DALLAS, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The Daytona 500 is more than a race, it’s an entire week of racing allowing up-and-coming drivers a chance to compete on the biggest stage.
A Gaston County driver is preparing his race car in his backyard garage all in hopes of making his first start in a race the day before the Daytona 500.
The ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 is an annual race that is a prelude to the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500. The series has been in the news a lot lately with Frankie Muniz competing this year. While it’s not a 500-mile event, it’s still a prestigious race for grassroots drivers across the country.
Right now Caleb Costner has only one race car for the ARCA Menards Series season. That car is kept in a garage behind his house in Dallas, Gaston County. You won’t find any employees in his race shop. Work under the hood happens via friends and volunteers.
“Everything we’ve got we have worked so hard for. It wasn’t handed to us,” said Costner.
The hard work will make it even more special when Costner starts the ARCA race at Daytona. The track holds a special place in race fans’ hearts. For most, it’s a dream to just attend a race there, let alone compete.
“Me and my dad, we went down in 2011 and watched Trevor Bayne win. It was the first time. I begged and begged for us to go down,” said Costner.
Now, just more than 10 years later, Costner moves from the grandstands to the driver’s seat.
“It’s cool to see how your dreams can live themselves out,” said Costner.
Dreams at Daytona can quickly turn into a nightmare. Big crashes are common, drivers often walk away and car owners are left with thousands of dollars in repairs.
“For a small team like us a realistic goal is finish all the laps and bring it home in one piece,” said Costner.
A strong finish at stock car racing’s biggest stage could pay off in more ways than one, including a chance to drive in one of NASCAR’s top three series in the future.
“We never saw this coming 5 years ago. So we are this close. I don’t see why we can’t bring new partners on and live out these dreams and keep making it happen,” said Costner.
Costner says he is approved to race in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and Xfinity Series events. Right now he is sponsored by a Kings Mountain brand, Lickety Lews Boo Yow Sauce.
The ARCA Menards Series Lucas Oil 200 will take the green flag on Saturday, February 18 and air live on FS1 beginning at 1:30 p.m.