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Could Landen Lewis be NASCAR's next rising star?

Landen Lewis is set for his NASCAR national series debut this weekend but the 17-year-old has already made a name for himself from coast to coast.

Landen Lewis celebrating victory

Lewis, who hails from Ocean Isle Beach in southeastern North Carolina, has been living in the Mooresville area for the past year as he embarks on his stock car racing career.

Under the tutelage of NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday, Lewis won his first ARCA Menards Series race at the age of 15 on the dirt track of DuQuoin, the series’ second-youngest winner.

 

Now two years later, Lewis has a pair of victories in the ARCA West Series – on an oval and a road course – and currently leads the series standings after six of 13 races.

On Saturday, he will make his NASCAR Truck Series debut, driving the No. 04 Chevrolet for Roper Racing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

While the world of NASCAR races around him, Lewis tries to maintain a low-key approach.

“It’s just exciting,” Lewis said Friday at Mid-Ohio. “Really cool for me to finally be able to make my first Truck start. It’s definitely a dream come true for me.

“I can’t wait to get on the track and learn the course and hopefully get a good finish this weekend.”

Realistic expectations 

Lewis’ goals for the weekend are modest – he is far more concerned with finishing the race than trying to win it.

“Just get a good finish, finish all the laps, that’s just our main goal,” he said. “I feel like opportunities after that will come. You just gotta keep the nose clean and just let everyone know that you race clean around these newer guys.”

After witnessing Lewis’ quick rise up the racing ladder and the success he’s enjoyed with it, Hornaday knows anything is possible for his protégé.

However, he appreciates Lewis’ approach to NASCAR’s top series.

“I’m glad he’s feeling the way he’s feeling,” Hornaday said on Friday. “He just needs to log laps, keep on the blacktop, and try to learn a little bit. “It’s a tough series right now. Anybody in the top 30 can win this race.”

Hornaday knows firsthand the difficulty of establishing a NASCAR career – he didn’t make his first national series start until the age of 33, his first start in the former NASCAR Southwest Tour at 30.

Hornaday, from Palmdale, Calif., has also raced with the best from one side of the country to the other and the four-time Truck series champion and 51-time Truck winner certainly can spot talent.

When Carson Hocevar suffered a broken foot last year, it disrupted plans Hocevar had to run both the ARCA West and Truck races at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. Industry veteran Bruce Cook turned to Hornaday about the possibility of Lewis driving his West entry in Hocevar’s place.

“Went out there and first two laps on the track, he’s second-fast,” Hornaday said of Lewis’ first experience at Sonoma. “That kind of opened my eyes.”

Lewis qualified second, led seven laps in the race and finished 14th after getting caught up in a late-race five-car wreck.

“The kid has the want, he’s got the talent, he’s got the ability. He’s working on anything and everything so long as it has to do with the nuts and bolts of race cars,” Hornaday said. “He just wants to race. He’s got the heart.

“I’ve never had to do it his way with sims and in-car (cameras) and all the stuff he’s done. I was blind to some race tracks we went to, but we had practice back then. They don’t have much practice now. They have 20-minute sessions.”

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