Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Star of the future.

Joey Lagano has been having the time of his life this year. At the young age of seventeen, he has won Rookie of the Year, in the NASCAR Busch East series, the Busch East Series Championship, and now, the NASCAR Grand National Toyota All Stars race.
The Toyota All-Star race, which takes place at the much revered Irwindale Raceway, in Irwindale, California, is to the minor leagues of NASCAR what the Knoxville Nationals is to the winged sprint car leagues. It is a celebration of those drivers who race at your local short tracks across the country, as well as a spotlight on those who would otherwise have no national recognition.
Joey Lagano was discovered by none other than Mark Martin, who mentioned his name and reputation to several NASCAR Nextel Cup teams. It was Joe Gibbs Racing who picked the youngster up for their developmental driver program and the rest is history in the making.
Winning the short track All Stars event at Irwindale doesn't automatically gain a young driver a spot on a Cup team. Lagano will still have to prove himself on the speedways, dirt tracks, and superspeedways of the ARCA/Remax Series. According to his peers, many of them seasoned drivers in the various short track venues, Lagano has enough talent that this should be no problem.
Lagano isn't the only driver from the Toyota All Stars who has caught attention. Peyton Sellers, finished second after a long, hard fought battle with Lagano, and an intensly exciting Green/white/checkered finish. No doubt his talent won't be overlooked by the manufacturers and/or major NASCAR teams and sponsors.

Photo credit: Michelle Theriault official website.

Meanwhile, my new favorite lady driver, Michelle Theriault, has garnered enough attention through her sponsorship from Glock Firearms, to make us watch. She has had some impressive finishes in the Busch East Series and in a young ARCA/Remax career. Unfortunately, though she entered the feature race by qualifying on time, she was caught up in the "pretty big one" by just being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and finished fourtieth. Still, I can't resist a girl with a Glock, and have joined her fan club.
Overall, the season ending event at Irwindale is an extended race for the best of the short track drivers nation-wide, and gives us all the thrill of seeing our local heros on national TV. A surprise guest commentater, Darrell Waltrip, added to the fun of watching the event on Speed TV. We should be thankful to Speed, Toyota, and NASCAR for bringing us this important annual event.

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