Drive for Diversity Combine set: Twenty multicultural and female race car drivers from the United States, Canada and Latin America will participate in the 11th Annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) Combine Oct. 13-15 with hopes of earning a spot in the 2015 NASCAR D4D Class in partnership with Rev Racing. The NASCAR D4D Combine - being held at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virgina, for the fourth consecutive year - has been the proving ground for several current NASCAR national series drivers, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Larson, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series three-time race winner Darrell Wallace Jr. and NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series driver Daniel Suarez, who recently announced a full-year NASCAR Nationwide Series ride with Joe Gibbs Racing for 2015.
Under the leadership of Max Siegel, owner of Rev Racing and CEO of U.S. Track & Field, NASCAR D4D has evolved to an academy-style development program which will compete under one umbrella in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKPSE) and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (NWAAS). Rev Racing provides drivers with equipment, mentoring and competition experience throughout the season.
Suarez, a rising star in the U.S. and Mexico, is the third and most recent NASCAR D4D driver to transition into one of NASCAR's three national series after competing in full seasons in Mexico's NASCAR Toyota Series and the NKPSE. Several drivers are attempting to follow in his footsteps, including 18-year-old Ruben Garcia Jr., a member of the NASCAR Next class.
Also returning to defend their spot in the program are current NWAAS drivers Devon Amos and Paige Decker. Current Rev Racing drivers in the NASCAR K&N East Sergio Peña and Jay Beasley also are under consideration to return to the team in 2015, but will not compete at the Combine.
The drivers will be individually evaluated on at-track performance, including their instinctive positioning at different places on the track, proficiency and comfort level in providing in-car feedback to the crew chief, overall speed and the ability to shift during assessments.
Visit FansChoice.TVfor the live streaming schedule of the Combine.(NASCAR)(9-30-2014)
Kulwicki Driver Development Program announced: Family members of 1992 NASCAR Champion Alan Kulwicki announced today the establishment of the Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP). A formal announcement is to come Wednesday evening in the Speedway Club at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
"This is a great way to help some worthy driver along the way in reaching their dream, while at the same time keeping Alan's memory and legacy alive moving forward," said Thelma H. Kulwicki, the late driver/team owner's step-mother and Board of Directors member for the project. "Alan will always be remembered as a driver whose level of intelligence, dedication and determination helped him achieve the pinnacle of success. At the same time, Alan was always a giving person who was so appreciative of the support he received along his journey to the top. This new program is appropriate in supporting what Alan believed in and will be effective in keeping his dream alive. To be able to help some racer get an opportunity that he or she otherwise would not have is something that Alan would fully endorse."
While the new program is still in its formative stages, some key players associated with the project were identified:
Tom Roberts, who served as Kulwicki's advisor and public relations representative throughout his NASCAR career, was appointed executive director for the KDDP. Paul Andrews, crew chief for Kulwicki's 1992 championship team, and Tony Gibson (current crew chief for #10-Danica Patrick), car chief for the '92 crew, were the first advisory board members named.
"Thelma Kulwicki is to be commended for taking what was just an idea and making it come to fruition today," said Roberts, who was active in the racing careers of not only Kulwicki, but those of Bobby Allison, Dick Trickle, Rusty Wallace and Kurt Busch. "There are so many folks we hope to get involved with the project, especially from the racing and business communities. It is so fitting that we will have forever-friends like Paul Andrews and Tony Gibson among the advisory board members from the very start of the program.
"This program is an excellent way of helping some promising young driver out, while continuing to educate folks as to who Alan Kulwicki was and what he stood for as a driver and as a person," offered Andrews, general manager and crew chief for Cunningham Motorsports. "I am excited to be involved and honored to be a member of the advisory board."
"I think what Thelma and the family are doing here is one of the most heart-warming and honorable things ever done in racing," said Gibson, who currently serves as crew chief for Danica Patrick at Stewart-Haas Racing. "Alan would definitely give this program the thumbs up. I am eager to help get it going and maintain an active role in its future."
The full advisory board will be named in upcoming months. It will include Kulwicki's former colleagues, members of the NASCAR racing community, business leaders and legal, accounting and financial professionals.
The board will work together in formulating the criteria for the selection process. It will work as a team in identifying aspiring driver/candidates, providing sponsorships and providing publicity for the drivers and the program. It will also offer a networking system to build industry relationships for the drivers and provide strategic ideas for the direction of the program.
The KDDP is expected to be fully up and running in 2015. When completely functional, the non-profit organization will provide a host of funding and services to worthy drivers. The program will provide financial support in covering operational expenses, transportation costs, entry fees and assistance with necessary equipment. It will also provide other resources such as sponsorship and business education and industry networking and relationship building. In upcoming weeks, the KDDP will be extremely active in creating a web presence. In addition to launching a new website, the organization will also utilize social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.(TRPR)(5-22-2014)
Next Wave of NASCAR Talent Joins NASCAR Diversity Internship Program: Established nearly 15 years ago to expose multicultural college students to employment opportunities in one of the largest professional sports industries, the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program welcomed the next wave of students seeking to learn about the industry during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race weekend. Throughout the 10-week, paid internship, 14 students will contribute to the multi-faceted motorsports workforce by learning from leading NASCAR executives in weekly lunch and learns and networking with professionals across the industry, starting with orientation. For many, attending the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, Sprint Showdown and NASCAR Sprint All-Star race live from Charlotte Motor Speedway this past weekend, was their first live racing experience.
The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program has created opportunities for students to take on substantive projects in the industry to prepare them for long-term success. At the conclusion of last year's program, five interns were offered fulltime employment opportunities across NASCAR and the International Speedway Corporation (ISC), including:
- Antoinette Diaz, a graduate of the University of West Georgia, joined ISC's Sales and Marketing department;
- Jusan Hamilton, an All-American track and field athlete from Ithaca College, joined NASCAR's Integrated Marketing Communications department;
- Robert Harbour, a graduate of Florida State University, joined Octagon;
- Lauren Houston, a University of North Carolina Chapel Hill graduate, joined NASCAR's Diversity Affairs department; and
- Cameron McCarty, a graduate of North Carolina State University, joined NASCAR's Media Operations.
Students were treated to an exclusive look at safety and technology innovations with guided tours of the NASCAR Research & Development Center during orientation. They also visited NASCAR Productions, the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Hendrick Motorsports and the Sam Bass Gallery to conclude their overall introduction before diving into day-to-day work with their respective departments. In addition to the NASCAR and International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) offices in Daytona Beach, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., Rev Racing, the development arm of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program, also welcomes an intern to their team. The 2014 NASCAR Diversity Internship class includes the following students from colleges and universities around the nation:
Interns, Internship Assignments, College or University, Hometowns
Aaron Hinton, NASCAR Information Technology, University of Missouri at St. Louis, Saint Louis, MO
Chloe Kerr, NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications, Georgetown University, Bolingbrook, IL
Cyrus Ghadimi, NASCAR Licensing, University of South Florida, Holly Hill, FL
Gabriela Nazario, NASCAR Human Resources, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, Cidra, PR
Gregory Carty, NASCAR Industry Services, Winston-Salem State University, Durham, NC
Hakeem Onafowokan Jr., NASCAR Public Affairs, The University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, MN
Jessica Sisk, NASCAR Weekly and Touring, University of Alabama in Huntsville, Estillfork, AL
Karmen Robinson, Rev Racing, North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Richmond, VA
Laura Fuentes Burgos, NASCAR Digital Media-Mobile, University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez, Bayamón, Puerto Rico
Lucia Ha, NASCAR Product Engineering, Syracuse University, Artesia, CA
Miguel Ortiz Burgos, The NASCAR Foundation, Stetson University, Humacao, Puerto Rico
Pedro Mojica, International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), University of Texas at San Antonio, Killeen, TX
Yan (Stella) Zhuang, NASCAR Market and Media Research, Columbia University, Jiaxing City, Zhejiang Province, China
Wesley Robinson , NASCAR Integrated Marketing Communications, Benedict College, Estill, SC
Rev Racing and NASCAR's Drive for Diversity Program Announce Driver Combine: Each year NASCAR's Drive for Diversity initiative and its competition arm, Rev Racing, seek to obtain the highest quality of applicants representing the most diverse backgrounds and develop them into successful NASCAR drivers. This selection process begins with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine. This year's application process will open May 15. The application process will close for submission on August 15, 2014. Drivers who already participate in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program and are demonstrating progress, though a combination of consistent top finishes in their respective series and positive evaluations, may be offered the opportunity to continue in the program without participating in an additional Combine. "I am very excited to see this year's class. Each year, we have seen the applicant pool grow with experience and talented drivers. This class should be no different," said Max Siegel, Rev Racing team owner.
Potential drivers can access the participant application at revracing.net/combine-application. Additional information and criteria can be found on supplied link. Additional support and technical assistance for the application process can be found by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Please allow for a 24-hour turn around response. More info at revracing.net.(5-16-2014)
NASCAR Next Roster For 2014 Announced: When Chase Elliott took the NASCAR Nationwide Series checkered flag at Texas Motor Speedway earlier this month, he joined fellow rising star Kyle Larson in the 2014 win column. Before their headline-making victories on one of the sport's biggest stages, though, Elliott and Larson were 'next' - the next in a wave of young talent making its way up the NASCAR ladder. Like Elliott and Larson before them, the 12 drivers named today to the 2014-15 NASCAR Next class have résumés loaded with accomplishments and promise. The roster was unveiled at Richmond International Raceway and marks the kickoff of the fourth installment of the industry initiative designed to spotlight NASCAR's rising stars.
"Over the last five years, our sport has undergone a tremendous shift, as we've seen an abundance of talented, young drivers begin to achieve their potential at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and NASCAR Nationwide Series level," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR vice president of industry services. "The NASCAR Next program is an instrumental platform to help draw attention to these young drivers - from media and fans to stakeholders and sponsors - and foster their growth within the sport."
The 12 drivers have already won 20 times, and hold the honors as the youngest winners in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, as well as youngest NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour champion and highest finishing female in NASCAR K&N Pro Series history. The list also includes the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West Sunoco Rookies of the Year. The team was selected through an evaluation process that included input from industry executives and veteran racers. Drivers must be between the ages of 15-25, have tangible and expressed goals in eventual competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and possess the potential to realize that goal.
Additionally, each driver in NASCAR Next must be actively competing in a NASCAR touring or weekly series - NASCAR K&N Pro Series East or West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series or NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors also are eligible provided they are not slated to run a full season in their respective series.
Former NASCAR Next members who have made an impact in NASCAR's national series include Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Jeb Burton, Chase Elliott, Dylan Kwasniewski, Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr.
The NASCAR Next members for 2014-15 are:
• Cole Custer (16 years old, Ladera Ranch, Calif., Twitter: @colecuster00) - A two-time winner in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2013, he opened the K&N Pro Series West season this year with a victory from the pole in Phoenix.
• Rubén García Jr. (18, Naucalpan, Mexico, @rubengarcia4) - The 2012 NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series Rookie of the Year continues to improve and finished fourth in the standings last season. Earlier this season, he made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut.
• Gray Gaulding (16, Colonial Heights, Va., @graygaulding) - Holds the mark for youngest pole winner in both the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, and recorded his first series win at Phoenix last fall.
• Ryan Gifford (25, Winchester, Tenn., @ryangifford2) - The NASCAR Drive For Diversity driver scored the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at Richmond and posted an impressive top-10 finish in his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut last August in Iowa.
• Austin Hill (20, Winston, Ga., @hillbroracing) - The winner at last year's K&N East race at Dover, he has two top-five finishes in this season's four races.
• Erik Jones (17, Byron, Mich., @erik_jones) - Made his mark on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last November in Phoenix by becoming the youngest winner in series history.
• Jesse Little (17, Sherrills Ford, N.C., @jesselittle97) - The 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He made his first series start just 11 days after turning 15 in 2012.
• Dylan Lupton (20, Wilton, Calif., @LuptonDylan) - The 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Sunoco Rookie of the Year picked up his first series victory at Evergreen Speedway in August.
• Brandon McReynolds (23, Mooresville, N.C., @Bmcreynolds28) - With starts in four different NASCAR series, he is chasing the championship in the K&N Pro Series West, where he is second in points.
• Ryan Preece (23, Berlin, Conn., @RyanPreece16) - He became the youngest champion in the history of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour last season while balancing a 43-race schedule in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series (finished fourth in the national standings) and making his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut.
• Ben Rhodes (17, Louisville, Ky., @benrhodes) - The current points leader in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with three poles in four races, and a win at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway. He scored an impressive top-10 finish in his NASCAR Camping World Truck series debut at Martinsville.
• Kenzie Ruston (22, El Reno, Okla., @KenzieRuston) - She finished sixth in last season's K&N Pro Series East season standings and has top 10 finishes this season at New Smyrna and Daytona. She has the highest finish - both in a race and in the championship standings - for a female driver in K&N Pro Series East history.(NASCAR)(4-25-2014)
NASCAR Executive Marcus Jadotte Leaving Organization: NASCAR announced that Marcus Jadotte, vice president of public affairs and multicultural development, will be leaving the organization. Jadotte will serve as a consultant as NASCAR continues to evolve its diversity and multicultural development initiatives throughout the organization. Additionally, NASCAR will expand its existing relationship with Teneo Strategy, a strategic advisory firm which has worked with NASCAR since 2013, to support its public affairs activities. Among his accomplishments since joining NASCAR in March 2005, Jadotte led the development of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) and NASCAR Pit Crew Development programs. These initiatives focus on developing the skills of promising female, Asian, Latino and African-American drivers and crew members in NASCAR. Jadotte has effectively overseen NASCAR's relationship with Rev Racing, which operates teams in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for the NASCAR D4D program, resulting in an increase in minority participation and on-track success. NASCAR D4D will continue under the leadership of Steve O'Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president, racing operations (to whom Jadotte reported). The NASCAR Diversity Internship Program and annual NASCAR Diversity Awards also are among a number of diversity and inclusion programs started by Jadotte that will continue at NASCAR.(NASCAR)(4-17-2014)
Weatherman joins Roulo Brothers, Roush Fenway driver developement: For as long as he can remember, 16-year old Kyle Weatherman has wanted to race cars and for nearly all of that time he has wanted to drive for Roush-Fenway Racing. Recently officials for Roush-Fenway Racing, Roulo Brothers Racing, and Kyle Weatherman announced a three-driver development deal that will put Kyle Weatherman in the seat of a Roulo Brothers Racing Ford at select ARCA Racing Series events during the 2014 season. Weatherman is a Sophomore at Holt High School in Wentzville, MO where he is a 4.0 student has been a standout in USLCI Legend Car competition amassing more than 190 victories and four national championships. He is also the youngest IMCA Modified national event winner scoring two premiere victories when he was only 13-years old. When he is not racing he enjoys duck hunting and water sports.Plans call for Kyle to drive in at least six ARCA races this season for Roulo Brothers Racing with more races being added to the schedule as new sponsorship programs are put together. Roulo Brothers Racing helped nurture the talents of current Roush-Fenway Racing driver Chris Buescher who will drive in the NASCAR Nationwide Series this season. Roulo Brothers Racing has been a long time partner with Roush-Fenway and an integral part of of the Roush-Fenway Racing driver development program. Since 1986, the Roulo Brothers Racing team team has scored 36 ARCA victories and led more than 4,357 laps in competition. They also claimed the 2012 ARCA Racing Series crown with Chris Buescher behind the wheel.(Weatherman Motorsports)(3-14-2014)
Kwasniewski joins CGR developement program: Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced today that 18-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski, a full-time driver in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Champion has been added as the team's newest development driver. The Las Vegas resident made his NNS debut at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 22, 2014, after winning the pole position and finishing eighth in his first start in one of NASCAR's top-three national touring series. Kwasniewski also became the youngest NNS pole-sitter in Daytona history, and will be competing full-time in the NNS with Turner Scott Motorsports.(CGR)(3-9-2014)
Coughlin joins JGR developement program: Joe Gibbs Racing announced that it has signed Cody Coughlin to its driver development program. The Coughlin family is well known for their achievements in drag racing, with Team JEGS having collected a number of NHRA titles and championships. Cody Coughlin is the first in the family to make his mark in circle track racing however, and is now set for the next step in what has already been an impressive career. Coughlin captured the JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour Championship in 2013 and in 2011 he earned Howie Lettow Rookie of the Year honors. Coughlin will work closely with JGR on all aspects of racing including competition as well as marketing and public relations. In addition to returning to drive in the JEGS/CRA All-Star Tour, Coughlin will drive a 12-race schedule for Venturini Motorsports under the supervision of JGR beginning March 22 at Mobile International Speedway. Coughlin dabbled in drag racing when he was younger, but fell in love with NASCAR as a young child and made the decision to focus on circle track racing. In addition to the support of his father, John, as well as his mother Di and sister Kennedi, Cody has the support of all the associates at JEGS.(JGR)(3-6-2014)
Gallaher joins Wauters driver development program: Wauters Motorsports announced today that Will Gallaher will join Wauters Motorsports driver development program. Gallaher, a California native, will drive for Wauters in the Southern Super Late Model Series in 2014. Gallaher at age 18 began racing in F-1600 Formula Cars competing at tracks along the West Coast. He then moved into the United Auto Racing Association Series, as well as, making three starts in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards. Wauters Motorsports will focus on bringing Gallaher up through the Super Late Model racing series and then into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Will Gallaher is slated to make his first start later this spring in the Southern Super Late Model Series.(Wauters Motorsports)(2-26-2014)
NASCAR Drive For Diversity Selects 2014 Class: NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D), the leading youth development program for multicultural and female drivers, will head into the 2014 season with one of the most well-rounded and accomplished rosters in program history. The 2014 class is led by Daniel Suarez, who contended for two NASCAR touring series championships last year, and Ryan Gifford, who is coming off a successful 2013 season, in which he earned his first NASCAR win and made his NASCAR national series debut. They will be joined by a group of talented newcomers looking to make their mark in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
"NASCAR is committed to providing training, competition experience and mentoring to drivers who without a doubt demonstrate the potential to compete at the highest levels of our sport through the academy-style program," said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development. "We look forward to another successful racing season with the Drive for Diversity team."
In addition to Suarez and Gifford, Sergio Peña returns to the program in which he earned three wins and finished fifth in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points in 2011. They'll be joined in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series ranks by Jay Beasley. Beasley won the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model track championship at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the series' Nevada championship. Devon Amos, who drove with Rev Racing's Legends program last year, and Paige Decker will compete for the team in Late Models in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
"Our goal is to keep building upon our successes with every new class we select," said Max Siegel, CEO of Rev Racing. "We are excited with the momentum built in 2013 with several D4D career milestones. This year's class has a tough job ahead of them and we look forward to providing them with all the tools necessary to reach individual and collective successes across the board." D4D saw one the strongest pool of applicants the program has ever seen this year. Nearly 100 drivers, representing 14 states and Mexico, applied for an opportunity to try out for a spot with Rev Racing at the annual D4D Combine - a three-day tryout where drivers' undergo physical assessments and are evaluated on on-track abilities by executives across the industry. In 2013, D4D saw the impressive rise of graduates Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr.
Wallace became the first African-American to win a national series victory in nearly 50 years at Martinsville in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. And Larson, whose meteoric rise through the ranks solidified D4D as a driving powerhouse for developmental athletes at NASCAR, earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as well as became the first D4D participant to secure a full-time ride in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson was also the first D4D driver to secure a national series victory.
Rev Racing drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series include:
- Daniel Suárez: The Monterrey, Mexico, native is a member of the NASCAR Next program and joins Rev Racing for the second season. The 22-year-old finished third in the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings and was the championship runner-up in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series in 2013. He recorded his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win last July at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway.
- Ryan Gifford: Another member of the NASCAR Next program, the 24-year-old from Winchester, Tenn., garnered his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win last season at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. In 2010 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, he became the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East pole position. Additionally, he made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut last August at Iowa Speedway, finishing ninth driving for Richard Childress Racing.
- Jay Beasley: This 21-year-old from Las Vegas won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model track championship at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the series' Nevada championship on the strength of eight victories in 14 starts. He also earned the 2013 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award as a result of his early success on the track.
- Sergio Peña: With three career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East wins to his credit, the 21-year-old from Winchester, Va., has a pair of top-10 finishes in points for 2011-12 while collecting 19 top 10s in 39 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East career starts.
Drivers competing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series include:
- Paige Decker: From Eagle River, Wis., the 20-year-old driver competed in her Super Late Model at tracks throughout the Midwest.
- Devon Amos: Competing mostly in a Legends car in 2013, the 22-year-old from Rio Rancho, N.M., scored a seventh-place finish in his stock car debut last summer at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East kicks off its 2014 season at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 16. Two days later, on Tuesday, Feb. 18, the UNOH Battle At The Beach will take place on the .37-mile short track situated on the Superstretch at Daytona International Speedway. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series drivers will compete primarily at Hickory Motor Speedway, where the season is scheduled to get underway on March 8.(NASCAR)(2-1-2014)
JR Motorsports Adds William Byron to Late Model Program for 2014: JR Motorsports announced it has signed 16-year-old William Byron, a legends series national champion, to compete regionally for Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s late model program, which enters its 13th season competing at tracks across the southeast. The addition of Byron cements the JR Motorsports late model driver line-up for 2014, which includes Josh Berry, a four-time winner for JRM in the #88 Speedco late model. Berry won the 2012 track champion at Motor Mile Speedway (Radford, Va.) to give the organization its first championship in any racing division.
Berry will drive the #88 and Byron the #9 in 2014. Byron has been racing competitively for only a year but scored 33 wins in his debut season and set numerous track records along the way.
"These kids are talented, young drivers with tremendous upside," said team manager L.W. Miller. "William has shown he has raw talent. It's very rare to see a guy win so quickly. Coming from legends cars, he'll be able to rely on Josh to make the transition to late models. We are excited to see what both these guys can do this year."
A native of Charlotte, Byron burst onto the legends racing scene late in the 2012 season. His 33 wins earned him national champion honors in the U.S. Legends Young Lions division. Byron also claimed the Young Lions division championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway's summer-long Thursday Thunder. Byron, a sophomore at Charlotte Country Day School, competed in 69 races across the United States in 2013, posting 59 top-five and 64 top-10 finishes. He collected Young Lion division victories in Charlotte Motor Speedway's Legends All-Star Race, LegendStock at Bethel (N.Y) Motor Speedway and the U.S. Legends Race of Champions at Lake Erie (Pa.) Speedway. "This is an unbelievable opportunity for me," Byron said. "Last year was really my first full season racing period, so to be able to join JR Motorsports and learn from Josh and L.W. will be an awesome experience. I really expect both Josh and I to be able to compete for wins everywhere we go this year."
Speedco Truck Lube and Tires returns for a third consecutive season as primary sponsor of Berry's #88 team. The 23-year-old's tenure with JR Motorsports is highlighted by his 2012 track championship at Motor Mile Speedway in addition to four victories, 27 top-five and 44 top-10 finishes. He also posted nine poles, including seven during his 2012 championship run. "It's an exciting time for our late model program," Berry said. "Speedco's commitment to JR Motorsports and my racing career means a lot to me. I look forward to working with William this year and helping him get up to speed like so many guys helped me when I first started." The JR Motorsports late model program enters its 13th season of regional competition. The team plans to compete at Hickory Motor Speedway and Motor Mile Speedway this season.(JR Motorsports)(1-17-2014)
Max Papis forms Whelen Euro team: Max Papis Racing to announced its presence in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, fielding the #99 racecar for the 2014 season. Team Principal and Italian native Max Papis, who has the most NASCAR starts for a European driver, and his wife/car owner, Tatiana Fittipaldi Papis, have a personal connection with the NASCAR family. "Being a NASCAR team owner is a very important step in my professional career," said Papis. "I am excited to create a working platform that will act as a bridge between racing in the United States and Europe, creating opportunities for drivers and technicians to experience the best of the two worlds combined." Kevin Gilardoni will drive the No. 99 racecar in the Elite division. The 21-year old Italian driver has competed in the Eurocup Megane Trophy and Formula Renault 2.0 series, showing great talent and potential with multiple wins, pole positions, and podium finishes in the past three seasons. The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will begin its third season under the NASCAR banner with the season opener April 12-13 at Valencia in Spain. The six race-weekend schedule also includes stops at England's Brands Hatch, Germany's Nürburgring and the championship weekend at France's famed LeMans. In addition, the series competes on the first purpose-built oval for stock cars in Europe, Tours Speedway in France.(Max Papis Racing)(1-17-2014)
NASCAR Receives Diversity And Inclusion Award: On Nov. 8, NASCAR received the 2013 Diversity and Inclusion Award (DANDI) for its efforts in fostering diversity throughout the sport at a ceremony at the New York Times Building in New York City. Eight days later, on Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway, NASCAR's diversity efforts reached another milestone when 21-year-old NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate Kyle Larson became the first Asian-American driver to win the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in any NASCAR national series, receiving the honor in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.(NASCAR)(11-23-2013)
NASCAR Next Roster For 2013 Announced: Filled with prospects coming from Nevada to Georgia, from Canada to Mexico, and a number of hometowns in between, NASCAR unveiled today the 2013 driver roster for the NASCAR Next program at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa. NASCAR Next, an evolution of the Next9 initiative that began in 2011, is an overarching industry initiative to help spotlight NASCAR's rising stars - and bolster fan recognition around talent that will grow into NASCAR Sprint Cup Series mainstays. In addition to competing on various NASCAR series across the country, drivers in the program will participate in several media and promotional activities throughout the next 12 months.
"This program has made great strides in a short time," said Jill Gregory, NASCAR vice president, industry services. "The evolution of NASCAR Next builds on that success with the influx of young, talented drivers continuing throughout all of NASCAR's racing series. This program provides a platform to help foster their growth within our sport, and introduce these young and talented drivers to NASCAR fans who will likely be hearing more about them in years to come."
This year's NASCAR Next group ranges from 15 to 24 years of age, represents three countries and 10 U.S. states from Nevada to Connecticut. They have amassed 32 NASCAR touring series wins and one series title. The multicultural group represents a diversity in geography (10 different U.S. states, in addition to Canada and Mexico), with racing backgrounds from asphalt to dirt and open wheel to stock car.
The team was assembled through a thorough process that included separate nominating and voting panels. Drivers must be between the ages of 15-25, have tangible and expressed goals in eventual competition in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and possess the skill set to realize that goal.
Additionally, each driver in NASCAR Next must be actively competing in a NASCAR touring or weekly series - NASCAR K&N Pro Series East or West, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series, Euro-Racecar NASCAR Touring Series or NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. NASCAR Nationwide Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competitors also are eligible providing they are in the first full-time season in their respective series.
Former NASCAR Next members who have moved on to success in NASCAR's national series include Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr.
The NASCAR Next members for 2013-14 are:
· Jeb Burton (20 years old, Halifax, Va.) - Four top-10 finishes in six NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts this season with three pole wins as a rookie.
· Chase Elliott (17, Dawsonville, Ga.) - A two-time Most Popular Driver in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East where he had a win and 15 top 10s and has two top-five finishes in three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts this season.
· Gray Gaulding (15, Colonial Heights, Va.) - The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East rookie set series records for youngest pole winner and race leader in April at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
· Ryan Gifford (24, Winchester, Tenn.) - The NASCAR Drive For Diversity product became the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East pole - Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in 2010.
· Cameron Hayley (16, Calgary, Alberta, Canada) - The NASCAR K&N Pro Series winner at inaugural UNOH Battle At The Beach at Daytona International Speedway in February is a K&N Pro Series West championship contender.
· Ben Kennedy (21, Daytona Beach, Fla.) - Has two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East wins in five starts this season and will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in August at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
· Dylan Kwasniewski (18, Las Vegas, Nev.) - The 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Sunoco Rookie of the Year and 2012 series champion is competing for a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East title this season.
· Brett Moffitt (20, Grimes, Iowa) - Has 31 top-five finishes in 52 career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts and is among the series' all-time leaders in wins and poles.
· Ryan Preece (22, Berlin, Conn.) - A two-time championship runner-up in the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour with five career wins and 12 poles and is a top competitor in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series' Modified Divisions in Connecticut.
· Ben Rhodes (16, Louisville, Ky.) - Has driven his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model to podium finishes this year at the UNOH Battle At The Beach in Daytona and the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown in Richmond, while also making his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut.
· Kenzie Ruston (21, El Reno, Okla.) - As a rookie, has three top-five finishes in five career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts and recorded the highest finish by a female driver in series history with a third-place effort in April at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway.
· Michael Self (22, Park City, Utah) - As a relative newcomer to stock-car racing, he is a bona fide NASCAR K&N Pro Series West title contender and has four wins in last 13 series starts.
· Daniel Suárez (21, Monterrey, Mexico) - A product of the NASCAR Drive For Diversity program, competes full time with Rev Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and is a title favorite in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series.