Michigan II: Brad Coleman debut preview

BRAD COLEMAN Houston: Brad's Embarking on His Maiden Voyage CORNELIUS, N.C. (Aug. 12, 2008) -- Every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver had to start his first race somewhere. Jeff Gordon debuted at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bobby Labonte did it at...

Houston: Brad's Embarking on His Maiden Voyage

CORNELIUS, N.C. (Aug. 12, 2008) -- Every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver had to start his first race somewhere. Jeff Gordon debuted at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bobby Labonte did it at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. His brother Terry started at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway was the site of Jimmie Johnson's first Sprint Cup Series start. And Tony Stewart's first race with the big boys came at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

For 20-year old Brad Coleman, historic Michigan International Speedway (MIS) in Brooklyn, the 2-mile D-shaped oval nestled in the scenic Irish Hills region, will serve as the setting for his Sprint Cup Series debut.

Coleman, who will drive the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry in Sunday's 3M Performance 400 at MIS, has built a solid resume as he's risen through the racing ranks. In 43 Nationwide Series starts, he's scored three top-five and seven top-10 finishes. He won his first career Nationwide Series pole in April 2007 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and scored his best Nationwide Series result in June 2007, when he finished second at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

In addition to his experience in the Nationwide Series, the Houston-born Coleman also has nine starts in the ARCA RE/MAX Series, with two top-five finishes at MIS among his eight total top-fives, three poles and a win at Kentucky Speedway, all of which came in 2006. In 2005, Coleman competed in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series and finished fourth in the track championship at Ace Speedway in Altamahaw, N.C., while earning the most points of any rookie driver that season.

At age 16, Coleman teamed with fellow 16-year-olds Colin Braun and Adrian Carrio to finish seventh in the GT class at the prestigious 24 Hours At Daytona on the 3.56-mile, 12-turn road course at Daytona International Speedway. The trio was the youngest ever to compete in the endurance classic.

Coleman's racing career began when he was 12 after being discovered at a Houston-area indoor karting center by fellow Texan Price Cobb, the veteran racer who won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1990 with co-drivers John Nielson and Martin Brundle. While working as a crew member on Cobb's Toyota Atlantic Series team, Coleman continued to compete in karts. He advanced through open wheel's Fran-Am 1600 Series and the Star Mazda Championship Series before turning his attention to stock cars in 2005.

Everyone starts somewhere. For Coleman, it was a Houston-area karting center. And the latest phase is about to begin at Michigan.

BRAD COLEMAN, driver of the No. 96 DLP HDTV Toyota Camry:

What are your thoughts heading into the 3M Performance 400 and your NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut?

"It's my lifetime dream coming true. I'm just really excited to do my first race for Hall of Fame Racing, DLP and Toyota. After the year of testing I've done, I feel prepared and I'm ready to get in the car."

What are your emotions as you take to the track in the Sprint Cup Series against some of the best drivers in the world?

"My goal when I first got to the Nationwide Series was to gain the respect of all the other drivers -- race them hard, but race them clean and give them room. I accomplished that goal. In the Sprint Cup Series, I want to do the same thing. I want to finish races without any damage and gain the respect of the Sprint Cup guys. I want to race them hard, but race them clean."

You've tested the new Sprint Cup Series car, but obviously you never raced with it. What are your thoughts on the new car?

"I've had fun testing the new car for Hall of Fame Racing. I've tested at a variety of tracks -- Pocono, Nashville, Kentucky and Road Atlanta -- so I've had the chance to drive it on different types of tracks. It's a challenging car to drive -- more of a challenge than a Nationwide Series car. It's got a lot more horsepower and it's a lot more top-heavy and it doesn't handle as well in the corners. You have to drive it a lot harder, but it's fun with that rear wing because you can lay it out on the line and that rear wing will catch you a little bit."

What are your thoughts on doing longer race distances that are 400 and 500 miles in length?

"I've been working out really hard for about the last year-and-a-half. The races are long races and they're very tough. Not many people know how difficult it is to drive these stock cars on an oval. It's very physical. I've been working out very hard these last couple of weeks. I've really stepped up my program and my hydration and I'm just stepping it up to get ready for these Sprint Cup races."

What are your thoughts on Michigan International Speedway?

"From the past experience I've had at Michigan, I've loved it. I've done two ARCA races there and my worst finish was fifth. I did the Nationwide Series race there last year and finished 15th. We should have had a top-10, but we had a little struggle in the pits. It's just a really fun race track, really wide, and you can easily go three-wide there. I'm really looking forward to getting out there."

-credit: hofr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Martin Brundle , Colin Braun , Jimmie Johnson , Price Cobb , Brad Coleman , Adrian Carrio
Teams Hall of Fame Racing