Thursday, October 16, 2008

DUKE GOES ALL NASCAR

Really?

Yep.

Duke freshmen Paulie Harraka does not like to waste time. That's good, because the 19-year-old has a very busy schedule.

In the past six months, Harraka has graduated from high school, enrolled at Duke and moved from his home in Wayne, N.J., into a third-floor residence hall room furnished with a bed, a small refrigerator and a Briggs & Stratton Motorsports blow-up chair.

Harraka has a cross hanging over his bed and some pictures and posters on the wall.

He also has two championship flags and three trophies, mementos from his summer "vacation," which he spent becoming the first driver participating in NASCAR's Drive for Diversity program to win a track title.

The trophies came at All-American Speedway, the track in Roseville, Calif., where Harraka raced this year with Bill McAnally Racing. He won eight other races there this year, and he needed every point to win the championship at the track, where he was rookie of the year with the same team in 2007.

"It certainly has not been dull these past two years," Harraka said. "I've learned a lot."

Harraka, who is of Syrian heritage, will be among 26 young drivers at this year's Drive for Diversity combine Monday and Tuesday at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. Team owners looking for young talent will be watching, but most likely Harraka will be back with McAnally next year, driving in the Camping World West Series.

(Photo by Davis Turner/Getty Images)

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