Venturini Motorsports had four chances to win their first ever ARCA Racing Series race at Daytona International Speedway and John Wes Townley delivered holding off Kyle Larson to take the 50th running of the Lucas Oil 200 Saturday afternoon.
With seven laps remaining Townley, in the No. 15 Zaxby's Toyota, was able to nudge nine-time series winner at Daytona, Bobby Gerhart, out of the way as he slowed on the track to take the lead and dodged some slower cars on the way to his first ARCA victory.
''It's one thing to win your first race in an ARCA Series,'' Townley said. ''It's another to win it at Daytona.''
“This is the first time I cried in victory lane,” said VMS general manager Billy Venturini. “This was definitely the highlight of our entire racing career. I think we’ve won at just about every other track we go to except here.”
Townley started the race from the pole with teammate Milka Duno, driving the No. 35, joining him on the front row. Both are IndyCar veterans.
Duno would break out in front to lead the first lap and was in charge until the first yellow came out when the No. 94 driven by Julian Jousse blew up. She would finish 28th after experiencing mechanical problems.
Venturini, based in Concord, North Carolina, had two other two entries, the No. 25 with Justin Boston and No. 55 of Darrell Wallace. Both were involved in an eight-car pileup on lap 19 and would finish 31st and 35th, respectively.
Wallace is set to become just the fourth black driver to run a full-time NASCAR Series schedule when he takes over the No. 54 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series in their season opener Friday night.
Gerhart had dominated the ARCA Racing Series at Daytona having won three in a row and six of eight but after being bumped by Townley he never made it to pit row, running out of gas and pulling well off the track to avoid bringing out a caution. He would finish 29th which is the worst of his 18 career starts in this race.
Of the 40 starters, only 16 cars finished on the lead lap.
In other ARCA news, 78-year-old James Hylton finished 26th in the No. 48 Radon.com Ford. The Inman, South Carolina native announced that he is retiring after this season, his 50th in a NASCAR series. He made his first start at Daytona International Speedway in 1966.