Three local drivers to compete for a spot in NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program

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Seventeen drivers from across the country will compete for spots in the top driver development program in motorsports, NASCAR Drive for Diversity, during a national tryout at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway from Oct. 10-12.

Three drivers competing for a spot in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Development Program may one day consider Michigan International Speedway their hometown track. Armani Williams is from Grosse Point, Michigan, Ali Kern is from Fremont, Ohio while Hope Hornish is from Defiance, Ohio.

“We are excited these three drivers from our area were selected for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program,” MIS President Rick Brenner said. “We join everybody in the region in wishing these three drivers continued success in their pursuit of one day racing at Michigan International Speedway.”

Williams has been successful in competitive Kart racing, Future Stars Junior MiniCup Cars and Super MiniCup Cars throughout the Midwest.  In 2016, Williams is piloting the #4 Chevy Colorado V8 for SPEAR Motorsports out of Dundee, Michigan in the ARCA Truck Series. Williams is seeking to become the first NASCAR driver diagnosed with Autism.

Kern is a current member of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program. She is eligible for the program in 2017, but will not compete in the combine. She currently drives in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the ARCA/CRA Surer Series Powered by JEGS. She will be in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Dover 125 tonight at Dover International Speedway.

Hornish began driving at the age of five and started competing at the age of eight.  At age 18 she moved up to the Sportsman Late Model class at Angola Motorsport Speedway. In 2017 she is currently running for rookie of the year in the JEGS/CRA Allstars Tour. She has raced at Springport Motor Speedway in Springport, Michigan and Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan in the CRA JEGS Allstars Tour. She picked up the win at Berlin on June 11.

Hornish is the niece of 2006 Indianapolis 500 winner and current NASCAR XFINITY Series current NASCAR driver Sam Hornish Jr. She is a student at Adrian College. She is not a stranger to Gatorade Victory Lane at Michigan International Speedway. Hornish took part in the 29th Annual Wish-A-Mile (WAM) Bicycle Tour this year, the largest fundraiser for Make-A-Wish® Michigan

The 13th annual NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine invites promising ethnically diverse and female drivers from across North and South America to test their skills over a three-day period as NASCAR evaluates talent for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Class of 2017.

“This year’s NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine will feature some incredible talent and we’re excited to watch these young drivers compete,” said Dawn Harris, NASCAR director, multicultural development. “NASCAR’s first-class development program has produced the likes of Kyle Larson, Daniel Suárez and Darrell Wallace Jr., so it will be fun to see who rises to the top at New Smyrna.”   

In partnership with Rev Racing, NASCAR Drive for Diversity offers racing opportunities in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series for one full season, providing drivers with equipment, mentoring, and competition experience.

"This is an unbelievable opportunity for these up-and-coming drivers; something I am very proud to be a part of for the sixth-consecutive year," said Jefferson Hodges, Rev Racing director of competition. "To see past Drive for Diversity participants compete across all three NASCAR national series speaks volumes for the solid foundation Rev Racing provides these drivers in their budding careers.”

This year, there are 13 female drivers competing for spots with Rev Racing. Returning this fall is Macy Causey, who at 14 years old was the youngest combine participant in NASCAR Drive for Diversity history in 2015. Also participating are Hailie Deegan, daughter of Brian Deegan, the most decorated athlete in freestyle motocross history.

Drivers under consideration to return to the team in 2017, but who will not compete at the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine, include current NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series drivers: Jairo Avila, Enrique Baca, Collin Cabre, Madeline Crane, Ruben Garcia Jr, and Kern. Collin’s brother, Chase Cabre, is also among the drivers selected to compete in this year’s combine.

Driver combine participants will be evaluated on their driving skills, take part in a physical fitness assessment and receive additional training at Bethune-Cookman University.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine has proven successful in identifying and developing future stars of the sport. Current NASCAR Drive for Diversity members have garnered four top fives and 13 top 10s combined in the NASCAR K&N East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series this season and are looking to repeat last year’s season-ending victory by Cabre at Dover International Speedway.

Program graduate, Kyle Larson, earned his first victory in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series this year at Michigan International Speedway. Also this season, fellow graduate and NASCAR XFINITY Series driver Daniel Suárez became the first Mexican-born driver to win a NASCAR national series race. Suárez and fellow NASCAR XFINITY driver Darrell Wallace Jr., another NASCAR Drive for Diversity alumnus, are currently competing in the inaugural NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase. 

Fans can follow the Combine live on Twitter at @NASCARDiversity and @RevRacing.

Below are the invitees to the 2016 NASCAR Drive for Diversity Combine:

First

Last

Age

City

State/Country

Ali

Kern*

23

Fremont

Ohio

Amber

Balcaen

24

Winnipeg

Canada

Ariel

Biggs

22

Castaic

California

Armani

Williams

16

Grosse Point

Michigan

Chase

Cabre

19

Tampa

Florida

Collin

Cabre*

23

Tampa

Florida

Enrique

Baca*

25

Monterrey

Mexico

Hailie

Deegan

15

Temecula

California

Hannah

Newhouse

19

Twin Falls

Idaho

Hope

Hornish

19

Defiance

Ohio

Jairo

Avila*

21

Alhambra

California

Jay

Beasley

24

Las Vegas

Nevada

Kayli

Barker

19

Las Vegas

Nevada

Luis

Rodriguez

22

Miami

Florida

Macy

Causey

15

Yorktown

Virginia

Madeline

Crane*

18

Meansville

Georgia

McKenna

Haase

19

Carlisle

Iowa

Nicole

Behar

18

Otis Orchards

Washington

Reegan

May

22

De Pere

Wisconsin

Ruben

Garcia Jr.*

20

Mexico City

Mexico

Santiago

Tovar

23

Mexico City

Mexico

Taylor

Jorgensen

20

Stockbridge

Georgia

Walter

Thomas III

18

Indianapolis

Indiana

* Current NASCAR Drive for Diversity drivers eligible for 2017 program; will attend but not compete in combine

© 2017 Michigan International Speedway

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