Concord, North Carolina (May 8, 2017) – Venturini Motorsports turned in an overall solid performance in Saturday’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Met with mixed results, Spencer Davis and Tom Hessert turned in top-10 performances while Noah Gragson’s day ended early after getting collected in the “Big One” – forcing the 18-year old driver to settle for a 30th place finish.
For the second consecutive weekend Mother Nature played a major role with constant rain forcing ARCA Series officials to cancel qualifying and postpone Friday’s originally scheduled race to Saturday afternoon. Setting the field by last season’s owner points VMS drivers started inside the top-10.
Rookie Spencer Davis, from nearby Dawsonville, Georgia, started seventh and turned in an impressive outing finishing third in his ARCA Series debut behind the wheel of his No.15 DRIVEN Toyota Camry. Davis raced just outside the top-10 displaying a balance of patience and speed as he navigated his Toyota around the intimidating 2.66-mile Alabama Superspeedway.
“It was just survival of the fittest,” said Davis. “We saved just enough gas. We pushed the 02 to the finish. For my first time in ARCA to run P3…I’m just so thankful. I learned a lot in this race, but there are still tricks of the trade I need to learn. I was getting beat up a little out there, but I learned a lot. I can’t thank everyone here at VMS enough for bringing a great car and DRIVEN for making it possible.”
Veteran Tom Hessert returned to the seat for the first time since Daytona driving his familiar No.25 Musselman’s Squeezables – GO PUCK Toyota Camry. Hessert, who started in the second row, challenged for the top spot until losing power due to a burned up plug wire dropped him back deep into the field during the beginning stages of the 76-lap event.
Down but not out, Hessert and his VMS team overcame the challenge by fixing the problem during an unscheduled pit stop on lap-23. Faced with a large deficit and racing two-laps down, the superb restrictor plate racer fought back racing his way up to the sixth spot in the final laps. After a late race caution restacked the field Hessert found himself unable to progress, ultimately settling for a ninth-place finish.
“We had a car capable of winning,” said Hessert. “Unfortunately we had that issue early and lost a lot of momentum. We had a shot at the end but just couldn’t find the help we needed to get back to the front. I can’t thank Venturini, Musselman’s and GO PUCK enough for their support.”
Noah Gragson, driving his No.55 Musselman’s BIG CUP Toyota, started second and maintained a top-5 running position all afternoon until getting caught up in Talladega’s infamous “Big One” – ending his day with a disappointing 30th place finish.
Appearing to have a solid shot at his first series victory Gragson was turned sideways and crashed hard into the outside wall on lap-48. The multi-car incident took place coming out of the tri-oval and collected seven front running cars.
“It just goes to show you things at Talladega can change in a heartbeat,” said Gragson. “We had a great Musselman’s Big Cup Toyota today. I feel bad for everyone who put so much effort into this car. We really had a shot. I had a great run coming out of the tri-oval, the 78 left me an opening and I took it. What happened after that was just one of those racing incidents. There was nothing I could do, I was just along for the ride at that point.”
The ARCA Racing Series is headed home next for the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway Saturday and Sunday, May 20-21. The Menards 200 will air same-day-delay on Sunday, May 21 at 5 p.m. Eastern on FS1.
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 and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano.