Gerhart Gets High-Fives at Daytona; Earns Record 5th Daytona Triumph DAYTONA BEACH FL (2-10-07) -- Experience, bold maneuvers and pit strategy all played a part in Bobby Gerhart's dramatic ARCA RE/MAX Series victory Saturday afternoon at Daytona...
Gerhart Gets High-Fives at Daytona; Earns Record 5th Daytona Triumph
DAYTONA BEACH FL (2-10-07) -- Experience, bold maneuvers and pit strategy all played a part in Bobby Gerhart's dramatic ARCA RE/MAX Series victory Saturday afternoon at Daytona Int'l Speedway.
But the biggest roll in the drama came from Gerhart himself who, in his own #5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet, led 54 of 80 laps en route to a record fifth ARCA 200 triumph before 70,000 people. The victory also marked Gerhart's third consecutive at Daytona, which is also a RE/MAX Series record on the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
"I can remember my first trip here I think in 1987 and coming across the racetrack I think at 5:30 a.m., and I remember thinking to myself what it'd be like to win here," Gerhart said. "I could never have fathomed at the time we'd one day have five (wins). It's so hard to believe. It's been so much hard work getting here. But what a feeling when it all pays off. We've had a lot of 30-something place finishes, a lot of insignificant runs. But we just kept good notes and turned things around."
Under a designed pit strategy, Gerhart pitted just once for fuel, an air pressure adjustment and right-side tires only. However, Mario Gosselin, with his own pit strategy, beat Gerhart off pit road after pitting for fuel only, without changing tires.
Gosselin, in his own #12 Danmark Construction-Mighty EZY Chevrolet, led the next 21 laps before Gerhart made his move.
Gerhart's winning pass in the 200-mile race came on lap 57 when the Lebanon, Pennsylvania veteran, with no drafting help, made a bold maneuver to the outside of Gosselin in turn two. If the two machines did not touch, they came as close as they could without contact. Gerhart held his line and maintained control while Gosselin shot up into the outside retaining wall.
"Did I make contact with Mario? Absolutely not. He was working his car pretty good just to keep me at bay. I just was very, very patient and used every inch of the racetrack to try and make my move.....was very calculated at it. I think what happened there was just the rush."
Gosselin, after pit road repairs, battled back to finish 13th.
"We had a good car and I was glad we could lead some laps," Gosselin said. "I learned a lot but just got a little too free and I'm sure Bobby (Gerhart) has a little more experience on me. After the wreck I didn't think we would run as good as we did, but the car was good; we just ran out of laps. I'm just glad everybody was okay."
From there, Gerhart kept the 20-car lead pack at bay through the remainder of the race, including during a late-race restart that required the field to take the green and white flags together for a one-lap shoot-out to the checkered flag.
But in the end, no driver had anything for Gerhart, who crossed under the checkered flag .303 seconds ahead of rookie Marc Mitchell who, in the Ergon Pontiac, turned heads with a solid runner-up finish after leading five laps.
"This car was strong today," said Mitchell. "I actually I wanted it to end before the green-white-checkered because I was going to go for it until that last caution came out. But that last lap was interesting. There was a lot of excitement."
Jeremy Clements, in the Harrison's Work Wear-1 Stop Convenience Store-Saxon Group Chevrolet, finished third on the heels of Mitchell.
"There was nothing you could really do out there besides stay in line because the outside line wasn't going anywhere," said Clements. "Bobby's (Gerhart) car was very strong out there. I'm not happy with third. I mean I'm happy with it but there was nothing we could do. His [Gerhart's] car was dominate."
David Ragan, in the #39 Roush Racing (fielded by the Roulo Brothers), used the ARCA 200 as a tune-up for the Daytona 500. He also finished fourth.
Eight-time RE/MAX Series champion Frank Kimmel, still winless at Daytona, finished fifth in the #46 Tri-State Motorsports-Pork Ford.
"Had a great car," Kimmel said. "Strong in the draft. Had trouble on a pit stop that cost us a lot, and just couldn't get it back."
Timothy Peters, in the Richard Childress Racing Cometic Gasket-Okuma Chevrolet, finished sixth.
Series regular Justin Allgaier, in the AG Tech-Trashman-Hoosier Tire Midwest Chevrolet, earned the Hoosier Tire Hard Award for his solid seventh place finish after starting 31st.
Dodge development driver Scott Lagasse, Jr. finished eighth. Series rookies' Phillip McGilton and Michael McDowell completed the top-10 respectively.
Cautions for 46 laps slowed the field seven times for a variety of multi-car wrecks. There were no injuries.
The next event for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be the Construct Corps-Palm Beach Grading 250 at USA Int'l Speedway in Lakeland, Florida on March 24.