(TOLEDO, Ohio - July 23, 2012) - For Bill Venturini, seeing one of his cars win the Ansell ActivArmr® 150 at Chicagoland Speedway was a welcome bonus after a week of hometown celebration.
Not only did the Windy City-born Venturini Motorsports team commemorate 30 years in ARCA with a flurry of guests at its home track, but "Big Bill" and wife Cathy also celebrated 39 years of marriage on Saturday. Even before Kevin Swindell led all 100 laps for his first ARCA triumph, Bill Venturini seemed to be on cloud nine.
"It was a special week, being honored here at the speedway on Thursday night," Venturini said. "They had me and my wife, my family, the Ultra Blue Crew as guests of honor here. We were fast, but we made this our top priority race of the year, this race track. It's our home track and I had 200 people here, so it was a lot of fun."
Indeed, members of the 1987 Ultra Blue Crew - an all-female pit crew that helped Venturini to his first driving title in ARCA - visited the current team at the Ansell ActivArmr® 150, 25 years later.
In most organizations, things change over 30 years. Between Bill Venturini's first win on June 18, 1983 and son Billy's first driving victory in 2006, only "Big Bill" drove to Victory Lane for the team. Now, the Venturinis enter a handful of contenders at each race, and Swindell is the 10th driver to win for the program. The team now counts 27 wins in three decades.
Amid changes over that time, one constant continues to drive Venturini at the race track.
"Winning," he said. "Last weekend, I had five cars at Iowa and we wrecked five cars. We were at an all-time low last week, and I come here this week and I have four in the top seven, we win, and lead 100 laps. It's an adrenaline fix. We enjoy the racing, and enjoy the people.
"I'm proud to say we do what we do, and I'm really happy with what we've got in our program."
Swindell Looks Forward: Kevin Swindell (No. 55 Curb Records Toyota) originally announced that he would enter eight races this season in the ARCA Racing Series, but he and Venturini Motorsports have since added another entry.
With Erik Jones entered in the No. 55 at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis for Friday, Swindell will drive Venturini's No. 66 Toyota. All on-track activity for the Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200 is scheduled for Friday. Two practices will take place, from 1:35-2:30 and 3-3:45. Menards Pole Qualifying will start at 5:30, setting the field for the 200-lap race at 9 p.m.
"We've added Lucas Oil Raceway," Swindell said. "We'll do the two dirt races, and then have this Chicagoland car right back at Kansas and look for a good run there. I look forward to doing that. Everywhere we've been, we've unloaded pretty much as one of the top three cars. I felt like we had a car capable of winning every time, so I'm excited to keep going."
ARCARacing.com will feature live timing and scoring of all of Friday's action, and SPEED will televise the 9 p.m. race live. The ARCA CRA Super Series will join the ARCA Racing Series at the track, giving fans in Indianapolis a double feature of ARCA divisions.
Team owner Bill Venturini assessed Swindell's progress as the 23-year-old Tennessean tries to make his way in stock cars after impressive results elsewhere.
"The kid's talented," Venturini said. "There's no doubt about it. He's had some bad luck, even with us, and we talked about it this week in the shop. You don't have to teach Kevin to go fast. He's a really good shoe and he's smart; we just had some issues in the previous races and today, he just drove his butt off. I don't know his father (three-time World of Outlaws champion Sammy Swindell), but I know how talented his father is. He's got the genes. The kid's good. I hope he stays with us one more year. I'd put him in the top 15 in the country right now, of up-and-coming drivers, even the top 10."
By leading all 100 laps, Swindell handily won the Aaron's Lap Leader Award for Friday's race and now stands fourth in the year-long category at 100 laps total. Brennan Poole (430), Alex Bowman (406), and Chris Buescher (197) lead.