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Larry Foyt: Advanced Auto Parts 200 (ARCA @ Daytona)
by dearjoan
13 February 2005

Larry Foyt began and finished 12th in the Advanced Auto Parts 200, the first race of the 2005 ARCA season at Daytona International Speedway. He rallied back from a midrace infraction that lost him the lead lap, which took him from 5th to 32nd. Overcoming the penalty, he soared to 7th before getting swept up in an accident with two laps to go. With frequent cautions, and the wreck at the end, Larry did not have much of a chance to show the field what he had.

Larry rolled off 12th in his #16 FullTiltPoker.com Dodge. He was running one of his old Cup series cars, with Ken Schrader's #49 BAM Racing team in his pit box. Schrader, who was up in the booth commentating today's race, mentioned that Larry was the only driver in the field who had run last year's Daytona 500 and Indy 500. He had finished 28th last year in his Cup series race at the track.

When the green flag dropped, pole sitter Bobby Gerhart held onto the lead as the front-runners slid into a single file line. Larry picked up four spots and was riding 8th by lap 2.

Norm Benning's #84 Chevy began smoking on lap 3. His car had been leaking oil before coming to the green. Another smoker - Robert Richardson - drew the race's first yellow.

The caution came out on lap 5. Richardson's #33 Ford cut down a left rear tire, with help from Mark Gibson getting into the wall. Under yellow, Benning came in, and his crew put his car up on stands. Gibson also pitted his #59 for holes in the front end.

Gerhart led the lap 9 restart. Larry rode 7th, and was 1.837 off Gerhart's pace by lap 10. His #16 car slid up the track a few times as he looked for an opportunity to pass. He did not have long to work traffic.

The second caution came out for a lap 12 accident involving Benny Chastain's #98 and Eddie Mercer's #88. Mercer had checked up, and AJ Henriksen's #17 tagged him. The #88 came down the track. When it shot back into traffic, Mercer's car swept across the left front of Chastain's #98. Both cars went to the garage and fell out of the race. Keith Murt's engine also went on lap 12, taking him out of the race.

Racing resumed on lap 19 with Gerhart in the lead. Larry restarted 4th, but advanced to 3rd within the first lap back to racing. The front runners lined up single-file. Larry rode behind Hendrick Motorsports driver Blake Feese and in front of Roush Racing driver Todd Kluever. Within the next few laps, he peaked to the outside of Feese's #94 Chevy. He was still running 3rd - 0.272 seconds outside the lead - when the yellow flag waved again.

ARCA officials brought out the third yellow flag on lap 26 for an accident involving the #62 of Clair Zimmerman. The #62 had gotten loose under another car. Clipping the apron, Zimmerman's Pontiac went airborne. The rear wheels lifted off the ground, and the nose barely touched the wall, as he backed into the outside wall hard enough to put a hole in the fense. The nose of the #62 was nearly 45 degrees higher than the nose of a car is supposed to be.

Walt Brannen went behind the wall with radiator issues under the caution. Neither he nor Zimmerman would return to the race.

During yellow flag pit stops, Feese overshot his pit box. He also veered slightly left, and crashed through the barrier blocking an entrance to the paddocks. His car struck four photographers and one of his crewmen. One photographer, Steve Rose, went to the hospital that night. According to the associated press, Rose phoned from the hospital and said he is okay. Feese would not return to the track, marked as out due to radiator issues.

Larry was 5th after stops, while Matt Hagans assumed the lead. ARCA officials soon red-flagged the race to repair the fence damaged in Zimmerman's accident.

Larry received bad news during the forty-five minute red flag period. ARCA had issued him a penalty for having a man over the wall without a helmet. Just before the red flag came out, a member of Larry's crew had put his foot over pit wall without proper safety equipment on his head. ARCA judged this action as a rule violation, and penalysed the team accordingly. The sanctioning body docked the #16 car one lap.

Under the red flag, Larry fell from 5th to 32nd.

The #16 car restarted the race to the inside of leader Chad McCumbee on the lap 35 restart. Larry charged ahead of McCumbee's #11, and was still there when Joey Miller passed for the top spot. Miller was all over the rear fender of the #16, but Larry held his ground. Gerhart also stuck with him, powering himself and Larry ahead of Miller's #9. Gerhart assumed the lead the next time around the track.

With 40 laps to go, the fourth caution came over the speedway for a multi-car wreck. Ed Kennedy's #00 Shark Lounge Pontiac had gotten into the #8 Dodge of Bill Eversole, sending himself and Eversole sideways between Turns 1 and 2. David Ragan, Johnny Leonard, Chad Blount, and Mark Gibson were collected, and were taken out of the race. Drivers visited the infield care centre. Tim Steele, Mario Gosselin and Mike Harmon were also involved, but continued.

Because he was in front of the race leader, Larry was at the tail end of the lead lap when the yellow flag waved. He was 26th when he rounded the track and got back in line with the leaders. As damaged cars and others pitted, he went from 26th to 21st. By the time racing resumed on lap 49, Larry was marked as 17th. One of the spots he had gained was from Justin Ashburn, who fell out of the race with handling issues.

Gerhart led the field back to the green flag. One lap into the run, Larry had gained four spots. He was 13th, 2.497 seconds behind the race lead. One lap later, Marc Mitchell's #3 Ken Appling Pontiac began smoking with a cut right front tire. Brake fluid spilled from his car, and fire erupted from the tire well.

ARCA brought out the yellow for the fifth time on lap 53 for Mitchell. Steele went to the garage with a damaged radiator, which had overheated following damage in the earlier accident.

Just before racing returned to green, ARCA was informed that they needed to hurry up their race. NASCAR's Budweiser Shootout was to take place after the first race of the ARCA season, and FOX wanted it to start on-time. Fifteen laps were cut from the full length of the ARCA race. When racing resumed on lap 58, there would only be ten laps to go.

Larry was 11th when he was suddenly faced with just ten laps left in the race. By 7 to go, he was 9th and was running along the outside. He encountered trouble passing, as Mike Guerity's #4 and Kyle Krisiloff's #7 rode side-by-side in front of him. The #4 and #7 raced one another long enough to allow the front runners to break away. After a few laps working the pair, Larry cleared Krisiloff with 3 to go. He rode behind Guerity who, with two laps to go, ran into the back of Miller's #9. The contact initiated a multi-car wreck which sent Todd Kluever and Dan Shaver barrell-rolling across the backstretch. Kluever's car burst into flames, but the Roush racer escaped unscathed.

Kluever's #60 World Financial Group Ford flipped in front of the #16. According to ARCAracing.com, Larry finished behind Kluever; therefore, his car must have halted behind the #60. Accounts of the end of the race are unclear as SPEED coverage did not air replays. An AP photo provides this view of the accident scene:

Ken Weaver, GR Smith, AJ Henriksen, Doug Reid, Mario Gosselin, Todd Bowsher, Chad McCumbee, Joe Cooksey, Billy Venturini, and Christi Passmore were also swept up in this race-ending wreck. All drivers went to the infield care centre, but Shaver and Venturini were sent on to a local hospital. Shaver was released that evening with undisclosed injuries. Venturini was not released yesterday. According to ARCARacing.com, he "has been diagnosed with injuries to his second vertebrae, the disc below the second vertebrae and ligament damage."

Gerhart won the race, while Larry finished two laps down in 12th.


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