For Greg Van Alst’s family-owned team topping ARCA Menards Series preseason testing at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway this past weekend felt as good as if he won next month’s Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire.
But with one objective complete, Van Alst and his Jim Long-led team turn their full concentration towards the prestigious ARCA Menards Series season opener knowing their No. 35 CB Fabricating Chevrolet SS has the speed to win and earn Van Alst his first career ARCA victory.
“Our expectations were to be fast, but we expected to be solid,” team owner and driver Greg Van Alst said. “But the truth is that we had more speed than our honest expectations and that has our team feeling really, really good – even a couple of days since the test.”
Van Alst’s journey to the top of the speed charts on Friday afternoons circles back to more than two years ago when Van Alst earned a trip to Daytona as part of ARCA’s Road To Daytona program where his ARCA | CRA championship in 2019 earned him an opportunity to steer one of Fast Track Racing’s race cars during preseason testing in 2020.
It was then that the candle wick was reignited after nearly two decades since his last start in the series.
The Anderson, Ind. native was determined to be back in Daytona for preseason testing with his own team in January 2021. Van Alst delivered on his promise and with the help of equipment from championship-winning crew chief Chad Bryant, Van Alst and his team turned heads throughout Speedweeks with not only speed but finesse in his No. 35 CB Fabricating Chevrolet SS.
While his Daytona ARCA debut didn’t turn out as planned after being collected in an early-race accident, Van Alst certainly gained the attention of his competitors with his patience and superspeedway capabilities.
Vowing to be better at Talladega, the No. 35 Greg Van Alst Motorsports team lived up to the hype at the 2.66-mile superspeedway, but while challenging for the lead late in the race, Van Alst was turned by another competitor diminishing another opportunity to capitalize on the unthinkable.
The team spent days and nights repairing their superspeedway piece to get it in tip-top shape for this past weekend’s two-day session and immediately from his first lap around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, Van Alst knew his car was the best it’s ever been.
“I am so blessed to be able to drive this No. 35 CB Fabricating Chevrolet SS, but it’s not about me,” Van Alst added. “Acquiring race cars from Chad Bryant, the knowledge of (crew chief) Jim Long and the support from CB Fabricating has put me in this position. I have two crew guys that dedicate all their free time to this team.
“Brandon Grant and Jason Garrett are huge factors in the success as well. We have built an amazing team with these guys and Branden Lines spotting really aligns the dominoes of this race team.”
Van Alst and his all-volunteer-based team packed up Friday evening electing to forgo testing on Saturday knowing there was more to lose than to gain.
“Really, we had done everything we wanted to do with our No. 35 CB Fabricating Chevrolet SS,” Van Alst mentioned.
“We could have stayed on Saturday, but it was risk versus reward at that point and it didn’t make sense. We didn’t want something unfortunate to happen out of control that potentially would ruin everything we’ve spent months and months trying to accomplish what we did on Friday.
“Our car was fast in single-car runs and even better in the draft. It wasn’t darty, it was very maneuverable and I was able to work with any manufacturer I wanted to. Whether it was a Chevrolet, Ford or Toyota – our car was really stable and that has me amped up for the race next month.
“It is still hard to believe this is real. I’ve watched so many races and Speedweeks from the couch with the dream of being there. Competing there is hard for me to explain what it means. I must block emotions and focus, but it still gives me chills going through the tunnel. The place is magical.”
So, what’s next for the Van Alst Motorsports team with the first of 20 races on the 2022 ARCA Menards Series schedule a little more than a month away?
“We have some minor things to do,” sounded Van Alst. “Basic maintenance and double-check and triple-check everything.
“Being a single-car team is going to make it tough on us next month, But with our speed there are a few guys that will collaborate with us and hopefully, we can work our way to the front and stay up there. Last year at Daytona we planned to just ride around. At Talladega, we got a little more aggressive and were making our way to the lead when we got turned. If no mistakes are made I think we can find the front.”
The team is finalizing its plans for the 2022 ARCA Menards Series season and will announce its intentions for its second year on the tour soon.
For more on Greg Van Alst and Greg Van Alst Motorsports, please visit GregVanAlst.com, like them on Facebook (Van Alst Motorsports) and follow him on Twitter (@GregVanAlst35).
For more on CB Fabricating, please visit CBFabricating.com and like them on Facebook (CB Fabricating).
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!