It’ll be nearly a month and a half since Steve Arpin last ran in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series when he returns behind the wheel of the #32 Mike’s Hard Lemonade Chevrolet Silverado on Friday night for the Fast Five 225 at the Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, IL.
But during that span since his last start at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, IN., in late July, Arpin has been keeping himself quite busy.
“I’ve been traveling and living out of suitcases and hotels during that time,” Arpin joked.
“We’ve been working like crazy on our plans and our business plan presentations and recapping what we’ve done so far in preparation for this race this weekend, and then for the most part it’s about getting things ready for the 2012 season and getting our plans locked down and buttoned up for next year a lot earlier than we did this year.
“I think that process probably took about six or seven years off of my life,” Arpin stressed.
In addition to that work behind the scenes, Arpin has also made a few trips to the race track as well as he has made the trek back up to the spotter’s stand for his Turner Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier in a few Nationwide Series events.
“Every time that the Nationwide Series is running somewhere that the Sprint Cup series isn’t is when I do the spotting for Justin because his main spotter (Chris Lambert) is also the spotter for Brian Vickers in the Cup series,” Arpin explained.
“It’s a great opportunity to work with those guys in the Nationwide shop as I eventually want to get over there, so it’s a great chance to develop a relationship with those guys and to also get to learn more of the tracks so that I can get an idea in my mind of what I’m getting into for next year when we are racing every week,” he added.
Following a 13th place finish at Lucas Oil Raceway on July 29, Arpin expressed his disappointment with how the weekend went for not only himself but the rest of his team, and made light of the fact that team would be meeting to figure out what they can do change those issues.
Since then, those meetings have taken place and both Arpin and his team feel that they are on the right track heading into Friday’s race, especially with a fourth place showing for teammate Blake Feese in the #32 truck in the last race at Atlanta two weeks ago giving the team a bit of a confidence boost.
“That was a deal where the guys made some calls in the pits to get themselves a good finish and you can just see the morale boost that the guys at the shop got from that finish,” Arpin noted.
“A week or two after Indy, my crew chief (Doug George) called me over to the shop to discuss a few things, and they had found that there were a lot of issues with the setups in the truck in both Iowa and Indy.
“They think they got it all figured out now and Doug and the guys have really put in a lot of hours in the last couple weeks to fix those things, so hopefully it all comes together when we go out on track on Friday morning for practice,” Arpin added.
Though Friday’s race, which will air on the Speed Channel at 7:00 p.m., will mark the first time that the Fort Frances native has competed at the 1.5-mile oval in a truck, Arpin has competed twice previously at Chicagoland in the ARCA series and came away with a runner-up showing in last year’s event.
“I’ve always run really well there,” Arpin said.
“I really like this track and pretty much all of those fast mile-and-a-half tracks, as I love speed and the type of racing that those tracks provide really suits me good,” he reasoned.
With this being his final start of the season, and his plans for the 2012 campaign still in the works, Arpin says that it’s imperative that he finishes off the campaign with a strong showing.
“We really need to end this five-race schedule on a positive note so that we have some good momentum and karma going into next year,” Arpin stressed.
“We have lots of really neat things coming together for that right now and hopefully we can make some announcements on that in the next couple of months.”
“On the track, we know that we’re capable of putting together a strong finish as we were running up front at Texas until I messed up a bit at the end, so I just want to put together everything that I learned from Texas and Kentucky together and utilize it all race long on Friday night,” Arpin added.