Bobby Gerhart

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Bobby Gerhart to miss first ARCA Daytona season opener in 33 years

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Bobby Gerhart’s heart will still be in the upcoming ARCA Menards Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway, even though his body won’t be behind the wheel.

For the first time in 33 years, Gerhart will not be in the field on the 2.5-mile superspeedway. It’s a race he has won eight times and has 15 top-10 finishes.

The reason is simple, although it could have been very serious: the Lebanon, Pennsylvania native recently suffered a heart attack.

“I guess you could say I got the greatest Christmas gift of all,” Gerhart told ARCAracing.com. “I was at home and wasn’t feeling well and drove myself to the doctor. When I got there they said I had a pretty serious heart attack. It could have been a matter of five minutes or five hours, but had I waited, it’s pretty likely it would not have ended up as well as it did. I still have a very long road to go but I have been given a second chance here and for that I am very lucky and very grateful.”

For now, the 61-year-old Gerhart will continue to be involved in his race team as owner, driving coach and cheerleader for his other drivers. But he won’t be behind the wheel for the foreseeable future.

“I guess we can say I am stepping out of the seat immediately due to health issues,” Gerhart told ARCAracing.com. “It’s maybe not the way I envisioned it but at the same time I feel like I was given a gift with the way it all went down.

“I travel all over the country, not just with racing but buying and selling big rigs for work. Had that happened when I was away from home, who knows if I would have decided to drive myself to the nearest hospital and get checked out.

“I never felt any symptoms. I don’t eat fried foods and I don’t eat a lot of red meat. I’ve never had high blood pressure. I just won the genetic lottery I suppose. But with the way it all went down – versus the way it could have – I got really, really lucky.”

Gerhart has made 341 career ARCA starts since his first race in 1988. His nine career wins include the eight at Daytona. He’s also made 24 NASCAR Cup, 18 Xfinity Series and 10 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series starts in his career as well.

Gerhart will be with his team at the upcoming series test at Daytona on Jan. 10-11, calling the shots from atop the pit box and along pit road. He still hasn’t named a driver for the No. 5, though, and with most drivers already with other teams, it’s a challenge.

Still, Gerhart hopes things can shake out positively for the season opening race on Feb. 8.

“It’s awfully late in the going, we know that,” Gerhart told ARCAracing.com. “But we have really great equipment ready to go. All we need is a driver to plug in and we can go win Daytona.

“We’ve done programs like this in the past with drivers like Kyle Krisiloff and Blake Feese. We have a great record of success at Daytona and working with other drivers so we’re hoping even with just a few weeks to go we can find someone who wants to go race.

“We’ll look at any opportunity, from one-race deals to partial season deals to a full season deal. We know we can be an asset to someone who is looking to go and run up front at Daytona. We are going to work hard to keep these race team going.”

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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.

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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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Dillon brothers claim front row in qualifying for Xfinity race at Talladega

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Brothers Austin and Ty Dillon made it a family affair during Xfinity Series qualifying Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Austin earned his first career Xfinity pole at the 2.66-mile track, while younger brother Ty will start the Winn Dixie 300 race later Saturday afternoon alongside his sibling.

Austin’s speed was 180.540 mph, while Ty’s was 179.892 mph. It’s also Austin Dillon’s third Xfinity Series pole of the season, having also taken the green flag first at Daytona (finished 4th) and Las Vegas (won).

It was an outstanding qualifying session for Richard Childress Racing, which not only put the two Dillon brothers on the front row, but fellow RCR drivers Brian Scott (179.538 mph) and Brendan Gaughan (178.600 mph) also had strong runs, qualifying third and seventh, respectively.

“ECR engines obviously 1-2-3 right there, it says a lot about us,” Austin Dillon said.

Here’s how Saturday’s Xfinity Series qualifying played out:

1 Austin Dillon … 180.540 mph

2 Ty Dillon … 179.892

3 Brian Scott … 179.538

4 Erik Jones … 179.316

5 Boris Said … 179.312

6 Daniel Suarez … 179.054

7 Brendan Gaughan … 178.600

8 Darrell Wallace Jr. … 178.587

9 Ryan Reed … 178.587

10 Elliott Sadler … 178.384

11 Regan Smith … 178.357

12 Chris Buescher … 177.999

13 Dakoda Armstrong … 178.311

14 Chase Elliott … 178.085

15 Aric Almirola … 177.897

16 Joey Logano … 177.761

17 Kasey Kahne … 177.669

18 David Starr … 177.511

19 Jeffrey Earnhardt … 177.471

20 Brennan Poole … 177.445

21 John Wes Townley … 177.258

22 Kenny Wallace … 176.907

23 Mike Bliss … 176.666

24 Blake Koch … 176.659

25 Benny Gordon … 176.601

26 Cale Conley … 176.578

27 JJ Yeley … 176.438

28 Derek White … 176.104

29 Ryan Sieg … 176.084

30 Jeff Green … 175.832

31 Chad Boat … 175.581

32 Mark Thompson … 175.401

33 Mario Gosselin … 175.275

34 Eric McClure … Owner Points

35 Landon Cassill … Owner Points

36 Harrison Rhodes … Owner Points

37 Jeremy Clements … Owner Points

38 Ross Chastain … Owner Points

39 Joey Gase … Owner Points

40 Peyton Sellers … Owner Points

DID NOT QUALIFY: Chris Cockrum, Mike Harmon, Bobby Gerhart, Derrike Cope, Carlos Contreras

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Talladega newcomer Erik Jones is fastest in sole Xfinity practice

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Erik Jones didn’t let the fact he’s never driven an Xfinity Series car at Talladega Superspeedway affect him during Friday’s lone practice session.

Jones, 18, shot to the top of the speed charts – not an easy thing to do for a veteran driver, let alone a relative newcomer to both ‘Dega and the Xfinity Series – with a speed of 188.861 mph.

Darrell Wallace Jr., an Xfinity Series rookie, was second-fastest at 188.727 mph, followed by Daytona winner Ryan Reed (188.727) and Regan Smith (188.086).

Here’s how the only Xfinity practice session of the weekend played out:

1 Erik Jones … 188.861 mph … 19 laps

2 Darrell Wallace Jr. … 188.727 … 21 laps

3 Ryan Reed … 188.727 … 20 laps

4 Regan Smith … 188.086 … 23 laps

5 Daniel Suarez … 187.621 … 23 laps

6 Kasey Kahne … 187.141 … 18 laps

7 Aric Almirola … 187.053 … 35 laps

8 John Wes Townley … 187.017 … 41 laps

9 Brian Scott … 186.903 … 19 laps

10 Chris Buescher … 186.827 … 26 laps

11 Brendan Gaughan … 186.758 …12 laps

12 JJ Yeley … 186.362 … 17 laps

13 Elliott Sadler … 186.180 … 18 laps

14 Brennan Poole … 185.989 … 33 laps

15 Chase Elliott … 185.924 … 14 laps

16 Dakoda Armstrong … 185.902 … 29 laps

17 Boris Said … 185.895 … 23 laps

18 Jeffrey Earnhardt … 185.823 … 20 laps

19 Eric McClure … 185.635 … 17 laps

20 Joey Logano … 185.366 … 21 laps

21 Kenny Wallace … 185.051 … 21 laps

22 Blake Koch … 181.618 … 33 laps

23 Cale Conley … 181.604 … 26 laps

24 Jeremy Clements … 181.594 … 28 laps

25 David Starr … 181.446 … 25 laps

26 Ty Dillon … 181.069 … 23 laps

27 Austin Dillon … 180.870 … 23 laps

28 Mario Gosselin … 179.168 … 15 laps

29 Mark Thompson … 178.964 … 2 laps

30 Benny Gordon … 178.961 … 25 laps

31 Chris Cockrum … 178.543 … 29 laps

32 Chad Boat … 176.627 … 21 laps

33 Ryan Sieg … 176.601 … 20 laps

34 Mike Bliss … 176.523 … 12 laps

35 Bobby Gerhart … 176.026 … 26 laps

36 Derek White … 175.955 … 12 laps

37 Jeff Green … 175.761 … 17 laps

38 Landon Cassill … 175.080 … 6 laps

39 Peyton Sellers … 174.499 … 13 laps

40 Harrison Rhodes … 174.328 … 8 laps

41 Derrike Cope … 174.258 … 18 laps

42 Mike Harmon … 173.945 … 17 laps

43 Ross Chastain … 173.929 … 7 laps

44 Joey Gase … 173.724 … 10 laps

45 Carlos Contreras … 172.864 … 23 laps

Best 10 Consecutive Lap Average:

1 Chris Buescher … 179.246 mph

2 John Wes Townley … 169.106 mph

3 Mark Thompson … 162.614 mph

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Entry list for NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway

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There are 44 cars entered into the Xfinity Series’ 24th annual Winn Dixie 300 at Talladega Superspeedway, the series’ only race at the 2.66-mile track.

Boris Said makes his season debut in the No. 54 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing. This is the first seven Xfinity races Said is scheduled to make in the car this season.

Entry list for the Winn Dixie 300:

0-Harrison Rhodes (Chevrolet/TeamJDMotorsports.com)
01-Landon Cassill (Chevrolet/GK Services)
1-Elliott Sadler (Ford/OneMain Financial)
2-Brian Scott (Chevrolet/Shore Ledge)
3-Ty Dillon (Chevrolet/Bass Pro Shops)
4-Ross Chastain (Chevrolet/TeamJDMdmotorsports.com)
6-Darrell Wallace Jr. (Ford/SpongeBob SquarePants)
7-Regan Smith (Chevrolet/Hellmann’s)
8-Blake Koch (Toyota/LeafFilter Gutter Protection)
9-Chase Elliott (Chevrolet/NAPA Auto Parts)
10-Jeff Green (Toyota/TriStar Motorsports)
13-Mark Thompson (Toyota/Braille Battery + Grafoid)
14-Cale Conley (Toyota/IAVA)
15-Carlos Contreras (Chevrolet/BYB Extreme Fighting Series)
16-Ryan Reed (Ford/Lilly + American Diabetes Association)
18-Daniel Suarez (Toyota/Arris)
19-Mike Bliss (Toyota/TBD)
20-Erik Jones (Toyota/Sports Clips)
22-Joey Logano (Ford/Discount Tire)
24-Eric McClure (Toyota/Hefty Reynolds Wrap)
25-John Wes Townley (Chevrolet/Zaxby’s)
28-JJ Yeley (Toyota/Texas 28 Spirits Stage)
33-Austin Dillon (Chevrolet/Rheem)
35-Chris Cockrum (Chevrolet/Advanced Communications Group)
39-Ryan Sieg (Chevrolet/Vuzix)
40-Derek White (Dodge/Braille Battery + Grafoid)
42-Brennan Poole (Chevrolet/DC Solar)
43-Dakoda Armstrong (Ford/WinField)
44-David Starr (Toyota/Zachry)
51-Jeremy Clements (Chevrolet/RepairableVehicles.com + AllSouthElectric.com)
52-Joey Gase (Chevrolet/TBA)
54-Boris Said (Toyota/Monster Energy)
55-Jeffrey Earnhardt (Chevrolet/FW1 + Viva Auto Group)
60-Chris Buescher (Ford/Bit-O-Honey)
62-Brendan Gaughan (Chevrolet/South Point)
70-Derrike Cope (Chevrolet/Nature Nate’s Honey Company)
74-Mike Harmon (Dodge/TBA)
84-Chad Boat (Chevrolet/CorvetteParts.net)
85-Bobby Gerhart (Chevrolet/Lucas Oil)
88-Kasey Kahne (Chevrolet/Armour Vienna Sausage)
90-Mario Gosselin (Chevrolet/CrashClaimsR.us)
97-Peyton Sellers (Chevrolet/VroomBrands)
98-Aric Almirola (Ford/Carroll Shelby Engine Co.)