Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) won the General Tire Pole for Saturday's Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards at Daytona International Speedway on Friday afternoon. Eckes's fast lap of 49.180 seconds translates to 183.001 miles per hour around the 2.5-mile high-banked tri-oval.
"You always want to start your season off this way," Eckes said. "We watched a couple of others do it. Our plan was to stay up tight with the cars in front of us and see what happens but it turns out we dropped back and got a really good run We brought a really fast car here and we didn't really show it yesterday. We have 80 more laps to do this. My whole team is just excited to get going."
Eckes's pole marks the third consecutive General Tire Pole Award for Venturini Motorsports at Daytona International Speedway. Tom Hessert III started first in 2017 and Natalie Decker qualified on the pole in 2018.
Eckes nipped Thad Moffitt (No. 46 Performance Plus Oil Chevrolet) by just 0.046 seconds to take the pole. Moffitt, grandson of seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and seven-time Daytona 500 winner Richard Petty, turned a fast lap at 49.226 miles per hour.
"It's really important for me to come out here and run well in my first race at Daytona," Moffitt said. "I feel like racing at Daytona is a part of the family legacy and on Saturday I'll do that. That's one foot in the door. To win here would be getting both feet in the door."
Leilani Munter (No. 55 What the Health Toyota) qualified third at 182.604 miles per hour, giving Venturini Motorsports two of the top three qualifiers.
"I have been telling people I am at the end of my 18-year motorsports journey, and this is a great way to kick off my final race as a driver," she said. "I have been so close to top five finishes here in the past only to have it go away at the very end. I have the same car I drove here last year and it's the best handling car I've ever had here. We're excited to get to tomorrow."
Willie Mullins (No. 3 County Waste Systems Ford), last year's runner-up finisher at Daytona, qualified fourth fastest, while Harrison Burton (No. 20 Dex Imaging Toyota) was fifth. The defending race winner Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) was sixth and last year's pole winner Natalie Decker (No. 54 N29 Technologies Toyota) was seventh.
The Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire is slated for a 4:30 pm ET green flag on Saturday, February 9. The race will be shown live on FS1. ARCARacing.com will have live timing & scoring, WNBD's live radio broadcast, live chat, and live track updates free for ARCA for Me members. New users can register for free at ARCARacing.com/login.
-ARCA Press Release
-Photo credit: Daytona International Speedway (Twitter)