Allec participating in Daytona activities

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Well, the Daytona 500, the crown jewel of the Speedweeks festival at Daytona International Speedway, is only a week away.

I had a call last week from a Carson City racer who is going to be in Daytona most of next week. Jerry Allec, Jr., after dipping his toe into NASCAR waters as a driver last season, is going not as a spectator, but as an insider, part of the panoply of Speedweeks.

Allec, a local driver with lots of experience and success behind him, broke into the big leagues last year with the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, getting sporadic rides with the MacDonald Motorsports Team, which runs the No. 72 and No. 93 trucks. After testing at Daytona, Allec's first outing was at Martinsville against the likes of the NCTS regulars as well as Kevin Harvick, Ken Schrader, Andy Petree, Bobby Hamilton, and Darrel Waltrip in a one-off drive. A 40th qualifying effort wasn't good enough to put Allec on the grid.

At Texas he was a spotter and had his first opportunity to see the IRL cars run. He finally got to drive a race in Colorado at Pikes Peak International Raceway, starting 32nd and improving to 26th by the checker. At Las Vegas he looked like a shoo-in to make the race, running in the top third of the field in practice. Unfortunately an axle broke during his qualifying run. He managed to keep it off the fence, but his 34th fastest time wasn't good enough to make the race. Allec had to settle for being part of the over-the-wall pit team, which he thought was exciting in its own right!

Allec has worked his way up through NASCAR's experience requirements and is now qualified to run tracks up to 1.5 miles in length. He's hoping to continue in the NCTS series with some rides this season, banking on some good results catching the eye of a sponsor that can help move his career along.

Meanwhile, he'll be at Daytona along with his two long-time crew chiefs Clark Boucher and Cliff Button, helping where he can and rooting the team on. Button, by the way, runs Sunshine Performance in Reno, building engines for many local racers.

Alec also stays active locally, turning in performances at Champion Motor Speedway last season in both his Late Model Tour car and a sprint car. Like most good drivers, Allec realizes that "seat time" is what keeps a driver sharp, so expect to see him at CMS a few times again this season.

For readers who are new to the area and have no idea who I'm talking about, let me give you a brief rundown on Allec's career. Allec started racing at Champion Motor Speedway (then Tahoe-Carson Speedway) in 1991, scoring two main event wins. He went on to Rookie of the Year honors in the Maverick division in 1992. The next year he was runner-up to champion Chet Danburg.

Allec scored frequent main event wins from 1995 to 1997, finishing up with the 1997 Limited Sportsman track championship and also placing in runner-up spot in the NorCal touring series. He went Tour racing in 1998, with the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Tour the "biggie" that year. The next three years he moved up to bigger tracks, racing at Altamont, Las Vegas, and other venues, which led to the invitation to the NCTS ride with MacDonald Racing last year.

Moving to the national open-wheel scene, Michael Andretti has confirmed that he will retire from racing after the Indianapolis 500 in May to concentrate on running his IRL team, Andretti Green Racing. After Indy, Andretti will give up his seat to young English driver Dan Wheldon, who will drive the team's fourth car at Indy.

The team also announced that it has secured sponsorship from 7-Eleven, with Andretti's car carrying the number 7. Tony Kanaan's car will display the number 11, with sponsorship from several of 7-Eleven's vendors. Hmmm -- I wonder if their pits tops for fuel will be announced as "Big Gulps" by the announcers? And will Slurpees be the drink of choice in the team's hospitality tent? Stay tuned.

Roger Diez is the motorsports columnist for the Nevada Appeal. He can be reached at


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