2018 Schedule Unveiled For Pinty’s Series

2018 Schedule Unveiled For Pinty’s Series

Includes First Race In U.S.; Championship Finale Set For Jukasa

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will open at one of the preeminent road-course venues in North America, include the series’ first championship points race in the United States, and will conclude at historic and refurbished Jukasa Motor Speedway in Ontario. The 2018 schedule, which was announced today, will feature some of the country’s iconic tracks and will crown Canada’s stock car champion over the course of 13 races from Nova Scotia to Alberta.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will enter its 12th season and the 2018 calendar will host events five Canadian provinces, with nine oval track events and five road-course races. 

“The NASCAR Pinty’s Series continues to grow as new talent comes into the series and challenges some of the country’s best stock car drivers,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “The 2018 schedule provides a strong platform for these competitors to showcase their driving and covers a number of high-profile events designed to further enhance the series.”

One of those opportunities is the series’ inclusion in the September showcase event at New Hampshire. The 100-lap race for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be on Saturday, Sept. 22, and will be part of a triple-header with the U.S.-based NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

Jukasa, formerly known as Cayuga Speedway, returned to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series schedule in 2017. The .625-mile paved oval will host two events in 2018: The season’s second race on Saturday, June 16 and the finale on Saturday, Sept. 29.

The championship schedule once again kicks off with the traditional season-opening weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, on Victoria’s Day Weekend (May 20). CTMP, the 2.459-mile road course that opened in 1961 and has hosted some of the world’s top racing series over the years, will again include the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on Aug. 26 as part of the popular weekend event with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Other highlights of the 2018 schedule include:

• Two of the highest profile road course events will again highlight the season. The streets of Toronto will see the NASCAR Pinty’s Series play a big part of the Honda Toronto weekend with its event on Saturday, July 14. And Circuit de Trois-Rivieres will bring the series to its technical Quebec street course on Sunday, Aug. 12. 

•  A trio of bullrings – Quebec’s high-banked quarter-mile, Autodrome Chaudière (Saturday, June 30); Nova Scotia’s high-banked third-mile, Riverside International Speedway (Saturday, Aug. 18) and the .4-mile Autodrome Saint-Eustache (Saturday, Sept. 8) will test the driver’s mettle.

• The annual trip West for the series will again include three races at two venues. Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, will host two 125-lap features as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday, July 25, before the series heads to Alberta and Edmonton International Raceway on Saturday, July 28.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series television broadcast schedule on TSN and RDS will be announced at a later date.

2018 NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES SCHEDULE

*125-lap twin features
SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

2018 Schedule Unveiled For Pinty’s Series

2018 Schedule Unveiled For Pinty’s Series

Includes First Race In U.S.; Championship Finale Set For Jukasa

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will open at one of the preeminent road-course venues in North America, include the series’ first championship points race in the United States, and will conclude at historic and refurbished Jukasa Motor Speedway in Ontario. The 2018 schedule, which was announced today, will feature some of the country’s iconic tracks and will crown Canada’s stock car champion over the course of 13 races from Nova Scotia to Alberta.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will enter its 12th season and the 2018 calendar will host events five Canadian provinces, with nine oval track events and five road-course races. 

“The NASCAR Pinty’s Series continues to grow as new talent comes into the series and challenges some of the country’s best stock car drivers,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “The 2018 schedule provides a strong platform for these competitors to showcase their driving and covers a number of high-profile events designed to further enhance the series.”

One of those opportunities is the series’ inclusion in the September showcase event at New Hampshire. The 100-lap race for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be on Saturday, Sept. 22, and will be part of a triple-header with the U.S.-based NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

Jukasa, formerly known as Cayuga Speedway, returned to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series schedule in 2017. The .625-mile paved oval will host two events in 2018: The season’s second race on Saturday, June 16 and the finale on Saturday, Sept. 29.

The championship schedule once again kicks off with the traditional season-opening weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, on Victoria’s Day Weekend (May 20). CTMP, the 2.459-mile road course that opened in 1961 and has hosted some of the world’s top racing series over the years, will again include the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on Aug. 26 as part of the popular weekend event with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Other highlights of the 2018 schedule include:

• Two of the highest profile road course events will again highlight the season. The streets of Toronto will see the NASCAR Pinty’s Series play a big part of the Honda Toronto weekend with its event on Saturday, July 14. And Circuit de Trois-Rivieres will bring the series to its technical Quebec street course on Sunday, Aug. 12. 

•  A trio of bullrings – Quebec’s high-banked quarter-mile, Autodrome Chaudière (Saturday, June 30); Nova Scotia’s high-banked third-mile, Riverside International Speedway (Saturday, Aug. 18) and the .4-mile Autodrome Saint-Eustache (Saturday, Sept. 8) will test the driver’s mettle.

• The annual trip West for the series will again include three races at two venues. Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, will host two 125-lap features as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday, July 25, before the series heads to Alberta and Edmonton International Raceway on Saturday, July 28.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series television broadcast schedule on TSN and RDS will be announced at a later date.

2018 NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES SCHEDULE

*125-lap twin features
SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

2018 Schedule Unveiled For Pinty’s Series

2018 Schedule Unveiled For Pinty’s Series

Includes First Race In U.S.; Championship Finale Set For Jukasa

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will open at one of the preeminent road-course venues in North America, include the series’ first championship points race in the United States, and will conclude at historic and refurbished Jukasa Motor Speedway in Ontario. The 2018 schedule, which was announced today, will feature some of the country’s iconic tracks and will crown Canada’s stock car champion over the course of 13 races from Nova Scotia to Alberta.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will enter its 12th season and the 2018 calendar will host events five Canadian provinces, with nine oval track events and five road-course races. 

“The NASCAR Pinty’s Series continues to grow as new talent comes into the series and challenges some of the country’s best stock car drivers,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “The 2018 schedule provides a strong platform for these competitors to showcase their driving and covers a number of high-profile events designed to further enhance the series.”

One of those opportunities is the series’ inclusion in the September showcase event at New Hampshire. The 100-lap race for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be on Saturday, Sept. 22, and will be part of a triple-header with the U.S.-based NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

Jukasa, formerly known as Cayuga Speedway, returned to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series schedule in 2017. The .625-mile paved oval will host two events in 2018: The season’s second race on Saturday, June 16 and the finale on Saturday, Sept. 29.

The championship schedule once again kicks off with the traditional season-opening weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, on Victoria’s Day Weekend (May 20). CTMP, the 2.459-mile road course that opened in 1961 and has hosted some of the world’s top racing series over the years, will again include the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on Aug. 26 as part of the popular weekend event with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Other highlights of the 2018 schedule include:

• Two of the highest profile road course events will again highlight the season. The streets of Toronto will see the NASCAR Pinty’s Series play a big part of the Honda Toronto weekend with its event on Saturday, July 14. And Circuit de Trois-Rivieres will bring the series to its technical Quebec street course on Sunday, Aug. 12. 

•  A trio of bullrings – Quebec’s high-banked quarter-mile, Autodrome Chaudière (Saturday, June 30); Nova Scotia’s high-banked third-mile, Riverside International Speedway (Saturday, Aug. 18) and the .4-mile Autodrome Saint-Eustache (Saturday, Sept. 8) will test the driver’s mettle.

• The annual trip West for the series will again include three races at two venues. Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, will host two 125-lap features as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday, July 25, before the series heads to Alberta and Edmonton International Raceway on Saturday, July 28.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series television broadcast schedule on TSN and RDS will be announced at a later date.

2018 NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES SCHEDULE

*125-lap twin features
SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

2018 Schedule Unveiled For Pinty’s Series

2018 Schedule Unveiled For Pinty’s Series

Includes First Race In U.S.; Championship Finale Set For Jukasa

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will open at one of the preeminent road-course venues in North America, include the series’ first championship points race in the United States, and will conclude at historic and refurbished Jukasa Motor Speedway in Ontario. The 2018 schedule, which was announced today, will feature some of the country’s iconic tracks and will crown Canada’s stock car champion over the course of 13 races from Nova Scotia to Alberta.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will enter its 12th season and the 2018 calendar will host events five Canadian provinces, with nine oval track events and five road-course races. 

“The NASCAR Pinty’s Series continues to grow as new talent comes into the series and challenges some of the country’s best stock car drivers,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “The 2018 schedule provides a strong platform for these competitors to showcase their driving and covers a number of high-profile events designed to further enhance the series.”

One of those opportunities is the series’ inclusion in the September showcase event at New Hampshire. The 100-lap race for the NASCAR Pinty’s Series will be on Saturday, Sept. 22, and will be part of a triple-header with the U.S.-based NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

Jukasa, formerly known as Cayuga Speedway, returned to the NASCAR Pinty’s Series schedule in 2017. The .625-mile paved oval will host two events in 2018: The season’s second race on Saturday, June 16 and the finale on Saturday, Sept. 29.

The championship schedule once again kicks off with the traditional season-opening weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, on Victoria’s Day Weekend (May 20). CTMP, the 2.459-mile road course that opened in 1961 and has hosted some of the world’s top racing series over the years, will again include the NASCAR Pinty’s Series on Aug. 26 as part of the popular weekend event with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Other highlights of the 2018 schedule include:

• Two of the highest profile road course events will again highlight the season. The streets of Toronto will see the NASCAR Pinty’s Series play a big part of the Honda Toronto weekend with its event on Saturday, July 14. And Circuit de Trois-Rivieres will bring the series to its technical Quebec street course on Sunday, Aug. 12. 

•  A trio of bullrings – Quebec’s high-banked quarter-mile, Autodrome Chaudière (Saturday, June 30); Nova Scotia’s high-banked third-mile, Riverside International Speedway (Saturday, Aug. 18) and the .4-mile Autodrome Saint-Eustache (Saturday, Sept. 8) will test the driver’s mettle.

• The annual trip West for the series will again include three races at two venues. Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, will host two 125-lap features as part of a doubleheader on Wednesday, July 25, before the series heads to Alberta and Edmonton International Raceway on Saturday, July 28.

The NASCAR Pinty’s Series television broadcast schedule on TSN and RDS will be announced at a later date.

2018 NASCAR PINTY’S SERIES SCHEDULE

*125-lap twin features
SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

NWES Unveils The Nations Cup

NWES Unveils The Nations Cup

Continues International Development By Launching New National Teams Classification

The official NASCAR Series in Europe unveiled today a brand new classification: the Nations Cup, designed to further enhance the competition by rewarding the best national teams and provide race fans even more motivation to cheer for their favorite drivers.

With 21 countries represented on the grid by more than 60 drivers, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is one of the most international championships in motorsports. The 2017 season saw the first non-European driver win the Euro NASCAR title thanks to Alon Day, confirming NWES as the ideal path to a NASCAR career for drivers coming from all over the world.

Providing a fantastic opportunity for drivers and teams to compete for their country, the Nations Cup will reward with Gold, Silver and Bronze medals the competitors representing the three highest scoring nations for each weekend. 

The classification will be based on the addition of the points scored by the best finishing driver for each country in the four races constituting the NWES meetings, giving competitors and fans the chance to get together under their national flags.

“These past years, we have seen the NWES attracting more and more drivers and fans from all over the world. The Nation Cup will accompany this process and create emphasis for our drivers and teams on their National stage. We can rely on our fans to bring great support to their National team,” said Jerome Galpin, NASCAR Whelen Euro Series President / CEO.

The first appointment with the new Nations Cup is for April 14-15, 2018 when the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will open the season at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain. Bring your flags to track, race fans!


Credits: NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard

2018 Schedule For Whelen Mods Announced

2018 Schedule For Whelen Mods Announced

Opener Set For Myrtle Beach; NHMS Extra-Distance Event On Tap

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will take the green flag on the 2018 season at South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach Speedway in March, and the schedule will feature 16 championship points races at nine different venues.

The champion will once again be crowned at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park, as the .625-mile hosts the 56th Sunoco World Series of Speedway Racing on Sunday, Oct. 14.

The calendar spotlight’s some of the northeast’s iconic short tracks, includes three fast southern venues and features the longest distance race in tour history as the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour takes center stage at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September for a 250-lap showdown.

“Year in and year out, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour puts on some of the most exciting and pulse-pounding action in racing, and we are looking forward to the 2018 season,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR senior vice president of racing operations. “We’ve made some tweaks in the dates to alleviate some of the schedule congestion and better help teams work through the season. In 2017, we saw six drivers enter the final race of the season with a shot at the title, and we’re eager to watch that high level of competition continuing next season.”

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour’s return to Seekonk Speedway in Massachusetts has been moved from August to June 2. The date change means the tour will only have one instance where it will race three weeks in a row, and will have at least a weekend off between races on 10 different occasions.

Last year, the tour began its new unified era with the season opener at Myrtle Beach. South Carolina’s semi-banked half-mile oval held its first NASCAR event in 1958, and will once again host the opener on Saturday, March 17.

Earlier this summer, NASCAR and New Hampshire Motor Speedway announced the tour will be the headliner on Saturday, Sept. 22 as part of a special event that will also include the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR Pinty’s Series.

The NASCAR Whelen Modifeid Tour will also visit New Hampshire in July with a championship points race as well as the annual invitational, non-points All-Star Shootout. The tour will also be part of the national series weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway in August.

After Myrtle Beach, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour will return to New England for two of the staple weekends of the early racing season: The 44rd Annual Icebreaker at Thompson and the 47th Annual NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler at Connecticut’s Stafford Motor Speedway.

The tour will make four stops at Thompson, and three at Stafford.

The tour schedule also features two races at Long Island’s Riverhead Raceway, a bullring known for their high-intensity, close-quarters Modified action, as well as return trips to New York’s Oswego Speedway and Virgina’s Langley Speedway in Hampton.

The NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour television broadcast schedule on NBCSN will be announced at a later date.

*non-points, special events | SCHEDULE SUBJECT TO CHANGE

Career-Year Finally Nets Titles For Robertson

Career-Year Finally Nets Titles For Robertson

Wins Super Late Model Title At Colorado National & State Crown

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It took a bit longer than he would have liked, but Darren Robertson is finally able to call himself a champion.

Robertson, 31, secured his first NASCAR track championship this year at Colorado National Speedway in Dacono, Colorado. It was a long time coming for the third-generation racer, who also secured the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Colorado championship this season.

“It feels great obviously,” said Robertson. “I’ve come close to winning both of them many, many times and this is the first time for both of them. It’s definitely like a weight off my shoulders, really. We’ve been second and had really good years going and something stupid has happened. A wreck, broken motors and part failures or something.”

That didn’t happen this year as Robertson put together one of the best seasons of his career at Colorado National. Robertson won five times and rarely finished off the podium, allowing him to capture the track championship by 33 points over Jace Hansen.

The Colorado championship came as a result of that same consistency. In 13 starts atColorado National, Robertson finished inside the top-five 12 times and collected 13 top-10 finishes. He also finished fourth at I-25 Speedway in Pueblo, Colorado. That allowed him to best Hansen for the Colorado championship by 39 points.

U.S. state and province champions are determined by the best 18 finishes at tracks within the respective state or province.

By claiming his first track championship, Robertson joined his grandfather, Odie, and his father, Jerry, as a track champion at the .375-mile asphalt oval. If the name Jerry Robertson sounds familiar, it’s because he was instrumental in the formation of the powerhouse Furniture Row Racing team, which now competes in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

“Barney (Visser, Furniture Row owner) actually bought a race car, a modified, and he had no racing experience,” the younger Robertson explained. “He bought a modified in 2004 and he was referred over to my dad’s shop to have it worked on so he could fit in the seat. He’s a big guy, he’s tall, so he needed the foot box extended and the seat moved back. 

“My dad worked on his car and they just kind of became friends. Barney asked my dad what his goals were and my dad told him. My dad didn’t know that he was (the owner of) Furniture Row. My dad told him and a couple weeks went by and then he and my dad flew to Charlotte and bought some cars and they started Furniture Row Racing. My dad drove for them for the next three years in what is now the XFINITY Series.”

Following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, both of whom are members of the Colorado Motorsports Hall of Fame, is something the younger Robertson says came naturally. 

“Naturally since I grew up I watched him race,” Robertson said. “When I got about 13, 14 or 15 years old I started working in the shop with him. Naturally I loved it, so naturally I got into it. 

“He’s real proud,” Robertson continued. “He helps us work on the car and gives us ideas on what to do. He’s there to lean on when I have questions at the race track. He’s definitely involved and proud.”

Robertson has had championship caliber seasons before, including in 2007 when he won seven times, but a change in the championship format bit him at the end of the year and cost him a chance at his first championship.

“In 2007, we won seven features out here and we had a 100 point lead over second place and the track did a chase format with the last five races,” Robertson recalled. “I won the first one, finished third in the second one and in the third race I got involved in a wreck and that completely eliminated me out of the points. We feel like we would have won that one for sure had it been a normal points situation.”

Close calls like that fueled Robertson, whose No. 11 was sponsored by Automatic Garage Door Inc., Palomino Industries, Alreco Aluminum Surplus, to keep chasing championships. This year he finally succeeded and he has earned the opportunity to travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, for the NASCAR HomeTracks Awards on Dec. 8 at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“Obviously being able to go down to Charlotte, where the racing hub is, is exciting,” Robertson said. “To be recognized and go to ceremonies…we got the email about what the dress code is and it sounds like a pretty formal dinner and ceremony. It’ll be fun and we’re all looking forward to that, for sure.”

nwaas_colorado_robertson_car_111417

NASCAR: Kenseth Closes Career with Classy Can-Am 500 Victory

Matt Kenseth delivers a stirring emotional victory in the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday (Photo: Sherri Swann-Bottano/Motorsports Unplugged)

Matt Kenseth delivers a stirring emotional victory in the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway on Sunday (Photo: Sherri Swann-Bottano/Motorsports Unplugged)

In likely his final NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway, Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, smoothly slid past Chase Elliott with less than 10 laps remaining in Sunday’s Can-Am 500, spoiling Elliott’s potential Cinderella ticket to the Championship 4 playoff finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

For the former Cup Champion Kenseth, the victory was a stellar way to put a ribbon on his Hall of Fame racing career, as he busted a 51-race winless drought.  Kenseth certainly soaked in the Victory Lane celebration, with both smiles and tears of joy.

“It couldn’t be any sweeter,” shared Kenseth, who confirmed what everyone saw coming, namely that he would be stepping away from racing in 2018, primarily due to shortage of sponsorship to fund a championship caliber ride.  Kenseth continued, “We got one race left and (this is) a great way to go out.  I’ve been so incredibly blessed my whole career to have had so many great people work with me.”

The Can-Am 500 semifinal race showcased the best of NASCAR, with classy tributes and fresh, robust racing in full effect:

The rising talent among the sport’s future stars indeed shines bright, with both Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney running in the top 10 most of the day, and each just coming up short of punching their Championship ticket to Homestead.

Just missing his ticket to Homestead, Chase Elliott exudes class by congratulating Matt Kenseth immediately afterward in Gatorade Victory Lane (Photo: Sherri Swann-Bottano/MotorsportsUnplugged)

Chase Elliott exudes class by congratulating Matt Kenseth immediately afterward in Victory Lane (Photo: Sherri Swann-Bottano/Motorsports Unplugged)

Both these young guns carried themselves with the noble pedigree of their racing families, appealing to legions of new fans following their every move both on track and in the garage at Phoenix.  Blaney flashed his raw talent by qualifying on the pole, and Elliott whipped fans into a frenzy with an eruption of cheers rivaling those typically reserved for Dale Earnhardt Jr, as he ripped the lead from Denny Hamlin with a flurry of bold racing moves in the late stages of the race.

Most impressively, both Elliott and Blaney made classy trips to victory lane to congratulate Kenseth on his win and commend him for his driving prowess.  Kenseth responded to their overtures by saying, “It was pretty neat to have a lot of your peers come and congratulate you, and even at the end to be able to drive by all the fans and … actually hear them yelling over the car and hear them in the window,” Kenseth declared.  “I mean, it was just a really, really special day for a lot of reasons.”

Brad Keselowski barely points his way into the Championship 4 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but recognizes that his Penske Racing Team will need to step up their game if he is to claim his second title. (Photo: Sherri Swann-Bottano/MotorsportsUnplugged)

Brad Keselowski recognizes that his Penske Racing Team will need to step up their game if he is to claim his second title. (Photo: Sherri Swann-Bottano/Motorsports Unplugged)

Fighting an ill-handling car and mired in traffic, Brad Keselowski clawed his way to a 16th-place finish in Sunday’s Can-Am 500, securing the last spot to join Martin Truex Jr, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch to run for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship.  Keselowski grasped that he had dodged the elimination bullet, and grimaced after the race knowing the formidable challengers that await him at next Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“We overcame a lot of obstacles and jumped a lot of hurdles today,” shared Keselowski.  “I’m glad I don’t have to relive this day, that is for sure.  I am just looking forward to going to Homestead.  This feels a little bit like Christmas.”

Overshadowed by the playoff drama were several stout finishes by drivers eliminated in earlier playoff rounds, including Chip Ganassi Racing’s Jamie McMurray, who finished 6th, right behind last week’s winner and reigning Phoenix master Kevin Harvick, as well as Roush Fenway Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr who finished 8th.  With dominant storylines linked to playoff advancement, these purged drivers often fall below the radar in terms of media coverage.

Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, battled in close proximity with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Stewart-Hass Ford, throughout the day (Photo: Sherri Swann-Bottano/MotorsportsUnplugged)

Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevy, battled in close proximity with Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Stewart-Hass Ford, throughout the day (Photo: Sherri Swann-Bottano/Motorsports Unplugged)

Having transformed into the jewel of the desert, Phoenix Raceway has emerged as the must-see stopover with yet another sold-out crowd.  For fans, this racing experience will escalate in 2018, as the track is progressing rapidly forward on its nearly $180 million renovation project with many changes already on display.  Beginning January 2018, Phoenix Raceway will be known as ISM Raceway, thanks to a multi-year partnership with ISM Connect, a pioneer in smart venue technology.

A circuit reconfiguration will result in the current backstretch becoming the frontstretch, with the start-finish line moving just beyond the renowned “dogleg” segment, ideally creating a rousing racing curve.  New suites, midway, grandstands, and a reimagined infield will offer fans unprecedented access, including direct viewing of garage activity and the drivers’ pre-race meeting, combined with the first motorsports venue to have Wi-Fi throughout the facility.  If you’re considering coming to Zoomtown USA, buy your tickets early or be disappointed.

By Ron Bottano

Let’s connect on Twitter at @rbottano.

 

Darling Dominates at Seekonk

Darling Dominates at Seekonk

Scores Eight Wins En Route To Fifth Track Title

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — After a few years off from from the top of Seekonk Speedway’s Pro Stock division, David Darling returned to his prime form in 2017 at the Massachusetts’ track. In 16 races as part of the NASCAR Whelen All American Series Division I class, Darling went to Victory Lane eight times and only finished outside the top five twice. He captured the checkered flag in the final four points races, completing a dream season in style. 

“There was a lot of work in the winter to get there, we brought on someone to help us, Jeff Belyea, he really helped us figure these new-style (Super Late Model) setups out. We bought a brand new car and we put that together over the winter and we went to the track with a gameplan of making sure we had the best of everything we could,” Darling said of his season. “We put the money in the places we thought was best and we went to the track ready to compete every week, planning to be the fastest car. If you can do that, you can make your job easier as a driver and as a team. You still can’t control the outcome of the races and the luck and you never know how fast you actually will be. We obviously had some luck fall in our way in certain situations in order for us to have a good year.”

Darling season included a finish inside the top 10 each week and most of the time, he was battling at the front when the race came to a close. Although his season was filled with glory, it wasn’t as easy as it would look from the outside. Seekonk’s Super Late Model contingent is one of the best in New England, as Darling acknowledges. Ryan Vanasse and Tom Scully Jr., who finished second and third in points, both visited Victory Lane and gave Darling everything he could handle. 

“It’s extremely difficult to pass, they are pretty fast there too,” Darling said. “You have to be so much faster than someone else to be able to get by them and there were some weeks we weren’t able to get by them. Vanasse and Scully Jr. both had championship years in all measures and they really forced my hand and I forced their hand into being as consistent as I possibly could be. Whoever was going to win this title knew they were going to have to finish just about top five every week. Every year we look to finish every week as the initial goal, then the second goal is finishing top 10 and the third goal is running top five. Once I get there, I just see what happens. 

His fifth track title is also his first under the NASCAR Whelen All American Series banner. In Seekonk’s history, Darling joins names like Ron Bouchard, Rick Hanatow Jr., Rick Martin, Vinnie Annarummo and others to have at least five championships. He never thought the day would come. 

“That was the goal, we wanted to get a title under the NASCAR sanction and I’m excited to be going down to the North Carolina. When I first started running Seekonk, you would try to rush to the front and you would end up in a wreck. When the race starts, I just try to finish and take what I can get. About three or four weeks into the year we realized we were fast and so were the others and I thought it would come down to who would make a mistake first and really, no one did,” Darling said. “The competition level was high and everyone respected each other — I was the only one that really made a mistake the night I spun myself out racing for the lead. To be able to race door-to-door with them and have their respect, it made it a great year. We had respect back and fourth. We ran a tight championship battle. I know people will say that I dominated, but when you look at their performances, the only difference was really the wins, if I didn’t get those, who knows who would have won the championship. It really forced me to go after more wins than I normally would.”

Darling credits the success this season to his team. He has been working with Ronnie Pond, his longtime crew chief, for all five of his championship runs. The decision to bring on Jeff Belyea was also a huge help to the team.

“Jeff and I have been friends for over 10 years and he has always helped various other people. He helped Angelo Belsito when he won his title. It got to the point where these cars are just super complicated, much different than it was years ago. Ronnie Pond has been doing it for 40 years and the way he did it before is a little bit different now, but he still brings a ton to my team,” Darling said. “Between him and Jeff, they come up with some great thought processes to make the car go well. With Jeff running the PASS Tour as much as he has, he has a great handle on what he is doing. He gives you a great starting point to be really close, or spot on right when you unload the car from the trailer.”

Although Darling’s four titles before this came with the same car, this one was different. The decision to go out and buy a new car wasn’t easy for him — and it wasn’t a cheap endeavor either. He needed the support of longtime car owner Gary Johnson if it was going to happen. 

“It means a lot, I never thought I would really end up racing at Seekonk very long. It came to a point a couple of years ago when the equipment was getting older and we decided we needed new shop equipment and new cars because the stuff we were running for a decade was just worn out. Gary Johnson has been with me the whole time and he always has given us what we need. I came into it and put some of my money in and with sponsors we went out and purcahsed some current equipment and it makes a huge difference,” Darling said.

“They need to be a certain type of car. The technology is so different — it was a big cost factor — but it was something I needed to do in order to get back to being competitive — it was either that or we had to decide to fold up shop and stop doing it. It’s like a little bit different with Gary and I being part-owner. For years, Gary gave us what we needed for those four titles. The cars we had still worked because the technology we had really hadn’t changed. Once the Super Late Model technology trickled down to Seekonk, we realized what we were doing wasn’t going to be good enough. Four of the championships were with the same car, but the first two were completely different setups than the second two and this one was a completely different car and different setup. To see the way everything changes over the years, we were able to change with it and still keep the same core of guys. The week in and week out gets tough, but it’s almost second-nature now.”

Darling is lucky enough to have the support of his family to do what he loves to do. In fact, his children have become attached to the track and watching their dad be successful. 

“My kids love going and my wife likes going, the kids really love to cheer me on. This is one of the first titles that my kids will remember, they don’t really remember the older championships. The kids really do love it. If they weren’t as interested, it would probably make it easier for me to walk away — if they weren’t there I would feel bad I wasn’t spending enough time with them,” Darling said. “I asked them about four or five years ago if they wanted me to stop racing so we could go do sports — they asked me what I was thinking, of course they wanted me to race. Sometimes things happen on the track and they pay a lot of attention to it, so I have to explain things. This really kinda cements a certain driving style for me. In the heat of the moment, I remember that they are watching or listening.”

Is it too early to look ahead towards the 2018? Maybe a little bit. But Darling knows the work isn’t done for him if he wants to complete another title run in 2018. His four previous titles came in 2006-07, then 2012-13. He will be looking to continue that streak of winning two at a time. 

“Now it’s just kinda like how are we going to get quicker, because we know everyone else is going too. There are some weeks I felt like we could have been better and there were other weeks I felt like it was going to be tough to improve on that. Sometimes you get a car that’s like this,” Darling said. “We are building a new car but who knows if we will even race it. Having a car like that gives you great confidence, but everyone else is going to do that homework for them to get faster.”

Without support from sponsors, his family and his team, as well as the fans, he wouldn’t be able to accomplish his goals. 

“I have to thank Gary and Johnson Landscaping, Bristol Toyota, my dad, Columbus Oil Energies, Ronnie Pond, Jeff Belyea, my wife, my kids and there are a lot of other people that show up every week as fans,” Darling said. “Also all the guys on the crew. Todd Annarummo helped us a lot this year. There are just so many people that go into this. I have to thank everyone that supports us every week and all the fans that come out to watch the races.”

Darling will be honored as part of the NASCAR Home Tracks Awards ceremony on Dec. 8 at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina.

David Darling’s road to a fifth track title included winning the final four points races of the season. Seekonk Speedway

Myers & Loftin Set For Return

Myers & Loftin Set For Return

Will Run Partial Schedule On Whelen Modified Tour With Harvey

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Two former NASCAR modified champion drivers will be back in Whelen Modified Tour competition in 2018. 

In an announcement made by champion car owner Eddie Harvey on Friday morning, Burt Myers and Brian Loftin will team with Harvey to compete in a partial schedule next season, planning to run 8-10 races. Both drivers are former champions of the Whelen Southern Modified Tour and Harvey was a multiple-time championship car owner on the Southern Tour as well.

“It’s pretty neat having two Southern Modified Tour champions come on board to our team,” Harvey said. “Being that we had two in the past with George Brunnhoelzl III and Andy Seuss, it’s neat to keep champions in the stable.”

Myers was the final champion of the Whelen Southern Modified Tour in 2016, posting three victories and nine top five finishes in 11 races. He also won the series title in 2010 while winning two races. He had 19 career victories on the Southern Tour and 30 pole awards in 12 years of competition. Myers competed with Harvey in the season-finale at Thompson this year, qualifying seventh and finishing 13th — that is where the deal first started. 

“All the stars lined up, it’s just about a perfect pairing,” Harvey said of his deal with Myers. “We just started kicking ideas around on lap two at Thompson. When we were loading up to leave Thompson, it was just about what we needed to do to make this permanent. Burt has a committment to his sponsors to run at Bowman Gray weekly every year but we are going to run the Tour races before Bowman Gray opens and we are going to run the races after Bowman Gray concludes. It all depends on how the schedule looks, we will be running some races next year. We plan to run around 10 races.”

Loftin is a former champion of the Southern Tour, winning the crown in 2008 after scoring four victories that season. In 86 career Southern Tour starts, Loftin scored 12 wins, 40 top fives and 53 top 10s in 10 years of competition. He was also able to post 11 Coors Light Pole awards behind the wheel. His most recent NASCAR modified victory came in 2012 at Caraway Speedway in a race where he defeated L.W. Miller. 

“Brian is a good friend of ours, he is a cousin of one of the key people on my race team,” Harvey said. “Everyone knows Brian went through an unfortunate time with the loss of his wife several years back and he had to step away for a while. But this an opportunity for him to get back in a race car. All the stars lined up for this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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