Speedway Digest Staff
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Even though Ty Gibbs is scheduled to make just his 15th career NASCAR Xfinity Series start in Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 302 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, he’ll hope to kick off a championship run in the series, albeit a different kind of championship.
While the Xfinity Series playoffs for the driver title begins this weekend at Las Vegas, Gibbs will kick off the final seven-race stretch of the season with the No. 54 team very much in the hunt for the owner title. He’s shared the car this season with Joe Gibbs Racing’s (JGR) Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr., and Christopher Bell, along with Cup Series veteran Ty Dillon, who joined the team for a handful of early season races. The No. 54 team arrives at Las Vegas third in the owner standings, 16 points behind the leading No. 16 car for Kaulig Racing.
Adding to the excitement for Gibbs this weekend is another chance to drive the No. 54 Supra featuring the colors of Interstate Batteries, as JGR’s founding sponsor returns for the second time this year with the next generation of the Gibbs family behind the wheel after he drove it during Throwback Weekend at Darlington back in May. For JGR and Interstate Batteries, this weekend continues the 2021 celebration of their 30th anniversary together.
In addition to the Cup Series history of Interstate Batteries, the soon-to-be 19-year-old Gibbs has joined several other drivers who have made Xfinity Series starts for JGR’s founding partner, including Busch, Hamlin, Mark Martin, Matt Kenseth, Erik Jones, Elliott Sadler, and Daniel Suarez.
While it’s only the 15th Xfinity Series race of the season for Gibbs, the start of his career has been impressive, to say the least. He won in his very first start on the Daytona road course back in February, then backed it up with a runner-up finish in his second start at Phoenix Raceway. Two more victories would come this season for the young driver – at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May and last month at Watkins Glen (N.Y) International.
While Gibbs is set to compete in 18 total Xfinity Series races in 2021, he is competing fulltime in the ARCA Menards Series, where he is first in points and has won at Phoenix, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Toledo (Ohio) Speedway, Charlotte, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Iowa Speedway in Newton, Winchester (Ind.) Speedway, Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, The Milwaukee Mile, and Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. His 10 ARCA wins are just two short of Tim Steele’s modern-era single-season record of 12 wins in 1997. Gibbs has 18 ARCA victories in all and is tied for 14th on the all-time series wins list with Ken Schrader.
So as Gibbs heads west to Las Vegas for the first time, he’ll not only focus on trying to get his Interstate Batteries Toyota Supra to victory lane for the fourth time, he’ll look to kick off the team’s playoff-within-the-playoffs run in style with JGR’s founding partner riding along.
The first Top5 of the season has arrived for Francesco Sini in Croatia, at the end of a tricky weekend. Sini conquered a solid fifth position in the fourth NASCAR Whelen Euro Series event of the 2021 season. In the EuroNASCAR 2 Division Alina Loibnegger conquered the lead of the Lady Trophy ranking, while Pierluigi Veronesi had a really though weekend but he was able to end very close to the Top10.
After having showed several times during the season a very competitive potential, Francesco Sini has been able to achieve the full performance status of his Camaro in the second race of the weekend, thanks to a full attack race since the start. Tenth on the starting grid, the Pescara native driver took advantage of a - finally - clean race with neither contacts or technical issues, to climb position after position with grit and determination, ending under the checkered flag in sixth position. The already good result was improved after the race, due a penalty given to another driver. The first Top5 of the season for the Italian driver in the very competitive field of EuroNASCAR PRO division arrived at the end of a challenging weekend, where the #12 Camaro prepared by the Solaris Motorsport’s mechanics has improved its lap times session by session.
In the EuroNASCAR 2 Division was Alina Loibnegger to take the maximum advantage from the weekend. The young Austrian driver took two Lady Cup wins in a really challenging racetrack and, thanks to these results, she took also the lead in the female special standings, when only two events missing at the end of the season.
Really troubled weekend for Pierluigi Veronesi who, after a very difficult qualifying session, was forced for a stop in the Saturday race. The driver of the #27 Mustang by Double V Racing found a partial revenge in the Sunday Race 2, ending the race really close to the Top10.
October the 9th and 10th will mark the end of the EuroNASCAR regular season on the historic Zolder Circuit, prologue of the 2021 Finals hosted in Vallelunga at the end of October with double points races.
Solaris Motorsport PR
In Croatia Max Lanza got the best from a very difficult weekend to lengthens his leadership in the Legend Trophy, conquering two podium places for the class standings and a solid overall Top10 overall in Saturday Race 1.
The Grobnik Autodrom definitely does not bring good vibes to Max Lanza: last year here he was forced to quit prematurely his racing season after an huge crash. This time the bad luck has taken the form of cervical contractures, with dizziness and nausea, that badged the Rome native driver all the weekend long. A real pity, because in Croatia Lanza showed a really competitive pace, conquering the overall 8th position on the grid in qualifying.
This result could have been even better: "We were really fast here in Croatia, but nothing turned the right way. In qualifying we suffered for a puncture and, when we realised it, it was too late to have a chance to get the good lap time for a top position on the grid. We could have aimed for the second row. To make things worse, this sickness arrived and badged me in each session." commented Lanza, who didn't give up and grabbed a second and a third place, crucial for the Legend Trophy standings. "In Race 1 we were really competitive and we achieved a really good Top10 spot in challenging conditions. Race 2 has been even more complicated for me, but I didn't want to give up. I've been thinking about the championship and it confirmed to be the right decision: we leave Grobnik with a strengthened leadership in the Legend Trophy!"
After four rounds, Lanza leads firmly the Legend Trophy standings and he is just two points far from the overall Top10. Next NASCAR Whelen Euro Series round is scheduled for October 9 and 10 at Zolder Circuit, Belgium. The weekend will close the regular season before entering the 2021 EuroNASCAR Finals, hosted by Vallelunga racetrack, that will bringall the show of the last two double points races.
Flowdynamics Drivers Matt Mccarthy and Logan Williams Ready for Saturday’s Glenn Howard Memorial at Perris
The Flowdynamics Racing duo of Matt McCarthy and Logan Williams is poised and ready to return to action on its home track, Perris Auto Speedway, in the “13th Annual Glenn Howard Memorial” this Saturday night. The race will be the first on the home digs for the team since August 21st.
Home cooking has done well for both young drivers in 2021 on the famous Riverside County half-mile banked clay oval. They each recorded season best sixth place finishes on the quarter century old track. Williams notched his sixth-place finish there on June 16. One month later on July 24th, McCarthy did the same. For McCarthy, it was in the middle of his streak of four straight top 10 finishes.
Coming into Saturday’s race, Riverside, California’s McCarthy, who was the series “Rookie of the Year” in 2017, has climbed up to ninth place in the 2021 championship standings. He can make another move up the point ladder with a good night on Saturday as he is only nine-points out of eighth. Teammate Williams, the 2014 series “Rookie of the Year” who calls Yorba Linda, California home, is only two positions and 40-points behind McCarthy going into Saturday’s race.
The last time they competed at The PAS on August 21st, Williams came from the back two times to finish ninth in the 30-lap main event. McCarthy ended up 20th in the same race after getting upside down on the front straight when other cars tangled in front of him leaving him no place to go.
The last time the team was on the track was at the Petaluma Speedway on September 6th. McCarthy grabbed a ninth-place finish in the main event at the Northern California track. Williams ended up 13th in the same race.
McCarthy will be on the radio this Friday with Roy Bleckert at 5:45 p.m. You can listen on your radio on KMET 1490 AM or online at https://www.kmet1490am.com/.
If you wish to see the Flowdynamics Team in action at Perris Auto Speedway this Saturday, the track is located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds at 18700 Lake Perris Drive in Perris, California (92571). Spectator gates will open at 5:00 p.m. with racing at 7:00. There will be plenty of tickets available for everyone at the track on Saturday night. For those who wish, advance tickets are available online at https://www.tix.com/ticket-sales/pas/7. The track website is http://www.perrisautospeedway.com/ and the office phone number is (951) 940-0134.
The Amsoil USAC/CRA Sprint Cars and The PAS Senior Sprint Cars return to “The Southern California Home of Major League Sprint Car Racing,” Perris Auto Speedway, this Saturday night for the “13th Annual Glennn Howard Memorial.” Spectator gates will open at 5:00 p.m. with racing at 7:00. Be sure to load up all the neighborhood kids and bring them to Saturday’s event. At intermission, all the drivers will bring their cars to the front straightaway for the on track autograph session. In addition, they will be passing out free candy to all the kids in attendance.
The race honors Howard, who passed away in 2007. In his decades on the Southern California racing scene, Howard was a driver, car owner, racing dad, entrepreneur, fabricator and official. Even though it has been 14-years since he passed away, his fingerprint is still on the sport in Southern California today. Through his So Cal Performance company which supplied drivers with everything they needed to compete, he virtually knew everyone in the sport. He was free with his knowledge of car setups, driving and race strategy to anyone who asked. That made him a mentor to everyone and perhaps more important, he was everyone’s friend. That is what makes this race very special to all the competitors.
It was obvious that Howard had a lifelong love affair with the sport, and he wanted it to succeed. In 1993, with the original CRA having issues, Howard and others founded another group named SCRA that fortunately kept traditional 410 sprint car racing alive in the west. He was the original President of the new group and was instrumental when the current USAC/CRA was formed a little over a decade later in 2004.
“Glenn was a great man, who did everything he could to help anyone and everyone when it came to sprint car racing,” Perris Auto Speedway promoter Don Kazarian said. “If anyone ever needed advice whether it was a driver, crew chief, race official or promoter, you could always go to Glenn and get his opinion on what one should do. That made him respected by everyone to this day. The sport sorely misses him and all that he offered.”
All 12 running’s of the “Glenn Howard” have taken place on the famous Perris Auto Speedway clay surface. However, like nearly everything else, the race was canceled due to COVID in 2020. When last contested in 2019, Austin Williams won the race for the second time. Recently, the Corona, California driver won the last race in the USAC/CRA Series on September 6 at the Petaluma Speedway. He comes into Saturday night third in the USAC/CRA standings. Concord, California’s Damion Gardner leads all drivers with four “Glenn Howard” wins. The only other driver with more than one win in the event is Nic Faas, who currently has put his racing career on pause.
Another driver among the favorites for the win on Saturday is Garden Grove, California’s Brody Roa. The veteran driver has already won two prestigious races at The PAS this year - the “Salute To Indy” and “California Racer’s Hall of Fame Night” - and comes into Saturday second in the standings, 44-points behind seven-time series champion Gardner. The longtime rivalry between Roa and Gardner is legendary around the sport, and it reached the boiling point once again after the finale at the “Louie Vermeil Classic” at Silver Dollar Speedway in Chico on September 6th.
“Rivalries have been a part of racing since the beginning,” Kazarian stated. “They always have been and always will be a part of the sport. In the case of Damion Gardner and Brody Roa, it is the familiar rivalry in racing when two top drivers meet. They are both very good drivers. While the personalities of the two are polar opposites, they are both extremely competitive. They each have good equipment and a tremendous will to win races and championships. A few things have happened between them over the years and every so often it boils over. Situations like this are inevitable when you have the competitive nature of sprint car racing. They both have a lot of fans that think their guy wears the white hat while the other guy wears a black hat. Rivalries keep things interesting.”
In addition to the USAC/CRA portion of the show, The PAS Senior Sprint Series will be contesting it’s next to last race of the 2021 season. El Segundo’s Tyler Hatzikian has a narrow six-point advantage over Ed Schwarz of Santa Fe Springs heading into Saturday’s race. Anaheim’s Dale Gamer is third and is followed by Greg Badgwell of Tustin and Arizona’s Richard McCormick.
Adult tickets are $30.00. For seniors 65 and over it is $25.00. Kids 6-12 get in for just $5.00 and children five and under are free. There will be plenty of tickets available at the ticket window on Saturday. We will not sellout. For fans who wish, advance tickets are available at www.tix.com
The Fairgrounds charges $10.00 for parking.
Camping at the fairgrounds on the grassy area outside of turn four will begin at noon on Friday. The cost is $25.00 per night.
Perris Auto Speedway is conveniently located on the Lake Perris Fairgrounds (home of October’s Southern California Fair), approximately one-hour east of Los Angeles and one-hour North of San Diego. To get to the track, take the 215 freeway, on the Ramona Expressway and go three miles east to the fairgrounds. For directions on online, the address to enter is: 18700 Lake Perris Drive and the zip code is 92571.
Advance tickets for all other races on the 2021 schedule are also available at www.tix.com
Fans can stay up to date on track and driver news on The PAS social media efforts at the links below.
Twitter: Perris Auto Speedway on Twitter.
Notes of Interest
● Last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Aric Almirola battled for the playoff cutoff position for the entirety of the race but came just two points short. He started the race three points ahead of the cutoff line. The No. 10 team overcame an oil-line leak halfway through the race. Thanks to Mobil 1’s high-quality oil, the No. 10 Ford endured no internal damage before the team was able to quickly exchange the oil line and keep Almirola on the lead lap and in contention for the remainder of the race.
● Although Almirola did not advance to the Round of 12, this was his fifth playoff appearance and fourth consecutive playoff appearance since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). While he can no longer compete for a championship, Almirola can compete for a top-10 points standing before the checkered flag drops at the season finale Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway.
● History at Las Vegas: In 16 starts at Las Vegas, Almirola has three top-10 finishes, which all came in his first three starts since joining SHR in 2018.
● Almirola locked himself into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his July 18 victory at New Hampshire. He led 46 laps around the flat, 1.058-mile oval en route to his third career NASCAR Cup Series win. After a year full of adversity and bad luck, the victory put the No. 10 team, which was 27th in the standings and facing a must-win situation if it was going to compete for this year’s championship, in prime position to earn one of the 16 coveted berths in the 10-race playoffs. Almirola’s award-winning YouTube series “Beyond the 10” captured his entire race day here.
● Mobil 1, the official Motor Oil of NASCAR since 2003, will adorn the No. 10 Ford Mustang this weekend at Vegas for the second time this season. Mobil 1 products are used throughout the racecar and they extend beyond just engine oil. Power steering fluid, transmission fluid, gear oil and driveline lubricants from Mobil 1 give Almirola and SHR a technical advantage over their counterparts by reducing friction, heat and rolling resistance.
● This Mobil 1 paint scheme is unique by sporting the Mobil 1 Thousand sweepstakes and featuring the brand’s iconic Pegasus and the Mobil1Thousand.com URL on the back. Mobil 1 Thousand is a weekly contest guaranteeing that if Mobil 1 wins, fans win. Throughout the remainder of the season, one fan will win $1,000 or more if a NASCAR Cup Series driver who uses Mobil 1 scores the victory. Almirola’s win July 18 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon landed one lucky fan a $3,000 jackpot. The sweepstakes remains open through the 2021 NASCAR season, with even higher prize totals for the playoffs and special bonuses for cutoff races. All fans need to do is sign up at Mobil1Thousand.com for a chance to win.
● Almirola’s 2020 season proved successful when he earned a career-high 18 top-10 finishes, six top-fives and led 305 laps. During the season, Almirola went on a five-race streak of top-five finishes and earned nine consecutive top-10s.
● Career Stats: Almirola has career totals of three wins, two poles, 26 top-five finishes, 82 top-10s and 893 laps led in 381 NASCAR Cup Series starts.
● Beyond the 10 YouTube Series: In 2021, Almirola continues to share his life beyond the No. 10 Ford with season three of his award-winning YouTube series. Fans and media can subscribe on YouTube to see Almirola’s personality on and off the track. Episodes have already featured life as a dad, a husband and an athlete, and it gives fans a unique perspective on what goes on in the life of a professional NASCAR driver. Fans can also follow Almirola’s social media channels: @Aric_Almirola on Twitter and Instagram, and @AricAlmirola on Facebook. Almirola’s latest Beyond the 10 episode addresses the question “are NASCAR drivers athletes” in honor of the Olympic break.
● Point standings: Almirola is currently 13th in the driver standings with 2,075 points.
Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How can you look back on this season and the playoff run?
“I mean, our season as a whole was not what we wanted with all of the bad luck and performance. We went to Loudon and pulled out a win, which was awesome, and then just kind of had a renewed sense of energy going into the playoffs and thought we were going to do everything we needed to do in the first round to transfer to the next round and, unfortunately, it didn’t pan out. I can’t blame it on Bristol. There were plenty of opportunities throughout the first two races where we gave up some points, as well, so I can find two points in a lot of different places. A badly timed caution at Darlington, a loose wheel at Richmond, and mechanical issues at Bristol put us right on the edge of advancing and we just didn’t have enough to get there, but I’m super proud of this team for never giving up on what has been one of the most challenging and character-building years of my career.”
What do you set your sights on now with seven races to go in the year?
“That’s what is so unique in our sport. We’re not competing for a championship, but we still have seven races left on the schedule to go out and show what we have. We saw it in 2019, where we had a really good car at Texas, but we weren’t in the playoffs. We led a lot of that race and came up second, so that’s what I look forward to. I look forward to still having a shot to win and trying to improve and learn tracks we’ll visit next year. Obviously, it will all be different with the Next Gen car, but you still go to these tracks just like any other in the season. We’re going to each track with the intent to run right there with the guys in the playoffs and compete for a position inside the top-10 in points by the end of the season.”
SK ModifiedR Championship Contender Stephen Kopcik Set For Whelen Modified Tour Debut in NAPA Fall Final 150
Stephen Kopcik has been the hottest driver at Stafford Motor Speedway of late, notching 3 consecutive SK Modified® feature victories as he duels with Todd Owen for the 2021 track championship. While Kopcik will be looking to add a fourth consecutive SK Modified® win this Friday, September 24th, he also has his eyes set squarely on the NAPA Fall Final 150 this Saturday, September 25th as he will make his Whelen Modified Tour debut behind the wheel of the #2 Gershow Recycling Chevrolet owned by Joseph Bertuccio.
“Joe and I have always been good friends and Chuck Hossfeld couldn’t make the Stafford race, so Joe gave me a call and asked me if I would want to drive the car,” said Kopcik. “I told him absolutely. He’s always been great to me and we’ve always had fun working together. The Bertuccio crew is a great group of guys and I’m excited for the opportunity. I think we’ll have a fast car and we can have a good run. I have to give a big thank you to Joe and everyone on the Gershow Motorsports crew for giving me this opportunity.”
Kopcik couldn’t have picked a better track to make his WMT debut at than Stafford. Kopcik spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons in the SK Light division at Stafford, winning 3 races and the 2015 track championship. Kopcik won Rookie of the Year honors in 2016 in the SK Modified® division and he entered the 2021 season with 4 career SK Modified® feature wins. Kopcik has more than doubled his career win total with 5 wins thus far in 2021 and he is currently second in the SK Modified® points standings, 14 points behind Todd Owen. Kopcik hopes that his home track knowledge will help him find his way to an enjoyable debut performance.
“I don’t want to sound cocky but my goal is to start and run in the top-10 all day,” said Kopcik. “I know it’s not easy racing on the Tour, but Stafford is my home track and I set these cars up for a living, so I want to run well and I don’t think the top-10 is out of reach for us. Mike Bologna, the crew chief on the car, is going to give me everything I need to succeed so it’s very possible for us to have a good run. I think my track knowledge will benefit me more with just knowing the driving style to get around Stafford. Any driver will tell you Stafford is a unique track. You look at someone like Justin Bonsignore, he’s a badass on the Tour and he hasn’t won yet at Stafford and then someone like Doug Coby, Stafford is his home track and he’s kind of had the track in his back pocket. It’ll be interesting for me to see how my experience matches up against those guys. I feel really confident racing at Stafford and I’ve never driven a NASCAR Spec Engine before, so I’m looking forward to the experience all the way around.”
While Kopcik may be familiar with the Stafford track layout, one area where he will have zero experience to lean on is qualifying through time trials. Kopcik is used to earning a starting position through qualifying heat races, but he should be able to figure out how to comfortably navigate two laps around the Connecticut half-mile and set himself up with a good starting position for the NAPA Fall Final 150.
“I haven’t qualified through time trials before so that’s going to be a little different,” said Kopcik. “I’m going to do my homework and try to get a good feel for qualifying in practice. Time trials is the one thing that I might be a little nervous about but I’ll figure it out and with 150 laps we have plenty of time and a change of tires for the race, which is not something that I’m used to having. A good qualifying run is going to be huge. The further towards the front you can start the better. Chase Dowling is going to be helping me out and we know each other’s driving styles so I’m looking forward to working with him and seeing what we can do. It should be a good time.”
In addition to making his Whelen Modified Tour debut, Kopcik will be laser focused on continuing his white hot streak in the SK Modified® feature this Friday night. Kopcik will be looking for his fourth consecutive win while also trying to close down the points gap to Todd Owen, which stands at 14 points or 7 positions on the track, going into the race before the NAPA Championship Night finale on Friday, October 1st.
“I want to win the next 2 races,” said Kopcik. “Points come with wins so I’m focused on winning the last 2 races. The SK Modified® field is really competitive and our focus is on doing the best we can. I’m very happy with our performance and I’m thankful for the position I’m in and grateful for all the people around me. I’m always trying to excel and grow and either way we can look back and say we had a good year with nothing to hang our heads about. If you look at the stats, Todd and I have matched each other all year with the exception of the one night where we got taken out. He’s done a great job and we’ve done a great job all year long, we just have to continue to do what we do.”
NAPA Fall Final tickets are available now online and are priced at $40.00 for adults, $10.00 for kids 6-14, and free for kids 5 & under. Reserved seating is priced at $45.00 for all ages and pit passes are $50.00 with a valid 2021 Stafford Competition License and $55.00 without a Stafford license. Tickets for Friday, September 24 Stafford Weekly Racing event are $20.00 for adults, $5.00 for kids 6-14, and free for kids 5 & under. Reserved seating is priced at $25.00 for all ages and pit passes are $35.00 with a valid 2021 Stafford Competition License and $40.00 without a Stafford license. If you are unable to attend either event, tune into the live stream on FloRacing, the official streaming partner of Stafford Speedway.
For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.
Stafford Speedway PR
B.J. McLeod Motorsports announces today that Stefan Parsons will compete full-time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) beginning in 2022 with returning primary sponsor Sokal Digital and Advertising on-board for the entire season as well as Springrates Automotive Suspension Source. The 23-year-old has made 24 total starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series on a part-time schedule with 2022 being his first full-time ride in his motorsports career.
“I’m very happy to see the effort that Stefan has put in over the last couple of years, transform into a full-time opportunity for him,” said BJ McLeod, BJMM team owner. “We are very excited as a team to work hard and get him the best results possible.”
2022 will be the Cornelius, N.C. native’s fourth-straight year running for BJ McLeod Motorsports. Through those starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series under McLeod, Parsons has racked up experience and growth in his career thus far including a 12th place finish in his NXS debut at Daytona International Speedway in 2019 and a more recent top-15 finish of 13th position in Daytona at the start of the 2021 season.
“We are thrilled to be teaming back up with Stefan and BJ McLeod Motorsports,” said Michael Ransom, COO at Sokal Digital. “We are proud of his continued growth and his desire to be the best and can’t wait for him to showcase his talents next season.”
"I’m extremely grateful to have the opportunity to drive for B.J. McLeod Motorsports again next year, and full-time,” said Parsons who has made 23 career NXS starts under BJ McLeod since 2019. “We have built a ton of momentum over the last few years working together as a team and there’s a really good foundation for a strong season next year off that alone.”
“I would really like to thank Mark Sokal and BJ McLeod for their belief and support in me to make my dreams come true. I’m looking forward to finishing the 2021 season on a high note and hit the ground running at Daytona next year!”
Additional details regarding the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.