Speedway Digest Staff
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It’s All-Star Week for Daniel Suárez and his No. 96 It’s Good To Be Genuine Parts & Service Toyota for Gaunt Brothers Racing (GBR), and that brings the excitement of short-track racing under the lights as the NASCAR Cup Series takes its annual non-points All-Star Open and All-Star Race to a brand new location Wednesday night for the first time in 33 years – Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
All-Star festivities have been held on the 1.5-mile Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway oval every year but one since the event’s inception in 1985 – the lone exception being 1986, when it was held at its sister 1.5-mile oval, Atlanta Motor Speedway. With no championship points on the line and a $1 million first prize, All-Star events typically showcase some of the wildest racing to be witnessed each season.
Now that it’s set to take place in the tighter confines of the .533-mile, high-banked concrete oval at Bristol for the first time Wednesday night, the level of excitement just might approach unprecedented levels.
The 28-year-old Suárez will be making his fourth appearance in the All-Star Open and his first with the single-car No. 96 GBR Toyota team, and he’ll be on a mission to advance to the All-Star Race for the third time by winning one of its three stages, the first two of which are 35 laps, followed by a final 15-lap sprint to the finish. He won the Open on his very first try in 2017, taking the lead with three laps to go in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota at Charlotte and beating Austin Dillon across the finish line by 1.039 seconds. He was subsequently eliminated after the second segment of the All-Star Race. The following year, he advanced to the All-Star Race by winning Stage 2 of the Open, then went on to finish second to Kevin Harvick by a .325-of-a-second margin in the feature race. Last year, a midrace accident during the Open ended Suárez’s evening early in his Stewart-Haas Racing entry.
Wednesday night’s event brings Suárez and his No. 96 It’s Good To Be Genuine Parts & Service Toyota back to the scene of their best finish of the season on May 31. In was only their ninth race together and began from what has become their customary starting position of 37th – first of the non-chartered Cup Series competitors – since the series returned from a 10-week shutdown due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. It ended with an 18th-place, lead-lap finish as Suárez avoided trouble throughout the 500-lap event.
With only 85 laps to work with this time and a starting spot of 19th after Monday night’s qualifying draw, Suárez, his crew chief Dave Winston and his GBR pit crew know they will have to once again avoid the expected mayhem on track and get creative with their strategy. One new wrinkle NASCAR is experimenting with Wednesday night is the “choose cone” rule, which allows all competitors to pick either the inside or outside line on restarts, not just the first-place driver as is the case during points-paying races. It will allow drivers willing to risk taking the non-preferred line the chance to gain potentially numerous positions just before the race goes back to green.
In another new wrinkle, NASCAR is also experimenting Wednesday night with a paint scheme format in which the car number typically centered on the side door panels is moved back toward the rear wheel. It’s designed to allow more prime real estate for primary sponsor graphics on the sides of the car.
But even with a new venue, a new rule, and a new look for the racecars, Suárez and his It’s Good To Be Genuine Parts & Service Toyota teammates are ready to put on the typically exciting show fans have come to expect from the annual All-Star event.
After a successful return to action last Friday night for Western Midget Racing at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, the series continues this weekend for a doubleheader of action. The Ecotec-powered Midget cars will race Friday at Ocean Speedway and then make their debut at Petaluma Speedway on Saturday, wrapping up a stretch of three events in eight days.
Defending Ocean Speedway WMR champion David Prickett of Fresno picked up where left off with his seventh career victory on Friday night. Prickett topped a 12-car turnout. He was followed across the line by 17-year-old Jackson Dukes of Clovis and Watsonville’s Tyler Slay, who won the heat race. 2019 Ventura WMR champion Randi Pankratz failed to finish the main event.
Friday’s jaunt at Ocean Speedway is part of the opening night of the tenth Howard Kaeding Classic, adding to the gravity of the proceedings. Western Midget Racing will be joined by the Ocean Sprints presented by Taco Bravo, IMCA Sport Mods, and Hobby Stocks in action. Much of the same competitors who raced in the season opener are expected to return on Friday, including Dixon Speedway 2019 Non-Wing Micro champion Norman Harley Rose, Jon Santibanes of Fairfield, Tyler Dolacki of Fresno, and Blake Bower of Brentwood.
On Saturday, the WMR will travel 125 miles north to Petaluma for its debut appearance at the Marin County Fairgrounds 3/8ths mile oval. All four divisions competing will be open wheel, including the USAC/BCRA Midgets, Wingless Spec Sprints, and Non-Wing 600 Micro Sprints also competing. It will mark the third venue for WMR and the largest track the series has competed on. It should serve as another showcase for the performance of the affordable GM production engines, built from 2006-12.
Both events will be streamed by Speed Shift TV and Flo Racing as both venues are closed to spectators due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Pit gates open at 1:00 pm on Friday night at Ocean Speedway, located at the Santa Cruz Fairgrounds. The drivers meeting will be at 4:45 pm with hot laps to follow. On Saturday at Petaluma, pit gates open at noon with hot laps beginning at 5:00 pm. Tarps are required in the pits under each car at Petaluma Speedway in an effort to capture fluids.
For more information about the Western Midget Racing series, visit www.WesternMidgetRacing.com or follow the series on Facebook.
Western Midget Racing PR
By capturing his first career NASCAR Cup Series win Sunday at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Cole Custer locked himself and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) into Wednesday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The win also means HaasTooling.com is offering 15% off purchases from their website by using the code “Kentucky.”
SHR has two entries locked into the $1 million-to-win exhibition event by virtue of race wins. Custer’s teammate Kevin Harvick has multiple wins this season. SHR’s Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer have the opportunity to race their way in via the All-Star Open, which precedes the All-Star Race, or by winning the NASCAR.com fan vote. “This is a great opportunity for the No. 41 team and all of our sponsors,” said Custer’s crew chief Mike Shiplett. “Everybody puts in so much effort and to know that we’re already locked into the All-Star Race is huge.”
Winning the $1 million first prize would go a long way for Custer, who has just 20 Cup Series starts. The All-Star Race will consist of four stages for a total of 140 laps at the Tennessee short track. The All-Star Race will also feature a choose cone rule, where drivers will have the opportunity to select which lane they want to restart in as long as they make the decision before they reach the designated spot on the track as determined by NASCAR. Making the decision after the designated spot will incur a penalty for the driver. “I think the choose cone will put a lot into the driver’s hands,” Custer said. “It’ll be interesting when you dominate one lane at the track, but who knows. You’re going to have decide how much risk you want to take – which lane has been really good, and how even they are. It’s going to change throughout the race, which lane you’ll want to take, and that will keep it interesting."
Additionally, fans will notice all cars locked into the main event on Wednesday will have lights glowing underneath as they shine down on the racetrack. “It’s pretty unbelievable to be locked into the All-Star Race on Wednesday,” Custer said. “I only have to focus on the main event, versus the Open, too. I’ll have the light shining underneath my car and that’s cool.”
The 22-year-old raced at Bristol for the first time in the Cup Series on May 31. Custer started 22nd but finished 35th after getting caught up in a multicar accident. The All-Star Race is usually held at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May, but was moved to this week at Bristol due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the All-Star Race provides the opportunity to change things up a little bit, the paint schemes on the racecars will feature the car number in a noticeably different place, moved rearward from the traditional spot centered on the door panel. That is intended to allow sponsor logos to be more centered along the side of the car. The No. 41 livery will be shared this weekend by HaasTooling.com and Autodesk Fusion 360. Team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding Haas Tooling was recently launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas’ cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. The cutting tools available for purchase on HaasTooling.com are even more important during the current COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment.
Autodesk is a leading designer and supplier of software for the architecture, engineering, construction, media and entertainment, and manufacturing industries. Autodesk’s Fusion 360 cloud-based 3D CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software brings enterprise-grade capabilities, data services, and a support network to teams of any size, uniting people, products, and processes across the product development process. The company empowers customers, like SHR, to push their boundaries and shape a thriving future.
What makes the HaasTooling.com and Autodesk Fusion 360 relationship unique is that Autodesk recently integrated the ability to directly purchase Haas Tooling components via its software. “Autodesk’s Fusion 360 integration of Haas Tooling directly within Fusion’s cloud-based platform, gives engineers, CNC programmers and CNC operators direct access to Haas’ proven cutting tools, data and presets,” said Adam N. Smith, manager, Strategic Partnerships, at Autodesk. “Haas Tooling’s integration continues to support Fusion 360’s commitment to delivering end-to-end workflows with industry-leading partners.”
Haas Automation, founded by Haas in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.
Even though Custer had a trio of starts in the Cup Series in 2018, 2020 officially marks his Rookie of the Year campaign in NASCAR’s most prestigious series. He’s competing for rookie honors with notables Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick. The three have battled against each other in the Xfinity Series and are making the full-time transition to the Cup Series together. Custer’s win at Kentucky made him the first 2020 rookie candidate to capture a win this season.
This Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway you will see the white and orange #51 car with the Red Rock Secured sponsorship on it but if you look at the TV Panel you will see something much more. Thanks to Red Rock Secured the faces of Nathan and Luther Davis and the Donate Life Tennessee logo will adorn the TV Panel.
Luther Davis had been on dialysis for more than 5 years and was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. His 23-year-old son and former ETSU student, Nathan, was trying to lose weight to meet the criteria to be a living kidney donor for his father. Around 4am on Wednesday, January 16th 2019, the Davis family received a knock of the door that every parent dreads. Their son Nathan had been in a car wreck and had been rushed to the University of Tennessee Medical Center. Nathan was in the ICU for 4 days and was declared brain dead on Sunday.
Because of the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act, families can designate their wishes to specific individuals on the waiting list. Doctors told Luther that Nathan’s kidney was a perfect match. Did he want one? Luther said, “Yes! That’s what Nathan would have wanted.” The kidney transplant was a complete success and Luther is doing great. Nathan was able to give life to 3 others besides his father. He was able to donate his heart, kidneys, and liver. Luther and his wife, Julia, are now volunteers with Tennessee Donor Services and shares the important message of organ, tissue, and eye donation.
“This moment brings me both happy and sad tears. Both are important in our human journey. What is important is we take this moment to acknowledge and honor the donor and the recipient that have inspired such vision and courage,” said CEO Sean Kelly. “Let us take the torch and continue to pass the flame. Our Red Rock Secured family is touched by this amazing human story of tragedy and hope. It’s such an honor to be on the same team that honor’s the Donors and the Joey Gase legacy.”
“I am so thankful to the great folks at Red Rock Secured for not only teaming up with us as a sponsor but also teaming up with us on a very important cause to my family and I. Raising awareness for organ, eye, and tissue donation and honoring all of those affected by it,” said Gase. “This shows how much Red Rock Secured truly cares about the wellbeing and future of everyone.”
Chuck Hulse, a four-time Indianapolis 500 starter who also excelled on dirt tracks throughout his career, died Monday, July 13. He was 92.
Southern California native Hulse started the Indianapolis 500 in 1962, 1963, 1966 and 1967. His best finish was seventh in his final start, in 1967 in the No. 8 Hopkins Lola-Offy. His best start was eighth in 1966 in the No. 12 Wynn’s Watson-Ford.
Hulse was one of just 11 drivers to record a top-10 finish in “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” in both a front- and rear-engine car. Besides the career-best seventh in a rear-engine car in 1967, Hulse also placed eighth in 1963 in the front-engine No. 10 Dean Van Lines Ewing-Offy.
With Hulse’s passing, A.J. Foyt, Parnelli Jones and Gordon Johncock remain the only living drivers with top-10 finishes in cars with front and rear engines.
Hulse earned a starting spot at Indianapolis after a stellar career on the West Coast against stalwarts such as Jones and Jim Hurtubise. Hulse won the California Racing Association (CRA) sprint car championship in 1959 and then took on the USAC National Championship and Sprint Car trail.
His best year perhaps came in 1963. Hulse finished a career-best seventh in the USAC National Championship, including an eighth-place finish at Indy, and placed fourth in the USAC National Sprint Car standings.
Hulse’s forte was racing on dirt. Both of his career-best runner-up finishes in USAC National Championship races came on dirt, in the 100-mile season finale in 1963 at the Arizona State Fairgrounds in Phoenix and in the 100-miler in 1966 at Sacramento, California. Hulse recorded 11 top-five finishes during his USAC National Championship career.
An accident in a USAC Sprint Car race in early May 1964 at New Bremen, Ohio, forced Hulse to the sidelines for an extended duration due to a serious eye injury. That opened the door at the powerful Dean Van Lines team for a young rookie to step in for Hulse in 1964 – Mario Andretti, who went on to win the 1965 USAC Championship with tuning from legendary mechanic Clint Brawner.
Hulse was known as an articulate speaker, with a resonant voice, during an era in which many drivers were competitors of few words. He used that eloquence and intelligence to guide many rookie drivers around Indianapolis and other tracks.
The personable Hulse also was a bit of a showman, stepping forward and giving a big wave and a smile during driver introductions at tracks across the country.
DGR Crosley PR
Tickets on sale for historic first road course races - NASCAR Cup Sries & NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series at Daytona International Speedway, Aug 16
Race fans will have the opportunity to attend part of Daytona International Speedway’s recently announced historic weekend in which NASCAR’s top national series will compete for the first time on the storied 3.56-mile DAYTONA Road Course. Tickets are on sale now for a limited number of fans as part of a highly anticipated doubleheader on Sunday, Aug. 16, featuring the NASCAR Cup Series as well as the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
The 12-turn, high-banked, trioval/infield DAYTONA Road Course will see the Gander Trucks in a 153-mile event beginning at 12 Noon ET, while the Cup Series (231 miles) is set to take the green flag later in the day at 3:00 pm. ET. The races will be held on the same high-speed, demanding road course as the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, North America’s most prestigious sports car race that has been competing since 1962. To reserve a place in history, fans are urged to get their tickets, which start at $49 (both races included) for adults and $10 for kids 12 years old and younger, today by visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com, calling 1-800-PIT-SHOP or clicking here.
The limited number of fans for the doubleheader of action is in accordance with public health officials and local, state and federal authorities on amended safety protocols and procedures that will provide a safe experience for all fans in attendance. Frontstretch seating is available, plus there are options for infield camping guests.
Tickets also remain on sale for the Saturday, Aug. 29 Coke Zero Sugar 400, which will take place under the lights on the 2.5-mile trioval. A summertime staple since 1959, the switch of the race from July to August this year makes this the Cup Series Regular Season Finale prior to the start of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Tickets also start at $49 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and under. Limited infield camping is also available. Special pricing options are available for the “August Double,” featuring both DAYTONA Road Course events (Cup and Gander Trucks) and the Coke Zero Sugar 400.
To ensure social distancing between groups, fans who have already purchased tickets to the event have been reseated in comparable new locations, and new, lower ticket pricing has been applied. All guests who attend both weekends will be screened before entering the facility, required to wear face coverings and maintain six-feet of social distancing throughout the venue. Full protocols can be found here.
“For us to be able to host two event weekends in August on the most famous race track in the world – on two different circuits – is going to be historic for our fans,” said Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile. “It’s going to be a challenge for the drivers, too.
“In recent weeks, we have had fans back at Talladega Superspeedway, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and here in Daytona with the IMSA WeatherTech 240, all adhering to health and safety protocols and enjoying a fun day at the race track. We’re looking forward to seeing fans back for unprecedented NASCAR action on the DAYTONA Road Course and high banks.”
The DAYTONA Road Course weekend will also consist of the ARCA Menards Series on Friday, Aug. 14 (MAVTV, 5:00 p.m. ET), as well as the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday, Aug. 15 (NBCSN, 3:00 p.m. ET). Both events will be held without fans in attendance. The Xfinity Series will also make a return trip to challenge Daytona’s 2.5-mile trioval layout with no fans in attendance during the Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola on Saturday, Aug. 28 (NBCSN, 7:30 p.m. ET).
The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series events, along with the ARCA event on the DAYTONA Road Course, are realigned races that were originally scheduled to be held at Watkins Glen International while the Gander Trucks race was originally scheduled for Iowa Speedway.
Competition on the DAYTONA Road Course will be unlike any other challenge drivers have faced at Daytona International Speedway. In contrast to the tightly packed competition on the speedway’s famed 2.5-mile high-banked trioval, drivers will utilize approximately three-quarters of the layout along with the challenging infield portion of the road course. That translates into 12 turns instead of the usual four and entails the high-speed entrance into Turn 1, as drivers dive left off the front straight to begin the twists and turns the infield offers. Drivers will put their skills to the test in the (east) International and west Horseshoe turns, and the tricky negotiation of the backstretch chicane, prior to a climb back atop the banking in Turn 3.
Current NASCAR drivers who have competed in the Rolex 24 on the DAYTONA Road Course include Kyle Busch, who was a participant earlier this year, and his brother Kurt, who was part of the event in 2005 and 2008, when he wound up third-place overall. Two-time DAYTONA 500 champion Jimmie Johnson, a seven-time starter in the Rolex 24, has two runnerup finishes in the event, in 2005 and 2008 while others include Kevin Harvick (2002), Matt Kenseth (2005), Clint Bower (2013), Timmy Hill (2012) and Michael McDowell, who has driven in five Rolex 24 races. Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr., lead active drivers with road course wins in the NASCAR Cup Series with four each while Chase Elliott has three.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway's mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.
Three-time GRAMMY Award-nominees The Avett Brothers are set to play their first live show in six months with a drive-in concert at the legendary Charlotte Motor Speedway on August 29. The North Carolina Music Hall of Fame inductees will celebrate the release of their eagerly-awaited new album The Third Gleam, out August 28 on American Recordings through Loma Vista Recordings, with fans socially distanced in their cars. The band will perform live on the backstretch of the racing surface with the stage broadcast on the speedway’s 16,000 square-foot television screen, one of the largest screens in the world, offering a once-in-a-lifetime fan experience. Tickets will be sold per car and will be available for pre-sale on Thursday, July 16, with tickets opening up to the general public on Friday, July 17. Ticket-holders will be eligible to purchase a limited-edition vinyl of The Third Gleam to commemorate this special homecoming show. For tickets and more information, visit avettbrothersdrivein.com.
Ahead of the live show, fans can watch the band in concert with a preview of The Avett Brothers At Red Rocks, streaming exclusively on PBS.org here. Recorded last July during The Avett Brothers’ 25th appearance at the iconic venue, the preview features “Live and Die,” “Down with the Shine,” “High Steppin’,” and “Head Full of Doubt.” The full-length program will be available to PBS Stations beginning on August 29.
The Third Gleam is the third installment in The Avett Brothers’ ongoing Gleam series, twelve years in the making, and marks a return to the band’s roots. Throughout the eight songs on the album, the band shares their personal experiences and perspectives on universal themes of injustice, isolation, and mortality, as well as love, redemption, and faith that are especially relevant right now. Scott and Seth Avett state, “sharing it now is about what sharing art is always about: another chance that we may partake in connecting with our brothers and sisters of this world, and hopefully joining you in noticing a speck of light gleaming in what appears to be a relatively long and dark night” (watch Scott and Seth’s full statement here). The band introduced The Third Gleam last week with lead single “Victory,” a haunting battle against mental darkness, with Consequence of Sound observing, “although the entirety of The Third Gleam was written pre-coronavirus, a track like this can easily be applied to the present day, when hope is sometimes quite hard to come by.” Paste pronounces it a “stripped-down folk song, whose harmonies and gentle guitar certainly harken back to The Avett Brothers’ early material,” continuing, “if ‘Victory’ is any indication of what’s to come, The Third Gleam could be some of their best work in years.”
Pre-order The Third Gleam here.
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