CONCORD, N.C. — The North Carolina State University Wolfpack men’s basketball team won’t be the only student athletes in action this weekend. Justin Crider, a freshman engineering student at NC State, will hit the track for the first time this year, racing in the inaugural CARS Late Model Stock Tour event at Southern National Motorsports Park in Lucarna, N.C.

 

The Wolfpack basketball team, who upset No. 1-seeded Villanova 71-68 in the NCAA East Regional last Saturday night, has given Crider an extra boost going into this weekend’s race.

 

“It was great to see them get a big win and advance,” said Crider. “The Wolfpack kind of snuck up on Villanova. That’s what we hope to do this weekend at Southern National. We’re definitely an underdog, too, but I think we can surprise everyone and let them know we’ll be a contender this season.”

 

Since Crider was announced as one of the seven finalists for the 2015 Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP), it has been a whirlwind ride for the 18-year old from Statesville, N.C.

 

“Honestly, I felt like a celebrity. We have worked hard to get the word out about our team for the last couple of years, but the exposure from the KDDP has given us some traction. It’s been fun talking about the season ahead, but now it’s time to get down to business and carry the Kulwicki colors onto the track.”

 

Crider, along with some 30 other late model stock and super late model drivers, tested at the 4/10ths-mile speed plant two weekends ago.

 

“We were pretty fast, especially for running with bump stops for the first time,” Crider said. “We ran about a 15.68 on sticker tires, which stayed near the top all weekend. That was pretty good for a four-year old car.”

 

Realistically, Crider knows this season competing on the CARS Tour will be a tough one.

 

“It’s going to be a strong field all year long, but we’re pretty familiar with all the tracks,” he noted. “As long as we can keep the tires under the car and stay out of trouble, I think you’ll see us in the top 10 at the end of the year.”

 

Despite being born over three years after the death of Alan Kulwicki, Crider has always been a Kulwicki fan, growing up with the poster of the 1992 NASCAR Winston Cup Champion on his bedroom wall.

 

“My dad [Chris Crider] raced late model stocks in the 90s, and Alan was always one of his favorites. He and my mom always told me stories about Alan, and I think we probably watched that ’92 Atlanta race about fifty times,” Crider said. “From growing up looking at that poster, wanting to be a racer and engineer just like Alan, to now getting to race with his name and number on my car is so special. It’s an incredible honor and I hope we can share his legacy on the CARS Tour all season long.”

 

Crider is one of seven short track racers from across the United States flying the Kulwicki colors in 2015. Follow Justin and the rest of the KDDP drivers on Twitter and Facebook – @kulwickiddp – and on the program’s website (www.kulwickiDDP.com).

 

Speed51.com, the official media partner of the KDDP, will provide LIVE Trackside Now updates from Southern National Motorsports Park on March 28. Qualifying for the X1-R 300, the inaugural event of the CARS Tour, kicks off at 5:00 p.m. EST, followed by last chance races and twin 150-lap features for both LMSC and SLM divisions. Follow all the action on www.speed51.com and keep up with the CARS Tour all season long at www.CARSRacingTour.com.

 

-Kulwicki Driver Development Program Press Release. Photo credit:

Crider Using ‘Wolfpack Approach’ at CARS Tour Opener