Talented Rookie Class Invades SPEARS Southwest Tour Series in 2019admin
As the SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series presented by Lucas Oil, heads into its 19th season, another competitive group of drivers will be competing for the coveted “Rookie of the Year Award”. This year’s field consists of the youngest “Rookie Challenger” in the history of the series, a third generation racer, a multi-time Super Late Model winner, and a high school football star with a long family history of Late Model and Modified racing.
Leading off the class of rookies in 2019, is Toyota Racing Development driver Jesse Love, from Atherton, CA. The 2018 BCRA Midget, two-time Madera Speedway (CA) Junior Late Model, and INEX Road Course World Champion, will be the youngest driver to ever compete in a SPEARS Southwest Tour Series event, at the age of 14. Love will be teamed up with two-time SRL winner Bobby Hodges, in a Naake-Klauer Motorsports Toyota Camry Super Late Model.
Love will be busy not only in his “Tour” car on asphalt, but also on the dirt scene, driving the VanDyke Racing Sprint Cars, in both the 360 and 410 Divisions. Love is also a member of the prestigious Keith Kunz/Curb-Agajanian Motorsports Team and will run a partial POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League schedule.
Love is looking forward to the season at hand, and knows he will have a lot to learn.
“This season is going to be a very big learning curve for me”, Love told the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series. “Running in the ‘Tour’ is going to be a very big part of that. I’m very glad to be able to run the ‘Tour’ with the Naake-Klauer Motorsports Team. Our goal, going into this season is simple, to improve every weekend on and off the track.”
Love has enjoyed an overabundance of success, in his burgeoning career. That has given the young driver a good source of confidence. It also doesn’t hurt that he is teamed up with his championship Junior Late Model car owner in 2019.
“I’m very confident, that with the amazing support system I have, and to be running with Mike Naake, that we will be able to contend for the Rookie-of-the-Year honors”, Love hazarded. However, I definitely think that it is possible for us to be able to run for the championship as well, and ultimately I think that we will. I am super excited to get this year started, and see how we do!”
Third Generation driver Toby Becker is hoping to toss his name into the Rookie conversation, in 2019. Toby is the son of Randy Becker, and the grandson of Chuck “Pappy” Becker. Randy is a well-known Southern California racer, who captured over 100 career victories. His career included starts in the NASCAR Winston (now K&N Pro Series) West and Southwest Tour Series, as well as being one of the legendary drivers at Orange Show Speedway. His grandfather, a racer himself, was awarded the President’s Award in 1985, at Orange Show Speedway (CA) for his outstanding contribution to the sport of auto racing.
The Highland, CA born driver moved to Wenatchee, WA for college, but has now returned home with the intension of challenging the tracks and competitors of the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series. The younger Becker was the championship runner-up in the Northwest Pro-4 Alliance Challenge Series in 2014, scoring one victory in five events. He has a best finish of eighth, in the Northwest Super Late Model Series, at Wenatchee Valley Speedway (WA). In two starts in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, he has a best finish of 11th at Irwindale Speedway (CA).
Becker hopes to have the opportunity to run the entire 2019 schedule, but his participation will depend upon sponsorship.
“We have no doubt that we want to be running the season, and for Rookie-of-the-Year this year”, Becker said. “However, we have a new sponsor for Irwindale, and so far it’s just for this race. I have been working hard on my car every spare minute I have. That is not even mentioning that we have been working hard for the last two years, to be able to race again! For now, we are going to just focus on one race at a time.”
Becker is looking forward to the season opening “RJ Allen Inc. 100 presented by TMI” at Irwindale Speedway, and the chance to spend time with his family, doing what he loves.
“This race means that I get to do what I love, with my beautiful wife and my family”, Becker expressed. “We hope it will be a successful event too, and that we will show our sponsor a fun time! Right now, I’m not looking at the big picture for the entire season, because as history shows, things happen and sometimes it’s a real bummer. I’m just treating each race as my last, and each one is a blessing!”
Anaheim Hills, CA driver Tyler Fabozzi enters his rookie campaign with the series, as a three-time Super Late Model winner at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (NV). Those three wins followed his 2017 USLCI Legends Series Championship, also at the Bullring. In 2017, he also competed in his first full season in a Super Late Model, finishing fifth in the championship standings. The 22-year-old driver started two SRL events last season, scoring an impressive fifth in the season finale at the “Bullring”. His other start also resulted in a top-ten, when he came home eighth at his adopted home track.
In 2019, Fabozzi will arrive at the track with a team that is familiar with success in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series. The 2017 Rookie-of-the-Year team, of Ricky Schlick, will lead Fabozzi, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series State of Nevada Rookie-of-the-Year. It is a situation that gives Fabozzi confidence, headed to the season opener at Irwindale Speedway.
“I’m excited to be in the series full time this year”, Fabozzi explained. “We have RJ Johnson on the team now. I think with him, and TJ (Clark), we’ll be very successful, and get some wins this year. I’m really looking forward to the opener at Irwindale (Speedway).”
Eric Nascimento Jr. is a high school football star at East Union High School in Manteca, CA, but he is also a winner in both the Pro Late Model and Jr. Late Model Divisions at Madera Speedway. The 17-year-old driver has the most SRL starts, of this year’s rookie class, with three. He finished a career best 10th at Madera Speedway just last September.
Nascimento will be busy in 2019. In addition to his SRL schedule, Eric will be racing a Late Model at Madera Speedway, the New Stockton 99 Speedway (CA) and All American Speedway (CA). He will be in cars owned and prepared by his family, which has a long history of success in California’s Central Valley racing scene. Some of their biggest successes have come with Eric Holmes behind the wheel, with three $10,000-to-win victories, in the “Short Track Shootout” at Madera Speedway. Holmes will once again be a big part of the SRL team, which Nascimento is thankful for.
“I am truly honored to have a chance to drive for my family’s race team, “Nascimento Motorsports”, and to compete for Rookie-of-the-Year in the prestigious SRL series”, Nascimento exclaimed. “Our race team has had a few big races, with Eric Holmes, and has won a few big races. For me to have him in my corner, as a driving coach, is a true honor. I can’t thank Jetsetter Express enough, for jumping on board this year, and helping me run for Rookie-of-the-Year. I also can’t thank my crew enough, for all of the hard work this year. I have Mike Nascimento as my Crew Chief, Eric Nascimento Sr. as my spotter, and Mikey Nascimento, Chad Nascimento, Rob Nascimento and Kaden Rocha as huge parts of the team as well.”
One of these four drivers will join the talented group of recent Rookie-of-the-Year Winners; Cole Moore, Ricky Schlick, Christian McGhee, Parker Stephens Garret Archer and Jeremy Doss. This year’s winner will receive a ROTY package that includes a 55 gallon drum of race fuel from Sunoco, a set of tires from Hoosier Tire West, a $1,500 certificate from VDL Fuel Systems, a 3/4 Wrap from Wrapped Graphics and a FLUIDYNE High Performance Cooling Module. The estimated value of this year’s package is in excess of $4,000. Thank you to Sunoco Fuels, Hoosier Tire West, VDL Fuel Systems, Wrapped Graphics and FLUIDYNE for your support of the SPEARS Southwest Tour and the Rookie-of-the-Year program.