Corr Wins First Menards Pole Award At Daytona; Times Disallowed For Gerhart, Three Other Drivers

Credit: ARCA

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Sean Corr needed just 49.271 seconds to finish his best lap around Daytona International Speedway, but had to wait several hours to win his first Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell.

Corr will start first in the opening race of the 60th season for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, having been awarded the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 pole after original polesitter Bobby Gerhart saw his time taken off the board for an engine inspection failure after qualifying.

Corr, 27, of Goshen, N.Y., started eighth in a 2010 race at Pocono, but has never been higher at the green flag. The original surprise of his No. 82 Empire Racing/United Way Ford so significantly improving its best performance was easily surpassed by the astonishment over his late move from second to first.

“Can you pinch me?” Corr asked after learning that he had actually won the pole with his lap of 182.663 mph.

“I really don’t know if I’m dreaming because this is something that’s only in a dream. I was just walking through (the media center) once thinking to myself, ‘I never thought I’d be walking in the media center in my race suit,’ much less twice in one day.

Corr described what he originally perceived as trouble in his qualifying lap before realizing he had actually laid down a strong time.

“The car felt really smooth,” said Corr, 27 and of Goshen, N.Y. “When it came off of (Turn) 2, it hit a little bit of a headwind and I felt like the slowest guy ever going down the backstretch but I guess it really wasn’t. The car was really good yesterday in practice, drafting, running side-by-side, and even in single-car runs. It was still very fast. I think we have a good shot at our team’s first top-five for tomorrow.

“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t want to win it, but I’ll be content at the end of the day with a top-five. To break that mark with our team would be incredibly huge.”

Entering what he hopes is his team’s second full season, Corr stressed the improvement shown by Empire Racing.

“We really have a great group of guys. Now I think we’ve locked on to the best group of people we’ve had. Ben Leslie, my crew chief, he’s worked a lot with Ford so he brought in a ton of knowledge.”

Ryan Reed, who initially qualified third, will start second in his career debut for Venturini Motorsports.

“It was a really solid lap and I was really, really happy I’m sitting (in the top three) for my first time here at Daytona,” said Reed, 18 and of Bakersfield, Calif. “The car felt really good and I look forward to tomorrow’s race. During qualifying it’s pretty good, but it’ll be even better during the race.”

Reed admitted slight disappointment in missing the Menards Pole Award, but given the news Reed received one year ago this month, the high starting position is a major source of pride.

“A little over a year ago, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and it really affected my life in every way. I was told I’d never be able to drive a race car again, yet here I am.”

Steve Blackburn, yesterday’s practice leader, will start third. Blackburn originally qualified fifth, but, in addition to Gerhart, three cars did not pass post-qualifying inspection. One was fourth qualifier Paulie Harraka’s, allowing Blackburn to jump two spots. Cars driven by Brennan Poole and Joey Coulter also failed the review for height violations discovered shortly after the session’s conclusion.

Tom Hessert will start fourth, just ahead of Chris Windom, Cale Gale, Drew Charlson, Chris Buescher, Chad Hackenbracht, and Mikey Kile. Buescher finished second to Gerhart in last season’s race; he later finished second in the final standings and won the series’ Rookie of the Year award.

Nine-time ARCA champion Frank Kimmel will start 17th in his first race for ThorSport Racing and his pursuit of his first Daytona win in 21 starts.

Poole will start 33rd, three spots ahead of Harraka after both secured provisional starting positions. Gerhart will start his 25th consecutive Daytona race in the 42nd position. Coulter did not qualify.

The 80-lap, 200-mile Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 airs live on SPEED at 4:30 p.m. Eastern tomorrow, with live timing and scoring available at ARCARacing.com. Gerhart is the defending and all-time leading winner at the track, with wins in 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2011. The race is scheduled as the first of 20 this season.

The ARCA Racing Series will host a final, 45-minute practice at 10 a.m. on Saturday. Live timing and scoring will be presented by ARCA Nation at ARCARacing.com.