ARCA To Produce It’s Own Brand Of Daytona ‘Shootout’

Charlotte, NC (January 17, 2011) – The Budweiser Shootout will open the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season in less than one month taking the green flag on Saturday, February 12. The all-star event – which debuted as the Busch Clash in 1979 – will feature NASCAR’s top stars in a 75-laps event on the newly paved Daytona International Speedway oval.

As exciting as that sounds, the Shootout may not be the best event of the day.

That honor could go to the Automobile Club of America (ARCA) Lucas Oil Mist 200 which will be held at DIS earlier in the day. The ARCA crowd has been a ‘warm-up act’ for the NASCAR boys at Daytona since 1964 when ARCA founder John Marcum and his Midwestern-based racing series joined the Speedweeks party. Based on pre-event testing last week – and a look at the entry list – this year’s Daytona ARCA race could be a hard act to follow for the Cup gang later in the day.

Here’s why – The ARCA race will feature the old style Cup car – the pre-COT model. When NASCAR introduced the COT a couple of years back, ARCA teams gobbled up the old cars for pennies on the dollar. The result was the iron in the ARCA garage got a lot better from top to bottom. That’s made for a better show regardless of what track ARCA is competing at.

Additionally, ARCA has a number of very strong teams – many of them now with Cup affiliations. The division also has become a fertile ground for developing talent. At the ARCA Daytona test last week, young drives like Ty Dillon, Kyle Fowler, Steve Arpin, Kevin Swindell and Grant Effinger were strutting their stuff running laps in the 185 miles per hour range.

There’s a lot of talent in the ARCA garage (58 drivers took laps on the final day of practice last Friday) and it’s just a matter of time before we see some of these guys – and a bunch we didn’t name – fighting their way into the Cup ranks. Finally, there’s the new Daytona racing surface itself. Thanks to a new ultra-smooth ribbon of asphalt, the 2.5-mile Daytona oval is better than ever. The track has a ton of grip and the bumps and imperfections that could get a driver – especially a young and inexperienced wheel jockey – in trouble in a heartbeat are gone too. These changes will surely improve all the races at Daytona this year, but especially the ARCA race.

For our money, the events during Daytona Speedweeks are always among the best on the racing calendar and this year’s ARCA 200-miler is definitely one to keep an eye on. There’s sure to be plenty of action and the winner just might be someone you will be cheering for in Cup in a couple of years. If you can’t be there in person to see the ARCA event, you can catch it on SPEED at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday, February 12.

Fisticuff Down Under
Reports surfaced out of Australia this weekend alleging that NASCAR Cup star Tony Stewart was involved in pit area fight with an event promoter. Stewart, who has been ‘Down Under’ racing Sprint Cars lately, supposedly got into it with Sydney Speedway co-owner/promoter Brett Morris over substandard track conditions. Heated words, punches and a helmet bashing were all alleged to be a part of the incident. Local police detained Stewart, who was later released without charge. Stewart was scheduled to return to the United States over the weekend but could have to go back to Australia at a later date to resolve charges should they be filed. Not to make light of the situation, but could it be Stewart was channeling his inner Anthony Joseph Foyt?

In case you missed it, A.J. celebrated his 76th birthday Sunday. Maybe Stewart forgot to get A.J. a gift before he left the country. Since nobody ever enjoyed (or participated in) as many good pit fights as Foyt did, Stewart’s alleged actions were the perfect way to honor his hero. Only time will produce the details of and the resolution to this matter, but we can be sure that Stewart’s latest actions brought a smile to Foyt’s face as he blew out the candles on his birthday cake Sunday.

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