John Wes Townley started from the pole and he finished in first as well to give Venturini Motorsports its first ARCA Racing Series victory at Daytona International Speedway. The Lucas Oil 200 was the 50th race at Daytona for the ARCA Racing series and it was the first career win for Townley in the series. For a time though it looked like Bobby Gerhart was going to win his fourth consecutive ARCA race at Daytona and ninth overall.
Townley's race did not get off to the best of starts as on the initial green: he did not get up to speed as fast as his teammate Milka Duno. Duno jumped out to lead the first 11 laps until the caution came out when Julien Jousse lost an engine due to overheating.
Jousse's No. 94 car was running in line in fourth place but was pushing water out of his car for several laps before he jumped out of line to try to get air to the engine. It was too late as the damage was done to the engine which came apart on lap 11 in a big way forcing Jousse to climb from the car which was on fire.
Under the caution all the cars pitted for only gas for what was the only stop of the day. Duno was slow exiting her stall and almost collided with teammate Darrell Wallace Jr. Those two mistakes cost her the lead. Grant Enfinger had a worse pit stop as he broke a part in the drive train leaving his box and was out of the race. During the caution laps last season's ARCA champion, Chris Buescher, had ignition issues and ended up losing six laps.
The race restarted on lap 18 with Josh Williams in the lead, but Bobby Gerhart, the eight time overall and three-time defending race winner, took the lead coming to the line for lap 19. The big crash of the race occurred when Wallace's No. 55 Venturini Motorsports Toyota got in the back of his teammate Justin Boston's No. 25 car and turned him around. Six other cars also sustained heavy damage in the wreck on the front stretch. Those cars were those of Drew Charlson, Caleb Armstrong, Clay Campbell, Brett Hudson, Steve Kemp, and Mason Mitchell.
The race would restart on lap 26 with Gerhart in the lead. Milka Duno slowed right away as her Venturini Motorsports No. 35 Toyota was stuck in third gear. She would lose five laps as the team made repairs. That left Venturini Motorsports with only one of its four cars left to try to win the race on a day when they thought they might be dominant. Also on lap 26 Will Kimmel had a tire go down coming off Turn 4, he shot to pit road as debris was dropped on the track from his left rear fender which brought out the races third caution on lap 27.
Gerhart led the field back to green on lap 32 and Chris Buesher's lap car got in behind him second in line. Townley, Thomas Praytor, Ricky Ehrgott, Kyle Larson, and Brennan Newberry lined up in the lead draft that pulled away from the rest of the field. They would run that way until lap 54 of the 80 lap race when Ehrgott got under Praytor. Larson would follow him by and the lead draft was Gerhart, Buescher, Townley, Ehrgott, and Larson.
They ran that way until it got to the point eight laps left when Buescher moved high to let the lead lap cars have at it for the win without him being in the middle. On the same lap, Gerhart's No. 5 Chevrolet slowed a bit coming off Turn 4 as the car seemed to be out of gas. Townley ran into the back of Gerhart a bit before moving to the high side and getting past him for the lead. Gerhart would speed down pit road as the fuel picked back up in his No. 5 car.
Tags: ARCA Racing Series, Bobby Gerhart, Brennan Newberry, Chad Boat, Chris Buescher, Darrell Wallace Jr., Daytona International Speedway, Frank Kimmel, John Wes Townley, Kyle Larson, Matt Kurzejewski, Milka Duno, Motorsports, Ricky Ehrgott, Venturini Motorsports
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