By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
When the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menard’s takes the green flag at Daytona International Speedway on February 10, history will be made. Venturini Motorsports drivers Natalie Decker and Leilani Münter will become the first women to compete as teammates in the series.
Decker, who will drive the No. 25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota Camry, will make her first restrictor plate start this weekend. She has seven previous starts in ARCA competition with two top-10 finishes. Decker’s best finish was seventh at Road America last year. This year, the Eagle River, WI native will compete for both the ARCA Championship and Rookie of the Year honors.
“Every driver dreams of racing and winning at Daytona. This is exactly what I’ve been dreaming of since I started racing karts as a kid,” says 20-year old ARCA driver Decker. “I’m living my dream. Everyone in the garage are chasing the same goal. As far I’m concerned all drivers are created equal – we all share the same racing DNA. Once I put on my helmet I’m no different than anyone else.”
Münter will drive the No. 20 Vegan Strong Toyota Camry in the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire. She has 10 career starts in ARCA competition to date. Her best finish 12th (twice), came at Chicagoland Speedway and Kansas Speedway in 2015. Seven of Münter’s 10 starts have come on restrictor plate tracks. Her best restrictor-plate finish came in 2014 when she finished 14th at Talladega Superspeedway.
“It’s all about breaking a glass ceiling,” says Münter. “We’re not the first and won’t be the last female racers with a chance to win at this level. Obviously winning Daytona would be incredible and life-changing for me but it’s bigger than that – no women driver has ever won in the ARCA series or any of NASCAR’s top three series’ for that matter. The conversation should not be if it will happen, it’s about when it will happen.”
The race will also be the first in which ARCA will utilize composite bodies in competition at a restrictor plate track. Decker and Münter are the only women entered in Saturday’s ARCA race where both hope to continue to make history.