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Home Tracks

GOOD & BAD: 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series Season

Another year of NASCAR K&N Pro Series competition is in the books, as the transition now begins towards the new era of combining the NASCAR Home Tracks program with ARCA. Along the way, though, there were some highlights and low lights to consider from the action on-track all year.

Although I was unable to watch all of the races, let’s take a look back at the good and the bad.

GOOD: A little bump and banging, drivers making their way up and down the field, and a bump and run for the win – it sounds like the perfect short track event. The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East was able to check each of those boxes when they visited Bristol Motor Speedway. 

BAD: The field size could certainly use some improvement, as highlighted with just 16 entries at Bristol. Hopefully the new format will allow for that to happen. 

GOOD: Thoughout the season, Sam Mayer was a step above the rest en route to winning the championship – and that was certainly on display at Bristol in August. 

After having to go back to the field at the beginning of the race, he methodically made his way forward, making passes as he went to continue gaining ground. He was then able to catch Davis in the closing laps, perfecting the bump and run to get the lead and cruise to the win.

Not only as he proven to be a master at one of NASCAR’s toughest short tracks, his ability behind the wheel has shined at other speedways. He won at Iowa Speedway, and ran strong in a couple NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series starts. As he makes his move up the ladder with GMS Racing and their Driver’s Edge Development program, the potential for him to be quite successful for years to come is there. 

BAD: It was not all sunshine for the driver of the No. 21 Chevrolet as his day was not clean at Bristol. He got put to the back on the first lap due to spinning fellow competitor Chase Cabre right off the drop of the green flag. 

While these two haven’t had the smoothest season racing each other in 2019 with contact throughout, it’s not a good appearance to be causing trouble right away. It also looks worse when you show no remorse about the contact. Mayer would admit he “didn’t mean it at all,” but went on to add that Cabre “kind of deserves it.” 

GOOD: Bristol wasn’t the only track that the young series shined, as South Boston Speedway’s event was arguably even better. A late caution set-up a green-white-checkered finish to the WhosYourDriver.org Twin 100 Race 1, and it impressed every fan watching the free stream on FansChoice.tv.

After giving up the lead to Mayer over the course of the long run, Tanner Gray took full advantage of the restart, with a well-timed bump to the back of the No. 21 Chevrolet, followed by some rubbing well alongside on the tight track to take over the lead. He then held on through the final lap for the victory.

It’s always been stated that “racecars have bumpers for a reason,” as well as the classic stories of the “chrome horn.” Gray perfected the move in that moment as he got the position on Mayer, however he didn’t go over the limit by wrecking his competitor. 

BAD: Hailie Deegan may be applauded for her aggressive ability, but she showed the need to learn patience in driving over Colin Garrett in the first 18 laps of the second event at South Boston before it was postponed to Sunday due to weather. Garrett showcased his frustration to his fellow competitor, resulting in shock from the fans in not being able to see a replay of the incident despite FansChoice.tv using that feature for other previous incidents. 

GOOD: Derek Kraus rarely makes mistakes and appeared to be ready to cruise to another victory at Irwindale Speedway, but he would get outside of the groove in turn three – opening the door for one of the most exciting battles in series history.

Both Trevor Huddleston and Tanner Gray would be able to clear Kraus in the process, with Huddleston beginning to stretch out an advantage. However, as the laps begin to count down, Gray was able to close the gap. Gray would get to Huddleton’s bumper with two to go, diving underneath in both ends as he tried to clear him. The battle would go all the way to the checkered flag. 

https://twitter.com/FansChoiceTV/status/1112191647675117568

BAD: Sometimes it’s best to double check that your microphone is off before you make a candid comment.

Hannah Newhouse was pegged to speak with Riley Herbst following his crash for the at-track public address system at Bristol, and FansChoice.tv’s broadcast. She made the comment in which she wasn’t sure what took Herbst out of the race, to which he replied, “The car is killed. Look at the right side of this thing.”

Although improper etiquette to not fully know what happened entering the interview with a comment like that, the discussion point did not come from there. Rather, she left her microphone open following the interview, calling Herbst a “douchebag.”

Although honesty is appreciated from the on-air talent, that certainly is not the best look to have. 

GOOD: Hailie Deegan is currently regarded as one of the best young talents coming up in motorsports. She proved why on Thursday night at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway dirt track, and the fans were entertained in the process.

She would close the gap between herself and Jagger Jones, despite being just over five seconds behind with 26 laps to go.  Jones would find himself in lap traffic, and those cars would not move out of the way as the driver of the No. 6 would’ve hoped, as the bottom was the preferred line all night and where they tell lap cars to stay other places. Perhaps it was a bit of impatience, or maybe not having the knowledge of how to pinch himself underneath them, a he would get hung up on two occasions. The first would allow Deegan to close to within a couple car lengths, the second cost him the victory.

As Jones got hung up with Kenny Bumbera, a small space opened up between the tractor tire and them. Deegan would stick her nose in the hole, pushing Jones out a little (rubbing is racing, right?), and taking the lead. Although Jones tried to retaliate with the chrome horn going into turn three, it was not enough as Deegan kept it straight to the checkered flag.

GOOD: Anybody remember how the NASCAR K&N season started at New Smyrna? Despite starting 16th on the grid, Kraus conserved his tires while slowly making his way to the front, choosing to ride just inside the top-five. 

When the opportunity presented itself with the youthfulness of Garrett and Dollar getting together on a restart with 44 laps to go, Kraus did what he had to do, splitting the middle between the pair to drive by and cruise away en route to victory. Arguably, it was probably one of the best textbook restart passes that you will probably see all season. As he said post-race, “I might’ve gotten in the grass, but I got it done.”

GOOD: Can we also applaud NASCAR for their cost-saving measure in only allowing one single set of General Tires for the event? On top of the money not being spent, it also teaches the drivers about conserving equipment – something we know can come in handy when they move up the ranks. 

GOOD: The choice to stream the events live for free via FansChoice.tv was probably the best decision made. It allotted fans who may only know of the big three series a chance to get a glimpse at the grassroots action, perhaps resulting in them becoming more interested and wanting to attend an event closer to home.

Furthermore, it gave those short track attendees a chance to check out the middle ground of NASCAR. While they may not be too thrilled by the intermediate tracks, this may be the series level that attracts their interest in being closer to what they’re used to.

They always say the hardest part of advertising a product is getting it in front of fans, and doing that this way probably certainly improved the awareness.

BAD: It’s too bad, though, that the option won’t be there in 2020 with NBC Sports Gold taking over broadcasting the series, and now charging so much a month. Certainly those work to put the coverage together deserve something in return for their hard work respectfully, and the amount being charged is not too far out there.

However, making it only available to those in the United States, whereas FansChoice you could view anywhere around the globe, is ignoring a lot of potential race fans. An example would be the Canadian fan base, which makes up 40% of attendees to both Watkins Glen and Michigan. Now you’re taking away something for them view race fan wise, combined with the truck series just being able on one television provider, how does that make them feel included?

In a time where NASCAR recognizes that their numbers were going down with sponsors harder to find, you would think that we’d be wanting to reach as many markets around the world as possible. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Home Tracks

NASCAR Announces 2020 Pinty’s Series Schedule

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – For the past 13 years, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series has competed on some of the most diverse tracks in NASCAR with races on the best short tracks, road courses and street courses across Canada.

In 2020, you can add a dirt track to the list. 

NASCAR today announced next year’s Pinty’s Series schedule, which is highlighted by an Aug. 18 trip to Ohsweken Speedway – the first dirt race to be held in series history.

In addition, the series will visit two familiar tracks as Sunset Speedway and Circuit ICAR return to the schedule after four and three years, respectively. 

“We believe the 2020 season will be one of the best we’ve seen for our fans and competitors,” said Gene Stefanyshyn, NASCAR Senior Vice President and Chief International Officer. “The NASCAR Pinty’s Series continues to grow as Canada’s national motorsport series; we’ve seen an increase in competition level over the years and NASCAR fans in Canada have truly embraced the series as their own.”

The Tuesday, Aug. 18 race at Ohsweken instantly becomes one of the most anticipated events in series history. D.J. Kennington and reigning champion Andrew Ranger tested at the 0.6-km track for NASCAR on Oct. 29 to ensure the series could put on an exciting race.

Sunset Speedway in Innisfil, Ontario will host the fourth race of the season (July 4). Alex Tagliani won both previous Pinty’s Series races at the 0.53-km oval. 

The series will return to Circuit ICAR for the season’s penultimate race on Sept. 12. The 3.4-km road course at Montréal-Mirabel International Airport has previously hosted seven Pinty’s Series races, five of which were won by Ranger.

Other schedule highlights include:

  • For the ninth consecutive season, the season will open at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) in Bowmanville, Ontario as part of the track’s Victoria Day weekend celebration (May 16). The season will again conclude with the Pinty’s Fall Brawl at Jukasa Motor Speedway (Sept. 26). 
  • The annual Western swing including three races at two tracks. The series will visit Edmonton International Raceway on July 25 followed by a visit to Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan for two 125-lap features as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday, July 29.
  • Two fan-favorite races on the streets of Toronto and Trois-Rivières. The Pinty’s Series will again headline Friday (July 10) of the Honda Toronto weekend at Exhibition Place. As previously announced, the annual Grand Prix de Trois-Rivières (GP3R) will extend from 50 to 60 laps in 2020 (Aug. 9) which will introduce more in-race strategy for teams including live pit stops.

The complete broadcast and streaming schedule will be released at a later date.

2020 NASCAR Pinty’s Series Schedule

Sunday, May 17: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park- Bowmanville, Ont.
Saturday, June 6: Jukasa Motor Speedway- Hagersville, Ont.
Saturday, June 27: Autodrome Chaudière- Vallee- Jonction, Que.
Saturday, July 4: Sunset Speedway- Innisfil, Ont.
Friday, July 10: Exhibition Place- Toronto, Ont.
Saturday, July 25: Edmonton International Raceway- Wetaskiwin, Alb.
Wednesday, July 29: Wyant Group Raceway*- Saskatoon, Sask.
Wednesday, July 29: Wyant Group Raceway*- Saskatoon, Sask.
Sunday, Aug. 9: Circuit Trois-Rivières- Trois-Rivières, Que.
Tuesday, Aug. 18: Ohsweken Speedway- Ohsweken, Ont.
Sunday, Sept. 6: Canadian Tire Motorsport Park- Bowmanville, Ont.
Saturday, Sept. 12: Circuit ICAR- Mirabel, Que.
Saturday, Sept. 26: Jukasa Motor Speedway- Hagersville, Ont.

*125-lap twin features

SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

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Home Tracks

“They Said What?” NASCAR Home Tracks Edition

Sometimes when you stick a microphone in front of a driver’s face, you have no clue what they may say and a couple of times you’ll hear something that surprises you or gives you a bit of a perspective.

Throughout the 2019 season, I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of different competitors. During those interviews, there were some quotes that stood out. So it seems only fitting we take a glance back through the year at what was said.

RUSTY JARRETT | NKP

I think the biggest thing is – I don’t want to sound negative, but just be prepared that it might not work out. I think it’s easy for all of us, whether you’re a dad, you’re a friend of a racer or a competitor of a racer and look at people and say, “Oh, they’ll make it. They have plenty of talent. They’ll be in Cup one day, or they remind me of Jimmie Johnson or Jeff Gordon.”

But there’s no model there anymore. So I think young guys that growing up in racing, whether quarter midgets, bandalero, late model, or even the K&N division, is just take advantage of every single opportunity that you can. Don’t waste it, because it cost way too much money to be out there and there’s jobs on the line for a lot of crew guys that are working on those cars. But don’t waste your opportunity, and be prepared that you can go out there and do everything right – you can win races, and you can win championships, and there’s still a really big chance that due to the business, you’re not going to make it on Sundays and there’s nothing wrong with that.

I work with Noah Gragson and I tell him this all the time – just don’t waste your opportunity because if you go out there and win five races over the year and do everything you can, and you’re prepared, and you’re preparing your body to battle, and you’re communicating with your team – if you come up short and you can’t make it to the Cup Series, then you can still lay your head down at night and say you gave it your all. But don’t be the kid that wastes the opportunity and doesn’t take advantage of it, because then you’re going to be feeling a lot of regrets.

So I think it’s about being mentally prepared of the challenge to work your way up through the sport in today’s atmosphere to where it’s not just about talent, but the funding you have in place and what you do with that and whether you take advantage of it.

Brandon McReynolds

BILL MCANALLY RACING

It’s a really cool position I’m being putting in this year. I’ve raced for the past 15 years and I’ve always kind of been one of the very few girls in the midwest for the up-and-coming drivers to admire and to learn off of. Now that you’re getting into the higher NASCAR series, your platform gets bigger and bigger.

 

My role for that is to go out there and do what I love; go out there and win and show that it really doesn’t matter, boy or girl, you can go out there and do whatever sport you want. So if they’re looking for inspiration to gout there and race against all the guys, that’s great; but if they can use what I am doing on the race track to help them pursue their dreams, whether racing or another sport, that’s a really cool spot for me to be  in and I hope to do that for them.

Brittney Zamora

JAGGER JONES RACING

It definitely helps being involved and having a racing family. I mean, my dad is always there and my grandpa – I can always go to them and ask. But it’s also what they know, their experience, in putting me in the right position and just being involved with a lot of other people in the NASCAR world has really been a help for us. It’s good to know that I can go to my dad and ask for advice, really, for anything about the cars, or anything really around racing.

Jagger Jones

RUSTY JARRETT | NKP

The K&N and ARCA car are really similar, so going back and forth between those two isn’t too drastic; it’s really just horsepower. But when we go super late model racing and TransAm Racing, that’s completely different and that’s just more or less for experience. So I don’t really take those for competitive, but rather just for learning, like road courses and stuff like that in the bigger cars. The Super Late Model is more so for the competitiveness of the series.

Sam Mayer

JOHN HARRELSON | NKP

Really, just how to race these cars. These cars have 650 horsepower, but they’re so heavy and really tall; it’s kind of like racing a school bus with a jet engine. It’s just a really big bulky car so you have to learn how to drive it, especially on these short tracks. It’s all about who has the most speed through the center; it’s a big long drag race down the straightaway with whoever can get the power down.

We ran several short track races and we qualified third at Thompson, but we ended up having a really loose car. I think just from everything I learned from that will help for New Smyrna. For the big tracks, I’ve been to the big tracks now so I can be able to use that knowledge with how the air works, how not to use much brake, and that stuff, and going to these tracks for the second time is going to help a lot.

First time I went to New Hampshire, we qualified 13th or something like that. But the next time we went, I qualified sixth, a tenth off the pole. So it definitely helps going to these tracks for a second time.

Colin Garrett

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER:@ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Commentary

“They Said What?” NASCAR Pinty’s Series Edition

Sometimes when you stick a microphone in front of a driver’s face, you have no clue what they may say and a couple of times you’ll hear something that surprises you or gives you a bit of a perspective.

Throughout the 2019 NASCAR Pinty’s Series season, I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of different competitors. During those interviews, there were some quotes that stood out. So it seems only fitting we take a glance back through the year at what was said.

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

“We wanted to go down a different path. Jason Hathaway (and Ed Hakonson Racing) are an awesome team. They have a great group of guys. Hathaway is a championship driver. With his experience, I was hoping that he would help mentor me and he’s willing to take me under his wing, I look forward to learning from him.”

Brett Taylor on switching from Canada’s Best Racing Team to Ed Hakonson Racing mid-season.

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

“I think the contact was pretty much as far as he was going to bring it. I think Andrew was driving like a driver with a championship to protect and a championship lead to take this weekend. I think that’s how he was driving and when you have a lot to lose and want to score points, you drive in a way to where his driving was as aggressive as he could do it. It also brought in a good finish, scored good points. So I think overall, he was fair with me.”

Alex Tagliani on battling Andrew Ranger for the win in Toronto.

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

“The car was really good. 22 Racing gave me an awesome car. I feel bad because it’s solely my fault. I had a good restart on Alex and took the lead. Then after that, I just missed my braking point by a little bit and I lost it. It’s totally my fault, but I’ll take the blame on it and try to go out west and win them both.”

Marc-Antoine Camirand on his mistake late in the race in Toronto, backing the car into the wall while leading.

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

I really think the series is very, very tough. You can say the top-10 can win any week so it’s fun to go there and you never know where you’re going to finish, but it’ll be a good fight to the end. All of the races are very important. What’s great about the series is we race across Canada, so we race in Toronto, in Quebec City, Nova Scotia, Edmonton and Saskatoon, so it’s awesome.

We have a lot of good fans no matter where we are. I don’t know how many thousands we have at Mosport (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park), Toronto, Trois-Riveres – but those are very important in racing in front of big crowds like that. I really like the series, and I think every year the series improves. I know we have a little bit of problem in having drivers at oval tracks, but little by little, I think they’re helping the drivers to find sponsors which is good.

Andrew Ranger on the current state of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

Well, I think honestly seeing the team with them being competitive week-in-week-out kind of rejuvenated, re-fired up what I had inside. It wasn’t like I didn’t race; I raced the pro late a bunch of races, so not like I was totally out of the seat. Just to have the opportunity to get back in with some sponsorship from Kobota, Choko, and Fast Eddie Racewear it was the right opportunity to get back in.

We talked to some different drivers through the winter time, but I still wanted to do this and I felt it was the right time to get put the band back together and go racing.

Jason Hathaway on why he returned to the series full-time in 2019

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

“I think that helped starting the season off there and having some seat time at Phoenix in the Gander Outdoor Truck Series. I think that’s really helped my driving and I really think it’s broaden my own horizons a little bit to show what is in the tank that we hadn’t brought out before. Definitely makes you a better driver. Just being in a racecar more and more is good as it helps everything.”

Jason White on running some NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series races before the Pinty’s Series season started.

CANADA’S BEST RACING TEAM

Definitely the speed and having a good clean race throughout, hitting your marks. Going fast as you possibly can, but also while conserving tires. Nobody knows what the new General Tires are going to do and how they’re going to react on a long run. Everybody has just tried them, but nobody has been in the race conditions so it’s kind of an unknown going into the event on new tires. The car feels good on the short run, but we don’t know what it’s going to be 20, 25 laps on the tires.

So it’s just about hitting your marks and putting down consistent laps and at the end of the day, whoever has the best tires and equipment will be the best.

Anthony Simone on the toughest challenge of Canadian Tire Motorsports Park

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

Well one, I am not getting any younger, and then we also have the plan – T.J. and myself – to market five teams in the future and that’ll be taking some of the younger kids up through, like a Treyten Lapcevich, and moving him up into the Pinty’s Series and upwards. Canada needs someone to run a good, full-funded team to get drivers south and that’s our goal.

Mark Dilley on why he chose 2019 to return to the series full-time

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

“Super happy with my WeatherTech and Bellemare team. I think we had a tough race. We had engine problems at the beginning of the race. The team didn’t have any control on it, but they diagnosed it pretty quick and they told me it wouldn’t get better or worse, but we’d have to deal with it.

“We fought with it the whole race, but the car was so fast in the technical parts, which was awesome for us. A third for us is like a win this weekend. It’s really positive for the future, because we know we improved a lot, and that means the rest of this season will be more interesting.”

L.P. Dumoulin on his third-place finish in Toronto

Honestly, they’re so different. I feel there’s such a difference between road courses and ovals, it’s almost like which do you prefer – football or soccer? I look at them that way. I would probably say road courses.

Brett Taylor on whether he prefers road courses or ovals

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN

Well, I’ve done a lot and in Canada, this is the only series with the TV deal every weekend, which is good for sponsorship. We are always looking towards possibly going into the United States, and trying to do a couple starts in the Xfinity Series. But at the same time, it’s about the money and sponsorship. I’d prefer to stay here to run in Canada in the Pinty’s Series with a good sponsor, and try to run for the win every race.

Marc Antoine-Camirand

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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News

Derek Kraus Celebrates Championship as Ty Gibbs Survives Overtime To Win at ISM

AVONDALE, Ariz. — The 2019 K&N Pro Series West season finale showcased the up and coming talent in NASCAR. And when the lights shined the brightest, the young drivers delivered.

Derek Kraus officially clinched the series championship by taking the green flag, and allowed himself to get a little introspective once the title was finalized.

“It’s a dream come true to become a NASCAR champion and it’s all because of you guys,” he said over the radio.

Dream: meet reality.

After failing pre-race inspection and starting in the rear, Kraus fought his way to finish inside the top five for the 11th time this season. Once he made the trip to Victory Lane, the gravity of what he’d just accomplished began to sink in.

“It feels really good,” Kraus said with a smile ear to ear. “We had a really good season this year. If we had a bad night, we were able to capitalize on it and do as much as we could do make the bad night as good as we could.”

“I really can’t thank all these (Bill McAnally Racing) guys enough. They work their tails off on this race car to get it as good as it is every single race. And to finish the year out strong finishing fourth after starting towards the back of the field, it was a really good night and I’m really excited for the following years.”

Kraus’ third full-time season in the series resulted in seven total wins (five West, two East) and an average finish of 4.0, a series best.

Further up front, Sam Mayer controlled the majority of the race, leading 68 laps total. But restarts plagued the 2019 K&N East champion all evening long, as he lost the lead to Ty Gibbs in Turns 1 and 2 with a little over 30 laps remaining

Gibbs, who didn’t give the lead up after taking it on Lap 71, was able to hold off Mayer for two green/white/checkered overtime restarts and win his first career K&N West race and second this season.

“There was a lot going on there,” Gibbs said of the finish to the Arizona Lottery 100. “Those restarts really kind of got me flustered there. I got nervous for a little bit. I could really set (Mayer) up on the restarts. That’s where I could get him the most. We just persevered, started in the back and the car was so good that we got to Victory Lane, it was a cool day.”

The win for Gibbs came under the Levin Racing banner in a partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing. The win is the team’s second in the organizations history (Sheldon Creed, Las Vegas 2018).

Corey Heim of Chad Bryant Racing crossed the finish line third. He was credited with a 25th-place finish, however. The No. 22 team, at the request of NASCAR Competition officials, ran an Illmor engine. NASCAR officials and the No. 22 agreed the team would be placed last in the official results regardless of their finish in the running order.

Kraus officially finished third, with his Bill McAnally Racing teammate Hailie Deegan fourth and Scottsdale, Arizona native Jagger Jones rounding out the top five.

Brittney Zamora, Trenton Moriarity, Trevor Huddleston, Todd Souza and Riley Herbst completed the top 10.

With his fifth place effort, Jones earned the runner-up spot in the 2019 standings, three points ahead of Deegan, who finished third. Huddleston and Zamora round out the top five.

The Arizona Lottery 100 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, November 14 at 6 p.m.

The NASCAR Touring Awards Banquet will take place on Saturday, November 23 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Categories
News

Doug Coby Marches Back To Championship Form With Sixth Title

THOMPSON, Conn. — Celebrating on the highest stage of modified racing for the sixth time.

Doug Coby sealed his sixth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship on Sunday, completing a season that put the Milford, Connecticut, driver back on top after one year away from tasting glory.

The title was the sixth in the last eight years for the 40-year-old, and also helped him break a tie with Tony Hirschman with five series titles. Coby now only trails Mike Stefanik (seven) for the most Whelen Modified Tour titles in the modern era.

“It’s just hard to put into words,” Coby said. “We try to come out to have the best season of anybody, and win every race, everyone out there does. My team just finds a way to do it.”

Coby finished seventh in the Sunoco World Series 150 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, but it was enough to win him the title by eight points. But it didn’t come without a bit of drama.

Coby started third, but during a red flag for a multiple-car crash on lap 12, received some crucial information over the radio — oddly enough, from a fellow competitor. Woody Pitkat told Coby’s team the left-rear tire looked low on air pressure, and he was right.

Coby pitted during the caution, changed the tire, and restarted deep in the field. It wasn’t long before he was back up inside the top 15, positioning himself where he needed to be to keep his points lead. By the end, seventh was enough to seal the deal.

Justin Bonsignore won the season-finale, his sixth victory of the season, which helped him close the gap to just eight in the championship standings. Even though he came up short of his second consecutive Whelen Modified Tour title, Bonsignore scored victories in three of four races at Thompson this season — extending his active drivers lead to 11 wins at the Connecticut oval.

“We spotted them way too many points in the beginning of the year. I’m really proud of our effort — we won a handful of races at the end of the year, and we didn’t get the championship, but we backed up our eight wins last year with six this year. Great car and a great pit stop (today).”

Ron Silk finished second, while Matt Swanson, Bobby Santos III and Woody Pitkat finished the top five. Eric Goodale was sixth, followed by Coby, Chase Dowling, Rob Summers and Timmy Solomito.

Behind the top two in the championship standings, Silk finished third, 62 points back, while Craig Lutz and Swanson finished the top five.

The Sunoco World Series 150 will air on NBCSN on Thursday, October 17, at 7 p.m.

Coby will be honored with the rest of the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour top finishers and special award winners at the NASCAR Awards Charlotte on Saturday, November 23.

Categories
News

Sam Mayer Dominates Dover To Close Championship Season

DOVER, Del. — Friday was his day, and 2019 was his season.

All Sam Mayer had to do to clinch the 2019 K&N Pro Series East championship was take the green flag. But after being quickest in practice and qualifying on the pole, he led all but two laps to close the season with a win and celebrate in style.

“I can’t thank everyone at GMS enough for all they do for me,” Mayer said. “I mean, they had a rocket ship for me, I can’t thank them enough for that. Drivers Edge Development, Chevrolet, Chevrolet Accessories for being on the car and bringing me out here in the first place, and giving me this opportunity to go win a K&N East championship.It means so much and I’m going to celebrate even more, for sure.”

Mayer is the youngest NASCAR champion at 16 years, 3 months and 8 days, eclipsing mark set in 2016 by current Todd Gilliland (16 years, 5 months). Mayer also bettered the East record that was set in 2017 Harrison Burton (16 years, 11 months, 20 days).

In total, Mayer won four races and finished outside the top 10 only once in 12 races (South Boston Twin No. 2, where he left early due to a prior commitment). His average finish for 2019 wound up being an impressive 3.2.

The championship is also GMS Racing’s first in the series, coming in their first full-time season of competition in the K&N Pro Series.

The DGR-Crosley trio of Tanner Gray, who led two laps, Todd Gilliland and Drew Dollar finished second, third and fourth, respectively, with Chase Cabre rounding out the top five.

Max McLaughlin, Spencer Davis, Ruben Garcia Jr., Brandon McReynolds and Justin S. Carroll completed the top 10.

Cabre finished a career-best second in the standings, 38 points behind Mayer. Davis (-42) finished third, with Tanner Gray (-48) and Max McLaughlin (-61) completing the top five.

The General Tire 125 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Friday, October 11 at 6 p.m.

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NASCAR, ARCA announce framework for four championship series in 2020

From Jimmie Johnson to William Byron, the path to the top of NASCAR has long gone through ARCA and the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.

In 2020, that path will take on a new look.

With an announcement Wednesday, NASCAR and ARCA unveiled the new ARCA Menards Series, which will encompass the three long-running regional stock car series, while also providing a new combined championship series.

What has been known as the K&N Pro Series East and West will become the ARCA Menards Series East and West. The current 20-race ARCA Menards Series will remain in place. And a 10-race slate within the latter will serve as a crossover for all three series, and crown a fourth champion of the ARCA Showdown.

The news is the next step that began with an announcement in April 2018 that NASCAR had acquired ARCA. Over the ensuing months, hours of research, on-track testing and meetings with stakeholders were poured into the process to come up with a series that would serve as one strong pathway for drivers aspiring to reach the next level of the sport while at the same time becoming a place where veteran short-track racers could find a home.

While they competed as separate series throughout 2019, both sides worked together to create the common platform.

Enter the ARCA Menards Series.

“Both NASCAR and ARCA have worked extremely hard over the last year to provide a rules package and schedule that will serve as the foundation for the pre-eminent series for racing at this level,” said Brandon Thompson, managing director, NASCAR touring series. “It was important for us to move the series forward while creating an environment inclusive for both the current long-term owners and drivers in the series as well as aspiring competitors.”

“What first started as a friendship between Bill France Sr. and John Marcum nearly 70 years ago took a momentous step forward today,” ARCA President Ron Drager said. “The amount of history and tradition these series are bringing together to form four elite championships for drivers is an amazing testament to the strength of this sport.”

NASCAR also announced if an East, West or current ARCA Menards Series car owner has a car that meets the 2019 Rule Book, there will be a rules package that will allow them to compete in 2020.

DRIVING SUCCESS AT THE GRASSROOTS LEVEL

In recent years, both the NASCAR Pro Series and ARCA Menards Series have become instrumental in developing the next crop of NASCAR Cup Series superstars. Like Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick before them, the likes of 2018 Cup Series champion Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman and Kyle Larson raced – and won – at this level.

Of the 12 remaining drivers in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs, 10 of them have won races in either series – accumulating 43 victories and four championships. The top eight NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff drivers have won races in either the NASCAR K&N Pro Series or ARCA Menards Series, with Justin Allgaier and Chase Briscoe being former champions.

With series that feature historic names such as Frank Kimmel, Hershel McGriff and Andy Santerre, the ability to create an environment where drivers can compete at this level for an extended period of time was equally important in the process.

From NASCAR to the Indianapolis 500, John Menard has found success supporting motorsports in the United States, and the opportunity to serve as the entitlement sponsor for this new broader entity fit perfectly into his desire to support grassroots racing.

MORE: Daytona, Midwest carry traditions into new era

“We’ve been a long-time racing sponsor at various levels including NASCAR, IndyCar and ARCA and are pleased to take our partnership with ARCA to the next level,” Menard said. “We like doing business together and share many of the same values and standards that have helped us survive and thrive through the years.”

K&N Engineering, which took over as the East and West entitlement sponsor in 2010 and helped further elevate the two regional series as a cohesive national stage, will remain a key entity in the sport as the “Official Performance Filter of NASCAR.”

NEW ERA EXTENDS RICH HISTORY

The new series provides continuity to three of the longest running high-level regional stock car series in the United States.

 The ARCA Menards Series West began in 1954 as the Pacific Coast Late Model Series. In what became more widely recognized during the NASCAR Winston West era, it produced short-track legends such as McGriff, Ray Elder and Roy Smith. Harvick won the championship in 1998, and in recent years, powerhouse Bill McAnally Racing and southern California car owner Bob Bruncati’s Sunrise Ford Racing have clashed in championship battles under the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West banner.

 ARCA Menards Series East was founded in 1987 as the NASCAR Busch North Series, a companion to the Charlotte-based NASCAR Busch Series. Northeast stars like Andy Santerre, Mike Stefanik and Ricky Craven dominated the Expanding to the East Series in 2006, it became a proving ground for the sport’s next top stars, beginning with Logano’s championship run in 2007 as a highly touted 16-year-old. Drivers such as Larson, Byron and Tyler Ankrum won East titles to kick off their ascent up the NASCAR ladder.

 The ARCA Menards Series, founded in 1953, is a mix of national series combination events and Midwest short tracks. Frank Kimmel won a record 10 championships between 1998 and 2013, while current Cup Series drivers Ty Dillon and Chris Buescher and 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Regular Season Champion Grant Enfinger took home championships in recent years.

While the complete 2020 race schedules for all four championships are still to be announced, Thompson and Drager confirmed a number of key events for the upcoming series.

 The 2020 ARCA Menards Series will officially begin Saturday, Feb. 8, at Daytona with the Lucas Oil 200 Driven By General Tire. It will mark the 57th annual ARCA visit to Daytona. The 10-race superspeedway portion of the schedule will include Talladega Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Pocono Raceway, and finish the season at Kansas Speedway in October.

 The ARCA Menards Series West will begin the season as part of the national series weekend at Las Vegas, with the return to the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The West slate will also include traditional events at Irwindale Speedway, All American Speedway in Roseville and Sonoma Raceway, with the championship culminating at ISM Raceway in November.

 The ARCA Menards Series East schedule includes events at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, as well as Toledo Speedway, Watkins Glen International and again be part of the annual Full Throttle Fall Weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. It will have its championship decided with its traditional fall visit to Dover International Speedway.

 The Showdown will take the green flag with ARCA’s inaugural visit to ISM Raceway on March 6 as part of the national series’ event weekend in Phoenix. The Showdown’s 10 races, which will also count as part of the 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule, features events at Indiana’s Salem Speedway, Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Minnesota’s Elko Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. Both Iowa and Gateway have hosted K&N Pro West combination races as well as ARCA events annually, and this in an opportunity for those tracks to bring all three series together. The first Showdown champion will be crowned at Memphis International Raceway in September.

In addition, NASCAR and MAVTV announced a three-year extension of its telecast rights agreement for select ARCA Menards Series races. The partnership, combined with the races covered on FOX Sports, means that all 20 ARCA Menards Series races — including the 10-race Showdown portion — will be available via live or same-day broadcast. NBCSN will continue to carry the ARCA Menards Series East and West as part of their extensive NASCAR coverage.

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Craig Lutz Breaks Into Victory Lane in NAPA Fall Final at Stafford

STAFFORD, Conn. — For the second straight year, the NAPA Fall Final at Stafford Motor Speedway produced a first-time NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour winner.

Craig Lutz took the lead from Doug Coby on a restart with 33 laps to go, and drove away from Coby, and defending series champion Justin Bonsignore, to earn his first career checkered flag in his 66th series start.

Prior to Sunday, Lutz had finished inside the top five in four of his 12 Stafford starts, including the last three. He had also finished inside the top five in eight of the 14 races in 2019.

For the first time, the Miller Place, New York, driver was able to celebrate a trophy.

“The first win is always special,” Lutz said. “Everyone kept on asking me when it was coming. To finally knock one off, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Lutz started ninth and rode inside the top 10 for the duration of the race, but shined when it mattered most. Chris Pasteryak earned his first career Mayhew Tools Dominator Pole award in qualifying, and led the first six laps, before Coby took control.

Bonsignore took the lead from Coby just before halfway, and paced the field until a caution just after lap 100, when leaders pitted multiple times for tires. It would be the only caution of the day that Coby, Bonsignore and Lutz entered pit road.

Pasteryak would lead eight more laps after cycling back to the lead, but couldn’t hold the top spot, as Coby slid by, then a restart gave Lutz his opportunity. Lutz passed Coby and never looked back, minding a gap back to Bonsignore for the final 10 laps.

“I just didn’t look in my mirror,” Lutz said. “I have an awesome spotter, who has a lot of experience, and he kept telling me to stay smooth and hit my marks. That’s what I kept doing.”

Bonsignore would finish second, while Coby settled for third. Chuck Hossfeld, who missed practice and qualifying on Saturday, charged from the rear of the field to finish fourth. Matt Swanson was fifth.

Ron Silk finished sixth, followed by Bobby Santos III, Woody Pitkat, Chase Dowling and Patrick Emerling.

Coby leads Bonsignore by 19 points with one championship points race remaining in search of his sixth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship.

The NAPA Fall Final 150 will air on NBCSN on Friday, October 4, at 7 p.m.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour returns to the track for the annual Sunoco World Series at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, the final race of the season, on Sunday, October 13.

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Derek Kraus Survives Meridian Carnage, Wins In Overtime

MERIDIAN, Idaho — The man to beat all season was the man to beat on Saturday night.

Derek Kraus charged up through the field from seventh to lead 100 laps and earn his fourth K&N Pro Series West victory this season, 12th overall of his career and first at Meridian Speedway in the NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208.

“Finally,” Kraus said with a smile. “It’s been a good year so far and tonight was just another short track race. There was lots of beating and banging, there were lots of yellows for sure. There were a lot of restarts, and I was able to get the lead over Jagger (Jones) about halfway through the race and I was able to keep it. That was really good, I’m really proud of how tonight went and I can’t thank these guys enough.”

Last season, Kraus led 189 of 208 laps from the pole, only to finish third after a late race incident with a lapped car. In three of his four K&N West wins this season, he’s led 100 laps or more.

But Kraus’ main competition was the man who led the most laps (121) on the evening from the pole: Jagger Jones.

With three laps to go in regulation, Kraus opted for the high lane on the restart, allowing Jones to take the bottom. The two made contact in Turns 1 and 2, and Kraus tapped Jones in Turn 3, sending him spinning, causing a massive pileup involving almost half the field.

“I’m sure he’s not very happy with me, but that’s racing,” Kraus said of the incident. “I’ve been on the other end of that and I know how it feels with Colorado. I’m sure he’s mad, and I’m sorry about it, but I guess that’s short track racing.”

Jones, understandably, wasn’t in the mood for apologies.

Following Kraus to the checkered flag was Todd Souza, who cleared the smoke to come home runner-up, his second-best career result. Trevor Huddleston did the same to finish third.

Josh Jackson, making his K&N debut, finished fourth after earning three free passes throughout the race, with Brad Kossow (also making his debut) rounding out the top five.

At the time of the green/white/checkered overtime restart, Josh Fanopoulos was running fourth, the highest he’s ever ran in a K&N Pro Series race. Despite being spun on the frontstretch on said restart, he earned his career best finish in sixth. Travis Milburn, Brittney Zamora, Zach Telford and Keith McGee completed the top 10.

Telford, a 15-year-old from Middleton, Idaho, was running second on the final lap before contact from Souza sent him spinning in Turn 2. He was making his first series start, as well.

The defending winner of the race, Hailie Deegan, got into some trouble of her own on Lap 132. After racing hard with Souza, she and Huddleston got together, giving her Bill McAnally Racing machine heavy nose damage. She ultimately finished 13th, 13 laps down.

Devin Dodson, who started a career-best fourth, finished 17th, 71 laps down after an accident on Lap 153 with Takuma Koga damaged the radiator.

In total, 12 caution flags flew for 70 laps, falling one yellow shy of the track record in 2016.

With the win, Kraus extends his championship points lead from 29 to 40. With his podium run and Deegan’s troubles, Huddleston now sits second in the standings, with Deegan third, Jones fourth and Zamora fifth.

The NAPA Auto Parts Idaho 208 is scheduled to be broadcast on NBCSN on Friday, October 4 at 6 p.m.

The next K&N Pro Series West event will take place at All American Speedway in Roseville, California on Saturday, October 12.