Cunningham Motorsports claims 3 of 5 fastest speeds to wrap ARCA Daytona test

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ARCA teams likely have a better handle of what to expect for next month’s season opener after two days of testing this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

Day 2 of the test was Saturday, with three of the five fastest drivers from the Cunningham Motorsports stable. The fastest Cunningham driver was Shane Lee, who was fastest of the 52 drivers in the test, with a speed of 188.608 mph. Third-fastest was Dalton Sargeant (188.111 mph) and fifth-fastest was Ty Majeski (188.013 mph).

Given how his car performed Saturday, Lee is ready to start the season, which begins at Daytona on Feb. 18 for the 54th Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200.

“We’re confident about our chances coming back in February,” Lee told ARCARacing.com. “This car was strong from the get-go. We put well over 100 laps down in testing. We were doing 15 to 20 laps at a time in the draft today. It’s a nice feeling knowing you’re with a winning team, and all I have to do is drive.”

In-between Lee and Sargeant with the second-fastest speed (188.363 mph) was Austin Theriault, driving the No. 52 Toyota for Ken Schrader Racing.

“I might have been able to do a faster lap, but we were being cautious,” Theriault told ARCARacing.com. “We want to bring this car back for the race. I learned a little more about how these cars draft. We’ll go over the changes we made back at the shop, and decide what package to come back with.”

Rounding out the top-five cars was fourth-fastest Kaz Grala (188.103 mph) of Mason Mitchell Motorsports.

Just one female took part in the two-day test, Leilani Munter, who recorded the 16th fastest speed of the field (186.100 mph) in her Toyota on Saturday.

“It was good to knock the cobwebs out this weekend, and be back in a car before the race,” Munter said. “I’ll be in driving shape, 100 percent focused on racing for the next month and I’m looking forward to February.”

While Lee was fastest Saturday, overall he was the third-fastest of the two-day test. Venturini Motorsports rookies Noah Gragson (189.143 mph) and Spencer Davis (189.092 mph) were fastest with their speeds from Friday’a first day of the test.

Saturday’s overall session was both shortened and its start delayed due to the track having to be dried following early morning showers. Still, teams managed to get a full five hours of track time in before the test concluded.

 

ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
Daytona Int’l Speedway (Day 2)
Open Testing, Overall Speeds (1-14-17)
POS NO DRIVER/HOMETOWN CAR TIME SPEED
1 22 Shane Lee/Newton NC Ford 47.718 188.608
2 52 Austin Theriault/Fort Kent ME Chevrolet 47.780 188.363
3 77 s Dalton Sargeant/Boca Raton FL Ford 47.844 188.111
4 78 g Kaz Grala/Westborough MA Chevrolet 47.846 188.103
5 77 m Ty Majeski/Seymour WI Ford 47.869 188.013
6 23 Bret Holmes/Munford AL Chevrolet 47.884 187.954
7 83 Derrick Lancaster/Christiansburg VA Dodge 48.047 187.317
8 25 Spencer Davis/Dawsonville GA Toyota 48.142 186.947
9 32 Gus Dean/Bluffton SC Toyota 48.155 186.896
10 34 m Willie Mullins/Fredricksburg VA Ford 48.159 186.881
11 55 s Zane Smith/Huntington Beach CA Toyota 48.167 186.850
12 33 Justin Fontaine/Fletcher NC Toyota 48.214 186.668
13 8 h Justin Haley/Winamac IN Toyota 48.255 186.509
14 01 Travis Braden/Wheeling WV Ford 48.330 186.220
15 7 Codie Rohrbaugh/Petersburg WV Chevrolet 48.358 186.112
16 15 Leilani Munter/Rochester MN Toyota 48.361 186.100
17 80 b Caesar Bacarella/Parklna FL Chevrolet 48.365 186.085
18 02 Andy Seuss/Hampstead NH Chevrolet 48.440 185.797
19 16 John Ferrier/Middletown NY Chevrolet 48.470 185.682
20 98 Quin Houff/Mount Sidney VA Chevrolet 48.482 185.636
21 37 l David LeBeau/Daytona Beach FL Ford 48.564 185.322
22 5 Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA Chevrolet 48.655 184.976
23 72 h Tyler Hill/Port Tobacco MD Chevrolet 48.707 184.778
24 42 Bo LeMastus/Louisville KY Dodge 48.735 184.672
25 57 d Bryan Dauzat/Concord NC Chevrolet 48.748 184.623
26 8 m Travis Miller/Chesapeake VA Toyota 48.748 184.623
27 38 Ray Cicarelli/Ellicott City MD Chevrolet 49.027 183.572
28 9 Thomas Praytor/Mobile AL Ford 49.355 182.352
29 72 m Tony Mrakovich/Elizabethtown PA Chevrolet 49.585 181.507
30 7 l Verlin Larry Berg/Petersburg WV Chevrolet 49.587 181.499
31 34 b Robert Bruce/Fredricksburg VA Ford 49.717 181.025
32 72 s Stan Mullis/Las Vegas NV Chevrolet 49.780 180.796
33 16 f Steve Fox/Hawley PA Chevrolet 49.784 180.781
34 37 c Wendell Chavous/Hephzbah GA Ford 49.862 180.498
35 34 a Wyatt Alexander/Ellsworth ME Ford 49.876 180.448
36 34 Jeff MacZink/Rockwood MI Ford 49.926 180.267
37 0 h Richard Hauck/Howell MI Chevrolet 49.985 180.054
38 0 n Con Nicolopoulos/Columbus, MI Chevrolet 49.995 180.018
39 2 Eric Caudell/ Piedmont OK Chevrolet 50.023 179.917
40 0 m Dale Matchett/Cherry Hill NJ Chevrolet 50.265 179.051
41 10 r Zach Ralston/Springville IA Chevrolet 50.333 178.809
42 10 p Ed Pompa/Ballston Spa NY Chevrolet 50.431 178.462
43 10 b Bryant Barnhill/Supply NC Chevrolet 50.780 177.235
44 0 t Don Thompson/Carlisle PA Chevrolet 50.997 176.481
45 69 Trey Hutchens/Lexington MC Ford 51.468 174.866
46 3 Mike Senica/Doylestown PA Chevrolet 51.672 174.176
47 69 Cody Lane/Port Richey FL Ford 51.799 173.749
48 3 e Scott Edwards/Ormand Beach FL Chevrolet 52.333 171.976
49 11 D.L. Wilson/Waco TX Chevrolet 53.713 167.557
50 3 Mike Senica/Doylestown PA Chevrolet 52.123 172.668
51 0n Con Nicolopoulos/Columbus, MI Chevrolet 53.951 166.818
52 37b Mike Brown/Iuka MS Ford 60.540 148.662

Statistics courtesy ARCARacing.com

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NASCAR America: Martin Truex Jr. looks for rebound at reliable Kansas

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Martin Truex Jr. started the playoffs on good footing, finishing third in the first two races at Las Vegas and Richmond after leading the most laps in both races. He then was one turn away from winning on the Charlotte Roval before being spun by Jimmie Johnson.

Then he more or less disappeared, with his last two races culminating in a “miserable” run at Talladega and a 23rd-place finish.

Entering this weekend’s elimination race at Kansas, where he’s won two of the last three races, Truex is 18 points above the cutoff spot in the last transfer position.

On NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman and Dale Jarrett discussed the defending series champion’s prospects entering Kansas.

“Someone is always having a problem and falling out of that eighth (playoff seed in the elimination race),” Jarrett said. “Can that happen this Sunday afternoon? It certainly can happen. Can Martin Truex be that one? You wouldn’t think (so) because he’s done so well over the years at this race track regardless of what car he was driving. … He just knows how to get the job done there.”

Kligerman said “there’s no doubt in my mind that they will advance” if the No. 78 team does everything they do well.

Watch the above video for more.

 

 

Long: Is Talladega supposed to look like this?

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So what is NASCAR? Is it a sport? Or is it a show?

Admittedly, those in the NASCAR offices likely will view its racing as both. But that creates a conflict over how to look at Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

If one views it as a sporting event, Stewart-Haas Racing’s domination — qualifying all of its cars in the top four, running there much of the race and Aric Almirola winning with Clint Bowyer second — should be celebrated because SHR did what every team hopes to do every weekend.

But that performance doesn’t play well to the overall view of the race (or show). With SHR controlling the front and drivers battling ill-handling cars, the two- and three-wide racing so common at Talladega often was replaced by single-file racing.

The 15 lead changes were the fewest at Talladega since 1973.

Green flag passes — a stat NASCAR tracks based on position changes over each scoring loop on every lap — were down 54.4 percent from last fall’s playoff race at Talladega.

Think about that … lead changes at its lowest level since before any driver in Sunday’s race was born and green-flag passes down more than 50 percent from the previous year.

Is that something fans want to see more of?

Doesn’t seem to be the case based on Jeff Gluck’s weekly Twitter poll. He stated that only 42 percent of those who voted this week thought Talladega was a good race.

Fewer than 50 percent of the voters said either Talladega race this year was a good one in Gluck’s poll. The April race had 24 lead changes — the fewest for that event since 19 lead changes in the 1998 race — and saw a 57.8 percent decline in green-flag passes.

There’s an expectation when NASCAR races at Daytona and Talladega of pack racing, passing and wild action.

Such was in limited supply at both Talladega races this year. But it wasn’t just there. The four plate races (Daytona and Talladega) saw 89 lead changes this season — down 29.4 percent from last year’s plate races.

While three of the four plate races this year ended with a last-lap pass (Austin Dillon in the Daytona 500, Erik Jones at Daytona in July and Aric Almirola at Talladega last weekend), not everyone may be willing to wait through the racing to those final laps.

With the 2019 rules package, NASCAR anticipates pack racing to remain key at Daytona and Talladega but Sunday’s race might force series officials to make some additional changes to ensure the pack is back next year.


Questions have been raised about how NASCAR officiated the end of the Truck and Cup races this weekend at Talladega.

Kurt Busch was critical of NASCAR’s decision. Had NASCAR called a caution for the crash in Turn 1 on the last lap, Busch likely would have won. Instead, he ran out of fuel and Aric Almirola won.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, explained Monday on SirusXM NASCAR Radio how series officials made the call on if to throw the caution in either race.

“Our first job is to always make sure everybody is safe, and we felt we did that in this case,” O’Donnell said about letting the Cup race finish under green.

While each last-lap scenario presents different challenges, NASCAR must remain steadfast in following what O’Donnell said in terms of driver safety. That must be No. 1 regardless of it is the last lap at Talladega, the last lap of the Daytona 500 or the last lap of the championship race in Miami.

NASCAR must be consistent with that. And that may mean calling for a caution instead of a dramatic race to the finish line.


It won’t be next year but maybe someday GMS Racing likely will field a Cup team.

GMS Racing, owned by Maury Gallagher, was in talks with Furniture Row Racing earlier this year to purchase the team’s charter, align with Joe Gibbs Racing and move to Cup next season. It’s one of the reasons why the team, through Mike Beam, didn’t try to top Front Row Motorsports’ bid for BK Racing’s charter and equipment in a court-appointed auction in August.

After examining all the costs, Gallagher decided not to pursue the Furniture Row Racing charter and equipment.

“We’re still talking and thinking about it, but first things first, we’re trying to get through this year and do some good things, particularly winning the (Truck) championship,” Gallagher said after Timothy Peters won the Truck race at Talladega.

Spencer Gallagher called the deal not working out a “tempered disappointment” but added “we got into that deal and we realized that we were going to have to undertake some additional complications with it. More than anything, if and when we make the decision to go Cup racing, I’d like to think that if we have one true luxury it is that we get to choose when and where we get to do it, which means that we’re committed to only doing it if it can be done right.

“As Maury likes to say, there’s always another deal that comes along. Patience is our watchword for getting ourselves into Cup.”

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NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Kansas preview, Scan All Talladega

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to look at the fallout of the Talladega Cup race.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Parker Kligerman from the Stamford Studio. Dale Jarrett joins them from the Charlotte Studio.

On today’s show:

  • As the playoffs head for Kansas, only Aric Almirola and Chase Elliott are safe. And as we’ve seen in years past, big names have entered the Round of 12 cut race with good points cushions – only to meet with disaster and elimination. Which driver above the cut line should be the most worried?
  • Marty Snider is at Stewart-Haas Racing with a report on how they’re looking to have all four of their drivers advance again in the playoffs. Plus – he talks 1-on-1 with Aric Almirola’s crew chief, John Klausmeier, about how the No. 10 team is preparing for the Round of 8.
  • Almirola and Co. are riding high, but Brad Keselowski and the No. 2 crew are in big trouble. A three-week series of unfortunate events have put them 18 points behind the cut line. Can they find a way to save their season? Steve Letarte talks with their champion crew chief, Paul Wolfe.
  • And we’ll take one last look – and listen – to last weekend’s wild finish that shook up the playoff picture in Scan All Talladega.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Aric Almirola ended third longest drought between first, second Cup wins

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Despite being just over four years ago, July 6, 2014 feels like it was in another lifetime.

Now imagine how Aric Almirola felt prior to his win Sunday in the Cup race at Talladega.

It had been 149 races since Almirola first visited Victory Lane in the Cup Series. He won the rain-shortened Coke Zero 400 at Daytona in 2014 driving Richard Petty Motorsports’ No. 43 Ford.

When Almirola passed Kurt Busch coming to the checkered flag Sunday, it snapped the third-longest streak of starts between wins No. 1 and No. 2 in the Cup Series.

Here are the top five longest streaks.

1. Martin Truex Jr.  – 218 starts between wins

Truex’s first win came on June 4, 2007 at Dover International Speedway while driving Dale Earnhardt Inc.’s No. 1 Chevrolet.

He would have to wait until June 23, 2013 at Sonoma Raceway to get win No. 2, this time coming in Michael Waltrip Racing’s No. 56 Toyota

2. Jamie McMurray – 165 starts between wins

McMurray famously earned his first Cup win in his second career start. Subbing for an injured Sterling Marlin in Chip Ganassi’s No. 40 Dodge, McMurray won on Oct. 13, 2002 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Win No. 2 did not present itself until July 7, 2007 at Daytona. Driving the No. 26 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, McMurray beat Kyle Busch by five-thousandths of a second to return to Victory Lane.

3. Aric Almirola  – 149 starts between wins

4. Ward Burton – 131 starts between wins

Burton won his first Cup race in his sophomore season, driving the No. 22 Pontiac for Bill Davis Racing. He won on Oct. 22, 1995 at Rockingham Motor Speedway.

Five years later and still driving the No. 22 for Davis, Burton returned to Victory Lane on March 19, 2000 at Darlington Raceway.

5. Morgan Shepherd – 115 starts between wins

After making eight Cup starts from 1970 – 1978, Shepherd finally ran a majority of the schedule in 1981, running all but the first two races. His first win came relatively quickly in race No. 9 on April 26 at Martinsville Speedway.

The second victory came on March 16, 1986 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Of Shepherd’s four career wins, three came at Atlanta.

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