Saturday, Jul 02
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1, met with the media in advance of the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series doubleheader race weekend at Road America. Press Conference Transcript: 

 

KYLE, WALK US THROUGH YOUR QUALIFYING LAP TODAY IN THE NO. 17 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO SS THAT LANDED YOU THE POLE FOR TOMORROW’S NASCAR XFINITY SERIES RACE?

“It was good. The first run, my goal was to hit my marks and I didn’t do that. It was kind of good to do that because then I could back off of that a little bit and just know if I got through the corners OK, my car was going to be fast enough that I could have a shot at the pole. I didn’t expect to be that much faster than the field, but it felt really good.

 

I’m excited about tomorrow. My car felt amazing in race trim, as well. Hats off to the team for preparing a car for me to race this weekend and try to learn and better our efforts for Sunday. Definitely excited about it.”

 

YOU HAVEN’T COMPETED IN THE NASCAR XFINITY SERIES IN FOUR YEARS. WHAT’S IT LIKE BEING BACK IN A XFINITY CAR?

“Yeah, it was honestly surprising when I had read that it had been since I think 2018. It doesn’t feel that long ago.

 

I don’t know – the driving stuff is whatever. It’s just like the visuals of the tach and the gauges. It’s a different style of dash than what I was even used to when I was racing Xfinity for Ganassi. Just the little things like that are hard to adjust to at first. But once you’re out there, it all kind of becomes natural and it’s just another stock car at that point.”

 

HOW MUCH ATTENTION HAVE YOU PAID TO THIS SERIES OVER THE LAST FOUR YEARS WITH THE NEW TALENT?

“I honestly probably haven’t paid enough attention, so I don’t really know how to answer that question. But I’m looking forward to competing with a lot of the young up-and-comers, as I’m sure they’re looking forward to compete with me also. It should be a lot of fun this weekend and for the couple of others I get to run the rest of the year.”

 

YOU’VE LED AT LEAST 19 LAPS ON THE CUP SIDE IN SEVEN OF THE LAST NINE RACES. DO YOU FEEL LIKE SOME OF THOSE HAVE KIND OF SLIPPED AWAY FROM YOU, AS FAR AS WINS? DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU GUYS ARE JUST A LITTLE BIT OFF? YOU FIND YOUR WAY UP FRONT AT SOME POINT DURING THE RACE.

“I don’t know. There were definitely a couple that we almost won that slipped away there late, like Kansas (Speedway) and Charlotte (Motor Speedway). But I feel like in both of those, we performed at a very great level and honestly a little bit better than what we should have; and that’s just a testament to our team and how strong we are.

 

As I’m sure everybody does, I feel like we’re really close to being good; leading even more laps and challenging for even more wins. The cars are developing each week. Everyone is refining their stuff, setups and getting better. We just have to keep working really hard.”

 

I ASSUME YOU WEREN’T EXPECTING A SEASON LIKE LAST YEAR BECAUSE THOSE JUST DON’T COME AROUND, BUT HAS IT BEEN FRUSTRATING AT ALL NOT TO BE AS DOMINATE? OR DOES THE FACT THAT NOBODY HAS BEEN REALLY DOMINATE THIS YEAR KIND OF MAKE UP FOR ANY POTENTIAL FRUSTRATION?

“I haven’t been frustrated yet. I think I understand that the season we had last year was hard to repeat, especially going into a season with a new car and all that. I’m sure if we were in last year’s car and I was sitting here with the same stats – yeah, I’d probably be frustrated. But I thinking having the understanding that we have a new car, pit stops and everything, that helps kind of forget about the success, I guess, of last year.

 

And two, I think nobody has been dominating. Pretty much everybody has been inconsistent at some point throughout a race every week. Just have to find some consistency and I feel like that’s where you’ll standout across the field.”

 

GIVEN HOW DIFFERENT THE CARS HAVE BECOME BETWEEN THESE TWO SERIES, WHAT DO YOU GAIN TOMORROW THAT’S GOING TO HELP?

“I don’t know yet until I get out there tomorrow. But I think for me, just getting more laps – figuring out your angles of what works and what doesn’t work; the shapes of the corners and stuff like that to try and go faster and be better. I imagine our braking points will be much deeper tomorrow. It seems like this year compared to last year’s car, the Cup cars can brake a lot deeper into the corners. That might take some getting used to at first.

 

I definitely think it doesn’t hurt to get more laps, especially on the same race track.”

 

WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN BETTER OFF DOING DOUBLE DUTY A YEAR AGO?

“I don’t know – who’s to say. I pick them because it just works out for my schedule. But I picked this one because I’ve only raced here twice. I don’t remember at all the race I ran here in 2013 and I don’t remember being fast. And then the Cup race last year, this was probably our worst road course we had of the season. So that’s why it was important for me to run this race and just try and learn something every lap.”

 

AFTER LAST WEEKEND’S RACE, YOU MADE THE REFERENCE OF NEEDING TO CLEAN UP A FEW THINGS. YOU HAVE KEVIN (MEENDERING) HERE WORKING WITH YOU ON THE XFINITY CAR, SO YOU GET HIM DOUBLE DUTY LIKE YOU THIS WEEKEND. WHAT DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU NEED TO CLEAN UP OR IF THERE’S ANYTHING IN TERMS OF WORKING WITH HIM AND HOW CAN THIS WEEKEND HELP TOWARDS THAT?

“I don’t know – I don’t remember those exact comments because I felt like everything went pretty smooth, as far as on my end on that. The radio stuff and all that was smooth. I don’t know – maybe I was talking about something else, I can’t remember (laughs).

 

But it is good. It was an unfortunate circumstance that Cliff (Daniels) is suspended for four weeks, but if it’s going to happen, it falls at a good time where I’m doing this race also with Kevin (Meendering). Just getting more familiar with him. I feel like I’m super easy to work with and I feel like I can work with anybody, so it’s not hard for me to adjust to different crew chiefs and stuff. I guess just being familiar with the tone of voice and stuff on the radio is important to me. I know the car is always going to be fast when we hit the track.

 

Cliff is Cliff and there’s nobody like him on a pit box, especially when he talks to you on the radio. I guess just getting familiar with that end of things.”

 

PEOPLE WILL LOOK AT THE LAST ROAD COURSE RACE AND SAY FOR AS STRONG AS YOU WERE AND SUCCESSFUL UNTIL THE WHEEL CAME OFF, THE EXPECTATION WOULD BE THAT IT WOULD CARRYOVER TO THIS PLACE. IS THERE MUCH FROM SONOMA (RACEWAY) THAT YOU CAN TAKE AND FEEL GOOD ABOUT GOING INTO THIS WEEKEND BASED ON HOW YOU DID AT SONOMA?

“It’s hard to say. Last year, we dominated Sonoma (Raceway) and we were extremely good, and we weren’t great here (Road America). I don’t know – I’m sure on the car side of things, there are things that they learned from it. I’ve raced a lot at Sonoma and I haven’t raced here much. And yes, the two don’t really compare, so it’s hard to judge off of Sonoma for this place.”

 

DOES IT SEEM PRETTY SEAMLESS BEING IN A HENDRICK MOTORSPORTS’ XFINITY CAR? IT’S BEEN A LONG TIME SINCE THEY’VE RACED IN THIS SERIES, SO I’M JUST CURIOUS WHAT THAT TRANSITION HAS BEEN LIKE?

“I don’t really know what all went into the logistics of fielding a Hendrick Motorsports car in the Xfinity Series. I know they probably had some help from JR Motorsports and stuff like that, but I don’t know the extent of it. I can only speak from my vantage point and everything has been smooth. I went and sat in the car once last week and it fit first try. I showed up today, sat in it again to make sure nothing changed, and it fit fine again. The radios worked fine. That’s the stuff that I worry about when I go to run a car that I haven’t ran before and everything has been smooth, so far.

 

I have no doubt that with the depth of talent that Hendrick Motorsports has, that it’s going to be performing at a high-level. It should be easy-going.”

 

I KNOW THAT WITH THE CAR NUMBER AND THE PAINT SCHEME, IT’S A TRIBUTE TO RICKY HENDRICK. YOU NEVER GOT TO MEET RICKY. WHEN YOU’RE DRIVING A CAR THAT CERTAINLY HAS SIGNIFICANCE TO THE TEAM AND THE OWNER, BUT YOU DON’T HAVE AS MUCH OF THAT RELATIONSHIP. HOW DO YOU FEEL? IS THERE ANY EXTRA WEIGHT ON YOUR SHOULDERS AND HOW DO YOU TRY TO LEARN A LITTLE BIT MORE ABOUT RICKY SINCE YOU NEVER GOT THE CHANCE TO MEET HIM?

“Yeah, that’s a good question. I never got the chance to meet Ricky (Hendrick), but I’ve heard a lot of stories. When we were on vacation last year, we watched that documentary that they came out with years back. So I could kind of learn a little bit about him, his family and Rick and Linda (Hendrick) even more watching that. That was good.

 

And then I think for me, having children myself makes me running this car much more important. I can’t imagine losing one of my children and what that would do to me. Talking to Rick on the phone a few different times, he’s so excited about seeing this paint scheme and number on the race track. I hope to see him here this weekend. I know he’s trying hard to get here and we have a good shot to win. I did tell him that it does add some more pressure to you driving this car because you know how special it is to their family and to Hendrick Motorsports as a whole.”

 

I WAS TALKING TO ONE OF YOUR CREW MEMBERS AND TEHRE ARE A NUMBER OF PEOPLE WORKING ON THE CAR THIS WEEKEND THAT DID WORK WITH RICKY (HENDRICK). I WAS CURIOUS IF ANY OF THEM HAD MENTIONED THAT TO YOU YET.

“I hadn’t heard of that, but that’s really neat and I think that just adds to these races that we’re running with this car. It’s special for everybody at the race shop and anybody who’s ever had a relationship with Ricky (Hendrick) or worked at Hendrick Motorsports in the past.

 

I knew we were going to have this paint scheme because it’s Rick (Hendrick) and he’s flipping the bill for it. But when I heard that it was going to be that number and paying tribute to Ricky, I think it just made everybody really excited and it was just the perfect thing to do.”

 

THIS WEEK, IT CAME OUT THAT YOU HAVE BEEN NOMINATED FOR AN ESPYS FOR DRIVER OF THE YEAR AGAINST MAX VERSTAPPEN, ALEX PALOU AND STEVE TORRENCE. HOW COOL WAS THAT TO BE INCLUDED IN THAT GROUP AND BE UP FOR THAT HONOR?

“It’s a great honor. I know there has been a lot of NASCAR drivers to win the award, so my fingers are crossed that I can win that. That would definitely be one of the coolest awards. Just being nominated alone is a great honor. But if I was to win it and beat a F1 World Champion, as well as the other champions, that would be a great honor.

 

We’ll see. I hope. Max (Verstappen) had a great year, as well as everybody else. Hopefully they consider my dirt wins, as well; because if you factor in my dirt wins, then that would give me a better shot.”

 

GM PR

 Eddie Tafoya Jr’s impressive 2022 season continued to roll on Saturday night when he placed fourth in the USAC/CRA Bubby Jones/Ray Scheetz Memorial at Perris Auto Speedway.  The result gave him nine top 10 finishes and five top-fives in the first 12 races of the 2022 campaign.

Grueling heat greeted Tafoya and the other 19 teams on hand for the race that paid tribute to National Sprint Car Hall of Famer Bubby Jones and his longtime crew chief Ray Scheetz.  The only thing hotter than the temperature was the action on the track.  As has been the case throughout most of the 2022 season, Tafoya was in the thick of it from the start of qualifying until the checkered flag in the main event.

Coming off his first-ever Woodland Auto Display fast time award at the Ventura Raceway two weeks earlier, Tafoya again turned in a sterling effort in time trials. He was one of only three cars on hand to turn in a sub-17-second lap.  He did so with a run of 16.954.  That was the third-fastest time of the night. 

The Chino Hills, California racer started fifth in the six-car third heat and raced his way forward to finish second in the 10-lapper.

In the 30-lap finale, Tafoya and his popular #51T car started on the inside of the third row in fifth and he was in the same position when the first circuit ended.  In what turned out to be a see-saw battle from fourth to eighth throughout the race, Tafoya advanced one spot forward to fourth early in the going. However, by the time the race was 1/3 of the way over on lap 10, he had drifted back to 6th.  At the halfway point, he had slipped back one more position and was running 7th.

Things changed after the midway point when “Mr. Smooth” steered his way to 6th before the end of lap 17.  He was still there on lap 20, but he was not done and would move up two more spots in the “money laps.”  On a restart with only two laps to go, he was up to fifth.  He picked off one more car and was hot on the tail tanks of the top three as they crossed the finish line at the end of the race. 

Tafoya maintained his lofty fourth-place position in the championship standings.  He gained 15-points on the third-place driver and is only 39-points out of that spot going into the August 6th race at the reopening of the Santa Maria Raceway. 

The July 8th and 9th races at the Keller Auto Speedway in Hanford and the Stone Chevrolet, Buick, GMC Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare have been canceled due to the tire shortage currently plaguing racing as well as high fuel costs.   

Tafoya and the #51T team would like to thank Specialty Fasteners, DRC Chassis, Ryder Racing Engines, Simpson Safety Products, Bell, Benic Enterprises, BR Motorsports, PSC Powder Coating, Magik Graphics, Gasper Transportation, Owen’s Insurance Services, and Weld Wheels for making the 2022 season possible.

If you or your company would like to be a part of the Specialty Fastener team’s 2022 season effort, please contact Eddie Tafoya Jr. via phone at (909) 393-3999 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. He will be happy to talk to you and lay out the team’s 2022 plans.

Fans can follow Tafoya on Instagram @eddietafoya51. The same contact point can be used to purchase his great-looking shirts via mail.

Eddie Tafoya PR

Josef Newgarden’s summer hot streak continued Friday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The two-time winner at this permanent road course picked up where he left off in the most-recent NTT INDYCAR SERIES race – at Road America – by topping the practice charts here Friday in the only session of the day in preparation for Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Presented by The All-New 2023 Civic Type R (12:30 p.m. ET, live on NBC and the INDYCAR Radio Network).

Newgarden drove the No. 2 PPG Team Penske Chevrolet to a best lap time of 1 minute, 7.0549 seconds on the 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course.

CLICK IT: Practice Results

Newgarden’s series-leading three race wins have come at Texas Motor Speedway (March 20), on the streets of Long Beach (April 10) and at Road America (June 12). The weekend before Road America he scored the NTT P1 Award for pole at The Raceway at Belle Isle Park.

Newgarden is also the defending winner at Mid-Ohio.

“The car feels really good,” he said. “I think the (temperatures) definitely made the trap speed low, and it felt very difficult to drive the car today to bring it up to temperature.

“I’m relatively happy. I think our car was good off the truck.”

Defending NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Alex Palou ended the 75-minute session second on the practice sheet with a best lap time of 1:07.2610 in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Felix Rosenqvist rounded out the top three with a best lap time of 1:07.3171 in the No. 7 Vuse Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.

The session featured 673 laps turned compared to last year’s first practice (461).

Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Marcus Ericsson, who finished second in this race in 2021, ended the day fourth in the No. 8 Ridgeline Lubricants Honda at 1:07.3720, and Colton Herta rounded out the top five in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda for Andretti Autosport w/Curb-Agajanian at 1:07.4998.

David Malukas was the fastest rookie of the session, clocking in eighth with a best lap of 1:07.5361 in the No. 18 HMD Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with HMD Motorsports. He completed 26 laps in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES session at Mid-Ohio.

“Everything from our end, I think it was very good,” Malukas said. “From start to end of that session it was good. Mid-Ohio is so special, because every time you go out on track, it feels completely different, and track conditions to start the session were very tough to say the least.”

All 27 drivers in the field fought through the summer heat, with several drivers noting how challenging the mid 90-degree day was. Following practice, Newgarden said he has “rarely been this warm in the car.”

While Newgarden, a two-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion, bested Palou, the reigning series champion, by more than two tenths of a second, the rest of the field was much more compact, with first and 20th separated by just 1 second.

The only incident of the session came with about 40 minutes to go. Two-time Indy 500 winner Takuma Sato lost control of the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda in Turn 1 and spun off course and into the gravel trap.

Sato’s Dale Coyne Racing with RWR machine sustained no significant damage, and he continued on to pit lane as the track went under red flag conditions.

The only other off-course excursion came with roughly 25 minutes to go in the practice. Andretti Autosport’s Romain Grosjean spun in Turn 12 in the No. 28 ForeverLawn/DHL Honda. He kept the car under power, and no red flag was thrown.

The NTT INDYCAR SERIES is back on track at Mid-Ohio Saturday with Practice 2 at 9:30 a.m. (ET), followed by qualifying for the NTT P1 Award for pole at 2:45 p.m. Both sessions will be live on Peacock Premium and INDYCAR Radio Network.

NTT IndyCar Series PR

Welcome to Stafford Motor Speedway: This weekend the SRX Series makes its way to Stafford Motor Speedway for the third stop of the season on Saturday, July 2. The 12-driver field includes 2021 series champion Tony Stewart, Paul Tracy, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Bobby Labonte, Ryan Newman, Marco Andretti, Michael Waltrip, Greg Biffle, Bill Elliott, Hailie Deegan, Justin Marks and local racer Matt Hirschman. The race will be broadcast on live CBS from 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. ET and streamed on Paramount+.

 

Justin Marks Joins SRX for Stafford Motor Speedway: NASCAR Driver and Co-Owner of Trackhouse Racing, Justin Marks will join the field this weekend at Stafford Motor Speedway. No stranger to the driver’s seat, Marks has competed in NASCAR’s top three divisions as well as multiple Sports Car Series. As a team owner, in just its second year of competition, Trackhouse Racing has secured three wins with drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez, placing both drivers in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

 

Local Ringer Matt Hirschman: This week’s local ringer is Matt Hirschman who won the Spring Sizzler at Stafford Motor Speedway to earn his spot in this week’s SRX race. Born into a racing family, Hirschman is a multi-time champion on the modified scene. With his win earlier this year in the Spring Sizzler, he joins his father Tony Hirschman as the only father/son duo to win the marque modified event. 

 

Hailie Deegan – CBS Mornings: To kick off the race weekend at Stafford Motor Speedway, Hailie Deegan visited with CBS Mornings on Friday.  If you missed the interview, you can view it here. 

Points Leader, Ryan Newman: With two races in the 2022 season complete, Ryan Newman is the points leader following a third-place finish in the season opener at Five Flags Speedway and a fourth-place finish at South Boston Speedway. Bobby Labonte trails by four points in second place and Tony Stewart moved up to third in the point standings following his win at South Boston Speedway.

Starting Lineup for Heat 1 at Stafford Motor Speedway: 

Starting Position

Driver 

Car Number

1

Hailie Deegan

38

2

Ryan Hunter-Reay

1

3

Bill Elliott

9

4

Matt Hirschman

60

5

Justin Marks

99

6

Greg Biffle

69

7

Marco Andretti

98

8

Bobby Labonte

18

9

Tony Stewart

14

10

Michael Waltrip

15

11

Paul Tracy

3

12

Ryan Newman

39

Race Format: This week’s format will consist of two heat races and the main event is scheduled for 75 laps. Hailie Deegan will lead the field to green for Heat 1 with local ringer Matt Hirschman starting Heat 1 from fourth.

Driver Q&A Sessions: Prior to Saturday’s race at Stafford Motor Speedway, the full field will participate in a Q&A session from 3:45 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. ET. The field will be split in to four groups:

  • Group 1: Paul Tracy, Ryan Newman, Michael Waltrip
  • Group 2: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Greg Biffle, Bobby Labonte
  • Group 3: Justin Marks, Bill Elliott, Matt Hirschman
  •  Group 4: Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip, Marco Andretti   

 

Tune-In Information: The third race of the 2022 SRX season will take place on Saturday, July 2, live on CBS Primetime 8 p.m. – 10 p.m. ET. The race will also be streamed live on Paramount+.

South Boston Speedway Recap: A CBS recap of the race at South Boston Speeday can be viewed here.

Schedule Update: Following the third race of the season, SRX will head to Tennessee to compete at the Nashville Fairgrounds (Nashville, Tenn.) on July 9 followed by I-55 Raceway (Pevely, Mo.) on July 16 and conclude the season at Sharon Speedway (Hartford, Ohio) on July 23. All races will air on CBS Primetime from 8 – 10 p.m. ET.

About SRX Racing:
Announced in July 2020, the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) Series was founded by NASCAR Hall of Fame Driver Tony Stewart, NASCAR Hall of Fame Crew Chief Ray Evernham, George Pyne and Sandy Montag. The series made its debut on June 12, 2021, airing on CBS Primetime. Tony Stewart won the inaugural series championship. The series has seen a plethora of racing talent behind the wheel including Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Helio Castroneves, Ernie Francis Jr., Bill Elliott, Chase Elliott, Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, Hailie Deegan, Greg Biffle, Doug Colby, and more. The second season kicks off on June 18, 2022.

SRX PR

Taylor Reimer was officially confirmed as the winner of the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series event run May 25 at Millbridge Speedway to become the first woman in history to win a national midget racing feature event. She had originally been scored second, but Cannon McIntosh was disqualified due to a tire issue with his final appeal denied Friday.

Reimer, a recent University of Oklahoma graduate, is running her first full season of national midget competition in the BuzzBallz Keith Kunz Motorsports (KKM) Toyota.

“It’s pretty amazing to be the first female to win a national midget feature event,” relayed Reimer. “I could never have done this without the support of BuzzBallz Cocktails, which is a woman-owned business, and the entire KKM team. Ideally, this isn’t the way we wanted to win our first one, but that’s a decision handed down by Xtreme Outlaws. Now we have to get right back to work and win some more races.”

It’s not the first time Reimer’s made history in her brief midget racing career, though. Just three days after her strong run at Millbridge, she earned a third-place finish in POWRi competition at Lake Ozark Speedway in becoming the first woman to earn back-to-back national midget podium (top-three) finishes.

The Bixby, Oklahoma, native also became just the sixth woman in USAC midget history to earn a Fast Qualifier award when she took top honors at Placerville Speedway this past November. She earned her second Fast Qualifier just six races later at Port City Raceway in April. She is one of just three women to earn multiple USAC national midget Fast Qualifiers. In between those events, she joined KKM teammate Kaylee Bryson on the front row for USAC’s biggest event in 2021, the Turkey Night Grand Prix, the first time two women have ever started from the front row together in USAC competition.

Prior to a seven-year layoff to pursue academics and a national championship winning run at the high school and collegiate levels in competitive cheer, Reimer was the winningest female driver ever at Port City Raceway by age 14.

With her first victory under her belt, Reimer’s confident that women will continue to excel at the national level in midget car racing, “I think that you’re going to keep seeing women excel as we saw with Jade Avedisian last week. Now that women have won back-to-back races in the Xtreme Series, it’s going to take some of the pressure, as well as the constant spotlight, off female drivers and you’re going to see more women winning races in the future.”

Reimer and the KKM team are back in action next Friday night in USAC competition at Huset’s Speedway. 

Taylor Reimer PR

It was a good day to be a rookie in Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires as a quartet of drivers new to the series in 2022, led by Hunter McElrea, took the top four spots in Friday’s only practice session at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

McElrea put the No. 27 Andretti Autosport car at the top of the speed chart with a best lap of 1 minute, 13.6126 seconds in preparation for Sunday’s Indy Lights at Mid-Ohio (10:35 a.m. ET, live on Peacock Premium).

CLICK IT: Practice Results

“Really good start to the weekend,” said the 22-year-old New Zealand racer. “The car feels great like I was expecting it to be honestly. Andretti Autosport is always strong here, so looking forward to the rest of the weekend. It should be a good one!”

McElrea’s rookie Andretti Autosport teammate Christian Rasmussen, the most recent winner in the series two weeks ago at Road America, followed in second with a best lap time of 1:13.9189 in the No. 28 Road to Indy/Stellrecht car.

Third was rookie Kyffin Simpson at 1:13.9679 in the No. 21 TJ Speed Motorsports car, and rookie Jacob Abel was fourth at 1:13.9751 in the No. 51 Abel Speedwagon.

The most senior driver in the field, 28-year-old Matthew Brabham, followed his younger competition and rounded out the top five at 1:14.1474 in the No. 83 Andretti Autosport car.

Championship leader Linus Lundqvist found himself in the back half of the field, coming in eighth quickest of the 13 cars in the No. 26 HMD Motorsports with Dale Coyne Racing car with a best lap time of 1:14.2309.

The only incident of the day came late in the session. Abel went off course in Turn 1, making contact with the tire barrier. Abel was seen and released from the infield car center, and his incident ended the practice early.

Indy Lights is back in action from the 13-turn, 2.258-mile permanent road course Saturday, first with practice at 8:35 a.m. (ET), followed by qualifying at 1:45 p.m. Both sessions can be streamed on INDYCAR Live! and listened to on the INDYCAR Radio Network.

Indy Lights PR

 

 

Full of Energy: Bucked Up Energy Drink and its sister products will continue their role as the primary partner of Graf’s No. 5 Ford Mustang this weekend.

 

Road America (Wisc.) is the 13th race of 2022 and 44th race overall in a multi-year, multi-race deal with the former ARCA Menards Series winner.

 

For the first time this year, the team will promote Bucked Up Energy’s Blood Raz flavor.

 

Blood Raz tastes like Inception — or literally any Chris Nolan film — you know it's brilliant, but you can't figure out why. I can tell you Blood Raz is a watermelon flavor and you'll taste sweet summer days by the barbecue.

 

Or we can say it's Raspberry and you'll recall that succulent jam you got from the nice old couple at the farmer's market.

 

Blood Raz manages to be sweet, succulent, and tart. And it's sugar-free. That's right. Zero sugars. Drink up and taste that ambiguous goodness.

 

About Bucked Up Energy: Bucked Up started in 2013 when twin brothers Ryan and Jeff Gardner started marketing a product called Deer Antler Spray. After selling thousands of bottles to GNCs nationwide, the company morphed into what is now Bucked Up, a full-fledged vitamins and supplements manufacturer.

 

The company has gone from its humble beginnings to becoming the No. 1 best-selling pre-workout brand that’s available in over 10,000 stores worldwide.

 

Plenty Of Other Bucked Up Products Available Too: Don’t forget that Bucked Up Energy now offers more than 10 quenching options, but several of their popular flavors include Rocket Pop, Gym ‘N’ Juice, Mango Tango and Pink Lemonade now include low-stim options.

 

Low-stim has the same innovative ingredients that make their OG formula so powerful for focus, mood, motivation and energy. Bucked Up made just one small change and they have been surprised by the resulting epicness.

 

Boasting a modest of 100mg of caffeine, Bucked Up Low-Stim delivers the same energy, focus, mood, motivation – while reducing the common side effects that come from too-much caffeine, jitters, sleeplessness and anxiety.

 

Thanks For Your Support: With more than 45 percent of the 2022 Xfinity Series season complete, Joe Graf Jr. and B.J. McLeod Motorsports would like to thank their associate marketing partners AVOID, Bass Reaper Bait Company, CoverSeal, EAT SLEEP RACE Apparel, fgrACCEL, G-Coin, Gtechniq, HazHeart, Model Electronics and ShopRite for their continued support.  

 

Sponsor of the Month: Ahead of their upcoming second race as the primary partner of Joe Graf Jr. in August at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Graf is spending the month of July promoting Gtechniq, a leader in automotive protective coatings products

 

In 2004, scientists at Gtechniq created a superior line of products aimed at perfecting all vehicle surfaces. And over the last 20 years, these products have been continually improved to provide a range that outshines and outlasts the competition.

 

Gtechniq’s line of surface preparation and finishing products are designed to clean, polish, and protect all automotive exteriors, in a way no traditional wax applications can match.

 

Stay tuned to Joe Graf Jr.’s social media channels for not only a behind-the-scenes environment with Gtechniq, but the chance to win some swag too!

 

Joe Graf Jr. Xfinity Series Road America Stats: Joe Graf Jr. will make his second NASCAR Xfinity Series start at the 4.048 mile, 14-turn road course on Saturday afternoon.

 

Joe Graf Jr. Xfinity Series Career Road Course Stats: At tracks classified as a road course, Graf has competed in 10 NASCAR Xfinity Series races. He holds an average starting position of 25.8 and an average result of 22.8.

 

Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway | Tennessee Lottery 250 Race Recap: In the most recent NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Nashville Superspeedway, Graf and the SSGLRwJL team showcased the No. 07 Bucked Up Gym ‘N’ Juice Energy Ford Mustang in the highly anticipated return to the Music City.

 

Graf qualified his No. 07 SS GreenLight Racing with Jeff Lefcourt Ford Mustang an impressive 13th – a career-best on a non-superspeedway and contended for a top-20 finish until he was involved in a multi-car accident on a Lap 122 restart.

 

Sneaker Mania: Along with the adrenaline of the Motorsports competition, Joe Graf Jr. also has a vogue for hype sneakers. In his current collection, he owns and wears at least 90 limited edition sneakers – and his collection continues to grow every month.

 

The current estimated value of his collection tops $100,000.

 

From the Pit Box: Industry veteran David Ingram Jr. is Joe Graf Jr.’s crew chief.

 

He will crew chief his 371st NASCAR Xfinity Series race as crew chief on Saturday afternoon and his second at the track nestled just outside “Music City.

 

In his previous 370 NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, he has collected one top-five and six top-10 finishes.

 

Hello From The Other Side: Graf Jr. has a teammate at B.J. McLeod Motorsports. Veteran Josh Williams will drive the No. 78 Alloy Employer Services Chevrolet Camaro on Saturday afternoon for his 13th Xfinity start of the 2022 season.

 

Williams is set to make his 139th career NASCAR Xfinity Series start and fourth at Road America. His best Xfinity track finish occurred in the 2020 Henry 180, where he finished 13th after starting 22nd for DGM Racing.

 

Follow on Social Media: For more on Joe Graf Jr. visit JoeGrafRacing.com, like him on Facebook (Joe Graf Jr.), follow him on TikTok (@JoeGrafJr), Twitter (@JoeGrafJr) and Instagram (@joegrafjr).

 

For more on BJ McLeod Motorsports, please like them on Facebook (B.J. McLeod Motorsports Inc.) and follow them on Instagram (@bjmcleodmotorsports) and Twitter (@TeamBJMcLeod). 

Joe Graf Jr. Pre-Race Quotes:
 
 

On Road America: “Road America is one of the most dynamic road course venues the NASCAR Xfinity Series competes on and I’m looking forward to making my second start at Road America on Saturday afternoon.

 

 

“I cannot thank B.J. McLeod Motorsports, SS GreenLight Racing with Jeff Lefcourt, Ford Performance and everyone enough for working hard to allow this race to happen for me.

 

“I’m looking forward to continuing to enhance my road racing skills and hopefully earn a solid finish before refocusing on the ovals.”

 

On 2022 Season: “We’re nearing the halfway point of the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and we are making strides and heading in the right direction. We may not have the finishes to show for it, but the speed and our performance at Nashville Superspeedway were another indicator of that.

 

“I cannot thank everyone enough who continues to work so hard and I know that soon our finishes will match our performances.” 

Race Information:

 

The Henry 180 (45 laps | 182.16 miles) is the 16th of 33 NASCAR Xfinity Series races on the 2022 schedule. Practice begins on Friday, July 1 from 4:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. Qualifying follows shortly after at 5:00 p.m. The 38-car field will take the green flag on Saturday afternoon, July 2 shortly after 1:30 p.m. with live coverage on USA Network, the Motor Racing Network (Radio) and SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90. All times are local (CT).

Joe Graf Jr Pr

Dr. Dick Berggren, Shirley Muldowney, Scott Pruett, and Frank Kimmel have been elected to the National Motorsports Press Association Hall of Fame Class of 2023.

As required by the organization's bylaws, all four members received more than 65% of the votes cast by NMPA members. Biographies of the new inductees are below.

Berggren and Muldowney led the voting, receiving 84% of the votes cast. Pruett was elected with 71% of the votes cast, while Kimmel received 68%.

All four individuals are not only standouts in their chosen professions but are well respected in the motor sports community. They will be honored during the NMPA Hall of Fame induction ceremony at the annual NMPA convention in late January 2023. Additional details about the ceremony will be announced at a later date.

The NMPA Hall of Fame, which highlights all inductees and other award honorees, is located on the grounds of Darlington Raceway. It has been in operation since 1965.

NMPA Hall of Fame Class of 2023

Dr. Dick Berggren - From driver to legendary announcer, Berggren began his motor sports career that spanned more than four decades in 1967, racing Super Modifieds, Modifieds, stock and Sprint cars while also serving as the public address announcer at Arundel Speedway in Maine. Berggren’s love of racing led him to writing about the sport for various newspapers as well as Stock Car Racing magazine of which he became the editor. Berggren won 26 races before leaving his driving behind in 1981 when he began his run of more than two decades as a fixture on NASCAR telecasts. Berggren became familiar to viewers on ESPN while also appearing on CBS, TBS and TNN before closing his career with a 12-year stint as the lead pit reporter for Fox Sports’ NASCAR telecasts. Before retiring from his television career, Berggren founded Speedway Illustrated.

Shirley Muldowney - Known as the “First Lady of Drag Racing,” Muldowney went from street racing to becoming the first woman to earn a Top Fuel dragster license. She not only was the first woman to win a NHRA world championship, but the first person to win two and then three Top Fuel titles – 1977, 1980, 1982. Muldowney obtained her NHRA pro license in 1965, the first woman to be granted one, and claimed her first major event in 1971. Overall, she has 18 NHRA national series event victories. She also earned a IHRA championship in 1981. Upon retiring, Muldowney began operating “Shirley’s Kids,” which helps children in need in cities where drag racing is part of the community.

Scott Pruett - Pruett started his racing career at age 8, competing in karts and eventually winning 10 professional karting titles, including the Professional Karting Association World Championship in 1981. In his first full season in IMSA GTO (1986), he won the series championship and claimed it again in 1988. He also earned SCCA Trans-Am titles in 1987, 1994 and 2003. Pruett competed in 145 CART races between 1988 and 1999, recording two victories. After a brief foray in NASCAR, Pruett returned to sports car racing where he amassed 60 victories and 11 championships. Those victories include a record five 24 Hours of Daytona overall wins, a class win in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and an overall victory in the 12 Hours of Sebring.

Frank Kimmel - Kimmel made his mark in the ARCA Menards Series. He is the only 10-time champion in series history, winning a remarkable eight consecutive titles from 2000 to 2007. After claiming his first victory at Toledo Speedway in 1994, two years after earning the series rookie title, Kimmel amassed a record 80 career victories and 44 poles. He was the first ARCA driver selected to compete in the International Race of Champions in 2006.

NMPA PR

JTG Daugherty Racing is pleased to have VELVEETA® return to the No. 47 Camaro ZL1 with Pick ‘n Save on the hood for the Kwik Trip 250 presented by JOCKEY Made in America at Road America this weekend.

“We’re looking forward to having a bold presence on the No. 47 Kroger Racing Camaro with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Road America,” said Matthew Reusing, Senior Manager. Omni Shopper Marketing (Kroger) for The Kraft Heinz Company. “Velveeta is all about living ‘La Dolce Velveeta, and living your biggest, boldest most unrestrained life, always putting pleasure first.’ We are excited to bring back our bold VELVEETA® vibes to racing for friends and family to enjoy.”

VELVEETA® is known for its rich, creamy texture and is bringing the cheesy, melty goodness to the NASCAR Cup Series who has a vast number of racetracks on the schedule. The premier series transitions from the 1.33-concrete oval of Nashville Superspeedway to the four-mile (4.048), 14-turn road circuit of Road America located midway between Milwaukee and Green Bay in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

“We’re proud to have VELVEETA® on our No. 47 Camaro again,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “VELVEETA® is a household name that we’ve all grown up with that satisfies cravings. We’re fresh off of racing at Nashville Speedway (16th) and are looking for even better results at Road America with VELVEETA®.”

Stenhouse Jr. finished 12th at Road America during the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season and knows there is still a lot to learn with the new car.

“We had a good finish there last year, but with the new car we’re still learning like everybody else is this year,” Stenhouse Jr. said. “We know we still have a lot of work to do on our cars for road courses, but we’re hoping we can strike a good balance for this weekend with our No. 47 Pick ‘n Save / VELVEETA® Camaro.”

Live coverage from Road America of the 62-lap event on Sunday, July 3rd starts at 3 PM ET and is live on USA, MRN Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

JTG Racing PR

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