CONCORD, NC (June 20, 2016) – On a sweltering Madison (Wi.) day, which saw temperatures rise well into the 90’s, Nicole Behar proved to be one cool customer finishing third in her first career ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards appearance.
Joining series regulars Josh Williams and Kyle Weatherman in the top-3, Behar was top finisher for Venturini Motorsports’ team in Sunday’s Montgomery Ward Father’s Day 200 at Madison International Speedway. ARCA Series championship contender Tom Hessert rebounded from a disappointing finish last week at Michigan to claim his 50th career ARCA Racing Series top-5 finish with Sunday’s effort. Christian Eckes, in his second career start finished 14th after mechanical woes cut his day early.
The ARCA Series visits Indiana next weekend for the Herr’s Potato Chips – Chase the Taste 200 at Winchester Speedway on Sunday, June 26.
Nicole Behar Shines Bright in First Career ARCA Racing Series Start with Venturini Motorsports
In her ARCA Racing Series debut, Nicole Behar quickly won over fans delivering a persistent first effort resulting in a third-place finish in Sunday’s Montgomery Ward Father’s Day 200 at Madison International Speedway.
“Awesome day with the Venturini crew,” said the 18-year old Behar. “I can’t thank Toyota and Venturini Motorsports for the opportunity. Today was such an incredible learning experience. Obviously more time in the ARCA car would definitely help but I’m really proud of what I accomplished today in my series debut.”
Behar, in her lone scheduled ARCA race behind the wheel of VMS’s No.55 TRD Toyota Camry, started from the third position and made it as high as second before briefly tangling with the No.17 car driven by series newcomer and local favorite Ty Majeski on lap-40. The contact with Majeski would shuffle Behar back to the eighth position. But Behar, with reassurance from the spotter stand, collected herself and began to work her way back through the field.
“My spotter (Frankie Kimmel) was great today. He kept me calm and gave me great information all day long. Reminding me every single lap of the importance of my entry, he really helped me settle in and gain when I need to gain. I tried to do the best I could to save the car and save my tires today. I was just trying to get as much as I could today. I tried to do the best I could on a tough track with just one racing line today,” added Behar.
With a long green flag run and strung out field, Behar slowly began to improve her position moving up to the fifth position by the midway point of the 200-lap event. After a caution on lap-107, Behar’s pit crew would give her two more spots with a quick four tire and fuel stop. After the green flag restart, Behar was pressured by teammate Tom Hessert who was able to pass her for position.
The two drivers would battle during the final stages with Hessert running fifth and Behar sixth until a caution on lap-180. Behar would again call on her pit crew who turned in another strong stop giving her two positions on pit exit. Starting third on the final restart, Behar would stay focused and protect her position before taking the checkered flag 20-laps later.
With her finish, Behar, from Spokane, Washington, earned ARCA’s SCOTT Brand highest finishing rookie of the race award. Her strong finish also helped the 55 team which is currently second in the ARCA owner championship point contest. After a week out of the seat, Dalton Sargeant will return to the No.55 in next weekend’s Herr’s Potato Chip 200 at Winchester Speedway.
Tom Hessert Earns 50th Career ARCA Top-5 Finish
Full time ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driver for Venturini Motorsports Tom Hessert finished fifth in Sunday’s Montgomery Ward Father’s Day 200 at Madison International Speedway.
Enjoying his first Father’s Day as a dad, the driver of the No.25 Toyota hit a milestone picking up his 50th career ARCA Racing Series top-5 finish.
“I thought we really had a car capable this weekend,” said Hessert who’s been up and down during the first nine events of the season.
“We were really good early on in the run, but track conditions changed and we got so tight. I could never get it back. A top-five…all good. Onto Winchester.”
With Hessert’s finish he moves up to the fourth in the ARCA Series’ championship driver point standings. Hessert moves his attention to next weekend’s Herr’s Potato Chip 200 at Winchester Speedway on Sunday June 26. “Winchester has always been a great track for me and carries a lot of speed. I expect to compete there for a win. I’m expecting we’ll bring back our Salem car which was really competitive earlier this season – should be a good show.”
Christian Eckes Showing Talent Succumbs to Mechanical Woes at Madison
In his second career ARCA Racing Series start with Venturini Motorsports, 15-year Christian Eckes finished 14th after bringing his No.15 New York Bus Sales Toyota behind the wall on lap-118 of Sunday’s Montgomery Ward Father’s Day 200 at Madison International Speedway.
Eckes, with a forgettable outing after qualifying fifth, was tested at the onset of the race when he reported the loss of brakes working lap-20 of the 200-lap event.
Pitting early to address the brake issue, Eckes dropped to 16th position – five laps down to the leaders. Returning to action, the young teenager wheeled his way back through the field driving his way back up to 10th while turning some of the quickest laps of the race.
However, bad luck would strike again when Eckes reported slowing after breaking a gear proving to be terminal just after the midway point of the race.
“Rough day,” said Eckes. “Hardest part about it was knowing how good of a car we had in race trim this weekend. We surely had one of the best cars in race trim this weekend. I ended up having to pull off for drivetrain issues and that was it. Good takeaway, I still learned a lot, big thanks to these guys at Venturini for everything. We’ll put this behind us right away and start preparing for Iowa in a couple of weeks.”
Eckes, who earned an eighth place finish in his season series debut back in March at Nashville, will turn his attention to his next series attempt at Iowa Speedway on July 9.
The ARCA Racing Series returns to action next weekend for the running of the Herr’s Potato Chips – Chase the Taste 200 at Winchester Speedway on Sunday, June 26.
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.