(CONCORD, N.C. - July 3, 2012) - The storyline leading up to the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards "All-American Race Weekend" event at New Jersey Motorsports Park was mostly focused around the annual road course event and how Venturini team drivers would adapt to the unfamiliar track configuration.
For team Venturini however the focus would unexpectedly shift gears before the weekend even started. Just like any other constant in life, our world is made up of a series of ever changing events, which cause us to adapt and overcome obstacles thrown our way.
This was evident Saturday morning just after midnight when Mother Nature set her sight on the Mid-Atlantic States delivering a direct blow to southern New Jersey in form of a rare storm, known as a Derecho – a straight-line wind storm that sweeps over a large area of land at high speed with little warning.
The freak storm hit the team’s hotel in Vineland, New Jersey around 1:00am knocking out power and causing wide-spread damage with hurricane strength winds estimated at 90-100 mph.
Even though the visible effects left in the wake of the storm’s path was obvious, it was the unseen loss of electricity that highlighted the strength of the storm as extreme temperatures left many with nowhere to hide from the near 100 degrees temperatures plaguing the area.
The undesirable temperatures parlayed with the lack of power and air conditioning offered little refuge for those seeking the basic comforts typically taken for granted. While some team members relocated to hotels in the Philadelphia area (60 miles away) the majority of the team stayed behind and rode it out making the best of the situation.
Once the weather related disruption subsided the team was able to get back to business, focusing on the rare road course event at New Jersey Motorsports Park. Venturini Motorsports unloaded Saturday morning with four drivers ready to take on the 2.3 mile sidewinder offered up at Thunderbolt Raceway.
Brennan Poole, ARCA’s Championship point’s leader at the mid-way point in the 2012 season, made his first career road course start driving his No.25 Country Music Artist – CJ Solar Band backed Toyota. Poole, who struggled to find his rhythm during practice, found himself in foreign territory on the road course yet managed to turn in a respectable 11th place qualifying effort.
Resigning to the fact his road course inexperience would be a major hurdle to overcome for his bid to claim his third series victory of the season, Poole relied on his mild manner to stay calm and focused on his primary weekend goal of gaining experience and completing all 67-laps of the scheduled event. His game plan proved to pay dividends as the leading Rookie finished a team high 6th position and claimed his 8th top-10 finish of the season maintaining his series points lead.
Leading the way in practice and qualifying for Venturini Motorsports was 23-year old Kevin Swindell (No.55 Curb Records Toyota) from Germantown, Tennessee. Although a relative newcomer to the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, Swindell is considered to be one of the top rated driver prospects in the country, widely known for his remarkable three consecutive Midget National victories at the famed Chili Bowl in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Swindell, who qualified fourth for Sunday’s race, relied heavily on his diverse driving background. He jumped out early as he’s done in his previous three 2012 races, positioning his Curb Records sponsored machine among the leaders turning consistent fast laps around the 2.3 mile course.
However, in bizarrely coincidental fashion to his other previous career ARCA starts, Swindell’s chances evaporated due to circumstances out of his control when a lap car off the pace slammed into his car as the leaders were in line navigating their way around the track. Once again he found himself out of contention and questioning when his stock-car luck would change for the better. After several trips to pit road for repairs, Swindell was able to limp home and salvage a 19th place finish.
South American driver, Nelson Canache, wheeling his No.15 Venezuelan Tourism Ford entered the weekend as the only Venturini driver with extensive road course experience. As a two-time Venezuelan driving champion, Canache has spent nearly his entire career turning right. His cumulative stock-car career to date consists of several 2011 late model starts for Lee Faulk Racing and just ten races in the ARCA series this season with Venturini Motorsports.
Still getting comfortable driving his 3,400 pound stock-car, Canache was able to use his familiarity and claim his career best ARCA qualifying effort with his 8th place start.
Teaming up with veteran crew chief, Keith Hinkein, Canache showed balance as he displayed a comfort level unseen yet on the ovals this year. Highlighting his talent, Canache showed discipline and drove the best race of his young ARCA career. Running in the top-10 most of the day, Canache made it all the way up to the fourth position before giving back the positions on lap 55 of 67 during a late race, single car yellow flag pit stop to address a front end suspension issue that plagued his car’s handling performance.
Although disappointed with the outcome, Canache was still able to earn his best career finish crossing the stripe in the 12th position.
Rounding out the field of Venturini entries this past weekend was ARCA veteran driver, AJ Henriksen from Elgin, Illinois driving his No.66 Engineered Components Chevrolet. Henriksen qualified 20th, advancing two positions for an 18th place finish.
This was Henriksen’s second start for Venturini in 2012. Earlier this year at Pocono Raceway, Henriksen qualified 12th and finished 8th during his season debut. Henriksen’s career best finish came in 2003 at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he finished second.
Sunday’s 150-mile road course event at New Jersey Motorsports Park’s Thunderbolt Raceway was just the 16th road event in ARCA’s 60-year history. The road race and diversion from the typical oval track competition along with two series events on the dirt at the Illinois State Fairgrounds and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds later this summer make the ARCA Racing Series the most diverse national touring racing series in the country.
About Venturini Motorsports
Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars in the ARCA Racing Series, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. The 2012 season marks the team's 30th Anniversary of competition in the ARCA Series. Multiple team championships and consistent on-track success, VMS has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in motorsports.
Since 2007, VMS has assisted in the career development of notable NASCAR drivers such as Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Steve Arpin, Brian Scott, Max Gresham, Miguel Paludo, Josh Richards, Ryan Blaney, and Scott Lagasse, Jr.