Daytona: Qualifying report

Daytona: Qualifying report
Feb 10, 2007, 7:49 PM

Erin Crocker Earns ARCA RE/MAX Series Pole Award at Daytona DAYTONA BEACH FL (2-9-07) -- Bobby Gerhart's quest to win a fifth consecutive pole award at Daytona came to a screeching halt Friday afternoon at Daytona Int'l Speedway when Erin Crocker ...

Erin Crocker Earns ARCA RE/MAX Series Pole Award at Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH FL (2-9-07) -- Bobby Gerhart's quest to win a fifth consecutive pole award at Daytona came to a screeching halt Friday afternoon at Daytona Int'l Speedway when Erin Crocker qualified just over two-tenths quicker, winning the pole for the 44th annual ARCA 200 at Daytona.

Crocker, in the #98 Evernham Motorsports Dodge, qualified with a top speed of 182.219 mph over Gerhart, who qualified second at 181.437 mph.

""It's a thrill to be on the pole here in Daytona," said Crocker. "I used to come here as a little girl.

"The plan is right now to run twelve ARCA races and four truck races. Right now we have no sponsor, but if we get one maybe we will run more. Right now the pressure is off. I plan to have fun. The car felt good but we'll see what it does with cars around it. It was a Kasey Kahne car. Not sure when he last used it. I don't know much about it.

"Bobby Gerhart congratulated me but told me to buckle up...I'm not sure what that meant, but I do think that the veterans respect me. I think I have a shot at winning tomorrow based on the car they gave me and the qualifying lap that I ran."

Crocker's Daytona pole marks her fourth career ARCA RE/MAX Series pole, tying her with Patty Moise with the most poles in series history among female drivers.

However, Crocker was not the first female pole winner at Daytona. That honor goes to Moise who won RE/MAX Series poles at Daytona in 1989 and 1990.

Crocker also has pole awards at Nashville Superspeedway in her 2005 series debut and two at Kentucky Speedway in 2005 and 2006.

In 13 career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts, Crocker's career-best finish was second at Kansas Speedway in 2006 and second at Kentucky Speedway in 2005, which ties her with Shawn Robinson as the highest finishing females in series history. Although Crocker is the only female driver in series history who has earned two second place finishes.

Gerhart, who had previously won a record four consecutive Daytona pole awards (2003 through 2006) had to settle for the second starting position in his #5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet.

"Congratulations to Erin," said Gerhart. "We did what we thought we could do. My guys did a great job and I'm proud that my cars are built by ARCA guys. My engines are built by Jeff Collins and everything is done in-house, not by NASCAR. We are really happy with where we are at."

Eight-time ARCA RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel, in the #46 Tri-State Motorsports-Pork Ford, qualified third at 180.173 mph.

"The cars really good," said Kimmel. "It's been running good all day. It's the best qualifying run I've had here in Daytona."

Mario Gosselin qualified fourth in his own #12 Danmark Construction-Guaranteed Concrete Chevrolet.

AJ Henriksen, in a Bobby Gerhart Racing Eagle Warranty-sponsored Chevrolet, completed the top five.

Josh Wise and Brandon Whitt made history by qualifying Toyotas into the starting line-up, marking the first-ever foreign nameplate to compete in ARCA RE/MAX Series competition.

Wise, in the #22 Eddie Sharp Racing Development team Camry, qualified 18th.

"The car drove a lot better than it did yesterday and I think that gave me a lot more confidence on how it's going to race," said Wise. "Our ultimate goal is to race good; it's always nice to qualify well, but it's all about the race. This Eddie Sharp Racing team worked really hard to get this car ready for this weekend and we've made a lot of improvements. As long as we are learning and improving, those are the most important things.

"There's a lot of pressure being one of the first Toyotas to take to the track in competition, but really no more pressure than I put on myself already. This is an exciting week for Toyota, and I'm just really excited to be a part of it."

Whitt, in the #51 Brandon Whitt Racing Camry, qualified 23rd.

"We knew we weren't going to be very good by ourselves based on what we saw yesterday during practice," said Whitt. "But the thing that matters is how we run tomorrow, and we were very pleased with the way the car handled in the draft. Our BWR Camry is set up to be there at the end of the race tomorrow although we didn't want to start quite that far back; we'll just have to take it and move our way up tomorrow."

Gerhart will be aiming for a record fifth Daytona victory when Saturday's ARCA 200 rolls off at 4 pm ET LIVE on SPEED while Crocker and Kimmel will be seeking their first Daytona triumphs. Kimmel has back-to-back (2004 and 2005) runner-up finishes at Daytona. No female driver, in 55 consecutive seasons, has won an ARCA RE/MAX Series race.

-credit: arca

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