By Cole Cusumano, Staff Writer
The 24-year-old first walked the pink carpet in New York City on Wednesday for the “Victoria’s Secret World Tour,” which will premiere on Amazon Prime on September 26. Thursday, Breidinger was an honorary staff member at a local Raising Cane’s in Kansas before piloting her Cane’s-colored Toyota Camry the following day.
“The thing with Cane’s yesterday was really fun,” Breidinger said. “It was cool to interact with the team and fans. I think it helps in a sense where I’m not overthinking about the race and everything like that. It takes my mind off of it a little bit, but I enjoy the balance of it all.”
To say 2023 has been a grind for Breidinger would be an understatement. Between racing multiple series, media obligations and branding, among other things, she’s had to work overtime to get where she’s at as her fourth season competing within NASCAR’s ranks winds down.
In addition to her well-documented meteoric rise to social media superstardom, the fan favorite has been putting up more-than-respectable results on track with limited opportunities. Breidinger scored her first top-five finish in ARCA at Berlin Speedway earlier this year and is riding a five-race top-10 streak with a career-best average finish of 11.4 through 10 races.
Even more impressively, Breidinger placed 15th in her NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut driving for TRICON Garage at Kansas. Additionally, she’s completed all but two laps in three starts with a lowest finish of 24th.
For Breidinger, the difference maker in her results this year has been experience, which is a premium in racing. While only 13 total starts this season, she’s coming off her first “full” rookie season in ARCA, where she completed a 20-race campaign.
“I think I’ve just had extra confidence going into tracks I went to last year,” Breidinger said. “Last year, there were a lot of unknowns for me with the tracks and car. Going into this year, I was like, ‘I have the car figured out, I’ve been to all the tracks, I know exactly what to expect.’
“There’s less of a gap that you have to close throughout race day. I feel like there’s that extra little confidence. There’s just a lot of mental stuff that you have to work through.”
Breidinger has often turned to her Venturini Motorsports teammates Corey Heim and Jesse Love, who’ve been valuable resources for her on-track development. As for navigating the mental nuances of performance, traveling and such, she’s had to trust herself.
“There’s been a lot of people in my life and within Venturini that have helped me, but it has to come from within,” Breidinger said. “I didn’t do nearly as well as I wanted to in some races last year, and I still have people uplifting me and stuff, but they weren’t going to turn it around for me. I have to do that myself.”
Heading into the Sioux Chief Fast Track 150, Breidinger is riding a tidal wave of confidence and comfortability. Sure, it helps loosening up with a runway show or serving up some chicken fingers, but there’s just something about Kansas.
Speaking on the importance of seat time, Breidinger has made more starts at Kansas than any other track with six between ARCA and Trucks. It also helps that she scored her best finish of ninth in this race last year and she’s returning to the site of her NASCAR debut.
Not to mention, Breidinger will be reunited with crew chief Kevin Reed Jr., who guided her to the second top-five of her career this year at Iowa Speedway and is bringing a brand-new car to the 1.5-mile track.
“I would say I’m pretty comfortable,” Breidinger said. “I’m going to be in a car that I’ve never been in before, so I’m excited to give that a try. I’m with Kevin Jr. again. I haven’t really run much with him this year besides the top-five at Iowa, and we had a pretty strong run at Pocono (Raceway), so I feel like everything should go very well.”
As far as expectations for her sixth ARCA start at Kansas, Breidinger said a top-five finish would make for a “solid day.” See if she can get it done in the Raising Cane’s No. 55 on September 8 at 6 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.