Future stars are found in Nascar'S Regional Touring Divisions. DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 9, 2002) - As NASCAR's three national series - the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division and NASCAR Craftsman Truck...
Future stars are found in Nascar'S Regional Touring Divisions.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (August 9, 2002) - As NASCAR's three national series - the NASCAR Winston Cup Series, NASCAR Busch Series, Grand National Division and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series - continue to expand in popularity, the search is on for the next wave of drivers that will form the future of NASCAR racing.
These upcoming stars may be found among the eight regional NASCAR Touring series, honing their skills and waiting for their big break. From coast to coast, these divisions race on short tracks, superspeedways and road courses and are often the best pathways for local drivers to advance their careers. Ranging from the 2,600-pound, open-wheeled Featherlite Modified Series to the NASCAR Winston Cup style cars in the NASCAR Winston West Series, NASCAR's developmental series have produced some of the best drivers in the sport today:
*The Busch North Series was a training ground for Brett Bodine, Kevin Lepage, Randy LaJoie and Ricky Craven, while the Featherlite Modified Series helped launch the careers of Jimmy Spencer, Mike McLaughlin and Steve Park.
*Robert Pressley, Hut Stricklin, Michael Waltrip, Shawna Robinson, Christian Elder, Lyndon Amick and Shane Hmiel came from the Goody's Dash Series and Joe Nemecheck, Jeff Green, Bobby Hamilton Jr., Jason Keller and Hank Parker Jr. raced in the Hills Bros. All Pro Series.
*The RE/MAX Challenge Series was a starting ground for Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Tim Fedewa Travis Kvapil and Jamie McMurray.
*The West Coast tours have produced several top drivers including Kurt Busch and Ron Hornaday Jr. from the Featherlite Southwest Series, Kevin Harvick, Chad Little and Brendan Gaughan from the NASCAR Winston West Series and Greg Biffle from the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series.
Today's regional touring rosters include several names that might soon become the newest stars of NASCAR's national series, including:
Austin Cameron, 25, El Cajon, Calif. - Austin Cameron started racing go-karts at the age of 9. After advancing through the local stock car ranks, Cameron was the NASCAR Winston West Series Rookie of the Year in 1998, the same year Kevin Harvick was the series' champion. Now in his fifth year, Cameron has clicked off two wins to start this season and is a serious championship contender.
Cameron's No. 16 NAPA Auto Parts/Martin Senour Paints Chevrolet is the same ride that has earned three consecutive NASCAR Winston West Series championships with Brendan Gaughan (2000-01) and Sean Woodside (1999). Cameron, who holds a business degree from the University of California-Santa Barbara, made his NASCAR Winston Cup Series debut at Infineon Raceway June 23, where he finished 42nd after his clutch failed. Cameron is scheduled to return to the NASCAR Winston Cup Series at Watkins Glen Aug. 11.
"I've watched him since he came into the series in 1998 and I'm confident he has what it takes to be a champion. I think he will be a great representative of NAPA Auto Parts, Martin Senour Paints and the rest of our sponsors and he has an enthusiastic following with the fans," said car owner Bill McAnally.
Kevin Hamlin, 22, Snohomish, Wash. - NASCAR's"other" Kevin Hamlin is not related to the veteran Richard Childress Racing crew chief, but knows how to win championships just the same. In 2001, Hamlin became the youngest champion in the history of the Raybestos Brakes Northwest Series when he clinched the title at the age of 21. This season Hamlin is a strong favorite to repeat the accomplishment. He recorded four wins in the series' first six races and leads the point standings by a wide margin over many series veterans.
Burney Lamar, 22, West Sacramento, Calif. - What do Rick Carelli, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch have in common? They each won the Featherlite Southwest Series Rookie of the Year award before advancing their careers into NASCAR's national series. The series' 2001 Rookie of the Year, Burney Lamar is having a solid follow-up season with a victory at Madera (Calif.) Speedway and four top-five finishes overall. Lamar's Featherlite Southwest Series career statistics include five top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 25 starts.
David Reutimann, 32, Zephyrhills, Fla. - Following the footsteps of his father, Northeast open-wheel legend Buzzie Reutimann, David began his racing career in the Hills Bros. All Pro Series full-time in 1997. Since then, Reutimann has steadily improved, collecting 21 top-five finishes in 86 career starts between 1997-2001. He broke through with his first victory at Big Daddy's South Boston (Va.) Speedway to open the' 02 season and is now a championship favorite. Reutimann has also started racing in the NASCAR Busch Series, posting a solid 16th-place finish in his debut at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway in May.
Tim Schendel, 23, Sparta, Wis. - In his 40th RE/MAX Challenge Series start, Schendel earned his first series victory July 27 at Pikes Peak International Raceway in Fountain, Colo. After beginning his career in the Late Model division at LaCrosse (Wis.) Fairgrounds Speedway, Schendel advanced to the RE/MAX Challenge Series where he finished 10th in the point standings and was the 2000 Rookie of the Year.
Cam Strader, 22, Wilson, N.C. - Cam Strader made an impression early in his career. In his first year of Late Model Stock competition at Southern National Speedway in Kenly, N.C., then 19-year old Strader won two races and received Motorsports Magazine's"Rising Star of the Year" award. He continued winning Late Model races until he advanced to the Goody's Dash Series in 2000, where he has made an even bigger impression.
In his first series start, Strader captured the Bud Pole Award at Montgomery (Ala.) Motor Speedway. He went on to earn that year's Goody's Dash Series Rookie of the Year award and then returned to win the 2001 series championship. Strader continues to lead the Goody's Dash field with the help of crew chief Barry Owen, a former NASCAR Winston Cup Series crew chief who guided Richard Petty to his 199th and 200th career wins. Adding to Strader's impressive resume are two top-10 finishes at Daytona International Speedway.
"Cam is a true racer. Cam works on these cars and knows every inch of what goes into them," said Owen."He is very receptive to new or different ideas and he knows when you make a change in the chassis setup, what effect it will have on the car. The drivers that can build a car from the ground up are the ones that have the best understanding of what's going on."
Todd Szegedy, 26, Ridgefield, Conn. - In his rookie season, Szegedy (pronounced ZEGG-ed-ee) has burst onto the Featherlite Modified scene. He picked up his first series win at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway June 28 and is third in points behind former series champions Jerry Marquis and Mike Stefanik. Szegedy has finished in the top five on four occasions, in contrast to the three previous Featherlite Modified Series rookie of the year award winners - who combined for one top-five finish during their rookie seasons.
"I engineered Geoff Bodine's Winston Cup and Modified rides and watched him turn thousands of laps. I know what makes a great driver and from what I've seen, Todd may be better than Bodine in his prime," said car owner Bob Cuneo.
NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Jerry Nadeau, who spotted for Szegedy during his Richmond triumph, is also a fan of this young driver's potential. "Todd doesn't realize how much talent he has. Right now I'd say he is the best young prospect out there," Nadeau said.
Martin Truex Jr., 22, Mayetta, N.J. - This second-generation driver made headlines when, in just his eighth series start, he earned a dominating Busch North Series victory at New Hampshire International Speedway (NHIS) in July 2000. Truex has since added to that win total with two victories in 2001. Overall, Truex has 16 top-five finishes in 47 career Busch North Series starts. This promising young talent has also raced in two NASCAR Busch Series events this season, finishing 29th at NHIS May 11 and 17th at Dover (Del.) International Speedway June 1.