Speedway Digest Staff
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He was an iconic reporter but also an iconoclast.
The late Robin Miller, who passed away in August at the age of 71, is the winner of the National Motorsports Press Association Pocono Spirit Award for the third quarter of 2021, NMPA president Reid Spencer announced Wednesday.
Miller rose to prominence as an IndyCar journalist during his lengthy career with the Indianapolis Star, where he worked from 1968 to 2001. Among writers covering the IndyCar Series, Miller was acknowledged as the foremost authority, given his knowledge of the garage and the depth of his contacts.
From a journalistic standpoint, Miller pulled no punches and earned well-deserved acclaim—and no small amount of controversy—for his no-holds-barred approach to reporting.
Born in 1949 in Anderson, Indiana, Miller also worked for ESPN, Speed, Autoweek, Car and Driver and Racer magazine, to name a few. At the time of his death, he was reporting for Racer and for NBCSN.
Miller announced in July 2021 that he had been diagnosed with terminal leukemia. He passed away on August 25. In October, Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted an invitation-only celebration of his life that was limited to 400 of his friends. Attendees included speedway owner Roger Penske and IndyCar legends A.J. Foyt and Mario Andretti.
Miller was selected for the third-quarter NMPA Pocono Spirit Award by vote of the NMPA membership.
Also receiving votes were Bubba Wallace, who teamed with PGA Tour pro Harold Varner III to raise more than $200,000 through the Drivers Fore! Change golf tournament; and the New Hampshire Chapter of Speedway Children’s Charities, which joined with volunteer groups to raise more that $127,000 for local charities during NASCAR race weekend in July.
Miller is now eligible for the year-end NMPA Pocono Spirit Award, to be voted by NMPA members. Marcus Lemonis of Camping World was the first-quarter winner. Brad Keselowski’s Checkered Flag Foundation received the second-quarter award.
Established in 1992 and supported by Pocono Raceway, The NMPA Pocono Spirit Award is designed to recognize character and achievement in the face of adversity, sportsmanship and contributions to motorsports.
50th NAPA Spring SizzlerR Set to Pay $15,000 to win; NAPA Duel 1 and 2 to Pay $3,500 to win; Over $130,000 in Prize Money
The historic 50th running of the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® is set to take place at Stafford Speedway April 23 & 24, 2022 featuring the Open Modifieds. Stafford Speedway officials have announced over $130,000 in prize money including $15,000 to win the 50th Spring Sizzler® and $3,500 to win each of the NAPA Duel qualifying events.
The 50th edition of the Spring Sizzler® will feature 32 starters with the field set by two 40 lap “Duel” races held Saturday April 23rd. The top 10 finishers in each duel will transfer to Sunday’s 100 lap NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler. Saturday’s NAPA Duel race lineups will be set by 8 lap heat races. All drivers not advancing from the Duel will compete in 1 of 2 Last Chance Qualifier events held on Sunday, with the top 5 in each transferring to the NAPA Spring Sizzler®.
“We want to make this event memorable,” explained Stafford Speedway CEO Mark Arute. “50 years of Spring Sizzler® history deserves a huge event. Each of the NAPA Duel races will pay $3,500 to win and will pay throughout the entire field. The 50th NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® will be 100 green flag laps, teams can change 2 tires, and will pay $15,000 to win. There will be lap money and multiple bonuses available to teams competing.”
The Open Modifieds will be joined by 7 other divisions over the course of two days marking a big weekend for short track racing in Connecticut. New for 2022, the PASS Super Late Model Series will make their return to Stafford Speedway to compete in a 75 lap race as part of Saturday’s action. Also on the card for Saturday will be Stafford’s Street Stocks, Limited Late Models, and the Vintage All-Stars®.
Sunday, April 24th will play host to the historic 50th running of the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® which will headline the day with a 100 lap race distance. Two last chance qualifiers will also be held on Sunday along with Stafford’s SK Modified®, Late Model and SK Light Modified divisions. Tickets for each day will be separate with a two-day ticket option for Open Modified teams competing in the Spring Sizzler®.
“As a race fan you have to get excited about this event,” continued Arute. “Saturday will be a packed day of racing with two 40 lap Open Modified races in the NAPA Duel along with Street Stocks, Limited Late Models, and Vintage not to mention 30 of the best Super Late Model drivers in New England with the PASS series. Then we will come back Sunday with the Spring Sizzler®, Last Chance Races, SK Modified®, SK Light Modifieds, and Late Models. What else can you ask for as a race fan.”
More information regarding the 50th running of the NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler® will be announced in the weeks and months leading up to the event including information regarding lap money, bonuses, tickets, and more. Registration for the event will begin Thursday, November 11th when the full 2022 Stafford Speedway schedule is released.
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
Cole Moore wrapped up his 2021 season by winning the Rookie of the Year title in the ARCA Menards Series West.
In addition to capturing the prestigious award, the driver of the Bill McAnally Racing No. 99 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry finished third in the overall championship standings in the series this season.
Moore – of Granite Bay, California – notched four top fives and seven top 10s in nine starts this season. He had a career-best finish of fourth on two occasions – on the road course at Sonoma Raceway in June and at Colorado National Speedway in July. He had an average finish of 7.1 and completed 1,118 of 1,120 laps possible.
He becomes the eighth BMR driver to win the rookie title – following Jesse Love (2020), Hailie Deegan (2018), Derek Kraus (2017), Todd Gilliland (2016), Paulie Harraka (2009), Peyton Sellers (2006) and Andrew Lewis (2005).
Moore is a third-generation driver. As a youngster, he started racing on two wheels – competing in motocross. He transitioned to racing cars after turning 16. He raced full seasons in the Pacific Challenge Series Late Models in 2015 and 2016. He also raced in the ARCA West during that timeframe, recording three top-10 finishes while making eight series starts with BMR between 2015-2017.
Moore won the Rookie of the Year Award in the Spears SRL Southwest Tour in 2018. He captured the SRL championship the following year, becoming the only driver to claim the rookie honor and tour title in back-to-back years.
In 2019, he also qualified for the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway in Florida.
In 2020, Moore won a NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series championship in the Late Model division at All American Speedway in Roseville, California – with seven wins, 11 top fives and 12 top 10s in 12 starts.
In addition to competing at Roseville, he also raced a limited SRL schedule. Speed51, meanwhile, ranked him in the top 100 short track racers in the country for 2020.
As part of his driver development, Moore participated in the BMR Drivers Academy to get experience in full-size stock cars as he prepared for his rookie season in ARCA West.
Sam Hunt Racing (SHR) announced today that veteran engineer Allen Hart will join the company as crew chief and technical director for the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) season. Hart, who served as lead race engineer at JR Motorsports on the No. 7 car since 2016, has multiple years of engineering experience in the NASCAR industry. Prior to JRM, Hart spent time as an engineer at both Turner Motorsports and Penske Racing. In 2021, Hart made his crew chief debut with JRM, filling in for Jason Burdett due to COVID-19 Protocols.
Following an impressive season in the NXS, 28-year-old Sam Hunt, owner of Sam Hunt Racing, sees the addition of Hart as a vital step in SHR’s continued growth.
“I’m so proud to add Allen to our young, blossoming organization,” said Hunt. “Allen is an experienced, race-winning engineer and leader at the Xfinity level, and he will be a huge asset to our organization for years to come. We are ready to provide him with this opportunity to continue building our program, as well as our working relationship with TRD and the current staff we have. Andrew [Abbott] has done a great job for our program this year, and he is still a large asset to our team.”
Hart, 39-years-old, will inherit a full-time NXS crew chief role for the first time in his career. The Midland, Michigan native is optimistic about his move to the team.
“I am really looking forward to starting this new chapter with Sam Hunt Racing,” said Hart. “Sam and I have been friends for a long time now, and I’ve really enjoyed watching this team grow from afar. Becoming a crew chief has been a goal of mine since I first came into this sport, and to be able to have that opportunity with this group is extremely special. I can’t thank everyone at JR Motorsports and on the No. 7 team who helped me get to this point over these last eight seasons. Now it’s time to focus on 2022 and get the year started off on a strong note. I am ready to get going.”
More details regarding Sam Hunt Racing’s 2022 plans will be released in the coming months.
Longtime NASCAR broadcaster Bob Jenkins has been named the winner of the 2021 Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence. He is the 10th recipient of the prestigious award named after Ken Squier and Barney Hall.
Jenkins served as the lead lap-by-lap announcer for NASCAR broadcasts on ESPN and ABC from 1981-2000. He passed away in August at age 73 after a battle with brain cancer.
“The voice of Bob Jenkins is synonymous with the many great NASCAR moments he called over two decades,” said NASCAR Chairman and CEO Jim France. “The broadcast team of Jenkins, Ned Jarrett and Benny Parsons is one of the most memorable in NASCAR history, it is fitting to see Bob honored in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.”
Jenkins will be honored during NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony festivities on Friday, Jan. 21, 2022 and featured in an exhibit in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Tickets and more information on the weekend’s events are available at www.nascarhall.com.
Jenkins was an original at ESPN, joining the network in 1979. In addition to announcing more than 400 NASCAR races, he spent 15 years as host of ESPN SpeedWeek, from 1983-1997.
Beyond his NASCAR work, Jenkins lent his iconic voice to various other forms of motorsports. The Indiana native had a special bond with Indianapolis Motor Speedway, serving several different roles over four decades including TV announcer, radio announcer and turn reporter, and public address announcer.
Jenkins won the American Motorsports Media Award of Excellence (then known as the Henry T. McLemore Award) in 2001 and the Bob Russo Founders Award in 2008.
He was one of eight nominees voted upon by a panel of NASCAR and NASCAR Hall of Fame executives, journalists, public relations representatives and former drivers. The Squier-Hall Award was created in 2012 to honor the contributions of media to the success of the sport. Chris Economaki, Tom Higgins, Steve Byrnes, Benny Phillips, Norma “Dusty” Brandel, Steve Waid and Dick Berggren also have won the award.
The other seven nominees for the 2021 award were:
Russ Catlin, one of the best-known early racing writers and historians; editor of Speed Age Magazine
George Cunningham, long-time beat writer for The Charlotte Observer, Atlanta Constitution and NASCAR Scene; is the namesake for the annual NMPA award for Excellence in Writing
Shav Glick, covered motorsports for the Los Angeles Times for 37 years bringing NASCAR coverage to the West Coast
Mike Harris, spent 30 years as the lead motorsports writer for the Associated Press
Bob Moore, spent more than 20 years as a NASCAR beat writer including stints with the Daytona Beach News-Journal and The Charlotte Observer
- Taylor Warren, best known for his three-wide photo of the 1959 Daytona 500 finish, he covered every Daytona 500 until his death in 2008.
Deb Williams, the first woman to receive the American Motorsports Media Award of Excellence.
Paving a racetrack, particularly one as steeply banked as the all-new Atlanta Motor Speedway, is no small undertaking.
“A lot of technology has gone into how and what we use to put down the asphalt," said Steve Swift, Senior Vice President of Operations and Development for Speedway Motorsports. "Any time that you’re putting machinery on 28 degrees – it’s not meant to be there. So there’s a lot of technology that goes into that to make sure the engineering is right, the angles are right, and you’re getting the proper compaction and you’ve got your weight distribution correct."
While that process is a challenge, it’s also a massive opportunity to improve the track from top to bottom. While many will notice the steeper, freshly paved banking, the new AMS also has some new features that’ll be hidden beneath the surface.
“In the last five years we’ve looked at how we take care of ground water," said Swift. "We’ve had races that have been postponed because of weepers.”
To mitigate these issues, the AMS project called for installation of a new drainage system all around the track and an Open Drainage Layer, or ODL. The ODL is a porous layer of asphalt is designed to better absorb ground water and lead it to the drainage system, away from the racing surface.
“The bottom line for our race fans is more time on track and less down time," said AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison. "In the unfortunate circumstance we do get some type of weather, this ODL layer is going to quickly absorb the water as it hits the track and take it down to that drainage system. Which ultimately means we get back to racing quicker.”
The benefits aren’t limited to just race day.
“It’s a large investment for a company to put this ( asphalt) in. We want to make sure it lasts as long as it possibly can," said Swift. The ODL and drainage system will help ensure the longevity of the track by removing excess moisture beneath the racing surface. Left unchecked, moisture degrades an asphalt surface and limits its lifespan.
“Which is a big thing that you see on highways when you see potholes on your everyday drive and you see that they’ve gotta replace asphalt, it’s usually because of water and wear and tear," explained Swift.
To extend the life of Atlanta’s old racing surface, the speedway’s operations department had to work vigorously to limit the amount of moisture below the surface. Going forward with the new ODL, they’ll have a partner hidden beneath the racing surface removing excess water day after day and year after year.
“(The water is) not going to stay in the track. If it’s cold, if it’s hot – it isn’t going to expand, it’s not going to contract - which means a longer lifespan for our racing surface," said Hutchison.
“With the ODL and the drainage that’ll be in place, that takes care of any of that ground water that comes up so we don’t have weepers in the future and 10 years, 20 years down the road that ground water has somewhere to get out," added Swift.
With the water taken care of, the focus can stay on what we all enjoy: the racing.
“We know that this new design for Atlanta Motor Speedway is going to provide an entertaining racing package that no one in NASCAR has ever seen before. Never before has 28 degrees been on an intermediate track," said Hutchison. "We hope the fans come out to join us.”
The all-new Atlanta Motor Speedway makes its NASCAR debut in 2022. Tickets for both race weekends are available now at www.AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com.
Front Row Motorsports (FRM) ended their 2021 season this past weekend at the Phoenix Raceway. Michael McDowell, Anthony Alfredo and Todd Gilliland completed an historical year for FRM that featured a Cinderella-story Daytona 500 win and its first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory.
Beyond the organizations two wins, FRM earned continued respect on the track through its most top-10 finishes ever in the NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. McDowell and the No. 34 Ford Mustang team led the way in the Cup Series with five top-10 and two top-five results. McDowell ended the year 16th in the championship.
Gilliland led FRM to a new high mark in its second year in the truck series. The team dominated the field at the inaugural event at the Circuit of The Americas and also earned 16 top-10 and 10 top-five finishes to end the season seventh in the championship standings.
"We are very pleased with the progress that both our programs made on the track this season," said Jerry Freeze, General Manager, Front Row Motorsports. "We feel our organization took another step in being more competitive and giving more value to our partners. We still need more consistency, but we can't take anything away from the success and hard work from the organization this year. We're very proud of that effort."
Moving into 2022, FRM will continue its efforts in the NASCAR Cup Series and will field the No. 34 and No. 38 Ford Mustangs. The organization continues to analyze its NASCAR Camping World Truck Series operation and Anthony Alfredo will explore other opportunities.
"We would like to thank Anthony for being an outstanding ambassador of our team as well as for our No. 38 partners," said Freeze. "He showed a lot speed in what was very difficult circumstances. He is a true professional and we wish him nothing but success in his future racing endeavors."
FRM will make further driver and partner announcements when finalized as the team continues to build it's fleet of Next Gen Mustangs and prepares to test on the track.
"We will have a very busy next three months as we build for 2022," concluded Freeze. "Our men and women are working hard as we usher in the next generation of NASCAR. It's an exciting time and we are embracing the challenge and excitement."
The 2021 Western Midget Racing presented by Masters Design and Construction championship will be decided on Saturday at Adobe Mountain Speedway in Glendale, Ariz. with Brentwood’s Blake Bower and Fresno’s David Prickett dueling for the title. Prickett must win the feature to win the championship. Any other outcome on Saturday night at the one-sixth mile dirt oval will turn the championship in Bower’s favor.
Each driver enters the 25th race of the year with seven wins out of their best 12 finishes. Bower has added five runner-up performances as well. Prickett’s current slate of best races includes three second place finishes and two third place runs. Out of a maximum 600 points for the season, a win for Bower at Adobe Mountain would leave him with a 592-point campaign. A victory for Prickett would earn him 590 points and set up a tie with Bower. Prickett’s eighth win would serve as the tie-breaker in the $1000-to-win championship.
Bower’s season has been augmented by a championship as a rookie in the USAC Western Midgets with a busy slate of USAC National Midget races in California on tap after this weekend’s WMR finale.
Prickett won the non-points season opener at Adobe Mountain this spring along with two wins and a runner-up finish in the Copper State. Bower’s lone appearance at Adobe on September 18 netted a victory, driving the No. 29 for Cory Brown. Bower will again drive for Brown in the series finale.
Brown has advanced within two points of Santa Paula’s Megan Moorhead in the battle for third in the championship. Brown has podiumed three times at Adobe this season including a win on April 10. Kala Keliinoi rounds out the top-five of the standings ahead of Las Vegas’ Kyle Hawse. Each of these six competitors have met the requirements to contend for the 2021 championship and have run at least 12 races as well.
For more information on Western Midget Racing, visit them at www.WesternMidgetRacing.com or follow them on Facebook!
Western Midget Racing is presented by: Masters Design and Construction, Rockwell Security, Rams Racing, Hoosier Racing Tire, Extreme Mufflers, FTK, Blud Lubricants, and West Evans Motorsports.