Concord, North Carolina (April 27, 2017) – Spring is in the air and that means one thing – the return of the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards at Salem Speedway. A favorite among race fans and drivers alike, Salem’s legendary high-banked, half-mile track has been a mainstay on ARCA’s touring schedule for over sixty-years. On Sunday, engines will come alive marking the series’ 101st running of the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200.
Venturini Motorsports (VMS) enters the weekend’s event bidding for their third consecutive team victory and seventh overall at the Southern Indiana track. In 2016, Christopher Bell driving his VMS prepared Toyota, dominated Salem headlines winning back-to-back series events at Salem.
This season’s team effort will be led by a trio of highly touted teenage drivers – Christian Eckes, Raphael Lessard, and Zane Smith.
Coming off a career best third-place finish at Nashville, Christian Eckes will make his sixth series start driving VMS’ No.15 New York Bus Sales Toyota Camry. Looking for his first series victory, Eckes made his ARCA series debut in 2016. Eckes made headlines last December winning late model racing’s prestigious Snowball Derby. At 16-years old Eckes is among the country’s top young driver prospects.
Another young gun emerging out of VMS’ driver stable is 15-year old Raphael Lessard. A native of Quebec, Canada, Lessard will make his series debut at Salem driving the No.25 Musselman’s Big Cup Applesauce Toyota. Lessard, the latest Toyota driver to join the series, captured last season’s CARS Tour Late Model Championship driving for David Gilliland Racing.
Seventeen year-old Zane Smith rounds out the trio making his second start of the season and fourth overall series attempt since making his series debut with VMS at Salem last fall. Claiming his second career top-10 finish at Nashville, Smith hopes to break out at Salem while driving his No.55 Icon Vehicle Dynamics – LaPaz Toyota.
Prior to Sunday’s matinee, Smith will make an appearance Friday afternoon at Salem, Indiana’s City Hall. Smith, part of VMS’/Musselman’s Apple Sauce family of drivers, will meet with Salem’s Mayor, Troy Merry, representing Musselman’s and People Against Distracted Driving (PADD) ‘Distracting Driving Community Awareness’ envoy promoting safe and responsible driving.
Previously announced, Musselman’s, VMS and PADD® have joined forces to unveil a year-long distracted driving educational campaign designed to create attention to this modern day epidemic.
With six team victories at Salem Speedway, VMS has visited victory lane five-time since 2010. Winning team drivers include Christopher Bell (2016 x2), Kyle Benjamin (2013), Brennan Poole (2011), Steve Arpin (2010) and team co-owner, Billy Venturini, who captured his sole series victory at Salem in 2006.
Currently in its 35th year of ARCA competition, VMS is widely-known for their success developing young drivers in the ARCA Series, recording 43-team victories during their longstanding series involvement. Thirty of team’s series victories have come since 2008.
The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 will spread out over two days, Saturday and Sunday, April 29-30. Practice is Saturday afternoon starting at 12:00pm followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying for the ARCA Racing Series at 3:30pm. Raceday festivities get underway Sunday morning with the on-track autograph session from 11:30am. to 12:30pm. The Green Flag is scheduled to drop Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm est. Follow ARCARacing.com or @VenturiniMotor on Twitter for weekend updates.
The race will be taped delayed – airing May 20 at 9:00 pm EST on MAVTV.
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, and Brandon Jones. 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 (www.NIASHF.org) and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano.