ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – So who are these guys?
The Bucyrus 200 field is filled with drivers who aren’t NASCAR Nationwide Series regulars, and several who will be making their first Nationwide Series start at Road America on Saturday.
So here’s the short version of who some of these guys are:
Tony Ave, No. 35 TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet
Ave, 38, is Wisconsin native who has competed in sports cars, Formula Atlantics and Indy Lights in his career. He’s doing double-duty at road America, driving a Corvette in the SCCA Trans-Am Series race here. He’s made two Sprint Cup and one Nationwide start.
Robb Brent, No. 09 RAB Racing Ford
Brent, 22, is from Michigan and currently drives for the ARCA team owned by Justin Allgaier’s father. His career started almost by accident, when at 16 he drove a go-kart and a local indoor karting facility. Brent caught the racing bug and can some open-wheel cars before moving to stock cars in 2006.
Ron Fellows, No. 88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet
Should need no introduction, but here goes: Fellows is a veteran road racer best known for driving Chevrolet Corvettes on road courses. The 50-year-old Canadian has 51 starts across NASCAR’s national series, with four Nationwide wins and two Camping World Truck Series wins. Fellows won the Nationwide race in the rain at Montreal in 2008.
J.R. Fitzpatrick, No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet
The 22-year-old Canadian has raced stock cars North of the border for several years. At age 18, Fitzpatrick won the Canadian Tire Series championship. Fitzpatrick has made four Nationwide starts and 13 truck starts, finishing fourth in the 2009 Daytona truck race for TRG Motorsports after leading 17 laps.
Tim George Jr., No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet
He’s a Richard Childress Racing development driver, landing an ARCA ride with RCR this year. Born in New York City on Dec. 21, 1980, George has an English degree from the University of Miami. His racing resume includes starts in the Grand-Am Rolex series, as well as the Skip Barber Formula Dodge Series.
Victor Gonzalez Jr., No. 05 Day Enterprises Racing Chevrolet
Gonzalez, 34, became the first Puerto Rican to start a NASCAR race when he ran a Nationwide race last year. His racing career started in karts in his home country, and he’s raced in the Atlantic Series, Skip Barber Dodge Pro Series and North American Touring Car Series. He’s the only instructor at the world-renown Skip Barber Racing School to hail from Puerto Rico.
Kyle Kelley, No. 59 Chevrolet
Kelley will be making his Nationwide Series debut Saturday, driving a car owned by his father. Kelley, 24, from Huntington Beach, Calif., races in the K&N Pro Series West division. He’s raced in the Star Mazda Series on the West Coast, as well as in the Atlantic Series.
Owen Kelly, No. 27 Baker Curb Racing Ford
Think Marcos Ambrose. Well, sort of. Like Ambrose, Kelly is from Australia and has raced the Australian V8 Supercar Series. He moved to the United States in 2008, when he raced a Late Model for Dale Earnhardt Jr. Last year, Kelly also raced sports cars in the Grand-Am Rolex series.
Alex Kennedy, No. 23 R3 Motorsports Chevrolet
The 18-year-old started on BMX bikes at age 6 before moving to quarter-midgets, Bandoleros and Legends cars. At age 14, he began racing Late Models and has run in ASA and ARCA. He recently graduated from Aztec High School in New Mexico.
Patrick Long, No. 90 D’Hondt-Humphrey Motorsports Toyota
Long is a factory Porsche driver who currently competes in the American Le Mans Series for Flying Lizard Motorsports. He’s earned class victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. Long, 28, will be making his NASCAR debut.
Kevin O’Connell, No. 43 Baker Curb Racing Ford
No, he’s not the quarterback of the NFL’s New York Jets. The 43-year-old California native has one NASCAR start, the Nationwide race in Mexico City in 2008. He raced in the Skip Barber Formula Dodge series before driving Late Models and Super Trucks at Irwindale Speedway. In 2006, O’Connell moved to the Grand-Am Rolex series in a Porsche GT-3 car. He has a pre-law degree from Cal State-Northridge and an MBA from Pepperdine.
Antonio Perez, No. 87 Nemco Motorsports Toyota
The 24-year-old Mexican has five Nationwide starts, all on road courses. He’s raced in the Corona Series for stock cars in Mexico and has tried to break into NASCAR through the K&N Pro Series West division. He’s also raced open-wheel cars in Europe, Mexico and the U.S.
Joey Scarallo, No. 56 Mac Hill Motorsports Chevrolet
Scarallo, 31, was born in Australia but calls Smithtown, N.Y. his hometown, and has a background in open-wheel cars, from Formula 2000 to Formula Atlantic to Trans-Am to Indy Lights.
Jacques Villeneuve, No. 32 Braun Racing Toyota
Another who needs no introduction, but just for review: Villeneuve is a former Formula One champion and Indianapolis 500 winner who has reduced his scheduled in recent years. The 39-year-old Canadian had an aborted Sprint Cup career in 2008 before driving Peugeot sports cars in Europe. Still one of the most popular athletes in Canada, Villeneuve was one of several Canadians to carry the Olympic flag into the Vancouver Olympic Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of Winter Olympic Games.