Cunningham Motorsports had the fastest car on the final day of ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards open testing at Daytona Int’l Speedway, but it was Venturini Motorsports which screamed the loudest over the two-day open test at the World Center of Racing.
Venturini rookies Noah Gragson and Spencer Davis turned the fastest laps overall around the 2.5-mile superspeedway with Gragson, in the No. 55 Toyota, taking the top spot among the 63 drivers who posted time and speed Friday and Saturday.
Gragson topped the overall speed chart with a time of 47.583 seconds, an average speed of 189.143 mph.
“I am extremely satisfied with what Venturini Motorsports brought to the race track,” said Gragson. “I knew we were going to be good. Venturinis do their homework and it always shows. With Billy Venturini as my crew chief, we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with when we come back in February.”
Gragson’s going to be a busy guy when he comes “back in February”, as the Las Vegas, Nev. driver will also be driving a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM), the first race in a full season on the Truck side for Gragson with the KBM team.
Gragson’s fastest speed at Daytona came on the first day of testing, leading a near 10-car draft.
“We got in a draft with eight or nine cars. I was leading, and Spencer (Davis) did a great job drafting with me. By the second lap, we both pulled away.
“I came in this year not too anxious, no nerves, and I think that helped a lot. That, and the Venturini Motorsports program is as good as it gets. The biggest thing for me was working on getting my car on and off pit road and learning all my marks out there.”
The Venturini Motorsports team was satisfied enough to pack it in early Saturday afternoon, before the five o’clock final buzzer.
“Felt like we had a really nice drafting session yesterday,” said team General Manager Billy Venturini.
“We just went out today and worked on some single car stuff. We got in one small draft, but as good as we are, we didn’t want to put the cars in any risk. We had a very productive test. We found out quite a bit this week, more than the last four or five years.”
Davis, in the No. 25 Venturini flagship machine, was second fastest overall (189.092 mph).
“Car was fast,” said Davis. “The track is little bumpy at speed…the G-forces push you down into the seat more than I anticipated in the corners. Davis Poultry Processing Equipment helped me get here to the test, and I’d like to thank them.”
Shane Lee, in the No. 22 Cunningham Motorsports Ford, was third on the overall chart, posting a speed of 188.608 mph. His top speed was fast enough to lead the charts Saturday afternoon.
“We made a few changes last night that helped us today in the draft,” said Lee. “Our fastest lap might have been a little better, but we picked up a side draft from another car towards the end of the lap, and that stalled me out little.”
Lee likes his chances coming back for the race in February.
“We’re confident about our chances coming back in February. This car was strong from the get-go. We put well over a hundred laps down in testing. We were doing 15 to 20 laps at a time in the draft today. It’s a nice feeling knowing you’re with a winning team, and all I have to do is drive.”
Ken Schrader Racing’s Austin Theriault, in the No. 52 Toyota, turned the fourth fastest lap of the test, coming in with a speed of 188.363 mph.
“We made a few small changes today, and we picked up a little time,” said Theriault. “I might have been able to do a faster lap, but we were being cautious…we want to bring this car back for the race. I learned a little more about how these cars draft. We’ll go over the changes we made back at the shop, and decide what package to come back with.”
Lee’s Cunningham teammate Dalton Sargeant, in the No. 77 Ford, was fifth overall (188.111 mph).
“We had some great laps today working with both teammates and the 52 car,” said Sargeant. “Daytona is different from Talladega…the track is tighter, and you have to be more precise when you start your drafting run on another car. Today really sharpened my drafting skills. We practiced in the front of the pack today, and I really liked that. Hopefully, we can be in front when we come back in February.
“We tried some changes late today, and we’ll review what we need to do to make us a little better for the race.”
Leilani Munter, testing with Venturini Motorsports, was the only female driver that turned laps at Daytona during the two-day test. Munter was 16th on the overall board.
“We had some good laps this morning,” said Munter. “I made a little mistake and lost the draft, or we would have had a better time for the day. It was good to knock the cobwebs out this weekend, and be back in a car before the race. I’ll be in driving shape, and one-hundred percent focused on racing for the next month, and I’m looking forward to February.”
Outside of a couple of smokers for disconnected oil lines and such, the two-day test went incident free.
The 54th annual Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona is coming Saturday, Feb. 18, ARCA’s season-opener since 1964. The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards begins its 65th consecutive season of competition in 2017.
Story By: Don Radebaugh / ARCA PR
Photo Credit: Venturini Facebook photo

 

ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
Daytona Int’l Speedway
Open Testing (Jan. 13-14, 2017)

 

POS NO DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR TIME SPEED
1 55g Noah Gragson/Las Vegas NV Toyota 47.583 189.143
2 25 Spencer Davis/Dawsonville GA Toyota 47.596 189.092
3 22 Shane Lee/Newton NC Ford 47.718 188.608
4 52 Austin Theriault/Fort Kent ME Chevrolet 47.780 188.363
5 77s Dalton Sargeant/Boca Raton FL Ford 47.844 188.111
6 78g Kaz Grala/Westborough MA Chevrolet 47.846 188.103
7 77m Ty Majeski/Seymour WI Ford 47.869 188.013
8 23 Bret Holmes/Munford AL Chevrolet 47.884 187.954
9 83 Derrick Lancaster/Christiansburg VA Dodge 48.047 187.317
10 32 Gus Dean/Bluffton SC Toyota 48.155 186.896
11 34m Willie Mullins/Fredricksburg VA Ford 48.159 186.881
12 55s Zane Smith/Huntington Beach CA Toyota 48.167 186.850
13 33 Justin Fontaine/Fletcher NC Toyota 48.214 186.668
14 8h Justin Haley/Winamac IN Toyota 48.255 186.509
15 8m Travis Miller/Chesapeake VA Toyota 48.280 186.413
16 15 Leilani Munter/Rochester MN Toyota 48.303 186.324
17 01 Travis Braden/Wheeling WV Ford 48.307 186.308
18 7 Codie Rohrbaugh/Petersburg WV Dodge 48.330 186.220
19 57c Calvin Carroll/Andover NJ Chevrolet 48.333 186.208
20 8h Riley Herbst/Las Vegas NV Toyota 48.336 186.197
21 98 Quin Houff/Mount Sidney VA Chevrolet 48.359 186.108
22 80b Caesar Bacarella/Parklna FL Chevrolet 48.365 186.085
23 9 Thomas Praytor/Mobile AL Ford 48.419 185.877
24 6 Michael Lira/Port Orange FL Ford 48.421 185.870
25 58 Clint King/Denton NC Ford 48.429 185.839
26 42 Bo LeMastus/Louisville KY Dodge 48.438 185.805
27 02 Andy Seuss/Hampstead NH Chevrolet 48.440 185.797
28 16 John Ferrier/Middletown NY Chevrolet 48.470 185.682
29 5 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA Chevrolet 48.477 185.655
30 38 Ray Cicarelli/Ellicott City MD Chevrolet 48.546 185.391
31 37l David LeBeau/Daytona Beach FL Ford 48.564 185.322
32 72h Tyler Hill/Port Tobacco MD Chevrolet 48.707 184.778
33 57d Bryan Dauzat/Concord NC Chevrolet 48.748 184.623
34 16f Steve Fox/Hawley PA Chevrolet 48.769 184.543
35 69s Ricky Sanders/Stockbridge GA Ford 48.899 184.053
36 72m Tony Mrakovich/Elizabethtown PA Chevrolet 49.022 183.591
37 78w Kyle Weatherman/Wentzville MO Chevrolet 49.052 183.479
38 11j Casey Johnson/Stoughton WI Chevrolet 49.135 183.169
39 8s Michael Self/Park City UT Toyota 49.163 183.064
40 80l Scott Lagasse Jr./St. Augustine FL Chevrolet 49.294 182.578
41 10p Ed Pompa/Ballston Spa NY Chevrolet 49.575 181.543
42 7 l Verlin Larry Berg/Petersburg WV Chevrolet 49.587 181.499
43 34b Robert Bruce/Fredricksburg VA Ford 49.717 181.025
44 72m Stan Mullis/Las Vegas NV Chevrolet 49.759 180.872
45 37c Wendell Chavous/Hephzbah GA Ford 49.862 180.498
46 34a Wyatt Alexander/Ellsworth ME Ford 49.876 180.448
47 34 Jeff MacZink/Rockwood MI Ford 49.926 180.267
48 0h Richard Hauck/Howell MI Chevrolet 49.985 180.054
49 0n Con Nicolopoulos/Columbus, MI Chevrolet 49.995 180.018
50 2 Eric Caudell/ Piedmont OK Chevrolet 50.023 179.917
51 11a Dalton Armstrong/New Catle IN Chevrolet 50.106 179.619
52 0m Dale Matchett/Cherry Hill NJ Chevrolet 50.265 179.051
53 10r Zach Ralston/Springville IA Chevrolet 50.333 178.809
54 10b Bryant Barnhill/Supply NC Chevrolet 50.780 177.235
55 0t Don Thompson/Carlisle PA Chevrolet 50.997 176.481
56 69 Trey Hutchens/Lexington MC Ford 51.468 174.866
57 69h Kevin Hinkle/Shawnee KS Ford 51.515 174.706
58 3 Mike Senica/Doylestown PA Chevrolet 51.672 174.176
59 37h Kirk Horton/Eldred NY Ford 51.765 173.863
60 69 Cody Lane/Port Richey FL Ford 51.799 173.749
61 3e Scott Edwards/Ormand Beach FL Chevrolet 52.333 171.976
62 11 D.L. Wilson/Waco TX Chevrolet 53.713 167.557
63 37b Mike Brown/Iuka MS Ford 60.540 148.662

63 Cars at Daytona ARCA Test & Gragson is Fastest of All