Fourteen-year-old Gray Gaulding has plans to race at some of the most famous tracks in NASCAR. He will start his season at Daytona International Speedway and visit Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee and Phoenix International Raceway in Arizona before the end of 2013.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East racer Gray Gaulding
Gray Gaulding is also scheduled for the inaugural UNOH Battle of the Beach in Daytona
With support from Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota Racing Development and backing from Krispy Kreme doughnuts, Gaulding will race the entire NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. He will also race in the inaugural UNOH Battle of the Beach in Daytona on Feb. 19 and three K&N Pro Series West races.
"Going into Daytona for the first race is a dream come true," said Gaulding. "Never thought I would be able to race at Daytona at the age of 15. That's a dream come true of mine. To be able to go there and to know you have a shot to win, I think we have the best race cars out there."
The cars were used by Darrell Wallace Jr. in the East Series and Joey Logano, who raced in the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2012.
"Joe Gibbs has given us all their race cars and TRD, Toyota Racing Development, has given us amazing support. It's going to be really exciting. I'm really excited about it for sure," Gaulding said. "That's a really valuable relationship. Toyota and Joe Gibbs, they're very tight together. Toyota does so much for Joe Gibbs and now they're doing it for us. Darrell Wallace Jr. raced them. Joey Logano raced one of the cars in the Nationwide Series and actually won. I think we have really, really great cars."
Gray Gaulding scheduled for three NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races
Dwayne Chambers, the Chief Marketing Officer for Krispy Kreme, said he is impressed with Gaulding on and off the race track.
"He is a joyful and dedicated young man with amazing skills and an unmatched passion for the sport of racing as well as his fans," Chambers said in a release. "We look forward to championing Gray as he wins races and wins hearts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series."
Gaulding and the top drivers from the K&N Pro Series East and West will start the NASCAR season in Daytona in February with the Battle of the Beach. Race winners from the 2012 K&N Pro Series were invited to race in the Battle of the Beach. The race will be on a modified track that uses a portion of the Daytona International Speedway.
"We're going to go to Daytona with the feeling we can go out and win," Gaulding said. "I'm not going to give myself credit, but I feel like I can adapt pretty well to any race track I go to. Hopefully I can adapt really well and do what I have to do."
The teen-age driver also said racing in front of the Cup and Nationwide teams is an opportunity he doesn't want to waste.
"To be able to go Daytona that week and two days later it will be the Daytona 500, to be around the atmosphere, the whole atmosphere of the pits and everybody working so hard for that first big, Super Bowl," Gaulding said. "This first race for us, this is like my Super Bowl. The winner gets $20,000, not only that, to say you won at Daytona is probably one of the biggest things you can possibly do in your career. We're going to work hard at it and like I said we got a lot of learning to do also."
Before the K&N Pro Series East schedule starts, Gaulding will head out to Phoenix International Raceway. He is entered in the West Series race at Phoenix on March 2. Two weeks later, he will race in the K&N Pro Series East opener at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Both races are on the same weekend when the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits the tracks.
"You never know who's watching. You never know if you can get discovered," Gaulding said. "You can go to a place like Phoenix. To be there with Cup and Nationwide will be there. Running the West races is, first thing is to give me seat time. My first East race is Bristol. I'll have one West race under my belt before I go to Bristol. To race in front of those Cup guys, that's also a big plus. It's all about getting your name out there. At the end of the day you have to be able to showcase your talent. That's a big plus to be able to go to place like that."
Gaulding has quite the racing resume already. He is the youngest driver to win a Legends national race. He is also the youngest driver to win a Pro All-Star Series rookie of the year award. He won his Legends national race at Langley Speedway in Virginia in 2010. He also bested Logano by winning the race.
"I ended up winning the race on the last lap on the last corner," Gaulding said. "That's probably one of the biggest highlights of my career. Those kind of things you really cherish, especially at a young age, like I am now. I know that everybody works so hard to get me to this point. I don't want to take anything for granted. I am really proud of those victories, especially Langley, that was pretty cool. I actually beat Joey Logano to be the youngest ever to win a Legends nationals."
Gray Gaulding Racing has assembled an experienced crew for the young driver as well. Gaulding said he knows how hard his crew works on the cars and they will play a huge role in the success of the team. Doug George and George Howe, two crew chiefs with decades of experience racing and working on NASCAR crews, will lead the Gray Gaulding Racing team.
"This is an amazing opportunity for both Doug Howe and I to work with such a young talented driver," George said. "Gray is so smooth behind the wheel and yet such a hard racer. That's what makes him the total package in this business."
Gaulding said he has set some lofty goals for his rookie season in the K&N Pro Series. He wants to win some races and some poles. But most of all, he wants to be in contention for the K&N Pro Series East championship.
"I like to keep my expectations pretty high," Gaulding said. "I like to be able to stand out and showcase my talents. Honestly I would love to win a couple races and be able to sit on poles and just be an eye opener. A lot of people don't really understand how much work it does take to get to that point. I think we can go out and win races, win poles. At the end of the day my biggest goal is that I want to win the championship. There's no doubt in my mind and the people that are around me that we can't go out and do that. I know it's not going to be an easy road because knowing that teams we're up against, it's going to be really tough. We'll go into 2013 with an open mind and see how it plays out."
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