ARCA: From welder to race car driver, Sarah Cornett-Ching continues her building prowess

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Sarah Cornett-Ching knows all about building things. Even though she’s only 24 years old, for several years she was an in-demand union welder in her native Canada.

It’s not been unusual for the Summerland, British Columbia native to go deep in the Canadian wilderness and work outside, working her welding craft in temperatures of 30-below.

But if she continues driving the way she has in the ARCA Series, Cornett-Ching may soon be turning in her union card for a steering wheel permanently.

Cornett-Ching has become one of the most-watched drivers in ARCA, and seems to continue to improve with each passing race.

Earlier this month, she finished a career-best eighth in the ARCA race at Talladega Superspeedway.

She then followed that up with a ninth-place finish on the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park. In so doing she became the highest finishing female on a road course – in her first-ever road course race, mind you – in ARCA’s 57-year history.

Currently seventh in ARCA’s standings, Cornett-Ching is looking forward to continue her progress in her next race two weeks from now at Michigan International Speedway.

While she’s taking it race by race, she already has a lofty goal of how she hopes to finish this season.

“I believe we definitely have a shot at a top-five, and we’ll keep pushing for that,” Cornett-Ching said in an ARCA media release.

If she achieves that goal, she’ll set yet another ARCA record as the first female driver to finish in the top-five year-end standings. Former driver Shawna Robinson holds the mark for the highest finishing female driver in a single ARCA season, ending up sixth in 2000.

“I really think we can do it the way our runs have been going,” Cornett-Ching said. “If we can just keep finishing races without tearing up cars, and as long as we finish, we’ve got a realistic shot. The key is finishing everywhere. Tearing up cars is hard on the crew, and puts everything behind.”

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Sarah Cornett-Ching showing her welding skills. (Photo courtesy ARCA)

But if she tears up a car, Cornett-Ching has the ability to put it back together with her welding and fabrication skills.

How many other drivers in ARCA or NASCAR can boast the same thing?

Because of limited funding and testing time, Cornett-Ching has taken to some unusual measures to learn about the tracks she will compete upon, including perusing overhead views of those tracks from Google Maps, as well as taking part in online racing.

“I haven’t been to any of these tracks in ARCA,” she said. “They’re all new to me. I’ve never been to Michigan, and I really know nothing about the place.

“I’m not going to get the chance to test, so I’ll get on and do the iRacing (online reality game) thing. But it’s hard to get a real grasp on anything if you haven’t done it. It’s like drafting at Daytona or Talladega. Someone can explain it to me a million times on how to draft, but until you actually experience it, you really have no idea of what’s coming.

“IRacing) does give you some clues … the shape of the track, the lift points. You actually feel the bumps in each track, so it’s good for programming your brain when you’re trying to hit your marks lap after lap. But, I’m finding out that it’s really tough to get a grasp on any track until you’ve actually done it.”

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Team owner Tony Blanchard and driver Sarah Cornett-Ching. (Photo courtesy ARCA)

Cornett-Ching now lives just outside Charlotte in Denver, N.C., where team owner (and her crew chief) Tony Blanchard is based.

And instead of welding, she’s racing the full 2015 ARCA schedule with hopes that it leads to even greater racing challenges going forward.

“Sarah is unique in the world of motorsports,” Blanchard said. “There are plenty of good drivers, but Sarah’s ability to race, fabricate components on the race car and stand in front of a camera and represent herself and her team as well as she does is rare.

“I want this year’s racing season to be the start of something big for this young lady. She deserves every bit of the success I know she’s got coming.”

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IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.