The ARCA Menards Series kicks off its 2024 season with the Daytona ARCA 200 on Saturday, February 17th from Daytona International Speedway.
ARCA, an acronym for the Automobile Racing Club of America, has remained the namesake of the Series since 1964 and prepares for its 72nd overall season since 1953. NASCAR acquired the organization in late April of 2018.
Many drivers from the ARCA Menards Series have made the switch to NASCAR. Former Series Champions Chase Briscoe, Chris Buescher, and Ty Gibbs all race full-time in the Cup Series. Oppositely, drivers like Bobby Gerhart, Frank Kimmel, and Brad Smith have frequented ARCA throughout their careers. Financial affordability has given individuals the opportunity to make their hobby a reality by showcasing their driving abilities.
On Monday, the ARCA Menards Series announced its entry list for the Daytona ARCA 200. 50 drivers will attempt to race their way into the 40-car field. Qualifying for the event will take place on Friday, February 16th. 34 drivers will be locked into the race on speed, and the remaining six will receive a provisional start (three via 2023 owners points; two Golden A-plan teams from 2023; one past Champion, or a third A-plan team from 2023; see ARCA’s rulebook here). The race kicks off on Saturday, February 17th.
With the season just days away, here are five drivers to watch at the 2024 Daytona ARCA 200.
5. Gil Linster
NASCAR Whelen Euro Series driver Gil Linster is set to make his debut. As part of ARCA’s “Road to Daytona” program, the Luxembourg native was picked up for the preseason test for Kimmel Racing and was signed on as a driver for the season opener. Bill Kimmel Jr. is the car owner and former Series competitor Will Kimmel will crew chief the No. 68 entry.
Linster raced in the Whelen Euro Series from 2017 to 2018 and from 2021 to 2023. In his first season for Hendriks Motorsport, he captured his first promotional victory at Circuit Zolder in Belgium and finished 3rd in the Series Championship. Linster will return to the team for the full 2024 season beginning in mid-April as he pursues his American racing dream and first Euro Title.
4. Thomas Annunziata
Like Linster, Thomas Annunziata was approved for the Daytona ARCA 200 after January’s preseason testing. The rising talent has achieved numerous accolades including three National Karting Championships and two Spec MX5 Championships. Last year, Annunziata found the winner’s circle twice driving in the Carolina Pro Late Model Series. His full-time schedule in 2023 was spent racing in both Trans Am’s TA2 Series and IMSA’s Mazda MX-5 Cup Series. He has worked closely with former driver Brian Keselowski en route to the hopeful dream of competing in NASCAR.
Annunziata will continue with Keselowski and Nitro Motorsports for the 2024 Trans AM TA2 Championship. At Daytona, the 18-year-old will drive the No. 44 for longtime NASCAR notable Jeff McClure. Annunziata could make up to four ARCA starts this season.
3. Justin Bonsignore
News broke on Monday the 5th that Justin Bonsignore would be making his debut in the ARCA Menards Series. His short-notice entry in January’s test for Ron Silk at Fast Track Racing resulted in his approval and ultimate seat for the Daytona ARCA 200. After a deal fell through with Frankie Muniz, Bonsignore was tapped to drive the No. 30 car for Rette Jones Racing.
Bonsignore has competed full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour since 2010. His 40 career victories and three Championships (2018, 2020, 2021) with Kenneth Massa Motorsports rank him fourth in both categories all-time. A background competing in go-karts, stock cars, and modifieds makes Bonsignore one of the most well-rounded talents in the field for February 17th’s race.
2. Marco Andretti
One of the most highly-anticipated entries comes with Marco Andretti. In a team alliance, Andretti will make seven Craftsman Truck Series starts with Roper Racing and 14 starts in ARCA with Cook Racing Technologies. The opportunity at Daytona and in 2024 will give the 36-year-old a chance to pursue his goals in stock car racing.
Andretti is the son of 1991 CART PPG Indy Car World Series Champion Michael Andretti and the grandson of all-time great Mario Andretti. Born into a racing family, his youth consisted of competing in various forms of motorsports before finding his footing in IndyCar. Andretti took three Indy Lights wins in 2005 and two IndyCar Series victories across his 15 full-time seasons. Recently, he competed in the Superstar Racing Experience capturing a win at Slinger Speedway in 2021 and the 2022 Series Championship.
1. Shane van Gisbergen
Last year, Shane van Gisbergen took the NASCAR world by storm. The New Zealand talent saw the checkered flag at the Chicago Street Course race in his first-ever Cup Series race. Now, his 2024 will see an expanded schedule across the United States. Van Gisbergen will race full-time for Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series and part-time in both Cup and Trucks. His superspeedway approval came with his successful ARCA preseason test driving for Pinnacle Racing Group. His Series debut will come in the 2024 Daytona ARCA 200.
Van Gisbergen captured the 2016, 2021, and 2022 Supercars Championship and sits 4th all-time with 80 Supercars wins. He is a three-time Bathurst 1000 victor and has competed in many other racing Series including IMSA and the Blancpain Endurance Series.
Additional drivers to watch in the 2024 Daytona ARCA 200 include the following:
- Tommy O’Leary IV: first ARCA Menards Series entry since 2015.
- Caleb Costner, Michael Maples, Lavar Scott: rookies racing first full-time ARCA seasons.
- Tanner Gray: full-time Truck Series contender driving ARCA for Joe Gibbs Racing.
- Leland Honeyman Jr.: full-time Xfinity Series contender driving ARCA for Young’s Motorsports.
- John Armendia, Cody Dennison, Mitch Gibson, Becca Monopoli, Jeff Scofield: attempting first ARCA starts.
Watch the 2024 Daytona ARCA 200 on Saturday, February 17th. Stay tuned here at LWOS Motorsports for NASCAR news, results, updates, and more.