KNPSE: Garbo Jr. steps up; joins Pulliam at Hattori Racing Enterprises

RaceChaser Staff Featured, NASCAR, Northeast, Other Late Models, Stock Cars 0 Comments

February 7, 2014 — release via — Garbo Racing photo — STONINGTON, CT — David Garbo, Jr. of Stonington, CT will join Lee Pulliam at Hattori Racing Enterprises  in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Hattori Racing Enterprises has announced. Nick Hutchins, former crew chief for Mackena Bell, will join Garbo for his rookie season.  Sponsorship information and the number for Garbo’s race car are not finalized yet, but the car will use either #01 or #1.

The opportunity to drive for Hattori came after Garbo drove Late Models last season for Fat Head Racing at Hickory Motor Speedway. Garbo also raced in North Carolina and Virginia for the Dirty Dozen Series. He competed at Motor Mile and Southern National, where he finished second. He joined the  UARA Stars tour for events at Rockingham and Tri-County. Garbo also competed at  Martinsville and Richmond, where he finished sixth in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown.

“My dad is pretty good friends with Andy Santerre,” Garbo said. “Really just driving with Jamie Yelton and Fat Head Racing, we showed them the results that we had and put them together and put in a résumé to Hattori. Everything just worked out. It was a really good deal we’re doing with Shigeaki Hattori and he’s a really great guy. I’m really happy to be on his team. It’s a really big privilege for me.”

Hutchins and Pulliam’s crew chief Randy Goss bring years of experience to HRE.

“He’s a younger guy but he’s been racing for a long time,” Garbo said. “… He’s definitely the right guy. …  I’m really comfortable with (Randy) Goss. … Between the two of them, like I said, sharing notes and working together in being one team, even though it’s with two teams. I think that we should be pretty dominant and I really have high expectations for the team this year. … The chemistry between my crew chief and I is already great and Lee Pulliam and I get along really well and it should be a great season.”

After racing with Lee Pulliam last season, Garbo will now be a teammate. Pulliam is a two-time NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion. He will drive the #11 car for Hattori after Brett Moffitt drove the car for two years.

“His results show it,” Garbo said. “He’s the national champion. I’ve always looked up to Lee and how much he wins and how he can tell what his Late Models are doing, and how he can set them up perfectly himself as a driver and as a crew chief. So, he knows the cars and he knows how to drive them when it comes to Late Models. And I’m sure he’ll get the same way in K&N, but like I said, I’ve always looked up to him and I know he’s a really good driver. It’s really an honor to be on the same team as him. I’m definitely going to learn a lot from him and continue to look up to him as we hopefully progress both of our careers here at Hattori.”

“The fact that he (Pulliam) hasn’t raced a K&N car before, even though he’s one of the most experienced drivers I know when it comes to stock cars, results wise and how much seat time he has, but I think it’s definitely going to help,” Garbo said. “We’re both going to go out there with a blank slate there’s not going to be any of us that knows more than the other (does) when it comes to these cars and we’re both going to be able to learn a lot at the same time and feed off of each other. So, the way our team is working this year, we’re both running the same car. We’re going to share notes. We’re going to share information with each other when it comes to how we feel what our cars are doing, (and) the changes we made to make the cars better. Yea we each have our own crew chief, but in a sense, it’s a team effort with one team instead of two teams like a lot of race car teams work. You have two drivers, two cars, two teams. We’re doing it a different way this year and I really think that it’s a great idea and the fact that we’re going to be able to feed off each other will really show. It will help us be the class of the field week in and week out.”

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East features 16 races at 14 tracks. The season opens with a Florida swing. New Smyrna will host its inaugural event on February 16. Daytona will run the UNOH Battle at the Beach on February 18. Bristol, Dover, New Hampshire, Richmond and Watkins Glen will also host the series on their annual Sprint Cup Series weekends. Greenville Pickens and Iowa are the only tracks that will run two events. Historic venues complete the remainder of the schedule: Bowman Gray, Columbus, Five Flags, Langley and Virginia International Raceway.

“They’re all really nice tracks. I’m excited to go to all of them. Definitely Bristol, Dover. I’ve raced at Richmond before, so I feel like my experience there will help me; … I’m definitely looking forward to Richmond. New Hampshire will be awesome because, like I said, I grew up watching races there too and technically … that’s my home track. I’m just excited to race at some of these bigger tracks. It’s time for me to start moving towards mile tracks, hopefully by the end of the season, mile and a halfs.”

Garbo will return to road course racing in August with events at VIR and Watkins Glen. Garbo is a “huge fan of road courses.”

“I’ve run some road course stuff in Legends Cars, never in a full body car, which might be different, but Watkins Glen will definitely be awesome. I grew up watching races at the Glen and I’m just really excited to race at such a sought after race track.”

Garbo was the 2012 Young Lions national road course champion. The New England native is working on additional races, but he said nothing is set in stone.

“My main focus is to succeed in the East series and put my best foot forward. … That’s where my focus is. … I’ve been spending a lot of time (at Hattori ) helping out with the cars, learning about the cars and hopefully all my knowledge that I learn over the summer will transfer over to the next step – which would be Truck, Nationwide and Cup, hopefully.”

“Something Fat Head Racing taught me was … learning new tracks really quickly,” Garbo said. “They definitely helped me with that and (the) same thing with Legends Cars with Dennis Lambert, we used to go to a different race track every weekend and it just taught me to really learn about how to learn a new track and how to attack the track lap by lap and pick up your pace lap by lap. I definitely think I’m prepared to tackle the east series, which (are) 75 percent new tracks for me because I feel like I’ve been preparing my whole racing career. The latest example for Garbo of a new car and a new track was in a K&N West car at Irwindale Speedway in California. Garbo said he did “pretty well. I feel like the experience I had before with everybody that I’ve raced with really got me ready for this year and the rest of my career.”

Garbo regularly watches of K&N Pro Series races and occasionally plays iRacing and races go karts to stay prepared.

“I watched pretty much the whole schedule so far, so I know what to expect –from the footage… I watched Watkins Glen. I watched Iowa. I watched Bristol. I watched every race on the schedule just to have an idea what the races are going to be like and how the tracks are like.”

“There’s some experienced drivers,” Garbo added. ” … but there’s also kids like Gray Gaulding, Kaz Grala, who I know have the talent to back up the series that they’re in. We’re in the K&N Pro Series and it should be considered professional and nobody wants someone that really doesn’t have the talent to be there racing at big tracks and tracks where it has the potential to be dangerous. It’s not necessarily a level playing field age wise but I think skill wise and experience with the cars wise I think it’s a pretty level playing field. I’m excited about it. There’s definitely some really good competition when it comes to who I’m racing against, but my team and Lee, I think we can definitely handle it.”

”I’m really positive and the only thing I may not have as much experience as some of the drivers in the east series itself but the experience my crew chief and Lee’s crew chief have will make up for it and we should be in good shape,” Garbo said. “I’m not worried about this season at all. I think we’ll be good, and we’re just going to work our hardest and give it our all, and we’ll see what happens.”

“I obviously want to win the whole thing but that’s not always a reasonable goal,” Garbo said. “Definitely finishing in the top-5, top-10 every race is my goal. We always going to have off weekends and that happens with every race team. I definitely have high expectations set for myself. I can do it and I know that the team can do it. I think that we can accomplish them as long as we all work hard and stay positive throughout the season through the ups and downs.”

Garbo raced Late Models at Hickory Motor Speedway in Newton, NC this past season. Garbo won four times and finished 10th in points.

“Yea it was definitely tough,” Garbo said. “It’s still hard. I’m still getting used to this big car stuff. The car control is one of the harder things. The cars are just bigger, heavier, a lot of weight to throw around. As I progress in my career and as I get better, it comes, winning is definitely easier. It’s always a challenge to get to victory lane but I learned a lot over this season and I’m just happy that I have have an amazing opportunity to do something like this. I’m one of very few kids that gets to do this. I’m really just happy that I get to be here and hopefully I can keep progressing my career and see where we take it.”

Hickory was also the site of the biggest win of his career on August 31. Garbo bested teammates Blake Jones  and Jeremy Sorel in the 150-lap Bobby Isaac Memorial. The race honors Isaac, the 1970 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion from nearby Catawba.

“It’s definitely an honor to (win) that race,” Garbo said. “You go back and look at the history of that race, there’s some really big names that have won at that track on that same weekend. So just to accomplish something like that with Jamie Yelton  and Fat Head Racing, it really shows that we had a strong season. I learned a lot. We had a lot of downs but that made up for some of them. We really came down to how much I learned all season. We worked really hard. I made a lot of mistakes, but when it came toward the end of the season, one of the bigger races of the year, I put all the things I learned and I put them into that race, and we came out on top. I’m really happy we got that win.

A standout in Legends Cars, Garbo was the Waterford Speedbowl (Wednesday) and INEX Semi-Pro national champion in 2012.

“The consistency is the hardest part,” Garbo said. “Anyone can drive a race car fast for one lap. Anyone can get out there and win one race if luck is on their side, but being able to finish in the top five every week, week in and week out and getting the results you need to go for a championship is the hardest part about racing. Dale Earnhardt, Sr. won a championship one year and he didn’t win a single race. Brett Moffitt finished second in the championship last year, didn’t win a single race. And, it’s all because they’re consistent drivers. That’s what makes them really good race car drivers. They’re fast when they need to be, and they’re really good drivers all around, but the consistency is what will get them to the next level. Really, I think I’m ready to tackle this 16 race series and be consistent week in and week out. Racing at the Speedbowl, even though it was the same track, and winning a championship there, just taught me even if I don’t have the car to win it, second or third is better than last. It’s hard to stomach not winning, but if you don’t have a car to win you can’t go for the win. It’s something that I definitely learned over the years.”

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