SPARTA, Ky. — Audio and recap by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda — ARCA photo —
William Byron is fast every time the 17-year-old driver steps into a race car.
The same can be said Tuesday at Kentucky Speedway.
With no prior experience on the 1.5-mile track, Byron turned the fastest times in both afternoon and morning sessions of the open ARCA test in preparation for Friday night’s Crosley Brands 150.
The K&N Pro Series East points leader ran a lap of 30.797 seconds (175.342 mph), just over two-and-a-half tenths of a second faster than Venturini Motorsports teammate Brandon Jones (173.868 mph). Venturini won the race last year with Brennan Poole, who is currently driving a part-time schedule with HScott Motorsports with Chip Ganassi in the NASCAR XFINITY Series.
Like Byron, his K&N East teammate Scott Heckert never turned a lap at Kentucky until Tuesday morning in the No. 43 Project Lifesaver Chevrolet. Heckert will make his ARCA debut Friday night with HScott Motorsports with Justin Marks (HSMJM) after putting up the fourth-overall fastest time of the day at 172.695 mph (31.269 seconds).
“Kentucky is a lot different than anything I’ve ever been on,” Heckert said. “We go to Dover in the K&N Series, which is pretty fast. The corner speed is just as fast as Kentucky, if not a little faster, but getting used to the faster speed on a mile-and-a-half [track] is certainly different. Kentucky is probably one of the harder mile-and-a-halves just because you have the added complexity of bumps. Our goal today was to go out there and make laps. I wanted to get comfortable on the track and I think we accomplished that.”
Heckert has the same car that Ben Rhodes drove in last year’s race. HSMJM repaired the wrecked race car and put the second-place K&N East points man behind the wheel to make his superspeedway debut in the No. 43.
Two XFINITY drivers returned to Kentucky for the first time since that series ran there back in July as part of a triple-header weekend with the Cup and Camping World Truck Series. Daniel Suarez and Ryan Reed will race again in ARCA for the second time this season. Both are double-dipping this weekend in the Crosley Brands 150 and NXS events at the 1.5-mile track located in Sparta.
Suarez returned to the No. 15 ARRIS Toyota Tuesday and ran the eight-fastest time at 31.798 seconds (169.822 mph), while Chicagoland winner Reed piloted the No. 38 Ford to 10th-quick (168.245 mph) to lead the Lira Motorsports bunch. Series regular David Levine was 15th at 32.404 secodnd (166.646 mph).
The oldest driver out of the top-10 in practice speeds was 30-year-old Grant Enfinger (third-fastest), who currently leads ARCA points. Enfinger has a 225-point gap over Josh Williams going into the Crosley Brands 150.
25 cars took part in Tuesday’s ARCA test at Kentucky, including defending series champ Mason Mitchell. He drove his own No. 78 Ford, but K&N West point leader Noah Gragson will take the wheel once Friday rolls around. Gragson also tested and turned a lap of 32.166 seconds (167.879 mph), good enough for 11th.
Matt Kurzejewski never turned a lap as he tweeted this:
Crew chief Brian Keselowski tweeted out some good news around 7 p.m. Tuesday:
The next time ARCA drivers take to the 1.5-mile track in the Bluegrass State will be for practice at 12:30 p.m. ET Friday.
Audio with Scott Heckert
RESULTS: ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards; Open Test; Kentucky Speedway; September 22, 2015
- William Byron
- Brandon Jones
- Grant Enfinger
- Scott Heckert
- Travis Braden
- Austin Cindric
- Will Kimmel
- Daniel Suarez
- Ross Kenseth
- Ryan Reed
- Noah Gragson
- Josh Williams
- Tom Hessert
- Kyle Weatherman
- David Levine
- Mason Mitchell
- Sarah-Cornett Ching
- Nick Higdon
- Brandon Lynn
- Kyle Benjamin
- Austin Wayne Self
- Bo LeMastus
- Bobby Gerhart
- Michael Lira
- Rick Clifton