Drive For Diversity Program To Host Twenty-Six Candidates At The 2008 Drive For Diversity Combine Presented By Sunoco
Drivers Chasing Their Dreams to Earn a Ride in NASCAR in 2009
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (October 2, 2008) – Twenty-six drivers from different forms of racing all over North America will showcase their skills in front of NASCAR team owners and executives at the sixth annual Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine presented by Sunoco. The scouting event will take place October 13–14 at South Boston Speedway in South Boston , Va. This year's candidates were selected from more than 200 applicants from across North America . Fourteen of the drivers will earn a ride in NASCAR's developmental series for the 2009 season.
"Over the past five years we have seen the skill level and experience of our applicants increase exponentially," said Malcolm Calhoun , vice president of Access Marketing & Communications, which runs the Drive for Diversity Program. "We are excited to again provide the opportunity for this talented group of young, minority and female drivers to showcase their motorsports skills."
Since the creation of the Drive for Diversity program in 2004, 22 competitors have driven for the program in NASCAR's developmental series, winning 28 races. The 2008 driver class has enjoyed tremendous on-track success this season, with the nine drivers earning a combined 14 wins, 42 top fives and 88 top 10s. Driver Paul Harraka captured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Championship at All American Speedway in Roseville , Calif. ; he is the first driver to win a championship as part of the Drive for Diversity program.
The 26 drivers participating in the 2008 Combine presented by Sunoco, including seven members of the 2008 Drive for Diversity class, will participate in both on- and off-track evaluation. The on-track session will be conducted in NASCAR Camping World Series cars provided by Richard Petty Driving Experience and will include testing, qualifying laps and intermediate runs. Off the track, the drivers will be evaluated during media and sponsor relations activities. Drive for Diversity affiliated team owners will select fourteen drivers to compete for their teams in 2009 in either the NASCAR Camping World Series or the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Four drivers will compete in the Camping World Series, 10 will compete in the Whelen All-American Series.
The following drivers will participate in the 2008 Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine presented by Sunoco:
- Mackena Bell ( Carson City , Nev. ) finished eighth in the All American Speedway Late Model points standings with three top fives and 14 top 10s.
- Kristin Bumbera (Sealy, Tex. ) is a member of the 2008 Drive for Diversity class. She finished seventh in the All American Speedway Late Model points standings with two feature wins, 11 top fives and 13 top 10s.
- Michael Cherry ( Valrico , Fla. ) finished fourth in the Late Model standings at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford , Va. , as a member of the 2008 Drive for Diversity class.
- Tiffany Daniels ( Smithfield , Va. ) competed in late model events at Southern National Raceway in Kenly, N.C., and South Boston ( Va. ) Speedway in 2008, notching two top-10 finishes.
- Phil Dugan ( Meridian , Idaho ) is currently third in the ASA Late Model points standings at Meridian ( Idaho ) Speedway with three top fives and six top 10s. He also has one win in the Late Model Lite division.
- Mike Gallegos ( Wheat Ridge , Colo. ) is a member of the 2008 Drive for Diversity class. He has six NASCAR Camping World Series West top-10 finishes.
- Cassie Gannis ( Phoenix , Ariz. ) enjoyed three top fives and eight top 10s in 11 Super Late Model starts at Tucson ( Ariz. ) Raceway Park and the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this season.
- Jonathon Gomez ( Twin Falls , Idaho ) has scored five wins in the Late Model division at Magic Valley Speedway in Twin Falls , Idaho , so far this season. He also has two top 10s in two NASCAR Camping World Series West starts.
- Katie Hagar ( Nobleboro , Maine ) earned 11 top-10 finishes in the Late Model division at All American Speedway as a member of the 2008 Drive for Diversity class.
- Paul Harraka ( Fair Lawn , N.J. ) became the first driver to win a championship as part of the Drive for Diversity program, winning the 2008 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship at All American Speedway . He won 11 feature events and scored 18 top fives and 20 top 10s.
- Laura Hayes ( Wilton , Calif. ) finished sixth in the All American Speedway Late Model points standings with one win, 10 top fives and 13 top 10s.
- Rebecca Kasten ( Mequon , Wis. ) has spent the year racing ASA Late Models and Limited Late Models throughout Wisconsin and Illinois . She has one Limited Late Model win and five Late Model top 10s so far this season.
- Lindsey King ( Cherry Valley , Calif. ) competes in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale , Calif. as a member of the 2008 Drive for Diversity class. This season she became the first female to win a late model race on the half-mile oval.
- Kortney Kosiski ( Ralston , Neb. ) is currently first in the IMCA Crate Late Model points standings. She has one win, seven top fives and eight top 10s.
- Ashlee Lancaster ( Columbia , Mo. ) competes in the FASTRACK Late Model Series at Montgomery County Speedway in New Florence, Mo., and Callaway Raceway in Fulton , Mo.
- Amanda Lynch ( Piedmont , S.C. ) has one top-10 finish in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model division at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville , S.C.
- Ruben Pardo ( Mexico City , Mex.) currently competes in the NASCAR Mexico Series and has made four starts in the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2008.
- Juan Pitta ( Galt , Calif. ) finished fifth in the All American Speedway Late Model points standings with eight top fives and 15 top 10s.
- Megan Reitenour ( Miamisburg , Ohio ) competes in the Super Cup Stock Series and is currently first in the points standings. She has two wins, seven top fives and eight top 10s in eight starts this season.
- Jason Romero (Cameron Park, Calif. ) finished 10th in the All American Speedway Late Model points standings after running a partial schedule.
- Natalie Sather ( Fargo , N.D. ) competes in 360 Sprint cars at Knoxville ( Iowa ) Raceway. This season she has one top five and six top 10s.
- Caitlin Shaw ( Albuquerque , N.M. ) raced in the USAC National Series in 2008 as a development driver for K&N Engineering.
- Jonathan Smith ( Beacon Falls , Conn. ) competes in the NASCAR Camping World Series East as a member of the 2008 Drive for Diversity class.
- Emily Sue Steck ( Holman , Wis. ) races in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at LaCrosse ( Wis. ) Fairgrounds Speedway . She finished sixth in the 2008 Late Model point standings and was the 2007 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award winner.
- Trista Stevenson ( Pocahontas , Ill. ) raced a partial schedule in the Late Model division at the Music City Motorplex in Nashville , Tenn. and scored two top-10 finishes.
- Jessica Wood ( Newport News , Va. ) competes in the Super Street division at Langley Speedway in Hampton , Va. She has one win, eight top fives and 10 top 10s this season.
About the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series
With drivers competing at tracks throughout North America, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series provides a grassroots foundation for NASCAR competition, where drivers compete for local honors, U.S. state and Canadian provincial championships, and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion, as well as for position in the Top 500 rankings.
About the NASCAR Camping World Series
The NASCAR Camping World Series is NASCAR's top developmental series. The Series is made up of two regional tours, the East and the West. The East features events throughout the Atlantic seaboard, while the West runs along the Pacific coast and in a number of western states. Both run at a challenging combination of short tracks, intermediates, road courses, and speedways, with a number of races held in combination with NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events.
About Drive for Diversity
The Drive for Diversity Program, run by Access Marketing & Communications, seeks to develop minority and female drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Drive for Diversity also supports crew member candidates each year. The Drive for Diversity program is committed to supporting and enhancing diversity in all aspects of motorsports. The goal is to foster an environment that enables people from diverse backgrounds to participate in all levels and capacities of NASCAR. Much of the success of the Drive for Diversity initiative is a result of support from key sponsors and involved team owners.
Access Marketing & Communications