Case Study: Qualifying for Daytona

Case Study: Qualifying for Daytona
By Don Terrill (c)2006

A few years back a group of local racers came to me to build an engine to run at Daytona - A place they'd never been.

"Are they crazy?"

Nope, actually Daytona is a great choice when you've got a driver new to the division. Why? Because Daytona requires the use of a restrictor plate that turns a tiger into a pussy cat. For the most part the driver's only job is steering - requiring next to no throttle action and no braking. Take for example one of the worst tracks to take a rookie, Michigan - Because the engines are unrestricted monsters. This track becomes a nad shrinking experience for a first-timer - especially when it comes to getting into 1 and 3.

I don't want you to get the idea Daytona is easy, just easier. To illustrate how intimidating this track can be for a newbie here's an exchange between the driver and crew chief during their very first test session: "Do you have the throttle all the way down?" long pause................. "Hell no, my nuts are up in my throat." One of the funniest things I've ever heard on the radio.

After I got done laughing I thought to myself, these guys don't have a prayer of making the show.

Anyway, here's what I built and what happened:

His budget was modest and he was only building one engine to run both restricted and unrestricted tracks - not an ideal situation. The budget was actually less than half what the pole winner would spend.

ARCA engine rules are almost identical to NASCAR, with the addition of a roller cam the biggest difference. The cars actually run nearly identical speeds to the cup cars.

So that's what I built - exactly what I would have when I work in NASCAR.

How did the rookie do in qualifying?

ARCA 200
Daytona International Speedway
Starting Line-up
Pos, Time
15, 49.088

I was actually impressed, first time to Daytona and they qualified 15th - Awesome!

Keys to Qualifying at Daytona:
  1. Eliminate at least two of the three - Car, driver and engine. They went down with a known car and engine - the driver delivered and made it a success.
  2. Build what you know works - On his budget there was no room to "play." I just put together what I knew worked.
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