DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- John Wes Townley has made two trips to victory lane in the ARCA Racing Series -- both at the premier track.
Townley won his second ARCA season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, leading 33 of the 80 laps and holding off several challengers in the first race of Speedweeks.
Townley also won the 2013 ARCA opener at Daytona.
"Your first one's always really special, but this one is, too," said Townley, who has started 47 ARCA races in eight years. "To be able to come back with your proverbial 'dream team' that we have put together here at Athenian Motorsports is pretty cool."
William Byron was second, followed by Kyle Weatherman, Chase Briscoe and Frank Kimmel. Rookie Gray Gaulding was ninth, one spot ahead of fellow 18-year-old driver Cole Custer. Custer, who drove 10 races for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Trucks Series, was the youngest pole sitter in series history. He led 42 laps before getting stuck in the middle of the pack.
Townley was out front for much of the rest of the way.
Eight-time race winner Bobby Gerhart was involved in a nine-car wreck on the third lap and finished 37th in the 40-car field.
Derrick Lancaster seemingly started the accident by tapping Cole Powell, who turned into teammate Gus Dean. Dean's car veered back across the track, collecting Gerhart and others.
"Wrong place at the wrong time," Gerhart said.
Townley made the outside line work to his advantage, getting his No. 05 Chevrolet out front when it mattered.
"Once I got up there, that's kind of when my heart-stopping starts," Townley said. "You're kind of a sitting duck when you're out there, especially when you start to gain a little bit. Once you get out a car length or two, you're looking at your mirror and saying, `Oh my gosh, it's only a matter time before they get a run and come up here and pass me.' Fortunately we were able to hold them off."