For Immediate Release: SPEARS SRL Southwest Tour Series
Bakersfield, CA; Kole Raz has high expectations for the 2021 racing season. The two-time NASCAR State of Arizona Champion was just recently confirmed as a semi-finalist for the prestigious Kulwicki Driver Development Program (KDDP). The Oswego, OR driver will be running for the Spears Srl Southwest Tour Series Rookie-of-the-Year and championship, with additional plans to be announced in the near future. He led off his season with a sixth-place effort at the "Sunrise Ford All-Star Showdown 200” and will continue his SRL effort at the "Winter Showdown 150” at Kern County Raceway on March 20th.
Raz will head to Bakersfield for the Sixth Annual “Winter Showdown 150”, two days before he will discover his KDDP fate. The seven finalists will be announced on Monday, March 22nd. It is an honor in just making the semi-finals for the 17-year-old competitor, but it would be a life altering occurrence if he could reach the final seven, and compete for the crown.
“It means a lot, making this the third year as a semi-finalist, which is an honor itself”, Raz voiced. “There’s so many talented drivers and amazing individuals who apply for this program. Making the final seven would be life changing. Over the years of not making into the prestigious final seven, I’ve been able to learn from those who’ve made it in. From the driving styles to their community engagement, from the outside looking in, it’s a program I believe would push me to be a better man.”
Raz is looking forward to competing with some of the best young talent in the nation, both on and off the track. He will be taking on the competitors of the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series, in the toughest Super Late Model Series in the Western United States, while at the same time battling six other drivers from across the nation for the KDDP title. It is a title that takes more than on-track success, as Raz has discovered from former KDDP participants.
“I have talked to a handful, and what is stressed most is their community engagement”, Raz relayed. “I think it’s something in years past I never thought of, but has rather become important in helping out in any way I can, for those who are in need of help.”
Although the All-Star Showdown at Irwindale Speedway will not be counted as part of the KDDP season results, the strong run, against the 44 competitors that attended, is sure to bode well in the evaluation process for Raz. Raz qualified an impressive third and ran inside the top-10 the entire evening. Raz finished second, among the strong rookie class, behind former series winner Buddy Shepherd. His sixth-place run found Raz finishing behind series, track and national champions that read like a who’s who of short track racing. PASS National and Southern Series Champion Preston Peltier led the way, followed by two-time Southern Super Series Champion Casey Roderick Motorsports, six-time Colorado National Speedway Super Late Model winner Jace Hansen, three-time Madera Speedway Nut Up Pro Late Model Champion Buddy Shepherd and 2015 SPEARS Southwest Tour Series Champion Jacob Gomes.
The Irwindale event was a great learning experience for Raz, and he will look to parlay those lessons into the Winter Showdown effort, striving for an ever-stronger run at the high-speed half-mile.
“We definitely had a strong run at the All-Star Showdown”, Raz stated. “I believe our long run speed was there, we just couldn’t fire off as good as the front runners. I took note of a lot of things to carry into Kern County’s Winter Showdown, and look to be in the top-three.”
A top-three finish would be an impressive feat for the driver out of the Sigma Performance Services (SPS) and Tucson Motorsports Inc. (TMI) stables. Raz has never raced on the big track, but he will have help from his teammates and the SPS/TMI organizations, led by Joe Farre’ and Preston Peltier. Although he is yet to participate in an event at one of the nations crown jewel facilities, he does have some experience to lean on.
“I’ve been there a handful times as a spectator”, Raz began “I competed in a Legend race in 2016 there, on their Legend course. I’ve seen my brother (Gracin Dean Raz) compete there in K&N, as well as his strong run at the Winter Showdown, leading laps against the best such as Bubba Pollard Fan Page. I spotted for my teammate Brandon Farrington last year, and learned a lot from that weekend. Although I do have a lack of laps there, I believe my strength as a driver is adapting to new track rather quickly.”
A strong finish at the Winter Showdown will certainly serve notice to the teams in the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series that Raz is ready to take his place as one of the title contenders in 2021. It will also show that he is ready to contend for the KDDP championship and additional national attention. For the opportunity to raise his stock on the national scene, he is thankful for those who have made it possible.
“I would like to give a BIG thank you to Brad Corneliusen and Joan Corneliusen, for the opportunity this season, alongside Joe Farré and the Sigma Race Team along with Jim Parker Sr, Chris Pulliam, The Master Wrench, Wells Johnson and my family for the support to thrive off this great opportunity.”
The Winter Showdown will entail 150 laps of competition, with a halfway break at lap 75. Half of the purse will be awarded at that juncture, but none of the championship points will be awarded until the completion of 150 laps. $5,000 will be paid to the leader at both lap 75 and 150, for a possible $10,000 payday. Qualifying will be followed by three Qualifying Heat Races to set the line-up for the Feature event, where 36 cars are scheduled to start. The Spears Modified Series and Kern County Raceway Super stocks will join the action. For those who can not attend, catch all the action live at www.SpearsRacing.TV and on a delayed basis on MAVTV, the Motorsports Network.
Celebrating its twenty-first season in 2021, the SPEARS Southwest Tour Series is a regional stock car series competing on paved ovals in the southwestern portion of the U.S. “The SPEARS Southwest Tour Series…Where the Champions Race”.