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Davey Hamilton Jr announced today that MPI (Max Papis Innovations) will be the official steering wheel and trophy provider for Davey Hamilton Jr’s Open Wheel Showdown at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway set to take place on December 1-2, 2023. The two-day event will feature a $50K-to-win Winged Sprint Car race and a $10K-to-win National Midget event along with Super Modifieds.
Along with being the official steering wheel of the event, MPI will also provide a trophy for each main event winner in each class of the Open Wheel Showdown. Additionally, MPI will present the Hard Charger of each respective class with a MPI steering wheel for their efforts.
MPI was founded in 2009 by Max Papis and Tatiana Fittipaldi Papis, in Mooresville, North Carolina. Since then, MPI has become a renowned leader in steering wheel and safety innovation and design for elite motorsports teams, with a rich history of success in NASCAR and IndyCar. Today, MPI produces top-tier products for champions in every discipline of racing imaginable including sprint cars, drifting, off-road, late models, drag racing, karting, and even simracing. MPI continues to channel its expertise into creating revolutionary steering wheels and products for the racing world.
“Having Max and MPI as a part of this event is great. I was a huge fan of Max growing up and seeing what he has done and continues to do for our sport just shows how passionate he is about it. He and my dad have been great friends for years and I am excited to have him involved in this event. “ - Davey Hamilton Jr
“We at MPI have always been committed to unique events that resonate with our values and mission. When Davey presented us with the opportunity to support the Open Wheel Showdown at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it felt like a natural fit immediately. Our investment in grassroots American racing isn't merely a business strategy—it's a way to give back to the community and support the aspirations of countless racers.
Aligning ourselves with this event further solidifies what we proudly refer to as the 'pride of being part of the MPI family.' It's an exciting moment for us, and we're looking forward to contributing to the event's success.” - Max Papis
For more information on the Open Wheel Showdown please log onto www.openwheelshowdown.com or follow us on numerous social media outlets.
For more about MPI and their products, visit them on one of their platforms below.
Open Wheel Showdown PR
CHRIS BUESCHER, No. 17 Fastenal Ford Mustang – YOU ARE HEADING BACK TO YOUR HOME STATE OF TEXAS AND TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, WHAT IS YOUR OUTLOOK FOR THIS WEEKEND? “Yeah, it has been a big change year over year and especially two years over to now. Certainly, it is impressive to see the progression and the change and the success that we have had which has been huge. I haven’t made it this far through a playoff round before so it has been a while since we have been able to participate in the playoffs. I am proud that we did a good job and pretty comfortably made it into the next round. We didn’t expect it to be very difficult for us. I felt like with where we are at right now, we have been really fast at a lot of really good race tracks for us. Kansas, the tire going down there at the end of that race certainly put us in a hole that we didn’t expect to be in and made it a little more stressful for the beginning of Bristol. I think I talked to some of you that qualifying may not have been as good as we wanted but I knew we had a fast race car and were able to work our way up there pretty quick and stay up there in the top five. I am really happy with where we are at. Going back to Texas, we had a tire blowout there last year as well but I think we are mostly beyond that and as we head into a race track that historically hasn’t been my best but we were very fast there last year and I am excited to head back to it. We have been able to get significantly better there. The All-Star race we were a whole lot better than we have been in the past. I feel like we are on the right track here and obviously, it is always a little more exciting to go back to a home track where we have thousands of laps on every other surface there as well as the big track. It is fun to return back and I am just looking for that win on the big track now.”
THE GENERAL MANAGER AND VICE PRESIDENT OF TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY WAS PRETTY OPEN WITH REGARDS TO THE RECONFIGURE AND CHANGES TO THE TRACK. AS A DRIVER, IS THERE ANYTHING, IN PARTICULAR, YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE CHANGED AT TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY MOVING FORWARD RELATIVE TO THE TRACK ITSELF? “Yeah, the reconfiguration in its current state is not very old but we have seen it time and time again where new asphalt takes a long time to make decent racing. It is very difficult to get it to age appropriately to where it is not a one-groove race track. Turn 1 and 2 is extremely wide when you are talking in terms of pure asphalt but there is no banking change up the hill so essentially you have four or five lanes of race track that are completely unusable. We are limited to two lanes around Texas Motor Speedway right now and this is only because of the introduction of the PJ-1. It has been a tough race track to get the racing back to where we want it. It is a very sensitive race track but that is not abnormal when we talk about mile-and-a-half tracks but we seem to have found something that has gotten it racier than what it has been in the past. I think of some of my favorite race tracks and I am always a proponent of progressive banking. If it is going to be as wide as it is, you have to have some incentive to try to use those outermost lanes. The amount of distance that you would add trying to go up there at Texas, there has to be a significant amount of banking to make that happen. I don't know. I haven’t heard the comments and don't know how small or drastic the changes are that were discussed but I certainly feel like there are things that would cost a ton of money to do to try to make it right. It isn’t my money sitting here, so I can have a bunch of opinions but I don't have the answer. I have a few things that I feel like you could do to try and fix what we’ve got and there are always options to chop it down and rebuild it.”
YOUR WALK-UP MUSIC AT BRISTOL, ‘COUNTRY CLUBBIN’, WHY DO YOU LOVE THAT SONG SO MUCH? “I was just trying to be a little goofy with it and having a good time. I have been listening to a lot of Paul (Cauthen) lately and thought it would be fun to have a good time with the lyrics because they crack me up when I am riding around. I have been in my truck a lot lately so I figured it would be perfect for Bristol.”
YOU HAVEN’T BEEN IN THE ROUND OF 12 BEFORE BUT A LOT OF FOLKS AT ROUSH HAVE. WHAT IS THE BIGGEST PIECE OF ADVICE THEY HAVE GIVEN YOU? “A lot of people have and I think the biggest piece of advice has been that it doesn't get any easier. This is going to be a challenge throughout the whole thing. We have been very competitive and come a long way. I feel like we have some very good tracks ahead of us and I feel like at Texas we were very fast last year and Brad (Keselowski) got a pole there and did very well in the race. Talladega obviously we will be fast. Then the Roval has been very good to us as well. I look at this round, and know we have good tracks, it is just a matter of putting together good races and staying after what we have been up to. It is going to be very challenging. The first round, I won’t say we thought it would be easy but certainly didn’t feel like it was going to be a real challenge for us. Then Kansas really threw a curve ball at us and got us way less comfortable than we wanted to be heading into Bristol. Anything like that can happen, and we know that, but I think that is what the advice has been. Just know that you are going to stay after it and no part of this is going to get any easier along the way.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT WHERE YOU GUYS ARE AT WITH QUALIFYING AND IS THERE TIME FOR IT TO GET BETTER? “That is a fair question. I am not the strongest qualifier. It has never been my biggest quality. I have a lot to figure out there. I have certainly been trying to study it a lot more to try to get it better. I think that we have been a little better this year, off and on, maybe not consistently better, but we have had some things last year that probably led to a little better fire-off speed but hurt us in long run in the races. We have figured out how to get much better for the duration of the race. Maybe some of that has come at the expense of a little bit of fire-off speed. In the grand scheme of things we have elevated our program but to try to fire off for that one or two laps has been tough still. We are trying to study it. I don't have the answer. I know from a personal side of things it is probably one of my weaker spots so I am trying to figure out how to be stronger in that regard. Stage points can certainly add up quick and it is hard to do anything within certain scenarios. There have been some times this year where our group has certainly had a bad qualifying effort and left us very upset at the end of it, but there have also been days where it has helped us and we aren’t mad about it when it helps. You have to take them both and just understand it is a part of it. You have to study hard on it and figure out what it is. I have a computer sitting right here next to me and I was just watching qualifying videos before we dialed in here. So we are into it trying to find those little bits.”
HOW BIG OF AN ISSUE IS THIS COMPARED TO OTHER THINGS YOU ARE FOCUSED ON OR STUDYING FOR THIS ROUND? “It is pretty high up there as a priority to try to figure out how to get our qualifying better because it opens up opportunities for our group on top of the box. It opens up clean air and at a place like Texas, that is a big conversation. Even Bristol, the first stage we really thought we would be able to drive forward, and through whatever reasons it was a complete bottom-feeder race track for an entire stage and we couldn’t make any headway. I felt like we gave away a few that we were pretty positive we would be able to get to the top 10 had it been the same conditions as last year. So, it is pretty high up there because we realize it can affect a lot of our day.”
ANY FAMILY OR FRIENDS STILL LEFT IN PROSPER (TX) AND ARE YOU EXPECTING ANY AT THE TRACK THIS WEEKEND? “Not a whole lot, not from Prosper anyway. My younger sister is still in Texas, so she is coming out and I have a handful of friends that are actually closer to the race track that are going to come hang out with us for the weekend. Yeah, it always gets a little busier when we go to Texas and I get to catch up a little bit and hang out for the Xfinity race and get together to watch it. We don't have much downtime on weekends but we will get to hang out with some friends that are camping there as well. I have some options. The weekend goes quick and I have to stay focused on our job at hand too, on Sunday, and kicking off this round in a good way.”
YOU HAVE HAD GOOD FINISHES AT THE ROVAL THE LAST FEW YEARS, DESPITE STARTING OUTSIDE THE TOP 15. WHAT IS THE KEY TO NAVIGATING THAT RACE DESPITE NOT AN IDEAL STARTING SPOT? “The Roval is tricky. There are a lot of areas to get yourself in trouble. There is very little run-off. It is a very unique road course when we talk about how you go about setting up for it. We can be very good in certain areas that can be good passing zones but can give up some overall lap time in order to do that. I feel like we have studied it enough to be confident that the tradeoff is worth it and we should be able to defend the areas that may not be the best passing zones but may cost some speed at the expense of being able to roll forward and not get stuck wherever we are at in the running order. That is the gist of it, basically. We try to set it up for the right areas to make passes and understanding that the raw speed, you can give up a little bit.”
THE ROUND OF 12 HAS A SUPERSPEEDWAY AND THE ROVAL COMING UP. IS THIS GOING TO BE THE MOST UNPREDICTABLE OR MOST STRESSFUL ROUND IN THE PLAYOFFS? “I don't think so. The way I see it, the superspeedway races always have a certain amount of unpredictability but where I am at is I know RFK will be bringing fast Fords to that race. I know we will be in contention to win it, assuming we can survive the chaos. But I think we have seen that same chaos at a lot of different tracks throughout the year. Bristol last year was a train wreck when you talk about cars falling out and having issues. I promise you after losing out on a bunch of points at Kansas, it was on my mind going into Bristol, knowing we would be fast but that there was an array of issues that popped up last year and took really good cars and ruined their days and their playoffs. I don't know that any of these races coming up have me any more stressed out than the Bristol race had me going into it. If we can go to Texas and have a good day and have a rough Talladega, then yeah, the Roval will be more stressful. I don't get too caught up in worrying about it. Martinsville can be very rough. Even Texas last year had a lot of issues too. I don't know that there is any one round that looks worse over another. I am excited for this round because I know we will be fast at all these race tracks and if we can control that part of it and take care of ourselves then it shouldn’t be that stressful on us.”
CAN THIS BE AN OPPORTUNITY ROUND FOR THE 17 TEAM THEN CONSIDERING HOW WELL YOU RUN AT SUPERSPEEDWAYS AND ROAD COURSES? “Yeah, I think that is just it. I think that is what is going to make it maybe a little less stressful for us than some others. That can change in a heartbeat with one bad day before we get to the Roval but as of right now, I am very excited for this round. I feel like all of the race tracks we are going to, out of all the race tracks in the playoffs, Darlington was the one that I felt like we needed the most improvement at and felt like that one was going to be tough and we would have to work really hard to just survive that one. We went there and ran third on the day. I am proud of what everyone has done to get us to this point and proud to say we will look at the race tracks coming up as opportunities at each and every one of them. I don't have one coming up that has me stressed out or down about it or thinking we just have to get through it and get to the next one.”
ARE THE 1.5-MILE TRACKS MAYBE YOUR LAST HURDLE TO BEING COMPETITIVE AT EVERY TRACK, SINCE YOUR BEST FINISH ON ONE THIS YEAR HAS BEEN EIGHTH? “You know, if it weren’t for Michigan I would say that there is maybe a little more merit to it but obviously it is bigger yet but a lot of what we do at Michigan does carry over into our mile-and-a-halves. I think internally we can point to some things through the year at the 1.5-mile tracks that can make us better. I think that in one way, we certainly have gotten better after the first couple of months of the season where we had been to a few and maybe didn’t have our strongest showings but we haven’t had many to lean into, and compare where we have come this season. Kansas would have been the one. Granted, that was not as competitive as we wanted to be there but certainly felt like we had some glimpses of good things there and have some ideas that we certainly want to try going back. Yeah, it is the one that we haven’t been able to run as good at and get that result, but I think on our side we have some good understanding of why that is or some situation that may have happened along the way that leads the stats to say that. Again, Texas we were running third when we blew a tire there and had just run our fastest lap of the race and we were in a really good spot last year. It is a track that I look at as a good opportunity for us to go have a good day still. Putting aside that we haven’t been as strong at the mile-and-a-halfs but we haven’t had many the last couple of months.”
HOW MANY HOURS ON THE SIMULATOR THIS WEEK? “We had a luncheon so it cut an hour out, but we have done three hours this week.”
Ford Performance PR
Hendrick Motorsports PR
Trevor Bayne, Driver of the No. 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota GR Supra
● Back in the Saddle. Trevor Bayne will make his third start of the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season in this weekend’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Bayne previously drove in last month’s Xfinity Series event at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, where he led 26 laps before getting caught up in a race-ending accident. His most recent outing came last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where he finished seventh.
● Texas Tamed. Bayne made his first career Xfinity Series start in 2009. He’s totaled 163 Xfinity Series starts in the nine seasons since. It was during the 2011 season the Tennessee native picked up his first series win at none other than the 1.5-mile oval at which the series races this weekend. Bayne qualified 10th for that year’s November event at Texas and ran a steady race. He took the lead for good with six laps to go.
● In Good Company. The 2023 NASCAR season is Bayne’s second racing on a part-time basis for Joe Gibbs Racing. He competed in nine Xfinty Series races in 2022, scoring five top-five finishes and seven top-10s. Driving the No. 18 JGR Toyota, Bayne qualified on the pole and led 46 laps at Homestead-Miami Speedway in October, and led in six of his nine races last year for a total of 176 laps. This weekend at Texas, Bayne adds another item of note to his resume by racing the iconic Interstate Batteries paint scheme. When he jumps into the No. 19 Interstate Batteries Toyota GR Supra on Saturday, he officially joins the exclusive Team Interstate brotherhood, which includes Hall of Fame drivers Dale Jarrett, Bobby Labonte, Mark Martin and Matt Kenseth.
Trevor Bayne, Driver Q&A
You go into the race weekend as a former winner at Texas. How much does that help when you go to a track where you are a former winner? How does it impact your confidence?
“It’s always a good confidence boost when you’re racing at a track you’ve won at before. It just brings this added level of ‘I can do this’ to your mentality that you can’t get from anywhere else. I think it showed a lot in my first start this season in Daytona, where I hopped in the car for the first time in almost a year and ended up getting to the front and fighting for the win before the night was over. I know Joe Gibbs Racing is going to bring me a fast Interstate Batteries Toyota GR Supra, so I’m excited to get out there and compete for my second Texas win.”
You have nine Xfinity Series starts and 17 Cup Series starts at Texas. What have you learned a little about what it takes to be successful at Texas?
“Texas is a unique track because you’d expect it to race like a traditional mile-and-a-half, but the surface makes it one-of-a-kind from the rest. You really have to understand what you want out of your car and work to have a setup that reflects it. With track position being so important, it becomes a battle of finding speed for qualifying and then, once the green flag drops, it becomes an all-out battle for track position. You have to be physical, know when it’s the time to give or to take, and you have to stay consistent as the race wears on.”
“It’s always exciting to race a Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in their Xfinity program. I’ve won a couple of poles and led laps in those cars, so I’m going into the weekend knowing that we will have what we need to be successful. The Interstate Batteries car is legendary in our sport and it’s kind of surreal for me to say I’m getting to drive that car. It’s certainly an honor, and to be able to run that scheme at Texas – their home track – is even more special.”
The high-speed world of motorsports has long been dominated by men, but the tide is turning as women increasingly break through barriers and make their mark in various disciplines. While challenges persist, female racers, engineers, and team owners are leaving an indelible mark on the sport, inspiring a new generation of enthusiasts. In this article, we'll explore the remarkable journey of women in motorsports, celebrate their achievements, and discuss the importance of diversity and inclusion in this thrilling arena.
Pioneering Women in Motorsports
Janet Guthrie, an aerospace engineer turned racing driver, is one of the early trailblazers in motorsports. In 1977, she became the first woman to qualify and compete in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500, paving the way for future generations of female drivers.
Shirley Muldowney, known as the "First Lady of Drag Racing," is another inspirational figure. She shattered gender norms in the male-dominated world of drag racing, becoming the first woman to earn an NHRA Top Fuel championship in 1977.
Danica Patrick, a former IndyCar and NASCAR driver, made history as the first woman to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. Her groundbreaking achievements further underscored the capabilities of women in motorsports.
Women Across Different Motorsport Disciplines
In NASCAR, female drivers like Shawna Robinson and Jennifer Jo Cobb have made significant strides. Danica Patrick's transition from IndyCar to NASCAR garnered much attention, as she raced competitively in the Sprint Cup Series.
Formula 1, the pinnacle of motorsports, has seen women like Maria Teresa de Filippis, Lella Lombardi, and Susie Wolff break through barriers. As a testament to their skills, women like Tatiana Calderón and Jamie Chadwick continue to make strides toward securing Formula 1 seats.
In drag racing, Brittany Force became the first woman in nearly 35 years to win the NHRA Top Fuel championship in 2017, showcasing the incredible talents of female racers in this high-octane sport.
Behind the Scenes: Women in Motorsport Management
While women have excelled as drivers, their contributions extend beyond the racetrack. Claire Williams, former Deputy Team Principal of the Williams Formula 1 team, played a pivotal role in the team's success. Her leadership brought a fresh perspective to the sport.
Michele Mouton, a former rally driver, co-founded the Audi Sport rally team and served as its manager. Her influence and expertise in motorsports management have left a lasting legacy.
Despite their accomplishments, women in motorsports have faced adversity, including unequal opportunities and stereotypes. However, organizations like Women in Motorsport and initiatives promoting gender diversity are working to dismantle these barriers.
Statistics show that female participation in motorsports is on the rise. According to a report by Motorsport.com, the number of female racing license holders has increased by 68% over the past decade, illustrating the growing presence of women in the sport.
Current Rising Stars
Today, promising young talents like Hailie Deegan are making waves in motorsports. Deegan, a rising star in NASCAR, is already celebrated for her achievements in various racing series. Her potential is undeniable, and she serves as an inspiration to aspiring female racers.
The Importance of Diversity and Inclusion
Diversity and inclusion are vital for the continued growth and appeal of motorsports. Embracing a diverse talent pool not only broadens the sport's fan base but also fosters innovation and creativity within teams.
As we celebrate the accomplishments of women in motorsports, it's crucial to recognize the ongoing efforts to make the sport more inclusive. Initiatives like Dare to Be Different are actively encouraging young girls to pursue careers in motorsports.
Resources for Motorsport Enthusiasts
For motorsport enthusiasts looking to delve deeper into the world of racing and vehicle history, here are several authoritative resources to explore:
Motorsport.com: Motorsport.com is a leading source for news, analysis, and in-depth coverage of motorsports from around the world. They provide up-to-date information on various racing series, including Formula 1, NASCAR, IndyCar, and more.
FIA - International Automobile Federation: The Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) is the governing body for motorsport worldwide. Their website offers official regulations, news, and insights into the motorsport world, including Formula 1, World Rally Championship (WRC), and other international competitions.
Women in Motorsport: The FIA's Women in Motorsport initiative aims to promote gender diversity and inclusion in motorsports. Their website provides resources and updates on efforts to support women in the sport.
Dare to Be Different: Dare to Be Different is a global initiative that encourages and inspires young women to pursue careers in motorsports. Their website offers valuable insights, stories, and information about events and programs aimed at aspiring female racers.
EpicVIN: When it comes to researching vehicle histories, VIN check by EpicVIN is a reliable and comprehensive resource. Whether you're interested in a vehicle's racing history or its overall background, EpicVIN provides detailed data and insights.
The Official NASCAR Website: For fans of NASCAR, the official NASCAR website offers news, race schedules, driver profiles, and an in-depth look at the world of stock car racing.
Formula 1 Official Website: Formula 1 fans can find everything they need to know about the sport on the official Formula 1 website, including race results, team information, and exclusive content.
NHRA - National Hot Rod Association: If you're passionate about drag racing, the NHRA website provides the latest news, event schedules, and detailed information about the world of drag racing.
These resources offer a wealth of information and are trusted by motorsport enthusiasts and professionals alike. Whether you're interested in following current events, exploring the history of motorsports, or learning more about women's contributions to the field, these websites are excellent starting points for your motorsport journey.
Women in motorsports have broken down barriers, shattered stereotypes, and made history. From legendary pioneers like Janet Guthrie to the rising stars of today like Hailie Deegan, these remarkable women have shown that talent knows no gender. As we continue to celebrate their achievements, let us also champion diversity and inclusion in motorsports, ensuring that this thrilling world remains accessible and welcoming to all.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Overview
• Event: Andy's Frozen Custard 300 (Round 28 of 33)
• Date: Saturday, Sept. 23
• Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth
• Layout: 1.5-mile oval
• Time/TV/Radio: 3:30 p.m. EDT on USA/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
• Cole Custer is looking to continue his strong start to his 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff run in Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. The driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang opened his playoff run last Friday night at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway by qualifying on the pole, winning Stage 1 of the race and finishing second in Stage 2, then continuing to
• Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 will mark Custer’s seventh Xfinity Series start at Texas. In his prior six visits to 1.5-mile oval, he has earned four top-fives, including his November 2018 victory, where he bested runner-up Tyler Reddick by .162 of a second. Custer earned back-to-back fifth-place finishes in his first two Texas starts in April and November 2017, then a fourth-place finish in April 2018. His eighth-place finish from the fourth starting position in the November 2019 race was his most recent in the Xfinity Series at the track.
• While the Cup Series playoff contenders will be beginning their Round of 12 this weekend at Texas, Custer and his 11 other Xfinity Series playoffs drivers will be in the middle race of their Round of 12. After his fourth-place finish last weekend at Bristol, Custer is looking forward to finishing the round at two of his best tracks – the Texas oval, and the 2.28-mile, 17-turn Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. He’s finished outside the top-eight just once at Texas, and in his two prior starts on the Roval, he posted finishes of seventh in 2017 and eighth in 2018.
Riley Herbst Notes of Interest
• After racing from last to eighth in last Friday’s Food City 300 at Bristol, Riley Herbst hopes to keep the momentum rolling at Texas Motor Speedway this Saturday. He’s ready to showcase the speed of his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang at the fast, 1.5-mile oval in the Texas heat. While Herbst isn’t competing for a championship this year, he’s still focused on his main goal of the season – earning his first career Xfinity
• Saturday’s race will mark Herbst’s seventh Xfinity Series start at Texas. Of his six prior appearances, Herbst has finished in the top-12 four times with a best of fifth earned in his last start there in September 2022. Since joining SHR in 2021, he’s never finished outside the top-12 at Texas. He scored an eighth-place finish and a fifth-place finish, respectively, in last year’s two events at the track. SHR has one Xfinity Series win at Texas – Custer’s November 2018 triumph.
• In last November’s race at Texas, Herbst and the No. 98 team proved to be resilient in the Texas heat. The Las Vegas native started the 200-lap race 11th and struggled with a loose-handling racecar in the initial laps. After dropping to the rear for a penalty during the day’s first round of pit stops, Herbst made quick work of his drive back toward the front. By the end of Stage 2, he was sitting 12th, then restarted ninth for the final stage. Chaos ensued on multiple occasions during the last 100 laps, and Herbst used his savvy driving skills to maneuver his way around two accidents, working his way to fourth on a lap-126 restart. He stayed in the top-five until his final scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 169 and resumed in 15th. The race went caution-free until the checkered flag and Herbst was able to work his way into the top-10 by lap 182 and ultimately to fifth by the checkered flag on lap 200. It was his seventh top-five of the season.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang
You’re heading to Texas Motor Speedway for the first time this season. You’ve been honest about how it may not be your best track on the circuit, but you’ve had some solid runs there – including your November 2018 win that advanced you to the Championship 4. What is your team doing to prepare for this middle race of the Round of 12 to help you advance?
“We’re just going over a lot of details, you know. It’s about trying to go over every single year that we’ve been to Texas and trying to understand what we need to bring to the racetrack to compete for a win. I feel like we’ve had a good mile-and-a-half package this year, especially at Kansas a few weeks ago. It’s just trying to make sure we’re good for Texas. It’s kind of an oddball in the intermediate tracks because it is so difficult, so we’re trying to go through all the details so we can get our car just right for the weekend.”
You’ve mentioned that Texas is unlike other intermediate tracks because of how difficult it is for a driver. What about it makes it so difficult?
“The two ends of the racetrack are just so different. It’s an intermediate track, but there is just so much variation in the track. You’ve got big bumps, which makes the handling pretty hard. Then you’ve got a daytime race in the Texas heat, which makes the track super slick. All of that, in addition to the high speeds that we run there, make it really tough to get your racecar’s setup just right. I’m still excited to head to Texas, but this is definitely the one track in the first round that we had some concern with just because it’s been all over the place for us. I trust that the No. 00 team will bring me a fast Ford Mustang like they do every week, though, so hopefully we can be up front when the checkered flag flies.”
Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang
The Xfinity Series only goes to Texas once a season now, but you’ve had some strong runs there in the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang in your prior two seasons. In addition, you’re coming off a top-10 run at Bristol where you started last and finished eighth. How confident are you heading into this weekend?
“I think you can’t be too confident, but there is confidence that we’re finding our stride again as a team. We’ve had some bad luck this season, but we’ve never lacked in speed. It’s just about being smart and putting yourself in the right position. I’ve learned a lot at Texas in my career, and I’m hoping that we can continue that success this weekend. Bristol was such a strong race and really showed the speed we bring to track. Not many drivers can go from last to eighth and run in the top-five at one point. I’m proud of how this No. 98 team never gave up, even in the rough times. I’m hoping we can use these final races to focus on finding victory lane, which was our original goal this season.”
How do you approach Texas, and what have you learned since your first start at the track in 2020?
“Texas is a beast of its own. It’s a super-fast, 1.5-mile track in the Texas heat, so you know it’s going to be a challenge. It’s a day race, too, which makes it even more challenging. With that said, it should be a lot of fun, and I’m excited to go back this weekend. I performed well there in 2022, so I’m hoping to continue that trend. The key is having a fast No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang, which we always bring, and staying out of trouble. It seems like your typical intermediate track, but it’s crazy how fast it is. We just have to keep our focus, and we can get a good finish there.”
Texas Motor Speedway Stats
-NCS Points-Paying Starts: 10; All-Star Starts: 1; Best start: 2nd (Fall 2019); Best finish: 4th (Spring 2018, Fall, 2018, and Spring, 2019); Top-5s: 3; Top-10s: 7; Laps Led: 113
-NXS Starts: 6; Wins: 3 (Spring, 2015, Spring, 2017, and Fall, 2017); Poles: 2 (Spring 2015, Fall 2016); Top-5s: 6; Top-10s: 6; Laps Led: 368
-NCTS Starts: 3; Wins: 1 (Fall, 2015); Poles: 1 (Spring, 2015); Top-5s: 1; Top-10s: 1; Laps Led: 185
2023 NASCAR Cup Series Season Stats
Starts: 29; Best start: 8th (COTA); Best finish: 3rd (Kansas II); Top-5’s: 1; Top-10's: 7; Laps Led: 17; Current points position: 25th
There’s only one time per year where you can catch all three USAC National divisions on one track on one weekend at one time.
USAC Silver Crown, USAC AMSOIL National Sprint Cars and USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midgets. Oh my!
This is that time.
The 41st running of the 4-Crown Nationals presented by NKTELCO arrives at Rossburg, Ohio’s Eldora Speedway this Friday-Saturday night, September 22-23.
There’s so much to see and so much to watch play out. From tight championship races between Logan Seavey and Kody Swanson in the Silver Crown series to Justin Grant and Brady Bacon’s duel for the Sprint Car title and to the wildest Midget events of the year on the series’ only half-mile dirt oval.
All three USAC series will be racing for a winner’s share of $10,000 on Saturday night. Similarly, there’s 10,000 reasons to attend the 4-Crown this weekend. Here are some of the top storylines that headline this year’s edition of USAC’s homecoming event, a tried-and-true tradition since 1981.
THE SILVER CROWN HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE FIGHT
The final dirt race of the 2023 USAC Silver Crown season happens this weekend at Eldora with a field of 36 entries, the most in 22 years, which will make the race just to get into the 26-car field a challenging ordeal in itself.
Two of those entries find themselves in the throes of a heated championship battle once again for the third consecutive season – Logan Seavey and Kody Swanson.
Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) enters the event just one point ahead of Swanson (Kingsburg, Calif.). To put how close this modern-day Gary & Larry Show has been in recent years, consider this. After the Eldora round in 2021, Swanson led Seavey by one. After Eldora in 2022, Swanson and Seavey were tied. However, on both occasions, Swanson wound up with the ultimate championship glory.
But Eldora has been a personal ATM for Seavey of late, having won the last two 4-Crown Silver Crown races in 2021-22 while leading 91 of the 100 total laps. Swanson finished a best of 2nd in 2015 and won the pole in 2017, and also notched a 4th in 2019, 5th in 2016, 5th in 2018 and another 5th in 2021.
THE TOP OF THE HEAP IN THE SPRINT TITLE RACE
Likewise, Justin Grant and Brady Bacon find themselves intertwined in the USAC National Sprint Car title race for the second year in a row.
Grant (Ione, Calif.) finished ahead of runner-up Bacon (Broken Arrow, Okla.) in 2022, and at press time, they remain in the same order with just nine points of separation between the two.
Grant has won five times in his USAC National Sprint Car career at Eldora, including this past May during #LetsRaceTwo. Two of those five victories came during the 4-Crown in 2016 and just last year in 2022.
Similarly, Bacon owns a 4-Crown USAC Sprint Car win in 2014, and added a #LetsRaceTwo triumph in the spring of 2018, his most recent series victory at The Big E.
Grant and Bacon are among the five past 4-Crown USAC Sprint Car winners in this weekend’s field at Eldora along with Robert Ballou (2007), Thomas Meseraull (2015) and C.J. Leary (2017).
DOUBLE DOSE OF MIDGET RACING
One USAC National Midget show is wild at Eldora. But on 4-Crown weekend, everybody gets a double-dose of the biggest edge-of-your-seat race of the season.
A stout field of around 20 cars and drivers are expected to be on hand for the pair of 25-lappers on Friday and Saturday night.
Two past 4-Crown midget stars will be in this weekend’s field as they make their season debuts in USAC National Midget competition – Rico Abreu and Chris Windom.
Windom enters Eldora as the two-time and defending 4-Crown Midget champion, having won each of the last two rounds in 2021 and 2022. The 2020 series champ will wheel a car owned by CB Industries who has won the past three USAC Midget races at Eldora, including Mitchel Moles in the BeFour the Crowns program in 2022. Windom is pursuing a quest to become the first driver to win three consecutive 4-Crown Midget features.
Meanwhile, Rico Abreu (St. Helena, Calif.) returns to USAC National Midget racing for the first time since 2020, and for the first time at the 4-Crown since a fourth-place run in 2019.
Abreu, the 2014 USAC National Midget champ, has captured 4-Crown Midget wins twice in his career in 2013 and 2016. This time around, he’ll be behind the wheel of a car owned by 2016 USAC National Midget champion Tanner Thorson.
Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) scored in his first ever race on the banks of Eldora in 2022 and returns for a rare midget start during the 2023 season aboard the Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports No. 19T.
4-CROWN TRIPLE THREATS
Jack Hewitt’s sweep of all four divisions at the 1998 4-Crown Nationals and Kyle Larson’s USAC sweep of the 2011 event are monumental moments in the 40-year history of the event. A quarter of a century after his miraculous feat, Hewitt will serve as this weekend’s grand marshal.
Three drivers this weekend will take their shot at going three-for-three with rides in all three USAC divisions during this weekend’s event.
Logan Seavey (Sutter, Calif.) has won each of the past two Silver Crown races at Eldora in 2021-22, and has come close to solidifying the deal in all three, finishing second in both the USAC Sprint and USAC Midget portion in 2021. He’ll pilot his yearlong rides in the Abacus Racing midget, the 2B Racing sprint car and the Rice Motorsports/Abacus Racing Silver Crown car.
Justin Grant (Ione, Calif.) owns a somewhat similar 4-Crown resume as Seavey. Grant has won twice with the USAC Sprint Cars during the 2016 and 2022 event. In 2016, he took second in the USAC Silver Crown finale, and in 2018, came home as the runner-up in the midget. Grant will wheel familiar rides in the RMS Racing midget, the TOPP Motorsports sprint car and the Hemelgarn Racing Silver Crown machine.
Mitchel Moles (Raisin City, Calif.) is somewhat new to the 4-Crown experience but has already picked off a win in the midget at Eldora in 2022. He ran 7th in the ensuing USAC Sprint Car race that same weekend. But this weekend will mark his first Silver Crown try at Eldora. He’ll be in the seat of the Reinbold-Underwood Motorsports midget and sprint car, plus the Hans Lein Silver Crown car.
One of the entertaining extracurricular aspects of the 4-Crown Nationals is drivers jumping in unfamiliar rides and giving it a go – a tradition that back to the inaugural edition in 1981 when Steve Kinser hopped into Johnny Vance’s Silver Crown car and sprint car in a last-minute deal, and promptly put both in victory lane.
This weekend’s 4-Crown Nationals field will have its share of new names in new seats. First, in Silver Crown, 2018 4-Crown Silver Crown runner-up Kevin Thomas Jr. (Cullman, Ala.) will be in the seat of the John Haggenbottom No. 24. Matt Westfall (Pleasant Hill, Ohio) will return to his own No. 54 for the first time since 2021 when he finished second at the 4-Crown.
Westfall had competed all year long in the BCR Group No. 81 before the two recently parted ways. Now occupying the seat of the 81 is upstart Trey Osborne (Columbus, Ohio). Additionally, winged sprint car competitor Zach Hampton (Mooresville, Ind.) will make his series debut in the Armstrong Racing No. 99.
In the midgets, Holly Jones (formerly Holly Shelton) will make her return to the series after finishing 5th, 6th and 6th in the Gold River, California native’s only three Eldora starts between 2016-18. Moles, as previously mentioned, will make his debut in a third Reinbold-Underwood midget.
Two-time winner Rico Abreu returns to the fray with Tanner Thorson Racing after winning the 2013 and 2016 4-Crown events. Furthermore, 2022 USAC East Coast Sprint Car champ and current series point leader Briggs Danner will make his USAC National Midget debut in the E. Schneider & Sons No. 98.
On Friday, September 22, at Eldora, the BeFour the Crowns program will feature the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship, USAC Silver Crown Qualifying & Qualifying Race and the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars. Spectator gates open at 2pm Eastern with the drivers meeting taking place at 5:30pm and cars on track at 6pm. General admission tickets are $35 for adults and free for ages 12 and under. Reserved tickets are $40 for adults and $10 for ages 12 and under.
On Saturday, September 23, at Eldora, the 41st running of the 4-Crown Nationals presented by NKTELCO features the USAC NOS Energy Drink Midget National Championship, USAC AMSOIL Sprint Car National Championship, All Star Circuit of Champions and the USAC Silver Crown National Championship. Spectator gates open at Noon Eastern with a driver autograph session taking place from 3-4pm in the Fan Zone. The drivers meeting will take place at 4:30pm and cars on track at 6pm. General admission tickets are $40 for adults and free for ages 12 and under. Reserved tickets are $45 for adults and $10 for ages 12 and under.
Interstate Batteries Racing Notes
● Texas is Twice as Nice This Weekend. Interstate Batteries, the founding partner at Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), is doubling down for the first time ever this weekend in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth by taking over the primary sponsorship of two NASCAR Cup Series entries. The famed Interstate Batteries medallion will adorn the hoods of both the No. 20 JGR Toyota Camry TRD of driver Christopher Bell and the No. 54 JGR Toyota Camry TRD for driver Ty Gibbs.
● No Double Vision Here. While both paint schemes will highlight the Interstate Batteries brand, they will not be without their differences. Bell will sport the 2023 Interstate Batteries scheme that has appeared on each of the JGR cars at various times throughout the season. Gibbs will sport a scheme with a matte-black base and Interstate Batteries branding in green with gold accents.
Christopher Bell, Driver of the No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry TRD in the NASCAR Cup Series
● Let the (Second Round) Games Begin. Bell is among the 12 drivers who have advanced to the second round of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, which kicks off this weekend with the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400 at Texas. The playoff standings have been reset following last weekend’s Round of 16 finale at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, showing Bell in seventh place, five points above the Round of 8 cutline heading into the 30th race of the 2023 season.
● No Red River Rivalry Here. College football season is in full swing and one of the most storied rivalries in the sport is that between the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas. The Red River Rivalry has been going strong since 1929 and is referred to as such in honor of the “Red River," which runs along much of the border between the states of Texas and Oklahoma. Hailing from Norman, Oklahoma – a mere three hours from Texas Motor Speedway – Bell is considered a bit of a hometown kid when it comes to racing at Texas. That’s something he has in common with his primary sponsor for this weekend’s 400 mile race in the Lone Star State. Interstate Batteries, the outrageously dependable battery brand, is based in Dallas, a few short miles from the Texas oval. This is the fourth of five races at which Bell will pilot the Interstate Batteries-branded Toyota Camry. Interstate Batteries wraps up its 2023 primary role at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway next month with Bell and the No. 20 team.
● Taming Texas. Bell is a five-time NASCAR Cup Series winner and he would like nothing more than to make this weekend’s race at Texas his sixth series win. In four career Cup Series starts at Texas, Bell has earned a pair of third-place finishes – each coming in the track’s fall races in 2020 and 2021. Prior to his Cup Series career, Bell was a regular in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The 2019 season was his last as an Xfinity Series regular – a season in which he scored eight wins, the final of which was at Texas during the track’s fall race. In total, Bell has five starts at Texas in Xfinity Series competition, scoring one win, three top-five finishes and four top-10s.
Ty Gibbs, Driver of the No. 54 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry TRD in the NASCAR Cup Series
● Just a Little Bit Closer. Ty Gibbs makes his 45th career start in the NASCAR Cup Series this weekend at Texas. While he is not part of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoff field competing for the season title, he still has plenty for which to race. Sitting at the top of that to-do list is scoring his first career Cup Series win – a feat he came close to achieving during last Saturday night’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol. To date, Gibbs has a trio of top-five finishes on his 2023 Cup Series racing resume, including his fifth-place finish at Bristol last weekend where he led a total of 102 laps before eventually losing the lead to teammate and eventual race-winner Denny Hamlin with less than 150 laps to go.
● Texas History. The 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval is a track at which Gibbs has pevious Cup Series racing experience. He competed in the 2022 edition of the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 400, qualifying 16th, completing every race lap and finishing 20th. In addition to his lone Cup Series start in the Lone Star State, Gibbs participated in a pair of Xfinity Series races – both during the 2022 season in which he won the Xfinity Series championship. The 20-year old’s best Texas effort was a third-place finish he earned during last November’s Xfinity Series race.
Christopher Bell, Driver Q&A
It’s been a full year since the NASCAR Cup Series has raced at Texas. It’s a track that has seemed to be feast or famine for you. What are your expectations as you head into the weekend?
“This Texas race is the first 400-mile race we’ve been in at the track. That will probably drive the intensity and make every lap more important. Last year, we had tire issues that really set us back, but I feel like our intermediate track program should set us up well this weekend. This race is going to be a very important race when it comes to being able to transfer to the next round in the playoffs. After this, we have Talladega and then the road course at Charlotte.”
You’ve had quite the streak in qualifying – earning the top starting spot in each of the first three playoff races. How important is qualifying up front, particularly at a track like Texas?
“Having a good starting spot is important because you start out with great track position. The other part of it is that it usually means you have a pretty good racecar. We put ourselves in good position. I’m really proud of the Camrys that this 20 group have been able to bring to the races since we’ve started the playoffs. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and the entire team have been doing a great job of being prepared every week.”
What does it mean to be part of this special sponsorhip program Interstate Batteries is executing this weekend with both you and Ty driving cars with Interstate branding?
“Driving the Interstate Batteries car is kind of a right of passage at JGR – it’s like you are officialy part of the club. It’s a big deal to everyone at Interstate Batteries and everyone at JGR – they are the team’s founding partner. It’s an honor to be able to drive that car and would be even more special to win with it and at Texas.”
Ty Gibbs, Driver Q&A
What are your thoughts about this weekend’s 400-mile race at Texas?
“I enjoy racing at Texas and it’s cool that Interstate Batteries has given me a black car for this event. It’s a big weekend for them with myself, (Christopher) Bell and (Trevor) Bayne all running the Interstate Batteries scheme. They are an important part of Joe Gibbs Racing and the founding sponsor, so hopefully we can give them a great weekend.”
Interstate Batteries is the founding partner at JGR. How special is it to be racing the Interstate Batteries colors at its home track this weekend?
“Norm Miller has been great to JGR all the way back to 1991, when my grandfather started this whole thing. He’s just a great guy, and Lain Hancock is doing a great job, and it’s more than a sponsorship – they’re part of the family. And I hope we can put them in victory lane.”
For the first time since it joined Trackhouse Racing in 2022, the Kubota Tractor Corporation's orange paint scheme will adorn Daniel Suárez's No. 99 Chevrolet in a NASCAR Cup Series race.
Suárez will drive the Kubota Chevrolet in Sunday's 500-mile race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
Kubota and Trackhouse Racing announced in November that Ross Chastain and Suárez would carry the Grapevine, Texas company's paint scheme in seven races in the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.
With the sponsorship, Kubota became the Official Tractor Company of Trackhouse Racing. Chastain has driven the Kubota scheme five times in 2023 and will again at Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway on Oct. 22.
“I feel like I am joining a new family,” said Suárez who became the first Mexican driver to win a NASCAR Xfinity title in 2016 and a Cup race in 2022. “Ross has told me so many good things about Kubota and their equipment, so I’m looking forward to joining him in Kubota Country.”
Kubota is the U.S. marketer and distributor of Kubota-engineered and manufactured machinery and equipment, including a complete line of tractors of up to 200 Gross hp* performance-matched implements, compact construction equipment, consumer lawn and garden equipment, hay tools, commercial turf products and utility vehicles.
If history is any indicator, Suárez should have the Kubota Chevrolet at the front of the field in Texas. He has top-12 finishes in four of the last six races at the 1.5-mile oval.
Suárez has a busy weekend planned in Texas in addition to racing. On Saturday at 5 p.m. CDT he'll appear at Portillo’s for autographs and pictures. The event at 4560 Destination Drive, The Colony, Texas, is open to fans. He'll also appear at the Chevrolet display at the race track on Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
USA Network will televise Sunday's race at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Trackhouse Racing PR