Greg Van Alst Returns to Daytona Hoping to Defend Daytona ARCA Title

Did you really think he wouldn’t be back?

Despite breaking his back in a NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last fall, Greg Van Alst was determined nothing would keep him from defending his ARCA Menards Series Daytona title on February 17, 2024.

After months of rigorous recovery and sometimes painful physical therapy, Van Alst received the all-clear to return to competition following the Holidays. He returned to the cockpit for the first time in nearly three and a half months at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway during the annual two-day preseason test session in mid-January.

For Van Alst, it was emotional.

Returning to the “World Center of Racing,” knowing the last time he left the hollowed grounds of Daytona Beach, Fla., a winner.

But Van Alst also climbed the high banks of the 2.5-mile superspeedway on January 12, 2024, without the physical support of his father, who lost a short but courageous battle with cancer last April. Still, the Anderson, Ind. native was able to put his emotions aside and focus on the job at hand – returning to Victory Lane.

With his No. 35 Chevrolet fixed after a monstrous incident in the ARCA Menards Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last April, Van Alst quickly showcased early on that his car had the speed it had showcased during the 2023 season-opener last year.

Unfortunately, Van Alst’s luck at the test was short-lived while in the draft, and in a tight pack, the group ran over a piece of debris on the track that ultimately caused heavy damage to his race car and ended their test early.

With the necessary repairs made and the car as good as new, Van Alst is focused on reliving the moment from February 18, 2023, and pulling his No. 35 Greg Van Alst Motorsports Chevrolet back into Victory Lane for his second career ARCA Menards Series victory.

Van Alst, however, knows it’s not relatively that easy.

“I’m ready to do this,” said Van Alst. “A lot has certainly changed in a year. Some good, some bad, but we are back as a team to defend our ARCA Menards Series title at Daytona, and I’m so thankful for that.”

Knowing the dominoes will once again have to fall his way and the stars realign on the last lap of the 80-lap contest, Van Alst believes that magic can happen twice, and through a relentless effort and sheer devotion, his team won’t go down without a fight.

“There is a lot that has to happen to win two in a row at Daytona,” added Van Alst. “Everything just has to set perfect. You have to be at the right place at the right time. Have that perfect opportunity to take advantage of that open door that leads to Victory Lane. We’re back and going to try and make it happen again.”

With a focus on attempting to run the full ARCA Menards Series schedule again in 2024, Van Alst knows the importance of starting the year on the right foot.

It’s super important,” added Van Alst. “It’s so hard to play catchup if you have a poor finish at Daytona. I try to stay positive and not think about that, though. We’ll worry about it afterward if we have to.

“Our goal throughout the weekend, though, is to ensure our car is strong in the draft and I can maneuver the car well. Handling will come into play, especially near the end of the race. Just need to make sure we are in a place to execute.”

Unlike last year, Greg Van Alst will need a different kind of help in 2024.

Greg Van Alst Motorsports will field two cars for the first time as a car owner in the first of 20 ARCA Menards Series races this season.

Midwest racing standout and fellow Martinsville, Ind. native Isaac Johnson has been tapped to drive the No. 34 Ford Mustang as a teammate to Van Alst’s No. 35 Chevrolet SS this weekend.

Johnson, 23, boasts experience in various racing disciplines, including Go-Karts, Kenyon Midgets, Dirt Late Models, and Pavement Late Models – but Saturday afternoon’s race will mark the biggest race of his career.

“There were a lot of options on the table as far as what I could do to kick off the season,” sounded Van Alst.

“I am all about giving back and creating a platform where the next wave of racers can come to Greg Van Alst Motorsports and be confident about what they will be driving and knowing that they are going to have the same opportunity to contend for wins – just as if I was driving the race car.

“We are so excited to have Isaac racing with us this weekend. In August, he did a great job in his ARCA Menards Series debut at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park. I believe he can benefit our team by continuing to build our notebook from the test in January and being an asset during the race on Saturday.”

Zaki Ali (Injury & Criminal Trial Attorney; 1-888-649-1-ALI) has joined the winning ARCA Menards Series operation as the primary partner of the team’s No. 35 Chevrolet SS for the highly contested 80-lap race on Saturday afternoon.

Nine other companies have also pledged their support in hopes of Van Alst’s securing back-to-back ARCA Daytona trophies, including CB Fabricating, Top Choice Fence, Verns Concrete, ACDirect.com, Delaware Valley Septic Sewer, Storm Lifeline Fire and Safety Systems, Hertz Law Firm, Norton Transport and Mikes Hardscape Supply.

“Zaki Ali, CB Fabricating, Top Choice Fence, Verns Concrete, ACDirect.com, Delaware Valley Septic Sewer, Storm Lifeline Fire and Safety Systems, Hertz Law Firm, Norton Transport and Mikes Hardscape Supply have all also been instrumental in helping keep my motorsports dream alive for a second consecutive,” added Van Alst.

“Without these 10 companies, our participation in Saturday afternoon’s Daytona ARCA 200 would not have been possible. For me, there is only one way to thank them properly: putting our No. 35 Chevrolet back in Victory Lane!”

For more on Greg Van Alst and Greg Van Alst Motorsports, please visit GregVanAlst.com, like them on Facebook (Van Alst Motorsports) and follow him on X | Twitter (@GregVanAlst35).

For more on Isaac Johnson, please like him on Facebook (Isaac Johnson Racing), or follow him on Instagram (@isaacjohnsonracing), TikTok (@isaacjohnsonracing) and X | Twitter (@isaac72johnson).

The Hard Rock Bet 200 (80 laps | 200 miles) is the first of 20 races on the 2024 ARCA Menards Series schedule. Practice begins Thurs., Feb. 15, with a fifty-minute session from 4:05 p.m. – 4:55 p.m. Group qualifying is set for Fri., Feb. 16, at 1:30 p.m. The season-opener for the 72nd consecutive ARCA season is set for the following afternoon on Feb. 17 to take the green flag shortly after 1:30 p.m. The event will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) with the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM Satellite Radio (XM channel 391 | online channel 981) handling the radio waves. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the entire weekend festivities.

Greg Van Alst PR