Just days after his 18th birthday last year New Bremen’s Drew Charlson made an impressive debut at Daytona International Speedway with a second-place finish in just his second start on the Automobile Racing Club of America (ARCA) series.
Charlson, now 19, is gunning for a win at the fabled Florda raceway this year.
Charlson returns to race at Daytona this weekend in the Lucas Oil 200. The race, in its 50th season, will be televised live on SPEED Channel on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.
“This car has sat on the pole at Daytona and Talladega, visited victory circle at Talladega and finished 2nd at Daytona, so we know that we have the equipment to be a contender” said Charlson.
Charlson made three ARCA starts a season ago, including a second-place finish at Daytona. After staying in the top 10 for most of last year’s race, Charlson stayed out of a last-lap crash and took the checkered flag second after veteran ARCA driver Bobby Gerhart.
Charlson took his car to Daytona for test runs in late January to ready for this year’s race.
“We learned a lot,” Charlson said. “We were happy with the speed in single car runs and how it handled in the draft.”
Charlson and his crew rebuilt the front clip of his car after an accident at Talladega Speedway for the tests at Daytona. By the end of the third day of testing, Charlson had the seventh-best time in drafting.
“We had a list of changes we wanted to make on the car,” Charlson said. “We were able get a lot of track time and see how the car responded to each change. We were pretty satisfied with the test as we were never in full qualifying trim and we were not using our race motor, which should provide a little more horsepower come race time.”
Charlson will be part of the practices scheduled for Thursday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Qualifying will be on Friday at 2 p.m.
Charlson, who also races Outlaw Late Models in the Main Event Racing Series, has a lead sponsor in Aluma Aluminum Trailers for his races at Daytona and Talladega and a lead sponsor in AgriGold Seed Company for his Late Model runs this season to go along with a new sponsor in J&M Manufacturing to go along with Heitkamp Crop Insurance.
Charlson made his ARCA debut in 2011 at Toledo Speedway at the age of 17.
ARCA first raced at Daytona in 1964 and has returned every year. Kyle Petty won the event in his first-ever stock car race in 1979.