Team USA Scholarship Trio Among NASCAR Sprint Cup Field at Watkins Glen Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (August 8, 2009) -- No fewer than three former Team USA Scholarship winners will be among the starting lineup when the green flag waves for ...
Team USA Scholarship Trio Among NASCAR Sprint Cup Field at Watkins Glen
Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif. (August 8, 2009) -- No fewer than three former Team USA Scholarship winners will be among the starting lineup when the green flag waves for tomorrow's NASCAR Sprint Cup Helluva Good! at the Glen in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Sports car standout Andy Lally provided one of the highlights of qualifying at Watkins Glen yesterday by posting the 15th fastest time on his Sprint Cup debut in the #71 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet Impala SS. Lally will be joined by Sprint Cup regular A.J. Allmendinger, who will line up 18th in the #44 Stanley Tools/Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge Charger, and Tony Ave, who will start shotgun on the 43-car field in the #37 Long John Silver's/Front Row Motorsports Chevrolet Impala SS.
Lally, who contested the 1999 Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series as his Team USA Scholarship prize, has enjoyed a successful career which includes the 2001 Rolex Grand-Am SRP2 Championship, the 2004 Rolex Grand-Am SGS Championship, the 2006 Rolex Grand-Am GT Championship and a pair of Daytona 24-hour victories (2001 and 2009).
After gaining his Team USA Scholarship in 2001 and impressing in the New Zealand Formula Ford Championship, A.J. Allmendinger returned home to blaze a trail in the North American open-wheel ranks. He won the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series, the 2003 Champ Car Atlantic Championship and five Champ Car World Series races before switching his attention to the Sprint Car series with the fledgling Red Bull team.
Ave competed in the 1992 Formula Ford Festival & World Cup at Brands Hatch, England, after being awarded his Team USA Scholarship. He has since raced in a wide variety of championships, ranging from Atlantic to Trans-Am to USAC midgets, and has established his own race team and automotive parts business based in Indianapolis. Tomorrow will mark the Wisconsin native's second Sprint Car start. Ave finished 31st on his debut, also at Watkins Glen, in 2004.
The Team USA Scholarship is undoubtedly best known for nurturing the careers of open-wheel and sports car drivers. But not exclusively so, by any means. Since 1990, the program has been aimed at giving talented young drivers an opportunity to shine in any discipline of the sport.
Aside from the likes of Jimmy Vasser, Bryan Herta, Buddy Rice and Allmendinger, who all went on to achieve success in open-wheel racing, 1993 recipient Jerry Nadeau parlayed his Team USA Scholarship connections into an extremely promising career in the stock cars ranks. Nadeau became the first Team USA Scholarship winner to claim a top-level NASCAR victory when he took the checkered flag in the 2000 season finale at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He has not raced since suffering severe injuries in an accident at Richmond in 2003.