NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES NEWS & NOTES -- IOWA * Joe Gibbs Racing Crew Chief Scott Kilbury Talks Team Effort * Chris Bristol Enters First Career NASCAR Busch East Series Race * Trevor Bayne, 16, Makes First ...
NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, BUSCH EAST SERIES NEWS & NOTES -- IOWA
* Joe Gibbs Racing Crew Chief Scott Kilbury Talks Team Effort
* Chris Bristol Enters First Career NASCAR Busch East Series Race
* Trevor Bayne, 16, Makes First NASCAR Entry In New Aaron's Dream Machine
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (May 17, 2007) -- Although the team is backed by a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series operation, the Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18 Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil Chevrolet team really isn't that different than their NASCAR Busch East Series brethren. The number of crew members is small and, like so many thousands of others at short tracks across America, relies on volunteer help to pit the car.
Led by crew chief Scott Kilbury, 36, the rest of the crew -- Jay Czarapata (24-years-old), Adam Lewis (18) and William Johnson (22) -- aren't much older than their driver: 16-year-old Marc Davis.
Series observers are confident that Davis and Co. will win a NASCAR Busch East Series race or two this year.
And there's a reasonable chance they'll be winning races together 10 or 20 years from now, too.
"It's a different feeling to know we could be with our driver for quite a long time," said Kilbury. "As far as this team goes, we could move up as a team to the NASCAR Busch Series and maybe the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series."
How large is the crew?
"We added a full-time position and a part-time position, so we have three full-timers including me," Kilbury said. "At the track our shop crew serves as tire changers and jack-man. It's a very small team and we basically rely on volunteers to come and help us on weekends."
Some of those volunteers could be from other parts of Joe Gibbs Racing, or they could be young mechanics looking to learn or share what they know and help out.
So how does a team prepare for a race at a track they've never seen?
"That's the hard part," Kilbury said. "Joey (Logano, teammate in the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet) tested at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. We didn't have the opportunity to test there because we were at the Kyle, Texas NASCAR West Series race that weekend.
"So we took a look the 20 team's notes and set our car up like we're going to Richmond.That's what we're taking to Iowa Speedway. The tracks are somewhat similar.
"As far as Elko (Minn.) goes, it's a short track. Our short track set-ups have been close. We just tested at South Boston (Va.) Speedway last Thursday. We're hoping that gives us a baseline for Elko, and then for our race at South Boston on June 2."
Kilbury and his driver Marc Davis have a good sense for communication, which is another key to getting results. Although they have competed in only one NASCAR Busch East Series event so far this year, Kilbury was with Davis last year when they competed in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Models at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
"We built a relationship where we understand one another and can translate that into the car," KiIbury said. "This year the communication part hasn't changed a whole lot for us. What's changed is the kind of cars we race. Marc's a rookie in the car, but as a team, we're all in our rookie season with these cars. We're just figuring out what these cars want and what they like and make adjustments according to how it feels to Marc. We'll keep putting that together and we'll find the right combinations."
While JGR calls it a driver development program, both driver and crew learn together, with the goal being they move up the racing ladder together. Like a major league baseball team made successful by its farm team developing young talent, JGR is doing the same thing with its race teams competing in the NASCAR Busch East Series. But instead of achieving success on a baseball diamond, they're doing it on asphalt ovals up and down the East Coast and into the Midwest.
"Successful race teams don't just invest in parts and pieces, they invest in people," said Steve deSouza, vice president of JGR's Busch Series operations and driver development program. "We're making an investment in drivers and crew members. Their success becomes our success, and the company as a whole is better for it."
NEWS & NOTES
* The race ... The Featherlite Coaches 200 is the second event on the 2007 schedule for the NASCAR Grand National Division, Busch East Series. It marks the first visit to the state of Iowa in the 21-year history of the series.
* The track ... Iowa Speedway is a .875-mile paved oval with compound banking of 12-14 degrees in the corners, 10 degrees in the front stretch and four degrees in the back stretch. The facility, which opened for operation last year, is located east of Des Moines in Newton.
* Live coverage on HDNet ... Continuing its coverage of the NASCAR Grand National Division, HDNet will televise the Featherlite Coaches 200 live in high definition to a national audience. Veteran announcer Mike Hogewood returns to call the action, with color commentary by Dan Pardus. Natalie Taylor will report on action from the pits. In addition the live coverage, SPEED is to provide an enhanced replay on June 6 at 12 p.m. ET.
* Second combo race for Grand National Division ... This event is the second of two back-to-back combination races for the NASCAR Grand National Division, which is comprised of the West Series and the Busch East Series. The division competes at Elko Speedway in Elko, Minn., on Friday, May 18, before traveling to Iowa Speedway in Newton. This weekend marks the first time for the West Series and Busch East Series to compete in the same event for championship points. Top competitors from each series, meanwhile, have faced off in post-season action for the past four years in the prestigious NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
Widespread attraction ... This race has attracted drivers from coast to coast. The 57 drivers on the tentative entry list represent 19 states, as well as Mexico and Canada. The largest representation is from California, with 21 drivers hailing from the Golden State. Connecticut is second on the list, with five drivers; followed by North Carolina, with four drivers calling the Tar Heel state home. New Hampshire and Maryland are each represented by three drivers; while Arizona, Idaho and New York each have two drivers listed.
* Diverse field ... As NASCAR moves toward becoming more diverse, the evidence of those efforts is readily apparent in the Grand National Division ranks. Among the minority drivers in the Iowa field is Tim Woods III, who sits second in West Series points heading into the weekend. Ten other minority drivers will also make the trip to Iowa, including Drive for Diversity members Jesus Hernandez and Mike Gallegos, 2006 NASCAR Mexico champion Rogelio Lopez and 17-year-old Chase Austin. Austin has a bit of a home track advantage -- he is a development driver for Rusty Wallace Inc., and Wallace helped design the Iowa facility.
* Bristol entered at Iowa ... Having recently signed for the 2007 season with Troy Williams Motorsports, Chris Bristol, 29, of Columbus, Ohio, has entered his first career NASCAR Busch East Series event at Iowa Speedway. A former member of the Drive for Diversity program, Bristol won NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model races at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway and Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C. In one previous NASCAR Grand National Division West Series start at California Speedway last year, he qualified 23rd and finished 11th.
* New team's first race ... Trevor Bayne, 16, of Knoxville, Tenn., will attempt to make his Grand National Division debut Sunday with his No. 00 Aaron's Dream Machine Chevrolet. Sponsorship from Aaron's Sales and Lease Ownership for Bayne's effort was announced this week. The team plans to enter Busch East events at New Hampshire International Speedway and Dover International Speedway this year, in advance of a full-season schedule in 2008.
* Second start for Earnhardt ... Jeffrey Earnhardt, son of Kerry Earnhardt and grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt, turned some heads in the NASCAR Busch East Series season opener at the .500-mile Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C., qualifying eighth-fastest and finishing a solid sixth in the 150-lap event. It was the 17-year-old's first career NASCAR series start. Now he's looking forward to racing at an even shorter track, Elko (Minn.) Speedway at .375-mile, and the much larger Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa at .875-mile. "I can't wait to try out two new tracks," Earnhardt said. "I feel pretty good about how well I adapted to Loudon (New Hampshire International Speedway, a 1.058-mile oval in Loudon, N.H.) in testing last week, but I've never seen Elko or Iowa speedways. "I've also been thinking a lot about how I'm going to stack up with the NASCAR West guys ... these combo races are a different deal."
* Childress to be Grand Marshal: In addition to Kevin Harvick's presence in the Featherlite 200 field, Iowa Speedway announced Wednesday that Harvick's car owner, Richard Childress, will serve as the race's Grand Marshal. "It is a great honor to have Richard Childress with us here in Newton, Iowa, for the running of our historic first NASCAR race," said Stan Clement, president of Iowa Speedway. "Childress is synonymous with world-class racing and Richard is one of the people who encouraged us to build Iowa Speedway, a state-of-the art facility we call 'America's Place To Race'. It's only fitting to have him serve as our Grand Marshal and we are delighted he will be with us here in Iowa."
Childress won six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championships with Dale Earnhardt, and has won championships on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck level with Mike Skinner in 1995 and in the NASCAR Busch Series with Kevin Harvick in 2001 and 2006. RCR also has two development drivers in the NASCAR West Series, Ryan Foster and Tim McCreadie.