Thursday, Dec 09
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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After two winless seasons driving for Rob Russell, Michael Bennett made the decision over the off season to go back to being an owner/driver in the hope that would help him get back to NAPA Victory Lane in Stafford Speedway’s Late Model division.  Bennett and the #19 Aubuchon Hardware team not only found their way back to victory lane, but put together a season that saw Bennett win his second career Late Model championship at Stafford, which was his third overall career track title. 

“It’s great going back to our own team and winning the championship, that’s probably the most satisfying part,” said Bennett.  “Every championship feels a little bit different for different reasons.  The first championship was our first and the second championship was a lot of trials and tribulations that we went through during the year.  This one feels different because it was a close battle all year long and it took every lap of the season to win it.  It wasn’t easy by any stretch of the imagination.  Big thanks to Randy Palko, Herb Bennett, Jr., A.J. DePellegrini, Schuyler Greene, Corey Bennett, Ryan Posocco, Aubuchon Hardware, Longview RV, Hilltop Restaurant & Bar, H & B Siding, G & M General Contracting, Bingo, Alpine Tree Company, Start-Finish Motorsports, Herb & Laura Bennett, NAPA of Tolland, 100 Percent Printing, Randy’s Trucking, Stafford Mechanical Services, New England Race Fuels, Lornell Company, and Beni’s Restaurant for all their help and support this season.”

Following the 2017 season, Bennett sold his car and took a year away from Late Model competition before returning in 2019 driving the #31 car owned by Russell that won the 2017 championship with Glen Reen.  While Bennett was winless in 2 seasons driving the #31 car, he finished 5th and 2nd in the points standings during those seasons.  Leaving an established team to once again become an owner/driver could be considered a risky move, but for Bennett it was a very low risk move to make.

“I wouldn’t say it was a high risk move,” said Bennett.  “We weren’t able to win with the 31 car, but that wasn’t from a lack of effort at all.  The main reason why we went back to our own car was because we felt like that was our best chance to win races and be in control of the day to day and week to week stuff.  The car we bought was a car that I had ran before in 2014 so we were familiar with the car and the crew was dedicated to making sure everything was where it needed to be.  Everyone that was part of the team was with me before and I think everyone was hungrier to win.  The combination of those things along with aligning ourselves with John Williams with the race gears and transmissions, Donny Wood from R.A.D. Auto Machine, and Bob Fill, we knew if we were going to be on the top of our game, we needed the best and those guys are the best, which made our lives much easier.”

Bennett came into the 2021 season with his sole focus on getting back to victory lane for the first time since September 2017.  Bennett didn’t have to wait for very long to get that first win as he won the first two races of the season.  Despite his strong start to the year, Bennett was still focused on winning races and had not one care about winning the championship.

“The best feeling is going to the track on Friday nights knowing you have a car that is capable of winning,” said Bennett.  “There were a lot of unknowns but we talked with Bob Fill before we bought the car so we were confident.  To come out and win the first 2 races, I was pumped to win the opener because the burden of trying to win a race was done and we could spend the rest of the year concentrating on winning more races.  Our goal was to just win a race because it had been so long since I last won.  The championship stuff, if you’re thinking about the championship at the start of the year before you’ve even gone to the track for a race, I think you’re kind of crazy.  You’re hoping that you put things in the right place to be a contender, but things happen during the year.”

After winning the first two races of the season, Bennett and the #19 team continued to finish up front as they notched 7 podium finishes, including 3 wins, in the first 10 races of the season.  Despite his hot start to the year, Bennett had Adam Gray right with him in the standings and both drivers were chasing Michael Wray, who held the early season point lead.  Bennett didn’t find himself in the point lead until August 6th and even then he was still focused on winning races and not the championship.

“It wasn’t until the last couple of races where you look at the points and there were only like 3 or 4 of us that had a realistic chance at winning the championship,” said Bennett.  “At that point of the year, we had some things refreshed and rebuilt on the car and we put in some different setups for the changing weather.  We struggled during the last 5 races, we didn’t have the car where we wanted it so our focus was to win races and let the points take care of themselves rather than worrying about the championship.  We won 3 out of the first 5 races so our plan was to see how many races we could win since I’ve won as many as 7 races in a season before.”

As the end of the season grew nearer and nearer, Bennett and the #19 team began to feel the pressure, but they closed out the season with top-4 finishes in 6 of the final 7 races, including back to back wins on August 20 and August 27.

“We put ourselves in position to win the championship, but the unknown of where we were going to end up was really stressful for us the last 3 races,” said Bennett.  “The last race I was really stressed out because I didn’t want to disappoint everyone who had worked really hard all year long on the car.  We were right there and everyone on the team wanted to win the championship at that point.  The last race, the car wasn’t great.  I was riding along and Adam [Gray] was behind us for the first third of the race, which is what we needed.  There was a restart and Adam got in front of us so I figured I’d just follow him because we had been pretty even throughout the year but he just took off and was gone.  At that point I realized there were too many cars in between us so I had to make some decisions behind the wheel as to how aggressive I wanted to be with certain people and it worked out in our favor.”

Bennett plans to return to the Late Model ranks for the 2022 season.

“We’re going to come back and try to win more races and see if we can put ourselves in position to win the championship again,” said Bennett.  “It’s tough to be a repeat champion but that’s the last thing on our mind.  Winning the championship is awesome but you can win a championship without winning a race and we almost did that last year with the 31 car.  There’s nothing more thrilling than winning a race and there’s no other feeling like that so we want to win races.  The car is already torn apart and we have a few parts that are being done up and getting refreshed so we should be good to go.”

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Stafford Speedway PR

Kyle Larson will get a champion’s welcome when he returns to his hometown of Elk Grove on Monday, Nov. 22.

Sonoma Raceway and the City of Elk Grove have planned a day for all NASCAR fans to celebrate Larson’s 2021 NASCAR Cup Series championship.

Larson, 29, captured the NASCAR Championship by winning the final race of the season at Phoenix International Raceway. Larson attended Pleasant Grove High School and began his racing career on short tracks all around Northern California.

The event will begin with a parade down Elk Grove Boulevard starting near the intersection of Elk Grove Boulevard and Florin Road. The parade will proceed to the Old Town Plaza where Larson will be joined by local dignitaries and gather with race fans.

The event is free of charge and open to anyone.

Who:               2021 NASCAR Champion Kyle Larson, City of Elk Grove, Sonoma Raceway

What:              Public celebration of Larson’s championship

When:             Monday, Nov. 22 at 2 p.m.

Where:            Old Town Plaza in downtown Elk Grove, Calif.

Sonoma Raceway PR

Buckle up the kids and enjoy the magic – The first Magic of Lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway! The Magic of Lights, the popular drive-through, family-friendly holiday lights extravaganza, is set to make its debut in South Florida this Friday (Nov. 19).

Magic of Lights will showcase a dazzling display of more than one million twinkling, sparkling lights and magical scenes, all viewed within the comfort and safety of the guest’s vehicle. Advanced-sale tickets are on sale today by visiting magicoflights.com/homestead. For the past four years, Magic of Lights has been a huge hit for holiday fun at Daytona International Speedway, and will now call South Florida home as well. Magic of Lights will run through Jan. 1, 2022.

Magic of Lights, which will be a festive and winding drive-through on the grounds of the already colorful Homestead-Miami Speedway, will be open from 6-10 p.m. ET nightly. It will be 44 days of magical fun!

Kids from ages one to 92 (and above) will be mesmerized with the colorful lights, holiday scenes and a cast of characters. Families, couples, friends, social and work groups can enjoy the happy holiday experience. Ticket prices include:

  • Advanced Pricing Prime Season through Dec. 9: $20 per standard vehicle in advance with $30 at the gate weekdays (Monday through Thursday), or $35 on weekends (Friday through Sunday).
  • Dec. 10 - Jan. 1: $25 per standard vehicle in advance with $35 at the gate weekdays (Monday through Thursday), or $40 on weekends (Friday through Sunday).
  • Oversized vehicles such as limousines or vans for 15 passengers or more will be $40 per vehicle in advance, $50 per vehicle at the gate and $55 on weekend dates (Friday through Sunday).
  • Tour buses can be accommodated for $100.
  • Group rates are also available.

“The Magic of Lights is an incredible addition to our already busy calendar here at Homestead-Miami Speedway,” said track president Al Garcia. “It’s going to be a wonderful new family holiday tradition for the local community here in South Florida. The venue is well suited for a drive through holiday light experience and is going to provide tons of family enjoyment. We can’t wait for this Friday.”

Guests will be able to enjoy all the spectacular displays, using the latest LED technology and digital animations. Tickets purchased online in advance can be used at any date, allowing guests the flexibility on when they choose to attend. The experiences will include featured displays like Prehistoric Christmas and Big Foot Monster Trucks. All are guaranteed to warm the heart and create special family memories across generations.

Magic of Lights is produced by a team of family entertainment professionals at FunGuys Events, each with decades of international show experience at the highest level.

For information on Magic of Lights at Homestead-Miami Speedway, visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com or call (866) 409-RACE (7223). Fans can keep up with up-to-date happenings at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Homestead-Miami Speedway makes its return to the NASCAR Playoffs in 2022 with a tripleheader on Oct. 22-23. The Baptist Health 200 for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will be a part of a Saturday, Oct. 22, 2022 NASCAR Playoffs doubleheader with the Contender Boats 250 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The weekend’s anchor event, Dixie Vodka 400, a NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs race, is set for Sunday, Oct. 23, 2022. It’s the first time in three years that Homestead-Miami Speedway has played host to NASCAR’s Playoffs.

HMS PR

Following a rookie season that resulted in 5 feature wins and a second place finish in the points standings would be a tough act for any driver to follow, but for Oakdale, CT native Derek Debbis and the #56 Donna May Fisheries team, there were no such issues in his sophomore season.  Debbis followed up his extraordinary rookie campaign with a division leading 7 win season that helped propel him to the top of the championship standings and become the 2021 SK Light championship.

“Winning the championship hasn’t really set in for me yet,” said Debbis.  “It’s unbelievable, especially being in just my second year.  I would definitely say the first half or three quarters of the season we weren’t thinking about the championship at all, our goal was to just do better than we did last season.  When the last 4 or 5 races came into play we started to see where our priorities were.  I have to thank everyone who helped us this season, Butch Shea, Todd Owen, Donna May Fisheries, Canterbury Mini Storage, Hamilton Market, my parents, 32 Signs, Jeff Pearl for the transmission, Pegasus Air Charters, and Van Horst General Contractors.”

Debbis’ team served notice right from the start of the 2021 season that they would once again be serious contenders for the championship by winning the first 2 races.  Debbis was able to lean heavily on the experience he gained behind the wheel during his rookie season as a key factor in being able to start his season off with the best possible results.

“I couldn’t have ever predicted we’d have 5 wins last year and 7 wins this year,” said Debbis.  “I was just hoping to get one win last year as a rookie.  Todd and his guys had the car set up perfectly each week and Todd was a great driver coach letting me know what I was doing wrong.  I think my rookie year was like 3 years of experience in one season, which really helped set me up for this year.  I would say last year was more me getting comfortable in the car where this season I was able to be comfortable right away from the first race and I was able to drive the wheels off the car.  Last year we missed the first race because I missed a shift and blew the transmission up in the consi race.  It’s pretty insane to think that we missed the first race last season and we came back and won the championship this season.”

Despite Debbis’ dominance with 7 wins and 11 podium finishes in 20 starts this season, his road to the championship was not an easy drive.  Debbis had to contend with defending SK Light champion Brian Sullivan and Alexander Pearl, who were neck and neck with Debbis for much of the season.  Debbis’ season was almost derailed on September 3rd on the second lap of the race.

“With 5 races to go we went into turn 1 on the second lap of the race and we ended up in the wall,” said Debbis.  “We had a 22 point lead going into that race and then we were 22 points behind after that race.  It was just one of those things where you get caught up in someone else’s mess and you have to take the best of the best with the worst of the worst.  We were discouraged that we lost the point lead after that race, but we had the car put back together and ready to go two days later.  We knew we couldn’t have any more bad nights and at the same time that motivated us to keep on pushing.  From that point on, it was all about playing catch up.”

Rebounding from a bad wreck was a theme for Debbis and the #56 team during the 2021 season.  Debbis followed up that September 3rd mishap with a victory in his next race, a feat which he turned earlier in the season.  Debbis finished 21st on June 16 and he followed that race up with a victory in the Dunleavy’s night race, which netted him a $5,500 payday as Debbis drew the winning chip in the Dunleavy’s Gambler’s Challenge.

“We’ve always seemed to manage to have pretty good luck after we wreck the race car,” said Debbis.  “We won the Dunleavy’s Night race after we wrecked pretty bad and if you look at Todd [Owen] and his guys, they have a consistent record of bringing a car back to the track quicker than can be after a wreck.  I would say being able to recover was a key for us this year and recovering from a bad race was never something that was going to ruin our season.”

In a season full of memorable moments, Debbis says that his victory in the 40-lap Dunleavy’s Modifiedz Night event was the most memorable moment of his 2021 championship season.

“I would say the Dunleavy’s night was the best night for us,” said Debbis.  “What are the chances of not only winning a big money race but also pulling the chip for the Gambler’s Challenge to go to the winner?  That bonus pretty much paid for the previous week when we wrecked the car.”

Debbis will return to the SK Light division for the 2022 season at Stafford and he hopes to once again be among the championship contenders. 

“I don’t like to be cocky or overconfident so we’ll see what happens next season,” said Debbis.  “I don’t want to get too far ahead of myself.”

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Stafford Speedway PR

Buddy Kofoid took the lead from Emerson Axsom on lap 18 and went on to lead the final 13 laps to win the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series’ November Classic at Bakersfield Speedway Tuesday night. With the victory, Kofoid vaulted back past Chris Windom to take the series point lead by four points with just six races remaining in their see-saw battle for the USAC title.

The win is the fifth of the season for the Penngrove, Calif., native, but his first since winning at Gas City on June 11. Overall, Toyota-powered drivers have now won 24 times in 34 USAC events this season.

Axsom and Kofoid made up the front row and it was pole-sitter Axsom, who would take the lead on the opening lap with Kofoid right on his tail.

After trading the lead back and forth through the midway point of the race with Axsom leading each lap, Kofoid would finally take over the lead by running low through turn four and going underneath Axsom for the top spot on lap 18.

Kofoid would have to survive two late restarts to secure the victory. The first came on lap 25 where Kofoid got a great jump and opened up more than a second lead, but it would be short-lived after Jade Avedisian flipped on lap 29. 

That would set up one more chance for Axsom. Kofoid continued to lead on the green, but the lead was cut down to three-tenths of a second, but Axsom also was in a battle for the second spot and as he attempted to hold off Justin Grant, it gave Kofoid the breathing room he needed to drive off to his second consecutive Bakersfield win by 1.13-seconds. Axsom would finish second, with Grant in third and Cannon McIntosh rounded out the top five in fifth.

Toyota-powered drivers also claimed positions six through ten with Cory Eliason finishing sixth, followed by Windom in seventh, Bryant Wiedeman in eighth, Kevin Thomas Jr. placed ninth with Logan Seavey in the tenth spot.

USAC continues its Western Swing with three nights at the Placerville Speedway, Nov. 18-20, for the Hangtown 100, the richest three-day USAC Midget race in history with a total purse of $150,000 plus contingencies.

Quotes:

Buddy Kofoid, Keith Kunz Motorsports: “I was able to bide my time waiting for traffic and I feel I can always contend with people in traffic and I was able to do that. After that I was able to move back up to the top in one and two and just start running laps. This isn’t possible without Keith Kunz and Pete Willougby, as well as Mobil 1 and Toyota. Even more importantly, this one is for my good friend Daison (Pursley), I know he’s watching tonight. Hopefully, he’ll have a quick recovery and we’ll see him again soon.”

TRD PR

Medford, Oregon’s Austin Torgerson dominated the $1,500-to-win Championship 50 at Adobe Mountain Speedway in Glendale, Arizona on Saturday night, grabbing the season finale victory in the Non-Wing Micro Sprints. His brother Ashton finished second as well for a Torgerson Racing one-two finish.

The lucrative night of NOW600 Cactus Region action attracted 32 cars to the 1/6th mile north of Phoenix. Austin Torgerson finished second in heat race two while Ashton Torgerson finished third in heat race competition. Austin led all 50-laps of the feature while Ashton was on the charge. Ashton Torgerson moved into second by the 11th lap. A series of restarts gave Ashton a shot to show his nose to Austin, but Austin maintained the top spot for the victory. Ashton’s second place finish paid $700 as well.

Kyle and Samantha Busch spent time with Torgerson Racing while their son Brexton competed in the Jr. Sprints as well.

Torgerson Racing also participated in the Four Stroke Showdown at the adjacent Phoenix Kart Racing Association in their first kart race in a year. Austin Torgerson picked up a fifth-place finish in Sunday’s action.

Torgerson Racing’s Micro Sprint program will continue with the 37th Tulsa Shootout on December 29, 2021 through January 1, 2022 at the Tulsa Expo Raceway in Oklahoma. Both Ashton and Austin Torgerson are entered to compete in a quadruple duty with racing in A-Class, Stock Non-Wing, Outlaw, and Outlaw Non-Wing. Action will be streamed live on www.FloRacing.com

Sponsors and supporters of the 2021 season included Adams Performance, Ten-J Chassis, Brandon Coates, Tyler Silva, Cody Key, Davey Key, and Ryan Ruth. To learn more about Torgerson Racing, visit them at their website www.TorgersonRacing.com Torgerson Racing is also available on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Austin Torgerson PR

Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway will roar to life one last time for the 2021 racing season. Saturday, November 20th will see the crowning of 6 division champions for a full day of exciting racing action. A full program is set to run with features from Limited Late Models, Street Stocks, Pure Stocks, Pest Doctor Front Runners, BH Holmes Construction Legends Cars, and Dye Hard Hair Salon Bandoleros. 
 
The Limited Late Model feature mathematically has six drivers eligible to become this year's champion. However, all eyes will be on the top three drivers, Kevin Rollins, Alan Carter, and Jonathan Dishman. Dishman, who won the 2020 Limited Late Model Championship, will look to make a repeat appearance in the Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway winner circle and add another trophy to his case.
 
The BH Holmes Construction Legends Championship race in memory of Kevin Cordell will bring another exciting points battle for the championship to the Fairgrounds Speedway. Three drivers are poised for a chance to hold the coveted 2021 Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Championship trophy. Boston Oliver leads the battle by a single point over Oliver Cordell. Sitting right behind both drivers in third place is Rookie Michael Crafton III. Crafton is the winningest driver this 2021 season in the Legends division and looks to carry that momentum to Saturday to cap off a great rookie season. Oliver Cordell looks to not only win the championship, but also this race which is in memory of his Father Kevin who was a long time race supporter for the Fairgrounds Speedway.
 
An exciting day will be on hand as all 6 divisions look to crown their official 2021 champion. Racing will begin at 2:00pm with pits opening at 9:30am for all competitors.
 
Top Stories:
*Six divisions of racing will crown a 2021 Champion for Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway. This race which was originally scheduled for the Friday of the All American 400 was rescheduled to November 20th due to wet conditions.
 
*The Limited Late Model feature mathematically has six competitors eligible for the championship. The top three drivers will spotlight the feature however as they are all separated by just 8 points.
 
*The Legends Feature hosts a great deal of fantastic story lines. Starting with the winningest legends driver of the 2021 season being a rookie, and searching for a magical season by wrapping it up with a championship.
 
*The Legends feature will also see a son race in memory of his father and for a championship. Oliver Cordell whose father Kevin was a long time supporter of racing at the Speedway and lost his life earlier this year. Oliver will look to take home both a championship and a race win Saturday in memory of his father.
 
Nashville Fairgounds PR

The biggest DIRTcar UMP Modified brawl on the fall calendar is finally here. The eighth annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial race boasts a bigger $7,000-to-win purse this year, and the stars will be out to come and chase it.

 

Thursday night kicks things off with a practice session for all divisions. Hot Lap/Qualifying and Showdown Features for the UMP Modifieds highlight Friday’s program alongside a full show for 602 Late Models and Thunder Stocks. Modified Last Chance Showdowns and the 50-lap Feature are on-tap for Saturday, while DIRTcar Pro (604) Late Models and Street Stocks support the show.

 

Driver pre-registration is still open at the link below, but will be closed on Wednesday evening. Upon arrival, teams are reminded that all upper pit parking spaces have been booked, but plenty of room is still available around the Gator Pond.

 

DRIVER PRE-REGISTRATION

 

All tickets will be sold at the gate on race day – $20 for single-day admission, $30 for both days. Kids 12-and-under are free. If you can’t be at the track, watch every lap of Friday and Saturday live with a FAST PASS subscription to DIRTVision presented by Drydene.

 

Here are the drivers to watch and storylines to follow this weekend…

 

TRACTOR HUNTING – The champ is here, and gunning for the gold. Or, in this case, the farm tractor trophy.

 

Defending DIRTcar UMP Modified national champion Nick Hoffman, of Mooresville, NC, just clinched his third consecutive DIRTcar national championship after another dominating season that saw him capture 26 Feature wins in 49 starts. In February, Hoffman also clinched a sixth consecutive DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator trophy as champion of the UMP Modified division – the most by any one driver in the event’s 50-year history.

 

However, there is one trophy he’s never hoisted in the Sunshine State. Hoffman will take his Elite Chassis #2 southbound one final time this year in search of his first win in the event, one year after coming up two spots short of victory in the Saturday finale.

 

HOME TURF – Over the last two seasons as a UMP Modified regular at Volusia, Garret Stewart has lost a total of four points Features.

 

The 2020 & 2021 track champion from Leesburg, FL, has since become the local favorite and will lead the charge into the Reutimann Memorial on the back of seven Feature wins in ten regular season starts at the track in 2021. Volusia underwent a resurfacing at the beginning of the year, which 100+ UMP Modified drivers raced on at the 50th DIRTcar Nationals in February. Stewart has now been racing on the new dirt all season, and says those laps on it are going to pay off come Saturday.

 

“I think we’ve actually gained on our car when it’s not so slick,” Stewart said. “So, I actually do think this year we have a little bit of help on our side just being on the race track seven or eight times throughout the year.”

 

FRIENDS IN SOUTHERN PLACES – It’s been another successful year behind the wheel for Matoaca, VA-driver Chris Arnold, who locked-up his first regional UMP Modified championship last weekend with the Southeast Dirt Modified Series. This weekend, he’ll have an extra resource on hand with him in the pit area – his car builder, David Reutimann.

 

Reutimann is the owner, founder and builder of Beak Built Chassis, which Arnold has been piloting for the past few seasons. David and father Buzzie, 80, of Zephyrhills, FL, will both be on the roster for the event – which David won in 2015 and 2016, when the event was held at East Bay Raceway Park.

 

NO MORE MR. NICE GUY – Tyler Nicely entered the Reutimann Memorial and came to Volusia last year, driving a brand-new Longhorn by Loenbro, with one goal in mind. Win.

 

When the weekend was over, he had done just that, defeating Hoffman and NASCAR star Justin Allgaier for his first career tractor trophy. This year, his goal is exactly the same – win in a brand-new car, in preparation for Florida in February.

 

“We’ve got a whole year under our belt and we ran solid during Speedweeks,” Nicely said. “I’m excited to get back. We’ll have a new car, and the car I started running at the end of the year. We’ll practice on both Thursday night, see which one I feel like I’ve got the best shot at and hopefully bring another one of them tractor trophies back to Owensboro.”

 

WILDCARD WINNER – Kenny Wallace brought his Elite Chassis #36 to Volusia last Saturday night, in preparation for this weekend, and won, defeating David Reutimann and Garret Stewart in the Wildcard 25 main event.

 

Wallace, of Arnold, MO, made his Reutimann Memorial debut last year and had a strong run in Saturday’s finale, driving all the way from 21st to finish 10th. He’ll be back on the roster for another try at the coveted farm tractor trophy and a $7,000 check this weekend.

 

DIRTcar Series PR

Jerame Donley has joined GMS Racing to crew chief Ty Dillon and the No. 94 Chevrolet in the team’s inaugural season in the NASCAR Cup Series. 

Most recently, Donley spent nine years at Chip Ganassi Racing, serving as an engineer on the No. 42 Chevrolet with drivers Ross Chastain, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Larson. 

Prior to joining CGR, the University of North Carolina at Charlotte graduate worked at Hendrick Motorsports on the set-up plate and as an underneath mechanic for drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson. During his time at HMS, Donley earned two Cup Series championships with Johnson in 2009 and 2010. 

The Winston Salem, N.C. native grew up racing go-karts, bandoleros, and late models, after his father, Craig, retired from spotting for Dale Earnhardt Sr.’s team at Richard Childress Racing in the early 1990s.  

Donley currently resides in Mooresville, N.C. with his wife, Jenna, and two rescue dogs, Bear and Bandit. The Donley family will welcome their first child in February 2022. 

The No. 94 Chevrolet team will participate in the NASCAR NextGen test at Charlotte Motor Speedway on November 17-18, marking Donley and Dillon’s first on-track activity together. 

Stay up to date with all GMS Racing news by visiting the team's official website at www.GMSRacing.net, or by following along on social media with the handle, @GMSRacingLLC.

#WeAreGMS

GMS PR

When Charlotte Motor Speedway opens the gate for the 12th edition of Speedway Christmas presented by Continental Tire and Tire Pros on Friday, fans will experience the biggest and brightest holiday lights spectacle yet at the iconic speedway. Immersed in a sea of twinkling LEDs strung throughout the oval, road course and concourse, visitors from across the country will descend on America’s Home for the Holidays to experience the dazzling display that many families have made a can’t-miss Christmas tradition. The show runs nightly through Jan. 16, 2022 from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.

Here are this year’s facts, by the numbers, for the country’s largest drive-thru, synchronized light show:

  • 4 million lights: Creating a spectacular showcase of sparkle, the speedway has added lights this year, bringing the grand total to a mind-boggling 4 million. The theme of this year’s display – Santa’s North Pole – will see popular scenes from the jolly elf’s Winter Wonderland come to life in illuminated fashion alongside millions of LEDs synchronized to popular Christmas tunes.
  • 3.75 miles: Strung throughout the infield, along portions of the iconic speedway and innovative ROVAL™, in the grandstands and under the concourse, Speedway Christmas guests wind through nearly four miles of lights as they take in hundreds of creative displays and lights synchronized to Christmas-themed music.
  • 5,000 hours: A light show of this magnitude takes a sizable effort to construct. The speedway’s operation crews have been hard at work since mid-October stringing lights, running power and testing the displays. In total, crews will rack up more than 5,200 work hours getting ready for opening night.
  • 14,000 feet: Hundreds of light displays require plenty of extension cords. This year crews will use approximately 14,000 feet of cords to provide the power needed to bring the lively displays to life.
  • 50 states: As a COVID-safe alternative to more traditional events, last year’s edition of Speedway Christmas was the facility’s most popular yet. Record numbers of cars visited the show last season, with pre-sale tickets being sold to guest visiting from all 50 states, Washington D.C. and as far away as Canada.
  • 76,000 donuts: With all the fun that is to be had walking through the Christmas Village – which also includes an indoor movie theater, , a variety of craft vendors – fans are sure to work up an appetite. A Speedway Christmas staple, Lil’ Donut Express, will return, serving sweet treats throughout the show. In all, Lil’ Donuts expects to sell nearly 76,000 mini munchies, which, if laid side-by-side, would stretch nearly 3.5 miles, or almost the length of the drive-thru show.
  • 16,000 square feet: Back by popular demand, Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 16,000-square-foot HDTV will transform into a drive-in movie screen throughout the light show, playing holiday hit movies like “Elf,” “Home Alone 2” and “A Christmas Story” every Thursday through Sunday night. Click here for a full schedule of movie nights and titles.
  • 57 nights: Open nightly from Nov. 19 through Jan. 16, 2022 (closed Christmas Eve and for limited private bookings), Speedway Christmas will come to life for 57 nights throughout the season, providing families plenty of opportunities to take in the magic of the show.
  • 14 songs: Much of what makes Speedway Christmas so unique are the synchronized lights-to-music that fill much of the infield and concourse. Fourteen popular scores played in rotation bring the show to life as displays – some towering as high as 80 feet in the air – dance and glisten to the tunes.
  • Only 1: With millions of lights, a slew of popular Christmas movies playing on the speedway’s 16,000-square-foot HDTV and the return of the ever-popular infield Christmas village, there’s only one place families need to be this year to get into the holiday spirit – Speedway Christmas presented by Continental Tire and Tire Pros.

CAR PASSES:

Speedway Christmas presented by Continental Tire and Tire Pros will be open nightly from Nov. 19 through Jan. 16, with the exception of limited private bookings and Christmas Eve. Tickets are sold per vehicle (up to 15 passengers), online or at the gate starting at $30 Monday through Wednesday and $40 Thursday through Sunday. For just $70, guests can skip the line and use the Express Lane, located at Entrance P off of Morehead Road. Click here for a map.

Tickets, schedules and more information are available online at www.speedwaychristmas.com or at the gate.

FOLLOW ALONG:

Keep track of all of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s events, share their photos and join the conversation by following on Twitter and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan. Fans can also keep up with all the latest news and information with the Charlotte Motor Speedway mobile app.

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