Beasley, Barker near unprecedented feats on LVMS bullring track

No African-American has won a season championship at the Bullring.

And no female has emerged as champion of one of three NASCAR classes at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway facility.

At least not until this weekend.

Jay Beasley in Super Late Models and Kayli Barker in Super Stocks are expected to make a little bit of history Saturday night. Both take healthy leads in their respective classes into the final night of the season.

A victory by Beasley would unseat defending champion Scott Gafforini, who has won four Super Late Models titles overall. Beasley has been dominant this season, and he downplayed the opportunity to become the first African-American titleholder.

“I hope it’s an inspiration to kids, but I’m out there to do what everyone else is out there to do, and that’s drive a racecar and keep on learning and do that for a living,” Beasley said. “When everyone puts on a helmet, everyone’s the same. Everyone just needs to go out there and race and not worry about (skin color).”

Beasley, 21, has big dreams of competing at NASCAR’s highest levels.

He drove in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West event in Albuquerque, N.M., last weekend, finishing 17th out of 18 entries when electrical problems forced him out early. He qualified eighth and said he thought he “had a top-five car.”

Even with the frustration of not being able to finish, he took positives out of the event.

“It was a great experience,” Beasley said. “My team worked really hard to get that car where it needed to be. It was really an amazing opportunity to be out there in a NASCAR series.”

Beasley will drive in another K&N event on Oct. 12 in Roseville, Calif., and he plans to take part in the Open Comp at the Bullring on Oct. 26 that pays $10,000 to the winner.

As for next year, Beasley hopes to make an announcement soon.

“There’s a lot of stuff going on right now,” Beasley said. “I’m still figuring out what we’re going to do.”

Barker, 16, has big plans as well. She wants to eventually make the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Her immediate plans are less certain because of the need for more sponsors. In addition to Super Stocks, she is seventh in Super Late Models, but without more financial assistance she won’t be able to run two cars next year.

If forced to choose, Barker said she will race the Super Late Models car.

“If I do really good in that class, then it can get me to more difference places,” Barker said.

But that’s a concern for another day.

This weekend, Barker will try to wrap up the Super Stocks championship, a major first step for females.

“It would mean a lot because I’m getting doors open for the younger girls that are coming up,” Barker said. “I feel like I’m helping all the females that are racing, showing them that it is possible to be able to succeed in NASCAR.”

She isn’t the only one. Three of the top four in the Super Stocks points standings are females.

Barker said she was surprised by that kind of success “because this is mostly a male-dominated division, but toward the end of this season, it’s getting more female. I think it’s pretty cool.”

■ FAN EVENT — NASCAR After The Lap will take place at 5 p.m. Dec. 5 at the Pearl Palms Concert Theater inside the Palms. All 12 Chase drivers will interact with fans. Tickets are available at nascarafterthelap.com. Fans also have until Nov. 17 to sign up for a sweepstakes at the same website to win a trip to this event as well as a race next year in Concord, N.C., or Homestead, Fla. A 2014 Ford F-150 Tremor is another prize.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2914. Follow him on Twitter: @markanderson65.

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