TALLADEGA, Ala. — Report by Race Chaser Online Correspondent Aaron Bearden —
Rain changed the day’s activities, but it couldn’t stop the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards from testing at the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway.
The test, scheduled in preparation for the upcoming International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 at Talladega Superspeedway on May 1, was originally planned to be split into two morning and afternoon sessions. However, ARCA officials were forced to combine the sessions into one five-hour test — running from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. CT — after the weather came into play.
At the end of the waterlogged party, Bo LeMastus topped the charts with the help of 1986 Daytona 500 champion Geoff Bodine.
“Had a real fun day,” said LeMastus. “We made progress all day…kept on tweaking…took it right down to the final five minutes. We know we’re in the ballpark when we come back in a few weeks.”
LeMastus put down a 182.902 mph lap in his No. 42 Crosley-T&T Construction-Glad Performance Dodge Charger to take the best time. He ran a total of 44 laps, typically topping the charts.
LeMastus attributed much of his success to Bodine.
“He (Bodine) knows so much about motorsports, especially drafting,” said LeMastus. “He is an incredible coach and we talk a lot. I don’t have a lot of experience on the big tracks so his input is invaluable. I am continuing to learn thanks to him.”
Bodine serves as a spotter, coach, and even mentor for LeMastus. He’s well suited for the roll, especially at a track like Talladega. While he never won at the Alabama track, he did finish as high as second in 1988.
“Talladega Superspeedway is all about drafting,” said Bodine, who won the pole at Talladega as an ARCA rookie in 1982. “It is so critical to know how to use it and when to use it…when to put the pedal to the metal and when to hold back. This place is so different than any other with the start-finish line close to turn one.”
Roulo Brothers Racing driver Buster Graham was second fastest on the day, bringing home a fastest lap of 182.664 mph in his Ford Fusion. Graham, who finished 37th in the season-opening race at Daytona, will be supported again by Louisiana Tech University as a sponsor.
“The Roulo Brothers did an incredible job getting this car ready,” said Graham. “This is the same car we wrecked with at Daytona and it’s probably the best speedway car I’ve ever been in. They don’t ever tell me the numbers, or gear ratios…they just want to know if the car is good, and it was really good. We got all the bugs worked out. We’ll paint it, sticker it up and come back with a great car.”
Finishing the day in third was rookie Sarah Cornett-Ching. The Tony Blanchard Racing / RACE 101 driver put down a 182.584 mph lap in one of her 47 trips around the circuit.
“We’re ecstatic with today’s test,” Cornett-Ching said. “The new engine package made a huge difference. I feel really comfortable. I’ve got the Daytona experience to draw on. I got to work on my line today. I look forward to getting in the draft and practicing that next. What a great day.”
Mark Thompson finished with the fourth fastest time after logging a 182.452 mph lap in his Ken Schrader Racing Toyota Camry. Alabama native Thomas Praytor ended shotgun on the field with a 174.020 mph lap in his Max-Force Racing Ford Fusion.
Despite dampness on the track to start the session, there were no on-track incidents between the five drivers.