Right about now, it’s good to be Steve Arpin.
Oval racing fans may remember Steve – the Fort Frances, Ontario, native who used to race the No. 00 Polaris sleds at tracks across the Upper Midwest in the last 1990s and early 2000s.
Aside from being a quality young racer, Arpin was also a true character at the track – personable, good looking, fun-loving and almost always smiling or pulling pranks. He was also a semi regular on our racing boards on the snowgoer.com forums page and attended our 2002 Rode Reports testing event.
Well, car racing dreams have pulled Arpin out of our arena in recent years. He’s been buzzing around dirt tracks and blacktop surfaces for the past five years, winning more than his fair share of races but doing so in a world where a lot of people seem like they could be the next big thing, but very, very rarely does it happen. A lot of drivers have talent, but it also takes a lot of connections and a lot of lucky breaks to make it in car racing these days.
Within the past 9 days, however, it may have all come together for Arpin. A week ago Sunday, April 11, Arpin made third start in the Venturini Racing No. 55 in the ARCA Racing Series. The team had fallen upon hard times, and without a major sponsor, was looking at shutting down its racing efforts. Undeterred, Arpin earned his first career ARCA victory that day at Salem, Indiana.
Two days later, Arpin and Venturini announced that the team had secured a partial sponsorship with Mike’s Hard Lemonade, and that meant Arpin could continue racing for the rest of the ARCA season, something that was in serious doubt before the Indiana race. A quote in the press release showed that Arpin’s personality hasn’t changed.
“Steve Arpin’s energetic, playful character and passion for motor sports align well with the ideals of the Mike’s Hard Lemonade brand,” said Paul Jacobus, Mike’s director of sales.
To celebrate, apparently, Arpin overcame an early race crash to earn a stunning victory at the ARCA race at Texas Motor Speedway last Friday, April 16. Back-to-back victories for a newcomer on such a high-level circuit are rare, to be sure, but that was only the start of his weekend.
The next day, it was announced that Arpin would be racing this coming weekend in the NASCAR Nationwide Series at Talladega Motor Speedway in the JR Motorsports No. 7. For those who don’t follow stock car racing closely, JR Motorsports is owned by Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and the No. 7 car is the ride that Danica Patrick is competing in at several Nationwide races this year. Arpin will also race the following weekend in the car at Richmond, Virginia.
Here’s what Earnhardt said in announcing the deal.
“Steve Arpin, I think, might be an opportunity waiting to happen for anybody,” Earnhardt told dailyscene.com, a NASCAR news site. “The perfect story for us would be to find somebody for the No. 7 car and have him in the No. 88 before the year is over and have a plan to run him full-time in the series next year.”
So, six days after looking like he was on a lame-duck team, the friendly kid from Ontario who, just a few short years ago was competing in places like Eagle River, Beausejour and Eganville, had won two ARCA races and signed up to drive a car for Dale Earnhardt Jr. this coming weekend. He’ll be racing on the fastest track in America against the likes of Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle and more.
Yeah, that’s a pretty good stretch. Steve, we wish you the very best of luck this weekend, but from the looks of things, you’ve got plenty of momentum on your side.