Tommy Cloce, 2009 Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil ASA Member Track National Champion, is back home in upstate New York after a busy three days in the Carolina's. He had a busy three days that included a tryout with Joe Gibbs Racing.
The whole experience was more than what he expected, "I would say a lot more," Cloce exclaimed. "These cars in the past really haven't impressed me at times that I have driven them in the past and today really changed my mind. They went in the corner, they cut to the bottom and they came off the corner. I am really, really pleased for the opportunity to do this and looking forward to telling everybody back home about it."
The experience started on Monday, November 23 as he left his home in Potsdam, NY at 2 a.m. to catch his early flight, arriving in Charlotte at 11 a.m. There he met up with Kevin Ramsell, ASA's Director of Public Relations and host for his three-day adventure.
The two went right from the airport to Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide Operations in Huntersville, NC where Cloce met with Ed Fennell of Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil. Fennell presented Cloce with a Joe Gibbs Racing gift package and then took him in the shop where he met with Mike Sibley, Crew Chief of Joe Gibbs Racing Camping World East cars, where he got fitted in his car for Tuesday's test. After the fitting, Fennell then gave Cloce a tour of the Nationwide Operations. From there he went over to Joe Gibbs Racing Sprint Cup shop and got an up-close tour.
After his visit, he traveled to Dillon, SC where he got plenty of rest for his test on Tuesday at Dillon Motor Speedway, an ASA Member Track.
Cloce arrived at the track on Tuesday morning under cloudy skies and temps in the 50's. Ron Barfield, owner of Dillon Motor Speedway and his staff did everything they could to get the track dried as quickly as possible.
It was around 2:30 p.m. when Matt DiBenedetto, Joe Gibbs Racing Camping World East Driver, took the car out on the 4/10-mile track to shake it down. After two runs, he turned the wheel over to Cloce.
Cloce quickly got comfortable in the car and after his first run he came back in the pits laughing and telling crew chief Mike Sibley that it is so awesome to drive a car that turned the way it did. After each run, Cloce and Sibley would talk about how the car felt and discuss what changes should be made to the car. In his final run of the day, his lap times were very close to the same lap times DiBenedetto ran earlier.
"He did a really good job," Sibley said. "We got off to a really slow start with the weather and everything. We had our guy (Matt DiBenedetto) get in and just make sure that everything was kosher with it, which we like do to. When he got in, we told him to ease into it. He did a good job and we really appreciate him coming out and doing everything, we had a lot of fun."
"It was a fun day, it really was unbelievable," Cloce said at the end of his test session. "I told the guys that from now on when I watch any Joe Gibbs car on television I will know why they are fast. The car went into the corner, very predictable, turned and had great forward bite coming off. Mike Sibley, the crew chief for their Camping World East team, was incredible. Everything I told them they went and fixed the car in every way. They went through and helped me out a lot. They are a quality, quality race team. It was really a dream come true."
After his test, Cloce returned to the Concord area where he was treated to a night at the Embassy Suites across from Lowe's Motor Speedway.
On Wednesday morning, Cloce visited Speed 51's office where they interviewed him about his tryout with Joe Gibbs Racing. (You can view the video at: Click Here
From there, Cloce got a surprise as he was taken over to Hendrick Motorsports for a personal tour by Dale Poolery, a mechanic on the 24/48 team. He was given a tour of both the 24/48 and 5/88 shops.
After a quick lunch it was back over to Joe Gibbs Racing where he got to meet and visit with JD Gibbs, President of Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs surprised Tommy with a 2009 Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil ASA Member Track National Champion leather jacket. The two sat and visited for about 45 minutes. Gibbs asked Cloce about his career, which tracks he raced at and about his family. Come to find out that the two had many things in common when it came down to their racing careers and families.
The visit with JD Gibbs concluded his three-day visit as his next stop was back to the airport and returning home in time to spend Thanksgiving with family and friends.
"I would like to thank Dennis Huth and his staff at ASA for this opportunity," Cloce said. "It was a lot more than I expected and its going to be something I will remember for the rest of my life."
"The one thing Tommy kept saying throughout the three days was that everything he did was more than what he expected," Ramsell said. "He came down with a certain expectation and he was totally blown away with what he saw, what he did in the test at Dillon Motor Speedway, and with his visit with JD Gibbs. He had an ear-to-ear smile across his face all three days. It was a pleasure to a local competitor like Tommy get this special opportunity."
A special thanks goes to: JD Gibbs, Ed Fennell, Lake Speed, and the entire Joe Gibbs Racing staff; Ron Barfield and his staff at Dillon Motor Speedway; Dale Poolery at Hendrick Motorsports; and Jason Stix Buckley and Elgin Traylor at Speed 51.
Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil, sponsor of the American Speed Association National Short Track National Championship, is the same oil developed and used by Joe Gibbs Racing. The team sells the oil so racers across the country can have access to the latest technology in racing lubricants.
Joe Gibbs Racing is one of the premier organizations in NASCAR, currently fielding three NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams, two NASCAR Nationwide Series teams and a driver development program. Based in Huntersville, N.C., and owned by Joe Gibbs - a three-time Super Bowl winner as head coach of the Washington Redskins and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame - JGR has competed in NASCAR since 1992, winning three Cup Series championships and more than 80 NASCAR races, including three Brickyard 400s and the 1993 Daytona 500.
The American Speed Association Short Track National Championship is another step by the industry leader in creating new and innovative programs. This follows the recent announcement about extending the insurance coverage for ASA members traveling to, from, and during an ASA-sanctioned event. For updated ASA National Points, just click on the "Points" link at www.asa-racing.com.
ASA members in good standing are eligible for a $500,000 Excess Medical Benefit as well as a $20,000 Accidental
Death and Dismemberment Benefit. Coverage for the member begins while traveling to a location promoting an ASA-sanctioned event and continues until arrival home again. The American Speed Association, in conjunction with WSIB Motorsports Insurance, is the only sanctioning body to offer insurance coverage which extends beyond the boundary of the racetrack itself (complete details are available online at www.ASA-Racing.com).
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