MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Making waves during a nearly full-time ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards schedule in 2018 which included his first career stock car win at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway, Joe Graf Jr. (@joegrafjr) will seek the series’ championship in 2019 after reupping with Chad Bryant Racing (CBR) for the full 20-race schedule beginning with the Lucas Oil 200 presented by General Tire on Feb. 9, 2019 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. – One of the last ARCA Racing Series presented Menards teams to leave the grounds of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway this past Sat., Jan. 12, Chad Bryant Racing (CBR) wrapped up a productive two-day test with their No. 22 and No. 77 Ford Fusions in preparation for next month’s season opening Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire.
The Mooresville, N.C.-based team hosted four drivers between their two vehicles with Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver and former ARCA race winner Parker Kligerman shaking down the team’s No. 22 Ford on Friday – before handing the steering wheel to newcomer Corey Heim.
The team’s flagship entry, the No. 77 Sleep Eat Race Ford Fusion driven primarily by Joe Graf Jr. – also had stints with Stefan Parsons, son of NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series television analyst Phil Parsons make his first laps around the “World Center of Racing.”
Focused on setup and engineering, team owner and Graf’s crew chief Chad Bryant explained the test was productive and will make his team better for the first race of the season on Feb. 9, 2019.
“The test was very productive,” said Bryant. “With the help of Parker, Corey, Joe and Stefan we were able to make significant gains from start to finish and feel confident in the direction of our superspeedway program for the race.
“We know that we weren’t the fastest bunch, but I make a promise when we come back to the track in about a month – everyone will know that we came to win the race.”
For Graf Jr., who will drive the team’s No. 77 Ford Fusion in his Daytona debut says the test allowed him to get a head start on Speedweeks.
“Daytona is a lot different than Talladega,” explained Graf who found himself a part of the closest finish in ARCA Racing Series history last April at Talladega edged by Zane Smith by a mere .029 seconds.
“While they are some similarities, there is a lot that is different too. We spent times in solo runs and in the draft and by the end of the test on Saturday – I feel like we made some steady gains that have me upbeat to get back for race weekend.
“I appreciate Sleep Eat Race jumping onboard for the test as our sponsor and hopefully they’ll be a part of my Daytona debut.”
For Heim who used the session to jumpstart his ARCA career embraced the opportunity to drive around the historic track. Heim won’t be able to race Daytona because of an age restriction – but will quickly return to the team controls for the second race of the year at Five Flags (Fla.) Speedway in early March.
“I’m extremely grateful for Chad (Bryant) and the team allowing me to come to Daytona and get used to an ARCA car,” said Heim who will compete in 13 ARCA races this season for CBR.
“It will be a few years before I’m able to compete at Daytona – but the test offered some opportunity for me to get used to drafting on a big track and have some fun too. I was grateful to spend some time with my crew chief Paul (Andrews) and the opportunity to work together a little bit.”
For NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series competitor Parsons, 20, he utilized preseason thunder as the chance to earn his superspeedway clearance in ARCA should an opportunity arise to race at Daytona in February or Talladega in April.
“It was an amazing experience going down to Daytona and making laps at such a legendary racetrack,” said Parsons. “To be able to hit the ground running and make my first laps in the draft was great.
“Chad Bryant has built up one of the best operations in ARCA and to be able to drive one of his cars was a great privilege. I can’t thank Chad and Joe (Graf Jr.) enough for the opportunity.”
Chad Bryant Racing plans to field two cars in the 80-lap race on Feb. 9.
The Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire is the first of 20 events on the 2019 ARCA Racing Series schedule. The season opener will air live on FOX Sports 1 (FS1) beginning at 4:30 p.m. ET.
NEW YORK – New Jersey native Joe Graf Jr. spent most of 2018 racing cars at some of the country’s most prestigious race tracks.
While Graf Jr. was making waves as an up and coming driver in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, his younger sister was quietly blazing a different path. Andreah Graf, a senior in High School was soundlessly raising money for a cause she felt was not getting the proper attention.
“My sister started a foundation last year, Kids Face It, whose sole purpose is to help children with different faces,” explained Joe Graf Jr, who competes for Chad Bryant Racing in ARCA.
“Kids Face-It supports a vision to see kids with facial differences have an easier journey to acceptance, greater self-esteem, a healthy life balance and feel empowered to achieve their dreams.
She was telling me about the great work myFace has been doing and its affiliation with NYU, where I am a freshman college student.” myFace’s focus is on children with facial differences and getting them the medical and psychosocial care they need to live full and productive lives. “It seemed to be a perfect match with her foundation.”
“She mentioned she was donating $20,000 of the money she raised to myFace. To help with her cause, I thought it was a fantastic idea to donate $10,000 of my race winnings from the 2018 season as well.”
Graf Jr. continued, “I had read the book Wonder, written by R. J. Palacio, when I was in High School. It was really a powerful book that makes a (heartfelt) impression. The movie was fantastic too. When you see the emotional challenges these children and their families face it is heartbreaking. Although Wonder is a work of fiction it definitely captures the reality of the situation.
“I just hope that more children can experience the acceptance Auggie ultimately gets in the movie. That is really the goal Andreah and I have in mind. Help these children have greater self-esteem and greater acceptance from their peers.”
In late December, Graf Jr. and his sister stopped by myFace headquarters in New York City to present them with the donations.
“When I met with Priscilla Ma (Executive Director of myFace) and Karen Lazurus (Director of Development of myFace), it was amazing to learn of all the initiatives they are undertaking,” sounded Graf. “It really reinforced my decision to donate. I look forward to donating more in 2019.”
“I am also so proud of my sister Andreah. To see how she handles herself in meetings and seeing the results she is getting in fundraising is really inspirational. I am definitely going to try and do more to help her in the future.”
“I was so impressed and moved after meeting the Graf Family and hearing their story. Andreah and Joe are bright and thoughtful individuals who care about giving back and helping others,” said Priscilla Ma, Executive Director, myFace.
“We are grateful for their generosity and look forward to working with both of them to generate more awareness for the craniofacial community. They exude the essence of spreading empathy, acceptance and kindness to all.”
Approaching the start of his sophomore campaign, Graft Jr, a winner in ARCA competition is exploring opportunities to host a charity event for the myFace children and their families at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this summer.
“This is such a good cause and I am sure the kids and their families would love to experience the excitement of a race and make memories that will last a lifetime.”
IIf you are interested in learning more about this fantastic organization you can check out www.myface.org.
myFace is a leading non-profit organization dedicated to transforming the lives of patients with craniofacial conditions. Every hour a child is born in the United States with a craniofacial difference, which uniquely impacts both the body and spirit. In the U.S. approximately 600,000 individuals have been diagnosed with a craniofacial condition.
For over 65 years, myFace has worked with these patients and their families to provide comprehensive care by funding medical, surgical, dental, speech and psychosocial services as well as research and public awareness. myFace provides a holistic approach through access to a highly personalized team at the world-renowned myFace Center for Craniofacial Care at NYU Langone Health in New York City. All myFace patients receive the highest level of care, regardless of the type or severity of the anomaly, the length of treatment, or the family’s financial situation.
Without our support, having a facial difference can impede the basic functions a child needs to survive and grow, and those affected often experience social isolation or even bullying.
In this past fiscal year, myFace supported and facilitated approximately 7,000 patient consultations and procedures.
About Kids Face-it:
Kids Face It is a nonprofit organization founded by Andreah Graf. She is a high school student who recognized a need for children with different faces to have access to counseling close to home.
Kids Face It provides financial resources for local counseling and learning services to kids who need to face all of the emotional effects of facial differences.
Our mission is to help them emotionally and empower them to achieve a healthy life balance.
Our vision is to see kids with facial differences have an easier journey to acceptance, greater self-esteem, a healthy life balance and feel empowered to achieve their dreams.