DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — official series release — ARCA photo —
It just wasn’t enough for Empire Racing to top the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards charts in open testing at Daytona Int’l Speedway back in December.
One month later, Empire returned and did it again, topping the charts with the No. 48 Hylton-Empire Ford Fusion with Sean Corr at the helm Friday afternoon at the “World Center of Racing”. Corr was fastest overall with a speed of 187.692 mph.
Then, in the final seconds, right before the five o’clock closing bell, his Empire Racing teammates Austin Hill and Patrick Staropoli drafted their way to the front, taking their places in second and third right behind the boss.
“I thought we’d have our hands full with three cars…I can’t believe how amazing this crew was today,” Corr said. “We don’t have a lot of guys. I thought they’d be completely overwhelmed but they had a game plan for everything…they were amazing. We brought that other Ilmor (396 engine) car down. We just measured everything exactly from my car…mimicked every line, everything the exact same way. It was the perfect three-car train. We may have to turn that third car into an Ilmor. All three are planning to come back for the race.”
Newcomer Austin Hill, with a legacy engine, was second overall at 187.165 mph in the No. 8 Ford Fusion, sandwiched in between Corr and Staropoli. Staropoli, whose speed was 187.126 mph in the No. 82 Ford Fusion, made it to the test just in time.
“It was an eventful day,” Staropoli said. “Drove down at the last second. I had an exam in Miami this morning. Drove up right after that…got here about 3:30. Everyone was drafting at that point. That last run…wow…it was the best run all day. We came down with a different car this time…had the Ilmor motor in it. It pulled a little better, but all three of Empire’s cars were great. I want to thank American RF for helping me get here. I learn more every time I go out there…I’m really excited for the race.”
Matt Kurzejewski, with Brian Keselowski crew-chiefing, was fourth fastest overall in the No. 54 Dodge at 187.029 mph.
Venturini Motorsports teammates Brandon Jones and Frank Kimmel were fifth and sixth on the speed charts. Venturini had just announced the day before that Jones and Kimmel would split the season in the No. 25 Toyota Camry car, each taking 10 races. Jones, however, won’t turn 18 until after the upcoming Daytona race, leaving the seat open for Kimmel.
“Overall, a really good day for both Venturini cars,” Kimmel said. “I couldn’t be happier. The motor performed well…it really gets up and goes. Fun to drive.”
Kimmel is the all-time ARCA winner with 80 wins but none at Daytona.
“I came in with a lot of confidence and I’m leaving with even more. I’d have to say this will be one of my best shots to finally win this thing. I’ve got the speed…got the equipment, but I still need to get it done.”
Ryan Heavner, in the No. 19 Chevy Impala, was seventh overall on the charts ahead of Will Kimmel in eighth. Kimmel’s effort in the No. 69 Kimmel Racing Ford garnered a good deal of attention as the only car in the garage wearing the new ARCA Racing Series composite body. The event marked the first appearance of the new body on a track more than a mile length.
“Everything went really good,” Will Kimmel said. “The new Five Star body performed great…no loose ends, nothing moving in the draft. Overall, I’m really happy with it. I think ARCA’s going to do really well with this car. We had to make some changes to the car to get it to run faster when you’re carrying that much body, but it responded to all our changes and went fast. I was pleasantly surprised.”
Newcomer Daniel Hemric and defending ARCA Racing Series champion Mason Mitchell rounded out the top-10 respectively.
Thirty-seven drivers posted time and speed during the one-day test cut short by three hours in the morning due to wet track conditions. Despite all night rains, cars were on track by noon and went all the way, without pause, up through 5 p.m. There were no on-track incidents.
|ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards|
|Daytona Int’l Speedway, Daytona Beach FL|
|Open Test Results (1-16-15)|
|12||98||Austin Wayne Self||48.276||186.428||0.325||Frd|