DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Venturini Motorsports and 18-year-old Kyle Fowler led the first day of ARCA Racing Series testing at the recently repaved Daytona Int’l Speedway Tuesday afternoon.
Fowler, of Smyrna, Ga., drove the No. 15 Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet to a lap of 48.791 seconds (184.460 miles per hour) in the afternoon session to lead testing at the historic 2.5-mile facility.
“I didn’t expect that. This is my first time here, but the guys have been putting a lot of hard work and effort into it. I’m certainly pleased with it, obviously,” Fowler said.
Fowler looked ahead to Wednesday’s test sessions, which will feature single-car runs in the morning and drafting practice in the afternoon.
“We’re going to try a couple different things. The car is handling outstanding so we just basically have to get me comfortable in the draft. That’s going to be a new experience for me, so we’ll see if we can get ready for the race here,” Fowler said. “Restrictor plate racing is absolutely different than anything I’ve ever done. It was something to take those first few laps around this place, considering how much history it has. It was incredible.”
Venturini Motorsports posted the day’s top three speeds and four of the top eight, pleasing General Manager Billy Venturini and matching last season’s effort, which saw the ARCA stalwart lead in preseason Daytona testing with driver Mikey Kile.
“We have high expectations when we go plate racing,” Venturini said. “We’ve worked really hard since the week after (last season’s finale at) Rockingham, so it’s always good to see your hard work pay off. I hope we can make it all apply when we come back for the race.”
Steve Arpin, who drove the No. 55 entry for Venturini last season, took the No. 25 Toyota to second on the charts with a 48.796 second lap at 184.441 mph. Hal Martin, driving the No. 55, finished third for the day at 49.141 (183.146 mph). Mark Thompson drove Venturini’s No. 66 entry to eighth on the overall chart.
“I only had the afternoon to log laps in the 55 car, and the team really worked hard to give me a fantastic car. The track is fast, the car is fast, and I’m ready for days two and three. The car feels good and we worked on several different setups today,” Martin said. “Daytona is a world-class track, and the repaving has made it even more challenging than before. It’s going to be really interesting to see the drafting practice over the next two days. We can easily take it three-wide for several laps with this surface.”
Tim George, Jr. drove the No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Development Chevrolet to the fourth position for the day at 49.201 seconds (182.923 mph). Chris Buescher, who led the morning session, finished the day fifth overall with a lap of 49.315 seconds (182.5 mph) in the No. 17 Roulo Brothers Racing Ford.
IndyCar driver Milka Duno finished the day sixth in advance of her second ARCA Racing Series start, and rookie Ty Dillon was seventh. Grant Enfinger drove an Allgaier Motorsports entry to ninth overall, and Dakoda Armstrong rounded out the top 10.
The on-track action was slowed by only three minor incidents throughout the day.
Open testing for teams and drivers will continue Wednesday and Thursday at Daytona Int’l Speedway.