Michigan Homecoming For Guerity Should Be Very Fast

(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - February 14, 2011) - Joey Licata, a 19 year old rookie, in his first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards race, showed what a quick learner he is, with a sixth-place finish in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.  After testing a couple of times last year in the stock cars and attending the ARCA test in Daytona in January, Licata had garnered all of the education he needed to contend for a  win at the famed Daytona International Speedway.  Practice and qualifying, where he ended up 19th quickest in the first practice, 11th in the final drafting practice and 25th in qualifying, didn’t show what Joey was capable of doing in the race.

With 24 laps of practice on Thursday, Joey and the Cunningham Motorsports #77 team put up a 49.10 on the speed chart, which was almost a second behind the quick time of Hal Martin.  After qualifying 25th on Friday, the team found a problem with the oil heating system that wasn’t allowing the oil to heat to optimum temperature.  Saturday morning, race day brought 45 minutes for drafting practice.  Joey took his WrongInc.com Dodge out for 10 laps of practice, posting the 11th quickest speed and allowing him to get comfortable in the draft.  After drafting practice, Licata commented, “I am thrilled to be with this championship team-a team of this caliber.  It has been a great experience.”

Like most first timers at Daytona, Joey couldn’t believe how long the day was between drafting practice and driver introductions.  As soon as he strapped his helmet on after driver intros, he was in his comfort zone.  And he showed everyone what this young guy from California was all about.  With all of the youthful enthusiasm of a rookie at Daytona, Licata took the green flag from the 25th position.   When the first caution flag flew on lap 4, Joey had moved to 19th.  Crew chief Jonathan Davis brought the #77 Dodge into the pits for a fuel only pit stop—the only stop of the day for the team.  Coming back to the track in 36th, Licata picked off one position after another as soon as the green flag flew.  He picked up a number of spots when most of the leaders pitted under the next caution on lap 19.  After the green came out on lap 22, Licata restarted in 4th.  Two laps later he made the pass for 3rd and held on to that position, with the guidance of NASCAR veteran spotter, Tim Andrews, until the final lap.  Through the next 56 laps, Joey drafted, was bump drafted (even in the corners), participated in several three and six car breakaways, sat through a red flag and contemplated the last lap of the 80 lap event.  On the final lap, still in the 3rd spot, Licata stepped out of line, expecting someone to hook up with him, to try for the race win.  All alone, Licata made it even with the 2nd place car of Chris Beuscher, but began falling back.  He took his first ARCA Series checkered flag in 6th.

After the race, an elated Licata said, “Wow, that was fun!  The WrongInc.com/Cunningham Motorsports Dodge drove really, really well.  If I had someone go with me, we could have won the race.   I couldn’t have slept tonight if I hadn’t tried it.”  Tonight Licata showed what ‘true racers’ are made of—that ever-present desire to win.

The top five finishers were Bobby Gerhart, Chris Beuscher, Matt Merrell, Ricky Carmichael and Jason Bowles.  The next race for the Rookie of the Year contender is April 15 at the 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway for the Talladega ARCA 250.  In the two months between Daytona and Talladega, Cunningham Motorsports plans to do a lot of testing in preparation for the rest of the season.