Danica Qualifies 12th Fastest
The starting field for Saturday’s Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards race is set following Friday’s qualifying session at Daytona International Speedway. Defending race winner James Buescher will lead off Saturday’s 43-car starting field after earning the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell with a 49.575 second/181.543 mph lap around the 2.5 mile speedway.
Danica Patrick, making her stock car debut in Saturday’s ARCA Racing Series race, qualified 12th with a 50.059 second/179.788 mph lap, posting the exact same time as Indiantown, Florida’s Patrick Sheltra. Sheltra starts ahead of Patrick in the race based on 2009 car owner points.
“She’s just another driver in the field and that’s how you have to look at it,” polesitter Buescher told members of the media on Friday afternoon when asked about racing alongside Danica Patrick during her stock car debut. “Hopefully everyone in our race stays smart and no one over drives while trying to impress the large audience we have for this race. They showed us a crash video during the driver’s meeting yesterday and it got our attention. I think there were 3 or 4 wrecks ahead of me in this race last year that I was able to avoid so hopefully my heart won’t skip too many beats this year.
“I knew the car was going to be fast because we were fast yesterday. I wasn’t sure how the wind changing around was going to affect everyone else. You could definitely feel the wind blowing. We don’t want to mess the car up so we’re not going to participate in happy hour. I’ve actually never done the happy hour practice in any speedway race. They tend to wreck a couple of cars in that practice and I don’t want to risk it.”
Buescher, the defending race winner, is competing in the same chassis he won last year’s Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 in.
Mikey Kile, in a Venturini Motorsports Toyota, starts on the outside front row (49.653 seconds/181.258 mph). The Westlake, Louisiana, native was fastest among 60 ARCA Racing Series teams who participated in ARCA’s three-day open test in December.
“I’ve probably run over 1000 laps in my mind in between the December test and this race weekend,” said Kile. “We were hoping for a pole award today but with our qualifying draw and the wind and everything this is the way it worked out. We worked really hard during the off season and this qualifying result is a direct result of that hard work. The car drafts well and drives well so I’m looking forward to getting the race started. We might go out there and make some single car runs later (during the limited-impound afternoon practice session) but we don’t want to draft. We watched the Cup practice yesterday and we don’t want to risk messing up our best piece. It’s just not worth it.”
Joey Coulter starts third in the No. 16 Rip It Energy Fuel Chevrolet.
“I think we all thought we were going to be a little bit quicker but we are thrilled with the way we ran,” said Coulter. “It was consistent with our practice session yesterday and anytime you can keep consistent that’s good. I’m definitely looking forward to tomorrow because I think my car will probably race better than it qualified–at least that’s the goal. We’ll probably just run a few laps in drafting practice later today.”
Dakoda Armstrong qualified fourth followed by Bryan Silas, Mark Thompson, Nelson Piquet, Jr., Bobby Gerhart, John Wes Townley and Steve Arpin.
Teams will participate in a final practice session from 5:40-6:30 p.m. where Patrick and others will get the chance to shake down their cars in the draft before Saturday’s race, which is live on SPEED beginning at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.
– Courtesy the ARCA Racing SeriesOne Comment