Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR Notebook; ARCA Front Row: Thompson, Coughlin

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

NASCAR Notebook; ARCA Front Row: Thompson, Coughlin

Article excerpt

Byline: Don Coble

DAYTONA BEACH | Mark Thompson and Cody Coughlin will start on the front row of Saturday afternoon's Lucas Oil 200, the season-opening race for the ARCA Racing Series.

The race will start at 4:15 p.m. at the Daytona International Speedway.

The ARCA Series has been a springboard to several NASCAR stars. Benny Parsons, Kyle Petty, Tim Richmond, Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch all launched their careers with a 200 victory at Daytona.

Thompson posted a fast lap of 187.336 mph in a Toyota. Coughlin's Toyota ran 187.320.

The rest of the top-10 qualifiers were: Tom Hessert in third, Brett Hudson in fourth, Martinsville Speedway president Clay Campbell in fifth, Daniel Suarez in sixth, Blake Jones in seventh, Will Kimmel in eighth, Sean Corr in ninth and Leilani Munter in 10th.

Last year's winner, Grant Enfinger, will start 13th , while eight-time race winner Bobby Gerhart will be 14th .

GORDON'S FINAL 500

Although Jeff Gordon said he may drive in some selected races following his retirement at the end of the season from full-time racing, he has no plans for any restrictor-plate races.

That means the Daytona 500 on Feb. 22 will be his last.

"I'm not saying that I won't ever run another Brickyard," Gordon said. "I definitely won't be running another restrictor plate race. It's just, show me the risk versus reward there."

Gordon said it's all about being confident and comfortable in the car. Like so many other drivers, it's difficult to find that comfort level when cars are stuck together in three-wide, 10-deep packs at the two restrictor-plate tracks - the Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

"I say this with confidence: I know that some people are going to criticize me for saying that, but I think that actually the fans should actually look at that as a good thing, because they don't want us to always be comfortable out there," he said.

"They want to understand that we're in a white knuckle experience and that it's terrifying in some ways. It's hectic, it's physical, it's mental, and so the restrictor-plate tracks are, for a guy that doesn't want to race full time, that's not a desire that I have to put myself through that. …

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