Bayne’s upset great for drivers like Arpin

There might not be anything more frustrating in sports these days than being a top young racing driver.
You know you have the drive, the commitment, and the talent to have a shot at the next level, but it all comes down to getting the opportunity to show that.
It’s something that has become increasingly apparent over the last couple of years in NASCAR’s top level of competition, the Sprint Cup series, where despite many of the top teams boasting of their driver development programs, there has been a lack of quality first year pilots.
So why the lack of young drivers being given a chance at the top level of NASCAR? Well, there’s a few reasons for that, mainly economy-driven as there has a been a lack of full-time sponsors for teams in the two feeder series (Nationwide and Camping World Trucks).
The issue of young drivers not getting rides in top forms of racing is not just confined to NASCAR, however.
Even in Formula One, considered by many around the world as the pinnacle of motorized competition, the issue has come up as Nico Hulkenberg was let go after his first season with the Williams team due to a lack of sponsorship dollars—despite giving the team its first pole position in five seasons.
Slowly but surely, it seems the pendulum is starting to swing back the other way as more and more younger drivers are getting a shot at running at the top level.
After a nearly five-year wait, Scottish driver Paul di Resta finally is getting a crack at Formula One this week in Australia for the Force India team. In the Indy Car Series, meanwhile, drivers such as Graham Rahal and J.R. Hildebrand are being given full-time rides for the upcoming campaign.
And, of course, there’s the story of 20-year-old Trevor Bayne, who, after seeing two deals go by the wayside due to a lack of funds, earned a part-time deal with the legendary Wood Brothers operation this year and pulled off one of the biggest shockers in NASCAR history by winning the Daytona 500 last month.
Which brings us to Fort Frances native Steve Arpin.
After picking up three wins on the ARCA circuit last year, Arpin has been working on a deal for the past couple of months to run in one of the top three NASCAR series this season, with an announcement seemingly set to be made in the next few weeks.
While Arpin admits the waiting game has been a tough process, seeing someone like Bayne win the sport’s biggest race gives him and many other drivers extra motivation.
“To see someone like Trevor do that gives the rest of us pure inspiration to say, ‘Hey, we can do that,’” said Arpin.
“For him to accomplish that, it shows to all of us that the goals that we dream about when we’re in bed at night, and want so bad, are possible and that if we can get there, we can do it.
“He’s going to be one of the next big stars in our sport, and I just hope I can have a chance to that, as well,” Arpin added.
• • •
With spring officially here, playoff hockey is just around the corner in the NHL. But post-season play is about to get started in the junior and college ranks as two local players will be in action later this week.
After sneaking into the final Eastern Conference playoff berth on the last day of the regular season, Emo’s Luke Judson and the rest of the Belleville Bulls will begin their OHL post-season tomorrow night against the top team in the entire league—the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors.
Second in team scoring this year with 56 points in 67 games, it’s currently up in the air if the Bulls’ captain will dress for tomorrow’s opener after Judson suffered a concussion last Saturday night in a game against the Sudbury Wolves.
Meanwhile, former Muskie Joe Basaraba, a Florida Panthers’ draft pick, will be involved in his first NCAA tournament Friday afternoon when the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs square off against Union College of New York in the East Regional semi-finals in Bridgeport, Conn.
If the Bulldogs win that game, they then would play the winner of the Yale/Air Force semi-final in Saturday’s final at 5:30 p.m., with the champion of the region earning a spot in this year’s “Frozen Four” tournament April 7-9 in St. Paul, Mn.
A freshman forward, Basaraba has three goals and an assist in 32 games for the Bulldogs this season, which puts him third among first-year players on the roster.

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