Things are coming together all over for young Canadian racing drivers.
James Hinchcliffe of Oakville is in IndyCar, JR Fitzpatrick of Cambridge is running NASCAR Nationwide (with two Sprint Cup starts scheduled in August), Robert Wickens of Guelph is leading the Formula Renault 3.5 standings (and on a fast track to Formula One) and now here comes Steve Arpin of Fort Frances with big news to announce.
Arpin, 27, made it official Tuesday evening: Vancouver-based Mike’s Hard Lemonade has signed on to sponsor him in five NASCAR Camping World Series truck races in 2011 and things are looking good for an expanded program in either trucks or the Nationwide Series in 2012.
"We’ve been working on this for some time," Arpin said in an interview, "and everything has just finished coming together. We had to decide where was the best place for Steve Arpin and Mike’s Hard Lemonade to be, whether it was ARCA (stock cars), Nationwide or trucks and the trucks are best for everybody."
Arpin will be driving for Turner Motorsports, a Mooresville, N.C. -based NASCAR team that runs, among others, Nationwide cars for Reed Sorenson, Jason Leffler, Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne and trucks for James Buescher and Brad Sweet.
So the Ontario hot-shoe will be in good company.
Arpin emphasized that he’s more interested in quality over quantity and that five races with a good team and a good sponsor with long-term potential are more important to him than simply running a lot of races.
"As well as racing the truck, I’ll be making personal appearances over the summer and working with retailers to raise the profile of Mike’s Hard Lemonade and to see the impact on the brand of our involvement.
"What’s important, to me, is our long-term relationship."
Arpin will make his first start at Texas Motor Speedway on June 10 and he couldn’t be more delighted.
"That’s where it all started," he laughed. "I had Mike’s on the car when I won the ARCA race there last season, so I’m looking forward to racing there again. Then, in July, we’ll be racing at Kentucky and Iowa. Our fourth race will be at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis and we’ll wind up the program at Chicago in September."
Arpin began his racing career in karts and snowmobiles in northern Ontario and went on to win every Modified feature event he entered at Emo Speedway near Fort Frances. After dominating at speedways in Minnesota and Wisconsin, he started to spread his wings in 2008 when he won the USAC Silver Crown (open wheel, open cockpit) rookie-of-the-year title.
In 2009, he raced with ARCA and was voted Most Popular Driver by the fans. In 2010, in addition to ARCA, he drove several races in the Nationwide Series for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s JR Motorsports team.