Venturini Motorsports Tops Speed Charts in first day of Talladega ARCA TestingBy Ashley McCubbin
Before the rain fell from the skies in the afternoon, the ARCA Racing Series cars got on the track and were able to make some laps in preparation for the race at Talladega Superspeedway later this year. At the end of the shortened session, Venturini Motorsports drivers swept the top four spots.
Daytona race winner John Wes Townley topped the charts with a speed of 180.264 mph, leading Venturni Motorsports’ four Toyotas.
“The test was great,” Townley said. “We unloaded, made a few changes – some things we wanted to try, and picked up right where we left off (at Daytona). Despite the rain, I think we got what we needed. This is the same car we won with at Daytona, and it’s still fast.”
Back in Daytona in February, Townley was in second place with seven laps to go while Bobby Gerhart led. However, as the field came off turn four, Gerhart slowed immediately, moving to the inside which allowed Townley to get by. Gerhart would stall on the inside of the track a lap later, out of gas. There’d be no caution due to his Chevrolet being out of the way. Townley then held off rookie Kyle Larson to take the checkered flag. It marked the first win for Venturini Motorsports on the 2.5-mile oval.
While the two tracks may race the same, Talladega is wider, allowing for drivers to run more comfortably three-wide.
“The biggest thing that stands out to me is the room you have to race at Talladega,” Townley commented. “It gets a little edgy at Daytona when you start going three wide, but here (Talladega), you can run three-wide comfortably, and squeeze in a fourth car when you need to.”
Milka Duno was second, two tenths off of Townley. She started the Daytona race second in February and led the first 11 laps before mechanical problems took her out of the race.
In just his first laps on at Talladega, Celeb Armstrong would time in third, three tenths off of Townley.
“What struck me most about Talladega, in comparison to Daytona, was the wide open space,” Armstrong said. “There is so much more room. Daytona is a lot narrower than it looks on TV. Talladega is one awesome track. We started out pretty quick, fell back a little, but I think we could have been faster had it not rained.”
Justin Boston was the driving the fourth car for Venturini, placing fourth on the charts, four tenths off of Townley.
“I thought the test went really good,” Boston said. “Collectively, as a (Venturini Motorsports) group, it was awesome. For me, personally, it was a comfort thing – building my confidence for when we return. But today was really more important for us as a team, than for me as a driver.
“The track definitely feels a lot bigger (than Daytona) going down the straightaways. The other difference I noticed was the access roads – getting onto and exciting pit road is different.”
Current points leader Mason Mingus rounded out the top five, seven tenths off of Townley.
Tom Hessert was sixth, followed by Bobby Gerhart, Korbin Forrister, Cody McMahan and Galen Hassler. Gerhart, a previous Talladega winner, tested a pair of cars – a new car and the car known as “Sweet Pea”, which won the race back in 2001.
“Both of the cars we tested are former Daytona winners,” Gerhart commented. “In fact, there are four Daytona wins between these two cars – two apiece. One of our goals was to find out which car is the best, and leave it at that.”
In total, 17 drivers took to the track during the session that was shortened by three hours due to rain.
|2013 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards|
|Talladega Superspeedway, Talladega Alabama|
|Open Test Results (4-3-13)|
|1||15||John Wes Townley/Watkinsville GA||Toyota||53.122||180.264|
|2||35||Milka Duno/Caracas Venezuela||Toyota||53.311||179.625|
|3||55||Caleb Armstrong/New Castle IN||Toyota||53.465||179.108|
|4||25||Justin Boston/Baltimore MD||Toyota||53.581||178.720|
|5||32||Mason Mingus/Brentwood TN||Toyota||53.842||177.854|
|6||77||Tom Hessert/Cherry Hill NJ||Dodge||53.875||177.745|
|7||5||Bobby Gerhart/Lebanon PA||Chevrolet||54.179||176.747|
|8||22||Korbin Forrister/Cedartown GA||Dodge||54.330||176.256|
|9||38||Cody McMahan/Chilhowie VA||Ford||54.670||175.160|
|10||40||Galen Hassler/Columbia MO||Dodge||54.826||174.662|
|11||13||George Cushman/Waterville NY||Chevrolet||54.865||174.538|
|12||40||Eric Meisner/Brighton CO||Dodge||54.884||174.477|
|13||90||Grant Enfinger/Fairhope AL||Ford||55.034||174.002|
|14||90||Buster Graham/Lafayette LA||Ford||55.063||173.910|
|15||40||Dustin Knowles/Trussville AL||Dodge||55.097||173.803|
|17||27||Barry Fitzgerald/Sykeston MD||Ford||56.981||168.056|
|40||Joel Willman/Fort Hood TX||Dodge||NT|
|40||Dominick Casola/Holmdel NJ||Dodge||NT|
|40||Cody Lane/Port Richey FL||Dodge||NT|