DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Dec. 21, 2008) – The three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series test in preparation for the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 wrapped up on Sunday at Daytona International Speedway.
Some ARCA RE/MAX Series teams departed “The World Center of Racing” after the second day of testing on Saturday after getting all the information they needed for the season-opening event on Saturday night, Feb. 7.
But not record five-time Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 champion Bobby Gerhart.
“If there was five days, I would be here for all of them,” said Gerhart, who was one of the last teams to load his cars into the hauler on Sunday evening. “We try to get here first and we’re always the last to leave. That lesson was taught to me a long time ago.”
In the final hours of the test on Sunday, Gerhart was slaving away on his Chevrolets trying to find every ounce of speed out of them.
Rigorous testing is one of the methods Gerhart has used to win five Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 victories and four consecutive pole positions between 2003-06.
Gerhart, who hails from Lebanon, Penn., works tirelessly on his Daytona International Speedway cars and says that every year the field of drivers only gets tougher.
“The field is great,” Gerhart said of the 2009 entry list. “I know when I come here I become a very unpopular guy. In a way, it’s going to sound odd, but that’s a pretty big complement. That really goes to the level of exposure that this place has brought to this race.
“I’ve always felt that coming here to Daytona is a huge privilege for anybody. Just coming to the garage and be a part of this thing let alone get on the race track and in my case be unbelievably fortunate to win one (race) and looking back on it to be where we’re at today. I never could have envisioned that.
”To see a large group of people grab what I think I grabbed a long time ago, I treat this race the way it should have been treated for a long time. It’s a pretty neat thing for me to watch and see. It really is. It’s great because that’s what we’re here for. It’s a huge privilege for any racer to come here and show their stuff right here. “
Gerhart, who highlights his Daytona triumphs on the side on his hauler, says the testing sessions are a good indictor for what a team has in a car.
In the middle of three-day test, Gerhart was leaning toward using an older car in the upcoming Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on Saturday, Feb. 7. The car was the same one that propelled him to his 2007 Daytona win.
Logano observations: Joey Logano, who will compete in five races during DIRECTV Speedweeks including the Budweiser Shootout and his first Daytona 500 start, turned his first laps at DIS during the three-day ARCA RE/MAX Series test.
The Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie driver, who will drive a Toyota for Venturini Motorsports in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, was introduced to the Daytona bumps during the test.
“It was quite a bit bumpier than I thought it was going to be,” said Logano, who was third fastest in the Sunday morning session. “I heard it was bumpy and a little bit slicker than Talladega. That was the only thing I was going off of. Besides that, it’s similar. It’s a superspeedway and once you get in the draft, it’s going to be a lot more fun.”
Next up is go-karts: The next scheduled activity for Daytona International Speedway will be the Daytona KartWeek By Cometic Gasket on Dec. 28-30, which will feature hundreds of go-karters from the World Karting Association.
Sunday morning speeds – Top 10
- Will Kimmel, Ford, 180.977 mph
- Patrick Sheltra, Dodge, 180.672
- Joey Logano, Toyota, 180.469
- Steve Blackburn, Dodge, 180.397
- Chase Mattioli, Chevrolet, 180.011
- Jesse Smith, Dodge, 179.870
- Bryan Silas, Ford, 179.842
- Terry Jones, 179.838
- Dominick Casola, Dodge, 179.773
- Bobby Gerhart, Chevrolet, 179.680
Sunday afternoon speeds – Top 10
- Steve Blackburn, Dodge, 182.426 mph
- JR Fitzpatrick, Chevrolet, 182.113
- Parker Kilgerman, Dodge, 181.364
- Mikey Kile, Chevrolet, 181.003
- Dominick Casola, Dodge, 180.676
- Jonathan Gomez, Chevrolet, 180.629
- Steve Arpin, Dodge, 180.325
- Terry Jones, Dodge, 180.252
- JR Heffner, Chevrolet, 180.238
- John Ferrier, Ford, 180.202
12. Bobby Gerhart, Chevrolet, 180.101