NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, which helps fund female and minority drivers in racing’s lower ranks, has an ample number of promising young women who could one day make their way into the Cup Series. Former Camping World East Series champion Andy Santerre, who oversees D4D cars in the Camping World Series, weighs in with what five members of the current class must do to move up.
Mackena Bell , 19, Carson City, Nev. Finished eighth in final standings this year at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. First female driver to post a top three finish there.
Santerre says: “Bell has transitioned from late models to super late models in the last year, and more seat time in a Camping World car will help her comfort level.”
Jessic a Brunelli , 16, Hayward, Calif. Background includes Ford Focus,
sprint cars and karts. Ran modifieds at All American Speedway (Roseville, Calif.).
Santerre says: “Brunelli’s raw talent was impressive (at the recent D4D Combine at Motor Mile Speedway in Virginia), and gaining experience in a full-bodied stock car is key.”
Katie Hagar, 23, Damariscotta, Maine. Raced late models in Northern
California. Set qualifying record at Stockton 99 Speedway.
Santerre says: “Her immediate next step would be to get more time in a Camping World Series car, which is heavier and has more horsepower than the late model.”
Sloan Henderson , 17, Franklin, Ohio. This year’s Ohio NASCAR Whelen
All-American Series rookie of the year.
Santerre says: “Impressive despite her lack of experience, Henderson needs to log more laps in a late model before looking to make the next jump.”
Rebecca Kasten, 19, Mequon, Wis. Ran limited late models and late models in regional touring series.
Santerre says: “Her background is heavy with racing full-fendered cars, which will help her progression. While she has the most experience in the group, she still needs to prove it at the Camping World Series level.”