By Vincent Delforge, Special to Kickin’ the Tires
This year Tony Cosentino teamed up with Enrique Tamayo to form Tamayo Cosentino Racing (TCR) to race full-time in the ARCA Menards Series. The team is constantly evolving and growing as it acquires new equipment while participating in ARCA races as well as Pro Late Model competition with Tony Cosentino and EJ Tamayo as drivers.
An Ohio native, Cosentino started in the ARCA West Series in 2019. He is having a strong 2023 season in the ARCA National Series given the resources the TCR team has. Indeed compared to the big machines that are Venturini Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing or REV Racing for example, TCR plays the role of ‘David against Goliath.’
But with a serious approach, Tony manages to drive his No. 45 car to the end of the races and each time in the top-15 or better. In the season opener at Daytona he finished 15th in the lead lap and could even have obtained his first top-10 of the year. He will then successively finish 15th in Phoenix, 11th in Talladega, 15th in Kansas and 11th in Charlotte. This consistency allowed him to appear in the top-five in the championship.
And then here comes the first short track of the season at Berlin Raceway in Marne, MI. For the occasion the TCR team acquired a new car, a Ford Fusion. Its preparation will be completed the day before the race and put in the team’s hauler to join the circuit.
But the trip will turn into an ordeal. Indeed the hauler will be victim of the breakage of its transmission on the day of the race, Saturday June 17, while it still has a long way to go. Time to find a tow truck and the hours tick away… Activities on the Berlin circuit begin… without car No. 45
But then, what happened with the hauler ?
“Well two hours up [after leaving the raceshop], the transmission seized up, I put Riley on calling around trying to find a tow service and repair shop, while I called around trying to find a way to the race track. Our Motorsports let us borrow their truck to pull our trailer the rest of the way. Then the trailer front roof cap started to peel up from the air hitting it. But the guys taped it up and made it to the track in time for practice!” Cosentino explained.
Arrived at the track just in time for practice. ARCA officials will carry out the technical inspection of the car quickly enough to allow the team to do a few laps. But not easy with a new short track car. The preparation time was limited to establish a race setup. We asked him how he had coped with this, especially since other drivers have done more than 60 or 70 laps during the practice and he barely 11 laps.
Don’t worry guys! 45 is on the way! pic.twitter.com/0HKKFmA73W
— Tony Cosentino (@TonyCoz45) June 17, 2023
“Yes time was limited, but we had great help. And the car was really good, we had a lot of speed. But it wasn’t just the car that was new to us it was everything, the motor, fuel cell, radiator, even the seat. So there was some gremlins that had to be worked out, but yes more laps always is better.” he said. And the car indeed worked well, as evidenced by the seventh best time out of the 17 drivers.
In qualifying he is ninth but only 0.067 seconds behind polesitter Jesse Love. Being a few tenths off of the Venturini or JGR cars given the difference in financial means, is this a first objective achieved?
“Of course yes, we wanted to be close, we’re closer than I had thought we would be. These guys we race against are good, the drivers, the teams, everyone. So to be close is a good achievement.” Cosentino said satisfied.
Despite this lack of practice, it will have a very good race. Gaining a few positions and even regularly having a car among the fastest five. Under the checkered flag, he will obtain his third top-10 in career and especially with the eighth position, his best result in career. We asked him what he thought of his race.
“We didn’t really start off how we wanted but we were not completely off the pace. The middle part of the race I felt like we had a top five car, It had a ton of bite and I was having fun. The last part we gave a little more of the same adjustments as the first break, and it went the wrong way.
“So we held on where we could and started thinking about Elko. Because we will use the same car at Elko, my favorite track, I think I was to find that balance we had in the middle part of the Berlin race early and stay there, I really feel like we can get a solid finish.”
If arriving at the circuit was complicated, the race also had its share of problems, as explained by Ryan Hale, team spotter:
“At the beginning of the race one of my radios wasn’t working and we were able to fix that just before the green flag waved. In the start of 3rd segment of the race we had some contact with another car but soldiered on.
“The car was very sensitive to where he ran on the track and the car became pretty loose for Tony but we were able to come out with an eight place finish. None the less the team was thrilled based on what we all dealt with in the last 48 hours. Hats off to Matt (Weber, the crew chief) and all the guys who stayed up for basically two days to get the car there. No quit in this team!
The ARCA calendar offers a wide variety of races. It goes from the bullring to the superspeedway through the intermediate, the road track and the dirt. And you will discover a lot. If Elko is his favorite track, what type of track does he prefer?
“The next race track (Elko Speedway) is always my favorite track! I looked at the calendar this year and had some bucket list races that I have always wanted to do circled, but to answer no I don’t have a preference, I love oval, road, and dirt racing!” Cosentino said.
And what are TCR’s objectives between now and the end of the season?
“We really wanted to make sure we were clean and finished races. I do have high expectations and we want a couple top-fives before this year is over.” he tells us.
And this Saturday, June 24 at Elko New Market, MN, for the Menards 250, the Tamayo Cosentino Racing team will enter two cars for the first time. In addition to the No. 45 Ford driven by Tony Cosentino, there will be the No. 43 Chevrolet driven by rookie Jalen Mack.
With 19 cars on the entry list, the .375 mile bullring should provide plenty of entertainment! The 250-lap (94-mile) race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. CT.