By: Don Radebaugh
TOLEDO, Ohio (April 25, 2018) — For most drivers, the next race track they’re headed to is their favorite; unless you’re Natalie Decker, who leans toward Toledo Speedway as her “favorite forever.”
“It’s just so smooth…a super fast track. It was my first ARCA race. I think it’s going to be my favorite forever,” said Decker.
It probably helped sway her thinking after she made her ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards debut in last year’s Menards 200 at Toledo. The Eagle River, Wis. rookie raced with the leaders all afternoon and finished a solid 11th, the last car to keep the lead lap.
“I raced at Toledo back-to-back last year…raced my super late model right before the ARCA race, and that really helped with my confidence. I really like that track.”
If Decker’s confidence was on the rise last year, it may be off the charts this year. She opened the season winning the General Tire Pole at Daytona, and backed that up with a career-best 5th-place finish in the race. After three events in 2018, Decker finds herself 4th in national championship standings. Especially telling was her spectacular run last weekend at Salem Speedway, long considered one of the most intimidating and challenging tracks on the ARCA tour. Decker started 12th and within 50 laps, she had raced her way up to 5th and was still tracking down the leaders before first-round pit stops shuffled her further back in the order. Then she got hit from behind resulting in damage that caused her car to handle poorly. She soldiered home in 17th; but not before she turned a lot of heads on live national MAVTV.
“Yeah, that was so disappointing. I don’t think I ever drove a car that good. After we got wrecked, it was super loose. It just wouldn’t handle after that.”
She didn’t get the finish she wanted; but she took her confidence up another notch after her first Salem start.
“My confidence is literally getting better and better with each lap no matter where we’re at. It’s really just a matter of getting seat-time and experience. I only did seven races last year. This year, we’re doing them all, and I can’t wait for the next track, especially Toledo. It’s just a really fun race track…so fast. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be that fast; but once you’re out there, it’s so fast and so much fun.”
Like the rest of the ARCA drivers, racing in the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo will come on the heels of the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway, the biggest track on tour.
“I went from racing at Daytona to Nashville earlier this year…from a big to a short track. So going from Talladega to Toledo should be no problem. It’s really just a matter of watching film, asking questions with the right people and getting mentally prepared no matter where the next race is.”
Discounted tickets for the 77th running of the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care at Toledo Speedway coming May 20 are now on sale at six Menards stores in northwest Ohio. The tickets are on sale for the special price of $15 between now and Saturday, May 19 if purchased at Menards.
The Menards stores selling the discounted tickets include Defiance, Findlay, Holland, Oregon, Sandusky and Toledo, Ohio. Children under 6 are free.
The race at Toledo will be the fifth race of the 2018 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season, and marks the third among the 11 races that make up the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge.
The Menards 200 spreads out over two days with ARCA Racing Series practice scheduled from 12:30 – 2 p.m. Saturday, May 19, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 4. The ARCA-sanctioned Aramark Sportsman cars will conclude the festivities Saturday with a feature event race. Pre-race ceremonies for the Menards 200 presented by Federated Car Care get under way at 1:30 Sunday afternoon, May 20. The Menards 200 is live on MAVTV at 2 p.m. Eastern.