Concord, North Carolina (September 5, 2018) – Fresh off Logan Seavey’s Labor Day victory at DuQuoin, Venturini Motorsports (VMS) now makes the quick turnaround for Friday night’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards – Shore Lunch 200 at Lucas Oil Raceway.
In search for the team’s seventh victory of the season, VMS will unveil a four car effort led by a dynamic core of drivers which include Christian Eckes, Chandler Smith, Natalie Decker, and Michael Self. All four drivers have contributed to the team’s success this year combining for six wins and seven pole positions.
Two-time series winner Christian Eckes will make his 12th series start of the season behind the wheel of his familiar No.15 JBL Audio Toyota. Coming off his fourth-place finish earlier in the week at DuQuoin, the 17-year old driver is eager to get back to pavement racing at Indianapolis’ famed short track facility.
“I’ve had a lot of fun the last few weeks running the dirt tracks, but I’m really looking forward to getting back to my short track roots on the pavement at LOR,” says Eckes who picked up his second career win last month on dirt at Springfield.
“Even with the success we’ve had on the dirt I’m feeling a lot more comfortable going into this weekend’s race. In the past we’ve shown a lot of speed at Lucas Oil but haven’t gotten the results we deserved I feel. I’m hoping all that changes this week. This fifteen-team has been really strong all season long. I’m really excited to get back in the car. We’ve got a great shot.”
Eckes, who will make his third career start at Lucas Oil, walked away with a 10th place finish in last year’s event. Competing part-time in the ARCA Series since 2016, Eckes is enjoying the most success this year. Already with two wins and pole award on the season, Eckes looks to add to his career series stats. In 25 series starts the New York state native has tallied nine top-5’s and 16 top-10’s – with 510 laps led.
Sixteen-year-old Chandler Smith returns to driver’s seat for the first time since his heartbreaking defeat two weeks ago at Berlin Raceway. Enjoying a break out rookie season, Smith was one turn away from taking his second checkered flag of the season in his last attempt when he was spun out coming out of turn four by an overzealous Joe Graf Jr. and robbed of the seemingly sure victory.
Smith has become a weekly threat every time he slides into his No.20 Craftsman Tools backed Toyota.
A native of Talking Rock, Georgia, Smith has made the most out of his seven ARCA Series starts. Picking up his first career win in June at Madison International Speedway, Smith set a new series record winning four consecutive pole positions to start his ARCA career. Despite racing part-time, the high school Junior leads all series drivers with 564-laps led on the season.
“I’ve been waiting forever to get back behind the wheel,” says Smith. “The deal at Berlin gives me extra motivation to go out and perform at the highest level I can this week at Lucas Oil. Nothing has changed. I’m gonna give it everything I’ve got. These Venturini Motorsports guys have given me a great Toyota every time out. Friday night should be no different. We had a great test there a few weeks ago. We showed a lot of speed – I’m ready to go.”
Natalie Decker, VMS’ only full-time driver during the 2018 ARCA campaign, will make her first ever appearance at Lucas Oil Raceway on Friday night. Decker, seventh in the driver point standings, began her rookie campaign this season winning the pole in the series opener at Daytona International Speedway.
Driver of VMS’ No.25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota, the 21-year old female driver is eyeing her 25th career series start. Enjoying a respectable rookie campaign, Decker has notched two top-5 and seven top-10 finishes in seventeen starts on the season.
“It’s been a fun season and I’ve really learned a lot so far running the full schedule,” says the Eagle River, Wisconsin native. “I’m really looking forward to getting back short track racing – its where I feel we’ve had a lot of success, especially over the last few races. I can’t thank everyone enough on my team for all the hard work and support. I’m hoping we can finish off the season with some more solid finishes.”
This year’s Daytona and Chicago winner, Michael Self, returns to his green and white Sinclair Oil machine for the first time since driving in July at Iowa Speedway. Self, a three-time series winner in 16 ARCA series starts, has recorded two victories, one pole and has led a total of 163-laps on the season driving for Venturini Motorsports.
“It’s been way too long since I raced last,” said Self. “I’m definitely ready to be back behind the wheel and competing this weekend. Lucas Oil Raceway Park is a neat track. It’s got a lot of history. Short track racing isn’t my favorite by any means, but LORP is so unique in how you drive it, it makes it fun. I was so close to getting a win last year. I got passed for the lead with 8 laps to go after a late caution, so hopefully I can use what learned last year and put our No. 55 Sinclair Oil Toyota in a similar position at the end but bring home a slightly better result.”
Lucas Oil Raceway will be Self’s eighth start of the season. In his only other appearance at the Indianapolis short track he finished second in last year’s event. Eager to get back behind the wheel, Self is optimistic about continuing his success Friday night.
The Shore Lunch 200 is set for Friday, September 7 at Lucas Oil Raceway in the Indianapolis suburb of Clermont, Indiana. Practice is scheduled for 2 to 3:30 pm ET, General Tire Pole Qualifying is 6 pm ET, and the green flag will wave at 9 pm ET. MAVTV will broadcast the race live.
ABOUT VENTURINI MOTORSPORTS:
Over the last 35-years Venturini Motorsports (VMS) has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in professional motorsports. Known for long-time dominance in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, Venturini Motorsports is held in high regard as one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the county. Since 2007, VMS has specialized in the career development of some of today’s top racing talent including current NASCAR “Stars” – Joey Logano, Erik Jones, William Byron, Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Darryl ‘Bubba’ Wallace Jr., Daniel Suarez, Christopher Bell, Justin Allgaier, Noah Gragson, Ben Rhoads, Ryan Reed, Brandon Jones, Matt Tifft, Brennan Poole, Dalton Sargeant, Justin Haley and Todd Gilliland. Integrity, dedication and continuous innovation paired with years of on-track success has helped define Venturini Motorsports as one of the longest tenured teams in all of modern day racing. In 2012, the Venturini racing family was recognized for their collective achievements and inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame – now finding themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Chip Ganassi, Andy Granatelli, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano.