5 Races, 5 Different Drivers for Venturini Motorsports; Next-Up 19-Year-Old Jesse Smith for Kentucky Speedway ARCA Classic SPARTA KY (5-8-09) - Five races, five different drivers; that's the deal for Venturini Motorsports, which will ...
5 Races, 5 Different Drivers for Venturini Motorsports; Next-Up 19-Year-Old Jesse Smith for Kentucky Speedway ARCA Classic
SPARTA KY (5-8-09) - Five races, five different drivers; that's the deal for Venturini Motorsports, which will utilized its fifth different driver in as many events this year when this Saturday's Drive Smart Buckle-Up Kentucky 150 rolls off on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.
Their next pick - 19-year-old Wildwood, Missouri driver Jesse Smith, who will make his first ARCA RE/MAX Series start of the season in the Venturini Motorsports-prepared no. 25 Chevrolet.
"We had been talking with them (Venturini Motorsports)," said Smith. "They're a great team obviously; this is a great opportunity to run good."
And so far, so good. Smith/Venturini Motorsports were quickest in the ARCA RE/MAX Series open test at Kentucky Speedway last week. But that's nothing new. The Venturini team has been unofficially quickest at all the ARCA open tests this year.
"You never know where you're going to be when you test, but everything clicked; there was good chemistry and we were fast," continued Smith. "I knew we'd be good based on their history, but I didn't know how good. I feel like we got the car pretty close. It's not exact because the track's going to change, so we built-in for lots of adjustments. No matter which way the track goes, from an adjustability-standpoint, we can get there."
History certainly reveals that the Venturini Motorsports team can definitely get there. Team owners Bill and Cathy Venturini are two-time series champions. And, it certainly hasn't been very long since the team's gone to victory lane; in fact it happened in mid-April at Rockingham Speedway where Sean Caisse steered the 25 car to the winner's circle.
They team opened their season with Joey Logano's second place finish at Daytona. Brett Hudson finished 9th in the car at Salem before Caisse won at Rockingham. Mark Thompson was up front all day in the car at Talladega before the engine expired late in the race bumping Venturini Motorsports from the lead in car owner points to fourth.
"The goal is the car owner championship; but we're still trying to put some pieces together to run all the races," said Bill Venturini. "Winning the championship is more feasible because we've been able to handpick our drivers. That said, everywhere we go, we feel we have a shot to win. We've had the fastest car in the tests everywhere. Jesse's very talented. We're very excited about our chances this weekend."
In nine career ARCA RE/MAX Series starts since 2007, mostly in Dodges fielded by Jones Group Racing, Smith's has had some very impressive runs - most notably a career-best third place finish at Kansas Speedway in 2008. Smith also finished fifth at Iowa Speedway '08, fifth at Chicagoland Speedway '08, eighth at Michigan Int'l Speedway '08 and 11th at Kentucky Speedway '08. Kentucky is also where Smith tied his career-best qualifying run of third.
"I've already raced at Kentucky Speedway, so I know what to expect," added Smith. "I've got some experience under my belt now. I know I'll have one of the best teams out there supporting me at Kentucky. I've matured as a driver - feel like I'm more capable; and I feel like I've learned from my mistakes. I definitely think we have an opportunity to win there.
"The key will be getting the right breaks. We're going to be fast, so it will be all about having luck go your way, keep the car clean, be patient, stay up front and stay up on the wheel. It'll probably be a one-stop race so most of the success we'll have will be on the track. I'm not putting a lot of pressure on myself. Everyone knows how good this team is - and it's as good as it gets. I'll just give it my best."
Smith will have marketing/sponsor support from his longtime partners - Hormel Food, Spam, Lloyd's Barbeque and Childs Tire, all of whom helped support the Wallace racing family throughout their careers.
"Hormel, Spam, Lloyd's BBQ and Childs Tire have been supporting my racing career since I was five - going back to my quarter midget days. My dad originally helped Rusty (Wallace) in his late model days, and we've been friends of the family ever since. Mike (Wallace) had Hormel on his car in the 90s. He's been a big supporter of mine. I can call him up anytime for advice. And I raced against Steven and Chrissy (Wallace) in Legends and Bandoleros."
The Drive Smart Buckle-Up Kentucky 150, the 18th appearance of the ARCA RE/MAX Series at Kentucky since its 2000 debut, is scheduled to roll off at 8:00 PM ET Saturday, May 9. Practice and Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell precede the race action Saturday afternoon. The event will feature live timing and scoring at ARCAracing.com as well as live streaming video and audio of all the on-track activity.