Motorsports

Saturday, Feb 16 2013 11:23 PM

Newberry 6th in opening ARCA race

By CALIFORNIAN STAFF AND WIRE REPORTS

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Bakersfield's Brennan Newberry finished sixth in Saturday's ARCA Series season-opening Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona Internantional Speedway.

Newberry, who attended Liberty High and Bakersfield College, started 15th and climbed to as high as fifth. He had dropped to ninth before picking up three places in last few laps.

John Wes Townley won the race, his first in the series, nudging Bobby Gerhart out of the way with seven laps left and held off Kyle Larson down the stretch on the 21/2-mile superspeedway.

Gerhart had the dominant car and seemed on his way toward winning his ninth ARCA Daytona race. But when Gerhart slowed down on the track, Townley tapped him and took off for the win. Gerhart pulled off the track, tried to return, but appeared to run out of gas. He finished 29th, five laps down.

Daytona 500 practice

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- If two practices are any indication, Danica Patrick is a solid candidate to win the pole for the Daytona 500.

Patrick turned the fastest lap in a pair of practice sessions focused solely on qualifying for the Daytona 500. She went 196.220 mph around Daytona International Speedway in the second practice session and said she's eyeing the top starting spot in "The Great American Race."

"Everything that we do is to make sure that we do whatever we can to be on the pole," Patrick said. "That is what we all are shooting for."

The front row for the Feb. 24 season-opening Daytona 500 will be set in today's time trials. The rest of the field is set next Thursday after a pair of qualifying races.

Patrick said it would be an accomplishment for her Stewart-Haas Racing team to lock into the field on Sunday.

"I think it would be really nice for all of us to know we were in the race," she said. "It's nice to know as a team, but it's also nice to know for your (sponsors) like GoDaddy and all the other people that are involved in the car. That is who really pays for you to be out there on the track."

Patrick was nearly a second faster than the other drivers Saturday.

Second fastest in the afternoon session was three-time champion Tony Stewart, her teammate and car co-owner, who turned a lap of 195.363 mph in his Chevrolet. Kyle Busch was third in a Toyota, and he was followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jamie McMurray as Chevrolet took four of the top five spots.

NHRA qualifying

POMONA -- Courtney Force raced to her first No. 1 qualifying position of the season Saturday at the NHRA Winternationals at the Auto Club Raceway at Pomona.

Tony Schumacher (Top Fuel) and Mike Edwards (Pro Stock) also will lead their categories into today's eliminations at the NHRA Drag Racing Series season opener.

Force grabbed the No. 1 spot in her Ford Mustang with a performance of 4.036 seconds at 318.24 mph to take her first No. 1 qualifier at Pomona and third of her career.

In Top Fuel, Schumacher powered his dragster to the 72nd No. 1 qualifying position of his career with his pass of 3.753 at 324.05 in his dragster.

Edwards took the top spot in Pro Stock for the 42nd time with a performance of 6.528 at 212.39 in his Chevy Camaro. He will open eliminations against Chris McGaha at an event he has won one time in three final-round attempts.

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