By David Exum, Special to NASCARHomeTracks.com
MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Longtime short-track racer Blair Addis didn’t hesitate for a second at the chance to work at Revolution Racing as the team’s competition director in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
After competing as a driver and car owner for several years, Addis sold his race team in 2009 to former Dale Earnhardt Inc. executives Max Siegel and John Story, the founders of the driver development organization.
“I made a decision within minutes of the offer to come here because I’m that committed to helping minorities and women reach their dreams in NASCAR,” said Addis, who was the 2005 track champion at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway in 2005.
“I’m just thrilled to be part of this and I come here every day ready for the challenged. I’m so excited that I don’t even set my clock to wake up in the morning. There’s no way my commitment can be questioned because I’m full boar into this thing. I want it to happen and I want it to happen fast.”
Addis will oversee six of Revolution Racing’s 11 development drivers that are part of this year’s NASCAR Drive For Diversity program. The six drivers made it through the rigorous combine and testing process — which will be the subject of “Changing Lanes”, an eight-part docu-series on BET Network that will air this summer.
Jessica Brunelli, (17-years-old), Michael Cherry (20), Katie Hagar (23), Rebecca Kasten (19), Megan Reitenour (18), and Jason Romero (25), will be the six drivers under Addis’ leadership. All six drivers will compete in 20 races this season at short tracks in the Carolinas.
“These aren’t six cookie-cutter drivers that all do the same thing,’ Addis said. “They all have completely different driving styles and we wanted to evaluate their talents and make them really good drivers. We didn’t want six people who all had the same talent. That would be boring.”
Hailing from Hayward, Calif., Brunelli is the youngest of the six drivers but Addis says you’d never know it compared to her driving style.
“You can mark it down, she’s going to win a lot of poles this year because she’s so fast and has no fear,” Addis said.
During a recent test at Greenville Pickens, Brunelli made quite the impression to her mentor.
“It was breathtaking to watch her test because she literally drove it in a car and half deeper than anyone,” Addis said. “That’s not the correct way to drive at Greenville but you’ve got to be pretty brave to do that on a short track. We just have to work on her ability on how to judge other drivers and to learn how to pass and stuff like that.”
Cherry, meanwhile, is no stranger to Addis as the Valrico, Fla., native drove for him as a Drive For Diversity driver in 2009. Cherry competed in Late Models at Greenville Pickens where he earned seven top-five and 19 top-10 finishes in 21 starts.
“He hasn’t peaked by no means as far as his talent and this year will be real steppingstone for him in terms of his ability as a driver,” Addis said.
Hagar, from Damariscotta, Maine, spent 2009 out west racing Late Models in at Stockton 99 and Madera Speedway where she earned four top-five and seven top-10 finishes.
“I think she’s going to impress a lot of people,” Addis said. “She’s an aggressive driver but it’s a good aggressiveness.”
Kasten, from Mequon, Wisc., competed in 12 ASA Late Model races at various tracks and posted six top-10 finishes.
Reitenour, who hails from Miamisburg, Ohio, is in her second Drive For Diversity season. In 2009, she competed at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, N.C. Rietenour finished fourth in the track series standings and earned seven top-five and 16 top-10 finishes.
“She’ll be a strong contender when she returns to Tri-County this season and all the other tracks, too,” Addis said.
Addis considers Romero the most seasoned driver in his lineup. The Cameron Park, Calif., native comes to Revolution Racing with impressive credentials. In 2009, Romero won the track championship at All-American (Roseville, Calif.) Speedway by winning 11 races, 17 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes in 29 starts. Romero also finished second in the state standings and 11th in the national standings.
“He’s the veteran of our program and we all feel he deserves a shot at the next level of NASCAR, and that’s why we selected him and moved him out here,” Addis said.
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