Speedway Digest Staff
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The first race night of the inaugural DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals was jam-packed with the Late Model racing everyone had been craving since the 2019 regular season wound down just a few months ago.
Twenty-four 602 Late Models, 16 Florida Late Models and 41 Pro Late Models lined the Volusia Speedway Park pit areas on Thursday night for their first look of the year at the track under racing conditions. The three Features capped off what was a very entertaining night of racing at The World’s Fastest Half Mile, in which Kyle Bronson came out on top of the DIRTcar Pro Late Models, Cody Overton won the 602 Late Model Feature and David Showers Jr. was victorious in the final event of the evening, the Florida Late Model Feature.
DIRTcar PRO LATE MODELS – KYLE BRONSON
It seems as though it pays to be an ace of the Super Late Model ranks when jumping into a Pro Late Model at Volusia. Brandon, FL-native Kyle Bronson put on a dominant display of speed and car control over 25 laps as he beat out fellow Super Late Model big names Randy Weaver and Max Blair en route to his $1,500 victory.
Leading every lap, Killer put on a show out front as he grabbed the top spot on lap one and never looked back to collect the win, holding off a deep field of talent in the process.
“We’ve got a really great car, and I feel like as long as we keep the fenders on our car, we’ll have a chance to win these next couple,” Bronson said. “I’ve just got to do my job, and the car’s pretty damn good.”
The race was spotted with cautions, which meant Bronson was forced to deal with the pressure restacking behind him for each restart. But he handled those perfectly; it was a close call on lap nine that gave him his biggest challenge.
Middleburg, FL-driver Mark Whitener had a good run going to Bronson’s inside as they dove into Turn 1. The two ended up making slight contact, which sent Whitener around right in front of the oncoming field of cars. Somehow, everyone avoided him, and Whitener rejoined the field at the tail under the ensuing caution flag. Bronson escaped unharmed and went on to win the race, while Whitener made up a ton of ground in the final 16 laps to come back and finish eighth and pick up the Hard Charger honors.
“[Whitener] said he was going to go in and try to slide me there, but I was already turned down the racetrack and he hit me in the left-rear and turned himself around, I guess,” Bronson said. “We always race hard and rub a little bit, unfortunately. But that’s the way racing goes.”
Despite redrawing fifth, Randy Weaver found himself with a little bit of work to do in the early going of the 25-lap Feature, as he slipped back on the opening circuit and crossed the line in ninth on lap two. But with some patience and a great car, he and his newly wrapped #116 made it all the way back up front to collect the runner-up spot.
He’s traveled a long way from Titusville, PA, and there was no way Max Blair was leaving Volusia without at least one podium finish this weekend. He didn’t have to wait long, as he kept his car solidly inside the top 5 through all 25 laps to complete the podium.
Winner of the race run prior to the Pro Late Models Feature, Evans, GA-native Cody Overton, was looking to climb from the back to the front over 25 laps to put the cherry atop his Thursday night. Unfortunately, his night ended on the hook, as he was on the receiving end of a nasty pile-up wreck on the initial start that forced him to retire without a single lap completed.
602 LATE MODELS - CODY OVERTON
Overton did, however, take home a nice check in the first Feature of the evening for his efforts behind the wheel of his #97 602 Late Model – race he won by over three seconds ahead of runner-up Bud Chauncey and podium finisher Colton Leyendecker.
Using the low line to his advantage, Lil Sexy made a great move to the inside of Bud Chauncey on lap eight to take the lead, and the win, to kick off his 2020 season in Florida.
FLORIDA LATE MODELS – DAVID SHOWERS JR.
For most of the 20-lap Feature race, teenage pilot Bubba Whitener seemed to have had the Thursday night Feature locked up. Until he reached lap 13.
Trying to get around slower traffic on the high-side, Whitener came up on a car just before the flag stand and made heavy contact, sending the lapped car into the inside wall and severely damaging his own. Whitener went off on the hook, which handed the lead over to David Showers Jr., who took it and led the rest of the way for his first-ever Late Model victory.
The Sunshine Nationals action continues from Volusia on Friday night with round two of racing. Hot Laps begin at 5:15pm ET on DIRTVision!
DIRTcar Racing PR
Just as the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) season is set to kick off, Kaulig Racing is excited to announce its 2020 crew chief line-up. With two, full-time entries for the 2020 season, Kaulig Racing is looking to compete for the NXS Championship with drivers Ross Chastain and Justin Haley in its stable.
Bruce Schlicker, former race engineer for Stewart-Haas racing, will head up the No. 10 Chevrolet entry with driver, Ross Chastain. Schlicker boasts a stout resume including race engineer at Richard Childress Racing from 2012-2016, and most recently, Stewart-Haas Racing.
“I’m excited for the opportunity at Kaulig Racing,” said Schlicker. “It’s a great team with great resources and even better drivers. We’ve got some great support from Nutrien Ag Solutions, who will be on the No. 10 car for the majority of the races in 2020. I’m looking forward to running a full season in the Xfinity Series with Ross Chastain, winning races and chasing after the championship.”
Alex Yontz will continue in his role of crew chief for Justin Haley and the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy in 2020. Yontz transitioned from shock specialist to interim crew chief in July of the 2019 NXS season.
“I’m excited to be back with Justin Haley this season full time,” said Yontz. “We have a few races under our belts together from the end of last season, and we built a really good relationship. I’m looking forward to winning races with him in 2020.”
In 2019, Kaulig Racing secured 29 Top-10 finishes and nine Top-5 finishes, including two wins with Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger, securing its best season to-date.
“We are really excited to have Alex Yontz and Bruce Schlicker as crew chiefs,” said team President, Chris Rice. “As we continue to grow, we are stepping up our game immensely. I have confidence that we have the right people in the right positions, and we will have success this season.”
The season opener for the NXS will take place on Saturday, February 15 at 2:30pm EST on FS1 at Daytona International Speedway, where Kaulig Racing is the defending NXS race winner.
Kaulig Racing PR
Tulsa Expo Raceway - Tulsa, Okla.
Wednesday, January 16, 2020
John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night
Event Count: 273
Hard Charger: Spencer Bayston +9
Christopher Bell dominated John Christner Trucking Qualifying Night, winning his heat race, qualifier and feature to advance directly to Saturday’s A Main feature at the 34th annual Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals at the Tulsa Expo Center. Thomas Meseraull finished second and Buddy Kofoid was third as Toyota drivers swept the podium.
Bell earned the fourth consecutive preliminary night feature for Toyota in capturing the Thursday night preliminary feature for the fifth straight year. It was his 56th national midget feature win, the most by any Toyota-powered driver.
Pole-sitter Shane Golobic took the early lead, with Meseraull in second and and Kofoid running fourth. On lap three, Meseraull would go high and then dive underneath Golobic to take over the top spot. Bell was on the move behind him, entering into the top-five and by lap eight, he had climbed to second.
Running the high side, the Norman, Oklahoma-native, would close on Meseraull and then take the lead on lap 12 and immediately start to distance himself, with Kofoid taking over third. With a long stretch of green flag racing, Bell began to encounter heavy lapped traffic in the final 10 laps of the 30-lap feature as the action heated up behind him. Kofoid was right on Meseraull’s tail for second and a pass directly to Saturday’s A Main, but passing both ‘T-Mez’ and the lapped traffic would prove to be difficult. At the finish line, it was Bell, Meseraull and Kofoid.
“It was a heck of a race,” said Bell. “The first five laps everybody was running up there together. It was nice to get a green flag run in. We definitely learned a lot tonight. Hopefully, it will translate to Saturday. (Team owner) Chad Boat and I have become really great friends. It’s been a lot of fun to watch the transition at Tucker-Boat. I’m very proud of them. It’s been an outstanding week so far and hopefully we can keep the ball rolling.”
While falling just short of the transfer position, Kofoid certainly made his presence felt in his first Chili Bowl qualifying night.
“I felt like I was closing on Thomas, but the lapped traffic was so thick,” said the 18-year-old Californian. “It was just so crazy when the lapped cars were racing each other side-by-side as well. For my first Chili Bowl, a third-place tonight is pretty cool. It’s not a lock-in position, but we’re in a good spot for Saturday. I feel like I came a long way from my heat race and I’m feeling comfortable in the car. Toyota and Keith Kunz have given me a great opportunity. I’m excited for this year.”
Overall, seven Toyota drivers advanced to Thursday night’s A Main, with each finishing in the top-13. Behind the top three were Jason McDougal in eighth, Jerry Coons Jr. in ninth, Tanner Berryhill in 11th and Joe B. Miller in the 13th position. While Bell and Meseraull transfer to Saturday’s A Main, Kofoid and McDougal will begin in the B Main; and Coons, Berryhill, and Miller from the C.
This year’s Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals feature more than 350 entries – each fighting for one of the 24 openings in Saturday night’s “A Main” feature event. After four nights of competition, five Toyota drivers from four different teams have earned their way into Saturday’s final.
Qualifying concludes on Friday night with six more Toyota-powered drivers still to qualify.
The preparations necessary to transform the Greater Philadelphia Expo Center into the Pioneer Pole Buildings Motorsports Race Car & Trade Show 2020 were continuing in earnest through 8:00 PM Thursday evening. The 36th annual rendition of the event under the direction of Len Sammons Motorsports Productions opens to the public at 2:00 PM Friday, January 17 and continues Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 18-19.
“This year’s show is shaping up to be one of the best,” said event organizer Sammons. “Move in day was very smooth and we expect big crowds for all three days with all that we have going on at the 2020 Show.”
Much of the work centered around the Orange County Fair Speedway Display, which will feature the track’s past, present, and future. The speedway celebrated the 100th anniversary of the running of its first automobile race this past August. A never-before-seen restoration of the Statewide Hi-Way Safety No. 3 Gremlin, built by Kenny Weld, driven by Jimmy Horton, owned by Halmar International’s Chris Larsen, and restored by Eric Mack is among the features in the display and of the entire Motorsports 2020 Show.
Another vintage car, this one owned and restored by Bruce Bowen, in the entrance lobby of the Motorsports Show, is a restoration of the No. 29 Weikert’s Livestock Sprint driven by Doug Wolfgang in 1987. The car is unique in that it ran the season with a 410 Steel Block motor. The car has been displayed by Bowen only once before.
“It has been a lot of work but I’m very happy with the way it turned out,” Bowen, who hand-lettered the car, said.
Two big displays near the main entrance of the show are certain to command attention. At the Pioneer Pole Buildings display, the Modifieds of Billy Pauch and Craig VonDohren as well as the 410 Sprint of Freddie Rahmer are to be seen while the Sunoco display has cars spanning the spectrum of motorsports including a stunning Funny Car and an equally attention-grabbing Sports Car Prototype.
A new livery for Matt Sheppard’s Modified can be seen at the American Racer Tire exhibit and Joe Toth’s Crate Sportsman, displayed at the Georgetown Speedway booth, is also a dramatic contrast from Toth’s previous cars.
An oddity in this year’s show features two of Mike Gular’s Modifieds, one in the Bicknell Race Cars display and a second in the Sunoco booth.
Once doors open Friday and throughout the three-day run of the show a series of valuable Seminars will be conducted on a wide range of topics of interest to car builders, track operators, and fans alike.
On Saturday, personal appearances by Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett will highlight the three-day event. Petty will sign autographs from 1:00 to 3:00 PM with Jarrett putting pen to paper from 4:00 to 6:00 PM.
At 7:00, the festivities will begin that culminate in the crowning of Ms. Motorsports 2020.
Sunday is Kid’s Day at PPB Motorsports 2020 with Little Ms. Motorsports and Tiny Ms. Motorsports competitions as well as Big Wheel Racing competitions.
For more information about the 2020 PPB Motorsports Race Car & Trade Show, visit motorsportstradeshow.com
NTT INDYCAR Series driver Santino Ferrucci turned in a strong debut in the prestigious Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma while fellow drivers Conor Daly and James Davison are on deck.
Ferrucci drove from 11th to fifth in Wednesday night's C-Main race at Tulsa Expo Raceway, just missing advancement to the next round in the preliminary night won by Rico Abreu. The fifth-place finish was quite impressive for the versatile Ferrucci, who was competing in a midget race for the first time in his life.
"I thought I did really well," said Ferrucci, coming off a successful 2019 rookie campaign with Dale Coyne Racing. "Before my heat I only had 10 (practice) laps, so obviously I knew I was going to struggle at times. But my heat was pretty stacked, so I don't feel so bad."
Davison, a five-time Indianapolis 500 starter from Melbourne, Australia with plans to compete in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 in 2020, is set to compete in Thursday's preliminary round, Daly will race Friday night.
Daly, who will be handling the road/street course NTT INDYCAR Series schedule for Ed Carpenter Racing's No. 20 entry as well as a third team entry in the Indianapolis 500, will be making his second Chili Bowl appearance. He made his debut last year.
Davison only has turned a handful of laps in practice and, like Ferrucci, has minimal dirt-track experience. But Daly had a tip for both.
"I just started to get the hang of it by the end of the main event that I was in," Daly said of last year's event.
The three NTT INDYCAR Series drivers will be part of Saturday's final rounds, although their starting positions are still to be determined. There are 360 drivers competing in this 34th edition of the Chili Bowl, representing 40 states and six countries. Among them are seven former Chili Bowl champions, plus NASCAR Cup standouts Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Larson was Tuesday's overall winner, while Bell is the three-time defending champion of the event.
Ferrucci, Daly and Davison are driving with help from David Byrd, whose inspiration for supporting talented open-wheel drivers comes from his father, Jonathan, who helped Rich Vogler and Stan Fox compete in Indianapolis 500s. David Byrd also helped Bryan Clauson compete in the 500 in 2015 and '16.
Weeknight action of the Chili Bowl can be viewed online by pay-per-view at racinboys.com. Saturday's final feature races will air on the MAVTV Motorsports Network. Results can be found at chilibowl.com.
NTT IndyCar PR
Prior to the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 16 at Daytona International Speedway, through an exclusive ticket package, race fans will be able to hear from Hendrick Motorsports driver Chase Elliott as he kicks off his fifth full-time season in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Recently voted NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver for the second straight year, the 24-year-old driver of the No. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet has three wins at the “World Center of Racing”, but is still looking to capture his first points-paying victory in the Cup Series on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
The Chase Elliott DAYTONA 500 ticket package includes:
- Reserved ticket to the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, Feb. 16
- Chase Elliott-autographed souvenir
- Exclusive Q&A session with Elliott in a Midway Suite
The Chase Elliott ticket package is available for $209 per person and capacity is limited. To purchase, fans can visit https://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or call 1-800-PITSHOP.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest news throughout the year.
Decker Joining Niece Motorsports For NASCAR Truck Series, Continuing With Tony AVE For West Coast Trans-Am Championship Run16 Jan 2020
It's a new year, and for Natalie Decker, that means new goals, a new number, same mindset.
Running multiple races in her rookie season, Decker has signed with Niece Motorsports after wrapping up her rookie year with DGR-CROSLEY.
Decker will be in a part-time ride in the Niece Motorsports No. 44 Chevy for her NASCAR Truck Season as she continues her journey towards competing in the NASCAR Cup Series. In 2019, she saw great success, finishing 19th in the series as a rookie in a part-time schedule.
Following her to Niece Motorsports will again be the backing of her main sponsor N29 Technologies.
“Natalie has shown a lot of talent and we’re looking forward to helping her continue to develop that. Last year was her first season in these trucks, so it was a big learning year for her. We are really excited about the schedule she is going to run this year because we feel like it will build on her strengths,” said Cody Efaw, Technical Director of Niece Motorsports.
As she brings her infectious enthusiasm and focus to Niece Motorsports, she joins forces with Ross Chastain, new signee Carson Hocevar, and fellow Wisconsin native Ty Majeski. Natalie will be piloting the No. 44, sharing seat time with Chastain, who will make the full time jump to Xfinity after winning three truck races in 2019 and finishing 2nd in the race for the Championship in Miami.
“Change is inevitable. Change is expected and exciting, and change is also frightening! But this year is a year I’m ready for! I have never felt so prepared with, my health, in the gym, and mentally. With so many things to be excited about working with Niece Motorsports starting with my teammates Ross and Ty. I’m ready to learn from them and be 100% open-minded going into this season!”, says an exuberant Decker.
Decker's first race with Niece Motorsports will be this coming February 14th at Daytona International Speedway.
“We have high expectations for Natalie this year and are excited to get to Daytona with her!”, said Efaw.
In addition, Decker has announced she will again work with Tony Ave and AVE Motorsports running a full schedule in the SGT-Trans Am West Coast Series. She will race in a GT-4, with sites set on a championship, starting March 14th at Sonoma Raceway.
When asked about the upcoming season, Ave said “We are looking forward to running Natalie for a points championship this year, as well as having her help us develop some new equipment for the team. We’ve got some different things up our sleeve for 2020 and beyond, and Natalie is a perfect fit to both develop the opportunities and reap the benefits in the driver’s seat as well”
In total, Natalie has locked in 14 total races on her calendar in 2020, split between those two series. There are plans in the works for adding more as she progresses further into the year.
Decker remains focused and driven to continue the pursuit of her dream to race full time in the Cup Series, gaining traction of that one race at a time!