CONCORD, NC – JUNE 18, 2019: Nineteen year-old Gavin Harlien from Phoenix, Arizona will make his highly anticipated ARCA Menards Series debut behind the wheel of Venturini Motorsports’ No.55 Autism Awareness #4Presley Toyota on Saturday, June 22 in the Day to Day Coffee 150 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.
The first of three scheduled ARCA starts, Harlien is excited and will use his series debut to pay tribute to his sister and help bring Autism Awareness to the forefront of Saturday night’s national audience.
“Making my first ARCA start is obviously really an exciting opportunity for me and one I’ve been looking forward to since our deal came together,” said Harlien. “But I’m probably most excited about sharing this moment with my sister, Presley, and running the Autism Awareness paint scheme on my Toyota Camry.
“I’ve been very fortunate to travel the world and live out my dreams racing. My sister on the other hand has autism and not very high functioning so it’s difficult for her to experience and enjoy even the simplest of things. She (Presley) is my biggest fan and I’m hers. This paint scheme is a small way of reminding her how important she is to me and a way to generate public awareness and show my support to the countless families and individuals who live everyday with the challenges of Autism.”
In preparation for Saturday’s race Harlien tested last week at Motor Mile in Virginia.
“With limited stock car experience it was great to get behind the wheel last week and spend a day testing with the team. I was able to work with Frank Kimmel and get comfortable behind the wheel working on pit stops and restarts – two things we don’t do in the trucks. I feel good about coming into this weekend but I also know my first time out is all about gaining experience. Venturini Motorsports has a great team and I’ll have a few of the best teammates on my side at Gateway to learn from .”
Gavin will join VMS teammates Christian Eckes, Chandler Smith and Michael Self at Gateway.
Harlien, a former X-Games competitor will make additional season starts at Iowa Speedway (July 19) and Salem Speedway (September 14).
“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.
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.
Follow Gavin Harlien on social media by visiting @Gavin_Harlien on Twitter and @Gavin_Harlien on Instagram.