ARCA: First Plus Financial 200 Notes
6 February 1998
ARCA/Daytona Notes Two-time and defending Daytona ARCA 200 winner Andy Hillenburg will be aboard the Gravy Train Chevrolet fielded by Sadler Racing. Chevrolet Monte Carlos have won the past 6 straight ARCA 200s. The only car owners to win back-to-back Daytona ARCA 200s are Ken Schrader (Mike Wallace '94, Hillenburg '95) and James Finch (Jeff Purvis '96, Hillenburg '97). No driver has repeat wins in consecutive years. Bill Venturini, whose son Billy is entered, holds the Daytona ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series qualifying record of 200.209 mph set in 1987, while Lennie Pond's record average speed of 153.224 mph was set in 1976. Only six drivers have won from the pole: Benny Parsons '69, Andy Hampton '72, Iggy Katona '74, Woody Fisher '77, Jeff Purvis '93 and Hillenburg '97. Donald 'Doc' Watson, the only Black active ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series driver, will use the #34 on his Ford Thunderbird at Daytona in honor of Wendell Scott. Andy Belmont, who comes to Daytona with backing from America Online, has recruited former ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series driver Jeff McClure to serve as crew chief. McClure has 45 career ARCA starts posting 7 top-5 and 16 top-10 finishes with a career best of 2nd at Pocono in 1992. For only the 3rd time in the 35-year history of the 200-mile ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series event at Daytona Intl Speedway, a title sponsor for the event has been named. The inaugural event of the 1998 ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series season is the Firstplus Financial 200. 1994 Firstplus Financial 200 winner Mike Wallace will field a Ford Thunderbird for the 1998 event with a little help from a couple of his friends in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series. Wallace will be at the wheel of a car provided by Penske-Kranefuss Racing, driven during the 1997 Winston Cup season by Jeremy Mayfield. He will borrow truck, transporter and crew members from Ken Schrader Racing, the team for which Wallace drives the Purolator Chevrolet on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. Mike Ciochetti and Stan Hover have reached an agreement which will see the Clayton Georgia driver at the wheel of the Vienna Ohio car owner's Fords in ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series action in 1998. Ciochetti finished 18th in '97 driver points with best finishes of 4th at Pocono and Atlanta and will bring sponsor Hughes Supply Company to the team. Hover had tested at Daytona with Andy Hillenburg, the '95 series champion, and that combination produced a 3rd place finish at Atlanta in November. Ciochetti will add to the list of drivers who will attempt to make the Daytona 500 as well as the ARCA 200. For ARCA veteran driver Mark Gibson, life is grand. The former Daytona Beach, Florida resident will, not only attempt to win the 35th Annual Firstplus Financial ARCA 200, he'll attempt to qualify for the 1998 Daytona 500 as well. CSG Racing, of which Gibson is a partner of, recently purchased a Ranier-Walsh Ford Thunderbird driven by Greg Sacks at Talladega in '97, in an effort to make the line-up. The Winston Cup entry will have an Ernie Elliott engine aboard. And it gets even better. The Auburn, Georgia resident has further reason to smile after becoming a father for the first time when his wife Jan gave birth recently to a healthy 5 pound, 9 ounce baby girl, Michelle, on January 13th. Daytona Beach ARCA driver Dan Pardus will also attempt to run both events. Pardus will be aboard Jim and Judie Gardner entries for the Daytona 500 as well as the ARCA 200. Legendary driver and crew chief Red Farmer will serve as crew chief for the 500. Pardus placed 3 top-10 finishes in ARCA competition last year in his rookie season. Ron Barfield, who finished 2nd in the 1997 Firstplus Financial 200 at Daytona driving a Ford fielded by Bill Elliott, will drive in events at Daytona, Charlotte and Pocono for Ricky Craven Motorsports in 1998. Making his return to the ARCA Bondo/Mar-Hyde Series is Dresden, Ohio driver Donnie Moran who will wheel Ken Moore owned Ford Thunderbirds in Daytona replacing Jimmy McCune as the driver. Moran, a short-track dirt late model driver, is a former winner of Eldora Speedway's prestigious World 100 and $100,000 to win Late Model Dream.