The ARCA Racing Series is nearing the start of its season. Like NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series, it opens at the Daytona International Speedway and is part of the week-long Daytona 500 experience.
ARCA's opening race is the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, which is an 80-lap, 200-mile race. Past champions include NASCAR stars Ryan Newman (2001) and Kyle Busch (2004). Joey Logano also has a runner-up performance in this race to his name, which came in 2009. That was the same year he won the Sprint Cup Series' Rookie of the Year.
Bobby Gerhart won the race in 2011 and 2010, and has recorded five wins since 2005 and seven overall.
Where: Daytona International Speedway. Daytona Beach, FLA
When: Saturday, Feb. 18 at 4:30 p.m. EST
Watch: Speed TV
Defending champion Bobby Gerhart leads a field of 43 racers. Unfortunately for Gerhart, a disqualification in qualifying is causing him to start from the No. 42 spot.
Sean Corr has the pole position while Ryan Reed joins him on the front row.
A list of the full field, their starting position and qualifying times can be found at ARCAracing.com.
What They're Saying
Godwin Kelly of the Daytona Beach News-Journal wrote that this is a big event for more than just the ARCA series, but that it can also be a nice view of the future.
NASCAR teams will use the ARCA 200 event to give their up and coming talent a taste of Daytona's 31-degree high banks. Danica Patrick made her first stock car start in the 2010 race. She finished sixth. Kyle Petty, Richard Petty's son, made his first stock car start in the 1979 ARCA 200 and won the race.
Dark horse: Steve Blackburn
His car is always extremely fast and this year is no different. Blackburn is starting from the No. 3 position, so he has a great chance to win. His lack of history here has come from bad luck in terms of accidents. If he stays out of trouble, Blackburn will be hard to beat.
Prediction: Chris Buescher
It might seem tough to pick against Gerhart in this race given his phenomenal history, but starting from the back of the field is going to be too much to overcome.
Buescher is the reigning series Rookie of the Year, is starting from a good position (number eight), and had an impressive second-place performance in 2011's event. He will emerge victorious in this field, getting his 2012 season off on a good note.