The women of ARCA: a season in review
2022 was a milestone year for female racers on the ARCA platform: at Milwaukee, six women shared the track to equal an all-time record in the ARCA-sanctioned series, with several talented drivers coming up the ranks of stock car racing. We asked ARCA expert and guest contributor Ben Schneider to sum up the season of the women that entered at least one round.
The 2022 ARCA season saw multiple milestones and landmarks set for women in motorsports. Across the national ARCA Menards Series tour, the ARCA Menards Series East, and the ARCA Menards Series West, ten female drivers made at least one start in ARCA competition.
The national/East combination race at Milwaukee alone saw six women compete in the event, setting a new high for the East Series and tying the national tour’s record set in the 2010 race at Daytona.
With 2022 in the books, here’s a look back at the highlights of the season for each of these ten drivers.
Best finish: 7th (Charlotte)
Championship standings: 7th (National), 21st (East), 67th (West)
After running three ARCA West races for Bill McAnally Racing in 2021, Balcaen competed full-time in the national ARCA tour this season for Rette Jones Racing. She scored a total of six top-ten finishes with a season- (and career-) best of seventh at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May, bookended by top-tens at the preceding race at Kansas and the following race at Iowa.
Misfortune struck the middle portion of her season as a mix of crashes and engine issues saw Balcaen DNF six of the next seven races from Berlin to Watkins Glen. She was, however, able to rebound a bit as the year came to a close, picking up three more top-tens in the final four races of the season. Balcaen’s 2023 plans have not yet been announced, though she is believed to be likely to return to ARCA in some capacity next year.
Best finish: 8th (Salem)
Championship standings: 6th (National), 17th (East), 58th (West)
A 19-time winner in USAC midget races, Breidinger has yet to find the same level of success in stock car competition. In a full season with one of ARCA’s top teams, Venturini Motorsports, Breidinger equalled Balcaen’s total of six top-ten finishes with a best result of eighth in the penultimate round at Salem Speedway.
While Breidinger’s results were not as strong as her Venturini teammates, she was able to keep the car clean throughout most of the season. With only four DNFs to her name, she placed one spot higher in the final standings than Balcaen. Breidinger appears to have a deal signed for 2023, though it is unclear if ARCA is a part of her plans for next year as she previously announced a full season run in Toyota’s GR Cup several months ago.
Best finish: 7th (Portland)
Championship standings: 7th (West), 111th (National)
Burgess returned to the West Series for a third season with her family-owned BMI Racing team, equaling her career-best result with a seventh-place finish at Portland International Raceway in June. When the series returned to Portland in September, Burgess ran as high as fourth for much of the race before being relegated to tenth due to a mechanical issue that sidelined her for several laps.
With four top-tens on the year in total, Burgess’ seventh-place finish in the standings was also a career-best. Her 2023 plans are unknown as Burgess has sent mixed messages on social media regarding her future.
Best finish: 17th (Las Vegas)
Championship standings: 47th (West)
Normally Bridget’s crew chief, Sarah stepped behind the wheel in a second BMI Racing entry at Las Vegas, as she and Bridget became the first mother and daughter to compete against one another in a NASCAR-sanctioned event. Burgess had nearly made her debut at Irwindale several months earlier as she was added to the entry list the day of the race as a replacement driver for Tim Spurgeon’s team; however, the entry was eventually withdrawn.
Burgess finished the race 17th, five spots behind her daughter, before returning to her role as Bridget’s crew chief in the final race at Phoenix.
Best finish: 16th (Milwaukee)
Championship standings: 50th (East), 62nd (National)
Like the Burgesses, Chick competed for her own family-run team during the 2022 season in equipment that had been purchased from Visconti Motorsports. After crash damage ended her debut at Indianapolis Raceway Park, Chick rebounded to finish 16th at Milwaukee in her second and ultimately final start of the season.
A mechanical engineering student at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, Chick’s 2023 plans have not yet been confirmed, though she hinted as early as July of this year that she would like to participate in the preseason Daytona test to earn her superspeedway license as part of “a lot heavier of a schedule” next year.
Best finish: 19th (Phoenix)
Championship standings: 32nd (West)
At just 15 years old, Hettinger has already enjoyed a great amount of success in late models, becoming the winningest female driver at Hickory Motor Speedway this past August. Her success allowed her the opportunity to compete in the CARS Tour race at North Wilkesboro later that month in an event that included NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt Jr.
In October, Hettinger made her ARCA debut in the West Series at Las Vegas with Young’s Motorsports. After qualifying an impressive ninth in the field, an early crash left her with a 23rd-place result. Hettinger rebounded at Phoenix to finish 19th on the lead lap, gaining valuable experience for the future.
Best finish: 7th (New Smyrna)
Championship standings: 42nd (East)
A veteran of late model competition at New Smyrna Speedway, Misuraca competed in only the East Series season-opener at the Florida track for Josh Williams Motorsports, scoring a respectable seventh-place finish. Misuraca spent the rest of the 2022 season as a driver for the NASCAR Racing Experience ride-along program while also launching 1 in a Million, a platform that aims to raise mental health awareness in the world of motorsports.
While her 2023 plans are yet to be officially confirmed, Misuraca is hopeful the program allows her to compete in as many ARCA races as possible next season, including the season-opening race at Daytona.
Best finish: 9th (New Smyrna)
Championship standings: 4th (East), 41st (National)
Moyer’s largely fan-funded Fast Track Racing team opened the season with a solid top-ten finish at New Smyrna. Despite registering some DNFs in the following races (mostly due to the “start-and-park” practice), a lack of full-time ARCA East entries allowed the team to achieve a fourth-place points finish, edging out longtime ARCA veteran Brad Smith by three points.
Moyer, who made her ARCA debut for Fast Track in 2021, hopes to return to the series next season but will need sponsorship and funding to do so.
Best finish: 9th (Irwindale)
Championship standings: 33rd (West), 51st (East), 57th (National)
Slagle’s 2022 season consisted of a part-time schedule across all three ARCA divisions. Prior to making her ARCA debut in the West Series in 2021, Slagle competed in late models and worked as a mechanic for Bruce Cook’s ARCA East team and crew chief for Parker Retzlaff. She picked up her first top-ten of the season at Kern County Raceway Park in a race won by Landen Lewis for the Cook team. Slagle then went one position better at Irwindale, setting a new career-best with a ninth-place finish.
While official plans have yet to be announced, Slagle is focused on returning to ARCA competition in 2023.
Best finish: 12th (Berlin)
Championship standings: 37th (National), 56th (East)
In taking the green flag at Berlin Raceway in June, Thomason, who is bisexual, became the second openly LGBTQ woman to compete in a NASCAR-sanctioned race after Lella Lombardi, who made one start at Daytona in the Cup Series in 1977. A police sergeant, security guard, and school resource officer, Thomason’s prior racing experience is admittedly limited, having only run dirt oval and road course races in a Spec Miata. Combined with the steep learning curve, Thomason was also largely hindered by her equipment; she recorded a DNF in each of her four 2022 season starts.
Thomason’s best result ended up being her Berlin debut, finishing 12th for Alex Clubb’s team after a fuel pump failure. Her 2023 plans are unknown, though a Facebook post following her final start of the season at Milwaukee indicates she may attempt to make more ARCA starts next season.
Editorially, it’s difficult to make too many 2023 predictions as most ARCA deals are yet to be confirmed. Should Burgess return, I would expect her to continue make steady improvements on the road courses in particular. We’ll see what Toyota has planned for Breidinger, but unlike Burgess, there is no doubt she has had equipment capable of competing for race wins, so while she has made progress, she certainly needs to make the most of any further outings with Venturini should they come her way.
Hettinger’s plans are unclear at this point, though with solid ties to Chevrolet and NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity, I would expect a similar 2023 schedule for her to be announced in due time. Finally, I’d keep an eye on Misuraca, who has been working hard behind the scenes on the business side of her career to secure more ARCA opportunities this coming season.
ARCA expert and guest writer Ben Schneider is a multimedia producer at GRID Network and guest contributor at LastCar.info.