ARCA Menards Series

ASHLEY ASKS…… Toni Breidinger

By: Ashley McCubbin

The 2023 ARCA Menards Series season is off to a strong start for Venturini Motorsports, with their four cars topping the pre-season test at Daytona International Speedway. Leading the way was Toni Breidinger, who returns for her second full-time campaign after placing sixth in the 2022 standings with six top-10 finishes.

What are your thoughts going into the 2023 season?

#25: Toni Breidinger, Pit Viper Toyota Camry

I am very much looking forward to the season ahead. I am excited to get going this year. Last year, I ran the partial schedule and got to gain experience. It was a learning curve at times but we were able to have some good runs. So I am excited for this season ahead, and running up front.

What are your goals and expectations?

Well last year I was able to get some top-10’s, so hopefully this year we are able to score some top-five’s, and hopefully get a win. I’ve been to all the tracks except for one on the schedule so I am confident going into the season.

What track are you looking forward to?

Daytona. It’s the season opener, and just the fact that it’s Daytona, it’s always special to race there. I’d say the next one after that is Phoenix (Raceway). It’s my favourite track on the schedule. I’m looking forward to both of those races.

You mentioned last year being a learning curve being your first full-time season. What’s the biggest thing that you were able to take away from that experience that you feel will be beneficial for you this year?

I think I learned a lot about the car and different tracks. I think the hardest part for me last season was one, I was trying to get used to these cars and every weekend I am going to a new track, and I feel none of the tracks are alike each other so you’re starting from square one at new tracks. So I feel now I’m a lot more familiar with the car and learned how I like the car to be set-up and feel like. I feel like last season I was figuring out what the car should feel like. Moving forward, I’m more knowledgeable about the cars and tracks for better feedback.

#25: Toni Breidinger, Hair Club Toyota Camry

It obviously had to be a confidence boost for you topping the testing charts at Daytona, especially working with a new crew chief in Cayden Lapcevich.

Yeah, definitely. I think that’s the best case scenario to kick off the season so that’s really good for us. That was our first time working together so it was pretty exciting to be able to do that. I think he’s probably nervous, too, in that it was his first time crew chiefing me and I wasn’t very familiar with him yet. So I think that really got us off on the right foot.

With Venturini, they have a wide spread of drivers with experience. How beneficial is that for you as you try to get better and learn?

I’d say last year, he’s not with the team anymore but Corey Heim, I leaned on him a bunch last year. I was honestly probably pretty annoying for him at a few points asking him every question that I could think of. But now going into Daytona, Gus Dean has the most experience out of all of us. So I leaned on him a lot at the test and I’m going to ask him a whole bunch of questions too. That’s why it’s good to have more experienced drivers. Obviously I can ask Billy Venturini and my crew chief is very knowledgeable, but I think asking your teammates behind the wheel that same day know what you’re feeling with the car that day and know what to expect.

So what kick started the want for you to get behind the wheel?

I would say it wasn’t really planned for me. I started go-karting when I was nine – purely just for fun. My dad took me and my sister and we did it for fun. I loved it, my sister loved it, and we both wanted to continue racing. it was really unplanned. I just fell in love with it immediately and after my first go-kart race, I told my dad I wanted to be a racecar driver. Certainly he thought it was going to be a phase but I pulled through and here we are.

So now that you’re making your way up the ranks, where do you see yourself five years from now?

#25: Toni Breidinger, Hair Club Toyota Camry

Hopefully in the Cup Series. I would say that’s part of my five year goal, but also, I want to make sure that I move up at the right rate and not get to the Cup Series to just get to the Cup Series. I think, for me, its important to follow the ladder system and feel I’ve achieved a good amount of success at each level before I can move my way up. So yeah, I think my five year plan is to get to the Cup Series but if I need a couple more years, I don’t really think there’s that rush that people feel like there is.

A lot of young ladies out there look up to both yourself, and Amber Balcaen. What is one piece of advice that you could offer them?

I would say a lot of advice. If I could choose one, I would say don’t be afraid to be the first you – I mean that as don’t compare your journey to someone else’s. I think Amber and I can both speak on this. We’ve had totally different paths in racing and we’ve still got to the same point and I feel you don’t need to compare yourself to someone doing this. I think everyone has their own path and journey. I think you just have to stay focused on your own journey. As soon as you start comparing yourself to other people, you get that going in your head. So don’t be afraid to be the first you and pave your own way and not follow what others do.

Who would you consider your racing hero?

I would say not in the NASCAR realm, but ultimately Lewis Hamilton. He definitely is my favorite driver. He’s very successful on the track, but off the track, he carries himself well.

Last question. I know you’re on the stock car path right now going up through these ranks. But is there anything else out there motorsports wise you’d love to drive?

I would like to try everything. I’d like to think as long as it has four wheels and a steering wheel, I’d drive it. So if I get an opportunity to drive in another form of motorsports, I’d definitely be open to it. I think my focus is on NASCAR and I want to make my way through the ladder system, but I’ll never turn down a ride. So I’m open to trying any form of motorsports.

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