Practice opens 97-02-5

STEELE, THOMPSON FAVORED FOR ARCA 200 POLE POSITION DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5) -- Daytona veterans Mark Thompson and defending ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series champion Tim Steele, along with Bill Elliott's hired driver Ron Barfield are the...

STEELE, THOMPSON FAVORED FOR ARCA 200 POLE POSITION

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Feb. 5) -- Daytona veterans Mark Thompson and defending ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series champion Tim Steele, along with Bill Elliott's hired driver Ron Barfield are the favorites to win the pole position Thursday at Daytona International Speedway for Sunday's Daytona ARCA 200. Talladega Pole Qualifying for Sunday's race, which will set positions 1-25 in the minimum 36-car field will begin at 2:30 p.m. Admission to the infield or unreserved grandstands is $6. Thompson, a 45-year-old corporate jet pilot from Cartersville, Ga., posted the fastest speed of the day in a Ford Thunderbird, 186.610 mph, among the 46 drivers who practiced on the 2.5-mile trioval. Barfield, the Florence, S.C., driver who toils for NASCAR Winston Cup team owner Elliott, was clocked at 185.387 mph in his Ford and Steele's T-bird was at 185.269. Steele won 11 ARCA races in 1995 and captured the championship by a whopping 980-point margin. The 28-year-old native of Coopersville, Mich., plans to run the entire ARCA schedule in 1997, plus five major NASCAR Winston Cup races. "Daytona is the only track on the ARCA schedule that I haven't won at," Steele said Wednesday. "I want to win this race, and I want to win it bad. I'd like to be on the pole, but I really want to win this race." Also among the favorites is Indiana native Andy Hillenburg, a driving school instructor and winner of the 1995 ARCA 200. Hillenburg will drive the James Finch Chevrolet that Jeff Purvis drove to victory in the 1996 ARCA 200. Also scheduled Thursday is practice for the True Value Firebird IROC XXI opener.

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Series ARCA
Drivers Andy Hillenburg , Jeff Purvis , Tim Steele , Ron Barfield , Mark Thompson