(BATON ROUGE, La. - August 22, 2012) - In what seems to be the new normal for Aleks Gregory in his debut ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season, the 23-year-old rookie is set for another first this weekend - his first-career short track start.
Coming off his best-career finish with his new team, Coulter Motorsports, in his last ARCA start at one of the largest tracks on the series, Pocono Raceway, Gregory is eager to carry that momentum to one of the shortest tracks on the schedule, half-mile Madison International Speedway, in Sunday afternoon's Herr's Live Life with Flavor 200.
To say that Gregory will be a rookie when he takes his No. 61 The Mosquito Patch Chevrolet around Madison's half-mile oval might be an understatement as the Baton Rouge native's only short track experience comes as a spectator watching the ARCA Racing Series compete at Lucas Oil Raceway in 2011. But, armed with the experience of his Coulter Motorsports team and new crew chief, veteran Jon Wolfe, Gregory and team have high expectations for a strong finish.
In preparation for his first short track start Gregory and his No. 61 crew tested at Gresham Motorsports Park last week, where he was able to begin his relationship with Wolfe while learning how to negotiate a high-powered stock car around a half-mile track. Running over 200 laps in the test session along with guidance from NASCAR veteran Kelly Bires, Gregory learned the challenges of short track racing quickly and was able to log fast, consistent laps throughout the session.
"The test out in Gresham was great," said Gregory. "It will definitely prove to be beneficial in Madison. Being able to work with Jon Wolfe and Kelly Bires- in just those seven hours that we were at the track, I learned so much from both of those guys. Gresham was my first time out at a short track, and it's a lot different to have that kind of power on such a small race track. Your setup is going to be crucial out there, being able to get that left front dug in and being able to get the car to turn through the corner. I'm glad we did the test; I learned a lot and really feel confident that we will be successful in Madison."
Gregory couldn't have a better leader to help ease his learning curve than new Crew Chief Jon Wolfe. With over 30 years of racing experience Wolfe knows how to get to victory lane, and he's done it at racing's highest level. Most notably in his nine year NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing where Wolfe served as car chief and went to victory lane seven times including the Daytona 500 with Dale Jarrett and the Coca Cola 600 with Bobby Labonte in what was Labonte's first NSCS victory. He also led Jamie McMurray to two NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) victories as crew chief at Phoenix Racing and Kasey Kahne to his first-career NNS win as crew chief at Akins Motorsports. In addition to his NASCAR expertise, Wolfe has made a big splash in the ARCA Racing Series with five career wins (Daytona, Atlanta, Springfield, Chicagoland)- most recently leading Patrick Sheltra to the 2010 ARCA Racing Series championship.
"I'm looking forward to getting started with Aleks," said Wolfe. "He wants to learn all he can. We are doing a lot of talking to him about what we are doing to the race car and the changes we are making so he can learn how that affects the car too. He absorbs it all really well. Obviously he is still a rookie in these stock cars, but he is very willing to learn, pays attention and is very in tune with what we are doing and what he's doing. I really think we have started off on good footing; I believe in him and he believes in me."
After his career-best finish in his last ARCA outing, Gregory has been itching to get back to the track with his Coulter Motorsports crew. Armed with his The Mosquito Patch Chevrolet, experienced crew chief, newly-learned short track racing knowledge and an air of confidence, Gregory is sure to be one to watch for Sunday afternoon.
"I'm still on a high after Pocono; that was phenomenal," said Gregory. "I didn't think that we would be that successful, and I'm still psyched about that. I can't wait to get back to the track and to be back with my Coulter Motorsports team. We had such a good test at Gresham, and I am really excited to be working with Jon (Wolfe). We are communicating a lot, and I know we are going to have a fast car and be very good this weekend."
Aleks Gregory and the No. 61 The Mosquito Patch Chevrolet Fast Facts:
One Fast Chevy: Aleks Gregory will be piloting chassis No. 14 in this weekend's Herr's Live Life with Flavor 200. Joey Coulter last used this car at Toledo Speedway in the spring where he qualified fourth and fought back from a late race spin to finish 14th.
Meet Aleks Gregory: Aleks and his Coulter Motorsports teammate, Matt Lofton, will be signing autographs on Friday, August 24th at the ARCA party at Club LeMark in North Stoughton at 6:00 p.m. CDT.
Mosquito Patch Did You Know: The Mosquito Patch uses a transdermal patch to deliver thiamin (vitamin B1) through the skin and directly into the bloodstream to be circulated throughout the body delivering an all-natural, deet-free, safe and effective mosquito repellant to the body.
Tune In: Sunday's Herr's Live Life with Flavor 200 will be broadcast live on ARCARacing.com at 2:00 p.m. CDT with both timing and scoring and audio coverage from ARCA Racing network hosts Charlie Krall and Tim Clagg.
Keeping Up With Aleks: Want to know what Aleks Gregory is up to both on and off the race track? Fans can now keep up with Aleks on Twitter - @AleksGregory61 and Facebook - facebook.com/AleksGregory61.