John Wes Townley Scores For Venturini Racing At Daytona

Daytona Beach, Fla. – John Wes Townley drove superbly to win the Lucas Oil 200 presented by MAVTV American Real at the Daytona International Speedway late Saturday afternoon. Driving the Zaxby’s Toyota, Townley gave Venturini Racing its first victory at Daytona.

As usual, the 200-mile race marked the beginning of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season, and the venerable series celebrated its 50th anniversary of racing at Daytona.

Trailing perennial Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart for much of the race, Townley pounced when the Pennsylvania driver faltered on the 73rd lap, bunching up the frontrunners and Gerhardt went off the track and raced at speed down pit road.

Townley took the lead and was never challenged, leading Kyle Larson and Ricky Ehrgott across the finish line. The margin of victory was .173 seconds.

“It all hasn’t sunk in yet,” Townley said afterward. “It is one thing to win your first ARCA race and it is another thing to win at Daytona. Wow! When I took the checkered flag, I didn’t know whether I had taken it. And what an exciting day for us. It is very special to win. I didn’t really have any expectations that I would win today, but I sure am glad it happened.”

Regarding the near tangle with Gerhart, the winner said, “I am not sure what happened with Gerhart. He checked up all of a sudden, and I didn’t have much time to react. But I did get by him.”

The Venturini family has won often and everywhere but never at Daytona, and the jubilation in victory lane was clearly evident. Said Bill Venturini, “This one was the highlight of my entire racing career. We have been blessed to win championships and races, but not at Daytona or Talladega. This is the first time I have cried in victory lane, even though I have been there many times as a driver, a crew member, crew chief and an owner.”

Taking his first laps at Daytona this week, Larson drove flawlessly to gain the runner-up position in the Cessna Chevrolet. The 20-year old is a development driver for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing and today’s entry was from Turner Scott Motorsports.

“I didn’t have a shot to win in the closing laps, but I was hoping for help. Catching those lapped cars, I was hoping for a little bit of a tow,” Larson said. “It wasn’t a bad race, and I think I should be approved for the Nationwide Series race next week. My race went well. It wasn’t too intense except at the end when we were side-by-side with lapped traffic. That was pretty exciting.”

Ehrgott put the Sandvik Coromant-Rev 1 Power Services Chevrolet into third place.

Fourth and fifth were veteran Frank Kimmel and Sean Corr.

Brennan Newberry earned sixth place ahead of Mason Mingus, Mark Thompson, Matt Kurzejewski and Chad Boat.

Gerhart was scored 29th after leading 55 of the 80 laps until his car cut out.

Veteran driver James Hylton, 78, retired after the race. He finished 26th for his final event.

Venturini Racing had three other cars in the race, but these entrants didn’t fare as well as the winner did. But Milka Duno, who started from the front row, led the opening 11 laps before having a car problem. She ended up 28th.

Three caution flags slowed the race for 19 laps. A multi-car accident on the 19th circuit was the only major incident.

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