In his most recent race, Connor Okrzesik broke through for his first Super Late Model win during CRA SpeedFest at Crisp Motorsports Park in Cordele, Georgia. He had a fast race car all day, leading the most laps and holding off 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch on a late-race restart.
Now the Grand Bay, Alabama driver will turn his sights to nearby Five Flags Speedway on March 9 as he makes his ARCA Menards Series debut at the Pensacola half-mile oval.
Okrzesik pondered the idea of running ARCA prior to this past year’s Snowball Derby at Five Flags; however, it wasn’t until recently that he solidified his plans when his family team purchased a car from former ARCA winner Chad Finley and have prepared the car in advance of their series debut.
“We have been thinking about it since before the Snowball Derby, really,” Okrzesik told Speed51.com. “We own the car. We bought them and they’re our cars. It was Chad Finley’s car and before Chad Finley owned it, Kevin Harvick owned it and built the car. We were thinking about it for a while and it was cheaper to buy a car than to rent one out in all reality.”
Okrzesik heads into Pensacola with momentum after his first win behind the wheel of a Super Late Model. He still has another race before his ARCA debut, this Saturday’s Alabama 200 at Montgomery Motor Speedway, a track where he scored his first Late Model victory last July.
Recently, the Alabama driver has participated in some testing to prepare for his ARCA debut. He tells Speed51.com the test has him confident in his ability to compete for a win.
“After Cordele, I’m really, really confident,” Okrzesik said. “From going into it, we went and tested and we have a really quick piece. I think we can compete for a win there at the end of the race.”
Okrzesik’s last start at Five Flags Speedway came in December at the Snowball Derby, when he surprised many by finishing fourth in the biggest Super Late Model race in the country. Despite it being his first ARCA start, he believes he will have an advantage with his experience at the track.
With his momentum from SpeedFest, combined with past experience at Five Flags Speedway and a strong test, Okrzesik believes he will be capable of performing well.
“Pensacola is a hard track to learn,” he stated. “Having any experience there at all is going to be a big advantage over not having any. I would like a top five but our ultimate goal is to win the race. But a top five would be great for my ARCA debut.”
Okrzesik plans on competing in more ARCA Menards Series races throughout the 2019 season, but those plans have not been finalized at this time.
“We are going to race more races,” he explained. “We aren’t sure exactly which ones we are going to race. Probably the first four or five and then some later on in the season. We probably have eight or nine starts planned.”
The Pensacola 200 for the ARCA Menards Series will be held on Saturday, March 9 at Five Flags Speedway.
-Story by: Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com