NAPA, Calif. – NASCAR Drive for Diversity and NASCAR Next driver Ryan Gifford will return to the NASCAR Nationwide Series later this month at Iowa Speedway with Biagi-DenBeste Racing after securing a ninth-place finish in his national series debut last August.
Gifford will pilot the No. 98 Carroll Shelby Engine Co. Ford on May 18 at Iowa and June 27 at Kentucky Speedway with the mikeroweWORKS Foundation as the primary sponsor.
The 25-year-old driver earned his first NASCAR win last year racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he has raced for five seasons. He made history in 2010, becoming the first African-American to win a K&N East pole. The upcoming Iowa start will be his first with Biagi-DenBeste.
“I’m really appreciative of all that Fred (Biagi) and Bill and Lori (DenBeste) have done for me in giving me this opportunity,” Gifford said. “It takes a big leap of faith to give a rookie driver a chance like this, and I’m excited to drive the car for them. I’ve had a ton of laps at Iowa Speedway and I feel really confident going there.”
The Winchester, Tenn., native is a current member of NASCAR Drive for Diversity, an academy-style youth development program for multicultural and female drivers, and NASCAR Next, a program rooted in identifying future stars of the sport across NASCAR’s regional and touring series.
“Ryan is a great young talent,” said team co-owner Fred Biagi. “He’s got some impressive accomplishments on his resume already, and I think he is just getting started. We’re eager to see what we can do together.”
Gifford’s two races in the Biagi-DenBeste Ford Mustang will promote the mikeroweWORKS Foundation, created by “Dirty Jobs” TV host Mike Rowe. The mrW Foundation promotes hard work and supports the skilled trades, primarily by awarding scholarships and providing other assistance to men and women who have illustrated both an interest and an aptitude to master a trade. mikeroweWORKS has created more than $1.6 million in education scholarships with schools around the country.
“This is probably as close as I’ll ever get to going 200 miles an hour for a sustained period of time,” Rowe commented. “It’s also a great opportunity to promote hard work and the skilled trades. I’m flattered to be on Biagi-DenBeste Racing’s hood.”
“I think it’s a really cool foundation,” added Gifford. “It helps young guys and girls, veterans and anyone else who wants to learn a skilled trade. I can relate to having a regular job outside of racing so I am excited to represent them.”