Sunny skies and warm Florida weather met the teams and drivers who pulled into Daytona International Speedway for the first two days of testing for the ARCA Racing Series. The day was split into two sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon as over 50 drivers took their turns on the Daytona high banks.
Despite having no plans to be in Daytona Beach on Friday, Patrick Starolpoli had the fastest lap of the day in the Florida sunshine and led the afternoon session.
“I didn’t get the call till last night that I was going to be testing today,” said Staropoli, who made it to Daytona at 4am in the morning on Friday to practice for the Empire Racing team. “I wasn’t even supposed to be here today. I had never run Daytona other then the Battle at Beach on the backstretch. Wow, what a feeling. I know I am going to be here tomorrow, but the big question is next February.”
Staropoli has had a dream season after he won the Peak Stock Car Challenge and turned lots of heads with strong runs and a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West win at Irwindale Speedway (CA).
“It’s been a great year,” said Starolpoli. “A year ago I was only in a Late Model and now I am here at Daytona. Hopefully I can keep it all going.”
Behind Staropoli were Bobby Gerhart, Leilani Munter, Cody Coughlin and David Levine in the afternoon session.
Earlier in the day Cody Coughlin was on top of the charts in the morning session as he led Sean Corr, Tom Hessert, Leilani Munter and Bobby Gerhart.
“It’s really cool to come to Daytona and be on top of the charts in our first practice,” said Coughlin. “We picked up speed in the afternoon with the draft and I can’t wait to see what we can do on Saturday with our Venturini Motorsports JEGS.com ride.”
The day was without incident other than some minor mechanical problems suffered by some teams. In close to 70 cars took laps on the 2.5 mile track. For some it was their first experience on the Daytona oval.
Testing will continue tomorrow with both a morning session and an afternoon session. There will be another test here in January leading up to the ARCA 200 here at Daytona in February.
Speed51.com will have Trackside Now coverage on Saturday.