Marco Andretti Aces Daytona ARCA Practice

Andretti

Marco Andretti led practice for the ARCA Menards Series Thursday at Daytona Int'l Speedway. (James Gilbert/NASCAR photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Third-generation racer and NTT IndyCar Series veteran Marco Andretti aced his first major test in stock car racing Thursday afternoon at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

Driving the No. 17 Group 1001 Chevrolet for Cook Racing Technologies, Andretti led the way in the lone practice session for the ARCA Menards Series’ season-opening Hard Rock Bet 200.

Andretti toured the 2.5-mile superspeedway in 48.600 seconds (185.185 mph) to nip runner-up Patrick Emerling (48.601/185.181) by a thousandth of a second on the time sheets.

“My first run, I was able to get tucked up behind people, and I was dragging the brake to try and stay in line … but I wanted to see just by my own feel and leaving a gap [in the draft] at the line what the car would do as far as sucking up for a lap,” explained Andretti. That was our quick lap, so my feel was right on that one.

“Tomorrow [for qualifying] is all about orchestrating the same kind of move, but it’s hard to do that depending on what group you’re in,” he added. “It’s all about timing, but the car is fast.”

Third was Willie Mullins’ family-owned No. 3 (48.676/184.896), followed by Venturini Motorsports’ Kris Wright (48.718/184.736) and journeyman Dale Quarterly, who ran identical times in a tie for fourth.

Wright’s teammate Jake Finch timed in sixth-quick in practice despite a late overheating issue, followed by three more Venturini-prepared Toyota Camrys in Gus Dean, Amber Balcaen, and Toni Breidinger.

Ed Pompa closed the top 10, just ahead of three-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion Justin Bonsignore, who is making his superspeedway debut in the No. 30 Ford for Rette-Jones Racing.

Forty-eight of the 50 drivers entered to qualify turned at least one lap of practice Thursday. Alex Clubb and Cody Dennison were the two that did not appear on the speed chart.

Qualifying for the ARCA Menards Series season opener is slated for 3 p.m. ET on Friday. The fastest 34 drivers will lock in on speed, with six provisionals available via various means to fill out the 40-car field.

Groups for qualifying will feature a maximum of nine cars, determined by random draw, with four minutes each to post as many laps as they wish during that span.

Each driver’s fastest lap in their respective qualifying group will be their time of record. Should inclement weather scrub the session, practice speeds would be used to set the field.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.