Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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John Martin, a veteran of five Indianapolis 500 starts and the eighth-place finisher in the rain-shortened 1973 event, died Nov. 20. He was 80.

A gifted mechanic and engineer, who performed much of the work on cars he drove, Martin was active in racing until his death. His most-recent role was working near the Indianapolis Motor Speedway at Billy Throckmorton's Grant King racing shop, restoring and preparing a variety of racing engines for vintage car meets, including normally aspirated Offenhausers, turbocharged Drake Offys, Volkswagen midget car engines and an abundance of vintage sprint car powerplants.

Last summer, he drove in Vintage Race of Champions (VROC) Charity Pro-Am race during the SVRA Brickyard Vintage Racing Invitational at IMS, a race he competed in every year since the inaugural in 2014.

The Cushing, Oklahoma-born Martin, who lived in Missouri, Wisconsin, California and in the Indianapolis area, made a total of 52 starts in the United States Auto Club National Championship series and under the Championship Auto Racing Teams banner, placing within the top 10 on 17 occasions in Indy car events. His highest showing was a pair of fifth-place finishes, scored in the Ontario 500-mile races of 1973 and 1975.

He attempted to qualify for every Indianapolis 500 between 1971 and 1982 and was successful for five consecutive events between 1972 and 1976. Driving an ex-Peter Revson McLaren fielded by himself, Martin placed eighth in 1973, when the car was called the Unsponsored Special, and 11th in 1974 when it ran as the delightfully named Sea Snack Shrimp Cocktail Special.

Long after he was no longer driving, Martin continued to work on teams in a variety of capacities, including engineer, fabricator and spotter. Far into the night prior to an event, Martin could be seen dressed in an apron and engrossed in a mechanical exercise of some kind.

His early days of driving were as an amateur road racer with the Sports Car Club of America. While living in Wisconsin, he converted a 1963 Corvette Stingray into an A-production racer and won a national title with it in 1965. He also took part in several United States Auto Club stock car races between 1966 and 1969, and contested SCCA's Trans-Am series in 1968 with an AMC Javelin. In 1970, he drove a Surtees in the SCCA Continental series for stock block-powered Formula 5000 cars and placed within the top 10 in eight out of 11 starts.

A great storyteller, the laid-back Martin was blessed with a rich baritone voice which the professionals would describe as a "radio" voice.

He is survived by his wife, Linda, and a married daughter, Kristen De Muth.

Services are pending, but a celebration of life is being planned for some time in December at the Grant King racing shop.

IMS PR

Tickets for the 2020 NASCAR season at Richmond Raceway (Richmond) will be available to the public on Dec. 1. The iconic Richmond racing experience returns for the 2020 NASCAR season for two action-packed weekends of racing with the Toyota Spring Race Weekend on April 18-19 and NASCAR Playoff Race Weekend on Sept. 11-12. Tickets will be available to the general public for purchase on Dec. 1.

“The first unofficial holiday of the season is always the day our NASCAR tickets go on sale for the upcoming race year,” said Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier. “As we look ahead to the 2020 NASCAR season, we look forward to welcoming back our loyal race fans as they share the gift of the iconic Richmond racing experience with family and friends for the Toyota Spring Race Weekend and NASCAR Playoffs Race Weekend at America’s Premier Short Track. With the return of the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (Gander Trucks) and NTT IndyCar Series ‘under the lights’, the Capital City will once again be one of the top destinations for motorsports fans.”

Richmond will host the Toyota Spring Race Weekend on April 18-19. NASCAR’s best will compete for a berth in the NASCAR Playoffs in the TOYOTA OWNERS 400 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, April 19. This will be the eighth consecutive year Richmond has partnered with Toyota for the spring race weekend.

The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series returns to America’s Premier Short Track for the ToyotaCare 250 “under the lights” on Saturday, April 18. The race will be the first in the Triple Truck Challenge. This will be the first Gander Trucks race at Richmond since 2005.

For the third consecutive season, the road to the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship will lead through Richmond “under the lights” on Sept. 11-12. The Action Track will be the second race of the first round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs for the ninth annual Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday, Sept. 12.

Richmond will also host the Go Bowling 250 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) Regular Season Championship race on Friday, Sept. 11. This will be the 28th consecutive year the fall race weekend is “under the lights” at Richmond.

For the first time in 11 years, the NTT IndyCar Series will race at Richmond “under the lights” on Saturday, June 27. Richmond will host a festival headlined by the NTT IndyCar Series, welcoming fans to engage in a speed-themed weekend event on June 26-27. INDYCAR tickets are available now for purchase in-person at the Richmond Ticket Office, via phone at 866-455-7223, or online at richmondraceway.com.

Fans interested in attending both NASCAR weekends in Richmond can upgrade to become a RICHMOND NATION Season Ticket Holder. RICHMOND NATION presented by Topgolf members receive exclusive perks, such as discounts on tickets and FanGrounds passes and invitations to member-only events. For more information on RICHMOND NATION presented by Topgolf, visit richmondraceway.com/richmondnation.

The FanGrounds, Richmond’s modernized infield, puts fans in the middle of the action by providing an unparalleled fan experience. The FanGrounds pass offers attractions and enhanced amenities for fans including the Markel Entertainment Plaza, M&M’s Neighborhood, Sheetz Neighborhood, Virginia Tourism Visitor Center, Eternal Fan Pedestrian Tunnel and Fan Memories program. It also includes access to the fan-viewing walkway in the garages, immersive Pre-Race Ceremonies presented by va811.com, activities before the race with driver appearances and other interactive programming, and fan-friendly Gatorade Victory Lane, which provides fans the opportunity to be a part of the post-race celebrations. For more information on the FanGrounds, visit richmondraceway.com/fangrounds.

Kids 12 & under receive special discounts on grandstand tickets and FanGrounds passes at Richmond. On NXS and Gander Trucks race nights, kids 12 & under are free in all grandstand sections with a ticketed adult. For Cup races, kids 12 & under are $25 off in every grandstand section. Richmond also offers kids 12 & under a special price for the FanGrounds for single-day admission and race weekend passes. For more information on kids pricing, visit richmondraceway.com/kidstickets.

In appreciation for all that our service members do for our great country, Richmond is proud to offer the Military Appreciation Program. Past and present service members enjoy exclusive discounts on race tickets. Service members also receive a discount on FanGrounds passes with the purchase of a Cup race ticket. Additionally, the first 1,500 military ticketholders will receive complimentary access to the Military Hospitality area located in the Old Dominion Building. The hospitality area consists of food, beverages, entertainment, and appearances by NASCAR celebrities. To learn more, visit richmondraceway.com/military.

The party returns in the Chaos Corner Turn 4 Party Deck Powered by Larry’s Hard Lemonade, which is an exclusive experience with tiered viewing, drink rail, and specific benefits to provide the lowest priced ticket at Richmond for Cup races. Tickets are available exclusively for fans 21 years or older. A ticket is a fan’s pass to additional benefits in the party deck. Benefits include exclusive access for rollback concession prices offering between 25% and 50% off of regularly priced menu items, including Larry’s Hard Lemonade. No coolers or outside food and drinks are allowed in the smoke free party deck. Learn more at richmondraceway.com/chaoscorner.

The Weather Protection Program applies to all paid grandstand tickets to NASCAR races at Richmond that are postponed and rescheduled to a different date due to inclement weather. Guests can exchange paid grandstand tickets that were not used on a rescheduled race date for a future NASCAR event at a NASCAR-owned facility. Guests with an unused grandstand ticket have 60 days to contact the ticket office at the NASCAR-owned facility where the event was postponed. To learn more about the Weather Protection Program, visit richmondraceway.com/weather.

NASCAR tickets will be available for purchase on Dec. 1 via phone at 866-455-7223 or online at richmondraceway.com. INDYCAR tickets are available now for purchase in-person at the Richmond Ticket Office, via phone at 866-455-7223, or online at richmondraceway.com.

Stay connected to Richmond Raceway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube, and by downloading the Richmond Raceway mobile app for Apple or Android.

Richmond Raceway PR

Bluegreen Vacations Corporation (“Bluegreen Vacations”), a leading vacation ownership company, was announced today as the entitlement sponsor for the 150-mile qualifying races for the DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway, part of DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth.

The races will be known as the Bluegreen Vacations Duel At DAYTONA. Scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 13, the pair of 150-mile qualifying races will finalize the starting lineup for the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500, the prestigious season-opening event for the NASCAR Cup Series.

“The qualifying races for the DAYTONA 500 have been an integral part of Speedweeks since the inaugural ‘Great American Race’ in 1959,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. “The qualifiers’ history is rich and now we’re beginning a new chapter of that history, thanks to Bluegreen Vacations.”

“The Bluegreen Vacations Duel At DAYTONA will continue one of our cherished traditions,” Wile said.

Based in Boca Raton, Florida, Bluegreen Vacations markets and sells vacation ownership interests and manages resorts in top leisure and urban destinations.

“Having just been a sponsor of the Bluegreen Vacations 500, a thrilling semi-final race of the 2019 NASCAR season, we are proud to be title sponsor of the highly anticipated kick-off duels for the 2020 season,” said Ahmad M. Wardak, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Bluegreen Vacations. “We are pleased to be a proud supporter of NASCAR and look forward to sharing more of these experiences with our vacation owners.”

In addition to the title sponsorship of the 150-mile qualifying races, Bluegreen Vacations was named earlier this year as the “Official Vacation Ownership Provider of NASCAR.”

Tickets for the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500, the Bluegreen Vacations Duel At DAYTONA and other Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.

DIS PR

The Bobby Labonte Foundation, founded by NASCAR Champion and Hall of Fame racecar driver and High Point businessman Bobby Labonte, presented funding to three Triad-area non-profit organizations Thursday night at the Cohab.Space venue in High Point, N.C. High Point LEAP, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Piedmont, Inc. and High Point Swim Club are sharing in the proceeds of the foundation's annual Charity Bike Ride and cocktail party and silent auction, which broke fundraising and participation records for the second year in a row.

The three charities applied for grants from the foundation earlier this year, and they all align with the Bobby Labonte Foundation's mission to support children and families in the Triad area. Each organization will use the funds to support a specific project.
 
High Point LEAP will use the grant money for its Boys2Men program, which focuses on academics, mentoring and leadership development for at-risk boys to help them avoid juvenile crime and gang participation. Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Piedmont, Inc. plans to fund a mentoring program which matches 8th grade students with a mentor that will help them transition into high school and follow them into post-graduation. With its share of the proceeds, the High Point Swim Club will fund its Swim4Fun free swim lesson program for third graders in Guilford County schools, and allow the High Point Swim Club to expand the program to new schools.
 
"This is the reason why we put so much time and effort into my annual Charity Bike Ride every year," said Bobby Labonte. "These organizations hit home for us in so many ways, because they help build stronger futures for children and families. We were thrilled with the support of the High Point community and our fellow cyclists this year, and we thank everyone who helped make it possible for us to make such a sizable donation to give back to the place we call home."
 
Cohab.Space, a rustic, industrial retail and gathering venue deemed the newest creative hub in High Point, N.C., hosted the grant presentation, which featured Labonte and his wife Kristin, High Point Mayor Jay Wagner, sponsors, charity representatives and Bobby Labonte Foundation volunteers and committee members.
 
"At Cohab.Space, it's all about connecting with the community," said Nicole Bodford of Cohab.Space. "The Bobby Labonte Foundation recognizes organizations that share our same values, and we were delighted to host the foundation's celebratory event this year."

To find out more about the Bobby Labonte Foundation or to become a future event sponsor, visit bobbylabontefoundation.org.
Bobby Labonte Foundation PR

Today, 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Joey Logano partnered with Hot Wheels to successfully break the Guinness World Record for the World’s Longest Hot Wheels track coming in at over 1,941 feet. Inspired by his ongoing success in race circuits during  career spanning over a decade, the Guinness World Record also celebrated the launch of Logano’s all-new 2018 Hot Wheels Ford Mustang featuring custom Joey Logano Racing / Hot Wheels racing livery.

“Hot Wheels has been pushing the boundaries in car culture with it’s challenger spirit, outrageous design and unparalled performance for over 51 years,” said Ricardo Briceno, Senior Director of Brand Marketing for Hot Wheels. “Joey Logano embodies that same spirit in his racing, which is why we’re thrilled to partner with him on this record-breaking track and special edition die-cast. He’s truly brought the Hot Wheels challenger spirit to life today!”

Logano broke the world record at his personal race garage in Charlotte, NC. The track started in Joey’s expansive race shop, weaving through his fantastic car collection – including a Deloreon, custom Rat Rod International, International Scout and a 1933 custom Ford hot rod, 1972 Ford Econoline, 2017 Ford GT– and eventually ending inside the cockpit of his 2018 Hot Wheels Ford Mustang.

During the nail-biting attempt, Logano was at the start and finish lines, pushing the car through the first of 122 boosters and then jumping into his 2018 Hot Wheels Ford Mustang to witness the die-cast dive into the cockpit upon completion. With over a year of planning and 7 days of setting up the track for the perfect run, Logano’s attempt was witnessed by friends, family and NASCAR royalty from the Petty family.

“Talk about a childhood dream come true! I have so many memories playing with my Hot Wheels cars as a kid, and it’s fun to jump back in that space with my son who shares the same passion for his Hot Wheels as I did,” said Joey Logano. “Hot Wheels basically founded my passion for racing – the first car I ever had was a Hot Wheels car – and now being here, setting this world record with my son and an amazing team of Hot Wheels fans is a great way to announce our new special edition Ford Mustang.”

The Hot Wheels Joey Logano 2018 Ford Mustang will be available on shelves for Hot Wheels fans to add to their collections by July 2020.

Check out @joeylogano and @hotwheelsofficial for a look behind the scenes.

Hot Wheels PR

Thunder Mountain Speedway has officially joined the elite ranks of DIRTcar-sanctioned racetracks in the Northeast for 2020. The Southern New York speedway will sanction the highly competitive DIRTcar 358 Modified division as well as DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds.

DIRTcar Northeast Director Dean Reynolds visited Thunder Mountain officials last Sunday for their rules meeting at the Town of Lisle Fire Department conference center. Reynolds and track owners came to the agreement, which will include support from Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels and increased promotional outreach for their weekly racing provided by DIRTcar.

“The Spoonhower family has put their love and sweat into their track for many years and has become the staple of the New York Southern Tier,” Reynolds said. “While they were looking at the Hoosier tire route for the past several years, they felt this was the right time to make the move. After the meeting this past Sunday with their teams, DIRTcar sanctioning was welcomed. We all will work hard to make sure it’s a smooth and successful transition.”

Thunder Mountain Speedway will now be a part of the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship for both the 358 and Sportsman Modifieds. Hoosier puts up $11,250 for weekly 358 Modified drivers and another $4,550 for their Sportsman Modified counterparts every year.

Track owner and promoter Karl Spoonhower is looking forward to the 2020 season to see how things shake out. 

“The move to DIRTcar sanctioning, I think, will be a good one,” he said. “I know change is sometimes tough, but we always have our drivers’ best interest in mind. The response to these changes, moving to Hoosier and DIRTcar, has been really good so far. We have loyal racers and fans who I hope will stick with us, they are like family. They understand that the sport of racing is changing and if we don’t look toward the future we’ll be left behind.”

All DIRTcar members at DIRTcar-sanctioned tracks have their top 16 finishes calculated for the standings. Drivers, teams, officials and fans are encouraged to sign up for the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Newsletter at DIRTcar.com for updates on all of the DIRTcar Racing competition across the Northeast.

DIRTcar Northeast and Thunder Mountain management are currently looking at dates for Series races.

Thunder Mountain Speedway sits atop a veritable mountain with picturesque views of the valleys in Center Isle, NY.  Built in 1992 by Spoonhower, the track is a three-eighths-mile banked clay oval that hosts weekly stock car racing on Saturday nights from April through September. Thunder Mountain is dubbed The Fast Track for its racy surface and three- and four-wide racing. 

DIRTcar 358 Modifieds will share top billing with the Big Block/Small-Block Modified division. The racing card in 2020 will also include DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, Rookie/Budget Sportsman, 600cc Modifieds, Street Stock and Factory Stocks.

DIRTcar Series PR

Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Race Fuels promoter Len Sammons has issued a Racers Challenge to the drivers and car owners who will compete in the four 2020 events: “Help us sell out the house and we’ll pay the feature winners in all classes double the purse!” Sammons, who along with sons Danny and Davey organize the events, expanded the challenge to increasing all other feature finishing positions 20% if the “Sold Out” sign is posted at the box office prior to the start of the feature events. “It can be done,” said Len Sammons. “We’ve done it once in our history and have come close several other times.

There is nothing better than the atmosphere inside a packed arena!  The fans and racers feed off each other creating a buzz unlike anything else in racing. “We are 100% focused on growing the Indoor Series and making each event a spectator driven, can’t miss event,” said Sammons.   “My staff has always encouraged the racers to interact with the fans and put on a show both in the car and outside of it.  Racing comes first, but fan interaction and increasing fan involvement is also a high priority.

This incentive is the next step in that process. “The Concrete Series opens at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. on January 3rd and 4th. These events, sponsored by Ironton Telephone, include features for the TQ Midgets each night. Instead of $2,000 to win each, these events would pay $4,000 if every ticket is sold, something accomplished when the first event was held in the building four years ago.

Racing then moves to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Friday and Saturday January 31st and February 1st for the NAPA Know How Classic. Andy Jankowiak of Buffalo, N.Y. won $5,000 when he took the 2019 Gambler’s Classic. If he did it again and the place was sold out, he would earn $10,000. In the event’s 17 year history, tickets were nearly sold out on three occasions.

Next up is the third annual East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals which will return to CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J. with a new date. This event, held the last two years in December, has been moved to Friday and Saturday nights February 21st and 22nd to avoid a conflict with Christmas. Rated a ‘must see’ event by those who attended the first two years, it’s great racing and new date could make it a sell out with the extra push of the race teams.   If so, the 600 Sprint winner would receive $10,000 rather than $5,000 received by Whitey Kidd, III and Erick Rudolph the last two years.

The “Concrete Series” season finale follows on Friday and Saturday March 13th and 14th in a second year return to the brand new Expo Center located on the grounds of the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. N.Y.   With features for the TQ Midgets each night, these features which traditionally pay $2,000 would jump to $4,000 with a sellout. At the first ever event held in Syracuse last year, Saturday’s attendance was 75% of the occupancy limit so again it’s very possible. The sell-out bonus plan will also be paid to the Slingshot and Champ Kart divisions that run as part of the Concrete Series.

 The Indoor Auto Racing Series staff can provide its racers promotional materials to help promote the events in an attempt to sell tickets. This will include social media aids for Facebook and Twitter campaigns, event posters and handbills along with invitations to set up driver media interviews. “The idea is to work together so that we can build up the series interest to an all-time high.  Every driver, car owner and crewman has friends who go to the races and other friends who used to go,” said Sammons.

“We need to encourage the fans to join the racers and take part in the campaign as well and the event promoters will continue its all-out promotional campaign as it has done in the past using television, radio, print, billboards and social media to help sell out the house at each venue.” Tickets, which make great Christmas gifts, can be obtained now through the information available on the series website: www.indoorautoracing. Racers who wish to participate in the “Sell Out The House” program are urged to send an e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. along with name, address and phone number. Additional ticket promotion ideas are welcome.

AARN PR

Two of the great sporting passions of Indiana - basketball and auto racing - were fused and featured Thursday in the unveiling of the Indiana Pacers' City Edition uniform Nov. 21 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

For the third straight NBA season, Nike NBA City Edition uniforms uniquely capture each team and its city. NBA teams use the City Edition uniforms during selected games in the regular season.

The Pacers' 2019-20 City Edition uniform was created to honor and celebrate the distinct history of basketball and racing in Indianapolis and the state of Indiana. The uniform features a vertical, iconic checkered flag pattern, a front number inspired by Formula One and the Pacers' primary logo. The uniform also includes the tagline "Always Lead," which emphasizes the Pacers' desire to lead on and off the court and pays tribute to the city of Indianapolis and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Among the dignitaries unveiling the jersey at IMS were Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett, IMS President J. Douglas Boles and Pacers Sports & Entertainment President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Fuson.

"Racing and basketball are such cornerstones of Hoosier culture, so it's only fitting that the Indiana Pacers' City Edition uniforms blend both in such a colorful, exciting way," Boles said. "We continue to enjoy a fantastic partnership with the Pacers, who always have understood the rich heritage of both sports in Indiana dating back more than 100 years. It's going to be exciting to see these uniforms on court this season at Bankers Life Fieldhouse - I can't wait."

Modeling the Pacers' 2019-20 City Edition uniforms were Ryder and Cruz Carpenter, the sons of three-time Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge pole sitter and NTT IndyCar Series team owner Ed Carpenter; Arrow McLaren SP NTT IndyCar Series driver Oliver Askew and NTT IndyCar Series veteran driver Charlie Kimball, along with beloved Pacers' mascot Boomer. Each of the models arrived on pit lane at IMS for the unveil in Chevrolet Corvette Pace Cars.

"I've been a Pacers' fan for my entire life, so it's very cool to see my sons get to help unveil the new City Edition uniforms, which look great," Ed Carpenter said. "There's a real connection between racing and basketball in Indiana due to shared passion and history, and these uniforms are another example of that. My wife Heather and I enjoy going to games at Bankers Life with our family, and we're really eager to see the Pacers win in these City Edition jerseys and shorts. Go Pacers!"

The Pacers' 2019-20 City Edition uniforms will make their on-court debut Wednesday, Nov. 27 when the Pacers play the Utah Jazz at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in downtown Indianapolis.

IMS PR

For the past three seasons, rising talents Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay have been rivals in the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires.

The pair dominated INDYCAR's three-tier, developmental ladder series during that period, combining to win three driver's titles, nearly two-thirds of the races they entered and never finishing worse than third in the championship standings.

Askew won the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship - the first rung of the series - and followed with the 2019 crown in Indy Lights, the top rung of the system. VeeKay won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 Championship while finishing runner-up to Askew in the other two series.

In 2020, they will resume their rivalry and be competing for another notable title - the NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year.

VeeKay was announced Wednesday as the full-time driver for Ed Carpenter Racing in the No. 21 Chevrolet. He became the third Road to Indy graduate in the past three weeks during a busy off-season to earn a full-time seat in the NTT IndyCar Series.

VeeKay's confirmation followed the late October announcement of Askew and Patricio O'Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champion, being named as the full-time drivers of the Chevrolet-powered Arrow McLaren SP organization.

It is part of the series' recent youth movement which, including Askew and VeeKay, will see 14 Road to Indy drivers graduate to the top level of the sport since 2015.

VeeKay, who hails from Hoofddorp, Netherlands, is the youngest of the trio at 19 years old. O'Ward, of Monterrey, Mexico, is 20 and Askew, of Jupiter, Fla., is 22.

"It's a dream come true and something we have worked extremely hard for over the last couple of years," VeeKay said. "To step up from USF2000 to the NTT IndyCar Series in three years is really special. ... The number of available seats in the NTT IndyCar Series is very limited, so it's a great honor that (Ed Carpenter Racing) has chosen me to join their team."

Both VeeKay and Askew got their introduction to an NTT IndyCar Series car in August when they were chosen for a test at Portland International Raceway. VeeKay tested with Ed Carpenter Racing that day while Askew took part in the session with Chip Ganassi Racing. VeeKay eventually had a second test with ECR in October and obviously impressed the team. Askew also was a name continually being bantered about for consideration of any potential full-time NTT IndyCar Series seats in 2020.

"(The NTT IndyCar Series) is what I've been working for for my entire career since I started racing when I was seven years old in go-karts," Askew said. "So it's a surreal feeling to finally be here. I can't wait to get to work.

"A couple years ago (the NTT) IndyCar (Series) looked so far away, let alone Indy Lights. So it's been a whirlwind couple of years. It's a testament to the people around me for sure I mean starting with Cape Motorsports and USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 and then Andretti Autosport this year in Indy Lights. I've been surrounded by a lot of great people and have been given tremendous opportunities. And I've just based my success off of a lot of preparation beforehand, before the season, before the races, and I've dedicated my life to racing and I've sacrificed a lot to get to this point."

O'Ward is the Indy car veteran of the group with eight career NTT IndyCar Series starts, including his stunning 2018 debut at Sonoma Raceway. He qualified in the Firestone Fast Six and finished eighth just a few weeks after winning the Indy Lights crown. Last season, O'Ward competed in seven races for Carlin before being signed by the Red Bull Junior Team with a future eye on Formula One.  He was with the team was roughly six months before they severed ties and opened the opportunity for a return to the NTT IndyCar Series.

"I think it's very big, not just for me but for Oliver as well," O'Ward said. "We're just starting our journey into the professional side of this sport and it's something we have been working towards our whole lives, so I'm very much looking forward to the opportunity.

"I think we're going to make a really good team. We're both hungry for all the success. I think at this point both the team and we are growing, we're starting a new chapter in our careers and I think the sky's the limit."

Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt is a believer of the path produced by the Road to Indy and the talent it attracts.

"What we're seeing recently with the Road to Indy is nothing short of amazing. If you win, you advance. If you win, you advance," said Schmidt, whose teams won seven Indy Lights titles before focusing solely on the NTT IndyCar Series. "These kids aren't coming in with three and four and five years of experience. We're talking 13, 14 years of racing experience and so they're coming in a lot more advanced than the rookies of days of old.

"So we saw, it's no shocker, I mean what Colton Herta did this year (two wins and two poles as a rookie) was nothing short of amazing and these guys come from exactly the same background. So a lot of people have said that it's really risky, it's a gamble, but we really don't think it is."

VeeKay, Askew and O'Ward will make their initial 2020 on-track appearances with their new teams at the INDYCAR open test Feb. 11-12 at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. The trio will make their official debuts at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for March 13-15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be televised live on the NBCSN.

IndyCar PR

Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) announces today Denny Hamlin had successful arthroscopic surgery on his left shoulder.

The surgery was completed by Dr. Patrick Connor at Charlotte Surgery Center. He is expected to fully recover in time for the start of the 2020 NASCAR season.

JGR PR

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