Bullring drivers to compete for spots in NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program
Bullring drivers Jay Beasley and Kayli Barker are among the 17 drivers from across the country who have been selected to compete in NASCAR's 2016 Drive for Diversity Developmental Program.
Beasley, the 2013 Bullring NASCAR Super Late Models champion, and Barker, a three-time track champion and The Bullring's all-time winningest female, will participate in a national tryout at Florida's New Smyrna Speedway from Oct. 17-19. The 13th annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine invites promising ethnically diverse and female drivers from across North and South America to test their skills over a three-day period as NASCAR evaluates talent for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Class of 2017.
Barker, who also competed in the combine last year, is one of 13 female drivers competing for spots with Rev Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Drivers selected for the Rev Racing program will be provided with equipment, mentoring and competition experience.
"Being selected for the Drive for Diversity program again this year is a huge honor," said Barker, who has 15 career Saturday night feature wins at The Bullring. "I am really eager to go to Florida and drive on a track that I have never been on before. From my experience last year, I have learned to not put as much pressure on myself to perform well.
"Of course, I still want to perform well in the physical fitness, media and on-track experience, but I should still continue to have a ton of fun throughout the entire event. I think that will help me to actually do a lot better."
Barker, a student at UNLV, finished eighth in the 2016 NASCAR Super Late Models points standings at the short track.
In addition to Beasley and Barker, frequent Bullring racer Jairo Avila of Alhambra, Calif., who competes at the short track under the name JA Junior, is also being considered to return to the Drive for Diversity team, but will not compete in the combine. Hannah Newhouse, a 2015 Fall Classic competitor, and Hailie Deegan, who is running her second Bullring race of the season at the Senator's Cup Fall Classic on Saturday, Oct. 22, were also selected for the combine.
Combine participants will be evaluated on their driving skills, take part in a physical fitness assessment and receive additional training at Bethune-Cookman University.
The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine has proven successful in identifying and developing future stars of the sport. Current NASCAR Drive for Diversity members have garnered four top fives and 13 top 10s combined in the NASCAR K&N East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series this season and are looking to repeat last year's season-ending victory by Collin Cabre at Dover International Speedway.
"This year's NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine will feature some incredible talent, and we're excited to watch these young drivers compete," said Dawn Harris, NASCAR director, multicultural development. "NASCAR's first-class development program has produced the likes of Kyle Larson, Daniel Suárez and Darrell Wallace Jr., so it will be fun to see who rises to the top at New Smyrna."
Program graduate Kyle Larson earned his first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year at Michigan International Speedway. Also this season, fellow graduate and NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Daniel Suárez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race.
Suárez and fellow NASCAR XFINITY driver Darrell Wallace Jr., another NASCAR Drive for Diversity alumnus, are currently competing in the inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series Chase.
Racing returns to The Bullring on Saturday, Oct. 22, for the Senator's Cup Fall Classic. Spectators can save money by purchasing tickets in advance by visiting or calling the LVMS ticket office at 702.644.4444 or going online at LVMS.com.