CONCORD, N.C. – Crooks Racing has chosen eight finalists for the 2017 S.T.A.R. tryouts.
The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis, Ind., on Saturday and the drivers come from a variety of backgrounds and regions across America.
Crooks Racing owner Gary Crooks believes his team will be competitive with any of the eight drivers and that all of them have the potential to make it in racing.
“We would like to thank everyone who submitted their resumes to participate in our program,” said Crooks. “We feel we have selected a wide array of drivers with very competitive backgrounds. We are looking forward to working with each of them through the next phase of our program.”
The next phase of the S.T.A.R. Tryouts will take place on Jan. 14-15 at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway. The eight finalists will be put to the test in and out of the race car. They will be tested on driving ability, feedback to their crew and on their ability to speak with the media.
The eight finalists are:
Anthony Cataldi – The 21-year-old Florida native has proven he can win in Late Model racing. Cataldi scored a super late model victory in 2016 at Florida’s Showtime Speedway. He also finished ninth in the 2016 Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway while driving for Crooks Racing.
Braden Langille – Langille is a 15-year-old Legends driver from Nova Scotia, Canada. Langille picked up a victory in Maritime League of Legends competition earlier in 2016 at Riverside Int’l Speedway in Nova Scotia.
Evan Swilling – The 24-year-old from Georgia has late model stock car and Legends experience under his belt. Swilling made his one and so far only CARS Tour start in 2016 at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway and posted a top-10 finish.
Jacob Nottestad – The 17-year-old Wisconsin native has excelled in Legends Cars in the Midwest, as well as in Karting competition. Nottestad is a three-time Dirt Kart champion at LRP Raceway, as well as a four-time winner in Legends Cars in 2016, as well as being the Wisconsin State Champion for INEX in the Young Lions division.
Joe Graf Jr. – The 18-year-old New Jersey driver is another finalist who has come from the Legends Car ranks. Graf finished second overall in 2015 INEX points, has scored two track championships at New York’s Bethel Motor Speedway and he won the 2015 edition of Legends Stock at Bethel. Graf has since graduated into the SK Light Modified division at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway.
Kyle Plott – Plott is a 20-year-old Georgia native who has plenty of late model experience under his belt already. Plott put in a top-five qualifying run at the 2016 Snowball Derby. Plott has also scored a win at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway in a late model stock car. He is also a former winner of the “Big One” Legends Car event at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Ryan Luza – Luza is a 20-year-old driver out of Texas. Luza is a former pro late model track champion at Florida’s Five Flags Speedway. Luza picked up the track championship in 2015 and made his first super late model start at Five Flags in 2016.
Sebastian Arias – Arias is an 18-year-old driver from Colombia. Arias has won races in the Karting ranks in South America. He’s also turned in strong performances in Legends Cars in the United States.