Speedway Digest Staff
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Vince Granatelli (left, above photo), who was a leading mechanic for two notable machines in Indianapolis 500 history and later became a race-winning team owner, died Jan. 22. He was 78.
Granatelli was a member of the famous racing family that made its name through “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,” including his father, Andy, the flamboyant owner of the car that Mario Andretti drove to victory in the 1969 Indianapolis 500.
Vince Granatelli first turned wrenches at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 1961 as a mechanic on the Novi-powered machines his father brought to the “500” that year. The unique engine growl of the Novi captivated fans for more than two decades.
Granatelli then worked as a mechanic on another one of the most unique cars in Indianapolis 500 history, the turbine-powered machines nicknamed the “Whooshmobile” due to the unique hissing sound of the Pratt & Whitney gas turbine engine.
Parnelli Jones qualified sixth in 1967 in the turbine and dominated the race, leading 171 of the first 196 laps. But a transmission bearing failed on Lap 197, handing the lead and victory to A.J. Foyt.
In 1968, similar late-race calamity struck when Joe Leonard’s rear-engine, turbine-powered Lotus suffered a failed fuel pump driveshaft while leading with nine laps to go.
He also worked on the Eagle-Offy that Graham McRae drove to 16th place and Rookie of the Year honors in the 1973 Indianapolis 500.
Granatelli also worked as a mechanic at various times in STP-sponsored efforts in Formula One during the early 1970s. He left racing along with his family after the 1974 season.
During his time away from racing, Granatelli focused on various business ventures. He owned Pit Stop Service in Southern California, a high-performance garage where he also built high-speed cars. He built a Chevrolet Camaro stock-body passenger car that his father drove a record 242 mph on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Granatelli returned to racing in 1987 as the owner of Vince Granatelli Racing, which fielded cars in CART painted in a similar day-glo red as his father’s turbine-powered cars at Indianapolis.
Roberto Guerrero won two races driving for the team in its first season of 1987, at Phoenix International Raceway and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Guerrero led the Indianapolis 500 that year with 19 laps to go, but two stalls on a pit stop due to a damaged clutch dropped him out of the top spot. He ended up second behind Al Unser.
Arie Luyendyk earned the team its third and fourth victories in 1991, at Phoenix and Nazareth Speedway.
FOX Sports Adds NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart to the Broadcast Booth for The Clash and Daytona 500
NASCAR Hall of Famer and three-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Tony Stewart joins Mike Joy and former colleague Clint Bowyer on the FOX Sports call of the inaugural Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 6 (6:00 PM ET on FOX) and the 64th running of the Great American Race on Sunday, Feb. 20 (2:30 PM ET on FOX).
“Tony brings Hall-of-Fame credentials and one of the most informative and entertaining voices in motor sports,” said Brad Zager, FOX Sports President of Production & Operations and Executive Producer. “There is an obvious chemistry between Smoke and Clint, and there is no one better than Mike at bringing a broadcast all together.”
Stewart and Bowyer got some booth reps last season, when the pair joined Adam Alexander to call the 2021 season-opening NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Daytona.
“To call the very first Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum AND the Daytona 500 is an opportunity you don’t pass up,” Stewart said. “The size and scope of both these races is massive, and it’s an honor to be a part of them with FOX. Anytime you get to talk racing with Clint and Mike, you’re going to have a good time.”
Two-time Daytona 500-winning crew chief Larry McReynolds returns as the FOX NASCAR technical analyst, with Jamie Little and Regan Smith reporting from the pits at the Clash and Vince Welch joining the team in Daytona.
A full Daytona Speedweeks talent lineup and daily schedule will follow.
Fox Sports PR
The 2022 PPB Motorsports Race Car & Trade Show ended a successful two-day run Saturday at the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center with a big crowd in attendance. They shared in seeing nine exhibitors lauded for ‘best in show’ laurels in a variety of categories. On stage, Penn National Speedway drivers and official signed autographs and swapped stories with fans while Logan Schuchart announced a new sponsor for his World of Outlaws 410 Sprint team at the Bridgeport Motorsports Park booth.
Booth winners included TEO Pro Race Cars (Commercial Booth), BD Motorsports (Speedway/Club), Bruce Buckwalter, Jr. (Open Cockpit), Nick Baer (Modified), Garden State Vintage Stock Car Club (Vintage Car), Dick Vermeil (Vintage Sprint Car), Lenny Swider & Marty Resnick (Vintage Stock Car), Blackbird Quarter Midget Club (Quarter Midget Club), and Bob Dauernheim (Drag Race Car). Morgan Rochelle-Bealer, crowned Ms. Motorsports 2022 the night before, presented the awards.
Penn National drivers autographing commemorative posters and mingling with fans included Bobby Braxton, Alan Carter, Joe Vaccaro, Bruce Young, Kerry Meitzler, Lee Brisen, Bruce Young, Russ Delp, Jr., and Garry Gollub. The track opened in 1971 and closed in 1996.
Logan Schuchart’s No. 1S World of Outlaws 410 Sprint team announced the signing of DuraMAX as a sponsor for the 2022 season, joining Drydene. Schuchart signed autographs and posed for pictures with fans. Schuchart will follow the 2022 World of Outlaws season and will be seeking his first Series championship.
A lively roundtable discussion on stage involving Billy Pauch, Sr., Billy Pauch, Jr., Fred Rahmer, Sr. and Richard Tobias drew a large crowd that included interaction.
Len Sammons Motorsports Productions announced show dates for 2023. They are Friday and Saturday, January 20-21, 2023.
Team Chevy PR
Penske Truck Leasing has donated a specially equipped 26-foot Freightliner M2 box truck to house and transport the TechForce Foundation Mobile STEM Career Center. The truck was introduced at the Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale Auction with a news conference on Saturday, January 22 at 9:30 AM MST.
The TechForce Mobile STEM Career Center is a traveling hands-on exhibit designed to engage Gen Z and help them discover the rewarding career path as professional technicians in the transportation field. Part of TechForce’s national workforce development initiative, the Center can be deployed for indoor or outdoor activities and can scale from several hands-on activities to more than a dozen. It features a built-in exterior video wall as well as retractable awnings and two large free-standing shade covers. It also serves as a mobile billboard and its eye-catching design was a collaboration between artist Kevin Paige and Roush Industries which donated the integrated design and wrap.
“This generous donation from Penske Truck Leasing is helping amplify TechForce’s ability to directly engage with many more young people who may not realize they might have a knack for this career path,” according to TechForce CEO, Jennifer Maher. “Although we developed the STEM career activities over the past few years, we’ve been limited by our ability to deploy them – these are big and heavy activities. This Penske truck makes us highly mobile, and we are looking forward to hitting the road in 2022. The real reward for us is when we get to see these young people light up as they discover their skills and how much they enjoy these activities which can lead to considering a rewarding career as a transportation tech.”
“Technicians are a key component of keeping the supply chain in motion by servicing existing diesel engines and the emerging EV technologies. Investing in the next generation of technicians is vital to our business and industry,” said Art Vallely, president of Penske Truck Leasing. “Our ability to configure this vehicle to fit the Mobile STEM Center’s needs was the perfect opportunity for us to align with our continued pledge to support TechForce and its efforts to engage with future technicians.”
The Mobile STEM Career Center activities include:
- Pit Stop Challenge – Race against the clock to see who can change the tires fastest on the front clip of a real NASCAR. Get to use the real power tools from the racing pits.
- Go Nutz – See how good you are at matching the fasteners (nuts) to the Snap-on wrenches.
- The Virtual V8 – Discover the inner workings of the virtual V-8 engine projected into your real world.
- Off the Line – Test your reflexes on a real light tree from a drag strip starting line.
- Slot Car Racing – Discover how shape and weight can determine the winning car as you take on challengers.
- High-tech circuits – Build your own functioning circuitry with real circuit boards, wires, motors and lights.
- How’s It Work – Discovery station manned by instructors who demonstrate some of the common auto systems and maybe even some catastrophic failures.
- Model of Power – Try your hand at building a functioning scaled-down model of a V-8 engine.
- Cutaway V-10 – Check out the inner workings of a real high-performance V-10 engine.
- Code-A-Car – Write code to power miniature auto functions like lights and fans.
- Ford GT – Check out and maybe even get your picture at the wheel of the Nicolas Cage Ford GT.
- TechForce Network – Explore the free competitions, events, training and other resources designed especially for the next generation of techs.
All of TechForce’s partners have helped bring this Mobile STEM Career Center to fruition. In addition to Penske and Roush, several others have been integral, in particular Shell Lubricants for helping fund its deployment to events like Barrett-Jackson, and to Ford Motor Company, Sunstate Equipment and Snap-on for helping to equip the Center.
A quartet of NASCAR young guns will leave their stock cars at home to compete in next week’s IMSA sports car events at Daytona International Speedway to open the 2022 season.
Austin Cindric, Harrison Burton, Chase Briscoe and Hailie Deegan – all part of the Ford Performance program in NASCAR – will pair up in two Ford Mustang GT4s for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season opener, the BMW M Endurance Challenge on Friday, Jan. 28. A day later, Cindric will step into the No. 15 Proton USA Mercedes-AMG GT3 and race in the new GTD PRO class at the 60th Anniversary of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, North America’s most prestigious sports car race, which tips off the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar, Jan. 29-30.
Cindric and Burton will share the No. 41 PF Racing Mustang for the Michelin Pilot Challenge race, with Briscoe and Deegan in the No. 42 Mustang from the same stable. The goal for all four drivers is to gain valuable road course experience prior to embarking on their NASCAR seasons – the Camping World Truck Series for Deegan and the Cup Series for other three.
Tickets are available for next weekend’s activities and include the below. For all ticket information for the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA weekend, log onto www.
4-Day Adult Tickets: $125 (Infield/Frontstretch/Garage Access); Kids 12-and-under FREE
Sat-Sun Adult Tickets: $75 (Infield/Frontstretch/Garage Access); Kids 12-and-under FREE
Sat-Sun Adult Tickets: $50 (Infield, Frontstretch Access): Kids 12-and-under FREE
Sat-Sun Adult Tickets: $50 (Unreserved Frontstrech Seating): Kids 12-and-under FREE
Friday Adult Tickets: $30 (Unreserved Frontstrech Seating): Kids 12-and-under FREE
Sunday Adult Tickets: $35 (Unreserved Frontstrech Seating): Kids 12-and-under FREE
Cindric, the NASCAR Xfinity Series champion in 2020 who’ll be a Cup Series rookie this year with Team Penske, is no stranger to IMSA racing. The 22-year-old has been in 16 Michelin Pilot Challenge races with two wins and has six WeatherTech Championship races under his belt.
For Burton, 21-year-old driver of the Wood Brothers Racing Ford in NASCAR and the son of former NASCAR driver and current NBC Sports race analyst Jeff Burton, it will be a new experience on Daytona’s 3.56-mile course.
“I’ve had these conversations with my friends at Ford and at the Wood Brothers and at Penske. The one thing I wanted to work on to be better was (to) be a better road racer,” Harrison Burton said. “To have an opportunity to do that right off the bat is awesome and credit to them for being committed to helping me get better. That’s really all a driver can ask for.”
The drivers have the blessings of their teams to venture out of their regular workspace to compete at Daytona.
“We want to be flexible,” said Walter Czarnecki, vice chairman, Team Penske. “We want to give them opportunities to expand their skill set.”
The foursome will get plenty of seat time at Daytona to do so. It began Friday with three days of testing for both IMSA series at the Roar Before the Rolex 24. In Friday’s second session, Cindric was seventh fastest among the 30 cars in the Grand Sport (GS) class with a lap of 1 minute, 54.027 seconds (112.394 mph), while Briscoe was 12th at 1:54.367 (112.060 mph).
“That’s one thing that I’ve really buckled down and said for this 2022 year, that I just need to get as much seat time as I can, whether it’s in dirt, circle track stuff, whatever I can drive,” said Deegan, 20, who returns to David Gilliland Racing for a second trucks season in ‘22. “I just want to get in and get more experience and I feel like one thing I could improve on – I can improve on a lot of things – but I feel like one thing that really is coming up more in the NASCAR world is road course races. I feel like being able to race any type of road course is, I think, just going to better me as a driver.”
It will be a reunion for Deegan and Briscoe, who shared a Mustang for the Daytona race in 2020. Briscoe, driving for Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series this season, is looking forward to the seat time and to seeing how Deegan has improved in the two years since they drove together.
“The last time we were there was the first time she’d ever ran anything on a road course,” Briscoe, 27, said. “Now to go back with her, she’s probably ran three or four truck races now (on road courses) and has run some other IMSA stuff, so it’ll be fun to see her improvement as a race car driver.
“She does a really good job in a lot of different disciplines, and it’ll be fun to go down there and do a totally fairly new discipline to both of us and go down there and just have a good time.”
When the Michelin Pilot Challenge race is over, the racing will end for three of the drivers. Not so for Cindric, who will make his fourth start in the Rolex 24, this time co-driving the No. 15 Mercedes with Dirk Mueller and Patrick Assenheimer. Cindric has a clear goal in mind.
“I have a very strong desire to win the Rolex 24 and that’s my motivating factor to do this race,” said Cindric, who won last February’s Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race. “I’ve worked really hard every offseason to try and make something happen, not to get in a five-driver lineup just to go do the race and experience it. I’ve kind of done all that.
“I’d say the Rolex is probably the most realistic race I can look at and say I would like to win that race. I think this is a great opportunity for me to do that or at least establish my capabilities to do so and, like I said, against a group of drivers that are incredibly talented, incredibly experienced all in their cars.”
GTD PRO is just that – a class based on professional drivers. Most of the cars have factory backing. In a way, Cindric says, this Rolex 24 will mirror what he will face as a NASCAR Cup Series rookie – going head-to-head with the best pro drivers.
“Being in GTD PRO, you look at the entry list and my jaw kind of dropped,” Cindric said, “so I’m excited for that challenge.”
Once the checkered flag falls on the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, the World Center of Racing will begin its focus on DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth (Feb. 15-20) and the 64th Annual DAYTONA 500. The week will feature six days of incredible on-track action with practices, qualifying and a total of six races among four different series. It will allow fans several possibilities to see the NASCAR Cup Series’ Next Gen car, plus some of the greatest drivers in the world in the NASCAR Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series, as well as the ARCA Menards Series.
For ticket information on Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth events, log onto www.DAYTONA500.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP. If fans are looking to buy or sell reserved seats for the DAYTONA 500, please visit SeatGeek, the Preferred Ticket Exchange of the DAYTONA 500 and Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth.
Rain showers force cancellation of Saturday’s portion of Sunshine Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park
Persistent rain showers creating saturated grounds, on top of the heavy rain from Friday night, and a forecast calling for more rain at Volusia Speedway Park have forced World of Outlaws, DIRTcar, and track officials to cancel Saturday’s entire program at the speedway.
The postponed World of Outlaws Feature from Friday night will be made up on Wednesday, Feb. 16, during DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia.
The DIRTcar Pro Late Model Feature will also be made up at DIRTcar Nationals on Monday, Feb. 7. Volusia Speedway Park officials will determine a date to make up the 602 Late Model Feature.
Fans who bought a ticket to Friday’s Feature events can bring their ticket stub from that event to DIRTcar Nationals and receive $10 off a DIRTcar Nationals ticket for Wednesday, Feb. 16 only.
Any wristbands from Saturday’s event can be mailed to our office in Concord, NC for a refund. Please include Name and address. Tickets will only be refunded for Saturday.
The World of Outlaws Late Model 2022 season continues during DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 16-19. For tickets to the event, click HERE.
For the latest on the World of Outlaws Late Models, make sure to follow on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, and at www.WorldofOutlaws.com.
Last weekend, Daytona International Speedway hosted a two-day pre-race practice session for the ARCA Menards Series. Over 60 drivers made laps on the 2.5-mile oval over the course of the Friday and Saturday sessions.
CCM Racing fielded three drivers for the test session - Matt Wilson, Thomas Pacheco, and Kevin Hinckle.
The weekend was not an easy one for the CCM Racing crew. The No. 7 Chevrolet had to call it a day early on Friday afternoon after oil pressure issues caused the rear main seal to break. The crew worked late into the night and early Saturday morning to have the car ready to be back on track on Saturday.
All three drivers were able to make it out on track before the session was over. However, oil pressure issues continued to plague the No. 7 team on Saturday, and, ultimately, forced an early end to the second day of practice.
CCM Racing will return to Daytona International Speedway with owner/driver Eric Caudell for the season opener. The Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire will take place on Saturday, February 19, 2022 at 1:30PM ET with coverage on FS1, the Fox Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM (XM channel 391, online channel 981), and ARCARacing.com.
"I owe a huge thank you to the CCM team for the opportunity to work with them and to test at Daytona for my superspeedway license. Driving a stock car at Daytona is different from the road course racing I am used to. The sustained speeds, high banks, and G-forces a driver experiences at tracks like Daytona are incredible. The way air affects the car at those speeds has a way of magnifying any mistakes the driver makes with his hands. I'd compare superspeedways to short tracks like I would compare golf to kick-ball.
As for the 2022 season, my exact racing schedule is still somewhat undecided, pending sponsorship agreements, etc. We are, however, excited to welcome Laravel as a team sponsor this season.” - Matt Wilson | Springdale, Arkansas
“Testing went well. It was great to get back out there and shake the cobwebs off a bit since it had been a few years since I'd been to Daytona. The car was great despite the few mechanical issues that we had.” Kevin Hinckle | Shawnee, Kansas
“Ultimately, CCM accomplished what we set out to do and got all our drivers laps at Daytona. It was in no way easy or what we expected. Our engine had been trouble-free and performed flawlessly when we tested it for many laps at a short track. The pump over-pressuring and blowing out the rear main seal created a great deal of work in a short time frame.
Finney Racing out of Florida was able to provide us parts and part numbers so we could fix it the first night. It was labor intensive but our three UNOH crew members hung in and assisted with the leak fix. That allowed us to run more laps on day two.
If I am looking for silver linings, I now know that our engine bearings are in good shape and I am glad this did not occur on a race day. We definitely leaned on the ARCA racing family this weekend with many thanks for help from Fast Track Racing, Ilmor, Sheppard Racing, Kimmel Racing, Brian Finney, and Wally Finney.” Eric Caudell, owner CCM Racing
Less than 24 hours after sitting upside down in his Super Late Model, Mark Whitener climbed out of his DIRTcar Pro Late Model with a straw hat on his head and a smile on his face.
The Middleburg, FL driver found strength in his consistency and pure will to claim the first DIRTcar Pro Late Model Sunshine Nationals victory of the week Friday evening at Volusia Speedway Park – after the race was postponed from Thursday night.
Whitener “The Magic Man” said he was sore and battled brake issues in the final half of the 25-lap Feature, but knew he had a strong new Savage chassis underneath him.
“I knew I had a pretty good hot rod,” Whitener said. “This is a new car for us. Thanks to Jason Welshan at Savage (Chassis). That was scary in the Super last night. My hands are sore. I’m sore all over… but to be in Victory Lane for this Sunshine deal, it’s pretty much at home for us. Just appreciate everyone that puts this show on. Everybody is doing the best job they can.”
Shan Smith led the field to the initial green flag with Whitener in tow. The two paced ahead of the field in the early stage of the race, while Nevin Gainey made his way from fifth to third in the first two laps.
Smith held a strong command of the lead around the half-mile track until lap traffic became a hindrance. During an attempt to pass a group of slower cars around the outside, Smith was pushed out of the groove into a dirty lane, losing grip and allowing Whitener to sneak underneath him. The two raced side by side for a straightaway before Whitener launched ahead with the lead and never looked back.
“When I was leading and got to lap traffic, I should’ve just rode in behind those guys but I was afraid that Mark (Whitener) was going to dive out there to the outside and just drive around me and I’d get caught with my pants down. I just dive-bombed those guys around the outside and they kind of hung me out to dry when I was lapping them. That was the race.
“Basically, if you got off the bottom you were done. So, I want to thank all my guys for helping me and supporting me. We’ve been busting our butts like everyone else here.”
Whitener lost his rear brakes with 10 laps to go and had to readjust his approach to each corner but stayed committed to the bottom. Smith began to pull in Whitener, getting close enough to grab his bumper with eight laps to go. However, he hit a rut in Turn 2 and faded back into the clutches of Cory Hedgecock in third.
Three laps later disaster almost struck Whitener as a car slowed to a near stop in front of him to turn into the pit area, forcing him to lock his brakes and wrangle his car straight to avoid a collision. That allowed Smith and Hedgecock one last attempt at Whitener.
The “Magic Man” was in another dimension, however, needing only a corner to distance himself from his hunters again.
He drove away to claim a needed victory in a doubleheader day of racing around The World’s Fastest Half-Mile in which he’ll be pulling double duty with the DIRTcar Pro Late Models and World of Outlaws Late Models.
“I’d just like to thank everybody that is out here,” Whitener said. “All these fans and everybody that helps me on this car. Especially Jason Welshan at Savage Chassis. First night out and this thing was badass.”
The DIRTcar Pro Late Models return tonight for the second night of the Sunshine Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park. If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision.
Tickets for the Sunshine Nationals are available at the track or by clicking HERE.
1. 5-Mark Whitener; 2. 32-Shan Smith; 3. 23-Cory Hedgecock; 4. 17-Nevin Gainey; 5. 05-David Whitener; 6. 6-Clay Harris; 7. 66K-Dylan Knowles; 8. 4-Rye Faulk; 9. 66-Jody Knowles; 10. 22-Jeremy Steele; 11. 10-CChad Olsen; 12. 2-Trynt Lloyd; 13. 01G-Jason Garver; 14. 71-Bo Allen; 15. 28M-Sam Mars; 16. 66-JJake Knowles; 17. 2W-Justin Williams; 18. 17SSJR-Brenden Smith; 19. 127-Austin Yarbrough; 20. 45T-Tom Fiebelkorn; 21. 51-Mikey Kopka; 22. 01-Jason Welshan; 23. 38-Garrett Mosley; 24. 25-Donnie Chappell; 25. 00S-Richie Stephens; 26. 14-Wil Herrington
DIRTcar Series PR