SPARTA, Ky. — SCOTT Rookie William Byron carried the colors of the Liberty University Flames to the top of the charts in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards open testing Tuesday at Kentucky Speedway.
Bryon, the NASCAR K&N East Series point leader, turned laps at Kentucky to gain approval from series officials in order to make his superspeedway debut this Friday in the 22nd running of the Crosley Brands 150. Sounds like the Charlotte, North Carolina driver passed with flying colors. Bryon, who finished second in his ARCA debut at Lucas Oil Raceway in late July, turned the fastest lap of the day in the final moments of afternoon testing, circling the 1.5-mile superspeedway in 30.797 seconds, an average speed of 175.342 mph in the No. 55 Liberty University-Venturini Motorsports Toyota.
“It was my first time on a mile-and-a-half, and I learned a ton,” said the 17-year-old Byron. “I was a little timid at the beginning…I didn’t know where the edge was, so I kept my guard up. We worked on my comfort level at the start, and then we worked more on the car. I feel like we’re in a good place. It’s definitely a lot of fun…the sensation of speed is incredible…so many moving parts to superspeedway racing. We got some long runs in today so I feel like we came out with a good feel of what it’s going to be like in the race. Looking at what was here today, there’s going to be so much competition…I’m excited.”
Byron was also fastest in the morning session.
With his teammate Brandon Jones second on the charts (173.863 mph), Venturini Motorsports took the top-two spots in the overall test.
“We unloaded really good,” Jones said. “We tweaked on it all day…made very small changes. Whenever you can get through on making small changes and get where you need to be, it’s a good day. My biggest takeaway from today’s test was the consistent lap times we were able to put down. I feel really good about the race. It’ll be nice to get some laps in the ARCA race for the race on Saturday.”
Jones is one of three drivers running the ARCA race and the next-night NASCAR Xfinity Series race. Like his No. 25 Ansell-Menards ARCA car, Menards will also be sponsoring his No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Xfinity Series car.
ARCA Racing Series point leader Grant Enfinger, in the No. 23 Allegiant Travel Chevrolet, moved to third overall on the test charts late in the going with a speed of 172.811 mph.
“That was definitely a mock qualifying run there at the end, but we’ll take it,” said Enfinger, who has won three of the last four ARCA races, including last Saturday at Salem Speedway.
“We weren’t exactly where we needed to be but we made good, solid gains on it all day. Jeff (Stankiewicz/crew chief) made some great calls and got us more speed, more comfort out of it. Kentucky’s all about the bumps. We fought it at the beginning but got better at it. The bumps are always a big deal here…today was no different.”
Ridgeville, Connecticut’s Scott Heckert, in a No. 43 HScott Motorsports-Project Lifesaver sponsored Chevrolet, was fourth overall at 172.695 mph. Like Byron, Heckert was there to gain approval for what will be his superspeedway debut Friday.
“I’d say it’s pretty-much what I expected…the corner speeds were intense,” Heckert said. “I heard all those rumors about it being really bumpy. It’s true…I found that out in a hurry. That’s really the biggest thing I worked on here today…getting over the bumps well and getting me to a level of comfort. Now, when we come back, we can go to work on the car immediately rather than myself and my technique. We showed good speed today. I want to come back, run all the laps and see if we can stay up front. I can’t wait; I’ll tell you that.”
Byron and Heckert are locked in an intense battle for the K&N East Series championship with just one event remaining next weekend at Dover. Byron leads Heckert by just 13 points.
Two-time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion Travis Braden was impressive in his superspeedway debut, earning the fifth best speed overall at 172.144 mph. Braden won the ARCA race at Lucas Oil Raceway in his series debut. Austin Cindric (Cunningham Motorsports), Will Kimmel (Kimmel Racing), Daniel Suarez (Venturini Motorsports), Ross Kenseth (Ken Schrader Racing) and Ryan Reed (Lira Motorsports) completed the top-10 fastest drivers, respectively. Suarez and Reed are both running the double at Kentucky including the Crosley Brands ARCA 150 and the next-night NASCAR Xfinity Series race.
In all, 25 drivers posted time and speed Tuesday at Kentucky in preparation for Friday’s race.
In other news, Bo LeMastus spun his 42 car in turn four on two separate occasions with no contact. Jones also spun the 25 car off turn four with no contact as did Cindric off turn two with no contact. Sarah Cornett-Ching made right-side car contact with the inside retaining wall after spinning in turn four. There were no injuries.
Practice for the Crosley Brands 150 is Friday afternoon, September 25 from 12:30 p.m. – 2:00, followed by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 4:40. The Crosley Brands 150, the 22nd ARCA race at Kentucky, is scheduled to get the green flag just after 8:00.
In addition to Live Timing and Scoring at arcaracing.com of all on-track activities, the Crosley Brands 150 is live on FOX Sports 1 Friday night at 8:00 p.m. eastern.
-ARCA Racing Series Press Release & Photo
ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
Kentucky Speedway Open Test Results
September 22, 2015
POS NO NAME CAR TIME SPEED
1 55 William Byron Toyota 30.797 175.342
2 25 Brandon Jones Toyota 31.059 173.863
3 23 Grant Enfinger Chevrolet 31.248 172.811
4 43 Scott Heckert Chevrolet 31.269 172.695
5 01 Travis Braden Chevrolet 31.369 172.144
6 99 Austin Cindric Chevrolet 31.458 171.657
7 69 Will Kimmel Ford 31.603 170.870
8 15 Daniel Suarez Toyota 31.798 169.822
9 52 Ross Kenseth Chevrolet 31.897 169.295
10 38 Ryan Reed Ford 32.096 168.245
11 78 Noah Gragson Ford 32.166 167.879
12 6 Josh Williams Chevrolet 32.174 167.837
13 77 Tom Hessert Dodge 32.191 167.749
14 22 Kyle Weatherman Dodge 32.238 167.504
15 59 David Levine Ford 32.404 166.646
16 78 Mason Mitchell Ford 32.438 166.471
17 2 Sarah Cornett-Ching Chevrolet 32.546 165.919
18 68 Nick Higdon Ford 32.547 165.914
19 58 Brandon Lynn Ford 32.558 165.858
20 36 Kyle Benjamin Ford 32.763 164.820
21 98 Austin Wayne Self Ford 32.904 164.114
22 42 Bo LeMastus Dodge 33.108 163.103
23 5 Bobby Gerhart Chevrolet 33.108 163.103
24 58 Michael Lira Ford 33.180 162.749
25 10 Rick Clifton Ford 34.541 156.336