|PHOTO: David PeQueen, @CarSDS2078|
by Ben Schneider
LASTCAR.info Staff Writer
AUTHOR’S NOTE: At the time of publication, ARCA’s website currently lists Andrés Pérez de Lara in 40th-place with a status of “DNS” and 80 laps completed. This status, which has become increasingly common at various ARCA races in both the East and West Series and the main national tour, is especially confusing in this instance given Pérez de Lara is only 17 years old and therefore ineligible to race at Daytona.
To further complicate matters, last season often saw discrepancies between ARCARacing.com and Racing-Reference.info regarding how “did not start” entries were classified in the final results sheet. For the sake of consistency, I will be defining this season’s last-place finishers in ARCA as the first car to retire from the race after taking the green flag. Therefore, Hunter Deshautelle’s 39th-place result will see him credited as the first last-place finisher of the 2023 season in the ARCA Menards Series.
Hunter Deshautelle picked up the first last-place finish in his ARCA Menards Series career in Saturday’s Brandt 200 at Daytona International Speedway when his No. 57 Brother-in-Law Motorsports Chevrolet fell out with radiator problems after completing 3 laps.
The finish came in Deshautelle’s ARCA debut.
A stacked field of 41 cars appeared on the initial entry list for the season-opener at Daytona. Of the 41 initial entrants, only 39 ended up taking part in the race. Frontstretch’s Mark Kristl confirmed on Friday that both Andrés Pérez de Lara and Kevin Campbell’s respective No. 01 and No. 82 entries had been withdrawn from the event. Pérez de Lara’s appearance on the entry list was a surprise given he does not turn 18 years old until April 2, which prevents him from racing at superspeedways under current ARCA age requirements.
Neither Deshautelle’s No. 57 nor his Brother-in-Law Motorsports teammate Bryan Dauzat’s No. 75 took to the track for practice, but both cars were able to set a lap time in Friday’s qualifying session. Deshautelle placed 22nd on the time charts with a 50.802, while Dauzat’s 51.092 was good enough for the 27th spot on the grid.
In qualifying, 34 of the 39 cars recorded a lap time, the slowest of which was Caleb Costner’s No. 93 Innovative Tiny Houses/Lickety Lew’s Chevrolet, clocking in at 56.500 seconds. Five cars did not record a lap time, including Amber Balcaen, whose No. 15 ICON Direct Toyota for Venturini Motorsports lost an engine and caused Sean Corr and Gage Rodgers to spin out, briefly delaying the session. Corr would ultimately be classified 39th, giving him the final starting spot on the grid for Saturday.
On Lap 2 of the race itself, Logan Misuraca’s No. 63 CELSIUS Chevrolet, which had qualified an impressive ninth on the grid, began to slow on the backstretch. As the field stacked up, Tony Consentino’s No. 45 BYB Extreme Tamayo Sports Florida Chevrolet spun out, though the driver was able to avoid hitting anything and rejoin the race. Deshautelle became the race’s first retirement shortly thereafter, locking in his last-place finish.
Scott Melton was the second driver to fall out when his No. 69 Melton McFadden Ins/Donna’s Donuts Ford crashed into the outside wall entering Turn 3. Melton was hooked into the wall off the bumper of Bryce Haugeberg and was visibly upset in his interview with FS1’s Jamie Howe.
Ryan Huff went from qualifying in the Top Five to finishing in the Bottom Five when his No. 36 Southeastern Services Ford retired with clutch issues after completing 16 laps. Tim Richmond’s day ended after 30 laps when his No. 27 Latino Immigration and Legal Center Toyota was caught up in an accident coming out of Turn 4. As the lead pack approached the lapped car of A.J. Moyer at a considerable speed differential, the pack eventually ran out of space, which sent both Jesse Love and Richmond spinning. While Love was able to repair his minor damage and recover to finish seventh, Richmond was not as fortunate and became the race’s fourth retirement. Love’s Venturini teammate, Gus Dean, rounded out the bottom-five when his No. 25 JBL/Dean Custom Air Toyota fell out with a fuel line issue after completing 33 laps.
Up front, independent owner-driver Greg Van Alst passed Canadian Jason White on the final lap to score an emotional victory. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Connor Mosack followed Van Alst home in second after recovering from an earlier spin off the bumper of Dale Quarterley. Corr nearly pulled off a true “last-to-first” drive, taking home third ahead of Lavar Scott and Mandy Chick, whose fifth-place finish led the way for the five female drivers competing in the season-opener.
THE BOTTOM FIVE
39) #57-Hunter Deshautelle / 3 laps / radiator
38) #69-Scott Melton / 11 laps / accident
37) #36-Ryan Huff / 16 laps / clutch
36) #27-Tim Richmond / 30 laps / accident
35) #25-Gus Dean / 33 laps / fuel line
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES MANUFACTURERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Chevrolet (1)
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES OWNERS CHAMPIONSHIP
1st) Brother-in-Law Motorsports (1)
2023 LASTCAR ARCA MENARDS SERIES DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP