WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Just mentioning the yearly trip to New York and Watkins Glen International conjures up a world of memories and emotion for No. 36 Stanley Racing crew chief Billy Nacewicz. Nacewicz, who hails from Rome, N.Y., looks ...
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. - Just mentioning the yearly trip to New York and Watkins Glen International conjures up a world of memories and emotion for No. 36 Stanley Racing crew chief Billy Nacewicz. Nacewicz, who hails from Rome, N.Y., looks forward to his annual trip home with the NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division. It's in that region of New York state that Nacewicz's interest in racing was born. It was also in the Finger Lakes area that Nacewicz became friends with now bosses Frank Cicci and Clyde McLeod, the team owner and team manager of Cicci-Welliver Racing.
"It's definitely a special race for me because it's always nice to go back to New York and run in my home state," Nacewicz said. "I always run into people I haven't seen in a while, and it's good to stop and catch up with them."
Growing up in upstate New York, Nacewicz loved rebuilding cars and racing hobby cars and street stocks. He began his racing career as a mechanic for his pal Richie Evans, who is now considered the greatest modified driver of all time.
Nacewicz worked his way up through the ranks and served as crew chief for Evans during eight of his national Modified championships.
In 1992, Nacewicz moved his career south to the heart of stock car racing serving as car chief and crew chief on several NASCAR Busch series teams. In April of this year, Nacewicz rejoined his friends from the Modified series at Cicci-Welliver Racing, taking over the crew chief duties of the No. 36 Stanley team at Talladega Superspeedway.
"Billy had been a good friend of mine for years, and I admired his talent. I had asked him to come work at Cicci-Welliver several times but the timing was never right," McLeod said. "When Billy finally agreed, I knew he would help get the Stanley team on track."
Since Nacewicz has taken over the reigns of the No. 36 team, the Stanley team has captured their first pole, their first top 10 and their first win of the season at New Hampshire International Speedway.
"Sometimes it just takes the right person with the right group of people, and Billy is that person for the No. 36 Stanley team," said driver Tim Fedewa. "Billy has made a world of difference in this Stanley team.
"Since he has come on board, he has given me confidence and this team confidence that we were missing. We don't second guess each other, and he has really made us believe in ourselves."
Now that Nacewicz has rejoined his friends from the Modified series and upstate New York, the Watkins Glen road race has a little more meaning. In his first year with the Cicci-Welliver team, Nacewicz wants to improve on his past at Watkins Glen and bring home a win for the fan favorites.
"I've had teams that have run well up there in the past, but there has always been some sort of problem that has crept up on us," Nacewicz said. "I'd like to change my luck and finish well up there because it's home for me and to our owners, Frank (Cicci) and Scott and Jeff (Welliver)." Nacewicz admits that it won't be easy. There are the experienced road racers who enter the race and there's an entirely different set-up for a car that turns right. Strategy also becomes extremely important since full-course yellows are uncommon.
But the Stanley team has been putting forth a special effort and extra hours for the trip to the road course. A car has been taken out of service and is being built especially for the road race.
"The course is definitely a challenge for all of us," said Fedewa, who was running eighth at Watkins Glen last year before the car broke a gear. "Cicci-Welliver teams have historically run well at Watkins Glen, and we'd like to get one of the teams in victory lane this year.
"We're hoping for a strong run and finish for Billy and our owners. Billy's done a lot for the Stanley team, and now we'd like to give something back to him at his home."
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