As I write this, it's already Spring here in New England, and nothing says Spring like the start of the race season! Every year, Greenville-Pickens Speedway's NASCAR Camping World East Series race marks the beginning for a whole new crowd of young and talented drivers. Keeping track of that bunch, however, can be a little tough.
We have drivers coming from the West, from the Midwest, from the North, and from the South. Below is your guide to the new faces you can expect to see when the Camping World Series East takes the green flag in just a few short weeks. The list may include a few drivers that have not totally committed to run the whole deal, but we included them anyway. As you'll see, there are plenty of new drivers to learn about this season.
JASON PATISON - This driver was a regular on the Camping World Series West last season and finished tenth in the final point standings. He was also the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year out there. He intends to run the full season in 2009 as well as a limited schedule in the Camping World Truck Series.
DAKODA ARMSTRONG - This young driver is scheduled to make select starts for Ken Schrader Racing in 2009. He is the 1998 World Karting Association National Champion. In 2000 and 2001, he won two NASCAR titles, the national Quarter Midget crown and was a three-time winner of the Mini Indy Quarter Midget title. He earned the USAC Kenyon Midget Championship as a rookie in 2004. He graduated to Sprints and Midgets in 2006 and went on to win four races including the PRI Mopar Midget Classic in Orlando. He made his stock car debut in a Hooters Pro Cup race in 2008.
ANTHONY BEIGAY - Raced at Greenville Pickens Speedway from 1991-96 and Anderson Speedway from 1991-2002. He works for Michelin as an on-track tire tester.
JOHN BOLEN - Plans to run a limited Camping World Series East schedule in 2009. His background includes the Bandoleros Young Guns championship at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2002, a Late Model racing career in the Southern All-Star Series and the ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour, where he won twice and finished seventh in the standings.
KRISTIN BUMBERA - Will race for Bobby Hamilton, Jr. racing in 2009 under the Drive for Diversity banner. Her background includes Late Models at Houston Motorsports Park, where he earned the Rookie of the Year title in 2004 and became the first female to a win a Late Model race in the state of Texas (2006). She's competed in the ASA Late Model Series and has started two NASCAR Camping World Series West races.
DOMINICK CASOLA - Dominick ran the ARCA RE/MAX Series full-time in 2007 with Andy Belmont Racing and finished 13th in points. In 2008, he left for Win Tron Racing, but will return to Andy Belmont Racing for the full 2009 Camping World Series East season. His family owns Tri-County Motor Speedway, which the series visits in late April.
MATT DIBENEDETTO - Matt is a development driver for Joe Gibbs Racing and is scheduled to run select races throughout the 2009 season. This driver has compiled seven championships from box stock karts up through Limited Late Models. He was ROY and fourth in points in the UARA Stars Late Model Tour in 2007, and won at Tri-County and Newport Speedway's in the Late Model Stocks in 2008 and became the youngest driver to ever win a feature at Bristol Motor Speedway.
TY DILLON - The brother of Sunoco Rookie of the Year Austin Dillon. He is scheduled to drive select races in 2009 for RCR. He began racing in 2006 and won two Bandoleros and Legends Chargers wins in his first year. Registered nine wins and 10 runner-up finishes in 2007 and won Atlanta Semi-Pro Legends. He then backed that up when he recorded nine wins in just 16 starts in 2008.
RYAN GIFFORD - This Tennessee native is slated to drive select races for RCR in 2009. The 20-year-old driver started racing at eight and won two track championships in the World Karting Association. He finished third nationally in the WKA in 2004. He moved to Dirt Late Models in 2005 where he registered three wins and 17 top-fives in 29 starts last season.
BENNY GORDON - This 38-year-old driver is known for a career in the USAR. He was the USAR Rookie of the Year in 2003 and won the Northern Division title every year since. He was their overall champion in 2005 and 2008.
MAX GRESHAM - This driver won't turn 16 until after the season opener, but is scheduled to drive select races in 2009 for Joe Gibbs Racing. He began racing Bandoleros in 2002 at the quarter-mile ovals at Atlanta and Lowe's Motor Speedways where he earned five titles in four years. Most recently, he's competed in the ASA Late Model Series, Georgia Asphalt Series, and ASA Southeast Asphalt Tour. He will compete for the ASA Southeast Championship in 2009 in addition to the limited races on the Camping World Series East.
ALEX HAASE - This 19-year old driver was the 2008 PASS South Champion and drove a Kyle Busch entry in the East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway in 2008. His background includes Bandoleros, Legend cars, and Super Late Model's. He raced in the inaugural Mason-Dixon Meltdown at South Boston Speedway for Busch as well as a full season in the Camping World Series West in 2007 with seven top-10s in 13 starts.
JARIT JOHNSON - Jarit is the younger brother of three-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson. He's made two Camping World Truck Series starts (2005) and one start in the Nationwide Series in 2008 as well as one start in the Camping World Series West in 2008. He recorded a 24th place finish in January's NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.
MATT KURZEJEWESKI - This driver plans to run full time in the Camping World East Series in 2009 and tentatively plans to also compete in select races in the Whelen Modified Tour, Whelen All-American Series and Race of Champions Modified Series. He began his career at the age of five at Southern Tier Microd Club before moving on to a full-size Ford Mustang at age 11. He's raced Legends, Modifieds, and started in the 2009 ARCA RE/MAX finale at Toledo.
BRETT MOFFITT - Brett will race for Andy Santerre Motorsports in 2009. He earned Rookie of the Year honors and finished second in points in the ASA Late Model North Series in 2008 after a successful dirt racing career.
TYLER YOUNG - This driver has raced IMCA Sport Modifieds and was the IKF Regional Champion in 2004. He was also a World Karting Association track champion in 2004 and raced with the Pro Cup Series in 2008.