CONTINENTAL TIRE PROVIDES UP AND COMING TALENTS SLOAN HENDERSON AND ROBERT STOUT WITH TASTE OF GRAND AM AT DAYTONA
12 January 2011 (Daytona Beach, FL) -- For the next generation of talent that is fighting their way up the motorsports ladder, any opportunity for advancement can be crucial. At the Daytona International Speedway last weekend, Continental Tires created opportunity for a pair of up-and-coming talents by giving them a taste of Daytona.
NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Rookie of the year Sloan Henderson and World Challenge Touring Class Champion Robert Stout got the chance to take to Daytona International's famed high banks this weekend at the GRAND-AM "Roar Before the 24" Test, an intensive weekend during which the teams and drivers prepare for the first race of the 2011 Grand-Am season as part of the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona event, which takes place on January 27th-30th at Daytona International Speedway.
A top competitor in NASCAR's Whelen Late Model series in Ohio, Henderson is on a racing fast-track and has her sights set on the top-level of motorsports competition in America. The up and coming racer added a new line on her racing resume this weekend thanks to help from Continental Tire as the brand continues to expand on its partnership with GRAND-AM.
"We're exited to give Sloan and Robert the chance to see what Grand-Am racing is all about," said Travis Roffler, Marketing Director, Continental Tire the Americas. "The GRAND-AM series (which include the Rolex Sports Car Series and the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge) are an important part of the NASCAR family. We're hoping more up-and-coming racing stars like Sloan and Robert will become interested in sports car racing, and become a part of our paddock."
This weekend, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series driver took to the track to test in a very different kind of car than the Legends and stock cars she's piloted over the past five years as she jumped behind the wheel of a bright orange Honda Civic Si fielded by 2010 Continental Tire Sports Car Champions, Compass360 Racing.
Henderson began her racing career at age twelve, after a riding accident on her horse broke her jaw. Her father wanted to have her compete in a safer environment, and they began in Quarter Midgets in 2004. She moved into Bandoleros and Legends, finishing third in National Points in the Bando in 2006, and placing sixth nationally in Legends in 2008. 2009 marked a break-out season for Sloan, where she was the only female to set fast time, win a heat race, get four podium finishes, six top five and eighteen top ten finishes, a feat which netted her Whelen Rookie of the Year for Ohio. She built on that success in Late Models throughout 2010, taking her sixth win at the Kil-Kare-Robbie Dean Memorial 94 Lap race.
"I've spent my racing career on ovals, and I'm really excited to get the opportunity to drive the road course at Daytona," enthused Sloan. "This is a big step for me as a driver, and I'm so thankful for the chance that NASCAR and Continental Tire have given me to drive in Grand-Am. My goal this weekend was just to learn as much as I can from the team and team-mates, and to simply get better every session!"
"NASCAR's had their eye on Sloan for the past few years," explained C360R Team Principal Karl Thomson. "She's got amazing raw talent, having progressed to Whelen in a few short years. She's also got tremendous marketability, and has the potential for a bright future in motorsports. This test was a great chance for her to drive a very different kind of car at a very different venue."
Indeed, while Stout ran an all-road course season on his way to the championship, this test marked the first time Henderson turned right, as well as left.
Compass360 Racing, which runs a four-car team in Continental, has won the Street Tuner championship two years in a row (2009 and 2010) with their iconic orange Civics. They've won the Manufacturer title for Honda three out of the past four seasons, and are one of the most established Street Tuner teams, having started full-time in the Grand-Am paddock in 2004.
After Henderson took to the track on Friday, it was then Stouts shot on Sunday as he strapped in and hit the high banks for his very first laps on the famed oval-based road circuit.
"This was my first time on this track, and in this car, and on driving on slicks, but I felt comfortable really quickly," said Stout. "What a fun track! It was a little bit scary the first time with the huge banking, but with all the fast corners and wide track you can see why the racing is so good here. Thanks to Continental Tire and Compass360 for this opportunity, I had a great time and would love to get back here and race!"
While both drivers took on a huge list of "firsts" during the outing, Henderson and Stout both showed their championship mindset with methodical improvement.
"Both driver's did an excellent job this weekend," said Thomson. "They made consistent progress every time around and I was very impressed with how they did for their first time on this track. Hopefully this will help their career development and we'd love to see them racing back here in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge in the future."
-source: continental tire