by Ben Schneider
LASTCAR.info Guest Contributor
Eric Caudell picked up the sixth last-place finish in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway when his #7 Red Tide Canopies / Coble Enterprises Ford crashed out of the event after completing 21 laps.
The finish came in Caudell’s 59th career series start and was his first LPF since Road America in 2017.
While Caudell did not appear in NASCAR or ARCA before 2014, the 55-year-old energy trading software consultant has been racing for decades. He told ARCARacing.com in 2017 that he had developed an interest in racing as early as high school, and he began running asphalt late models in the late 1990s. He then found a home in the United States Super Trucks (USST), becoming a series regular until the series folded due to the effects of the 2008 financial crisis.
Caudell then began searching for opportunities in NASCAR, making one start in the Camping World Truck Series for Cefalia Motorsports in 2014. He would make his ARCA debut a year later, and in 2017 ran the full season with Hixson Motorsports en route to a tenth-place points finish. While the demands of a full-time schedule proved to be grueling, he has continued to remain in ARCA, running a handful of races every year for his CCM Racing team. His career highlight is perhaps an eighth-place finish at Winchester in 2020, a race that saw Caudell, Brad Smith, and Con Nicolopoulos all score their first career top-ten finishes.
Caudell qualified 28th for Saturday’s race at Daytona and had picked up a handful of spots, running just outside the top-twenty before his day came to an end. After his early retirement, series veteran Will Kimmel and Jason Kitzmiller crashed on Lap 50, ending both of their races. The accident capped a tough weekend for Kitzmiller, who was looking to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut but was forced to withdraw from the event after a practice crash. Eighteen-year-old Bryce Haugeberg persevered through mechanical issues to complete 61 laps, while last year’s ARCA Menards Series East winner at New Smyrna, Max Gutierrez, bested Haugeberg by two laps to round out the Bottom Five
Up front, the race was dominated by Corey Heim, who won the season-opener at Daytona for a second straight season after leading 74 of 80 laps. Heim, who finished runner-up to Ty Gibbs in the 2021 ARCA Menards Series Championship, will split the season in Venturini Motorsports’s No. 20 Toyota with Jesse Love, who won the championship each of the last two seasons in the ARCA Menards Series West.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
36) #7-Eric Caudell / 21 laps / crash
35) #68-Will Kimmel / 50 laps / crash
34) #97-Jason Kitzmiller / 51 laps / crash
33) #94-Bryce Haugeberg / 61 laps / running
32) #32-Max Gutierrez / 63 laps / running
2022 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Ford (1)
2022 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) CCM Racing (1)
2021 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP