Maryeve Dufault building stock car career in ARCA

Racing has always been in Maryeve Dufault’s DNA; first motorcycles, then karts, open-wheel and now stock cars.

But the business opportunities she has pursued in order to finance her racing haven’t been the norm for most people seeking a motorsports career.

She moved to Los Angeles from Canada when she was young so she could race year-round and learn to speak English. She quickly discovered that modeling paid well.

“I had a dream, and I needed to find a way to pay (for my racing) because my parents were not wealthy,” said the 32-year-old Dufault, who moved to Mooresville two years ago so she would be closer to the heart of stock-car racing.

“I was going to make it happen. Nobody was going to be responsible for my career but me. Working hourly at McDonald’s like a lot of teenagers would not work.”

Dufault worked as a model on the “Price Is Right” during the TV show’s Bob Barker era and as a stunt double in the movie, “Fast Girl.”

She has had a few other television and movie appearances and, in 2000, won Miss Hawaiian Tropic International, a contest she entered strictly for the financial prizes so she could fund her racing, she says. In 2011 she appeared in an issue of “Maxim.”

“I had to do it because it was good money,” Dufault said. “The more I did ‘Price Is Right’ and pictures and commercials, the better my equipment became. I used it to my advantage to make my own career. Everything I have done in my career since I was a kid I have made it happen myself.”

A native of Sorel, Quebec, Dufault’s father and brother raced motorcycles in Quebec. She began riding at age 4 and first turned to motocross before moving to go-karts at age 8.

Dufault then raced karts nationally in Canada and the United States in several series, including the Rotax International Series.

Soon Dufault focused her attention on open-wheel racing, competing in the Skip Barber Pro Series, Formula Russell, the Pro Mazda Star Series and Formula BMW USA. She also had the opportunity to train in a Formula 3 British and Formula Renault in China, and was chosen to participate in the FAZZT IndyCar driver development program.

In 2010, Dufault entered the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series races at Trois-Rivieres and Montreal. That same year she drove for MacDonald Motorsports in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. A year later she competed in the inaugural Dodge Viper Celebrity Challenge at Miller Motorsports Park and turned to ARCA. Dufault had fallen in love with stock car racing.

“I’m a really aggressive driver. It was more my style,” said Dufault. “I love the fact you can battle, make passes. I just like everything about it.”

Dufault has now competed in 19 ARCA races since she debuted in that series in 2011. Her best finish has been 10th at Chicagoland Speedway in 2011, when she finished 16th in the series standings even though she missed five races due to a lack of sponsorship.

This year, she’s driving full time for Chicago-based Team Stange Racing. John Stange, who knew Dufault from her open-wheel days, purchased equipment from Larry Clement Racing at the end of the 2013 season and then signed Dufault as his driver.

Former NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Rick Crawford was retained as Dufault’s crew chief after he offered to help the team prepare for the recent race at his home track in Mobile, Ala.

“It’s a small team that’s getting off the ground, and it’s got some promise,” Crawford said. “She wouldn’t be in this series if she wasn’t capable of doing it. When she was getting unbuckled after the (Mobile) race, I pulled the window net down, leaned my head in and said, ‘You know what I like about you? You did everything possible I asked you to do today.’

“She’s looking for someone to bring her along because we don’t have time to waste. This young team has to grow at a little faster pace and become a little more competitive. We have to take steps to get there.”

Dufault says Crawford provides her with the first opportunity she’s had to work with someone who has a tremendous amount of NASCAR experience.

“He’s not there to take my seat,” she said. “He wants to succeed with me and help me; to be successful together. That is what I need.”

McReynolds earns pole

Brandon McReynolds, who’s seeking the NASCAR K&N Series West championship this season, earned his first career pole recently at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway.

McReynolds led practice and then collected the pole with a 99.174-mph lap around the graduated-banking on the half-mile track. He finished fourth in the race. The 22-year-old Mooresville resident is ranks second, six points behind leader Greg Pursley.

Pro Cup Series at Hickory

The X-1R Pro Cup Series second race of the season is scheduled for April 5 at Hickory Motor Speedway. Caleb Holman, from Abingdon, Va., won the season opener for the Mooresville-based series at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenley.