Venturini Motorsports (VMS) and off-road racing specialist, Gavin Harlien, 19, announced today the signing of a three-race deal to compete in the ARCA Menards Series (ARCA).
Harlien, out of Phoenix, Arizona, will make his stock car driving debut in the ARCA series behind the wheel of VMS’ No.55 Toyota Camry at Gateway Motorsports Park on June 22. The former X-Games competitor will also make series’ starts at Iowa Speedway (July 19) and Salem Speedway (September 14). Sponsorship details for Harlien’s VMS prepared Toyota is forthcoming.
“I have been looking for an opportunity like this for a long time,” said Harlien. “Taking this next step in my career and moving up into ARCA with a top-notch team like Venturini Motorsports is a dream come true. Now I’m just eager to start the journey and learn as much as I can in my first few races.
“There might not be any metal ramps out on the front straightaway, but I’m just excited to go fast. Growing up racing off road and SST the last few years has made me a very aggressive yet, methodical driver. The trucks require a lot of throttle and car control so I think the most important thing for me will just be adapting to the car and finding speed anywhere I can.”
Rooted in the world of off-road truck racing since the age of 11, Harlien has gone onto achieve notoriety and success in the sport throughout his young career. Displaying talent behind the wheel early on, he captured rookie of the year honors in the Lucas Oil Off Road Series’ Modified Kart Class in 2012 and again after moving up in rank driving in the series’ Pro Lite Truck division in 2014. During his time driving on the Lucas Oil Off-Road tour he posted 10 victories and 42 podium finishes.
Currently competing for a championship in Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Truck (SST) Series, Harlien’s career spans the globe – racing multiple disciplines, series’ and events on dirt including SST, Lucas Oil Off Road, The Off Road Championship, Red Bull Global Rally Cross, the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals and Sprint Cars.
Over the last two seasons, the racer with a flair for the extreme, has claimed seven victories, 22 podium finishes and two top qualifying awards competing in his off-road truck.
Following in the wake of last year’s ARCA Menards Series’ champion, Sheldon Creed, the fellow west coast driver will make the jump from off-road to stock car racing.
“Watching Sheldon make the transition and win the ARCA Championship was awesome,” added Harlien. “Seeing the success he’s had the past couple years gives me confidence since we come from the same background and have been battling on the track for years. His (Creed’s) advice for me going in to this was all about being patient with the car and my progression. Now it’s my time to see if I can replicate that success and make a name for myself.”
Balancing life with sport, Harlien is currently studying Business at The University of Arizona. The honors student was awarded the Dean and Wildcat Scholarships in Academics and will graduate in 2021.
Harlien and the Stadium Super Trucks will join the NASCAR tour this weekend (March 29-31) at Texas Motor Speedway for round two of SST 2019 schedule.
Follow Gavin Harlien on social media by visiting @Gavin_Harlien on Twitter and @Gavin_Harlien on Instagram.
ABOUT VENTURINI MOTORSPORTS
With 54 all-time victories, Venturini Motorsports, an official Toyota Racing Development team, has been a permanent fixture in the ARCA Menards Series since 1983 and is considered one of the early pioneers in NASCAR driver development programs.
Since Joey Logano, last year’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion, raced for the team in 2007, VMS has gone onto assist many of the sports’ top driver prospects in pursuit of making it to the highest levels of stock car racing.
The growing list of drivers racing today in one of NASCAR’s top-three touring series include current Toyota drivers Erik Jones, Christopher Bell, Harrison Burton, Christian Eckes, Chandler Smith, Brandon Jones, Todd Gilliland, Brennan Poole, Ryan Reed and Natalie Decker. VMS Alumni also include Joey Logano, William Byron, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace, Matt Tifft, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Justin Haley.