Coleman signs full Nationwide Series ride for 2008
After a successful rookie season in the NASCAR Busch Series, teenage driving sensation Brad Coleman has decided to leave Joe Gibbs Racing to pilot a full-time ride in the No. 27 Kleenex Ford Fusion with the new owners of Brewco Motorsports.
In only 15 races to date for JGR in 2007, Coleman has posted three Top 5’s, five Top 10’s, seven Top 15’s, and nine Top 20’s, winning the Pole at Talladega and posting the highest finishing average of any non-Cup experienced driver in the series. Extraordinary statistics considering he was the youngest driver in the series for most of the season, seeing many of the race tracks for the very first time, and competing against a host of Nextel Cup drivers.
Brewco Motorsports’ new owner and CEO Gary Baker feels fortunate to have Coleman on his roster.
“We believe Brad is one of the hottest young prospects on the circuit and when we found out he was not going to be in a full ride at Gibbs, we made a run for him,” stated Baker. “He is an impressive young man with a bright future ahead of him and is the kind of guy we want to build our organization around. He is not only talented on the track, but off the track as well and will add significant value to our sponsors. We think he can contend for the Nationwide Championship next year and the guys on the team are already excited about 2008.”
In the move, Coleman will reunite with his former Crew Chief, Shawn Parker. Running Brewco’s development program in 2006, Parker guided Coleman to a successful ARCA debut, posting eight Top 5’s in just nine races and garnering a win at Kentucky in a double green-white-checker restart against nine time series champion Frank Kimmel. He knows his young driver is destined for a successful career in NASCAR and is enthusiastic about the 2008 outlook for Brewco.
“Brad is one of the most naturally gifted talents I have ever worked with, and I have worked with some good ones,” said Parker, who has worked with Mark Martin and Dale Jarrett and served on the original Rainbow Warriors crew with Jeff Gordon. “He proved at Gibbs this year that he knows how to run up front without overdriving the equipment and he has a remarkable sense of track awareness. Brad is a future Sprint Cup star and I am looking forward to winning the Nationwide Championship with him for Brewco.”
Coleman is equally optimistic in his assessment for 2008.
“I came to Brewco to drive full-time and win the Nationwide Championship,” stated Coleman. “The new owners of Brewco have promised to do whatever it takes to put this team back into championship contention and I can guarantee you I will do my part to lead that effort. Besides, I think it will be fun putting an independent team at the top of the charts.”
When asked about leaving Joe Gibbs Racing, Coleman talked about wanting to run a full season for a championship and paid tribute to the people at JGR.
“When I signed with them last year in New York City I said it was a blessing and I still feel the same way a year later,” stated Coleman. “It looked like things were shaping up for a full-time run for the championship with JGR in 2008, but after the Gibbs Cup drivers had filled the sponsored Nationwide seats there was no room left for a full season. It would have been difficult for me to run another partial season in 2008 because I want to be in the race car every weekend and I am thankful for Brewco and Kleenex providing me that opportunity.”
“As for leaving my teammates, it is hard when you feel like you are leaving family,” Coleman continued. “The people in the Gibbs organization are the best and I will miss them very much. I also want to publicly thank my Crew Chief, Jason Ratcliff, and all the guys that run the No. 18 Carino’s Italian Grill Chevrolet for me. They always give it everything they have on and off the track to build a very successful program.”
Looking forward, the native Texan added, “I know a lot of the guys at Brewco and am confident we will have great teamwork and relationships as well, and I am really impressed with the new ownership team. Mr. Baker and his guys are excited about the future and I am looking forward to being part of it.”
Coleman will now drive a car full-time that has been shared throughout the past two seasons by accomplished Nextel Cup drivers Greg Biffle, Robbie Gordon, Jamie McMurray and Ward Burton. The new owners’ strategy will shift from weekly driver change to one driver, lending their sponsor partners the opportunity to build consistency with their brands and the team a chance to run for the championship.
Kimberly-Clark Corporations’ (NYSE: KMB) National Customer Marketing Manager, Jean Maurice Boyer, is looking forward to having Coleman represent their well-trusted brands.
“Brad will be a great representative of all our brands and we are pleased to have him drive our car as we extend our sponsorship of the Brewco Motorsports team. We are already putting together some very innovative brand promotions for Kleenex, Scott, Viva, Cottonelle, Huggies, Pull-Ups, Depend and others for what we believe will be a fantastic 2008 season.”
Associate sponsors have been secured for the 2008 effort and will be announced in coming weeks. Coleman still has two races to run for Joe Gibbs Racing, one at Memphis on October 27 and the final at Phoenix on November 10. Plans are underway to try and run Coleman in additional races this season under the Brewco banner and will be announced soon.