ARCA RE/MAX Series competitor Christi Passmore will celebrate her 22nd birthday by competing in the Quaker Steak & Lube 100 Thursday night, May 27, at Lowe¿s Motor Speedway.

She hopes the party begins in victory lane.

¿It would be pretty special to get a victory on my birthday,¿ Passmore said. ¿Charlotte has always been something of a tricky race track for me, so just to get a top-five finish would be a great accomplishment. Our entire race team has been working so hard to make these race cars competitive and we know we will have some good runs this season. But our primary focus is consistency, and with that will come success and wins.¿

A native of Pryor, Okla., Passmore was born into a racing family and has been a professional driver since age 12. She began racing mini-sprints in 1994 before advancing to the powerful open-wheel sprint cars in 1999.

Over the next two seasons, Passmore raced with such sprint car organizations as the World of Outlaws, the All Star Circuit of Champions, the American Sprint Car Series and the National Championship Racing Association. She also spent a significant amount of time ¿Down Under,¿ racing sprint cars in Australia and New Zealand.

But for the 2002 season, Passmore decided her career would be best-served by switching to stock cars.

¿My passion is sprint car racing,¿ Passmore noted. ¿It¿s been a passion for my family and I don¿t think I¿ll ever lose that passion. However, I want to build a career in racing and the path to a successful career through sprint cars is limited. Even in CART and IRL, opportunities are limited. The greatest opportunities for drivers¿and women in particular¿are in big-league stock car racing and in NASCAR.

¿The ARCA RE/MAX Series has been a stepping stone for so many drivers,¿ Passmore continued. ¿They enjoy a terrific relationship with NASCAR and it provides opportunities to compete on superspeedways, gain television exposure and promote sponsors. So this is what I want to do to continue growing my career.¿

Driving a car owned by her father, Passmore finished 19th in her ARCA stock car debut in April 2002 on the high-banks of Indiana¿s legendary Salem Speedway. Using a ¿walk before you run approach,¿ Passmore and her family-owned team competed in just six races that season.

She ran the entire 22-race ARCA RE/MAX schedule last season in the No. 91 G.A.P Roofing/Royal Trading Co. Ford, posting seven top-10 finishes. She ended up eighth in the point standings, joining Shawna Robinson as the only female drivers to ever finish among the top 10 in ARCA points.

The fact she is a female in an almost exclusively male sport is of no consequence¿at least to Passmore.

¿I don¿t sit there and think, ¿Hey, I¿m a woman racing against a bunch of men¿,¿ she said. ¿For one thing, there isn¿t time to think about stuff like that, and everybody is pretty well focused on what they have to do on the track anyway.¿

¿There have been a lot of female racers around in the past few years, but Christi just wants to be known as a racer,¿ said ARCA President Ron Drager. ¿She is definitely a racer. None of the female racers that have come along before her have had a background in open-wheel competition, so it will be very interesting to see what happens. Everybody knows what open-wheel racers have done in stock car racing lately, with Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne coming from those cars to stardom in a relatively short time.¿

¿Christi is probably the truest, legitimate female racer I¿ve seen come into the ARCA series and she¿s a very good racer in general,¿ said five-time and defending ARCA champion Frank Kimmel. ¿She really does a good job.

¿She struggled a lot when she first came into the series, mostly because of equipment,¿ Kimmel continued. ¿I think she was unsure of what she was driving. But since she¿s been hooked up with (former driver and veteran crew chief) Bob Schact, her career has really turned around and she¿s starting to show what she¿s really capable of doing.¿

The Quaker Steak & Lube 100 is part of CTC Pole Night which also features NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series qualifying for the Coca-Cola 600. Tickets start at just $12 and can by calling 1-800-455-FANS.