Canadian stock car racer Steve Arpin is on an elevator-shaft ride to the top, it seems.
The young speedster from Fort Frances in northern Ontario won his second straight ARCA Series race at Texas Motor Speedway Friday night. And Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced that Aprin will take over the Earnhardt team’s No. 7 car in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for the next two races, starting at Talladega Superspeedway next weekend.
(That No. 7 car, incidentally, is the car Danica Patrick drove in making her debut in NASCAR racing in February.)
Arpin won his first major-league stock car race just last weekend in the ARCA headliner at Salem Speedway in Indiana.
Arpin, 26, will also run the Richmond race the week after Talladega. Landon Cassill was originally scheduled to drive the Talladega and Richmond races.
Internet motorsport reporter Jeff Gluck writes that Arpin’s break follows a "tumultuous week" at JR Motorsports (Earnhardt’s team), which saw lead driver Kelly Bires fired. NASCAR Sprint Cup star Jamie McMurray will take over driving duties in the team’s No. 88 car while new drivers are tested in the No. 7 while Patrick is concentrating on the OZOD IndyCar Series.
Earhardt said Arpin will have two races to prove himself, then Cassill will get his shot. Earnhardt said Cassill had sponsorship from GoDaddy.com at Phoenix and Dover, and the team was going to let him drive the unsponsored races in between.
"But you’ve got Steve Arpin out there, who Carl Edwards said is incredible and who Mark (Martin) told me he’d put up against anybody on dirt in America, so you want to get that guy in there, too," Earnhardt said. "Maybe he’s the guy who can get in there and drive that 88 for Tony (Eury) Sr."
Arpin, who started 22nd in the ARCA race at Texas, moved into the top 10 by lap 25 and stayed there most of the night. Of course, he led the most important lap: the last one.
Arpin is employed in the ARCA Series by Venturini Motorsports, which also reportedly has had contact with another Canadian up-and-comer, 20-year-old Alison MacLeod of Mississauga..