Sarah Cornett-Ching has turned heads in her rookie season in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards.
Cornett-Ching, 24, from Penticton, British Columbia (Canada) races for Tony Blanchard’s RACE101 team and is looking to become the first woman to win a race in the 62 year history of ARCA. She follows names like Danica Patrick, Shawna Robinson, Erin Crocker-Evernham, Patty Moise, Deborah Renshaw, Patty Simko-Schacht and Alli Owens. Already, Cornett-Ching has made history, scoring the highest finish ever recorded for a female driver on a road course back at New Jersey Motorsports Park back in May.
“So far, it’s been going really well,” Cornett-Ching said. “The competition is pretty stiff in the ARCA Series, and everything is new to me as we go. So I think we’ve been doing a really good job at all these new tracks and everything. Working with Tony’s been great. He always has the car pretty much dialed in, so I don’t have to worry about too much. It’s been a really fun season so far.”
The diverse schedule in the ARCA Racing Series, which consists of superspeedways, short tracks, intermediate tracks, a road course and two dirt tracks, provides plenty of challenges for a driver and, with it, plenty of opportunities to learn.
“It’s really good to get on different tracks,” Cornett-Ching stated. “Like the road course, I’ve never run a road course in my life, so that was a pretty different experience, and I think it’s good to learn. Definitely got better at shifting after that. Even coming [to Southern National Motorsports Park] to test is another track that’s not really similar to anything we’ve run on, especially with the Super Late Model, you drive it so much different. It’s good. I’m just getting a lot of different experience we can use as we go.”
Cornett-Ching was a welder in Canada who raced in Limited Late Models before crossing the southern border to race in ARCA – with her sets sight ultimately on racing in NASCAR.
“I had run Limited Late Models back in Canada,” Cornett-Ching explained. “We ran on a touring series, so I ran five or six different tracks. Racing up there is so much more spread out. There was a track two hours from home, six hours from home. It’s not the same as it is down here. We’d run maybe eight races a season, and when I was working I’d only run two or three. It’s definitely much more immersive here. My learning curve is much steeper.”
She does have her sights set on NASCAR, with possible appearances in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East later this year as well as some possible Super Late Model appearances.
“We’re gonna run the full ARCA season and fit in some K&N races also towards the end of the year when the schedules don’t conflict. I don’t know, after going out and testing this thing, Tony said maybe we’ll run a race or two at the end of the year in the Super Late Model, so that’ll be fun.”
One race she has in mind in the Super Late Model – the Winchester 400. Cornett-Ching competed in an ARCA race at Winchester in June, finishing ninth at the high banked track in Indiana.
“The [Winchester] 400 would definitely be a challenge of stamina, that’s for sure. That’s why we’re out here today, actually, to get the experience and also just run laps in the heat. That’s really the only way to condition yourself for racing, is by driving a race car. I would really like to do that, we’ll see how it plays out, what the dates are and everything.”
Last week, Cornett-Ching drove a Super Late Model for the first time, logging hundreds of laps over the course of two days at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucama, North Carolina. Her first impression of the Super Late Model was favorable.
“I like it so far. “It definitely turns a lot better than an ARCA car, that’s for sure. We’ve got some new tires on it today to see what that feels like. I like this place, it’s pretty quick little racetrack. I want to get out there and run some more laps.”
Cornett-Ching is currently the only female competitor who competes regularly in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. For her, it presents one advantage in terms of popularity with the fans.
“It’s sort of split down the middle. I would say being female draws more fans, initially. I guess your personality and the way that you race drivers on the race track is what keeps your fans or not. I think we’ve earned a lot of respect this year. We haven’t had any trouble, really, as far as wrecking cars. I think that, as far as that goes, we’re doing really well.”
Right now, Cornett-Ching’s goal is proving herself capable and getting seat time as she looks to race to the top of the racing ladder.
“It’d be nice to move up as we go. Most importantly, right now is getting seat time. Back home, it’s certainly not every weekend like it is down here, so getting out there and proving my skills is the main goal right now.”
Sarah Cornett-Ching has five top-10 finishes in the ARCA Racing Series. She will be back in action on Friday night, July 17th in the #ThisIsMySpeedway150 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. The race, which is the 12th round of the 2015 ARCA Racing Series campaign, will be televised live on Fox Sports 1.