Toledo II: Marc Davis race report

Davis Makes Impression at Toledo Speedway ARCA RE/MAX Championship Event TOLEDO, OHIO (10-14-07) As the ARCA RE/MAX series rolled into Toledo Speedway to wrap up the 2007 season, the big news story was Frank Kimmel clinching his 9^th Series ...

Davis Makes Impression at Toledo Speedway ARCA RE/MAX Championship Event

TOLEDO, OHIO (10-14-07) As the ARCA RE/MAX series rolled into Toledo Speedway to wrap up the 2007 season, the big news story was Frank Kimmel clinching his 9^th Series Championship at the track where he made his first career ARCA start 19 years ago. As all the hype surrounded the king of the ARCA series, Marc Davis quietly and calmly prepared for his first ever ARCA RE/MAX series start. Little did he know he would be doing battle with the king on the final lap of the race, making the pass for 4^th place and leaving Kimmel's feathers a bit ruffled in the process. Kimmel wobbled going into turn one on the final circuit, giving the rookie driver just the opportunity he was waiting for to nose under the champion driver and take away the spot. Davis would cross the stripe with a Top 5 finish in his ARCA debut, putting an exclamation point on the reason Joe Gibbs Racing chose him as part of their driver development program in 2006.

At just 17 years old, his experience behind the wheel of a race car goes far beyond his years. Starting out in quarter midgets at the age of 8, Davis had already achieved US-2 and Gold Cup #1 ranking in BMX bicycle racing. Next he competed in junior dragsters, then moved on to three seasons of 600 Racing's Bandolero series and another three seasons in Legends cars. 2003 brought two National Points Championships in both road course and dirt oval Legend cars. In 2004 Marc continued his racing learning curve in the Florida FASTRUCK series driving a Roush powered Ford F-150. He also obtained his provisional license at age 14 with the National Auto Sport Association to drive his 1988 5.0 Mustang in the popular Camaro Mustang Challenge road racing series. Obtaining his full competition license at age 15, Marc won the Mid Atlantic 2005 Points Championship in the Super Unlimited Division. Racing has been in his blood from a very early age and he has excelled at every level.

Marc participated in the 2005 Roush Racing Driver Development program. Then in 2006, Joe Gibbs Racing chose him from a field of applicants to enter NASCAR'S Drive for Diversity program. "To know that of the number of drivers that applied, I was among the eight selected -- that opens a huge door for me," said Davis. The young driver has also competed for Joe Gibbs Racing in the Limited Late Model division at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway in 2006 racking up six wins during an impressive rookie season. He became just the second African-American driver ever to win a stock car race at Hickory. In 2007 he has been competing full-time in the NASCAR Busch East Series while running select NASCAR Busch West Series races. From here he will compete in the post-season Toyota All-Star Showdown at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway this weekend.

Davis, with the help of his father Harry, teamed up with Venturini Racing to make his ARCA debut. The goal was simply to see what he could do behind the wheel of a full blown ARCA car, but his quiet confidence told you that he planned on going the extra mile in putting the car at the front of the pack. With veteran ARCA series driver Billy Venturini assuming the crew chief role for the weekend, and veteran Hooters ProCup driver Mike Herman, Jr. as his spotter and driving coach, Davis knew he was in capable hands. A good practice session on Saturday and an even better qualifying run showed that Davis was comfortable with the car right out of the box. He qualified the car 5^th on the starting grid for Sunday's debut.

With the world watching live SPEED TV coverage of the event, the Gibbs Racing prodigy wasn't feeling any adversity whatsoever. His confidence level was up and the #25 Howard University Radio WHUR Chevrolet was ready to roll. At the drop of the green flag, he quickly advanced to fourth place and maintained his position for the first quarter of the race as veteran Kimmel followed closely behind. Davis navigated traffic on restarts like a pro and kept the car virtually damage free on the tight high banked ½ mile where attrition was the order of the day for many unfortunate drivers. Eventual race winner Michael McDowell showed the way while Davis battled James Buescher, Ken Butler III, and Justin Allgaier who suffered mechanical problems early in the race.

A lap 105 pit stop would come just in time as Davis had a right rear tire going down making the car loose off turn 4. The crew discovered the problem after making adjustments during the initial stop and Davis decided to come back in to undo the changes to the car. Restarting the race 13^th he was directly behind Kimmel and would ride his bumper back into the Top 5 as the two sliced and diced through traffic on a mission to get to the front. With several late race cautions, Kimmel was comfortably in 4^th place as Davis was looking for one last opportunity to pass the series champ. A lap 198 restart was essentially a green, white, checker finish and everyone was digging for everything they could get as the white flag was waving.

Going into turn one on the final lap, Kimmel's left tires dropped down on the apron to assure Davis would not get a nose under him, but his car shot up the track on entry into the corner just enough to open the door and Davis dove in hard making slight contact with Kimmel, which moved him up the track just enough to complete the pass. Kimmel showed his displeasure after the race on the cool down lap with a congratulatory door rub on Davis' #25 car in turn 3. The contact in turn one by Davis was unintentional and he was racing for position on the final lap. Kimmel later stated that he thought Davis was a good racer but wasn't thrilled about getting moved up the track on the final lap. Davis, on the other hand, felt he didn't do anything wrong but race Kimmel hard on the last lap to pick up another spot.

In the end, the kid from Maryland made an impression on fans and drivers of the ARCA RE/MAX series and opened some eyes as they watched the nationally televised event. Davis backed up his impressive resume with a Top 5 finish in his first start with the series, bringing even more credibility to the Drive for Diversity program and making a lot of people proud who have helped him get to this level. Davis has been described as "the Tiger Woods of NASCAR," and could very well reach that level of achievement as he furthers his driving career. The David Smith Motorsports Scouting Network listed Davis as one of the ten drivers to watch in 2007. His talent speaks for itself. It is evident that the only black & white issues being discussed when describing Davis is checkered flags - and he'll see many of those at the upper levels of this sport in due time. "It's just a great opportunity, especially to be part of a team like Joe Gibbs Racing," Davis said. "You have every resource and every opportunity to get ahead. You just have to do the job on the racetrack and the rest will take care of itself."

-credit: md/bsmg

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About this article
Series ARCA
Drivers Frank Kimmel , Michael McDowell , Billy Venturini , David Smith , Ken Butler III , James Buescher , Marc Davis
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing