Concord, North Carolina (July 31, 2017) – The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returned to Pocono Raceway for the series’ second appearance of the season on the 2.5 mile track this past weekend for the running of the ModSpace 150.
Venturini Motorsports rolling out the team’s customary three car effort featured drivers Zane Smith, Noah Gragson, and Natalie Decker for a chance to tame the ‘Tricky Triangle’. The trio of drivers did not disappoint as each finished in the top-10.
After nearly a two and half hour rain delay the action quickly heated up on the track once the green flag dropped for the series’ 65th overall appearance at Pocono Raceway.
Zane Smith driving the No.55 Musselman’s BIG Cup Toyota led the way for VMS’ three car effort qualifying and finishing third in the 60-lap event. For Smith it was his second top-5 finish at Pocono this year and his fourth overall on the season.
Smith who kept his Musselman’s Big Cup Toyota securely in the lead pack the entire afternoon worked his way up to the second spot and challenged for the lead inside the final ten laps before slipping back into the third position at the checkered flag.
“We were running down the 78…I think I just went a little too hard and heated up the right front and got tight,” said a discouraged Smith. “We’re coming so close…it’s unreal. Honestly, it’s so annoying to not get a win. We wanted it for Musselman’s so bad. It’s been an up and down year to say the least, but we’re finally starting to get a hold of it.”
Noah Gragson making his third overall ARCA Series start of the season finished ninth driving his Venturini Motorsports prepared No.15 Switch Toyota. Gragson, a native of Las Vegas, Nevada, worked double duty at Pocono also competing in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM). The 18-year old finished 24th in the NCWTS race after getting caught up in an accident – his disappointing finish snapped a streak of top-10 finishes.
“Today wasn’t the finish we wanted but I can’t complain too much with a top-10 finish,” said Gragson. “We fought a tight car all day long and just couldn’t find the speed I needed to challenge the leaders. It was just one of those days. Big thanks to Switch and Toyota for all their support.”
Gragson will make two more starts this season with Venturini Motorsports in the ARCA Series, the first coming at Road America on August 27th and again at Chicagoland Speedway on September 14th.
The popular Natalie Decker returned to ARCA Series action making her fourth career start driving for Venturini Motorsports. After solid runs during her first three series events the Eagle River, Wisconsin native turned in a career best outing finishing 10th behind the wheel of her No.25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota.
Decker, who made her series debut with back to back short track events at Toledo Speedway and Elko Speedway raced in the series June Pocono event finishing 27th after breaking her transmission in the late stages of the race. Coming back a second time to Pocono the 20-year old fan favorite was armed with big track experience and determined to better the previous outcome.
“I couldn’t be happier with today’s tenth-place finish,” said Decker. “This was my second race at Pocono and my second series start on a track larger than half-mile. I have a lot to learn as make the transition from my super late model car to the ARCA car. We’ve set some realistic goals for this season and today we hit our mark. I can’t thank everyone enough – especially N29 Capital Partners and my Venturini Motorsports team for this amazing opportunity.”
Decker will make two more ARCA appearances this season. She’ll make her first career road course event at Road America on August 27th and compete at Kansas Speedway in the series’ finale on October 20th.
The ARCA Series and Venturini Motorsports will return to action this Sunday at Winchester Speedway.
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, Christopher Bell, Justin Allgaier, Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Brennan Poole, Kyle Benjamin, 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.