ES: Greenville-Pickens: Round one preview

NASCAR Home Tracks 150 presented by Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet at Greenville Pickens Speedway Moffitt Looks To Continue Santerre Trend As Season Opener Set For Greenville Pickens Andy Santerre stumbled on a setup for Greenville Pickens Speedway...

NASCAR Home Tracks 150 presented by Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet at Greenville Pickens Speedway

Moffitt Looks To Continue Santerre Trend As Season Opener Set For Greenville Pickens

Andy Santerre stumbled on a setup for Greenville Pickens Speedway almost by accident. The results, though, for Andy Santerre Motorsports at the tradition-rich half-mile oval have been pretty impressive.

In the past three years that the NASCAR Camping World Series East has run at the South Carolina track, ASM has registered a pair of wins and a second-place finish.

Saturday, Santerre -- the four-time series champion driver-turned series car owner -- will bring his latest protege to the track in the form of 16-year-old Brett Moffitt.

"We've got a good notebook -- better than most," Santerre said. "It's been a good track for us. We enjoy going there. It's got a lot of history."

The track features its Late Model division champions along the outside wall, including the names of Ralph Earnhardt and David Pearson. It first hosted a NASCAR Camping World Series East race in 2006 and it has quickly become a launching pad not just for the impending season, but for young drivers looking to make their mark.

The first year, Santerre and driver Sean Caisse had struggled when they tested at Greenville Pickens. At the last minute, Santerre ditched everything and went with a whole new package. The result was the then-20-year-old Caisse led 69 laps en route to the victory.

The following year, Caisse led the first 75 laps and finished second to Joey Logano, then just 16. Logano, currently driving the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, became the youngest driver in NASCAR Camping World Series East history to win a race.

Last year, Santerre's cars of Peyton Sellers and Austin Dillon crossed the finish line 1-2. However, Sellers was disqualified for a shock violation found in post-race technical inspection, giving the 17-year-old Dillon his first career win.

"I guess we stumbled on a good setup and hit on it the first year at the last minute," Santerre said. "Basically, we've gone back with the same setup."

Now, it's Moffitt's turn to try to master Greenville Pickens right out of the gate.

"Brett's a great driver -- he's got a lot of talent," Santerre said. "He's real quiet; he doesn't say a whole lot. He lets his performance say it all."

The Grimes, Iowa, driver got started in go- karts before moving up to race on dirt, where he won the Harris Clash at Iowa's Knoxville Raceway in 2007 -- becoming the youngest driver to win a feature at the track.

Moffitt racked up five wins and rookie-of-the-year honors en route to a second-place finish last year in the ASA Late Model North Series.

He has tested at North Carolina's Hickory Motor Speedway and Virginia's Motor Mile Speedway in preparation for the upcoming weekend.

He had hoped to get some laps at Greenville Pickens when he entered the twin feature Late Model races on the track's opening night March 21. However, he was caught up in a multi-car wreck on the first lap of the first feature and wound up 20th. He came back to run 14th in the second feature.

"I'm anxious to get out and see what he's going to do behind the wheel of a Camping World car," Santerre said. "He looks good and is real smooth. He's a racer and has done a good job in every other series he's been in and I expect no different in coming to Greenville Pickens."

Kobyluck Eyes A Better Start To 2009

Matt Kobyluck's 2008 ended with his arms wrapped around the NASCAR Camping World Series championship trophy.

He added a victory in the postseason NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown in January and heads into the 2009 season riding a wave of momentum.

He'll need it Saturday for Greenville Pickens, where he has yet to leave with his No. 40 Mohegan Sun Chevrolet unscathed.

Kobyluck's best run was in 2006 when he led 26 laps and finished fourth place. His return in 2007 wasn't so great. He qualified fourth and was running third about a third of the way through the race when two cars that had just been lapped got together. The spin collected Kobyluck, who had nowhere to go to avoid the mess on the tight half-mile oval. He wound up two laps down and in 21st place.

He returned last year looking to get back on track, but a flat tire under green-flag conditions again put him behind and he finished the night two laps down in 22nd place.

"We're going for the win, but we'll settle for a top five considering our past finishes there," Kobyluck said. "Patience and tire conversation are so important at Greenville. The tires go away so quick and if that happens, you struggle all night. You have to save what you can for the end so you don't have play catch-up."

In his march to his first NASCAR championship last year, Greenville Pickens was the only race in which he finished outside the top 10. His next worse points day was a pair of seventh-place finishes.

"I always look forward to getting back on the track," said Kobyluck. "I've really enjoyed my winter. It almost felt like the race season never ended because we were so busy, and with the Showdown win, it was just a fantastic year. I'm hoping that we, as a team, get to experience it all over again come the fall."

Rookie Watch: Moffitt, DiBenedetto Lead Next Crop Of Young Stars

Joe Gibbs Racing has a win and a second in the last two NASCAR Camping World Series East races at Greenville Pickens, and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team hands its development seat to 17-year-old Matt DiBenedetto (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Driven Toyota).

DiBenedetto, who won the Limited Late Model title at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2006 and finished fourth in the Baileys 300 Late Model event at Martinsville Speedway in 2007, will make his NASCAR debut in Saturday's NASCAR Home Tracks 150 presented by Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet.

DiBenedetto and Andy Santerre Motorsports driver Brett Moffitt, 16, look to follow in the footsteps of Joey Logano (2006) and Austin Dillon (2007). Both of those drivers posted wins at Greenville Pickens in their first NASCAR Camping World Series East races.

In fact, rookie success at Greenville Pickens has become an ongoing trend. Prior to the 2006 season, NASCAR lowered the minimum age for its touring series from 18 to 16.

The Greenville Pickens event that year featured 12 rookies in the 30-car field, and seven among the top 13 finishers, led by Logano. JGR teammate Marc Davis, also 16 at the time, finished 13th, while 17-year-old Jeffrey Earnhardt was sixth in his NASCAR debut.

Last year, 16 rookies attempted to make the race and 11 qualified. Three of the top six and five of the top 10 were rookies with race-winner Dillon, third-place Ben Stancill and fifth-place Ricky Carmichael leading the way.

While DiBenedetto will be taking his first NASCAR Camping World Series laps, he'll have plenty of experience behind him.

His crew chief, Mike Sibley, guided Logano to the 2006 NASCAR Camping World Series championship and helped Marc Davis to a fifth-place finish in 2007.

Among the other rookies to watch at Greenville Pickens will be Drive for Diversity member Kristin Bumbera (No. 94 Wide Open Energy Drink Dodge). Bumbera, 21, from Sealy, Texas, had two wins, 11 top fives and 13 top 10s in 21 starts running a Late Model at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif., last season. She also made a pair of NASCAR Camping World Series West starts, moving up eight spots from her qualifying position to finish an impressive 14th in her second race at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale.

Bumbera will be running for Bobby Hamilton Jr.'s race team, out of Nashville, Tenn. Hamilton ran the Greenville Pickens race last year. He qualified fourth before mid-race suspension issues left him 28th at the finish.

Dakoda Armstrong (No. 4 TBA Chevrolet) and Josh Richards (No. 52 Seubert Calf Ranches Chevrolet) will run for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Ken Schrader. Armstrong, 17, will take over the car that Carmichael drove last season, while Richards, 21, steps into the ride occupied previously by Jamie Hayes.

Armstrong comes from an open-wheel background. He was eighth out of 64 entries at the Turkey Night Grand Prix USAC Midget National Championship event at Toyota Speedway at Irwindale last fall. He also got NASCAR Camping World Series experience running in the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown, where he ran in the Last Chance Open but failed to transfer to the main event. Richards, a Shinnston, W.V., driver, has earned the nickname 'Kid Rocket' while collecting 17 wins in a dirt Late Model over the last two years. He finished second in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series Championship points standings last season.

Antonio Perez (No. 12 Chivas/Temlex/Z-Line Furniture Dodge) also brings an impressive resume to the table. Perez won the 2008 NASCAR Mexico Series championship. The 22-year-old from Guadalaraja led the series with five wins and 12 top fives in 14 races. He also ran three NASCAR Camping World Series East events in 2008, winning the Coors Light Pole Award at Waktins Glen (N.Y.) International and was in contention for the win before a flat tire during a scramble on the restart of a green-white-checkered finish ruined his day. Perez plans to run a full schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Series East in 2009.

Ryan Truex, the younger brother of NASCAR Spring Cup Series driver Martin Truex Jr., is also entered at Greenville Pickens. Truex, who will drive the No. 00 NAPA Toyota, made his debut in last year's season finale with an 11th-place finish at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway.

The Race: NASCAR Home Tracks 150 presented by Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet
The Place: Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway

The Date: Saturday, April 11 @The Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Schedule: SPEED April 16, 3 p.m. ET

Track Layout: .333-mile paved
Race Purse: $114,193

2008 Winner: Austin Dillon @2008 Polesitter: Peyton Sellers

Event Schedule:
Saturday, April 4 - Practice 1-3 p.m.; Qualifying 6 p.m.

-credit: nascar

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Bobby Hamilton Jr. , Ricky Carmichael , Martin Truex Jr. , Matt Kobyluck , Peyton Sellers , Joey Logano , Sean Caisse , Marc Davis , Jamie Hayes , Jeffrey Earnhardt , Ben Stancill , Dakoda Armstrong , Austin Dillon , Brett Moffitt , Ryan Truex , Matt DiBenedetto , Josh Richards , David Pearson
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing