Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway more than 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.
Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.
Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network.
Contact Adam: Email
Daniel Ricciardo, Will Arnett to Host ESPN Alternate Telecast for Three Formula 1 Races
ESPN is bringing a new, additional viewing option to its coverage of three Formula 1 races this season with an alternate telecast that will complement the event’s traditional television production.
The hosts of the new telecast will be F1 driver Daniel Ricciardo, one of the sport’s most popular and charismatic drivers, and actor/comedian Will Arnett, a tremendous fan of the sport who previously hosted an F1-centric podcast.
The Grandstand with Daniel Ricciardo and Will Arnett will debut for the June 18 Formula 1 Pirelli Canadian Grand Prix, airing on ESPN2 beginning at 1:55 p.m. ET while the traditional race telecast airs on ABC (coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m.). The other two editions will be with the United States Grand Prix in Austin, Tex., on Oct. 22, and the inaugural Las Vegas Grand Prix on Nov. 18.
Produced by ESPN in collaboration with Peyton Manning’s Omaha Productions, the telecast will follow the success of the innovative and critically acclaimed, Emmy Award-winning Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli alternate telecast that debuted in 2021.
“As Formula 1’s popularity continues to grow in the United States, we’re pleased to provide fans with another way to enjoy the sport, and a way for new fans to learn more about it,” said Kate Jackson, ESPN Vice President, Production “Daniel’s effervescent personality will resonate on television, as will his hands-on knowledge.
“And we’re very excited to be working with Will,” Jackson said. “He will bring the perspective of a dedicated fan of F1 to the telecasts as well as his unique and humorous way of appreciating F1. It will be a great combination.”
During the telecast, Riccardo and Arnett will welcome an array of guests to offer running commentary and conversation about the ongoing race. For the debut episode, Ricciardo will be on location at the racetrack in Montreal while Arnett will join from a remote location.
Ricciardo, an eight-time Grand Prix winner in F1 competition, is currently the third driver for Oracle Red Bull Racing. The Australian first raced in F1 in 2011, quickly becoming known as the Honey Badger, for his aggression on track and smiley demeanor off track.
“This is going to be a hoot!” said Ricciardo. “As you’d expect Will and I are going to have some fun with the show, but we’re hoping it just feels like you’re watching F1 with your mates. We will have some amazing guests, plenty of laughs and with some luck, bring fans another step closer to the sport I love so much. Buckle up America!”
Arnett, who is known for his roles in shows including Arrested Development and 30 Rock and co-hosts the popular SmartLess podcast, emerged as a fan of F1 in recent years and worked with legendary F1 driver Mika Häkkinen on his former podcast.
“The more I learn about Formula 1, the more I’m intrigued by it,” said Arnett. “The opportunity to work with Mika on my podcast was fantastic, and I’m really looking forward to doing this show with Daniel. We’re going to have fun, and so will the viewers.”
At last year’s U.S. Grand Prix, ESPN and Formula 1 announced a new, multi-year agreement to keep F1 races on ESPN and ABC through the 2025 season. The agreement included expanded rights, giving ESPN flexibility to roll out additional ways for fans in the U.S. to consume F1 content over the next three years, including the new alternate telecast.
ESPN also has added a digital show this year, with the program airing from the race location for all U.S. races, and multiple races are being simulcast on ESPN+, providing more viewing options.
In early 2022, ESPN and The Walt Disney Company announced an expanded agreement with Peyton Manning and his Omaha Productions company, a relationship that launched Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli. The extension added a fourth year (through 2024 season) for Monday Night Football with Peyton and Eli, featuring a 10-game annual slate of alternative productions to ESPN’s traditional Monday Night Football telecast. Additionally, the agreement called for alternative presentations (with other hosts) for the NBA, College Football, Golf, and UFC, produced by Omaha Productions in collaboration with ESPN.
“It’s great to be partnering with ESPN to expand the ‘megacast’ format into F1," said Peyton Manning, founder of Omaha Productions. "We are excited to do this project with Daniel and Will. They are good friends who will bring expertise and fun to the broadcast.”
The 2022 F1 season averaged 1.21 million viewers per race across ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC, a 28 percent increase over the previous U.S. television record of 949,000 average viewers that was set in 2021. The 2022 season also became the first in U.S. television history to average 1 million or more viewers per race.
In addition, more female and younger viewers watched F1 races on U.S. television than ever before.
Formula 1 returned to its original U.S. television home in 2018 – the first race ever aired in the country was on ABC in 1962. F1 races also aired on ESPN from 1984-1997.
The all-new track promises to be transformational. Purpose-built to Pastrana’s design from a virtually blank canvas over the span of three months, it has grown into a behemoth, featuring all of his craziest ideas rolled into one.
Beginning with a descending start on tarmac, the course has over 150-feet of overall elevation change. Pastrana explained, “This track has such amazing natural elevation [already] that we decided to work more with the existing terrain and make it fun and unique with elements we couldn’t build anywhere else.”
Following that initial drop, the surface switches to dirt in the form of a massive banked hairpin turn – the biggest berm in rallycross – which is designed to accommodate optional lines for the drivers. Pastrana said, “Our goal is to make multiple lines in almost every corner so different driving styles will shine through.”
“The elevation makes these turns different from anything we’ve ever ran,” off-road pro Terry Madden (USA) said. “One of the corners has a table top on the inside and it’s banked on the outside. There’s multiple lines everywhere, so you can pass anywhere.”
Tight snaking corners follow, leading to an over-under Joker lap split. Overall, this massive rollercoaster takes Pastrana’s game-changing concept for motorsports to new heights. Expert track builder Nate Wessel said, “This is going to blow people’s minds. There has never been anything designed or built like this on the planet for these types of cars.”
Pastrana recalled, “After my first test in the Group E car, I couldn’t stop smiling…. We’re going to make this track so it’s equally as fast inside as outside. If you’re a quick driver it doesn’t matter if you start first or last, you’re going to be able to get from last to first.”
But, for Pastrana, MidAmerica Outdoors and Nitocross, this is just the beginning. “This is the first purpose-built track, but it’s nowhere near complete. We’re just getting started. Every year it will evolve,” he said. “The goal is to be able to run most of the track forward and backward. We will concrete some turns and pave others. There will be an option to run a dirt section that we can change from year-to-year and run everything from Lemons cars to Supermoto to off-road trucks. MidAmerica in Oklahoma looks to be the best track on the Nitrocross circuit this year and it will only get better from here!”
He added: “The thing I’m looking forward to most is seeing the look on everyone’s face when they see the track in person for the first time.”
Nitrocross 2023-24 kicks off at Visions Off-Road 2023, coming to MidAmerica Outdoors in Jay, Oklahoma on June 16-17.
Elite Driver Roster:
At MAO Oklahoma, Pastrana will go up against a stacked field of world-class drivers, including his Vermont SportsCar teammate Conner Martell (USA), along with DRR driver, and recent Extreme E winner, Fraser McConnell (JAM) with many more competitors to be announced soon.
Group E drivers will strap into the all-electric FC1-X, a revolutionary monster capable of producing the equivalent of 1,070 peak horsepower (800 kW). It accelerates from 0-60 mph in just 1.4 seconds - faster off the line than an F1 car – subjecting drivers to more than two G’s.
Festival of Motorsport:
Thrill-loving racing fans have even more high adrenaline excitement to look forward to. Beyond the electrifying action of Group E, the younger generation of drivers will step up to the big stage in NEXT, Nitrocross’ developmental class. Look out for the return of rough-and-ready Side-By-Sides and Baja Bugs as well.
In addition to Nitrocross, the thrill-loving daredevils of Nitro Circus will close-out Visions Off-Road with an explosive action sports show on Friday, June 17th. Moto enthusiasts can also check out the Nitro Circus Mid America Mayhem Pit Bike Championship on Friday, June 17th.
Visions will also showcase the biggest off-road racing in motorport, including the new MAO Racing Truck Championship plus Ultra4 USA, an exciting all-terrain race series, and the MAO Racing short course.
With its unique open paddock layout, Nitrocross will once again offer fans an engaging atmosphere where they can get an up-close look at their favorite drivers, cars and teams.
On top of all that, fans can also enjoy live music and entertainment each day at Visions Off-Road 2023, which will provide all kinds of fun and adventure for the whole family. Stay for the full week: full RV hookup camping passes are now sold out but passes for resort side dry-camping are still available.
How To Watch:
Be there live! Tickets for the Nitrocross 2023-24 season kickoff at Visions Off-Road 2023 are available now at visionsoffroad.com.
For fans unable to get out to the track, Rumble, the leading platform for live-streaming action sports, will stream the pulse-pounding Nitrocross action -- all live and all free for fans around the globe.
Nitrocross 2023-24 will encompass 10 rounds, spanning nine months set in six locations. Following Visions Off-Road 2023, subsequent announced stops will range from the desert Southwest to the frigid Canadian Rockies.
Barrett-Jackson to Rev Up Las Vegas With No Reserve Auction of High-Performance Collectible Vehicles, Including 986HP Ferrari SF90 Hybrid Supercar
Barrett-Jackson, The World’s Greatest Collector Car Auctions, will rev up Las Vegas with an impressive selection of late-model performance vehicles that will cross the block during the Las Vegas Auction, June 22-24. Boasting groundbreaking hybrid performance, a 986-horsepower 2021 Ferrari SF90 (Lot #741) selling with No Reserve represents Ferrari’s leap into the future of electrified automotive performance.
“We’re heading into Las Vegas with several desirable and collectible high-performance vehicles,” said Craig Jackson, chairman and CEO of Barrett-Jackson. “You don’t have to be a gearhead to appreciate the design and performance that automakers poured into their halo vehicles, like the Ford GT, Ferrari SF90 and Aston-Martin DBS Superlegerra. These vehicles both turn heads on the street and offer an exceptional ownership experience. Each will be sold with No Reserve, giving our Las Vegas Auction bidders the chance to own the ultimate high-performance collectible vehicles.”
The hybrid supercar 2021 Ferrari SF90 (Lot #741) blends a twin-turbocharged V8 with three electric motors to deliver a jaw-dropping 986 horsepower. The most powerful production Ferrari yet, it is capable of zero to 60 mph in just 2.5 seconds. Loaded with options and carbon fiber, it is a masterpiece of design and engineering. The interior features a driver-centric layout that combines luxury and cutting-edge technology with premium materials, an advanced infotainment system and configurable digital instrument cluster. This SF90 embodies Ferrari’s relentless pursuit of performance and has only 577 actual miles.
Featuring the coveted Lightweight Package, a 2019 Ford GT (Lot #749) on the docket is finished in Liquid Gray paint with protection film, ceramic coating and windshield protection film. It is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine capable of producing 647 horsepower. The Lightweight Package reduces total weight by approximately 40 pounds and features exposed carbon-fiber stripes and wheels, as well as a titanium exhaust system. The Alcantara suede interior features carbon-fiber seats, and exposed carbon fiber on the door sills, dashboard, center console and seat backs. This one-owner Ford GT comes with the original Window Sticker, factory books, shipping documents, build photos, promotional materials, battery tender, and indoor and outdoor car covers.
“These supercars crossing our block in Las Vegas will be among the most anticipated vehicles on the docket,” said Steve Davis, president of Barrett-Jackson. “The electricity in the arena for these elite cars will be incredible when they roll up on our block as bidders compete for a chance to take one home. I encourage everyone to join us in Las Vegas and experience the excitement in the air during the auction of these highly coveted automobiles.”
Powered by a twin-turbocharged V12, the 2020 Aston Martin DBS Superleggera (preview) is backed by a ZF 8-speed automatic transmission. The exterior features a splitter, carbon-fiber diffuser and smoked rear lamps. The interior includes a Bang & Olufsen premium sound system with window grid diversity antenna, heated and ventilated front seats, carbon-fiber trim and 360-degree parking cameras. The one-owner Aston Martin has less than 7,500 miles and was kept in a climate-controlled garage.
Collector car enthusiasts interested in registering to bid for Barrett-Jackson’s 2023 Las Vegas Auction may do so here. Those interested in being a part of the auction may consign their collector vehicle here.
To purchase advance tickets to the event, click here. On Location, Barrett-Jackson’s new VIP hospitality partner, is offering several VIP Experience packages, including access to Craig Jackson’s Skybox, the Luxury Lounge and the Staging Lanes for auction-goers interested in taking in all the auction action with a one-of-a-kind experience. To learn more about On Location’s offerings, click here.
Join Barrett-Jackson’s online conversation with #BarrettJackson and #BJAC on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.
Brent Crews Wins 3-Dimensional Services Group Muscle Car Challenge at Detroit Grand Prix
15-Year-Old Brent Crews is the first Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli winner on the brand-new Detroit Grand Prix course on the downtown streets. After taking over the lead on lap 12, the Young Gun held off champions Rafa Matos and Thomas Merrill to win his fifth-career race and earn his second-career street circuit victory in the 3-Dimensional Services Group Muscle Car Challenge.
Connor Zilisch in the No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro started Race 1 of the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series doubleheader from the pole and got off to a great start, effortlessly pulling ahead of second-place driver Austin Green in the No. 89 3-Dimensional Services Group Camaro. As Zilisch pulled ahead of the field, Crews in the 70 Franklin Road/Mobil 1/GearWrench Ford Mustang maneuvered around Green and into the second position. Zilisch and Crews had the rest of the field in their wake through the first full-course caution on lap seven for competitor Mike Skeen in the No. 86 3-Dimensional Services Group Camaro making hard contact with the wall.
When the race returned to green on lap 11, Zilisch initially pulled ahead, but Crews was quick to get to his tail and pull to the inside of Zilisch going into Turn 5. With Crews going wide into the tight lefthander, the pair ran out of room and Zilisch nosed into the tire barrier. Only drawing a local caution, Zilisch had to wait for traffic to pass before righting himself, dropping him down to the 21st position. Refusing to give up, Zilisch fought his way back up to eighth within 20 laps. Unfortunately, he lost traction on the bumpy surface and once again made contact with the wall. With heavy right-side damage, the 16-year-old was forced to visit pit road and was out of contention for the victory.
After Crews took over the lead, he was hounded by former champions Matos (No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Mustang) and Merrill (No. 26 Bennett/HP Tuners/Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang) in second and third. He continued to hold them off, but a full-course yellow on lap 19 regrouped the field for the lap-29 green flag. Evan Slater in the No. 6 Franklin Road Apparel Camaro was the reason for a caution, as the young driver had a mechanical failure and made hard impact with the tire barrier in a runoff.
Following an extensive cleanup, Crews had a perfect restart and was able to pull away from Matos and Merrill. Merrill now had competition from Thomas Annunziata (No. 90 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang), slowing him down. Crews and Matos pulled way ahead of the third and fourth-place competitors and Matos had a few flawless laps which would allow him to challenge for the lead. Unfortunately, Matos had to go into preservation mode with just a few laps to go, as he felt something was amiss and wanted to ensure he made it to the finish. Crews was able to open up a gap in front of Matos, and he crossed the finish line to win his second race of 2023. He was followed by Matos, Merrill, Annunziata and Dillon Machavern in the No. 17 SLR-M1 Race Cars Ford Mustang.
“First, this wouldn’t be possible without our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” said Crews. “I just want to say ‘thank you’ to my whole team and to [Matos and Merrill] for racing hard. That was a blast. There definitely was not a dull moment and it wasn’t easy. My Nitro Motorsports team did an incredible job. To be able to hold pace like that and to be able to turn those fast laps at the end of the race is truly amazing. I want to thank my whole family, everyone at Franklin Road Apparel, Ken Thwaits, everybody who got us here. I also want to thank Tony Parella and everyone at Trans Am. This is an incredible series and it’s not often that you get to come to an amazing street course like this and be able to race with INDYCAR.”
“I can’t thank my 3-Dimensional Services Group team enough,” said runner up, Matos. “This is a very important weekend for [team owner] Doug Peterson and his company, which is sponsoring the race, so it was really important for us to get a good result. I was hoping that we could catch Brent at the end. I kept the pressure on him but faced some issues toward the end of the race and I had to choose between finishing the race or potentially suffering a parts failure trying to win. I’m really proud of my team and to be racing against these two very talented drivers. Hopefully we will win tomorrow.”
Notes of Interest
Today’s victory was the second for Crews in 2023. His first win was Round 2 at NOLA Motorsports Park.
This is the second street course victory of Crews’ career. Crews won the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix last August at the age of 14.
This was Matos’ fourth podium in five races this season, which includes one race victory in the season-opener at Sebring International Raceway.
Doug Peterson’s 3-Dimensional Services Group, which is sponsoring both of this weekend’s races and the 3-Dimensional Services Group Triple Track Tournament, was the highest-finishing Masters competitor. 3-Dimensional Services Group employs 500 people at their nearby Rochester Hills facility.
Last fall, Peterson was inducted into the Michigan Motor Sports Hall of Fame.
“This is like a homecoming for me, because I’m originally from the Detroit area,” said Peterson. “I love Detroit. Let’s do it again tomorrow.”
TA2 Top Five:
1. Brent Crews, No. 70 Franklin Road/Mobil 1/GearWrench Ford Mustang
2. Rafa Matos, No. 88 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang
3. Thomas Merrill, No. 26 Bennett/HP Tuners/Mike Cope Race Cars Ford Mustang
4. Thomas Annunziata, No. 90 Nitro Motorsports Ford Mustang
5. Dillon Machavern, No. 17 SLR-M1 Race Cars Ford Mustang
TA2 Masters Award:
Doug Peterson, No. 87 3-Dimensional Services Group Ford Mustang
TA2 Pro/Am Winner:
Bruce Raymond, No. 54 Optima Batteries/FM3 Marketing Ford Mustang
COOLSHIRT Cool Move of the Race:
Brent Crews, No. 70 Franklin Road/Mobil 1/GearWrench Ford Mustang
Omologato Watches Fastest Lap of the Race:
Connor Zilisch, No. 7 Silver Hare Racing Chevrolet Camaro
Serck Precision Clean Up:
Ty Young, No. 22 Ty J Young Wealth Management Ford Mustang
Bassett Hard Charger:
Misha Goikhberg, No. 10 BC Race Cars Ford Mustang
Full official race results can be found here.
The Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series returns to the track tomorrow at 11:05 a.m. ET with the 3-Dimensional Services Group Motor City Showdown.
A highlight show combining Race 1 and Race 2 in Detroit will air on MAVTV on Thursday, June 8 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Antron Brown powered to his first Top Fuel No. 1 qualifier in nearly six years on Saturday, claiming the top spot at the NHRA New England Nationals at New England Dragway.
Funny Car’s Chad Green also qualified No. 1 at the seventh of 21 races during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season. Saturday’s second qualifying session, as well as the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, were canceled due to weather. No points were awarded in the challenge and the bonus prize money was divided among the participating competitors.
Sunday’s eliminations were also bumped up to a 10 a.m. ET start from New England Dragway.
With a near 40-degree temperature drop from Friday, Brown, a three-time world champion, made one of only two three-second runs during Saturday’s lone qualifying session with an impressive pass of 3.729-secomds at 329.99 mph in his 11,000-horsepower Matco Tools/Toyota dragster. It is Brown’s 50th career No. 1 qualifier, but first since 2017 in Seattle, where he also won the race.
Brown, who won earlier this year in Las Vegas, has impressed in varying conditions this weekend, making a run in the 3.80s during the heat on Friday, and following it up with another strong run in considerably cooler conditions on Saturday.
"It feels really good today. What made it feel so good is just how our team was so good to adapt to all the different conditions,” Brown said. “Today, we were able to bounce back and be one of the only cars that made it down because the track got super tight. I'm super proud of my guys. It makes me feel good to see where we're at the way we can adapt to so many different circumstances.
"Our main focus through this whole journey that we've been on is to constantly get better. We never really harped on qualifying. We've been just working on it steadily to get better and better and to pick up those bonus points. We made the right judgment calls and ended up No. 1. Do we want to qualifying No. 1 more? Heck yeah. But we have to keep working to know how we got there and not throw shots at it."
Shawn Langdon made the only other three-second run on Saturday, qualifying second with a run of 3.738 at 327.66. He’s looking for his first win of the 2023 campaign, as is Leah Pruett, whose 3.856 from 319.37 put her third heading into Sunday’s eliminations.
Clay Millican and Pruett advanced to the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, with Millican collecting the biggest share of the bonus purse after making the quickest winning run in the first round of the bonus race.
In Funny Car, Green held onto the No. 1 spot on a tricky day, with his run of 4.100 at 310.98 from Friday in his 11,000-horsepower Bond-Coat, Inc. Ford Mustang holding up. It gave Green his first career No. 1 qualifier as he continues to enjoy a strong season in the Funny Car ranks.
After a string of semifinal appearances this season and now claiming his first career No. 1 qualifier, Green, who is currently sixth in points, will aim for his first career Funny Car victory on Sunday.
"It feels pretty great, it's pretty unexpected,” Green said. “When I woke up this morning, I never thought that our run yesterday would hold up for No. 1 today. I'm very proud of my crew, my team for navigating the track yesterday and be able to make that run to get us in this position. Tomorrow is going to be another day like today. We'll put our heads together and see what we come up with.
"I haven't had really No. 1 qualifier on my mind as much as I've had winning a race. There are some really tough teams out here, it's really tough to be No. 1. I'm definitely happy about it and proud of my guys."
Points leader and defending event winner Matt Hagan stayed second with his 4.123 at 309.13 from Friday as he looks for his NHRA-best fifth career win at New England Dragway. Alex Laughlin, in his first year in Funny Car, moved to third with a run of 4.190 at 289.63.
Ron Capps and Tim Wilkerson advanced to the finals of the Mission #2Fast2Tasty NHRA Challenge, with Capps collecting the biggest share of the bonus purse after making the quickest winning run in the first round of the bonus race.
Eliminations for the NHRA New England Nationals are set to begin at 10 a.m. ET on Sunday at New England Dragway.
(Courtesy of NHRA Communications)
Giaffone Extends USF Juniors Points Lead with VIR Win
Third generation racer Nicolas Giaffone captured his fourth win of the season – and third in succession for DEForce Racing – following a spirited drive this afternoon in USF Juniors Presented by Cooper Tires competition. There was little breathing room throughout the opening round of the Cooper Tires VIR Grand Prix tripleheader for the 18-year-old from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who rebounded from a crash in practice earlier in the day.
Jack Jeffers, from San Antonio, Texas, claimed his third podium of the season for Exclusive Autosport with Quinn Armstrong, of Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, rounding out the top three with his fourth podium for DEForce Racing.
Ethan Ho of DC Autosport displayed consistent top-five pace during the trio of test sessions yesterday on the challenging 3.27-mile road course. The 17-year-old Korean-American based in Los Angeles posted only the 10th fastest time in practice this morning, but when it counted in qualifying, he laid down a fast lap early. His time of 1:55.327 was matched, precisely, on the final lap by Joey Brienza of Exclusive Autosport, but it was Ho who was credited with his first Cooper Tires Pole Award.
After a solid start, Ho came under attack almost immediately from a charging Jeffers, who had lined up third on the grid and displaced Brienza in the opening turns, and then Giaffone, who started fourth but had moved into second by Lap 3.
Ho’s podium hopes were extinguished on Lap 5 when contact from VRD Racing’s Max Taylor – who had dropped a wheel off track – resulted in a spin and the loss of seven positions.
Lap 6 proved to be a pivotal point in the race as a brief rain cell moved into the area, catching several drivers out and necessitating the caution flags. The running order for what would be a five-lap dash to the finish saw Jeffers leading Giaffone followed by Hudson Schwartz (VRD Racing), Lucas Fecury (DEForce Racing) and Armstrong.
A tremendous battle ensued between Jeffers and Giaffone when the field went back to green on Lap 11, with Giaffone managing to finally make his pass for the lead stick with three laps to go. Armstrong was able to work his way by Schwartz and Fecury, who lost ground after contact with Brienza but still managed to finish fifth behind Taylor and earn the Tilton Hard Charger Award. It was also an impressive drive from Taylor, who had dropped back to 11th at one stage, and set the fastest lap of the race.
Brienza’s promising day from a front-row starting spot ended with an unrepresentative 14th-place finish after suffering right-rear tire damage.
Giaffone now holds a 40-point edge in his quest for a Discount Tire Driver Advancement Scholarship valued at $241,800 which will enable the series champion to progress onto the next step of the USF Pro Championship ladder in 2024.
Another PFC Award went to winning car owners David and Ernesto Martinez of DEForce Racing.
The action will continue with two more races tomorrow. The first is slated to start at 9:10 a.m. EDT, with the finale set for a green flag at 12:55 p.m. As usual, full coverage can be found on the free USF Pro Championships App, YouTube channel and the usfjuniors.com website.
Provisional championship points after 6 of 16 races:
1. Nicolas Giaffone, 171
2. Quinn Armstrong, 131
3. Joey Brienza, 127
4. Jack Jeffers, 106
5. Lucas Fecury, 102
6. Jimmie Lockhart, 97
7. Max Taylor, 86
8. Ethan Ho, 82
9. Ethan Barker, 77
10. Erick Schotten, 75
Nicolas Giaffone (#19 OMNI-DEForce Racing Tatuus JR-23): “We started the day with a crash in practice, which was unfortunate, but it showed me once again how good my team is and how good they are working under pressure. I have never been to VIR before and the team had never been here with this car, so I think we did an amazing job in setting the car right for qualifying and then setting the car even better for the race. The race here is difficult because the draft keeps everyone kind of close. You can be a half-a-second faster but you won’t be able to pull away. This made things interesting with the rain. Overall, a pretty solid race. We still have two to go and I don’t want to get ahead of myself, but it is very good to be starting the weekend P1.”
Jack Jeffers (#92 Corpay Cross Border Solutions-Exclusive Autosport Tatuus JR-23): “I knew I had the pace to pull away or at least make it tough for him to keep up with me, so that was my strategy. It was just to hit my marks and make him have to really work for it to keep up with me. He gave me a run every lap into Turn One and we battled side-by-side. It was really fun and some of the best racing I have had in a long time and he is a really respectful driver. It started raining and that put a wrench into things as we followed the pace car around. Once it was safe enough to go, we started racing again. We battled for a few laps and he finally got ahead of me. On the last lap, I used the tow to get up alongside and almost ahead of him. We battled in the last sector and he came out on top.”
Quinn Armstrong (#16 NDA-DEForce Racing Tatuus JR-23): “I really didn’t think we would end up third after the first start didn’t go well and then the restart again really didn’t go our way. I am really happy to be back on the podium. This is three in a row and I want to continue this momentum because DEForce puts so much work in. When they show up with cars like this, I believe we can keep showing up to the podiums.”
Morad, Ward Deliver Detroit Michelin Pilot Challenge Win
Mees Keeps On Rolling with Red Mile Triumph
Jared Mees (No. 1 Indian Motorcycle/Rogers Racing/SDI Racing FTR750) earned his 25th-career Grand National Championship Mile victory in split-second fashion in Saturday night’s Red Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle of Lexington at the Red Mile in Lexington, Kentucky.
The triumph proved to be the latest round in a season of Progressive American Flat Track, sanctioned by AMA Pro Racing, that has taken shape as a heavyweight title fight between reigning Mission SuperTwins presented by S&S Cycle champ Mees and his ascending challenger, points leader Dallas Daniels (No. 32 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT).
The two broke free from the start and spent the next 14 minutes plus two laps testing each other in preparation for the decisive final lap. The cagey Mees sat in tight formation behind his young rival during the waning laps before finally striking as the two sprinted into Turn 3 for the final time.
He then struck and, despite suffering a couple small slides on exit, had the steam to hold on to the checkered flag by a minuscule 0.042 seconds.
The victory was Mees’ fifth in six attempts at the Red Mile. It also saw him join legends Bubba Shobert and Bryan Smith for third all-time in career Mile wins.
Mees said, “We were playing cat-and-mouse a little bit, and he was definitely strong in some areas…I just knew what I wanted to do there on the last lap and made it work, really. It’s good to win those Miles like old school where it’s there right at the line.”
For Daniels, it was the fourth time this season he’s finished a close second to Mees. But any sense of frustration that may have otherwise started to creep in was overcome by the reality that he continues to hold the points advantage due to a season-long run of firsts and seconds that he kept intact.
The fight for third was a spirited four-way affair, involving Briar Bauman (No. 3 Parts Plus/Jacob Companies KTM 790 Duke), Davis Fisher (No. 67 Rackley Racing/Bob Lanphere’s BMC Racing Indian FTR750), JD Beach (No. 95 Estenson Racing Yamaha MT-07 DT), and Jarod Vanderkooi (No. 20 JMC Motorsports/Fairway Ford Indian FTR750).
Bauman again showed off an ideal pace nearly on par with that of Mees and Daniels when everything worked just perfectly aboard an unruly machine that made that perfection impossible to attain with any consistency. Still, its impressive motor provided him with the tools necessary to secure a third podium of 2023 with Beach fractionally behind in fourth, followed by Fisher and Vanderkooi.
Kolby Carlile (No. 36 G&G Racing/Yamaha Racing Yamaha MT-07), who ran third on the opening laps, rebounded from an early mistake to overhaul Brandon Robinson (No. 44 Mission Roof Systems Indian FTR750) for seventh by 0.050 seconds at the stripe.
Jeffrey Lowrey (No. 223 Lowery Racing/Gray Hogs Yamaha MT-07) and Bronson Bauman (No. 37 Fastrack Racing/2 Wheelz KTM 790 Duke) completed the top ten.
While Mees chipped off another four points, Daniels still boasts a 16-point advantage (180-164). Third-ranked Bauman is nearly two full races back of first at 131.
Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER
Trent Lowe (No. 48 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) added more evidence to support the old racing adage that a rider’s second win comes a whole lot easier than their first with a triumphant run in Saturday’s Parts Unlimited AFT Singles presented by KICKER pack war.
A seesawing battle that expanded to a nine-rider lead pack as the pivotal final two laps opened, the race for the win appeared almost certain to be decided amongst Turner Honda teammates Lowe and Chase Saathoff (No. 88 American Honda/Mission Foods CRF450R) and the Estenson Racing Yamaha duo of Tom Drane (No. 59 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F) and Trevor Brunner (No. 21 Estenson Racing Yamaha YZ450F).
Sacramento winner Drane looked like the odds-on favorite due to his optimal blend of high-speed chops, low-pro aerodynamics, ultra-light weight, and big-time horsepower. However – despite repeatedly demonstrating the capacity to blast up to first from three or four positions back seemingly at will – the Aussie’s last-lap strategy was blown up by a lapped rider as the huge lead group dove into Turn 3 for the final time.
As a result, Drane could finish no better than third with Lowe and Saathoff handing Honda a hard-earned 1-2.
Whether or not Drane might have been able to run the Hondas down with a cleaner run is as impossible to guess as it is irrelevant at this point. Ultimately, Lowe put himself in the perfect position to capitalize in the chaos and scoop his second-career victory.
“It feels so great to come out on top,” Lowe said. “I knew I had to keep my corner speed up and that was the one thing I had going for me. Leading and going into (Turn) 3 was definitely my best option. I’m happy for the whole Turner Racing team. Everyone has put in so much effort. It’s unreal to think about the time that people put in and the dedication that they have.”
Brunner finished just 0.057 seconds back off his teammate but once again came up just short of the podium He was followed home by Red Bull KTM teammates Max Whale (No. 18 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) and Kody Kopp (No. 1 Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 450 SX-F) – Kopp closing in from a distant ninth to make himself a factor late.
Kopp continues to lead in his title defense with 151 points to his credit. However, Dalton Gauthier (No. 79 D&D Racing/Certified KTM 450 SX-F) was shuffled back to seventh in the melee, a development that allowed Saathoff to join him level at 136 points. Whale is fourth at 130, followed by Brunner (123), Lowe (117), and Drane (105).
Progressive American Flat Track will conclude its midseason run of three consecutive Miles with the much-awaited return of the DuQuoin Mile at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds on June 17 in DuQuoin, Illinois. Visit https://www.tixr.com/groups/trackenterprises/events/duquoin-mile-70363 to reserve your seats today.
For those that can’t catch the live action from the circuit, FansChoice.tv is the live streaming home of Progressive AFT. Sign up now and catch every second of on-track action starting with Practice & Qualifying and ending with the Victory Podium at the end of the night at https://www.fanschoice.tv.
FOX Sports coverage of the Red Mile presented by Indian Motorcycle of Lexington, featuring in-depth features and thrilling onboard cameras, will premiere on FS1 on Sunday, June 11, at 10:30 a.m. ET (7:30 a.m. PT).
For more information on Progressive AFT visit https://www.americanflattrack.com.