DAYTONA BEACH, Fla: The biggest race of Jacob Heafner’s young career is set for this Saturday.
Heafner, an accomplished short track racer from North Carolina is poised to make his ARCA Menards Series debut in the series’ biggest race of the season in Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire at the famed Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
And although the 20-year-old is a rookie when it comes to the heavier stock cars used to compete in ARCA competition, the Dallas, N.C.-native tested at the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway last month more like a tamed veteran guiding his No. 77 Ford Fusion to the 10th quickest time overall during the two-day test session led by team owner and championship crew chief Chad Bryant.
While Heafner realizes the situation will be totally different this weekend in his series’ debut, he’s embracing the opportunity to learn and turn heads on Saturday afternoon.
“I can’t begin to say how huge of an opportunity this is for me and my career,” said Heafner. “I’m paired with a lot of smart people who bring fast and winning race cars to the track and I’m the lucky guy that gets to sit behind the wheel.
“I’m not sure what all to expect for my ARCA Menards Series debut, but I definitely want to earn the respect of my competitors and be around for the finish.”
Knowing that 80 laps will go by quick thundering around the “World Center of Racing” in about 50-seconds, Heafner is relying on his team led by Bryant to help limit his mistakes.
“It’s a big deal to come to Daytona,” added Heafner. “I want to have zero mistakes both on the race track and on pit road. I plan to really use my spotter to my benefit and listen to not only his guidance but the tips he’s giving me from up top. I realize that I (still) have a lot to learn, but I feel like between the team and I – I can have a good showing and look for more races on the horizon.”
When asked of his goals for Daytona, Heafner was quick to respond.
“Finish,” he quipped. “I’d love to have a top-10, that would feel like a win, but I want to finish this race and bring the car back in one piece for Chad and the guys and all of those pitching in to put me on the track.”
PowerHouse Recycling, a marker leader in certified electronics recycling and IT asset management services will advance their relationship with Heafner from Late Models to ARCA and support his efforts this weekend.
“I can’t thank PowerHouse Recycling enough for their faith in me as a race car driver,” he said. “It’s a huge investment for them to take this next leap in my racing endeavors. The car looks great and I’m determined to bring them a finish they can be proud of.”
For Bryant, he is no stranger to working with young, inexperienced drivers but says Heafner displays the patience that will be pivotal to success at a place like Daytona.
“I’m really proud of our lineup for Daytona,” sounded Bryant. “Connor (Hall) is back with us for a second Daytona race and Jacob will make his ARCA Menards Series debut on Saturday. I think Jacob and Connor are a lot alike as they are both relatively quiet drivers but are fierce competitors once they put on those helmets.
“I think Connor will be a good drafting partner for Jacob and vice-versa. We had a lot of speed in our cars at the test and I’m hopeful we can continue that pace this weekend and kick off our 2020 season with some momentum.”
The Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire (80 laps | 200 miles) is the first of 20 races on the 2020 ARCA Menards Series schedule. Practice begins Fri., Feb. 7 with a one-hour session from 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. A final practice session has been etched in from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Group qualifying is set for race day, Sat., Feb. 8 at 12:30 p.m. The season-opener for the 68th consecutive ARCA season is set to take the green flag shortly after 4:30 p.m. The event will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), while ARCARacing.com will stream live timing and scoring throughout the entire weekend festivities.