After this week’s two-day test session shaking down new sleek composite bodies at Daytona International Speedway, the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards will return for the season-opening 55th annual Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire on Feb. 10.
Friday, approximately 60 drivers, including eight-time Lucas Oil 200 champion Bobby Gerhart and reigning ARCA Racing Series Rookie of the Year Riley Herbst, were on hand on Day 1 to give the bodies their first laps around the 2.5-mile tri-oval. After being utilized at short and intermediate tracks last season, the new bodies will be used exclusively at both restrictor-plate tracks – DIS and Talladega Superspeedway – for the first time in 2018.
Gerhart, who will be competing in his 31st consecutive Lucas Oil 200, looked underneath his No. 5 Lucas Oil Chevrolet with a wrench in each hand. Friday brought back vivid memories of what it took to originally become so successful at the speedway.
“I can remember my parents coming here in the ‘60s; it was just a long time coming for me to be able to get here,” Gerhart said. “I just had the idea in the back of my mind that I was going to do what I could to run well here, and that didn’t come overnight either. I adapted early on to try and put a big effort into running well here.”
Gerhart recalled his favorite victory and most memorable moment in his racing career.
“It was 2002 and my dad, who missed my first win (1999), snuck down here and stayed in the infield until I took the lead,” Gerhart said. “We won the race and he met us down in victory lane.”
Not every driver on hand for the two-day test session has as much experience at Daytona. Riley Herbst, who failed to qualify for the event last season, will be making his first career start at the “World Center of Racing,” driving the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Herbst’s only goal is to reach Gatorade Victory Lane when the series returns for Speedweeks.
“That’s what we’re here to do this year, for all the marbles,” Herbst said. “We’re ready. We’re focused. We’ve been together for a year and we’re all ready to go win this championship and do everything we can to get good finishes each week starting here in Daytona.”
Herbst, 18, is looking to become only the third driver in ARCA Racing Series history to win Rookie of the Year and the championship in consecutive seasons.
Tickets for the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire, 60th annual DAYTONA 500 and other Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP.
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