P6 in Daytona's Friday night for Hailie Deegan
DGR Crosley's star Hailie Deegan continued her top-ten streak in a challenging wet-conditions ARCA Menards round at the Daytona Road Course.
Daytona International Speedway hosted the 12th round of the ARCA Menards Series 2020 season on Friday night, as the drivers tackled the wet road course.
Hailie Deegan made her return to the world-renowned circuit after her January appearances in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, as she drove the Ford Mustang GT4 machine.
In this positive ARCA Menards full-schedule rookie season, the Californian lady scored two top-five and added nine top-10 finishes to her resumé, with two unfortunate DNFs in the previous eleven rounds.
"One of the advantages I have going to this road course is that I raced and tested there in an IMSA sports car, so I got a lot of seat time and a lot of laps. I know the line and the track, so since we only get an hour of practice in the stock car, I'm going to be a lot more ready than most right off the bat. We can use practice to specifically work on the car." - said Deegan before Friday's race.
"I've been on the Ford Performance simulator a lot to help find where I'm going to change my braking points. I noticed on the simulator I'll have to back up and slow down everything for the ARCA car since being in a stock car is so different than a Mustang GT4, but it's easier to back yourself up than push yourself forward."
After a three-hour delay due to the challenging weather conditions, Chandler Smith started from pole position, followed by Micheal Self, Sam Mayer, Tanner Gray, Ty Gibbs and Bret Holmes. Hailie Deegan and Chase Parker shared the fourth row.
Despite the wet track, Ty Gibbs had a great start and was immediately able to reach Michael Self and join him in a battle for the lead, as the two drivers were among the few competitors to heat up the race in such a difficult conditions - which had the whole field tip-toeing until the mid-race break.
Deegan took advantage from a mistake by Smith, who went off track on lap 3. She moved up to seventh place and ran a solid first half of the race without coming under pressure from her competition.
More action came at the restart, with DGR Crosley's lady racer able to avoid contact with Chandler Smith when he spun just in front of her. The maneuvre, though, forced Deegan to drop to P8. Few laps later, the 19-year old rookie re-claimed seventh place and closed the gap to Max McLaughlin: she completed a decisive overtaking move for P6 after a fierce battle.
Ahead, the fight for the lead continued between Self and Gibbs, with the 17 year old driver taking the top of the leaderboard on lap 18 out of the 28 scheduled in this General Tire 100 event. Gibbs could not gain a considerable advantage from the #25 Toyota rival though, and the latter regained the top spot with six laps to go.
From that moment, positions remained unchanged and the final laps were rather uneventful, allowing Micheal Self to cross the finish line in first - thus claiming his second personal Daytona victory of the season. Self also extends his championship lead over Bret Holmes.
NASCAR Truck Series driver Colin Braun replaced the injured Sam Mayer during the halfway-break and ended third, followed by Taylor Gray in fourth and Will Rodgers in fifth, just ahead of Hailie Deegan that clinched her tenth top-10 out of the first 12 rounds of the season.
"I'm disappointed with sixth since I really thought we would do better in this race. I was only able to get one complete lap in during practice. Even though I am familiar with the track from racing here in January, it's a different feel in a heavier stock car versus a sports car"- said Hailie Deegan after the race.
"The track was dry when we practiced too, but was mostly wet for the entire race. The balance was pretty close, but obviously lacked grip because of the wet track. We've got next weekend off to regroup before we head to Gateway in two weeks."
Micheal Self added important points in his considerable championship standings leadership, as he now sits 15 points clear of Bret Holmes - who finishing eighth in the second Daytona race of the season - and with a 56 points advantage to both Deegan and Dollar (both at 535 points).
The ARCA Menards will be back at Getaway Raceway in Madison, Illinois, on Saturday August 29th.