BILLY WEASE TAKES FIRST LAPS AT MIS IN PREPARATION FOR ARCA RE/MAX SERIES DEBUT ON JUNE 16 BUDDY BAKER ON HAND TO GUIDE PENSKE DEVELOPMENT DRIVER AROUND 2-MILE OVAL BROOKLYN, Mich. (May 17, 2006) -- For a normal 19-year-old, ...
BILLY WEASE TAKES FIRST LAPS AT MIS IN PREPARATION FOR ARCA RE/MAX SERIES DEBUT ON JUNE 16
BUDDY BAKER ON HAND TO GUIDE PENSKE DEVELOPMENT DRIVER AROUND 2-MILE OVAL
BROOKLYN, Mich. (May 17, 2006) -- For a normal 19-year-old, the opportunity to race around the 2-mile Michigan International Speedway oval might seem daunting. To do it in a Penske race car under the tutelage of former NASCAR great Buddy Baker is another thing entirely. For Billy Wease, it's just another day on the job.
Wease, from Noblesville, Indiana, was at MIS on May 17 preparing for his June 16 ARCA RE/MAX Series debut in the Hantz Group 200. A two-time Grand National Quarter Midget champion and a veteran of several seasons in USAC, the Penske Racing developmental driver's test session was anything but typical. After each run on the Michigan oval, he was met in the garage by the 1980 Daytona 500 champion, Buddy Baker.
Baker, named in 1998 as one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers of All Time, was on hand to provide advice for Wease on the ins and outs of MIS. He should know a thing or two about MIS after winning an IROC race at the 2-mile oval in 1976 and a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race in 1979. Since the mid-1990s, Baker has worked with young Penske drivers, like Wease and Ryan Newman, refining raw talent and teaching new techniques.
"Having someone here to take me around the track and point out what to watch out for has been very helpful," said Wease. "I'm grateful to have someone like Buddy Baker take me around this place. It is such a large track with a lot of room to race. I've been fortunate to have people like Buddy around me to help me through this process."
Baker added, "This is a tremendous opportunity for Billy. Not many young men even get to walk around a Penske race car, let alone drive one."
The laps around MIS were the first for Wease, who voiced his eager anticipation over the surroundings. With a humble yet determined tone, he promised that he would simply do what needed to be done to compete with top ARCA talent like Frank Kimmel, Steve Wallace and Erin Crocker.
"This is actually my first time at a 2-mile superspeedway and I'm very excited about it," he said. "I will be making my ARCA RE/MAX Series debut here at MIS in June and can't wait to get here and compete with many great drivers. My guys and I are just going to come here and do what we need to do to compete."
Though Wease displayed raw talent during his Michigan run, Baker isn't quite ready to release his developmental prodigy out into the wild just yet, though he added that Billy is in the middle of a solid transition in his racing career.
"The biggest issue I've had with him so far is that he won't take his foot off the accelerator. These young guns just want to see how fast they can go. At Michigan, it's not just about speed, but about handling as well. You can't just speed around this track."
"There is just a natural transition for open wheel drivers to race in stock cars. Take Tony Stewart and some others for instance. Billy is another one of those drivers in a long line of successful open wheel competitors who make the transition to stock cars look easy."
Tickets for the Hantz Group 200, along with seats to both NEXTEL Cup Series races at MIS, the June 18 3M Performance 400 presented by Post-it® Picture Paper and the August 20 GFS Marketplace 400, are currently on sale at MIS' official website, www.MISpeedway.com, or by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010. Tickets to all other events, which include the IRL IndyCar Series, NASCAR Busch Series, and the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series are also now available.
For tickets and information regarding events at MIS, log on to www.MISpeedway.com, or call the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010.