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ARCA opener at Daytona promises plenty of action

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Friday, Feb. 15, 2013

A race already known for producing fireworks has the ingredients for even more.

Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200, the series opener for the Automobile Racing Club of America, is typically known for wild wrecks and the number of drivers using the race to gain superspeedway experience.

The makings are there for plenty of both: The 40-field race contains 20 drivers with no prior experience at Daytona.

Leading the way on the front row are Venturini Motorsports teammates John Wes Townley and Milka Duno. The pole is the first for Townley.

“Tomorrow’s going to be the day that really counts, but it means a lot to be able to come here and get the pole. We just need to come out tomorrow and back it up,” Townley said. “The car is working very well in the draft, too, so I think it’ll hold up very well in the race.”

ARCA president Ron Drager said having 20 first-time drivers is fairly typical for the season opener.

“The ARCA series has long been both a race for developmental drivers and for those who have made the choice to race in ARCA,” he said.

Roush sees benefit in relationship: On Thursday, Roush Fenway Racing driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said his team owner, Jack Roush, was supportive of his relationship with fellow Sprint Cup driver Danica Patrick.

Roush appeared on Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s show “Dialed In” with host Claire B. Lang and offered his take on the relationship that has dominated NASCAR headlines.

“I wouldn’t give (Ricky) any guidance. I think the relationship between Danica and Ricky is going to be good for both of them,” Roush said. “They both have energy and they’ll add to one another’s brands and the excitement fans have for them. They will look to see if they are helpful and cooperate with one another, or (if) they will be competitive and fight with one another.

“I think there will be a component of interest that will be there that would otherwise not be there that will be to both their benefits.”

Dale Junior takes to the radio: Dale Earnhardt Jr. and JR Motorsports this week unveiled Dirty Mo Radio, an online home for radio-style podcasts centrally themed around NASCAR’s 10-time most popular driver. Dirty Mo Radio is based at Earnhardt’s official site, DaleJr.com, but its podcasts will also be available on outlets such as iTunes.

Dirty Mo Radio will officially launch on Monday with the debut of “The Dale Jr. Download” – a weekly podcast that will recap Earnhardt’s previous race with behind-the-scenes insights from team members, media and family.

It will be hosted by popular North Carolina radio personality Taylor Zarzour and air every Monday throughout the NASCAR season.

Patricks adds Nationwide race: Patrick will run in next weekend’s Nationwide Series opener, driving an entry for Turner Scott Motorsports. Patrick had hoped to run up to 10 races this season but said the final total will likely be around five.

“I’m glad to be running it because I think it’s really good practice for the (500). The racing is very similar from the Nationwide to the Cup car, especially at a place like Talladega or Daytona,” she said.

“I feel like we have a chance to win and that’s exciting. I appreciate that everyone made it happen and put it together.”

Fans can name Pocono race: Walmart is putting race fans in the driver’s seat with the Fan Driven 400 – a socially-driven program that gives fans a voice in branding the Cup series race on June 9 at Pocono Raceway.

Through May 27, fans can submit ideas and vote via Walmart’s local Facebook pages on details including the race name, a signature concession and the pace car design.

Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
More racing news, blogs, photos and more at www.ThatsRacin.com.

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