Barriers fall as Darrell Wallace Jr. wins in NASCAR’s East tour (USAToday)

Darrell Wallace Jr. discovered Saturday night that celebrating his first NASCAR victory differed greatly from how he envisioned it.
Don’t even bother asking him to digest the historical aspect of his victory in the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150, where Wallace became the NASCAR K&N East Series’ first African-American winner and its youngest victor at 16 years, five months and 19 days. Wallace’s win topped Brett Moffitt (16 years, 9 months, 27 days), who won at South Boston (Va.) Speedway last season.

“It hasn’t hit me, but soon it will,” said Wallace, a member of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program. “It was a pretty crazy night. It was mainly saving tires, that’s what they were telling me in my ear all night. That’s what I did and I was able to come up with the win.”

Wallace started seventh at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway in his series debut and led three times for 22 laps, gaining his final lead after passing Cole Whitt just after the last restart. Next were fellow rookie Andrew Smith, Jody Lavender, Whitt and Ryan Gifford, one of Wallace’s three D4D teammates at Revolution Racing. Read the rest on USAToday

Wallace Makes History, Gives Revolution Racing First Win

Darrell Wallace Jr. made his debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East one for the history books, becoming the youngest driver and first African-American to win in series history.

“We were solid all day – from practice to qualifying. Everything,” said Wallace, who is just 16 years, 5 months and 19 days old. “I can’t thank the guys from Revolution Racing enough. They worked their tails off to get this car ready for this race.”

Wallace led three times for 22 laps in the No. 6 Revolution Racing Chevrolet, taking the lead for the final time on a green-white-checkered finish to the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 at Greenville Pickens Speedway on Saturday night.

“I kept spinning my tires,” said Wallace. “I told myself to just relax – you’ll get them back. And that’s what I did and I came home with the ‘W’”

Wallace’s win also earned him Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors.

It is the first win for Revolution Racing, a majority minority-owned race team owned by Max Siegel and John Story. Revolution, which operates four NASCAR K&N Pro Series East teams and six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model teams, focuses on driver development through a unique academy-style program.

Three of Wallace’s Revolution Racing teammates also competed in Saturday night’s Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150. Ryan Gifford battled back to a fifth-place finish after two spins in the No. 2 Distribution One Chevrolet.

Mackena Bell, the only female driver in the 30 car field, scored a top-20 finish in her NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut, driving the No. 8 Revolution Racing Chevrolet.

Sergio Pena, who made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut in January during the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, was involved in a wreck on lap 65 that sent his No. 4 Revolution Racing Chevrolet to the garage. Pena was credited with a 28th-place finish.

The race broadcast will air Thursday, April 1 at 6 p.m. ET on SPEED.

Revolution Racing will return to the track in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East 150 at South Boston (Va.) Speedway on April 3.

Revolution Late Models Battle Caution Filled Night at Hickory

Revolution Racing’s Jessica Brunelli, Katie Hagar and Jason Romero returned to Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway this weekend looking to build on what they learned in last weekend’s 100-lap season opener. What they got instead was a caution-filled 50 laps of door-to-door racing.

Romero came away with a seventh-place finish in the No. 2 Distribution One Late Model, followed by Hagar in eighth in the No. 4 Late Model. Brunelli was battling for a spot in the top five when a broken wheel hub on her No. 3 Late Model brought out a late caution and ended her night before the green-white-checkered finish.

“It was a crazy race with a lot of beating and banging out there tonight,” said Brunelli, who was credited with an 11th-place finish. “Unfortunately we had the issue with the hub that ended our night a few laps early. Everyone on the Revolution Racing No. 3 Late Model team worked hard tonight and it’s tough to see it end that way. Now we have to come back out here in a couple of weeks and show them we’re capable of running up front at the end.”

Romero had a solid seventh-place finish after a 10th-place qualifying run.

“We were good on new tires, but we were hitting the nose a little bit in qualifying which hurt our effort,” said Romero. “Fortunately we learned a lot in last week’s race and we were able to get the car rotating a little better in race conditions. We’ve got a lot of talented people in the Revolution Racing late model shop working hard to get these cars right, and we learn a little bit more and get a little bit better with every race.”

Hagar fought through multiple on-track incidents to come away with an eighth-place finish.

“It was a tough night for the No. 4 team, but we were able to stay on the lead lap and finish eighth,” said Hagar. “We got caught up in a couple of things on-track tonight, but we fought through it and didn’t give up. Everyone on this team worked hard and I think we showed our determination and perseverance. We’ve got next weekend off to regroup and I think we’ll come back stronger than ever.”

Brunelli, Hagar and Romero will return to action April 9 at Tri-County Motor Speedway (Hudson, N.C.). They return to Hickory Motor Speedway for another 50-lap feature on April 10.

Revolution late model drivers Michael Cherry, Becca Kasten and Megan Reitenour will race at Tri-County Motor Speedway April 2, followed by their first race at Caraway Speedway (Asheboro, N.C.) on April 3.

K&N Pro Series where development takes place (NASCAR.com)

By Ty Norris, Special to NASCAR.COM

In the fall of 1997, Dale Earnhardt and I had a closed-door conversation with an executive of our NASCAR Busch Series team’s primary sponsor. We were informing this distinguished gentleman that we planned to move Steve Park to the Cup Series the following year and were replacing him with an unproven driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Out of character, this executive lost his mind while expressing his displeasure. After all, Park had won three times in his only full season with DEI and finished third in points.

As soon as we find someone we like, you guys move him up to Cup and we’re stuck paying for you to help your son,” the sponsor boldly said. This executive seemed to forget that the Busch Series was a true developmental series then, and much like university alumni have learned through the years, it’s hard to get attached to the best players because they are only visiting en route to the pros.

Dale got his way — imagine that — and Junior took over the No. 3 ride in 1998. He won back-to-back Busch Series titles, outpointing a kid from Wisconsin named Matt Kenseth. The highest full-time Cup driver in the final season rankings was 25th in points. Our primary sponsor paid only $1.4 million per year for all 34 events, and had 13 victories and two titles to show for it. It was affordable, well-represented and rewarding to teams and sponsors. Read the rest on NASCAR.com

Weekend Preview: Hickory Motor Speedway

The Revolution Racing late model program returns to Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway this weekend where three Revolution Racing drivers – Jessica Brunelli, Katie Hagar and Jason Romero – look to improve on last weekend’s season opener.

 

Event Information:

Late Model Stock 50 laps

Hickory Motor Speedway

Saturday, March 27 at 7 p.m.

 

Jessica Brunelli

Team: No. 3 Late Model 

Crew Chief: Brandon Butler

Brunelli on her third-place finish at Hickory last weekend:

“My team did an awesome job putting the car together last week and we had a great run, despite having to come from the back of the field. I’m looking forward to getting in good qualifying run this week and, hopefully, starting up front. It’s a much shorter race this week so starting up front will be important.”

Fast Facts:

  • Brunelli finished third in her first late model race at Hickory Motor Speedway last weekend after starting 14th. 
  • Brunelli is finishing her junior year of high school via online college prep independent study. She also works 20 hours/week at the race shop.
  • At 17 years old, Brunelli is the youngest of Revolution Racing’s late model drivers.

 

Katie Hagar

Team: No. 4 Late Model

Crew Chief: Lynn Martin

Hagar on returning to Hickory Motor Speedway:

“I’m really looking forward to going back to Hickory this weekend. We made some improvements to the car throughout the week and I know what to expect this time around. I think we can go out there and put on a great, competitive show.”

Fast Facts:

  • Hagar finished sixth in the season opening 100-lap feature at Hickory last weekend.
  • Hagar made her first start at Hickory Motor Speedway in an Allison Legacy Car in 2000; she has also tested modifieds and late models at Hickory.
  • Hagar has raced late models in California for the last two seasons, competing at All American Speedway, Madera Speedway and Stockton 99 Speedway.

 

Jason Romero

Team: No. 2 Distribution One Late Model

Crew Chief: Brent Cusick

Romero on returning to Hickory Motor Speedway:

“I’m excited to go back to Hickory this weekend with the knowledge we gained last weekend. I figured out late in the race what worked for me so it’s nice to be able to go back this week and apply what we learned. I think the No. 2 Distribution One Late Model will be good this week.”

Fast Facts:

  • Romero finished eighth in last weekend’s season opener at Hickory Motor Speedway after starting the race 10th.
  • Romero finished the 2009 season 11th overall in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points standings.
  • In his first full season of racing late models at All American Speedway, Romero won four poles and 11 races on his way to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track championship.

Weekend Preview: Greenville Pickens Speedway

Revolution Racing will make its NASCAR K&N Pro Series East debut at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway this weekend with four rookie drivers. Mackena Bell, Ryan Gifford, Sergio Pena and Darrell Wallace Jr. will all contend for the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year title.

 

Event Information:

Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150

Greenville Pickens Speedway

Saturday, March 27 at 8 p.m. ET (TV: SPEED, April 1, 6 p.m. ET)

 

Track Information:

Greenville Pickens Speedway is a flat, half-mile asphalt oval with five degrees of banking in the turns.

 

Mackena Bell

Team: No. 8 Chevrolet 

Crew Chief: Jerry Babb

Bell on making her debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East:

“I’m looking forward to making my first start in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this weekend. I’m excited for the opportunity to compete at a historic track like Greenville Pickens Speedway, against a field of great drivers. I’ve got a great crew chief in Jerry Babb and I’m ready to go out there and learn as much as I can about racing in this series.”

Fast Facts:

  • Bell raced super late models at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale (Calif.) in 2009 for Position One Motorsports. She finished the season eighth in the points standings with one top three and 10 top‐10 finishes.
  • This will be Bell’s first career start at Greenville Pickens Speedway.
  • Bell is the only female driver on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East entry list for this weekend’s Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150.

 

Ryan Gifford

Team: No 2 Distribution One Chevrolet

Crew Chief: Lee McCall

Gifford on his Greenville Pickens preparation:

“We had a really good test last week and I got a little bit of experience in these cars last year, which will really help us this season. I think we have what it takes to go out there this weekend and run up front.”

Fast Facts:

  • Gifford made five starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series last season (four in the East and one in the West). He scored two second-place finishes, including the season finale at Dover International Speedway.
  • Gifford has never competed at Greenville Pickens Speedway. This will mark his first career start at the historic track.
  • Gifford is a hands-on driver and is at the shop working on his cars every chance he gets. He prides himself on knowing what he can do to make his cars faster.

 

Sergio Pena

Team: No. 4 Chevrolet

Crew Chief: Mark McFarland

Pena on making his first start since the Toyota Showdown:

“We ran well out in Irwindale which was a huge confidence booster for me. It helped to get that seat time and to get a feel for these cars, but now the season really starts and we have to go out there and be consistent and run up front every week. I’m excited to work with Mark (McFarland) this year and I think we’ll be good this weekend.”

Fast Facts:

  • Pena made his NASCAR K&N Pro Series debut at the Toyota Showdown at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale in January. He qualified on the pole and finished second to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano.
  • As a rookie in the late model division at Shenandoah (Va.) Speedway in 2009, Pena scored six wins in 11 races.
  • Pena has just one year of oval track experience; prior to running late models, he competed on road courses in open-wheel formula cars.

 

Darrell Wallace Jr.

Team: No. 6 Chevrolet

Crew Chief: Robert Huffman

Wallace on his debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East:

“It’s been a long off season and I am ready to get back to racing. Everyone at Revolution Racing has been working hard to get these cars ready for this weekend. I’m ready to get to Greenville so we can show everyone what this team is capable of doing.”

Fast Facts:

  • Wallace has been competing in late models since he was 14 years old. Now at 16, he’s old enough to compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, NASCAR’s premier development series.
  • At just 16 years old, Wallace is Revolution Racing’s youngest driver.
  • Wallace has raced late models at Greenville Pickens Speedway in the past; this will be his first start at the track in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series car.