Amber Balcaen, a 24-year old Canadian driver, has her eyes set on becoming the first full-time Canadian driver in NASCAR’s top touring division. She is now one step closer as she looks to make her debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at New Smyrna Speedway (FL) with Martin McClure Racing.
“I am very thankful for the opportunity that Martin McClure Racing has given me to race in the K&N Series this season with them,” Balcaen told Speed51.com. “Super excited to start the season off at New Smyrna Speedway. It’s a track that I have watched at the past few years and have always wanted to race at and I am now getting the opportunity to.”
Last season Balcaen competed in her first full-season on asphalt where she ran Limited Late Models at Motor Mile Speedway (VA) for Lee Pulliam Performance. There she collected multiple top-five finishes and also became the first Canadian woman to win a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series race.
She is a two-time NASCAR Drive for Diversity combine participant as well where she competed at Langley Speedway and New Smyrna Speedway for Rev Racing.
The Winnipeg native comes from a family of dirt racers and she previously competed in winged Sprint Cars in Canada before making the move to the United States and asphalt racing.
With a family full of dirt racers, she is the first one to break off and pursue a career in NASCAR.
“I am very nervous for this race,” Balcaen admitted. “I feel like this is kind of the pinnacle of my career as I feel like this is the chance for me to prove that I deserve to be here. I am putting a lot of pressure on myself for this race. Especially with the lack of experience, it just adds to the pressure but I am just going to try and enjoy it as much as I can.”
With zero experience behind the wheel of a K&N car, she is taking advantage of any opportunity she can to be one step closer to the competition.
“I haven’t been able to be on track for actual testing in the K&N Car yet; however I am definitely aware of the longer races so I have been making sure I am working on my fitness in the off season and working pretty hard. As far as the actual race track and difference between the Late Model and K&N car, I just have been watching a lot of video of past races of K&N cars at New Smyrna.”
Fortunately for Balcaen there will be an open practice session the Friday before the race.
“Thankfully there is a test day the day before the race, so I am definitely going to use that to my advantage and try and improve as much as I can and get as much seat time as possible to really feel out the car and feel out the race track. “
Martin McClure Racing (MMR) is relatively new to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series scene where they competed frequently for the first time in 2016. The team captured wins with both Chad Finchum and Austin Cindric last season in the series. They head into this season with Hunter Baize as their full-time driver, as well as Finchum scheduled to make select starts as well.
-Story by: Hannah Newhouse, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51