Hickory Champ McDaniel Evaluating 2014

Hickory Champ McDaniel Evaluating 2014

Repeat Champ Wants To Improve On The Road

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Austin McDaniel maintained his level of success at a challenging and historic NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track in 2013. He won his second consecutive NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model track championship at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

McDaniel, 24, of Harrisburg, N.C., is evaluating his plans for 2014. He’s wants to maintain success at Hickory, but wants to gain more experience and step-up his results at other tracks.

“We could run just the Zloop Big 10 Challenge Series races at Hickory and try to get experience and improve at some other southeastern tracks,” McDaniel said.

The Zloop series includes 10 100-lap Late Model specials within Hickory’s NASCAR Whelen All-American Series schedule. Separate track points and point fund are kept for the 10 events.

“Competition is getting tougher at Hickory,” McDaniel said. “We won five races in 2013 compared to nine in 2012. Guys like Shane Lee are coming up and drivers from other tracks are stopping in.”

Lee had a two-win season. He won the track and state rookie-of-the-year awards and finished second to McDaniel in the track point race. Lee is being mentored by 1997 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national champion Dexter Canipe.

“We’re at practice sessions or testing at Hickory during the week. We experiment with new ideas and set-ups, and evaluate what we’re doing. We’ve worked hard to be successful there,” McDaniel said.

He made a few starts at other tracks in 2013. His best performance was a pair of thirds in twin 50s at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway. He also had a couple of top-10s at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C. Those are some of the tracks where he’d like to improve his performance.

“When we traveled we felt like we were a little behind last year,” McDaniel said. “I’d like to get used to showing up somewhere and as a driver be able to adjust, figure them out and be competitive.”

McDaniel has been building his career since winning the track and state rookie-of-the-year award in 2011. Crew chief Jonathan Morrison joined him in his last Sportsman division races of 2010 and they won at Myrtle Beach. Tire specialist Terry Ellis came over from Dexter Canipe Jr.’s team in 2011. Completing the team are engine specialist Chris Harrington, Kenny Hatley, Eddie Westmoreland, McDaniel’s mom Stephanie and girlfriend Ashlyn. The team’s LTO Performance Warehouse chassis is owned by McDaniel’s father Brian and grandfathers David Traylor and James McDaniel. Harrington prepares the crate engine and the built engine is by Kevin Blank. Sponsors include Hendrick Honda of Hickory and Oz’s Jewelers.

McDaniel attends the University of North Carolina at Charlotte and is studying mechanical engineering. He’d like to make his career in racing or be a performance design engineer for an automobile manufacturer. He’s currently a service technician at Honda Cars of Concord.

The New Chase: Like It or Not, We’re Going to Watch

NASCAR President Mike Helton was at the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour presented by Charlotte Motor Speedway to comment on of the major competitive changes for 2014.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. – On Jan. 30, the last day of the NASCAR Sprint Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway, NASCAR CEO Brian France made the announcement we all knew was coming.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup format would be significantly altered this year, with the goal of putting more emphasis on winning during the entire season.

The field will be expanded to 16 drivers – all of whom are race winners. If all 16 are not race winners, the drivers who are highest in points will enter the Chase.

If there are 16 or more winners, ties will be broken by number of wins followed by Sprint Cup Series points.

The new Chase will have an “elimination” process under which the number of drivers in contention will decrease after every three races in the “playoff.”

The field will be reduced from 16 drivers to 12 after the first three races; from 12 to eight after the sixth race; from eight to four after the ninth race.

What is left at the final race of the year at Homestead-Miami will be a winner-take-all among the four drivers eligible for the title. The highest finisher among those four wins the championship.

Bonus points for leading laps will not count for the contenders at Homestead. The official finishing position alone will determine the champion.

Interestingly, all drivers eliminated during the course of the re-formatted Chase will be in contention for fifth place in the final standings – which comes with a handsome payday.

There’s more but I know you probably realize this, along with the “knockout” qualifying that will be utilized at most tracks in 2014, it is perhaps one of the most drastic competition changes NASCAR has ever made.

It’s not going to be welcomed or even accepted by everyone, including many fans.

NASCAR CEO Brian France was on hand to announce the shifts in NASCAR and to explain how the sanctioning body felt they could improve the sport.

“We always look down the road to put ourselves in the most competitive position we can for our fans,” France said. “We’ve worked for the last three years on this new format.

“We have now put more drivers in contention for a championship, one with a heavy emphasis on winning. We know our fans have stressed they want to see more rewards for victories.

“Traditional fans sometimes don’t like changes of any kind. But from our input from others, we think the vast majority of fans will welcome anything that creates better competition.

“Consistency is important in racing, particularly points racing. But fans want to see better competition with new strategies and especially with the emphasis on winning.”

France speculated that the teams are going to face a series of new tests in 2014. He said they are going to have to devise, at times, entirely new strategies. In order to win, and therefore assure themselves a spot in the Chase, along the way they are going to have to take chances they normally would not.

“They are going to have to race hard to win,” France said. “They face more risks and will have to adopt new strategies to meet those risks. And they will take those risks when necessary.

“No longer will riding around for points make much of a difference. Those days are gone.

“This is now a best-of-the-best, first-to-the finish line showdown, all of which is exactly what fans want.”

France added that the development of the new Chase was not accomplished without years of dialogue with drivers, teams and sponsor partners.

Most drivers welcome the new format and it won’t take much research to discover that speedways like it too.

The new system is essentially the same type of playoff mode already adopted – for a long time, by the way – by other professional and collegiate sports.

In 2014, after years of criticism and condemnation, college football will fall in line. Its BCS national champion will at last be determined by a playoff.

There will be glitches for NASCAR with its new system – perhaps it’s more accurate to say controversies will arise that it will have to address.

To win to make the Chase will indeed be a challenge for the teams. It is not beyond reality to suggest some of them may well cheat to get that victory. I don’t have to tell you it’s happened before – many times, in fact.

If it does happen, will NASCAR take the action it has seldom, very seldom, done before? Will it take the victory away from the offending team?

NASCAR President Mike Helton suggested that the organization has its policies in place and, yes, to revoke a win is one of them.

I’ve got news for you. Under this new Chase format any team caught manufacturing a win by unfair practices is going to lose that victory.

It has to; it simply must. If not the new Chase will be considered a sham. And, believe me, NASCAR knows this.

If I understand the new system correctly a driver who does not win in 2014 can still win the title.

If he is permitted to enter the Chase with no wins, it means that he’s No. 1 in points, or one of the highest without a victory.

Now, does it not stand to reason that he can finish among the top four in three of the elimination rounds, without a victory, and be one of the top four at Homestead?

And if he finishes higher than the other contenders there is he not the champion – even without a win?

OK, in all honesty, I confess there is much for me to learn. And the fact that a winner in any segment of the Chase is automatically eligible for the next one might remove my speculation.

But, I daresay, not all of it.

I could speculate a lot more and, to be honest, so could all of you.

You may like all of this. Or you may hate it. You may say it smacks of gimmicky. It’s your choice.

Either way, you are going to be like most of us.

Many of you are going to be just like me, so many other members of the media and your fellow fans.

We’re all going to watch and see what happens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NASCAR D4D Selects 2014 Class

NASCAR D4D Selects 2014 Class

NASCAR And Rev Racing Name Six Promising Drivers To Team

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR Drive for Diversity (D4D), the leading youth development program for multicultural and female drivers, will head into the 2014 season with one of the most well-rounded and accomplished rosters in program history.

The 2014 class is led by Daniel Suarez, who contended for two NASCAR touring series championships last year, and Ryan Gifford, who is coming off a successful 2013, in which he  earned his first NASCAR win and made his NASCAR national series debut. They will be joined by a group of talented newcomers looking to make their mark in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

“NASCAR is committed to providing training, competition experience and mentoring to drivers who without a doubt demonstrate the potential to compete at the highest levels of our sport through the academy-style program,” said Marcus Jadotte, NASCAR vice president of public affairs and multicultural development. “We look forward to another successful racing season with the Drive for Diversity team.”

In addition to Suarez and Gifford, Sergio Peña returns to the program in which he earned three wins and finished fifth in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points in 2011. They’ll be joined in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series ranks by Jay Beasley. Beasley won the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model track championship at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the series’ Nevada championship.

Devon Amos, who drove with Rev Racing’s Legends program last year, and Paige Decker will compete for the team in Late Models in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

“Our goal is to keep building upon our successes with every new class we select,” said Max Siegel, CEO of Rev Racing. “We are excited with the momentum built in 2013 with several D4D career milestones. This year’s class has a tough job ahead of them and we look forward to providing them with all the tools necessary to reach individual and collective successes across the board.”

D4D saw one the strongest pool of applicants the program has ever seen this year. Nearly 100 drivers, representing 14 states and Mexico, applied for an opportunity to try out for a spot with Rev Racing at the annual D4D Combine – a three-day tryout where drivers’ undergo physical assessments and are evaluated on on-track abilities by executives across the industry.

In 2013, D4D saw the impressive rise of graduates Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr.
Wallace became the first African-American to win a national series victory in nearly 50 years at Martinsville in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. And Larson, whose meteoric rise through the ranks solidified D4D as a driving powerhouse for developmental athletes at NASCAR, earned the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award in the NASCAR Nationwide Series as well as became the first D4D participant to secure a full-time ride in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. Larson was also the first D4D driver to secure a national series victory.

Rev Racing drivers in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series include:

Daniel Suárez: The Monterrey, Mexico, native is a member of the NASCAR Next program and joins Rev Racing for the second season. The 22-year-old finished third in the 2013 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship standings and was the championship runner-up in the NASCAR Mexico Toyota Series in 2013. He recorded his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win last July at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway.

Ryan Gifford: Another member of the NASCAR Next program, the 24-year-old from Winchester, Tenn., garnered his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win last season at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. In 2010 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, he became the first African-American driver to win a NASCAR K&N Pro Series East pole position. Additionally, he made his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut last August at Iowa Speedway, finishing ninth driving for Richard Childress Racing.

Jay Beasley: This 21-year-old from Las Vegas won the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Super Late Model track championship at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and the series’ Nevada championship on the strength of eight victories in 14 starts. He also earned the 2013 Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award as a result of his early success on the track.

Sergio Peña: With three career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East wins to his credit, the 21-year-old from Winchester, Va., has a pair of top-10 finishes in points for 2011-12 while collecting 19 top 10s in 39 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East career starts.

Drivers competing in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series include:

Paige Decker: From Eagle River, Wis., the 20-year-old driver competed in her Super Late Model at tracks throughout the Midwest.

Devon Amos: Competing mostly in a Legends car in 2013, the 22-year-old from Rio Rancho, N.M., scored a seventh-place finish in his stock car debut last summer at Hickory (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East kicks off its 2014 season at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 16. Two days later, on Tuesday, Feb. 18, the UNOH Battle At The Beach will take place on the .37-mile short track situated on the Superstretch at Daytona International Speedway. The NASCAR Whelen All-American Series drivers will compete primarily at Hickory Motor Speedway, where the season is scheduled to get underway on March 8.

Clouser Wins First New Smyrna NASCAR Title

Clouser Wins First New Smyrna NASCAR Title

Veteran Already Logging ’14 Whelen All-American Series Points

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Rich Clouser won the inaugural NASCAR Super Late Model track championship at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway in 2013 and he’s already two races into the track’s 2014 schedule and getting ready for more.

Clouser, 31, of Deland, Fla., posted top-10 finishes in the first two legs of the track’s Florida Triple Crown Series this month. He opened with a third-place finish in the Red Eye 100 on Jan. 4 and a 10th-place effort in the Pete Orr Memorial Orange Blossom 100 on Jan. 18. Travis Cope won both events. The Triple Crown Series concludes with the Bruce Gowland Memorial 100 Feb 22. That race is also the finale of the track’s 48th annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing Feb. 14-22.

The partnership between NASCAR and New Smyrna Speedway opened a new era in central Florida racing. Clouser, who was the defending division champion, wanted to be part of the historic 2013 season.

“I was very excited when the NASCAR sanction at New Smyrna was announced,” Clouser said. “It made us work even harder to win the championship because we wanted to be the first. What we didn’t know was what NASCAR does for the tracks and drivers.

“Going to the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series awards banquet in Charlotte blew every expectation I ever had out of the water,” he said of last month’s gala. “It made me wish NASCAR had come to New Smyrna 15 years ago.

“My wife Jenn and I couldn’t believe how we were treated. We were pampered. It was very organized and professional. Everything was spot-on. The hotel was beautiful. It was quite a getaway.”

Clouser placed sixth in the 2013 state points race with a record of four wins, 11 top fives and 11 top 10s in 13 starts. David Rogers won the state championship.

Clouser is a second generation driver and started racing with his father, Rick, in the Bomber division at the track in 1996. As his own racing career grew, his the elder Clouser backed off and eventually stopped competing in 1999.

Clouser holds a number of track championships. He was the New Smyrna Bomber division champion and rookie of the year in 1997, and won division titles at New Smyrna and Orlando Speedworld in 1998. He also won a Street Stock division championship in 2001 at DeSoto Speedway in Bradenton, Fla.

Clouser joined team owner Bobby Sears and his son, crew chief Danny Sears, in 2002. They won New Smyrna Speedway’s Limited Late Model division World Series championship in February 2003. They travelled the state with the former Goodyear Challenge Series in 2003-06 and won the series championship 2005-06. They eased back into racing at New Smyrna in the track’s Brighthouse Series of 100-lap features for Super Late Models and became fulltime weekly regulars in 2009. They placed second in Brighthouse Series points for five consecutive years.

The Sears’ business, Sanford (Fla.) Auto Dealers Exchange, is primary sponsor of their Chevrolet. The car is based on a Hamke chassis with an A.R. body and is powered by a CRE racing engine.

The Clousers have two children, who both compete in Quarter-Midgets on a tenth-mile paved oval on New Smyrna Speedway’s infield.

Falk Continues To Contend

Falk Continues To Contend

Recorded Fourth Langley Title, Top-10 National Finish

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — C.E. Falk III worked through challenges and variables during the 2013 season and still produced NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championship results.

Falk, 26, of Virginia Beach, Va., won his fourth NASCAR Late Model Stock Car track championship at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va. He also raced part-time at South Boston (Va.) Speedway. He’s been a top-10 finisher in the series’ national standings for five consecutive years and placed eighth in 2013.

Falk had momentum through the first half of last season, winning three times in his first eight starts. He ran his win total to seven before the calendar turned to July. Things changed by month’s end.

“I crashed our primary car at Langley,” Falk said. “We had a new car in the shop that was about two weeks from being complete. We had to finish it in two days for a test session at South Boston. It took a lot of hard work and a lot of people pitched in.”

He drove that new After Hours chassis for about a month while his primary car, a Creech chassis, was being repaired.

“We had a hard time getting the new car the way we wanted it,” Falk said. “It reacted differently than the primary car and we spent a lot of time working on the set-up.”

The primary car returned to action and was competitive, but Falk didn’t win again until his second-to-last race of the season at South Boston. The win came with a bonus. Track officials posted an increasing bounty to a driver who could win over eventual national champion Lee Pulliam. Pulliam dominated with 16 South Boston wins last year. Falk won the second of twin 75s on Aug. 31, and collected a $3,000 bounty in addition to the winner’s purse of $1,500. Pulliam placed seven in that race after winning the opening 75-lap feature.

Falk hopped back into his new car in post-season events, and believes it is set for 2014. He was among the leaders in October’s Virginia Is For Racing Lovers 300 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway when he was collected in an end-of-race accident.

“The car felt good,” Falk said. “I think it will be our workhorse in 2014.”

There was a big change for Falk and all the competitors at Langley Speedway in 2013. The track was repaved during the off season. In conjunction with new pavement, a new track tire was designated. Everyone had to learn new set-ups and all the nuances of the new asphalt and tire combination.

“We never really got ahold of it,” Falk said despite his six wins there. “A couple of guys were really fast. I’m just sorry I wasn’t one of them.

“We have a lot of good cars and drivers at Langley. The competition is strong. If your car was off, you’d finish sixth or seventh.

“We won the championship with good solid finishes. We didn’t have parts or engine failures and the crew made sure the car was strong when it went on the track,” Falk said.

While he didn’t win again at Langley after his mid-season accident, he had seven top-three finishes in the final nine starts. The other finishes were fifth and sixth.

Falk finished second to Pulliam in the Virginia state points race with a record of eight wins, 25 top-fives and 27 top-10s in 30 starts.

Falk plans a similar schedule for 2014 with the new After House chassis powered by a Clark’s Automotive engine.

The race car is fielded by Falk’s parents, Eddie and Susan Falk, via their E.F. Motorsports team. The driver’s brother, Wesley, is the crew chief. Team members include Troy Turnage, Jeremy Johnson, Cody Jones, Randy Armstrong, Gerald Beck, Jimmy Seay and Troy Mason. Sponsors for 2013 were Hampton Road Toyota Dealers, Racing Electronics, Strange Oval and Wilwood.

Falk’s offseason so far has been highlighted by off-the-track news. He became engaged to Kaliegh Shidler on December 22 and they plan to marry on New Year’s Eve this year.

Long Journey As Motorsports Journalist Leads To An Unexpected Honor

Motorsports Unplugged’s Steve Waid was inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame after 40 years as a journalist. He joins Richard Petty, left, as a member of the hall.

All of this is very personal.

Normally, I don’t like to write about myself in any way or fashion. It smacks of self-centeredness and ego.

But I think all writers at one time or another have made themselves subjects of commentaries because they believe they have an experience to share.

And they also believe readers just might be interested.

So that’s why I’m writing this. And I hope, indeed, you will be interested, informed and entertained.

I’ve been reporting and writing on motorsports, specifically NASCAR, for 40 years. When I first got on to the racing beat it was forced on me.

It was long ago – 1971 to be exact. I was a sports writer at a small Virginia newspaper, the Martinsville Bulletin. It was my first job out of college. I was paid $110 per week.

Being in Martinsville meant that I would have to contribute to the coverage of races at Martinsville Speedway, Henry County’s only professional sports venue – and one of NASCAR’s oldest tracks.

Did I say contribute to coverage? My sports editor (he and I were the only two guys in the department) informed me that I would have to cover the Grand National race on my own. That included practice, qualifying, the race; everything.

I was petrified. I had never seen a stock car race in my life. The extent of my knowledge was that I had heard of Richard Petty and Cale Yarborough.

But to move along, I managed to get through it rather well.

I was lucky. I’ve told this story many times. When I reported to the speedway as a raw rookie, the public relations director, Dick Thompson, immediately took me under his wing.

Thompson, considered one of the best in the business whose stellar reputation continued throughout his life, was smart enough to know he did not want his local sports writer to be a babe in the woods.

It would serve his track, its fans and the newspaper readers best if the local guy knew what the hell he was writing about.

Waid was inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame by his closest friend, longtime motorsports writer Tom Higgins, right, also a member of the Hall of Fame.

So Thompson personally taught me the nuances of racing. He took me around his track and pointed out its characteristics. He lectured me on strategy.

But he didn’t do it himself. He introduced me to people who could help me. The first person I met was driver Earl Brooks. I didn’t know a thing about him. I asked him one stupid question after another and he patiently answered me.

Afterward I became aware that Brooks was not one of NASCAR’s stars. But I never met a more cooperative interview; a man who was willing to offer his knowledge to a kid reporter.

And I also learned that he and Wendell Scott – the only African American to win a NASCAR race – were close friends and allies.

The second driver I ever met was Petty. When Thompson introduced me to Petty he smiled, shook my hand and told me, “Good luck and if I can ever help you, let me know.”

Over the many years after that fateful Martinsville weekend, he did. I certainly was not the only one.

After that beginning more than four decades ago, I was inducted into the National Motorsports Hall of Fame on Jan. 25, 2014.

It’s hard for me to explain my emotions.

How could I ever imagine I would be a part of a Hall of Fame that includes so many of the legends of NASCAR, the drivers, crew chiefs, owners and track promoters who helped make the sport what it is today?

I simply thought that my career as a motorsports journalist, which wound its way from Martinsville to Roanoke to a fledging publication known in 1981 as Grand National Scene – then with a circulation of 9,000 which grew to well more than 120,000 after it became an arm of one of the most massive publishing concerns in this country – was just that. It was just my career, no more and no less.

I was always smart enough to know that, especially with Scene, I might have had a leadership role.

So what? I was helped early in my career and thereafter. I never did anything by myself.

I was with Scene for 30 of its 34 years. And during that time the publication was blessed with many of the most talented and self-motivated editors, writers, photographers and graphics artists to be found anywhere. It’s little wonder that, to readers, Scene became the bible of NASCAR.

Don’t take my word for it. Consult the archives of the NMPA and the North Carolina Press Association. Look at their award winners. There you will find the names of Scene staffers, year after year after year.

I was inducted into the NMPA Hall of Fame with Mario Andretti and Ray Evernham, the former named the greatest driver of the 20th century and the latter readily recognized as one of the most innovative and greatest crew chiefs ever.

Then there was me.

How the hell did I get here?

Andretti and Evernham said, without hesitation, I belonged. As did so many other people who congratulated me.

Believe me I appreciated that.

But what was, and is, most important to me are the many congratulations and well wishes received from readers and fans of NASCAR.

For a journalist those are the highest compliments that can be received – ever.

And, as a guy who has the great fortune to do what he loves to do over four decades, I sincerely thank you all.

 

 

 

New Era For Motordrome

New Era For Motordrome

Melfi Leads Track Into 25th NASCAR Season

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — New owners will open Motordrome Speedway’s 25th season of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series affiliation on May 2.

The half-mile paved oval in Smithton, Pa., was purchased this month by Todd and Melissa Melfi. It will be operated by their corporate entity, Turn 4 Entertainment Inc. The track is located 20 minutes south of Pittsburgh within the city’s metropolitan area population of 2.3 million.

“We are excited to partner with Todd and Melissa as they begin a new era at Motordrome Speedway,” said Bob Duvall, NASCAR senior director, business development. “They’ve planned a careful course to build a great future for participants and fans.”

The Melfis have plenty of experience in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series track management.

Todd Melfi, a Pittsburgh native, helped conceive Lake Erie Speedway in North East, Pa. The state-of-the-art facility opened in 2002 and joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 2003. The Melfis were part of the track’s management team for five years. They departed when Todd became general manager of Iowa Speedway in Newton. He has a strong background in sports and entertainment marketing.

Melfi plans a course of stability and evaluation during Motordrome’s 2014 season. Friday night, five division racing continues for Late Models, Modifieds, Street Stocks, Chargers and Super Compacts.

The track’s sustained participation with the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is a natural part of Melfi’s plans.

“The core of Motordrome Speedway is weekly racing. The track has a longstanding history behind it. We’re going to build a solid future on that foundation. Our best opportunity to do that is with NASCAR,” Todd Melfi said. “NASCAR is the best known brand in racing. Its credibility is second to none. It’s the leading sanctioning body in motorsports. NASCAR gives us a greater chance to succeed.”

Motordrome Speedway opened as a half-mile dirt track in 1972. It was paved in 1989 and joined the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series in 1990. Steve Peles, Glenn Gault, Charlie Cragan, Jeff Dunmyer and Richard Mitchell all won NASCAR regional championships racing there. Garry Wiltrout won his second Late Model track championship in 2013.

James “Red” Miley bought the track in late 2001. Miley passed away at the start of the 2007 season and his family maintained the track’s weekly racing program. It was operated by Stan Lasky 2008-2013.

“The Miley and Lasky families have been committed to western Pennsylvania weekly racing for generations,” Duvall said. “The Melfis are well prepared to assume a leadership role. Motordrome Speedway will continue to be a staple for fans, competitors and sponsors.”

Established in 1982, the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is NASCAR’s national championship program for weekly short track auto racing. More than 50 paved and dirt tracks throughout the United States and Canada participate.

NASCAR-licensed Division I drivers are eligible to compete for NASCAR Whelen All-American Series championships and special awards at the track, state and national level. NASCAR special award programs are also available for support division drivers.

Pavement Late Model driver Lee Pulliam, 24, of Semora, N.C., won the 2013 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship.

Connecticut-based Whelen Engineering is the series’ title sponsor. Whelen Engineering is a leading manufacturer of automotive, aviation, industrial and emergency vehicle lighting. NASCAR tracks and pace cars across North America are among the many showcases for Whelen products.

More information on the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series is available at NASCARHomeTracks.com.

nwaas_motordrome_champs_012414

The 2013 Motordrome Speedway track champions include, from left, Matt Smith, Modifieds; A.J. Poljak, Street Stocks; Garry Wiltrout, Late Models; Jerod Brougher, Super Compacts; and Jonathon Hileman, Chargers. Courtesy Howie Balis

Pendleton Repeats As Columbus Champ

Pendleton Repeats As Columbus Champ

Busch Team Adds Second Car For 2014

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Chad Pendleton repeated as Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway’s Late Model division champion in 2013, but placed second to Bobby Justus in the state point race. He won both NASCAR Whelen All-American Series titles in 2012.

The comparison of the two seasons now motivates Pendleton to excel in 2014. His team expands this year with the intent of again being a factor in the track and state point races. They’ve been racing fulltime at Columbus and making about three starts a year at Kil-Kare Raceway in Xenia, Ohio.

“Everything we did at Kil-Kare in 2012 turned out good. Everything we did in 2013, we fell flat on our face,” Pendleton said. “We set a goal to finish every lap of every race. We really struggled the second half of the season.”

Bobby Justus won his first state championship in 2013 with Pendleton finishing 22 points behind. Pendleton, 33, of Grove City, Ohio, won the Columbus title over six-time track champion and 2009 state titlist Donnie Hill, and Justus.

Pendleton’s overall racing record for the season included four wins, 15 top-fives and 19 top-10s in 21 starts. His finishes of fifth, eighth and 14th at Kil-Kare and a season low of 16th at Columbus diluted his chances in the state point race.

“Using one car to race at both tracks is challenging,” Pendleton said. “They’re completely different, and you don’t want to wreck your car Friday and need to race it Saturday.”

Kil-Kare is a .375-mile irregularly shaped, variably banked track. Columbus is a circular third-mile slightly banked oval.

Pendleton’s car owners Gary and Connie Busch are providing a solution to the dilemma this year. They purchased an additional car, a 2010 Hamke chassis. Plans call for the new car to be raced fulltime at Columbus and the 2009 Lefthander raced with greater frequency at Kil-Kare.

“I’ve driven for Gary and Connie since 2006 and we’ve won at least one race every year,” Pendleton said. “We committed the funding to go racing the right way three years ago and we’re stepping up again. We hope we can have a better outcome in the state point race this year. The level of competition at Columbus is as strong as I’ve seen it in years. People are dedicated to their racing programs.”

Pendleton will be reducing his already part-time Modified division racing at Columbus this year. His Modified car owner Steve Scott has added a NASCAR Late Model to his stable. The new ride and possibly a driver new to the division will get more of Scott’s attention. Modified team members include Tim Scott and Gary Franks. Gary Busch is crew chief for Pendleton’s Late Model. Crew members include Chad Webb, Nick Brown and Connie Busch. Sponsors include Shamrock Towing, Joe’s Automobile Repair and Sports On Tap.

Pendleton began his career as a four-year-old in Quarter Midgets and worked his way through Dwarf cars. He got his first NASCAR license at age 16 and was rookie-of-the-year in the Sportsman division. He competed in Modified and Late Model events around the state until he joined the Busch team in 2006.

Dillner-Hughes Racing Joins Southern Tour

Dillner-Hughes Racing Joins Southern Tour

Measmer To Compete For NWSMT Rookie Of The Year

CONCORD, N.C. – Dillner-Hughes Racing is excited to announce plans to compete full time on the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour for the 2014 season with an eye on capturing the Sunoco Rookie of the Year title for driver Bobby Measmer, Jr.
 
The Concord, North Carolina-based team recently acquired a Troyer Modified that will don the team’s staple No. 51 in its debut season on the open-wheeled NASCAR series.
 
“While we have campaigned a successful Super Late Model team in the Southeast in recent years, the NASCAR Modifieds have always been close to my heart,” said DHR co-owner and NASCAR on FOX Sports broadcaster Bob Dillner.  “I grew up watching the legends of Modified racing compete on the bullrings of the Northeast with my family.  I have covered the Tour early in my career with Area Auto Racing News and Speedway Scene and also during my career in the broadcast booth.  Through that time, I have always wanted to campaign my own car on the Tour.  This is a great time to make our move to the ranks of the ‘Groundpounders’ and we’re excited to compete for Rookie of the Year with Bobby.”
 
Dillner-Hughes Racing was formed when Dillner’s BDI Racing and Kevin Hughes’ Hughes Motorsports merged operations in 2012 and competed in various Super Late Model tours throughout the Southeast.  Strong finishes in the fendered-car ranks soon followed and continued through the 2013 season.  But when the opportunity to move to the NASCAR Modified ranks arose following the 2013 campaign, it was one that the team couldn’t pass up.
 
“I also grew up watching the Modifieds at my local track and can’t wait to be a part of this historic series,” said DHR co-owner Kevin Hughes, the Director of Motorsports Communications at Racing Electronics.  “We will still have a Super Late Model to campaign in select events in the Southeast in 2014, but our focus will be competing at the highest level in the NWSMT.  We are all excited for our new venture with the type of car that is so important to Bob (Dillner) and I.”
 
The Dillner-Hughes Racing No. 51 Modified will be driven by 28-year-old Bobby Measmer, Jr. of Concord, North Carolina.  Measmer has piloted the DHR entries since the team was formed in 2012.  The driver captured a NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Pro Late Model track championship at Concord Speedway in North Carolina in 2011 and a Limited Late Model title in 2007.  Measmer, who spends his days working on NASCAR Sprint Cup Series cars at Stewart-Haas Racing, is a veteran of the fendered-car wars throughout the Southeast, but he is still excited about joining the NASCAR Modified ranks.
 
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to compete at this level,” said Measmer.  “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of these awesome machines. I believe with the equipment we will have and the support of Bob, his wife Angie (Dillner), Kevin and the team, we have put ourselves in a competitive position right out of the gate.”
 
Dillner-Hughes Racing will begin its chase for the 2014 Rookie of the Year title in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour when the schedule opens March 9 at North Carolina’s Caraway Speedway.  The NWSMT schedule features 15 points events at tracks in the Southeast, ranging from bullrings like Bowman Gray Stadium (NC) and Langley Speedway (VA) to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series facilities such as Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) and Charlotte Motor Speedway.
 
Sponsorship opportunities are available for the 2014 season. For more information on Dillner-Hughes Racing and/or Bobby Measmer, Jr., please contact Kevin Hughes at kevin@racingelectronics.com.  The team is currently designing a new website through 51 Sports, but you can find out more information thought its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/dhr1451.

Larson Adds To Championship Total

Larson Adds To Championship Total

Fourth Cedar Lake Title For All-American Series Standout

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Brent Larson topped his 20th year of racing in 2013 with a fourth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series dirt Late Model title at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis.

Larson, 37, of Lake Elmo, Minn., debuted a new Larry Shaw Race Cars chassis last year that included a lot of his own personal touches.

“I feel like the last two or three years I’ve been building by trial and error as my own (research and development) program. Last year I took all the things we learned and built them into a chassis myself,” Larson said.

He completed the job over a couple of long days at the Shaw plant in Batesville, Ark.

“I wasn’t working on a specific area of the car,” Larson said. “I took an overview of the car. I tried to think of the car as a whole, not just the front or back.”

Larson’s expertise brought results.

“Our 2012 car was a top-five car. It wasn’t really fast. I built the new car with all those ideas and it was very fast. In 2013 we had the fastest car there on most nights.”

His record for the weather-delayed season was five wins, eight top-fives and 11 top-10s in 12 starts.

The focus on his Late Model took attention away from completing a new Modified for 2013. That car didn’t hit the track until the post-season specials arrived.

Larson began his career at age 16 in 1993. His father, Dennis, was a two-time Limited Late Model champion. Larson won his first career track championship as a third-year Super Stock division driver. He moved up to Late Models the following season. He won other track and dirt Late Model series races and championships before settling in to Cedar Lake Speedway several years ago. Larson won the 2008 and 2009 NASCAR state championships and the 2008 track title. He won both the Modified and Late Model track titles in 2012. He won one other Cedar Lake Late Model title prior to NASCAR sanction.

Larson is owner-driver of his Late Model. His Pro Power engines are owned by his parents, Carol and Dennis Larson. Jim Weeks is crew chief and team members include Tyler Warnke, Jim Davis and Nate Kirchner. He also counts his children, Mady and Matthew, as team members. Sponsors include Olson Carriers, HANCO Corp., Wescott Auto Sales and Twin City Pallet.

He operates Quality Fab Inc., a sheet metal fabrication company specializing in dirt Late Model bodies.

Larson plans to open the season running fulltime at Cedar Lake while making frequent dirt Modified touring series starts. Early season results will dictate where he’ll focus for the balance of the season.

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Brent Larson powers off a turn at Cedar Lake Speedway in New Richmond, Wis. Courtesy Vince Peterson/Track Rat Photos

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