As the 2017 racing season ends, race teams throughout the country are beginning put together their plans for the 2018 season. On Tuesday afternoon, Rev Racing announced their plans by revealing the 2018 NASCAR Drive for Diversity lineup.
Included in the lineup are returning drivers Chase Cabre and Ruben Garcia, Jr., as well as newcomers Ryan Vargas, Isabella Robusto, Ernie Francis, Jr. and Nick Sanchez.
Prior to each racing season, Rev Racing partners with NASCAR for the Drive for Diversity program and provides opportunities for young racers of many diverse backgrounds to help them reach the next tier in their racing career.
The Drive for Diversity program has been targeting marketable minorities and female drivers since its inception in 2004. This driver development program is offered to drivers who feel they need that extra step to advance their racing careers. Rev Racing puts these teens and young adults in their equipment and provides them with the knowledge to be a great driver on and off the race track.
Drivers who are chosen to compete in this program range from Legend Cars, to Late Models, to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East. The talent on the race track is not the only thing these drivers bring to the table; they also bring forward marketing and media experience.
Chase Cabre and his brother Collin have both competed in the program. He believes his previous involvement with Rev Racing will be helpful to his success this year as he returns to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
“I feel like, being my second year and having my crew chief back by my side and already having that bond, we’ll be able to go out there and get the job done,” Cabre said following a press conference on Tuesday. “When I went to New Smyrna I was blinded. That’s one of my biggest races I feel like. My friends and family are down there. You’ve got a lot of pressure going into that race being that it is the first race.”
Not only is the competition tough but the field of drivers features top talent from all over the nation.
“One of the biggest challenge as far as running the NASCAR K&N Pro Series is you race against all these other kids who grew up and were winning races and you were winning races growing up,” Cabre continued. “Once you get to this point everybody’s good and it’s hard to go out there and get the job done.”
Cabre, 20, feels confident going into the 2018 season as he believes he has gained a lot of experience from his previous year with Rev Racing.
“This year I was able to learn everything I need to know, and then going into next year I’m just able to go apply what I’ve known and hopefully go out there and get the win.”
One of Cabre’s teammates this year will be 17-year-old Ryan Vargas, a two-time Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award winner.
Vargas is excited to be joining the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East ranks and learning alongside some of the best drivers in the business.
“Now I can really show what I can do in great equipment with great teammates,” Vargas stated. “Hopefully I can really show what I have this year in the K&N Pro Series East.”
The top finishing minority driver in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I standings speaks modestly about his goals for the upcoming season with Rev Racing.
“My number-one goal is that I keep learning and keep progressing. Hopefully I’ll have Rookie of the Year and hopefully I’ll even have a banner up on that wall,” Vargas said. “Me being a Kyle Larson and Bubba Wallace fan, those guys are unbelievable racers. So, to have my name etched in right next to theirs would be unbelievable”
Another Rev Racing driver that will pilot a K&N Pro Series East car for Rev Racing is Ruben Garcia Jr.
Garcia Jr. is excited to participate in another season of running double duty in the NASCAR Mexico Series and the K&N Pro Series East. With the struggles of running two different series does come benefits.
“It’s pretty challenging, especially when I’m racing both series at the same time because travelling gets tough,” Garcia admitted. “Especially when I race the two series in the same weekend. It’s good for me to have seat time. Like I said before, usually when you see the most successful drivers they are the ones who have more seat time. It’s great for me this year we have the chance to have even more seat time. Sometimes it gets a little bit challenging to race two different countries with two different complete cars.”
At 21 years old, Garcia Jr. has a book full of accomplishments, but he’s not satisfied yet.
“This was a really good learning curve for me. Next year we have to step a little bit up and try to win a second championship in Mexico and a fourth championship here in the United States.”
Extremely thankful, Garcia Jr. is excited for his upcoming season with Rev Racing.
“It’s huge. The opportunity I’ve been given by the program, I think it’s the best opportunity I’ve been giving in my career,” he stated. “Being from Mexico, living in Mexico, racing in Mexico it’s really hard to get the exposure I would like to come and race in the United States and grow into the national series.”
Being versed in different types of racing atmospheres is very important. It should be known that Garcia Jr. knows the importance of being very open about new racing experiences and new race tracks.
“I really enjoy racing more in ovals, but when we get road courses I get really excited because it is different from what we usually race,” he said. “Especially a track like Watkins Glen because it is an internationally known track.”
Looking lower down the tier of racing, Rev Racing has selected a talented young girl to compete in their Legends Cars program for the 2018 season. Isabella Robusto, 13, realizes how big of an opportunity it is to compete alongside some of the best drivers.
“This experience has been unreal. It’s the first time I’ve ever done something like this,” Robusto stated. “Just being with Rev is a wish that’s come true. I get to learn so much with Rev and hopefully get to make it to the next step in my career.”
In the near future, Robusto is hopeful for a move up the ladder to the Late Model division and she is more than open to learning sooner rather than later.
“I’m hoping to learn more when I come to the shop about Late Models so next year when I hopefully get into Late Models, I’ll have a step up on everyone and know what things do and how the car works.”
As a young female, Robusto recognizes the importance of the program and is happy she was chosen. There is no shortage in motivation and perseverance in the young driver who recognizes the adversity she will face in the years to come.
“Being a girl and being one of the youngest ones in my class, I just try to stay motivated by knowing that I can do something as long as I don’t give up. What I always tell myself is don’t give up and that I can always do anything I put my heart to.”
Joining Robusto in the Legends Cars ranks this season will be teammate Nick Sanchez.
Ernie Francis Jr.’s role for Rev Racing will include testing, as well as competing in the K&N Pro Series East for exclusively road course races. Francis is a Trans Am Series champion who has raced primarily on road courses during his career.
-By Kendra Adams, Speed51.com Southeast Correspondent
-Photo credit: Speed51.com