Daytona: Eddie Sharp Racing race report

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Eddie Sharp Racing Has Strong Showing at Daytona In ARCA Racing Series Opener
Jason Bowles Finishes Fifth; Kevin Swindell Finishes 12th

Daytona Beach, Fla. (February 13, 2011)- Eddie Sharp Racing showed up to Daytona International Speedway ready to kick of the 2011 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season. Jason Bowles, piloting the No. 6 Rusty Wallace Racing Experience Toyota, finished fifth in his first ARCA Racing Series event and first time at the 2.5-mile speedway. Kevin Swindell, also in his first race at DIS, crossed the finish line 12th.

Bowles, coming off his 2011 NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown win, looked to compete in his first ARCA Racing Series event. He tested with ESR in January at the newly-paved track and hoped to take his knowledge from the test into the event Saturday.

In qualifying, Bowles laid down a lap of 49.368 seconds (182.304 mph), which would land him in the 16th position for the main event on Saturday. Crew Chief David Leiner Jr. and Bowles decided to go out for happy hour practice on Saturday morning for drafting practice, which helped prepare the No. 6 for the 200-mile event later in the day.

The green flag waved on the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, and Bowles remained confident and calm among the 42 other entries. By lap 11, Bowles climbed up to the ninth. With a caution on lap 18, the No. 6 came down pit road for the lone stop of the day, taking on right-side tires and fuel.

By lap 35, Bowles moved up into the eighth position and would remain there when the red flag came out on lap 46 due to an accident involving Chad Hackenbracht's No. 58. The team strategized and decided to stay out on the track when pit road opened based on advantageous gas mileage.

The green flag waved again, and Bowles followed the leaders, cautious of the threat of getting out of line and losing the all-important draft. By lap 66, Bowles moved his way into the sixth position as he hugged the yellow line and stayed in the draft.

On the final restart, Bowles kept his line behind fourth-place Ricky Carmichael and sailed across the finish line in fifth place.

"It was a good race," said Bowles. "We ended up fifth, and the guys did a great job on the No. 6 Rusty Wallace Racing Experience Toyota. Unfortunately, we did not have any help there at the end. We did what we said we were going to do and road around on the yellow line toward the end. On that last restart, the guys behind us ran two-by-two for quite some time and lost the draft. The guys at Eddie Sharp Racing gave us a great car. I think that we could have gone up there and competed for the win if we had some help, but fifth place isn't too bad. Rusty Wallace Racing Experience coming on board was a great thing, and I thank them for their help over the past two races. I hope we can put together something else and come back to race later this year."

Swindell, also coming off a big win at the 2011 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals, competed at DIS for the first time in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.

The 21-year-old driver started the weekend off with practice, where he was able to gain valuable experience on the recently re-paved surface. Friday afternoon, Swindell laid down a lap of 49.291 seconds (182.589 mph) in qualifying, good enough to land the No. 98 in the 12th spot for the start of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. Crew chief Jefferson Hodges and Swindell decided not to go out for the happy hour practice on Saturday morning and focused on race strategy taken from the information they received during the test and practice sessions.

The green flag waved on the 80-lap event on Saturday afternoon, and Swindell quickly moved into eighth position by lap 11. The yellow flag came out on lap 18 and provided a perfect opportunity for Swindell to come down pit road for his only stop of the day. The crew gave the No. 98 right-side tires and fuel, which would last the remainder of the race.

The race resumed and Swindell continued to remain calm, yet aggressive in his driving. By lap 36, Swindell held steady in the 13th position, where he would remain when the red flag waved due to Hackenbracht's turn four incident on lap 46. Crew chief Hodges strategized with the driver and team during the brief break in racing and decided not to come in for a pit stop.

Racing resumed, and Swindell moved up to the ninth position by lap 60. With only 20 laps to go, Hodges encouraged the young driver to remain patient.

A chain-reaction accident on lap 64 sent nine cars sprawling across the backstretch, but Swindell was clear from the incident in the ninth position.

The final restart of the night would leave a 10-lap shootout. The green flag waved on lap 70, and the top-five cars pulled away, leaving the No. 09 of Benny Gordon, No. 1 of Chad McCumbee and Swindell to play catch-up. Unfortunately, Swindell made a last-lap push to the front but did not find any help from the cars behind him. He crossed the finish line 12th.

"It wasn't too bad of a race," said Swindell. "We just weren't at the right place at the right time. We made an attempt to pick up a few spots right there on one of the restarts and got shuffled and never could recover. At the end, I tried to get a few cars behind me to go with me and pick up a few spots, but I got left hanging. We ended up in one piece, and I learned a little bit. Just not too happy."

Eddie Sharp Racing will return to Daytona International Speedway next week for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Craig Goess will kick off his rookie season in the NCWTS in the No. 46 Greenville Toyota of N.C. Mike Skinner will join ESR for the first time in the No. 45 Cushman Toyota Tundra.

-source: esr

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Series ARCA