NASCAR Diversity Combine Begins

Fitness tests were part of the first day of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine. (NASCAR photo)
Fitness tests were part of the first day of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine. (NASCAR photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Sprints and simulators were on the itinerary Tuesday afternoon at Virginia’s Hampton University as the drivers participating in the 2012 NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D) Combine put on by Rev Racing were put through the paces both on the running track and at the wheel.

Before the drivers slide behind the wheel of a Late Model for the on-track portion of the combine — slated for Wednesday and Thursday at Langley Speedway in Hampton — the evaluations began for the 17 candidates hoping to land a spot with Rev Racing.

The group took part in driving on simulators for iRacing, which added the .4-mile Langley oval to its system this year. The track is a member of the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

“We added the iRacing this year because we feel it gives us a chance to get used to the track and get a feel for the cars before they actually get behind the wheel,” said Derik Crotts, general manager of Rev Racing. “And it gives us a chance to see how the drivers respond to different settings on that track.”

In addition, the drivers also participated in a fitness evaluation led by Rev Racing’s strength and conditioning coach Phil Horton.

“Fitness is becoming increasingly important in racing,” said Horton. “You want to be strong and you want to be in shape — especially the upper-body. Late in the race, if you’re out of shape, you’re just trying to survive until the end of the race and you’re not concentrating as well. Drivers that are in shape are concentrating on the things they need to do to go to Victory Lane instead of feeling tired and being tired.”

The NASCAR D4D program created in 2004 is now executed by Rev Racing and the team is competing in their third season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Currently the top two rookies in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, Kyle Larson and Bryan Ortiz are in the 2012 D4D class, while Larson and Rev Racing graduate Darrell Wallace Jr. made their national series debuts this year. Earlier this season, Wallace became the first African-American to win a pole award in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, while Larson has been impressive in several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts.

And the combine provides the opportunity for a driver to follow in the footsteps of Larson and Wallace.

“I’m really excited about this year with all this young talent out here and knowing that these individuals are going to be the next stars of NASCAR,” Crotts said.

Earlier in the day, Ryan Gifford, Jorge Arteaga and Bryan Ortiz joined Langley owner Bill Mullis and late model champion Greg Edwards along with Hampton city officials in a commemorative tree planting at the Peninsula YMCA as part of NASCAR’s Green initiative.

The 2013 Rev Racing team will be selected from among the 2012 Rev Racing drivers and the Combine participants:

Devon Amos, Rio Ranch, N.M.; Dustin Ash, Las Vegas; Annabeth Barnes, Hiddenite, N.C.; Collin Cabre, Thonotosassa, Fla.; Kayla Cazares, Goffstown, N.H.; Amber Colvin, Mooresville, N.C.; Jessica Dana, Olympia, Wash.; Paige Decker, Eagle River, Wis.; Cassie Gannis, Phoenix, Ariz.; Lindsay Katz, Kalmazoo, Mich.; Jack Madrid, San Clemente, Calif.; Kate McCall, Port Orange, Fla.; Dallas Montes, Bakersfield, Calif.; Hannah Newhouse, Twin Falls, Idaho; Dylan Smith, Randolph, Vt.; Daniel Suarez, Monterrey, Mexico; Eric Thiering, Sherwood Park, Alberta.