DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After a successful part-time run a year ago in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Cale Conley plans to launch his first full season in the series in 2013 by competing in the UNOH Battle At The Beach on the short track at Daytona Int’l Speedway, Feb. 18-19.
After testing the waters of the K&N Pro Series East in 2011, Conley exploded for a win and a pair of poles in a second season of part-time action in 2012. That victory at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway on July 21 secured a locked-in position for the inaugural UNOH Battle At the Beach, to be contested on a .4-mile oval on the backstretch at the “World Center of Racing.”
“Growing up around racing, Daytona is as big as it gets,” Conley said. “I was always a NASCAR guy when I was little, so this is it for me. We’re not running the 2.5-mile track, but being at Daytona in the month of February is pretty much a dream come true for me.”
Drivers that won touring series races and championships in 2012 are locked into their respective features in Daytona. All others must qualify through heat races. Teams from both the K&N Pro Series East and K&N Pro Series West will compete alongside each other in the inaugural non-points event.
Conley, from Vienna, W.Va., recorded two additional top-five finishes to go along with his Columbus win in eight starts a year ago when he competed out of the JTG-Daugherty shop. This year he will move back to the family-owned operation, although they will remain a North Carolina-based team with many of the same crew members, headed by crew chief David Hyder.
“We have every intention of running for the championship,” Conley said of his 2013 plans. “I saw that they added a road course race (Road Atlanta) this year, so I’m really excited to try that for the first time.”
“I know that the series is going to be even better than it was last year, with all of the new teams and with all of the drivers that are coming back. So I’m super excited to get going, especially after what we did last year in just running half of the races.”
Conley, 20, feels like that the opportunity to race at Daytona will give his No. 47 Toyota team a good shot to get a head start on their first upcoming season.
“I haven’t raced for a championship for anything since I was a kid in quarter midgets, so I’m excited to learn what points racing is about and really go into it with a strategy,” Conley said.