CHARLOTTE, N.C. – NASCAR and Revolution Racing has announced the 2011 driver lineup – the eighth season for the Drive for Diversity (D4D) program – during NASCAR’s annual Charlotte Media Tour at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in Charlotte, N.C.
This year, the D4D initiative looks to build upon its success in 2010. Ten drivers will participate in the 2011 Drive for Diversity Program – four in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and six in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Last year, former Dale Earnhardt Inc. President Max Siegel created the Revolution Racing team along with former DEI and Robby Gordon Motorsports executive John Story. All 10 drivers will race for the team, which is headquartered in Mooresville, N.C.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East teams are operated under the direction of four-time K&N Pro Series champion Andy Santerre, and the six NASCAR Whelen All-American Series teams are led by former Greenville-Pickens (S.C.) Speedway track champion Blair Addis.
Revolution Racing is a minority owned NASCAR franchise whose mission is to develop minority and female drivers, pit crew members and mechanics through an “academy-style” training model. All D4D competitors relocated to Mooresville and entered the development program under the single team ownership structure.
“As team owners, John Story and I appreciate the commitment and support NASCAR has given our academy-style training model,” Siegel said. “Revolution Racing’s historic on-track performance last year validates our driver development model. I am proud to be able to provide opportunities for minority and female drivers, crew members and mechanics.”
Entering its eighth season, Drive for Diversity is NASCAR’s leading on-track diversity initiative. The program is designed to give young minority and female drivers opportunities to compete with established NASCAR teams at the grassroots level. Since 2004, 42 drivers have competed in Drive for Diversity, winning 38 races.
“We are proud of the progress this important initiative and its drivers have made over the past eight years,” said Marcus Jadotte, managing director of public affairs for NASCAR. “We look forward to the continued leadership of Max Siegel, which is bringing Drive for Diversity to the next level.”
This year’s class represents drivers from across North America. Six drivers will return from 2010.
Last year, the eleven drivers combined for five wins. African-American driver Darrell Wallace Jr., who will return for his second year, earned rookie-of-the-year honors. He became the youngest to ever win the award in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Hispanic driver Sergio Peña won the pole for the Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif., then finished second to 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Joey Logano.
Over 200 minority and female drivers applied to be part of the 2011 Drive for Diversity class. Thirty-six of those applicants were invited to tryout at the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine presented by Sunoco last October at Motor Mile Speedway in Radford, Va. Drivers were selected by Revolution Racing and NASCAR officials based on their on-track performance and off-track interviews.
NASCAR and Revolution Racing selected the following 10 drivers to compete in the program:
Jorge Arteaga of Aguascalientes, Mex. will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Arteaga made three starts in the 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series including a 10th-place finish in his debut at Lee USA Speedway on July 30th. He won the 2010 NASCAR Mexico Series Most Popular Driver Award.
Mackena Bell of Carson City, Nev. returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a second season, and will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In 2010, three of her five starts in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series were top fives, while her best finish came on Aug. 20 where she finished second.
Jessica Brunelli of Hayward, Calif. will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Her 2010 season included six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes. She returns to the Drive for Diversity program for a second season.
Michael Cherry of Valrico, Fla. returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a third season and will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Last year he competed in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, becoming the first African-American to win a late model race at Tri-County Motor Speedway in Hudson, N.C. The win also was his first career late model stock car victory.
Trey Gibson of Easley, S.C. will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In 2010, Gibson ran a full schedule of late model stock cars at Greenville-Pickens Speedway where he had two poles, two wins, 11 top fives and 20 top 10s. He made history by becoming the youngest driver to win a late model race at the historic Greenville-Pickens Speedway.
Ryan Gifford of Winchester, Tenn. returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a second season, racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. Last year, Gifford became the first African-American in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East history to win a pole position, on June 6. Gifford ran 10 races for Revolution Racing in 2010 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, recording four top-five finishes, one pole and a 10th-place finish in season points.
Tayla Orleans of Randleman, N.C. will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. From age 7, in her first 120 races she recorded 31 wins and 92 top fives. Since that time, she has won numerous karting championships and honors that include becoming the youngest stock car winner in the history of Waterford (Conn.) Speedbowl history
Bryan Ortiz of Bayamon, Puerto Rico will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. In 2010, Ortiz drove for Sterling Marlin Racing in the Sunoco National Tour, recording a pole and four top-three finishes in seven races. He won rookie-of-the-year honors after capturing rookie of the race awards in all seven starts.
Sergio Peña of Winchester, Va. returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a second season, and will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He entered his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at last season’s Toyota All-Star Showdown at Toyota Speedway in Irwindale, Calif., winning the pole, and finishing second to 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year Joey Logano.
Darrell Wallace Jr. of Mobile, Ala. will race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, and returns to the Drive for Diversity Program for a second season. Wallace was the youngest and first African-American to win a race and rookie-of-the-year honors in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He captured two victories in the series last season – the most of any Drive for Diversity driver last year.
About Drive for Diversity
Drive for Diversity develops minority and female drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Since the creation of the Drive for Diversity program in 2004, 42 drivers have competed, winning 38 races. Drive for Diversity also supports pit crew athletes each year in the Drive for Diversity Crew Member Program presented by Sprint. Much of the success of the Drive for Diversity initiative is a result of support from key sponsors and involved team owners.