Bobby Gerhart

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Huge last-lap crash gives Kaz Grala historic win in NASCAR Truck Series opener

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Matt Crafton, driver of the #88 Goof Off/Menards Toyota, flips during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2017 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Matt Crafton flips through the air on the final lap of the Camping World Truck Series opener at Daytona International Speedway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Kaz Grala escaped a huge crash on the last lap of the NextEra Energy Resources 250 to become the youngest winner in NASCAR national series history at Daytona International Speedway.

Grala, 18, was running near the front when a 12-truck crash broke out that saw Matt Crafton go airborne, flip and land on the back of Johnny Sauter‘s No. 21 truck.

Grala, who sat on the pole, managed to evade the mayhem in his No. 33 GMS Racing Truck and take the checkered flag. The native of Boston was the youngest Daytona pole-sitter in NASCAR history.

The win comes in Grala’s 10th Truck start and is his first top five.

“I wish you could tell me (how I won the race),” Grala told Fox Sports 1. “I didn’t know what I was doing out there. I don’t know how to go a donut. I don’t know how to do a victory lap like that. I just know that I’m Polish, so I figured I should drive backwards.”

Grala followed his teammate, Sauter, for most of the night until a two-lap shootout after a late caution. Grala said his radio chord came undone on Lap 79 and he wasn’t able to get it functioning again until right before the final restart of the 100-lap race.

“Honestly I got lucky coming out of (Turn) 2 there, I just didn’t lift and everything went crazy around me,” Grala said. “I can’t believe we won Daytona. This completely changes the season in a way we can play it.”

Grala was followed by Austin Wayne Self, Chase Briscoe, John Hunter Nemechek and Joe Nemechek.

Grala was the first official winner of a NASCAR national race since the introduction of the new stage race format.

Stage 1 winner: Johnny Sauter

Stage 2 winner: Johnny Sauter

MORE: Truck Series points standings

MORE: Race results and stats

WHO HAD A GOOD NIGHT: Most of the drivers who were not involved in the two massive wrecks that marked the beginning and end of the race … Chase Briscoe was the driver the triggered a 14 car accident on Lap 2, but he finished third. Myatt Snider and JJ Yeley finished in the top 10 … Regan Smith was involved in the last-lap crash, but finished sixth … John Hunter Nemechek rebounded from a Lap 95 spin to finished fourth. He was followed by his father, Joe Nemechek.

WHO HAD A BAD NIGHT: Most of the 14 drivers involved in a crash at the beginning of the second lap. Noah Gragson, Austin Cindric, John Hunter Nemechek, Clay Greenfield, Stewart Friesen, Ross Chastain, Stewart Friesen, Tommy Joe Martins, Tyler Young, Chase Briscoe, J.J. Yeley, Terry Jones, Cody Coughlin, Snider and Bobby Gerhart.  The wreck began when Cindric turned Gragson into the outside wall as the field approached Turn 1. Gragson then came back down the track as cars began collecting in the wreck …

The end of the first 20-lap stage saw a crash involving Brett Moffitt and Christopher Bell, with Bell going airborne. Bell continued, but Moffitt’s night ended with the expiration of the five-minute damage clock … Bell was involved in a second crash with Korbin Forrister with 29 to go. Bell finished eighth on the lead lap.

Twelve drivers were involved in the lap crash: Crafton (14th), Sauter (15th), Ben Rhodes (12th), Travis Kvapil (24th), Regan Smith (sixth), Bell (eighth), Self (second), Myatt Snider (10th), Cody Coughlin (11th), Timothy Peters (17th), Gallagher (13th) and Grant Enfinger (16th).

NOTABLE: GMS Racing has now won two straight season-opening races at Daytona. Sauter won last year’s race.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “It got wild. We all knew it was. The whole race was really wild. It was just a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and fortunately I was able to find the right place and be there at the right time, and that’s why we came home second.” – Austin Wayne Self, who finished second for his first top five in 17 Truck Series starts.

WHAT’S NEXT: Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 4:30 p.m. ET on March 4 on Fox Sports 1.

 

Updated: Scary wreck ends ARCA race five laps early; Theriault wins

Photo courtesy AM Racing
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UPDATE 11:40 p.m. ET

Justin Fontaine, who was involved in a late multi-car crash during Saturday’s ARCA race at Daytona International Speedway, suffered a mild compression fracture of his L1 vertebrae, his team announced late Saturday night. Fontaine would be kept overnight at a local Daytona Beach, Fla. hospital for observation.

“Justin is awake and alert following a hard crash at Daytona International Speedway,” said Win-Tron Racing owner Kevin Cywinski said in a media release. “Justin is in good spirits and we hope to be able to provide a further update on his recovery time when it’s appropriate.”

Fontaine added, “I just want to let everyone know that I’m okay and I’m thankful for the outreach of support. I also want to thank Win-Tron Racing for building me a safe race car. … It looks like I’ll be out of the car for a while.”

ORIGINAL STORY FOLLOWS:

A scary accident with five laps remaining brought an early end to Saturday’s ARCA Racing Series season-opening Lucas Oil Complete Engine Treatment 200 at Daytona International Speedway.

Austin Theriault was declared the winner after 75 laps of the scheduled 80-lap event. Terry Jones was second, followed by Shane Lee, Dalton Sargeant and Tom Hessert.

With five laps remaining, ARCA veteran Bobby Gerhart, Codie Rohrbaugh, Fletcher and Justin Fontaine, making his ARCA debut, were involved in a crash on the frontstretch.

justin-fontaine-mug
Justin Fontaine (Photo courtesy ARCA Racing)

The three drivers were fighting for 12th place when the crash occurred in the restart zone and brought out a lengthy red-flag race stoppage.

Fontaine’s Win-Tron Racing No. 33 ProMATIC Automation Toyota Camry was collected in the wreck, was turned on its side and then slid down the frontstretch for several hundred feet before it flipped on its roof and came to rest.

Gerhart and Rohrbaugh were both able to climb from their own cars, were taken to the infield care center, were checked and released.

Because of the heavy damage and delicate nature of the rescue — including being forced to cut off the roof of the car — safety personnel needed several minutes to right Fontaine’s Win-Tron Racing car to allow him to be extricated.

After hanging upside down, the 19-year-old Fontaine took off his helmet, was placed on a stretcher and put in a waiting ambulance, which transported him to a local Daytona Beach hospital for treatment and evaluation

Because the stoppage was so long, plus there was damage to a SAFER barrier, officials ruled the race official.

In addition to Saturday being his first career start in the ARCA Racing Series, Fontaine is also slated to return to run a limited series of races for AM Racing in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series this season.
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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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John Wes Townley wins ARCA Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona

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Three years after his lone ARCA Racing Series win, John Wes Townley followed up the effort by leading the final 30 laps and winning the season-opening Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway.

A regular in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Townley started fifth in the race and took command when pit strategy left pole-sitter Cole Custer back in the pack after leading 42 laps.

“We had it planned out from the beginning and very rarely at these race tracks does it work out like you planned and tonight it did,” Townley told Fox Sports 1. “I was a little worried there at the beginning that if I pulled down (to the inside lane) they were going to surge forward. It ended up working out. Once I got (to the front) they couldn’t quite get to me, which was kind of familiar to me because when I was behind some other guys, I had the same problem.”

Custer, a rookie in the Camping World Truck Series, started from the pole in his fourth ARCA race and his first race ever at Daytona. He finished 10th.

Rounding out the top five was William ByronKyle Weatherman, Chase Briscoe and 10-time champion Frank Kimmel

The race was red flagged after a Lap 2 crash in the tri-oval that involved nine cars: Bobby Gerhart, Kevin Thomas, Terry Jones, Shane Lee, Austin Wayne Self, Jairo Avila, Mark Thompson, Cole Powell and Gus Dean. The red flag was out for 10 minute and 58 seconds.

The race restarted on Lap 8. Ten laps later, the second caution waved for a four-car incident in Turn 2 with Mark Thompson, Derrick Lancaster, Matt Kurzejewski and Dylan Lupton. Lupton, a NASCAR Next driver, was able to continue on while the rest came to a stop stuck together against the outside wall on the backstretch.

Lupton would stay in the lead draft until suffering mechanical problems with two laps left in the race.

The third caution came four laps passed the halfway point when Tom Hessert blew a tire entering Turn 3 and spun out, avoiding making contact with the outside wall.

The pit strategy during the third caution sent Custer, who led 42 laps, back to the rear. That left Townley to jockey for the win with Byron for the final 30 laps. Townley, the 2013 winner at Daytona, kept the point position until the checkered flag waved.

Results

  1. John Wes Townley
  2. William Byron
  3. Kyle Weatherman
  4. Chase Briscoe
  5. Frank Kimmel
  6. Bo LeMastus
  7. Kevin Thomas
  8. Willie Mullins
  9. Grau Gaulding
  10. Cole Custer
  11. Sara Cornett-Ching
  12. Tyler Audie
  13. Brett Hudson
  14. Thomas Praytor
  15. Bryan Dauzat
  16. Brandon Lynn
  17. Ed Pompa
  18. Will Kimmel
  19. Josh Williams
  20. Steve Fox
  21. Gene Paul
  22. John Ferrier
  23. Cory Howard
  24. Dylan Lupton
  25. Dale Shearer
  26. Tim Viens
  27. Sean Corr
  28. Tom Hessert
  29. Matt Kurzejewski
  30. Dick Doheny
  31. Derrick Lancaster
  32. Brad Smith
  33. Mark Thompson
  34. Cole Powell
  35. Gus Dean
  36. Austin Wayne Self
  37. Bobby Gerhart
  38. Shane Lee
  39. Jairo Avila
  40. Terry Jones

 

Jennifer Jo Cobb surprises, fastest in final Truck practice at ‘Dega

(Getty Images)
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Jennifer Jo Cobb surprised the rest of the Camping World Truck Series field in Friday’s second and final practice session at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cobb was the fastest of the 28 trucks that took laps, clocking a top speed of 182.965 mph.

Austin Hill was second quick (182.954), followed by Terry Jones (182.954) and Bobby Gerhart (182.926).

Points leader Erik Jones was 16th-fastest (177.524). Two-time defending Truck champ and No. 2-ranked Matt Crafton did not take any laps in the final practice session.

Here’s how the session played out:

T1519_PRACFINAL

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