Thursday evening’s practice was led by the driver with the most ARCA Racing Series wins at Daytona International Speedway (FL) in the history of the series, Bobby Gerhart. Friday morning’s final practice was paced by Patrick Staropoli, a driver who has never raced in ARCA competition anywhere ever before.
Staropoli, a graduate of Harvard University, put down a lap of 47.386 seconds right at the end of the hour-long practice session on Friday morning. His time beat Frank Kimmel’s lap of 47.388 seconds by just two one-thousanths of a second. It’s also the fastest lap anybody has turned at Daytona yet between the two practice sessions this weekend and both test sessions during the winter.
“Practice got pretty wild with everybody trying to lay back and get runs at the end,” Staropoli told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “We got pretty lucky to time it right and get a big run. The last lap of practice yesterday we had a flat tire and I just about wrecked the car coming down the frontstretch. And today we turned the fastest lap.”
While Staropoli was thrilled with his speed, he doesn’t know what to think about how he’ll do in qualifying on Friday afternoon, or how the group qualifying system will play out.
“I think it says nothing about qualifying,” Staropoli said with a laugh. “I think nobody knows what to expect going into this.”
Kimmel agreed with Staropoli’s assessment, saying that the session will be a “crapshoot,” but he thinks the session will at least be cleaner than practice.
“You’re with cars that have run your speed throughout practice, so that’s a good thing,” said Kimmel who is still looking for his first ARCA Daytona win. “A lot of times in practice it’s kind of scary because you have some of the guys that aren’t up to the speed that your car is and they’re trying to come into the middle of the pack.
“This qualifying will be interesting. We could have the pole from the top two or maybe top three groups. Any of us could have the pole, so we’ll see.”
The debut of group qualifying at Daytona is at 3:30 p.m ET Friday afternoon.
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-By Rob Blount, Speed51.com Northeast Editor -Twitter: @RobBlount
-Photo Credit: Mike Ramsell/Speed51.com
ARCA Lucas Oil 200 Final Practice Results
Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida
|26||98||Austin Wayne Self||48.186|
|28||7||Tommy Barrett Jr.||48.705|
|35||97||Bobby Hamilton Jr.||49.244|