- Mark Ashenfelter, NASCAR
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Bobby East is happy to be back behind the wheel of a stock car this weekend at California Speedway. Kertus Davis is just happy to be racing in any capacity as he looks to get his career back on track.
East, who's been busy chasing championships in the USAC ranks, is trying to build his still-limited base of NASCAR experience. He'll be in Brewco Motorsports' No. 37 Ford for Saturday night's Camping World 300.
Davis, let go by Kevin Harvick Inc. earlier this season, will be driving a car fielded by his father, Johnny, returning to the team that he got his start on. Scott Wimmer will be in the No. 77 Chevy fielded by KHI and will have a realistic chance for a solid finish.
Davis will simply be looking to finish the race. Initially signed up for a limited schedule with KHI this year, Davis was gone after failing to finish better than 30th in his first five races. He qualified for Michigan earlier this month in the family-owned No. 01 Chevy, but retired after just six laps.
With backing from longtime sponsor RaceGirl this weekend, the 26-year-old Davis hopes to get things headed in the right direction.
"I'm still searching for new and great opportunities to keep climbing this ladder of success," he said. "I'm doing all I can do with what I've got right now."
Despite having just one top-10 finish in 68 Busch Series starts, Davis impressed many with his performance driving for the underfunded family-owned team. That opened the eyes of Kevin and DeLana Harvick, but for whatever reason things just never clicked.
"It just wasn't the right situation for either party, but I have nothing bad to say about [the Harvicks] and they have nothing bad to say about me," Davis said. "It wasn't the right situation, but I'm going to stay level-headed and hold my head up high. It is what it is and I'm looking to build off of that and go forward."
Davis said he's spoken with teams in the Busch and Craftsman Truck Series about rides for next year but doesn't have any sponsorship dollars to bring to the table.
"I'm just going to stay smart about everything and I'll get what I can get," Davis said. "Hopefully I'll be back full time next year and not part time."
Driving for his father eases some of the stress Davis placed on himself at the start of the season. People won't expect much in terms of results at California, but Davis may well need a solid run or two to get back in the eyes of other owners and sponsors as teams set their 2008 lineups.
"It's a tough business, it's real, real tough," Davis said. "For any young kid, just hold your head up high. There's a lot of trials and tribulations that come about and I've got a lot to prove. ... [I have to] prove I can do this with the right opportunity."
East, meanwhile, hopes he's already found the right opportunity with Brewco Motorsports. The 22-year-old spent last year in the Craftsman Truck Series with Wood Brothers/JTG Racing but didn't record a top-10 finish in 23 starts.
He's made just five Busch starts with Brewco this season, with a best finish of 16th at Gateway. It's hard finding any sort of consistency with such a limited schedule, but East is giving it his best shot.
"I think everything's been going good, especially for the limited amount of seat time I've been getting," East said. "… It's a little tough not being in a stock car every week, but I'm having a lot more fun this year than I did last year because I'm getting to race quite a few different [styles] of cars.
"I'm pretty happy with the way everything's been going."
Mark Ashenfelter is an associate editor at ESPN.
Bobby East says he just needs the seat time. Kertus Davis says he just needs a second chance. They'll both get their wish Saturday in the Busch race at California Speedway, writes Mark Ashenfelter.