Race Weekend Central

Frankie Muniz Finds Himself ‘In the Middle’ of Intense ARCA Daytona Action

Famed Malcolm in the Middle star Frankie Muniz fulfilled a lifelong dream Saturday (Feb. 18) when he got the chance to compete at Daytona International Speedway in the ARCA Menards Series’ season-opening Menards 200.

Muniz, whose racing journey began with the Toyota Grand Prix Pro/Celebrity Race in 2004, started the race 16th on the 39-car grid while also showing good race pace in the practice sessions leading up to Saturday.

Muniz’s afternoon certainly proved to be an eventful one, as he often found himself in the middle of the action throughout the race. He found himself in the eye of the storm immediately as he took to the outside lane and began to work his way toward the front.

It wasn’t long before he became familiar with how chaotic racing at Daytona can be, as he narrowly avoided the race’s first accident on lap 12 while only making slight contact with the No. 4 car of Dale Quarterley. Muniz began to show patience reminiscent of a 20-year veteran as he decided to refrain from mixing it up too heavily in the front pack in favor of hanging around the midpack mostly out of harm’s way.

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Muniz began to make a push toward the front nearing the midrace break, and he nearly saw his Daytona dreams come to a very early end when a big push from the No. 6 of Jack Wood loosened up Muniz’s Ford. However, he was able to make an impressive save for a relatively inexperienced driver and once again continued his ascent up the running order after dodging another accident on lap 32. Muniz kept his nose clean and brought his No. 30 HairClub Ford home in the 17th position at the midrace break.

With a newfound sense of confidence, Muniz came out of the midrace break racing more aggressively than he had elected to in the early going. He cracked the top 10 for the first time with 27 laps remaining and began to look like he might be a contender for the victory as he started to mix it up in the lead pack. Muniz reached the top five inside of 25 laps to go, and he restarted fifth with only 22 laps to go following an incident behind the leaders.

But his chances of victory shattered with only 20 laps to go as he was swept up in an accident while battling Andy Jankowiak for third. The wreck began to develop behind Muniz and Jankowiak, as Amber Balcaen broke loose and made contact with Jankowiak who, consequently ran down the track and clipped Muniz’s right front quarterpanel.

Although the damage was not irreparable, Muniz was certainly taken out of contention for the Menards 200 victory.

“That was honestly one of the most insane experiences I’ve ever had,” Muniz told reporters, including Frontstretch‘s Dalton Hopkins, post-race. “You cannot prepare for what it feels like being in the car at Daytona three-wide, bumper-to-bumper, people hitting you from behind and in the corners where they shouldn’t … but I’m thrilled.”

In the end, he brought his No. 30 home with an 11th-place finish. Although his afternoon showed more promise than is reflected in this result, Muniz certainly put on a solid showing for a driver of his experience level, and he could be viewed as a contender for race victories throughout the ARCA season as he continues his quest to find victory lane.

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