Daytona test notes
December 15, 16 & 17
By Don Radebaugh
Daytona Beach, FL - A record 41 ARCA RE/MAX Series teams checked in through the gates at Daytona International Speedway for a three-day test session Friday, Saturday and Sunday in preparation for the upcoming February 11th Discount Auto Parts ARCA 200. Three-time RE/MAX Series winner Ryan Newman, in Roger Penske's Ford Taurus, posted the quickest speed overall at 186.997 mph just before the final bell rang on Sunday. Newman was under the careful eye of NASCAR veteran driver/TV analyst Buddy Baker who was first in line at the garage gate all weekend.
While Baker kept a close watch on Newman, NASCAR legend Red Farmer kept a keen eye on third-generation driver Jason Jarrett who along with 1999 Daytona ARCA 200 winner Bobby Gerhart in the Greektown Casinos Chevy shared second-quick honors at 185.406 mph. Jarrett replaces Brian Ross as the driver of the Winona Lake, Indiana-based ML Motorsports team for the 2001 season and recently announced that he would run the complete 2001 ARCA RE/MAX Series tour. Shawna Robinson, in the Michael Kranefuss Ford Taurus, was fourth in line at 185.056 in front of Birmingport, Alabama driver Mike Harmon who tested James Hylton's Chevy at 184.619.
Rock Hill, South Carolina driver David Boggs, who makes his return to ARCA competition after more than a year's absence, was next up with a speed of 184.593 ahead of Mesquite, Texas veteran Chuck Weber at 184.366 followed by Laurel, Mississippi part-time ARCA driver Robert Burroughs at 184.256, Gaffney, South Carolina driver JR Robbs at 184.222 and 2000 Daytona ARCA polesitter Kirk Shelmerdine at 184.068 completing the top-10. Burroughs got an assist in the garage all weekend from former Winston Cup crew chief Bob Johnson.
NASCAR Winston Cup champion car owner Rick Hendricks held a sharp eye on his son Ricky Hendricks for most of the weekend. The younger Hendricks, who also had Winston Cup veteran driver Greg Sacks standing by with advice, checked off a speed of 183.895, 12th quickest overall. Also in the advisory mode was former Winston Cup driver Jimmy Means who served as crew chief/advisor for ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Rusty Wise throughout the test session. Wise, who had the fastest Ford Thunderbird in the field, posted a top speed of 181.969 mph.
ARCA RE/MAX rookie Philip Kranefuss, son of Michael Kranefuss, borrowed Robinson's Ford Taurus on the final day of testing in time to post a speed of 183.501 mph in his first-ever ARCA RE/MAX Series attempt. The younger Kranefuss is making plans to participate in the majority of ARCA RE/MAX Series events in 2001.
Andy Hillenburg Fast Track driving school graduate Preston Tutt posted a speed on Friday of 178.948, and then dashed off just in time to see his fourth of four children christened that Friday night. High Point, North Carolina driver Mike Swaim Jr got married on Saturday night, and with his new bride Caroline in tow, high-tailed it to Daytona for testing on Sunday. Swaim, the '98 Atlanta ARCA winner, will drive for WP Motorsports in '01, a newly-formed team out of Youngstown, Ohio with former ARCA champion chief chief Keith Strunk turning the wrenches. Swaim put up a top speed of 182.083 mph Sunday afternoon before heading off to the Pocono mountains to wrap up his honeymoon.
The only incident of the three-day test session occurred on Sunday when Williamsport, Pennsylvania retired Sheriff Skip Smith brushed the wall in turn one. He was not injured. The February 11th 38th annual Discount Auto Parts 200 presented by AC Delco will be live on Fox Sports Net.