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Kevin Harvick, Inc. Development Driver Gray Gaulding Anxious to Make History at Legends Big Money 100
Last year at this time, Gray Gaulding made his mark in the record books as the youngest competitor to run in the Legends Million, the largest grassroots race in history, at the tender age of 12. Now 13 years old, he plans to make history again this year by winning the Legends Big Money 100 on Aug. 1-2 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The 2010 race opened doors for Gaulding that he could only dream of last year.
"I am excited that this race is going to be on TV," Gaulding explained before last year's race. "Being able to drive in front of all these sponsors is great and you never know Hendrick Motorsports or somebody like that could be watching and discover a new driver."
Somebody like that was watching. In 2011, Kevin Harvick signed Gaulding to a multi-year deal with his newly-formed driver development program.
The Kevin Harvick, Inc. (KHI) driver development program is a relatively new initiative for a team that currently fields three full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams and two full-time NASCAR Nationwide Series teams. Gaulding is competing in the southern division of the Pro All Stars Series (PASS) South Super Late Model Touring Series for KHI.
"Gray started racing go-karts at our house when he was younger and as he has gotten older our relationship has progressed," said Harvick.
Harvick isn't setting many expectations for the youngster in his first season as a KHI driver except that he wants him to have fun and get seat time.
"I just can't thank Kevin and DeLana Harvick enough for this opportunity," said Gaulding. "Kevin is a great mentor. I remember being with him in victory lane at Martinsville Speedway and he messed up my hair like he always does. That was pretty cool."
While there is no pressure on Gaulding running late models for KHI, Harvick does have high hopes that he will succeed in the Legends Big Money 100.
"I think Gray can make something happen this year," said Harvick.
"His Legend Car may not be a KHI car, but he is still a KHI driver and his Legend Car is how he got his start. No matter the purse, there is no price on the exposure young drivers get from racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway."
In 2010, Gaulding was not only the youngest driver to make the race, he was also the youngest INEX Legend Car Asphalt National Champion, the youngest driver to win in a Legend Car and the youngest track champion. Out of 45 events, he won 16 races and scored eight top-five finishes and 25 top-10 finishes.
Even at his young age, Gaulding is serious about making it big. He runs and lifts weights daily to train for the physical demands of driving a racecar. When he isn't driving an actual racecar, he plays racing simulator games in which he always chooses to be Harvick.
Last year, Gaulding was plagued by bad luck during the Legends Million where a mechanical failure relegated him to a 31st-place finish.
This year, he has been running a portion of the Summer Shootout schedule to prepare for the race.
However, the most important lesson he will use during the Legends Big Money 100 will be advice taken from a conversation he had with Harvick when they first met.
"What is the most important thing you have to remember when you get in a car, Gray?" Harvick asked the youngster.
"To finish first, you must first finish," replied Gaulding with a satisfied grin.
The Legends Big Money 100 will be held at Charlotte Motor Speedway Aug. 1 and 2. The largest grassroots event of the year will offer a purse of $100,000 and will include two days of Legend Car and Bandolero racing.
Tickets are just $10 for adults and children 12 and under get in free.
For more information on the Summer Shootout Series or Legends Big Money 100 call the Charlotte Motor Speedway ticket office at 1-800-455-FANS or visit www.charlottemotorspeedway.com.