Wallace and Revolution Racing Maintain Point Lead at Gresham

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 12, 2011) – Darrell Wallace Jr and his U.S. Army Toyota Camry entered the Slack Auto Parts 150 at Gresham Motorsports Park with the series point lead and one of the favorites to win the race. Despite the fourth-place effort on the half-mile track, Wallace was in position all night to win the race leading 56 of the 154 laps run.

Race winner Max Gresham, son of the track owner, was the only other leader on the night.

Wallace now leads Gresham by five points in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points with six races remaining.

Teammates Ryan Gifford, driving the Toyota Racing Development (TRD) Toyota, Michael Cherry in the Fueling Your Dreams Toyota and Sergio Pena in the Freightliner Toyota finished 12th, 13th and 20th respectively.

On the race’s final restart Wallace started second. He and Gresham, who had battled all night for the top spot, went hard into turn one and washed up the track with Gresham on the inside. Wallace was forced up and out of the racing groove which allowed Matt DiBenedetto and Andrew Smith to pass Wallace for second and third place as Wallace did a good job hanging on for fourth.

“We were better than a fourth-place car all night,” Wallace said. “Our U.S. Army Camry was just as strong as Gresham and we were in a good spot on the final restart until we got forced up the track. I hung on to it and as a result we maintained our lead in the points.”

For Gifford and Cherry, it was a rather uneventful night. Both drivers ran strong races inside the top-15 all night, with Gifford and Pena running inside the top 10 for much of the race. Pena, who ran out of fuel at lap 148, finished 20th, four laps down.

Gifford is now 11th in points, Pena 12th and Cherry 17th.

The Revolution Racing NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams also had uneventful nights, with races at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and Hickory (N.C.) Motors Speedway.

Trey Gibson and Jorge Arteaga raced two 50-lap races at Kingsport Friday night. Both qualified in the middle of the 16-car fields. Unfortunately for both drivers, and virtually the entire field, the pole sitter of both races missed a shift on the start of each race which caused the field to stack up and eventually spread out in a single-file line. As a result, very little passing occurred in either race and there were no caution periods which would have allowed the field to reset, likely resulting in more passing.

Gibson finished the races ninth and eighth respectively, while Arteaga finished eighth and 10th.

“If the field would not have gotten so spread out due to the problem on the start I feel he would have finished higher in both races,” said Revolution Racing Late Model Competition Director Jefferson Hodges. “But for Trey two top 10s is good considering he had never been to Kingsport before, and for Jorge he did a good job given how spread out the field got. Jorge will do a much better job when he gets a handle on this track and realizes how much he needs to hustle the car in qualifying.”

The same story was true the following night for drivers Tayla Orleans and Gibson. It also marked the debut of Dallas Montes to the Revolution Racing NASCAR Whelen All-American program.

For Gibson, it was also his first trip to Hickory, so the entire weekend was a learning experience for him.

“Trey’s weekend was exactly what this program is all about, he learned a ton at both tracks, is smart enough to accept the fact that he is learning, willing to take advice and had no mechanical issues so he got all his laps in practice,” Hodges said. “He will be much better when he returns to the track. He did end up hitting the wall with about 15 laps to go and pulled the exhaust out of the car. When the tone of the motor changed he was unsure if it was a motor problem or just the exhaust so he parked the car. It was just exhaust but I applaud his respect for our equipment.”

For Orleans her day and night was also uneventful, starting 14th and finishing 12th.

“She didn’t have her best day at the track Saturday,” Hodges said. “Her car was good but for some reason she just wasn’t on her game. She’s a good race car driver and will bounce back and be able to focus on getting to the front.”

For Montes, who is a past participant in the Drive for Diversity Combine, he arrived from Bakersfield, Calif. Wednesday and was in a car at Hickory on Friday for a short practice session.

His first race-day experience with the team on Saturday was fast paced, as the team did a great job of keeping him on track during all sessions allowing the young driver to get in as many practice laps in the heat of the day as possible.

Montes’ race went as planned with the driver starting 15th and finishing 13th. Given his lack of experience in late models and particularly at Hickory, he will need much more practice time before he moves up the ladder against the tough fields at Hickory or Kingsport.

The Revolution Racing Whelen All-American Series late model program plans to compete in more than 140 races with six drivers as part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program. Four NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and multiple youth racing teams are supported by NASCAR, the U.S. Army, Toyota Motor Sales, Toyota Racing Development (TRD), Freightliner Trucks, Wix Filters, Castle Products, Logitech, Play Seat, iRacing and others.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series teams of Wallace, Pena, Gifford and Cherry will be back in action again Saturday night in the Visit Hampton Va. 175 at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.

The Slack Auto Parts 150 can be seen Thursday night at 6 p.m. (ET) on SPEED.

Development drivers make gains in touring ranks

When it comes to driver development in NASCAR, it’s a never-ending process, no matter how it’s labeled.

NASCAR has always had a strong developmental ladder system, from the Whelen All-American Series racing at weekly short tracks, through the touring division, which currently includes a variety of cars racing from coast-to-coast, and even into the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series.

But NASCAR doesn’t have a lock on driver development. Drivers of all ages are honing their skills in variety of short-track equipment under an equally diverse set of sanctions.

And when they graduate beyond their weekly tracks, in addition to the cornucopia of NASCAR feeder series there’s also the ARCA Racing Series featuring cars more similar to what was formerly raced in the Cup Series, along with a plethora of late-model tours including ACT, ASA, PASS and USAR Pro Cup.

And while the proverbial pot’s always boiling, with hundreds of names of talented drivers struggling to be noticed, several names have shown themselves to be in the forefront of the development landscape. Read the rest on NASCAR.com

Battle Tested Revolution Racing Drivers Tackled the Army Strong 150 at Bowman Gray

MOORESVILLE, N.C. (June 5, 2011) – Four Revolution Racing drivers tackled the tough Bowman Gray Stadium June 4 in the Army Strong 150 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race while four other Revolution Racing drivers were doing battle at short tracks in Tennessee and North Carolina in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

Darrell Wallace Jr, Sergio Pena, Ryan Gifford and Michal Cherry took beautiful Toyota Camry race cars to the quarter-mile historic Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., but like most of the field of 27, none brought their cars home without significant damage. The track is known as a rough place to race, and it did not disappoint the crowd of more than 15,000.

Of the 156 laps raced, 87 were recorded as yellow-flag laps during 15 different caution periods.

Darrell Wallace Jr, who qualified his U.S. Army Toyota Camry ninth, but was forced to start from rear after having to fix body damage suffered during his qualifying run, was the highest finishing Revolution Racing car. His sixth-place finish was strong enough to retake the points lead in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East by 17 points over race winner Matt DiBenedetto.

Gifford brought his battered Toyota Racing Development Toyota Camry home 10th, Cherry’s Fueling Your Dreams Toyota Camry was 14th and Pena’s Freightliner Toyota Camry was forced to retire early with engine failure after front-end damage caused overheating.[callout_right]Every car in the field of 27 had some damage at the end of the race, and only the car of DiBenedetto, which led every lap, did not have what would be described as significant damage.e[/callout_right]

Cherry, who started 23rd and was thrilled with his 14th-place finish, stopped on the race track after the checkered flag and gave the huge and raucous crowd a salute from the roof of his Toyota Camry, which brought cheers from the stands louder than those for the winner.

“I started the race trying to conserve my equipment and bring the car home in one piece,” Cherry said. “But after about two laps it was clear that wasn’t going to happen given that someone got into you virtually every lap. I wanted to say thank you to the fans and let them know that even though it was only a 14th-place finish, it was the hardest fought top-15 finish in my life. That was work.”

After starting at the rear, Wallace, 17, did all he could just to finish the demanding race.

“I am so proud to have driven the U.S. Army car here in the Army Strong 150,” he said. “It is appropriate that the Army sponsored this race, given that you had to be ready for battle and also very smart to finish this race. Starting where we did, I just wanted to earn the best finish possible, and even though we punished our Camry in the process, it proved to be Army Strong and got us to another top-10 finish.”

Like his teammates, Gifford got tossed throughout the night like a ping pong ball en route to a top-10 finish, which moved him up to eighth from 11th in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series point standings.

[callout_left]I expected it to be rough here, but honestly not this rough. I’m happy we finished and gained some points. -Ryan Gifford[/callout_left]“We gave it all we had tonight and I can honestly say I have never been involved in anything like that before,” said the Winchester, Tenn. driver. “Normally I wouldn’t be all that happy with a 10th-place finish, but tonight we’ll take it. I expected it to be rough here, but honestly not this rough. I’m happy we finished and gained some points.”

By contrast, Revolution Racing’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams had relatively mild nights at Kingsport (Tenn.) Speedway and Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway Friday and Saturday.

At Kingsport, Puerto Rico’s Bryan Ortiz guided his Toyota Camry to a fifth –place finish in the field of 14. His race started with a fifth-place qualifying effort. He was shuffled back a few spots on the start but ran a clean race in line with the leaders until he was forced off track and cut a tire which required him to restart at the rear of the field after the tire change. Ortiz did a great job of coming through the field to regain the fifth position, and gained tremendous experience.

“Bryan is a class act and did a great job Friday at Kingsport,” said Revolution Racing Late Model Competition Director Jefferson Hodges. “Other than a bobble on the start, he ran a very good race and showed a lot of poise after cutting a tire and being forced to come back through the field.”

In the same race, Randleman N.C.’s Tayla Orleans showed the same kind of patience and ability.

Starting sixth, Orleans ran in the fifth spot most of the race but did not have the car to improve her position. The team rolled the dice by bringing her Toyota Camry down pit road for adjustments under caution in hopes that she would be able to at least get her spot back and also pass the top four cars.

After adjustments, she and her Camry were only able to climb back to the ninth spot, which was not indicative of how she drove her Toyota Camry but did provide her valuable experience.

“Tayla did a great job all night and was especially fast in practice,” Hodges said. “With more experience at Kingsport she will be winning poles and running up front all night. She has good car control and is a quick learner. She was a fifth-place car all night and although we made changes that helped her she couldn’t dig back to the top five. Regardless, like Bryan she did a great job and was easily one of the fastest cars at the track.”

The following night at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway, Jessica Brunelli and Mackena Bell battled the veterans at one of NASCAR’s most historic venues.

The night featured twin 50 races and Brunelli captured the pole for both of them.

Her Toyota Camry was very fast throughout practice and qualifying and she led the field of 13 to the start of both events.

In the first race, she ran the bottom line two wide for a long period and eventually got her right rear tire hot and fell back finishing fifth. During the race, she also took in fumes from the car and was forced to take oxygen following the race and receive an evaluation from the track’s medical staff. She recovered nicely and was ready to go again when the second race started.

Bell, from Carson City, Nev., qualified her Toyota Camry 12th for both races and finished ninth in both races.

Despite recording the same finishing position, Hodges’ assessment of Bell’s performance was that she ran a much better race in the second feature and that the only reason for her ninth-place finish was a multi-car spin in front of her that she and Brunelli became innocent victims of.

Both Bell and Brunelli were headed for high finishes before the spin, and both did a good job recovering to finish where they did.

“Mackena was ready to go in the second race and she seemed like a different driver from the first race,” Hodges said. “Jessica fell back on the start of the second race but other than that ran a smart race in a car that was much better during the day when the track was hot than it was later in the evening after the sun went down. I am very proud of both Jessica and Mackena and feel that both learned a lot this weekend.

“All four of our drivers did a good job and they are all showing me how they earned the opportunity to race with Revolution Racing.”

The Revolution Racing Whelen All-American Series late model program plans to compete in more than 140 races with six drivers as part of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity Program. The program is supported by NASCAR, the U.S. Army, Toyota Motor Sales, Toyota Racing Development (TRD), Freightliner Trucks, Wix Filters, Castle Products, Logitech, Play Seat, iRacing and others.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series teams of Wallace, Pena, Gifford and Cherry will be back in action again Saturday night in the Slack Auto Parts 150 at Gresham Motorsports Park in Jefferson, Ga.

The Army Strong 150 can be seen Thursday night at 6 p.m. (ET) on SPEED.