TOLEDO, Ohio: On the strength of two top-10 finishes in the last three ARCA Menards Series races, rookie Amber Balcaen and her Rette Jones Racing trek to Toledo Speedway hoping to save their best finish for the last race of the season in Saturday afternoon’s Shore Lunch 200.
Patience and perseverance paid off for Balcaen and her Mark Rette-led team last weekend at the historic Salem (Ind.) Speedway. From the moment the green flag dropped in practice, Balcaen and the team battled brake woes which unfortunately carried over into qualifying.
Hoping to have the problem corrected for the 200-lap Herr’s Snacks 200, she methodically and carefully maneuvered her way through the field and climbed inside the top-10 shortly before the halfway mark before mounting a respectable ninth-place finish at the checkered flag and earning the series’ hard-charger award.
“I’m proud of the resilience of my Rette Jones Racing team last weekend,” said Balcaen.
“It was unfortunate that we did not have a whole lot of track time before the race, but we definitely made the best of the situation and were rewarded with our fifth top-10 of the year.”
Heading to ARCA’s hometown track of Toledo Speedway, Balcaen has her sights set on earning a top-five finish and putting an exclamation point on a solid rookie season that was flanked by plenty of speed and finesse.
“I am really excited for the last race of the season; I am going to give it 100% my all,” added Balcaen. “I am going for a top-five run this weekend.
“I really expected to have more of them already in 2022 but want to make it happen this weekend.”
For the 18th different time this season, Balcaen will compete at a racetrack she has never turned a lap on before, but thankfully, she doesn’t have to go far for advice as crew chief and co-owner Rette has plenty of experience at the half-mile venue.
“Mark is absolutely helping me prepare for this race. Everyone wants to end the year with a strong finish to carry into the off-season and we are no different. He has plenty of experience and even has been in Victory Lane before at Toledo, so I feel confident in our No. 30 ICON Direct Ford Fusion setup.
“I’m just ready to get to the track and get to work.”
Looking back at her freshman season in ARCA competition, Balcaen highlights her season on being able to strengthen her mindset through adversity which she certainly faced during the summer.
Being able to overcome the hurdles she faced head-on in her first full-time season of ARCA competition will undoubtedly make her a stronger competitor both on and off the track in the future.
“I think my biggest accomplishment this year has been strengthening my mindset when going through adversity, Balcaen offered. “We had so much bad luck and so many things not go our way that it made me have to dig deep into my mental mind to stay positive and also look at the positives in each race.
“My ultimate goal this year was to improve throughout the season and develop my skills as a driver and I am confident in knowing that I accomplished that.”
Despite the forks in the road this season, Balcaen relishes the fact that she has improved her racing craft from the high banks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in February to the season-finale half-mile short track at Toledo.
“I know I am a lot better driver now at the end of the season than I was at the beginning of the season and I am going to carry the growth going forward,” she said. “I had obviously hoped for better finishes this season because I know I am capable of it, but, every driver has those seasons of bad luck and unfortunately 2022 was one of those seasons.”
Once the curtain is drawn on the 2022 ARCA Menards Series season Saturday afternoon, Balcaen is already starting to think of next season where she is focused on returning to the series for a sophomore campaign.
“I am excited for 2023 because now I have some experience under my belt, got all the bad luck out of the way my first year as a rookie, and am going to push even harder in 2023,” sounded Balcaen.
“It will be nice to go to tracks again that I have experience on with some confidence. I want to keep developing my skills both on the track as a driver and on the mental performance side. I think this year really showed my resilience and perseverance and I believe only good things are coming for the future!”
For Rette, he continues to be proud of the toughness of his young driver and looks forward to her Toledo Speedway debut being a successful one.
“After a troubling exit at Bristol, the team faced some adversity at Salem Speedway, but we never gave up and pushed through it and ended up with a solid finish,” he said. “Toledo is not your typical short track either, but I think she will be able to quickly adapt and contend for another top-10 finish on Saturday.”
ICON Direct will continue to adorn the primary positions on Balcaen’s race car in their 20th of 20 races this season.
ICON Direct is a manufacturer of high-quality plastic component parts for the RV industry, located in Manitoba, Canada. ICON aftermarket replacement parts are available through RV Dealers and Distributors across North America and directly through their website IconDirect.com.
The Winnipeger’s new endeavor at Rette Jones Racing will also be supported by Glenn McLeod and Sons – cementing a full Canadian roster of partners for her ARCA Menards Series rookie season.
Longtime RJR partners Ford Performance, Goodridge Fluid Transfer Systems, Jones Group Demolition and Abatement and JRi Shocks will continue their relationship with the team in 2022 and serve as associate partners on Balcaen’s No. 30 ICON Direct Ford Fusion.
RJR is co-owned by Canadian entrepreneur and former race car driver Terry Jones.
Entering Toledo, Balcaen sits seventh in the ARCA Menards Series championship standings, 66 points out of fourth and 192 markers in the arrears to championship leader Nick Sanchez.
For more on Amber Balcaen, please visit amberbalcaenracing.com, like her on Facebook (AmberBalcaenRacing) and follow her on Instagram (@amberbalcaen10) and Twitter (@amberbalcaen10).
For more on Rette Jones Racing, please visit RetteJonesRacing.com, like them on Facebook (Rette Jones Racing) or follow them on Instagram (@RetteJones30) and Twitter (@RetteJones30).
The Shore Lunch 200 (200 laps |100 miles) is the 20th of 20 races on the 2022 ARCA Menards Series schedule. Practice begins on Saturday, October 8, 2022, from 11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. General Tire pole qualifying kicks off at 1:30 p.m. The season finale event will be televised live on MAVTV and FloRacing beginning at 4:00 p.m. ET. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the entire day’s festivities. All times are local (ET).
About Rette Jones Racing:
Headquartered in Mooresville, North Carolina, Rette Jones Racing (RJR) was founded in 2015 with the intent of building a successful racing operation built around the fundamentals of hard work and a never-give-up attitude.
Owned by racers Terry Jones and Mark Rette, RJR plan to field a full-time entry in 2022 in the ARCA Menards Series, while also planning to field vehicles in the ARCA Menards Series East and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) respectively.
The winning ARCA team also offers technical and setup intel as part of its technical alliance partnership program.