Speedway Digest Staff
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NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers are set to compete in yet another prestigious offseason motorsports event with this week's Rolex 24 at Daytona, the top U.S. sports car road race at Daytona International Speedway.
Just days after three NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers competed in the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the series will be represented by six former series champions and five Indianapolis 500 winners in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship's season-opening race.
Scott Dixon, a five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion and 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner, headlines the Indy car contingent at the Rolex 24, and he appreciates drivers trying different disciplines, as Conor Daly, Santino Ferrucci and James Davison did in last week's Chili Bowl, a midget race on dirt.
"It shows their versatility and it shows some drivers have opened the eyes of others to switch across categories," Dixon said. "But it's tough because the level of competition these days is through the roof no matter what category you are going to."
Dixon will drive for Wayne Taylor Racing, the Rolex 24's reigning overall champion. Dixon and Ryan Briscoe are part of the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. in the event's top class (DPi). Dixon is a two-time event champion, but he is driving the faster prototypes for the first time in four years.
"It's nice to look forward and not look in the mirrors the whole time like I did with the GT cars," said Dixon, who competes for Chip Ganassi Racing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
Among the other series regulars competing in Daytona Beach are Ryan Hunter-Reay and Alexander Rossi of Andretti Autosport, Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske and Colton Herta with Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport, plus Team Penske, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian, Vasser Sullivan and DragonSpeed.
Full television coverage of the 58th annual event begins Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET on NBC. The NBC Sports Network will air the race from 2:30-6 p.m. and from 11 p.m.-3 a.m., returning at 6 a.m. Sunday. The final 90 minutes of the race airs on NBC on Sunday beginning at noon.
Hunter-Reay, who won an NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship in 2012 and an Indianapolis 500 in 2014, has joined the No. 55 Mazda Team Joest entry that won last year's pole. This team, along with Acura Team Penske, are among the top candidates to be the overall champion.
The top two finishers in last year's Indianapolis 500 - Pagenaud and Rossi - are part of the Acura Team Penske's entries. Rossi, who won the 500 in 2016, will drive with three-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves and sports car veteran Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura DPi. Pagenaud, the 500 winner and 2016 series champion, will team with two-time 500 winner Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron, a three-time IMSA champion, in the team's No. 6.
"All the drivers in the world want to be here," Pagenaud said. "We have a fantastic team here at Team Penske, and I certainly want to add this to the trophy list. That would be fantastic."
Team Penske last was the overall champion of Daytona's 24-hour race in 1969.
Said Rossi: "Obviously, for Simon and I this isn't our full-time job but at the same time there's a lot of preparation and commitment that goes into these (endurance) rounds and we have an obligation to the team and the manufacturer to represent them and get results. We have a big target this year to go out and finally get a Rolex 24 win."
Four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais has joined Mustang Sampling Racing/JDC-Miller MotorSports and will co-drive the No. 5 Cadillac DPi. Matheus Leist, who drove for AJ Foyt Racing last season, will be in the team's other Cadillac, No. 85 which includes former NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver Tristan Vautier.
The Rolex 24 has 38 entries among four classes. Ben Hanley, who is confirmed to drive for DragonSpeed in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 15, will co-drive the team's LMP2 No. 81 Oreca 07.
Herta, a two-race NTT INDYCAR SERIES winner as a rookie and a Rolex 24 class champion last year, is a co-driver of the BMW Team RLL No. 25 entry, a BMW M8 GTE co-owned by Bobby Rahal, in the GT Le Mans class (GTLM).
The GT Daytona class (GTD) has the largest field with 18 cars. Townsend Bell, a broadcaster of NTT INDYCAR SERIES races on NBC, will co-drive the No. 12 Lexus RC-F GT3 entered by AIM Vasser Sullivan, which is owned by 1996 Indy car champion Jimmy Vasser and James "Sulli" Sullivan. Reigning NASCAR Cup champion Kyle Busch will make his Rolex 24 debut driving the team's No. 14 car.
Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian is competing in the Rolex 24 for the 17th year. The event's overall winner in 2012 with AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson driving has won three poles and scored four podiums over the years. This year, MSR is fielding the Nos. 57 and 86 Acura NSX GT3s in the GTD class.
The race can be heard on Sirius 138 and XM 202.
INDYCAR DRIVERS DRAW PRAISE FROM JEFF GORDON
The willingness to try an event as competitive as the Chili Bowl drew props from four-time NASCAR Cup champion Jeff Gordon, whose racing career started on the dirt. Gordon knew how limited the dirt-track experience was for Daly, Ferrucci and Davison.
Daly had competed in one other Chili Bowl; Ferrucci and Davison had never raced on dirt.
"While I don't recommend this approach to anyone, I have a lot of respect for those that attempt it," Gordon tweeted. "(The Chili Bowl) is no joke!"
Daly was the highest-finishing NTT INDYCAR SERIES driver in Saturday's finals, finishing ninth in his H Main feature. Ferrucci finished seventh in his K Main feature; Davison was ninth in his M Main.
The weeklong event won by NASCAR Cup driver Kyle Larson started with 360 drivers from 40 states and six countries.
"I've watched many races and I can see what you need to do, but to actually do it yourself is the challenging part," Davison said of dirt-track racing against such a loaded field. "It's a lot harder to do than it looks like from the outside.
"There's no substitute for experience, right? Experience brings confidence to start going faster and slide (the car) more. I'm not quite there yet."
Ferrucci said the experience could lead him to seek a ride in the Driven2SaveLives BC39 powered by NOS Energy Drink, the dirt midget race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 1-2.
"(This) was a cool experience and if I had done some testing it could have been really good," he said.
The father of one-time Chili Bowl champion Bryan Clauson said the NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers acquitted themselves well.
"Besides the racing they have all been great ambassadors of @INDYCAR (and) @IMS engaging with fans and teams," Tim Clauson tweeted. "It's this stuff that brings us all as racers together."
The NTT INDYCAR SERIES will stage its first open test of the year February 11-12 at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. The first of 17 races is the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (March 13-15).
NTT IndyCar Series PR
Richmond Raceway (Richmond) announces an expanded 2020 Track Laps for Charity schedule. The four events will offer race fans the opportunity to drive their personal vehicle around America’s Premier Short Track for a donation of $20. The donation will benefit Richmond Raceway Cares and a different charitable organization in the greater Richmond region for each Track Laps for Charity.
“The opportunity for race fans to take friends and family for laps in their personal vehicles around Richmond Raceway’s iconic ¾-mile D-shaped oval is always a memorable experience,” said Richmond President Dennis Bickmeier. “As we expand our Track Laps program to give back to the greater Richmond region, fans can now have a direct impact in supporting local charities. We look forward to welcoming the community for Track Laps for Charity this year.”
For 2020, Richmond has partnered with the Bair Foundation, Blessings in a Backpack, Sickle Cell Research at VCU Health System, and the Markel Corporation for quarterly Track Laps for Charity events. See below for the full 2020 Track Laps for Charity schedule:
- Sunday, March 22, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. – Bair Foundation
- Saturday, May 30, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Blessings in a Backpack
- Saturday, Aug. 15, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. – Sickle Cell Research at VCU Health System
- Saturday, Nov. 7, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. – Markel Corporation
Richmond Raceway Cares fuels the development of children in the greater Richmond region through the support of youth-focused organizations and life enrichment programs within our community. Richmond Raceway Cares is a donor advised fund of The NASCAR Foundation, a 501(c)3 charitable entity, that donates racing-related items and offers financial support to assist community outreach programs and other nonprofit charities.
Fans can sign up in advance by visiting richmondraceway.com/tracklaps or at the track on the day of a Track Laps for Charity event. Fans are also invited to take a tour of the FanGrounds, turn a few laps in the Richmond Raceway Simulator, play games and more in the modernized infield.
- To participate, drivers must be 18 years of age or older with a valid state-issued driver’s license.
- Maximum speed is 55 miles per hour with drivers behind the Official Toyota Camry Pace Car.
- Drivers must stay up to speed and refrain from lagging behind in order to speed up.
- Seatbelts must be worn at all times.
- Motorcycles are permitted.
- Track Laps for Charity may be postponed or canceled due to inclement weather or safety conditions. If a cancellation is necessary, Richmond will make its best effort to contact guests in advance of their visit.
For more information on Richmond Track Laps, visit richmondraceway.com/tracklaps.
For more information on Richmond Raceway Cares, visit richmondraceway.com/
Richmond Raceway PR
Roush Fenway Racing has announced a partnership with Castrol for the high-performance lubricant brand to be the team’s official oil partner. In addition, Castrol will serve as a primary sponsor on Ryan Newman’s No. 6 NASCAR Cup Series entry in select events.
“We are really excited to have Castrol on board as our official oil partner,” said NASCAR Hall of Famer and team co-owner Jack Roush. “Castrol has been a leader in engine lubrication for as long as I can recall. They have a history of competing with great success at the highest levels of motorsports. I’m looking forward to the edge we feel they will provide our race cars going forward and we can’t wait to launch our partnership in Daytona.”
Roush Fenway Fords will run Castrol Oil exclusively in all of its Ford machines, with Castrol’s debut as a primary coming at Auto Club Speedway on March 1.
“Jack has a hard-earned reputation for success in NASCAR and all of us at Castrol are thrilled by the opportunity to join the Roush Fenway team,” said David Bouet, Castrol’s US president.
“Castrol has a long history of partnership and success with many Ford teams – in NHRA, World Rally and with the iconic Ford GTs in endurance. We look forward to using this proven race expertise and our leading performance technology to build on the team’s record of success.”
NASCAR veteran Ryan Newman has powered the No. 6 into a solid contender, propelling the iconic Ford Mustang back into the NASCAR playoffs last season with 14 top-10 finishes. Chris Buescher, who brought home Jack Roush’s eighth NASCAR Championship in 2015, returns to Roush Fenway to pilot the No. 17 in 2020.
Reigning ACM Festival of the Year Faster Horses enlists Jason Aldean, Luke Combs, Thomas Rhett and many more for eighth-year festivities22 Jan 2020
Reigning ACM “Festival Of The Year” Faster Horses Festival revealed the highly-anticipated lineup for the festival’s eighth year today, sharing that superstars Jason Aldean, Luke Combs and Thomas Rhett would lead the race to this year’s “Party Of The Summer.” Set to return to Brooklyn, MI on July 17-19, it was also announced that Jimmie Allen, Ingrid Andress, Kelsea Ballerini, Russell Dickerson, Gone West ft. Colbie Caillat, Riley Green, HARDY, Chris Lane, Tracy Lawrence, David Lee Murphy, Jon Pardi, Carly Pearce, Mitchell Tenpenny and DeeJay Silver will perform as part of the festival’s main stage lineup. Passes for the three-day, two-stage camping experience festival will go on sale February 7 at 10am ET at www.fasterhorsesfestival.com.
“As Faster Horses has continued to grow, we continue to look for more ways to provide an enhanced experience, this year is no exception,” shared President of Country Touring at Live Nation, Brian O’Connell. “Obviously, with the announcement of these stellar artists that will join us for the Party of the Summer, we are also introducing several new camping options, and a completely reimagined VIP experience for those that are looking for a more upscale getaway this summer. We continually put our resources back in to the festival, from talent to amenities, to meet the growing needs of Faster Horses veterans, and new fans as well.”
Continuing to hold its status as a “country music festival tradition” (Rolling Stone), fans can expect Faster Horses to embrace it’s unique community culture with multiple fringe activities available to fans throughout the weekend and with more details to be shared in the coming months. Spotlighted as “not just another music festival” by Billboard, attendees return each year to enjoy the festival’s first-class lineup and hand-picked vendors. Named ACM “Festival Of The Year” Faster Horses Festival has also become an artist-favorite with many enjoying the good-natured backstage vibes.
This year, even more fans can enhance their experience with the addition of three new RV campground options. The festival’s fan-favorite Tack Room VIP area is also expanding with a two-story deck with lounge, reserved stadium seating and option to reserve a "Mustang Suite” offering brand new views of the stage, a private bar and food buffet, souvenir gift bags and more. For more information on Faster Horses, visit www.fasterhorsesfestival.com, Twitter @faster_horses, Instagram @fasterhorsesfestival and join the conversation on Twitter, #FasterHorses.
Faster Horses Festival is part of Live Nation’s premiere family of country music festivals across the country, including Watershed in George, WA, Tortuga Music Festival in Ft. Lauderdale. FL, Seven Peaks Music Festival in Denver, CO and TrailBlazer Festival in Hunter, NY.
The ARCA Menards Series has announced the dates for two events – races at Charlotte Motor Speedway and WWT Raceway – have been moved back by one day.
The date at Charlotte will now be Friday, May 22, and the date at WWT Raceway will now be Sunday, August 2.
The Charlotte race will continue to be a part of qualifying day for the NASCAR Cup Series Coca-Cola 600, which now moves to Friday night eliminating a day the track sat dark. The change in the date at WWT Raceway from Saturday night to Sunday will allow for the area’s many short track fans to attend without missing a night at their favorite area dirt track.
“We’re pleased to work with both Charlotte Motor Speedway and WWT Raceway at Gateway on these minor adjustments to the 2020 ARCA Menards Series schedule,” said ARCA President Ron Drager. “Cooperation among our tracks, broadcast partners, teams, sponsors and fans is important and we will do all we can to work with our valued partners.”
The ARCA Menards Series season will get underway on Saturday, February 8 with the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway. The race will be televised live on FS1 starting at 4:30 pm ET.
Updated 2020 ARCA Menards Series Schedule
DATE TRACK CITY
Saturday, Feb. 8 Daytona International Speedway Daytona, Fla.
Friday, March 6* ISM Raceway Avondale, Ariz.
Sunday, April 19* Salem Speedway Salem, Ind.
Friday, April 24 Talladega Superspeedway Talladega, Ala.
Friday, May 22 Charlotte Motor Speedway Concord, N.C.
Friday, May 29* Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Lexington, Ohio
Friday, June 5 Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, Mich.
Thursday, June 18 Chicagoland Speedway Joliet, Ill.
Thursday, June 25 Pocono Raceway Long Pond, Pa.
Friday, July 3* Lucas Oil Raceway Brownsburg, Ind.
Saturday, July 11* Elko Speedway Elko, Minn.
Friday, July 17* Iowa Speedway Newton, Iowa
Sunday, Aug. 2* WWT Raceway at Gateway Madison, Ill.
Friday, Aug. 7 Madison International Speedway Madison, Wisc.
Friday, Aug. 14* Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Sunday, Aug. 23 Springfield Mile at Illinois State Fairgrounds Springfield, Ill.
Saturday, Sept. 5 Magic Mile at DuQuoin State Fairgrounds DuQuoin, Ill.
Thursday, Sept. 17* Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, Tenn.
Saturday, Sept. 26* Memphis International Raceway Millington, Tenn.
Friday, Oct. 16 Kansas Speedway Kansas City, Kan.
*Denotes Sioux Chief Showdown event
NASCAR Truck Series 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway now kicks off the 2020 championship playoffs21 Jan 2020
The 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series iHeart 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway underwent an exciting new change today – for the third time. First, the race was moved from June to August to create WWTR’s INDYCAR-NASCAR doubleheader weekend. Second, NASCAR announced new pit stop rules for select races, including WWTR’s 200. Today, NASCAR officials announced the expansion of the Truck Series playoffs, adding two more drivers to the eight-team playoffs, and making the WWTR 200 the first race in the Round of 10.
Three races comprise the Round of 10: WWTR (Aug. 21), Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Ontario (Sept. 6) and Bristol (Sept. 17). Two teams will be eliminated at the conclusion of the Round of 10.
“The NASCAR playoffs always produce incredible drama and we’re excited that our event will play such an important role in the championship chase,” said Chris Blair, Executive Vice President and General Manager of World Wide Technology Raceway. “Our venue is unlike any other on the schedule and the spectacular racing that we always deliver will make quite an impact to kick start the Round of 10.”
The playoff format previously followed an opening Round of 8, another three races in the Round of 6 and the Championship 4. Brad Moran, managing director for the Gander Trucks Series, said that the emergence of more top-level teams and the heightened degree of competition made the decision to increase the playoff field a natural one.
“The way the format was structured in the Gander Truck Series with the Round of 8, Round of 6, Round of 4, we were leaving some excitement on the table,” Moran said. “Maybe three or four years ago, not so much, but certainly the last couple of years with the series strengthening to the position it’s in right now, we really felt putting 10 teams into the playoffs for a Round of 10 is just going to make it that much more exciting and interesting, and will put a lot of emphasis on winning races, which is what we try to do.”
Moran said that competition officials had been weighing a potential expansion by comparing final standings from previous seasons, ultimately arriving at a 10-driver field for the Gander Trucks tour. It also provides some late-season cohesion: Now all three national series will feature a Round of 8 that cuts the playoff fields in half before the championship finales.
“It seemed like the right number,” Moran said. “We only start 32 trucks, we have a great group of owners, and we did not want to water down our playoffs, but the two additional trucks kind of changes the whole layout. It changes the whole ecosystem of the playoffs. People are going to be that much more aggressive to get one of those 10 spots, and it does marry up with the other two series when we get to the Round of 8.”
WWTR’s Aug. 21-22 NASCAR-INDYCAR Doubleheader Weekend now includes:
- Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Axalta and Valvoline for the NTT IndyCar Series
- iHeart 200 for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
- ARCA Midwest Series (Super Late Models)
- Indy Lights Series
- Indy Pro 2000 Series
- Vintage Indy Registry/Open Wheel Icons exhibitions
For tickets and information, please call World Wide Technology Raceway at (618) 215-8888 or visit www.wwtraceway.com. Follow WWTR on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
Micro Sprint teams from around the world will descend on California this June, when the sixth annual Hoosier Tire California Speedweek hits the dirt. Series officials have announced the 2020 slate, running from June 23-27 at the four weekly Micro Sprint tracks in the golden state. Lucrative prizes including the coveted carved wooden bear trophies will be on the line for 130 competitors.
The series begins on June 23rd at Dixon Speedway, 42 miles west of the state Capitol in Sacramento. On Wednesday June 24th, competitors will travel south to Delta Speedway in Stockton. A rest day on June 25th gives teams the opportunity to reload before Friday’s jaunt at Keller Auto Raceway Plaza Park in Visalia. The finale is Saturday June 27th, just 25 miles west of Visalia at Lemoore Raceway.
2019 champions Mitchel Moles in Super 600, Tristan Guardino in Non-Wing, and Gauge Garcia in Restricted will try to keep the championship titles within the California. Nearly two dozen states have sent their best to California over the years along with drivers from Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Only one championship has been claimed by an out of state contender, when Oklahoma’s Chris Andrews won the Non-Wing division in 2016.
Entry lists are capped to 50 Super 600s, 40 Non-Wing, and 40 Restricted competitors. Registration will open on the series website in April. Registration opens early for drivers who finished within the top-ten of the 2019 series before being available to all drivers the following week.
Hoosier Racing Tire returns as the primary sponsor for the globally recognized series, which attracted over 500,000 social media impressions and a 34% increase in pay per view sales in 2019.
California Speedweek PR
One of the most anticipated events on the 2020 Martinsville Speedway schedule was unofficially kicked off today when former NASCAR Modified Tour champion and current NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Preece tested his modified car today.
Preece was joined by modified veteran Gary Putnam who also brought his car out to prepare for Ryan Newman to drive in the first race for the modified division since 2010 at Martinsville Speedway.
Preece is already excited to be back at Martinsville in his modified.
“I drove my old box truck through the gate this morning and that was pretty cool,” said Preece. “That is a memory I’ll never forget.
“As far as modified goes, it’s the history the modifieds have at this track … you want to come and race here. (Martinsville) is just a special place.”
Also joining Preece was former Cup Series champion Kevin Harvick, who added this idea to test a modified car was a long time in the making stating that Preece has been talking to him about it for about two years.
“I told Ryan this is his fault,” said Harvick. “I’m taking a lot of grief from my other half, but obviously this is a great experience for me. It’s way outside my normal, everyday routine and things that I’ve raced.
“I’ve never raced anything like this. Just to drive it was a lot of fun for me and it definitely put a smile on my face. It’s definitely a good experience for me.”
Harvick, whose company KHI Management lists Preece as a client, said today was a result of the relationship he started with Preece a while back.
“For me, we’ve had a great relationship that (Preece) started with Stafford Speedway. Between Ryan and Stafford Motor Speedway, that’s why I drove three hours up here today to come up here and do this,” Harvick said.
“I wouldn’t drive it if I didn’t want to race it. Let’s just make that clear. We’ve talked about that. It’s something that will definitely be on my bucket list to go do.”
Tickets to the MAXPRO Windows Films 200 modified race and the first NASCAR Cup Series race under the lights can be purchased by calling 1-877-RACE-TIX or online at www.martinsvillespeedway.com.
Martinsville Speedway PR
When the ARCA Menards Series makes its 2020 return to Lucas Oil Raceway Indianapolis, fans will be treated to some open wheel racing in addition to the stock cars, making for a great doubleheader.
The Friday, July 3 event will see a return of Sprint Cars, of the non-wing variety, running rules similar to those that are run at the nearby Anderson Speedway, in Anderson, IN. The non-wing sprints were popular for years at the track, before USAC became dirt only with their Sprints and Midgets.
Pit gates are scheduled to open at 9:00 AM, with grandstands at 1:30 PM, practice at 2:00, ARCA General Tire Pole Qualifying at 5:00, the Sprint car feature at 6:00 and the ARCA race at 8:00.
The event will be promoted by Track Enterprises, which has a total of eight ARCA events on its schedule this year. For more information, feel free to contact them at 217-764-3200 or visit the website at www.trackenterprises.com.
Track Enterprises PR