Seven-Time Daytona Winner Gerhart Banks on Spirit;
News and Notes from Daytona International Speedway
(TOLEDO, Ohio) - Bobby Gerhart made several things perfectly clear following his win in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona International Speedway, an ARCA record seventh on the 2.5-mile superspeedway. One is that his latest win required a major strategic gamble; another was that he wouldn't have won ARCA's most prestigious race yet again without the help of key people and genuine belief.
Asked about defeating the series' higher-funded teams in the signature event for the seventh time in 13 years, Gerhart (No. 5 Lucas Oil Slick Mist Chevrolet) gave a response he had clearly been waiting to provide.
"There's one thing money can't buy, and it can't buy spirit," Gerhart said. "It can't buy somebody's motive to do something, and you just can't put a number on that. There's probably 90 percent of the race drivers on this side of the fence that would be much happier being in a more funded situation - me included. We only have one full-time employee, and from there on, we're part-time, with a lot of volunteers. It's a tremendous, long list of logistics to put this thing together, a long list of people."
Cautions at a Seven-Year Low: The pace of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 slowed just five times for 30 laps, the fewest caution periods at Daytona since 2004 (also five), and the fewest caution laps at Daytona since 2003, when seven caution periods slowed the field for 29 laps. Three of the yellow flags thrown in Saturday's race came as the result of single-car incidents.
Do the Math: Gerhart's win inserted him into rare air in the ARCA Racing Series. With the Pennsylvanian's seven total wins at the 2.5-mile superspeedway, no combination of any three winners in Daytona ARCA history can surpass Gerhart's Daytona victory total. All-time ARCA wins leader Iggy Katona won three times at Daytona, and five drivers have won two times apiece: Andy Hampton, Ben Hess, Andy Hillenburg, Jimmy Horton, and Jeff Purvis.
Gerhart Adds Special Awards: Gerhart's night at Daytona not only included a race win, but two major special awards. By leading a race-high 61 laps - including Lap 40, marking the halfway point - Gerhart won the Aaron's Lap Leader of the Race Award and the Messina Halfway Leader Award. Each pays $500.
(Gerhart's 61 laps led brings his career total at Daytona to 462, an all-time high.)
Grant Enfinger (No. 36 BeasleyAllen.com/Excalibur Coach Dodge) started 31st and finished ninth, an improvement of 22 spots, to win the CGS Imaging Hard Charger of the Race Award.
Truck Champ Hornaday on Hand: Ron Hornaday Jr., a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion and current driver of the No. 33 Kevin Harvick, Inc. truck in the series, was in the ARCA garage before the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 to mentor Chad Hackenbracht, driver of the No. 58 Tastee Apple Chevrolet for CGH Motorsports.
"I've always had a lot of respect for Ron," said Hackenbracht. "He isn't shy to tell you what to expect or what to prepare for or even how the car looks. As a rookie team, we really embrace that kind of support."
CGH Motorsports general manager and director of marketing Jordan Dahl used his connections to American Marketing Group, a KHI partner, to bring the two together.
"It means a lot to me for Jordan to stretch his neck out and bring someone like Hornaday over to our side of the fence, all in an effort to make me a better race car driver," Hackenbracht said. "Believe me, I take in everything that Ron says and I don't take any of it for granted. I'm hoping this relationship is just the start of things to come."
Hackenbracht started 40th and finished 40th after crashing on Lap 46.
Dillon Looks to Likely Mentors: Asked Friday in the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell press conference if his connection to Richard Childress Racing acted as a double-edged sword - combining premier resources with a season-long target from opponents - Ty Dillon (No. 41 University of Northwestern Ohio Chevrolet) responded with praise for an influential group of people.
"Everybody at RCR is such a big help to my program," said the 18-year-old. "I wouldn't be very smart if I didn't use all the connections to those drivers and my grandfather (Richard Childress) and my dad (Mike) and my brother (Austin). I guess people are gunning for us, being one of the bigger teams, and that just makes me want to go out there and perform even more and show them what we've really got."
Carmichael Notches High, Debut Drivers Finish Strong: Ricky Carmichael (No. 4 Monster Energy Chevrolet) finished fourth, marking his best result in the ARCA Racing Series since a transition from a wildly successful motocross and supercross career. His previous best finish was seventh at Daytona last season.
Jason Bowles (No. 6 Rusty Wallace Racing Experience Toyota) finished fifth in his debut, and was followed by fellow first-timers Joey Licata Jr. (No. 77 W.R.O.N.G. Inc. Dodge) in sixth and Benny Gordon (No. 09 VSI Ford) in seventh. Other first-time ARCA Racing Series drivers included Chris Lawson (22nd), Maryeve Dufault (28th), Brian Rose (42nd), and Brett Hudson (43rd).
Miguel Paludo performed well in his second ARCA Racing Series start, finishing 13th. A native of Brazil, he finished 18th in his only previous ARCA race at Kansas last season.
McCumbee Maintains Consistency: Chad McCumbee (No. 1 ModSpace/Construct Corps Ford) finished eighth, marking his fifth such finish in six races dating back to the end of last season.
Merrell Succeeds in Win-Tron, ARCA Return: Matt Merrell had not raced in the ARCA Racing Series since finishing 13th at Salem on September 19, 2009. He returned for his 14th ARCA start with the team who had helped him to each of his first 13, Win-Tron Racing.
"We've always had good chemistry," Merrell said. "Everybody comes to Daytona wanting to win, especially us, with this being a one-off deal."
Merrell's third-place finish is even more impressive when considering his relative inexperience at Daytona, new pavement aside.
"It's smooth as silk, that's for sure," he said. "I never got to race on the old one, and I didn't come to test."
Licata Reflects After Strong Run, Late Gamble: Joey Licata Jr. drove in third place for much of the end of the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, but dropped back to sixth place when he gambled with a drive to the outside in an attempt to pass Bobby Gerhart and Chris Buescher.
"The W.R.O.N.G., Inc./Cunningham Motorsports Dodge ran really, really well," Licata said. "We had a fast race car. I couldn't let the checkered flag drop without trying for the lead. If anyone would have gone with me, we could have won this race. I can't wait until Talladega."
Students Experience Racing: A group of several dozen children from the Florida Baptist Children's Home had the chance to experience Daytona for the first time, thanks to a generous donation of grandstand and infield tickets from International Speedway Corporation and guest services chief Dean Kurtz. The students participated in "ARCA All Access," a meet-and-greet session in the ARCA garage before Saturday's race, and were ushered by former ARCA driver and Children's Home volunteer Carl McCormick.
Brevak Honors Father: Brent Brevak (No. 3 Red's Auto Ford) honored his father, 1990 ARCA champion Bob Brevak, with a special paint scheme resembling the elder Brevak's championship car.
"We really wanted the first time coming back to Daytona to be going back to something he did," Brent Brevak said. "I've been looking at his cars my entire life and I thought his paint schemes were pretty cool. Coming to Daytona, it's a historic track so we thought we'd go with a historic paint job.
"This is the paint scheme that he ran in the '80s, and then partially in 1990, when he won the ARCA championship. The only difference between this one and back then is that I've got No. 3 and he had No. 34."
(A high-resolution photo of the special paint scheme is available by contacting the ARCA communications department. Contact information is available at the end of this release.)
Hessert in for Full Season: Tom Hessert, who finished third in ARCA Racing Series points last season, will drive a full season for Ken Schrader Racing in the No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota. Hessert finished 37th at Daytona after being caught in an early collision.
"My goal's just to run up front and stay out of trouble," Hessert said. "If we're around and can contend for wins, that's what we're going to do. We're going to do all 19 and try to win this championship."
Arpin on Fellow Canadian Dufault: Steve Arpin finished 32nd in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200. The Ontario driver offered his thoughts on another Canadian, Quebec native Maryeve Dufault.
"I'll admit I haven't gotten to see her yet, but if she's made it here, she's doing well," Arpin said. "This is every racer's dream, to be out here racing at Daytona, and you don't just get here by accident. She's obviously a properly credentialed driver and I've heard about her a lot."
Dufault finished 28th.
Correction: A press release issued Saturday to summarize the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 incorrectly stated Bobby Gerhart's win total at Daytona International Speedway since 1999; he has won seven races in that time.
Gerhart has won eight superspeedway and/or restrictor plate races in that time; he also won at Talladega Superspeedway in 2001.
The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returns to action Friday, April 15 at Talladega Superspeedway.