January 25, 2011
Arpin looking for a full-time ride
By DEAN MCNULTY, QMI Agency
TORONTO - Last season Steve Arpin arrived on the NASCAR scene in a hurray.
The native of Fort Frances, Ont., had made up his mind that at 27-years-old, it was make it or break it time for his stock car racing career.
So he packed up his belongings and, with his wife, Trina, made the move from Northern Ontario to the stock racing capital of the world — Charlotte, N.C.
Arpin already had a deal to race in the 2010 ARCA series — just a step below NASCAR’s three top touring series — with sponsorship from the Canadian-owned Mike’s Hard Lemonade.
And he was a hit right out of the gate, winning the Southern Illinois 100, the Rattlesnake 150 at Texas Motor Speedway and the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 Race Winner at Kentucky Speedway.
Those wins caught the eye of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his JR Motorsports NASCAR Nationwide series team.
A handful of starts in the No. 7 JRM Chevrolet, while Danica Patrick raced in the INDYCAR series, further cemented his reputation as a driver destined for bigger and better things.
In Toronto this past weekend to accept his Inside Track magazine award as the Canadian racer “competing at the highest level in international competition” Arpin talked about the what now of his blossoming future.
“We are talking to JRM, of course, and several other NASCAR teams,” he said. “We also are working again with the Venturini Motorsports ARCA team.”
Right now his goal is to put together a sponsorship deal that would put him in a Nationwide car, or Camping World truck, more or less full time in 2011.
The Vancouver-based Mike’s Hard Lemonade is still very much a part of this plan.
“It would be absolutely fantastic to be a Canadian, racing in the top stock car series in the world with a Canadian company on the car,” he said.
THOMSON FINDS RIDE
It looks as if someone is finally calling Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone’s bluff.
Melbourne’s lord mayor, Robert Doyle, believes his Australian city should tell Ecclestone to shove it after its F-1 contract expires in 2015.
“The big stumbling block ... is the cost to the Victorian taxpayer,” Doyle wrote in the Melbourne Daily Sun newspaper this week. “In 1996 ... the race still needed to be underwritten by about $1.7 million. Last year it was $50 million.
“It is the old argument: Pay up front but get many times the value of the up-front payment in downstream economic benefits. For most events that formula is persuasive. But (by 2015) $70 million?”
Ecclestone needs to scale back his demands or the only countries left willing to be part of F-1 will be third-world dictatorships and oil kingdoms.
It looks as if two young homegrown racers — J.R. Fitzpatrick and Caitlin Johnston, both 22 — will also be heading south this season in an attempt to further their careers.
Cambridge native Fitzpatrick is in talks with several NASCAR Camping World and NASCAR Nationwide series teams about racing in those ranks in 2011.
“We are still looking at doing some NASCAR Canadian Tire Series races,” Fitzpatrick said. “But right now our focus is finding something in one of the three major NASCAR series.”
As for Orangeville’s Johnston, she too hopes to run at least three — the Honda Indy Toronto, the NASCAR NAPA 100 in Montreal and Mosport’s road course — NCATS races, but she has targeted the Formula Ford 1600 championship series in the U.S. this season as her main racing focus.
“We already have a car and the series looks to be really competitive so that is the route we want to take,” she said.
A pair of Canadian stock car racers, D.J. Kennington and Andrew Ranger — both NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champions — will be part of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale, Calif., on Friday and Saturday. And they will by joined X Games, motocross and supercross gold medal champion Travis Pastrama. ... More winners from Inside Track magazine’s annual fans choice awards: James HInchcliffe, overall racer of the year; Kennington, stock car racer of year; Tim Boychuk drag racer of the year; Stewart Friesen, dirt racer of the year; Nick Witmer, road racer of the year and Daniel Morad, kart racer of the year. ... Audi has announced that Allan McNish and Tom Kristensen will lead the German car maker’s assault on the full Intercontinental Le Mans Cup this year. McNish and Kristensen will share the ride with Dindo Capello at Sebring and the Spa. ... NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 22 Penske Racing Dodge, will be making his NHRA Full Throttle Series debut at the 41st annual Tire Kingdom NHRA Gatornationals, March 11-13, at historic Gainesville (Fla.) Raceway. Busch will be competing for one of the 16 qualifying spots in the Pro Stock class in the Shell Dodge Avenger for Allen Johnson and J&J Racing.