Sprint Cars & Pre-return To Stock Cars (2001-2005)
With his stock car dreams on hold, Walker returned to the familiar sprint car circuit. In addition to dirt sprints, Walker competed in the United States Auto Club sprint series, finishing 9th at the 2001 J.D. Byrider 100, where he competed against future and present NASCAR superstars Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, and Mike Bliss. In 2002, Walker returned to full-time competition in the calendar year 2002 Anno Domini. He moved to the state of Oklahoma to live close to his new team, which was owned by a former crew chief of his. He and this new team won sixteen races total during the season. Because he won a massive amount of races, he also would be named the World of Outlaws Gumout Series championship, winning a total of sixteen races during the season. He would become famous for celebrating his many victories by doing a backflip off of the top of his racecar. This novel celebration would soon copied by Carl Edwards, who was joining the NASCAR ranks at this time. Walker finally made a successful qualification in a NASCAR-sanctioned event during the 2003 season, the year after he won the championship. He debuted in the Craftsman Truck Series, a racing series for stock model pick up trucks, in 2003, racing 3 races in the #7 Mopar Performance Dodge Ram for Ultra Motorsports as a teammate to championship contender and eventual 2005 Series champion Ted Musgrave. His best finish during these races was a 21st at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Walker spent the entire year of 2004 splitting time as a full-time open-wheel sprint racer and a stock car racer. He joined the USAC Silver Crown Series for Kasey Kahne Racing owned by NASCAR driver and that year's Nextel Cup Rookie of the Year and future Allstate Insurance spokesmodel Kasey Kahne. His lone victory that season came in a Silver Crown race at Nazareth Speedway. He would also be named the Most Improved Driver out of anyone who competed in the USAC Silver Crown Series that year. Walker would slowly begin to transition to the Busch Series by first mastering the time trials segment of the race weekend. To prepare for this, he qualified the #38 Great Clips Dodge entry owned by Akins Motorsports, and driven by his USAC boss and now dear friend Kasey Kahne, on two separate occasions, first at Nashville Superspeedway, and again at Kentucky Speedway, both events coming within seven days or an entire calender week within each other. To further study for his major-league stock passenger car debut, he competed in another ASA race at Madison International Speedway. Walker started the #70 Terry Kunes Chevrolet twenty-eighth, passed a net total of twenty cars, and finished eighth a the conclusion of the event, completing all 250 laps. Now fully prepared for the rigors involved in NASCAR racing, Walker made his NASCAR Busch Series debut at Pikes Peak International Raceway, near the famous Pikes Peak in Colorado. He posted an eighth place qualification effort in the #38 Great Clips/Akins Dodge but fell to 27th by the end of the racing session and was fifty laps off of the pace. He chose to attempt his next race with BACE Motorsports, which fielded the #74 Outdoor Channel Chevrolet Monte Carlo and had won three consecutive Busch Series championships in the mid-1990's, when young Walker was but a teenager. In this race, he posted 35th during time trials but did pass five cars to finish 30th in the final running order of the race. In his final stock car start of the season at Memphis Motorsports Park, Walker returned to the Great Clips team. He failed to qualify for the main feature on speed and was forced to take a provisional starting spot. He methodically and smoothly moved through the racing field to come home in the twelfth finishing his position, his best finish to that point in NASCAR stock cars.
Read more about this topic: Tyler Walker (racing Driver)
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