Concord, NC (March 12, 2013) – Just weeks after their dramatic ARCA Racing Series victory at Daytona, Venturini Motorsports (VMS) is prepared to make their NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) debut with John Wes Townley behind the wheel for this weekend’s Jeff Foxworthy’s Grit Chips 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
VMS, a long-time fixture in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, celebrated its 30-year anniversary in ARCA last year. While maintaining a presence there, the team now stands positioned for growth and greater challenges in NASCAR.
In early February, the team announced plans to field its familiar No. 25 car with Townley at the helm for a partial Nationwide Series schedule. Now, the team has reached a three-race sponsorship deal with Townley and his car sponsor, Zaxby’s. In addition to Saturday’s race at Bristol, Townley and VMS will compete together later this spring at Talladega and Charlotte.
“This is a great opportunity for our team to showcase our ability to compete at the next level. We’re extremely excited to carry on our relationship with John Wes and the opportunity to continue our brand ambassadorship for Zaxby’s,” said Billy Venturini, competition director for Venturini Motorsports. “Expanding our organization’s efforts into the Nationwide Series has been a total team effort. We’re grateful to our partners for giving us the chance to achieve our goals.”
Joe Gibbs Racing Engines will power Townley’s Zaxby’s Toyota, and crew chief Dan Deeringhoff will lead the team’s efforts throughout the weekend. Deeringhoff led Clint Bowyer to the 2008 Nationwide Series championship, and worked with Townley while he drove for Richard Childress Racing three seasons ago. Over the years, VMS has evolved from a small, family-operated race team to become one of the premier NASCAR driver development teams in the country. In 2013, the Venturini family was inducted into the Italian American Sports Hall of Fame for their years of positive contributions to the racing industry.
Although widely known for their success in ARCA, VMS has competed in all three national ranks of NASCAR (Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck Series) with owner and driver Bill Venturini.
Bill Venturini Sr. made his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at Michigan International Speedway in 1989. In all, Venturini Sr. made seven starts in the Sprint Cup Series between 1989-1993. The two-time ARCA driver champion also competed in four Nationwide Series events between 1982-1985 and made two lone starts in the Camping World Truck Series in the 1995 and 1996 seasons. Venturini Sr.’s best Sprint Cup finish, 18th, came at Talladega in 1990, and he earned his career-best Nationwide Series finish of 11th at Milwaukee.
With a deep family racing history dating back to the 1950s, the transition from Tony Venturini’s family “hobby” to “lifestyle” status was made in the early 1970s, when family patriarch, Bill “Big Bill” Venturini, took the family passion for racing to a new level with his dedication to the sport. From his humble stock car beginnings at Rockford Speedway to his first career start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Michigan in 1989, the team has been on a constant upward swing for 40 years.
After years of winning races and multiple series championships in the ARCA Racing Series and the subsequent retirement of owner/drivers Bill and Billy Venturini, the family organization took a new direction in 2007 by shifting its focus to providing the platform for emerging drivers to gain experience through the team’s ARCA driver development program.
Spearheaded by third-generation driver Billy Venturini, the team catapulted itself onto the national scene when teenage driving sensation Joey Logano was selected by Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) as a top driver prospect for their NASCAR Sprint Cup Series program. In preparation for Logano’s jump to the highest ranks of stock car racing, VMS was given the nod to prepare him for his debut driving the Home Depot car for JGR. Logano, who now pilots the No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Fusion in the Sprint Cup Series for Penske Racing, won two races driving for Venturini.
Since that time, VMS has worked with over 20 ARCA drivers who have gone on to compete in one of the top tiers of the NASCAR ranks. This list includes such names as Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Brian Scott, Marc Davis, Sean Caisse, Scott Lagasse Jr., Josh Richards, Max Gresham, Ryan Blaney, Miguel Paludo, Johanna Long, Hal Martin, Townley, Ryan Reed, Alex Bowman, and most recently, Kevin Swindell and Darrell Wallace Jr.
Since 2007, Venturini Motorsports’ ARCA driver development program has earned 15 wins, 16 pole positions, 70 top-fives, and 126 top-10 finishes in 252 series starts.
Saturday’s race from Bristol, slated for 300 laps/159.9 miles, will air live on ESPN2 and the Performance Racing Network at 2 p.m. ET.
An alternative to fast food, Zaxby’s offers its guests prepared-at-order Chicken Fingerz, Traditional or Boneless Wings, sandwiches, Zalads and Zappetizers, along with a variety of nine sauces ranging from Wimpy and Tongue Torch to Nuclear and Insane. Childhood friends Zach McLeroy and Tony Townley hatched the Athens, Ga.-based chain in 1990 to provide a fun, relaxing atmosphere that would keep guests coming back for more. The company ranked number seven in the 2012 Top 10 Excellent Large Fast-Food Chains With 500 Or More U.S. Units Quick-Track study published by Sandelman & Associates. The chain also ranked number five in the nation for total sales and number one in the chicken segment in the 2012 Top 150 Fast-Casual Chain Restaurant Report published by Technomic. Zaxby’s operates more than 565 locations in 13 states, including Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.
For more information, please visit zaxbys.com,facebook.com/zaxbys, or follow on Twitter @Zaxbys.
About Venturini Motorsports
Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars for over 30 years in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. With multiple team championships and consistent on-track success, VMS has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in motorsports. Since 2007, VMS has assisted in the career development of notable NASCAR drivers such as Joey Logano, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Brian Scott, Kevin Swindell, Miguel Paludo, John Wes Townley, Josh Richards, and Ryan Reed. In 2012, VMS was inducted into the National Italian Sports Hall of Fame, and 2013 will highlight the team’s debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Official: www.VenturiniMotorsports.com | Twitter: @VenturiniMotor | Facebook: Venturini Motorsports