Speedway Digest Staff
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Jimmie Johnson is a racing legend in Southern California and thousands of fans will be at the NASCAR Auto Club 400 celebrating him as he makes his final start as a full-time NASCAR Cup driver on March 1, 2020. Auto Club Speedway will pay tribute to the El Cajon native through a variety of ways including incorporating family and friends into the pre-race ceremonies.
- Five Wide Salute – NASCAR Cup Series drivers will once again line up five wide to salute fans and special for this year, Jimmie will lead the Five Wide Salute. A tribute video will also play on the ISM Vision Screens reliving Johnson’s accomplishments at his hometown track.
- Family Named Honorary Starters: Chandra Johnson along with daughters Genevieve and Lydia will go into the starter stand to wave the green flag to start the Auto Club 400 as Jimmie makes his final start at his hometown track.
- Jimmie’s Mentor Named Honorary Pace Car Driver: Iconic motocross racer and childhood friend Ricky Johnson will serve as the Honorary Pace Car Driver and will drive the Official NASCAR 2020 Toyota Camry Pace Car where he will lead the field and the “Five Wide Salute” during the pace laps before the start of the NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at 12:30 p.m. PT.
- Special Mural Highlights Jimmie’s Career: Renowned Los Angeles artist Jonas Never has painted a 19’ x 24’ mural telling the story of Jimmie’s career highlights along a wall on the APEX building in the heart of the Fan Zone. Ticket holders can view and take photos of the incredible artwork.
In addition, ticket holders will be able to see these tributes:
- Guests exiting through the infield tunnel will be treated with another Jimmie Johnson mural featuring his six wins and thanking him for an incredible career.
- Auto Club Speedway renamed one of its facility roads to Jimmie Johnson Drive, which will intersect with Jeff Gordon Way.
Jimmie Johnson has won at Auto Club Speedway a record six times – the most of any driver all-time. His first NASCAR Cup Series Career win was at Auto Club Speedway in 2002 and most recent trip to Victory Lane at the track came in 2016 while driving a fitting “Superman” paint scheme. To purchase tickets, call 800-944-RACE (7223), log on to www.autoclubspeedway.com, or visit ticket office at 9300 Cherry Avenue, Fontana, CA 92335.
Don’t Hit Snooze! Secure Your Official Travel Package to the 2020 GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway through PRIMESPORT
With world’s greatest drivers set to return to Talladega Superspeedway April 26, for the 2020 GEICO 500 NASCAR Cup Series event, fans have an easy way to plan their trip to experience the three- and four-wide, nail-biting action LIVE with an Official Travel Package from PRIMESPORT, the Official Fan Travel Partner of Talladega Superspeedway.
PRIMESPORT, a division of On Location Experiences, is the leader in providing direct access to the largest events in sports and entertainment. Official Travel Packages through PRIMESPORT allow fans to relax and avoid the hassle of handling every aspect of their travel individually. Packages offer a premium selection of race tickets, bundled with deluxe hotel accommodations, worry-free transportation, concierge on-site staff, weekend FanVision Rental, and much more.
Fans who are looking to enhance their race day experience can upgrade their package to include seating in the luxurious, open-air Pit Road Club. Located directly behind pit road where race teams change tires and refuel their drivers’ cars, the Pit Road Club gives fans the chance to take in the most exciting racing on the planet, and feel like they’re in the middle of the action at the 2.66-mile venue. The 600-person Pit Road Club includes covered, chair back seating, all-inclusive food and drink, plus more!
Guests with Pit Road Club admission also gain entree to the one-of-a-kind Talladega Garage Experience and receive incredible access where they can be under the same roof where the race cars are being prepped by the race teams throughout race weekend. The Garage Experience also offers FREE Wi-Fi, a reserved area at Gatorade Victory Lane to witness the winner’s celebration, entertainment stage for local music, Driver Q&As and other interviews in Fr8Auctions Celebration Plaza, social areas including the Tito’s Lemonade Lounge and Clyde May’s Courtyard, Kids Zone, and the opportunity to take part in Sunday pre-race ceremonies and Driver Introductions at the start-finish line.
For more information on PRIMESPORT and Official Talladega Superspeedway travel packages, visit PRIMESPORT.com.
For tickets and more information about the Talladega Garage Experience and Talladega Superspeedway’s tripleheader NASCAR weekend featuring the GEICO 500, MoneyLion 300, and General Tire 200, please visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 855-518-RACE (7223).
The No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) heads to the second stop of this year’s three-race “NASCAR Goes West” swing with Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
This time, Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford team have some work to do to move up in the point standings. Last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Almirola saw the promise of a top-10 start fall by the wayside when his left-rear fender was damaged when a car made contact with his under caution. He was able to finish the race 21st and on the lead lap, but it hasn’t been the start to the season the team has been looking for. The week before, at the season-opening Daytona 500, Almirola ran up front and had potential to visit victory lane until he was involved in a late-race accident.
“We certainly had a car fast enough for a top-10 (at Las Vegas) and we did everything we could to adjust it and make it better,” Almirola said. “We made some gains and learned a lot. That damaged fender and cut tire put us off course for a decent points day and we have some making up to do at Auto Club this weekend after a tough two weeks.”
Last year, Almirola earned his first top-10 in 12 starts at Fontana after leading seven laps and running in and around the top-10 for the majority of the race. Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz has called the shots in four starts at Fontana with a best finish of third with Clint Bowyer in 2017.
“We ran well there last year and I’m confident we can do it again,” Almirola said. “We just need a few things to go our way to get us on the right track and build momentum. I know our Smithfield team is capable of it.”
Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 18 top-five finishes, 61 top-10s and 543 laps led in 318 starts. His last win came in October 2018 at Talladega (Ala.) Super Speedway.
In addition to the on-track action, Smithfield and Almirola are teaming up to surprise the students at Joe Baca Middle School in Bloomington, CA with a $10,000 donation to further support the education and growth of their students on Friday morning.
Media is invited to attend the assembly where Almirola will lead a Q&A session speaking to his personal life experiences, meet the students, and sign autographs. To close out the event, he will present a $10,000 check donation to support the school’s creation of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Lab.
This assembly is the first of a series of community visits led by Smithfield and Almirola to support the academic advancement of students across the nation, while providing them with the tools and resources needed for success.
The Tampa native will again sport the iconic black, white and gold No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang this weekend.
Smithfield Foods, Inc., who will sponsor a majority of the races this season, is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 40,000 U.S. employees are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly®” and have made it one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies. It has pioneered sustainability standards for more than two decades, including many industry firsts, such as an ambitious commitment to cut carbon impact by 25 percent by 2025. The company believes in the power of protein to end food insecurity and has donated hundreds of millions of food servings to neighbors in need. For more information, visit www.smithfieldfoods.com, and connect on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn
Almirola is back with season two of his documentary series Beyond the 10, where fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.
He enters the third race of the season 17th in the standings with 48 points, 37 out of first place. He’ll look to shake off the bad luck from the first two weeks and advance in the point standings or secure a playoff position with a trip to victory lane.
Weedsport Speedway and the history of DIRTcar are inextricably intertwined. Every Super DIRTcar Series star has tested their mettle on the .375-mile Central New York dirt track and the 2020 schedule is primed to bring the excitement to race fans once again.
Weedsport Speedway is the ultimate test of a driver’s car and throttle control. Multiple racing lines from the top to the bottom of the track develop in every race. Only the best of the best have figured out the fastest way around. Matt Sheppard and Erick Rudolph have been the ringers as of late but by all accounts, the Super DIRTcar Series field is catching up.
Weedsport hosts three Super DIRTcar Series races plus the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars, DIRTcar 358 Modified Series, DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series, and the DIRTcar Pro Stock Series in 2020.
The Super DIRTcar Series kicks Weedsport’s racing season off on Monday, May 25. The Heroes Remembered 100 is quickly becoming a Memorial Day tradition for racers and fans across the Northeast.
Round two at the historic Central New York oval falls on Sunday, June 26 when we celebrate the induction ceremony at the Northeast Dirt Hall of Fame with the classic $10,000 to win Hall of Fame 100.
The Cavalcade of Cup Weekend, Friday & Saturday, September 11-12, is one of the premier dirt track racing events in the Northeast. The weekend culminates with the 100-lap Super DIRTcar Series Feature. Also on the card is the only DIRTcar Pro Stock Series race of the year at Weedsport. The Empire Super Sprints are scheduled for the weekend as well.
One of the highlights on the schedule comes on Saturday, August 1 when the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars come to town along with the DIRTcar 358 Modifieds. The Greatest Show on Dirt is sure to pack the stands.
The final race of 2020 at Al Heinke’s preeminent facility takes place on Wednesday, October 7. The NAPA Super DIRT Week Kick-Off Party features the DIRTcar 358 Modified Series and the DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series. The Sportsman will be in the midst of the Fall Championship Challenge.
Non-Series DIRTcar sanctioned races include DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, DIRTcar 358 Modifieds, and DIRTcar Sportsman. All scheduled Features count towards the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship standings.
Weedsport’s diverse schedule also includes the American Flat Track Bike Series, USAC Sprint Cars, All-Star Sprints, and more including the Empire State Ride to benefit cancer research and treatment at Roswell Park in Buffalo, NY.
Don’t make your visit to Weedsport Speedway a day trip. There are multitudes of great restaurants, shopping, and activities in nearby Syracuse, NY. Don’t miss the famous Dinosaur BBQ or Middle Ages Brewery for some pre-race lunch and libations. If all the racing has you itching to get behind the wheel, hit RPM Raceway in the huge Destiny USA mall for indoor karting.
There are plenty of hotels nearby but none are closer than the Days Inn right off the Weedsport New York State Thruway exit only a half-mile away from the speedway.
If you are a returning fan or a first-timer, there is something for everyone at Weedsport Speedway.
Weedsport Speedway 2020 schedule:
Sunday, May 3 - Test and Tune - All divisions
Monday, May 25 - Heroes Remembered - Super DIRTcar Series, DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, CRSA Sprints
Sunday, June 7 - All-Star Showcase - All-Star 410 Sprints, Champion Oil DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds
Sunday, June 14 - Thunder on the Erie - USAC National Sprints, Champion Oil DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, CNY Mod Lites
Friday/Saturday, July 3-4 - New York Short Track - American Flat Track Bike Series
Sunday, July 26 - Hall of Fame 100 - Super DIRTcar Series, DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, Classics on Dirt
Thursday, July 30 - Empire State Ride - Cycling to benefit Roswell Park Alliance Foundation
Saturday, August 1 - Empire State Challenge - World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars, DIRTcar 358 Modifieds
Sunday, August 9 - Legends Reunion - Empire Super Sprints, DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds, Dirt Modified Nostalgia Tour
Friday/Saturday, September 11-12 - Champion Oil DIRTcar Big Block Modifieds, Empire Super Sprints, Super DIRTcar Series, RUSH Late Models, DIRTcar Pro Stock Series, CNY Mod Lites
Wednesday, October 7 - NAPA Super DIRT Week Kick-Off Party - DIRTcar 358 Modified Series, DIRTcar Sportsman Modified Series
DIRTcar Series PR
Loyal supporters of Atlanta Motor Speedway are getting some love in a new way when they arrive for this year’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.
The Speedway is adding a large mural on the concourse near the start/finish line under the Champions Grandstand which will recognize fans who regularly attend its NASCAR weekend each year.
The mural will bear the name of each “five star” fan, which indicates they’ve attended NASCAR races at AMS in five consecutive years or more.
“The fans are at the heart of everything we do here at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Without their support we wouldn’t be here, so we wanted to give something back to recognize that” said AMS Executive Vice President Brandon Hutchison. “This addition to the concourse is a way for us to show how much we appreciate every single person who chooses to spend their time here with us, especially those who do so year after year.”
The five-star fan recognition is the 18th enhancement come from Atlanta Motor Speedway’s “20 in 20” initiative. All told the Speedway will be announcing 20 individual enhancements to increase fan value and the overall enjoyment of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 NASCAR weekend on March 13-15.
Tickets and camping locations for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway are available now by calling 877-9-AMS-TIX or visiting www.atlantamotorspeedway.com.
- Stage One: 26th
- Stage Two: 26th
- Stage Three: 24th
- John Hunter Nemechek started the weekend strong at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in practice. When it came time to start Sunday’s race, the No. 38 Berry’s Bullets Ford Mustang fired off on the free side with Nemechek reporting a lack of rear grip and a need for lateral stability. The crew made a few adjustments in early pit stops to help tighten up the car and Nemechek finished Stage 1 in the 26th position.
- Fighting his way to the front, Nemechek ran in the Top 20 for much of Stage 2. As the run went on, the handling for Nemechek’s Berry’s Bullets Ford improved, allowing him to run near the front of the lead pack towards the end of the stage. He took the green and white checkered flag again in the 26th position, one lap down.
- Early in Stage 3, Nemechek’s Berry’s Bullets Ford got loose, sending him into a spin. Thankfully, he recovered quickly and made two trips to pit road to change out all four tires and make a wedge adjustment. Nemechek had an impressive run throughout the remainder of Stage 3, racing his way back to the lead lap and even inside the Top 10 at times. An unfortunate pit road mistake sent him towards the back of the lead pack with only a handful of laps remaining and Nemechek ultimately crossed the finish line P24.
- Stage One: 38th
- Stage Two: 38th
- Stage Three: 36th
- On Sunday, February 23rd, McDowell and his Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang took the green flag 28th after a rained out qualifying forced teams to start the race based on 2019 owners points.
- Shortly after the green flag dropped in the Pennzoil 400, McDowell came over the radio to say that he had a "stuck throttle," forcing him to the garage for repairs before returning to the track 19 laps down.
- Knowing that they were too many laps down to recover, the team set its strategy to gather as much data as possible, while running a clean race and staying out of the way of lead lap cars
Ross Chastain came out of the gate strong in his debut with Roush Fenway Racing. Serving as the fill-in driver for Ryan Newman, the young driver powered his No. 6 Wyndham Rewards Ford inside the top-10 early, earning first round stage points. He appeared poised for a strong finish before being caught-up in a pair of late incidents and setting for a 27th-place finish.
“The car deserved a lot better finish,” Chastain said following the race. “Obviously, we showed a lot of speed early on. These guys kind of ate me alive on the restarts at times and I’d lose three or four spots. The guys gave me a really good car and we had some solid moments. I just have to be better.”
After qualifying was rained out on Saturday, the field was set per the rule book, reverting back to 2019 points which put Chastain 15th on the grid. Towards the end of the opening stage, the Alva, Florida, native moved his way forward, eventually working up to 10th by the conclusion of stage one.
He rolled off eighth for the second stage, but quickly reported he was too tight and needed more front turn in his No. 6 Ford. After the yellow came out just prior to the second stage end, Chastain completed the 80-lap segment in 15th.
Green flag stops began to cycle just after lap 210, before Chastain hit pit road at the 217-lap mark from the 15th spot. Just after his stop, the yellow came out catching a majority of the field on or leaving pit road, which resulted in the team taking a wave around to get back on the lead lap.
On the ensuing restart, Chastain fired off 21st but made contact with the No. 1 car coming to the green, which led to a tire rub and an eventual two-tire stop under green flag conditions. Chastain brought out the yellow with three to go after spinning out, before going on to finish 27th.
The No. 6 team continues the West Coast swing next weekend in California, when the NASCAR Cup Series hits Auto Club Speedway Sunday afternoon (FOX, MRN, SiriusXM Channel 90).
Making his second start behind the wheel of Roush Fenway’s No. 17, Chris Buescher drove his Fastenal Ford Mustang to a 14th-place finish in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Buescher lined up 15th on a late restart with two laps to go in the 267-lap event and was able to pick up one position during a frenzied run to the finish that saw the race end with a multi-car accident just after taking the white flag.
“We had a pretty good day,” said Buescher. “The cautions didn’t really fall our way late in the race. Several cars that we ran ahead of most of the race were able to finish ahead of us on track position there at the end and we were not able to use our tires like we would have liked. We definitely learned some things today and we’re looking forward to get back on track next week at Fontana.”
Buescher started the race 23rd – based on last year’s owner points – after Saturday’s qualifying session was rained out. He quickly moved through the field and was running 18th when the competition caution came out on lap 25. He was scored in 16th at the end of stage one and 19th after stage two. He continued to run between 15th and 20th during the race, before moving inside the top 15 during the third and final stage of the race.
Buescher and the No. 17 Fastenal team return to action next week at Auto Club Speedway (Sunday, 3:30 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM Channel 90).
Myatt Snider and the No. 21 TaxSlayer Team Rally From Late-Race Incident to 16th-Place Finish at Las Vegas
"We had a really fast No. 21 TaxSlayer Chevrolet Camaro over the weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We managed to carve our way through the field multiple times during the race, and that's a testament to all the hard work this team puts into our cars. Thanks to my crew chief Andy Street and all the RCR guys for making this TaxSlayer Chevrolet so competitive all night. We barely had to adjust it, which is always a great sign. I'm proud of the effort the team put in this weekend. We had to overcome a lot, from spinning in practice on Friday, all the way through the late-race contact tonight. It shows what a strong team we have that we can bounce back every time. I can't wait to get back in the car at Phoenix Raceway in a couple of weeks."