Crocker wins pole for ARCA race at Daytona

Crocker wins pole for ARCA race at Daytona

Crocker wins pole for ARCA race at Daytona
Associated Press

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Erin Crocker became the second woman in history to win a pole at Daytona International Speedway on Friday when she claimed the first starting spot for the ARCA 200.

Crocker joins Patty Moise, who won the pole in 1989 and 1990 for the ARCA events at the famed 2 1/2-mile superspeedway.

It's the fourth ARCA pole for Crocker, who turned a lap at 182.219 mph in an Evernham Motorsports Dodge.

"For the money we spent to bring that thing here we should sit on the pole," joked Evernham.

Now the pressure's on Crocker, who must prove she can run with the big boys on NASCAR's fastest track. That includes Bobby Gerhart, the two-time defending race winner who qualified second.

"He congratulated me on the pole and told me to 'buckle up,' so I am not sure what that means," Crocker said.

The 26-year-old driver didn't seem particularly bothered, even though she and Gerhart tangled last year in St. Louis.

"Bring it on," she said, smiling. "I don't know what his statement meant, but usually when someone tells you to 'buckle up' it means that something is going to be exciting. But who knows? Maybe he just wants to have a good clean race."

Crocker, who started 10th and finished 15th in last year's ARCA race at Daytona, has had mixed results in her short stock-car career. She finished in the top 10 of eight of her 12 previous ARCA starts but failed to notch a top 10 in any of her Busch or Truck Series events.

After running the full Truck schedule last season, a lack of sponsorship has her 2007 schedule in limbo. Crocker currently is scheduled to run only 12 ARCA events and four Busch races.

She's hoping a strong showing Saturday will bring more opportunities.

"I think if we have success, it will turn into more," she said. "Winning the pole is a good start."

After a sometimes tumultuous 2006 season, in which Evernham publicly stated Crocker needed to make certain she really wants to be a race car driver, Crocker said she's committed to making her way.

"I've wondered sometimes myself if 'Maybe I just can't do this,"' she said. "It is up to me, and I want to do it. And I know I can prove it. Maybe last year just wasn't the time, and maybe the time is now."

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