[media-credit id=4 align=”alignleft” width=”124″][/media-credit]With only five days till the ARCA Re/Max Series Slick Most 200 at Daytona International Speedway, many teams are set to go and releasing their final details. Venturini Motorsports is no exception as they have plans set in stone for veteran driver Steve Arpin.
When it came to the test at Daytona last month, Arpin went down there to help out Venturini Motorsports’ young drivers Hal Martin, Kyle Fowler and Mark Thompson.
“The new surface is awesome,” he told me of the test. “It’s going to make for awesome racing. I tested twice there since the new surface has been down – the tire test for Hoosier and the ARCA test for Venturini Motorsports. Venturini had a whole fleet of fast racecars there; it’d be cool to go back there and drive one, but the new race track is going to make for awesome racing. I think you’re going to see the whole bunched up, nose-to-tail, a lot tighter, more so like you do at Talladega. But then in token with the transitions so much more aggressive at Daytona, it’s going to make for a lot of interesting scenarios throughout the race.”
Though after talking with sponsor Mike’s Hard Lemonade and starting to work out details, the 2010 ARCA Racing Series Most Popular Driver is set to run the season opener, driving the No. 25 for Venturini Motorsports.
“Venturini has always put a great effort into Daytona,” Arpin said in a press release. “The problem with restrictor plate racing is that anything can happen and you have to play every one of your cards right and hope that luck is on your side.
“But on the same token, all we have control over is the effort that we put in. Being at the shop, I see firsthand the time and effort the entire team is putting into it, not just me as a driver. I think in all of the years that we have gone to Daytona, they have come a long way with their restrictor plate program each and every year. I think it is going to be a cut above the rest this year more so than any other year.”
The Fort Frances, Ontario native brings experience to the table as last year he won three races in 18 starts and despite missing two races, he finished 12th in the standings. He almost won the restrictor plate at Talladega Superspeedway after making a move in the late going.
Arpin also brings the Nationwide Series experience he gained in 2010 after running seven races for JR Motorsports, including a top 10 at Daytona in July. His experience on the restrictor plate tracks has taught him lessons he hopes to put in use come this Saturday afternoon.
“It takes such incredible focus and concentration to be going 200 miles an hour and your spotter is on the radio telling you that you’re six or seven deep, three-wide, in the middle. You’re an inch off the guy’s bumper in front of you, you’ve got two or three inches on either side of you and there’s another guy on your rear bumper and it’s just a mental thrill maintaining your line and using the air (drafting) to gain an advantage and get past the guy in front of you or to use the air (pull out of the draft) to slow another guy down.”
His success in 2010 earned him the Inside Track Reader’s Choice Awards Canadian Racer of the Year Award.
“To be recognized for any award is fabulous,” Arpin said. “But it is such a special honour to have the fans vote for you. This kind of award is something that means far more to me than the trophies for points. Everything I’ve accomplished so far was made possible by the support I’ve received, not just from Mike’s, but from the fans all across the country. I’m living my dream right now, and these people are along on the ride with me.”
Lastly, Arpin brings back Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which sponsored him throughout his 2010 ARCA campaign and looks to move forward with him.
“It’s great having Mike’s Hard Lemonade back with us this year,” Arpin said in the release. “Last year was a great success for everyone involved and we are excited about our continued partnership.”
Arpin’s relationship with Mike’s Hard Lemonade began back when he was running at Deer Creek Speedway on dirt.
“This is something we’ve been working on since our dirt-tracking days back at Deer Creek Speedway (near Rochester, Minn.),” Arpin told the Toronto Star. “We developed a great relationship with them there. They were a sponsor at that race track and when we raced there we did everything we could to help them out. As I’ve moved up to the higher levels of motorsports, we’ve kept that relationship going.”
Arpin plans to take the Mike’s Hard Lemonade sponsorship with him to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and beyond.
“In a perfect world, I’d like to race a full season this year in the Camping World Truck Series and a full Nationwide season — and let’s throw in a couple of Cup races for good measure. But right now I’m focusing on trucks and I’d like to take Mike’s with us. As drivers, we have to market ourselves, we have to brand ourselves so that a corporation thinking about coming into the sport sees value in us, sees value in building a brand around us.
“Mike’s has never been involved in a full-blown NASCAR program and we want them to be just as comfortable moving forward as we are. At the end of the day, this isn’t about me, it’s not about my wife, it’s about us doing a good job for them. We have to build their brand into the sport — and secure my future as a race car driver, as well.”