NEW YORK, NY (12-26-09) - The recent ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards open test at Daytona Int'l Speedway put a big spotlight on Danica Patrick. Arguably, and moreover, it was Patrick who put the spotlight on ARCA.
In addition to the Danica Mania, the test also revealed the fastest female among the nine gals that tested - that being Daytona Beach, Florida's Alli Owens, who was third quickest overall in the draft. In fact, Owens, in her Venturini Motorsports Chevrolet, was consistently in the top-three on the tower all weekend among the 80-plus men and women that took part in the high-profile extravaganza.
Owens's top speed of 182.957 mph certainly bested every other gal in the garage including Patrick, Milka Duno, Leilani Munter, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Ashley Parlett, Jill George and Angela and Amber Cope.
"I really felt we were pretty much the fastest car overall," Owens said. "And that was pretty awesome. It was exciting to see how strong my car is. I drafted with my teammates most of the time and we were the class of the field. Mikey (Kile), Steve (Arpin) and I are going to be a force to reckon with in this race. My car is really good when it's pulling other cars along. I have no doubt that we'll be the ones to beat when February rolls around.
"The best part of the whole test was after Steve, Mikey and I went out and drafted and put up the top three numbers on the board; it was right then when the team really all came together."
Despite Danica being the majority of the focus during the Daytona test, Owens was also determined not to let that distract her from doing her job.
"I was there before Danica decided to make the switch to stock cars," Owens said. "She carries the hype with the media and brings a lot of eyeballs that were never around racing before. She's going to be the platform that I either have to follow or I have to over-accomplish or live up to.
"I wasn't used to seeing all the hair blowing in the pit area," Owens added with a laugh.
Owens, who drove Eddie D'Hondt's Toyota in last year's race, qualified second at Daytona, but was eliminated early on in a multi-car pile-up. Owens also admitted that switching from Toyota to Chevy for 2010 was a little nerve-wracking, considering her teammates were in Toyotas.
"I was really nervous about bringing the Chevrolet out; especially since the Toyotas were the fastest on the speed charts."
Owens was racing a Chevy rather than a Toyota because having an American manufacturer was important/paramount to her primary, long-standing sponsor, ElectrifyingCareers.com.
"We never fell out of the top five the entire test. It was huge for us; not just for me, but for all of us. It's so awesome. I've never had teammates before."
Although making the change was stressful, Owens has no regrets with the move to her new team. "It's just good being with a family-oriented and family-based race team.
"They get down to business and they are racers," Owens added. "It was such an easy transition, and I couldn't have picked a better team to race with.
"There is no doubt that they (Billy Venturini and the team) believed in me from day one."
Owens's plan is to run full-time in the ARCA Racing Series in 2010. She currently has confirmed sponsorship with ElectrifyingCareers.com for six races and her team is working hard to secure funding for the rest of the season.
"I want to run the full season of ARCA. I've had a couple of opportunities in Truck and Nationwide but I want to run a full season of something, and that's ARCA."
Owens's first race will be the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 at Daytona February 6, 2010, LIVE on SPEED at 4:00 PM ET.
One needs not tell Owens how important this race is, and what it could mean for the hometown driver.
"I want to win so bad; Billy wants me to win. It's almost hard to imagine how big a win would be at Daytona. It's my hometown; it's Daytona, the crown jewel of stock car racing."
And to add to the enormity that is Daytona, if Owens were to win at the "World Center of Racing", she'd officially become the first female winner in ARCA Racing Series history, all 58 years of it.
In the offseason, she has been keeping busy with charitable work. This month, she is raffling off a custom-made motorcycle that she helped design, with the proceeds going to the ROAR Global Foundation to build a library for children in Sri Lanka.
"I'm totally excited about this," Owens continued. "ROAR is all about empowering women to go out and do things and experience sports that are more male-dominated. So, it's a perfect connection."
Owens is also involved with the Children's Sleep Apnea Foundation, as well as several other children's charities. "We're doing a lot with the children. This offseason is all about the kids."
Prior to getting down to racing business in the New Year, Owens is looking forward to spending the holidays with her family.
"I never get to go on family vacations because of my racing schedule. So me, my mom, my dad, and my brother are going to spend Christmas in New York City. We're going to ice skate, go to Central Park, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and Ground Zero. We're going to do it all."
Once Owens returns to the track in 2010, her goal is singular. "Realistically, we're going to win a race. Our cars are too good and our team is too good not to win.
"I'm looking to break my own stats and break through my own way.
"Those are my goals. I want to win."