Fans are guaranteed to get more bang for their buck at South Boston Speedway with a rule change for 2019.

The track announced today that caution laps would not count in races that are 150 laps in length or shorter. In the past, that rule was in effect only for races 75 laps or shorter.

“We do our best to always put our fans first,” said South Boston Speedway General Manager Cathy Rice. “By not counting the caution laps in races 150 laps or shorter, fans will get to enjoy more laps of racing every race. It should make race nights much more fun for everyone.”

With the new rule in place, the only race in 2019 where caution laps will count will be the 200-lapper celebrating Independence Day on June 29.

Driver expect the change to help in the grandstands and the pits.

“It’s going to help the fans get their money’s worth. They know they are going to get a set number of laps,” said Thomas Scott, who finished third in the 2018 Late Model Stock points race at South Boston. “From a safety standpoint for the crews, if you are involved in something on the track and have to come in and change a tire or fix something, you don’t have to worry about rushing to get out without losing a lap. It’s going to make pit road safer.”

Peyton Sellers, who won his fourth South Boston Speedway championship in 2018, believes limiting caution laps will make the title chase tougher in 2019.

“It’s going to keep more people on the lead lap and it’s going to make the points race closer,” said Sellers. “When you have trouble and pit under caution, you’re not automatically going laps down like in the past and that will tighten things up.”

The 2019 South Boston season will kick off on Saturday, March 16 with an afternoon of racing featuring twin 100-lap Late Model races, a 50-lap Limited Sportsman race, a 30-lap Pure Stock race and a 15-lap Hornets race.

Tickets are $10 for adults with children 12-and-under admitted free with a paying adult.

SOBO PR

Austin Dillion started 2018 in the biggest way possible – by winning the Daytona 500 and the historic Harley J. Earl trophy.

As driver of the famed No. 3 heads into 2019, he is turning his attention to another iconic piece of NASCAR history: the famed grandfather clock trophy at Martinsville Speedway.

“That’s our main goal,” Dillon said. “It’s one of my favorite trophies of the year. I got to look at it a lot, because my grandfather (car owner Richard Childress) has one in his house, so I’ve got to step up and get one.”

The 28-year-old from nearby Welcome, N.C. said he loves racing on the “Half-Mile of Mayhem,” a track he grew up coming to as a kid.

“It’s short-track racing.” he said. “You’re going to see guys pushing and shoving. It’s aggressiveness. It’s an awesome track to see a race from. You can see the whole track and that’s what’s cool about it.”

While his 2018 results, a pair of 30th place finishes, don’t show it, Dillon feels like strong runs in the past are a good indicator of future success at the historic Speedway.

“We’ve finished in the top-5 there a couple of times now,” Dillon said. “I love going to Martinsville. We had a good run going there last year and I blew a right front tire. I can’t wait to get there and hopefully make it a place we win at.”

With the departure of Ryan Newman and arrival of Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Daniel Hemric, Dillon, who enters in his sixth full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, will become the elder statesman for Richard Childress Racing, a role he is looking forward to.

“I think it’s a great thing for me,” he said. “I love the leadership role and hopefully Daniel and I can make some noise together as teammates. If I’m that guy, I’m fine with it. I love that pressure to keep RCR (Richard Childress Racing) running strong.”

Dillon and the rest of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will return to Martinsville Speedway March 22-24 for the STP 500 weekend.

The weekend starts of Friday, with practice for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series and continues on Saturday with the 250 lap Truck Series race and practice and qualifying for the STP 500.

The STP 500 is Sunday, March 24.

The STP 500 is the first race short-track race of the season and is the first race back on the East Coast after the series’ “West Coast Swing.”

Tickets start at $46 and youth 17-and-under are $25 regardless of location.

Tickets are on sale now. To purchase tickets call 877.RACE.TIX or visit www.martinsvillespeedway.com.

Martinsville Speedway PR

Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announced today that Auto-Owners Insurance has signed a multi-year agreement to serve as a primary sponsor of Martin Truex Jr.’s No. 19 Toyota Camry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

Auto-Owners Insurance, one of the nation’s largest insurers writing more than five million policies, joins JGR after a successful three-year partnership with Truex that has resulted in victories each season. Truex will pilot the No. 19 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota Camry in eight races this season with the first coming at Bristol Motor Speedway on April 7, 2019.

“Auto-Owners has been an incredible partner for a long time,” said Truex. “It means a lot to me for them to join us in the move to Joe Gibbs Racing this year. Auto-Owners has been very supportive as both a sponsor of our racing program and also the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation. We’ve had great success the past few years and we’re looking forward to continuing that this season as well.”

Auto-Owners is based in Lansing, Mich. and offers multiple lines of insurance, including life, home, auto and business to customers in 26 states. In addition to supporting Truex on the track, the company has also become a key partner supporting the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation through multiple initiatives such as “Ride With Martin”, a fundraising program started by Auto-Owners that allows company associates to have their names placed on the hood of Truex’s race car in exchange for a donation to the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation.

“To us, Martin is more than just an awesome driver and spokesperson for Auto-Owners, he has truly become a dear friend to our team,” said Mary Pierce, Senior Vice President of Marketing and Sales at Auto-Owners Insurance. “We are excited to have the opportunity to continue our partnership with Martin and look forward to working with Joe Gibbs Racing and the No. 19 team as we root Martin on to another championship.”

JGR PR

Texas Motor Speedway officially will kick off the opening of the 2019 NASCAR season on Feb. 16-17 with its fifth edition of the "World's Largest" Daytona 500 Watching Party.
 
The speedway will play host to a free, massive weekend infield party for campers and tailgaters that will be highlighted by the season-opening NASCAR race action being broadcast live from Daytona Beach International Speedway on the world's largest TV known as "Big Hoss."
 
The on-track action will begin with the Daytona 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on Saturday, Feb. 16, (1:30 p.m. CT, TV network TBA) and culminate with the 61st running of the Daytona 500 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, Feb. 17 (1:30 p.m. CT, FOX).

Last year's event attracted approximately 5,000 fans along with nearly 300 RVs to watch the racing action from Daytona Beach, Fla., on the mammoth 12-story tall, high-definition TV located on the backstretch.
 
The event is open to the public and fans planning to tailgate or camp can RSVP now by visiting  www.texasmotorspeedway.com. Fans, however, are not required to RSVP to the event and can just show up for the festivities on either day, including those planning to camp.
 
The infield via the South Tunnel will open at 8 a.m. CT on Saturday, Feb. 16, for those fans looking to camp overnight and for tailgaters visiting for the Xfinity Series race. Guests are permitted to bring their own food and beverage to the infield throughout the weekend.
 
In addition to the racing action and pre-race NASCAR shows on "Big Hoss," there will be other entertainment elements throughout the weekend. There will be free Chevrolet Impala and Camaro SS pace car rides on track; campsite and tailgate area decoration competition; promotions and live remotes from 95.9 The Ranch and Hank FM; and Saturday night movie entertainment on "Big Hoss."
 
Fans can even ensure they have the best seat and camping spot available at Texas Motor Speedway for the 2019 season as speedway ticket representatives will be on hand to provide guided tours and let interested ticket purchasers personally select their grandstand seats or camping spots.
 
The 2019 season at Texas Motor Speedway opens March 29-31 with the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 NASCAR tripleheader. The opening weekend features the Vankor 350 Gander Outdoors Truck Series race on Friday, March 29; My Bariatric Solutions 300 Xfinity Series race on Saturday, March 30; and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 on Sunday, March 31. The weekend also will include Robby Gordon's Stadium Super Truck Series race prior to and following the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500.
 
Season tickets, beginning as low as $199 and just $30 for children 12 and under, as well as individual tickets for the O'Reilly Auto Parts 500 weekend are available by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com or calling the speedway ticket office at 817.215.8500.
 
TMS PR
New Jersey native Joe Graf Jr. spent most of 2018 racing cars at some of the country’s most prestigious race tracks. 
 
While Graf Jr. was making waves as an up and coming driver in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, his younger sister was quietly blazing a different path. Andreah Graf, a senior in High School was soundlessly raising money for a cause she felt was not getting the proper attention.  
 
 
“My sister started a foundation last year, Kids Face It, whose sole purpose is to help children with different faces,” explained Joe Graf Jr, who competes for Chad Bryant Racing in ARCA.
 
“Kids Face-It supports a vision to see kids with facial differences have an easier journey to acceptance, greater self-esteem, a healthy life balance and feel empowered to achieve their dreams. 
 
She was telling me about the great work myFace has been doing and its affiliation with NYU, where I am a freshman college student.” myFace’s focus is on children with facial differences and getting them the medical and psychosocial care they need to live full and productive lives. “It seemed to be a perfect match with her foundation.”
 
“She mentioned she was donating $20,000 of the money she raised to myFace. To help with her cause, I thought it was a fantastic idea to donate $10,000 of my race winnings from the 2018 season as well.”
 
Graf Jr. continued, “I had read the book Wonder, written by R. J. Palacio, when I was in High School. It was really a powerful book that makes a (heartfelt) impression. The movie was fantastic too. When you see the emotional challenges these children and their families face it is heartbreaking. Although Wonder is a work of fiction it definitely captures the reality of the situation. 
 
“I just hope that more children can experience the acceptance Auggie ultimately gets in the movie. That is really the goal Andreah and I have in mind. Help these children have greater self-esteem and greater acceptance from their peers.” 
 
In late December, Graf Jr. and his sister stopped by myFace headquarters in New York City to present them with the donations.
 
“When I met with Priscilla Ma (Executive Director of myFace) and Karen Lazurus (Director of Development of myFace), it was amazing to learn of all the initiatives they are undertaking,” sounded Graf. “It really reinforced my decision to donate. I look forward to donating more in 2019.”
 
“I am also so proud of my sister Andreah. To see how she handles herself in meetings and seeing the results she is getting in fundraising is really inspirational. I am definitely going to try and do more to help her in the future.”
 
“I was so impressed and moved after meeting the Graf Family and hearing their story. Andreah and Joe are bright and thoughtful individuals who care about giving back and helping others,” said Priscilla Ma, Executive Director, myFace.
 
“We are grateful for their generosity and look forward to working with both of them to generate more awareness for the craniofacial community. They exude the essence of spreading empathy, acceptance and kindness to all.”
 
Approaching the start of his sophomore campaign, Graft Jr, a winner in ARCA competition is exploring opportunities to host a charity event for the myFace children and their families at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway this summer.
 
“This is such a good cause and I am sure the kids and their families would love to experience the excitement of a race and make memories that will last a lifetime.”
 
If you are interested in learning more about this fantastic organization you can check out www.myface.org
 
Chad Bryant Racing PR

 AMA Pro Racing announced recently that it welcomed longtime NASCAR veteran Mike Helton to its Board of Managers. Helton – who continues in his current role at NASCAR as Vice Chairman – joins David Atlas, Tom Bledsoe, George Silbermann and Mark Raffauf on the Board, which leverages 150-plus years of motorsports experience as it helps guide and assist the AMA Pro Racing organization.

 

Helton brings wide-ranging and multi-faceted experience to the Board, much of which comes from his decades of experience at NASCAR and within the motorsports community. Since 2015 he’s served as Vice Chairman of NASCAR, held the position of NASCAR President beginning in 2000, and been intimately involved with the sanctioning body since 1994.

 

“Mike Helton brings a lifetime of Motorsports experience to American Flat Track during a period of rapid growth for the sport,” said Michael Lock, CEO of American Flat Track. “We welcome Mike to the Board and are looking forward to the benefit of his insights and guidance.”

 

Helton’s duties today involve overseeing competition, helping guide NASCAR leadership in its strategic planning, and expanding the sport’s reach, both nationally and internationally. Helton is a current member of NASCAR’s Board of Directors, as well as a member of the company’s Executive Council.

 

Helton is also Chairman of The NASCAR Foundation, a charity that raises money and encourages volunteerism as it supports nonprofit causes around the country. Additionally, his career includes operational stints at two major racing venues, Atlanta Motor Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway – and he’s also spent some time in a race car himself.

 

“I’m excited about becoming a part of AMA Pro Racing’s Board of Managers,” Helton said. “I’ve been a motorcycle enthusiast for most of my life and really am impressed with the direction American Flat Track is going. I look forward to being a part of their increasing role in motorsports.”

 

Born and raised in Bristol, Va., Helton resides in Ormond Beach, Fla. with his wife Lynda.

Top Fuel fan favorite Scott Palmer will remain with Tommy Thompson Motorsports in 2019, campaigning the Magic Dry Organic Absorbent Top Fuel dragster in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.
 
"I'm honored and humbled that Tommy wants to keep us around for another year," Palmer said. "Our relationship goes far beyond racing. We're good friends and partners and I know I have the best supporter in all of motorsports. We are going to do everything we can to bring attention and hopefully a bunch of trophies to the entire Midwest Organics family."
 
Midwest Organics Executive Vice President Don Corsette said extending Palmer's contract was an easy decision for the company. "Scott is such a likable guy and a true racer in every sense," Corsette said. "His interaction with the fans and the reaction he gets from people in the pits makes him the perfect ambassador for Magic Dry and CatSpot. He's definitely moved the needle for us and helped expose race fans to what we're doing with our all-natural, 100-percent organic products."
 
Palmer earned a spot in the elite Countdown to the Championship for the second year in a row in 2018 driving the CatSpot Organic Cat Litter Top Fuel dragster for Thompson. Midwest Organics, the parent company of both Magic Dry and CatSpot, is owned by Thompson. Both products will be promoted on Palmer's racecar.
 
"We're switching the primary position to Magic Dry to help get that product fully launched and in the hands of as many people as possible," Palmer said. "It's a pretty remarkable absorbent that can be used in so many different ways and drag racing fans definitely need to learn all about it.
 
"At the same time, we'll continue beating the drum for CatSpot Organic Cat Litter. We've had so much fun teaching people about the benefits of that product and it's been up and running for three years now and getting bigger every day. Like last year, there will be plenty of opportunities for fans to get samples at the races so they can see what we're talking about."
 
Palmer reports that his team has been working feverously during the off-season to prepare for 2019. The primary goals for the group are to win their first national level Wally trophy and to once again earn a spot in the Countdown.
 
"We learned a lot last year and we came into the offseason with a list of things in certain areas where we think we can improve," he said. "We reached a point where we are consistently running with the best cars and we want to expand on that and get to where we're in position to truly challenge for race wins every weekend.
 
"There will be more announcements in the coming weeks and there is plenty to be excited about as far as 2019 in concerned. Right now, it's a thrill to know we will be racing the entire NHRA schedule."

 

In addition to Magic Dry and CatSpot, Palmer will continue to receive support from Marck Recycling.

 After a two-year absence, Kennedy Racing is returning to the 2019 American Flat Track (AFT) series in the AFT Twins presented by Vance & Hines class. With veteran rider and proven race winner Brandon Robinson, and former AMA Pro Racing Tuner of the Year Brent Armbruster, the team already poses a formidable threat to other AFT Twins competitors.

 

"Having a realistic shot at winning the 2019 AFT Twins Championship is the only reason we put this team back together," said Jerry Kennedy, team owner of Kennedy Racing.

 

Kennedy Racing will compete on a stable of brand-new Indian Scout FTR750s - a proven race-winning machine. During the last two AFT Twins seasons, the Indian Scout FTR750 has become the platform of choice on which to base a winning privateer team.

 

Having ridden a variety of motorcycles over his racing career, National Number 44 Brandon Robinson has never been so optimistic about an upcoming season. "Jerry, Brent, and I last teamed up in 2016 when I had one of my most successful seasons, there is a deep bond between us with mutual respect," said Robinson. He believes the Indian Scout FTR750 is a great race bike and is looking forward to throwing a leg over the same motorcycle as the perennial front runners in the series. "Having Brent in my corner spinning wrenches would be a confidence booster for anybody,” added Robinson.

 

Tuner Brent Armbruster says returning to a team owned by Kennedy, stocked with four Indian Scout FTR750s, and with an incredibly skilled rider like Robinson, is a combination "that can go for the championship." Armbruster added that even with the 2019 rule changes, designed to keep parity among all motorcycle manufacturers, "the Indian Scout FTR750 will still be the bike to beat."

 

The prominent common thread amongst Kennedy Racing is that they reunited with the goal of winning races and be a leading contender for the 2019 AFT Twins Championship.

 

American Flat Track will kick off its 2019 season with its bar-banging DAYTONA TT in appropriate fashion - during the wild Bike Week festivities in Daytona Beach. The 2019 DAYTONA TT happens Thursday, March 14 once again under the lights of the iconic Daytona International Speedway. Tickets start at just $35 and are available now at https://tickets.americanflattrack.com.

 

“Drivers, start your engines” may be the most famous words in motorsports, but “And… it’s a new track record,” is pretty close behind.
 
And today at Daytona International Speedway, there was another – albeit unofficial – new track record. In the 15-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype international (DPi) qualifying session for Rolex 24 At Daytona garage and pit selections, Oliver Jarvis drove the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda RT24-P to a lap of one minute, 33.398 seconds (137.212 mph).
 
Jarvis’ lap was more than half a second quicker than the 26-year-old track record of 1:33.875 (136.521 mph) set by PJ Jones in the No. 98 Toyota Eagle MKIII. If he – or anybody else – does it again or goes even quicker in Rolex 24 qualifying on Thursday, Jan. 24, they’ll go into the record books officially. Get your tickets now.
 
“The car was an absolute joy to drive,” Jarvis said. “We ran it full qualy spec. I don’t think many of our competitors can say the same, but in that low-fuel configuration, it felt incredible. You could really push the car to the limits and it’s what us drivers live for, that feeling of getting everything out of the car.”
 
In LMP2 qualifying, Gabriel Aubry posted the fastest time in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA at 1:35.930 (133.591 mph). The Roar was Aubry’s first exposure to the high banks of Daytona International Speedway and this weekend was just the Frenchman’s second visit to the United States.
 
Magnussen, Corvette Take Advantage of Perfect Tow to Qualify First in GTLM at The Roar
For the second consecutive WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class qualifying session, Jan Magnussen led the way. The now two-time and defending GTLM co-champion led the 15-minute session with a best lap of 1:42.651 (124.844 mph) in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
 
The Danish racer remarked, after Sunday’s session to set garage and pit selections for Rolex 24 race week, that the Corvette team employed the same strategy it used to put Magnussen and the No. 3 Corvette on the pole for the 2018 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Today’s lap was one tenth of a second quicker than Magnussen’s pole-winning time of 1:42.779.
 
“We did exactly the same as we did last year where we agreed who was going to tow who,” Magnussen explained. “It was me again like in race qualifying last year. That gave us a good top-speed advantage in that session. Olly (Gavin) did a fantastic job placing himself at the right distance out of Turn 6 [in the No. 4 Corvette] so I could take full advantage of the tow down to the Bus Stop and then go by him at start/finish to get the fastest lap.
 
“We did the exact same thing at the Roar and the race last year, so I don’t really know why everyone else isn't doing the exact same thing. But it seems we’re the only one doing it at the moment, and it’s working out really well for us.”
 
Billy Johnson Enjoying Return IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Paddock
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge 2016 Grand Sport (GS) class champion Billy Johnson was back to the series paddock this weekend with Multimatic Motorsports’ No. 22 Ford Mustang GT4. After a two-year hiatus, his return was prompted by the change in his FIA driver rating from Platinum to Gold, as Platinum-rated drivers are not eligible to compete in the support series.
 
“It’s great to be back,” said Johnson. “I’ve always followed the racing here in the now Michelin Pilot Challenge. The racing has always been great, a lot of fun, a lot of great drivers and teams. I’ve kind of built my career in this series, so it’s meant a lot to me going from the ST class up to the GS class and then winning the championship in 2016. This platform has given me many opportunities in NASCAR and prototypes and to race the Ford GT at Le Mans. I feel like I’m coming home back here at Daytona in the GS GT4 class cars.”
 
While he assisted in developing the Ford Mustang GT4, Johnson has yet to compete in the car, which he’ll race full-time in the 2019 British GT Championship. However, in the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona on Friday, Jan. 25, he’ll share the steering wheel with two drivers from Ford’s Driver Development Program, Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe. Ty Majeski and Cole Custer, also part of the program, will race in the No. 15 Ford Mustang GT4 with Scott Maxwell.
 
“I’ve worked with all four of those guys in many different capacities to help them on road courses,” said Johnson. “In NASCAR, I’ve spotted for them and coached them, so it’s great to be in a car with them competing. They’re all very talented, great drivers and it’s just a lot of fun to be here.”

No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R full-time co-drivers Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande, joined by third and fourth drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Fernando Alonso, closed the annual Roar Before the Rolex 24 Test Days Sunday by clocking the sixth-best lap among the 47-car field in a mock qualifying session used to determine race-weekend pit-road and garage locations. They will return to Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for real less than three weeks hence for the 57th Rolex 24 At Daytona IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening endurance marathon set for Jan. 26 to 27.

 

Taylor, van der Zande and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R team, who followed up their dominating Rolex 24 win in 2017 by qualifying on the pole for last year’s event, had a relatively easy time acclimating Kobayashi, the former Formula One and current FIA World Endurance Championship star from Japan, and Alonso, the popular two-time Formula One champion from Spain, to their new surroundings and the iconic racetrack. The four drivers took turns clocking the team’s fastest laps over the first four practice sessions of the weekend Friday and Saturday.

 

Taylor’s lap of 1 minute, 36.407 seconds at 132.390 mph over the 3.56-mile, 12-turn superspeedway road course, was second-fastest overall in Friday’s opening session of the weekend. Kobayashi’s lap of 1:36.596 at 132.670 mph Friday afternoon was fastest overall. Alonso’s Saturday-morning lap of 1:35.052 at 134.825 mph was second-fastest overall, and van der Zande’s lap of 1:34.534 mph at 135.563 mph Saturday afternoon was fastest overall.

 

The team focused solely on driver changes rather than overall speed during Saturday’s traditional night session, when Kobayashi’s team-best lap of 1:35.398 at 134.336 mph was sixth-fastest overall. Taylor opened Sunday practice with a lap of 1:34.894 at 135.049 mph that was fifth-best overall before driving the 15-minute mock qualifying session. His best lap of the session was marred by an impact with the car’s floorboard as he negotiated the track’s backstretch chicane known as the Bus Stop, temporarily knocking out the car’s power steering system. He was able to continue and log the sixth-best overall lap of the session and the team’s best of the weekend – 1:34.431 at 135.711. The team opted not to run the weekend’s final practice session Sunday afternoon.

 

Mazda Team Joest’s Nos. 77 and 55 DPis dominated Sunday’s mock qualifying session, led by the the lap of 1:33.398 at 137.212 mph by Oliver Jarvis in the No. 77 Mazda DPi that was better than the existing track record. Teammate Harry Tincknell was close behind with a lap of 1:33.423 at 137.176 mph. Almost a full second behind was a pack of five DPi entries separated by 17 hundredths of a second, led by Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Team Penske Dpi, whose best lap was 1:34.261 at 135.956 mph.

 

The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R logged 165 total laps during the three-day test, covering 587.4 miles.

 
Rolex 24 race weekend begins with practice and qualifying Thursday, Jan. 24, with the twice-around-the-clock event set to begin at 2:35 p.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 26, with live television coverage beginning on NBCSN at 2 p.m.