Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Travis Kvapil

Travis Kvapil was born on March 1st 1976 in Janesville, Wisconsin. After helping in his father’s garage growing up, Kvapil began to take interest in the speed and thrill of racing. Kvapil first started racing at the age of 16 at Rockford Speedway in Rockford, Illinois. By age 18 Kvapil had won the American Short Tracker division track championship at Rockford. Kvapil pointed out in a NASCAR.com interview that his step-father was a big influence in his younger racing days, stating that “We worked side by side from when I started at the age of 16 until I started in the truck series when I was 24. We went to the racetrack together every Friday and Saturday night.”

In 1995 Kvapil began racing at the Madison International Raceway in the Super Late Model Series where he won the Rookie of the Year Title. In his sophomore year, 1996, Kvapil became the youngest winner of the Super Late Model championship at Madison. In all his years at Madison, Kvapil won 5 feature races.

In 2001 Kvapil made his NASCAR Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series racing debut with Addington Racing and CAT Rental Stores. Kvapil’s success went above and beyond expectations, finishing in the top ten in 18 of the seasons 24 races, with an average finish of 7.6, resulting in a 4th place finish in the final point standings in his rookie year. He also gained his very first NASCAR Series win at the Texas Motor Speedway, eventually winning the Rookie of the Year in the series. In this year Kvapil also entered his first NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series race with team owner Richard Childress and Rockwell Automation, starting third and finishing 28th after crashing.

The next year, 2002, Kvapil continued to race in the Trucks in the #60 Addington Racing CAT Rental Stores Chevrolet and with a shortened schedule in the series with only 22 races Kvapil only managed 14 top tens while still managing a 11th place average finish throughout the entire season. He also got his second career win at Memphis, Tennessee, after dominating, leading 117 of the 200 laps.

2003 saw a career shift happen for Kvapil as he moved to Steve Coulter’s team, Xpress Motorsports, running with sponsorship from IWX Motor Freight in his #16 Chevrolet. This move paid positive dividends for Kvapil and the team as he posted 22 top tens out of 25 races, with no finish outside of the top 18, including a win at Bristol, 3 poles, and completing every lap but one in the season. This huge success gave Kvapil the NASCAR Craftsman (Camping World) Trucks Series championship, making him the youngest driver to win the title up until that point in the Series.

At the beginning of 2004 Kvapil ran the first American Speed Association race at the Madison International Raceway, where he won a track championship just eight years previously. In the Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series Kvapil made yet another team switch, this time moving to the Alexander Meshkin’s Bang! Racing Toyota with Line-X Bedliners as his primary sponsor. This season was completed with 2 wins (Loudon and Michigan, Toyota’s first in NASCAR competition), along with ten top 10’s and a solid 8th place points finish. But an important milestone in Kvapil’s career came when he signed on to race in the NASCAR Nextel (Sprint) Cup Series for Roger Penske in four of the last five races of the season, driving his #06 Mobil 1/Jasper Dodge. Kvapil got off to an incredible start, qualifying 5th  in his first race for Penske at Martinsville. But the remaining four races of his schedule were mediocre, finishing only once on the lead lap, and failing to qualify for Darlington.

2005 was Kvapil’s first year driving the #77 Kodak Dodge for Jasper Motorsports in cooperation with Penske Racing in the NASCAR Nextel (Sprint) Cup Series, replacing driver Brendan Gaughan. He finished a only two races in the top ten after experiencing seven DNF’s and ended his year with a finish of 33rd in the points standings. Near the end of 2005, Penske-Jasper Racing announced that Kodak would be scaling back their sponsorship for 2006 to just a part-time role with Kurt Busch’s new ride in the #2, which led to automatic free-agent status for Travis Kvapil.

Kvapil was picked up by PPI racing’s Cal Wells to race in the #32 Tide/Downy Chevrolet for the 2006 season. This move resulted in Kvapil finishing 36th  in driver’s points standings after failing to qualify for four races in his sophomore year in the Nextel (Sprint) Cup Series

After two relatively unsuccessful years in the Cup Series, Kvapil took a year off from Cup and ran an entire Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series schedule in 2007 with Jack Roush in the K&N Filters #6 Ford. In this year teamed with Roush, Kvapil won four races, and finished 6th in the final driver’s standings after only failing to complete 30 laps through the duration of the season.

Kvapil’s impressive run with Roush in 2007 led to a contract with the newly reformed Ford team, Yates Racing, for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in 2008. It was announced that the Yates group would be resurrecting the legendary #28 which was previously driven by the likes of Fred Lorenzen, Cale Yarborough, Donnie, Bobby, and Davey Allison, Buddy Baker, Ernie Irvan, Dale Jarrett, and Ricky Rudd, just to name a few. Driving the #28 with many sponsors, Kvapil managed to qualify for every race, even winning his first and only pole at Talladega in October, and finish 23rd in the points.

Coming into the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, Kvapil had a guaranteed starting position in the first five races of the year due to his great showing in the point standings in 2008. These promised starts led to sponsorship from Golden Corral and Farmer’s Insurance for a few races, but Yates Racing decided to hand the #28’s points over to Paul Menard in the #98 because of his promised full-season sponsorship through his father’s Menards stores. So once the first five races was over, with only two top 20’s and two 42nd place finishes along with a DNQ at Las Vegas, the #28 team was shut down to maintain focus on Paul Menard’s sponsored team in the final year of Yates Racing existence. Due to Kvapil being out at Yates Racing, he was able to race a single race with Robby Benton and Zaxby’s in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in which he finished, 11th, in what would be his final Nationwide Series start to date. Later in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Kvapil raced twice with the newly formed Front Row Motorsports under Bob Jenkins’ ownership, this two-race stint led to a contract for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season.

In 2010 Kvapil had a contract with Front Row Motorsports, the team that had just finished expanding from one part-time team to three full-time teams, adding David Gilliland as Kvapil’s full-time teammate. In this year with this new team with limited funds, Kvapil qualified for all but two races, while earning eight top-25’s and finishing 33rd in points in this fairly accomplished season. Kvapil said before the beginning of the 2010 season “I feel more comfortable in the new car than the old one; the new car has less downforce, meaning it’s not stuck to the track as much as the old one. It has the feel of the truck, so with my experience in the truck series, I like the way the new car handles.”

Due to Kvapil finishing in the top 35 in owners points in 2010 with Front Row Motorsports, he was locked into the first five races in 2011. But after crashing out of the first two races and finishing in the last third of the field in the next three races, he was no longer locked in for 2011 and by the end of the season Kvapil missed 3 races, with his best finish being 16th at the October race in Martinsville. Kvapil’s Sprint Cup performance was not for points this year, because NASCAR implemented a new rule requiring a driver to choose their series to which their points will be totaled, and Kvapil chose the Camping World Truck Series. In the Camping World Truck Series Kvapil raced the first 10 races of the season for Randy Moss with two top tens, but even though he was sitting 18th in the points, Randy Moss Motorsports and Germain Racing partnered up to keep Todd Bodine in a ride, which knocked Kvapil out of a ride for the remainder of the season.

The 2011 silly season saw David Regan get released from his prestigious ride at Roush-Fenway Racing and replace Travis Kvapil at Front Row Motorsports, which put Kvapil in a precarious position just months from the start of the season. But just a few weeks before the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup season began, several businessmen came together and purchased the assets of the closed Red Bull Racing team and formed a team called BK Racing, named after their primary sponsor, Burger King. The BK Racing group decided Kvapil, Landon Cassill, and David Reutimann would be who they wanted to drive their #83 and #93 Toyota’s for the 2012 season.

Once the 2012 season finally came to a start, Kvapil was forced to sit out of the Daytona 500, due to Reutimann’s part-time ride at BK Racing being in Kvapil’s #93 during the races that he was not running for the Tommy Baldwin/Stewart-Hass owned #10 car. Kvapil took over the #93 car at Pheonix and finished out the season 27th in points. Kvapil also raced with Robby Benton in the Camping World Truck series for one race at Daytona and finished an impressive fourth.

2013 has been a challenge for the still young BK Racing which has resulted in Kvapil having 4 DNF’s after 12 races and no finishes on the lead lap, and the team residing in 35th in the points standings (As of May 28th, 2013).

Kvapil currently resides with his wife Jennifer and three kids Kelsey, Carson, and Caden in Mooresville, North Carolina, in the heart of NASCAR country.

Travis Kvapil - Official Website

BK Racing Driver Profile - Travis Kvapil

Madison Night of Champions

Todd Bodine Replaces Travis Kvapil (2011)

Kvapil's Return With Bob Jenkins (2010)

Madison Speedway Past Champions List

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Ricky Craven

Richard Allen Craven was born on May 24 of 1966, in Newburgh, Maine. Craven had a wide presence in NASCAR from the early 1990’s to the early 2000’s, and a winner in four different national touring series; these series includes the Busch North Series, the NASCAR Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series, the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series, and the NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup Series. Craven is now a broadcaster for NASCAR on the ESPN and ABC networks, as well as working on ESPN 2’s NASCAR Now show since 2008 as a co-host on the pre and post race shows.

After seeing Ricky’s dad, the older Craven, racing during Ricky’s childhood, Ricky began to have an interest in going fast in the powerful machines of a racecar. Craven began to really fuel his interest in racing at the age of 15, in 1981, when he started his first race at Unity Speedway. At this small 1/3rd mile rural track in Unity, Maine, he won two races, along with the Rookie of the Year Honors for the 1981 season while driving in the street stock division.

In 1983, the still young Craven won 12 events at the Unity Speedway, and captured the track championship while driving a Peter Prescott 6-cylinder Buick, alongside his father who was his original inspiration for driving a racecar.

In 1984 after winning multiple races at the Unity Speedway, the young Craven started driving at the 1/3rd mile Wiscasset Raceway in the late model division. This year he won the Rookie of the Year award along with the track championship in a dominant fashion at Wiscasset.

After driving the first four years of his young racing career at Unity Speedway, Craven raced at Wiscasset Raceway in 1985 with success.

In 1986, Craven made his NASCAR debut, in the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series at Oxford Plains Speedway in his own #12, finishing 25th after suffering engine failure.

Craven, in 1987 joined the American Canadian Tour as a rookie driver when he started driving the #09 Buick for owner E.J. Prescott, replacing a driver who had won just three weeks previous, Kevin Lepage. Craven barely missed the Rookie of the Year honors in this series, by just 66 points to Paul Richardson. That same year, even after missing races at the first of the year, Craven still managed to finish 8th in the 1987 ACT (American-Canadian Tour) points standings.

In 1988, Craven finished a solid 4th place in the points, in just his sophomore year in the ACT series. This is impressive due to the presence of legendary drivers, Bobby Allison, Buddy Baker, and Dale Earnhardt, in past years in the series. But this success along with mediocre success in 1989, Craven was let go out of the E.J. Prescott car due to a lack of funds to keep the team going.

After two successful top 15 finishes in 1989 at Oxford Speedway in the NASCAR Busch North Series, after having to leave the ACT; 1990 was the year in which Craven completed his first full Busch North Series schedule. This resulted in him winning two races, along with the Rookie of the Year award.

In 1991, just one year after receiving the Rookie of the Year Award, Craven was crowned the champion in the Busch North Series, after winning ten times, including two “combination races,” or races that were combined with the Busch Grand National Series (the now Nationwide Series), in the #25 SpeeDee Oil Change Chevrolet which he partially owned. Also, Craven made his Winston (Sprint) Cup debut in the #20 SpeeDee Oldsmobile owned by Dick Moroso at Rockingham, where he finished where he started that day, in 34th position.

After having major success in the lower Busch North Series, Craven moved his way up to the Busch (Nationwide) Grand National Series full time in 1992, which in that year he drove Bill Papke’s #99 DuPont Chevrolet to the Rookie of the Year honors.

In 1993 Craven had a great year as a sophomore driver in the Busch (Nationwide) Series, while still driving the same car as the previous year, finishing over 90% of the laps ran, and having an average start and finish of 12.8. This performance in only his second year in the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series full time, led to a finish of second in the points to only Steve Grissom.

After the 1993 season Craven left the Papke team and became an owner-driver, in his #2 DuPont Chevrolet. So in 1994 after adding the pressure to himself of owning his own team, he still ended up winning 2 races and accomplishing 16 top tens. Through all of this success, Craven just ended up finishing second in the points in the Busch (Nationwide) Series, for the second year in a row, but this time to David Green.

After having two consecutive years of runner-up finishes in the Busch (Nationwide) Series points, Ricky decided in 1995 that it was time to make the jump to the number one series in NASCAR, the Winston (Sprint) Cup Series. Joining with Larry Hedrick Motorsports, and a long-time NASCAR sponsor Kodak, Craven qualified for every race that season, and also racked up four top-tens in the process. Because of his efforts that year, Craven will forever be known as the 1995 Winston (Sprint) Cup Series Rookie of the Year. Because of his impressive driving, Larry Hedrick signed over partial ownership to Ricky after the 1995 season.

Craven began his sophomore season in the NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup Series, in 1996, with three consecutive top-tens, and his first top series pole in the first three races of the season. After these great finishes, Craven was fourth in points, up until the Winston Select 500 at Talladega. At this race Ricky was involved in one of the most violent crashes so far in the 1996 season in which he rolled his car and brutally destroyed that area’s catch fence and almost flew out of the track completely. Due to this wreck he fell to 20th in points, and his momentum was broken and after this race he only had one more top-five and pole for the remainder of the season. This was Craven’s final year with Larry Hedrick’s team.

In 1997 Craven signed to race for Rick Hendrick in the historical #25 Budweiser Chevrolet. He made the most of this opportunity when he raced to two top-five finishes in the first two races of the season, which included a Hendrick 1-2-3 in the 1997 Daytona 500, when he finished third and his teammates Jeff Gordon, and Terry Labonte finished 1st and 2nd respectively. After his beginning season high, he was practicing at Texas for the inaugural Interstate Batteries 500 when his car crashed hard into the outside wall which gave him a concussion that prevented him from racing in the next two events. But Craven came back with a vengeance, winning the Winston Open and rallying for a final points finish of 19th, which was his best at the time.

Once Craven’s 1998 season started he started feeling the effects of the previous year’s concussion, and after complaining and being checked out it was discovered that he had post concussion syndrome. This caused him to miss thirteen races after only completing the first four, and when he got back and was able to race, he won the pole at New Hampshire, but he only got to race three more races for Hendrick Motorsports after New Hampshire, before he was let go from his duties, being replaced by Wally Dallenbach Jr. Craven did not manage to acquire another ride until there were just three races left in the season when he filled in for Ernie Irvan at MB2 Motorsports in the #36 Skittles Pontiac.

1999 was Craven’s first year driving for NASCAR’s newest team at the time, Scott Barbour’s SBill Motorsports, as he drove the #58 Hollywood Video Ford Taurus. While driving for this newly funded team, he didn’t finish any better than 19th, and after failing to qualify for the Coca-Cola 600 at the Lowes (Charlotte) Motor Speedway, he was replaced by Loy Allen Jr. A few weeks later at Daytona Craven replaced rookie Dan Pardus in the #50 Midwest Transit Racing Chevrolet, and drove that car for the rest of the season to only one top 20 finish.

Craven returned to the Midwest Transit Racing team for 2000 but failed to qualify for four of the first nine races, which forced the team to go to a part-time schedule. Even with this limited schedule of only sixteen races started, Craven still managed to gain four top twenties in the #50 Chevrolet, but due to the lack of starts, he only finished 44th in the points.

After Craven’s dismal past two years, it was announced that he would drive the #32 Tide Ford for PPI Motorsports in 2001, replacing Scott Pruett. This move was a beneficial one for Craven as he won his fourth Winston (Sprint) Cup pole at Michigan that summer, and his first Winston (Sprint) Cup race at Martinsville, holding off past champion Dale Jarrett.

In 2002 Craven won two poles in NASCAR top series, while also finishing in the top-ten nine times, and finishing a career best of 15th in points.

2003 was the year that PPI Motorsports switched their car make to Pontiac, and started building their engines in-house. That same year was the year of Craven’s last win, when at the Dodge Dealers 400 at Darlington Raceway, Craven beat out future champion Kurt Busch by .002 seconds, which was the closest finish in NASCAR history since timing and scoring loops were introduced. This has since been tied once by Jimmie Johnson at Talladega in 2011. This race win by Craven was also the last win in NASCAR by a Pontiac. After Craven’s win, in 2003, he only had six more top tens and dropped twenty-three positions in points to 27th.

After going 24 races without a top-ten finish in 2004, Craven was replaced by Bobby Hamilton Jr, and only ran one more race with PPI, and that was at his home track at New Hampshire, in which he finished 17th. The final race of Craven’s NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup career was at the AMP Energy 500 of 2004 at Talladega, when he drove Joe Gibbs’ development #11 Old Spice Chevy to a 30th place finish.

After Craven retired from the Winston (Sprint) Cup Series, he decided to drive in the NASCAR Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series for 2005. This year in that series he drove the #99 Superchips Ford for Jack Roush’s Roush Racing, to a win at Martinsville, nine top ten finishes, and a 14th place points finish . Even through the success, Craven and Roush didn’t work together again.

In 2006, Craven made his final start in a NASCAR sanctioned race when he started the Goody’s 250 in the NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series at Martinsville in 40th position at the age of 40, and finished the day in 39th after the breaks on the #14 FitzBradshaw Family Dollar Dodge failed.

After 2006, Craven searched for a ride, but failed and decided to officially retire after he accomplished 497 NASCAR Series races in his career of almost 20 years in NASCAR. Since then he has worked for ESPN, and Yahoo! Sports as a NASCAR analyst. On a personal note, Craven married his wife Cathleen in 1996 after meeting her through her uncle, and Craven’s team owner at the time, Peter Prescott.

Wikipedia: Ricky Craven

Ricky Craven Statistics

Ricky Craven Site Biography

ACT 1988 Quick Facts

ACT 1987 Quick Facts

ACT 2005 News

Closest Sprint Cup Finishes

Ricky Craven Google News

I would like to send out a personal Thank You to the following people for the information they provided:

Dale Chadbourne

George Fernald

Ralph Mason

Stan Meserve

Jeff Taylor

Tony True

Friday, April 16, 2010

Andy Lally

Andrew Lally was born February 11th of 1975, in Northport, New York. He grew up on Long Island driving everything he could. When asked about what he was like before he got into racing he said, “I’ve been into racing all my life. From a very young age I had an interest in racing anything with wheels that I could get my hands on. Even some things without wheels.”

Before he even had time to think, Andy was hooked into racing as he says here, “I’ve just always had the bug [for racing], before I knew what a race car was I was flying down hills on my big wheel pushing it back up the hill to do all over. I remember the day I saw my first go kart, I was 4 years old and it changed my life. My neighbor flew down the hill that I normally rode my big wheel down but instead of having to get off and push it back up the hill he just turned the wheel and drove back up!! At four years old this light bulb went off in my head as I had just witnessed the coolest toy in the world! That was it, I was sold.”

Andy first got into sports cars in 1993 running Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) regional events with his first sponsor Tyrolean Motors and car owner Walter Simondinger.

Lally began his career in karting, in which he won two World Karting Associations (WKA) National Gold Cup Championships, in 1994.

In 1997 Lally won the US F2000 Rookie of the Year in his first full year in a professional series.

Lally finished 2nd in Grand Am Championship Points in 1999 with two wins, and two poles. In one of those wins he became the first driver in the world to win a professional race in the BMW Z3. Andy became one of three drivers picked by an Indy car panel of judges to represent the best up and coming drivers in the USA to compete in a European "winter series", that honor was very memorable to Andy as he says “It is such a hugely sort after prize that being picked for it really is a career changer. The experience itself was also excellent and it lead to opening doors for me today and meeting many people that I still stay in touch with.”

In 2000 Andy raced 8 races in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, with success of 4 podium finishes. He also raced a partial schedule in the SPEED World Challenge in both the GT and Touring divisions. His Grand Am team won the Cup Team Championship, while he finished 2nd in points because of missing a race early, but while he supported his teammate to the Championship that car won the championship. That same year he won three races, and three poles.

Andy won the 24 Hours of Daytona in the SRP2 class for the first time in 2001; as he went on to win the Rolex Grand Am SRP2 Championship that same year.

Lally not only is interested in car racing, but also luge. As he finished second in the 2003 International Gravity Sports Association street luge championship.

2004 was the year of Andy’s 2nd Rolex Grand Am SGS Championship.

In 2005 Andy finished 2nd in the Rolex GT Championships’ points by only 1 point. He won a total of 2 Grand Am Cup races, and became the first driver to win in the new Chevrolet Cobalt.

The year before Andy made his NASCAR debut, in 2006, he won his 3rd, and final to date, Rolex Grand Am GT Championship driving the Pontiac GTO.R. With that win he became the first driver to ever win three championships.

In 2007, Lally made his NASCAR debut in the Busch (Nationwide) Series in the #47 Wood Brothers/ JTG Racing Ford and in his second start he had a strong top ten finish. He also made his Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series debut with two other starts with TRG Motorsports, driving the #00 Toyota Tundra. Andy also made his ARCA debut, plus two more races; out of the three races he had two top 10’s and a twelfth place finish.

In 2008 Lally had the great honor of racing in the Inaugural ARCA New Jersey 150 at New Jersey Motorsports Park in September. Lally was fastest in every practice session, and he started on the pole. Andy led the most laps, but lost the race on pit strategy when the race was called due to weather with eventual series champion Justin Allgaier winning the race with Lally finishing 4th.

Lally finished 2nd overall and 2nd in the Prototype class at the 2008 12 Hours of Sebring in the Rolex Sports Car Division. Andy also became the first driver in Grand Am history to win two continuous races with two different manufactures, as he did at Iowa Speedway in a Porsche and Three Rivers in a BMW. After his Sports Car run that year, Lally again raced 9 times in the Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series.

In January of 2009 Andy won the 24 Hours of Daytona in the GT class, which was his sixth season in a row in which he had won at least one race, which is a Rolex Series record. Andy also won the Watkins Glen Koni Challenge Grand Am Rolex Series race. Total that year Lally had 7 top 5’s and 11 top 10’s in the Grand Am Rolex Series Race. Andy also raced in a 4 man, 24 hour Mountain Bike race, and two solo Mountain Bike 6 hour races in a sport that he highly respects.

Andy’s first Sprint Cup Series Start was in 2009, when he started 15th driving the #71 Chevrolet for TRG Motorsports at the Watkins Glen International Raceway. When asked what his best moment in his career was he spoke like a man who is determined to make it in NASCAR, “It is close but the very best [moment of my career] was probably qualifying for my first ever Sprint Cup race last year. I know this might sound silly compared to winning the 24 Hours of Daytona twice and standing on the podium at Le Mans but that day in qualifying at my home track in Watkins Glen with all the pressure of being a go-or-go homer in the Sprint Cup Series we were able to put the car 15th and ahead of so many of my racing heroes that it was just an amazing feeling.” He said “I had out qualified Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin that day as well as many other solid drivers. After dreaming of getting a chance to make that opportunity a reality it was an amazing feeling and rush to cross the start finish line knowing I had just run a good lap and hearing my crew chief and team owner tell me where that we made it into the field and that we were in great shape!” Lally finished a respectable 27th in his first Cup start after being involved in a crash with Sam Hornish Jr., Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton. As well as running the Cup race, Lally ran a part-time schedule in the #7 Chevrolet for TRG Motorsports in the Camping World Truck Series, and after the NASCAR season was over, he ran full time in the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series.

In November of 2009 Andy competed in the World Championship of Luge events in Australia. He competed in 2 races, qualifying in the pole position for both, while winning one and finishing second in the other. It’s in a racers blood to not like finishing second but according to Andy the whole racing event was a “great feeling”.

In the 2010 24 Hours of Daytona Andy finished 3rd in the GT class which gave him the most podium finishes of any driver at the famed 24 hour race since the Grand Am Rolex series started in 2000 with 6. Lally is running the full 2010 Grand Am Rolex Series schedule in the #66 AXA Financial Porsche with teammate Ted Ballou. He will also be competing full time in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge for Kia. Kia is making its official debut as a participating manufacture for the first time in professional auto racing in North America with the Forte Koup model.

Andy holds series records for most all time top 3 and top 5 finishes and is tied for second on the all time class win list with 20 victories. Lally still is the only driver on the tour to have won in all the Rolex Series racetracks.

Andy played, “Almost every sport imaginable”, as he says, before he got into full time go-cart racing, but now he has got back to his roots and he loves to play football, baseball, and soccer as a pastime whenever he gets a chance. He also enjoys doing Mixed Martial Arts, Luge, and Rock Climbing with his friends.

For the future Andy hopes to find enough sponsorship dollars to run all the NASCAR and ARCA road course races, while still running Grand Am full-time. Maybe in the near future there is a full-time career in NASCAR for Andy Lally, but as of now he will continue his very successful Grand Am racing career.




*I want to personally thank Andy Lally for doing an interview with Nascar Driver of the Day.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Lake Speed

Lake Chambers Speed was born on January 17th of 1948. Lake's father, Leland L Speed, was 49 years old and the mayor of Jackson, Mississippi at the time of his birth.

Lake started his career in racing by racing go-carts at the age of thirteen on local tracks around Mississippi. By the time 1965 rolled around Speed had joined the International Karting Federation and won his first of six championships in that series.

After winning his six American championships Speed was invited to race in the Karting World Championship in 1978. That race involved many championship caliber drivers from around the world, including future Formula One racer Ayrton Senna; but Speed was the one who led the last lap to win the World Championship race in karting. This good news was quickly overshadowed in Lake’s life with bad news when his first wife left him later in 1978 because of him not being around.

After Speed’s wife left, a deep emptiness engulfed him to a point where he felt he needed something to fill his time and energy, and in 1980 he began to consider his options for furthering his racing career. Speed looked into places such as Formula One, CART, and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), but after much deliberation decided that NASCAR would be where he would fit the best. Speed bought his first racecar from a man in Chicago and raced 19 of the season’s 31 races and finished a respectable 22nd in driver’s points standing while also finishing second, to Jody Ridley, in the rookie of the year battle.

1981 saw Speed return to the Winston (Sprint) Cup Series with slightly better equipment, while still driving for himself, and an extended schedule. Speed racing in 27 races of the 31 ran in his sophomore season, finishing 6 of them with top tens and completing the year in 18th in points.

In 1982 Speed decided to run the full schedule of the NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup Series with team owner Roger Hamby in the #17 Yazoo Mowers racing machine. According to the record books, Speed’s car experienced many problems in 1982, from engine problems to oil pressure issues, which led to Speed not finishing 19 of the 30 races he ran. But despite those races, Speed still managed to finish in the top ten five times and finish 20th in the overall points standings.

1983 was a major year in Lake Speed’s life, and it all started with him signing on to race for Hoss Ellington in the #1 UNO Chevrolet. With Speed finally being back in competitive equipment he finished in the top ten twice before getting to Talladega, where Speed’s life was changed forever. Speed was leading the 1983 Winston 500 at Talladega when he had a sudden realization of the feeling of emptiness inside of him despite being in such a successful position in the sport. Speed finished the race in third, but won a much bigger victory in life after the race when Speed accepted Jesus Christ into his heart and began living his life to the standards that the Bible taught. After this important decision in Speed’s life, he went on to finish in the top ten two more times that year and finish 27th in the years point standings after skipping five race between Darlington and Charlotte.

In 1984 Speed decided to run five Busch Grand National (Nationwide) Series races, one at Daytona, two at Darlington, and two at Charlotte. This decision led to a second place finish at Daytona, and a third at Charlotte in his #83 Bull Frog Knits Pontiac. While in the same year Speed ran 19 races in the Winston (Sprint) Cup Series driving again for Hoss Ellington, resulting in 2 top fives and 7 top tens.

When 1985 rolled around, Speed had a contract with RahMoc Enterprises to run the entire season in the Nationwise Auto Parts #75 Pontiac. This was Speed’s most consistent season in Cup as he finished with 14 top tens, an average finish of 13th place, and a tenth place finish in the season’s points standings.

Speed began the 1986 season with high hopes in the RahMoc Enterprise organization, but four races in the team let him go in favor of Jody Ridley who drove the #75 for the next ten races of the season (Jim Sauter and Morgan Shepherd finished out the #75’s season). This event led Speed to not have a car to race for the rest of the season except for when he got to fill in for driver Rick Wilson in the famed Morgan-McClure Motorsports #4 at Charlotte where he finished 14th.

1987 was a building year in many ways for Lake and his newly formed purple and white #83 Oldsmobile team. Speed, with help from veteran crew chief Darrell Bryant, earned sponsorship from Wynn's Car Care Products, K-mart, and Delco for 13 races of the season. Speed was able to put up some impressive race runs in just thirteen starts, finishing ninth at Talladega and backing that up with a third place finish in the World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The season ultimately saw Speed finish in the top ten an impressive 5 times.

1988 was a monumental year for the newly 40 year old Lake Speed as prior to Daytona he had picked up sponsorship from the Hoosier Tire Company. This led to a tenth place starting position in the Daytona 500, a 6th place finish the next weekend at Richmond, and a 2nd at Rockingham. Because of Speed having sponsorship from Hoosier, he was able to run Hoosier’s at Darlington in a test prior to the race and he discovered that the tires were not blistering as everyone else thought they would. This enabled Speed to have the advantage and win the TranSouth 500 at Darlington that year, leading 178 laps and winning by nearly a half of a second. The year went on and Speed was not able to finish 11 total races due to various mechanical woes and crashes, but he still ended up finishing 17th in the final points standings in the Winston (Sprint) Cup Series.

Speed’s 1989 season began with new sponsorship from Bull’s Eye Barbecue Sauce for his Oldsmobile, and was a fairly unexciting season for Speed until the second race that year at Pocono. Speed was running behind Greg Sacks when something broke and they both ran at full speed into the wall in the turn. Greg’s car began to flip while Speed’s car was uncontrolled and slid to a stop. Speed never moved his car from that position because he had broken his shoulder and missed the next 6 races while he healed. Once Speed came back he blew an engine in three of the next four races and did not post a lead lap finish for the rest of the season. Despite not finishing on the lead lap, Speed did manage to finish the last race of the season in Atlanta in the 10th position.

1990, 1991, and 1992 were very dismal seasons for Speed as he only raced in 35 races across the three seasons, managing to finish in the top 15 only five times, with four of those being in 1992 while driving for Cale Yarborough in the #66 TropArtic Pontiac. The seasons were so unsuccessful that Speed only finished on the lead lap once throughout the entire three seasons.

1993 began in the same fashion as the previous three seasons, but after Robert Yates Racing driver Davey Allison was killed in a helicopter accident at Talladega, Speed was asked to drive the famed #28. Speed drove the car in three races to one top ten finish and one top five finish before being replaced by Ernie Irvan and moving over to Bud Moore’s Motorcraft Ford. In Bud Moore’s #15 Speed finished four times in the top twenty.

Speed’s runs with Bud Moore at the end of the 1993 season earned him the opportunity to run the entire 1994 season with Bud, which paid big dividends for them both as Speed finished nine times in the top 10 and four times in the top 5. These great runs in a time when the sport was become more and more competitive resulted in Speed finishing 11th in the final Winston (Sprint) Cup points standings, just one position behind racing legend Bill Elliott.

In 1995 Speed decided to move over to the organization of Harry Melling, which was a team that hadn’t had a full time driver since Bill Elliott in 1991. This decision breathed new life into the organization as with Speed driving the team gained sponsorship from Spam and Speed finished 12 of the 31 races in the top 20 with only 3 DNF’s. 1995 was also the year of one of the most famous incidents of Lake’s career. In the Miller Genuine Draft 400 Speed was blocking fellow driver Michael Waltrip, which made Waltrip very mad. When the race was concluded Waltrip pulled down Speed’s window net and began throwing punches, which did not hurt Speed as he was wearing his helmet. But the incident did hurt Waltrip’s financial situation as NASCAR fined him $10,000 for misconduct on pit road. After an eventful season Speed ended up finishing 23rd in the points.

1996 was Speed’s last full season in the NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup series, and while still driving for Harry Melling’s Spam Ford the team managed to find 13 top 20 finishes including an eight at Pocono and a tenth at Darlington. Speed also completed 88% of the laps in the season, finishing 23rd in the final Winston (Sprint) Cup points standings.

1997 was a hard year to find sponsorship for Harry Melling’s #9 so the season had to be shaved back to 25 races, with most of them being sponsored by Melling’s company Melling Engine Parts. One notable race in Speed’s 1997 season was at Richmond during green flag pit stops the team accidentally put the left side tires on the right side of the car, and the right side tires on the left side of the car, creating multiple problems for Speed including needing multiple pit stops to correct the problems. Despite the lack of sponsorship in a majority of races, Speed still managed an average 24th place finish and ten top 20 finishes.

Lake Speed turned 50 in 1998 prior to the start of the season, and little did he know that this would be his final season in NASCAR racing. Harry Melling’s car gained new sponsorship from Cartoon Network for 1998, but the results were below par from the previous two seasons, posting only three top 20 finishes in the first half of the season. When the series made their annual stop at Sears Point (Infineon) Raceway Speed crashed his car during practice and was injured, though only severely enough to give his car up for that one race. The next week at Loudon, New Hampshire Speed was involved in a crash that later on was found to have cracked his sternum and broken four of his ribs, which convinced Speed to announce his retirement from NASCAR.

Speed said about his retirement, “This is a God thing, as far as I'm concerned,” Speed said. “He knew the only way He was gonna stop me from racing was probably to put that concrete barrier in front of me and break me up, so that I had to stop. My kids were at the age then that they really needed Dad at home. To be able to not have your mind focused on the next race all the time and be able to give them some attention and time was monumental. The timing was perfect. I fought it, fussed about it and was ill about it for quite a few years, but finally came to realize how blessed I was and, really, that things had turned out for the best.” Speed later on added that even though he may not have had great success throughout his NASCAR career that “[He] can’t count how many moral victories [he] had.”

Speed has drove karts on and off since his NASCAR retirement; which has resulted in him becoming the WKA Karting National Road Racing Series Point Champion in 2008. Speed also has had four wins in Historic Stock Car Racing Association events on Daytona's 3.56-mile road course in 2002 and 2003 driving one of his old 83 Purex-sponsored Fords.

In 2006, the International Kart Federation established the Lake Speed Achievement of Excellence karting award for those who show great sportsmanship, achievement, and professional appearance in the series. Also, in 2010 Speed was inducted into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.

Today, the 65 year old Lake Speed lives in Kannapolis, North Carolina with his wife Ricé while still tinkering with his karts. Speed also serves as the Chairman of the Board for the Motor Racing Outreach, which is a Christian Ministry that travels with NASCAR to be an option for worship on weekends they are away from their home church.

Mississippi Hall of Fame - Lake Speed

Lake Speed - Wikipedia

Lake Speed Career Stats

Where Are They Now? - Lake Speed

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Steve Park

Stephen Park was born on August 23rd of 1967 in East Northport, New York to Dotti and Bob Park; Bob was a National Modified Championship contender in the mid 1900’s.

After tinkering with cars since he was 12, Open-Wheeled Modified owner Curt Chase noticed the multi-talented Park hanging out in the pits and asked if he wouldn't mind driving his car; of course he didn’t. Park drove the Curt Chase owned car for the whole 1992 season.

Park moved to TG Racing in 1993; that move paid off, he won four times in 1993 and 10 times in 1994 for that team.

In 1995, Park moved to Sheba Racing and posted seven victories.

In 1996 Steve was hired by Dale Earnhardt. At first, when Dale was calling Park, he would refuse to return his phone calls, thinking that his friends were pulling a prank on him. After asking his mom and finally being convinced that the actual Dale Earnhardt was calling him, Steve made one start in the #31 Busch (Nationwide) Series car in Charlotte in October that resulted in a 29th place finish. In the Modified Series, Steve posted five wins, and in the Busch North Series he competed in 11 races with two wins as a result. At Watkins Glen that year Joe Nemechek asked Steve to qualify his Craftsman (Camping World) Series Truck, all he had to do was get it in the field. Steve did that and much more by winning the pole for the race that more likely helped his career along tremendously.

In 1997 Steve was given a full-time ride in Earnhardt’s #3 AC-Delco Chevrolet in the Busch (Nationwide) Series; he boasted 3 wins and the rookie of the year title.

Steve came to the NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup Series full-time in 1998 as the driver for the newly formed #1 Pennzoil Chevrolet team of Dale Earnhardt Inc. When he moved to Concord so did his parents; his father Bob Park started working at Dale Earnhardt Inc. as a gear specialist and his mother Dotti Park moved Steve's Fan Club headquarters to Mooresville, N.C. When the season started Steve was competing for the Rookie of the Year honors with Kenny Irwin Jr. but only five races into the season Steve was in a major crash at Atlanta Motor Speedway. That race put him out of contention for the majority of the races that year.

Steve raced his first full NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup Series season in 2000. During the season Steve won at his home track of Watkins Glen International Raceway when he won the 2000 Global Crossing at The Glen.

In 2001, Park scored an emotional win for Dale Earnhardt Inc. by winning the Dura Lube 400 at North Carolina Speedway just one week after his boss and good friend Dale Earnhardt was killed in a bizarre crash the week before at Daytona International Raceway in the Daytona 500. The same season, while driving in the Busch (Nationwide) Series, Park was involved in a horrific crash at Darlington Raceway while driving the #31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet owned by Ted Marsh. Under the caution Steve removed his steering wheel to adjust it, causing him to turn hard left. By complete chance, lap down car Larry Foyt was speeding up to join the lap down line at the same time Park turned. Park was T-boned on the driver’s side by Foyt’s car. The rigorousness of the crash caused a massive head injury plus several broken ribs. Foyt said that the car was traveling "well over 100 miles per hour [at the time of the crash]”. Park was left with slurred speech as a result of the accident and some have theorized that he never fully recovered from his injuries.

Park returned to race six times in the 2002 Winston (Sprint) Cup season and had many accidents; at Pocono Raceway Park moved over to dodge the merging Rusty Wallace when he hit teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. and spun into the infield guardrail; he barrel rolled multiple times which caused NASCAR to issue a very lengthy Red flag to repair the broken, highway-like barrier.

During the 2003 NASCAR Winston (Sprint) Cup Series, Dale Earnhardt, Inc. let Park go midway into the season, and he was traded to Richard Childress Racing for Jeff Green, who took over the #1 Chevrolet car from Park with Park taking over the #30 AOL Chevrolet for Childress. A few days later, he won the pole for the Winston All Star Open, but at the start of the race he jumped the start and had to start from the rear. He never made it to the next round to the actual million dollar race. His best finish at RCR was a 5th place finish at Michigan that June. After the season was over, Park announced he would not return to the #30 AOL Chevy and would join the Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series the following season. He joined Las Vegas-owned team Orleans Racing to pilot the #62 Dodge, vacated by Brendan Gaughan.

Steve never won a race in 2004, he finished 9th in the Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series driver points, and was voted the Most Popular Driver.

In 2005 Park won the Craftsman (Camping World) Truck Series American Racing Wheels 200, the second race of the season at California Speedway, and became the tenth driver to win a race in all three of NASCAR's top racing series. Park and the #62 team was struggling and in October, right before the truck race in Martinsville, Steve Park and Orleans Racing parted ways due to Dodge pulling support and money to many truck teams.

Park drove Ted Marsh’s #31 Whelen Engineering Chevrolet in six NASCAR Busch (Nationwide) Series events in 2006.

In 2008 Park signed with NDS Motorsports to drive the #35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet Monte Carlo in all 13 of the NASCAR Camping World East Series events. He finished 9th in the standings with a best finish of 2nd at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. In late 2008, Steve Park married his longtime girlfriend, Jessica Skarpalezos at Sea Island, Georgia.

In 2009 Park returned to race in the #35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevy Monte Carlo in the NASCAR Camping World East Series. On August 1, 2009 Steve won the Edge Hotel 150 at Adirondack International Speedway. It was Steve's first NASCAR Camping World East Series win since July 1, 1996 at Nazareth Speedway. Total Steve finished 5th in the point standings. On August 12, 2009, Park announced on his website (Steve-Park.com) that he and his wife Jessica, were expecting their first child.

In 2010 Park yet again returned to race in the #35 Waste Management Recycle America Chevrolet Monte Carlo in the NASCAR Camping World East Series. On January 2, 2010, Park announced on his website that his son Jayden Robert Park was born.

When not at the track, Park enjoys riding motorcycles, boating, golfing, and spending time with Jayden, his son.