Steven B. Wilson
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Coming off an historic inaugural season with a new entitlement partner, the NASCAR Pinty’s Series is primed to capitalize on that momentum with a 2017 schedule that includes traditional marque events and several unique changes.
The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will open on Sunday, May 21 with the popular Victoria Day weekend at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ont. The series will make a second stop at the road course on Sunday, Sept. 3 in conjunction with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. And the Toronto Honda Indy weekend will again feature Canada’s national stock car championship series in the event held by Toronto’s Lake Ontario waterfront on the Exhibition Place street course. The series will be the headliner on Saturday, July 15.
“From Cayden Lapcevich’s memorable championship campaign, to the thrilling battles between Quebec’s favorites Andrew Ranger, Alex Tagliani, Kevin Lacroix and Alex Labbe, the 2016 NASCAR Pinty’s Series was one for the record books,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of weekly & touring series. “With the newly released schedule, the 2017 season is shaping to take that excitement to the next level. The mix of world-class road courses and challenging ovals will provide a great test for drivers and teams, and excite fans across Canada.”
“The first season as an entitlement sponsor with NASCAR exceeded our wildest expectations,” said Tony Spiteri, Pinty's senior vice president, marketing, research & development. “Pinty’s Foods is proud to be part of the top racing series in Canada, and to have our brand represented at some of the best racing tracks in the country.”
The annual West Coast swing will feature a new look: The NASCAR Pinty’s Series will visit Wyant Group Raceway in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, for twin features on Wednesday, July 25, and then travel to Alberta’s Edmonton International Raceway on Saturday, July 29. The three championship events will mark the halfway point of the 2017 season.
The series’ seventh trip to Circuit ICAR, on the grounds of Montreal’s Mirabel International Airport, will also feature a new look. The road-course event will be run under the lights on Saturday, July 8. The 13-race schedule includes a return to Ontario’s Delaware Speedway, as well.
Other highlights of the 2016 schedule include:
• The season will conclude on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Kawartha Speedway in Fraserville, Ontario. The .375-mile oval has hosted the final race of the NASCAR Pinty’s Series in each of the previous 10 seasons.
• One of the most anticipated races each year is the Circuit de Trois-Rivieres, and the series will take to the Quebec street course on Sunday, Aug. 13.
• The penultimate race of the year will take place at Quebec’s Autodrome St-Eustace (Sept. 9), and the series will again visit the high-banked action-packed Riverside International Speedway in Nova Scotia (Aug. 19) and feature an early-season showdown at Quebec’s Autodrome Chaudiere (June 17).
• In addition to Toronto, which is in its second of a three-year agreement, NASCAR has signed three-year sanction agreements with Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Riverside and Circuit de Trois-Rivieres.
The NASCAR Pinty’s Series television broadcast schedule on TSN and RDS will be announced at a later date.
|21-May||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park||Bowmanville, Ont.|
|3-Jun||Delaware Speedway||Delaware, Ont.|
|17-Jun||Autodrome Chaudiere||Chaudiere, Que.|
|8-Jul||Circuit ICAR||Mirabel, Que.|
|15-Jul||Exhibition Place||Toronto, Ont.|
|25-Jul||Wyant Group Raceway*||Saskatoon, Sask.|
|25-Jul||Wyant Group Raceway*||Saskatoon, Sask.|
|29-Jul||Edmonton International Raceway||Wetaskiwin, Alb.|
|13-Aug||Circuit Trois-Rivières||Trois-Rivières, Que.|
|19-Aug||Riverside International Speedway||Antigonish, N.S.|
|3-Sep||Canadian Tire Motorsport Park||Bowmanville, Ont.|
|9-Sep||Autodrome St-Eustache||St. Eustache, Que.|
|16-Sep||Kawartha Speedway||Fraserville, Ont.|
NASCAR fans have been thrilled in recent years by the achievements of the sport’s rising stars – from Joey Logano’s DAYTONA 500 win in 2015 to Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson joining him in the 2016 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Daniel Suarez won the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship this year and William Byron led the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in wins.
They all have one thing in common. They cut their teeth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series before breaking into NASCAR’s national series.
With the announcement by NASCAR of the 2017 schedules for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, fans across the United States will get to see up close the next wave of young drivers looking to make their impact.
The calendars for NASCAR’s top developmental series feature several can’t miss events to highlight those next superstars. The schedules cover 27 races, anchored by the annual combination race with the East and West at Iowa Speedway in July.
“The NASCAR K&N Pro Series have been an exceptional proving ground for our sport’s up-and-coming drivers,” said George Silbermann, NASCAR vice president of touring & weekly series. “The 2017 schedules for the East and West feature an assortment of tracks that will test the drivers and provide a platform to showcase their talents.”
The season will open with the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at New Smyrna Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 19 as part of the Florida track’s 51st Annual World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing. The event will be part of a day that starts with Coors Light Pole Award Qualifying for the DAYTONA 500 at nearby Daytona International Speedway.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West begins its season with a unique four-race swing that parallels the NASCAR premiere series swing out West. The opening race will be at Tucson Speedway on Saturday, March 18, as the premiere and XFINITY Series visit Phoenix International Raceway. The West will then run at Kern County Raceway Park in Bakersfield, Calif., on Thursday, March 23, before racing in twin 100-lap features at Irwindale Speedway on Saturday, March 25. The premiere and XFINITY Series will be competing at nearby Auto Club Speedway that weekend.
Like their California counterpart, Virginia’s South Boston Speedway has a reputation in racing as a top-flight facility. Similarly, South Boston – which has undergone a multi-million dollar improvement process, including a track repave this offseason – will host twin 100-lap championship events for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East on Saturday May 6.
“The 2017 schedules are a perfect blend of short tracks, road courses and national series companion events, that really bring out the best in the competitors in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series,” said Jesse Spungin, chief marketing officer of K&N Engineering, Inc. “We are excited to be involved in the series and are looking forward to what the new year brings and seeing NASCAR’s next generation of drivers battling it out across the country.”
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will also make its first trips to Memphis International Raceway (June 3) and Berlin Raceway in Michigan (July 1); and will be featured in a throwback weekend at Connecticut’s Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park on Saturday, July 8. Thompson has held 27 K&N Pro East events, dating back to the series’ second year (1988) when it was the NASCAR Busch North Series.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West will feature its 54th trip to Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., on Saturday, Aug. 12 and a return to Washington’s Spokane Country Raceway on May 13. The series will crown its champion with a second trip to Kern on Saturday, Nov. 4.
Other highlights of the 2017 schedule include:
• The K&N Pro Series will be part of five companion weekends with the NASCAR national series, including road-course events for the East at New York’s Watkins Glen International (Aug. 4) and for the West at Sonoma Raceway in California (June 24). In addition to the combination race at Iowa, the K&N Pro East will also race at Bristol Motor Speedway (April 22), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 15) and complete the season at Dover International Speedway (Sept. 29).
• Leading up to the finale at the high-speed half-mile at Kern, K&N Pro Series West championship contenders will have to navigate a string of bullrings in the second half of the season, beginning with Evergreen before traveling to Douglas County Speedway in Roseburg, Ore. (Aug. 26), Idaho’s Meridian Speedway (Sept. 30) and All American Speedway in Roseville, Calif. (Oct. 14).
• The K&N Pro East will make its traditional spring stop at South Carolina’s Greenville Pickens Speedway. One of the oldest tracks in NASCAR, Greenville has proven to be a title test in recent years. The eventual series champion has won at Greenville in each of the last four seasons.
• Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino, Calif. (May 20), Colorado National Speedway (June 10) provide an early season test for the K&N Pro West, while the K&N Pro East will host its penultimate race of the season on the road course at New Jersey Motorsports Park (Sept. 16).
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series television broadcast schedule on NBCSN will be announced at a later date.
|19-Feb||New Smyrna Speedway||New Smyrna, Fla.|
|8-Apr||Greenville Pickens Speedway||Greenville, S.C.|
|22-Apr||Bristol Motor Speedway||Bristol, Tenn.|
|6-May||South Boston Speedway*||South Boston, Virginia|
|6-May||South Boston Speedway*||South Boston, Virginia|
|3-Jun||Memphis International Raceway||Millington, Tenn.|
|1-Jul||Berlin Raceway||Marne, Mich.|
|8-Jul||Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park||Thompson, Conn.|
|15-Jul||New Hampshire Motor Speedway||Loudon, N.H.|
|28-Jul||Iowa Speedway||Newton, Iowa|
|4-Aug||Watkins Glen International||Watkins Glen, N.Y.|
|16-Sep||New Jersey Motorsports Park||Millville, N.J.|
|29-Sep||Dover International Speedway||Dover, Del.|
|18-Mar||Tucson Speedway||Tucson, Ariz.|
|23-Mar||Kern County Raceway Park||Bakersfield, Calif.|
|25-Mar||Irwindale Speedway*||Irwindale, Calif.|
|25-Mar||Irwindale Speedway*||Irwindale, Calif.|
|13-May||Spokane County Raceway||Airway Heights, Wash.|
|20-May||Orange Show Speedway||San Bernardino, Calif.|
|10-Jun||Colorado National Speedway||Dacono, Colo.|
|24-Jun||Sonoma Raceway||Sonoma, Calif.|
|28-Jul||Iowa Speedway||Newton, Iowa|
|12-Aug||Evergreen Speedway||Monroe, Wash.|
|26-Aug||Douglas County Speedway||Roseburg, Ore.|
|30-Sep||Meridian Speedway||Meridian, Idaho|
|14-Oct||All American Speedway||Roseville, Calif.|
|4-Nov||Kern County Raceway Park||Bakersfield, Calif.|
Ross Chastain, one of the top young drivers in the sport, will return to JD Motorsports for a third straight season.
The team is working with Garrett Smithley, who had a fine rookie season this year in JD Motorsports Chevrolets, to return Smithley to the team lineup next season. “We’re 99 percent sure Garrett will be back with us,” said team owner Johnny Davis. “But we’re still working on funding and sponsorship issues to get everything lined up.”
The team has a vacancy in its third car as Ryan Preece, who ran his Xfinity rookie season with JD Motorsports, has decided to move on to other opportunities.
Chastain finished 16th in Xfinity driver points last year, with 17 top-20 runs and a top finish of 11th – at Daytona International Speedway.
“Ross is a smart kid and an intelligent driver,” Davis said. “We’re lucky to have him back with us next year. He brings a lot to the team, and he works with our guys really well. We’re looking to step up our program with him.”
The Florida Watermelon Association will return as a sponsor of Chastain’s cars next year.
Smithley ran in 32 races for JD Motorsports this year. He missed the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway but still finished 18th in driver points. He scored eight top-20 runs, including a top finish of 12th at Talladega Superspeedway.
“We’re working hard every day on getting things ready for next year,” Davis said. “It’s a complicated process to get everything in line to compete at the highest levels of stock car racing. Hopefully, we’ll be set long before it’s time to head to Daytona Beach in February for the season opener.
“Our goal is to always have our teams and our drivers in a position to show the best marketability for everybody. We take a lot of pride in our cars and our sponsors and how we showcase the drivers and the companies that work with us.”
The list of European drivers attending the traditional end-of-the-season celebrations is longer than ever. It starts with the 2016 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion Anthony Kumpen and includes two-time Junior Trophy winner Alon Day, ELITE 2 Champion Stienes Longin, Challenger Trophy winner Dario Caso, Legend Trophy Winner Jerry De Weerdt, Rookie Cup winner Riccardo Geltrude and Lady Cup winner Arianna Casoli, but also Bert Longin, Thomas Ferrando, Ulysse Delsaux, Marconi De Abreu, Justin Kunz and Renzo Calcinati.
“This NASCAR prize-giving ceremony week is really special,” said NWES President Jerome Galpin, “It is clearly at the highest level you can find in Motorsports and we are very proud that our Euro drivers are part of it to celebrate their accomplishments with the whole NASCAR family. At the NASCAR Hall of Fame, you truly feel part of the 68 years of NASCAR history and you know what it means to be a NASCAR driver.”
“It is a huge honor to have my name immortalized in the Whelen Hall Of Champions once more, alongside names that made NASCAR’s history, in a place where my grandchildren will be able to see it. The entire week is a great experience and I am definitely looking forward to it,” said Kumpen, whose #24 Chevrolet SS will be showcased in the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. “The first time in 2014 I was really astonished by how huge NASCAR is, but it keeps impressing me even I know better what to expect. I am honored to represent the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.”
The Champion, who unveiled his name in the Whelen Hall of Champions for the second time in three years, will engage in a unique series of activities in the Champions Week, including the Dec. 8 annual NASCAR Champions Karting Event at the GoPro Motorplex in Mooresville.
Kumpen will then join the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series delegation on Friday to visit the NASCAR R&D Center in Mooresville and the Roush-Fenway Racing headquarters before heading to the Charlotte Motor Speedway for lunch and a special tour of the world famous 1.5 mile track.
Saturday, December 10 will be entirely dedicated to rewarding drivers and teams for their success in the 2016 season. Touring Grand Champions Breakfast & Awards will take place in the morning at the Westin hotel in downtown Charlotte, while the evening will culminate with the traditional NASCAR Night of Champions Touring Series Awards at the Charlotte Convention Center / NASCAR Hall of Fame in North Carolina.
The awards will be broadcast live on FansChoice.tv and on NASCARHomeTracks.com, in English, Spanish and French.
"I am very excited to return to JGL Racing for the 2017 season," said Dakoda. "We made tremendous gains during the 2016 season and that showed with the speed we had in our No. 28 WinField Toyota at the end of the season. I feel at home at JGL Racing and look to improve on what we built during the first season together. And I want to thank my sponsor WinField for the continued support and we can't wait to get to Daytona and get the 2017 season started."
The 25-year old Armstrong finished 13th in the 2016 NASCAR XFINITY Series final drivers' standings in his first season with the JGL Racing organization. He went on to collect 22 top-20 finishes during the season which was highlighted by a fifth-place finish in the July event at Iowa Speedway and a 12th place finish in the July event at Daytona International Speedway.
Armstrong and his No. 28 WinField Toyota will once again be led by veteran crew chief Steven Lane. The team will continue to utilize Joe Gibbs Racing engines and will be expanding on that relationship as well.
"We are honored to have Dakoda and WinField back with our organization for the 2017 season", stated James Whitener, owner of JGL Racing. "We have grown a lot together during this past season and we look to continue that growth in 2017. Dakoda and the guys really started to gel together in the second half of the season and we will look to continue with that right out of the gate in Daytona. We have a lot of great things happening with our team as we continue to take steps towards growing into one of the top organizations in the XFINITY Series."
The JGL Racing team is busy preparing their stable of Toyota's for the upcoming 2017 season which kicks off on February 25th with the running of the PowerShares QQQ 300 at Daytona International Speedway.
Earnhardt, 42, was cleared Wednesday evening by Dr. Micky Collins, medical director of the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program in Pittsburgh, in consultation with Charlotte neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty. Petty attended the test at the 1.366-mile South Carolina racetrack.
“Dale is one of the hardest-working patients I’ve ever encountered,” Collins said. “He’s done everything we’ve asked, and we believe he is ready to compete at a professional level again and can withstand the normal forces of a race car driver. Dale has been very open with us, and we’ve had plenty of time for his treatment, so we feel very good about his long-term prospects and how this has been managed by everyone involved.”
Earnhardt, driver of the No. 88 Chevrolet SS for Hendrick Motorsports, completed 185 laps during a nearly five-hour session at Darlington under the guidance of his crew chief, Greg Ives. In addition to the on-track test, which was observed by NASCAR, the driver has logged more than 15 hours in a racing simulator during his recovery.
“I feel great, and I’m excited to officially be back,” Earnhardt said. “I expected things to go really well yesterday, and that’s exactly what happened. Actually getting in a race car was an important final step, and it gives me a ton of confidence going into 2017. Thanks to the staff at Darlington for hosting our team and to NASCAR for giving us the opportunity to put a car on the track. I’ll do more testing in January to help knock the rust off. When it’s time to go to Daytona, I’ll be ready.”
Alex Bowman (10 races) and four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon (eight races) handled substitute driving duties for the No. 88 team during Earnhardt’s recovery. He missed the final 18 races of the 2016 NASCAR season beginning with the July 17 event at New Hampshire.
“Dale deserves so much credit,” said Rick Hendrick, owner of Hendrick Motorsports. “I’m proud of him for listening to his body and standing up to take responsibility for his health. He’s worked extremely hard and set a terrific example for others. It’s great news as we go into the off-season, and we can’t wait to see him back on the racetrack at Daytona.”
Bowman will race the No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet SS in the Feb. 18 season-opening, non-points The Clash at Daytona International Speedway, which will feature pole position winners from the previous year. Bowman won the No. 88 team’s lone 2016 pole at Phoenix in November.
“Alex did such a great job in the car this year, and I felt like he deserved another opportunity,” Earnhardt said. “When I spoke with Rick and the team about him driving The Clash, everyone agreed that he more than earned it, and Nationwide was 100-percent on board. I’m really grateful to him and Jeff for what they did for our team, and I’m glad Alex is getting another run with us.”