DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Apr. 4, 2007) – To get ready to run on the East Coast, Marc Davis went west.
The 16-year-old drove in his first NASCAR Grand National Division event – the West Series opener at Thunderhill Raceway in Kyle, Texas – Saturday night, March 31, and turned in a veteran style performance.
In a race slowed by 11 caution flag periods, Davis drove his Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil Chevrolet to a 12th-place finish. He ran in the top-10 during the mid and latter portions of the 150-lap, 58-mile race on the D-shaped .375-mile banked paved oval.
“We finally got the NASCAR Grand National season started,” Davis said. “We thought we had a top-five car, but we’re happy to come out of there with a 12th place finish.”
Davis is a Joe Gibbs Racing development driver and 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award candidate. He’s also a graduate of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program and a high school junior at Mooresville (N.C.) Christian Academy.
Davis and his Scott Kilbury-led team entered the NASCAR West Series event to help prepare him for the NASCAR Busch East Series season-opener at Greenville-Pickens Speedway in Greenville, S.C. April 28.
“I really liked the track,” Davis said of the of the tricky Texas bullring where the fast way around is a line always turning or arcing but never straight. “We struggled a little but in practice, but once we figured it out, we were pretty happy with what we did.
“We set the car up for long runs, and it never fell off (in lap speeds during the race.) A lot of times our car was as quick or quicker than the leaders, but we couldn’t do anything with it because we never really got any long green flag runs.”
The longest green flag period, 23 laps, was just past the half-way point of the race.
To get the feel for NASCAR Busch East Series superspeedway racing later in the season, the Gibbs driver development program has entered Davis and his teammate Joey Logano, also 16, in the NASCAR West Series AlphaTrade.com 150 at Phoenix (Ariz.) International Raceway on April 19.
The goal for Davis in Texas was to become more familiar with the driving and handling characteristics of a NASCAR Grand National Division car versus the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Late Model he won six features in last year at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
“We want to run Phoenix, so we went to Thunderhill first to shake down the (short track) car a little bit before the first point race with the NASCAR Busch East Series,” Davis said. “Hopefully Phoenix is a track I’m going to see in my future. Since the West Series season starts earlier, we thought we’d go check it out and hope to learn something on a bigger track.”
Davis and Kilbury also tested the car they ran in Texas at Caraway Speedway in Asheboro, N.C.
“We thought we’d be in pretty good shape,” Davis said. “The NASCAR Busch East Series cars are definitely heavier and the brakes are better in these cars so you can get slowed down in the corners. The car has more horsepower, but power-to-weight ratio is basically the same compared to a Late Model. So far, it’s not a hard adjustment to make.”
Attention rookies: 2007 NASCAR Busch East Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award applications are available at www.nascarmembers.com. A record number of rookies are expected to compete in the NASCAR Busch East Series in 2007. Rookie of the Year Applications, agreements, and eligibility requirements for all regional series appear in the NASCAR Regional Racing section of the site, along with the addresses to which they can be mailed. A NASCAR license is required to access the site.
Enthusiasm greets All-Star race renewal: The announcement last week of the renewal for the fifth annual NASCAR Toyota All Star Showdown to be held at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway Oct. 19-20 was enthusiastically greeted. The format for the NASCAR Grand National Division all star event has been enhanced as has eligibility requirements, race distance, and number of starters in the event. “Everyone looks forward to it,” said NASCAR Busch East Series star Matt Kobyluck, who won the 2006 edition of the event. “When you go to that event, you know you’re competing against the best there is to offer at the level we’re racing. You’re also competing against guys who are going to be moving up to the next level. There’s a lot of potential recognition for drivers and teams.” The event will be televised on SPEED for the fifth consecutive year. The full story is posted at www.nascarlocalracing.com in the NASCAR Grand National Division sections.