Racing News (11769)
Racing News from around the World
Five-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES champion Scott Dixon will have the rare opportunity to win two prestigious international endurance races in the same week when he competes this weekend in Australia's famed Bathurst 12 Hour sports car race on the heels of winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona in record-setting fashion.
On Sunday, Dixon became just the 15th driver in Rolex 24 history to claim three overall victories at Daytona International Speedway. Only six drivers have won more.
Dixon, who drives the No. 9 PNC Bank Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES, previously claimed Rolex 24 overall victories in 2006 and '15, and he was a class champion in '18. All of those wins came with Chip Ganassi's team, which did not field an entry this year.
Dixon won this Rolex 24 in Wayne Taylor Racing's No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R., co-driving with seven-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES race winner Ryan Briscoe, Renger van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi. The overall win was the third in four years for Wayne Taylor's team.
Dixon and his teammates overcame a mid-race pit road penalty to set the Rolex 24 record for the most laps completed in 24 hours (833), breaking the mark of 808 set in 2018.
"For me, the biggest part of the story was how we all came to be part of the team," Dixon said after his first race with Wayne Taylor Racing. "Being part of the reigning race-winning team is probably the hardest thing you can do, because you are trying to repeat. You have that in the back of your mind the whole time.
"We had times during the race with adversity, but the team was able to rebound with strategy and the driver lineup just worked through it in a calm manner, which is hard to do. I've been a part of many 24-hour races in my career, but to come back from the many deficits we had in this race showed the absolute commitment from the team. I'm really proud to be part of the team, and I have to thank Chip (Ganassi) for letting me join Wayne (Taylor), Max (Angelelli) and everyone at Konica Minolta.
"We're winners, that's all that counts."
Dixon did not have much time to savor the Rolex 24 victory as he headed to Australia to see if he could pull off the endurance double in the same week.
In Australia, Dixon will co-drive the No. 76 Aston Martin of R-Motorsport with Jake Dennis and Rick Kelly. The race will begin Saturday at 1:45 p.m. ET.
Dixon wasn't the only NTT INDYCAR SERIES competitor celebrating Sunday in Daytona Beach, Florida. Ben Hanley and the DragonSpeed team won the LMP2 class title, Hanley's first win in the event. The team won last year's Rolex 24 class title, too, and DragonSpeed will have Hanley in its No. 81 10Star Chevrolet entry for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES' season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 15.
Also driving for DragonSpeed was Harrison Newey, whose father, Adrian, designed Indy cars that won series championships and Indianapolis 500s in the 1980s.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing also won a Rolex 24 title for the second consecutive year. This time, the GT Le Mans victory for BMW Team RLL went to the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE rather than the No. 25 entry which included Colton Herta, who drives the No. 88 Honda entry for Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES.
"Whoever thought we were just lucky to win last year were shown otherwise (Sunday)," team co-owner Bobby Rahal said. "That was a battle for 24 hours. The drivers did a fantastic job, and the same goes for the crew. We did not make any mistakes."
Prior to the season opener, the NTT INDYCAR SERIES will be on track Feb. 11-12 with an open test at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. All 17 races will air on NBC and the NBC Sports Network.
The 2020 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will represent a major key moment in Alon Day’s career. The two-time EuroNASCAR Champion has become a Monster Energy athlete and will chase his third European NASCAR title at the wheel of the #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro.
One of the most successful drivers in EuroNASCAR’s history, Alon Day boasts two NWES titles and 20 wins in five seasons in the EuroNASCAR PRO championship with CAAL Racing, together with 10 pole positions and 33 podium finishes. The 27-year-old Ashdod, Israel native was the first NASCAR Next graduate coming from outside North America in 2016 and the first NWES driver to compete in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2017.
“I’m excited! It’s a fresh challenge. With CAAL we won so much and we were so close I consider them as my family, but now this new decade brings a new challenge and new energies to go chase the third championship with a great team like PK Carsport,” said Alon Day, whose #24 Chevrolet Camaro will feature Monster Energy branding. “Becoming a Monster Energy athlete is a dream come true. Every athlete would love to be sponsored by Monster Energy and the fact they choose me is just fantastic and a milestone in my career. I want to make them happy and win as many races I can. I want to be on a different level.”
The 2020 season, kicking-off in Valencia, Spain on April 25-26, will represent a new page in the Israeli’s NASCAR career. Driving for the Belgian team owned by Anthony Kumpen –one of his fiercest rivals, a two-time NWES Champion and former Monster Energy athlete himself – will pose new challenges to Alon, who’s ready and more motivated than ever.
“I expect to be competing at the front of the field in Valencia and I feel great about this new beginning. It will take some time to settle in but we all know PK Carsport is one of the best teams if not the best team in EuroNASCAR. I know it because we fought against each other for a long time. But when two adversaries share the same passion for winning, they can get together and become even stronger together. And this shows how beautiful this sport is,” Day continued. “We will work very hard with Anthony, the team and my teammates and I’ll push myself with the training, the simulator, the gym. I will give the absolute best I can, I want to keep building my legacy and add to the #24 PK Carsport Chevy’s legacy with Monster Energy.”
With two EuroNASCAR PRO titles –both with Anthony Kumpen at the wheel of the #24 Chevy – and two EuroNASCAR 2 titles with Maxime Dumarey and Stienes Longin, PK Carsport fields perennial frontrunners in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series since 2014, when the Belgian team debuted with a pole position in Valencia.
“We are very excited to have Alon with us. He’s such a skillful driver! I’ve been a Monster Energy athlete myself in the past and now Alon is the second to receive Monster Energy’s support and that’s a great honor. Monster is really a cool brand and they do a lot for the sport,” said Kumpen. “I am very happy Monster brought us together and I am looking forward to another great season. The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series keeps growing at a fast pace and that’s one of the reasons why many big sponsors are joining the series with top-level drivers and teams. I can’t wait for the season to start!”
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will begin on April 25-26 at Valencia, Spain and will touch seven different European tracks to bring the excitement of NASCAR racing, surrounded by American-themed family entertainment to seven European countries.
It’s never easy to pull off the coveted “clean sweep” of the competition in a Super Late Model race, especially one at Cherokee Speedway against some of the Southeast’s best drivers. But Clover, SC-native Ross Bailes made it look easy on Sunday afternoon by leading every lap en route to his first career Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series victory over Casey Roberts and Johnny Pursley.
Bailes’ journey to perfection started in Qualifying, where he turned a burning lap of 14.568 seconds and set a new track record. From there, he went on to get the win in Heat 1 which set him up for an outside-pole redraw result.
Bailes grabbed the lead from polesitter Roberts right at the drop of the green and fended off an immediate hounding from the #101 in the opening laps. Using the preferred inside line to his advantage, Bailes was able to maneuver around any lapped traffic that stood in his way as he continued to click laps off.
The race’s only caution flag flew with just nine laps remaining, stacking the field up to Bailes’ rear bumper. Points leader Chris Madden was able to pick off Zack Mitchell on the restart for fourth after running inside the top-five the entire race, earning him yet another top-five finish as he retained his spot atop the overall standings.
But try as they may have on the ensuing restart, the rest of the top-five was unable to reach the back of the Bailes Construction Rocket Chassis #87. He led the field back to the checkered flag on lap 40 to collect $5,000 and the runner-up seat in the points standings.
“Those are hard to come by, where you can be fastest all night,” Bailes said with a big smile after the race. “We had a softer tire on than most of them, so I was trying to protect and make sure I had a tire at the end, but Casey was right there with me. Just a great night for us.”
By now, Bailes has essentially “been there, done that” with most things at Cherokee. Taking home double Sunday’s winner’s share last May in Gaffney for his victorious efforts against the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Model Series, Bailes really had quite the season going to that point. An untimely exit from the Barry Wright Race Cars house program in the fall left him without a ride, but he soon called up Rocket Chassis, who fixed him up with a brand-new car for the 2020 season.
Just 26 days into the new year, and it’s already paying dividends. He now sits second to Madden in overall points with one fewer start than everyone else inside the top-five.
“Rocket – they build a great car. We came and tested the other week and got it dialed in and fitted for me. Right when we unloaded, it felt great for me, and felt great all night,” Bailes said.
Roberts stayed in the two-spot through all 40 laps, maintaining pressure on the leader through traffic. At one point early on, he got a great run into Turn 3 and pulled right up beside Bailes but was unable to make it stick out of Turn 4. Roberts said tire choice had quite a bit to do with his ability to stay with the leader throughout the race.
“Really, I think we had just as good of a car as [Bailes] did, it was just about track position,” Roberts said. “He went with a little softer tire, so he fired better on the start which allowed him to get out front. Once my tires heated up, we were right there with him.”
Like Roberts, Johnny Pursley held his #9 inside the podium for the entire race, also providing a great deal of pressure on the car in front of him. Getting a good jump from outside row-two on the start, Pursley held the third spot all the way to the checkered – a finish he said isn’t typical for his team in a warm, afternoon setting.
“We’re just glad to get a good finish in the daytime. We struggle a lot in the daytime. We’ve got a new crew chief, and we hit on some stuff today, so I think we’re gonna be pretty good [going forward],” Pursley said.
Coming into the race, fellow South Carolinian Trent Ivey was sitting third in overall Xtreme Series points. Early on in Sunday’s Feature, he seemed to be having a decent run going in the top-10 but retired his #88 Ivey Construction Longhorn Chassis with just a few laps remaining – a reported fuel line malfunction ending his day.
It’s time for the season finale at Modoc Raceway! The Drydene Xtreme DIRTcar Series heads to Modoc, SC, for the final race of the Series on February 29, where an inaugural champion will be crowned and awarded the $20,000 points championship check!
Don’t miss a moment of the action – get yourself a DIRTVision Fast Pass subscription today and watch every lap of the upcoming Speedweeks action from Volusia Speedway Park PLUS the big Xtreme Series finale LIVE from Modoc in February!
Feature (40 Laps) 1. 87-Ross Bailes [$5,000]; 2. 101-Casey Roberts [$2,500]; 3. 9-Johnny Pursley [$1,700]; 4. 0M-Chris Madden [$1,400]; 5. 57M-Zack Mitchell [$1,200]; 6. 2W-Pearson Williams [$1,000]; 7. 8-Kyle Strickler [$800]; 8. 23-Ryan Gifford [$700]; 9. 17V-Tim Vance [$600]; 10. 10-Scott Shirey [$550]; 11. 21-Will Harris [$500]; 12. 88-Trent Ivey [$500]; 13. F1-Payton Freeman [$500]; 14. 99-Bobby Sexton [$500] Hard Charger: 10-Scott Shirey[+4]
DIRTcar Racing PR
Team owner Wayne Taylor, forced to shuffle the deck this year when it came to assembling a driver lineup for the 58th Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, came up with a full house of talent. The result: a successful defense of last year’s championship and a third victory in the last four years in North America’s premier sports car race at Daytona International Speedway.
With the exit of his son Jordan to another team and the absence of Formula 1 legend Fernando Alonso, who joined the team only for last year’s Rolex 24, Taylor landed former and current IndyCar Series stars Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon to join returnees Kamui Kobayashi and Renger van der Zande. The foursome co-drove the increasingly iconic No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi to the victory, giving Taylor his fourth Rolex 24 championship as an owner; Taylor also co-drove to victory twice, during his driving days. Dixon, a former Indianapolis 500 champion, came home a Rolex 24 champion for the third time.
Kobayashi brought the Cadillac home Sunday afternoon with a final two-and-a-half-hour stint. The team overcame a stutter-step just after 8:15 a.m., with nearly five-and-a-half hours remaining, Briscoe ran a red light at the pit road exit; the penalty was a stop-and-go the next time around, plus 60 seconds. The lead was lost to the No. 5 Cadillac DPi driven by Loic Duval. At 9:45 a.m., during a round of pit stops with Briscoe back at the wheel, the No. 10 retook the lead for good.
“Just keeping it on the track [was the key],” Briscoe said. “Kamui did a fantastic job the last two-and-a-half hours. We knew the car was fast. We were just relieved there were no yellows at the end so we could maintain the lead. Just so proud of all these guys. Wayne just puts together this program and they are always a car that can win the Rolex 24. Amazing to be a part of it. Whew! We did it.”
As expected, with a slightly smaller field (38 cars) compared to some years, the race pace was relentless and caution periods (33 laps total) were minimal. A total of 833 laps were run on the 3.56-mile road course, equating to 2,965 miles – both race records. The distance traveled by the three cars who finished on the lead lap was roughly the equivalent to a Daytona Beach-Napa Valley cross-country road trip.
Kobayashi crossed the finish line 1 minute, 05.426 seconds ahead of the pole-sitting No. 77 Mazda DPi co-driven by Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla. The No. 5 Cadillac finished third, co-driven by Duval, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais.
“As everybody knows this is a very difficult race to win,” said Taylor, a native of South Africa and a longtime Orlando area resident. “This year was probably more difficult than any other year. We had a [lower] car count, which meant there was not going to be a whole lot of yellows so pretty much everybody was running flat-out the entire time, working really hard.
“Truly, the team was really outstanding. These drivers … can’t say enough about them. They’re like superstars [but] there are no egos. This is a team event and everybody is focusing on the big picture and that’s to win for everybody.”
In addition to capturing the overall championship, Taylor’s team also topped the headlining Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class. Three other classes also competed simultaneously – Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD).
The No. 81 ORECA co-driven by Colin Braun, Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Harrison Newey won the LMP2 title. GTLM was won by John Edwards, Augusto Farfus, Chaz Mostert and Jesse Krohn in the No. 24 BMW M8. And in GTD, Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers, Corey Lewis and Andrea Caldarelli drove the No. 48 Audi R8 to victory.
The Rolex 24 – the season-opening race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season – once again attracted an “all-star” field featuring six former Indianapolis 500 champions plus the two-time and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch. Competing in the Rolex 24 for the first time, Busch co-drove the No. 14 Lexus RC F with Jack Hawksworth, Michael De Quesada and Parker Chase.
Busch nonetheless looked like a sports car veteran at times, doing both double and triple stints to help push the No. 14 to a respectable ninth-place finish in the production-based GTD class. That was no small task. His team’s chances for a class victory took a double hit this weekend: first, when the team didn’t qualify on Thursday because of an engine change, resulting in a rear-of-the-field start; then, when a brake change caused a crippling 10-minute pit stop just before 4:30 a.m., nearly 15 hours into the twice-around-the-clock race.
“We just didn’t have the long-run pace,” Busch said. “Our tires would [wear] and overall it was a real handful there late in runs. That’s kind of where we lost ground. But getting that first 24-hour go was pretty cool so we will see what happens [in the future].”
Auto racing resumes Feb. 8-16 at Daytona International Speedway, with DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth, a nine-day slate of NASCAR racing capped by the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 – “The Great American Race” – on Sunday, Feb. 16.
Tickets for all Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. 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.
Kyle Kirkwood, will join the Andretti Autosport Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires team for the 2020 season26 Jan 2020 Written by Adam Sinclair
The 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires champion, Kyle Kirkwood, will join the Andretti Autosport Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires team for the 2020 season. The rookie stand-out will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.
“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” said Michael Andretti, CEO and Chairman, Andretti Autosport. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”
A native of Jupiter, Florida, Kirkwood started his Road to Indy journey in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship in 2018, where he claimed 12 wins in 14 races [a series record tied with J.R. Hildebrand] and stood on the podium 13 times. In dominating fashion, Kirkwood captured the championship title, earning a scholarship to compete in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship where he won nine races in 2019 in his fight for the series title.
“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” said Kirkwood. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020. We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”
Without a family background in racing, Kirkwood has earned four championships in three years [F4 United States Championship/’17, USF2000 Championship/’18, F3 United States Championship/’18, and Indy Pro 2000 Championship/’19]. Since 2017, the 21-year old has racked up 47 wins and 55 podiums in 71 starts.
Kirkwood will take to the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, for the Indy Lights season opener March 13 – 15.
For more information, visit AndrettiAutosport.com.
- Based on a new chassis common to both ACO and IMSA, using elements of the Le Mans Hypercar and LMP2 chassis, and built by the four current LMP2 manufacturers: Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca. This chassis will also be used for the new generation LMP2.
- The car will use a common hybrid KERS system, on the rear axle.
- Its silhouette and design will be modifiable, developed according to the brand or style of the manufacturer which will provide the engine power for the car
Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG Wins Second Consecutive IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Endurance Race as Season-Opener Ends Under Caution26 Jan 2020 Written by Adam Sinclair
Coming off a career best finish on the Indoor Auto Racing Series fueled by VP, Stephen Kemery has adjusted a busy schedule to compete at the January 31st, February 1st NAPA Know How events at the famous Boardwalk Hall.
In the aftermath of a brilliant second place finish in the PPL Center in Allentown, PA, the Sicklerville, N.J. TQ Midget driver had a surprise revelation to share with journalists at a post-race press conference.
“I won’t be able to run in Atlantic City. I have a college course all day Saturday in Philadelphia and won’t be able to make the race,” said Kemery.
Kemery, however, changed his mind when he discovered he had misread the Saturday time schedule of events for race number three on the “BELFOR Concrete Series”.
“I came out of Allentown so pleased with what we had done. I had run most every one of the Indoor races for four years and the best I had ever done was tenth until Allentown,” said Kemery, who rebounded from the rear after an early spin to have a shot at the win on the final lap.
“I knew we were good there because I was in the top five for the first three practice sessions.”
To race this weekend, Kemery will be on an extremely tight schedule.
“I thought I had read that the Saturday show started at 6:00 PM, but when I looked a second time, I realized I had another hour with the show starting at 7. It’s still going to be really tight, but it’s possible.”
Kemery, 30, is in the midst of a rigorous Executive MBA curriculum at St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia, PA. His class on February 1, as it happens, is a particularly vital one.
“It’s the only class I can’t miss, I might be able to get out half an hour early and I think the drive can be done in under an hour and a half without traffic.”
Kemery will have the opportunity to take time and, hopefully, finish among the top two in one of the four A-Main qualifier races to be run Friday night. If he does, all pressure will be off his shoulders. If he doesn’t, he’ll face a daunting challenge, one compressed by his time constraints.
Kemery will be driving a four year old Hyper Hugger chassis with a 600cc Dave Orange engine powering it. Based on his strong showing on the Saturday night event in Allentown, Kemery, as well as other 600cc powered cars racing against those with 750s, are enthused about this race.
“Anthony Sesely (a three-time Atlantic City Gambler’s Classic winner), Kyle Lick and me were all taking about how well we all did in Allentown against the 750cc TQs,” said Kemery.
“The way the track was in Allentown, it kind of favored the 600s. It didn’t rubber up that much and Atlantic City can get like Allentown was. If it does, one of the 600s can win it again.”
Kemery, who races his family owned No. 69k TQ only during the winter Indoor Series, was in a position to win the Saturday Allentown race. After getting a flat tire early, he got back on track and decided to bide his time. The race, in effect, came back to him.
When leader Ryan Flores’ (2018 Atlantic City winner) left rear tire started losing air in the final laps, Flores slowed and Kemery closed. Flores prevailed by a car length with is left rear air going completely flat in Victory Lane.
Kemery’s racing interests have come full circle. He started out as a 600cc Micro Sprint racer on dirt in 2009 but moved to the full size dirt Sportsman class four years later.
“The Micros were getting very expensive to race on a weekly basis,” Kemery shared. “My father and I decided to build a Sportsman for Bridgeport but that got delayed a year.”
When Kemery did start racing full sized cars on a full sized track he proved to be a quick study, winning immediately, something he is still doing. A victory on Saturday in Atlantic City would be the highlight of his racing career.
Andy Jankowiak, Ryan Flores and Erick Rudolph, the last three winners of the headline Gambler’s Classic TQ Midget races in the building come to Atlantic City are pre-race favorites.
‘Andy J’ of Buffalo, N.Y. still savors his 2019 Gambler’s Classic win as the highlight of his driving career and he wants nothing more to do it again.
After two rounds of Indoor Auto Racing Series action fueled by VP Racing Fuels, Matt Janisch is the current leader in the Championship standings. Janisch, of Nazareth, PA, had Allentown finishes of third and seventh.
Janisch leads upstate New York dirt Modified driver Ryan Bartlett in the TQ standings heading into Atlantic City by ten points. Bartlett made his first start behind the wheel of a new-to-him Lafler built TQ Midget.
Allentown, Pa. opener winner Erick Rudolph is third, 17 markers out of first and Briggs Danner is fourth, 20 points out of the lead. Jankiowiak completes the top five, 24 points out of first.
The wild and crazy Slingshots and darty Champ Karts will make up the triple header program as they have in the past.
Racing action begins on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with Saturday action getting the green flag at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 on Friday night. On Saturday doors open at 5 p.m. with fans holding reserved tickets given the opportunity to attend Fan Fest on the speedway. All cars competing in the program will be positioned on the speedway and drivers made available for autographs until 6:30.
Following the BELFOR “Concrete Series” event in Atlantic City, a special non-point event for Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series fueled by VP Racing Fuels, will be held on a banked clay oval. The third annual East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals will again be held at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J. on Friday and Saturday nights February 21st and 22nd featuring nearly 100 wingless 600cc Sprints.
The “Concrete Series” season finale follows on Friday and Saturday March 13th and 14th in a second year return to the brand new Expo Center located on the grounds of the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. N.Y.
Tickets are currently available in a range of different prices for all the Indoor Series events through links on www.indoorautoracing.com and the different venue box offices.
Lower level reserved seats for Saturday night in Atlantic City, which will gain attendees’ access to the coveted Fanfest are nearly sold out, but plenty of additional tickets are still available.
Indoor Auto Racing PR
California racing star Eddie Tafoya Jr. made a favorable impression in his midget racing debut at last week’s 34th Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Through two-nights of action on the tight Tulsa Expo Center Raceway inside the River Spirit Expo Center, the newcomer stayed out of trouble and moved forward in three of his four races.
Pitted against an intimidating field comprised of 358 other drivers from various disciplines of racing including NASCAR and Indy Cars, the 22-year-old wheeled the A.J. Felker owned Specialty Fasteners FSC/Esslinger at the event that drew nearly 90,000 fans. After a Monday afternoon practice, Tafoya took his first competitive laps in a midget in the Wednesday night preliminary show. The 2019 USAC/CRA and USAC Southwest Series “Rookie of the Year,” started sixth in his eight-lap heat race and finished eighth. It was the only time he did not move forward during his initial Chili Bowl adventure.
The heat race finish put Tafoya in one of the night’s C mains. This time he caught the eye of pit siders starting 10th and advancing four positions to finish sixth. Unfortunately, the race was only 12-laps and he ran out of time before he could get to one of the transfer spots.
For Saturday’s finale, Tafoya found himself in one of the K features early in the day. He started seventh in the 10-lapper and advanced one spot forward to book a ticket into one of the J features.
The J feature proved to be the event newcomer’s best outing of the week. Against a tougher field, handsome Tafoya started dead last in the 15-car lineup and he was headed for a transfer to one of the I features. He passed six-cars and was up to ninth, but once again, “Father Time” worked against him as the race was only 10-laps and he finished shy of the advancing positions. However, it was a fitting way to close his first Chili Bowl with another forward performance that met with the approval of many longtime race watchers.
With his first midget experience behind him, Tafoya will now concentrate on getting back to the friendly confines of his silver #51 sprint car for the opening of the 2020 season. His first race will be in the USAC Southwest Series “Steve Stroud Memorial” at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Arizona on February 14 and 15. He will return to the same Arizona oval for the “Spring Showcase” with the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars on March 6 and 7.
Tafoya and his team would like to thank the following sponsors for backing him in last year’s run to the Rookie of the Year Crown. Specialty Fasteners, Circle Track Performance and Sprint Car Driving Experience.
Eddie Tafoya Jr. PR