Bill Lester to make Cup start?

NASCAR's top series could soon have its first African-American driver in nearly 20 years, as Bill Lester and team owner Bill Davis have discussed the possibility of putting Lester in a Nextel Cup car later this season. "We've kicked it around, definitely," Lester said Saturday. Lester, 44, has been a regular in NASCAR's Craftsman Trucks Series — stock car racing's equivalent to Class AA baseball — since 2002. If he qualified for a Cup race, he would become the first African-American driver to race in NASCAR's top series since Willy T. Ribbs, who ran three races in 1986. Lester said he has made it clear to Davis that his goal is to race in the Nextel Cup, and Davis has been receptive. "It's just a matter of all the planets lining up," Lester said. A graduate of the University of California-Berkley with a degree in electrical engineering and computer science, Lester quit a high-paying job at Hewlett-Packard in the late 1990s to pursue his hobby, sports-car racing, full time. He ran his first NASCAR race in 1999, a Busch Series race on the road course in Watkins Glen, N.Y. Bobby Hamilton hired him to drive in the trucks series in 2002 and he moved to Davis' team last season. So far, Lester has shown speed but hasn't achieved consistent good finishes. He ranks 18th in the trucks series points standings this season, qualifying on the pole for two races but finishing in the top five only once. USA Today

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