Ruben Garcia Jr.

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Myatt Snider to race full season in NASCAR Euro Series

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Myatt Snider, 2018 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Rookie of the Year, will race full-time in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series this season, it was announced Tuesday.

Snider, 24, the son of NBC Sports pit reporter Marty Snider, will compete in the Euro Series’ ELITE 2 Division, piloting the No. 48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang along with three-time series champion Ander Vilarino. Myatt Snider will be among 14 drivers competing for rookie of the year honors.

It will be my first ever chance to race in Europe and that’s not an opportunity you get very often,” Snider said in a media release. “It is going to be an interesting change of pace and it is a fantastic opportunity to take on this challenge with a such a top-level team as Racing Engineering. I am really excited.”

This is the 11th season for the series, with a record 33 cars entered for this weekend’s season-opening race in Valencia, Spain. The season schedule has also been expanded to 13 races.

“I’m going (to Valencia) with an open mind,” said Snider, who has spent much of his racing career on ovals. “But of course, I want to perform because I’m a competitive guy and I want to win.”

For the first time in the series’ history, it will include a number of champions from various motorsports series including NASCAR Cup (Bobby Labonte), Formula 1 (Jacques Villeneuve), NASCAR Euro (Alon Day and Ander Vilarino), Mexican NASCAR (Ruben Garcia Jr.) and a 24 Hours of Le Mans winner (Christophe Bouchut).

In addition, 20 countries are represented between the 57 drivers and teams across both NASCAR Euro ELITE 1 and ELITE 2 divisions.

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Ruben Garcia Jr. part of driver exchange between NASCAR Euro and Mexico Series

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Not long after he competes in the K&N Pro Series East race at Bristol Motor Speedway next weekend, Ruben Garcia Jr. will board a plane for Spain.

Waiting for Garcia will be the first part of a driver exchange program between NASCAR’s European and Mexico racing series.

The defending champion in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series, Garcia will take part in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series’ season-opening races April 13-14 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. On Nov. 30-Dec. 1, the Euro Series champion will return the favor by competing in the Mexico series finale in Mexico City.

All the races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Youtube Channel and Facebook page and on Motorsport.tv.

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR)

The races in Valenica will be Garcia’s first in Europe, but Spain will “feel like home” for the him after frequent holiday trips there to visit friends.

“It was great news for me because for the last couple of years I’ve been trying to put something together to go run in the Euro NASCAR because that’s a series that’s been growing a lot and really got my interest,” Garcia said Wednesday during a teleconference. “Even though I’m very, very far from home or the United States and where I’m living now, it’ll still feel like home cause they speak my native language there and it’s a country I enjoy travelling to.”

Garcia’s Euro Series start will come in the ELITE 1 Division driving the No. 1 Alex Caffi Motorsport Toyota Camry. Though Garcia will only have three practices sessions to get used to his car and the 14-turn track, he thinks his history with road courses in the Mexico and K&N Series will help.

But Garcia is aware of some of the more intrinsic differences in series.

“The cars are similar to what we race in Mexico,” Garcia said. “So on that part I don’t think it will be as challenging. … Since they have more of the European style of racing, the FIA style of racing. … It’s different than what we do here in Mexico and the United States. They really don’t have contact. Their battles are strong, but they’re very, very respectful. That’s something I might need to get used to, no contact at all. They’re very good road course racers.”

The Euro series has garnered its share of attention in the last two years, with former Cup champion Bobby Labonte competing full-time in the series last year. He’ll be followed this season by former Indianapolis 500 winner and Formula 1 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

“I can tell you what got my attention,” Garcia said of the Euro Series. “They’re getting a lot of new cars, they’re getting a lot of new sponsors and that’s always a good sign for a series. If that’s happening it’s because they’re doing something right. As a driver you always want to try new things and get new challenges.

“They go to some really cool places and really cool tracks. … That’s something that really got my attention, they go to some Formula 1 race tracks. Some great facilities, some great road courses that when I was really little I dreamed of racing (at).”

Garcia said he’ll try to tap into the knowledge of three-time Euro Series champion Ander Vilariño and defending champion Alon Day, both drivers he has relationships with.

As a two-time Mexico Series champion, Garcia is excited for the driver swap as an opportunity to show off the series’ talent.

“There’s a great level (of competition) in the Mexico as well as the NASCAR Euro Series,” Garcia said. “I think it’s a great opportunity for both series to show how good they are and how good the NASCAR Mexico drivers can do outside their country. Even though we’re racing against road course specialists, we’ll still`perform really good.”

NASCAR Drive for Diversity program announces 2019 class

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The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program announced its 2019 class with Rev Racing Thursday.

The six-member class includes four returning members.

Gracie Trotter and Brooke Storer are the new members.

The six drivers were selected from 12 national and international drivers invited to participate in the two-day NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Combine at New Smyrna Speedway and Bethune-Cookman University in October.

The drivers will compete for Rev Racing in the K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for one full season with mentoring and equipment provided by the race team. 

Since Rev Racing began fielding cars for the Drive for Diversity program in the K&N East in 2010, it has earned 19 wins, 88 top fives and 199 top-10 finishes with drivers finishing in the top 10 in points each season.

Here’s the 2019 class.

Chase Cabre, 21, Tampa, Florida – Cabre will return to Rev Racing for his third season. In 2018, he competed in both the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, where he finished seventh in the championship standings. Cabre will again compete in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2019.

Ernie Francis Jr., 20, Southwest Ranches, Florida – In 2014, Francis Jr. became the youngest Trans-Am champion in series history. This past season, he captured his fifth consecutive series championship title. Francis will race a Late Model for Rev Racing and run in select events in the K&N Pro Series East.

Rubén García Jr., 23, México City, México – In 2015, García Jr. became the youngest driver to win the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series Championship. He won his second championship this year in the series. García Jr. also earned his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race win at Memphis International Raceway in 2018 followed with a victory at Dover International Speedway in October. García Jr. will continue racing in the K&N Pro East Series.

Nick Sanchez, 17, Homestead, Florida – Sanchez completed his NASCAR Whelen All-American Series rookie season in 2018. He also raced in the Bojangles Summer Shootout with Rev Racing’s Legends Car program and finished sixth in championship points. Sanchez will race in a Late Model for Rev Racing.

Brooke Storer, 20, Land O’ Lakes, Florida – Storer is the 2016 Desoto Speedway Sportsman Champion. This past season, she raced in the Wheel Man Series Late Model Sportsman division capturing two 50-lap feature wins. In 2017, she placed third in points in the Wheel Man Series. Storer will race a Late Model for Rev Racing in 2019.

Gracie Trotter, 17, Denver, North Carolina – Trotter is the winner of Round 5 of the Bojangles Summer Shootout in the Semi Pro division. In 2018 she competed in the CARS Tour & PASS Series at Concord, Hickory, Caraway, Orange Country, South Boston and Carteret County. She also raced USLCI Legend cars at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Concord, Anderson, Tri-County and Caraway. Trotter will race a Late Model for Rev Racing in 2019.

Ryan Vargas, who did not make the Rev Racing lineup after being with the program last year, expressed his thanks to the team and wrote that “I apologize to everyone who’s supported me. I feel as if I let you all down (by not making the team for 2019).”

NASCAR announces 12 invitees to Drive for Diversity combine

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NASCAR announced the 12 drivers invited to compete for the 2019 Drive for Diversity program on Monday. The dozen drivers have competed on three continents in a variety of racecars.

“The drivers invited to this year’s NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Combine represent a wide range of diverse backgrounds, both in terms of heritage and driving disciplines,” said Jusan Hamilton, NASCAR senior manager of racing operations and event management in a press release. “The combine has been tremendous in helping the NASCAR industry identify and develop top diverse talent and this year is no different.”

Rev Racing serves as the on-track partner for the Drive for Diversity program. Since the inception of the program, Rev Racing has earned 19 wins, 88 top fives and 186 top-10 finishes.

The combine will help set their lineup in 2019.

“As we embark upon our 11th year managing the Drive for Diversity program in partnership with NASCAR, we couldn’t be more excited about the evolution of our driver development program,” said Max Siegel, CEO of Rev Racing. “Through selection process and training program we look forward to selecting and developing some of NASCAR’s brightest stars.”

In addition to testing their skill behind the wheel of a racecar, candidates will undergo a physical fitness assessment as well as tests to determine their ability to effective communicate and market sponsors.

This year’s combine invitees include Ruben Garcia Jr. – current points leader in the NASCAR Peak Mexico Series.

Trans Am standout Ernie Francis Jr. will also compete. He has scored four wins in this series in 2018 and currently leads the series standings

Chase Cabre, Juan Manuel González, Loris Hezemans, Perry Patino, Nick Sanchez, Brooke Storer, Ryu Taggart, Gracie Trotter, Ryan Vargas and Brittney Zamora round out the list.

Zamora became the first female driver to win the Northwest Super Late Model Series Championship in 2017.

These hopefuls look to follow in the footsteps of Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez and Bubba Wallace – all of whom have gone through the program.

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Ruben Garcia Jr. gets ‘stress relief’ from first K&N Pro Series East win

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With about 15 laps left in Saturday’s K&N Pro Series East race at Memphis International Raceway (airing at 6 p.m. ET today on NBCSN), Ruben Garcia Jr.‘s spotter came over his radio.

“Hey, just keep running the same speed you’re running,” Garica recalls him saying. “Second place is trying really hard to catch you and he’s not getting any closer. You’re fine.”

If Garcia, who was leading over pole-sitter Tyler Ankrum, made it to the checkered flag unscathed, it would be a huge moment for the 22-year-old driver.

It would his first win in the K&N East after three years and 34 starts of trying and he’d become the fourth Mexican-born driver to win in the series, following Daniel Suarez (2014), Rogelio Lopez (2007) and Ruben Pardo (2006). It would also be his first race win outside Mexico.

That final race stretch “felt like the longest laps of my life” Garcia told NBC Sports.

Minutes after taking the checkered flag and the win, Garcia was looking into his girlfriend Regina’s phone.

Via FaceTime, Garcia spoke with his family back in Mexico, who had followed along with the race on Twitter over dinner.

Among them was his father, who like Garcia, competed in the NASCAR Mexico Series.

Saturday’s race was the first this year he hadn’t attended.

“He was very very, excited,” Garcia said. “It has been a long time since I’ve seen him that happy.”

He’ll get to see his father for the first time this weekend after he competes in the NASCAR Mexico race in Guadalajara.

Garcia, who competes for Rev Racing, called his win in Memphis a form of “stress relief” after more than two seasons of futility.

“We were really close,” Garcia said. “I knew it was coming, but one thing or the other it didn’t happen. I tried to be as patient as I could. … It felt like it took too long. Everyone says the first win is the hardest. After that you have enough confidence to know that you can do it again.”

All three other Mexican-born drivers to win in the K&N Series are well known to Garcia and reached out to him in the days following his victory.

“I know Daniel, I’ve raced with him,” Garcia said. “I know Ruben Pardo, I’m still running against him. I know Rogelio Lopez, he’s a really, really good friend of mine and of my family. We were teammates last year. We’re very close to each other. The three of them called me just to congratulate me. It’s really cool for me because they know what it means, they know what I’m feeling right now and how it felt to take the checkered flag for the first time outside your country.”