Pinnacle Racing Group (PRG) officials announced today that Chevrolet Junior drivers’ program protégé Connor Zilisch will compete for the organization in Friday afternoon’s ARCA Menards Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International in the General Tire 100.
Zilisch, 17, will pilot the No. 28 Chevrolet SS under the leadership of crew chief and NASCAR veteran Shane Huffman in the final road course for the premier ARCA Menards Series division this season.
Hailing from Mooresville, N.C., Zilisch joins Pinnacle Racing Group with a developed and successful track record, finding success in his young career in almost every series he has competed in.
Ten years of competitive kart racing, including overseas, gave Zilisch the tools to adapt quickly when he moved to compete professionally on road courses in early 2021.
That quick start resulted in Zilisch being named the SCCA Jim Fitzgerald Rookie of the Year in 2021. Also, that year, Zilisch competed for and won the top prize in the Mazda MX-5 Shootout scholarship.
In his first entire season of MX-5 Cup racing last season, he finished second in championship points, only 10 points behind the champion, while also claiming Rookie of the Year honors.
This season, Zilisch has picked up the pace considerably and enters Watkins Glen competing full-time in the Trans Am’ Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series, winning three of the nine races thus far.
He has also been running select Mazda MX-5 races as his schedule has permitted racking up two wins and two other podium positions. He’s also been actively building his late model credentials and boasts a win in the CARS Tour Pro Late Model tour at Ace (N.C.) Speedway in May for Rackley W.A.R. Racing.
“I’m really excited to get to Watkins Glen for my ARCA debut with Pinnacle Racing Group,” said Zilisch. “I’ve known about this opportunity for a while now, which has given me a lot of time to prepare myself as a driver for this race.
“As a driver, I’ve never felt this prepared for any other race in my career, which gives me a newfound sense of confidence going into the weekend.”
Zilisch carries confidence to Watkins Glen’s eight-turn, 2.45-mile road course based on his experience last year in both TransAm and Mazda MX-5 events. The teenager hopes his knowledge of the Finger Lakes track will help deliver a memorable debut.
“I’ve had some good experiences at Watkins Glen and have always enjoyed my time at the track,” Zilisch added. “High commitment, high speed, I feel that it suits my driving style well, so I’m excited to see how I do. The ARCA car is a new experience for me, being the heaviest car, I have ever driven, but as a road course racer, I feel like I have the upper hand over many of the full-time ARCA guys.
“I’m just excited to work with the team and ready to give them my all!
Pinnacle Racing Group is hunting for its second win in the ARCA Menards Series national division after mainstay driver Luke Fenhaus delivered a win last month at Iowa Speedway.
The team picked up their first ARCA platform win earlier this season at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, with Fenhaus at the helm.
The team contended for their second win of the year this past weekend at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park but settled for second.
“We are excited to welcome Connor Zilisch to the Pinnacle Racing Group family officially,” said Huffman. “Connor is thriving this season in every racing division he is competing in, and we expect him to be a contender at Watkins Glen on Friday afternoon.
“The ARCA Menards Series will be a new challenge for him, but his prior Watkins Glen experience should pay dividends and combat his learning curve in the heavier race car. Our goal on Friday is to improve from practice to qualify and then let the race play out and hope when the checkered flag nears, we’re in contention to bring home another trophy for our Pinnacle Racing Group team.”
The General Tire 100 (41 laps | 100.45 miles) is the 13th of 20 races on the 2023 ARCA Menards Series schedule in the 71st consecutive ARCA season. Practice begins Friday, August 18 from 3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. General Tire pole qualifying in a timed session will begin a short time later at 4:15 p.m. The race is set to take the green flag later in the day shortly after 6:00 p.m. ET. The event will be televised live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1), while also streaming on FloRacing. The Motor Racing Network (MRN) and SiriusXM Satellite Radio (XM channel 391 | online channel 981) will handle the radio waves. ARCARacing.com will also stream live timing and scoring throughout the entire weekend festivities.
Pinnacle Racing Group PR