When Speedweeks kicks off Feb. 15 at Daytona International Speedway, and Justin Allison makes his debut at the 2.5-mile track, it will be the first time in two decades an Allison has competed at the historic facility.
Allison is the grandson of NASCAR legend Donnie Allison and All-Pro champion Darrell Brown.
“That’s big shoes to fill,” Allison said when informed of the statistic. “I hadn’t really thought of that.”
A descendant of racing’s famous “Alabama Gang,” Allison, 21, has entered the ARCA season opener in a Ford fielded by Mooresville-based Team BCR.
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Havaco-Multi Services is listed as the team’s sponsor. Team owner Howard Bixman will be Allison’s crew chief.
The Feb. 15 Lucas Oil 200 is the first in a 10-race ARCA schedule for the Salisbury resident.
“The 10 races will be those that are televised,” said Allison, who made his ARCA debut last year with an 11th-place finish in the series’ season finale at Kansas Speedway. “We’ll (also) run a few super late model races (this year).”
Besides Daytona, Allison is scheduled to race his No. 88 Ford at Talladega, Toledo, Pocono, Michigan, Chicago, Indianapolis, Kentucky and Kansas. There are two Pocono races, and both will be televised.
Allison said his grandfather Donnie had given him “quite a bit of advice” about driving NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway.
“When we were down there for the test, he pretty much gave me advice all the time,” Allison said. “He explained to me what it would feel like running in the draft and some things that might help me in the draft. Pretty much just ‘Keep your eyes peeled.’ ”
Allison’s Daytona debut comes seven years after he began racing in the Allison Legacy Series at age 14. He competed in that series for five years, winning the 2010 championship.
He then advanced to asphalt super late models in the PASS South series, where he ran a limited schedule.
Donnie Allison won once at Daytona, finishing 15 seconds ahead of Buddy Baker in the 1970 Firecracker 400. He is probably best remembered at Daytona, however, for his famous last-lap, sheet-metal-banging duel with Cale Yarborough in the 1979 Daytona 500, which ended with both cars wrecked on the third-turn apron.
That prompted Donnie’s older brother, Bobby, to stop at the scene and join in a fracas with Yarborough that played out live on national TV.
Justin Allison’s uncle Bobby visited victory lane six times at Daytona, including three in the Daytona 500. He and his son Davey finished 1-2 in the 1988 race.
Davey, Justin’s second cousin, was the last member of the Allison family to compete at Daytona. He won twice at the massive facility, including the 1992 Daytona 500. His final Daytona race came in July 1993, less than two weeks before his death in a helicopter crash at Talladega.
Venturini enters five cars at Daytona
Concord-based Venturini Motorsports, which is always considered a victory contender at Daytona, has entered five cars in the Feb. 15 ARCA season opener.
Driving for the Venturini family, which moved to Concord from Chicago several years ago, are John Wes Townley, Justin Boston, Leilani Munter and Mark Thompson. The driver of the No. 35 Toyota entry has yet to be named.
Dauzat enters ARCA opener
Concord resident Bryan Dauzat has entered his team in the ARCA season opener at Daytona.
A Louisiana native, Dauzat began racing on dirt tracks in his home state. He competed in stock cars at Concord Speedway before switching to modifieds in 2008.
Last year, he competed in eight Whelen Southern Modified Tour races and placed 14th in the series standings. His best modified finish was fifth at Bowman Gray Stadium in August 2009.