WS: Melo Motorsports to campaign Toyota

MELO MOTORSPORTS TO CAMPAIGN TOYOTA CAMRY IN NASCAR GRAND NATIONAL DIVISION, WEST SERIES RACES REDDING CA (March 26, 2007) -- Melo Motorsports today announced the team will field one car, a Toyota Camry, in its debut season in the 2007 NASCAR ...


REDDING CA (March 26, 2007) -- Melo Motorsports today announced the team will field one car, a Toyota Camry, in its debut season in the 2007 NASCAR Grand National Division, West Series. Kyle Cattanach will drive the No. 59 entry in a limited number of races beginning with the April 28 race at Altamont Motorsports Park.

Additional races include Roseburg, Ore. (June 30), Irwindale, Calif. (July 4), and Fontana, Calif. (August 11), as well as the season-ending event at Altamont (September 15). The announcement was made by team owners Marty and Dana Melo from the team's new race shop in Redding, Calif.

"We've had a lot of things align for us so that we could make this announcement," Marty Melo said. "While we are initially looking at this as a limited schedule, perhaps five races, we are open to potentially doing more. Being a new team, we want to take the appropriate steps in building our program from the ground up. We made great strides in a short amount time last year and look forward to the challenges ahead in competing at this level and being competitive in this division for a long time.

"When the window of opportunity opened recently for teams to select the manufacturer body they wish to run with the new composite body and Toyota was an option , we decided immediately to go with the Toyota body and carry the Camry name as the first team out here in the west to do so," Marty Melo continued.

"Like other independent teams, we continue to seek sponsorship dollars to possibly extend our schedule beyond the five races we are preparing for now," Dana Melo said. "Ultimately, we would like to participate in as many races as possible and secure a spot in the season-ending Toyota All-Star Showdown, but at the same time, we want to operate this team the right way, and if it takes running a limited schedule to get the right pieces in place for 2008, then that's what we'll do."

Cattanach, 22, of Redding, Calif., turned heads with two impressive showings in last year's final NASCAR AutoZone Elite Division Southwest Series season. In his series debut, he finished seventh at Altamont Motorsports Park in September, climbing his way patiently through the field after an early race spin out. In November at Phoenix International Raceway, Cattanach finished an impressive 13th. Both of those races were auditions of sort for the young driver to gain clearance for a move up to the West Series.

Cattanach, who has been listed as a NASCAR Busch Series driver prospect on, has driven a variety of racing machines over the last few years, including Super Late Models, Late Models and ASA Speed Trucks.

In 2005, he competed in the ASA Speed Truck Series and missed out on the championship by 10 points in his Rookie season. In 2004, he finished second in the North State Challenge Series championship, missing that championship by one point, while winning Rookie of the Year. He won two races in the NSCS, a touring Super Late Model series, that season, one at Redwood Acres Raceway in Eureka, Calif., and the other at Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore. Prior to his move to the NSCS in 2004, Cattanach spent 2003 running a limited schedule while preparing his car for the 2004 slate. In 2001 and 2002, he was the Late Model Division Champion at Shasta Raceway Park winning 19 of 29 races over the two year span.

"I've been building up to this opportunity for a number of years, and I am confident in my ability and I am looking forward to putting a Toyota Camry up front," said Cattanach, who in addition to his driving duties is a top-level mechanic and fabricator. "Each year that I've competed in racing I have been able to pass each test presented to me. Racing in the West Series presents new challenges, but I am ready, and this entire team is ready, to do whatever it takes to make it work."

Cattanach started racing outlaw karts when he was eight years old and earned two Rookie of the Year titles and one Championship title in the Red Bluff Outlaw Karts Open Intermediate 500cc division in the 1999-2000 season. At the age of 15, he raced Late Models at Shasta Raceway Park and won Rookie of the Year in 2000, driving a 1970 Chevelle.

The West Series, which will have nine of its races televised live on HDNet and replayed on SPEED, kicks off March 31st, in Kyle, Tex., and then will head to Phoenix International Raceway on April 19th, which will be a NEXTEL Cup companion race.

-credit: mm

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