Hard Fought 16th Place Finish At Daytona To Start The Year For David Levine
SCOTT Rookie Challenge contender David Levine had a strong start to his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season, gaining momentum from the first practice on Thursday all the way through the checkered flag at Daytona International Speedway Saturday afternoon. Levine kept his No. 68 Gary Yeomans Ford clean all day, avoiding any major incidents on-track, and ultimately crossed the finish line in the sixteenth position in the Lucas Oil 200 presented by AutoZone.
In the first practice session on Thursday afternoon, David drove his car consistently within a half-second of the fastest lap times of the day, placing himself in the top half of the 46 cars that participated in the two-hour session. His fastest lap time of 48.072 seconds was within a quarter of a second of the top-ten.
In final practice on Friday, David picked up more than a tenth of a second and improved to 20th quickest overall. That placed him in group three of seven in ARCA’s group qualifying format for Friday afternoon.
In qualifying, a total of 49 cars were broken down into seven groups attempting to make the 40 car starting field. Before the qualifying session began, David commented “The plan for qualifying is to go out and have fun. We’re in the same group as my Lira Motorsports teammate John Lowinski-Loh and 2014 ARCA Champion Mason Mitchell, so ideally I would like to work together with them and record some fast laps.”
With the seven cars in his session each trying to position themselves to get the best lap time possible, it was David who came out on top to record the fastest time in his group. After waiting out four more qualifying groups, David’s starting position for the race was finalized at 19th.
“I’m starting in the middle of the pack at Daytona, so staying out of trouble will be key today. Our car is really strong in the draft, so I’m not worried about it. The goal is to run all the laps and be there at the finish.”
David raced in the lead pack of cars for the entire race, and was able to successfully drive from the rear of the pack to back inside the top half of the field after stops for fuel during the first two caution periods in the race. On the final restart after the third and final caution with 15 lap to go, David found himself in 19th position with a clean race car, ready to make a run to the finish. (Photo at right: David steps out onto the stage during driver introductions before the Lucas Oil 200.)
David raced hard in side-by-side battles in the closing laps, at times three and four cars wide. Coming off the bottom line he had been glued to for most of the race to pass a lapped car at the same time the car to his outside came down the track, the side of David’s car bounced off another car with less than five laps to go. David ultimately maintained his momentum and pulled away from the three-wide battle to cross the finish line in 16th place.
This was David’s fifth career ARCA Series start, and his fifth top-20 finish.
“What an exciting race, I have to thank everyone at Kimmel Racing for working so hard on my Gary Yeomans Ford,” Levine said. “We had a really fast racecar this afternoon and it was a blast to drive. I definitely learned a lot here at Daytona that I think will help me when I get to Talladega in May.”
“For now, my focus is on the ARCA Mobile 200 coming up next month, and on getting into the driver’s seat at Lira Motorsports where I will be for the rest of the season. I have a great group of guys to work with on the team, and I am looking forward to getting down to business on the 1/2 mile Mobile International Speedway with them.”