Just two races into the young ARCA Menards Series (ARCA) season and Venturini Motorsports (VMS) is 4-for-4, grabbing victories and General Tire pole awards at both Daytona International Speedway and Five Flags Speedway.
A perennial powerhouse in the ARCA Series, VMS’ 2019 season has shown onlookers with an early glimpse of something shaping up to be very special.
Featuring a core group of young, highly touted Toyota Racing Development (TRD) drivers, VMS’ two season victories and two pole awards have been shared by four different drivers.
Harrison Burton (DEX Imaging Toyota) and Christian Eckes (JBL Audio Toyota) both 18, got things started by sweeping the hardware during ARCA’s season opener last month at Daytona. It was Burton’s third overall series win in 12 attempts, and his first with VMS in his first attempt since signing with the team during the off-season.
For Eckes, also a three-time ARCA winner, his Daytona pole represented the third time he’s started from the number one spot over his last eight starts. The New York native finished fourth at Daytona in his first Superspeedway attempt.
The Sunshine State also recently played host to Michael Self’s (Sinclair Oil Toyota) winning performance at Five Flags Speedway. Self’s ARCA victory was his first on a short track and fourth overall of his career.
Both Eckes and Self represent the only team drivers’ running the full season schedule and competing for a series title. Although early, Eckes exited round two of the ARCA season atop the list of championship contending drivers on the strength of his 3.5 race finish average.
Five Flags Speedway was also the site of Chandler Smith’s (Craftsman Toyota) most recent assault on ARCA’s short tracks. Making his first start of the season, Smith, 16, continued to impress claiming his fifth ARCA General Tire pole award in just 10 career starts. Finishing fourth on the Florida short track, Smith added his seventh top-5 finish and has yet to score outside the top-10 since making his series debut last year in Nashville.
The driver trio of Eckes, Smith and Self will return to the track when the ARCA Series resumes at Salem Speedway on April 14. Burton’s next series start with VMS will come at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23.
With 54 all-time victories, VMS has been a permanent fixture on the ARCA tour since 1983 and is considered one of the early pioneers in NASCAR driver development programs.
Since Joey Logano, last year’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion, raced for the team in 2007, VMS has gone onto assist many of the sports’ top driver prospects in pursuit of making it to the highest levels of stock car racing.
The growing list of drivers racing today in one of NASCAR’s top-three touring series include current Toyota drivers Erik Jones, Christopher Bell, Harrison Burton, Christian Eckes, Chandler Smith, Brandon Jones, Todd Gilliland, Brennan Poole, Ryan Reed and Natalie Decker. VMS Alumni also include Joey Logano, William Byron, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Bubba Wallace, Matt Tifft, Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier and Justin Haley.
Credit: Venturini Motorsports