Sparta, Kentucky (September 21, 2016) – Venturini Motorsports’ Tom Hessert, Dalton Sargeant, and newcomer Zane Smith participated in Tuesday’s open test on Kentucky Speedway’s newly repaved 1.5 mile surface in preparation for Friday night’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Crosley Brands 150.
Zane Smith Quick at Kentucky Test
After a full day of testing it was 17-year old Zane Smith, making his first 1.5-mile speedway attempt, leading the Venturini Motorsports trio in Tuesday’s open test session at Kentucky Speedway.
Smith was third fastest overall among the 23 drivers on-hand for Tuesday’s test. Smith’s unofficial fast lap of 29.942 seconds (182.278 mph) was better than the official track record set by Parker Klingerman in 2009 at 30.126 (179.247 mph).
The Huntington Beach, CA native will make his second career ARCA start and first on a 1.5-mile track in Friday’s Crosley Brand 150 at Kentucky Speedway. Smith will make his Kentucky debut driving Venturini Motorsport’s No.15 Icon Vehicle Dynamics Toyota.
“That was pretty sweet,” said Smith after finishing up his first ever day of practice at Kentucky. “I’m not going to lie, the speed was ridiculous. I didn’t know what to expect coming into today’s test but it was everything and more.
“When we first unloaded it took some getting used to,” Smith said. “It’s definitely a lot different than anything that I’ve really done. We’ve definitely made a lot of gains throughout the day. We started out really tight…then we just kept working on it and working on it and now we’re right where I want to be. I mean I’m really looking forward to Friday night.”
Smith made his ARCA debut at Salem in early September, finishing ninth. Today’s test was all about gaining approval in order to make his debut in the Crosley 150 Friday night at Kentucky. Two-time season wining crew chief, Jeff McClure, will guide Smith at Kentucky.
Tom Hessert Talks Kentucky; Unveils New Sponsor
Tom Hessert, second in ARCA’s driver point standings, unloaded his Venturini Motorsports Toyota at Kentucky anxious to test out the newly repaved surface.
“Awesome job repaving the track here at Kentucky,” said Hessert. “There’s tons of grip and its super-fast. The configuration is obviously the same but that’s about it. Before the repave the track was rough and forced us to race off the bottom but now it’s all about being on the throttle and staying tight to the bottom line.”
Hessert, with new backing from Acadiana Neurosurgery and renowned neurosurgeon Jason Cormier M.D., will take to the track Friday night behind the wheel of VMS’s iconic No.25 in search of his seventh career ARCA victory.
“We had a really solid test today. My guys on the 25-team continue to work hard and show up every week with a solid piece. I think with the new surface the groove will widen out during the race – we saw that earlier in the year when the Cup series ran – I’m expecting an exciting night behind the wheel,” added Hessert.
Already a race winner earlier in the season on the DuQuoin dirt, Hessert, paired with crew chief Dave Leiner, enter Kentucky as formidable challengers for a second season victory.
Rookie Dalton Sargeant Ready to Roll on New Kentucky Surface
Rookie of the year candidate Dalton Sargeant enters Kentucky this week as one of the top contenders for Friday night’s Crosley Brand 150.
On Tuesday, the 18-year old hit the track for the first time posting the seventh overall fastest time of the day with a 30.332 second lap on the newly repaved 1.5-mile surface.
“Our test at Kentucky Speedway was a really good one in the Venturini Motorsports Toyota Racing Development Camry powered by Windows 10,”said Sargeant.
“Anytime we get extra time on these larger race tracks it’s a huge benefit for inexperienced drivers like myself and really helps with the learning curve. We’ve got pretty good speed on our race runs which is very encouraging, but just missed it a little bit on our mock qualifying run so we’re farther down the speed chart than what we showed all day.
“We’ve got a good package for Friday night, proud of our effort as a team and how the test went, Kentucky is now a really tricky race track with two completely different corners which made it a little tough at the beginning but thankfully because of this extra time we figured it out. Looking forward to the race on Friday night and excited to navigate traffic and compete against a really solid field.
“Just as much seat time as possible, really. I kept telling them over the radio when they kept asking what I needed…really just laps. There’s just so much that you can learn every time you go out. Like three and four after the repave was really line sensitive on entry and that’s one of the biggest things to get a hold of and then down in one and two it’s not so tricky. I think those last few runs were our best runs throughout the day. We’re very consistent and I’m definitely happy with it.”
Sargeant, driver of the No.55 Toyota Racing Development-Windows 10 Toyota Camry, won his first series race at Berlin Raceway back in August. Overall, in 13 series starts he’s been a model of consistency posting nine top-5 and 11 top-10 finishes.
VMS, with recent success at Kentucky Speedway, went to victory lane with Brennan Poole in 2014 and swept the front row in qualifying last season with William Byron (Pole Positon) and Daniel Suarez locking down the first two starting spots. All three former VMS drivers have raced their way into NASCAR’s 2016 Championship Chase format – Brennan Poole (XFINITY Series), Daniel Suarez (XFINITY Series) and William Byron (Camping World Truck Series).
Raceday Schedule, September 23
Practice for the Crosley 150 is Friday afternoon, September 23 from 12:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., followed by Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell at 4:40 p.m. The Crosley 150 is scheduled to get the green flag just after 8:00 p.m. In addition to Live Timing and Scoring and Live Chat at arcaracing.com of all on-track activities, the Crosley 150 is live on FS2 at 8:00 p.m. Eastern.
This year’s Crosley 150, the 23rd ARCA race at Kentucky since the inaugural event in 2000, will serve as the show-opener for the Saturday night NASCAR XFINITY Series MyrtleBeach.com 300.
ABOUT VENTURINI MOTORSPORTS:
Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars for over 30-years in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. 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, Erik Jones, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Alex Bowman, Brian Scott, Ryan Blaney, Brennan Poole, Daniel Suarez, Brandon Jones and John Wes Townley. Over the years the Venturini name has become synonymous with modern-day racing in America. In 2012, the Venturini family was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano.