[media-credit name=”Photo Credit: Scott Hunter” align=”alignright” width=”104″][/media-credit]With Jersey Boys continuing its strong run on Broadway, another born and bred Jersey boy is set to make his debut on another stage, this one in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Paulie Harraka, from Wayne, New Jersey will be taking his show on the road with Wauters Motorsports, a new team spearheaded by veteran NASCAR crew chief Richie Wauters. And for Harraka, this is a role that he has been preparing for since he was in elementary school.
“Having the opportunity to jump into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is an opportunity I’ve worked for since I was seven years old,” Harraka said. “I am fortunate to see it coming to fruition.”
Harraka, who has participated in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West as well as the Drive for Diversity program, is more than ready to make his Truck debut, especially with championship crew chief Richie Wauters as his team owner.
“To race with a championship crew chief like Richie Wauters and with the team he’s assembled is exciting,” Harraka said. “I’m the kind of driver that will put in whatever time, effort or work that is needed to win races and I know that Richie is the same kind of crew chief.”
“Together, we’ll hold nothing back and that makes me confident that we’ll find the winner’s circle in short order.”
Wauters, who as a crew chief in the Truck Series has secured 18 victories with drivers such as Shane Hmiel, Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola, shares his new driver’s enthusiasm for the team and for the competition.
“It is something I’ve thought about for awhile,” Wauters said. “I had the opportunity to buy some trucks and have a great driver headlining the team.”
“We’re really excited about the season,” Wauters continued. “I’m certain Paulie and the guys on this team will be in the thick of that competition.”
Harraka, who ran just a handful of races last year, is ready to step back onto the competition stage. Although full of confidence, the young driver acknowledges that he does indeed have a few things yet to learn.
“It’s a big step and the next logical step for me,” Harraka said of his advancement to the Truck Series. “It will come with a lot of challenges for me.”
“I’ll be learning a new race vehicle and going to a lot of tracks that I’ve never seen before,” Harraka continued. “So, there’s certainly a number of challenges but I believe strongly in my own abilities and the group that I’ve surrounded myself with. We will most certainly contend for wins.”
Harraka is especially excited to kick off his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Daytona in just a few short weeks. While he has tested at that historic superspeedway, he has never actually raced there in competition conditions.
“I’m really excited,” Harraka said. “I get to race in one of NASCAR’s top level series and the opportunity to do something that’s extremely exciting to me. I want to make the most of it.”
Jersey boy Harraka is also excited to be able to take the Truck Series stage at tracks that are closer to home, enabling his family and friends to finally be able see him race.
“Mom is really excited that I get to race close to home,” Harraka said. “Obviously home for me is still North Jersey but I haven’t gotten to race in the northeast for years.”
“The opportunity to race an hour or so from home is certainly exciting for me, especially at storied tracks like Dover and Pocono,” Harraka continued. “It will be fun to see a lot of home-town fans that have rooted for me since my karting days who can finally come to see me in a stock car.”
While Harraka is making his Truck Series debut, he is also completing his final act at Duke University, where he is a senior and will graduate in a few short months. Harraka will exit stage left from Duke with a degree in markets and management.
“This is my last semester at Duke,” Harraka said. “I’ve got one class and one other paper and then I’m done.”
“When I got into Duke, lots of people thought of it as a great back up,” Harraka continued. “But I’ve never looked at it that way.”
“I’ve always looked at Duke as a way to differentiate me from other drivers as far as marketing and branding,” Harraka said. “It’s also an opportunity to connect with alumni and others associated with the University.”
“So, my Duke experience is already paying dividends.”
Whether walking across the stage to collect his diploma at Duke or taking the stage in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Harraka has just one emotion.
“I’m really happy,” Harraka said. “This is the opportunity that I’ve been waiting and working for my whole life.”