Arlington Heights, Il. (June 25, 2018) – Venturini Motorsports (VMS) will unveil its version of girl power when the longtime ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards team returns home to Chicagoland Speedway on Thursday, June 28 with a trio of female drivers competing in the series’ Scott 150 event.
VMS has entered Natalie Decker in the team’s flagship No. 25 N29 Capital Partners – Yamaha Toyota, Leilani Münter in the No. 20 VeganStrong.com Toyota, and Toni Breidinger in the No. 55 TORK Toyota. It is the first time in the modern era of stock car racing that one team has entered three female drivers in a single event.
It comes as no surprise that the Venturini Motorsports team would bring three female drivers to an event. Team owner and Chicago native, Bill Venturini won two ARCA driving championships in 1987 and 1991, the first coming with an all-female pit crew, led by his wife and team co-owner Cathy Venturini.
“It was a way to get some extra attention and some added sponsorship back then,” Venturini said. “But I never would have come to the racetrack with a pit crew that couldn’t compete. It was far from a publicity stunt. If you look at pictures of our team from back then, those girls were all in tremendous shape. They could compete with anyone on pit road. We won a lot of races with them. And I feel the same way about it now, I wouldn’t come to the track with a driver I didn’t think could compete.
VMS has earned 47 series wins over the last 30-years, including three at Chicagoland.
Leading the “Girl Power” charge for VMS in 2018 is 20-year old rookie Natalie Decker. Decker, competing in her first full season of ARCA competition, won the General Tire Pole and finished a career high fifth during this year’s season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Performing on racing’s biggest stage, she added her name to the record books becoming just the third woman in ARCA’s history and fourth in Daytona’s 59-year track history to start a race from the pole position.
Driving VMS’ iconic No. 25 car, the Eagle River, WI native is currently seventh in the series’ driver point standings – accumulating four top-10 finishes in her first ten series starts on the season. Thursday’s start at Chicagoland Speedway will be Decker’s first on the 1.5-mile tri-oval.
Leilani Münter, with sponsorship support from A Well-Fed World and TRYVEG.com, will make her sixth start of the season behind the wheel of her VMS prepared No.20 VEGANSTRONG.COM machine. Leilani, affectionately known as the ‘Vegan Hippie Chick’, has two top-10 finishes on the season, including a career best fifth-place starting spot and eighth-place finish back in February at Daytona.
Leilani, a biology graduate turned race car driver and environmentalist, was named the No. 1 Eco Athlete in the World by Discovery’s Green Planet, and Sports Illustrated once named her one of the top ten female race car drivers in the world. An advocate for plant-based diets, solar power and animal rights, Leilani has made a career racing for a cause. Her past race cars have included messages regarding renewable energy and clean energy legislation as well as award-winning documentaries The Cove and Blackfish.
The third female driver to suit up for VMS at Chicagoland is eighteen-year old, Toni Breidinger. A native of northern California, splashed onto the scene two races ago earning a top-10 finish in her series debut at the half-mile Madison International Speedway. Coming from the world of open-wheel racing, Breidinger is USAC’s (United States Auto Club) all-time winningest female driver with 14 pavement victories.
Briedinger began her career behind the wheel of a go-kart at the age of 9 before she moved into the USAC Midget ranks. In 2014 and 2015 she placed 2nd overall in USAC’s Speed 2 Western U.S. Pavement Midget Series driver standings. She went on to claim the 2016 Speed 2 Western U.S. Pavement Midget Series championship. In addition to racing an abbreviated ARCA schedule, Breidinger will compete with her family run team, Breindinger Motorsports, in the full six-race USAC Silver Crown Sprint Car pavement series schedule.
In addition to Decker and Munter, other female drivers VMS has worked with over the years include Milka Duno, Alli Owens, Johanna Long, Kenzie Ruston, Taylor Ferns, Nicole Behar, and Trista Stevenson. Behar’s third-place finish at Madison in 2016 is the all-time best for a female driver in a Venturini Motorsports-prepared car.
Another unique twist to Venturini’s Girl Power story in 2018 is one that ties back to its 1983 roots: Breana O’Leary is a member of VMS’s pit crew; she changes front tires for Venturini Motorsports, a tradition started by team co-owner Cathy Venturini.
Decker, Munter, and Breidinger will all appear at the 17th Annual Joliet Race Fan Rally on the streets of downtown Joliet on Wednesday June 27 from 5 to 10 pm CT.
The SCOTT 150 will officially kick-off the second half of the 2018 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season. The race will be broadcast live on Fox Sports 1 at 9 pm Eastern/8 pm local on Thursday, June 28.
Credit: Venturini Motorsports