Sean Corr, driver of the #8 The Trans Group ChevroletChevrolet, poses for a portrait before the Menards 200 for the ARCA Menards Series at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on February 16, 2023. (Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)
(Photo: Adam Glanzman/NASCAR)

Sean Corr overcomes adversity for strong showing in Daytona ARCA opener

Sean Corr’s race at Daytona International Speedway could have been over with before it started.

Corr blasted off pit road in his six-car group for qualifying third in line. He was behind Jack Wood in the No. 6 Chevrolet and Amber Balcaen in the No. 15 Toyota, and all three were primed to team up and challenge for the General Tire Pole Award.

As they reached turn one, never even up to speed, some white smoke started to show from Balcaen’s car.

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All at once, Wood suffered a broken transmission and Balcaen’s oil cooler erupted, slowing the field and coating the asphalt with oil. Corr was stuck in the middle. He was able to get on the brakes just enough, but unfortunately Gage Rodgers couldn’t get slowed down behind him and Corr went for a ride into the infield grass.

Although not up to top speed, slamming from the banking on to the relatively flat apron was a hard hit.

“As soon as I got it refired and pointed back to the garage I could see from the seat that the nose as pushed up, and it felt like I was riding around on a flat tire,” Corr said. “Once we got back to the garage I got out to look at the tires and none of them were flat.

“Then you start thinking about all of the other components that could break to make it feel like you’re driving on a flat tire. We checked it out pretty thoroughly and couldn’t find anything. My guess is when the oil cooler broke in the 15 car it just coated everything in oil and that’s what made the car drive the way it did then.”

Corr and his team had a lot of work to do to get the car back in shape to race the next day.

“We had to replace the nose entirely,” he said. “Then we had to pull all the skirting down on the right side and refasten all of the crush panels inside the car. It was a ton of work. And then we got to go race with a car that we weren’t exactly sure was 100 percent.”

Since he didn’t get a lap in qualifying and wasn’t up near the front in 2022 ARCA Menards Series owners points, he got to start the race from the tail of the 39-car starting field.

“We got lucky with that early yellow because it gave me a couple of laps to feel the car out and finally feel there wasn’t anything wrong with it after the spin on Friday,” he said. “Once we went racing and I got a sniff of air off the leaders, I knew we had a rocket ship and we went right to the front.”

Corr was in the mix on the final lap. He was content – for the most part – to come home with a top-five finish. That is, until he saw a chance to get a little more.

“I had my car painted on that yellow line and I wasn’t going to move off it,” he said of his strategy for the final lap. “But once Greg (Van Alst) made his move on the 44 (Jason White), I saw a little gap there before the 2 car (Lavar Scott). I pulled into that gap and we blew by the 44 so fast I thought he blew up or had a mechanical problem. We bounced off each other a few times coming to the finish but everyone kept it pointed in the right direction.”

None of it would have been possible if not for some sportsmanship from some of his fellow competitors.

“That’s what makes the ARCA Menards Series so special,” he said. “We got crashed in qualifying and before we could even get the car back to the garage we had people lined up to help us. Our competitors. I was walking to my truck to get some spray paint to put on the nose and got stopped by Greg Van Alst. He said don’t bother walking out to your truck, I have some here. Dale Quarterley gave us some vinyl to wrap the new nose with, and I even got some yellow tape from the No. 34 Cup team. It was all patched together, but it’s not like you could tell at 180 miles an hour, right?”