In spite of the hoopla around Danica Patrick and her JR Motorsports stock car in the ARCA test at Daytona this past weekend, there was only one female driver consistently in the top three in test speeds.
That driver was Alli Owens, and in her words, she was "there to race."
Owens posted the fastest time of any of the female drivers, with a lap of 49.192 seconds and a speed of 182.957 miles per hour.
"We were pretty much the fastest car overall," Owens said. "And that was pretty awesome."
Owens' fastest lap came in the draft on Saturday, and the Venturini Motorsports driver bested all of the other female drivers at the test, including Danica Patrick, Milka Duno, Leilani Munter, Jennifer Jo Cobb, and Angela and Amber Cope.
While she was pleased with her performance, Owens had one word to describe the experience of testing with so many other female drivers, and that was "weird."
"I wasn't used to seeing all the hair blowing in the pit area," Owens said with a laugh.
Owens admitted that it was "all about Danica" at the Daytona test. But she was also determined not to let that distract her from doing her job and testing well.
"I was there before Danica decided to make the switch to stock cars," Owens said. "She carries the hype with the media and brings a lot of eyeballs that were never around racing before. She's going to be the platform that I either have to follow or I have to overaccomplish or live up to."
Owens admitted that she was nervous going into the test session, not because of racing against the likes of Danica Patrick, Milka Duno or her friend Lelani Munter, but because she was testing in a Chevy while her other Venturini teammates were in Toyotas.
"I was really nervous about bringing the Chevrolet out," Owens said, "especially since the Toyotas were the fastest on the speed charts."
Owens was racing a Chevy rather than a Toyota because her primary, long-standing sponsor, ElectrifyingCareers.com, insisted on her driving a car associated with an American manufacturer.
But Owens had nothing to fear with her race car, built specially for her over the brief offseason by her dedicated team. "We never fell out of the top five the entire test," Owens said. "It was huge for us, not just for me, but for all of us."
Owens' Venturini teammate Mikey Kile was the fastest overall for the weekend. Her other teammate Steve Arpin also posted top-five test scores, and the three drafted well together.
Owens is relishing having teammates to work with on the track and at the garage. "I love it," Owens said. "It's so awesome. I've never had teammates before."
Owens made the switch to Venturini Motorsports after the Kansas race in October 2009. She had previously been with D'Hondt Racing.
Although making the change was stressful, Owens has no regrets with the move to her new team. "I wish I would have done this a year ago," Owens said. "It's just good being with a family-oriented and family-based race team."
While her team is family-oriented, they are also completely focused on racing. "They get down to business and they are racers," Owens said. "It was such an easy transition, and I couldn't have picked a better team to race with."
Another difference Owens has noted with her new race team is their belief in her capabilities. "There is no doubt," Owens said. "They (Billy Venturini and the team) believed in me from day one."
Owens intends to run full-time in the ARCA RE/MAX Series in 2010. She currently has confirmed sponsorship with ElectrifyingCareers.com for six races and her team is working hard to secure funding for the rest of the season.
"I want to run the full season of ARCA," Owens said. "I've had a couple of opportunities in Truck and Nationwide but I want to run a full season of something and that's ARCA."
Owens' first race will be the ARCA race at Daytona on Feb. 6, 2010.
In the offseason, she has been keeping busy with charitable work. This month, she is raffling off a custom-made motorcycle that she helped design, with the proceeds going to the ROAR Global Foundation to build a library for children in Sri Lanka.
"I'm totally excited about this," Owens said, "ROAR is all about empowering women to go out and do things and experience sports that are more male-dominated. So, it's a perfect connection."
Owens is also involved with the Children's Sleep Apnea Foundation, as well as several other children's charities. "We're doing a lot with the children," Owens said. "This offseason is all about the kids."
Prior to getting down to racing business in the New Year, Owens is looking forward to spending the holidays with her family.
"I never get to go on family vacations because of my racing schedule," Owens said. "So me, my mom, my dad, and my brother are going to spend Christmas in New York City. We're going to ice skate, go to Central Park, Times Square, the Statue of Liberty, and Ground Zero. We're going to do it all."
Once Owens returns to the track in 2010, her goal is singular. "Realistically, we're going to win a race," Owens said. "Our cars are too good and our team is too good not to win."
"I'm so focused on winning a race that I'm not looking to break the female stats," Owens said. "I'm looking to break my own stats and break through my own way."
"Those are my goals. I want to win."
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