After a season of milestones for NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduates that included a Premier Series win and playoff appearance for Kyle Larson and an XFINITY Series championship by Daniel Suarez, the 2017 class has been announced.
NASCAR released the list of six 2017 Drive for Diversity class members on Wednesday. The drivers were selected after a competitive combine held last October at New Smyrna Speedway and will compete for Rev Racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in the upcoming season.
The 2017 class features a former NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series champion, the granddaughter of one of the sport's female pioneers, and NASCAR Drive for Diversity's first sibling teammates. The drivers will attempt to follow in the footsteps of program graduates and current national series drivers Larson, Darrell Wallace Jr., and 2016 XFINITY Series champ Suárez.
"Now more than ever, we're seeing the impact of NASCAR's development program in producing drivers who excel at the highest echelons of our sport," said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. "There's a great deal of talent and potential in this year's class. With the strong foundation that NASCAR Drive for Diversity provides, these drivers will have the opportunity to develop the skills needed to elevate their racing careers."
The 2017 class is led by four returning drivers: Collin Cabre, Jay Beasley, Madeline Crane and Rubén García Jr., who first competed in stock car racing in his native Mexico.
Collin's younger brother, Chase Cabre, joins 16-year-old Macy Causey as this year's Drive for Diversity newcomers. Causey's grandmother, Diane Teel, was the first woman to compete in a NASCAR XFINITY Series race in 1982.
Rev Racing, the operational arm of Drive for Diversity, will field four teams in the K&N Pro Series East and two in the Whelen All-American Series.
The 2017 NASCAR Drive for Diversity roster features:
Collin Cabre: An impressive second year in Drive for Diversity program was highlighted by four top-five and six top-10 finishes and a sixth-place finish in the K&N Pro Series East championship standings. After winning the 2015 season finale at Dover International Speedway, Cabre was named to the 2016-2017 NASCAR Next class. The 23-year-old from Tampa, Florida, will compete in his third season in the K&N Pro Series East with Rev Racing.
Chase Cabre: Cabre, 20, registered 12 race wins in 21 starts in a 600 Mini Sprint Car and is a two-time Fall Brawl Champion at Florida's Ocala Bullring. In 2016, he averaged a fourth-place finish in races at Hickory Motor Speedway and set two poles during the season. Chase will compete in the K&N Pro Series East in his rookie season with Rev Racing.
Rubén García Jr.: At age 20, the Mexico City native became the youngest NASCAR PEAK Mexico driver to win the series championship in 2015. García was also part of the NASCAR Next program in both 2015 and 2016. He returns to the K&N Pro Series East after finishing 10th in the series last season.
Jay Beasley: Beasley, 24, made history in 2013 by becoming the first African-American driver to win a Super Late Model race at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. In his first season with the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program in 2014, he earned two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. He returns to the series for his third season with Rev Racing.
Macy Causey: Causey, 16, was honored with the NASCAR Young Racer Award in 2016. The year prior, she won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Virginia Rookie of the Year Award and earned top rookie honors at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia, where in 1978 her grandmother became the first woman to win a NASCAR-sanctioned race at the track. Causey will compete for Rev Racing in the Whelen All American Series.
Madeline Crane: The Georgia native began her career racing Bandoleros at Atlanta Motor Speedway at age 10. Crane, 19, moved into Legend cars, and by the time she was 14 had garnered 59 top-five finishes in 82 starts. Returning for a second season with Drive for Diversity, she will compete in the Whelen All-American Series following two top-five and 12 top-10 finishes in 2016.
NASCAR Drive for Diversity aligns drivers with a team of executives, athletic directors, crew chiefs and mentors tasked with helping them achieve career successes, and thus improving their chances of realizing the goal of reaching one of the three NASCAR national series.
Since it began fielding NASCAR Drive for Diversity cars in 2010, Rev Racing has been one of the most consistent teams in the K&N Pro Series East, registering 17 wins, 65 top-five and 124 top-10 finishes with drivers finishing in the top 10 in points each season.
"Each year the applicant pool and talent level rises and our program continues to evolve and create more opportunities for advancement," said Max Siegel, CEO and owner of Rev Racing. "NASCAR Drive for Diversity and Rev Racing are proud of the impact that we have had in the sport and we look forward to graduating the next generation of athletes to the national series."
The 2016 NASCAR season was a historic year for NASCAR Drive for Diversity alumni. Larson, who is Asian-American, became the first program graduate to win a race and reach the playoffs in the sport's premier series, now called the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
With his NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Michigan International Speedway, Suárez was the first Mexican-born driver to win a national series race, and last November he became the first foreign-born driver to win a national series championship. Suárez will make his debut in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2017.
The 2017 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season opener will take place on Feb. 19 at New Smyrna Speedway, where Rev Racing scored a win with Suárez in 2014.