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The 2008 Drive for Diversity class was announced today by Access Marketing & Communications, marking the start of the fifth season for the NASCAR industry's on-track driver development program. The eight drivers on the 2008 roster, including three first time program participants, will compete in the NASCAR Camping World Series and the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
"We are thrilled to continue our partnership with NASCAR in 2008 with this talented group of young drivers," said Greg Calhoun, chief executive officer of Access Marketing & Communications, which manages the Drive for Diversity program. "These drivers have demonstrated their talent, and we look forward to watching them compete in NASCAR's developmental series."
The Drive for Diversity program is entering its fifth season and is NASCAR's leading on-track diversity initiative. The program is designed to give minority and female drivers an opportunity to compete with established NASCAR teams. In 2008, four drivers will compete in the NASCAR Camping World Series and four drivers will compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.
Over 200 drivers submitted resumes to participate in the program this year. Twenty-four of those drivers were selected to participate in the annual Drive for Diversity Testing & Evaluation Combine held at South Boston (Va.) Speedway last October. At the Combine, drivers were evaluated based on their on- and off-track performance.
The following eight drivers were selected by their respective team owners to compete in the program in 2008:
â€¢ Kristin Bumbera of Sealy, Tex., will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for Golden State Racing. Bumbera is the first female to win a late model race at Houston Motorsports Park and the first female to lead the point standings in a Texas late model series.
â€¢ Michael Cherry of Valrico, Fla., will race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for FDJ Motorsports. Cherry won the 2007 Sportsman Division Championship at Hendry County (Fla.) Speedway with 17 wins and 19 top-fives in 19 starts.
â€¢ Michael Gallegos of Wheat Ridge, Colo., returns to the Drive for Diversity program for the fourth season and will race in the NASCAR Camping World Series West for RTD Motorsports. Gallegos earned the D4D program's first pole position at Caraway (N.C.) Speedway in 2005.
â€¢ Paul Harraka of Fairlawn, N.J., returns to the Drive for Diversity program and will again race in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for Bill McAnally Racing. Harraka finished second in the point standings at All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. last season.
â€¢ Jesus Hernandez of Fresno, Calif., returns to the Drive for Diversity program for the fourth season and will race in the NASCAR Camping World Series East for Dale Earnhardt Inc. Hernandez finished 15th in the Camping World Series East point standings last season.
â€¢ Lindsey King of Cherry Valley, Calif., will race for High Point Racing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series at Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway. Last season, King finished 12th in the Late Model point standings at Irwindale Speedway with four top-10 finishes.
â€¢ Lloyd Mack of Los Angeles, Calif., returns to the Drive for Diversity program for a second season and will race in the NASCAR Camping World Series for Roadrunner Motorsports. Mack has won two national karting championships, a World Karting Association championship and five California state championships.
â€¢ Jonathan Smith of Beacon Falls, Conn., returns to the Drive for Diversity program for a second season and will race in the NASCAR Camping World Series East for TW Motorsports. Last year, as a rookie, Smith finished 17th in the NASCAR Camping World Series East point standings.
About Drive for Diversity
The Drive for Diversity Program, run by Access Marketing & Communications, seeks to develop minority and female drivers in the NASCAR Camping World Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. Drive for Diversity also supports crew member trainees each year. The Drive for Diversity Program is committed to supporting and enhancing diversity in all aspects of motorsports. The goal is to foster an environment that enables people from diverse backgrounds to participate in all levels and capacities of NASCAR. Much of the success of the Drive for Diversity initiative is a result of support from key sponsors and involved team owners.