ARCA Menards Series East drivers and teams practiced at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) Sunday ahead of their season opener on Monday. Some drivers hope to carry their 2019 momentum into the new season, while others were making their first laps in the machines.
Sam Mayer, the champion in the former NASCAR K&N Pro Series East for the 2019 season, set the fastest lap of the session at 18.738 seconds. He is excited to bring a fast car into what he expects to be a very competitive race.
“It’s really sporty,” Mayer told Speed51. “I’m really happy with how the team is handling everything. If the weather stays nice like this, I think it’s going to be a really good race. There will be a lot of close battles at the end, and hopefully we come out on top.”
Ty Gibbs combined for four wins across the ARCA Racing Series and the two former K&N Series. He was second-fastest on Sunday at New Smyrna, and feels his development as well as the team’s improvement puts him in a strong position to compete for another win.
“These guys put a lot of work in over the winter,” Gibbs said. “My Monster Energy Joe Gibbs Racing Camry is super-fast. These guys put in so much work, and I feel like I’ve progressed as a driver, too. If we just keep digging, we’ll get faster here.”
There are plenty of new faces among the field for Monday’s ARCA East opener, but Gibbs knows all too well after being a rookie last year what that feeling is like.
"I was one of those last year,” Gibbs say. “You just have to let them figure it out like I had to figure it out, too. It’s cool to see some new faces out here.”
A couple of those new faces for the ARCA Series are familiar faces in the Super Late Model world. Derek Griffith will be making his debut on Monday, and worked through some opening jitters for a solid practice day with Chad Bryant Racing.
“They gave us a great piece to work with,” Griffith said. “I was a little anxious to get in, I’ve never driven something like this. I got in, made some changes, and it seemed like we didn’t put any tires on all day, any mock runs or anything.
“I think we’re in good shape. The thing is super consistent, real quick. I’m very lucky to be driving this thing and I can’t wait for tomorrow.”
Stephen Nasse is another driver preparing for his ARCA debut, driving for the Jett Motorsports team where he has won many marquee Super Late Model races in recent years. He is still adjusting to the heavier car but was pleased with how Sunday’s test went.
“I feel pretty good about it. We still have some work to do. I think it’s still a little too tight, and I’m getting used to my braking points, things like that. I do believe we’re making progress on it. We made up three-quarters of a second on it in practice.”
The test session took place ahead of practice for divisions competing in Sunday’s racing at the World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway. Fans can follow Trackside Now, presented by HMS Motorsport, for updates throughout the day.
Fans can also visit Speed51’s Speedweeks Central for updates, news, videos and more throughout Florida Speedweeks.
ARCA Menards Series East Testing Results
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51 Content Supervisor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51 / Kyler Hope