ARCA's Daytona testing features new stock car bodiesThe News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla. — Godwin Kelly The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.
Jan. 13--DAYTONA BEACH -- The ARCA stock cars managed to squeeze in several hours of testing between showers at Daytona International Speedway on Friday.
This two-day test, which is closed to the public, is important because ARCA cars will compete during Speedweeks in new bodies.
The sanctioning body, based in the Midwest, has transitioned from sheet-metal to composite bodies, which will be mandatory at Daytona and Talladega Superspeedway races this season.
All the cars that run in the Feb. 10 Lucas Oil 200 at the Speedway will be made of this new material.
The composite bodies, which greatly reduce the possibility of debris, are a lightweight, state-of-the-art, laminate blend. The entire body weighs less than 135 pounds.
ARCA says the body is designed without compromising rigidity. The 13 separate flame retardant panels are flange-fitted together for easy installation in the shop or at track.
The cost of an entire new composite body starts at $8,000 and can go up depending on fine-tuning of panels.
The stock-car racing community is slowly trending to this type of body material, which looks no different than sheet metal to the eye.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series went to this type of material a few years ago and the NASCAR Xfinity Series ran this type of body in four races last year.
Grayling Call is the ARCA director of competition and race technology. He helped make the push for the new body, which will save car owners money in the long haul.
"It's the same material that the Xfinity's new body will be," Call said Friday in the garage. "The body design we are racing is the same design that the NASCAR Cup Series used just a few years ago.
"It has made a lot of difference. We have been running this body on the short tracks for the last two years. We have discovered a lot of neat things about this material."
Call said if a front or rear fender of this car hits the wall or another car, it has a tendency to "pop back out," decreasing those dreaded tire rubs.
"These bodies have a lot more forgiveness to them," Call said. "They have been beneficial to this series. We aren't seeing as many caution periods, for instance."
Car owners are all for the switch, since it will dramatically cut down on body shop expenses.
Chad Bryant owns two ARCA cars and said it was a good idea.
"The transition started three years ago," Bryant said. "We've had the time to prepare ourselves for this.
"This is an exciting time in this series because we are making progress and moving forward. NASCAR is on the same path."
Ken Schrader, who made 763 Cup Series starts, now owns an ARCA team.
"It took out a lot of the snake oil from competition," he said. "It used to be, 'Hey, we got to get a Hendrick Motorsports body.' Now this is the body we all must run. There's a little room to tweak, but not much.
"I think they look good. I'm a big fan of them. We can fix them ourselves now without sending them out to repair."
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