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It took nearly 14 years, but Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing owns the front row in qualifying again for an NTT IndyCar Series race.

Takuma Sato captured the NTT P1 Award and Graham Rahal qualified second as the teammates locked down the top starting positions for Sunday's Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst. The pole position was the eighth of Sato's 10-year NTT IndyCar Series career and first on the challenging permanent road course at Barber Motorsports Park.

"This is absolutely a team effort," Sato said. "To make it a 1-2, this is a dream result. The engineers work so hard along with the boys. Fantastic efforts. I'm really proud of them."

HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA: Qualifying results

Driving the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda, Sato turned a lap of 1 minute, 8.5934 seconds (120.711 mph) in the Firestone Fast Six, the last of three qualifying rounds. It earned the 42-year-old from Tokyo his first pole position since Pocono Raceway in 2017 and his first on any NTT IndyCar Series permanent road course.

"This is my first road-course pole position," the 2017 Indianapolis 500 winner said. "I had done it on a street course but not a road course. I dreamed for ages to do this. Today, I think everything came together and I'm so thankful to the whole team."

Rahal, in the No. 15 One Cure Honda, was second quick at 1:08.6971 (120.529 mph), giving Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing its first qualifying 1-2 since rookie Danica Patrick and 2004 Indianapolis 500 winner Buddy Rice accomplished the feat at Chicagoland Speedway in September 2005.

"I tell you, a great performance today by the team - all weekend, really," said Bobby Rahal, the RLL co-owner whose team notched its 31st pole in Indy car history and first since Graham Rahal did it at the first race of Detroit's Belle Isle doubleheader in 2017. 

"I think they called the tires right at the right time, everybody got a clear track, and in the end, it was all about how fast can you go. ... We've got to feel pretty excited about (the race) and I told Takuma and Graham, 'Let's get through Turn 1 and then we'll go racing.'"

The RLL duo will lead the 24-car field to the green flag in the 90-lap race, the 10th annual NTT IndyCar Series event to take place on the rolling and technical 17-turn, 2.3-mile circuit in Alabama. Live coverage begins at 4 p.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

"I think we've had good races here in the past," said Graham Rahal, who finished second at Barber in 2015 and '16, "but we've never started anywhere near here. Hopefully, tomorrow can be a pretty straightforward, really strong day for us."

Scott Dixon, the reigning and five-time series champion will start third following a lap of 1:08.8081 (120.335 mph) in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda. Dixon has finished on the podium seven times in nine previous Barber starts, but never has won the race.

James Hinchcliffe, who had set the fastest lap in practice prior to qualifying, qualified fourth in the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda, with a lap of 1:08.8476 (120.266 mph). Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan's Sebastien Bourdais was fifth in the No. 18 SealMaster Honda (1:09.0189), ahead of Spencer Pigot, who reached the Firestone Fast Six for the first time in his four-year career and qualified sixth in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet (1:09.6074).

"The car was at its best in qualifying, especially the first two rounds," Pigot said. "Nice to have that progression and the ability to get the most out of the car. ... Overall, happy with our performance, happy for everyone at Ed Carpenter Racing, Autogeek, to be in the Fast Six. 

"Looking for a bit more tomorrow. Looking forward to fighting with all these guys from the get-go."

Noticeably absent from the Firestone Fast Six were drivers from Team Penske and Andretti Autosport. Will Power, who won the NTT P1 Award at the first two NTT IndyCar Series races this season, was the top Penske qualifier in seventh, with teammates Simon Pagenaud 14th and Josef Newgarden 16th. It marked the first time since the Long Beach race in 2014 that no Team Penske driver advanced to the final qualifying round on a road or street course.

"We are kind of scratching our heads as to why, but we just didn't have enough speed overall to move on," said Newgarden, the two-time defending Barber race winner who takes an 18-point championship lead over Colton Herta into the race. "I have all the confidence in the world in our Team Penske guys to figure it out. 

"This is why you have a great team. We'll work on it tonight and we'll come back tomorrow and be ready to go in the race."

Alexander Rossi was the best Andretti qualifier in eighth position and Ryan Hunter-Reay was 11th. The teammates had advanced to the Firestone Fast Six in each of the first two races this season. Rookie sensation Herta, who became the youngest Indy car winner in history on March 24 at Circuit of The Americas, will start ninth in the No. 88 GESS International Honda for Harding Steinbrenner Racing.

A final 30-minute warmup practice at Barber is set for 12:10 p.m. ET Sunday and will livestream on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold.

IndyCar PR

While the ARCA Menards Series championship contenders head into the April 14 Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 at Salem Speedway looking to score as many points as possible, several part-time drivers are looking to shake things up and steal not only those valuable points but the spotlight as well.

Last year, Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) was a part-time driver looking for his first career ARCA Menards Series win. Eckes earned his first series win on the daunting Salem high banks holding off his Venturini Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) in a furious dash to the finish that resulted in Smith finding the outside wall on the final lap. This season, he’s a three-time series winner, the defending race winner, and the current series championship leader.

The third member of the Venturini squad, Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota) also transitioned from a part-time status in 2018 to a full-time ride in 2019. Self capitalized almost immediately by winning the last series race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida.

Eckes and Self are both chasing after the series title but will need to deal with their part-time teammate to get the maximum amount of points leaving Salem.

Smith, a high school student from Talking Rock, Georgia, is still just 16 years of age and by rule not eligible to race on tracks longer that one mile. That means all that matters to him is going for race wins, something he’s already proven to be adept at. He led 199 of 200 laps at Salem last fall to score his second career series win.

The championship contenders will have to deal with Smith, and they will also have to beat other teenage short track specialists Carson Hocevar (No. 28 Scott’s/Berger Chevrolet/KBR Development Chevrolet) and Corey Heim (No. 22 Speedway Children’s Charities Ford), both of whom have proven to be capable of racing to win in their brief ARCA Menards Series careers.

Hocevar, a highly decorated USAC quarter midget champion from Portage, Michigan, is the youngest late model winner ever at his home track, the legendary Berlin Raceway. Hocevar earned his first career General Tire Pole Award at Berlin last season at the age of 15 and scored his first ever top five finish in the race. Hocevar ran up front at Five Flags before mechanical problems sidelined him before the finish.

“I ran at Salem a few years ago in a pro late model, made a few mistakes and wasn’t comfortable near the wall,” Hocevar said. “Now having a ton more experience in stock cars along with running the race track where you need to run, up by the wall. I’ve had to run the wall at Salem, Winchester, and Lucas Oil Raceway. We tested last week and I was very comfortable with the track, and we were able to work on our long run balance. We have a few ideas to get our KBR Development Chevrolet better, so I’m real excited to get back next weekend with a whole field of cars on track and see where exactly we stack up.”

Heim, in his series debut for Chad Bryant Racing, finished fifth at Five Flags. Despite his young age – he is still just 16 years old – he finished second in the CARS Tour standings in 2018. He tested at Salem last week in preparation for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200, his first laps on the demanding high-banked half-mile.

“What a cool place. I love a race track that is as challenging as Salem Speedway and for my first time there in an ARCA car, I cannot wait to get back there for the race,” Heim said. “It’s a fast race track with bumps all over and I feel like if you’re not up high in turns three and four, nearly touching the wall, you’re not getting around there fast enough. It’s probably one of my favorite race tracks.”

Heim feels like he can come out of the box quick at Salem, which will be just his second career ARCA Menards Series start, and compete to win.

“Honestly, I feel like we can be a contender to win the race,” he said. “My ARCA debut at Five Flags went pretty good. I felt like we were pretty competitive and ended the night with a top-five finish. I feel like Joe Gibbs Racing and Venturini Motorsports will be the teams you’ll have to beat next weekend, but  our Chad Bryant Racing team can do that. A good run at Salem will be good momentum for my next ARCA race at Nashville in May.”

One driver that is not a short track specialist just yet but has had success racing in the state of Indiana is Tanner Gray (No. 54 Valvoline/Durst Toyota). Gray, a native of Artesia, New Mexico, was the youngest winner ever in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Pro Stock division when he won at Las Vegas at the age of 17 years, 11 months, and 18 days. In 2018, he won eight national event final rounds, including the famed U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, about 90 minutes north of Salem. Gray, who is racing part time in the ARCA Menards Series in 2018, finished second in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race at Irwindale in his most recent race on March 30.

Other part-time drivers in high-profile rides that should factor in deciding who goes to victory lane include Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Terrible Herbst/Advance Auto Parts Toyota), the 16-year-old grandson of legendary NFL coach and NASCAR team owner Joe Gibbs. The son of former NASCAR driver Coy Gibbs, he made his series debut at Five Flags and made a last lap pass on Eckes to finish second. In addition, GMS Racing has entered 15-year-old Wisconsin native Sam Mayer (No. 21 Chevy Accessories Chevrolet) at Salem. Mayer, part of the Drivers Edge Development program, ran near the front of the field at Five Flags before he too was sidelined with mechanical issues.

Practice for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 is set for 11 am ET on Saturday, April 13 with General Tire Pole Qualifying scheduled for 3 pm ET that afternoon. The green flag on round three of the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season will drop shortly after 2 pm ET on Sunday, April 14. Discounted tickets are available at selected Menards locations in southern Indiana and northern Kentucky. The race will be televised live on MAVTV and ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates at ARCARacing.com. New members can register for free at ARCARacing.com/login.

ARCA Racing PR

NTT IndyCar Series drivers encountered an off-and-on day of practice for the 10th annual Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama presented by AmFirst.

Pushing the limits of their cars, themselves and Barber Motorsports Park's rolling 2.3-mile, 17-turn permanent road course, nearly half the 24-driver field took excursions into the grass or gravel during one of the two 45-minute practices Friday. Despite having an adventurous moment himself in the opening session, James Hinchcliffe came back to set the fastest lap of the day in the later practice.

HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA: Practice 1 results I Practice 2 results I Combined practice results

Hinchcliffe, driver of the No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda who finished third in last year's Barber race, clocked a top practice lap of 1 minute, 8.9994 seconds (120.001 mph) to take the day's honors. The six-time NTT IndyCar Series race winner was pleased with the effort, despite a disjointed day that saw four red flags for cars stopped on or off track and numerous other slips and slides as drivers extracted every ounce out of their machines.

"Everything on the No. 5 Arrow car has been working well so far," Hinchcliffe said. "It's crazy - we've seen it all year, the amount of red flags we're having in sessions. I think it's just a function of everyone trying to push for those last few hundredths and thousandths (of a second) because it's so competitive right now.

"I don't think we've ever been P1 in a session and been so happy with the (car's) balance, if I'm totally honest."

Rookie sensation Colton Herta, who became the youngest winner in Indy car annals at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas, on March 24, continued his hot streak by logging the second-fastest lap of the day - also coming in the second session. Herta, who turned 19 six days following his historic win, toured the Barber circuit in 1:09.0084 (119.985 mph) in the No. 88 GESS International Honda for Harding Steinbrenner Racing.

"I'm happy with how today went," Herta said. "I think we're all a little puzzled with how the reds (Firestone alternate tires) reacted because almost everyone went slower on the reds, so we're not sure what happened there. But we got a lot of data to look through and we were quick, so I'm looking forward to see how that goes when we add the rain in (Saturday's) forecast."

Neither Hinchcliffe nor Herta, however, avoided the rash of drivers who veered off course during the day. Among the others were Tony Kanaan, Matheus Leist, Takuma Sato, Spencer Pigot, Santino Ferrucci, Alexander Rossi and Zach Veach. Only Leist and Ferrucci made contact with a wall, but neither driver was injured. Despite the chaotic sessions, the top 21 drivers on the combined timesheet were within a second.

Ferrucci wound up third on the combined chart with a lap of 1:09.0461 (119.920 mph) in the No. 19 David Yurman Honda for Dale Coyne Racing.

"In Practice 2, we went out on the primary Firestone tire and we were instantly competitive," Ferrucci said. "The David Yurman car felt really good and I was pretty confident. But then we put the red tires on, and we still have a lot to learn. 

"It's nice to end the day near the top of the timesheets, even if it's just the first day of practice."

Honda-powered drivers owned the top six spots in each session. Pigot, in the No. 21 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet, was quickest among the bowtie brigade, seventh in the afternoon practice and overall for the day at 1:09.2055 (119.644 mph).

Absent from the top of the timesheets were Team Penske drivers Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Simon Pagenaud. None placed better than 10th in either session, with Power the best on the combined-session results at 12th. Newgarden, the current points leader and winner of the March 10 season opener at St. Petersburg, Florida, ranked 18th on the combined listing.

"We seem to be missing something at the moment," Newgarden said. "It seems like all of us are searching for something."

The final pre-qualifying practice starts at 11:45 a.m. ET Saturday (livestream on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold). NTT P1 Award qualifying airs live on NBCSN and INDYCAR Pass at 4 p.m.

Coverage of the race commences at 4 p.m. Sunday on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. Track officials announced Friday that Indy car legend Mario Andretti will be grand marshal and issue the command for drivers to start their engines from the driver's seat of the Honda Fastest Seat in Sports two-seat Indy car he'll be driving to pace the field before the green flag.

IndyCar PR

Discounted tickets to the April 14 ARCA Menards Series Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 at Salem Speedway are available through April 13 at participating southern Indiana and northern Kentucky Menards locations. The race will serve as the second round of the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge, an eleven-race series within the overall ARCA Menards Series that crowns a separate champion for races contested on tracks one mile in length and under.

The discounted advance adult tickets for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 at participating Menards locations are just $20, a savings of $7 from the raceday walk-up ticket price. Fans can purchase discounted tickets at Menards locations in Evansville, Princeton, Bloomington, Columbus, and Jeffersonville, Indiana, and in Owensboro, Kentucky.

The Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 will be the ARCA Menards Series’ 105th visit to the legendary ultra high-banked half-mile oval. Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) won the ARCA Menards Series race at Salem Speedway last April, holding off his Venturini Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith (No. 20 Craftsman/828 Logistics Toyota) in a furious dash to the to the checkered flag that resulted in Eckes’ first career win and Smith finding the outside wall. Eckes is running for the ARCA Menards Series championship in 2019 and is also racing part time in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Last year’s General Tire Pole Award winner Chandler Smith returns, looking to better his tenth-place finish. Smith, a high school student from Talking Rock, Georgia, set a modern era ARCA record last season when he started from the pole in each of his first four series starts. He won twice in 2018, earning trips to victory lane at Madison International Speedway in June and Salem Speedway in September.

West Virginia University aerospace engineering graduate Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford) and Auburn University building sciences major Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation/Southern States Bank) will also return as they compete for the ARCA Menards Series championship. They are currently second and third in the series standings, respectively.  Joe Graf, Jr. (No. 77 EAT SLEEP RACE Ford), himself a student at New York University in Manhattan, also returns driving for Chad Bryant Motorsports. Graf sits fourth in the series standings, one position ahead of Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota), who heads to Salem fresh off his first career ARCA Menards Series short track win at Five Flags Speedway in March.

Practice for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 is scheduled for 11 am ET on Saturday, April 13, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 3 pm ET. Race day activities will start with a one-hour driver autograph session held on the front stretch at 11 am ET on Sunday, April 14, followed immediately by a Lucas Oil Great American Stocks feature then pre-race activities for the ARCA race. The green flag will drop on the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 shortly after 2 pm ET. The race will be televised live on MAVTV; ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates for free at ARCARacing.com. New users can register at ARCARacing.com/login.

ARCA Racing PR

Regarding the use of wheel covers at the 2020 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire, event officials have announced that all cars competing must be equipped with a minimum of three bolts holding the wheel covers to the beadlock.
The change comes after reviewing numerous occurrences that have happened over the past three years where loose wheel covers have come very close to clearing the fences that surround the Tulsa Expo Raceway, as well incidents where wheel covers have shot up the entry/exit ramp.
"The Chili Bowl is so unique in how confined and close everything is, we've just seen too many times where wheel covers either were not installed correctly, or there is contact that causes the dzus to break or back off and lets the cover come off," commented Chili Bowl Director, Matt Ward.
"Safety is always our biggest priority, and this is a small change to try and minimize someone getting severely injured,"
For the wheel covers, much like rules set by the American Sprint Car Series, IRA Sprints, All-Stars, and World of Outlaws, a minimum 5/16" flanged steel bolt and an approved fastening (nut assembly) system must be used. Approved fastening (nut assembly) systems are as follows:
Keyser Manufacturing, part #100 7-101
Wehrs Manufacturing Part # (WM377S-312 Steel 5/16)
Triple X Chassis Part # SC-WH-7810 (for a 1" spring) / SC-WH-7820 (for a 1 3/8" spring)
Smith Precision Products Part # MC-516-18
Speedway Motors part # 910-07119
Questions regarding the new rule can be directed to Matt Ward by calling the Chili Bowl office at (918) 838-3777.
For continued updates on the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire, fans can follow along on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with @CBNationals. All official press, updates, and results on the Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire can be found online at http://www.chilibowl.com.
Quick Notes:
What: 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals presented by General Tire
When: January 13-18, 2020
Where: River Spirit Expo Center - Tulsa Expo Raceway 4145 E 21st St, Tulsa, OK 74114
Ticket Information:
Ticket Renewal/New Order Time Frame: March 6, 2019 - April 11, 2019
Four Day Ticket: $227 (Wednesday-Saturday)
Five Day Ticket: $282 (Tuesday-Saturday)
Six Day Ticket: $337 (Monday-Saturday)
Plus tax and shipping
Chili Bowl PR

After a fantastic debut season that resulted in the ninth place in points in ELITE 1, in two wins in ELITE 2 and in the third place in the Teams standings, Memphis Racing will expand its program to field two cars in the 2019 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season. An all-Swedish duo formed by Alexander Graff and Fredrik Hemborg will drive the #77 Chevrolet Camaro, while two Finnish drivers will share the #27 Chevy: Henri Tuomaala and Ian Eric Waden.

“Our rookie season in 2018 went far beyond all expectations. We constantly moved up the charts and ended up third in the team championship with 2 race wins, the first ever for a Swedish team in Euro NASCAR. I am proud of what the guys accomplished and it feels great to have another car on the grid and complete our all-Nordic driver lineup for 2019,” said Memphis Racing team manager Richard Berggren.

Having grabbed his first top-5 finish in the ultra-competitive ELITE 1 Division in the last race of 2018, Alexander Graff will aim at a place among the best European NASCAR drivers in the battle for the title.

“I’m really looking forward for my second season in NWES, and to return to the family of NASCAR in Europe. This year I hope and think that we could be more competitive right from the start of the season,” said Graff. “It is going to be cool to represent our country with a ‘Team Sweden’ car and to make a Scandinavian team with our teammates from Finland! I’m also really looking forward to meet all our fantastic fans and have a great year with NWES, since last year was one of my best ever!”

32-year-old Östersund-native Fredrik Hemborg, a top competitor in the Swedish V8 Thundercars Championship with Memphis Racing for several years, will complete the all Swedish line-up in the #77 Chevrolet.

The #27 Chevrolet Camaro will feature an all-Finnish lineup. In the ELITE 1 Division, former Legends World Champion and current NEZ V8 Champion Henri Tuomaala will take the wheel and team up with former Ferrari Scandinavian champion and renowned TV commentator Ian Eric Waden in ELITE 2. Both drivers have made previous entries in the series.

“There are plenty of new things to learn, so I haven't set goals yet, but hopefully we can be in the top-10 at the start the season and compete for the top-5 during the summer,” declared Tuomaala, who finished 10th in his first ever NWES race at Hockenheim in 2018.

“Our previous visits in NWES gives us a taste of what to expect and we are very happy to be part of  Memphis Racing, one most successful Nordic teams,” concluded Ian Eric Waden.

The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season will begin on April 13-14 in Valencia, Spain, with the traditional Valencia NASCAR Fest at the popular Circuit Ricardo Tormo.

NASCAR Euro Series PR

With today’s reveal of the stylish new Escape, featuring the small SUV’s best-ever performance, flexibility and smart new technology, Ford is reinventing the model that helped drive the popularity of the segment.

 

Escape, which debuted the world’s first hybrid SUV in 2005, brings back two hybrid choices for 2020, a standard hybrid and a plug-in variant, and introduces technologies ranging from drive modes and driver-assist features to electric vehicle ingenuity and on-board connectivity.

 

“This all-new Escape brings a sleeker, sportier design with the capability to take you on just about any of your life’s adventures,” said Kumar Galhotra, Ford’s president, North America.

“With our class-leading hybrid powertrains, customers will spend less time at the gas station and more time on the road.”

 

To create a sportier look for the all-new Escape, designers turned to some of the most high- profile sports cars in the Ford showroom. The shield-shaped trapezoidal grille is inspired by the sixth-generation Mustang, while the lower front end borrows from Ford GT. Compared to the current model, the all-new Escape stands lower, wider and longer.

 

With a sloped roofline, optimized liftgate spoiler and strake, and efficient underbody, the all-new Escape is the most aerodynamic to date. Meanwhile, it sheds more than 200 pounds from the current model, due in part to the extensive use of high-strength, lightweight steel.

 

Every model in the lineup, whether powered by one of two EcoBoost® engines or the all-new hybrid powertrains, targets an EPA-estimated range of at least 400 miles per tank.* The standard hybrid with front-wheel drive targets best-in-class EPA-estimated range of more than 550 miles.*


 

Best-performing Escape ever

New powertrains and transmission systems, a reduction in weight, improved aerodynamics and updated suspension system all contribute to one undeniable fact: this is the best-performing, most fun-to-drive Escape ever.

 

Gas engine-powered models as well as the standard hybrid are available with all-wheel drive. EcoBoost-equipped models get a new quick-shifting 8-speed automatic transmission for smooth, responsive shifting, while every Escape receives an all-new suspension and improved isolation with a new isolated rear subframe.

 

“This new vehicle performs like no other Escape before,” said Jim Hughes, Escape chief program engineer. “It’s quick, it’s responsive and, in staying true to the standard set by three generations of Escapes before it, it’s a heck of a lot of fun to drive.”

 

The new 2.0-liter EcoBoost engine, available on Titanium, is projected to produce 250 horsepower and 275 lb.-ft. of torque using 93 octane fuel, while turning in a 0-60 mph time up to 10 percent faster than the outgoing Escape 2.0-liter. When properly configured, it is rated to tow 3,500 pounds.**

 

The all-new 1.5-liter EcoBoost, standard on S, SE and SEL, is projected to produce 180 horsepower and 177 lb.-ft. of torque using 93 octane fuel. When properly configured, it is rated to tow 2,000 pounds.** To help conserve fuel, the 1.5-liter EcoBoost debuts cylinder deactivation, a Ford first for North America, which senses when one cylinder isn’t needed and shuts it down automatically. The system can activate or deactivate a cylinder in 14 milliseconds to maintain a smooth ride.

 

SE Sport and Titanium models come standard with Ford’s innovative fourth-generation hybrid propulsion system, which includes an all-new 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid engine and electronic continuously variable transmission. The front-wheel-drive hybrid model is projected to produce a combined system horsepower of 198, and a top speed of 85 mph in electric-only mode.

 

The plug-in hybrid variant, available on every trim level except S and SE Sport, projects a best- in-class EPA-estimated range of at least 30 miles in electric-only mode. Escape Plug-In Hybrid has a Level 1 / Level 2 AC charging port. Using a 110-volt Level 1 charge, the estimated time to fully charge the battery is 10 to 11 hours. Using a 240-volt Level 2 charge, charge time drops to roughly 3.5 hours.

 

Hybrid models feature four EV modes that allow customers to select the settings most suitable for their individual needs. This means:

      In Auto EV mode, the vehicle decides whether to run on gas or electric power

      In EV Now mode, drivers can operate on all-electric driving

      In EV Later mode, drivers can switch to full gas-powered driving to conserve electric miles for later

      In all-new EV Charge mode, drivers can continue to charge the battery while driving and generate electric-only miles to use later

 

Unrivaled flexibility

Sliding second-row seats in gas engine-powered models allow rear-seat passengers to enjoy best-in-class maximum second-row legroom with the seats in the full rearward position, plus increased knee clearance and footwell length for a more comfortable ride.


With the second-row seats in the full forward position, the rear cargo area extends roughly six inches to offer 37.5 cubic feet of cargo space in gas engine-powered models (cargo and load capacity limited by weight and weight distribution). The cargo area was designed to accommodate four sets of golf clubs or a full-size dog crate.

 

The all-new Escape Hybrid packages its liquid-cooled lithium-ion battery smartly below the second-row seats rather than occupying a significant portion of the cargo area. The briefcase- shaped battery in the standard hybrid measures approximately one-third the size of the old Escape Hybrid battery.

 

Despite a slight drop in vehicle height and with the hybrid battery packaged below, the engineering team was able to increase headroom throughout. First- and second-row headroom, shoulder room and hip room all improve versus the current Escape.

 

Smartest Escape Ever

With a selectable drive mode system standard across the lineup, Escape makes it easy for Escape owners to create the ride experience they desire – or the one that conditions demand. Modes are tailored for normal, eco, sport and slippery, plus snow and sand conditions.

 

Titanium models are available with an all-new heads-up display, a first-for-Ford in North America. The feature that projects information onto a 6-inch screen, giving drivers easy access to important information such as vehicle speed without taking their eyes off the road.

 

Class-exclusive driver-assist technologies include available Active Park Assist 2.0 and Evasive Steering Assist. Active Park Assist 2.0 allows the driver to park in a parallel or perpendicular spot with the touch of a button, without having to work the steering wheel, gear shifter, gas or brake pedal. Evasive Steering Assist detects a slower-moving or stationary vehicle ahead and provides steering support that can assist the driver to avoid an imminent collision.***

 

Escape comes standard with Ford Co-Pilot360, and makes available other driver-assist features such as Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop-and-Go and Lane-Centering.

 

FordPass Connectis a standard feature that provides 4G LTE Wi-Fi for up to 10 mobile devices with compatible wireless subscription service. FordPass Connect also gives drivers remote access to their Escape, allowing them to use their smartphone to lock, unlock, locate and start the vehicle, as well as monitor key vehicle diagnostics.

 

Drivers and passengers can keep compatible mobile devices charged with an available wireless charging pad in the front center console. Also available are type A and type C USB charging ports as well as three 12-volt charging sockets.

 

An 8-inch touch screen – standard on SE models and above – shares information with the available 12.3-inch all-digital instrument cluster, which displays important vehicle information such as speedometer and fuel level. It uses 3D animated graphics to indicate the drive mode.

 

Available SYNC® 3 is compatible with available features such as Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Ford+Alexa and Waze navigation. For music lovers, Escape offers an available 575-watt 10-speaker B&O Sound System by Bang & Olufsen.


The all-new Escape, available in S, SE, SE Sport, SEL and Titanium series trim levels, is built at Louisville Assembly Plant in Kentucky. Vehicles are due to reach showrooms this fall. Plug-in hybrid units are due to arrive next spring.

 

History of Escape

Escape debuted on North American roads for the 2001 model year, introducing drivers to a unique blend of style, convenience, efficiency and capability. In its first full year on sale, Escape became America’s best-selling small SUV.

 

For the 2005 model year, Ford became the first U.S. manufacturer to offer a hybrid when it introduced the Escape Hybrid, the world’s first-ever hybrid SUV. Between 2004 and 2012, 114,000 Escape Hybrids were sold.

 

For the 2013 model year, Ford introduced a third-generation Escape, with European styling shared with its global cousin, Kuga. The change proved popular, and Escape remained one of the top-selling vehicles in the Ford showroom – and in the fast-growing small SUV segment. To date, Ford has sold more than 4.5 million Escapes in North America; more than 98 percent of them are still on the road today.**** Escape is the company’s second best-selling vehicle in the United States, trailing only F-Series.

 

*Actual range will vary. Final EPA-estimated ratings available in the 2019 calendar year.

**Horsepower, torque, payload, towing and EPA Estimated Fuel Economy Ratings are independent attributes and may not be achieved simultaneously.

***Driver-assist features are supplemental and do not replace the driver’s attention, judgment and need to control the vehicle.

****Based on IHS Markit total Vehicles in Operation (VIO) as of October 2018 for Model Years 2008 - 2019 vs. total new registrations of those vehicles.

ESPN2’s live telecast of the Formula 1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, March 31, attracted the largest U.S. television audience on record for the event, the second Formula 1 event of the season in as many races to do so.

 

An average of 711,000 viewers watched the telecast on ESPN2, up three percent over the average audience of 692,000 that watched the race last year on ESPN2 and up 72 percent from the 413,000 that watched CNBC’s telecast in 2017. The race began at 11:05 a.m. ET.

 

The Bahrain telecast drew the second-largest U.S. cable television audience for a Formula 1 race on record, surpassed only by the mark of 820,000 to see the Monaco Grand Prix on ESPN last year. The Bahrain telecast also saw an increase of 16 percent in the Adults 18-34 demographic.

 

The number for the Bahrain event comes on the heels of ESPN earning an audience of 659,000 for the season-opening Rolex Australian Grand Prix two weeks ago, an event that began at 1 a.m. ET. That audience was also the largest U.S. television audience for the event on record and was up 277 percent over the audience of 175,000 that watched the race on ESPN2 in 2018 and up 177 percent over the 238,000 that watched it on NBCSN in 2017.

 

ESPN2’s telecast of the Formula 1 qualifying session for the Bahrain event also saw an increased audience over last year – the average of 340,000 viewers was up nine percent over the 311,000 that watched Bahrain qualifying last year on ESPN2.

 

The next event on the Formula 1 schedule is the Heineken Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, April 14. The race will air live on ESPN2 at 2:05 a.m. ET.

One hundred wins.
 
It’s a big milestone, and one that Corvette Racing has been chasing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship since the 2018 BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach. That was the storied team’s most recent victory, coming courtesy of the No. 4 Corvette C7.R team and co-drivers Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.
 
And there may be no better place for the team to get that elusive 100th win than Long Beach, where Gavin and Milner have won each of the past two years in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. In fact, the Corvette Racing team has won three of the past five BUBBA burger Sports Car Grands Prix – No. 3 C7.R teammates Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen also won there in 2014.
 
The team was in position for another potential victory in 2016 before a late-race dustup in the famed Long Beach hairpin gave the win to No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR co-drivers Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy. Overall, Corvette Racing has seven IMSA victories at Long Beach, far and away the most of any WeatherTech Championship team.
 
“Our success at Long Beach comes down to many things,” explains Gavin, who has a series-leading five victories on the 1.968-mile street circuit. “Fundamentally, Tommy and I have been in the position to win each of the last four years. Yes, things have had to go our way in some cases.”
 
Indeed, there have been some wacky circumstances. The aforementioned 2016 incident was one. The next year, the No. 3 team was on its way to the win only to get tangled up due to a last-lap incident in the hairpin, which opened the door for Milner and the No. 4 Corvette to take the checkered flag first.
 
“Three years ago, we were leading with two laps to go and got taken out at the last corner,” Gavin says. “But the last two years, we’ve taken our chances and taken them well. That’s what it’s all about driving around a street circuit – when to risk it, when not to, taking advantage of the mistakes of others and execution.”
 
On the point of 100 victories, astute fans of Corvette Racing will say, “Hang on a minute, Corvette Racing got its 100th win at Lime Rock in 2016.” And it was the 100th win for the program overall when you count the team’s eight 24 Hours of Le Mans victories.
 
But a Long Beach win will give the team 100 in IMSA competition, encapsulating the WeatherTech Championship, American Le Mans Series and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series.
 
“It would be great to get another win there, for sure – No. 100 in IMSA for Corvette Racing,” Milner said. “To win three in a row at any track against this level of competition would be a great achievement. It also would be a great way to get ourselves back into championship contention.”
 
Corvette Racing knows all about contending for a championship, having won each of the past three GTLM titles. The No. 3 team won each of the past two years, while Gavin and Milner brought home the 2016 title for the No. 4 squad.
 
The No. 4 duo is currently eighth in the GTLM standings, 15 points behind the class-leading No. 911 pair of Pilet and Tandy with two of 11 races in the books. So for them, Long Beach could be exactly what the doctor ordered.
 
“For me, my success at Long Beach has been a bit of a surprise in some ways,” Milner said. “I’ve never really thought street races were my strong suit. The racing is always fun there, but I always felt more comfortable at other tracks. But I’ve had some of the best outcomes at Long Beach – my first Corvette IMSA win in 2012 with Oliver, and then we’ve been super strong the last four years with the Corvette C7.R.”
 
“Last year we had a good Corvette,” added Gavin. “We were strong, and Tommy had a great stint at the end. Sure, we got fortunate when two other cars had contact, but that’s one of the reasons we’ve won so many times at Long Beach. We’ve managed to execute passes cleanly and we’ve been smart.
 
“All it takes is a little bit of contact or a brush with the wall and your day is done. There are no second chances at Long Beach.”
 
The BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach will be televised live on NBCSN beginning at 5 p.m. ET. IMSA Radio also will cover the action live on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.
 
Tickets are available now on GPLB.com.
Professional off-road racer and world-renowned radio and television host Jim Beaver will climb back behind the wheel of his familiar #915 Polaris RZR in the UTV Turbo class at this weekend’s Polaris RZR UTV World Championship, returning to Laughlin, Nevada this April 4-7. After setting a promising pace at last month’s Mint 400, Beaver and his whole team are looking to finish what they started with a strong result at the world’s largest UTV race.
 
“The Polaris RZR UTV World Championship is an event unlike any other on our racing calendar,” said Jim Beaver. “I dove headfirst into UTV racing just a few short years ago with Polaris RZR, and I’m amazed by just how quickly the sport has grown, and how quick the race pace has become. That said, we proved at the Mint 400 that we’ve got the pace to score a strong finish, and we’re excited to prove it this weekend in Laughlin!”
 
2019 has been a massive year for Beaver already, both on and off the track. He began the season by running both Best in the Desert events in his hometown of Parker, Arizona, including his long-awaited return to Trick Truck in the Parker 425, before returning to UTV action at the Mint 400. Off the track, Beaver’s flagship Down and Dirty Radio Show Powered By Polaris RZR and Project Action on Podcast One have welcomed some of the biggest names in action motorsports. This week, he launched the new 4 Wheel Parts Down and Dirty Show Off-Road Edition Powered by Polaris RZR, and more announcements about new shows are coming soon.
 
The Polaris RZR UTV World Championship brings the world’s best competitors together in a celebration of all things UTV. The event features both desert and short course races, with well over 300 entries signed up overall, including more than 60 in the UTV Turbo class. Beaver will once again partner with co-driver Bryant Shontz to take on this year’s race, which spans 10 laps over a 17-mile course. The #915 Polaris RZR has finished each of the past two UTV World Championship races, and will be looking to make it three in a row on Saturday.
 
Before the racing action takes place on Saturday and Sunday, Beaver will tape his latest episode of the Down and Dirty Show Powered By Polaris RZR on Friday afternoon. The show will tape from noon to 1:30PM at the UTV Festival, held at the Riverside Resort Hotel & Casino in Laughlin. Many of the sport’s best-known figures will be on hand for exclusive interviews about their involvement in the UTV industry, racing programs, and more.
 
Jim Beaver Motorsports is supported by Polaris RZR, Vision Wheel, General Tire, 4 Wheel Parts, DirtFish Rally School, Gibson Performance Exhaust, MotoShield Pro, Impact, Assault Industries, My Medic, and Go-Parts. For more information on Jim Beaver and the Down and Dirty Show Powered By Polaris RZR, visit www.downanddirtyshow.com, follow @JimBeaver15 on social media, and follow @DownAndDirtyShow on Instagram.

After nearly an eight-week break in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) competition, Spencer Davis (@SpencerDavis_29) and his Rette Jones Racing (@RetteJones30) team are ready to return to competition in Saturday afternoon’s Zombie Auto Parts 150 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Starting the year off with a solid top-10 finish at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway in February was a positive introduction for Davis and Rette Jones Racing – but with a group of winners and docked as one of the pre-season championship hopefuls, the team heads to “Thunder Valley” hungry for more.

To help build the chemistry between Davis and Rette Jones Racing crew chief and co-owner Mark Rette, the team recently participated in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway – where the duo came and conquered the historic Virginia short track with a solid top-20 finish.

With confidence, comfort and trust between them, Davis and Rette Jones Racing revert back to their championship run in K&N and Davis readies his fourth start at the “World’s Fastest Half-Mile” aboard the No. 30 Ford Fusion.

The Mooresville, N.C.-based team welcomes JRi Shocks as the primary partner for the K&N East at Bristol for the second consecutive season.

JRi Shocks recently acquired by NASCAR Hall of Famer Ray Evernham was founded in 2007 by some of the most legendary innovators in motorsports to produce the world’s most technologically advanced, highest performance suspension systems.

“I’ve been anxiously waiting to get to Bristol for about a month now,” said Davis who sits sixth in the championship standings entering the second race of the year. “Mark (Rette), the guys and I have been methodically working on our Bristol car because we’re determined to go win the race on Saturday afternoon with JRi Shocks.

“We know that in order to show everyone that we are championship material, we need to be running inside the top-five and contending for wins. With my prior experience there and Mark’s strong setups, I think we put ourselves in a good position to get Rette Jones Racing their first K&N victory Saturday afternoon.”

Davis, a native of Dawsonville, Ga. has three prior starts at the 0.533-mile concrete oval. The NASCAR Next driver has finished inside the top-10 in his last two outings, including a track best of third in 2017.

Last April, Davis finished seventh after starting fifth.

“Bristol is a tough place, mentally and physically,” offered 20-year-old Davis. “With the ever-changing track characteristics, you really have to make sure your car is able to run both the low line and the top line. Negotiating traffic has also been a huge factor throughout the race.

“For us, we just need to make sure we get our No. 30 JRI Shocks Ford Fusion qualified near the front and use the first half of the race to our advantage to make sure we can hit it our hard during the second half and be a factor when it counts most. I think it’s going to be a competitive race on Saturday, and we want to be a part of it.”

After being apart of the K&N East Series since 2016, Jones is ready for the checkered flag to be theirs.

“Even though we haven’t always had the results to show it, Bristol has been one of our better tracks,” said Rette, the 2009 ARCA Menards Series championship crew chief. “We’ve had some success there in the past with Dominque (Van Wieringen) and Grant (Quinlan) – but I think Bristol is really a track that fits Spencer’s driving style and I’m hoping that will play into our hands-on Saturday.

“150 laps go quick at Bristol and I hope we can come out of there with our first win or a strong finish to propel us into the double-header at South Boston in May.”

In addition to JRi Shocks serving as the title marketing partners for the second race of the season, Rette Jones Racing also welcomes ALLPRO, Tower Sealants, Horton Ave. Materials, Jones Group Demolition and Abatement, Ford Performance, Huntilar Corp. and Goodridge Fluid Transfer Systems as associate marketing partners for the second short track race of 2019

RJR is co-owned by Canadian entrepreneur and former race car driver Terry Jones.

In 33 career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East starts, Davis has earned one victory (Dominion (Va.) Raceway 2016), two poles, achieved 14 top-five and 23 top-10 finishes. He has also 224 laps led in event competition.

Davis also has six NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS) starts to his credit – four in 2018 driving for Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) and one in 2019 for Rette Jones Racing. He earned two top-10 finishes including a career-best of seventh in his series’ debut at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

Additionally, Sam Hunt Racing will utilize Rette Jones Racing in a technical alliance role for this weekend at Bristol. Rette has worked closely with SHR and 18-year-old driver Colin Garrett.

“Colin Garrett and Sam Hunt Racing are quickly becoming players in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and Rette Jones Racing is proud to be a part of their rapid growth,” Rette added. “Colin is a talented race car driver and with the two teams working together, I think everyone will be impressed with the results.”

The Zombie Auto 150 (150 laps | 79.95 miles) is the second of 13 races on the 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule. Practice begins for the two-day show on Fri., Apr. 5 from 4:05 p.m. – 4:50 p.m. Group qualifying is set for later in the day at 7:30 p.m. The race will take the green flag just after 4:00 p.m. on Sat., Apr. 14 following the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300. The event will be televised live on FansChoice.TV, as well on a tape-delayed basis on NBC Sports Network on Thurs., Apr. 11 at 4:00 p.m. ET.

For more information on Spencer Davis, please check out his Facebook page (Spencer Davis Racing) or on Instagram @spencerdavis_29.

Davis tweets too. Follow him @SpencerDavis_29.

The latest on Rette Jones Racing is available at RetteJonesRacing.com, the team’s Facebook page or Twitter @RetteJones30.

RJR PR

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