Daytona Beach, Florida (February 8, 2019) – Earlier today Christian Eckes (No.15 JBL Audio Toyota), in his first ever qualifying attempt at the World Center of Speed, won the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards – General Tire Pole Award for tomorrow’s Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway. Eckes, 18, driving for Venturini Motorsports (VMS) turned a fast lap of 49.180 seconds (183.001 mph) around Daytona’s famous 2.5-mile high banked tri-oval.
“You always want to start your season off this way,” Eckes said. “We watched a couple of others do it. Our plan was to stay up tight with the cars in front of us and see what happens but it turns out we dropped back and got a really good run. We brought a really fast JBL Audio Toyota here and we didn’t really show it yesterday. We have 80 more laps to do this. My whole team is just excited to get going.”
Eckes’ pole marks the third consecutive General Tire Pole Award and seventh overall during Venturini Motorsports’ storied ARCA history at Daytona International Speedway. Eckes joins drivers Bill Venturini, who won three during his career, John Wes Townley (2013), Tom Hessert (2017) and Natalie Decker, last year’s pole sitter. During the last 10-years Venturini Motorsports has qualified on the front row nine times with four of those from the top-spot.
Teammate Leilani Münter (No.55 What the Health Toyota), racing in her final event, posted a career best starting spot by qualifying third with a speed of 182.604 mph.
“I have been telling people I am at the end of my 18-year motorsports journey, and this is a great way to kick off my final race as a driver,” she said. “I have been so close to top five finishes here in the past only to have it go away at the very end. I have the same car I drove here last year and it’s the best handling car I’ve ever had here. We’re excited to get to tomorrow.”
Adding to the success of today’s effort, VMS’ Harrison Burton (No.20 DEX Imaging Toyota) claimed the fifth qualifying spot while Michael Self (No.25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) finished sixth quickest giving VMS four drivers inside the top-6 qualifiers for tomorrow’s race.
The Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire is slated for a 4:30 pm ET green flag on Saturday, February 9. The race will be shown live on FS1.
Credit: Venturini Motorsports