DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 13, 2018) -- A total of 66 drivers were approved for competition and attended the Friday 8 a.m. Driver Meeting in preparation for the two-day Daytona ARCA Test at Daytona Int'l Speedway. In addition to instruction and information provided by ARCA Officials, 2017 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards champion and defending Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire race winner Austin Theriault and 8-time Daytona ARCA winner Bobby Gerhart offered instruction to the group of drivers, many of whom were about to drive at Daytona for the first time.
The Daytona ARCA Test officially opens the 66th season of competition for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
There are 44 garage stalls in the Garage Area and only one stall remains open, bringing the total number of race cars on hand to 43.
Road To Daytona drivers Logan Runyon, ARCA CRA Super Series champion, and Michael Ostdiek, ARCA Midwest Tour Rookie of the Year, received instruction from team owner Andy Hillenburg, whose Fast Track High Performance Driving team brought three race cars to the test. Another driver logging laps in Fast Track equipment was Robby Lyons, accompanied by Monster Energy NASCAR Cup team owner Jay Robinson.
General Tire representatives Sheri Herrmann and Rory Connellan were introduced at the Driver Meeting. General Tire debuted a new-design white sidewall tire for Daytona, replacing the red colored sidewall design of 2016-2017.
Friday’s on-track practice session, scheduled for 9 a.m.-12 noon and 1-5 p.m., was shortened by weather. The morning start was delayed by a wet track, with Daytona Int’l Speedway jet dryers making the track ready for competition at 10:55am. Afternoon showers prematurely ended the afternoon session at 3:30pm, but by running without the scheduled mid-day break, teams were able to utilize 4-1/2 of the scheduled 7 hours of practice.
The Chad Bryant Racing team, with most of the personnel and equipment from Cunningham Motorsports intact, made its on-track debut with drivers Bo LeMastus, Chad Finchum, Joseph Graf and Tate Fogleman.
Long-time NASCAR K&N East and West team owner John Wood brought two cars and four drivers. Jesse Iwuji, former Naval Academy football player and US Navy veteran, shared track time with Idaho drivers Andrew Tuttle and Robert Powers, as well as Belgian Jerry De Weerdt and Jonas Fors of Sweden.
Former Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series crew chiefs Mike Hillman Sr. and Ben Leslie were on hand working in the garage.
Doug Richert, who won a Cup championship as Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s crew chief and was crew chief at BK Racing through the end of the 2017 season, attended to help driver Max Tullman. Tullman made laps in the MDM Motorsports #28.
Venturini Motorsports fielded four entries, including female drivers Natalie Decker and Leilani Munter. Decker will run the full 2018 schedule while Munter is scheduled for 8 races with Frank Kimmel, 10-time ARCA Racing Series champion, serving as crew chief. ARCA veteran Tom Hessert and 2017 series finale Kansas Speedway winner Michael Self were the other VMS drivers preparing for the February race.
Dave Mader III, who won at Michigan Int’l Speedway and scored runner-up finishes at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Pocono Raceway in the 1990s, returned to ARCA Racing Series competition at the test in a car fielded by Jeff Spraker.
MDM Racing Toyotas occupied the top 3 positions at the abbreviated end of Friday’s single practice with drivers Sheldon Creed, Zane Smith and Chase Purdy.
Win Tron Racing driver Gus Dean matched up with new crew chief Jamie Jones to post a top-10 practice speed.
Mason Mitchell Motorsports had a 3-car Chevrolet effort on track Friday with drivers Blaine Perkins, Ryan Repko and Quinn Houff.
Crew chief Matt Weber made his debut with Bret Holmes Racing, guiding driver Bret Holmes to a top-5 position on the speed charts. Defending SCOTT Rookie of the Year Riley Herbst drove Coy Gibbs’ NOS Energy Toyota to 5th in Friday activity.