NBC Sports surrounds its first race of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with fan-centric elements and pre-race features as part of the nearly 20 hours of trackside coverage from Chicagoland Speedway this weekend. Pre-race coverage from Chicago begins Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN with Countdown to Green, and will welcome race fans back to NBC Sports’ NASCAR coverage with one-on-one interviews and long-form features ahead of the green flag on Sunday on NBCSN.

Sunday’s pre-race coverage on NBCSN will include:

  • Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s interviews Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson prior to the race on Sunday about the famous “Slide Job” finish to the 2018 Chicagoland race;
  • The first installment of NASCAR America’s “Behind the Driver” series will showcase an individual who has been instrumental in making Joey Logano a NASCAR Champion.
  • NBC Sports’ motorsports reporter Rutledge Wood and analyst Kyle Petty will doi their best “Blues Brothers” impersonation;

Additionally, NASCAR America Fan Fridays return this Friday at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN live from Chicagoland Speedway. The program will originate from the Peacock Pit Box amongst the fans at Chicagoland and will include numerous driver interviews.


TONIGHT’S EPISODE OF NASCAR AMERICA MOTORMOUTHS TO FEATURE GUEST TY DILLON

Tonight’s episode of NASCAR America Motormouths at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN will feature special guest [what team?] Ty Dillon. Dillon, who matched a career best with a sixth-place finish in the Daytona 500 earlier this year, will join Marty Snider and Dale Jarrett on the NASCAR America set as fans call in to ask their questions ahead of this weekend’s race at Chicagoland. Motormouths Wednesdays are all about the viewers, providing regular opportunities for fans to call in to NASCAR America and speak with hosts, analysts, and a rotation of current drivers live on NBCSN.


HIGHLIGHTS FROM NBC SPORTS’ “ON HER TURF” INTERVIEW WITH NASCAR K&N DRIVER HAILIE DEEGAN

Today’s episode of the “On Her Turf” podcast featured 17-year-old stock car driver Hailie Deegan. Deegan grew up racing off-road and on dirt but transitioned to competing on asphalt in 2016 to pursue a career in stock car racing. She began her career in NASCAR in 2018 at the K&N Pro Series level and is the only female to have won races in the series, doing so in the 2018 and 2019 seasons. Deegan joined host Kathryn Tappen to discuss where she draws her confidence from, growing up in a racing household, her goals moving forward, Kevin Harvick’s importance in her career, how she sees “frenemies” every day and keeps her priorities straight, and the one thing that scares her in a race car. Click here to listen to the full interview.  Following are highlights from the interview:

Deegan on her accomplishments at only 17 years old: “I try really not to focus on what I’ve accomplished, but what I need to do next, what I’m working towards. I’m never really just satisfied with where I’m at. I always just want to get better, improve more, learn as much as I can because obviously I have a lot to learn and a lot to get better at so it’s all about improvement to me.”

On finding success as a female in racing: “I’ve learned that you just have to be aggressive. A lot of people assume about being a girl that they’re a little more laid back, they’re not as aggressive, they’re still trying to get to the same level as the guys, but I think that even if you ask some of the other guys, they can say that I am an aggressive driver just because I know what it’s going to take to make it. I see why a lot of other girls haven’t made it. I feel like I can depict why other girls aren’t making it and I don’t want to make the same mistakes.”

Deegan: “There are so many different pieces of the puzzle and you have to be an aggressive personality. There’s quite a few girls who just don’t have the aggression in their personality. I feel like I grew up in a very aggressive family and my dad just being from motocross industry, it’s an aggressive, very tough sport, so that’s where I learned from him.”

On where her confidence comes from: “I think it just comes from watching everyone at this high level in the racing community. Seeing how much room there is for a girl to take over (not take over a series) but be involved in NASCAR. I just see so much room for someone to be in there and I want to be that person, and I definitely want to be one of the first to accomplish things at the high levels of NASCAR.”

On the best advice from her father: “Remember, go out there and have fun, but you’re having the most fun when you’re winning.”

On her career goals: I just want to make it to the top levels of NASCAR, be able to win at the top levels - whether its Trucks, Xfinity or Cup, I just want to be able to go and perform at my best.”

***

Following is this week’s NASCAR programming on NBCSN:

DATE COVERAGE TIME (ET)
Wednesday, June 26 NASCAR America Motormouths 5 p.m.
Thursday, June 27 NASCAR America Motorsports Hour 5 p.m.
  K&N Pro West - Sonoma 6 p.m.
Friday, June 28 NASCAR Xfinity Series First Practice – Chicago 4 p.m.
  NASCAR America Fan Friday 6 p.m.
  NASCAR Xfinity Series Final Practice – Chicago 7 p.m.
Saturday, June 29 NASCAR Cup Series Practice – Chicago 11 a.m.
  NASCAR Xfinity Series Qualifying – Chicago 12 p.m.
  NASCAR America 1 p.m.
  NASCAR Cup Series Final Practice – Chicago 2 p.m.
  NASCAR Xfinity Series Countdown to Green 3 p.m.
  NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – Chicago 3:30 p.m.
  NASCAR Xfinity Series Post-Race Show 6 p.m.
  NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying – Chicago 6:30 p.m.
Sunday, June 30 NASCAR America 1 p.m.
  NASCAR Cup Series Countdown to Green 2:30 p.m.
  NASCAR Cup Series Race – Chicago 3 p.m.
  NASCAR Cup Series Post-Race Show

6 p.m.

NBC Sports PR

FOX Sports wrapped its half of the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season Sunday averaging 4,076,000 viewers, up +2% from last year’s 3,980,000, excluding weather-impacted races both years, according to Nielsen Media Research.
 
Among 11 FOX Sports 2019 races directly comparable to 2018 events, six scored viewership increases. For the season, the Nielsen U.S. Household Rating was up +3% (2.44 vs. 2.37).
 
The top five markets for the first half of the season are Greensboro, N.C., Greenville, S.C., Richmond, Va., Charlotte and Indianapolis.
 
Sunday’s race from Sonoma Raceway delivered 2,478,000 viewers, up +6% from last year’s 2,334,000.

 
Digital and Social highlights from the first half of the season include:
 
Streaming:

  • Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series average minute audience per race for the 2019 season up +37% over 2018
  • 2019 Daytona 500 was most-streamed FOX NASCAR event ever (53K AMA, +10% over 2018 Daytona)
  • Two million fans streamed NASCAR programming on FOX Sports platforms in 2019, up +79% year-over-year

Social:

  • 177 million video views of FOX NASCAR content across social platforms, up +51% year-over-year

Adding together streaming & social:

  • 380 million digital consumption minutes for NASCAR content across FOX properties on streaming and social, up +80% year-over-year

Fox Sports PR

Wide Technology Raceway officials today unveiled the completion of its road course expansion. The multi-purpose motorsports venue is located just five miles from downtown St. Louis in Madison, Illinois.

 

This expansion, which was designed by Tony Cotman of NZR Consulting, expands the track from 1.6 miles to 2.0 miles in total distance.  In addition, the track enhancement creates a dynamic course configuration for the Formula Drift Series.

 

“This is a tremendous step to the next level for the future of road racing and drift events in the St. Louis region,” said WWTR Executive Vice President and General Manager Chris Blair. “The additional track length, as well as its unique configuration, will enable our venue to attract higher-level, spectator-driven road racing events. For the sport of drifting, our track now will host the series with the best grandstands, the largest suite structure, an expanded pit-and-paddock area and multiple configurations to provide the most entertaining events.”

 

The first event to be held on the new, expanded configuration will be the Formula Drift Series on August 9-10. The success of the series’ 2018 WWTR debut, which filled the infield paddock of the venue, was the motivation for the facility management and the sanctioning body to work together to invest in the future of the sport in the Midwest.

 

“Formula Drift is committed to WWTR and the St. Louis region for many years to come,” said Jim Liaw, President and Co-Founder of Formula Drift Holdings. “We are excited to be part of the new course configuration as it will provide fans with more seating, our partners with world class hospitality options, a bigger paddock for the teams, a dynamic festival area as well as a challenging competition course layout.  The incorporation of the oval track banking along with the other enhancements will make this event the most highly-anticipated Black Magic Pro Championship and Link ECU Pro2 Championship events of the season.”

 

Upon completion of the August event, the track will begin working with existing and new road racing sanctioning groups on schedules and configurations. WWTR will continue to offer events on the traditional 1.6-mile course as well as the enhanced 2-mile configuration.

 

“This addition is already well-received by the local road racing community as well as the karting community,” continued Blair. “This will enable our Gateway Kartplex to expand for multiple Super Track configurations, provide motorcycle groups the opportunity to host novice and pro configurations and enables St. Louis and Metro East area to now host major international road racing events.  It’s an exciting time to be a motorsports enthusiast in our area.”

 

To obtain additional information, please call (618) 215-8888 or visit www.wwtraceway.com. Follow WWTR on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.

WWTR PR

After back-to-back weather cancelations, Macon Speedway is set to reopen the gates to fans and competitors this coming Saturday, June 29.  On tap is the rescheduled 95Q/Dynagraphics Firecracker 40’s and Bud Light Ladies Night.  Six divisions of racing will be joined by a Kids Gold Rush for those aged 11 and under.  Admission for ladies will be just $5.

The Decatur Building Trades Pro Late Models will have a Big 10 race, going 40-laps for extra prize money.  The Pro Late division is led by Dakota Ewing, who has four wins and a 52 point lead in the standings.  Donny Koehler, Jake Little, Blake Damery, and Colby Sheppard complete the top five.  The Big Ten standings has Springfield, IL’s Jake Little on top after two events.  Shawn Diggs, Cody Maguire, Colby Sheppard, and Brandon Eskew are in the top ten.

The BillingsleyRewards.com Modified division will also be on track for 40 laps of action.  The night is doubly special as the class runs minus the roof of the car for the only time during the season.  It gives the fans a great look into the cockpit of the racecar, watching the drivers work their craft.  New Berlin, IL’s Tommy Sheppard, Jr. leads the standings and has claimed four feature wins.  Alan Crowder has had a strong start to the season and is second in points, while Tim Hancock, Jared Thomas, and Zach Rhodes complete the top five.

Mount Olive, IL’s Tim Hancock leads the win in the Neal Tire & Auto Pro Modified division, having claimed five feature wins already this season.  Hancock is followed in the standings by Nick Justice, Rob Timmons, Tim Riech, and Roy Magee.  The division has had strong fields of cars and good racing all season long.

Scott Landers leads the field of Sportsman into action on Saturday night, having three top fives in four features.  That consistency gives him the advantage over Mitch Ringler, Tim Bedinger, Joel Irvin, and Terry Myers.  Dennis Vandermeersch has won three of the four features but missed one night, relegating him to sixth in points.

Hammond, IL’s Gene Reed is on top of the Archers Alley Street Stock standings.  Right behind him is his brother Terry, who has claimed three feature wins.  Larry Russell, Jr., Jonathon Hall, and Darrell Dick complete the top five in points.  The racing has been highly competitive in the class this season with a handful of drivers competing for wins on any given night.

Rounding out Saturday’s action will be the Hornet class, coming off of their Ed Cain Trucking Hornet Challenge from a couple weeks ago.  Decatur, IL driver, Brady Reed, leads the points by 76 over Carter Dart.  Billy Mason, Cook Crawford, and Marty Sullivan round out the top five.

At intermission, all kids 11 and under will be welcome to go trackside for the annual Kids Gold Rush.  Hundreds of dollars of pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters will be strewn about for kids to pick up.

Pit gates will open Saturday at 4:00, grandstands at 5:00, hotlaps will start at 6:00, and racing will take the green at 7:00.  Grandstand admission is $15 for adults but ladies will get in for just $5 for Bud Light Ladies night.

It’s the start of a busy stretch for Macon Speedway, as officials prepare for the 39th annual Herald & Review 100 for the DIRTcar Summer Nationals, coming to town on Thursday, July 4.  The race extravaganza will have Super Late Models, BillingsleyRewards.com Modifieds, and Neal Tire & Auto Pro Mods plus holiday fireworks.  Full info is online at maconracing.com.

Macon Speedway PR

Hattori Racing Enterprises team owner Shige Hattori announced today that the defending NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship organization will reenter the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) on July 5th at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). HRE will field a Toyota Supra for the first time in the company’s history and will compete in the NXS for the first time since 2015. Austin Hill, who won the Gander Trucks season opener at DIS in his first start with the organization, will be behind the wheel with crew chief Scott Zipadelli calling the shots.

The team’s NXS return will come with support from longtime partner AISIN Group, Aisin AW, and ADVICS. Hill and HRE will utilize No. 61, a twist on the organization’s trademark No. 16. United Rentals will also be on board the No. 61 Toyota Supra, expanding on their relationship with Hill and HRE in the Gander Trucks.

“We’re very excited to return to the Xfinity Series,” Hattori said. “The Toyota Supra is extremely important to our partners and very popular in Japan and we want to be part of the Supra program in NASCAR. It’s exciting for our team to compete in the Xfinity Series at Daytona, especially after winning there earlier this year. Austin has done a good job in the truck so far and this will be good to get him more experience.”

Hill echoed Hattori’s sentiments and is relishing the chance to compete in a Toyota Supra.

“You always want to move up the ladder, and I can’t wait to get in the car,” Hill said. “I honestly never thought I’d have this opportunity. All thanks goes to Shige and AISIN Group. They’ve been working on this for a while and it’s a big deal for all of us to put a program together to race the Supra. We have a great team here, and it’s going to make the transition a lot smoother working with Scott (Zipadelli) and entire truck series team. We set the bar pretty high for ourselves at Daytona, so hopefully we can have the same success as we did in February.”

Hattori and HRE are currently pursuing additional NXS races to add to the schedule later this season.

HRE PR

Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Ruckus Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) venture to the Midwest for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. This weekend marks the second consecutive event and fourth time this season Ruckus will adorn the No. 41 machine.

 

Ruckus Networks, an ARRIS company, is redefining connectivity by bridging the digital divide and connecting people around the world. Ruckus strives to deliver ubiquitous connectivity to its access points, switches and cloud services.
 

Suárez’s strong run in the top-five last Sunday in his third career start on the road course at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway was thwarted by a late-race pit stop penalty that dropped him from fifth to 25th before he finished 17th.

 

The Mexico native has two starts in the Cup Series at Chicagoland with finishes of 12th and 11th, respectively, completing all 534 possible laps with an average starting and finishing position of 11.5. Dating back to 2014, he’s made six starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Chicagoland with an average start of 6.0 and an average finish of 9.2. Additionally, he’s led 21 laps and earned two top-five finishes and four top-10s. The 27-year-old driver also made two starts in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series at Chicagoland. The efforts resulted in one top-five along with 46 laps led, and an average starting position of 4.5 and an average finish of 7.5. Finally, he’s made one start in the ARCA Racing Series at Chicagoland, in which he started second before an engine issue ended his day.

 

In his last 10 starts at 1.5-mile tracks, Suárez has one top-five and three top-10s. He’s led 21 laps and completed 99.5 percent of all possible laps.

 

This weekend, fans will have the opportunity to view Suárez’s perspective from inside the Ruckus Mustang courtesy of Coca-Cola, which is sponsoring his in-car camera. Additionally, there will be 200 “Daniel’s Amigos” in the grandstands Sunday, supporting the Monterrey, Mexico driver. “Daniel’s Amigos” is a fan-focused movement to engage and celebrate with Latino NASCAR fans. “We had a big group of Daniel’s Amigos at Auto Club (Speedway in Fontana, California) and they all had a great time, especially the ones who were at my car for prerace,” Suárez said. “This is the second time this season we’re having a group out to the track and I hope they have a great time just like the group in California.”

 

Suárez is 13th in the Cup Series standings with 421 points to round out the four-car SHR contingent. The top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the NASCAR playoffs.

 

So far this season, Suárez has garnered two top-five finishes and six top-10s and has led 52 laps behind the wheel of the No. 41 Ford Mustang. Team co-owner Tony Stewart currently has SHR’s only Cup win at Chicagoland which he captured in 2011.

 

Ruckus, a technology provider, and SHR, a racing organization, both ultimately strive to achieve the same goals – to operate at high performance. Ruckus provides secure and reliable access to applications and services, and offers a complete offering of high-performance network equipment. The company’s portfolio includes Wi-Fi controllers, indoor and outdoor access points, switches, network access security, and support and services.

 

TSC PR

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) looks ahead to a 1.5-mile track that hosted his most laps led in a single race and his first stage win of his career.  

 

Almirola raced the No. 10 Ford from sixth to the lead by lap 40 in the first stage at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet. He started Stage 2 from third and regained the lead until he reported a vibration and was forced to make an unscheduled green-flag pit stop putting him a lap down and in 25th when the checkered flag waved. 

 

Although Almirola only has one top-10 at Chicagoland, the speed his SHR team found in 2018 is nothing to blink an eye at. This season, Almirola has scored four top-10s out of six races at 1.5-mile tracks and led 46 total laps. 

 

“At about this time last year we really started to find speed and mesh as a team,” said Almirola.  “Johnny and the Smithfield team were able to bring me a really fast Ford and we ran up front for a while and earned some stage points. I’m going into the weekend with no expectation like I do every weekend, but it feels good knowing we had success here last year. I have confidence that we’re going to kick it in full gear before and during the playoffs and be serious competitors for the championship.” 

 

Sonoma marks the 14th weekend the iconic black-and-white Smithfield livery will adorn Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Mustang. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its eighth season with Almirola and its second with SHR. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.

 

Fans can now get VIP, behind-the-scenes access in following “Aric ‘Beyond the 10’” by subscribing to his YouTube channel and following episodes on Facebook. Episodes will showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode. 

 

The 35-year-old Ford driver has earned one pole award, one top-five, nine top-10s and has led 100 laps through 15 races this season. His qualifying efforts have also been strong with five front-row starts and eight top-five starts this season. 

 

Almirola sits 11th in the driver standings with 460 points, 183 behind leader and fellow Ford driver Joey Logano.

 

TSC PR

For ARCA Menards Series championship leader Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota), it’s been a very interesting 2019 season to this point. It’s his first run at the series championship, and he’s had success to this point winning three races at Five Flags Speedway, Salem Speedway, and Michigan International Speedway. But there have been some challenges, too. Post-race rules infractions have cost Self and his team 75 points, which considering his narrow 30-point advantage over second-place Bret Holmes (No. 23 Holmes II Excavation/Champion Power Equipment Chevrolet) could make a significant impact at the end of the season.

But for now, Self and his Venturini Motorsports team aren’t counting points. At least not yet. They’re still in race win mode, with the knowledge that winning races scores the maximum amount of points so it’s the proverbial two birds with one stone. But coming to Chicagoland Speedway for Thursday’s Bounty 150, the Venturini’s home track, performing well is all the more important. Even in the tightest of points battles, it wouldn’t matter. All that matters is running well in front of team owners Bill and Cathy Venturini’s hometown crowd.

Giving his team owners a solid performance is a priority, but the fact Chicagoland is his favorite track on the ARCA Menards Series schedule makes this an event he’s had circled all season long.

“Running well and getting the Venturini family a win here is definitely a big part of it, but it’s’ probably my favorite track on the schedule,” Self said. “Two years ago we had a dominant lead and a dominant night until we had a tire go down with two laps to go and we lost that one. We came back last year and put it all together and won the race. I love that track and I love the way it races. It’s a little more difficult as far as intermediate tracks go. It’s a little wore out, it’s a little bumpy and I like the attitude of it. If we could go back there and win it would be a big deal. It’s fun to go there and win for the Venturinis.”

With deep ties to the region, the Venturinis know all of the good area food hot spots but Self isn’t sure there’s enough time during his visit to make it them all.

“They definitely know the food around there,” he said. We do the fan rally in Joliet on Wednesday night so ze don’t have a lot of extra time. If we were there an extra few days I would really like to spend some time with them there and have them show us all around and tell me all about their history there.”

Self is a noted big track expert. He likes the way tracks larger than one mile race, and he’s had a lot of his success in the ARCA Menards Series on tracks longer than a mile. Oddly enough, he believes drivers feel the speed more on short tracks than they do on the wide open tracks like Chicagoland Speedway.

“To me it feels like you’re cruising down the highway,” he said of the speeds at Chicagoland. “To me Madison feels a lot faster because everything is so fast and abrupt. At the mile and a half tracks, even though you are going a lot faster, you’re a lot more gradual with the things you’re doing in the car. You aren’t using a lot of steering input. You aren’t using a lot of brake. The track is so wide everything feels smoother until something goes wrong and then you really start to feel the speed.”

Practice at Chicagoland Speedway is set for 1 pm ET/12 noon CT, with General Tire Pole Qualifying set for 5:35 pm ET/4:35 pm CT. The Bounty 150 will take the green flag shortly after 8 pm ET/7 pm CT and will be televised live flag-to-flag on FS1. ARCA for Me members can access free live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat at ARCARacing.com. New members can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login. Discounted tickets are available at nearly 75 Chicagoland-area Menards locations for just $10. For more information, visit ChicagolandSpeedway.com.

ARCA Menards Series PR

In honor of Kyle Busch’s 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Semifinal win at ISM Raceway, the track announced their second annual bobblehead promotional giveaway featuring the driver of the No. 18 Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Limited-edition bobbleheads of the NASCAR superstar will be distributed to the first 1,500 fans that enter the INfield with an INfield wristband when gates open for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Semifinal Playoff Race on Sunday, November 10.

“We’re pleased to make an exclusive bobblehead a part of our INfield Experience again this November,” said Julie Giese, President of ISM Raceway. “Kyle Busch has been a frequent visitor to our all-new Gatorade Victory Lane and this is a unique opportunity for Rowdy Nation to get their hands on a bobblehead of their favorite driver.”

In addition to having the chance to take home this commemorative bobblehead, fans that purchase INfield access will get an unparalleled race experience with fan-interactive garages bringing them closer to their favorite teams and drivers than ever before. Fans will also get an up-close-and-personal look at postrace celebrations in Gatorade Victory Lane, as well as exclusive amenities like the Miller Lite Beer Garden and the Portacool Chill Zone.

Adult and Junior price options for tickets and INfield access to the 2019 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Semifinal Weekend are available for purchase online at ISMRaceway.com, by phone at 1-866-408-RACE (7223) or in person at the ISM Raceway ticket office.

ISM Raceway PR

A hot summer night should make for a night of hot, exciting racing at South Boston Speedway Saturday.

Drivers will face the warmest temperatures of the year Saturday night when the green flag falls on the Thunder Road Harley-Davidson Presented By Grand Atlantic Ocean Resort NASCAR Whelen Late Model 200. They will also be facing the largest, most challenging field of the year; will be running for the biggest payout of the South Boston season; and trying to put themselves in good position in the Virginia Late Model Triple Crown.

All those factors combined should make for an incredible night of racing.

“It’s going to be 200 laps of really close racing. There’s going to be some beating and banging and hopefully not a lot of cars will be torn up,” said Brandon Pierce, who finished fourth in this event last year. “But at the end of the night, this is South Boston. It’s going to be one of the toughest races I’ve ever been in.”

Weather forecasts indicate Saturday night will be the warmest race date of the season. Drivers say that has thrown an additional challenge into the mix.

“I think the heat and the length of the race will definitely play a big part,” said Thomas Scott, who sits third in South Boston’s point standings. “It’ll be important to pace yourself and not use up too much car in the beginning of the race to make sure you have something at the end.

“You’ll need to stay hydrated because when you’re dealing with the heat and humidity the summer brings, you will sweat a lot.”

Pierce said the heat will also have an impact on the cars.

“It’s going to be hot this weekend. Car balance is going to be big for everybody. Everybody is fighting for the same things. Emotions are going to be high, temperatures are going to be high and fan reactions going to be high,” said Pierce.

Timothy Peters, who has 11 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series wins to his credit, will be making a rare late model start this weekend.

“This race is a big deal. It sets the tone for the triple crown,” said Peters, general manager of Nelson Motorsports, which will also be fielding cars for Bobby McCarty and Ty Gibbs. “The heat will play a role in the physical and mental fitness of drivers as well as the balance of the race car. It’s going to be a fun night.”

The Virginia Late Model Triple Crown is a series of three late model races. It begins with Saturday’s Thunder Road Harley-Davidson Presented By Grand Atlantic Ocean Resort NASCAR Whelen Late Model 200, moves to Langley Speedway in a few weeks for the Hampton Heat and winds down at Martinsville Speedway in October. The winner of the three-race series will earn $7,000, second place will take home $2,000 and third $1,000.

A good finish Saturday night could help propel a driver to not only a big season-ending payout but to an expanded schedule.

“This race is the biggest race of my career and probably always will be,” said Mike Jones, a South Boston native who runs South Boston Speedway regularly. “Unfortunately, we don’t travel (to races) like a lot of these guys do. Hopefully we can come away with a strong run and at least have to make us think about running the Hampton Heat. I think the biggest key to that is being hydrated, well-rested and making sure you have something left at the end.”

Saturday’s Thunder Road Harley-Davidson Presented By Grand Atlantic Ocean Resort NASCAR Whelen Late Model 200 is going to be a celebration of racing and family fun. There will be racing in four divisions, a huge fan appreciation event on the track prior to the race and a spectacular fireworks display after the final race.

There will be a break in the 200-lapper at the half-way point with a blind draw to invert the field for the second half.

In addition to the 200-lap Late Model race, there will be a 75-lap Limited Sportsman race, a 40-lap Budweiser Pure Stock race and a 20-lap Budweiser Hornets race.

Advance tickets are $15 and may be purchased at the South Boston Speedway office or by calling 877.440.1540, Monday through Friday 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. On race day tickets will be $20 for adults. Children 12-and-under will be admitted free with a paying adult.

SBS PR

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