Paulie Harraka, an alumnus of NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity program, plans to make his Sprint Cup Series debut Sunday at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. He’ll be behind the wheel of the No. 52 car through a partnership between Brian Keselowski and Archie St. Hilaire. The car was built by Roush Fenway Racing and will be powered by a Roush Yates engine. Ben Leslie, formerly a crew chief with RFR, will be Harraka’s crew chief for his first Cup start.
Harraka does have a limited amount of NASCAR national level experience, with 11 starts in the Camping World Truck Series in 2012 and four starts over the last three years in the Nationwide Series.
“We’ve made some progress,” Harraka told the Sporting News. “I’ve run some truck stuff. I’ve run some Nationwide stuff and now, we’ll go run some Cup stuff.”
Harraka posted three wins in NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West while participating in the Drive for Diversity program between 2007 and 2010. Those K&N West races included events at Sonoma. He finished second at the track in a 2010 K&N race there.
“If there’s any place to do (Sprint Cup debut), it’s Sonoma,” Harraka said. “You have to be reasonable with your expectations. I’m going to a track for my first Cup race to race against the best in the world. For the race team, it’s about having a solid day, minimizing our mistakes and running all the laps and having a decent finish. For me, it’s about learning as much as I possibly can.”
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR