LONG POND, Pa.: It’s no secret that the last three ARCA Menards Series races have been tough to swallow for Rette Jones Racing and ARCA Menards Series rookie driver Amber Balcaen, but after a much-welcomed break, the team treks to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway determined to earn their fourth top-10 finish of the season in Friday’s General Tire Delivers 200.
In the most recent ARCA Menards Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course earlier this month, Balcaen made her road course debut aboard the No. 30 ICON Direct Ford Fusion where she overcame a series of obstacles including racing in the rain to net a respectable top-15 finish in the Dawn 150k.
With a consecutive three-race stretch race of ovals on deck, Balcaen is focused on utilizing the recent stretch of races as determination to earn her first top-10 since Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
“The off-week was a good time for our Rette Jones Racing team to hit the reboot button,” said Balcaen.
“We have had fast No. 30 ICON Direct Ford Fusions over the past month and a half but circumstances and mistakes from me behind the wheel have prevented us from producing even more top-10 finishes.
“I didn’t think by any means that we would not endure some tough luck but I think we have paid our dues since Iowa Speedway and it’s time to shift the tide and put some positive momentum back in our team at Pocono Raceway on Friday.”
Outside of Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, Pocono Raceway will be the biggest track she has competed on in her young ARCA Menards Series career. And while Daytona and Talladega offer a different racing styles for the Rette Jones Racing team, she is looking forward to utilizing Pocono to get her comfortable for Michigan International Speedway next month.
“Pocono is massive,” she said. “I’ve been doing my homework for a while now. I know it does not race anything like Daytona or Talladega, but it is a fast track where speed, comfort and handling are critical. I know it’s going to take some time for me to get comfortable, but as long as we are making steady progress forward and we let our laps on the track at the end of the race on Friday afternoon be our fastest and we come away with a top-10 finish, I think everyone will be satisfied.”
To help Balcaen and her Mark Rette-led team prepare for the 2.5-mile triangle, she will participate in an open test session at the Long Pond, Pennsylvania track where several hours of on-track activity will help strengthen her learning curve but also give her a baseline for practice and qualifying on Thursday.
“Honestly, outside of Daytona, Pocono will be the first track this year where I’ll have actual laps before practice and qualifying and that is going to be super important,” added Balcaen. “Learning the proper racing line and my shifting points at Pocono are going to be critical to helping make my debut a success and I’m glad we’ll have some time on Thursday to make that happen.
“If we can make adjustments to our car and keep improving our lap times throughout the day, we hope to take all those positives and apply them to Friday when it counts most.”
For crew chief and co-team owner Mark Rette, he is confident that his rookie driver will continue to adapt and rebound at Pocono.
“I know Amber has been pretty hard on herself lately, but there isn’t a person on this team that has lost faith in her or her abilities behind the wheel,” offered Rette. “Everything that has happened over the last several races has been a learning experience and will help the program for the long term.
“We’ll take our battle wounds and press forward with a positive attitude and focus on making the most out of our Pocono Raceway weekend. It is not the easiest track in the world, but I think she can adjust to the challenges and find herself in a place to deliver a good finish on Friday night.”
ICON Direct will continue to adorn the primary positions on Balcaen’s race car in their 10th of 20 races this season.
ICON Direct is a manufacturer of high-quality plastic component parts for the RV industry, located in Manitoba, Canada. ICON aftermarket replacement parts are available through RV Dealers and Distributors across North America and directly through their website IconDirect.com.
The Winnipeger’s new endeavor at Rette Jones Racing will also be supported by Glenn McLeod and Sons – cementing a full Canadian roster of partners for her ARCA Menards Series rookie season.
Longtime RJR partners Ford Performance, Goodridge Fluid Transfer Systems, Jones Group Demolition and Abatement and JRi Shocks will continue their relationship with the team in 2022 and serve as associate partners on Balcaen’s No. 30 ICON Direct Ford Fusion.
RJR is co-owned by Canadian entrepreneur and former race car driver Terry Jones.
Entering Pocono, Balcaen sits sixth in the ARCA Menards Series championship standings, 13 points out of fourth and 71 markers in the arrears to championship leader Rajah Caruth.
The General Tire Delivers 200 (80 laps | 200 miles) is the 10th of 20 races on the 2022 ARCA Menards Series schedule. Practice begins on Friday, July 22, 2022, from 2:45 p.m. to 3:20 p.m. A timed General Tire pole qualifying session kicks off from 3:30 to 3:50 p.m. The event will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) with the Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM channel 391, online channel 981 managing the radio waves beginning at 6:30 p.m. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the entire weekend festivities. All times are local (ET).