All-Star Race Final Practice:
Austin Dillion was fastest in Friday's final All-Star practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway in preparation for tomorrow's Monster Energy All-Star Race.
Behind Dillion was Ryan Blaney in the No. 12 Team Penske Ford Mustang with a top speed of 178.559 mph.
Rounding out the top five was Clint Bower in third with a top speed of 178.335 mph, Joey Logano in fourth with a top speed of 177.953 mph and Denny Hamlin in fifth with a top speed of 177.713 mph.
Qualifying for the NASCAR Monster Energy Series All-Star Race is scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1.
All-Star Open Final Practice:
Rookie Daniel Hemric finished first in Monster Energy NASCAR Open final practice with a top speed of 180.234 mph in his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevorlet.
Michael McDowell ended Monster Energy NASCAR Open final practice right behind Hemric in second with a top speed of 179. 539 mph.
Rounding out the top five was Matt Tifft in third with a top speed of 178.998 mph, Kyle Larson in fourth with a top speed of 178.159 mph and Ty Dillion in fifth with a top speed of 177.690 mph.
Qualifying for the NASCAR Monster Energy Open is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. Eastern on Fox Sports 1.
More than 1,200 students from area schools participated in Friday’s expansive STEM Expo held at zMax Dragway, an educational kick-off for this weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race weekend festivities – which begin with All-Star Race qualifying and the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 on Friday night.
Students at the STEM Expo learned how science, technology, engineering and math relate to motorsports and to careers in other science-heavy industries. The students got to take part in educational demonstrations with several hands-on activities as well.
Booths and activities ranged from motorsports and robotics, to lighting, and rescue departments. There were also DARE officers in attendance to heighten students’ awareness to the dangers of drugs and alcohol. Attendees also took part in Q&A sessions with racing luminaries including NASCAR driver Kyle Larson and longtime motorsports journalist Deb Williams.
Schools interested in applying to attend upcoming STEM tours and future STEM Expos at the speedway can learn more by visiting www.charlottemotorspeedway.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. To Drive 2019 Corvette Grand Sport Pace Car, Lead Field to Green Flag of 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge17 May 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Racing legend and NBC Sports motorsports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. will drive the 2019 Corvette Grand Sport Official Pace Car for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge, leading 33 drivers to the green flag Sunday, May 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Earnhardt will perform a dual role during "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing," which starts at 12:30 p.m. (ET). Along with driving the Pace Car, Earnhardt will serve as an NBC Sports commentator for the network's first live telecast of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing."
"I was already excited to attend my first Indianapolis 500 with NBC Sports, but driving the Pace Car just takes it to another level," Earnhardt said. "The Corvette Grand Sport is an awesome car, and it's an honor to be asked to lead the field to the green flag.
"I'm proud to be a part of such a prestigious event at a place that means so much to racing history. This will be an experience that I'll cherish forever."
This will be the second time Earnhardt has led the field to the green flag of a major race at IMS. He also drove the 2018 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Pace Car at the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line NASCAR Cup Series race last September.
Earnhardt recorded five top-10 finishes in Cup Series races at the Brickyard during his full-time driving career. His father, Dale Earnhardt, won the second Brickyard 400 in 1995.
"It is exciting that Dale Earnhardt Jr. is going to lead the Indy 500 field to the green flag," said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. "With Dale joining the Indy 500 broadcast crew for the first time, pacing the field in the 2019 Corvette Grand Sport will give him a unique perspective to share with the viewers. We are honored that Dale will add Indy 500 Pace Car driver to his long legacy with Chevrolet."
Earnhardt Jr. retired as a full-time Cup Series driver after the 2017 season and joined NBC Sports' NASCAR broadcast team in 2018. He recorded 26 NASCAR victories during his storied career, including two Daytona 500 wins.
"Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most popular and respected drivers in American motorsports in recent decades, and he knows all about speed, passion and tradition at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway," IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. "We knew he would enjoy his first Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge with the NBC Sports team, but driving the Chevrolet Corvette Pace Car will create an even more indelible memory for a lifetime."
This year marks the 16th time a Corvette has served as the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car, starting in 1978, and the 30th time a Chevrolet has led the field dating back to 1948, when a 1948 Fleetmaster Six convertible paced the race. No other brand or vehicle has served as the "500" Pace Car more than Chevrolet and the Corvette, respectively.
Visit IMS.com to purchase tickets for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on May 26 and for more information on the complete Month of May schedule at IMS.
The championship battle in the ARCA Menards Series may have looked to be a runaway before the season started, but it has proven to be anything but a quarter of the way into the 2019 season.
The pre-season favorites were the powerhouse Venturini Motorsports teammates, Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) and Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota). The Venturini organization can trace its roots back to the 1960s short track scene around Chicago and has been a part of the ARCA landscape since 1983 when team owner Bill Venturini won the rookie of year award as well as a pair of races. He would go on to win series championships in 1987 and 1991 and along with wife Cathy, son Billy and daughter-in-law Emily, owns and operates the family team that at times fields five entries.
It was no surprise when the Venturini team won the opening race of the season at Daytona with part-time driver Harrison Burton. Self then won the next two at Five Flags Speedway and Salem Speedway, and Eckes took the checkered flag first in the series most recent race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
One might expect Venturini team to be dominating the series championship standings. But that hasn’t been the case through the first five races of the year.
The little team that could, RFMS Racing, owned by Don Fike and led by long-time crew chief Dan Glauz finds itself in the thick of the fight for the series championship. Driver Travis Braden (No. 27 MatrixCare/Consonus Health Care/Liberty Village Ford) leads the series standings by thirty points heading into the next race, the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200, at Toledo Speedway on Sunday, May 19.
Braden, from Wheeling, West Virginia, is a graduate of West Virginia University with dual degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering. He’s a two-time ARCA/CRA Super Series champion and won in his ARCA Menards Series debut at Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis driving for his family-owned race team. Not only does he apply his talents for the team behind the wheel, he’s also an integral part of the team that builds and maintains the racecars. In fact, he and Glauz are two of the three full-time employees the team has.
He and Glauz take a lot of pride in competing with, and beating, the bigger organizations.
“Everyone in the ARCA Menards Series takes a lot of pride in what they do. We are no different at RFMS Racing in that regard,” Braden said. “Each team, driver, crew member, you name it, everyone has a very unique background in this series. We are viewed as the “little team,” and we love to face that challenge head on. From ourselves, our sponsors, our fans, we all have that chip on our shoulders. It’s very fun working with this group. Right now we’re in the midst of a tight points battle that is going to continue for the length of the twenty race schedule it looks like, and we’re trying to apply more pressure on those bigger teams. They feel the pressure when we come in and compete with them.”
While Braden hasn’t been able to match Self and Eckes on speed just yet, he’s stayed in contention by staying out of trouble and being consistent. Meanwhile, despite winning two races, Self has been eliminated from contention in two other races due to crashes and Eckes missed the race at Salem due to illness and finished last the following race at Talladega due to a crash. Braden’s four top-ten runs aren’t enough to satisfy his desire to win but, for now, they’ve been enough to keep him in the title fight.
“We’ve by no means been satisfied with our performances,” Braden said. “The pressure to perform within our team is about as high as it could get. We’re all hungry. But as we reach that point, we’ve made sure to be as mistake-free as possible and it’s paying off right now. If our performance gets to where it’s headed and we stay mistake-free, that’s a perfect storm for us, after the solid start we’ve gotten.”
Although he will be making just his second ARCA Menards Series start at Toledo Speedway, he has had plenty of previous experience at the famed Glass City half-mile. He started from the pole and led the first half of an ARCA/CRA Super Series race there in 2013 before an electrical problem sidelined him. He was eighth last year, and his previous experience should come in handy in the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200. Self has never raced at Toledo before, and although Eckes has raced there it’s not been kind to him in the past. He was 21st last year after an accident on lap 71.
“Toledo is a strange place,” Braden said. “It seems like everyone has inconsistent results here. Guys run good one race, then suck the next. There’s always a mishap for someone that takes them out of contention. It’s really one of the more mysterious places we go to. This is a place we have to keep up our consistency and capitalize.”
It’s not all hard work all the time for Braden and his crew. They often like to find local hot spots when they’re on the road for a little fun, such as Kid Rock’s Big Honky Tonk during their recent visit to Nashville. They are aware of the obvious go-tos in Toledo, like a Mud Hens game or a visit to Tony Packo’s but they’re looking for other fun things to do, too.
“Toledo is a pretty cool city. There’s a good bit to do, and it’s growing right now,” he said. “With this race weekend being a three-day affair, we have some downtime in the evening Friday and Saturday, and so we always make sure to get some good food and find a fun spot to hang out as a team. That’s not always easy to do in this busy schedule, so we take advantage every chance we get.”
Practice for the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway is scheduled for 12:30 pm ET on Saturday, May 18, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 4 pm ET. A 35-lap ARCA late model sportsman feature event will close Saturday’s activities at the track. The Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 will go green shortly after 2 pm ET on Sunday, May 19. The race will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live user chat throughout all on-track sessions at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCARacing.com/login. Tickets are available by calling the Toledo Speedway ticket office at (419) 727-1100. Discounted tickets are available at Northwest Ohio Menards locations for $15, a savings of $10 from the raceday ticket price.
ARCA Menards Series PR
Rookie standout Chandler Smith (No.20 Craftsman Toyota) will make his fourth start of the season Sunday afternoon behind the wheel of Venturini Motorsports’ (VMS) series’ leading Toyota entry when the ARCA Menards Series returns home for the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway.
Already with three consecutive finishes inside the top four spots and two pole positions this season, Smith, 17, is one of three team drivers who’ve helped catapult VMS’ No.20 Toyota Camry team early on to the top of the ARCA Menards Series Owner Championship Points standings.
Standing atop of the series’ leader board a quarter (5 of 20 events) of the way through the 2019 racing season, VMS’s No.20 Toyota entry holds a 75-point advantage over second place Joe Gibbs Racing (No.18 Toyota). Travis Braden is the series’ driver points leader and VMS’s Michael Self (No.25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) occupies the second spot.
Smith, who’s unable to compete in the full series schedule due to the series’ minimum age requirements, has shared the twenty-ride this year with drivers Harrison Burton and Brandon Lynn.
Collectively the trio has strung together five consecutive top-5 finishes, including one victory and three General Tire pole awards. Burton started things off with a victory in the season opening event at Daytona International Speedway while Lynn took the wheel last month at Talladega Superspeedway and finished third after starting from the pole.
“I’m really excited to go back to Toledo this weekend with our Craftsman Camry,” says Smith who finished fourth after starting on the pole in in last year’s attempt on the Ohio short track.
“This team is really strong. It’s great feeling showing up to the track each week knowing what we have. Billy Venturini and all the guys back at the shop work their butts off day in and day out. As far as this weekend goes we had a pretty good test last Monday. I think we’re better than we were last year. I have no doubt we’ll have a good piece this week. I think our chances are high but we’ll just have to see how things go. There are a lot of strong cars and talented drivers to race against.”
Already a two-time Series winner, Smith has notched six General Tire Pole Awards, nine top-5’s and 12 top-10 finishes in just 12 career ARCA starts.
Practice for the Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway is scheduled for 12:30 pm ET on Saturday, May 18, followed by General Tire Pole Qualifying at 4 pm ET. The Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 will go green shortly after 2 pm ET on Sunday, May 19. The race will be televised live on MAVTV.
This coming Saturday night, May 18, Macon Speedway will honor those who fight for our freedoms, as it is time for the annual Armed Forces Night. Active and retired military members will receive free grandstand admission once showing proper military ID at the ticket window. Six divisions of racing are on the card.
Coming into the night, three nights of racing have been held with the other two nights resulting in rainouts. In the Decatur Building Trades DIRTcar Pro Late Models, Dakota Ewing is on top of the point chase, garnering two feature wins in a row and setting a new qualifying track record. Carlinville, IL’s Cody Maguire is second in the standings with a pair of top five finishes, while Donny Koehler, Chris Dick, and Blake Damery round out the top five in points out of the 23 drivers who have competed in the division this season.
Last year’s BillingsleyRewards.com Modified champion is again off to a good start with the point lead this year. It’s New Berlin, IL’s Tommy Sheppard, Jr., who currently holds a 12 point advantage over last year’s Pro Late champion, Guy Taylor, of Springfield, IL. Jared Thomas, Alan Crowder, and Rodney Standerfer are currently in the top five. 31 different Modified drivers have been on track already this year.
The strongest division, when it comes to large numbers, is the Neal Tire & Auto Pro Mods. Nearly 50 drivers have been to the track this year with Decatur, IL’s Nick Justice leading the points, having grabbed two top fives in three starts. Mt. Olive, IL’s Tim Hancock won the first two races of the season but had a DNF in the third race due to mechanical issues. Hancock is second in points, while Chad Evans, Billy Nail, and Troy Medley complete the top five.
The DIRTcar Sportsman have raced twice so far this season and Springfield, IL driving veteran, Dennis Vandermeersch is batting 1.000, winning both. Last year’s champion, Tim Bedinger, has a pair of top fives and sits second in points, while Scott Landers, Terry Myers, and Mitch Ringler round out the top five.
A longtime driving veteran is off to a good start in the Archer’s Alley Street Stock class, as Monticello, IL’s Darrell Dick leads the way. Dick has claimed a feature win as have the second and third place point contenders. Dick is followed by the brothers’ Reed. Gene Reed is second in points, while Terry Reed is third. Bub Russell is currently fourth with Andy Zahnd rounding out the top five.
Decatur, IL’s Brady Reed is following in the footsteps of his older brother, Jeremy, having a strong start in the Hornet class. While Jeremy has moved on in hopes of competing in the Street Stock class, Brady has won two of three features and leads the standings. Billy Mason is second in the current standings, while Carter Dart, Marty Sullivan, and Michael Abbott complete the top five. 30 different Hornet drivers have raced so far this year, many of which are tuning up for the June 8 Ed Cain Trucking Hornet Challenge which will pay $1,000 to win.
Grandstand admission is just $12 on Saturday night for adults, while kids 11 and under are free. As previously mentioned, military members, active and retired will also receive free grandstand admission if they show proper military ID at the ticket window.
For more information and the full upcoming schedule, visit www.maconracing.com.
Macon Speedway PR
Two things were evident following completion of the third practice day for the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge: Ed Carpenter Racing's cars look solid and Fernando Alonso is in dire need of track time.
Ed Jones posted the fastest overall lap of 227.843 mph in Thursday's practice cut short 90 minutes by thunderstorms and lightning. The driver of the No. 63 Ed Carpenter Racing Scuderia Corsa Chevrolet also had the best lap while running on his own, a lap of 225.274 mph as ECR's drivers swept the top three spots in the "no-tow" lap category.
"It was a great day!" Jones said. "To be quickest in overall and no-tow is a goal. More importantly, I think we made more gains with the handling of the car. As the conditions have changed, we've been able to keep up. We just have to keep adapting to the track changes for tomorrow and for qualifying."
Meanwhile, Alonso - returning to the Indianapolis 500 this year in search of a victory to complete the final leg of racing's Triple Crown - never made it on the track Thursday as his McLaren Racing team spent the day preparing a backup car after the two-time Formula 1 champion crashed his primary No. 66 Chevrolet in practice the day before.
Gil de Ferran, the 2003 Indianapolis 500 winner who now serves as sporting director at McLaren, said the team is not rushing to get the backup car ready, preparations that included an engine change when the powerplant in the primary car was found to be damaged in Wednesday's incident.
"While we have a number of experienced individuals in the team, we are still relatively new as a crew," de Ferran said. "Because of this and the fact that we have deep respect for Indianapolis, we are being careful and measured in our approach and want to ensure we're sending the best possible car out on track.
"Not running today was a serious setback to our Indy 500 program, but all is not lost. We should have a full day of practice and preparations for qualifying tomorrow and our goal will be to have a nice, clean day."
Jones, who finished third in the Indianapolis 500 two years ago as a rookie, is paired with team owner/driver Ed Carpenter and full-season driver Spencer Pigot in a three-car Indy 500 attack for the team. Carpenter was second (224.959 mph) on the no-tow list - designated as such because it comes without the aerodynamic tow from a car ahead on track by 10 seconds or less - while Pigot was third (224.857 mph).
The no-tow list provides a good representation of how cars may perform in Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying this weekend, when they'll be on track alone for four-lap qualifications runs to determine the 33-car field.
"All things considered, I think all three drivers on the team feel pretty encouraged, and we are looking forward to the power turning up tomorrow in the Chevy engine and seeing what we can get out of the cars," said team owner Carpenter, a three-time Indy 500 pole sitter who finished second in last year's race.
Takuma Sato was second on the overall lap speed chart at 226.699 mph in the No. 30 Mi-Jack/Panasonic Honda. The Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing driver was eighth on the no-tow chart at 224.428 mph.
"I'd say it was a very productive day despite a little issue in the car and the weather," said Sato, winner of the 2017 Indy 500. "We've done a qualifying simulation and worked on the race setup. We found several positives and I'm pretty happy with that. We are quite satisfied with how today went."
There was one single-car incident on Thursday. Rookie Patricio O'Ward lost control of the No. 31 Carlin Chevrolet and spun into the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier. The 2018 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion was uninjured, but the car sustained heavy damage and he did not return on track.
Speeds are expected to increase in Friday's practice - dubbed "Fast Friday" - when INDYCAR allows an extra 1,000 millibars of engine turbocharger boost that equates to about 50 additional horsepower. The practice streams live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. ET.
Qualifying is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday to set the 33-car field from the 36 entries. The first 30 spots will be locked in Saturday between 11 a.m. and 5:50 p.m. INDYCAR Pass streams the action from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., with NBCSN taking over coverage of the dramatic final hour.
Sunday qualifying features the Last Row Shootout to determine the final three qualifiers, followed by the Fast Nine Shootout to decide the prestigious Indy 500 pole sitter and starting order of the first three rows for the race. Second-day qualifying airs live on NBC from noon-3 p.m., with NBCSN picking up coverage from 3-6 p.m. that includes a practice for the 33 qualifiers in race-like conditions.
Coverage of the 103rd Indianapolis 500 begins at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 26 on NBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.
NTT IndyCar Series PR
Memorial Day reminds us to never take a single day for granted and to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom. The Super DIRTcar Series and Weedsport Speedway honor our fallen service members with the Heroes Remembered 100. Race fans and race teams are invited to enjoy the greatest expression of freedom we have to offer: The roar of a field of premier Big Block Modifieds at Weedsport Speedway.
With the previous two Super DIRTcar Series events rained out, the drivers and teams are chomping at the bit to unleash their Big Block Modifieds. Last year NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series star Stewart Friesen edged out Mad Max McLaughlin and fellow HBR teammate Jimmy Phelps in the No. 98H. McLaughlin will be back in his familiar No. 6H this year to take on the Series regulars.
2018 Super DIRTcar Series runner-up Erick Rudolph from Ransomville, NY took the checkered flag in the last Series stop at Weedsport. He broke off his victory in the Hall of Fame 100. DIRTcar fans across the Northeast are eager to see if Rudolph can put together another run at the Championship in 2019.
Full-time Super DIRTcar Series driver Danny Johnson will be back in the Graham Racing No. 27J. The Doctor has the most Series wins at Weedsport Speedway with eleven. Will he be able to throw some water on the defending Series Champion Matt Sheppard’s hot streak and add another to his win total?
With only one Series race to date in the books, which was won by Sheppard, Mat Williamson, Billy Dunn, Justin Haers and Pat Ward followed the “Superman” in the $10,000 to win event. They are expected to be on hand along with all the other top stars on the Super DIRTcar Series! It will be a battle to Dave Farney’s checkered flag to see who will be on victory hill.
Also on the docket are the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship DIRTcar Sportsman Modifieds and CRSA Sprint Cars.
Be sure to visit www.SuperDIRTcarSeries.com for news, highlights, and live timing & scoring. Also, follow the Super DIRTcar Series on Twitter and Facebook for behind the scenes photos, videos, and more.
If you aren’t lucky enough to get to the race track, you can catch the race live and in HD with our partners at FloRacing.
Super DIRTcar Series PR