Charlotte II: Donlavey Racing returns with rookie

Donlavey Racing will return at Charlotte with rookie driver. RICHMOND, Va. (October 3) - Since legendary Winston Cup Series car owner Junie Donlavey could not make it back to the track in time for his hometown race at Richmond International ...

Donlavey Racing will return at Charlotte with rookie driver.

RICHMOND, Va. (October 3) - Since legendary Winston Cup Series car owner Junie Donlavey could not make it back to the track in time for his hometown race at Richmond International Raceway, he figured making his return in NASCAR's unofficial hometown would be the next best thing.

Lucas Oil will sponsor Donlavey's Ford Taurus in the UAW-GM Quality 500 at Lowe's Motor Speedway near Charlotte, N.C. Donlavey will also receive backing from Suburban Franchise, Superior Logistics Services, and Hawk Sawblades.

In typical Donlavey fashion, he is putting a rookie behind the wheel of the Lucas Oil Ford.

Jason Hedlesky, who has competed in five ARCA events in the last three years at Lowe's Motor Speedway, will slip into a Winston Cup car for the first time as a driver. He has been an ARCA competitor for the past three seasons and had two 14th-place finishes (Atlanta and Michigan) in 2000, which represent his career-best efforts. Hedlesky qualified ninth and finished 15th in the ARCA event at Charlotte this season.

Hedlesky has also been Donlavey Racing's team manager since 1999.

Hedlesky had a great run in the ARCA series race earlier this year at Michigan. Hedlesky qualified 14th and was in third place when he came to pit road for a scheduled stop and was trapped on pit road by a caution period. Hedlesky finished 17th.

The Clinton, Mich., native also has one Craftsman Truck Series start on his ledger. At Michigan International Speedway, he started 22nd and finished 31st earlier this season.

"Junie is a man of his word, and he always told me he would help me in anyway possible with my driving career," Hedlesky said. "He is making good on his promise, and I'm going to realize my greatest dream, and I'm proud that it's with Junie and Lucas Oil. I've experienced the pride in this organization for several years and it's something any driver would be proud to be part of. I'm glad I can be a part of Junie's long and impressive list of drivers.

Prior to the Oct. 13 event, Donlavey will receive the Smokey Yunick Award, recognizing his lifetime achievement in auto racing, which has spanned the life of NASCAR. Previous winners of the Smokey Yunick Award include Bill Simpson, Ralph Moody, Banjo Matthews, Bud Moore and Cotton Owens.

"I am very honored to receive the Smokey Yunick award in Charlotte," Donlavey said. "Ralph Moody, Banjo Matthews, and Bud Moore are my type of guys and I am honored to be a part of that group."

Donlavey is a NASCAR "original," dating back to the time when the cars ran on dirt and big dollar sponsors did not exist. Donlavey is also a model of the traditional Southern racer, who believes determination, consistency, hard work and fun are the stock in trade. Donlavey is one of the most respected owners in the garage and has never been one to put a lot of emphasis on winning and glory. Instead, the Richmond, Va., native would rather work hard and enjoy the spirit of competition in motorsports. In fact, Donlavey is better known for the long, fruitful relationships he's had with drivers than he is for the number of wins accumulated during his 52-year career. Donlavey calls himself a people person and is often cited as an owner who welcomes the up-and-coming driver and alternately drivers looking to take their careers in a new direction to his stable. Case in point: 14 of the 71 Winston Cup drivers the veteran has fielded have been named to "NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers" list in 1998. The list includes current Winston Cup regular Ricky Rudd and old favorites such as Joe Weatherly, Harry Gant and Lee Roy Yarbrough and Cale Yarborough.

Bob Patison, executive vice president of Lucas Oil said he is honored to be a part of Donlavey's big weekend. "Junie Donlavey is a true gentleman and legend of the sport," Patterson said. "We are excited to be a part of his weekend as well as sponsoring the debut of Jason Hedlesky."

-dr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jason Hedlesky , Harry Gant , Cale Yarborough