Sunday, Mar 26
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest

Imagine if at 16 years old you were the youngest driver in the field and you were making your first appearance in the best wingless sprint car series west of the Mississippi.  Then imagine if you were using a 360 engine while the other 24 drivers in the field were all powered by 410 cubic inch engines.  You would probably be intimidated.  Not so with talented teenage racer Braden Chiaramonte who faced those challenges in the 20th annual “Sokola Shootout” at Perris Auto Speedway last Saturday night.  The teen performed admirably throughout the event earning respect from fellow competitors and the fans.

One week after winning round #2 of the POWRi Southwest Lightning Sprint Car/California Lightning Sprints “Best of the West” series and placing ninth in the open comp sprint main at Imperial Valley, Chiaramonte arrived at Perris ready to battle with the best in the west.  During qualifying, he began to alleviate any doubts unfamiliar race watchers may have had about him when he was 16th fastest in the 25-car field with an impressive time of 17.067.

If anyone was still not convinced after qualifying, his heat race surely showed that he was more than capable of competing against that level of drivers.  In the 10-lapper, Chiaramonte finished fourth after continually fending off a series top 10 regular, a USAC National Series driver, and three other 410-powered cars.

For the main, Chiaramonte was coming from the 16th spot in a stacked field.  There was no way anyone could tell he was a rookie in the group.  He methodically worked his way forward and was up to the 11th spot.  He was driving past the 10th-place car when contact sent him into the wall.  When he got clobbered, it flattened the left rear and bent the wheel.  Fortunately, the teen limped back to the pit area, got it changed, and returned to the battle.  Even though he had to restart at the rear and there were not a lot of laps remaining, he managed to get back to the 16th position at the finish.

“Fun Night last Saturday at Perris Auto Speedway,” the teen told his followers in a post on Facebook on Tuesday.   “Running with the 410s, qualified 17th out of 25 cars.  Finished fourth in my heat and started 16th in the main.  Was up to 11th and passing 10th.  Got put into the wall and got a flat.  Overall, it was a fun night of racing. Big thanks to everyone for all the help.” 

As it stands right now, Chiaramonte is racing this Saturday.  He just does not know where!  He plans on running for “Rookie of the Year” in Northern California’s winged Sprint Car Challenge Tour.  The season opener for that series is slated for Saturday at the Placerville Speedway.  However, like all of California, the famous track has been pounded by recent storms.  More rain was scheduled for Thursday and temperatures are going to be cold on Saturday.   If that show gets canceled, the plan is to travel east to the Central Arizona Raceway in Casa Grande for the ASCS non-wing race.  In addition, if he heads to the “Copper State,” he will take the micro and race it on the same program.  Keep an eye on Chiaramonte’s Facebook page to see where he ends up racing.

Chiaramonte would like to thank all his sponsors who have made this week’s races possible.  RTL Traffic Control, AM Ortega, King Racing Products, Tiner-Hirst Enterprises, and Keizer Wheels.\

As the full 2023 season is just starting to unfold, Chiaramonte and his team are making plans for a busy year. If you are interested in becoming a marketing partner with one of the most talented and personable young drivers in the sport, please feel free to call or e-mail Daniel Chiaramonte This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (619) 988 7563. 

Braden Chiaramonte PR

The field for the 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® set for April 29-30 continues to grow and the latest entry is the Mike Curb owned #77 Curb Records / Mohawk Northeast modified, prepared by Gary Putnam with Max McLaughlin as the driver.  McLaughlin has made two previous starts at Stafford, both behind the wheel of the Curb/Putnam #77 car and he is looking forward to returning to the Connecticut half-mile.

“The 77 car is one of the nicest cars out there, Gary [Putnam] builds a beautiful race car, and every time we race I feel like we have a shot to win,” said McLaughlin.  “It’s always fun driving for Gary and Stafford is a really cool place that I enjoy going to. I haven’t been able to get there as much as I would like so when this came up and the schedules worked out, it was definitely something that I was excited to see.  Thanks to Gary for building two race cars this winter and letting me drive again.  Asphalt rides don’t come along too often and Gary has been the only guy to keep me in an asphalt car the last couple of years so I’m very thankful for him and it’s always a good time running for him.”

Despite never having raced at Stafford or in an Open Modified car before his Stafford debut in 2020, McLaughlin posted finishes of 4th in the 2020 NAPA Fall Final 150 and 11th in the 2021 edition of the NAPA Spring Sizzler®.  If not for some unfortunate circumstances, McLaughlin feels like he could have won or at the very least been in contention to win both of his previous starts at Stafford, a track that has been notoriously tough for new drivers over the years.

“We had a shot at winning my first Stafford race, but our radios went out during the race,” said McLaughlin.  “We ended up finishing fourth that day but I feel like we should have had a better result.  The last time we were at Stafford we got caught up in a wreck and that race ended up getting rain shortened and we finished 11th.  I didn’t have any expectations coming to Stafford the first time and I had never driven an asphalt modified before, so it was all new and a lot of learning.  Sometimes when you go in with no expectations, you tend to run a little better.  Gary always gives me a good car, and this is going on our third year together and we all get along really well so if we can get any luck, I think we can win a lot of races for sure.”

In 11 starts with the #77 team, McLaughlin has scored 4 top-5 and 5 top-10 finishes.  Based upon those results and his previous 2 starts at Stafford, McLaughlin thinks he can be counted among the contenders to take the Sizzler® trophy home, but he knows he is going to face some very stout competition.

“I think we can definitely be a contender, we wouldn’t be going to the track if we didn’t think we could win,” said McLaughlin.  “Matt Hirschman is on an absolute tear right now and he’s always pretty good anywhere he goes so I’m sure everyone has their eyes on him.  Then you have your normal guys who are always good and then the Stafford regulars who are always good, so it’s going to be one of the tougher asphalt modified fields but I think we can be a contender.  If we can put ourselves in a good spot towards the end of a long race, we can have a shot at winning.”

In order to be a contender to win the Sizzler®, McLaughlin will first have to qualify for the 100-lap main event through either a 40-lap NAPA Duel race on Saturday, April 29, or the Last Chance Qualifier on Sunday, April 30 before the main event.  McLaughlin is excited about the prospect of qualifying through heats rather than time trials as that format is right up his alley with all his dirt racing experience.

“I’m not too familiar with the format but I’d say that every time you go out on track, if you plan to try to win, you should be in pretty good shape,” said McLaughlin.  “With the qualifying races and the last chance qualifier, it’s just like dirt racing and that’s what I do 100 times a year.  It’s exciting and I think that brings on good racing.  You have to race hard but also race smart in the Duel races in order to save the car so you have something that you can race with on Sunday.  It’s a cool format and I prefer that rather than deciding qualifying with one lap.  I won the pole at Oswego once, but other than that, I don’t qualify well at all so I’m definitely a fan of the heat races for sure.”

McLaughlin’s father Mike notched a total of 6 feature wins at Stafford with 5 modified wins and 1 Busch North victory.  A NAPA Spring Sizzler® victory would not only be huge for McLaughlin, but it would help turn around the fortunes of the #77 team who with McLaughlin have been so close to several wins only to see them slip away.

“A win in the Sizzler® would be special,” said McLaughlin.  “My Dad has a lot of history at Stafford, we have a lot of friends in Connecticut, Gary is from Connecticut, and Stafford is a track that’s pretty special to me, so to be able to win the most prestigious modified race would be pretty awesome for sure.  The Sizzler® is a race that I’ve always watched but I’ve never been able to get to it with my dirt racing schedule.  We’ve been so close to winning with the #77 team, we stayed out at Richmond and Martinsville and a caution never came out, we were running third at Jennerstown and lost a lap in the pits, and then we put ourselves in contention to win at Martinsville a couple months ago and we ran out of fuel.  We’ve had a lot of bummers so it would be nice to be able to turn things around and get the 77 team that big win that we’ve been so close to getting so many times.  We’re all very hungry and everyone on the team is really pumped up.”

The 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® kicks off on Saturday, April 29, and will consist of two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division. The 40-lap races will each pay $3,500 to win and will set the field for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models will also make their return to Stafford Speedway on April 29th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race.  Limited Late Model, Street Stock, and Vintage All-Star divisions will complete Saturday’s racing program.

Order 51st NAPA Spring Sizzler® Tickets

51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler® Entry List

Sponsor a NAPA Spring Sizzler® Lap

Sunday, April 30th will play host to the $20,000 to win 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®.  Filling out Sunday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the Spring Sizzler®.

For more information, visit, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Stafford Speedway PR

The final pieces of NASCAR All-Star Race festivities at North Wilkesboro Speedway are rounding into focus, with single-day general admission tickets now on sale for the race week’s first act: the ASA Stars National Tour, CARS Pro Late Model and CARS Late Model Stock races May 16-17.

A host of prominent personalities will take to the track for the action-packed, two-day All-Star Race undercard, with NASCAR Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick having entered the CARS Tour Late Model Stock field for the Window World 125 on May 17.

The ASA Stars National Tour ECMD 150 on May 16 and the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour’s Window World 125 and Crossroads Harley-Davidson 75 on May 17 are sure to kick up the excitement for a weekend spectacle featuring NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series action, in addition to live concerts and plenty of fun for fans visiting North Wilkesboro.

10:30 a.m. – Parking lots open, shuttle open, Fan Zone open, ticket office open
11:30 a.m. – Gates open
11:45 a.m. – CARS Late Model Stock practice
12:15 p.m. – CARS Pro Late Model practice
1:00 p.m. – ASA Stars National Tour practice
2:00 p.m. – ASA Stars National Tour practice
3:00 p.m. – CARS Late Model Stock practice
3:20 p.m. – CARS Pro Late Model practice
3:40 p.m. – CARS Late Model Stock practice
4:00 p.m. – CARS Pro Late Model practice
4:30 p.m. – ASA Stars National Tour qualifying
5:45 p.m. – Pre-race autograph session
7:00 p.m. – Pre-race ceremonies
7:30 p.m. – ASA Stars National Tour ECMD 150

10:30 a.m. – Parking lots open, shuttle open, Fan Zone open, ticket office open
11:30 a.m. – Gates open, ticket office open
11:45 a.m. – CARS Late Model Stock practice
12:20 p.m. – CARS Pro Late Model practice
12:55 p.m. – CARS Late Model Stock practice
1:30 p.m. – CARS Pro Late Model practice
4:45 p.m. – CARS Late Model Stock qualifying
5:15 p.m. – CARS Pro Late Model practice
6:00 p.m. – Fan Fest
7:15 p.m. – Driver Introductions
7:45 p.m. – Pre-race ceremonies
8:00 p.m. – CARS Pro Late Model Crossroads Harley-Davidson 75
CARS Late Model Stock Window World 125

Schedules are tentative and subject to change. Specific on-track schedules and the NASCAR All-Star Race format will be released at a later date.

General admission tickets for the late model races are $30 per night or $50 for both nights. Parking is also on sale for May 16-17 as well as the remainder of NASCAR All-Star Race weekend.

Weekend ticket packages for all Friday/Saturday/Sunday activities including NASCAR Cup and CRAFTSMAN Truck Series practice and qualifying sessions; Midland, Chase Rice and Dierks Bentley concerts; NASCAR All-Star Open; NASCAR All-Star Race and Tyson 250 CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race are on sale. Single-day tickets for All-Star Friday presented by Raymer Oil and Saturday’s Tyson 250 are also on sale. Tickets can be purchased online at

Fans can connect with North Wilkesboro Speedway and get the latest news regarding NASCAR All-Star week and North Wilkesboro Speedway by following on Twitter and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan.


.Last year Layne Riggs won the season-opening twin races for the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division at South Boston Speedway and rolled on to win the South Boston Speedway championship and the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series national championship.

This year it was Carter Langley making a sweep of South Boston Speedway’s season-opening Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division twinbill, earning his first and second career wins in Late Model Stock Car Division racing in the process.

Will history repeat itself in 2023? It’s far too early to tell. For now, though, Langley continues to savor his first two career Late Model Stock Car Division wins while looking ahead to another twinbill in the URW Credit Union Fools Rush 262 racing program at South Boston Speedway on Saturday afternoon, April 1. Race time is 3 p.m.

“I didn’t expect the first and second wins to come this close together,” Langley remarked after completing the sweep of the March 18 season opener. “I couldn’t think of a better place than here for it to happen.”

The win in the opening race gave Langley a big boost of confidence heading into the second race of the season-opening twinbill.
“It really calmed me down inside the car,” he pointed out. “Knowing you haven’t won a Late Model Stock Car race yet really kills your nerves. Winning the first race and then winning the second race back-to-back really gives you a big boost of confidence.”

While Langley has a big boost of confidence with his first two career wins, he understands it is very early in the season and he must focus on one race at a time and one event at a time if he is to have a successful season.

“Winning the first two races means a lot, but you can’t get your head too big to begin with,” Langley pointed out. “Hopefully we can keep the momentum going throughout the season.”

The Zebulon, North Carolina resident competed at South Boston Speedway full-time in 2021, scoring a pole win, five Top-Five finishes and nine Top-10 finishes in 15 starts.
He competed in one race during the regular season at South Boston Speedway last season, finishing fifth in the track’s 200-lap showcase event on July Fourth weekend. Langley logged eight Top-10 finishes in 17 starts while competing on the CARS Tour last season.

This season Langley plans to compete at South Boston Speedway full-time.

“I really like this track,” Langley remarked. “I missed being here last year and being around this family-oriented track. I really didn’t have that much fun last year. I figured I would back it down a little bit, be good this year, and go after it again next year.”

The URW Credit Union Fools Rush 262 racing program, South Boston Speedway’s first special event of the 2023 season, will be highlighted by The Flying VA Classic, a 99-lap race for the stars and cars of the SMART Modified Tour.

Last year’s 99-lap SMART Modified Tour race at South Boston Speedway featured seven lead changes among five drivers, with race winner, Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pennsylvania, leading three times for a total of 39 laps.Twenty of the 30 cars that competed in the race broke the 100-mph mark in qualifying and 16 cars finished on the lead lap.

In addition to The Flying VA Classic SMART Modified Tour race and the twin 71-lap races for the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stock Car Division fans will see the competitors in the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division battle it out in a 21-lap race.

Advance adult general admission tickets for the URW Credit Union Fools Rush 262 are priced at $17 each and may be purchased online on South Boston Speedway’s website, or by calling the speedway office at 434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours.

Tickets at the gate on race day will be $20 each. Seniors ages 65 and older, military, healthcare workers, and students (with ID) can purchase tickets for $17 each at the gate on race day.

The tentative URW Credit Union Fools Rush 262 event-day schedule has frontstretch spectator gates opening at 10:45 a.m. Practice is set to start at 11 a.m., qualifying is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. and the first race of the day is set to get the green flag at 3 p.m.

Fans and competitors can find the latest news and updates from South Boston Speedway on the speedway’s website and through the track’s social media channels. Information may also be obtained by phoning the speedway at 434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours.


One of college football’s toughest quarterbacks continues to be Too Tough to Tame.

Darlington Raceway announced today that it has signed a new a NIL (Name, Image & Likeness) agreement with Coastal Carolina University standout Grayson McCall. This continues a relationship that began last year when McCall became the first student-athlete to partner with a NASCAR track under the NCAA’s new NIL regulations.

“Nobody embodies the Too Tough to Tame spirit of our track like Grayson McCall,” said Darlington Raceway President Kerry Tharp. “We thoroughly enjoyed working with him to promote our events last season and marveled at his commitment to excellence both on and off the football field. We look forward to continuing this impactful relationship this year and cheering him on in all his endeavors.”

McCall will continue promoting events at Darlington Raceway, including the upcoming Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR, May 12-14. That weekend culminates in the Goodyear 400 and the celebration of NASCAR’s 75 greatest drivers of all time. McCall will also have an active presence on the track’s digital platforms and be featured in some of the track’s marketing campaigns, while also promoting NASCAR and Darlington on his own social channels.

“The spirit of competition, speed and aggressiveness are no more personified in the sport of NASCAR than just about anywhere. I personally feel that intensity in football,” McCall said. “This year is a special one for me, and continuing my partnership with my friends at Darlington Raceway during NASCAR’s 75th anniversary is a step towards fulfilling the legacy I want to leave here and solidifying the brand I’m working to build. Their support of the Chants has been great, and I can’t wait to get back to the track!”

“Working with Kerry and the team at Darlington continues to demonstrate the power of creative partnerships,” said Faryn Heatly, ESM Sports Marketing Agent. “Doubling down on Grayson's ability to help drive incremental value to the track experience is exactly the strategy we all sought to expand on. Year two brings with it a great experience in digital opportunities and media, one that can serve as a model for evolution and sustainment in the NIL space.”

McCall, a native of Indian Trail, N.C., is a senior at Coastal Carolina University. With McCall leading at quarterback over the last three seasons, the Chants have boasted a 31-7 overall record including the school’s first Sun Belt Conference Championship, first bowl game, first bowl win, and first time in the AP/Coaches Polls and entering into the College Football Playoff Rankings. Grayson currently holds the CCU school record with 95 total touchdowns responsible for and 78 touchdown passes.

In 2021, McCall ranked in the upper echelon of NCAA Division I FBS quarterbacks including first in passing efficiency (207.6) and yards per pass attempt (11.92), second in completion percentage (73.0) and passing yards per completion (16.32) and top-25 in five other categories (points responsible per game, passing touchdowns, passing yard per game, total offense per game, points responsible for). At season’s end, he was recognized with the Blanchard-Rogers Trophy as the State of South Carolina’s most outstanding college football player.

This past season, McCall’s on-field performance earned him honors as All-Sun Belt First Team, Sun Belt Conference Offensive Player of the Year, and Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year. This Sun Belt Conference Player of the Year award makes him the first and only player to receive the honor three times in Sun Belt Conference history. In the upcoming season, McCall will work to continue cementing his legacy as the most decorated player in Coastal Carolina history. He is considered one of the top quarterbacks in the collegiate ranks and is projected to be a notable NFL draft pick.

To learn more about McCall, visit his website at or his Coastal Carolina webpage.

Darlington Raceway PR

Let the Good Times Roll … Christian Eckes has had plenty of good times in the first three races of the 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) season. The driver of the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST comes to Circuit of the Americas (COTA) fresh off his first victory of the season at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) last weekend and looks to keep the good times rolling by pursuing his first career road course win. The Middletown, N.Y. driver leads the NCTS point standings for the second time this season and is seeking his fourth-straight finish of sixth or better to begin the 2023 campaign.  
Career-Best Start … Eckes and the NAPA Auto Care team are off to a blazing start through three races, and their victory at AMS has given McAnally-Hilgemann Racing its first playoff berth. To compliment the AMS triumph, two stage wins and a series-leading average finish of 3.3 has Eckes back on top of the drivers’ point standings for the second time in three races. Not only does Eckes lead all full-time NCTS drivers with the best average finish, but he also owns the highest driver rating (111.4), best average running position (7.5), and has led the most laps (54). His finishes of third, sixth, and first thus far count for the best start to a season in his NCTS career.
Road Course Stats … Saturday’s 42-lap event on the 3.41-mile behemoth at COTA will mark Eckes’ seventh road course NCTS start. He has competed in both previous events at COTA and earned a best-finish of eighth last season. Eckes has shown to be a consistent road course performer with three top-10 finishes and five finishes of 13th or better in six previous starts. His best outing came in the most recent road course event at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2022 where he finished fifth. 
Chassis Selection … Crew chief Charles Denike and the NAPA Auto Care team have prepared chassis No. 148 for the first of two road course races this season. This Chevrolet Silverado RST was built during the 2022 season and will see it's first competitive laps this year on Friday afternoon. 
Tune In … Coverage from Austin, Tex. begins Friday afternoon on FOX Sports 1 with practice and pole qualifying at 4:30 p.m. ET. FS1’s coverage on Saturday begins at 12:30 p.m. ET with NASCAR Raceday followed by the green flag at 1:30 p.m. ET. Stay connected with the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care team by following @BMR_NASCAR on Twitter, @bmrnascar on Instagram, and Bill McAnally Racing on Facebook. 
Christian Eckes Quote:
On continuing his hot start at COTA:
“The win at Atlanta was big for our NAPA Auto Care team, but I had plenty of confidence in everyone at MHR that we could get to victory lane this year. I’m glad it came so early in the year so we can focus on chasing even more wins and playoff points for the rest of the regular season. Road course racing is always a big challenge, and COTA will be this weekend too for sure. Pit strategies will probably be all over the board on Saturday, so it’ll be important to manage that and keep our track position as much as we can. It’d be great to keep this strong start going and run in the top-five all day and give ourselves a chance at the win.”
New to the Road … The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ (NCTS) third visit to Circuit of the Americas (COTA) on Saturday afternoon will mark the first road course appearance for Jake Garcia. The Georgia rookie impressed in his debut at a 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a 10th-place finish and looks to replicate that in his first outing turning left and right on COTA’s 3.41-mile layout. The driver of the No. 35 Quanta Services Chevrolet Silverado RST spent much of the week preparing for COTA with veteran road racer Chris Cook at Podium Club in Arizona working on the specialized road course driving techniques.  
Building the Foundation … The No. 35 team led by crew chief Mark Hillman has started the season by building a solid foundation with two top-10 finishes in the first three events. Chase Elliott opened the year with a 10th-place effort at Daytona International Speedway, a result which Garcia equaled one race later in “Sin City”. The first of two road course races this season will be a test that Garcia and company hope to pass with flying colors as they continue to build a notebook in the 18-year-old’s rookie season.
Rookie Run … Despite only starting two of the three races contested this season, Garcia sits second in the Sunoco of the Year Rookie standings, and is already 17th in the NCTS drivers’ championship standings. Two top-10 finishes in three races have MHR’s No. 35 team 13th in the NCTS owners’ point standings entering the first of two-straight events in the “Lone Star State”.
Chassis Selection … Crew chief Mark Hillman and the Quanta Services team prepared chassis No. 122 for Garcia’s road course debut. This Chevrolet Silverado RST most recently finished ninth at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last July with Colby Howard behind the wheel.
Tune In … FOX Sports 1’s coverage from COTA kicks off on Friday afternoon with practice and pole qualifying at 4:30 p.m. ET. On Saturday, FS1 starts race coverage with NASCAR Raceday at 12:30 p.m. ET, followed by the green flag at 1:30 p.m. ET. Stay connected with the No. 35 Quanta Services team by following @BMR_NASCAR on Twitter, @bmrnascar on Instagram, and Bill McAnally Racing on Facebook. 
Jake Garcia Quote:
On making his road course debut at COTA:
“Road course racing is something very new to me. I’ll try to experiment a little in practice on Friday and fine tune the best line through each section of the track with our Quanta Services Chevrolet. I’m not sure what to expect at COTA since I’ve never been there before, but it should be a real technical racetrack and hitting your marks is going to be important. It kind of feels like going to Atlanta for my first superspeedway, drafting-style race, so we’ll do the best we can in practice to get comfortable, and hopefully we can put together a solid, smooth race on Saturday.”
Arrow McLaren driver Pato O’Ward would love to see an NTT INDYCAR SERIES race in his native Mexico, but for the time being Texas will suit him just fine as his home race.
O’Ward was born and raised in Monterrey, Mexico, before his family moved to San Antonio, Texas, when he was 11. He would spend his early teen years attending the TMI-Episcopal prep school on the outskirts of the city before departing to pursue his motorsports dream.
When O’Ward returns for Sunday’s PPG 375 (11:15 a.m. CT, TV: NBC & Peacock, Radio: INDYCAR Radio Network, SiriusXM, 95.9 The Ranch-local), he definitely considers Texas Motor Speedway as his “home-away-from-home” race on the 17-race schedule. He already has three suites reserved for family and friends, and also created a grandstand ticket promotion to entice his fan to come and watch him compete in Fort Worth.
“Texas is very close to home,” said O’Ward, who drives the No. 5 Chevrolet for the three-car Arrow McLaren team. “It’s the closest I have to home, and I would love to have a race in Mexico hopefully in the future, but for now this is what I have as a home Grand Prix kind of way. I’ve got a bunch of people coming out, which is really, really cool to see. I can’t wait.”
It was apropos that the 23-year-old emerging superstar’s first career NTT INDYCAR SERIES victory came at Texas Motor Speedway. After securing a third-place finish in the first race of the 2021 doubleheader weekend, he earned his first victory the following day. O’Ward became the first Mexican driver to win an INDYCAR race since Adrian Fernandez in 2004.
“My win here is actually where I really saw a really big spike in, I guess, my presence and people just knew the name quite a bit more,” O’Ward said. “From there it has gradually grown, grown, grown, grown, grown. Obviously, it grows most when I win.
“It’s great to see their support. I’ve always said I think I have the most amazing group of fans. It doesn’t matter if I’m in Portland or if I’m in Long Beach, they go. It’s really, really cool to see. … This is the closest we have to Mexico now, so I’m pumped to see all the Mexican flags and have all the people come out to support me.”
O’Ward progressed through the open-wheel racing ranks with a road and street course background, but has become quite adept on the ovals. Of the five oval races last season, O’Ward finished fourth or better in all but one (15th at Texas). The oval success was highlighted by a win at Iowa and runner-up finish in the Indy 500.
“I have really grown to love what it is like to race at superspeedways,” he said. “It is definitely a different skill to what it is on road courses and, obviously, street courses. The way you have to approach it is different as well because the risk is that much more and the speeds, like I said, are very quick. So, it’s just a very different way to what I grew up racing to get to INDYCAR.”
In the midst of his fourth full season, O’Ward has recorded four wins, 14 podiums and five poles in just 56 career starts. He also has finished seventh or better in the series championship the last three seasons, including a best of third in 2021.
He nearly had his fifth career win in the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, but an engine mishap while holding the lead late in the race doused his chances. O’Ward would have to settle for a runner-up finish to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Marcus Ericsson.
Two-time and defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Will Power, an 18-year veteran of the sport, has been quite impressed from what he already has seen from O’Ward.
“Pato is an amazing talent, one of the quickest guys I’ve seen come into the series,” Power said. “I’m sure he’s going to be a (series) champion, Indy 500 champion in the future which is really good for the series. … It’s great to have people like Pato in the series. He brings a huge fan base from Mexico.”
O’Ward and his fellow NTT INDYCAR SERIES competitors will take to the track Saturday for practice and qualifying. The opening one-hour practice will begin at 8 a.m. and be followed by qualifying at 11:15 a.m. Split-field practices will run from 12:45-1:15 p.m. and then a final one-hour full-field session will begin at 1:30 p.m. The weekend culminates with the PPG 375, the second race of the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season.
The season-opening race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway also will feature the SPEEDYCASH.COM 250 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race Saturday beginning at  3:30 p.m.
Ticket information and online purchases are available at
Texas Motor Speedway’s 2023 events schedule consists of everything from the April 1-2 NTT INDYCAR SERIES/NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series doubleheader and the Sept. 23-24 NASCAR Playoffs weekend, car shows and competitions and the Ducks Unlimited Expo, the four-day Hwy 30 Music Fest and Bandas y Trocas Hispanic concert and truck show, and then wrapping up the year with the family-favorite and speedway tradition Gift of Lights holiday light show.
Season tickets and camping for Texas Motor Speedway’s 2023 major event season are on sale now. Save up to 33 percent versus buying individual tickets, get the best seat selection and more. All-new reduced rates are available for the GEICO Infield, GEICO VIP and WinStar World Casino & Resort Lone Star Circle camping areas. Click HERE for more information and to purchase season tickets.

Guests who attend the NASCAR Food City Dirt Race weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, April 7-9, will find an abundance of entertainment options in the BMS Fan Zone, located at BMS Entrance 1 (North) near the famed Bristol tower and It’s Bristol Baby monument.

The BMS Fan Zone includes a wide wonderland of shows, activities and attractions, including the return of the extreme Globe of Death, NASCAR race simulators, a hard-bucking Mechanical Bull, BMS Freestyle bikes, an Axe Throwing station, the BMS Kid Zone and the ultra-popular Food City Fan Zone Stage.

One of the main attractions in the BMS Fan Zone is the Food City Fan Zone Stage, with Trackside Live segments hosted by Alex Weaver. The Food City Fan Zone Stage will provide guests with music, driver and celebrity appearances, games, SCC auctions, driver Q&A chats, prizes and so much fun.

Among the scheduled activities include stage appearances throughout the weekend by NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series drivers, along with other special guests and entertainers. The WJHL TV-11 Daytime Tri-Cities tandem of Amy Lynn and Chris McIntosh will get things going on Friday when they host their show live from the stage at 9 a.m. One of the main stage highlights of the weekend will be Saturday’s BMS Race Day Revival at 2:30 p.m. with hosts Kenny Wallace and John Roberts. That duo will be joined during their show by spicy host Jose Castillo, FOX NASCAR personality Kaitlyn Vincie and other special guests for fun interviews and high jinks.

On Saturday night, ‘80s Tribute Band Spank! will perform following the checkered flag of the WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race on Dirt. A list of drivers who are scheduled to appear on stage is listed below.

Among the popular attractions in the BMS Fan Zone will be the return of the high-soaring BMX Freestyle team, who will wow the crowd with their daredevil skills in shows throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday. The amazing extreme Globe of Death will thrill guests over the weekend as the stunt riders perform inside an oval steel cage. Guests can channel their inner lumberjack at the Axe Throwing station, try to last 8 seconds on a surly mechanical bull and jump inside a racing simulator to test their race driving skills.

The BMS chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities will host live auctions from the Food City Fan Zone Stage on both Saturday (3 p.m.) and Sunday (2 p.m.)

Children also will be able to have tons of fun at the BMS Kid Zone, where there will be Easter activities on Sunday; several mascot appearances including BMS’s popular Bump and Run and on Sunday a special appearance by the Easter Bunny; a cornhole game area; coloring stations; an inflatable bounce house; euro bungie; photo opportunities and much more. The BMS Kid Zone is open Friday through Sunday in the BMS Fan Zone.

Schedules for both the BMS Fan Zone and the Food City Fan Zone Stage are below. Please visit Bristol Motor Speedway’s website for schedule updates.

Friday, April 7
9 a.m.              Daytime Tri-Cities live with Amy Lynn and Chris McIntosh 
Noon-4 p.m.    Axe Throwing
Noon-4 p.m.    Race Simulator
Noon-4 p.m.    Mechanical Bull
Noon-4 p.m.    Kids Zone
Noon-4 p.m.    Food City Fan Zone Stage
                        2:30 p.m. Matt DiBenedetto
                        3 p.m.  Tyler Ankrum
                        3:15 p.m. Lawless Alan and Carson Hocevar
                        3:45 p.m. Nick Sanchez
                        4 p.m.  Grant Enfinger, Rajah Caruth, Daniel Dye
                        4:30 p.m.  Richard Petty and PVA announcement
                        5 p.m.  NASCAR practice sessions to air on big screen TV

Saturday, April 8
Noon-4 p.m.    Axe Throwing  
Noon-4 p.m.    Race Simulator
Noon-4 p.m.    Mechanical Bull
Noon-4 p.m.    Kids Zone
Noon-4 p.m.    Food City Fan Zone Stage
                       1:45 p.m. Navy Ceremonial Guard
                       2 p.m. Navy Band
                       2 p.m. Globe of Death exhibition (round 1)
                       2:15 p.m.  BMX Freestyle Team exhibition (round 1)
                       3 p.m. SCC live auction
                       3:45 p.m. Tyler Reddick interview with host Alex Weaver
                       4 p.m. Justin Haley interview with Alex Weaver
                       4 p.m. Globe of Death exhibition (round 2)
                       4:15 p.m. BMX Freestyle Team exhibition (round 2)
                       10 p.m. ‘80s Tribute Band Spank! post-race concert  

Sunday, April 9
Noon-4 p.m.    Axe Throwing
Noon-4 p.m.    Race Simulator
Noon-4 p.m.    Mechanical Bull
Noon-4 p.m.    Kid Zone
Noon-4 p.m.    Food City Fan Zone Stage
                        12:30 p.m. Moonshiners Mark & Digger
                        1 p.m. Chase Briscoe
                        1:15 p.m. Navy Ceremonial Guard
                        1:30 p.m. Navy Band
                        2 p.m. SCC live auction
                        2 p.m. Globe of Death exhibition (round 1)
                        2:15 p.m. BMX Freestyle Team exhibition (round 1)
                        2:30 p.m. Race Day Revival with Kenny Wallace/John Roberts
                        2:30 p.m. Corey LaJoie and Marcus Smith
                        3 p.m. Christopher Bell
                        3:15 p.m.  Kyle Larson
                        3:30 p.m.  Austin Dillon
                        3:45 p.m.  Kyle Busch
                        4 p.m.  BMS Easter Celebration on Fan Zone big screen TV
                        4 p.m.  Globe of Death exhibition (round 2)
                        4:15 p.m. BMX Freestyle Team exhibition (round 2)

The Bristol race weekend is highlighted by the NASCAR Cup Series returning to its roots with the Food City Dirt Race on Sunday evening, April 9 (7 p.m., FOX and PRN Radio). The WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race on Dirt will see the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series take to the clay-covered track on Saturday (8 p.m., FS1 and MRN Radio) and will be preceded by Bush’s Beans Qualifying, which offers four heat races to set the starting lineups in each series. On Friday, teams in both the Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series will be able to fine-tune their machines during Bush’s Beans Practice Day.

In addition to cheering on their favorite drivers during the weekend and enjoying the Easter Celebration, Bristol Motor Speedway fans will definitely want to take advantage of so many activities to make a complete weekend of family fun. There will be great video entertainment provided by Colossus TV, the world's largest center-hung video screen, premium VIP experiences like the Super Fan Suites, tailgating, a visit to the BMS Kids Zone, BMS Fan Zone and Fan Midway, on-site camping, concerts and other entertainment at the Food City Fan Zone Stage like the Race Day Revival with Kenny Wallace and John Roberts, great food and beverages in the concession stands throughout the property, and so much more.

To purchase tickets for the Food City Dirt Race, WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race on Dirt and Bush’s Beans Qualifying, please visit the BMS website, or call the BMS Ticket Sales Center at (866) 415-4158.


For Cannon McIntosh, in a way, one could say that his season really started around last June.
Since that point, the 20-year-old Bixby, Okla. native has been among the most accomplished midget racers in the nation and carries a bevy of momentum and title aspirations entering the 2023 USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship season.
Once more, McIntosh will take the wheel of the Dave Mac-Dalby Motorsports No. 08 for the full USAC campaign following a season in which he garnered 15 midget victories across all sanctions – three with USAC – all but one of which came after the start of the month of June in 2022.
This year, McIntosh has already added a Chili Bowl prelim night victory and an Xtreme Outlaw score to his resume, sending him off on the right foot heading into the new year.
In many ways, 2022 was a breakout year for McIntosh who put a rest to a personal 57-race winless USAC streak with a victory during the Indiana Midget Week finale at Kokomo Speedway. He further cemented his return to good graces with a 100-lap triumph at South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway and notched another at Missouri’s Sweet Springs Motorsports Complex, while coming oh-so-close to marquee victories during the BC39 and the Turkey Night Grand Prix.
At the beginning of that turning point at the end of last spring, McIntosh sat seventh in the USAC standings. Since that moment, only Buddy Kofoid and Justin Grant have earned more points, signaling to himself and his competition that he’ll be a formidable force in the championship hunt this season when all is said and done.
“We had some misfortunes and struggles early in the year, and nothing was going right,” McIntosh recalled of the first few months of 2022. “Really, ever since that race, everything’s turned around. We had the speed, but we just really got in our element there and started clicking off wins, podiums and doing all the right things. It was just a matter of digging ourselves out of a hole and we were able to do that.”
Despite the stream of recent success over the past nine months, McIntosh is quick to not rest on his laurels and remain content. There’s no lament in his vocabulary or psyche on “what could’ve been” in 2022 had the season not started off so inauspicious. His focus is on the road that lies ahead, and he’s already displayed his strengths with a pair of triumphs this year.
“We don’t really want to look back,” McIntosh stated. “We’ve just got to take what we did last year and try to build on it for this year. We’ve already been able to show that our momentum is still there right out of the gate. We’re going to chase a championship, so we’re just going to push hard and take it one race at a time and let everything play itself out.”
To this point in his USAC career, McIntosh has accumulated 112 feature starts, six victories, 36 top-fives, 64 top-tens and nine fast qualifying times since making his series debut in 2018 in his home state of Oklahoma at Red Dirt Raceway. Twice, he’s finished fifth in the standings, doing so in both 2020 and 2022. However, McIntosh feels like this very well could be the best of the bunch as he eyes a continuation of his breakout in the coming year.
“I do think it’s a reality to win a championship and be a contender to win every night,” McIntosh said of his 2023 USAC aspirations. “We don’t want to overstep that, but we want to use that as part of our confidence. We don’t want to get cocky and overlook things because there are many very good cars to contend with every night. One little thing can take a race away from you, and it’s going to take a lot of consistency and a lot of patience. There are a lot of factors that go into it; I’ve been around this for a few years now, and I’ve seen what it takes for guys to win championships. I know it doesn’t happen overnight, and if you do have a bad night, you must perform the next night. Basically, you can’t have two bad nights in a row. That doesn’t work. You’ve got to have a short-term memory and minimize mistakes, and if you have a fifth place car, you can’t go out and crash it trying to win the race.”
During the offseason, McIntosh made the move from Oklahoma to Mooresville, N.C. where he is developing and maintaining a new micro sprint program. The midget team remains housed in Tulsa, Oklahoma under the care of crewmen Robert Dalby, Grant Penn and Ritchie Burcik. While there are the usual small tweaks to make here and there, the bulk of the foundation remains relatively unchanged as the team reloads its Crescent Tools sponsored Spike/Speedway Toyota for a run to the top.
“There’s always room to improve and they’re definitely doing that in the shop,” McIntosh noted of his team. “The parts that didn’t need fixing, they left them alone, and I think that’s how you find a very consistent and solid car by not messing up what’s good and, instead, focus on what needs to be improved upon.”
Right where McIntosh’s turnaround began, that’s where the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship season kicks off its 2023 season on April 21-22 at Indiana’s Kokomo Speedway for the Kokomo Grand Prix.
Page 6 of 5536

No right click

Please link the article.