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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.

 

UP NEXT

 

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 [2][$5,000]; 2. 101-Casey Roberts [1][$2,500]; 3. 9-Johnny Pursley [4][$1,700]; 4. 0M-Chris Madden [5][$1,400]; 5. 57M-Zack Mitchell [6][$1,200]; 6. 2W-Pearson Williams [8][$1,000]; 7. 8-Kyle Strickler [7][$800]; 8. 23-Ryan Gifford [11][$700]; 9. 17V-Tim Vance [10][$600]; 10. 10-Scott Shirey [14][$550]; 11. 21-Will Harris [12][$500]; 12. 88-Trent Ivey [3][$500]; 13. F1-Payton Freeman [9][$500]; 14. 99-Bobby Sexton [13][$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.

 

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. 

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and North America’s sanctioning body for endurance racing, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), have today announced that agreement has been reached for a common future with convergence of the top categories of endurance racing.
 
On the occasion of the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the two sanctioning bodies unveiled the guiding principle for this platform – the introduction as the top category of competition of LMDh, which will be eligible for both the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This joint platform responds to the wishes of numerous manufacturers.
 
The chance for automotive manufacturers to compete with the same car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, at SuperSebring or at Spa-Francorchamps, at the Motul Petit Le Mans or even Silverstone, will soon become a reality.
 
The ACO and IMSA have together established the basis for joint regulations to govern the new LMDh category. The objective is that, from September 2021 in the FIA WEC and from January 2022 in the WeatherTech Championship, manufacturers will be able to enter the top category and compete in the two leading championships in endurance racing with this new model of car, LMDh.
 
The two sanctioning bodies were inspired by elements from each of their respective regulations, namely from the ACO’s Le Mans Hypercar and those in preparation by IMSA for the DPi 2.0.
 
The result of this convergence, the LMDh car will be:
 
  • 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
 
More technical details for the car will be revealed in March at SuperSebring, in a presentation from the ACO and IMSA Technical Departments.
 
In the future the top category of endurance racing will include both LMDh and Le Mans Hypercar. A balance of performance system will ensure fair competition. 
 
Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO: “This announcement today is the crucial starting point for a joint endurance racing future, supported by both the ACO and IMSA. The platform represents the convergence achieved by both organisations which is a great success story for endurance racing.  A manufacturer will soon be able to compete in the top category of two championships, the FIA WEC and the WeatherTech Championship. We can’t emphasise enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”
 
Jim France, IMSA Chairman: “When my father, Bill France Sr., brought the first Daytona Continental sports car race here to Daytona International Speedway back in 1962, he wanted to bring together sports car drivers, teams and manufacturers from around the world. With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”
 
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship: “The big winner today is endurance racing as the door is now opened to many additional competitors to compete at the highest level on both sides of the Atlantic with the same car. The two sanctioning bodies should be congratulated for their vision and spirit of collaboration. Le Mans Hypercars and the new LMDh cars racing together at Le Mans or Daytona will be an incredibly exciting prospect for endurance fans across the world.”
 
John Doonan, IMSA President: “On the eve of IMSA’s 51st season of competition, future race fans will regard today as one of the most significant of all time for IMSA, the ACO and the world of sports car racing. Providing a common platform for top-level prototype racing globally has been a goal for the sanctioning bodies, our manufacturers – and most importantly, sports car racing fans everywhere – for many years, and we are proud to say the opportunity has finally arrived. We are grateful for the collaboration with our partners at the ACO and the open dialogue with our manufacturer partners that led us to today’s introduction of the LMDh platform.”
 
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced the addition of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a partner in its IMSA Green Racing program. The DOE joins existing program partners – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and SAE International.
 
This extension further helps IMSA pursue Green Racing protocols and its own IMSA Green program. These programs keep its racing relevant for manufacturers and marketing partners by using proactive environmental responsibility. The government partnerships allow IMSA to collaborate with official partners such as Michelin and VP Racing Fuels to advance these important initiatives.
 
“IMSA is thrilled to extend its partnership with the DOE as part of the IMSA Green program,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “Their addition to our existing relationships with the EPA and SAE International show the commitment of these agencies in working with us in the consistently changing mobility landscape. These affiliations prove motorsports, and in particular IMSA, can be innovative in this space while remaining attractive to our stakeholders and fans.”
 
“Working with IMSA provides a great opportunity to showcase cutting-edge technologies for clean and efficient vehicles,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons. “The past association between IMSA and DOE has been critical to the development and implementation of this program and we welcome the renewal of this relationship.”
 
IMSA is focused on identifying ways to return to the Green Challenge Championship status as it defined in the SAE J2880 Green Racing protocols which were first published in 2008 and revised in 2014. Currently the sanctioning body operates at the Green Racing Series level.
Riley Motorsports knows endurance racing.
 
Not only has the team won three consecutive IMSA Michelin Endurance Cups from 2017 – 2019 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but they are now back-to-back endurance race winners in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
 
Following the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway to open the season, the No. 35 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Dylan Murry, Jim Cox and Jeroen Bleekemolen crossed the finish line first to claim the Grand Sport (GS) victory. The same trio of drivers also won last summer’s four-hour race at Watkins Glen International – and Murry and Cox also won November’s four-hour Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring.
 
“We’re petitioning IMSA to make all races four hours now,” said Cox.
 
However, the Mercedes-AMG didn’t cross the finish line at normal race pace. The yellow flag came out with 15 minutes left on the clock after Scott Maxwell’s No. 19 Ford Mustang GT4 slid across the grass in the bus stop and rear-first into the tire barrier. The car flipped upside down after the incident, but Maxwell was not injured.
 
The win for the Riley Motorsports trio is the second of their Pilot Challenge careers. The first was that race at Watkins Glen.
 
“I think the whole Riley team has done well with pit stop strategy and preparation,” said Bleekemolen, who has been a part of the team for each of the endurance accomplishments. “That’s definitely a big part of it, and then obviously Jim and Dylan also drove well, so it’s the whole thing together. I’ve ran a lot with this team, also in the [Rolex] 24, and we’ve always been leading the races here, sometimes even most of the race just because they have a good car, they know how to do it.”
 
Murry held a decent gap over another Mercedes-AMG, the No. 57 of Philip Ellis for Winward Racing before the caution came out, but that wasn’t always the case. Stalking from second place, Ellis gained on Murry and wound up leading two laps as the final pit-stop sequence occurred. However, Riley Motorsports’ work in the pits cycled Murry back into the lead for the remainder of the race.
 
“To be able to drive at Daytona is one thing, to be able to win here is an entirely different level, different world,” said Murry. “I can’t describe the emotions I’m going through right now. My dad has raced here, I grew up coming to this 24-hour race all my life watching my dad race, go around, and I finally get to stand on victory lane. It’s touching and special to me. I always said if I could win one race it would be Daytona and it’s come true and it’s exciting.”
 
Ellis and co-driver Bryce Ward held on for the runner-up finish while their sister car, the No. 4 shared by Indy Dontje and Russell Ward, made it a podium sweep for the German manufacturer.
 
The BMW Endurance Challenge race broadcast will air on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 6. It is also available on-demand on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
Road Shagger Racing Audi Clinches Memorable TCR Victory
While the race anticlimactically ended under caution, the thrill and excitement from Gavin Ernstone was as palpable as ever as he watched the No. 61 Road Shagger Racing Audi RS3 LMS come to the checkered flag.
 
Watching his co-driver, Jon Morley, cross the finish line first among the TCR class cars, Ernstone stood on the pit wall reveling in the fact they had just won on the 3.56-mile circuit at the World Center of Racing.
 
While they’ve experienced victory once before (at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last year) during the team’s inaugural season, it’s clear this one will be long remembered.
 
“It was extremely emotional for me,” said Ernstone. “Daytona is legendary all around the world. We can say we won at Daytona. I was sobbing like a baby. I couldn’t watch the last 45 minutes of the race. (It was certainly) emotional for me, I’m sure for Jon too, it was huge and one of the biggest days of my life for sure.”
 
The No. 61 Audi started 11th on the grid, but slowly worked its way through the field. During the final pit stop of the race, Morley came within inches of the No. 32 Speed Syndicate Motorsports Audi of Mikey Taylor. In similar fashion to the GS class winners, a clutch pit stop kept the Road Shagger machine a fraction ahead of Taylor as the two cars left pit lane nose-to-tail, but Morley kept Taylor’s Audi at bay.
 
Taylor and co-driver William Tally finished second, while Stephen Simpson and Michael Johnson in the No. 54 machine for JDC-Miller Motorsports finished third, making it an all-Audi podium.
 
“I settled in following three other Audis all with incredible drivers in them,” said Morley. “We were helping each other, drafting, I could hang with them, I’d catch them every once and awhile. It didn’t feel like I had a distinct advantage on them, but there was a lot of time left. If I stuck with them, I knew my crew would get me by them and they did."
 
The second race of the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season takes place at Sebring International Raceway during the SuperSebring weekend on March 18 – 21. The two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 goes green on Thursday, March 19 at 3:50 p.m. ET. That race is available live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. Tickets can be purchased at SebringRaceway.com.
 

 

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.

Corporate sponsorship at a variety of levels is available for all remaining events. Interested parties should contact Danny Sammons at 609-888-3618 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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

Only the elite teams with top flight drivers win a TQ Midget feature on the Indoor Auto Racing Series fueled by VP. Just qualifying for one of the five 40 lap features held annually is considered an achievement by many of the competitors.

When Saturday night’s NAPA Know How feature takes place inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on February 1st, 26 drivers will take the green flag, but an equal will be disappointed spectators.

Thanks to long time series sponsor Dr. Williams Lowe, 15 drivers who failed to qualify for the first two events of 2020 held inside the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. will get their own shot in racing in Saturday’s prestigious Gambler’s Classic.

For the second consecutive year, Dr. Lowe is sponsoring a Friday night non-qualifiers race which will reward the race winner with a spot in Saturday’s 40 lap feature.

The Allentown non-qualifiers will compete against one another in an added event to open the NAPA KNOW HOW weekend on Friday night January 31st. The winner of the Dr. Lowe Second Chance 15 will earn the last starting spot in the 18th running of the Gambler’s Classic on Saturday, February 1st. As a side benefit, the race winner will receive $200, the last starting spot in the race and all starters will receive added track time.

Drivers eligible to compete in the Dr. Lowe’s Second Chance 15 for the TQ Midgets are Bruce Leote, Chad Jones, Chris deRitis, Christopher Hirt, Cole Mullen, Cory Grenzy, Dakota Kessler, Derek Robbie, Jesse Maurer, Kyle Hutchinson, Rob Schultz, Ron Mullen, Shea Willis, Tim Nye and Tyler Lindsay.

Randy Cabral driving the Donnie Preece owned TQ won the inaugural Second Chance race in 2019. Cabral, who had never qualified in 10 past Atlantic City appearances, then made the show under normal merits. That gave Marc Johnson a second chance and he started shotgun in Saturday’s race.

Preece’s car is again eligible for the Second Chance race with this year’s driver Kyle Hutchinson who made his debut in the car in Allentown in January.

Ryan Bartlett, Stephen Kemery and Jeremey Haudricourt who were in last year’s Second Chance qualifier race are not eligible this year after having career best finishes in Allentown.

Two top finishes in Allentown has Bartlett second in the point standings entering Atlantic City’s race weekend. If needed, he would be eligible for a points provisional as long as current leader in the standings Matt Janisch qualifies.

Kemery finished a career best second in Saturday’s feature in Allentown while Haudricourt was thrilled with his third place in that same event.

The quick and agile Champ Karts and the unpredictable and rugged Slingshots will once again be part of the triple header along with the headline TQ Midgets.

Friday Night action will include not only the Dr. Lowe Second Chance 15 that will open the show but it will be followed by four 20 lap A-Main Qualifiers for the TQ Midgets. Champ Karts and Slingshots will also compete in qualifying events.

On Saturday night, heat races for the TQ Midgets will be followed by B-Mains, a Dash and feature events for the Slingshots and Champ Karts. The program will end with the 40 lap Gambler’s Classic.

Past Gambler’s Classic TQ Midget feature race winners include first time winners Andy Jankowiak in 2019 and Ryan Flores in 2018. Both will be in search of a second victory.

Three-time winner Erick Rudolph (2012, 2015, and 2017), the defending series champion, is coming off a win in the 2020 opener in Allentown.

Another three time winner, Anthony Sesely (2013, 2014, and 2016) will be a strong contender as well. The late Ted Christopher won twice (2009, 2011) as did Lou Cicconi, Jr. (2006, 2010) and Joey Payne (2004, 2007).  The first Gambler’s Classic winner, Andy Mackereth (2003), Jeff Heotzler (2005) and Mike Tidaback (2008) are all one time winners.

Indoor auto racing inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall dates back to the late 1930s.  Indoor racing was revived for the first time in 1965 and continued through 1981 when, with the advent of casino gambling, racing ceased. Len Sammons brought the event back to life in 2003.

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.

Information, including ticket links for all event, are available at indoorautoracing.com. Tickets are also available daily and the day of the events at the Boardwalk Hall box office.

Indoor Auto Racing PR

After five years Gianmarco Ercoli will return to the team he made his NASCAR Whelen Euro Series debut with. Poised to become the first driver to win both EuroNASCAR championships, the Italian will drive one of CAAL Racing’s cars in EuroNASCAR PRO in the 2020 season.

It was with CAAL Racing that Ercoli entered his first EuroNASCAR 2 race at Brands Hatch in 2014, when he was 19 years old. That first season saw him go exceptionally close to Victory Lane several times and ended with two podium finishes. Ercoli and CAAL Racing then parted ways and the Rome native grabbed the 2015 EuroNASCAR 2 title and his maiden EuroNASCAR PRO win all for the Racers Motorsport organization. The first EN2 Champion to reach Victory Lane in the PRO championship, Ercoli is now back where he began, with the clear goal to put his name in the NASCAR Hall Of Fame as the fifth NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion.

“With CAAL we always had a good relationship and we kept in touch in the last few years and I am really happy to join them in 2020. We already did very well together and we want to pick up where we left. I’m sure they are perfectly prepared and we’ll have to work to hit the ground running in Valencia,” said Ercoli, who already took part in an early test session with CAAL. “I want to thank everybody at Racers Motorsport because we had five great years together. Now I’m ready to open a new chapter and I’m looking forward to hit the track again soon!”

CAAL Racing is one of the powerhouses of the European NASCAR championship. The Italian team took the NWES crown two times in a row with Alon Day and scored an outstanding 28 wins and 19 pole positions overall – the most all-time – in EuroNASCAR’s top category with four different drivers.

“We are very happy to have Gianmarco back with us after 5 years. He’s a driver who showed since the very beginning he has the potential to be among the best and the last few years he improved a lot and CAAL Racing did as well,” said Luca Canneori, CAAL Racing’s team manager. “We did a positive test and we are looking forward to the upcoming season, we are confident we can fight for the title and we believe Gianmarco can take the final step and climb on top of the final podium in Hockenheim.”

In the 2019 season, Ercoli ended up seventh in points after scoring one podium in Hockenheim and eight top-10 results in 13 races. His best results came in the four playoff races, in which he never finished outside the top-5.

“The ambition is the same as the other 30 drivers on the grid: winning. We want to be competitive for the win right from the start and score as many points as possible because with such a strong competition in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the margin for error is getting smaller and smaller every year,” concluded Ercoli. “I am particularly looking forward to the Vallelunga playoff race because it’s my home track and it’s a challenging one. I’ll be even more motivated and I’ll wait for everybody at the Colosseum!”

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship will kick off on April 25-26 at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, with four exciting NASCAR races around the 4Km Spanish road course.

NWES PR

New England Modified and SK Modified standout Matt Galko will be broadening his racing horizons substantially by competing in the TQ Midget events at the NAPA Know How Indoor Auto Racing Series races inside Atlantic City, NJ’s famed Boardwalk Hall. 

Galko of Meriden. CT, is the latest entrant for the BELFOR Concrete Series events part of the Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series fueled by VP Racing Fuels, being held Friday and Saturday, January 31st and February 1st.  The 26 year-old driver will be making his first start indoors and in a TQ Midget behind the wheel of a car owned by Nick Giordano of Oxford, CT.

“I’ve been to Atlantic City before, about four years ago, but only to watch. Coming back to drive was on my bucket list and now I have the opportunity,” Galko said.

The chance to race came about when car owner Giordano’s 2020 Indoor Auto Racing Series driver Derek Robbie had a date conflict with the Atlantic City race. Though Robbie will be in the car again at the series finale in Syracuse, N.Y. on March 13th and 14th, Galko is Atlantic City bound.

“I think I have as good a chance as anybody,” Galko said. “I’ve always been able to learn new tracks pretty quickly.”

Galko’s progression started with Quarter Midgets, then Half Midgets and ultimately Micro Sprints on dirt at the now closed Whip City Speedway in Massachusetts. He then moved to asphalt racing for the first time, and moved through the ranks at Stafford Motor Speedway to become a feature winning SK Modified driver.

For the 2020 outdoor season, however, Galko and his family-owned team is heading in a different direction.

“We’re going to run as many of the Open Modified races as we can,” Galko said. “There are a lot of them at Stafford, the Tri Track Open Modified Series has a good schedule at different tracks and there are other opportunities to race a Tour Mod including the Tour itself.”

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.

Jeremy Haudricourt, Shawn Nye, Tim Buckwalter, Ryan Flores, who also won in Allentown, and Anthony Payne are sixth through tenth.

The wild and crazy Slingshots and darty Champ Karts will make up the tripleheader program as they have in the past.

Dylan Hoch and Tyler Brown, winners of the Allentown Indoor opening races in Slingshot and Champ Kart action, are atop their point standings heading into Atlantic City.

Danny Buccafusca is the reigning Atlantic City Indoor Slingshot race winner and Doug Stearly was the 2019 Champ Kart Atlantic City race winner. Both are entered in this year’s races.

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.

Corporate sponsorship at a variety of levels is available for all remaining events. Interested parties should contact Danny Sammons at 609-888-3618 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Indoor Auto Racing PR

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