NEWTON, Iowa — Venturini Motorsports, a stock-car racing team, has a decades-long tradition of hiring women.

On June 29, the ARCA outfit made history – starting three female drivers in the same race for the first time in the modern era of the sport.

Natalie Decker, Leilani Munter and Toni Breidinger finished 12th, 18th and 20th at Chicagoland Speedway. By starting as a trio, they helped raise the profile of women in a sport long dominated by men.

“We’re not trying to bill ourselves as this team that is championing female drivers by any means. It just so happens we’ve had a number of females come through,” said a team spokesman, Tom Venturini. “We’re a championship-caliber team. We’re putting the best drivers in the seat, male or female.”

The team owner, Bill Venturini, won Automobile Racing Club of America titles in 1987 and 1991, the first coming with an all-female pit crew – known as the “Ultra Blue Crew” – led by his wife and team co-owner, Cathy Venturini.

“When that happened the whole idea of it was, ‘we’re competitors first.’ It was not a publicity stunt,” Tom Venturini said. “We had the best physically fit women to do that job. They outperformed the men. It really just happened to be that they were women on the crew.”

In subsequent years, the team has given seats to the likes of Milka Duno, Alli Owens, Johanna Long, Nicole Behar and others. Breanna O’Leary is a member of the pit crew this season as a tire changer.

The latest woman hoping to prove she’s worthy of a top-tier ride with the help is the 21-year-old Decker, a Wisconsin native in her first full season in ARCA.

Her father, Chuck Decker, was a race car and snowmobile racer. He also owns the Eagle Grove Derby Track in Wisconsin, which hosts the annual World Championship Snowmobile Derby.

Chuck tried to get Natalie into snowmobiling, though it never stuck. He took her to a go-kart track when she was 6 and it ignited a passion for racing cars.

Decker soon started watching NASCAR races every week with her father, who got his daughter her first go-kart when she was 9.

“The goal has always been NASCAR. Even before I started racing, I remember when I was super young I told him I wanted to race NASCAR,” she said.

She raced a limited schedule in the ARCA series last season before landing a full-time ride for 2018.

“It’s been great so far,” she said.