Hornish, Deegan highlight next NASCAR Drive for Diversity combine

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Hornish, Deegan highlight next NASCAR Drive for Diversity combine
Jim Utter
By: Jim Utter
Oct 1, 2016, 5:14 PM

Seventeen drivers will take part in a three-day tryout next month at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway to compete for spots in the 2017 edition of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity driver development program.

Macy Causey
Armani Williams
Hailie Deegan
Hope Hornish
Ruben Garcia Jr.

This is the 13th year of the combine, where promising ethnically diverse and female drivers from across North and South America are evaluated for inclusion in next season’s program.

In a partnership with Rev Racing, drivers selected are offered racing opportunities to compete in the K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for one season.

Plenty of female talent

This season, 13 of the 17 spots in the combine are female drivers from many disciplines. Among those participating are Hailie Deegan, daughter of X-Games star and Global Rallycross competitor Brian Deegan; Hope Hornish, the niece of former IndyCar Series champion and Indianapolis 500 winner, Sam Hornish Jr.; and Macy Causey, who first took part in the combine at age 14.

Also selected to the combine is Armani Williams, a 16-year-old rookie in the ARCA Truck Series who is believed to be the first participant diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).

“There aren’t words to describe what this means to me or my family,” Williams said. “For the last several years, we have eaten, lived and breathed racing. Because of the endless effort and support from my family, I’ll have the opportunity to continue my dream of becoming a professional race car driver.”

The purpose of the combine

Driver combine participants will be evaluated on their driving skills, take part in a physical fitness assessment and receive additional training at Bethune-Cookman University.

“This year’s NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine will feature some incredible talent and we’re excited to watch these young drivers compete,” said Dawn Harris, NASCAR’s director of multicultural development.

“NASCAR’s first-class development program has produced the likes of Kyle Larson, Daniel Suárez and Darrell Wallace Jr., so it will be fun to see who rises to the top at New Smyrna.”

In addition to Williams, Deegan, Hornish and Causey, this season’s combine participants include:

  • Ali Kern, 23, of Fremont, Ohio
  • Amber Balcaen, 24, of Winnipeg, Canada
  • Ariel Biggs, 22, of Castaic, Calif.
  • Chase Cabre, 19, of Tampa, Fla.
  • Collin Cabre, 23, of Tampa
  • Enrique Baca, 25, of Monterrey, Mexico
  • Hannah Newhouse, 19, of Twin Falls, Idaho
  • Jairo Avila, 21, of Alhambra, Calif.
  • Jay Beasley, 24, of Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Kayli Barker, 19, of Las Vegas
  • Luis Rodriguez, 22, of Miami, Fla.
  • Madeline Crane, 18, of Meansville, Ga.
  • McKenna Haase, 19, of Carlisle, Iowa
  • Nicole Behar, 18, of Otis Orchards, Wash.
  • Reegan May, 22, of De Pere, Wisc.
  • Ruben Garcia Jr., 20, of Mexico City
  • Santiago Tovar, 23, of Mexico City
  • Taylor Jorgensen, 20, of Stockbridge, Ga.
  • Walter Thomas III ,18, of Indianapolis, Ind.
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