DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Approximately 50 drivers kicked off a three-day ARCA Racing Series test session on Friday at Daytona Int’l Speedway in advance of the 50th annual Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 on Saturday, Feb. 16, part of Budweiser Speedweeks 2013.
Rookie Venturini Motorsports driver Justin Boston led the way in a pair of practice sessions, setting the fastest time of the day in the afternoon session at 180.683 mph.
Fellow Venturini Motorsports drivers John Wes Townley and Taylor Ferns was second and third fastest respectively. Fourth fastest was Garrett Smithley and fifth was Bo Lemastus.
Light rain slowed the morning session on Friday but teams got plenty of track time in the afternoon.
The season-opening ARCA race will celebrate its golden anniversary in 2013. The inaugural Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 was held in 1964 and was the series’ first superspeedway race.
Bobby Gerhart, who has dominated the season-opening ARCA race with a record eight victories in the 80-lap, 200-mile event, was on hand for the opening day of testing.
“I’m pumped up to race here just like I was the first day I came,” Gerhart said. “We treat this race like we have not won any of them. That’s really what you have to do. You got to put yourself in position where you throw everything at it you can and work as hard as you can.
“I’m not going to be quiet about it, we’ve done a lot of work given the new rules package. I’m anxious for some great weather and a great opportunity to see if what I believe is going to happen happens.”
Also on hand for the test was Clay Campbell, president of the prestigious Martinsville Speedway, who took his first laps around Daytona Int’l Speedway’s legendary 2.5-mile tri-oval during testing Friday.
Campbell is testing a Spraker Racing Ford with a Roush Yates engine and plans to enter the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.
“I’ve been doing various types of racing for 20 years and if you had the opportunity to do something bigger, I think anybody would jump at the chance,” Campbell said. “Anybody that would have the opportunity to run Daytona, you would be crazy not to. The history, the tradition, this is the ultimate as far as motorsports goes.
“This is obviously hallowed ground. This is the World Center of Racing. Who wouldn’t want to drive on the World Center of Racing.”
Campbell was 26th fastest in testing Friday.
Dakota Carlson, who is participating in the test session after earning the opportunity through ARCA’s Road to Daytona program, also took his first laps around Daytona Friday.
“It was pretty cool just to say some day that I got to go around Daytona,” said Carlson after his first laps on Friday morning. “Us short track racers, we’re never going to make it to this level more than likely. It definitely sits you down in the seat when you go into the corner. It was a really cool feeling.”
Carlson was 28th fastest on the time sheet.