TRG Returns To Daytona

Kevin Buckler is going to feel like a stranger in a very familiar place when he returns to Daytona International Speedway for Part II of Daytona Speedweeks. After his TRG Porsches scored a one-two sweep in the GT class of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Buckler will try his hand fielding stock cars - and trucks - on the famed 2.5-mile superspeedway.

"It's going to be like seeing an old, familiar friend who looks totally different when they're all dressed up," Buckler said. "Daytona is going to be like a different place when we come back. Our first foray into the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is going to be a whole new deal for us, and I want to make sure we get through the process properly. I want to make sure we do everything right."

TRG Motorsports will field the 48 Chevrolet for J.R. Fitzpatrick in Saturday's ARCA RE/Max Series Lucas Oil/Slick Mist 200. Sunday, the team will participate in qualifying for the Daytona 500, with veteran Mike Wallace at the wheel of the No. 71 TRG Chevrolet.

"It's tough making the field for the Daytona 500, considering that 35 spots are locked in, plus another position for a past champion," Buckler said. "But I feel we're going to be one of the best of the non-35 guaranteed starters."

The following week, TRG Motorsports plans to run three races. Thursday, Wallace will compete in the Gatorade Duel at Daytona. Friday, Fitzpatrick is entered in the No. 7 Mammoet Chevrolet for the NASCAR Camping World Series race. Then, if everything goes according to plan, Wallace will race in Sunday's Daytona 500.

"With a former Richard Childress Racing car and engines supplied by ECR Engines we have accelerated our learning curve substantially," Buckler explained. "Couple that package with the experience that Mike brings and I believe we have a very competitive package. While the competition will be very, very tough with Mike behind the wheel and Butch calling the shots as the crew chief, we should have a legitimate shot at qualifying our way into the field and making our Sprint Cup debut in this prestigious race. This will be a real honor to be able to see our team take that green flag."

Buckler has been a regular at Daytona since 1996, driving in the Rolex 24 on 11 occasions. He won the GT class in the 2002 event and captured overall honors the following year, co-driving on both occasions with Jorg Bergmeister, Timo Bernhard and Michael Schrom. Buckler concentrated on running a five-car team in January's premier event in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series presented by Crown Royal Cask No. 16, and Bergmeister, Andy Lally, Justin Marks, Pat Long and RJ Valentine took the GT victory.

While he knows the way to Gatorade Victory Lane, Buckler is not even sure where he is supposed to park when he returns to Daytona.

"Even though we know the area and the track intimately, it's a whole new set of ground rules," Buckler said. "From where to park, to where to go, navigating through the paddock, template procedures, going into the big trailer and meeting all the Cup officials, shaking their hands, getting ourselves familiar with the processes with Sprint Cup, and knowing that we're planning on running a few more races this year I want to do everything properly. That's my biggest challenge - doing everything right."

Buckler feels good about his chances in both the ARCA and Camping World Truck Series races.

"We are thrilled to have J.R. representing us in two different series at Daytona," Buckler said. "He's a great kid. He's the Canadian CASCAR champion and a future NASCAR star. Our car is good, our truck is good and our teams are good for both races - we're ready, we're locked and loaded."

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