Applications open for this year’s Drive for Diversity combine

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The application period for this year’s Drive for Diversity combine for aspiring female and minority race car drivers is underway.

The application period opened Thursday and will continue until August 15, at which time D4D and NASCAR will whittle down candidates who will compete in the annual combine, which is typically held in the fall.

Rev Racing, which fields cars for those chosen for the D4D, is once again overseeing the collection of applications and will put drivers in race cars to test their abilities in the upcoming combine.

“I am very excited to see this year’s class,” Rev Racing team owner Max Siegel said in a media release. “Each year, we have seen the applicant pool grow with experience and talented drivers. This class should be no different.”

The Combine will be open to those chosen for the Class of 2014.

Drivers currently participating in the D4D program and who seek to continue moving their racing careers forward can remain without participating in an another Combine.

Female and minority drivers can enter by visiting www.RevRacing.net/Combine-Application

Specific questions and requests for more information can be had by emailing Info@Revracing.net.

Per the Rev Racing media release, here are the program requirements for those interested in applying:

* Must be between 15 and 26 years of age (as of Oct. 15).

* A U.S. citizen or resident alien and legally allowed to work in the U.S.

* All drivers must demonstrate their skill and have experience in grassroots/local/regional racing

* A member of one of the following ethnic minorities classifications:

African-Americans: Having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.

Asian-Indian Americans: Having origins in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Asian-Pacific Americans: Origins are from Japan, China, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific or the Northern Marianas.

Hispanics: Having Hispanic heritage from any of the Spanish-speaking areas of Latin America or the following regions:  Mexico, Central America, and South America (including Brazil) and the Caribbean basin.

Native Americans: Persons who are American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut or Native Hawaiian, and regarded as such by the community of which the person claims to be a part. Native Americans must be documented members of a North American tribe, band or otherwise organized group of native people who are indigenous to the United States.

Females: A female of U.S citizenship (or resident alien).

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Coyne transitioning from underdog to Indy 500 threat

Photo: IndyCar
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For most of the team’s existence, Dale Coyne Racing has been the Chicago Cubs of American Open Wheel Racing – a team whose history was more defined by failures, at times comically so, than success.

The last decade, however, has seen the tide completely change. In 2007, they scored three podium finishes with Bruno Junqueira. In 2009, they won at Watkins Glen with the late Justin Wilson.

The combination won again at Texas Motor Speedway in 2012, and finished sixth in the 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series championship. That same year, Mike Conway took a shock win for them in Race 1 at the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit.

Carlos Huertas scored an upset win for them in Race 1 at the Houston double-header in 2014, and while 2015 and 2016 yielded no wins, Tristan Vautier and Conor Daly gave them several strong runs – Vautier’s best finish was fourth in Race 2 at Detroit, while Daly finished second in Race 1 at Detroit, finished fourth at Watkins Glen, and scored a trio of sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course, Race 2 at Detroit, and the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

And 2017 was set to possibly be the best year the team has ever had. Sebastien Bourdais gave the team a popular win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, and then rookie Ed Jones scored back-to-back top tens – 10th and sixth – at St. Pete and the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to start his career.

But, things started unraveling at the Indianapolis 500. Bourdais appeared set to be in the Fast Nine Pole Shootout during his first qualifying run – both of his first two laps were above 231 mph –  before his horrifying crash in Turn 2.

While Jones qualified an impressive 11th and finished an even more impressive third, results for the rest of the season became hard to come by – Jones only scored two more Top 10s, with a best result of seventh at Road America.

But, retooled for 2018, the Coyne team is a legitimate threat at the 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

Bourdais, whose No. 18 Honda features new sponsorship from SealMaster and now ownership partners in Jimmy Vasser and James “Sulli” Sullivan, has a win already, again at St. Pete, and sits third in the championship.

And Bourdais may also be Honda’s best hope, given that he was the fastest Honda in qualifying – he’ll start fifth behind Ed Carpenter, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.

“I think it speaks volumes about their work, their passion and their dedication to this program, Dale (Coyne), Jimmy (Vasser) and Sulli (James Sullivan) and everybody from top to bottom. I can’t thank them enough for the opportunity, for the support,” Bourdais said of the team’s effort.

Rookie Zachary Claman De Melo has been progressing nicely, and his Month of May has been very solid – he finished 12th at the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the IMS Road Course and qualified a strong 13th for the “500.”

“It’s been surreal to be here as rookie. I’m a bit at a loss for words,” Claman De Melo revealed after qualifying. “The fans, driving around this place, being with the team, everything is amazing. I have a great engineer, a great group of experienced mechanics at Dale Coyne Racing.”

While Conor Daly and Pippa Mann struggled in one-off entries, with Mann getting bumped out of the field in Saturday qualifying, Daly’s entry essentially puts three Coyne cars in the race – Daly’s No. 17 United States Air Force Honda is a Dale Coyne car that has been leased to Thom Burns Racing.

Rest assured, the days of Coyne being an “also ran” are long gone, and a Coyne car ending up in Victory Lane at the biggest race of the year would complete the Chicago Cubs analogy – the Cubs won a World Series title in 2016, and an Indy 500 triumph would be the crowning achievement in Coyne’s career.

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