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Auto racing, perhaps more than any other sport, is made up of participants who can trace their roots in the sport back generations. Some families, like the Petty family or the Andretti family, have three or four generations of drivers. Others, like the Marcum family, the founding family of the Automobile Racing Club of America, can also claim three generations of involvement in the sport.

It’s rare to find someone in the sport whose family was never around it as they were growing up.

For Nic Moncher, general manager at Bret Holmes Racing, that’s exactly what happened. Born in Toledo, Ohio and raised in Tiffin and Sandusky, Moncher and his family had no connection to racing. His family didn’t have a racer in it, in fact, they didn’t even know there were short tracks peppered throughout northwest Ohio. Yet somehow, Moncher found NASCAR racing on television and was enthralled.

“No one in my family knew anything about racing,” Moncher said. “We didn’t go to any of the short tracks around Ohio, we didn’t watch it on TV, nothing. We didn’t even know it was a thing. But somehow I found it one day when I was a kid and I couldn’t stop watching it. I became a huge Jeff Gordon fan.  I went to my first race at Michigan International Speedway in 1999. From there on out it was all I wanted to do. We lived in Sandusky, and I found out there was a NASCAR team located there and I started banging on their door wanting to do anything I could to be involved.”

The team was ThorSport Racing. While the team is now one of the powerhouse organizations in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series at the time, in 2004, it was a small team still looking for long-term sustained success. And while any and all help was appreciated, Moncher still had to start on the ground floor.

“I would pound on (ThorSport team manager) David Pepper’s door all the time asking him, begging him, to hire me,” Moncher said. “Eventually he said I could work there but I would have to do all the jobs no one else wanted to do – sweeping the floors, taking out the trash, cleaning the bathrooms – for a year before they would let me start to work on the trucks. Eventually they started giving me more and more to do. I started installing decals and doing some of the graphics on the trucks.

“Some time in 2005 I told them I wanted to start to go to the racetrack, and eventually they let me. But I had to ride to and from the race in the hauler. I really got to see a lot about how the sport works from a lot of different perspectives.”

After a couple of years with ThorSport, Moncher decided he wanted to get even more involved in the management side of the sport so he departed Ohio to attend Belmont Abbey’s motorsports management program in Belmont, North Carolina.

“It was the first motorsports management program in the country,” he said. “It was led by Humpy Wheeler, who was promoter at Charlotte Motor Speedway for years, and John Bickford, who was Jeff Gordon’s stepfather and manager during the early part of his career. I was one of the first 20 people accepted into that program.”

After school, Moncher found himself in a wide variety of jobs in the racing industry, ranging from mechanic and pit crew member to producer of a motorsports talk show on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. He worked with legendary racing journalist Chris Economaki at National Speed Sport News and learned about the intricacies of the die cast collectible market at Motorsports Authentics. In 2009, while working with Venturini Motorsports, he started working in team management for the first time. He’s still at it a decade later.

“My first job with Venturini Motorsports I was strictly a mechanic and a crew member,” he said. “When Billy (Venturini) stepped out of the seat they started working more on driver development and I helped them get that program up and running. It was my first real foray into working in the front office of a race team.”

Moncher moved to Joey Coulter’s team in 2010 and followed Coulter to Richard Childress Racing in 2011 and 2012 before joining GMS Racing and driver Spencer Gallagher in 2013. He helped organize GMS’s efforts from a small one-car ARCA team to a championship team in both the ARCA Menards Series and the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. When GMS wanted to focus more on the NASCAR side of things, they sold their ARCA inventory to the Holmes family. Moncher was part of the deal.

“Maury Gallagher wanted to win an ARCA championship so we signed Grant Enfinger for a full season in 2015,” he said. “We won the first three races of the year and six overall. Grant won the championship and the Holmes family came in and wanted to get involved. They bought all of GMS’s ARCA inventory. Part of the deal was they would get all of the crew and me too.”

After a year with the Holmes team, Moncher had another offer to work with another NASCAR Truck team. In his absence, Holmes was competitive but not as competitive as they’d have liked. The team took the second half of 2018 off to reorganize, hoping for better results. They made two key moves. The first was hiring long-time crew chief Shane Huffman to oversee the racecars. The second was to bring Moncher back to manage the team and be Holmes’s eyes in the sky, communicating directly with the driver via two-way radio during the race.

“I always liked the management side of the sport,” he said. “I liked the mechanical side too, but I just felt I was better suited to be on the management side. Being the spotter keeps me involved on the competition side of things too.”

With Holmes currently sitting third in the series championship standings, Moncher is looking forward to returning to his home track for the May 19 ARCA Menards Series Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 with a chance to win.

“I never even knew Toledo Speedway existed growing up,” he said. “The first time I even heard about it was on a poster at a gas station when I was a kid. They were advertising the ARCA race and a poster was in the window. It had all of the previous race winners and champions on it. It would be pretty cool for us to add our names to that list.”

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

In 1981, forty-year-old Joe Gibbs started his professional football head coaching career with five straight losses. A tough start for sure, but his Washington Redskins team would recover to win eight of their final eleven games and end the season at 8-8.

The slow start belies what would become an NFL Hall of Fame career. The team would go to the Super Bowl the next two seasons, winning in 1982. Gibbs and the Redskins were perennial playoff contenders and won the Super Bowl a second time in 1987.

In 1992, while in his final year of his first stint as head coach of the Redskins, Gibbs created a NASCAR Cup Series race team. Much like his initial season as a football coach, his first season as a car owner was trying as well. But, in his second year, just as he did as coach of the Redskins, his race team won the “super bowl” of racing when driver Dale Jarrett won the Daytona 500 in 1993.

Now, 27 years later, Gibbs is perhaps more known for his NASCAR accomplishments than he is his hall of fame football career.

JGR has won 374 races in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series, NASCAR Truck Series, ARCA Menards Series, AMA Pro Motocross, and in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series. And to further prove that Gibbs is more racer than footballer at this point is the fact his sons, J.D. and Coy, both followed him into racing.

J.D., who passed away in January after a long illness, was a former driver who was groomed to take over JGR when “Coach” retired. Coy, who was also a former driver and worked with his father during his second stint as head coach of the Redskins, is now back at JGR. In addition to his duties with the team, he’s also the father of the newest member of the family to pursue a career in motorsports.

Ty Gibbs, still just 16 years of age, made his ARCA Menards Series debut at Five Flags Speedway in March. He stayed in the fight all night long and made a pass for second in the final corner of the final lap. In his second start four weeks ago at Salem Speedway he recovered from a spin to finish sixth. He finished second in the most recent ARCA Menards Series race at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.

Not yet old enough to be eligible to race for the overall series championship, Gibbs will compete for the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge championship. The series within the series takes place on all tracks, paved and dirt, one mile in length and under. The Sioux Chief PowerPEX 200 at Toledo Speedway will be the fourth start of Gibbs’ brief ARCA career.

Gibbs has tested a couple of times at the Glass City half mile last year in an effort to familiarize himself with the cars raced in the ARCA series. He will test again on Monday to work on race day setups and to continue to acclimate himself with crew chief Mark McFarland.

“Last year we came to Toledo Speedway to get some seat time in the ARCA car and some laps on the track knowing that we were going to be racing here during the 2019 season,” said Gibbs. “I was really surprised at how fast the track was but feel like I was able to learn some things that will help me when we get to the race weekend. I know Mark (McFarland, crew chief) and the No. 18 team will have a fast Monster Energy Camry and we’ll be ready to battle for the win at Toledo.”  

Unlike his grandfather, who lost those first five games, Gibbs has come out of the box strong. In addition to his strong performances in the ARCA Menards Series, he also won a big late model event at Myrtle Beach Speedway to start the season off on the right foot.

“The 2019 season has started out awesome with a late-model win in Myrtle Beach and second at New Smyrna for the K&N East race and at Five Flags and Nashville for my first ARCA races. I feel I did a lot of preparation during the off season to make sure my fitness and driving skill set stayed sharp and I was ready to get in the car and contend for wins each week. I had a rough time a few weeks ago at Salem and didn’t finish where we wanted to, but I’m ready to rebound at Toledo.”

With a limited number of opportunities to win in 2019, Gibbs is forced to maximize every chance he has behind the wheel. That’s not to say he feels extra pressure to perform. He places a lot of pressure on himself, just as every driver in his position would. One person that doesn’t put any added pressure on him is his grandfather.

“Coach has always supported me in racing and anything I have been involved with,” continued Gibbs. “I feel like there isn’t too much pressure on me this year, but in the years to come they will be expecting results, just as they do from all of the JGR drivers.”

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

Actor Justin Hartley, who stars in NBC's acclaimed series "This Is Us," will serve as honorary starter for the INDYCAR Grand Prix on Saturday, May 11 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Hartley will wave the green flag at 3:30 p.m. (ET) to start the 85-lap NTT IndyCar Series race on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile IMS road course. NBC's live telecast will start at 3 p.m.

Hartley plays the role of Kevin Pearson in "This Is Us," which chronicles the Pearson family across the decades: from Jack (Milo Ventimiglia) and Rebecca (Mandy Moore) as young parents in the 1980s to their adult kids - Kevin (Hartley), Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Randall (Sterling K. Brown) - searching for love and fulfillment in the present day. This grounded, life-affirming dramedy reveals how the tiniest events in our lives impact who we become, and how the connections we share with each other can transcend time, distance and even death.

Illinois native Hartley is part of the "This Is Us" cast that earned the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series in 2018 and 2019. The series also has won many other awards, including a 2016 Critics Choice Television Award and 2017 Television Critics Association Award. It was nominated for the Outstanding Drama Series Emmy Award in 2016 and 2018.

"Justin will enjoy the thrill of a lifetime sending a charging pack of NTT IndyCar Series stars toward Turn 1 from the flag stand during the INDYCAR Grand Prix," IMS President J. Douglas Boles said. "We're honored to welcome him to the Speedway, as 'This Is Us' is such a widely acclaimed, popular show. His presence is yet another example of the wonderful partnership that's growing between IMS, INDYCAR and NBC as NBC Sports broadcasts the INDYCAR Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge live for the first time this month."

Visit IMS.com to buy tickets or for more information about the INDYCAR Grand Prix and all other events during the Month of May at IMS.

IMS PR

Harrison Burton, winner of the season-opening Lucas Oil 200 at Daytona, used a late day mock qualifying run to turn the fastest lap in ARCA Menards Series open testing at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Tuesday. A total of 22 teams and 27 drivers were present for the test, which ran from early afternoon to early evening.

Burton, driving for Venturini Motorsports, toured the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval at a speed of 182.242 mph, edging teammates Christian Eckes and Michael Self at the top of the speed chart. While Self was near the top of the charts all day, Eckes also used a late run to record the second fastest time of the day minutes before the session ended.

Riley Herbst, who sat at the top of the leader board for most of the day, wound up fourth quickest in one of the two Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Camrys the team brought to the test.

“I like this place, but it’s tough,” Herbst commented. “Both of our cars were good today.”

Herbst, who finished second in ARCA’s return to Charlotte last spring, turned a fast lap at 179.587 mph.

Defending ARCA Menards Series champion Sheldon Creed rounded out the top five, at 178.247 mph in a GMS Racing Chevrolet.

“It feels different to be back in an ARCA car,” Creed stated. “This No. 21 GMS Chevrolet is a brand new car, and this place is tough. That’s probably as big a reason it feels different to me.”

Creed, who finished third behind Herbst last May at Charlotte is looking forward to his return to the series.

“I can’t wait!” Creed stated. “I hope I get to do more than just Charlotte.”

The test was slowed for a trio of incidents involving the No. 35 Toyota of Travis Millburn, the No. 32 Chevrolet of Gus Dean, and the No. 57 of Bryan Dauzat. None of the cars suffered significant damage and none of the drivers reported injury. A brief shower also delayed the session momentarily early in the afternoon.

The ARCA Menards Series returns to Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 23 for the General Tire 150. The race will be broadcast live on FS1 at 9 pm ET. ARCA for Me members can access free live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat at ARCARacing.com. New users can register for free at ARCARacing.com/login.

ARCA Menards Series PR

The month of May is traditionally the yearly highlight for any open-wheel racer in North America. This year it will culminate in the 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500 on Memorial Day weekend, but official activities at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway will commence this week, May 9-11, as the 2.439-mile road course plays host to the sixth annual Grand Prix of Indianapolis.

The famed “Brickyard” will host two races for each of the three levels on the acclaimed Road to Indy Presented by Cooper Tires open-wheel development ladder – Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires, the Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship – providing the stars of the future with an opportunity to race alongside their heroes in the NTT IndyCar Series at the Racing Capital of the World.

The Road to Indy is unique in the high-pressure world of auto racing, offering scholarships and opportunities valued at over $2.5 million for drivers to progress all the way from the grassroots to the pinnacle of the sport.

Florida’s Askew on a Roll in Indy Lights
The Indy Lights Grand Prix of Indianapolis will comprise rounds five and six of the 18-race season, with Andretti Autosport rookie Oliver Askew, from Jupiter, Fla., seeking to reprise the form that saw him sweep the weekend at Circuit of The Americas, near Austin, Texas, in March. Askew thereby leads the chase for a scholarship to ensure entry into at least three IndyCar races in 2020, including the 104th Indianapolis 500.

Askew, 22, has only been racing cars for two seasons following a stellar career in karting but is already the track record holder at Indianapolis in both USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000. He won two races at Indy from the pole on his way to the USF2000 championship crown in 2017, and last year was fastest in qualifying for both Indy Pro races. Askew also set the pace on Day Two of the end-of-season Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy Test last fall – his very first experience in a 450-horsepower Dallara-AER IL-15 – and this week will attempt to go for the trifecta.

Askew currently holds a slender six-point edge over long-time rival Rinus VeeKay (Juncos Racing). The Dutch teenager finished second to fellow rookie Askew in the 2017 USF2000 title-chase, then last year took the Indy Pro 2000 series by storm, winning six times en route to the championship title.

VeeKay shared the victory spoils in Florida with Canada’s Zachary Claman, who added a second-place finish in Race Two for Belardi Auto Racing to claim the early points lead. The Montreal, Que., native will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing weekend in Texas, where he managed no better than seventh from the pair of road course events.

Askew also will be looking over his shoulder at Andretti Autosport teammates Ryan Norman, who has endured a disappointing start to his third season of Indy Lights after beginning as a firm title favorite, and Robert Megennis. Norman, from Aurora, Ohio, was the only driver to (narrowly) out-pace Askew at the Road to Indy test last September, while rookie Megennis, from New York, N.Y., twice finished on the podium in Texas and led the opening five laps of Race Two before losing out to Askew.

Toby Sowery, from Cambridge, England, made a stunning Indy Lights debut at St. Petersburg by securing two podium finishes, despite joining BN Racing/Team Pelfrey mere days before the opening weekend of the season. He was out of luck in the next two races in Texas, although BN Racing teammate David Malukas, the youngest driver in the field at age 17, was able to pick up the slack. Malukas, from Chicago, Ill., stormed from 10th on the grid to third in Race Two to back up his pair of solid fourth-place finishes in Florida.

Canadian Dalton Kellett will drive a second Juncos Racing entry, while Brazilian Lucas Kohl will join Claman at Belardi Auto Racing as he continues to find his feet after stepping up from USF2000.

The on-track action will commence with a pair of 50-minute tests on Thursday, May 9, followed by a lone official practice session. Qualifying at 10:10 a.m. EDT on Friday will form the grid for Race One which is set for a green flag at 1:30 p.m. A separate qualifying session at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday will decide the starting order for Race Two at 1:15 p.m., immediately prior to the IndyCar Grand Prix headline event.

In the U.S., both 60-minute races will air live and on demand on NBC Sports Gold with practice and qualifying coverage carried via live streaming on the Road to Indy TV App, RoadToIndy.TV, indylights.com and indycar.com. Internationally, all practice, qualifying and race events will be live streamed on the Road to Indy TV App, RoadToIndy.TV and at indylights.com. Additional coverage can also be found on the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts which airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 216, XM 209, indycar.com, indycarradio.com and the INDYCAR Mobile App powered by NTT Data.

Thompson the Favorite for Indy Pro Honors
Popular Canadian Parker Thompson, 21, from Red Deer, Alb., capitalized on a last-minute deal to join the newly expanded Abel Motorsports team by sweeping the first two races of the new Indy Pro 2000 season. Thompson, who finished second in the championship last year, therefore established an early claim in the quest for a scholarship valued at almost $600,000 to graduate to Indy Lights in 2020. The fact he has won at Indy in both USF2000 (2016) and Indy Pro (2018) will stand him in good stead, too.

Neither Thompson nor rookie teammate Jacob Abel, from Louisville, Ky., have been idle during the hiatus between the opening two weekends of the season. Thompson has finished on the podium in each of his first four sports car races, including a dominating victory in the wet during last weekend’s IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA at Mid-Ohio, while Abel, 18, has taken a slender lead in the F3 Americas Championship powered by Honda following a pair of wins at Road Atlanta.

Thompson’s perfect start to the season has catapulted him into a commanding 19-point advantage over Swedish rookie Rasmus Lindh, who has joined the same Juncos Racing team which guided Rinus VeeKay to the 2018 championship. Lindh led the majority of Race One in St. Petersburg before slipping behind Thompson in the late stages, and added a fourth-place finish on Sunday.

Fellow rookie Danial Frost, from Singapore, displayed good form at St. Petersburg by finishing fourth and then third for Exclusive Autosport, while Sting Ray Robb (Juncos Racing), from Payette, Idaho, and last year’s runaway USF2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood (RP Motorsport USA), from Jupiter, Fla., also claimed strong podium finishes during the opening weekend. Kirkwood will be joined at Indy in a second RP Tatuus PM-18 for Guatemala’s Ian Rodriguez, who earned three podium finishes in last year’s extremely competitive Italian F4 Championship.

Mexican Moises de la Vara qualified among the top five in both St. Pete races for DEForce Racing, marking himself as a potential front-runner alongside teammate Kory Enders, from Sugar Land, Texas, who looks to rebound from a disappointing first weekend.

Others to watch will include series veteran Nikita Lastochkin (Exclusive Autosport), young Canadian Antonio Serravalle (Pserra Racing/Jay Howard Driver Development) and Phillippe Denes, from Carmel, Calif., who performed well on his debut with FatBoy Racing! In addition, Jacob Loomis, from Corinth, Texas, will make his debut for JDL Racing.

Testing and official practice on Thursday will precede a pair of qualifying sessions on Friday morning which will set the grids for Race One at 3:40 p.m. EDT on Friday and Race Two at 10:10 a.m. on Saturday, May 11.

Eves Looks to Extend Win Streak
Braden Eves impressed onlookers with a pair of strong qualifying performances during his USF2000 debut at Portland International Raceway, Ore., last fall, and then even more so when he began the new season with a perfect pair of victories in St. Petersburg. True, one of them was gifted to him when Cape Motorsports teammate Darren Keane made a mistake on the final corner and eliminated both himself and second-place runner Christian Rasmussen (Jay Howard Driver Development), but Eves, from New Albany, Ohio, who turned 20 last week, certainly showed he will be a leading contender for honors as the 2019 season progresses.

Keane, from Boca Raton, Fla., will be anxious to rebound from a desperately disappointing weekend in his home state. Fastest both in preseason testing and in the opening official practice session at St. Pete, Keane was forced to start the first race from the back of the field after his car’s transponder failed during qualifying. He then showed his skills by dodging a variety of incidents to make up 12 positions before the checkered flag fell. He also set the fastest race lap.

Denmark’s Rasmussen, too, will be hoping for rather better fortune following that Race Two incident which had followed a strong run to fourth on Saturday.

Another of the preseason favorites, Alex Baron, from Narbonne, France, similarly struck misfortune in Florida. Baron crashed heavily on the opening lap after qualifying a seventh fastest, but repaid the efforts of his Legacy Autosport team, which completely rebuilt his demolished Tatuus USF-17 overnight, by finishing fourth on Sunday. After winning one of the races at Indy last year, Baron has his eyes set on a repeat performance – or two – this week.

Mazda Road to Indy Scholarship winner Hunter McElrea currently holds second in the point standings after securing a pair of podium finishes for Pabst Racing on his debut. The talented rookie, who carries dual American and New Zealand citizenship yet lives in Gold Coast, Australia, also was fastest during the traditional Chris Griffis Memorial Road to Indy Test at Indianapolis last fall.

Rookie Manuel Sulaiman (DEForce Racing), from Mexico, and Zach Holden, from Greenfield, Ind., also stood out from a stacked field at St. Pete. Sulaiman chased home Eves in the opener, while Holden’s late agreement to join BN Racing brought dividends in the form of a third-place finish in Race Two.

The long list of potential front-runners this week will include the Pabst Racing pair of Colin Kaminsky, from Homer Glen, Ill., and Brazil’s Bruna Tomaselli, the only woman in the field, who scored a pair of top-seven finishes in St. Pete. Then there’s Englishman Matt Round-Garrido (Jay Howard Driver Development) and Australian Cameron Shields (Newman Wachs Racing), plus second-generation racers Jack William Miller, from Carmel, Ind., and Eduardo Barrichello, from Sao Paulo, Brazil, who are teammates at Miller Vinatieri Motorsports.

Remarkably, there will be no fewer than three 14-year-olds among the field. Puerto Rico-based Reece Gold claimed a pair of top-10 finishes for Cape Motorsports in Florida, while California’s Nolan Siegel also made his debut with Newman Wachs Racing. This week they will be joined by long-time karting star Jak Crawford, from Houston, Texas, who was too young to compete at St. Petersburg but has already established his credentials during several impressive weekends with DEForce Racing in the NACAM F4 Championship.

The USF2000 schedule virtually mirrors that of Indy Pro 2000 with testing, practice and qualifying on Thursday and Friday, capped by races at 2:45 p.m. EDT on Friday and 9:15 a.m. on Saturday.

Both USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 will feature global live streaming of all sessions on the Road to Indy TV App, RoadToIndy.TV, usf2000.com, indypro2000.com and indycar.com

Hailie Deegan, the first woman to lead the championship standings of a series at the regional or national levels of NASCAR, will look to extend her points lead in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West this week when the series visits Tucson Speedway for a doubleheader event on Saturday.

 

The 17-year-old NASCAR Next driver from Temecula, California knows that strong finishes in each of the Port of Tucson Twin 100s at the 3/8-mile Arizona track could help her build an early-season lead in the chase for the championship.

 

Deegan, in her second season in the series, drives the No. 19 Monster Energy / NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry for Bill McAnally Racing. In the first two races this year, she scored a win at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track and registered a fifth-place finish at Southern California’s Irwindale Speedway.

 

In last year’s series visit to Tucson Speedway, she came away with eighth-place finishes in both 100-lap races.

 

While Deegan currently leads the points, her BMR teammates – Derek Kraus in the No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry and Brittney Zamora in the No. 99 ENEOS / NAPA Filters Toyota Camry – look to capitalize on the twin races to gain ground and move up in the standings.

 

Kraus, also a 17-year-old NASCAR Next driver, hails from Stratford, Wisconsin. He is tied for third in the standings, just three points out of first. In his third full season competing in the K&N West, he finished third at Irwindale and sixth at Las Vegas.

 

In last year’s doubleheader at Tucson, Kraus was on the pole for both races and came away with finishes of fourth and 11th. He finished sixth there as a rookie in 2017.

 

Zamora – a series rookie from Kennewick, Washington who just turned 20 – is tied for seventh in points. She finished eighth at Irwindale and 11th at Las Vegas and will be making her first series start at Tucson.

 

BMR currently leads the championship chase in the East and West divisions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. While Deegan leads the K&N West, Kraus is first in points for the K&N East. He’s won two of the first four K&N East races this season, including the second race of a doubleheader at Virginia’s South Boston Speedway on Sunday.

 

In addition to racing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, Kraus is competing in four races with BMR this year in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. He matched his career-best truck series finish with an eighth-place finish at Dover International Speedway on Friday, in what was the second of those four races.

 

NAPA and ENEOS will be well represented at Tucson, with plenty activities and sponsor activation centered on the big doubleheader event. BMR will host a large group of NAPA guests from Phoenix and Tucson over the weekend. Guests from ENEOS, part of a special sales drive, will also be in attendance at the event.

 

BMR’s 2-seater No. 16 NAPA Toyota will be in action on Friday night, providing guests a lap around the Tucson track. Guests will be treated to a VIP Hospitality on Saturday, leading up to the races. Guests will also get the opportunity to get go behind the scenes with a special VIP pit tour.

 

The Tucson doubleheader, which marks the third and fourth races of a 14-event series schedule, will air live on FansChoice.TV – the streaming digital platform that’s airing the entire NASCAR regional series schedule live this year. In addition, the twin races are each slated to be televised on NBCSN on May 22 at 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. PT, respectively.

BMR PR

The battle for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title will resume this weekend in Italy, at the Autodromo di Franciacorta with Round 3 and 4 of the 2019 season. The 2,5-Km Italian track will host the European NASCAR Series for the third time with an event – the American NASCAR Weekend – gathering every year more fans thanks to exciting races and exhilarating trackside attractions. 

A record-setting 33 cars are entered in the NASCAR GP Italy, with 20 nationalities represented on the grid.


NASCAR GP ITALY LINKS
TICKETS | SCHEDULE | ENTRY LIST | RACE CENTER

In the ELITE 1 Division, the whole field is chasing Ander Vilarino and the #48 Racing Engineering Mustang. The Spaniard, who brought the team led by Alfonso de Orleans-Borbon to a spectacular NASCAR debut by picking up two wins at his home track of Valencia, has never raced at Franciacorta. On the other hand, defending champion Alon Day has won three of the four races held at the Italian track for CAAL Racing and will count on the NASCAR GP Italy to reduce the 13 points gap separating him from the leader. 

Second in points after the season opener, Stienes Longin is on a streak of four consecutive second-place finishes and looks poised to finally grab the first ELITE 1 victory. Loris Hezemans will definitely want to challenge for the first win of the season, as will 2018 Franciacorta race winner Lucas Lasserre, Frederic Gabillon, Marc Goossens and all the many ELITE 1 Division contenders. Among them, 1997 Formula 1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve rapidly found a solid pace at Valencia but is looking to rebound after being forced to retire while battling in the top-10 in Round 2.

Two rookies sit atop the ELITE 2 Division standings, separated by just one point: Giorgio Maggi and Vittorio Ghirelli. Both had an impressive debut in Spain and the Swiss driver also got his maiden win by taking advantage of a last-lap crash between Myatt Snider and Andre Castro. The two Americans were extremely competitive in Spain and will be chasing their first win again in Italy.

Pulling double duties in 2019, Martin Doubek is currently third in points and will count on his experience to capitalize at Franciacorta, as will Pierluigi Veronesi, Mirco Schultis and Jerry De Weerdt. Aiming to reverse a disappointing season opener will be 2018 Rookie Trophy winner Florian Venturi. 

The ELITE Club Division will return to action for the second round of the season with 2017 Champion Andreas Kuchelbacher looking to take the lead of the championship. 

All the ELITE 1 and ELITE 2 races from the NASCAR GP of Italy will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Youtube channel and Facebook page, on Motorsport.tv and on a vast network of social media profiles.


ELITE 1 DIVISION

Luigi Ferrara debuts on home soil - The 2018 TCR Italy runner-up Luigi Ferrara will make his Euro NASCAR debut at the wheel of the #42 Mustang fielded by 42 Racing by FS Motorsport. The Italian won the Porsche Carrera Cup Italy in 2008 and the 2005 Italian F3 Championship.

Hezemans returns to site of first podium - Junior Trophy leader Loris Hezemans will return to the track that marked a turning point in his 2018 season. After a troubled first event at Valencia and a crash on Saturday, the Dutchman earned his first podium finish at Franciacorta on Sunday, starting an impressive comeback.

Tuomaala off to a great start - With a win – the third of his career – and a third place at Valencia, Henri Tuomaala is leading the Challenger Trophy by two points over defending champion Kenko Miura. The Finnish drivers will race at Franciacorta for the first time.

ELITE 2 DIVISION

Lasse Sorensen enters NWES - 22-year-old Lasse Sorensen will debut in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series at the wheel of the #66 Dexwet-Df1 Racing Chevrolet Camaro. The Danish driver won the French Formula 4 Championship in 2014.

12 different countries in the top-15 - No less than twelve different countries and three continents are represented in the top-15 of the ELITE 2 Division standings, testifying the ever growing popularity of Euro NASCAR among drivers from all over the world.

Schultis leads a tight Legend Trophy - Mirco Schultis and Jerry De Weerdt split the first weekend of the season in Valencia and the German leads the Legend Trophy classification by four points on the Belgian. Michael Bleekemolen closely follows after collecting two podium finishes in his NASCAR debut.

NWES PR

Bret Holmes and the No. 23 Holmes ll Excavation Chevrolet team overcame an early-race incident to finish fifth at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. Due to inclement weather, ARCA Menards Series officials were forced to cancel qualifying and postpone the 200-lap event until Sunday afternoon. Lining up based on practice speeds, Holmes started the race from the fourth position. Holmes was running in the seventh spot on lap 72 when another competitor spun in front of him and caused damaged to the left side of the No. 23 machine. The Munford, Ala., native pitted under caution for repairs and fuel. Returning to the racing surface, Holmes took the ensuing green flag from the ninth position. Holmes battled for track position and was scored sixth when a caution was displayed on lap 122. The Shane Huffman-led team pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Holmes restarted fifth and raced within the top five for the remainder of the main event. Holmes’ fifth-place finish on Sunday places him third in the championship point standings, 40 points behind the leader.

 

Start – 4th    Finish – 5th     Points Position – 3rd    

    
BRET HOLMES QUOTE:

“We had a really solid Chevrolet all weekend. I felt like this was the first race that we got the monkey off our back. We didn’t get to qualify, but I think racing during the day instead of at night played into our favor a little bit. We had a little run in during the race. It was a little body damage, which wasn’t bad. The pit crew recovered from that. They were on their game this weekend. Shane (Huffman, crew chief) made great calls all day long. I think overall, we brought a strong piece to the track this weekend. This was our first top-five finish of the season. I feel like we should have had it earlier this year, but I’m glad we have that milestone under our belt. It’s baby steps. Now we’re working towards a win. We just have to keep setting goals for ourselves, and we’ll be just fine.”
BHR PR

 GEICO Honda’s Chase Sexton closed the deal Saturday night before a raucous, sold-out Las Vegas crowd and rode a fourth-place finish to his first Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, Eastern Regional 250SX Class Championship.


 Sexton, who picked up his first professional victory one week ago in East Rutherford, N.J., came into the final points race of the season with a nine-point cushion, looking to jockey last week’s winning momentum into a championship.  


 Despite the obvious pressures that go hand-in-hand with racing for such a prestigious title at a young age, the 19-year-old Wiseco-sponsored rider kept his composure, performed like a seasoned veteran and brought home the hardware. 


 “It feels super good,” said a beaming Sexton in the post-race press conference. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet but being only 19-years-old and winning my first Supercross championship is unbelievable. That was the longest 15 minutes-plus-one (lap) I’ve ever done. The track was gnarly but to do this for myself and for the team feels awesome. It couldn’t have happened any better.” 


 Sexton, who finished his 2019 Supercross campaign with 193 points, logged one win, four top-two and seven top- three finishes in nine races. The Illinois native won four heat races, earned seven podiums and never finished outside the top five. Still, with less than 10 points separating Sexton from his closest title competitor, the rider of the No. 23 Honda CRF250R knew the 2019 championship was anything but a foregone conclusion. 


 “I was just focusing on my race,” added Sexton who won the 250SX East Class heat race earlier in the day. “I was trying to go forward as best I could and still stay out of the carnage. I didn’t want to do anything too crazy or make a dumb mistake. It became really hard to decide if what I was doing was a good move or a bad move to go for it. I’m pretty proud of how I handled it. I didn’t know where Justin (championship contender Justin Cooper) was. I just knew he wasn’t in front of me and that’s all I cared about.”  


 While only one GEICO Honda rider left Las Vegas with the title, two others notched podium finishes in the season finale. R.J. Hampshire, who snagged the holeshot in both his heat race and the main event, finished second to eventual race winner and Western Regional 250SX Class Champion Dylan Ferrandis. Sexton’s fellow GEICO Honda teammate Cameron McAdoo came home third. Over 10 rounds, Hampshire rode one podium finish and five top fours into a fourth-place finish in the season-ending 250SX West Class points. 


 “Was a really cool day for my whole team,” explained Hampshire. “I rode well in practice and felt like my bike was working good. Got the holeshot in the heat and also the main. I struggled bad in the first half of  the main and really had to take a couple steps back to regroup and figure out what I needed to change. For once, I actually felt like a veteran and made a pretty smart call. I even let Chase by because I was getting so sketchy and I didn’t want to end up going down and taking him out with me. I followed him for a couple laps to hopefully learn something in the whoops. It started coming together then I saw my pit board said ‘4 laps, all out.’ I went for it and it paid off. I was able to get to second. Really happy to see the team have so much success on the night!”


 Across the paddock, in the premier 450SX Class pits, Team Honda HRC’s Ken Roczen and Cole Seely finished fourth and sixth, respectively. While neither Roczen nor Seely broke through for a win in 2019, both riders were upbeat following the 17th and final Supercross race of the season. 


 “I’m pretty happy with how Las Vegas went,” commented Roczen. “I struggled in the heat (race), but we went back to an earlier setting and things were a lot better in the main. I still didn’t get the best start, but made some passes pretty quick, working my way into fourth. I actually felt good throughout the whole race and didn’t lose steam, which is what I’ve been fighting a lot this season. We’re still trying to fully figure out what was or is going on, but it seems to be a little better than before. I’m so happy to make it through a whole supercross season and am looking forward to heading into outdoors.”


 With only two weeks separating the end of the Monster Energy Supercross season from the beginning of the Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship, there won’t be much downtime as teams prepare for the rigors of the 12-race outdoor schedule. 


 The first moto from the Bell Helmets Hangtown Motocross Classic from Prairie City SVRA in Sacramento, Calif., will be televised live on MAVTV Sat., May 18 beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, 1 p.m., Pacific. Television coverage for the second moto will shift to NBCSN at 6 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m., Pacific.

Envision Virgin Racing’s Robin Frijns believes the Formula E championship is still wide open despite leading the drivers’ standings after securing his maiden win last time out.
 
The 27-year-old Dutchman picked up his first win in the all-electric race series last weekend during the incident-filled Paris E-Prix and now holds a narrow one-point margin over his nearest rival. That result saw his team become the first this season to secure multiple wins as they continue to enjoy their strongest ever season and lie just seven points off the top spot in the constructors’ championship.

Together with team-mate Sam Bird, who has also tasted victory this season and lies ninth in the standings, Frijns and his Envision Virgin Racing team now turn their attention to the glitz and glamour of Monaco for round nine of the series on Saturday, 11 May.

“The last Formula E event was the toughest race of my career so to come away with the win was an amazing feeling,” said Frijns. “Now Sam, myself and the whole team is gearing up for Monaco next weekend where we’re aiming to carry that momentum through, especially with the improvements we’ve made in qualifying which is going to be paramount on such a narrow circuit like Monaco.”

He added: “Although we’re leading the championship it doesn’t change our focus or approach, and there’s still a long way to go with many points up for grabs. For sure, the Formula E title race is still wide open with any of the top 10 drivers in contention.” 

Frijns and Bird will be two of the 22 drivers taking to the streets of Monaco next weekend for the Monaco E-Prix, the third time Formula E has raced there. The drivers will once again use a shortened, modified version of the iconic street track (1.765km), using the same famous start/finish line before turning right and immediately towards the harbour, before re-joining with the more familiar track configuration, including the well-known Tabac and Swimming Pool sections.
 
Bird added: “Monaco is such an amazing and iconic place to race so every driver looks forward to this event. Compared to other Formula E tracks, Monaco is a much smoother, more clinical circuit, but it’s still easy to damage the car and because it’s so narrow, there’s even more emphasis on qualifying. Sadly, I didn’t get the result I wanted last time out in Paris, but we’ve put that behind us and are now fully focused on getting a good result in Monaco.”

Sylvain Filippi, Envision Virgin Racing’s Managing Director, said: “Paris was an amazing result for the team and proof of the enormous effort, hard work and preparation that every one of them puts into every single Formula E race. Of course, that same mentality will go into Monaco and we know we have the car, the drivers, the team – and now the momentum – to deliver good results.”

UK fans can follow the team’s progress through the BBC’s live events platform – via the BBC Sport website, BBC iPlayer and BBC red button – as well as BT Sport, together with the team’s social channels and website.

For more information on Envision Virgin Racing, including access to the team’s media site, visit www.envisionvirginracing.com

The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli drivers delivered a race to remember on Saturday as the series celebrated 50 years of racing at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 

The 70-minute feature race that included the TA, SuperGT and GT classes ran at a relentless pace as the race went from flag to flag without caution. 

It was Ernie Francis Jr. who stole the show with a dominating 28.854-second win over the Burtin Racing duo of Lawrence Loshak and Tomy Drissi. After 66 Trans Am races, 48 podiums and 38 race wins, newly turned 21-year-old Francis finally got to sip the victory champagne in a glorious moment on the top step of the podium. 

“It was a great weekend for us as a team here at WeatherTech Raceway,” said Francis. “To sweep the weekend by winning qualifying and leading every lap of the race, it really builds morale for the team. We had a so many small gremlins that kept us from the podium this season, and to come all this way and finish where we did gives us hope to contend for the championship again.”

Starting from the dirty side of the track on pole, Francis’ wheels spun and allowed points leader Loshak to get the jump on the young Floridian driver going into Turn 1. Francis quickly recovered to reclaim his first-place position before crossing the stripe, commanding the race from green to checkered for his first win of the season and breaking Loshak’s two-race winning streak. 

“The start of the race was incredible,” said Loshak. “We had a great start and we took first. I thought it would be like Sebring and then I turned, and the car didn’t. I fell back, losing position but as gas fell off I started to gain speed and the steering came back. We definitely had bullseyes on our back this weekend. I am surprised at the pace the all the guys brought this weekend. It’s hard to be on top and it’s even harder to stay there. We just didn’t have a lot for Ernie this weekend, but while we didn’t win the race we won the weekend, still on top of the championship.”

Losing momentum, Loshak dropped to fourth as Chris Dyson and Drissi passed him. Meanwhile, Dyson, who built a 10-second gap between himself and third-place Drissi, started experiencing mechanical issues after he set his fastest lap of the race. The mechanical gremlins caused Dyson to pit, forcing him to give up his second place position. The CD Racing squad worked to get Dyson back on track, but the setback cost Dyson a possible podium as he was six laps down. 

“We had a tough day today,” said Dyson. “It’s a shame when mechanical things take you out of contention but that’s the difference between racing and other sports, you win as team and you lose as a team. The car was absolutely flying today. We had the speed to challenge Ernie but didn’t get the chance because a belt came off the water pump drive. We are going to be working our tails off leading up to Lime Rock. We’ve proven to have the speed to contend up front, as we’ve done all season, so we’re going to shake this race off and come back strong next round.”

With Dyson out, Drissi and Loshak diced for second and third. Racing door-to-door entering the Kink at the top of the notorious Corkscrew turn, Loshak overtook Drissi for second. Loshak then wheeled his gold No. 3 Penzoil/Elavon/GoShare Chevrolet Camaro into a healthy lead over his teammate, and ultimately finished where he started the race in second. 

Drissi’s blue Godzilla: King of Monsters Chevrolet Camaro crossed the line in third, his second podium of the 2019 season. 

“I love this track. It’s an absolute blast to drive,” said Drissi. “I had some good battles with Lawrence but just didn’t have enough in the end to contend up front.”

In the first of two integrated events with the National Championship, the Trans Am West Coast Championship also competed on the 11-turn, 2.28-mile WeatherTech Raceway circuit. TA class points-leader Simon Gregg clicked off another victory after also winning last weekend’s TA West Coast race at Auto Club Speedway, chalking his win tally to two. Michael Fine took second with California-native Michelle Nagai taking third. 

“I’m so proud of the team,” said Gregg.  “I felt like I had a good race and we had dramatic finish, finishing the race on a flat tire. The Derhaag Motorsports group have worked so hard to give me a good car for this trip to the west coast.”

Dirk Leuenberger in the Lux Performance Doge Viper drove a near perfect race to take the checkered in the SGT West Coast class. 

“It was great to be part of Trans Am history here at WeatherTech Raceway,” commented Leuenberger.  “After fifty years of Trans Am racing here, I can say I won at Laguna, and on my first visit to the track at that!”

After three years of grinding, Mitch Marvosh in the Wolf Entertainment Chevrolet Corvette, claimed his first Trans Am career win in the West Coast GT class. Roger Eagleton took second in the FiveStarPropMgmt/EnergyRealEst Ford Mustang with Beau Border in the APEX Race Parts CorteX Racing Ford Mustang finishing third. 

“It’s about time I won something in Trans Am!” said Marvosh. “I feel great to pick one up for the team. We’ve been at it for a few years and finally got a win. We took first on the start and never looked back.”

Winning everything he possibly could, Francis took home the first $500 Emco Gears Top Gear Award for winning the round and for leading the race by such a large margin, Francis was also awarded with the Cool Shirt Cool Move of the race. Kerry Hitt won the Masters award in the TA class following a seventh-place finish in the No. 19 Advanced Composite Products Inc. Cadillac CTSV.

The TA2 powered by AEM will close out the Trans Am SpeedFest weekend on Sunday with qualifying starting at 8:55 a.m. PT with the 100-mile or 70-minute feature (which ever comes first) starting at 1:10 p.m. PT. Fans can follow live timing and scoring on the GoTransAm.com website or on the Race Monitor App. 

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