Gerhart wins record eighth Daytona race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP)
Bobby Gerhart has been downright dominant over the years at Daytona International Speedway.
This time, he was simply fortunate.
Gerhart raced to his record eighth ARCA series victory at Daytona - and third in a row - Saturday after two of the top cars ran out of gas just a few hundred feet from the finish.
''It took one little slip from the leader,'' Gerhart said. ''Unbelievable! Wow!''
Gerhart, who spends all year getting ready for the annual race that kicks off Speedweeks, started 42nd after failing a post-qualifying inspection Friday. He worked his way toward the front, taking advantage of some fuel-strategy moves, and was just behind the leaders when the green flag dropped on a two-lap sprint to the finish.
Brandon McReynolds was up front, with Chris Windom close behind, when their cars started sputtering. McReynolds, the son of former NASCAR crew chief and current television analyst Larry McReynolds, led the previous 62 laps and appeared to be a lock for his first ARCA victory. But McReynolds ran out of gas on the frontstretch and faded to 11th. Windom also came up short and finished eighth.
McReynolds, Windom and others crashed after crossing the finish line, but were not injured.
Gerhart passed both of them on the outside and took the checkered flag once again at the storied speedway. Drew Charlson finished second, just ahead of Will Kimmel, Steve Blackburn and Mark Thompson.
''I learned a long time ago that these things are not over until they're over,'' Gerhart said. ''And I don't care if it's the last lap, two to go, five to go. A lot of things can happen, as it just played out tonight.''
Brett Hudson, Nelson Canache and Frank Kimmel were penalized for driving below the yellow line at the bottom of the track. ARCA officials placed them at the end of the lead lap.
The drivers spent most of the race in a single-file line, avoiding the tight packs and the two-car tandems that have become the norm at Daytona in recent years. That changed on the final lap, and things really got hairy when the leaders started running out of fuel.
Aside from the final wreck after the finish, the race was relatively free of cautions.
It wasn't a strong showing for three female drivers in the season opener.
Former IndyCar driver Milka Duno brought out the first caution early in the race, never recovered and finished 37th. She was 13 laps down.
Leilani Munter spun shortly after a restart following Duno's problems, causing another caution, and finished 36th. Sloan Henderson had an ignition switch problem and finished 40th.
Pole-sitter Sean Corr blew an engine midway through the race and finished last.