Current and former UARA-STARS drivers and teams have been invited to run in the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown on Thursday, April 28th at Richmond International Raceway (RIR).
Among the notable invites are current rookie of the year favorite George Miedecke, the series’ only two-time champion Matt McCall, 2010 Champion Coleman Pressley, along with current standouts Kyle Grissom, Scott Turlington and Paddy Rodenbeck.
Grissom, Turlington, and Miedecke have become competitive threats early in the 2011 UARA season with each of them claiming a Sunoco Pole during the first three races of the year. Grissom is currently third in points and has led a total of 150 laps so far this season. Turlington has also had a great start to the 2011season, finishing in the top five the previous two races including a runner-up finish at Kingsport. Turlington sits in fourth position, right behind Grissom, in the current point standings. Turlington and Mid-Atlantic Racing will also be fielding a car for former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Tony Stewart on Thursday night.
Newcomer George Miedecke has entertained fans with his early success in the UARA. After only one race last season in Myrtle Beach, Miedecke has teamed up with Marcos Ambrose Motorsport and Jamie Yelton’s Fat Head Racing for a run at not only rookie of the year honors but also a series championship. He currently sits sixth in series points after three completed events and is backed by a number of Ambrose’s sponsors including Stanley Tools, Jeld-Wen Windows and Doors as well as Ford Motor Company. NASCAR K&N Pro Series star Max Gresham will also be piloting a car prepared by Fat Head Racing.
Lending credibility to the UARA’s competition level, series graduates invited include the reigning UARA Champion Coleman Pressley. Pressley is competing in the K&N Pro Series during 2011 and currently holds the second points position. Matt McCall, the only repeat series champion (2005, 2009) and an engineer with the Richard Childress Racing organization, will be making a rare appearance as a teammate to Miedecke and Gresham in a car owned by Fat Head Racing. McCall has a knack for winning “big” races, taking home the series’ last visit to Bristol Motor Speedway in 2009 and a $14,014 bounty-laden payday (after starting last) in the Dwight Huffman Memorial at Hickory Motor Speedway that same year. Also invited, 2008 UARA-STARS Rookie of the Year and current NASCAR K&N Pro Series competitor Darrell Wallace, Jr. will have a guaranteed starting spot in Thursday night’s field.
Marlowe Racing Chassis will be fielding a car prepared in-house for Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was a force to be reckoned with during his time in late model stock cars but this race will mark the first time in years that the Virginia native will pilot a car owned by someone other than Jim Dean. Greg Marlowe not only sponsors the UARA’s halfway leader award but also builds the chassis for most of the series front runners including the aforementioned McCall, Miedecke and Turlington, in addition to Brandon McReynolds (son of NASCAR on Fox broadcaster Larry McReynolds) and current UARA points leader and Venturini Motorsports development driver Brennan Poole.
Other UARA competitors invited to the event include McReynolds, Clint Mills, Paddy Rodenbeck, Clint King and Becca Kasten. Kasten, King, and Rodenbeck most recently competed with the series at Hickory in March while McReynolds swept both races at Rockingham Speedway in 2010. Fifteen year-old King holds the title of the youngest driver to ever win a UARA-STARS race after capturing the checkered flag in Kingsport, Tenn., last season. King’s team will also be preparing a car for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Joey Logano to drive on Thursday.
These UARA competitors will get an opportunity to compete against and showcase their talents on the same track as today’s hottest NASCAR stars such as Daytona 500 Champion Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano, Tony Stewart, Hamlin, Kyle Busch and more. Most likely, as has been the case at Martinsville’s 300-lap race (the Daytona 500 of late model stock car racing) in recent seasons, the UARA will have solid representation in one of late model stock car racing’s biggest events of the year and will prove why the stars of tomorrow begin their careers with the UARA-STARS.
In addition to the Showdown, UARA will have a solid representation in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race preceding the late model event. Coleman Pressley, last year’s UARA champion, is scheduled to attempt double duty as of press time in the K&N Series and his teammate, Matt DiBenedetto is also a UARA-STARS graduate. DiBenedetto has also driven for Joe Gibbs Racing during the past two seasons in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Other UARA graduates competing in the K&N event will be Wallace, Jr. and Corey LaJoie (son of former NASCAR Nationwide Champion Randy LaJoie).
The Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown will be broadcast live on Speed Channel immediately following the conclusion of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series event on Thursday night. Proceeds from the event benefit those with Cystic Fibrosis and other chronic illnesses through the Denny Hamlin Foundation.
Tickets for the race start at $25 and are still available by calling 1-866-455-RACE (7223) or visiting www.rir.com.
For more information on the UARA-STARS and their upcoming events including the races at Rockingham Speedway and Historic North Wilkesboro Speedway, visit www.uara-stars.com