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ARCA takes 50th turn at Daytona

The Associated Press
Published:   |   Updated: March 18, 2013 at 09:13 PM
DAYTONA BEACH -

The numbers that stand out on the ARCA starting grid aren't the ones on the side of the stock cars.

It's the ages.

James Hylton is pushing 80 and might be a better fit than Jeff Gordon for AARP sponsorship as he starts his retirement tour. Only 20, Kyle Larson is one of 20 first-time drivers at Daytona International Speedway, a debut that may be forgotten if he blossoms into a future Sprint Cup star.

"I'm sure James has older underwear than Kyle Larson, there's no doubt about it," veteran ARCA driver Frank Kimmel said Friday. "If he still wears underwear. He don't know where he put 'em."

ARCA celebrates 50 years at Daytona when the 200-mile race starts today. The series, which has no affiliation with NASCAR, will honor previous Daytona winners including Kyle Petty, Kyle Busch, Ryan Newman and eight-time winner Bobby Gerhart. Gerhart starts third in the 40-car field as he attempts to win his ninth ARCA race on the 21/2-mile superspeedway.

Hylton and Gerhart have long been staples in the series, which usually serves as a support race to the NASCAR weekend show. This race, though, is more of a showcase for NASCAR's future stars.

Darrell Wallace Jr. is part of the Daytona rookie class. He will run a full season in the Trucks Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports and is set to become the fourth black driver to run a full-time schedule in the NASCAR series.

Larson, who knows only a couple of other drivers in the field, has a huge week ahead. First, Larson has to get approved to move on to the Nationwide Series race.

Larson's approval is a forgone conclusion after successful practice and qualifying laps.

NHRA: Tony Schumacher raced to the Top Fuel qualifying lead in the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., with a 3.758-second run at a top speed of 328.14 mph.

Jack Beckman topped the Funny Car field, and Mike Edwards had the Pro Stock lead. Beckman had a pass of 4.045 at 316.67, and Edwards finished in 6.528 at 212.39.

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