The 2024 ARCA Menards Series season unofficially kicked off its 2024 season with day one of the Pre-Race Practice leading up to the season-opening Daytona ARCA 200 at Daytona International Speedway. Panama City, Fla., native Jake Finch, son of two-time Daytona-winning car owner James Finch, led the session with a lap over 184 miles per hour.
The session didn’t start until after it was intended to originally end as a soaking rain throughout the morning and early afternoon delayed track activity until after 5 P.M. Once the track was dried, activity quickly picked up with Indycar superstar Marco Andretti quickly jumping to the top of the leaderboard in the Bruce Cook-prepared No. 17 Chevrolet. Andretti’s 49.350 sec./182.371 mph lap stayed on top of the leaderboard until the final half hour when four Venturini Motorsports teammates hooked up in a tight draft and jumped to the front.
Finch, in the No. 20 VMS Toyota, led the way with a 48.878 sec./184.132 mph lap. His Venturini Motorsports teammates Toni Breidinger, Kris Wright, and Gus Dean followed, with Andretti’s early evening time good for fifth.
Lavar Scott, who finished fourth in his series debut in last year’s race at Daytona, was sixth in the No. 6 Rev Racing Chevrolet. Scott set a fast lap at 49.527 seconds/181.719 mph. He was followed by Christian Rose in the No. 32 AM Racing Ford, Andres Perez in the second Rev Racing Chevy, Leyland Honeyman in the No 02 Youngs Motorsports Chevrolet, and Tanner Gray in the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
Other notables in the field included defending ARCA Menards Series East champion William Sawalich in eleventh, Shane Van Gisbergen in thirteenth, last year’s fifth-place finisher Mandy Chick in 15th, 2018 race runner-up Willie Mullins in 16th, and defending race winner Greg Van Alst in 17th.
While four of the Venturini Motorsports cars were at the top of the leaderboard, it was a tough night for the driver of the fifth VMS entry. Amber Balcaen, in the No. 22 Toyota, had a track bar mount break entering turn one and she made contact with the outside wall, doing significant damage to the right side of her car.
The only other incident of the day involved Sean Corr, who finished third at Daytona last year, who lost an oil line on his No. 8 Empire Racing Chevrolet.
Track activity will resume today morning at 10 am and run through 5 pm ET. ARCARacing.com will have live timing and scoring throughout the day.