TOLEDO, Ohio — by Don Radebaugh, ARCA — ARCA photo —
It seems like a monumental task reserved for a much younger man, but don’t tell 57-year-old Bobby Gerhart.
Gerhart isn’t doing the double at Daytona; he’s doing the triple. The Lebanon, Pennsylvania ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards veteran is attempting what no other human is at Daytona Int’l Speedway, which is competing for a starting position in the Lucas Oil 200, the NASCAR Camping World Truck and Xfinity Series events.
“It was a combination of a lot of things that lined up for it – pieces, parts and people to make this a reality,” Gerhart said.
Gerhart’s not only attempting all three races, his Bobby Gerhart Racing team is fielding all three entries, with a little additonal help from a famous stock car racing family.
“Brian Keselowski is on board to take care of the truck…we’ll do the ARCA and the Xfinity cars. Lucas Oil Racing TV will be on all three. Jason Jarrett will spot for me on at least two of the efforts…not sure on the third.”
While Keselowski will crew-chief the truck, Bobby’s brother Bill Gerhart call the shots on both the ARCA and Xfinity cars.
“We’ll see how I’m doing after it’s all over, but we couldn’t be more excited,” said Bill Gerhart. “We finished 12th in the truck at Talladega last October, and with the Brian (Keselowski) helping with his wealth of knowledge, I feel like we’ll be better than we were at Talladega. Stll though, the one I want most is the ARCA race. We’ve got a really good car…I like our chances.”
Gerhart, winner of a record eight Lucas Oil 200s, understands that competing in three different series at Daytona will ramp up the ‘stressometer’.
“Absolutely…it’s going to ramp things up. There’s a lot going on…a lot of moving parts. But, it doesn’t matter because at the end of the day at 57 I’m going to take every opportunity I can get to race at Daytona. I don’t want to wake up after the fact and wonder why I didn’t try it.
“There were a lot of people and things that had to line up to make this work. I’m going to be a busy guy.”
Gerhart will be going after his ninth ARCA victory at Daytona in his 29th consecutive start at the “World Center of Racing”, already a record for consecutive starts at Daytona. There’s another record that Gerhart is most certainly aware of…that if he wins at Daytona, he would become the oldest superspeedway winner in stock car history. Currently, Iggy Katona is the oldest superspeedway winner with his victory at Daytona in 1974, Katona was 57; however Gerhart would be an older 57 by nearly a month.
“Now that’s a record that I’d like to break, and I’m feeling good enough to get there. That would be a neat record to hold.”
In addition to the miles Gerhart will put on at Daytona, he’ll also add a couple thousand more driving his transporter to and from the track.
“I love driving the rig to and from Daytona. It takes me out of the office and puts me in a different environment. I get a lot of time to think. In those moments I put together my mental agenda to help prep for the race. And if you’re fortunate enough to win the race, the ride back is even more enjoyable. It’s too difficult to capture the moment in victory lane. It takes a while to download and process the enormity of that just happened. It usually starts sinking in on the ride home.”