After getting very little rest on Monday-Wednesday, the Venturini Motorsports crew is back at it. Arriving on Thursday morning to the Pocono Raceway, one of the most competitive teams in the ARCA Series is prepared to go after another victory.
Venturini is currently competing for the championship with two teams – the No. 15 of John Wes Townley, along with the No. 25 driven by Justin Boston. Boston is entering his second full-time season with the Toyota organization, and has his eyes set on a title.
However, the journey to race day is extremely difficult. The ARCA Series haulers pulled into the Pocono Raceway garage area at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Then, it is time for inspection. At noon, the No. 25 team was still sitting in line – waiting for their turn to go through a thorough inquiry of their race car. While waiting in the tech line, team owner Billy Venturini is hanging out with the crew members – showing how much of a family this crew truly is.
As the team prepares the car for the only practice of the weekend, which begins at 3 p.m., Boston is getting mentally prepped for the weekend ahead. At 2:30, he began to strap into the car – preparing for the two-hour session to tune his racecar.
During the practice session, Boston found his car mishandling to start the run. However, after one hour, the No. 25 team was in the fourth position - just four-tenths of a second behind his teammate Brennan Poole. With just a half-hour left in practice, he moved up to the second position on the speed charts - jumping ahead of Mason Mitchell along with Grant Enfinger.
"Practice is pretty relaxed. It depends on the weekend. If it's practice day - it is usually pretty relaxed. Today, we took it easy until about a hour into it. It makes my job easier when you have fast race cars. Venturini Motorsports does a really good job of getting my cars good to go. We didn't really have a busy day today. We didn't get to the race track until about 12 o'clock today. We didn't have the driver's meeting until 2 p.m. I got to sleep in, and just worked out this morning and got ready to come to the race track. Now, we're going to go rest," Boston said. "Tomorrow is going to be a lot different because we qualify. It takes a lot to sit cold for 24 hours and qualify a day later. You have to be really aware of where you want to hit tomorrow. It is definitely tough to do and a lot of guys are good at it. It will be a lot of looking at the dartfish (internet program that compares performances). It is a computer program that overlays laps, so we'll look at that for a hour or two and just try to see if we can do better and if we are getting as much as we need to and if we're excelling. It is a really good comparison tool when you are at tracks like this. This is my fourth time here, so this is a track I've actually been to a lot. For the most part - it helps me a lot whenever we use it."
Prior to practice and qualifying, he puts his headset on and listens to rap music. He doesn't want anything too intense, however, as the more he excited he gets prior to getting on track - the more likely he will be to make a mistake. In qualifying, Boston's plan is to drive just like he did in practice, yet this time - he will drive it back to the gas just a drop earlier to pick up some speed on the straightaways.
"We were actually really good. The first couple of runs - we were scuffing tires, and I don't really like to push a car when we are scuffing tires. There is no point to. The first couple of runs we made, we were really fast. We made some adjustments that we didn't really make any gains on, so I think we are going to go back from it. We are going to go back on those changes and go back to where we ran the quickest. We ran 40s (50.429 seconds) in race runs. I didn't get a chance to get a good mock run. It was raining in Turn 1 and Turn 3. I was just trying to make sure I had what I needed to qualify well tomorrow. Our Camry is really good. I think it is better then when we came here the last time. We were going to be good there, but then we wrecked. I think it is going to be the 66 (Poole), the 25 and the 98 (Mitchell) battling for the win tomorrow."
On Friday, the driver of the No. 25 car got refocused and went back to the driver's seat. When he strapped into his Toyota Camry, Boston set out with a goal of recording the pole. However, his teammate Brennan Poole, ran a lap identical to Mason Mitchell. Mitchell will start out front for the ModSpace 125 at Pocono as his No. 98 Ford has more owner points than Poole's No. 66 Toyota.
"It was really good. We would've had the pole if we didn't miss (turns) two and three.I think we'll have a really good shot at this thing and have a good race with Mason and Brennan," he said after qualifying. "We have to figure out where they are the weakest. We need to try to pass them there, or on pit road. We only have one pit stop today and I'm hoping it is under green so I can make up a little bit if we have to there. If not, we have a good pit crew and I have faith in my guys."
After the race was delayed by rain, Boston finished the day in fifth. Throughout the race, Boston battled Mitchell and Poole, as he predicted, for the win. However, due to the weather approaching on the radar, Billy Venturini made the call for the teams to wait out the rain, but it just didn't work.
"I thought we couldn't have done a better job on the track today. It didn't work out - we didn't make the right call in the rain. I thought Brennan and I were the class of the field today.We needed a caution to make a couple of adjustments. Once we got through some lapped traffic, we got separated a little bit. After that, we were just running identical lap times. Even on pit road, we came in the same and came out the same," he said after the race.
"It just didn't work out today. We had the best two cars today and finished fourth and fifth. It was raining in Turn 1 down the frontstretch. It wasn't a hard rain or anything - it was just kind of sprinkling. I thought it was going to be a five-lap shootout around Lap 20, but I wasn't sure. I was trying to let one of them make a mistake and go right by them."
This article is being updated after each session on track.
Brennan Poole was a contender for the ARCA Series title a mere two years ago. However, he was able to race just five times in 2013, and he has yet to race this year.
The 23-year-old continues to search for funding as he has a seat waiting for him at Venturini Motorsports with his close friend, Justin Boston. In just 28 career starts, Poole has won five ARCA Series events. But even winning races is not enough when you have to compete with others to find funding.
This weekend, Poole has the chance to race for Venturini Motorsports – well, kind of. John Wes Townley, driver of the No. 15 Toyota, is racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series for Wauters Motorsports. As he attempts to compete for both championships, Townley will have Poole qualify and practice his car this weekend at Pocono, and possibly a few other events this season.
“We did pretty well. We were just a little tight. This track has changed a lot over the winter,” Poole said. “We didn’t even make a qualifying run in practice. We will have to see what happens and hope the changes will work for John.”
The car which Townley will be racing at Pocono is the one Poole went to victory lane with at Michigan last season – a race which he ran up front in. Though he is not sure when he will be back in a car for Venturini Motorsports, Poole hinted that he is working on a deal to get him back in the car, but everything revolves around funding in this era of racing.
Poole was able to set a lap time of 53.223 seconds which was just over a tenth slower than Kyle Larson's time of 53.106 seconds.