Mended Lancaster Leads the ARCA Test Field

| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, January 16 2021

A crew member applies a decal to Derrick Lancaster’s car at Daytona on Friday.

By Deb Williams | Senior Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Six months ago Derrick Lancaster thought he would never race again, but Friday the Virginia resident led testing in the ARCA Menards Series at Daytona International Speedway.

Lancaster, who suffered a three-quarter fracture in his C1 vertebrae in a crash at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway on Aug. 7, pushed his Chevrolet to a lap of 183.902 mph, 48.939 seconds, in a draft. That provided him with a 0.046-second edge over Ty Gibbs’ Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Rounding out the top five were: Thad Moffitt, DGR Ford, 182.648 mph; Sean Corr, Empire Racing Chevrolet, 182.515; and Nick Sanchez, Rev Racing Chevrolet, 182.511.

“It feels awesome. This isn’t something I’m used to,” Lancaster said about his performance on day one of the two-day test.

“It’s hard for me to explain what my family has been through over the last six months. Now, for me to be cleared to come back … it means a lot. It’s very emotional.”

Lancaster’s recovery road from his severe injury involved nearly a week in an East Tennessee hospital’s intensive care unit and then wearing a neck collar for three months. Doctors told him he would never drive a race car again.

“That was very emotional to me and my family,” said Lancaster, who will have celebrated his 48th birthday and met his first grandchild by the time he returns to Daytona for the Feb. 13 ARCA Menards Series season opening event.

“But it’s not nearly as emotional as it is for my family for me to come back here now.”

Lancaster’s parents, his wife and three daughters were upset at his return to the 2.5-mile speedway as a driver, but he thought their attitude might have changed with Friday’s performance.

“My phone hasn’t stopped ringing since we went to the top of the board,” he noted. 

Lancaster’s team is a throwback to racing’s early days as his small organization is comprised primarily of volunteers. Everyone has a full-time job in another profession. They turn their attention to racing after they leave work.  He’s known as a short-track competitor in the Mid-Atlantic Region with Motor Mile Speedway near Radford, Va., his home track.  

“We’ve surrounded ourself with a lot of good people that have a lot of knowledge,” Lancaster said. “Don Akers takes care of about 95 percent of everything we do from the short-track stuff to the ARCA stuff.”

However, Akers agreed with Lancaster that he shouldn’t call a race, so he encouraged Lancaster to hire veteran crew chief Marcus Richmond,

“So that is another plus on our side,” Lancaster said about Richmond. “We also hired two or three friends who have a lot of experience in racing.

“We do this as a hobby. It’s not a full-time gig for me. I have a business that I can’t be gone all the time to come out racing. That’s how I fund this operation. It’s all about my friends and family having fun. We plan on running a lot more races this year, but this might cap it off where we’ll run even more.” 

ARCA testing continues Saturday at Daytona from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., ET.


| Senior Writer, RacinToday.com Saturday, January 16 2021
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