John Wes Townley started on the pole and finished in Gatorade Victory Lane Saturday capturing the 50thannual Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real at Daytona International Speedway.
The race marked Townley’s eighth start at the “World Center of Racing,” and his first career pole and win in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. His previous best finish in the series also came at DIS when he finished third in 2010.
“It still hasn’t sunk all in,” said Townley of the win, which gave Venturini Motorsports their first, long-awaited victory on the high banks of Daytona. “It’s one thing to win your first race in ARCA; it’s another to win at Daytona.
“Personally, this is priceless,” Townley continued. “I almost wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world except my family. It’s a real honor to win at Daytona.”
Townley has raced well in the ARCA Series on the 2.5-mile tri-oval, logging four top-11 finishes in as many starts. Townley was a contender for the win right off of the truck, with the No. 15 Zaxby’s Toyota posting the fastest laps during qualifying and practice. He then went on to lead nine laps during the race, including the last eight.
Leading a race-high 55 laps on the night was eight-time and defending race winner Bobby Gerhart, who holds the record for the most starts (26) and the most laps completed (1,781) in the kickoff event to the stock car portion of Budweiser Speedweeks. In the lead with eight laps to go, Gerhart’s No. 5 Chevrolet slowed coming off Turn 4, allowing Townley to pass him for the lead. Two laps later, Gerhart’s car would come to a rest on the backstretch.
Rounding out the top five were Kyle Larson, Ricky Ehrgott, nine-time ARCA Series champion Frank Kimmel and 2012 race polesitter Sean Corr.
Drivers participating in the 80-lap opening act to the star-studded Sprint Unlimited included 20 drivers experiencing their first competitive laps at DIS; Martinsville Speedway track president Clay Campbell, who finished 14th; and 78-year-old James Hylton, who finished 26th. The race marks Hylton’s last at the prestigious track as he is retiring at the end of the season after 50 years of NASCAR racing.