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Local driver moving on up

By Roger Diez

I’m getting tired of writing about gloom and doom in the racing world, so I was delighted to get some positive information last week about one of our locals who is making a big step up in his racing career.

Dallas Colodny, currently a sophomore at the University of Nevada and a veteran of two seasons in the ASA Speed Truck Challenge, has been tapped as the newest driver for the High Point Racing Driver Development team. Colodny will be assigned to the No. 51 car and will race in the Super Late Model division at Irwindale Speedway in southern California. The two year old chassis is nicknamed “Pole Position” by the crew because it set fast time in half its races in 2007 and in the last two races of 2008.

The team is excited to have Dallas aboard. As crew chief Kevin Stevens said, “With Dallas behind the wheel, I think we have an excellent chance at Rookie of the Year and even the Championship.”

The 19-year-old Colodny was chosen for the seat not only for his driving ability, but also for his ability to be a great spokesperson for the team.

“I would like to help continue the tradition of Rookie of the Years that HPR has had over the last few years,” said Colodny. “I would like to win at least one, but hopefully more, main events in 2009 and finish in the top five in points. I am really looking forward to driving with HPR as it will be my first time not racing for the family team.

“Also I am looking forward to doing all the off-track media and charity events that HPR does with its drivers.”

Dallas will make his debut in the High Point Racing machine when the season kicks off in March.

– Although there will be no Daytona testing for NASCAR’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck series next month due to NASCAR’s test ban, fans will nevertheless have a chance to get their first racing experience of 2009. NASCAR will hole a Preseason Thunder Fan Fest at Daytona on Jan. 16-17, with autograph sessions, show cars, interactive fan forums, and ride-and-drive packages provided by the Richard Petty Driving Experience. Tickets can be ordered by calling 1-800-PITSTOP, and are $15. Autograph sessions are limited to 100 people per driver in advance.

– Although NASCAR has banned testing at tracks currently on the racing schedule, the limitation does not apply to ARCA. Joining the ARCA/RE/MAX series for testing last weekend were motocross champion Ricky Carmichael and young Joey Logano, who will take over the No. 20 Gibbs Racing Toyota for 2009.

Carmichael was getting some track time at Daytona prior to his Camping World Truck debut at the two-and-a half-mile tri-oval in February. Carmichael will be driving one of Kevin Harvick’s trucks in the series, after cutting his stock car teeth in a Ken Schrader- owned Camping World East stock car this past season.

Logano, the 18-year-old phenom, posted seventh-quickest time on Saturday. He is prepping for a busy Speedweeks at Daytona in February. He will compete in the ARCA race that kicks off the festivities, then participate in the Budweiser All-Star Shootout, both on Feb. 7.

The Shootout format this year selects the top six point-scoring cars of each make currently participating in Sprint Cup competition, and the Gibbs No. 20 machine is one of the Toyota selections. Logano will also participate in the Nationwide series at Daytona. With the Gatorade Duel 150 and the Daytona 500, the youngster will compete in five races altogether during Speed Weeks.

– Speaking of Daytona, three-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson will be getting an early start on racing there. Johnson will once again team up with Grand Am champions Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty, joined by CART/Champ Car titlist Jimmy Vassar, for an assault on the Rolex 24-hours of Daytona. The same team led a significant portion of last year’s race and finished a strong second.

Johnson is the first of a number of Sprint Cup drivers who will race in the Rolex 24. A.J. Allmendinger is also confirmed, and as other entries are announced, I will tally them for you here.