For Kyle Ebersole, racing seemed a natural career path since he had grown up traveling to tracks with his father, Bob, and uncle, Jeff, who both competed at Big Diamond and Grandview speedways in Pennsylvania. But it was the powerful modifieds where the Mooresville resident eventually found his home.
Since moving to North Carolina from Pennsylvania, Ebersole has focused on NASCAR’s Whelen Southern Modified Tour. He made his series debut in 2012 and with three top-five finishes that year – including a third at Caraway Speedway near Asheboro – earned the tour’s Driver Achievement Award.
He backed up that performance in 2013 with a runner-up finish in the point standings. In 12 races that year, Ebersole recorded 10 top-10 finishes, produced podium finishes in six of the season’s first eight races and earned his first career victory at Langley (Va.) Speedway.
Last year, Ebersole picked up a victory at South Boston (Va.) Speedway, and for the second time since joining the tour placed sixth in the standings.
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This year, Ebersole is again making a run for the championship. After four of the tour’s 11 races, the 24-year-old is fourth in the standings, 16 points behind leader Burt Myers.
“We’ve had some rough races so far and gotten into a couple of wrecks the first couple of races,” said Ebersole, a mechanical engineer who has opened the season with one top-five and three top-10 finishes. “We could have had some better finishes, but some of the other top runners haven’t gotten off to the best start either. Four races in and with seven races to go, I think the championship is pretty much anyone’s game.”
A Hummelstown, Pa., native, Ebersole began racing go-karts at age 10 at Path Valley Speedway and later competed at Shippensburg Speedway, both in Pennsylvania.
At age 15, he turned to racing slingshots, small dirt modifieds. In a two-year span he captured two track titles and the Mid-Atlantic Slingshot Tour championship.
Ebersole moved to asphalt modifieds at Mountain Speedway in Drums, Pa., and also ran dirt modifieds in 2007 at age 16. Two years later, he earned the Sundance Vacations Speedway (St. Johns, Pa.) modified track championship.
Before moving south to accept an internship with Mooresville’s Turner Scott Motorsports, Ebersole also competed and won in the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour.
Today, the York College of Pennsylvania graduate works full time as a chassis engineer at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord. Once he has completed his eight-hour shift he heads to his Mooresville shop where he and friends work on his modified.
“It’s tough when we have four weeks in a row, when we’re racing each week,” Ebersole said. “You have one night to clean the car, one night to do all the maintenance on it, one night to set it up. It’s another full-time job when you race every week. Right now we have this nice break.”
The Whelen Southern Modified Tour is off until July 4 when it returns to Caraway Speedway.
Even though Ebersole prepares his modified in Mooresville, his father travels to each race from Pennsylvania and serves as his crew chief. He’s also sponsored by the family business, Ebersole Excavating. With Ebersole’s engineering degree and his father’s experience, Ebersole admits they rarely agree, but decisions at the track are still a group effort.
“My dad and I set up the car together,” Ebersole said. “We feed off each other to get ideas. He and I make all of the calls for the car … to make it as good as we can.”
Ebersole said his engineering degree has helped him in his racing because it’s taught him how to solve problems and apply the theories that he’s learned; to understand how everything works on a race car and the adjustments that need to be made. He also noted it was responsible for getting him a job that allows him to race.
“It’s pretty cool to be in the NASCAR industry and still do my own thing,” Ebersole said. “It really is the best of both worlds.”
3-for-3 for Enfinger
With Grant Enfinger’s victory in the Troop Aid 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville, the Huntersville resident became the only driver in ARCA Racing Series history to win three straight races to open the season in consecutive years. He won the season’s first three events in 2014 – Daytona, Mobile, Ala., and Salem, Ind. This year he won the season’s first three races at Daytona, Mobile and Nashville.
In addition to being No. 1 in the series point standings, Enfinger leads the Calypso Lemonade Short Track Challenge headed into the April 26 race at Salem.
Entering that event, Enfinger’s GMS Racing crew chief, Jeff Stankiewicz, has four straight victories dating back to last year’s season finale at Kansas. Stankiewicz was race winner Spencer Gallagher’s crew chief.
Green, Gibbs grab runner-up positions
James Green of Lincolnton and Donnie Gibbs Jr. of Mooresville posted runner-up finishes in the IHRA Summit Racing Equipment Pro-Am Tour event at Piedmont Dragway in Julian.
In the Good Vibrations Top Dragster class, Green lost to E.J. Womack of Lillington. Gibbs was the runner-up to Stephanie Raynor of Benson in the Good Vibrations Top Sportsman class.
Deb Williams is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Deb? Email her at email@example.com.