Amber Balcaen Kicks Off 2024 Season with a Top Ten Finish in Daytona

February 20, 2024

Shift Up Now Athlete Amber Balcaen earned a ninth-place finish to start the 2024 ARCA Menards season in the Hard Rock Bet 200 race at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 16, 2024.

Qualifying took place at 1:30 p.m. ET on Friday. Driving the No. 22 ICON Direct Toyota for Venturini Motorsports, Balcaen was one of 49 drivers who attempted to qualify for that evening’s 200-mile competition. Only 40 made the field, with Balcaen lining up 28th on the starting grid after the qualifying draw left her in a group that offered little  opportunity to take advantage of the draft.

After reports of an incoming storm that could cause flooding in the area threatened to cancel the originally scheduled Saturday afternoon race, NASCAR made the decision to reschedule the race to 10:30pm Friday night, following the Craftsman Truck Race.

Despite the last-minute schedule change, on just the third lap of 80 Balcaen set the fastest lap of the race. Just a few moments later, a competitor near the front of the pack caused an accordion-effect accident on track. Balcaen’s Toyota was collected, causing damage to the front-end toe, nose of the body and both sides of the body near the front tires. She was able to make it back to the pits, where her crew replaced the front tires and cut away some of the damaged bodywork to avoid slicing down the tires.

Now two laps down, the third-generation Canadian driver set about advancing back up through the field. In between avoiding multiple other wrecks, Balcaen was able to come back into the pits several times during caution periods for additional work towards fixing the car, which she later described as, “difficult and sketchy to drive.” During the additional stops, the crew worked to knock the toe straight until Balcaen’s steering wheel was no longer crooked.

“I still had to be in someone else’s draft for my car to handle okay because of all the nose damage,” said Balcaen. “Without the draft I would lose the pack.” This allowed Balcaen to methodically work her way forward.

When the checkered flag fell at nearly 2:00 a.m. ET, she crossed the finish line in ninth place. Despite the decent finish Balcaen was disappointed, knowing how fast her car initially was and yet not being able to showcase it.

“My Venturini Motorsports crew worked their butts off all race long to keep fixing my car and making it easier to drive, so that we could be in contention for the race,” said Balcaen. “Everyone did a great job of persevering and staying positive. We were determined to have a good finish. I knew that if we could get lucky and get our laps back, we could have a shot to fight for points, and that was exactly what we did. I’m just so proud of my team for never giving up.

“We are going for the championship, and having the no-quit attitude to always finish the race is what’s going to help us get there. This weekend, we made the best out of a bad situation and we were able to bounce back, and get all the way up to the top ten. I am so grateful for the support of my sponsor, ICON Direct, and was so glad to have them in attendance. Overall, it was a great points day for us and am proud of my teams’ determination and ability to recover.”

Next up, Balcaen and the ARCA Menards Series will head to Phoenix Raceway for the General Tire 150 on Friday, March 8, 2024. Fans can follow along with the full schedule of Shift Up Now Athletes’ races at

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