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Hitachi and Team Penske extend winning partnership

22 Sep 2019 Written by Speedway Digest Staff

Team Penske and Hitachi Group announced today that they will continue their winning partnership for the 2020 IndyCar Series season. Building on a relationship that first began in 2012, Hitachi and Team Penske have agreed to an extension that ensures the global technology, electronics and automotive company will remain a key collaborator with the team.

Under the new agreement, the distinctive black and white Hitachi branding will continue to adorn the No. 2 Dallara/Chevrolet IndyCar driven by 2017 series champion Josef Newgarden, who is pursuing his second career IndyCar Series crown in this weekend’s season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Hitachi will be the primary sponsor on the No. 2 Chevy for eight races in 2020, while the company will once again be featured as an associate sponsor on all Team Penske cars competing in the IndyCar Series.

“We are proud to continue our partnership with Hitachi and build on the success we have enjoyed together over the last eight seasons,” said Roger Penske. “Hitachi has been such an important partner for our IndyCar program and we also utilize their technology and services across many of our Penske Corporation businesses away from the track.”

Newgarden, who entered this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey with a 41-point lead in the series championship standings, has produced three of his four wins this season while driving the Hitachi-sponsored Chevrolet.

“We’ve had a great season with Hitachi and everyone at Team Penske is looking forward to finishing the year strong with them on Sunday,” said Newgarden. “The support Hitachi provides to our team is so valuable and we see that in the results on race weekend. We can’t wait to build on that momentum with Hitachi in 2020.”

After joining forces with Chevrolet to provide the direct fuel injection systems for the Chevy IndyCar engines, Hitachi first began competing with Team Penske during the 2012 IndyCar Series. The following season, Hitachi expanded its presence to become a primary sponsor with the team.

Hitachi experienced its first series win as a primary sponsor in 2014 when Helio Castroneves drove the Hitachi Chevy to Victory Lane in Detroit. The company has been a part of numerous wins, Indianapolis 500 victories and series championships as a valued Team Penske partner.

“Hitachi is thrilled to announce the continuation of our partnership with Team Penske for the 2020 IndyCar Series season,” said Toshiaki Higashihara, President & CEO, Hitachi, Ltd. “Hitachi and Penske Corporation envision this partnership to be a catalyst for innovation within the transportation industry. By combining Penske’s world-class industrial expertise with Hitachi’s industry-leading IoT and data analytics solutions, we can advance this sector in a way that will generate value for both our customers and society at large.”

Team Penske PR

One win deserves another, and Blake Hahn made it one of the biggest of his career; leading start to finish for Saturday's $10,000 score in the 9th annual Hockett/McMillin Memorial with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network.
Hahn's ninth career SawBlade.com A-Feature victory with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network, the triumph was enough to retake the series point's lead from Sam Hafertepe, Jr. by 20 markers. Hitting the turn-four wall in his Last Chance Qualifier, Hafertepe's night ended one spot shy of a transfer into the A-Feature.
"I want to thank the fans for hanging out for this awesome, long race," stated Hahn of then night's program, which was nearly claimed by Mother Nature following a late afternoon downpour that delayed the Hockett/McMillin Memorial finale over two hours.
Grabbing the cushion from the start, Hahn pulled away from pole sitter, Josh Baughman, before the caution lights blinked on with three laps complete for Brinton Marvel. Keeping pace with Hahn on the restart, Blake tried the bottom through turns three and four, nearly allowing the No. 17 to get a run before finally moving to the top at both ends of the Lucas Oil Speedway.
Getting into traffic with 10 laps complete, Hahn began searching for lines as Derek Hagar closed in to challenge for second.
Getting the run under the No. 17 on Lap 14, Hagar pushed through the fourth turn; tagging Baughman's left front tire and sending him flying up the track. Avoiding the flip and the wall, Baughman recovered in seventh.
Taking advantage of the situation, Dylan Westbrook peddled by Hagar on Lap 17.
Reeling in Hahn numerous times as the pair weaved through traffic, the Sage Fruit, Co. No, 52 was able to keep the No. 47x at bay all the way to Lap 35. Peeling off the cushion to clear a slower car in the third and fourth turns, Hahn pushed up the track and into the path of Westbrook. With no time to react, the two front runners slammed right rear to left rear; sending Hahn over the hood of the No. 47x, who in turn, flipped off the exit of turn four.
"I hate to see anybody turn upside down," stated Hahn. "I was trying to get underneath some lapped cars and got into the slop down on the bottom and just pushed up in front of him. It was my fault."
Able to keep rolling, Hahn was pursued on the restart by Pennsylvania's Mark Smith.
Committed the bottom of the three-eighths-mile oval, Smith tried for the lead but couldn't make it work as Hahn ran away over the final five laps to a 2.271 seconds advantage over the No. M1 with Brady Bacon hard charging through the field from 16th to complete the podium. Derek Hagar would slip to fourth with Seth Bergman making a charge through the field from 10th to complete the top five.
Racing his way in through a B-Feature, Matt Covington made up for two rough nights to open his Hockett/McMillin Memorial with a run from 17th to sixth. Paul Nienhiser crossed seventh, followed by Jonathan Cornell who moved up to eighth from 13th. Ayton Gennetten in ninth was trailed by Roger Crockett in tenth.
Overall, the weekend saw 71 drivers in attendance from 15 states, as well as drivers from Canada and Australia. The combined attendance of both classes put the overall at 132 Sprint Cars.
The next event for the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series is the John Christner Trucking Fall Fling Presented by James Hodge Ford at Creek County Speedway in Sapulpa, Okla. on Friday, October 11 and Saturday, October 12. Opening at 5:30 P.M. followed by Hot Laps at 7:00 P.M. with racing at 7:30 P.M. (CT) both nights, Friday's show with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network will offer up $3,000 to win, $400 to start with Saturday upping the bounty to $4,000 to win, $400 to start.
More information on the John Christner Trucking Fall Fling presented by James Hodge Ford will be posted as the event dates near. Creek County Speedway is located at 18450 West Hwy. 66 between Sapulpa and Kellyville. For more information on Creek County Speedway, including a complete lineup of events and directions, log onto http://www.creekcountyspeedway.co or call (918) 693-RACE (7223) or (918) 838-3777. The track can also be found on social media at https://www.facebook.com/CreekCountySpeedway.
For other news, notes, and information on the American Sprint Car Series, from the National Tour to any of the nine Regional Tours that make up ASCS Nation in 2019, log onto http://www.ascsracing.com, follow on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter (@LucasOilASCS).
ASCS PR

It’s a rare moment in motorsports when a rookie pulls out a huge victory in the top echelon of their driving discipline. On this night, Rookie of the Year contender Demetrios Drellos did just that, shocking the world of Big Block Modified racing by winning his first Super DIRTcar Series race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in one of the biggest races of the year.

 Drellos battled back the best in the business including Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Billy Decker, and Mat Williamson to pick up $10,000 and a guaranteed start in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII. Billy Decker crossed the line in second and Mat Williamson had his two-race win streak broken with a third-place finish.

The night of racing started out well for the Queensbury, NY driver Demetrios Drellos after setting the second fastest lap in his Time Trial group, which put the No. 111 on the outside pole for his Heat Race. Pole-sitter Matt Sheppard got the best of him but soon the roles were reversed. In the Dig Safely NY 811 Redraw, Drellos drew the pole position and Matt Sheppard’s designated drawer put the No. 9s on the outside pole.

At the drop of the green flag, The Greek Streak outdueled Sheppard to retain the top spot in the early going. He eventually stretched out a substantial lead with the first caution coming around lap 40. After that, the rest of the heavy-hitters like Larry Wight, Billy Decker, and Mat Williamson stepped up to the plate but Drellos denied all-comers.

“Every lap that clicked by I thought Larry, Matt, Billy, or Williamson would get by on the bottom. I was just so persistent on the top. I know it’s really risky picking the top lane here on the restarts but the top has been so fast here. It worked out for me,” said Drellos.

The No. 111 pilot sliced and diced his way through heavy lapped traffic in the latter half of the race. The track conditions were conducive to fast, side-by-side racing, which made the traffic difficult to work through.

“I follow a lot of good guys on the Series and they aren’t afraid to take risks in lapped traffic. You gotta go and if you don’t go, someone’s gonna pounce on you,” Drellos explained.

Needless to say, Drellos was a very happy driver in Victory Lane. He’s worked hard learning new tracks and refining his Time Trial program all season.

“It’s been such a learning curve running with these guys every week and it’s finally paid off.”

Drellos’ voice wavered with emotion as The Voice of the Super DIRTcar Series Shane Andrews interviewed him in Victory Lane when he said, “I watched a lot of Super DIRTcar Series races from those seats right up there and it feels really amazing to be standing down here not too many years later beating the best.”

The win will take a little time to sink in because it’s a rare feat to beat your heroes at their own game:

“I’m speechless, to be honest. You have Mat Williamson, Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker, Pat Ward, Tim Fuller, I mean, I’ve watched those guys for years. They are just unbelievable stars here. Just to say I beat them in a Super DIRTcar Series race is something I never even dreamed of.”

The Franklyn Flyer Billy Decker was the final driver to reach the rear bumper of the No. 111 but he too failed to overtake the young rookie.

Mat Williamson now has four podium finishes in a row including two race wins. The team has been constent all year but now Williamson is clicking off great finishes and has begun reeling in points leader Matt Sheppard.

“Confidence as a lot to do with it. It seems like when we won Orange County [Centennial Celebration] it started rolling from there. Fortunately, I have a really good car owner and really good crew guys. They make my job real easy behind the wheel,” noted Williamson.

The racing surface was tacky and provided a lot of grip from the bottom to the top of the speedway.

“We tried to move all over the place. The track was really fast and racy,” said Williamson. “I think we tightened up a little bit too much. Demetrios was really good. Hats off to those guys, it’s cool to see him win.”

Mike Mahaney stormed through the field to pick up sixteen positions as the KSE Racing Hard-Charger Award. He finished seventh after starting deep in the field, but the tenacious Huttig No. 35 team’s hard work paid off.

In the Dig Safely NY 811 Redraw, Peter Britten had his daughter for a designated drawer. The curly-haired youngster joyfully picked up a neon yellow t-shirt and awarded Britten one free Hoosier Racing Tire, but also a twelfth place starting position.

Home-track hero Kenny Tremont Jr., who picked up the 2019 Mr. DIRT Track USA title at Lebanon Valley Speedway, set the fastest lap in Time Trials, which granted him the Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award.

The next Super DIRTcar Series race is the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 on Sunday, October 13 at Oswego Speedway to conclude NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII.

FEATURE (100 Laps)
1. 111-Demetrios Drellos [1][$10,000]; 2. 91-Billy Decker [11][$5,000]; 3. 88-Mat Williamson [4][$2,500]; 4. 44-Stewart Friesen [15][$1,800]; 5. 99L-Larry Wight [7][$1,600]; 6. 9S-Matt Sheppard [2][$1,400]; 7. 35-Mike Mahaney [23][$1,300]; 8. 93-Danny Varin [8][$1,200]; 9. 18-Anthony Perrego [16][$1,100]; 10. 2-Ronnie Johnson [3][$1,000]; 11. 19m-Jessey Mueller [5][$800]; 12. 20-Brett Hearn [17][$700]; 13. 19-Tim Fuller [21][$600]; 14. 25-Erick Rudolph [18][$575]; 15. 97-Bobby Hackel [10][$550]; 16. 3d-Matt Delorenzo [6][$525]; 17. 2L-Jack Lehner [24][$500]; 18. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [22][$500]; 19. 26-Ryan Godown [25][$500]; 20. 74-JR Heffner [13][$500]; 21. 91NY-Jackie Brown [19][$500]; 22. 27J-Danny Johnson [26][$500]; 23. R2-Rusty Smith [27][$]; 24. 21A-Peter Britten [12][$500]; 25. 17-Marcus Dinkins [28][$]; 26. 115-Kenny Tremont [9][$500]; 27. 96S-Paul St.Sauveur [14][$500]; 28. 3j-Marc Johnson [20][$500]

KSE Hard Charger Award: 35-Mike Mahaney[+16]

Super DIRTcar Series PR

NASCAR fans will be up for an exciting final battle for ELITE 2 Division title at Circuit Zolder on October 5-6 with Giorgio Maggi and Lasse Soerensen separated by just nine points entering the last two races of the 2019 season. The Dane closed the gap on championship leader Maggi by grabbing a spectacular win in Sunday’s Semi Final race at Germany’s Hockenheimring.

RESULTS ELITE 2 SEMI FINAL 2

The Dexwet-Df1 Racing rookie grabbed the lead right after the start and fended off Maggi in the early stages of the 16-lap race, surviving two restarts to grab his fifth Euro NASCAR win of the season.

“It was a really good race today, as my plan was to catch Maggi right from the beginning,” said the 22 year old Dane, who managed to position himself in the title hunt despite missing the season opener in Valencia. “The plan worked out really well but I had to defend my position after the two cautions, which was not that easy. I managed to have three good starts and it seems like I was very quick in the first 2-3 laps after each restart. Now I want the title, which was the goal even before the start of my season in Italy. We will get there!”

NWES debutant Hugo De Sadeleer grabbed his second Euro NASCAR podium out of two starts by finishing right behind Soerensen. The Swiss took over second place in his #88 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang on lap 14 with a bold maneuver on championship leader Giorgio Maggi, who had to deal with brake issues in the closing stages and settled for a smart fifth place under the checkered flag.

Racers Motorsport’s Alessandro Brigatti ended up third and earned himself the first NWES podium finish with a strong performance. The average age of the drivers on the podium was below 22, confirming the quality of the new talents making their NWES debut in 2019. The Rookie Trophy podium mirrored the overall top-3.

“We were very fast in the beginning of the race, but I struggled a lot in the end,” said NWES newcomer De Sadeleer. “I was side-by-side with Lasse in the closing laps, but due to the yellow flags I was not allowed to overtake him in the Motodrom. I’m really pleased with the result and Racing Engineering did a great job, setting up an awesome Ford Mustang. Hopefully I will be able to come back at Zolder and fight for the win.”

Brigatti commented his first ever NWES podium: “It’s crazy and unbelievable to stand on the podium here at Hockenheim. I never expected to finish inside the top-3, but we managed to get there. I didn’t run in qualifying but I did a good lap in a strong first race. We had a better starting position in the second race and a good pace. I’m really happy with the result today.”

The safety-car was deployed two times, the first on lap 4 after 16-year-old Ben Creanor hit the wall in the famous Motodrom. The second caution came on lap 7 due to a multi-car crash. Andre Castro, Mirco Schultis and Pol van Pollaert were all involved in the accident and had to retire from the race. On the following restart, Soerensen took the lead in turn one and never relinquished it, bringing home the win in the NASCAR GP Germany.

Jesse Vartiainen confirmed Saturday’s strong pace by finishing fourth. The Alex Caffi Motorsports driver took advantage of Maggi’s technical problems in the closing stages to pass the Swiss in the last lap. Maggi contained the damage and brought home his #50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang in fifth place, preserving the championship lead by nine points on Soerensen.

Brigatti’s teammate Nicholas Risitano ended up sixth ahead of CAAL Racing’s Advait Deodhar and Martin Doubek at the wheel of the #7 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang. Deodhar’s teammate Pierluigi Veronesi finished ahead of American NASCAR veteran Myatt Snider, who closed the top-10 in his #48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang.

Memphis Racing’s Ian Eric Waden grabbed another Legend Trophy win at the Hockenheimring, bringing his season total up to five and setting up a very tight battle for the over-40 classification in Zolder. At the wheel of her #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet, Arianna Casoli, who also won the Lady Trophy classification, was second among the Legend drivers ahead of points leader Michael Bleekemolen.

The ELITE 2 Division will be back in action on October 5-6 at Circuit Zolder in Belgium. The qualifying and both final races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NWES Facebook and YouTube page, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world.

NWES PR

Hezemans makes it four in a row, puts his hands on the NWES title

22 Sep 2019 Written by Speedway Digest Staff

Loris Hezemans will be the man to beat on October 5-6 in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Finals at Circuit Zolder, Belgium. The Hendriks Motorsport driver grabbed his fourth consecutive ELITE 1 win of 2019 in an exciting dash to the checkered flag in which he beat Nicolo Rocca by just 0.203 seconds.

RESULTS ELITE 1 SEMI FINAL 2

The Dutchman also stretched the championship lead he took over after Saturday’s race to 21 points over Rocca, making it a perfect weekend for Hendriks Motorsport. The team took three wins out of four races at the NASCAR GP Germany.

When polesitter and current race leader Alon Day was sidelined by a technical problem on his #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS on lap 3, his teammate Thomas Ferrando was the quickest to take advantage of the moment and grabbed the provisional lead. Hezemans was too strong for the Frenchman, and moved past the #27 CAAL Racing Mustang just two laps later. He then fended off every attack from a charging Rocca brought in the remaining 15 laps until the checkered flag dropped.

Rocca fought hard to catch Hezemans, but had to settle for second when a couple of door-to-door battles were not enough for the PK Carsport driver to pass the Flying Dutchman.

“It’s been a great feeling to win the second race here at the Hockenheimring,” said the Hezemans, who’s the winner of the Tijey’s Fastest Driver Award. “It wasn’t easy as Alon was driving very well until his car broke down. Hopefully he can compensate that at Zolder. When Alon slowed down Rocca and I were a little bit surprised, but then we saw Ferrando take the lead and I was thinking: ‘Wow, we gotta go!’ The team did a great job and we find a great way to have a fast car. In Zolder it’s all about bringing the car home and win the championship.”

Rocca said about his second place: “It was a great weekend and we’re still in the middle of the championship battle. We showed that we have the right pace and can fight Loris. I tried my best to overtake him and I was way more aggressive than yesterday. I really wanted to win, but I’m happy with the second place. I hope, it was an entertaining race to watch with all those intense battles. Everything can happen in Zolder and the gap is not that big. We’ll focus on qualifying to have a good starting spot on the grid and we’ll be going for the championship.”

Racers Motorsport’s Gianmarco Ercoli carved his way up to third after an intense battle against Racing Engineering’s Romain Iannetta and RDV Competition’s Frederic Gabillon, who closed the top-5.

“It’s amazing to be back on the podium, as this season is not my best one in NWES,” said Ercoli. “I worked very hard to be back on top of the standings and I’m really happy about the podium today and the fourth place yesterday. The team did a great job, they really deserved it and we are all very happy.”

After leading the race in the early stages, Thomas Ferrando fell back to sixth. The CAAL Racing driver closed the Junior Trophy podium behind Hezemans and Rocca. Ander Vilarino was part of the podium battle too until lap 18 when he was shuffled back to 15th.

Go Fas Racing driver and former Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve was seventh ahead of Alexander Graff. Scott Jeffs finished ninth in his ELITE 1 debut for Braxx Racing and grabbed his first ELITE 1 top-10 in what was his second start in the NWES premier division. Reigning ELITE 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Sunday, rounded out the top-10.

Ioannis Smyrlis won the Challenger Trophy in the very first NWES weekend of his career. The Marko Stipp DF1 Racing driver edged Kenko Miura and Henri Tuomaala in the championship for bronze and silver drivers of the ELITE 1 Division.

The only caution of the race came up in lap 13, just seven laps before the checkered flag. Dario Caso’s Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang broke down and the Italian had to stop the car beside the race track.

On October 5-6 at Circuit Zolder it will be Hezemans versus Rocca for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title. Qualifying and all races from the legendary Belgian track will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NWES Facebook and YouTube pages, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world.

NWES PR

Herta claims NTT P1 Award as title contenders qualify in top six

21 Sep 2019 Written by Speedway Digest Staff

Like father, like son at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Twenty years after Bryan Herta won the third of his three consecutive Indy car poles at this 11-turn, 2.238-mile permanent road course, his 19-year-old son Colton won his first Laguna Seca pole here Saturday in qualifying for Sunday's Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey.

The younger Herta, who also is trying to win the NTT IndyCar Series rookie-of-the-year award, captured his third pole of the NTT IndyCar Series season and will lead the 24-car field to the green flag.

RESULTS: Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey qualifying

Following his father's footsteps at this track clearly was meaningful to Herta, who lives with his family in Valencia, Calif.

"Yeah, it obviously means a lot with the family history," he said. "Fifty percent of (my father's) Indy car wins came here. It means a lot to kind of keep on the family tradition."

Herta showed pole-level speed throughout the weekend, yet he wasn't convinced he would capture the NTT P1 Award as practice transitioned into qualifying Saturday.

"Honestly, going into (morning practice) I thought maybe we lacked a little bit, and we didn't have quite as big of a gap (to others)," he said. "We were (seventh) and we needed to find a little bit of time, so I was going to be happy to make it into the Fast Six. That would be an improvement, but we got there and we led every (qualifying) group we were in."

Herta's pole-winning lap in the Firestone Fast Six qualifying was 1 minute, 10.1405 seconds/114.867 miles per hour, scoring him a bonus point that could be important in deciding a pair of season winners. Herta might need it to win the rookie award, a championship contender might wish he had it to claim the Astor Challenge Cup.

Herta's pole also came shortly after he was confirmed to join Andretti Harding Steinbrenner Autosport for 2020. Sunday, he will try to earn his second career NTT IndyCar Series race win after becoming the youngest winner in series history March 24 at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas. He also will try to win a race here as his father did twice (1998 and '99).

Alongside Herta on the front row will be championship contender Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing (No. 9 PNC Bank Honda). But the five-time NTT IndyCar Series champion will have only a slight advantage on the other title challengers as Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) and Team Penske's Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet) and Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 DXC Technology Chevrolet) will start third, fourth and sixth, respectively.

Newgarden is in the driver's seat for the championship as he holds a 41-point lead over Rossi and a 42-point advantage on Pagenaud. Dixon is 85 points in arrears. Newgarden secures the title by finishing fourth or better, regardless of what the other three drivers do, in the season-closing race that awards double finishing position points.

"We're all there, we're all there ready to go," Newgarden said of the starting grid. "It's funny how that works out. They all made it (to the Firestone Fast Six), right? That's what we're supposed to do. Yeah, it'll make it interesting."

Rossi said having Newgarden close to him at the start "is not good for me, but, yeah, I guess it's good for the show. It's what probably should happen."

On the eve of the championship race, Pagenaud said everyone must "rise above."

"At the end of the day, a championship is on the line," he said.

Pagenaud and Newgarden will be shooting for their second series titles. Rossi aims for his first.

Battling Herta for top rookie honors is Dale Coyne Racing's Santino Ferrucci (No. 19 Cly-Del Manufacturing Honda) and Chip Ganassi Racing's Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Honda). Both Ferrucci and Rosenqvist had adventurous qualifying sessions.

Ferrucci advanced to the second round of the knockout format, but his car drifted into the dirt on its final run and he couldn't improve from 12th. Rosenqvist had eyes on winning the NTT P1 Award, but his car went wide in Turn 6, spun and was penalized for qualifying interference. He impeded the run by James Hinchcliffe (No. 5 Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda), who was trailing Rosenqvist and lost 7/10 of a second in that segment as a result. By INDYCAR rules, Rosenqvist was stripped of his two fastest laps and was not permitted to advance to the second round. He will start 14th.

Rosenqvist takes a 26-point lead over Ferrucci into Sunday's race. Herta is now 48 points back after collecting the bonus point for the pole.

Sunday's Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, a 90-lap race, will be televised live on NBC beginning with the pre-race show at 2:30 p.m. ET (11:30 a.m. PT) with the green flag scheduled for 3:15 p.m. (12:15 p.m. PT). The race also will be broadcast on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio (XM 205, Sirius 98).

NTT IndyCar Series PR

Maggi increases championship lead after battling down Soerensen

21 Sep 2019 Written by Speedway Digest Staff

Hendriks Motorsport keeps dominating the 2019 edition of the NASCAR GP Germany. After Loris Hezemans’ win in the ELITE 1 Division, Giorgio Maggi drove the #50 Ford Mustang to Victory Lane again in the ELITE 2 Division. The Swiss defeated four-time winner Lasse Soerensen in a tight battle for the lead and widened his champion lead on the Dane, while Vittorio Ghirelli’s championship dreams were shattered in the first corner.

RESULTS ELITE 2 SEMI FINAL 1

Maggi started from the pole but fell back to second behind NWES newcomer Hugo De Sadeleer on an early restart after a first-lap crash triggered the only caution of the race. The Swiss was smart in his reaction, bode his time and took advantage of a small mistake by his fellow countryman a few laps later to grab the lead back. Soerensen was also able to sneak his way past De Sadeleer and challenged Maggi to a long side-by-side battle, but the Dexwet-Df1 Racing driver couldn’t complete the pass and it was Maggi who took the third win of his rookie season.

“It was a perfect day for the whole Hendriks Motorsport team,” said Maggi, who now leads Soerensen by 25 points. “We grabbed pole positions and wins in both divisions here at the Hockenheimring. I was a little bit lucky to get the lead back after I lost it during the restart. The whole weekend I was struggling in the first corner. Afterwards I had some nice fights with Lasse and Hugo, which was a lot of fun. I’m really happy to be the winner.”

Soerensen took second and showed his title ambitions in every one of the 16 laps of the race. The Dane tried it all to overtake Maggi, but never managed to put the nose of his Camaro ahead of the championship leader. De Sadeleer managed to grab his first ever NWES podium by finishing third at the wheel of the #88 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang and the Rookie Trophy podium mirrored the overall top-3.

“That was a really good race with Giorgio and we had some really good battles,” said Soerensen, who is now second in the overall standings. “I had a good restart, but I think Giorgio’s tire pressures were a little bit lower than mine and that’s why he was faster than me in the end of the race. My tires dropped a little bit, but that’s something we can work on for tomorrow and then we’ll see an even better race for sure.”

De Sadeleer commented about his NWES debut: “It was a great experience. Racing Engineering invited me at the very last minute to race here and that’s why I had no time to learn about the car before this weekend. It’s not easy to control when you are used to ABS and other electronics aids in a GT3 car, but it has been an interesting lesson and I’ve learned a lot. It was also my first ever race using a shift stick and I adapted my left-foot braking. Because of that, I’m really happy with the result.”

The very first corner of the race was fatal for Vittorio Ghirelli’s title ambitions. The Italian spun the tires of his #24 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro and was collected by Andre Castro on the the #46 Chevrolet Camaro. Both suffered heavy damage to their cars and were forced to retire. Deodhar was also involved in the accident but the Indian was able to continue in his #31 CAAL Racing Chevrolet.

Jesse Vartiainen ended up fourth for Alex Caffi Motorsports grabbing his best result of the season. Nicholas Risitano was sixth in his #8 Racers Motorsport Chevrolet Camaro ahead of Martin Doubek and 16-year-old Ben Creanor. American NASCAR driver Myatt Snider ended up ninth in his Hockenheimring debut ahead of Advait Deodhar, who came back to close top-10.

Memphis Racing’s Ian Eric Waden grabbed his fourth win of the year in the Legend Trophy by finishing 13th right ahead of his closest competitor Michael Bleekemolen on the #69 Ford Mustang. Mishumotor’s Mirco Schultis rounded out the podium for drivers aged 40 and older. Arianna Casoli brought home the Lady Trophy win.

The ELITE 2 Semi Final 2 at the Hockenheimring will go green on Sunday at 10:35 am CEST. All races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NWES Facebook and YouTube page, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of social media pages and websites from around the world.

NWES PR

Lele Pons, a multi-talented global entertainer, digital creator and three-time Platinum recording artist, will be the celebrity passenger in Honda's Fastest Seat in Sports for Sunday's Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey NTT IndyCar Series race at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca..

Pons will lead the parade lap, ahead of the field of IndyCar Series competitors, in a custom-built, Honda-powered, two-seat Indy car driven by racing legend Mario Andretti. Andretti is celebrating the 50th anniversary of his 1969 Indianapolis 500 win this year.

"I'm so excited to attend my first INDYCAR event alongside legend, Mario Andretti. It's an honor to be here on the 50th anniversary of his Indy 500 win!" Pons said.

Pons was named one of 2016's "30 Most Influential People on the Internet" by TIME Magazine; a member of Forbes' "30 Under 30 Class of 2017"; Instagram's most-watched stories producer in 2017; and a three-time Platinum singer with her first single "Celoso" in 2018. Pons is leading an industry revolution as the world's top digital creator.

The race will be televised live on NBC, with the pre-race show starting at 2:30 p.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled for 3:25 p.m.

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca will be the setting for Sunday's NTT IndyCar Series season-closing Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey that will determine the series champion among the remaining contenders. Team Penske's Josef Newgarden (No. 2 Hitachi Chevrolet) leads Andretti Autosport's Alexander Rossi (No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda) by 41 points, teammate Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Chevrolet) by 42 and five-time series champion Scott Dixon (No. 9 PNC Bank Honda) of Chip Ganassi Racing by 85. Tickets for Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey can be found at https://www.weathertechraceway.com/

Now in its 10th consecutive year, Honda's Fastest Seat in Sports helps to kick off each NTT IndyCar Series® race throughout the season, giving athletes, celebrities and notable influencers an opportunity to experience the thrill of the Honda-powered two-seat Indy car. Recent participants include Lady Gaga, Channing Tatum, Kawhi Leonard and Julian Edelman. Honda also continues its commitment to IndyCar® this year as the automaker celebrates its 26th consecutive year as a manufacturer to the NTT IndyCar Series®. For more information about Honda's racing programming, please visit  HondaRacing.com.

NTT IndyCar Series PR

The championship battle was shuffled up in a dramatic Semi Final 1 at the NASCAR GP Germany. While Hendriks Motorsport’s Loris Hezemans won the third race in a row by edging PK Carsport’s Nicolo Rocca at the end of a grueling 20-lap battle, points leader Stienes Longin had to retire early due to damage to his #11 PK Carsport Chevrolet Camaro.

RESULTS ELITE 1 SEMI FINAL 1
 
It was not an easy win for Hezemans at Hockenheim, the track where he celebrated his first NWES career triumph in 2018. After starting from the pole, the Dutchman had to defend his lead from Rocca all race long, but he managed to keep the Italian at bay and take over the championship lead. Hezemans now leads Rocca by 11 points.

“It’s great to keep the momentum we built in the last three races,” said the race winner. “I’m happy with the results and it’s double points, so it’s nice to score those too. It was so important to have a good start and clean restarts. The key was to have a good first lap and to manage the gap on Nicolo. It was a tough one, as he was pushing a lot so I had to stay on the limit all race long. I didn’t do any major mistakes and grabbed the win.”

Rocca had a good start from third and in the first corner he got together teammate Longin in turn 1. The #11 Camaro went wide and Rocca took over second place, while Longin lost several positions.

A Thomas Ferrando in great shape grabbed his fourth ELITE 1 Division podium by finishing third behind Rocca. The Frenchman also closed the Junior Trophy podium, which mirrored the overall top-3. Racers Motorsport driver Gianmarco Ercoli drove a finally trouble-free race and finished fourth ahead of Jacques Villeneuve, who scored his fourth Euro NASCAR top-5 of the season at the wheel of the #32 Go Fas Racing Chevrolet Camaro.

“It was a good day for us, as we started third and finished second,” said Rocca, who’s now the runner-up in the championship battle. “It’s good and very important points. I think I was a little bit quicker than Loris and maybe I should have been a little bit more aggressive, but it was only the first race of the playoffs. I didn’t take too many risks, but I really tried to force Loris into a mistake. That didn’t happen, so I will go for the win tomorrow in the second race.”

Drama struck for championship leader Longin on lap 12, when the back of the #11 PK Carsport Camaro was heavily damaged in an incident also involving Day and Sebastiaan Bleekemolen. Longin was forced to go to the pits and saw his championship lead vanish in a matter of seconds. Just one lap later Ander Vilarino parked his #48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang in a runoff area. The result: Two title contenders suffered a huge setback in the very first race of the playoffs in Germany. Longin is now 37 points behind Hezemans.

Frederic Gabillon was sixth in his #3 RDV Competition Chevrolet ahead of reigning champion Alon Day, who climbed back from twelfth on the grid, and Lucas Lasserre.

Local hero and NWES newcomer Daniel Keilwitz hit trouble in the very first lap of the race. The Mishumotors driver had the worst hand in contact with Vilarino at the hairpin. The German was able to continue after the spin and finished ninth after a strong comeback at the wheel of his #70 Chevrolet Camaro. ELITE 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux closed the top-10.

Racers Motorsport’s Dario Caso won the Challenger Trophy in 13th place ahead of newcomer Ioannis Smyrlis, who was 15th under the checkered flag. The podium was closed by another NWES debutant, Marco Santamaria, who was at the wheel of the new #56 CAAL Racing Chevrolet.

Two cautions slowed the field down, one on lap 2 when Henri Tuomaala was stuck in the gravel and the other on the subsequent restart, when a crash involved, among others, Lorenzo Marcucci, Dylan Derdaele and Mauro Trione.

The ELITE 1 SEMI FINAL 2 will go green at 14:15 CEST on Sunday at the legendary Hockenheimring. The race will be streamed live at Fanschoice.tv, the Euro NASCAR Facebook and YouTube channels, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world

NWES PR

Hendriks Motorsport was in great form in qualifying for the 2019 Semi Finals. While Loris Hezemans will start in first position in the ELITE 1 Division, Giorgio Maggi was fastest at the wheel of the #50 Ford Mustang in the ELITE 2 Division Superpole.

First Practice / Final Practice / Qualifying / Superpole

Hezemans clocked a 1:32.160 lap around the Hockenheimring to grab the Pole Award for the first race of the NASCAR GP Germany exactly as he did in 2018. The Dutchman will have the best starting position for one of the most crucial races of the season but he will also have championship leader Stienes Longin alongside him on the first row of the grid. The Belgian was just 0.106 seconds slower than Hezemans.

“It’s great to grab back-to-back pole positions here at Hockenheim”, said Hezemans, who grabbed the second pole of his career. “For me it’s finally a pole, as I missed this opportunity about three times this year. I’m really happy with the result. Also congratulations are due to Giorgio! This shows how good the car was prepared by Hendriks Motorsport ahead of this weekend. Hopefully we can translate the qualifying pace into a good result in the race.”

Ending up third in Superpole, Nicolo Rocca is in the hunt of Hezemans and Longin, not only in the race but also in the points standings. The Italian ended up only 0.256 seconds behind the pole setter. CAAL Racing’s Thomas Ferrando was fourth ahead of Alexander Graff at the wheel of his #77 Memphis Racing Chevrolet Camaro, who closed the top-5.

Lucas Lasserre grabbed a solid sixth place in Superpole on his #33 Mishumotors Chevrolet Camaro, while RDV Competition's Frederic Gabillon finished seventh ahead of Gianmarco Ercoli, Romain Iannetta and Salvador Tineo Arroyo, who rounded out the top-10.

Drama struck twice in the ELITE 1 Division qualifying. Title contender and three-time NWES champion Ander Vilarino did not made it into Superpole and will have to start 13th and carve his way up the ladder. Reigning champion Alon Day had to stop his car in Superpole due to a technical issue, hurting his ambitions to win his third NWES title in a row. He will start twelfth behind Jacques Villeneuve.

Maggi on a roll in ELITE 2 Division

Giorgio Maggi was quickest in ELITE 2 Division by clocking a spectacular 1:32.309 lap in his Hendriks Motorsport Mustang. The Swiss, who already leads the points standings, positioned himself in the best possible way for today’s double-points race, but being in Pole is no guarantee to win a race in Euro NASCAR’s most unpredictable category.

First Practice / Final Practice / Qualifying / Superpole

“I’m very happy, as I was lacking speed in yesterday’s practice”, said Maggi, who grabbed his third pole position in a row. “We took a look at the car to find out why we struggled and we found the right solution. We were almost one second faster in qualifying than yesterday in practice. I also managed to have a strong lap and here we are on pole! In the race every position counts, as the competitors are only a few points behind me. It will be crucial to score many points in the playoffs.”

Third in the points standings, Lasse Soerensen ended up second just 0.557 shy of the pole setter. The Dexwet-Df1 Racing driver is right in the middle of the championship battle despite missing the season opener at Valencia and will start on the first row alongside Maggi.

NWES newcomer Hugo De Sadeleer surprised the ELITE 2 Division field by setting the third fastest lap in Superpole. The Swiss was 0.941 seconds slower than Maggi, while title contender Vittorio Ghirelli ended up fourth head of Andre Castro, who will keep his championship hopes alive by closing the top-5.

Jesse Vartiainen showed great potential and ended up sixth ahead of Advait Deodhar and Nicholas Risitano. Pierluigi Veronesi and Ben Creanor, who is the youngest driver to compete full-time in NWES with his 16 years of age, rounded out the top-10. Myatt Snider missed a top spot on the grid by finishing eleventh ahead of local hero Justin Kunz.

The ELITE 2 Division qualifying session had to be red flagged due to a collision between Hendriks Motorsport’s Martin Doubek and Massimiliano Lanza in the #41 The Club Motorsport Camaro. Lanza was penalized for the incident with the cancellation of his three best lap times.

The Semi Finals of the NASCAR GP Germany will be streamed live at Fanschoice.tv, the NWES Facebook and YouTube pages, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world.

NWES PR

Denied the win in Thursday's opener, Josh Baughman was not about to let that happen again as the Precision Catalyst No. 17 led start to finish on the second night of the General Tire Hockett/McMillin Memorial with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series presented by the MAVTV Motorsports Network.
With a fifth on Thursday to go with his win, Baughman has secured the pole for Saturday's $10,000 to win Hockett/McMillin Memorial finale.
"We've been close here and just hadn't been able to get it done, so this is pretty cool," commented Baughman of his first career win at Lucas Oil Speedway. "We have Fischer Body Shop here and this is their backyard, so it's really good to win for them and everybody back home. Aaron [Reutzel] won tonight too at Williams Grove, so this is the second time we've both won on the same night. I feel like that says a lot about our entire team."
Leading start to finish for his second career SawBlade.com A-Feature triumph, Baughman's night was nearly cut short a couple of times as the cushion became deeper and deeper off the fourth turn.
"It was getting narrow in turn-four. Just real slick on exit to a big curb and that wall has gotten me plenty of times here. I know how bad it hurts and I didn't want to give it up for this team. I can't say enough for Dylan and Wayne, plus we have R.J. with us this weekend. These guys gave me a badass car every time we pulled onto the track tonight."
Keeping Roger Crockett at bay through a complete restart that came after Sam Hafertepe, Jr. went sideways and collected Bales, Seavey, and Phillips, another red on Lap 5 for Scott Bogucki saw the Rocket Designs No. 11 take another shot at the lead.
Pulling away to nearly three seconds as the race cleared the half-way point, one of Baughman's encounters with the cushion allowed Crockett to close in with Seth Bergman in tow. Getting the run for the runner-up spot on Lap 16, the Young Tool Co. No. 23 grabbed the spot on the following lap. Making up more time on the No. 17, the red lights came on one last time working Lap 19 for Brad Bowden who biked hard and flipped in turn four.
Back to the 18th lap on the restart, Bergman kept pace but could not keep Baughman in striking distance with the Odessa, Texas driver pulling away to a 0.621-second advantage at the checkered flag over Seth Berman with Roger Crockett holding on to complete the podium.
Jumping from Victory Lane with the POWRi Lucas Oil WAR Sprint League 10th on the grid with the Lucas Oil American Sprint Car Series, Oklahoma's Brady Bacon worked to a fourth-place finish with Derek Hagar charging forward 14 positions to complete the top five.
Moving up 10 spots, Jack Dover gabbed sixth with Blake Hahn rallying in the last half of he feature to climb from 18th to seventh. Up as high as sixth from 17th, Mark Smith ended up slipping to eighth with Jonathan Cornell and Tim Crawley making up the top ten.
With Preliminary Nights in the books, Josh Baughman (312) will be joined by Blake Hahn (305) on the front row of Saturday's A-Feature. Roger Crockett (292), Derek Hagar (286), Dylan Westbrook (259), Paul Nienhiser (252), Ayrton Gennetten (249), and Jack Dover (249) made up the top eight that automatically lock into the A-Feature. The remainder of the field will start their night on one of four Last Chance Qualifiers.
Overall, 71 drivers from 15 states and three counties have taken part in the 2019 Jesse Hockett/Daniel McMillin Memorial.
The 9th annual Hockett/McMillin Memorial concludes on Saturday, September 21, 2019. Gates open at 4:00 P.M. with racing getting underway at 6:30 P.M. (CT). More information on Lucas Oil Speedway can be found at http://www.lucasoilspeedway.com.
For other news, notes, and information on the American Sprint Car Series, from the National Tour to any of the nine Regional Tours that make up ASCS Nation in 2019, log onto http://www.ascsracing.com, follow on Facebook, on Instagram, and on Twitter (@LucasOilASCS).
ASCS PR
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