LEWISBERRY, Pa. – Seventeen-year-old Kyle Craker will take the biggest step yet in his young career by teaming up with Scott Petry and Petry Motorsports.
Craker will pilot a fourth entry for Petry during the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Okla., and the two sides hope to put together additional funding so that Craker can take on the full NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series schedule as well.
Alongside teammates Jason McDougal, Jerry Coons Jr. and Sterling Cling, Craker will drive the No. 5p Spike/Toyota entry during the ‘Super Bowl of Midget Racing’ on Jan. 14-19.
The Pennsylvania teenager, who cut his teeth in outlaw karts before stepping into a midget for the first time this season, is eager for the opportunity to showcase his skills on a national stage.
“I’m super excited to have the opportunity to race for Scott Petry at the Chili Bowl in a couple of weeks,” Craker told SPEED SPORT. “We’re still working on securing some funding for what we want to do together, but the goal is to run a full schedule next year if we can make everything work.
“As of right now, our focus is on getting comfortable with the team and seeing how everything works in Tulsa before we get too far ahead of ourselves, but I’m excited for the future and hopeful that this can be a home where I can grow and build as a driver.”
“I watched Kyle a little bit last year, and he’s just a kid that needs to not feel the pressure and go out and do his thing,” added Petry. “A lot of kids put pressure on themselves to perform … and Kyle tried so hard in some of the races I watched him in. He’s a racer. He’ll be fine and I’m really looking forward to working with him. I just hope we can get everything worked out to run him for the full year, because I think once he gets some seat time, he’ll be able to really show what he’s capable of.”
Craker is part of a wave of young talent that is breaking into the midget realm, and it’s a movement that he still admits is “surreal” to be a part of.
“I’m super excited and can hardly believe that I have an opportunity like this at just 17; I’ve been pushing for a long time to get to this point,” said Craker. “I know how tough a race like the Chili Bowl is and if you can perform well on that kind of a stage, it can be a launching pad for so many things.
“I feel like I’ve learned a lot this season in the starts that I got, between my 10 races with Frank (Manafort) as a teammate to Brady Bacon and then the couple of races I ran for Tucker-Boat Motorsports,” Craker continued. “I feel like that experience and the skills I learned will help me get up to speed with the Petry crew a lot quicker and we’ll have a shot to make some noise.”
Craker’s goal for the Chili Bowl is to learn as much as possible and to use the week in Tulsa to acclimate to his new team and create the foundation for his future within the organization.
Beyond that, he’s treating it as a clean slate and a chance to work toward writing his own future.
“I look at this as a fresh start. It’s a new team, a building environment … and to have a teammate and mentor like Kevin Thomas Jr. – who will drive for Scott full-time next year – to be able to learn from is going to be huge for me,” Craker said. “I’ll admit that a situation like this is exactly what I need. I need that guidance and support to be able to get to where I want to go.
“This isn’t the path that I thought I would be on a year ago, but I’m looking forward to the journey and excited to see where this will lead. A year ago, we were just thinking about running a full season in national midgets and now we finally have that chance.”