John Wes Townley 'inspires' in ARCA Daytona 200 victory

Matt Weaver

John Wes Townley will compete for a championship in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2013 for Red Horse Racing but he opened the season, and Daytona Speedweeks, with a victory in Saturday’s ARCA Racing Series Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona International Speedway.

Townley held off a furious charge – in deep lap traffic on the final lap – from super-prospect Kyle Larson and pulled away down the frontstetch to collect his first major victory in professional stock car racing. It’s a moment that hasn’t quite sunk in yet for the 23-year-old Georgia-native.

“It’s one thing to win in the ARCA Series and another entirely to win it at Daytona,” Townley said. “Just wow. When I took the checkered flag, I didn’t know if I had really taken it. I was prepared to go another lap and still worry about fuel if I needed to. What an exciting day.”

The embattled Townley has often been criticized by both fans and motorsport insiders for his long history of getting caught up in accidents while in the Nationwide Series. Some felt that he advanced far too quickly at such an early age and Townley even spent considerable time away from the sport before returning to the Truck Series last season.

That made his victory on Sunday all the sweeter.

I missed (racing) so much,” Townley said. “It’s really inspiration to come back. I’m glad I have come back. I’m proud of my improvements – not just in my racing career but my physical shape too. I’m in the best shape of my life. It’s just really inspirational to turn it all around like this…

“Personally, this is priceless. I wouldn’t trade it for most anything in the world – besides my family – and it’s an honor to come through at here at Daytona.”

Kyle Larson finished second, Ricky Ehhrgot third and Frank Kimmel fourth. Sean Corr came in fifth.

Townley passed eight-time Daytona winner Bobby Gerhart with seven laps to go when Gerhart slowed and eventually moved off the track.

Here’s the complete finishing order of Saturday’s ARCA season-opener:

1. John Wes Townley

2. Kyle Larson

3. Ricky Ehrgott

4. Frank Kimmel

5. Sean Corr

6. Brennan Newberry

7. Mason Mingus

8. Mark Thompson

9. Matt Kurzejewski

10. Chad Boat

11. Michel Disdier

12. Tom Hessert

13. Mason Mitchell

14. Clay Campbell

15. Josh Williams

16. Bo Lemastus

17. Buster Graham

18. Donnie Neuenberger

19. Benny Chastain

20. Dexter Stacy

21. Spencer Gallagher

22. Thomas Praytor

23. Rick Clifton

24. Terry Jones

25. Ed Pompa

26. James Hylton

27. Roger Carter

28. Milka Duno

29. Bobby Gerhart

30. Chris Buescher

31. Justin Boston

32. Galen Hassler

33. Will Kimmel

34. Caleb Armstrong

35. Darrell Wallace Jr.

36. Brett Hudson

37. Steve Kemp

38. Drew Charlson

39. Grant Enfinger

40. Julien Jousse

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