@SCornettChing • @ARCA_Racing • TALLADEGA, AL – ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards driver Sarah Cornett-Ching knew she would have a shot at competing in the season-opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway nearly two months and a half months ago.
Beyond that was an open-ended question. But, with support from mentor, racing guru and friend Tony Blanchard, Cornett-Ching acquired support through RACE 101 to turn her one-race deal into a full season championship run.
“I am so impressed with her ability to drive, learn and process,” says Blanchard. “She is truly a fighter, has the right attitude and is always listening and learning.”
This Friday, the dream wave continues for the Canadian when she takes to the 2.66-mile superspeedway of Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200.
The certified welder now turned SCOTT Rookie of the Year eligible driver sets her sights on her second career restrictor plate race not only as an opportunity to redeem herself, but as a chance to further impress.
Many have said that the likable rookie has proven herself in the four ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards races she’s competed in, but for Cornett-Ching, there’s still plenty to be accomplished and more to prove. Especially at Talladega.
“I’m awfully excited to have a shot to race at Talladega Friday afternoon,” said Cornett-Ching, who will drive the No. 2 RACE 101 Chevrolet. “I can’t begin to express how thankful I am to have the opportunity to race not only at Talladega but compete full-time in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards too.”
Through four races this season, the Summerland, British Columbia driver carries an average start and finish of 17th. And while her ARCA debut at Daytona in February didn’t launch as planned, Cornett-Ching has delivered three straight top-12 finishes, including a career-best 11th at Nashville two weeks ago.
Cornett-Ching’s sharp intel, marked with her finesse behind the wheel has propelled her to ninth in the championship standings, but the 23-year old knows when it comes to restrictor plate racing, it’s a whole new ball game.
Not to mention, a never-ending mental game of chess.
“We overcame a lot at Daytona,” said Cornett-Ching who recently made her NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. “After a solid practice, we lost a motor. In the race, we also had a mechanical problem which put us behind, but the team worked tirelessly and we finished the race. Even though we didn’t contend, the laps I acquired at Daytona should help with Talladega.
“I’ll admit, I’m still learning the draft, but I feel like I’ve developed a good relationship with some of my fellow ARCA colleagues, which should help with drafting partners. Talladega is an opportunity for me and our RACE 101 team in so many ways, we need to do our job to take advantage of it as best as we can.”
With her 24th birthday on the horizon, Cornett-Ching, says part of that opportunity includes being in a position to score her first career ARCA top-10 finish in Friday’s race. Armed with ARCA’s new Ilmor 396 engine, the freshman driver believes she can give herself an early present in the fifth race of the season.
“The Ilmor 396 has made such a big difference for us,” Cornett-Ching added. “It will pay even bigger dividends I believe at Talladega. We’ve worked hard to fine-tune our No. 2 RACE 101 Chevrolet to be able to practice well, qualify strong and let the race unfold for itself.
“We as a team can’t predict what will happen in the race, but we’re going to give it our best. You can’t afford to hide in the back and wait for things to happen. I’ve heard a lot of talk about that, but this is a shorter race than year’s past, so we feel like a team we need to put ourselves in a comfort zone and when it’s time to go, we go. Hopefully, we’ll be racing towards a top-10, if not something more.”
The International Motorsports Hall of Fame 200 (76 Laps / 202 Miles) is the fifth of 20 races on the 2015 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule. Practice begins for the one-day show on Friday, May 1 from 8:00 a.m. – 10:20 a.m. Later, Menards pole group qualifying presented by Ansell takes place at 2:30 p.m. Shortly thereafter, the event will take the green flag just after 5:00 p.m. The event will be televised live on FOX Sports 1. ARCARacing.com will stream live timing and scoring throughout the entire weekend festivities. All times are local (Central).
From Tony Blanchard / Tonybrace101@gmail.com