ARCA Season Kicks Off

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - The ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards officially opened on-track activity for the stock car portion of Hershey's Milk and Milkshakes Speedweeks 2010 with a practice session that lasted just shy of five hours on Thursday.

More than 50 teams used the on-track session to prepare for Saturday's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, but IZOD IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick drew most of the media attention. A large contingent of print, radio and television media gathered outside of her garage area for most of the day. Patrick will make her stock car debut in Saturday's Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 (live on SPEED at 4:30 p.m. Eastern) and Thursday's practice session provided valuable on-track time for the Roscoe, Illinois, native. She was 20th of 52 drivers posting time with a 180.484 mph/49.866 second lap around the 2.5-mile speedway.

"I think today's practice was a success," said Patrick. "I felt that the No. 7 car got stronger and more comfortable the more runs I made. We have been working hard to get to this point, so hopefully tomorrow's qualifying run goes well."

Defending Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 race winner James Buescher posted the fastest time of the day (49.355 seconds/182.352 mph) early during the four hour, fifty minute practice session in the same chassis he won last year's edition of the race in. Following Saturday's ARCA Racing Series Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200, Buescher will return to the World Center of Racing to participate in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' Daytona season opener one week later.

Mikey Kile and Mark Thompson, two of five Venturini Motorsports entries this weekend, were second and third fast, followed by Joey Coulter and Dakoda Armstrong.

Nine-time ARCA Racing Series Champion Frank Kimmel, who has finished second at Daytona twice but does not include a Daytona victory among his 74 career ARCA wins, was 12th overall in the Ansell-Menards Ford Fusion (181.240 mph/49.658 mph). Five-time Daytona ARCA race winner Bobby Gerhart was 18th overall (180.621 mph/49.828 seconds).

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