ARCA: Age is Just a Number; Gaulding & Gerhart Among Those Gunning for Daytona Victory

RaceChaser Staff ARCA, Featured, Southeast, Stock Cars 0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — official series release — ARCA photos —

A full field of ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards rookies and veterans will run the gamut when a 40-car field takes off Saturday for the 53rd running of the Lucas Oil 200 Driven By General Tire at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

Few examples are more pronounced than with newcomer Gray Gaulding and veteran Bobby Gerhart. Gaulding, who turns 18 just three days before the race, would become the youngest stock car winner in history at Daytona if he wins the race. On the opposite end, 57-year-old Gerhart would become the oldest stock car winner at Daytona if the Lebanon, Pennsylvania driver can win his ninth ARCA race at the “World Center of Racing”.

Kyle Petty, 19 at the time, is currently the youngest winner, taking the victory in the Daytona ARCA 200 in 1979. Five years prior, 57-year-old Iggy Katona became the oldest winner with an ARCA victory in 1974.

“As a young kid, when you hear Daytona, it’s everything,” said Gaulding. “Just the chance to race at Daytona means everything in itself, but to actually win it would be unbelievable; and to be the youngest winner at Daytona would be over the top.”

Gerhart, who won his first Daytona ARCA 200 in 1999, knows what it’s like to be “over the top”, having won at Daytona a record eight times.

“They’re all extremely special,” Gerhart said. “If I look back at the one that meant the most…probably 2002 when Pop (his father Bobby Gerhart, Sr.) hid himself in the infield until the race started. But they’re all big at Daytona. If we can win this one, we’ll be the oldest…that’ll give it a little extra but it will always be hard to outrun the day my father met me in victory lane. But to be the oldest winner at Daytona would be very cool; I would admit.”

Unlike up and coming rookies today that start driving in their teens, Gerhart never raced at Daytona before he was nearly 30. Nonetheless, Gerhart has raced in a record 28 consecutive Daytona ARCA 200s.

“I would have liked to have gotten started much earlier…who knows where we’d be now, but things were different then. I was in my late 20s when I went to Daytona for the first time.”

Gaulding, like so many of the rookies in Saturday’s field, got a much earlier start. The Lucas Oil 200 will not only be his first start at Daytona, it will also be his ARCA Racing Series debut. The only experience he’s got at Daytona was in the two-day open test back in mid-January.

“I actually feel like I learned enough (at the test),” Gaulding added. “It’s Daytona. You hold it wide open and work your way through the pack. I was working in a 10-car pack at the test and was leading by the third lap.”

While Gerhart fields his own Lucas Oil-sponsored cars, Gaulding is driving for Lira Motorsports with title sponsorship from Krispy Kreme. Veteran crew chief Teddy Brown will direct the effort. Despite Gaulding’s inexperience, he’s confident he can get the job done.

“Absolutely…I feel like I can go there and win. I’ve got confidence in myself, my Lira Motorsports team, and my crew chief Teddy Brown. To go to Daytona with a great team, with a legitimate shot to win is more than I can ask for.

“We’ve even been practicing pit stops over at Roush Fenway (Racing)…getting in and out of the pit box. I already know this team can do it, and I know I can do it.”

Cole Custer, who turned 18 in January, would also become the youngest stock car winner at Daytona if he can get to victory lane. Mark Thompson, last year’s Menards Pole Award winner, could also become the oldest winner at Daytona. Thompson is 64. Custer will be driving a Ken Schrader Racing entry, while Thompson is driving for Venturini Motorsports.

The 53rd annual Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona is live on FS1 Saturday, Feb. 13 and precedes NASCAR’s same-night Sprint Unlimited.

CREDIT: ARCA Racing Series

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