With her third consecutive top-10 finish in the books following Saturday night’s rain-delayed Calypso Lemonade 150 at Iowa Speedway, Rette Jones Racing rookie driver Amber Balcaen treks to the Great Lakes State of Michigan looking to continue her impressive stretch in Saturday night’s Zinsser SmartCoat 200 at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway.
Located just outside of the Grand Rapids footprint, the legendary half-mile short track has been a staple on the ARCA Menards Series schedule throughout the series’ 70-year tenure, but Balcaen eyes the seventh race of the 2022 season to make some history of her own becoming the first female driver to win in the premier ARCA Menards Series division.
“I am feeling really good about our pace right now,” said Balcaen. “The entire 2022 ARCA Menards Series season has been a learning curve but the past month or so has been exceptionally challenging.
“A variety of different tracks with high speeds and finesse has certainly allowed me to improve my craft but I would not have it any other way.”
With Berlin Raceway offering tighter confines than the much larger and wider 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway last weekend, Balcaen is optimistic she can maintain her recent pace and maneuver her fourth consecutive top-10 finish of the season.
“I’m continuing to prepare for these new race tracks the same way I have pretty much all year,” added Balcaen. “I’ve heard a lot about Berlin Raceway – especially with it being a track without a backstretch wall. That will definitely be a new experience for me, but I’m thrilled to get to another short track this weekend.”
Nestled inside the top-five in the championship standings with just 30 percent of the 2022 schedule complete, Balcaen and her Mooresville, N.C.-based Rette Jones Racing team are no doubt setting their sights on the series’ championship, but Balcaen is keeping an eye on making history of her own being the
highest finishing female in the championship standings.
“There are 14 races left in the year, a lot can happen,” sounded Balcaen. “Honestly, we just have to keep doing what we have been doing and that’s going to the race track and making gains from the start of practice to the checkered flag.
“Yes, we are keeping an eye on the points, but not as much as our finishes. If we focus on our finishes, the points will then take care of themselves.”
Speaking of finishes, with three top-10s in the books, Balcaen sets her sights on earning a top-five finish in ARCA competition. With an average finish of eighth on the heels of Kansas Speedway, Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Iowa – she is inching closer to achieving that goal.
“We want to go out there and have a shot to win and finish inside the top-five, top-10 every week, but the ARCA Menards Series is a very tough series right now,” she explained. “There are some very good teams with talented drivers all fighting for their time in the spotlight, myself included.
“We keep checking items off our checklist for the 2022 ARCA season and hopefully a top-five finish is the next thing we do on Saturday night.”
For crew chief and co-team owner Mark Rette, he is confident that his rookie driver will continue to adapt and find her groove and continue an upward pace in her ARCA Menards Series quest.
“I am so proud of Amber’s attitude and resilience over the past month or so,” offered Rette. “Competing at all these tracks for the first time can be a bit overwhelming, but Amber has jumped in with a great attitude and focus which is showing on the race track with solid results and a steady climb forward.
“We want to be better and I think we will get there; we just need to keep going at our pace and let her mold into a rhythm that continues to allow her to make her presence known.
“Berlin Raceway is a tight short track but I think it will fall into her wheelhouse and I think she will surprise a lot of people on Saturday night.”
ICON Direct will continue to adorn the primary positions on Balcaen’s race car in their sixth 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 Berlin, Balcaen sits fifth in the ARCA Menards Series championship standings, four points out of fourth and 49 markers in the arrears to championship leader Nick Sanchez.