18-year old Coleman to make Busch debut NASCAR Busch Series Rookie driver Brad Coleman is used to being the youngest driver on the track in every racing series he has ever competed. For the seventh consecutive year, the Houston native will start his season as the youngest gun on the grid when he gets behind the wheel of the No. 18 Carino’s Italian Grill Chevrolet to run the Telcel-Motorola 200 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez road course in Mexico City this coming weekend.
In 2006, the successful young ARCA driver posted the highest average finishing position (third) by notching top-five honors in eight of his nine starts, which included his first major stock car win at Kentucky Speedway in July when he held off eight-time series champion Frank Kimmel through two green-white-checkered restarts. Coleman also ran his first of two career NASCAR Busch Series races in 2006 at Nashville Speedway the week after he graduated high school where he lived and trained in Martinsville, VA.
Coleman’s strong showing in ARCA, record-setting run in the Rolex 24 of Daytona at 16 years-old, 2005 Late Model Rookie Points Championship in the NASCAR Dodge Weekly Series, and extensive open wheel experience prompted Speed Channel’s Dave Despain to call him “The prototype NASCAR young gun of the future."
"Brad has been working hard with our race team in preparation for the 2007 season. We are excited about his start in Mexico City and what the future may hold for him. He brings a total package approach to the sport at a very young age and has proven himself in a wide variety of race cars in a number of different series", stated Joe Gibbs Racing President J.D. Gibbs.
While it will be Coleman’s first time to drive a Busch car on a road course, he feels confident he will pick it up quickly.
"I've been fortunate to have a lot of training on oval speedways and road courses, so I feel like I will be able to get up to speed by the time they drop the green flag on Sunday," said Coleman. "I have driven most every major road course in North America and am always excited about learning a new track. I think one of the greatest challenges in Motorsports is to race at a track where you have never been and adapt to it quickly. I have great confidence in my team and know we will be competitive."
After celebrating his 19th birthday this week in Mexico City, Coleman will pilot the No. 18 Carino’s Italian Grill Chevrolet in his first of 17 races for Joe Gibbs Racing. His 16 remaining races are Las Vegas (March 10); Nashville (April 7); Texas (April 14); Talladega (April 28); Richmond (May 4); Kentucky (June 16); Milwaukee (June 23); Gateway (July 21); Indianapolis (July 28); Montreal (Aug. 4); Watkins Glen (Aug. 11); Michigan (Aug. 18); Bristol (Aug. 24); Dover (Sept. 22); Memphis (Oct. 27) and Phoenix (Nov. 10). The remaining races in the No. 18 will be shared by fellow teammates Aric Amirola (7), Kevin Conway (8), and Tony Stewart (3).
Brad Coleman – 19 Year-old driver of the No. 18 Carino’s Italian Grill Chevrolet in the NASCAR Busch Series race at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez
Could you imagine a better birthday celebration for a teenager?
"I realize I am blessed and it’s kind of like having the ultimate birthday, running a NASCAR Busch race with the best team in the garage. Now all I have to do is get up on the wheel and make the most of it. Winning is the only other thing that would make it a better birthday celebration."
You have raced at a lot of different tracks in your young career. Can you recall how many tracks you have driven and what you learned from the experience?
"The last time I counted it was about 45 different tracks. I have actually raced at 30 or so and been to another 15 as part of a pit crew for training. I know I have raced most every major road course in North America except for Watkins Glen because you have to be 18 to drive there. You learn something new at every track just like you do with every different car you drive. It was always our theory that blending the various types of cars with my stock car programs would help me develop as a total package type of driver."
Have you ever been to Mexico?
"I have been to Mexico a couple of times on vacation with my family, but not for a race. I have never been to Mexico City and have heard a lot of good things about the track and the fans. They are really passionate about Motorsports so it should be a lot of fun."
You are one of the candidates for Raybestos Rookie of the Year honors in 2007. While each qualifying Rookie gets to count their top 17 finishes for the year, you are only driving 17 races. Will that change your approach to driving these events?
I know that leaves me no room for error but I will not change my driving style to chase the award. I have always been a consistent driver and hopefully will continue to be throughout 2007 and have a shot to win the honor when it is all said and done.
What do you hope to accomplish in your 17 races for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2007?
"J.D. Gibbs and Steve Desouza have told me to do the best I can and not set any unrealistic expectations. I am going to set realistic goals but still try to win every single race I am driving. I want to continue to gain the respect of my fellow drivers and most importantly, all the great guys that are working with me at JGR."
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