Score one for the little guy

by Dave Yaeck
September 2, 2006

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Clay Andrews was virtually an unknown in the sport of NASCAR when the season started in February. He was businessman who raced locally in the Winston West Series in California who had dreams of owning his own team and he made that come true at the end of the 2005 Busch Series Season and decided to run a part time schedule for the 2006 season with an up-and-coming driver named David Gilliland, who shared the same passion for winning that he did. On June 17th at the Meijer 300 in Kentucky Speedway Gilliland and Clay Andrews Racing did something that has never been done in NASCAR before, to have a part time team win a Busch Series event.

The win catapulted a virtual unknown in Gilliland to being the hottest commodity in the garage, and within days after the race, there was talk of his future in the Nextel Cup Series. A proud Andrews did not have much time to relish in the spotlight, as by the end of July his up-and-coming driver was gobbled up by Robert Yates Racing with a one race Busch Series deal that subsequently thrust the 30 year old Gilliland to a dream job with RYR in the #38 M&M’s Ford for the remainder of the Nextel Cup Season.

With Gilliland moving on this left Andrews and a team with so much potential and momentum, spinning their wheels without a driver and was forced to close up their shop. But Andrews was not going to go down without a fight. He continued to work on his engine program and started to prepare for the future.

He just did not realize that the future would happen so soon.

What Andrews realized through this experience was that there is hope for the smaller and less influential teams, but to do that he would have to get them together, on the same page, sharing the same information in order to accomplish the same goal. This inspired Andrews to put together the Clay Andrews Racing Alliance Partners. The creation of the Alliance is to provide a means for single car teams in NASCAR to share information including tire data, aero, engine performance and other items to inspire the lower budgeted teams to have the ability to compete with the multi car teams in NASCAR.

“Losing David (Gilliland) made me bitter at first but it made me realize that maybe I did accomplish what I set out to achieve,” an emotional Andrews said at the press conference. “It is for this reason that I have started this alliance. To give the smaller teams a chance to compete at the level of the larger teams and tapping into raw undiscovered talent and giving them a chance to make it in this business.”

“June 17th (Meijer 300 at Kentucky victory) was magical. The opportunity to share information with other teams like ourselves will give more non high-profile teams a chance towards that same magic that we experienced.”

Also in attendance for this announcement was Richard J. Rubenstein, Vice President of Operations for Key Motorsports, owners of the #40 Key Motorsports Chevrolet in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

“In talking with Clay today and knowing who some of the other players will be, it makes a lot of sense, and Key Motorsports is behind this full throttle,” Rubenstein said.

At least four teams will actively support the Alliance at this time with more expected to join as word spreads. Key Motorsports is the first Craftsman Truck Series team in the stable and has already purchased two of Andrews’ Hype Manufacturing motors for competition this year. Andrews’ engine manufacturing arm from the Busch Series team remains in business in Murphy, NC and will produce the horsepower for all of the teams in the Alliance.

First order of business for the new alliance is to announce a driver for the #84 Hype Motorsports Chevrolet. Their intentions are to run the November Busch Series race in Phoenix but Andrews is optimistic but energetic about the future.

“If we are not ready to run in November we won’t run, but we will see you in Daytona in February”, Andrews said. When they do start and when people join the alliance, it will be engines from Clay Andrews that they will be running.

No matter when they start though, if Andrews gets the support he feels that he is going to get, the alliance will be a force to be reckoned with.

The author can be contacted at nascar@autoracing1.com

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