Saturday, Jan 29
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Anthony Sesely, of Matawan, NJ, Timmy Catalano of Ontario, NY and Andy Jankowiak of Tonawanda, NY were the winners of the Triple 20 TQ Midget Qualifiers that helped set the field for Saturday night’s NAPA KNOW Gambler’s Classic inside Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ. The three winners drove three completely different race cars, Sesely a car built by Ricky Kluth that had never raced before, Catalano in a Mark Lafler chassis that has been the standard of Indoor racing, and Jankowiak in the same homebuilt car that has won the two previous Gambler’s Classics.

 Three TQ Midget 10-lap heat races that led off the Friday night racing program. Matt Janisch, who had a subpar time trial Friday afternoon owing to a one-lap penalty for having been identified as having a technical violation in pre-qualifying inspection, won the first heat over Justin Bonsignore, Andrew Nye outran Tim Iulg in heat two and  Briggs Danner outran Tyler Lindsay to win heat three.

The top 12 from Friday afternoon time trials re-qualified to determine the seeding order for the Triple 20 Qualifiers. Tim Buckwalter, Ryan Flores, Andy Jankowiak, Anthony Sesely and Erick Rudolph were the top five.

 Brett Bieber, Jared Silfee, and Scott Neary won the three Slingshot heats, while Dan Marsden, Missy Bootes, and Eric Zeh won the three Champ Kart prelims.

 All systems are go for tomorrow as racing continues Saturday, January 29. On Saturday afternoon, a B-Main for Slingshots will qualify the final five into their 20-lap feature. A pair of B-Mains for Champ Karts will qualify the top two finishers from each into the Saturday night 20-lap A Main.

 Saturday night events begin at 5:00 when arena gates swing open. Fans with grandstand tickets in the lower level seating areas are invited to attend FAN FEST, a gathering on the speedway surface of all of the TQ Midget, Champ Kart and Slingshot drivers with their cars. Drivers will pose for pictures, sign autographs, and answer fan questions.

 At 7:00 PM sharp, racing begins with four 10-lap TQ heat races, the 20-lap Champ Kart feature, a TQ Midget 5-lap Dash, two TQ B Mains which will send the event winners to the final row of the TQ feature, and the 20-lap Slingshot main.

 The busy night of racing is culminated by the 19th running of the NAPA KNOW HOW Gambler’s Classic for TQ Midgets, which will compete over a 40-lap distance with 26 starters.

 Plenty of choice race day tickets are available from the Boardwalk Hall box office on Saturday, race day.  First TQ Qualifier (20 Laps): 1. Anthony Sesely, 2. Joey Bailey, 3. Scott Kreutter, 4. Justin Bonsignore, 5. Andrew Molleur, 6. Kyle Hutchinson, 7. Tyler Thompson, 8. Ryan Tidman, 9. Grant Valker, 10. Trevor Catalano, 11. Derek Robbie, 12, Jonathan Reid, 13. Matt Janisch, 14. Doug Stearly, 15. Matt Galko, 16. Tim Buckwalter.

S econd TQ Qualifier (20 Laps): 1. Timmy Catalano, 2. Erick Rudolph, 3. Kyle Lick, 4. Ryan Bartlett, 5. Andrew Nye, 6. Matt Roselli, 7. Ryan Flores, 8. Cory DiMatteo, 9. Tyler Wagner, 10. Tim Iulg, 11. Pat Bealer, 12. Bruce Leote, 13. Ron Mullen, 14. Kyle Inman, 15. Tyler Ferris, 16. Max McLaughlin.

 Third TQ Qualifier (20 Laps): 1. Andy Jankowiak, 2. Briggs Danner, 3. Mike Christopher Jr., 4. Tommy Catalano, 5. Shawn Nye, 6. Ryan Susice, 7. Shea Wills, 8. Cory Grenzy, 9. Dylan Woodling, 10. Christopher Hirt, 11. Earl Paules, 12. Stephen Kemery, 13. Tyler Lindsay, 14. Rob Schultz, 15. Mike Bednar.

AARN PR

Andy Jankowiak, Anthony Sesely and Tim Buckwalter set the pace Friday afternoon in TQ Midget time trials among 48 drivers who took time. Jankowiak’s car is a homebuilt three year old machine, Sesely’s was an all-new car built by himself and Ricky Kluth and Buckwalter’s is a several-years old machine built by Mark Lafler.

 “We’ll see how the car runs later tonight,” Jankowiak said. “I got lucky in a way, got a couple of extra laps when a guy spun out and the yellow had to come out. I got a little more tire heat because of that.”

 Runner-up Sesely praised his new car. “It’s clearly a work in progress. We’ve been inching, inching, inching, getting a little better with it. I developed my last car over ten years and have two days in on this one.”

 Tim Buckwalter was third fastest.  “There was a little more in the car, and the driver didn’t find it,” Buckwalter said. “I missed the entry in turn one on both laps. So third after the driver mistakes is a good place to start.”

 Following the top three were Shawn Nye, Erick Rudolph, Ryan Flores, Tyler Thompson, Kyle Lick (driving an 18-year-old Dirt Micro Sprint), Joey Bailey, Tommy Catalano, Matt Roselli and Mike Christopher, Jr. completed the top 12 TQ drivers in time trials. The dozen are assured of the top four starting positions in the three 20-lap TQ Midget Qualifiers that will highlight the Friday night program with racing beginning at 7:30 with gates opening 6:30 PM.

 Tyler Brown, Jon Keister, TJ Reed, Mike Perry and two-time defending Champ Kart Atlantic City feature winner Doug Stearly were the top five fastest qualifiers from among a large field of 42 that took time Friday afternoon. The top five have transferred to Saturday’s Champ Kart A-Main by virtue of their finishes.

 Brett Bieber, Jared Silfee, Scott Neary, Kyle Herve and Tyler Ulsh were the five fastest Slingshot drivers from among 29 entrants who ran against the clock Friday afternoon. They have transferred directly to Saturday night’s Slingshot A Main event.

 Friday night action consists of three TQ heats, three Slingshot heats, three Champ Kart heats, and the featured trio of TQ Midget Qualifiers.

 Gates open at 5:00 PM Saturday night with FAN FEST. All drivers with their cars will gather at trackside to meet and greet fans, sign autographs, and pose for pictures. Racing starts at 7:00 culminating in the 19th running of the NAPA KNOW HOW Gambler’s Classic 40-lap feature.

 Good tickets are still available from the ticket office at Boardwalk Hall for Friday and Saturday night.

AARN PR

Las Vegas’ Tanner Reif, 16, has signed with car owner Bob Bruncati to drive the No.9 Sunrise Ford in the 2022 ARCA Menards Series West. The 2021 Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway NASCAR Pro Late Model champion will compete alongside 2021 West Series runner-up Jake Drew in blue and orange Ford Fusions.

“I’m really excited about racing and learning a new car with a new team,” Reif said. “My expectations for the year are to take it all in, learn as much as I can, and bring home Rookie of the Year.”

Reif’s events will be broadcast live on FloRacing and available in tape-delay on USA Network. The season gets underway on March 11 at Phoenix Raceway in a combination race with the national ARCA Menards Series. Reif becomes the latest driver to ascend from INEX Legends, Jr. Late Models, and Pro Late Models into ARCA competition.

His 2021 Las Vegas championship came on the strength of four race wins. He added a fourth place in the SPEARS Pro Late Model Series championship with a best finish of second. Reif won a 50-lap preliminary feature during the 2021 Chilly Willy 150 weekend at Tucson Speedway as well.

Reif joins a three-time championship winning team in Sunrise Ford, most recently in 2018 with Derek Thorn. Sunrise Ford’s 2021 rookie driver Jake Drew tied for the championship and finished second in the series after the tie breaker. The previous pedigree of crew chief Bill Sedgwick working with young drivers gives Reif optimism for the upcoming season.

“I’m really looking forward to racing Phoenix because it’ll be the first one mile track I’ve been on,” Reif said. “Growing up I used to watched Sonoma on TV and now I’m actually racing on it. It’s crazy! I’m living the dream.”

Tanner Reif PR

Young’s Motorsports confirmed today that Leland Honeyman Jr. will join the organization to pilot the No. 02 LH Waterfront Construction | Besecker & Maynard Group Chevrolet full-time in the ARCA Menards Series East this season beginning with the season-opener at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway on Tues., Feb. 15, 2022.

Honeyman, 16, aligns with the Mooresville, N.C.-based team after a successful 2021 season competing in the Carolina Pro Late Model Series, where he earned championship-runner up honors and picked up an astounding victory in the annual Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway Fall Brawl.

The Phoenix, Ariz. native began honing his racing skills at the tender age of two racing Quads. By four years old, he moved into Trophy Karts and then subsequently collected three series championships in off-road racing Trophy Karts.

After an instrumental tenure in Go Karts, he moved into Bandolero competition in 2015 and two years later was crowned a Bandolero National Champion. From there, he moved into Limited Late Models before graduating to the Carolina Pro Late Model Series division in 2021.

Set to turn seventeen next month, Honeyman is embracing the opportunity to race in ARCA.

“I’m so excited about this next chapter in my racing career,” said Honeyman. “The ARCA Menards Series East is going to teach me so much and allow me to showcase my potential in front of a more national platform.

“I cannot thank Tyler (Young, team principal) and my partners LH Waterfront Construction and Besecker & Maynard Group enough for the opportunity to chase a championship in the ARCA Menards Series East and I am devoted to putting the time and effort into making sure I can go to the track each week and put our Young’s Motorsports team in contention for the victory.”

For Tyler Young, he is happy to bring another young driver into the team’s portfolio for the 2022 season and is looking forward to seeing his family-owned operation have a more predominant presence in the ARCA Menards Series East this year.

“Leland is going to do an excellent job for us in the ARCA Menards Series East this season,” Young said. “He has been successful in everything he has raced and we don’t expect the ARCA Menards Series East to be any different. We know that he is going to go out there every week and put the team in a position to not only win but keep us in the hunt for the ARCA East championship.

“The East schedule is only seven races in 2022, but it’s stacked with tracks that offer some of the best racing in the country. We are looking forward to getting to New Smyrna and getting our season underway.”

In addition to the ARCA Menards Series East, Honeyman is also slated to make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut with the Young’s Motorsports team in the fall of 2022.

For more on Young’s Motorsports, please visit YoungsMotorsports.com, like them on Facebook (Young’s Motorsports) and follow on Instagram (youngsmotorsports) and Twitter (@youngsmtrsports).

For more on Leland Honeyman Jr., please visit LelandHoneymanRacing.com, like him on Facebook (Leland Honeyman Racing) and follow on Instagram (@lelandhoneymanjr) and Twitter (@lelandhoneyman3).

The Race to Stop Suicide 200 presented by Place of Hope (200 laps | 100 miles) is the first of seven ARCA Menards Series East races on the 2022 schedule. A combined practice and qualifying session begins on Tues., Feb. 15 from 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. The field will take the green flag shortly after 7:30 p.m. with live coverage on FloRacing.

Young's Motorsports PR

Endurance. Teamwork. Speed.
 
They’re hallmarks of IMSA racing and cybersecurity leader CrowdStrike, which is why it makes perfect sense for the two organizations to join forces. IMSA announced today that CrowdStrike has become an Official Partner of the sanctioning organization.
 
Among the elements of the partnership agreement are opportunities for CrowdStrike to host CxO Summits for C-level executives at IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup race venues, including this week at the Rolex 24 At Daytona – featuring guest speakers from the cybersecurity industry, an idea exchange and unforgettable IMSA at-track experiences. The partnership will also include on-track signage at the Michelin Endurance Cup tracks (Daytona International Speedway, Sebring International Raceway, Watkins Glen International and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta) and IMSA VIP experiences at other IMSA races throughout the season.
 
In addition, CrowdStrike will sponsor the Endurance, Teamwork and Speed Award at the Michelin Endurance Cup races, recognizing a team in each IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class demonstrating the unique qualities needed to be successful in long and grueling IMSA endurance races.
 
“CrowdStrike was already part of the IMSA family as a team sponsor, and we are pleased to see that involvement move to the next level as an Official Partner,” IMSA President John Doonan said. “Both organizations share similar philosophies about going the distance to deliver top-notch performance to our customers. In IMSA’s case, the customers are our passionate fans and industry stakeholders.”
 
CrowdStrike has redefined security with the world’s most advanced cloud-native platform that protects and enables the people, processes and technologies that drive modern enterprise. Powered by the CrowdStrike Security Cloud, the Falcon Platform provides unprecedented levels of security to automatically stop data breaches and attacks like ransomware by protecting the most critical areas of risk: endpoints, cloud workloads, identity and data.
 
IMSA PR

In its 22nd season of NASCAR coverage, and 19th DAYTONA 500, FOX Sports today announces the network’s in-depth broadcaster lineup for the 2022 season, featuring unparalleled expertise in front of and behind the camera and highlighted by a rotation of prominent guest analysts in the NASCAR Cup Series booth.

Calling the DAYTONA 500 for FOX NASCAR on Sunday, Feb. 20 (2:30 PM ET on FOX) are play-by-play announcer Mike Joy, covering his 43rd DAYTONA 500 for live TV or radio, and analyst Clint Bowyer, in his second year with FOX Sports, alongside NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Tony Stewart, previously announced to also call the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum on Sunday, Feb. 6 (6:00 PM ET on FOX). Longtime race analyst and two-time DAYTONA 500-winning crew chief Larry McReynolds, with FOX for his 19th Daytona Speedweeks, partners with Joy, Bowyer and Stewart from the FOX Sports studios in Charlotte. Veteran reporters Jamie Little, Vince Welch and Regan Smith cover the race from pit road.

Shannon Spake hosts NASCAR RACEDAY prerace studio coverage with analysis from McReynolds and former DAYTONA 500 champion Jamie McMurray. Chris Myers anchors prerace coverage from the track for his 19th DAYTONA 500 alongside Bowyer. Veteran reporter and acclaimed storyteller Tom Rinaldi also will contribute to FOX NASCAR prerace coverage. The full slate of guest analysts in the FOX NASCAR booth for NASCAR Cup Series events will be announced in the near future.

FOX Deportes returns to the DAYTONA 500 for its 11th consecutive season, with renowned announcer Tony Rivera providing play-by-play and Emmy Award winner Jessi Losada and Giselle Zarur delivering analysis.

NASCAR XFINITY SERIES:

FOX NASCAR continues its tradition of welcoming a NASCAR Cup Series driver to the booth for all NASCAR Xfinity Series race broadcasts in 2022, with a variety of personalities joining play-by-

play announcer Adam Alexander will call the Feb. 19 season opener from Daytona (5:00 PM ET on FS1) with analysis from three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin and seven-time championship crew chief Chad Knaus. Smith and Welch handle pit reporting duties. Spake hosts NASCAR RACEDAY-XFINITY from Charlotte with analysis from McReynolds and McMurray.

NASCAR CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES:

FOX Sports celebrates its 20th season of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series coverage in 2022, with Welch calling the action alongside analysts Waltrip, Kurt Busch and Phil Parsons. Welch, Waltrip and Busch call the season opener from Daytona on Friday, Feb. 18 (7:30 PM ET on FS1). Josh Sims and Jamie Howe deliver pit reports from Daytona.

Kaitlyn Vincie hosts NASCAR RACEDAY-NCWTS prior to each Truck Series race alongside FOX NASCAR newcomer and former driver Trevor Bayne and two-time series champion Todd Bodine.

ARCA MENARDS SERIES:

Little returns to call ARCA Menards Series races on FS1 after making history last season as the first female play-by-play announcer for a national televised motor sports series. Analyst Parsons continues to partner with Little this season with a rotation of drivers contributing analysis and Kate Osborne on pit road. Chase Briscoe, 2016 ARCA champion, joins the booth at Daytona on Saturday, Feb. 19 (1:30 PM ET on FS1), while Sims pairs with Osborne to cover pit road in his series debut.

NASCAR RACE HUB:

NASCAR RACE HUB, FS1’s longest-running daily studio show, returns in 2022 for its 13th season. Alexander, Spake and Vincie co-host with analysis from McReynolds, Bowyer, McMurray, Waltrip, Smith, Bayne, Bobby Labonte, David Ragan and Bodine. NASCAR drivers and crew chiefs rotating as analysts include: Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski, Daniel Suárez, Ryan Blaney, Drew Blickensderfer, Knaus and Andy Petree. Reporters Sims, Little and Welch also contribute.

Fox Sports PR

Ford Mustang, the iconic sports car that created the pony car segment, will lead Ford’s return to global sports car racing as Ford Performance prepares a new GT3 race car for competition in 2024..

Ford Performance revealed plans for its all-new Mustang GT3 race car that will compete in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) 2024 race season, including the 24 Hours of Daytona.

The new Mustang effort, announced in advance of this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, will be a joint program between Ford Performance and long-time racing collaborator Multimatic Motorsports.  It will feature both a two-car factory-backed IMSA GTD Pro works team managed by Multimatic, as well as customer Mustangs for the GTD class starting at Daytona in 2024.

“Mustang was born to race from the start and we’re thrilled to introduce the GT3 version to compete head-to-head against some of the greatest manufacturers in the world,” said Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports global director.  “With 58 years of global endurance racing heritage, including NASCAR and Australian Supercars today, we are ready to take Mustang to the next level of global performance.

“There’s no question that Multimatic Motorsports is the perfect partner on this project for us,” said Rushbrook.  “Not only have they worked with us to develop numerous customer Mustang programs in the past, but its work on the Ford GT program and the new Bronco® DR customer race programs has shown together we can provide championship-level race programs for Ford and its customers.”

“We’re excited to work on this new IMSA program as well as the GT3 customer program with Ford Performance,” said Larry Holt, Executive Vice President of Multimatic Special Vehicle Operations.  “We have a long, great working relationship with each other, both at the highest levels of professional sports car racing, and in developing competitive customer race program and vehicles.  We appreciate their faith in us, and together, we can’t wait to show the world what’s coming down the road with Mustang.”

The new Mustang GT3 racer will be powered by a Ford 5.0-liter Coyote-based V8 engine developed by Ford Performance and built by long-time racing collaborator and world championship winning team, M-Sport of Cumbria, England.

The two organizations have a rich history in the FIA World Rally Championship and recently collaborated on the development and preparation of the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1, which finished 1-3-5 in its debut race at the Monte Carlo Rally this past weekend

“We are delighted to be broadening our relationship with Ford and extending it into the racing world after a very successful 25 years together in the World Rally Championship, which is once again delivering stunning results with the Puma Hybrid Rally1,” said Malcom Wilson, owner of M-Sport. “M-Sport has a wealth and depth of circuit racing knowledge and expertise, particularly from our GT3 programme that used an M-Sport developed V8 engine for GT3 that powered us to victory in the 2020 Bathurst 12-hour race and 2019 1000km of Paul Ricard.

“Our most recent engine project has seen us become the official British Touring Car Championship engine supplier which also uses Ford engine architecture,” Wilson added. “We are very excited about working directly with Ford Performance and Multimatic on the Mustang GT3 and will be working very hard, leaving no stone unturned as we join forces to fight for more victories around the world.”

The race-specific powerplant will continue the heritage of high performance naturally aspirated V8s in the Mustang platform.  The engine will carry the heart and soul of the world-renowned Ford Coyote® and have performance and packaging modifications to make it championship ready for world class GT3 endurance racing.

The new Mustang GT3 race car will feature bespoke Short-Long Arm suspension front and rear, rear-mounted transaxle gearbox, carbon fiber body panels, as well as a unique aero package developed to meet GT3 targets.

Ford and Multimatic will make both factory-backed and customer-ready GT3 Mustangs available to teams from the start of the 2024 season.

Joey Hand, one of the winning drivers in the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro class in the Ford GT, is going to be one of the test drivers for the new program, as well as continuing on in his role as a development driver and coach for Ford Performance.  As part of that, he will also drive six NASCAR Cup road course races in 2022 in a Rick Ware Racing Ford Mustang.

“It’s awesome to be on the ground floor of another amazing sports car racing program with Ford,” said Hand. “As much as I like to compete and win on the track, I also enjoy being part of the development of new race vehicles like this Mustang.  We did a lot of testing with the Ford GT program, so it will be great to be working again with a lot of the same people at Ford and Multimatic as we get this car ready for competition.” 

 

New Mustang GT4 On The Way Too

Although the Mustang GT3 for IMSA is new, Ford and Multimatic confirmed that the successful Mustang GT4 customer race program will continue into the future, with a new Mustang GT4 expected to debut in the 2023 season.

“It’s important to us to continue to support the Mustang GT4 effort as well,” said Rushbrook.  “We’ve had a lot of success both here and in Europe with the current Mustang GT4, and we look forward to being able to provide our customers with a brand new car for competition in the GT4 category starting next season.  We’ll have more to say on that in the near future.”

The new Mustang announcements for sports car racing adds to a series of new racing Mustangs coming in the near future for Ford Performance.   The 2022 Next Gen Ford Mustang will debut in the NASCAR Cup series Feb. 6 at the LA Coliseum and then at the Daytona 500 two weeks later.  And Ford Performance is developing its new Gen 3 Mustang for the Supercars Series that will debut at the start of 2023.

Ford Performance PR

The men and machines of the Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP Presented By BELFOR Property Restoration returned to the concrete track inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall for the first time in two years with Ryan Flores, Davidson, NC, Joey Bailey, Monroe Twp., NJ, and Justin Bonsignore, Holtsville, NY the three fastest TQ Midget drivers after a three and a half hour practice session.

 Flores’ 8.014 was a tenth of a second faster than Bailey, the 2021 ATQMRA TQ champion, who clocked an 8.122. Bonsignore, the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Modified Touring Series champion, ran an 8.141 best lap. Tim Buckwalter, Big Diamond Speedway’s 358 Dirt Modified 2021 champion was fourth  (8.154) and Anthony Sesely, Matawan, NJ, a three time Gambler’s Classic past winner, was fifth (8.188).

 Andy Jankowiak, Tonawanda, NY, two time and defending Gambler’s Classic winner (8.197), late entry Tyler Thompson, Fulton, NY, 2019 Oswego Supermodified Classic winner (8.201), Mike Christopher, Jr., Wolcott, CT, in just his second ever TQ Midget start (8.210), Kyle Lick, Lehighton, PA, 600 Micro Sprint driver (8.218) and Erick Rudolph, Ransomville, NY, three time Gambler’s Classic winner (8.219) rounded out the top ten fastest timers in the Thursday session. Car owners Jason Simmons and Mark Lafler had two cars each inside the TQ top ten. Simmons owns Bonsignore’s and Thompson’s cars, Lafler owns Buckwalter’s and Rudolph’s TQs.

 The quickest laps were set in the final session of the night from among 50 who recorded official times.

 Champ Karts also took to the track Thursday night in large numbers with Doug Stearly, Trappe, PA, winner of the last two Champ Kart Atlantic City Indoor races, setting fast time at 9.307. In Slingshot action, Scott Neary, winner of the 2020 Atlantic City Slingshot feature, was fastest with a 9.966 clocking. Forty-seven Karts and 32 Slingshots registered times,

 There were several spins during the session, but no crashes or accidents of any consequence.

 Action inside Boardwalk Hall resumes Friday with TQ Midget, Champ Kart and Slingshot time trials preceding Friday night racing that begins at 7:30 PM one hour after Boardwalk Hall doors open. TQ, Champ Kart and Slingshot heat races set the stage for a trio of 20-lap TQ Qualifiers which transfer the top three finishers into the Saturday night feature.

 Saturday afternoon B Mains for the Champ Karts and Slingshots set the fields for both of those features. Doors open Saturday night at 5:00 and lead directly to Fan Fest, the trackside gathering spot for drivers and cars racing during the night. Fans with tickets in the lower sections of Boardwalk Hall will have the opportunity to take photos and have autographs signed by the racers.  Then racing begins at 7:00 with four TQ heat races, the Champ Kart 20-lap A main event, a TQ Dash among the top nine qualifiers to determine starting spots in the later A-Main, and a pair of TQ B Mains which are the last chances for drivers to gain a starting berth in the TQ feature. The Slingshot A-Main of 20-laps is the final race prior to the main event. Then, the 19th running of the NAPA KNOW HOW Gambler’s Classic for TQ Midgets, run over a 40-lap distance is the race drivers, teams and fans are in greatest anticipation of. Good seats are still available for the Friday and Saturday nights of racing.

AARN PR

Twenty-one years ago, Victor Lee left East Bay Raceway Park for the final time after piloting a DIRTcar UMP Modified, not knowing when he’d next compete in the division at the historic Winternationals event. Thursday night brought the return of The Lincoln Leadfoot to Victory Lane for his first career Feature win in the event.

 

He’s visited the Clay by the Bay several times since his last event start in 2001, either driving or working for a Late Model team, but had never made a trip to Victory Lane with a Modified. A Winternationals trophy was something he’d been searching for his entire career, and now he’s finally got one.

 

“It’s definitely been on my bucket list,” Lee said of the significance of his win. “When you come down here, you’re racing guys from all over the country.”

 

The names, the faces, the times and the tech may have changed in Lee’s East Bay absence, but Lee’s desire to win at this event never faded. He’s come a long way since his rookie season in 2000, and finally cashed-in on sticking it out through all the defeats.

 

“Twenty-one years ago, I was doing well,” Lee said lightheartedly. “I don’t know if I made but maybe one show. I think I won a Strawberry Dash or something… but we’ve definitely struggled here.”

 

To do it, Lee had to drive a patient race. Lots of beating, banging and bumping was happening all around him through all 30 laps, and it started right in the first stanza.

 

A multi-car pileup erupted on a Lap 5 restart after outside polesitter Steve Stevenson appeared to not have fired by the orange cone in Turn 4, stacking up several cars behind him including Lucas Lee, Drake Troutman, Bryan Bernhardt and more. Victor Lee escaped with minor body damage, and Lucas Lee was given his spot back in the running order before the restart.

 

“I got hit from behind, and [Stevenson] went, and I was trying not to hit him,” Lucas said. “When my wheel got on his, it was pretty much over.”

 

Through the next 21 laps, it was all Lucas Lee out front. Multiple times, Tyler Nicely, Drake Troutman, and eventually Victor Lee, put the pressure on him from behind, but to no avail. Lucas was great on the bottom, until trouble bit him.

 

Getting into Turn 3 with four laps remaining, Lucas appeared to push excessively up the track and out of the preferred bottom lane, opening the door wide open for Victor to zoom on by.

 

“I think in that wreck on the restart, when I got hit in the rear pushing Steve [Stevenson], something bent on the right-front,” Lucas said. “I was kinda tight after that point, pretty bad.

 

“I knew I couldn’t [miss the bottom] two laps in-a-row,” Lucas said. “I did it probably two out of three laps, and I knew it was wide open for [Victor].”

 

Victor grabbed the lead and led the final three circuits back around to the checkers to claim the $1,500 check, Lucas in second and Allen Weisser third.

 

Weisser, the UMP Modified/Late Model veteran from Peoria, IL, ended up with one of the wildest stories at the end of the night. Rolling into the pits just in time for tech inspection and driver’s meeting, he took a blank #1w out of a Last Chance event and into the Feature, then climbed 18 positions from 21st after getting into an early wreck to finish on the podium.

 

“I just kept plucking away at the bottom,” Weisser said of his charge through the field. “I kept trying to go up top a few times, and it really just wanted to push the front-end real bad, so I had to move down to the bottom.”

 

He also provided one of the most unique stories on how his ride came together. Weisser normally pilots his own #25W around the bullrings of Illinois, but couldn’t pass up another offer earlier this week to go have some fun in Florida.

 

“Kevin Weaver gave me a call and asked if I wanted to race for somebody, so I gave him a call,” Wessier said. “Not knowing the guy, I drove down to his shop, put this car together and came here.”

 

Defending Winternationals champion Buzzy Adams had another solid points night, driving from 13th to finish sixth. Meanwhile, more misfortune struck Tyler Nicely, as he looped it in front of the field like he did on Wednesday night while running second late in the race. He finished 20th.

 

The UMP Modified Winternationals action continues Friday night, Jan. 28, with another 30-lap, $1,500-to-win showdown. Keep it locked to DIRTcar Racing on social media for all the latest updates and content.

 

DIRTcar Series PR

Michael Roberts Construction (MRC) has partnered with Front Row Motorsports (FRM) to be a primary partner of Zane Smith in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) for the 2022 season. MRC has been a partner of Smith throughout his career and now moves to FRM to help win a championship.

MRC is a private and public commercial construction company based in northern California. MRC expert engineering can be seen in various constructions throughout the region. The company partnered with Smith, a two-time NCWTS champion runner-up, early in his budding career and has been one of his most loyal supporters and friend since. They are proud to continue their relationship as Smith competes for his first championship. “Zane is a great driver and an amazing young man,” said Mike Avila, President and CEO, Michael Roberts Construction. “Our company fully supports Zane and believe that he’s ready for a breakout season with his new team at Front Row Motorsports. We are proud to support Zane and the team.”

MRC will be the primary partner of Smith, a NCWTS most popular driver award winner, at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Martinsville Speedway, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Sonoma Raceway, Kanas Speedway, and the season finale at the Phoenix Raceway.

“I want nothing more this year than to celebrate a championship with Mike and my friends at Michael Roberts Construction at Phoenix in November,” said Smith. “I think we can win a lot of races together and I love their schedule of primary races. And I know they are always supporting me every weekend, too. It feels good to have their support and I can’t wait to start the season.”

MRC will also be an associate partner all season of the No. 38 team and Smith. For more information about MRC, visit www.michaelrobertscontruction.com.

FRM PR

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