TEMPERANCE, Mich — With the 51st annual Talladega ARCA 250 right around the corner, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is preparing for one of its signature events on the 2.66-mile track with a scheduled two-day open test April 3-4 at Talladega Superspeedway.
The test will provide opportunities for aspiring rookies who seek to gain superspeedway experience and series approval to return for the race on May 3. It also provides opportunities for veterans like Bobby Gerhart to get that much further ahead of his competition.
“It really doesn’t matter how long we’ve been doing this; anytime you can go to the track and leave with information, it makes the team that much more prepared for the race,” Gerhart said, who won at Talladega in 2001.
“In a perfect world, we’d take the same car we raced last year with the same package, but we got crashed last year, so we’re starting over in some sense, searching for a baseline, set-up-wise.”
Gerhart, who also has eight Daytona victories to his credit, is often regarded as one of ARCA’s restrictor plate experts.
“For over 25 years, I’ve done this; but our track time (around the race) has gotten significantly smaller over the years as schedules, as a cost-cutting measure, have become more condensed. That said, it makes these tests even more valuable.”
Gerhart is bringing two cars for the test, a newer machine and an old reliable car he calls “Sweet Pea.” Gerhart’s Sweet Pea is the same car that he won in at Talladega in ’01. It’s also the same car that got wrecked in a multi-car pile-up at Talladega during last year’s race.
“Both of the cars we’re bringing are former Daytona winners. In fact, there are four Daytona wins between these two cars — two apiece. We’ll find out which one is the best, and we’ll leave it at that.”
Venturini Motorsports, who opened the season with a victory at Daytona with John Wes Townley driving, has also signed on for the test, bringing four drivers, one of which will be Townley. Venturini Motorsports fulltime drivers Milka Duno and Justin Boston are also scheduled to test as is rookie Caleb Armstrong. Armstrong is the cousin of former Talladega ARCA 250 winner Dakoda Armstrong.
Cunningham Motorsports is also scheduled to test with two drivers — veteran Tom Hessert and rookie Korbin Forrister.