The 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season should be an interesting one. With a brand new sponsorship (under the guise of Marcus Lemonis), the series is more popular than ever. The racing in 2018 week in and week out has been nothing short of spectacular. Without a doubt, NASCAR has a winner in that series and given how cheap it is to field a truck, more teams should be looking at such a concept. The ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards has one team that does it regularly, MDM Motorsports. However, the powerhouse in ARCA that should is Venturini Motorsports.
Venturini Motorsports has been in ARCA for a long time. When this writer was a kid, he watched hundreds of ARCA races that Venturini Motorsports was a part of. Most of the time, it was the 25 car with Bill’s son Billy Venturini at the wheel. Billy and the 25 car was a powerhouse at the time, though they never managed to get a win. They duked it out with Bobby Gearhart, Kerry Earnhardt, Tim Steele and Frank Kimmel. Kimmel, the most successful driver in ARCA history, now works for Venturini Motorsports. He crew chiefs Natalie Decker’s No. 25 Toyota Camry. That team has shown improvement over the year.
Right now, Venturini Motorsports, much like ARCA itself, has become the 3.5th/4th stage for NASCAR driver development. Many young kids get their experience in long oval racing at the ARCA level, as they share many tracks with NASCAR. Their lineup includes Christian Eckes, Natalie Decker, Michael Self, and Chandler Smith, among other veterans, such as Lelani Munter. Christian Eckes has already made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in the 46 for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Chandler Smith is too young to run a full truck season and is in his debut season for Venturini as it is.
Michael Self is the interesting name on this list. Self is 27, running a part-time schedule with Venturini Motorsports after working with MDM and Mason Mitchell Motorsports on a part-time schedule in 2017. He has sponsorship by the Sinclair Oil Corporation for the races he runs. He has won three races in his last 12, including a surprise win at Kansas in 2017. Self has the talent for ARCA and has a short NASCAR career. In 2015, he participated in seven races for JD Motorsports, jumping between the 0, 01 and the 4. His best finish was an 11th at Road America in 2015. He has the experience.
In 2020, the ARCA Racing Series will merge into NASCAR and become the ARCA Racing Elite Series, a part of the K&N Pro Series East and West. It will be a complete 4th level for driver development in NASCAR. The entire thing will be under the NASCAR banner. If Venturini Motorsports continues into the NASCAR banner version of ARCA, they will have a NASCAR team full-time for the first time. Venturini Motorsports would have the ability to get a head start in 2019 by starting even a partial schedule NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series team. Using Michael Self and his Sinclair sponsorship would open the door for possibly more sponsorship in the future. At the same time, it would open the door to a full-time ride for Chandler Smith, who is now 16.
Venturini Motorsports is a stalwart who will help NASCAR enormously in 2020. Let them do what MDM Motorsports has done so well and run a part-time Truck team.
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