Daytona Beach, FL, United States (AHN Sports) – It was 1995 and Bobby Gerhart had finished poorly in the ARCA 200 for the third straight year.
The difference with this most recent finish (37th) was it cost him an overnight stay at Halifax Health hospital.
After being driven back to Daytona International Speedway the next day his late mother, Anne, who passed away in 1997, gave him the kind of straight talk that only a mother can deliver.
“I’ll never forget it. She turned around and said, “You’ve got to work on this. You have got to start up front. If you’re going to win the races they’re going to come from the pole,’ ” Gerhart said. “That pretty much started a big boost, or a big effort, for us to make these cars runs faster a couple laps.”
Friday, despite being 12th-fastest in practice the day before, Gerhart turned a lap of 183.479 mph at Daytona International Speedway to win the pole before his engine failed post-race inspection and he was relegated to a 42nd starting spot in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200.
It would’ve been Gerhart’s record-setting fifth pole here and first since 2006 when he won four straight. He will make his 25th consecutive start here from the back with the 182.633 mph of Sean Corr will be on the pole.
“When I was growing up watching the ARCA Series Bobby Gerhart was right up there with Frank Kimmel and those top drivers,” Corr said.
Gerhart, for all intents and purposes, has been the man to beat here since that pep talk from his late mother.
He scored his first of a record-setting seven ARCA 200 wins in 1999 and has won here the last two years straight.
“When we learned to (win poles) we learned how to keep the speed in them and what made them driveable after that,” Gerhart said. “What started the whole thing was kind of a special day here for me.”
Gerhart led the race’s final 61 laps en route to the win here last year when he stretched his fuel mileage to the brink of empty.