KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Danica Patrick may have paved the way for Natalie Decker on the track, but Decker's family has a whole lot to do with the more famous female race car driver's very existence.
Decker, 20, signed with Venturini Motorsports Friday to race full-time in the ARCA racing series.
Her father Chuck raced snowmobiles, but Natalie Decker had her own dreams.
“I wanted to go the car route as soon as I found out what NASCAR was and I was about 7 years old," Natalie said.
“We stopped by a little dirt track just stood at that fence at 7 years old and I had to pry her away to get her out of there," her father said.
As she grew up in Wisconsin, she watched the daughter of one of her dad’s old snowmobile friends racing on TV.
“My aunt set up Danica’s parents on a blind date and they fell in love," Decker said.
“The farthest thing from my mind that we’d be somehow drawn to the same sport to the same place," Chuck Decker said of his continued relationship with the Patrick family.
In just six starts, the former high school hockey player has already posted the best finish by a female in the racing series history.
Her new team owner says like Danica Patrick, Decker’s success could pave the way for more female drivers.
“Probably the ARCA level is going to be a great measuring tool to see which females are ready to move to the next level," Billy Venturini said.
As she suited up for her first ever race at Kansas Speedway, Decker knew she was racing for more than herself.
“I love getting the message out to other girls do what you want have your goals be big, dream big and shoot far," she said.
“I’m going to root for her today," racing fan Tara Goodon said.
Decker finished 12th in the Kansas ARCA 150, but for Decker, the checkered flag isn’t the finish line.
“It’s just one step closer to NASCAR that I’ve made and I’m going to keep working hard until I get there," she said.