Daytona: Series practice report

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (February 4, 2010)-The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards officially opened the stock car racing on-track portion of Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes Speedweeks 2010 with a practice session that lasted just shy...

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (February 4, 2010)-The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards officially opened the stock car racing on-track portion of Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes Speedweeks 2010 with a practice session that lasted just shy of five hours on Thursday.

More than 50 teams used the on-track session to prepare for Saturday's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, but IZOD INDYCar Series star Danica Patrick drew most of the media attention. A large contingent of print, radio and television media gathered outside of her garage area for most of the day. Patrick will make her stock car debut in Saturday's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 (live on SPEED at 4:30 p.m. Eastern) and Thursday's practice session provided valuable on-track time for the Roscoe, Illinois, native. She was 17th of 53 drivers posting time with a 180.484 mph/49.866 second lap around the 2.5-mile speedway.

"I think today's practice was a success," said Patrick. "I felt that the #7 GoDaddy.com car got stronger and more comfortable the more runs I made. We have been working hard to get to this point, so hopefully tomorrow's qualifying run goes well."

Defending Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 race winner James Buescher posted the fastest time of the day (49.355 seconds/182.352 mph) early during the four hour, fifty minute practice session in the same chassis he won last year's edition of the race in. Following Saturday's ARCA Racing Series Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, Buescher will return to the World Center of Racing to participate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Daytona season opener one week later.

Mikey Kile and Mark Thompson, two of five Venturini Motorsports entries this weekend, were second and third fast, followed by Joey Coulter and Dakoda Armstrong.

Nine-time ARCA Racing Series Champion Frank Kimmel, who has finished second at Daytona twice but does not include a Daytona victory among his 74 career ARCA wins, was eighth overall in the Ansell-Menards Ford Fusion (181.240 mph/49.658 mph). Five-time Daytona ARCA race winner Bobby Gerhart was 18th overall (179.971 mph/50.008 seconds)

Spotted in the Garage Area

Owensboro, Kentucky native and former ARCA Racing Series driver Bobby Watson, a well-regarded former ARCA driver with several series wins and a second-place points finish to Benny Parsons in 1969, was in the Garage Area Thursday assisting fellow Kentucky native Steve Blackburn (No. 68 Harley-Davidson & Honda of Prestonburg Dodge).

Fast Females

A total of six female drivers participated in the Thursday practice session, including Danica Patrick (No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet-17th quickest), Alli Owens (No. 15 ElectrifyingCareers.com Chevrolet-13th quickest), Leilani Munter (No. 59 GREENandSAVE Dodge-32nd quickest), Milka Duno (No. 90 Stringer Motorsports Toyota-44th quickest), Jennifer Jo Cobb (No. 21 Bowsher-Moooi Motorsports Chevrolet-47th quickest) and Jill George (No. 48 Radon.com Dodge-50th quickest).

Another fast female in Daytona this weekend is ARCA's Matriarch, 96-year-old Mildred Marcum. Marcum helped found ARCA with her husband John in 1953 and attended ARCA's first Daytona race in 1964. On Monday, she met with NASCAR Media Group for an intensive interview in which she relayed her days of working as a NASCAR Official alongside the France Family during the sport's early years. Marcum still works in ARCA's Temperance, Michigan home office on a fulltime basis.

Indiantown, Florida Native Sheltra Sixth Fastest

Patrick Sheltra, a native of Indiantown, Florida, was sixth overall during Thursday's practice with a 49.612 second/181.408 mph lap late during the session.

"Our PowerTrac Dodge is really good," said Sheltra. "We didn't have to play with it a whole lot today. The car handles well all by itself and the little drafting we did today, I didn't have one complaint. We're going to qualify somewhere between eighth and 12th, I think tomorrow but come race day, we're going to have a shot at winning this thing. I just have to thank Jon (Wolfe, crew chief) and all of the guys for working real hard. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the weekend."

Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell Friday

The 43-car starting field for Saturday's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 will be determined Friday, in part by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell. Bobby Gerhart and Justin Marks are both former pole sitters in the ARCA Racing Series at Daytona entered for this year's race.

The 2010 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards kicks off with the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona Int'l Speedway on Saturday, February 6, 2010. The race is live on SPEED beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

-source: arca

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Series ARCA
Drivers Milka Duno , Frank Kimmel , Bobby Gerhart , Justin Marks , Benny Parsons , Patrick Sheltra , Alli Owens , James Buescher , Steve Blackburn , Mark Thompson , Mikey Kile , Leilani Munter , Joey Coulter , Dakoda Armstrong , Jill George , Danica Patrick