Racing News (11518)
Racing News from around the World
Kyle Larson took the lead from Michael Pickens on lap 11 of 30 and never looked back in winning his second consecutive USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series feature in the “November Classic” at Bakersield Speedway, Saturday night.
Pickens would finish second, while Rico Abreu placed third as Toyota-powered entries captured the top three finishing positions on the night. With one race remaining, Toyota has registered 44 national midget car feature triumphs this year, an all-time program best.
Starting from the pole, Pickens drove straight to the lead at the green flag, followed by Jesse Colwell, Jason McDougal, Larson, Spencer Bayston, Jerry Coons, Jr. and Logan Seavey.
After a red flag on the second lap, Larson would overtake McDougal for third and then pass Colwell for second on the next circuit. He then set his sights on Pickens and closed quickly on the leader before another red flag waved on lap six as Carson Macedo and Zeb Wise got together.
The battle continued after the restart with Pickens and Larson trading sliders back and forth for the lead on laps six through nine. Behind the top two, Abreu was the man on the move, climbing from his 12th starting position into a battle for the top five before a yellow flag flew after contact between Bayston and Tyler Courtney on lap 10.
On the following green flag, Pickens was able to hold Larson off for one more lap before Larson would eventually be able to complete the pass for the lead coming off turn two and then pushing past down the back straightaway. Pickens fell to second, with Courtney in third, Colwell in fourth and Abreu into the fifth position.
By the midway point on lap 15, Abreu had moved into fourth at Larson continued to pace the field.
As the laps began to wind down, the leaders were forced to navigate heavy lapped traffic, but Larson proved up to the task as he opened up a comfortable lead, while Abreu moved into third, going inside of Courtney in turn three on lap 23.
A final caution came out on lap 28, setting up a two-lap dash to the finish. Once again, Larson pulled away on the green flag, as Pickens and Abreu fought for second, but Pickens was able to hold him off and at the checkers it was Larson, Pickens, Abreu, Courtney and Colwell as Toyota-powered cars captured four of the top-five positions.
Also finishing in the top 10 were McDougal in sixth, Gio Scelzi in seventh, Thomas Meseraull in eighth, Jerry Coons in ninth and Tanner Carrick was tenth. Meseraull earned the night’s Hard Charger Award after starting the event 20th.
The USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series closes out the 2019 campaign with the 79th annual Turkey Night Grand Prix at Ventura Raceway on Thanksgiving night.
Derek Kraus and the Bill McAnally Racing team took home top honors Saturday night after being crowned NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champions at the NASCAR Awards ceremony at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Crown Ballroom in Charlotte, North Carolina.
It marked the first NASCAR championship for Kraus – a Stratford, Wisconsin 18-year-old who was behind the wheel of BMR’s No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry.
With a ninth series title, meanwhile, the Roseville, California-based BMR team established a new record for winning championships in the series and for NASCAR Regional Touring overall.
Bill McAnally accepted the championship car owner trophy during the awards ceremony, which Mike Curb was not available to attend. Mike Rearden accepted the championship sponsor award on behalf of NAPA AUTO PARTS. The championship crew chief award went to John Camilleri.
Kraus was presented with the championship trophy and NASCAR championship ring.
“Just to be able to compete in the K&N Series is amazing to me, and to be on stage as a champion is very humbling,” Kraus said.
“From sitting in the stands with my mom, watching my dad race, to racing go karts and getting my first victory, I just fell in love with the sport,” he said. “From the time I told them I knew racing is what I wanted to do, they’ve supported me in every way possible, and so has my sister, Lauren. We race as a family and it means everything to me.”
Kraus set the pace for much of this season – leading 812 of 1,844 laps of K&N West competition. He led laps in 10 of the 14 races, led the most laps in six of those events, and led flag-to-flag in three of the events. He scored five wins, along with two poles, 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes in 14 series starts.
He wrapped up his season with a 49-point lead in the standings; the largest margin since the series adopted its current point system in 2012.
Kraus also finished seventh in the standings for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this year – with two wins, six top-five and nine top-10 finishes in nine starts.
In addition to the championship, BMR also celebrated having all three of its drivers in the top five of the final championship standings for 2019 – with Hailie Deegan being presented the trophy for finishing third and series rookie Brittney Zamora taking home the hardware for fifth place.
Deegan – an 18-year-old from Temecula, California – was in her second year of series competition, driving the No. 19 Monster Energy / NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota for BMR. She added to her record-setting rookie season of a year ago, this year becoming the first woman to lead the championship standings of a series at the regional or national levels of NASCAR.
In finishing third in points, she set a new mark for the highest ranking by a female driver in the final standings in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, East or West.
Deegan concluded her year with two wins, three poles, eight top-five and 11 top-10 finishes in 14 starts.
Zamora drove BMR’s No. 99 NAPA Filters / ENEOS Toyota Camry in her freshman year in the series. In addition to finishing fifth in the overall standings, she was second in rookie points for 2019. The 20-year-old from Kennewick, Washington scored two pole awards, along with six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 14 starts.
Deegan and Zamora also ran select events in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East this year – finishing 10th and 11th, respectively, in the final standings.
While it was BMR’s ninth K&N West championship, four of those titles came in the past five years. Previous series championships were in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2008, 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2017. In terms of victories, BMR now has 99 overall wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
“This marked another great season for everyone at BMR,” said BMR President Bill McAnally. “All three drivers and their teams should be proud of what they accomplished. It’s been great to be a part of the development of all three of these drivers.
“Derek has demonstrated his talent behind the wheel during his three years at BMR, and this year it netted him a championship,” McAnally said. “Hailie continued to break barriers and set records in her second season with BMR. And Brittney stepped up to the challenge of moving up to the K&N Series this year.
“Of course, none of this would be possible without the great sponsors we have,” McAnally said. “We are grateful for their support and continued loyalty.”
SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks has announced its schedule for the 2020 season. It will feature a total of 20 rounds of action next year, visiting ten different tracks in three different countries.
For the fourth time in series history, the SuperLoop 500 in Adelaide, SA, Australia, will be included on the schedule in conjunction with the Virgin Australia Supercars opening round early in the SST season.
After a year absence, the trucks will be back in South Australia, and will feature drivers from both the United States and Australia in the first of three co-sanctioned events with the newly formed Boost Mobile Super Trucks.
The longest-running event on the Stadium SUPER Trucks schedule will also be back for the eighth consecutive year as the trucks take to the streets of Long Beach, Calif., April 17-19, for the 47th running of the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
After a successful return to the Honda Indy Toronto in 2019, Canadian motorsports fans will revel in the thrills of STT being featured again on the NTT IndyCar Series weekend. On July 10-12, the streets of Toronto will showcase the excitement of SST racing for the sixth time.
Starting the stretch of four race weekends in a month, the trucks will the make a stop for a third time at Wisconsin’s Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wis., August 7-8, in conjunction with the NASCAR Xfinity Series Henry 180.
After making two visits to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2019 with all kinds of wild racing action, the loyal fans of Ohio will be treated to a return trip of Stadium SUPER Trucks as part of The Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio weekend, August 14-16.
The second of three events co-sanctioned with the Boost Mobile Super Trucks will see the American drivers head back to Australia, August 29-30, for a return to the Sydney Motorsport Park in Sydney, New South Wales, for a race under the lights. This will be the first time SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks will compete on a road course at night. The first appearance of SST at Sydney Motorsport Park was back in 2018 at an event with AMRS.
Returning to the Pacific Northwest for the second straight year, Portland International Raceway will be host to SST again along with the NTT IndyCar Series, September 4-6.
To close out the 2020 campaign, SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks will return to the Gold Coast to compete on the Streets of Surfers Paradise for the fourth time. A venue favorite of the series boasting large crowds and a picture perfect beachfront track provides the perfect scenario to crown the 2020 champion. Gold Coast will be the last of three events co-sanctioned with Boost Mobile Super Trucks.
Stay tuned to StadiumSuperTrucks.com and Facebook.com/StadiumSuperTrucks for additional event dates to be announced in the coming weeks.
2020 SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks Schedule
February 1; Southern California Stadium*
February 20-23; SuperLoop 500; Adelaide, SA, Australia **
April 17-19; Long Beach Grand Prix, Long Beach, California
July 10-12; Honda Indy Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
August 7-8; Road America; Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
August 14-16; Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course; Lexington, Ohio
August 28-30; Sydney Motorsport Park; Sydney, NSW, Australia**
September 4-6; Portland International Raceway; Portland, Oregon
October 30-November 1; Surfers Paradise Street Circuit; Gold Coast, QLD, Australia**
*Look for an announcement with additional dates in the coming weeks
** Co-Sanctioned with Boost Mobile Super Trucks
New for 2020, Stadium SUPER Trucks in Australia has expanded to feature its own series schedule in conjunction with existing Virgin Australia SuperCar events under the banner of Boost Mobile Super Trucks.
The Australian campaign will kick off February 20-23 with the SuperLoop 500 in Adelaide, South Australia. The opening event of the Boost Mobile Super Trucks schedule will be co-sanctioned with SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks and will feature both drivers from the United States and Australia competing.
The next two events will feature new tracks for SST with Symmonds Plains Raceway in Launceston, Tasmania hosting an event, April 3-5. While a week later, the trucks will be loaded on a ship for the Pukekohe Raceway, April 24-26, and the first event in the country of New Zealand.
The remaining schedule will feature the Boost Mobile Super Trucks to return to venues that have hosted previously. Making a third appearance at the Barbagallo Racway in Perth, Western Australia, SST will take to the track, May 15-17, for the first of two night events on the schedule in 2020. Following Perth, the trucks will make the cross-country journey for the second appearance at the Townsville Street Circuit in Townsville, Queensland, June 26-28.
Traveling to the north for the second time in the trucks history, the Hidden Valley Raceway in Darwin, Northern Territory, will be part of all the action, July 17-19.
For the second co-sanctioned event with the SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks, the drivers from the North American series will join the Australians for a twilight shootout, August 28-30, at the Sydney Motorsports Park in Sydney, New South Whales.
The closing event in the Inaugural Boost Mobile Super Trucks season will see the high-flying trucks return to the streets of Surfers Paradise on the Gold Coast. Similar to Adelaide and Sydney, both drivers from Boost Mobile Super Trucks and SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks will be in action for the final event in both series. Two champions will be crowned the weekend of October 30-November 1.
2020 Boost Mobile Super Trucks Schedule
February 20-23; Adelaide Street Circuit; Adelaide, SA, Australia**
April 3-5; Symmonds Plains Raceway; Launceston, TAS, Australia
April 24-26; Pukekohe Raceway; Auckland, New Zealand
May 15-17; Barbagallo Raceway; Perth, WA, Australia
June 26-28; Townsville Street Circuit; Townsville, QLD, Australia
July 17-19; Hidden Valley Raceway; Darwin, NT, Australia
August 28-30; Sydney Motorsport Park; Sydney, NSW, Australia**
October 30-November 1; Surfers Paradise Street Circuit; Gold Coast, QLD, Australia **
**Co-Sanctioned with SPEED Energy Stadium SUPER Trucks
More events and new locales are highlights featured in the 2020 Tire Rack SCCA® ProSolo® schedule, which has now been unveiled. In 2020, the ProSolo Series, America’s Premier Autocross Championship Series, will encompass 13 events -- two more than last year -- and include new stops in North Carolina, Maryland, Texas and Tennessee.
March will see the start of ProSolo’s season in 2020 with a visit to zMAX Dragway just outside Charlotte, North Carolina. Then it’s off to the West Coast in April for the next two rounds, the first taking place at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California, followed by the annual visit to Crows Landing in Northern California. And as usual, fantastic welcome parties are anticipated on both coasts.
The fifth month of the year will be very busy for ProSolo participants as four different events will take place in May. Things get cranking early with a stop in Grenada, Mississippi, before Round 5 occurs at FedExField outside of Washington, D.C. Then it’s off to the Tire Rack Spring Nationals ProSolo in Lincoln, Nebraska, which is a “must run” event for those chasing a ProSolo series championship. Action then concludes in May with the Tire Rack Texas ProSolo being held this year at GrandSport Speedway in Hitchcock, Texas.
ProSolo’s eighth round will tentatively be the Tire Rack Peru ProSolo in Indiana. However, discussions are still being conducted with two other potential sites within the Great Lakes Division. Competitors should mark June 12-14 on their calendars, but check back to the 2020 ProSolo schedule webpage for updates on the location of that event.
June closes out at Heartland Motorsports Park in Topeka, Kansas, before July opens with Round 10 at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee. Action then switches to the West Coast again for the 14th Tire Rack Packwood ProSolo in Washington, perhaps the most picturesque destination on the ProSolo calendar -- and the only event with a covered paddock!
The penultimate ProSolo event in 2020 will again take place in Oscoda, Michigan on a patch of concrete just a few miles from Lake Huron. It’s a pleasant way to end the “regular season” before it’s back to Lincoln, Nebraska in September for the annual Tire Rack ProSolo Finale.
More information regarding ProSolo event structure, classing and index will be released in the coming weeks. Check back to www.scca.com/solo for the latest program news and information. Of particular note is a new event structure for some of the unconventional locations on the schedule.
The schedule is subject to change, but the current 2020 Tire Rack SCCA ProSolo calendar rundown is as follows:
- March 20-22: Tire Rack Charlotte ProSolo; Concord, North Carolina
- April 3-5: Tire Rack Fontana ProSolo; Fontana, California
Auto Club Speedway
- April 24-26: Tire Rack Crows Landing ProSolo; Crows Landing, California
NASA Crows Landing Airport
- May 1-3: Tire Rack Grenada ProSolo; Grenada, Mississippi
Grenada Municipal Airport
- May 15-17: Tire Rack D.C. ProSolo; Landover, Maryland
- May 22-23: Tire Rack Spring Nationals ProSolo; Lincoln, Nebraska
- May 29-31: Tire Rack Texas ProSolo; Hitchcock, Texas
- June 12-14 (tentative): Tire Rack Peru ProSolo; Peru, Indiana
- June 26-28: Tire Rack Topeka ProSolo; Topeka, Kansas
Heartland Motorsports Park
- July 2-3: Tire Rack Summer Nationals; Bristol, Tennessee
Bristol Motor Speedway
- July 17-19: Tire Rack Packwood ProSolo; Packwood, Washington
Former Hampton Lumber Mills Packwood
- July 31-Aug. 2: Tire Rack Oscoda ProSolo; Oscoda Township, Michigan
- September 4-6: Tire Rack ProSolo Finale; Lincoln, Nebraska
During traditional ProSolo events, drivers face off, side-by-side, at a “Christmas Tree” start before launching down a straightaway and into mirror image autocross courses. Three heats of class competition give drivers 12 total runs, six on each course. Like other Solo competitions, runs are timed to 1/1000th of a second and knocking a cone down means a two-second penalty added to a time. New for 2020 will be the introduction of PS1, a new concept for some unique sites on the 2020 calendar. Stay tuned for details on this and many updates coming soon to the ProSolo series.
Opening runs determine class rankings and set the qualifying order for the second part of the event which determines the overall winner. Top qualifiers enter single-elimination brackets and conduct runoffs until only one driver remains; The Top Eliminator. Additionally, the Ladies Challenge pits top female qualifiers against one another, while the Super Challenge features the top 32 Open Class competitors in a winner-take-all battle. There is even a Bonus Challenge where randomly selected, non-qualifying drivers can compete for prizes and bragging rights.
Competitors earn class and Challenge points throughout the season that count toward the Overall Ladies and Open ProSolo Championships. Class National Championships and Overall ProSolo Championships are determined by combining regular season points with points earned at the ProSolo Finale in Lincoln, Nebraska.
For additional information on Tire Rack SCCA Solo, visit www.scca.com/solo.
Photo Credit: Rupert Berrington
The Southeast Conference 2020 SCCA® U.S. Majors Tour® competition calendar has been released. A total of six weekends, 12 races in all, make up the schedule that runs from January to early June.
All but two race weekends on the Southeast Conference schedule are again three-day events. Two-day events are slated for June at Charlotte Motor Speedway and Roebling Road. Three events on the Southeast Conference schedule will also again be Hoosier Racing Tire SCCA Super Tour dates that offer a heightened experience for both competitors and race fans.
As always, the calendar below is subject to change, but the current 2020 U.S. Majors Tour Southeast Conference schedule is comprised of the following:
- January 3-5: Homestead-Miami Speedway; Homestead, Florida
- January 10-12: Sebring International Raceway; Sebring, Florida
- March 20-22: Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta; Braselton, Georgia
- April 10-12: VIRginia International Raceway; Alton, Virginia
(Dual Southeast/Northeast Conference Event)
- June 6-7: Charlotte Motor Speedway; Concord, North Carolina
- June 27-28: Roebling Road; Bloomingdale, Georgia
Schedules for other SCCA U.S. Majors Tour Conferences will be published as they are finalized. Only SCCA Full Competition and SCCA Pro Racing License holders may register for U.S. Majors Tour or Hoosier Super Tour events. Again this year, both the U.S. Majors Tour and Hoosier Super Tour serve as pathways to the 2020 SCCA National Championship Runoffs® being held at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
The Sports Car Club of America®, Inc., founded in 1944, is a 67,500-member motorsports organization that incorporates all facets of autocross, rally and road racing at both Club and professional levels. With headquarters in Topeka, Kansas, the SCCA annually sanctions over 2,000 events through its 115 Regions and subsidiary divisions. Much of the SCCA’s activities are made possible with support from the following Official Partners: Hagerty, the Official Insurance Partner of SCCA; Hawk Performance, the Official Brake Products of SCCA; Sunoco, the Official Fuel of SCCA; and Tire Rack, the Official Tire Retailer of SCCA. To learn more, please visit www.scca.com.
Photo: Sebring International Raceway (pictured) is just one of six tracks on the 2020 Southeast Conf. U.S. Majors Tour schedule.
Photo Credit: Mark Weber
The Bobby Labonte Foundation, founded by NASCAR Champion and Hall of Fame racecar driver and High Point businessman Bobby Labonte, presented funding to three Triad-area non-profit organizations Thursday night at the Cohab.Space venue in High Point, N.C. High Point LEAP, Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Central Piedmont, Inc. and High Point Swim Club are sharing in the proceeds of the foundation's annual Charity Bike Ride and cocktail party and silent auction, which broke fundraising and participation records for the second year in a row.
Thunder Mountain Speedway has officially joined the elite ranks of DIRTcar-sanctioned racetracks in the Northeast for 2020. The Southern New York speedway will sanction the highly competitive DIRTcar 358 Modified division as well as DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds.
DIRTcar Northeast Director Dean Reynolds visited Thunder Mountain officials last Sunday for their rules meeting at the Town of Lisle Fire Department conference center. Reynolds and track owners came to the agreement, which will include support from Hoosier Racing Tire, VP Racing Fuels and increased promotional outreach for their weekly racing provided by DIRTcar.
“The Spoonhower family has put their love and sweat into their track for many years and has become the staple of the New York Southern Tier,” Reynolds said. “While they were looking at the Hoosier tire route for the past several years, they felt this was the right time to make the move. After the meeting this past Sunday with their teams, DIRTcar sanctioning was welcomed. We all will work hard to make sure it’s a smooth and successful transition.”
Thunder Mountain Speedway will now be a part of the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship for both the 358 and Sportsman Modifieds. Hoosier puts up $11,250 for weekly 358 Modified drivers and another $4,550 for their Sportsman Modified counterparts every year.
Track owner and promoter Karl Spoonhower is looking forward to the 2020 season to see how things shake out.
“The move to DIRTcar sanctioning, I think, will be a good one,” he said. “I know change is sometimes tough, but we always have our drivers’ best interest in mind. The response to these changes, moving to Hoosier and DIRTcar, has been really good so far. We have loyal racers and fans who I hope will stick with us, they are like family. They understand that the sport of racing is changing and if we don’t look toward the future we’ll be left behind.”
All DIRTcar members at DIRTcar-sanctioned tracks have their top 16 finishes calculated for the standings. Drivers, teams, officials and fans are encouraged to sign up for the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Newsletter at DIRTcar.com for updates on all of the DIRTcar Racing competition across the Northeast.
DIRTcar Northeast and Thunder Mountain management are currently looking at dates for Series races.
Thunder Mountain Speedway sits atop a veritable mountain with picturesque views of the valleys in Center Isle, NY. Built in 1992 by Spoonhower, the track is a three-eighths-mile banked clay oval that hosts weekly stock car racing on Saturday nights from April through September. Thunder Mountain is dubbed The Fast Track for its racy surface and three- and four-wide racing.
DIRTcar 358 Modifieds will share top billing with the Big Block/Small-Block Modified division. The racing card in 2020 will also include DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, Rookie/Budget Sportsman, 600cc Modifieds, Street Stock and Factory Stocks.
DIRTcar Series PR
Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Race Fuels promoter Len Sammons has issued a Racers Challenge to the drivers and car owners who will compete in the four 2020 events: “Help us sell out the house and we’ll pay the feature winners in all classes double the purse!” Sammons, who along with sons Danny and Davey organize the events, expanded the challenge to increasing all other feature finishing positions 20% if the “Sold Out” sign is posted at the box office prior to the start of the feature events. “It can be done,” said Len Sammons. “We’ve done it once in our history and have come close several other times.
There is nothing better than the atmosphere inside a packed arena! The fans and racers feed off each other creating a buzz unlike anything else in racing. “We are 100% focused on growing the Indoor Series and making each event a spectator driven, can’t miss event,” said Sammons. “My staff has always encouraged the racers to interact with the fans and put on a show both in the car and outside of it. Racing comes first, but fan interaction and increasing fan involvement is also a high priority.
This incentive is the next step in that process. “The Concrete Series opens at the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. on January 3rd and 4th. These events, sponsored by Ironton Telephone, include features for the TQ Midgets each night. Instead of $2,000 to win each, these events would pay $4,000 if every ticket is sold, something accomplished when the first event was held in the building four years ago.
Racing then moves to Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on Friday and Saturday January 31st and February 1st for the NAPA Know How Classic. Andy Jankowiak of Buffalo, N.Y. won $5,000 when he took the 2019 Gambler’s Classic. If he did it again and the place was sold out, he would earn $10,000. In the event’s 17 year history, tickets were nearly sold out on three occasions.
Next up is the third annual East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals which will return to CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J. with a new date. This event, held the last two years in December, has been moved to Friday and Saturday nights February 21st and 22nd to avoid a conflict with Christmas. Rated a ‘must see’ event by those who attended the first two years, it’s great racing and new date could make it a sell out with the extra push of the race teams. If so, the 600 Sprint winner would receive $10,000 rather than $5,000 received by Whitey Kidd, III and Erick Rudolph the last two years.
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. With features for the TQ Midgets each night, these features which traditionally pay $2,000 would jump to $4,000 with a sellout. At the first ever event held in Syracuse last year, Saturday’s attendance was 75% of the occupancy limit so again it’s very possible. The sell-out bonus plan will also be paid to the Slingshot and Champ Kart divisions that run as part of the Concrete Series.
The Indoor Auto Racing Series staff can provide its racers promotional materials to help promote the events in an attempt to sell tickets. This will include social media aids for Facebook and Twitter campaigns, event posters and handbills along with invitations to set up driver media interviews. “The idea is to work together so that we can build up the series interest to an all-time high. Every driver, car owner and crewman has friends who go to the races and other friends who used to go,” said Sammons.
For the past three seasons, rising talents Oliver Askew and Rinus VeeKay have been rivals in the Road to Indy presented by Cooper Tires.
The pair dominated INDYCAR's three-tier, developmental ladder series during that period, combining to win three driver's titles, nearly two-thirds of the races they entered and never finishing worse than third in the championship standings.
Askew won the 2017 Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship - the first rung of the series - and followed with the 2019 crown in Indy Lights, the top rung of the system. VeeKay won the 2018 Indy Pro 2000 Championship while finishing runner-up to Askew in the other two series.
In 2020, they will resume their rivalry and be competing for another notable title - the NTT IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year.
VeeKay was announced Wednesday as the full-time driver for Ed Carpenter Racing in the No. 21 Chevrolet. He became the third Road to Indy graduate in the past three weeks during a busy off-season to earn a full-time seat in the NTT IndyCar Series.
VeeKay's confirmation followed the late October announcement of Askew and Patricio O'Ward, the 2018 Indy Lights champion, being named as the full-time drivers of the Chevrolet-powered Arrow McLaren SP organization.
It is part of the series' recent youth movement which, including Askew and VeeKay, will see 14 Road to Indy drivers graduate to the top level of the sport since 2015.
VeeKay, who hails from Hoofddorp, Netherlands, is the youngest of the trio at 19 years old. O'Ward, of Monterrey, Mexico, is 20 and Askew, of Jupiter, Fla., is 22.
"It's a dream come true and something we have worked extremely hard for over the last couple of years," VeeKay said. "To step up from USF2000 to the NTT IndyCar Series in three years is really special. ... The number of available seats in the NTT IndyCar Series is very limited, so it's a great honor that (Ed Carpenter Racing) has chosen me to join their team."
Both VeeKay and Askew got their introduction to an NTT IndyCar Series car in August when they were chosen for a test at Portland International Raceway. VeeKay tested with Ed Carpenter Racing that day while Askew took part in the session with Chip Ganassi Racing. VeeKay eventually had a second test with ECR in October and obviously impressed the team. Askew also was a name continually being bantered about for consideration of any potential full-time NTT IndyCar Series seats in 2020.
"(The NTT IndyCar Series) is what I've been working for for my entire career since I started racing when I was seven years old in go-karts," Askew said. "So it's a surreal feeling to finally be here. I can't wait to get to work.
"A couple years ago (the NTT) IndyCar (Series) looked so far away, let alone Indy Lights. So it's been a whirlwind couple of years. It's a testament to the people around me for sure I mean starting with Cape Motorsports and USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 and then Andretti Autosport this year in Indy Lights. I've been surrounded by a lot of great people and have been given tremendous opportunities. And I've just based my success off of a lot of preparation beforehand, before the season, before the races, and I've dedicated my life to racing and I've sacrificed a lot to get to this point."
O'Ward is the Indy car veteran of the group with eight career NTT IndyCar Series starts, including his stunning 2018 debut at Sonoma Raceway. He qualified in the Firestone Fast Six and finished eighth just a few weeks after winning the Indy Lights crown. Last season, O'Ward competed in seven races for Carlin before being signed by the Red Bull Junior Team with a future eye on Formula One. He was with the team was roughly six months before they severed ties and opened the opportunity for a return to the NTT IndyCar Series.
"I think it's very big, not just for me but for Oliver as well," O'Ward said. "We're just starting our journey into the professional side of this sport and it's something we have been working towards our whole lives, so I'm very much looking forward to the opportunity.
"I think we're going to make a really good team. We're both hungry for all the success. I think at this point both the team and we are growing, we're starting a new chapter in our careers and I think the sky's the limit."
Arrow McLaren SP co-owner Sam Schmidt is a believer of the path produced by the Road to Indy and the talent it attracts.
"What we're seeing recently with the Road to Indy is nothing short of amazing. If you win, you advance. If you win, you advance," said Schmidt, whose teams won seven Indy Lights titles before focusing solely on the NTT IndyCar Series. "These kids aren't coming in with three and four and five years of experience. We're talking 13, 14 years of racing experience and so they're coming in a lot more advanced than the rookies of days of old.
"So we saw, it's no shocker, I mean what Colton Herta did this year (two wins and two poles as a rookie) was nothing short of amazing and these guys come from exactly the same background. So a lot of people have said that it's really risky, it's a gamble, but we really don't think it is."
VeeKay, Askew and O'Ward will make their initial 2020 on-track appearances with their new teams at the INDYCAR open test Feb. 11-12 at the Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. The trio will make their official debuts at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg set for March 13-15 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. The race will be televised live on the NBCSN.
Perhaps a future NASCAR Xfinity Series or maybe even a future Monster Energy NASCAR Cup champion will be crowned Saturday night in Charlotte as the industry celebrates 115 champion drivers from its thriving regional, local and international series at the Charlotte Convention Center.
Competitors from the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour to both of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series – East and West – to NASCAR’s Pinty Series and the hugely popular NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will be duly celebrated alongside the best in short track local racing that compete in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series from all around the country.
“They are a vital piece in the fabric of our sport," NASCAR President Steve Phelps wrote in the awards’ program. And certainly these drivers represent the sport in important ways.
The list of honorees includes 57 track champions from Mike Looney, who won 12 of 16 races at Virginia’s Motor Mile Speedway to Tyler Tanner who earned championship honors from Evergreen Speedway in Washington state. It will also include Jacob Goede, who won his sixth straight Late Model championship at Elko Speedway and his sixth straight Minnesota championship en route to earning his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I national championship.
National champions from all of NASCAR’s Whelen All-American Series divisions will be celebrated, led by eighteen-year-old Bryan Narducci, who won his second straight Division III national title racing in the SK Light divisions in Connecticut. He’ll share the spotlight with B Modified driver Clint Johnson from Missouri (Division II champion), Narducci, 4-Cylinder driver Corey Holtzlander from Michigan (Division IV), Sportsman Compact driver Dustin Grout from Iowa (Division V) and Sportsman Compact driver Tyler Hoover from Iowa (UNOH Youth Achievement Award)
Eighteen-year old Nick Sanchez, of Homestead, Florida, will receive the prestigious Wendall Scott Trailblazer Award. A thriving participant of REV Racing and the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Driver Development Program, Sanchez earned his first Late Model win this year at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway. He earned an amazing 19 top-10 finishes in 20 starts in his first fulltime Late Model season. And he made his NASCAR K&N Series East debut this season with a pair of top-10 finishes in three starts.
The highly competitive NASCAR K&N Series West will celebrate its champion, 18-year-old Wisconsin native Derek Kraus, who won a series best five races and earned 13 top-10 finishes in 14 starts. Seventeen-year old Jagger Jones will be honored as that series’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year. Jones comes from one of the country’s most successful racing bloodlines – his grandfather Parnelli Jones won the 1963 Indianapolis 500 and his father P.J. was an IMSA GTP talent who also has nearly 100 starts in NASCAR’s three national divisions.
Jagger won his first NASCAR K&N Series race in October and earned a pole position and eight top-five finishes. He finished three points ahead of another young driver many are watching, 18-year-old Hailee Deegan. Deegan won her second and third K&N Pro Series West races, edging Jones at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s dirt track for her second series victory and then taking her third win later at Colorado National Speedway.
Sam Mayer, also from Wisconsin, won both the K&N Pro Series East championship and the series’ Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors with four wins and 11 top-five finishes in 12 races. He became the youngest NASCAR regional or national champion at just 16 years, three months and eight days. NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity participant Chase Cabre finishes second in the championship with a pair of victories and seven top-five finishes.
Not only will the sport have a chance to celebrate and reflect on all the accomplishments of the 2019 season, the work of these drivers indicates good things for the future as well.
With the NASCAR season coming to an end, it is time to celebrate for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. A large delegation representing the official European NASCAR series will fly to Charlotte to attend the traditional NASCAR Awards ceremony at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on Saturday, November 23.
Representing NWES will be 2019 EuroNASCAR PRO Champion Loris Hezemans, EuroNASCAR 2 Champion Lasse Soerensen, Challenger Trophy winner Henri Tuomaala and Legend Trophy winner Ian Eric Waden, alongside EuroNASCAR 2 title contenders Giorgio Maggi, Vittorio Ghirelli, Nicholas Risitano, Myatt Snider, and EuroNASCAR Club Challenge winner Alain Mosqueron. Champion team manager Roy Hendriks from Hendriks Motorsport and DF1-Racing team owner Norbert Walchhofer will also join the group, which will be accompanied by NWES President / CEO Jerome Galpin and NWES Vice President Anne Galpin.
The spotlight will be on Hezemans after the Dutchman became the youngest ever NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion in October. The 22-year-old Amsterdam native will put his name in the Whelen Hall Of Champions inside the NASCAR Hall Of Fame on Thursday, November 21 in special event. The Champions week will then culminate with the NASCAR Awards on Saturday November 23. During the grand gala, Hezemans receive the Champion Ring and the NWES trophy. Hezemans’ #50 Hendriks Motorsport Mustang will also be showcased in the NASCAR Hall Of Fame alongside some of the most important cars in NASCAR’s history.
“Winning the title finally sunk in the last few weeks and it’s an incredible feeling. You don’t really get it immediately because you’re so focused on doing everything to win. So when you actually win the championship, you’re kind of surprised,” said Hezemans. “It’s when you start being congratulated by everybody that you realize what you’ve done. The NASCAR Awards are the culmination of the season and I can’t wait to be there. It’s going to be a great experience and I want to thank NASCAR, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, Hendriks Motorsport and all the people supporting me for this amazing season.”
The NWES delegation will enjoy a full immersion in NASCAR’s home in Charlotte, North Carolina beginning on Friday, November 22. The group will visit the Hendrick Motorsports headquarters and the Charlotte Motor Speedway before heading back the NASCAR Hall Of Fame for the evening’s Season Celebration in which all Euro NASCAR drivers will be rewarded for their 2019 success. The party will continue the next evening, once again at the Charlotte Convention Center in the NASCAR Hall of Fame, with the NASCAR Awards to celebrate Hezemans and four other NASCAR champions in front of the entire NASCAR family and mark the official end of another unforgettable season.