants include five-time ARCA Midwest Tour champion and 2022 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series playoff contender Ty Majeski, two-time ARCA CRA Super Series champion Travis Braden, and Greg Van Alst, who finished fifth in the 2022 ARCA Menards Series championship standings.
This year’s pre-race practice at Daytona takes place Friday and Saturday, Jan. 13-14, with a weather day reserved on Sunday, Jan. 15. The open practice sessions begin at 10 a.m. ET and run through 5 p.m. ET each day.
The 60th running of the ARCA Menards Series’ Daytona 200 is set for Saturday, Feb. 18 and will be televised live on FS1 starting at 1:30 p.m. ET.