After a long off-season, the 2023 ARCA Menards Series has gotten underway with a bang at Daytona International Speedway, in one of the series’ most exciting superspeedway races in many years.
Greg Van Alst, a journeyman driver who came to the series’ annual pre-season test at Daytona in January without sponsorship, has parked his No. 35 Chevrolet SS in victory lane at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.
The 41-year-old driver was able to make an incredible move on the final lap of Saturday’s BRANDT 200, shooting to the outside of then-race-leader Jason White to make the final pass for the lead exiting the final corner.
Van Alst, who returned to the ARCA Menards Series two seasons ago after nearly two decades away from the series, was able to edge out Connor Mosack, who led a race-high 25 laps, back to the start-finish line, to capture an emotional first career victory.
“Guys like me are not supposed to be able to do this,” Van Alst said in a post-race interview with Jamie Howe. “It’s everything I’ve got, it’s the only speedway car we’ve got, there’s no way I was going to bring it home without the steering wheel and a trophy, and that was it.”
The Anderson, Indiana native’s victory at Daytona International Speedway marks just the third top-five result for Greg Van Alst Motorsports and the best finish since a runner-up result at Winchester in 2021.
“This is for all the short-track racers out there that don’t think you can get to this level, I’ve worked my ass off to get here, and we did it, yeah!”
Connor Mosack, in the first of six ARCA Menards Series events for Joe Gibbs Racing this season, finished in the runner-up spot, with Sean Corr finishing in third, despite damaging his vehicle in Friday’s qualifying session.
Lavar Scott, making a one-off start for Rev Racing in the ARCA Menards Series, finished in fourth place, while Mandy Chick rounded out the top five in her superspeedway debut.
Venturini Motorsports’ streak of victories in the ARCA Menards Series came to an end on Saturday, as the team’s highest finisher was Amber Balcaen in sixth place. Jesse Love came home in seventh, with Jack Wood, Jason White, and Dale Quarterley rounding out the top-10.
Frankie Muniz, making his ARCA Menards Series debut for Rette Jones Racing, finished in 11th after getting involved in a near-crash late in the event, which involved Balcean and Andy Jankowiak.
After leading several laps throughout the middle portion of Saturday’s 80-lapper, Jason Kitzmiller would come home in the 19th spot, after getting significant damage in an incident that involved Amber Balcean.
When the race concluded, only 28 of the 39 drivers that took the green flag were still running, after many were involved in a rash of smaller accidents throughout the event, with others suffering mechanical issues.
Leaving Daytona, Greg Van Alst, who will attempt to compete in all 20 ARCA Menards Series events this season, will lead the point standings over Connor Mosack and Sean Corr.