NASCAR

Drive for Diversity program shifts gears

FOX Sports Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service
Share This Story

   
 

CHARLOTTE, N.C.

At first glance, the most striking aspect of NASCAR's 2012 Drive for Diversity class is its size — six drivers.

REVVING UP

The 2012 NASCAR Media Tour offered a glimpse into drivers, crew chiefs and owners as they prepare for the season. PHOTOS.

A closer look, however, reveals the top-to-bottom quality of the program's smallest class to date. The size of the class doesn't reflect a shrinking of the talent pool; rather, it represents a paradigm shift in the direction of the program.

Rev Racing (formerly Revolution Racing), which will field four teams in NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East this season, is channeling its efforts toward a smaller number of drivers at a higher level of racing in order to expedite their progress.

"We took a hard look at how we can accelerate the development, and concentrating the resources at the higher series and continuing to bring in the highest caliber talent was the route to go," Rev Racing team owner Max Siegel told the NASCAR Wire Service.

Ryan Gifford, 22, from Winchester, Tenn., is back for a third season with Rev Racing, and he can appreciate the shift in focus.

"I think that concentrating their efforts on a smaller group is going to be really good from a competition standpoint, and I can only look for better things than last year," said Gifford, who in 2010 became the first African-American driver to win a pole in the East Series.

Test drive

NASCAR teams get back on track in Daytona. Photos.

Gifford has another reason for optimism. Rev Racing placed three drivers in the top 10 in the East Series last year, headed by second-place Darrell Wallace Jr., winner of three races, and Sergio Pena, also a three-time winner. Together they won six of the 12 East races last year.

Wallace expects to make his first start in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with Joe Gibbs Racing, and Pena earned an East Series ride with Hattori Racing Enterprises for 2012. Paulie Harraka, another D4D alumnus, will compete for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year award in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series for newly formed Wauters Motorsports.

Gifford is gratified to see drivers emerge from the D4D pipeline into series that will bring them national exposure.

"To me, it shows that there are team owners out there who are looking for young drivers and wanting to put somebody younger in the sport, to bring new faces to the sport other than just recycling the same drivers over and over," Gifford told the NASCAR Wire Service.

In addition to Gifford, the 2012 class includes Jorge Arteaga, 25, from Aguascalientes, Mexico; returnee Mackena Bell, 21, from Carson City, Nev.; Trey Gibson, 19, from Easley, S.C.; Bryan Ortiz, 22, from Bayamon, Puerto Rico; and Kyle Larson, 19, from Elk Grove, Calif.

Offseason changes

BIG MOVERS

Not all Cup stars are staying put after 2011. Who's on the move?

Bell and Gibson will race in the Whelen All-American Series for late models at a variety of tracks in the Southeast. The other four drivers will compete in the K&N Pro Series East.

Larson, who won 22 open-wheel features last year, finished third in the Jan. 14 Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., beating NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart and NASCAR Nationwide Series titlist Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the process.

To Siegel, the selection process for the 2012 class was more difficult than ever.

"What we are seeing is that the quality of the applicants is going up exponentially," Siegel said. "There were some people who pretty quickly distinguished themselves, but when we got to selecting the class, it was tough, because we had some pretty great people."

In addition to training drivers, the program also strives to bring diversity to the NASCAR garage through efforts to train and place crew members.

"We've placed 18 women or people of color over the last two years throughout the entire series, ARCA to Sprint Cup," Siegel said. Phil Horton (Rev Racing's strength and conditioning coach) is running the program.

"That was actually the first program that we brought in-house, training and actively out there placing. That program's been sailing along pretty great for the last three years."
 

Tagged: Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Related Stories

Member Comments

Please note by clicking on "Post comment" you acknowledge that you have read the Terms of Use and the comment you are posting is in compliance with such terms. Be Polite. Inappropriate posts may be removed by the moderator.

powered by



NASCAR Videos

Let It Ride: Loudon NASCAR Odds Posted: Jul 10, 2014
Todd Fuhrman is in-studio to talk with Danielle Trotta about the Vegas odds for ...

Teardown: Riding Low at Loudon Posted: Jul 10, 2014
Matt Clark and crew chief Bootie Barker break down how fuel mileage and the new ...

Up To Speed: Loudon Preview Posted: Jul 10, 2014
Whether they are trying to bounce back from a bad day at Daytona or need a win t...

Fox Sports Store

    itemName itemURL imageSrc price itemDescription
    Chase Authentics Danica Patrick Big Rig Tri-Blend T-Shirt - Charcoal http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Danica_Patrick/browse/featuredproduct/974547/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_974000/ff_974547_xl.jpg&w=100 26.95 Chase Authentics Danica Patrick Big Rig Tri-Blend T-Shirt - Charcoal
    Kyle Busch One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Kyle_Busch/browse/featuredproduct/1011659/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1011000/ff_1011659_xl.jpg&w=100 19.95 Kyle Busch One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black
    Matt Kenseth One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Matt_Kenseth/browse/featuredproduct/1011661/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1011000/ff_1011661_xl.jpg&w=100 9.99 Matt Kenseth One Spot Gauge T-Shirt - Black
    Chase Authentics Carl Edwards 2013 Driver Schedule T-Shirt - Ash http://shop.foxsports.com/FOX_Carl_Edwards/browse/featuredproduct/1041164/source/foxsports_prsp_ca http://images.footballfanatics.com/FFImage/thumb.aspx?i=/productImages/_1041000/ff_1041164_xl.jpg&w=100 24.95 Chase Authentics Carl Edwards 2013 Driver Schedule T-Shirt - Ash