Daytona: John Wes Townley race report

CAREER BEST 4TH FOR JOHN WES TOWNLEY AT DAYTONA Daytona Beach, FL (2/8/09) -- The 2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series season opened on a high note for John Wes Townley, driver of the No. 09 Zaxby's/SPS Ford Fusion. In just his second start at the World...

CAREER BEST 4TH FOR JOHN WES TOWNLEY AT DAYTONA

Daytona Beach, FL (2/8/09) -- The 2009 ARCA RE/MAX Series season opened on a high note for John Wes Townley, driver of the No. 09 Zaxby's/SPS Ford Fusion. In just his second start at the World Center of Racing, the 19-year-old steered his way through a multitude of wrecks en route to the front and a fourth-place finish in Saturday night's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.

"I can definitely say it was survival of the fittest out there," Townley said. "We started a little farther back than we wanted to and just had to be patient and smart in the opening laps, which paid off in the end. We were right there."

The Watkinsville, GA native started the 200-mile event in 28th in a back-up car after his primary entry suffered a cut left rear tire during a five hour practice session on Thursday.

When the green flag dropped for the 46th running of the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Daytona, Townley slowly began picking off positions. It wasn't long before the afternoon's first caution came out, and Townley was forced to dodge the spinning cars in front of him, resulting in flat spotted tires.

After driving around the apron of the 2.5-mile trioval at a reduced rate of speed to avoid tearing the fender off his car, Townley was forced to pit road before it opened. Crew chief Blake Bainbridge made the call for fuel and four new tires. But the time lost nursing his Ford around the track on flat tires left Townley one lap off the pace.

Townley became the Lucky Dog on lap 29 when the afternoon's second caution waved for a wreck in turns three and four. Bainbridge brought the Zaxby's Ford down pit road for the last stop of the afternoon for an air pressure adjustment, four tires and fuel. Following excellent work from the RAB Racing pit crew, Townley restarted 19th with 42 laps to go.

By avoiding the wrecks associated with six caution periods over 47 laps, Townley put himself in contention to win during the closing laps of Saturday night's warm-up act to the Budweiser Shootout.

Riding fourth when the final caution flag was displayed, Townley was unable to mount a charge when racing resumed for a single green flag lap. But he was still pleased with his career-best finish in the ARCA RE/MAX Series.

"I am so excited about my finish here tonight," said Townley, the highest-finishing Ford driver in Saturday's 80-lap race. "My team worked so hard to get the backup car ready. I just went out there today with a plan to be patient and race smart.

"This one was for the team."

Sprint Cup veteran Travis Kvapil will pilot the No. 09 Zaxby's Ford in Saturday's season-opener for the NASCAR Nationwide Series in Daytona. Coverage of the Camping World 300 begins at noon eastern on ESPN2.

Townley returns to action in the Stater Bros 300 for the Nationwide Series at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. on Saturday February 21. Townley will be making his debut at the 2-mile oval.

-credit: trab

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Series ARCA
Drivers John Wes Townley , Travis Kvapil