Wednesday, Feb 01
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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23XI Racing announced today that the team will field a third car for the Daytona 500 with racing legend Travis Pastrana set to drive the No. 67 Black Rifle Coffee Company Toyota Camry TRD. The race will be Pastrana’s inaugural entry in the NASCAR Cup Series and his third time in a stock car at Daytona International Speedway, where he finished 10th in the 2013 NASCAR Xfinity Series season opener. Eric Phillips will serve as crew chief for the No. 67 team.

With a career in motorsports spanning almost 25 years, Pastrana has competed in a myriad of racing series, ranging from supercross to motocross to rally racing, in addition to starts in NASCAR. Along with experience in the K&N Pro Series, Pastrana has 42 starts in the Xfinity Series and five starts in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, where he most recently competed at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the fall of 2020. During his impressive career, the action sports star has won seven championships across supercross, motocross and rally racing, and has amassed 11 gold medals in moto and rally car events at the X Games.

Following years of competition in rally racing, Pastrana recently created the Nitro RallyCross series in 2018. Now in its fourth season, Pastrana is the series’ reigning champion.

“I’m thrilled at the chance to race in the Daytona 500,” said Travis Pastrana. “It’s the one event every year that all my friends and family come together to watch at our buddy Dale’s house and it’s an event I’ve wanted to race my entire life. My first supercross win came at Daytona when I was 16 years old, and I qualified third at Daytona for the Xfinity series in 2013. That race didn’t end up well, but I was able to finish 10th despite the fact I crossed the finish line backward through the infield grass at 180 mph. Trying to earn one of the very few remaining spots in qualifying for the biggest race I’ve ever had the opportunity to compete in will not be an easy task, but I’m confident the 23XI team will give me a car that belongs in the show and truly believe I have the skills to get it there. It was very important for me to put my best foot forward and I’m happy to undertake this endeavor with the 23XI Toyota team. They are always competitive at superspeedways, so I know we will be strong when we get to Daytona. All my friends, family and long-lost relatives plan to be there and I’m looking forward to sharing the moment with all my fans and my partners at Black Rifle Coffee Company, too.”

Black Rifle Coffee Company, a veteran-founded premium coffee company with a mission to better the lives of veterans, active-duty military and first responders, has a long-standing relationship with Pastrana, supporting his journey throughout racing and driving escapades.  Most recently, the two partnered on an action-packed video to honor American military veterans on Veteran’s Day, shredding the streets of small-town Boerne, Texas in a knock-down, drag-out car chase behind the wheel of two heavily-modified Hoonigan vehicles.

“Travis is part of the fabric that is Black Rifle Coffee Company and truly a member of our family,” said Luke Peelgrane, senior vice president, Marketing and Media, Black Rifle Coffee Company. “When he came to us and shared his desire and interest in fulfilling one of his lifelong bucket list items – competing in the Great American Race – we didn’t hesitate to come alongside him for the ride.”

“We’re excited to welcome Travis to the team as he competes for a spot in the Daytona 500,” said Steve Lauletta, 23XI Racing president. “He is one of the most well-known and well-decorated action sports athletes of all time, and we’re looking forward to helping him in his quest to race in the Daytona 500. Attracting a driver of Travis’ stature speaks volumes to the success 23XI Racing has had in our first two seasons and points to the positive direction in which we are headed. Aside from the opportunity to introduce Travis’ dedicated fanbase to 23XI and NASCAR, this race also provides a chance for more of our team members to expand their responsibilities as we continue to grow and strengthen the team.”

 

23XI PR

For the 11th consecutive season, the leading travel stop network and the leading service center for the trucking industry, Love’s Travel Stops and Speedco, a member of the Love’s Family of Companies, will partner with Front Row Motorsports (FRM). Love’s Travel Stops will be the featured partner of the No. 34 Ford Mustang with 2021 Daytona 500 champion, Michael McDowell. Speedco will be the cornerstone supporter of the No. 38 Ford F-150 team with 2022 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) champion, Zane Smith.

The Love’s and Speedco season will begin at the Daytona International Speedway. Love’s Travel Stops will make its 2023 NASCAR debut during the Daytona 500, a race McDowell won in 2021. The Speedco and Love’s brand will adorn Smith’s attempt to win back-to-back races at Daytona to begin his championship defense.

Along with the “The Great American Race,” Love’s Travel Stops will continue its anchor partnership of McDowell and the No. 34 team in half of the races in 2023. McDowell feels fortunate for the partnership.

“It’s really become a source of pride to carry the Love’s Travel Stops colors and represent all the hard-working men and women who work for or are loyal customers of Love’s,” said McDowell. “The fans associate Love’s Travel Stops yellow paint scheme with our No. 34 Ford Mustang. We created a lot of special moments last year with our record-performing season. We are going to carry that momentum into 2023 and race for wins.”

Speedco will increase its involvement with Smith and be the anchor partner for Smith’s No. 38 Ford F-150 team in the NCTS. Speedco has been a primary partner of FRM’s truck program since the team’s inception at the start of the 2020 season. With Smith, Speedco was the primary partner in three of the No. 38 truck team’s four wins last season en route to a championship. Smith looks to replicate the championship this season.

“I am very proud of what we were able to accomplish in 2022,” said Smith. “Speedco is a big part of that success, I am excited to see their increased involvement this year. I’m proud to represent their customers nationwide as we chase our second championship starting in Daytona.”

For more information about Love’s Travel Stops, visit loves.com. You can also follow Love’s Travel Stops on social media: Twitter at @LovesTravelStops, Facebook at @LovesTravelStops and Instagram at @LovesTravelStops.

For more information about Speedco, please visit loves.com. You can also follow Speedco on social media: Twitter at @SpeedcoPM, Facebook at @SpeedcoPM and Instagram at @Speedcopm.

FRM PR

When NASCAR throws the green flag for the 65th running of the DAYTONA 500, it will be in front of a packed house as Daytona International Speedway today announced all grandstand seating and camping is sold out for the NASCAR Cup Series opener. The sellout is the eighth consecutive for The Great American Race.

 

Fans still have opportunities to attend the DAYTONA 500, as tickets remain for the UNOH Fanzone and select premium hospitality options, such as the new 31 DEGREES hospitality package. All remaining tickets can be found at DAYTONA500.com.

 

“Our fans know there’s nothing better in sports than attending the DAYTONA 500 and they will help us kick off NASCAR’s 75th Anniversary by filling the facility,” said Daytona International Speedway President Frank Kelleher. “We will have a week of great racing and there are still so many opportunities for fans to come out to the track and be a part of the action during Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth.”

 

Grandstand tickets are also available for the remaining Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth events, which give fans a chance to see all three NASCAR national series and the ARCA Menards Series:

    • Wednesday, Feb. 15 – DAYTONA 500 Qualifying Presented by Busch Light determines the front row for Sunday’s race
    • Thursday, Feb. 16 – Bluegreen Vacations Duel races set the field for the DAYTONA 500
    • Friday, Feb. 17 – NextEra Energy 250 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race
    • Saturday, Feb. 18 – Doubleheader featuring the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner 300 and ARCA Menards Series 200

 

The sellout comes on the heels of one of the most competitive seasons in NASCAR history, which featured a record-tying 19 different race winners in the debut season for the Next Gen car. Last year’s DAYTONA 500 featured the season’s closest finish as Austin Cindric posted a 0.036-second margin of victory over Bubba Wallace.

 

Fans are encouraged to reserve their place in history during Speedweeks Presented by AdventHealth by logging onto DAYTONA500.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Additionally, fans can buy or sell reserved seats for the DAYTONA 500 by visiting SeatGeek, the Official Ticket Marketplace of NASCAR.

 

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway via daytonainternationalspeedway.com, on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, as well as the NASCAR Tracks App, for the latest speedway news.

 

DIS PR

Corvette Racing is back where it all started a quarter-century ago as the team returns to Daytona International Speedway for its two-week, season-opening event in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

 

First up is the Roar Before the 24 – three days of official testing that culminates in qualifying for the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The Roar runs from Friday through Sunday with practice starting for the Rolex 24 on Thursday, January 26.

This season marks the second for Corvette Racing in the GT Daytona (GTD) PRO category. This year’s lineup features the two-time IMSA championship-winning pair of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor – challenging for another full-season title – and fellow Corvette Racing veteran Tommy Milner in the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C8.R.

 

While this is the first race together for the trio, one has shared the cockpit of a Corvette with the other on multiple occasions. While Garcia and Taylor are full-season teammates, Milner was a full-time Corvette driver in 2011 with Garcia as his long-distance teammate. Coincidently, they went on to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans that year.

 

Fast-forward to 2015 and Taylor was the third driver at Le Mans with Milner and Oliver Gavin as the trio won their class in a storybook ending for Corvette Racing.

 

Daytona was the site of Corvette Racing’s first event in 1999. In its 12 Rolex starts since then, the program has won the race four times – the most recent coming in 2021 when Garcia, Taylor and Nicky Catsburg led a 1-2 Corvette Racing finish in the final Rolex 24 for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) category.

 

There are eight entries from seven manufacturers in GTD PRO for this year’s Rolex 24. Combined with the regular GTD field, Corvette Racing will be in a fight among 23 production-based cars around the 3.56-mile, eight-turn circuit that combines Daytona’s super-speedway oval with its infield road course. 

 

The Roar Before the 24 is set for Friday-Sunday with GTD qualifying for the Rolex 24 scheduled for 1:25 p.m. on Sunday. The session will stream live around the world on IMSA.com.

ANTONIO GARCIA, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “Going for the second time in GTD PRO at Daytona will be a little bit different. We have a year of experience now. A year ago, it was hard for us and hard for IMSA to know what to expect from the performance of our car. I hope we are in a better position this time around, especially at Daytona. We were lacking a ton of performance and we were not competitive and couldn’t fight for wins. I hope things change. The team has one year of experience in this category. We know our weaknesses and where we are strong. I hope we have a chance to win.”

“For Corvette Racing, Daytona is a key part of our season. We’ve been lucky enough to win it a few times. Last year wasn’t a great year for us but I hope we have a chance to be up there, work for it and maybe win the Rolex again.”

“It’s great to have Tommy back. I was still a third driver when he joined the team and I was able to be in the car with him for a year. We won Le Mans together, so I think it’s a good moment to get together again and win all the other big races we can win. I haven’t won Daytona or Sebring with him, so this is a good chance to try for that.”

JORDAN TAYLOR, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “Heading into the season, the motivation is win as much as we can. That starts with the Rolex 24. Last year we had a tough race in our first event in GTD. Getting an understanding about what the car needs and what the drivers need is a lot to learn. Having done the whole season a year ago, we can take what we learned into practice and hopefully we can hit the ground running strong at Daytona.”

“With the GTD PRO class growing as much as it has, Daytona will be such an important event for us. We’ve got so many manufacturers from around the world, and it’s a big deal to represent Corvette and Chevrolet on our home turf. We won the race in 2021 and hopefully we can come back with a strong car in GTD after learning what we did a year ago. We’re definitely hoping for another watch this year.”

“It was kind of sad not having Tommy in the IMSA field last year. He’s been a staple in this sport for so many years. I know he enjoyed WEC and exploring the different tracks. For us, it’s nice to have him back home. The last time we drove the same car, we won Le Mans back in 2015 so we have a lot of good history and good memories. We had a good battle back in 2021 around Daytona. He’s one guy you’d rather have in your car than racing against. Hopefully we can go win some more races together.”

TOMMY MILNER, NO. 3 MOBIL 1/SiriusXM CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R: “The team had a pretty tough year last year. They won at Sebring and were competitive at some places, but for the most part the first year bringing a GTLM car down to GTD was challenging, for sure. I would say expectations for Daytona, we go there to win. That’s why we race. Last year was a big challenge for us. We were very slow in a straight line, hopefully that will be better. The goal is to win the race and winning a championship.

“Daytona itself is a huge part of the IMSA championship and endurance racing around the world. It kicks off the racing season around the world. The track itself is not crazy difficult, but the race itself is challenging. You have to have a car that is good in all kinds of conditions. It can get pretty hot in the daytime and also super cold at night. The oval itself poses its own challenges. It’s one car from each manufacturer and great driver lineups with great teams. So it’s a challenge for all of us as drivers and a team to compare ourselves to some of the best in the world. It’s a challenge that Corvette Racing is always up for. No matter what hand we’re dealt, we’ll work our magic to get our Corvette up front.”

“I enjoyed my time last year in WEC to go all around the world and represent Corvette Racing. To go around the world and show off this Corvette to a lot of fans who have never seen the car before was special. As an American kid, being at home is quite nice and the chance to race the three major races in the IMSA championship is fantastic.”

Photos: Richard Prince, Chevrolet Racing

CORVETTE RACING BY THE NUMBERS AT DAYTONA

• 0.034: As in seconds – the winning margin of victory in Corvette Racing’s 1-2 finish at the 2016 Rolex 24. It is the closest finish in race history.

• 1: As in one team, one manufacturer and one model of car going on 25 years: Corvette Racing and Chevrolet.

• 2: Number of the overall winning Corvette C5-R in the 2001 Rolex 24. Ron Fellows, Johnny O’Connell, Chris Kneifel and Franck Freon completed 656 laps for 2335.36 miles in the winning effort.

• 4: Rolex 24 wins for Corvette Racing: 2001 overall, 2015 GTLM (Antonio Garcia/Jan Magnussen/Ryan Briscoe), 2016 GTLM (Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler) and 2021 GTLM (Garcia/Jordan Taylor/Nicky Catsburg)

• 14: Manufacturer Championships for Chevrolet and Corvette Racing since 2001.

• 24: Drivers who have driven for Corvette Racing at Daytona – Justin Bell, Ryan Briscoe, Nicky Catsburg, Kelly Collins, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Marcel Fässler, Ron Fellows, Franck Freon, Antonio Garcia, Oliver Gavin, John Heinricy, Chris Kneifel, Robin Liddell, Jan Magnussen, Tommy Milner, Simon Pagenaud, John Paul Jr., Andy Pilgrim, Mike Rockenfeller, Scott Sharp, Alexander Sims, Marco Sorensen, Nick Tandy and Jordan Taylor.

• 27: Tracks at which Corvette Racing has won races – Baltimore, Charlotte Motor Speedway, COTA, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park/Mosport, Daytona, Detroit, Fuji Speedway, Houston, Laguna Seca, Le Mans, Lime Rock, Long Beach, Miami, Mid-Ohio, Monza, Portland, Road America, Road Atlanta, Sebring, Sonoma, St. Petersburg, Texas, Trois Rivieres, Utah, VIR, Washington DC and Watkins Glen

• 32: Number of drivers for Corvette Racing since 1999.

• 70: Years since Corvette was introduced to the world on Jan. 17, 1953 in New York City. A total of 300 cars were produced that year.

• 122: Victories worldwide for Corvette Racing – 113 in North America, eight at Le Mans and one in the FIA WEC

• 266: Event starts by Corvette Racing since 1999

• 54,436.60: Number of racing miles completed by Corvette Racing at Daytona. That’s more than two full trips around the Earth at its equator (approx. 24,900 miles).

• 348,756.01: Total number of racing miles completed by Corvette Racing since its inception. To put that in perspective, Corvette Racing is more than halfway to the distance traveled by Apollo 13 – the longest manned spaceflight in history: 622,268 miles.

 

Corvette Racing at Daytona

1999

No. 2 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Chris Kneifel/John Paul Jr. – 3rd in GTS

No. 4 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Scott Sharp/John Heinricy – 12th in GTS 

 

2000

No. 3 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Chris Kneifel/Justin Bell – 2nd in GTS

No. 4 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Franck Freon – 10th in GTS

 

2001

No. 2 Corvette C5-R: Ron Fellows/Johnny O'Connell/Chris Kneifel/Franck Freon – 1st in GTS (overall win)

No. 3 Corvette C5-R: Andy Pilgrim/Kelly Collins/Dale Earnhardt/Dale Earnhardt Jr. – 2nd in GTS

 

2014

No. 3 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Ryan Briscoe – 10th in GTLM

No. 4 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Robin Liddell – 5th in GTLM

 

2015

No. 3 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Ryan Briscoe – 1st in GTLM (Magnussen fastest race lap)

No. 4 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Simon Pagenaud – 3rd in GTLM (Gavin pole)

 

2016

No. 3 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Mike Rockenfeller – 2nd in GTLM (Garcia fastest race lap)

No. 4 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler – 1st in GTLM (Winner by 0.034 second)

 

2017

No. 3 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Mike Rockenfeller – 4th in GTLM

No. 4 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler – 9th in GTLM

 

2018

No. 3 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Mike Rockenfeller – 3rd in GTLM (Magnussen pole)

No. 4 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler – 4th in GTLM

 

2019

No. 3 Corvette C7.R: Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia/Mike Rockenfeller – 6th in GTLM

No. 4 Corvette C7.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler – 8th in GTLM

 

2020 (Rolex 24 – January)

No. 3 Corvette C8.R: Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor/Nicky Catsburg – 4th in GTLM

No. 4 Corvette C8.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner/Marcel Fässler – 7th in GTLM

 

2020 (WeatherTech 240 – July)

No. 3 Corvette C8.R: Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor – 1st in GTLM

No. 4 Corvette C8.R: Oliver Gavin/Tommy Milner – 5th in GTLM

 

2021

No. 3 Corvette C8.R: Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor/Nicky Catsburg – 1st in GTLM

No. 4 Corvette C8.R: Tommy Milner/Nick Tandy/Alexander Sims – 2nd in GTLM

 

2022

No. 3 Corvette C8.R: Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor/Nicky Catsburg – 6th in GTD PRO

No. 4 Corvette C8.R: Tommy Milner/Nick Tandy/Marco Sorensen – 10th in GTD PRO

Corvette Racing PR

Single Day tickets to the 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding go on sale to the public today at 10 a.m. ET. Tickets can be bought online at gpstpete.com for the 19th annual event set for March 3-5 in downtown St. Petersburg. 

 

Fans will experience nonstop racing action at this year’s event which features 10 races from six different series. Daily General Admission tickets are $25 for Friday, $45 for Saturday, and $60 for Sunday. Single Day Grandstand seats are $120 for upper rows and $95 in lower rows. Junior pricing is available for ages 12 and under.

 

Multi-day tickets remain available for purchase for those fans wanting to attend all three days of the event weekend. A 3-Day General Admission ticket offers the best value at $65, and 3-Day Grandstand seats are $155 and $125 for upper and lower rows, respectively. 

 

"As the racing season approaches, we are excited to launch single-day ticket options for the 2023 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. With its sunshine, palm trees and picturesque waterfront, downtown St. Pete offers the perfect stage for the start of another NTT INDYCAR SERIES season,” said Kim Green, co-owner, chairman and CEO of Green Savoree St. Petersburg, LLC, organizers of the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding. “We look forward to dropping the green flag on this action-packed event March 3-5.” 

 

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will open its season in St. Pete for the 13th time with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding, marking its 19th annual visit to ‘The Sunshine City.’ The weekend schedule will also feature INDYCAR’s future stars as INDY NXT by Firestone speeds through downtown. More of the sport’s rising open-wheel stars looking to climb the professional racing ladder will compete in doubleheader races for both the USF Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires and USF2000 Presented by Cooper Tires series. The loaded schedule also includes the variety of Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich and SRO’s GT America powered by AWS sports car action for fans to enjoy.

 

For additional ticket prices, the event schedule and festival information, visit gpstpete.com. Follow Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on social media using @gpstpete and #FirestoneGP for the latest updates. Joining the E-Club also provides insider access to the latest news and offers.

 

GP of St Pete PR

Kyle Busch, Tyler Reddick and Austin Cindric officially got the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) preseason underway Monday with a two-day Goodyear Tire test at Circuit of The Americas (COTA). Reddick and Cindric also got a step on the competition for Texas fashion when they return for the March 26 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix.

The opening day of the Goodyear Tire test was highlighted by the fresh looks of Busch and Reddick, who open this season with new teams, car numbers and engine manufacturers, as well as Cindric looking to build off last season’s rookie-of-the-year campaign with Team Penske.

Busch was behind the wheel of the No. 8 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing (RCR) after spending 15 seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing driving the No. 18 Toyota. Ironically, it was the No. 8 RCR entry that Reddick departed after three seasons to settle in the No. 45 Toyota Camry TRD with 23XI Racing.

TEST DAY EXERPTS (Click link above for full audio files of the interviews):

  • Busch (on last year’s race and fan support in the market): “The fans here have been really great and been able to come out and support the NASCAR ranks. It’s been really, really cool to see that and seeing a lot of people in the suites and in the grandstands. We need that support. We need the fans’ support to be able to come out here and put on a good show. I think last year’s show was one of the best ones we had for much of the year. There was a lot made of that last lap and all the great racing that was going on.”
  • Reddick (on the first day of the test): “Here at COTA, it’s always a blast. It’s one of the most fun racetracks from a driver’s perspective just racing the surface itself. It’s a really challenging racetrack but certainly for me this team waited a long time to get to the track. Thankfully this tire test was on the schedule for us, and we were able to come out here thanks to Goodyear and take our first laps in a Toyota Camry TRD. For a first day, it went really well. We learned a good bit about how the differences of the car and excited to see how tomorrow goes and hopefully we can learn some more.”
  • Cindric: “Our cars its quite challenging; there is tire wear, the layout is a bit challenging, but you actually don’t run the conventional lines. You use a lot of the runoff. From a bird’s eye view, you kind of have to know the line to take, it’s not very intuitive on where to go. … You can be distracted visually by different lines or paint because you go up the hill and the esses and it’s just massive expanse of asphalt, but you have to do something with it. You have to keep inside the track and inside the curbs and not upset the car. So there’s quite a lot of areas on the racetrack that are that way which I feel like for me makes it fairly unique. In my opinion, fairly European-style circuit compared to some of the other road courses we have state side. I don’t think we get that in too many tracks we go to.”

Following Monday’s first day of the test, Reddick and Cindric were hosted by NASCAR at COTA Executive Director Bryan Hammond at downtown Austin’s Maufrais specialty shop to select and customize their own cowboy hats. Reddick chose a natural-colored Stetson 20x Beaver fur felt with a classic pinch front and a hair-on-hide band with silver pheasant and partridge feathers. Cindric went with a Dunn-colored Stetson 40x Beaver fur felt hat shaped with a pinched front.  He customized it with a Western-style hitched horse band with a Reeves pheasant feather and had it torched to give it a worn-in look. Both also got their initials on the underside of their hats.

The trio returned to the track Tuesday to complete the second and final day of the tire test on the 20-turn, 3.41-mile permanent road course. The second-day session is closed to both the public and media.

The tire test was held in preparation for the March 24-26 EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix NASCAR tripleheader at COTA. The NCS opens its on-track activity Saturday, March 25 with practice (9:30-10:30 a.m. CT) followed by pole qualifying (10:30-11:30 a.m.). The 68-lap, 231.88-mile EchoPark Automotive Grand Prix will be held Sunday, March 26 beginning at 2:30 p.m.

Tickets:

Tickets for the March 24-26 NASCAR at COTA tripleheader weekend are on sale now at NASCARatCOTA.com. Three-day weekend packages for adults including the Darius Rucker pre-race concert start at just $99 and just $10 for kids 12 and under. Further details can be found on the NASCAR at COTA website.

Follow Us:

Keep track of all things NASCAR at COTA by following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram (@NASCARatCOTA). Keep up with all the latest information on the NASCAR at COTA website and mobile app

 

COTA PR

In keeping with its goal of providing information, education and entertainment, the Eastern Motorsport Press Association (EMPA) celebrated motorsports at the Genetti Best Western Plus Hotel and Convention Center in Wilkes-Barre, PA this past weekend. While in its 54th year of existence, members and supporters gathered for the organization’s 50th convention.

The Saturday night banquet highlighted the weekend, where many EMPA members and others received honors for their involvement in motorsports. Six individuals were inducted into the EMPA Hall of Fame. They included Frank Rio, whose family was on hand to accept for the 96-year-old racing pioneer. Bobby Marshman’s son sent a letter of thanks for honoring his late father 59 years after his untimely death. Steve Kinser, also unable to attend, was recognized for his tremendous Sprint Car racing career.

The late Greg Hodnett’s wife, Sherry, and his sister accepted the award for him. An emotional Sherry Hodnett said it’s an honor to accept any award for him, but this one is a great honor. EMPA also presented her with a donation to the Greg Hodnett Foundation.

Hall of Fame inductee Reggie Ruggiero provided some light-hearted comments on his great career in an asphalt Modified, even stating he passed on a Busch ride. He said Rusty Wallace ended up taking that ride.

And Mike Joy, now with Fox Sports, said he got hooked on racing at a young age and knew he had to be part of it. His many years of exceptional work in telling the story from an announcer’s perspective earned him his Hall of Fame award. Mike also gave special thanks to Bill Brice for sponsoring the photography contest. He said many watch or read about people in sports, but it’s those on the other side who need to be recognized for capturing great pictures that also tell the story.

By vote of the membership, several others received awards for excellence. Jonathan Davenport and Erica Enders won the Al Holbert Memorial National Driver of the Year awards for excellence on dirt and asphalt surfaces, respectively. Once again, it was a pair of drivers sharing the same first name who won the Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Driver of the Year awards. Matt Hirschman, asphalt, spoke of sharing his passion for racing, and being fortunate to have what he has in order to compete. Matt Sheppard, dirt, said his remarkable season finally sunk in on his way to the convention, when he realized what a terrific season he had and picking up an award named after the great Richie Evans. Logan Watt received the John Blewett III Young Gun, Presented by New England Race Fuels, Award. This goes to a driver under the age of 20, in recognition of an outstanding season.

EMPA honors the late Junie Donlavey with a Sprit of the Sport Award. This year’s winner was Tom Wanick III for his efforts both on the track and in the greater Hazleton (PA) community. Brett Deyo won EMPA’s award for outstanding racing promotion. EMPA members, Matt Thomas and Mel Thomas, received the Ernie and Marilyn Saxton Award for outstanding service to the organization. EMPA President, Dino Oberto, presented President’s Awards to Debbie Gastelu and Diane Pursell Tracy for their work overseeing the photo contest each year.

In addition to the Brice’s NAPA Auto photo contest, whose winners are listed below, Pete MacDonald and Harry Meeks had exceptional years for which they were rewarded. MacDonald received both the Janice Brice Memorial Award and the Mary and Howie Hodge Memorial Award for the same photo. It was a trifecta, of sorts, for MacDonald, who earlier had won election as a new EMPA Board member. Meeks, by vote of the membership, won the Ace Lane Memorial Photographer of the Year Award.

World Racing Group annually honors an EMPA member for their contribution to Sprint Car racing. The award is named in memory of the late Jerry Reigle, an award-winning EMPA member. Jack Kromer received this special award during the banquet.

EMPA writers compete for prizes in the Pocono Raceway writers’ contest. Those winners are also listed below. The EMPA membership honored Jason Beck, Managing Editor of Speedway Illustrated magazine, as the Jim Hunter Memorial writer of the year.

The 50th convention actually kicked off on Friday, with the annual Salute the Champions night. Drivers who won titles at area racetracks were on hand for interviews and networking. Some returned for the second time, while other were there for the first time. Isabel Barron, the first-ever female champion in the 57-year history of Woodhull (NY) Raceway attended as the track’s 602 Crate Sportsman champion. Andrew Yoder, another driver attending for the first time, won the Late Model title at Selinsgrove (PA). The father/son duo of Ryan Godown and Ryan Godown, Jr. won titles but also won their respective features five times in the same night.

On Saturday morning, while a trio of judges struggled with well over 100 boards submitted by 18 photographers in the Brice’s NAPA Photography contest, others attended press conferences. Jim Bernheisel announced the upcoming Appalachian Mountain Speedweek, a Super Late Model series of eight races at seven tracks. The series kicks off on Friday, June 9th and concludes on Sunday, June 18th. Stephanie Moyer, a former champion at Evergreen (PA) Raceway and UNOH graduate, spoke about running the ARCA series in 2022. Rich Tobias, representing Bloomsburg Fair Raceway and Action Track USA spoke of the importance of attracting and retaining race fans. And, while Tim Light was there representing the Mid-Atlantic Modifieds, it was his engineering background that intrigued the crowd. Among his creative endeavors was the design of the Batmobile.

Following lunch, sponsored by Dover Motor Speedway, Karl Fredrickson, EMPA Board member and Publisher of Speedway Illustrated magazine, led Mike Joy in a discussion of racing media in 2023. Joy, who would later be inducted into the Hall of Fame, entertained and informed attendees on his years behind the microphone. He spoke how the internet, social media, and computerized scoring have all served to change how racing is presented to the public.

Oberto, reelected by the membership to another term on the board, held a brief meeting on Sunday morning to wrap up the 50th EMPA convention.

For information on the organization go to empaonline.org or on Facebook under the organization’s full name. Convention number 51 will take place in January of 2024.

 

Award Recipients:

EMPA Hall of Fame - Frank Rio, Bobby Marshman, Reggie Ruggiero, Steve Kinser, Greg Hodnett, Mike Joy

John Blewett III Young Gun Presented by NEW ENGLAND RACE FUELS – Logan Watt

Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Asphalt Driver of the Year – Matt Hirschman

Richie Evans Memorial Northeast Dirt Driver of the Year – Matt Sheppard

Al Holbert Memorial National Asphalt Driver of the Year – Erica Enders

Al Holbert Memorial National Dirt Driver of the Year – Jonathan Davenport

Chris Economaki Memorial EMPA Newsmaker of the Year – North Wilkesboro Speedway

EMPA Promotional Effort of the Year – Brett Deyo

Jim Hunter Memorial EMPA Writer of the Year – Jason Beck

Ace Lane, Sr. Memorial EMPA Photographer of the Year – Harry Meeks

EMPA President’s Award – Diane Pursell Tracy and Debbie Gastelu

Janice Brice Memorial Photography Award – Pete MacDonald

Mary and Howie Hodge Memorial Photography Award – Pete MacDonald

Ernie and Marilyn Saxton EMPA Service Award – Matt Thomas and Mel Thomas

 

Pocono Raceway/EMPA 2022 Writer’s Contest

Feature

1st Ron Hedger, “50 Years of Super DIRT Week”, Speed Sport Magazine

2nd Mike Adaskaveg, “The Hit: Tony Stewart-Kevin Ward Incident Documentary”, Outside Groove

3rd Dino Oberto, “Tom Wanick III Expands Race Shop To Better Handle Growing Team, Area Auto Racing News

Column

1st Bruce Bennett, “Theater of the Absurd”, Speedway Illustrated

2nd Scott Walsh, “Elliott Not Celebrating Long Pond Victory”, Scranton Times-Tribune

3rd Dan Anderson, “Acknowledging Addiction”, Speedway Illustrated

Personality Profile

1st Jim Donnelly, “A Racer By Two Names”, Speed Sport

2nd Carol Houssock, “The Four Horsemen of Mud Lane”, Speedway Illustrated

3rd Bruce Bennett, “From Nazareth to NASCAR…Short-track racer Jimmy Horton has done it all”, Speedway Illustrated

Race Report

1st Rebecca Kivak, “Busch endures roller coaster weekend”, Scranton Times-Tribune

2nd Ron Hedger, “Axsom Is $10,000 USAC Winner”, SpeedSport.com

3rd Scott Walsh, “Grag Racing…Driver outduels Gibbs down stretch to claim Xfinity race”, Scranton Times-Tribune

News

1st Dan Anderson, “Boone” Explained, Speedway Illustrated

2nd Scott Walsh, “M & M’s Named Title Sponsor For Pocono Raceway’s Cup Series Race”, Scranton Times-Tribune

3rd Len H. Sammons, “Orange County Speedway To Live For Another Season, Future Remains in Doubt”, Area Auto Racing News

 

NAPA Brice’s Auto Supply Photography Contest

Action:

1st Brent Smith  2nd David Dillinger  3rd Brent Smith 

Honorable Mention: Pete MacDonald, Todd Dziadosz

Action Sequence:

1st Harry Meeks  2nd Harry Meeks  3rd Evan Canfield

Crash Action:

1st Harry Meeks  2nd Tommy Lane  3rd Dave Pratt 

Honorable Mention: Matt Butcosk, Jim Smith

Feature:

1st Harry Meeks  2nd Brent Smith  3rd Pete MacDonald 

Honorable Mention: Brent Smith, Bob Yurko

Picture Story:

1st Tommy Lane  2nd Bob Yurko  3rd Tommy Lane 

Honorable Mention: Matt Butcosk, Duane Canfield, Jim Smith

Portrait & Personality:

1st Pete MacDonald  2nd Duane Canfield  3rd Bob Yurko 

Honorable Mention: Evan Canfield, Matt Butcosk, Pete MacDonald, Harry Meeks, Duane Canfield

Pure Art:

1st Todd Dziadosz  2nd Evan Canfield  3rd Brent Smith

Honorable Mention: Duane Canfield, Dave Pratt, Bob Yurko, Debbie Gastelu

Unpublished Color:

1st Todd Dziadosz  2nd Tommy Lane  3rd Evan Canfield

Honorable Mention: Todd Dziadosz, Pete MacDonald, Dave Dillinger

Portfolio: Harry Meeks

Best of Show: Brent Smith

EMPA PR

Binks Motorsports made its Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire debut over the last week. Piloting the Champion Parts entries was Chili Bowl rookie Darin Naida and defending Silver Crown Champion Kody Swanson. After a week of preliminary qualifying nights and one day of rising through the ladder to get to the championship race, Binks Motorsports made it up to the C-feature where its hunt for the Golden Driller ended. 

The No. 3P Champion Parts car piloted by Naida is a Binks Motorsports original, utilizing a three-cylinder engine, making it lighter than the average midget engine. The No. 4P machine driven by Swanson has a four-cylinder engine. Both engines are LS-based engines that team owner Dan Binks engineered and altered to fit the specs of a midget engine.  

The week-long events started for the Binks Motorsports team on Monday night with the O’Reilly Race of Champions. Swanson’s seven Silver Crown championships qualified him for the honorary race. The California-native qualified 14th with an 11.848-second lap time. Throughout the 20-lap event, Swanson charged forward four positions finishing the race in 10th place. 

Naida made his Chili Bowl Nationals debut on Tuesday night, with the 16-year-old finishing third in his heat race, placing him seventh in his qualifier. A sixth-place finish in Naida’s qualifier had him starting third in the B-feature. Naida passed Damion Gardner, who ran a Binks Motorsports engine in the 2022 Chili Bowl, for a first-place finish. 

The B-feature win allowed Naida to start 18th in the A-feature. The rookie’s night ended on lap two of the A-feature when a car stalled in front of him, giving him nowhere to go. The contact forced the No. 3P Champion Parts machine to the pits, ending the night early. 

Wednesday saw Swanson back on track to define his starting position for Saturday’s race through the alphabet soup. Swanson maintained his starting position to finish second in his heat race. The heat race finish placed the Silver Crown Champion on the pole of his qualifier. Winning his qualifier race, Swanson started the A-feature in 11th. The Californian crossed the finish line in 13th after a lengthy red flag for an incident. 

After a few days between events to continue preparations, the Binks Motorsports team returned to competition on Saturday to move through the day of features. Naida was first up for the team in the E-feature, starting eighth. Halfway through the race, a caution came out for an accident which Naida unfortunately got caught up in causing a left rear flat. Naida stopped by the work area to change his tire, forcing the rookie to restart from the 18th position. Naida worked his way back up to 12th before taking the checkered. 

Swanson was up next for the two-car team in the C-feature. Starting from the 12th position, he made his way up to ninth place before a caution came out. The No. 4p Champion Parts midget car was forced to retire early due to issues with the machine. 

“I am kind of new to the Chili Bowl and it is a really intense event,” said Binks, who was part of Chili Bowl campaigns the last two editions before making his team debut in 2023. “We were thrilled that Champion was a part of our effort but we wish we could have gone just a little bit further. Our drivers did a great job, and we learned a ton so hopefully we can be back here a little bit stronger next year”

Binks Motorsports’ midget team debut ended with the C-feature on the hunt to the A-feature on Saturday. The team now looks to continue building on its momentum throughout the 2023 season.

Binks Motorsports PR

Venturini Motorsports (VMS) inaugurated the opening of the 2023 season with a clean sweep at pre-season testing. With an entry list of 61 drivers, VMS concluded the weekend with the four fastest cars. 

Toni Breidinger secured the fastest time of the weekend with her VMS teammates Amber Balcaen, Jesse Love, and Gus Dean closing out the top of the charts. Love, the VMS Championship contender of the season, demonstrated his quick learning during his first Daytona outing. Dean, who has previously competed at Daytona with Venturini Motorsports, showcased his consistency throughout the two day session. Announcements regarding Dean’s 2023 season are expected to be released soon. 

“It felt so good to be back in the car,” explained Breidinger. “During the off season I trained incredibly hard and there were no days off. I know my Venturini Motorsports team and Toyota did the same to be able to bring me a fast Toyota Camry. I can’t wait to race at Daytona on February 18”

Balcaen, the new addition to the VMS driver roster, made a seamless transition into the new team and car. “It was a very successful weekend of testing with Venturini Motorsports. It felt great to lead our draft of really fast cars. I’m looking forward to the race. I think we can have a great result with the No. 15 ICON Toyota Camry,” Balcaen exclaimed.

Closing out the two days of testing with the top four fastest cars, the team looks to carry the momentum into the first race of the season.

“It was a solid overall team performance,” said team owner Billy Venturini. “It was nice to see the team execute and perform at such a high level. Hopefully we’ll end up in victory lane again this year.”

In the driver development era, VMS has seen massive success at Daytona International Speedway, having won the last five races at the superspeedway. VMS will be targeting an unprecedented sixth victory at Daytona Int’l Speedway on February 18. The race will air live on FS1 as well as the Fox Sports App at 1:30pm. 

VMS PR

The final order of business for the 2022 DIRTcar Racing season is complete after drivers were honored at the 39th DIRTcar Banquet in Springfield, IL.

Emcee Ruben Mireles kicked off the celebration after dinner with Regional and National points fund check winners being honored and those who won special awards.

2022  DIRTcar National Champions

Late Model – Bobby Pierce
UMP Modified – Mike Harrison
Pro Late Model – Jose Parga
Pro Modified – Deece Schwartz
UMP Sportsman – Zac Sasser
Stock Car – Zane Reitz
Factory Stock – Trevor Isaak
Sport Compact – Jacob Owens

Mod Lite – Jimmy Smith

Each year, two of the most prestigious awards are given to a DIRTcar-sanctioned track and promoter that demonstrate outstanding abilities to provide top-quality racing entertainment, elevate competitor participation and host special events that bring out the best in fan attendance.

This year’s Promoter of the Year award went to Brad Denney, promotor of Spoon River Speedway.

However, it wasn’t the only award Denney won, as he also received the Bob Memmer award, which pays tribute to the DIRTcar UMP founder.

“I’m kind of speechless on this one; I wasn’t really expecting it,” Denney said. “My dad got it about five years ago. It means a lot to me to get this award.

“Promotor is a hard job. I believe it is. It’s easier for some. I took over for my dad in 2009, and this is my 14th or 15th year. I believe I told dad; I probably wouldn’t do it, but I believe this could be my last year. I don’t know who’s going to take over, but we’ll find somebody, and with my luck, I’ll be stuck doing it still.”

Next, Charleston Speedway was named the 2022 DIRTcar Track of the Year. Speedway Owner/Promoter Sonny Ross was excited to accept the award for his facility.

“Everything I thought I knew about running a race track was proven false,” Ross said. “We’ve made some mistakes, but we’ve learned from them. We’ve got a lot of great fans and some awesome race car drivers. So I’m really proud of the place and proud of what we’ve been able to do.”

The 2022 DIRTcar banquet also saw a new special award in honor of Lee J. Hall— to a driver who exemplifies how he raced and presented himself.

Hall, who died last year, is the recipient of the first award in his name. His son Lee was at the banquet to accept the honor.

“It hasn’t been easy the last couple of months,” Hall said. “But I just want to say the racing community is awesome. Every single one of you guys is awesome. I appreciate the support, and we’ll see everyone in 2023.”

The entire DIRTcar Racing family would like to thank each of the drivers, tracks, promoters, sponsors, officials and crews that contributed to making the 2022 season another great success. Here’s to an even greater 2023.

To keep up with the latest DIRTcar Racing events and news, follow DIRTcar racing on its social media platforms and DIRTcar.com.

DIRTcar Series PR

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