That was the easiest way John Wes Townley could describe his shocking victory Saturday in the Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway – his first win in the Automobile Racing Club of America series.
Veteran Bobby Gerhart appeared to have yet another ARCA Daytona victory in hand when he slowed on the track in the final laps and then dived down pit road. He eventually was forced to the pit for fuel.
Townley inherited the lead and held off a fierce challenge from upstart Kyle Larson, who will debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next week.
Townley’s win was the first for Venturini Motorsports at the track.
“It’s one thing to win your first race in the ARCA series. It’s another to win it at Daytona,” Townley said. “When I took the checkered flag, I wasn’t sure I had even taken it. What an exciting day.”
Townley has struggled in his racing career. He’s made a combined 51 starts in the NASCAR Nationwide and Truck series but only two top-10 finishes (both in Trucks) to show for it. He has also been involved in numerous wrecks.
“When you quit something you never get any better. I decided to come back out here because I missed it so much,” Townley said. “Once you’ve (won), nobody can take it away from you.”
Ricky Ehrgott finished third, Frank Kimmel was fourth and Sean Corr was fifth.
Larson was among the 20 drivers with no previous experience at Daytona. Yet the race featured only three cautions, one of which involved a multicar accident.
“I stayed patient the whole race,” Larson said. “I was hoping the (lapped) cars we were catching there at the end could break (Townley’s) momentum but it didn’t happen.”