NASCAR

2015 Daytona Speedweek kicks off with ARCA race

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The NASCAR Sprint Cup Season is not over yet but announcements are already rolling out for 2015.

One of the big stories this week is that the 2015 racing season will once again open with Speedweeks at Daytona international Speedway with the running of an ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards race.

It's a return to familiar territory for ARCA in the 2015 season. The series has raced there for over 50 years and the opening race at Daytona will mark the series' 63rd year of competition. Ron Drager, president of ARCA Racing, said that racing at Daytona is an honor for the series, teams, and drivers.

"As we discuss in the drivers meeting every year, it's an honor and a privilege to race at Daytona International Speedway," Drager said.

And it carries with it great responsibility and even greater opportunity - Ron Drager

"And it carries with it great responsibility and even greater opportunity. Whether you're an eight-time Daytona winner like Bobby Gerhart, a 10-time ARCA champion like Frank Kimmel or a driver racing at Daytona for the first time, that statement applies."

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Date Set

Drager announced that the kick off of Speed Weeks, on the track with racing as well as the ARCA Racing season, will be on Saturday, February 14, 2015.

The event will then be followed by one of the most anticipated events of the NASCAR season. Following the end of the ARCA race the NASCAR Sprint Cup series will kick things off with their preseason race. The Sprint Unlimited race will be run under the lights that night.

On Sunday the Sprint Cup Series drivers will take to the track once again for the first points race of the season which is the Daytona 500. The iconic race is set for Sunday, February 22.

A Common History

The founder of ARCA Racing, John Marcum, was asked by France to bring his series to Daytona to join the NASCAR event. At the time, over 52 years ago, ARCA primarily raced only in the Midwest. Since then ARCA Racing has grown into a larger National Series that still supports it's Midwest heritage.

The impact of ARCA racing at Daytona is unequaled over 50-plus years - Ron Drager

Drager noted that being part of the Daytona race weekend along with the NASCAR Sprint Cup series is something that Bill France Sr. had in mind when he laid his plans out for the future of racing.

"Daytona has meant so much to ARCA since 1964,"Drager said. "When Bill France Sr. envisioned that ARCA could provide unique inventory to February Speedweeks and carry the Daytona brand into the Midwest region of the country. The impact of ARCA racing at Daytona is unequaled over 50-plus years, and it continues to be the longest-running annual race on the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule. The entire ARCA community is very proud and appreciative of the opportunity to race at Daytona."

Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said he agrees with Drager when it comes to racing at Daytona and the opportunity it offers the ARCA Racing Series.

The ARCA Series has been competing at the 'World Center of Racing' for more than 50 years and we're looking forward to having the series return in 2015 - Joie Chitwood III

"There's not a better race track in America for the ARCA Racing Series to kick off their season than at Daytona International Speedway," Chitwood said. "The ARCA Series has been competing at the 'World Center of Racing' for more than 50 years and we're looking forward to having the series return in 2015 and kick off the first weekend of Budweiser Speedweeks alongside The Sprint Unlimited At Daytona."

Some Big Names!

Some big names in racing have competed in the ARCA Racing series as well as the kick off event at Daytona. It started with the first race in 1964 when Midwest racing veteran Nelson Stacy won the first ARCA race at Daytona in 1964.

The list of ARCA winners at Daytona also includes Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman, Benny Parsons,  John Wes Townley, Tim Richmond, Mike Wallace, Joe Ruttman, Andy Hillenburg and Kyle Petty. The defending race winner is Grant Enfinger, racing for Team BCR Racing.

Townley split time in the ARCA Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and the NASCAR Nationwide series during 2014. He says that there is something special about winning at Daytona no matter what racing series you're in.

"There's so much history and fanfare revolving around Daytona, making it one of my favorite stops on the ARCA schedule," Townley said. "It's truly and honor to race here regardless of the series."

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