April 27, 2016 (Concord, NC) – Venturini Motorsports, looking for back-to-back team wins in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, heads south to Alabama for Friday night’s General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Coming off a dramatic series win last weekend with Christopher Bell at Salem Speedway, the team makes a quick turnaround and focuses its attention on the final superspeedway race of the season at the famed 2.66 mile-paved tri oval known for high speeds and three-wide racing.
Bell’s Salem victory handed Venturini Motorsports the team’s 40th overall victory in ARCA competition.
Leading the way for Venturini at Talladega are veteran drivers Tom Hessert (No.25 RelaxWraps.com-Cometic Toyota) and Mark Thompson (No.66 Phoenix Air Toyota). They’ll join series newcomer Dalton Sargeant (No.55 Toyota Racing Development Toyota) who’ll be making his superspeedway debut.
Bill Venturini Sr. still holds the ARCA series all-time qualifying speed record of 205.432 mph set in 1987. The General Tire 200 from Talladega is the fourth ARCA event of the season. The race will be aired LIVE on FOX SPORTS 1 – Friday, April 29 at 5:00PM CST.
Tom Hessert Knows the Highs and Lows of Talladega
Over the last two season’s you’d be hard-pressed to find another driver whose experienced the highs and lows of Talladega Superspeedway quite like Tom Hessert.
In 2014, Hessert won in dramatic fashion, stealing the lead away from John Wes Townley during the final laps to earn his fifth career series win. Last season on the verge of winning back-to-back Talladega races, Hessert dominated the race leading 60 of the scheduled 76-laps but ran out of gas when the race was forced into overtime by a late race caution flag, handing the win over on lap-79 to fellow competitor Blake Jones.
“Talladega is one of those places it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good,” said Hessert. “It’s definitely a lot of fun running at Talladega but as a driver, there’s just so much out of your control.”
Now paired with Venturini Motorsports, Hessert returns to Alabama hoping to regain his luck in Friday night’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards – General Tire 200 at Talladega Superspeedway. Hessert, an experienced restrictor plate racer, will be behind the wheel of his No.25 RelaxWraps.com-Cometic Toyota eyeing his first victory of the season.
Hessert, who’s coming off his best finish of the season at Salem Speedway, is hoping to roll the momentum over into Talladega.
“We’re starting to see the results we all expected,” said Hessert. “We had a really fast car at Daytona in the season opener but had some bad luck and finished back in the standings. The next couple races we struggled a bit but ended up getting a solid sixth place finish last weekend. I’m expecting good things this weekend! The Venturini guys always bring great cars to Talladega. As long as we get a good starting spot and stay out of trouble, I’ll have a great shot at being there at the end.”
Dalton Sargeant’s Memorable Week Continues with Superspeedway Debut
Fresh off an impressive third-place finish in his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut last Sunday at Salem Speedway, Dalton Sargeant will get little rest before his inauguration at the famed Talladega Superspeedway – when he makes his second ARCA career start in Friday night’s General Tire 200.
“It’s been quite a week,” says Sargeant. “Talladega will definitely be a whole new set of challenges that I haven’t faced in my career quite yet. It will be my first time to Talladega, first time ever racing on a super speedway, and for that matter, first time I’ll ever be on a race track that’s over 1 mile in length.”
A native of Boca Raton, Florida, Sargeant will drive the No.55 Toyota Racing Development Toyota with Billy Venturini serving as crew chief.
“Although I’ll be faced with adversity and trying to learn quickly, thankfully I have a really fast Venturini Motorsports – TRD Camry powered by Windows 10 and I have a really experienced crew chief in Billy Venturini and an experienced spotter in Frank Bolter to help with that learning curve. The confidence of the team and the car, a car that William Byron finished second at Daytona with earlier this season, makes the uneasiness about going to Talladega the first time much more bearable.”
Also helping Sargeant transition this weekend will be Venturini teammates, Tom Hessert (No.25 RelaxWrap.com-Cometic Toyota) and Mark Thompson (No.66 Phoenix Air Toyota), both with years of driving experience at the 2.66 mile-paved tri-oval superspeedway.
Sargeant, a newcomer to ARCA competition, will participate in 15 series events with Venturini Motorsports in 2016. The high-school senior finished fourth in championship standings in the NASCAR K&N East Series in 2015. He also scored two top-10 finishes last season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Mark Thompson Eyeing First Talladega Win
Mark Thompson, from Cartersville, Ga., is the oldest superspeedway pole winner in history, taking the pole position at Daytona in 2015. The veteran driver reunites with Venturini Motorsports and will be driving the No.66 Phoenix Air Toyota.
Last week’s winning crew chief, Jeff McClure, will call the shots for Thompson during the General Tire 200. Thompson has twice finished second at Talladega in 1996 and 1997. If he wins at Talladega, he would become the oldest superspeedway winner in stock car history. Thompson will be 65 on July 9. Currently, six-time ARCA champ Iggy Katona is the oldest with his win at Daytona at the age of 57 in 1974.
Practice for the General Tire 200 is from 8:30 AM to 10:20 AM Friday, April 29 with Menards Pole Qualifying (group format) presented by Ansell at 2:30 PM. The General Tire 200 is scheduled to get the green flag shortly after 5:00 PM CST Friday afternoon.
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, Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott, Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Brennan Poole, John Wes Townley, 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.