Lester To Make Cup Debut
March 14, 2006 | 10:56 A.M. EST
ATLANTA, Ga. – NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series driver Bill Lester will make history this weekend, piloting the No. 23 Waste Management NASCAR entry for Bill Davis Racing in the Golden Corral 500 at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Lester, fulfilling a lifelong dream, will be the first African-American driver to attempt to qualify for a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race in 20 years. Lester’s racing career is marked by a series of firsts. He was the first African-American to compete in a NASCAR Busch Series event in 1999, the first to win a pole for a modern-era NASCAR race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in 2003, and the first to lead a top division NASCAR race in two decades. Today, Houston-based Waste Management, sponsor of Lester’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team since 2004, announced that it will step up its commitment to Lester and support his historic run in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series in 2006.
"What Bill Lester has accomplished on and off the track makes us very proud to have him as an ambassador for our company,” said David Steiner, Waste Management Chief Executive Officer. “Waste Management is committed to the encouragement of personal achievement as well as to diversity in the workplace, and our support of Lester – as well as the other drivers on our racing team – is a big part of that. We believe in Lester and see an amazing opportunity for him to make motorsports history.”
Driving the No. 22 Waste Management Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series for Bill Davis Racing, Lester captured back-to-back poles at Kansas Speedway and Kentucky Speedway in 2005 and was one of the top all-around qualifiers for the entire season. His on-track success, determination and competitiveness throughout 2005 inspired Waste Management to starting thinking in terms of Cup contention.
The newest NEXTEL Cup team will have their chance this weekend, when Lester races in both the NASCAR Craftsman Truck and NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races under the Waste Management banner at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Lester’s inaugural NASCAR NEXTEL Cup qualifying run will take place at 7:10 p.m. on March 17 at the AMS, just after his Craftsman Truck Series qualifier at 5:10 p.m. and before the Craftsman Truck Series Race at 9:10 p.m. Both events will be broadcast on the SPEED Channel.
“To say I am proud and honored to have this company behind me is an understatement,” said Lester. “Their commitment to diversity, alone, is laudable, but the fact that they really believe in me and support me so thoroughly is really meaningful. Getting to know their employees and values has made me feel like a part of their family, and I couldn’t think of a better partner to join me in this momentous opportunity. To have Waste Management on both my Toyota Tundra truck and Nextel Cup Dodge is terrific, and I will definitely be ‘thinking green’ this weekend.”