Bill Lester, 60, set for NASCAR return in Truck race at Atlanta

Bill Lester will pilot the No. 17 for DGR on March 20. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
Bill Lester will pilot the No. 17 for DGR on March 20. Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Bill Lester, who has had a NASCAR career spanning more than seven years, is set to make a one-race return to the Truck Series next week at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Bill Lester, who has not run a NASCAR race since 2007 and has not run a competitive race in the last six years, will drive the No. 17 Ford for David Gilliland Racing for the March 20 race.

“I’m excited to get back behind the wheel in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and I want to thank David Gilliland Racing for their help in making this happen. I look forward to competing at my home track, Atlanta Motor Speedway, and hope to make all those who are supporting me proud," Bill Lester said.

The 60-year-old Bill Lester was the first black driver to run in what is now known as the NASCAR Xfinity Series during the 1999 race at Watkins Glen. He also competed full-time in trucks from 2002-2007. Bill Lester ran two Cup races in 2006, becoming the first black driver to compete in a Cup race since Willy T. Ribbs in 1986.

Lester's career is coming full circle at Atlanta, the track where he started his career in the NASCAR Cup Series.

"It’s home, and I like fast tracks. It’s perfect. ... I believe I’m going to have a good experience," Bill Lester expressed.

An engineer who quit his job to race, Bill Lester has spent the past few years writing a book, "Winning In Reverse," and will be using the NASCAR platform to promote it.

He will have Atlanta Ford Dealers, Camping World and Tommy’s Express Car Wash on his truck as partners.

Also Read: Husband, wife to race each other in NASCAR Truck race at Bristol

Bill Lester not worried about reaction to NASCAR return

Bill Lester will surely have his work cut out for him as he spends time on a simulator in preparation for the race next week, but he isn't worried about the outcome of the race or what people might think about him returning.

"I’m sure there are going to be some raised eyebrows and some boobirds out there, but I don’t care," Bill Lester said. "The fact is I believe firmly and wholeheartedly that I can do it.
"I’m not out there to set the world on fire. I’m out there to have a good run and a respectable run. And if I accomplish that, then I will have achieved my goal, " Bill Lester added about his NASCAR return.

Bill Lester last ran in the NASCAR Truck Series in 2007 and has decent numbers with 142 starts and 92 laps led along three pole awards.

Other than competing in NASCAR, Bill Lester also raced in the Grand-Am Sports Car Series between 2008 to 2012. His win in 2001 at Virginia International Raceway made him the first black driver to win in the series.

Also Read: Kyle Busch: It's "refreshing" to see John Hunter Nemechek win

Edited by Jeff Owens
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