Fort Frances driver Steve Arpin hasn’t seen many finish lines lately, let alone a checkered flag, but the 26-year-old is staying positive in the face of recent struggles.
Arpin was forced to bow out on Lap 68 of the Racing for Wildlife 200 at Michigan International Speedway on Friday when his engine “flat-out blew up.
Two ARCA races ago, he was involved in an accident on Lap 140 of the Menards 200 in Toledo.
Sandwiched in between was an 11th-place finish at the Messina Wildlife Animal Stopper 200 at Pocono.
“It’s been a frustrating few weeks, a frustrating month, but we’re getting everything under control,” Arpin pledged.
“On the ARCA side, we’ve been fighting motors,” he admitted.
“We’ve been fighting motors for the past couple races, and we’re on big horsepower tracks and we’ve just been getting out-powered,” he explained.
Arpin noted his motor just wasn’t the right fit for either Pocono or Michigan.
The recent results have been an unfortunate turn of events for Arpin, who was leading the ARCA point standings in late April after winning two of the loop’s first four races.
He now sits in eighth place with 1,630 points—155 behind leader Patrick Sheltra.
“On these big tracks, it’s all about horsepower,” Arpin stressed. “You have to have as much horsepower as you can dream of.
“The motors that we’ve had in the cars just aren’t producing the horsepower that we need, so we just have to make the adjustments to pick it up to where we need to be,” he remarked.
“We just did the deal today [Monday] that we’re switching our ARCA program from Chevys over to Toyotas to get up on the horsepower over there,” he revealed.
Arpin has had two different cars keeping him busy—he was in Milwaukee, Wis. earlier this week to test out the Nationwide ride.
But when testing was washed out Monday afternoon, he immediately got on the phone to sort out the motor-related issues on the ARCA side.
“I’ve been on the phone, in meetings, all day with the ARCA program just working on everything we need to do to get that program back up to speed to where we need it to be,” Arpin noted.
“It’s nothing internal there. It’s nothing that’s with the quality of our race cars or anything like that,” he stressed.
“We’ve been working with the motor companies,” he continued.
“We don’t build our own motors at the shop, we lease them from engine companies, so we’re doing everything we need to do to get that program stepped up and make sure we have the horsepower under the hood.”
Arpin said he feels capable of bouncing back at ARCA’s next scheduled race—the Prairie Meadows 200 at Iowa Speedway on July 10.
“What’s going to make you successful in this sport is how fast you can get up after stuff goes wrong,” he reasoned.
“It’s definitely been some frustrating times, but it’s not from lack of focus or lack of effort.
“We’ve identified the problems that we’re up against right now, and we’re going to fix them and we’re going to get back on top for our next race when we go to Iowa,” he vowed.
Arpin acknowledged teammate Mikey Kile, who sits third in the points standings, has been of assistance. Kile runs a Toyota motor in his car and has seen success with it.
“One of the good things about the ARCA program is that my teammate, Mikey Kile, he’s in the Toyota and I’m in the Chevrolet, so we know in-house what kind of numbers the Toyotas are making and we know what the Chevys are making,” Arpin explained.
“We’re just going to get my program up to where my teammate’s is.”
Arpin hasn’t raced on the Nationwide circuit since being knocked out on Lap 127 of the Tech-Net Auto Service 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway, although trouble began nearly as soon as the race began.
“On the Nationwide side, we’ve just finally kind of gotten into the swing of things with a good, strong qualifying run in Charlotte, and just got tangled up in the middle of a bad situation on the second lap of the race and ended up in the fence again,” he recalled.
Arpin now has four Nationwide races under his belt, and felt he’s getting adjusted to the differences in that series.
“The biggest thing there is that it’s a whole different car, a whole different tire,” he noted. “The wheel base on the Nationwide car is five inches shorter than the ARCA car, so that’s been a little bit of an adjustment.
“The aggressiveness, the race pace, is completely different on the Nationwide side,” he added. “When you’re up there, you’re racing with the best in the world.”
Arpin’s highest finish to date on the Nationwide series is 25th.
In related news, Arpin will be going back to his roots July 7 when he competes in the Gopher 50 at the Deer Creek Speedway in Spring Valley, Mn., which is just outside Rochester.
“They’re putting a dirt car for me, so I’ll be able to get back to Rochester and race dirt cars on July 7, right before our Iowa ARCA race,” he noted.
“It’s going to be a blast,” he enthused.