Kulwicki Driver Development


 

BRYCE NAPIER’S 2015 SEASON BEGINS SATURDAY AT IRWINDALE
-Promising Young 15-Year-Old Excited To Be Carrying Kulwicki Colors In California-

CONCORD, N.C. (April 9, 2015) – Promising young racer Bryce Napier will begin his 2015 season this weekend at Irwindale Speedway after all.  Just a few days ago, the likelihood of the 15-year-old charger making the six-hour trip from his Scotts Valley, Calif., home to race looked very doubtful.

            “We have a new Super Late Model we’re taking to race at Irwindale and finally got our new GM crate engine last week,” said Napier, last year’s Stockton 99 Speedway Rookie of the Year.  “We are already behind when you consider most of the other guys have already seen some track time this year.  We worked late last Friday night to get the engine into the car and then made the four-hour drive over to Roseville (All American Speedway) to make sure everything was ready for Irwindale.

            “We followed all the startup procedures the GM guys suggest,” said Napier, winner of the 2014 UNOH Youth Achievement Award.  “We unloaded the car, fired the engine up and rolled out onto the track.  We never turned over 5,000 rpm and only ran a dozen laps when the oil pressure dropped to zero and the engine died.

            “We loaded the car up and headed straight back to the shop.  It’s a sealed engine, so we didn’t want to violate any agreement with the manufacturer.  We were allowed to look in the oil pan and found metal flakes in the oil.  It looked like our trip to Irwindale had really hit a big bump in the road.”

            Napier, the youngest member of this year’s Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP) competitors, was quick to point to 1992 NASCAR champion Alan Kulwicki as his inspiration during the week.

            “Just like Alan Kulwicki, we never give up,” said Napier, the 2012 California State Mini Cup Champ.  “The Pacific Challenge Series opener is Saturday at Irwindale and we were determined to make it there.”

            “It was the most surprising and impressive 24 hours in his career so far,” said his mother, Laurie.  “Bryce worked all day in the shop and came in that night to announce, ‘Don't you realize that Alan's truck caught on fire when he tried to moved South to chase his dreams?  He didn't let that stop him did he!  Why would we let an engine stop us?’”

            The teenager’s strong commitment was enough to get his support crew scampering to get a replacement engine.  While his father, Andrew, is still working with the manufacturer representatives to make good on the first motor, the Bryce Napier Team received a second engine late Monday.  Father and son, along with crew chief Tony Caputo and chief mechanic John Norkoli worked until 2 a.m. Tuesday getting the new engine installed.

            “Not really realizing what time it was, we fired the engine up,” the younger Napier said.  “About 10 minutes later, we were surprised to look up and see a police officer standing at the door.  It turned out that neighbors had called complaining about the noise.  When the officer saw the scene in our shop and we explained what was going on, I think we gained a new fan of our team. He just chuckled and said for us to shut it down and call it a night.”

            Napier ran in three Pacific Challenge Series races last season.  After getting crashed out of his first race with the tour on his “home track” in Stockton, Napier finished fourth in the June race in Roseville, beating NASCAR Sprint Cup regular David Gilliland in the process.  In last October’s race at Roseville, Napier finished sixth in a field of 42 cars.

            “Racing at Irwindale this weekend is just that important for me and our team,” said Napier.  “With the track’s future up in the air, it might be our last chance to run on that famous half-mile.  With our plans for the season seeing us run at Bakersfield (Kern County Raceway), I need to get the experience of racing at Irwindale.  I need the seat time on the bigger tracks with the faster speeds.”

            Napier has set lofty goals for his first-ever visit to Irwindale this weekend.

            “Of course, I’m shooting for another top-five finish running with those guys,” said Napier.  “Even though it’s listed as a Pacific Challenge Series race, we’ll likely be racing against the best short track drivers in Southern California, as well as some heavy hitters from over in Las Vegas and probably as far away as Montana.  Everyone wants to get a trophy from Irwindale while there’s still a chance to do so.”

            Napier’s Hamke chassis originally came from Kyle Busch Motorsports.  It was raced by Bobby Hodges on the SPEARS Southwest Tour before finding a home in the Napier stable.  Napier’s major sponsorship assistance comes from the Support Military Foundation (www.supportmilitary.org).

            This weekend’s racing action at Irwindale Speedway is headlined by the King Taco Catering/NAPA Auto Parts 150 for the NASCAR K & N Pro Series.  On the card in addition to the PCS racing are the INEX Legends Car and Bandolero National Qualifiers.

            The schedule for the weekend begins on Friday with optional practice from 5:00 till 9:00 p.m.  Pits open on Saturday at 9:00 a.m., with practice beginning at 11:45 a.m.  Qualifying is set for 3:40 p.m., with racing beginning at 4:50 p.m. 

For all the latest news on the KDDP, Irwindale Speedway and everything else in short-track racing, we invite you to visit Speed51.com, the official media partner of the KDDP.

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            For additional information on the Pacific Challenge Series, please visit their website at

http://www.pacificchallengeseries.com/. The PCS is also on Facebook at

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Pacific-Challenge-Series/467241746701705

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            For additional information on Irwindale Speedway, please visit their website at

http://www.irwindalespeedway.com/index.php.  They are on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/IrwindaleEventCenter and on Twitter at https://twitter.com/TheIEC

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For additional information on Bryce Napier, please visit his website at http://www.brycenapierracing.com/.  Bryce is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Bryce-Napier-Racing/132588653587818 and you can follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/napier_bryce88

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