DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – official release — Twenty multicultural and female race car drivers from the U.S., Canada and Latin America will participate in the 11th annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine Oct. 13-15 to earn a spot in the 2015 NASCAR D4D class.
The NASCAR D4D Combine – held at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va., for the fourth consecutive year – has been the proving ground for several current NASCAR national series drivers, including NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Kyle Larson, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series three-time race winner Darrell Wallace Jr. and NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series driver Daniel Suarez, who earned a full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series ride with Joe Gibbs Racing for 2015.
“The NASCAR Drive for Diversity program has seen significant success in recent years with several standout drivers who have consistently exceled and put on their best performance on the race track,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR vice president of racing operations. “It is important for us to provide development opportunities for young female and diverse drivers who have the talent, but may lack the resources or guidance to find an entry point in our sport.”
Under the leadership of Max Siegel, owner of Rev Racing and CEO of U.S. Track & Field, NASCAR D4D has evolved to an academy-style development program which will compete under one umbrella in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Rev Racing provides drivers with equipment, mentoring and competition experience throughout the season.
“This year’s Combine applicant pool was among the strongest the program has seen, and we continue to see that year over year,” said Siegel. “The program’s visibility and reputation for developing young, female and diverse drivers with talent and growth potential has increased across the board, and we are seeing steady recognition and support from key stakeholders across the motorsports industry.”
Suarez, a rising star in the U.S. and Mexico, is the third and most recent NASCAR D4D driver to transition into one of NASCAR’s three national series after competing in full seasons in Mexico’s NASCAR Toyota Series and the NKPSE. Several drivers are attempting to follow in his footsteps, including 18-year-old Ruben Garcia Jr., a member of the NASCAR Next class.
Also returning to defend their spot in the program are current NWAAS drivers Devon Amos and Paige Decker. Current Rev Racing drivers in the NASCAR K&N East Sergio Peña and Jay Beasley also are under consideration to return to the team in 2015, but will not compete at the Combine.
The drivers will be individually evaluated on at-track performance, including their instinctive positioning at different places on the track, proficiency and comfort level in providing in-car feedback to the crew chief, overall speed and the ability to shift during assessments.
Drive for Diversity combine list:
Name – Age – Hometown
Devon Amos – 23 – Rio Rancho, N.M.
Jairo Avila – 19 – Alhambra, Calif.
Amber Balcaen – 22 – Winnipeg, Manitoba
Nicole Behar – 16 – Otis Orchards, Wash.
Collin Cabre – 20 – Thonotosassa, Fla.
Abraham Calderon – 25 – Monterrey, Mexico
Madeline Crane – 16 – Meansville, Ga.
Claire Decker – 19 – Eagle River, Wis.
Paige Decker – 21 – Eagle River, Wis.
Natalie Decker – 16 – Eagle River, Wis.
Juan Esteban Garcia Duarte – 17 – Bogota, Colombia
Ruben Garcia Jr. – 18 – Naucalpan, Mexico
Ryan Glenski – 21 – Mooresville, N.C.
Ali Kern – 21 – Fremont, Ohio
Katlynn Leer – 15 – Moulton, Iowa
Michael Lira – 17 – Port Orange, Fla.
Hannah Newhouse – 17 – Twin Falls, Idaho
Emily Packard – 17 – East Montpelier, Vt.
Kenzie Ruston – 22 – Mooresville, N.C.
Dylan Smith – 22 – Concord, Vt.