Connect with us


Isabella Robusto Scores Strong 6th in ARCA Debut at Phoenix

Isabella Robusto had a strong ARCA Menards Series debut at Phoenix with a sixth place result. (Photo: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

AVONDALE, Ariz. — Nearly a year ago, Isabella Robusto saw her racing career put to an unscheduled pause from injuries sustained in a late model race at Hickory Speedway. Plans such as racing in the ARCA Menards Series were on hold until Robusto’s concussion-like symptoms subsided.

On Friday evening at the 1-mile Phoenix Raceway, Robusto made her ARCA Menards Series debut in the No. 55 Mobil 1 Toyota Camry fielded by Venturini Motorsports. Following a strong showing in “The World Series of Asphalt” last month at New Smyrna Raceway, the 19-year-old Fort Mill, South Carolina, native looked like a seasoned pro with her smooth racecraft at Phoenix.

Starting from the sixth position, Robusto initially fell to eighth on Lap 13. However, she made a steady climb up the leaderboard, driving from sixth on Lap 19 to third just 29 laps later.

As the fuel load decreased, Robusto’s confidence increased in her well-prepared machine, gaining ground on second place runner William Sawalich. Then, a couple of cautions bunched up the field, resulting in short sprints to the Lap 76 race break.

By this point, Robusto was in fourth but her car was on the loose side. Much like the first half of the race, Robusto, who restarted fourth, dropped to eighth as she held onto her car before she adapted to the track conditions and her car in the waning laps.

With 46 laps remaining to the original race’s distance, Robusto drove back up to sixth position, gaining time on the top five runners. Such prospects were dashed with 38 laps remaining due to lightning in the area which eventually led to rain washing away the remainder of the 150-lap race, won by Sawalich.

All things considered, Robusto, who recently signed a multi-year agreement with Toyota Racing, turned a lot of heads on International Women’s Day. Placing sixth in the field of 40, the South Carolinian was appreciative about her ARCA debut.

Isabella Robusto

With more ARCA starts slated this year, Isabella Robusto may be a force to be reckoned with in stock car racing as she showcased at Phoenix. (Photo: Landen Ciardullo | The Podium Finish)

“It’s unreal,” Robusto said to FS1’s Heather DeBeaux. “I wish we had one less caution there if the race went about 15 laps longer. The car’s definitely way better on the long runs and we saw that in the first half.

“I was able to run up to and run in third place. I was running down second there for a while. I had a really good car. I can’t thank Venturini (Motorsports), Mobil 1 and Toyota enough.”

The Drive for Diversity graduate is the latest to showcase her prowess in a time when representation is making its presence known in stock car racing with alums like Rajah Caruth, Nick Sanchez and Kyle Larson making some noise recently and respectively in the NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series and NASCAR Cup Series.

If Robusto’s name was unheard of before Friday night’s race, she will be a constant presence moving forward with her raw abilities to adapt to changing track conditions with a smooth, “cool like the other side of the pillow” driving style.

“My Toyota Camry was really fast,” she said. “I think that I have a lot that I need to go back and watch and learn from this. I think restarts and kind of learning how the air works is going to be the main things I need to go and research before we go back to the next race.”

Rob Tiongson is a sports writer and editor originally from the Boston area and resides in the Austin, Texas, area. Tiongson has covered motorsports series like NASCAR and INDYCAR since 2008 and NHRA since 2013. Most recently, Tiongson is covering professional basketball, mainly the WNBA, and women's college basketball. While writing and editing for The Podium Finish, Tiongson currently seeks for a long-term sportswriting and sports content creating career. Tiongson enjoys editing and writing articles and features, as well as photography. Moreover, he enjoys time with his family and friends, traveling, cooking, working out and being a fun uncle or "funcle" to his nephew, niece and cat. Tiongson is an alum of Southern New Hampshire University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication and St. Bonaventure University's renowned Jandoli School of Communication with a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in ARCA