Local high school students embedded with Nascar truck teams

Posted at 5:49 PM, Jul 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-07 18:46:24-04

Eight Tri-State high school students are getting a thrill of a lifetime. Tonight, at the Kentucky Speedway, they'll be part of race crews all trying to win the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225.

All eight were essay winners in a contest sponsored by the Kentucky Speedway. Speedway officials considered more than 150 essays.

"Our Racing to Excellence Program is an in-school, STEM program," Kentucky Speedway Marketing Director, Alex Simpson told WCPO.  "(The students) wrote an essay about why they want to be here and how this experience of being embedded with a truck team furthers, not only their aspirations in the sport, but especially their education."

And this appears to be a totally hands-on experience. The team is participating. It's owned by Mark Beaver, whose daughter Amanda doubles as the team's public relations coordinator, as well as part of the race day crew.  Amanda has a degree from Auburn University in aerospace engineering and says she would have loved the experience that Kristen Cross, a recent high school graduate, is getting this week. Beaver says Cross will get to see how a team prepares and executes a race from start to finish.

"Pretty much from the ground up, from aero to mechanical to set ups, from tire pressure to fuel mileage," Beaver said. "It's always fun to work with kids who want to get into our sport. It's hard to find that now a days."

As for Cross, who will crew tonight for Travis Kvapil's #50 Chevrolet, she says it's the thrill of her young lifetime.

"I've been trying to job shadow," she said. "And then, this came along and this opened the door for me.  I think I'm going to learn a lot, a lot."

The Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 begins tonight at 8:30.  Friday, the green flag drops at 8:30 p.m. for the Xfinity Alsco 300 race at the Kentucky Speedway. Saturday's Quaker State 400 Sprint Cup race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m.