DGR-Crosley announced on Friday that 16-year-old Joe Valento from Scandia, Minnesota will pilot a Late Model for the program in the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Late Model Stock Tour beginning with the 2021 season.
Valento expressed excitement at the opportunity to gain valuable Late Model experience for a program as efficient as DGR-Crosley’s and is looking forward to what he hopes will be a strong year in the CARS LMSC Tour.
“The past couple of seasons have given me a really strong foundation when it comes to driving and understanding the car,” Valento said. “It’s hard to wrap my head around all the possibilities that racing for a team like DGR-Crosley could lead to for me and my career, but I know that I’m going to have to work hard and focus on a different type of car from what I’ve been used to.
Valento formally began his racing career in the Quarter Midget Association when he was just eight years old, and developed his talents at facilities such as Cedar Lake Speedway and Elko Speedway.
As the 2010s progressed, Valento logged laps in several different forms of racing before embarking on a full-time Midwest Truck Series season in 2019. Valento established himself as a consistent presence at the front of the field with four Top 5 showings, which allowed him to earn Rookie of the Year honors and a fourth-place finish in the point standings.
The 2020 season proved to be even more successful for Valento, as he won the first two races of the season at Golden Sands Speedway and Hawkeye Downs Speedway and came home third in the standings behind James Swan and Levon VanDerGeest. Valento also made one start in the Carolina Pro Late Model Series at Hickory Motor Speedway, where he finished in eight.
Valento’s talent caught the attention of DGR-Crosley co-owner and former NASCAR Cup Series driver David Gilliland, who is confident that Valento will be able to adapt to Late Model competition and put together many more strong performances in the southeast.
“We couldn’t be more excited for Joe to join the DGR-Crosley family,” Gilliland said. “He is the type of individual that we look for in a young racer and our goal is to help him build on his previous success. We are ready to get back racing full-time in the CARS Tour again and are looking forward to having Joe as part of that effort.”
Valento’s first season of CARS LMSC Tour competition will see him compete against former champions in Bobby McCarty and Jared Fryar across a diverse set of tracks that includes Rockingham Speedway, but Valento is ready to tackle those challenges and prove that he belongs among the best Late Model drivers on the East Coast.
“NASCAR late model stock cars are a fresh challenge for me and I am excited to start my career at Rockingham, a track where NASCAR’s top series used to race for so many years,” Valento said. “I look forward to what 2021 has in store.”
Rockingham will open the 2021 season for Valento and the other CARS LMSC Tour competitors on March 6.