Wednesday, Feb 08
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Coming off a successful test session at the Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway, Thad Moffitt is eager to get back behind the wheel and start his 2023 race season. Moffitt recently completed his first test session with his TeamSLR team in the No. 43 Safety-Kleen Chevrolet Camaro in preparation for his season in the Trans Am TA2 class.

Competing in his first season in the Trans Am Series, Moffitt continues his climb to the top of professional motorsports. This will be the 22-year-old’s first full season competing for a championship. Incredibly, Moffit finished fourth in the ARCA Menards Series in 2021 after running only 16 of the 20 events. In 2022, Moffit returned to the series for one race and finished fourth at the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and made his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway where he finished 18th.

Heading into 2023, Moffitt is focused and determined to grow his racing resume.

“I’m ready to start this race season more than any other,” said Moffitt. “My focus is racing for the Trans Am TA2 class championship with Team SLR and for Safety-Kleen. This is a very competitive series, and I learned a lot at our first test. I know it will give me a ton of road course experience and make me a better driver. I just want to learn as much as possible and it is my focus this year.

“I also want to keep to my stock car and NASCAR roots, too. Right now, that means we’re looking at other opportunities that do not interfere with our Trans Am program. I want to look at ARCA or NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series options. We’re always talking to different people about what’s possible and we want people to know that I’m still ready to race in those series this year, too.

Moffitt will make his Trans Am debut when the 2023 season begins on February 23-26.

Thad Moffitt PR

The Trans Am Series presented by Pirelli is pleased to announce that Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers will sponsor the TA2 class in 2023. The growing class, which saw record fields of 50+ cars in 2022, will be known as the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series for this season’s 12 events. Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers, “The Official Ready to Drink Cocktail of Trans Am and SVRA,” joins Big Machine Vodka’s continued brand partnership as “The Official Vodka of Trans Am and SVRA.”

With three locations in the Nashville area, Big Machine Distillery is owned by TA2 owner/driver Scott Borchetta and boasts a proprietary Platinum Filtration system, distilling its vodka 25 times for “The Smoothest Tasting Vodka, Period!” Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers are made with a blend of ingredients including Big Machine Vodka, real fruit juices and natural flavors, creating the perfect cocktail in a pouch. Borchetta, the reigning TA2 Masters Champion and owner of Scott Borchetta Racing, drives the No. 48 Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers Ford Mustang and finished seventh in the overall TA2 standings last year.

“The Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers brand and products are growing at an accelerated rate, much like the Trans Am Series and TA2,” said Borchetta. “It’s the perfect match for our continued growth in the ready-to-drink category, and we're equally excited (and bullish) about the future of both Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers and the TA2 Series.”

“We are so happy to welcome Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers as the entitlement sponsor of TA2,” said Trans Am President John Clagett. “We’ve had a long relationship with Scott Borchetta and the distillery, which sponsored our TA2 CBS broadcasts in 2022, in addition to Scott’s No. 48 Ford Mustang. Scott is dedicated to our series as an owner, driver and a partner, which is evidenced by his passion and performance behind the wheel and his investment in Trans Am and the Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series.”

The Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers TA2 Series takes the green flag for the first time in 2023 on Saturday, February 25 at Sebring International Raceway, where NASCAR legend Richard Petty will serve as grand marshal.

Big Machine Vodka also sponsors Trans Am’s Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers Challenge, which runs on August 5, 2023, on the Nashville street course as part of the Big Machine Music City Grand Prix.

Big Machine Vodka PR

otes of Interest

 

●  Back on Jan. 12, Kevin Harvick announced that 2023 would be his final year in the NASCAR Cup Series. The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing will retire after the checkered flag waves at the season finale Nov. 5 at Phoenix Raceway. When that day comes, Harvick will have had a 23-year run in the Cup Series – one of the longest tenures in recent memory. A championship in 2014 and 60 points-paying victories ensures Harvick is set for his golden years. Busch Light wants to help one lucky Harvick fan with his or her own swansong by contributing toward his or her retirement, along with other big prizes. Fans just need to follow @BuschBeer and turn on notifications to find out how to win leading into the Daytona 500. The 65th Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway gets underway at 2:30 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 19, with live coverage on FOX.

 

●  The Daytona 500 will be Kevin Harvick’s 22nd career start in The Great American Race. His first Daytona 500 came 21 years ago on Feb. 17, 2002. He started second in that race and finished 36th after getting collected in a multicar accident on lap 150.

 

●  Of the 43 drivers who competed in the 2002 Daytona 500, only one is entered in this year’s race – Harvick. The 65th Daytona 500 will be his 791st career NASCAR Cup Series start. In terms of career starts, the next closest driver to Harvick is Kyle Busch. He will make his 643rd career Cup Series start in the Daytona 500.

 

●  In the 2002 Daytona 500, three of the drivers Harvick competed against were Bill Elliott, Jeff Burton and Dave Blaney. In the 2023 Daytona 500, Harvick will compete against their sons, as Chase Elliott, Harrison Burton and Ryan Blaney follow in the footsteps of their fathers.

 

●  Trivia Time! How many NASCAR Hall of Famers competed in the 2002 Daytona 500? Answer: 10. They are Mark Martin (finished sixth), Jeff Gordon (finished ninth), Elliott (finished 11th), Dale Jarrett (finished 14th), Rusty Wallace (finished 18th), Terry Labonte (finished 20th), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (finished 29th), Matt Kenseth (finished 33rd), Bobby Labonte (finished 34th) and Tony Stewart (finished 43rd). Who won the race? Answer: Ward Burton by .193 of a second over Elliott Sadler. It was the fourth of his five career NASCAR Cup Series victories. (FYI: Ward Burton is Jeff Burton’s brother and Harrison Burton’s uncle.)

 

●  Five years and one day after Harvick’s Daytona 500 debut, he won the 2007 Daytona 500. He edged the aforementioned Martin for the victory by .02 of a second in a frantic green-white-checkered finish. It is the second-closest finish in Daytona 500 history, trailing only Denny Hamlin’s .01-of-a-second advantage over Martin Truex Jr., in 2016.

 

●  To earn a spot in this year’s Daytona 500, drivers must first compete in the Bluegreen Vacations Duel – twin 150-mile qualifying races that set the 40-car field for the Daytona 500. Harvick has won his Duel race twice (2013 and 2019). The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing is currently on a run of eight straight top-10 finishes in the Duel, and he has finished among the top-five in six of his last seven Duel races.

 

●  Before drivers compete in the Duel, they race the clock in single-lap qualifying. The two fastest cars are locked into the field while the rest of the drivers are split into the Duel. Qualifiers in odd-numbered positions are in the first Duel and qualifiers in even-numbered positions are in the second Duel. Harvick has never started on the pole for the Daytona 500, but he did take the outside pole once – 2002 in his first Daytona 500. Harvick lapped the 2.5-mile oval in 48.447 seconds at 185.770 mph, just .016 of a second off the pole-winning time of Jimmie Johnson. 

 

●  The 2023 season marks Harvick’s 23rd year in the NASCAR Cup Series. Of his 790 career, points-paying starts, 43 of them have come on Daytona’s 2.5-mile oval. In addition to his 2017 Daytona 500 victory, Harvick won the 2010 Coke Zero 400. He has 11 top-fives and 16 top-10s on the Daytona oval. The 65th Daytona 500 will be his 44th points-paying start on the Daytona oval.

 

●  Outside of the NASCAR Cup Series, Harvick has made 19 career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts at Daytona and three IROC starts. Of Harvick’s 47 Xfinity Series wins, only one is at Daytona – the 2007 season opener. And Harvick’s best IROC finish at Daytona is seventh, earned twice (2003 and 2004). Harvick is a two-time Xfinity Series champion (2001 and 2006) and the 2002 IROC champion.

 

Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #Busch401K Ford Mustang 

 

What is your mindset as you begin your final season in the NASCAR Cup Series?

“My mentality heading into our last Cup season is to do the exact same things we’ve done for the last 22 years. That’s be competitive and make sure that every week you show up at the racetrack and do all that you can do for your teammates. I know my guys on our Busch Light Ford Mustang show up every week at 100 percent, and you know if you’re not 100 percent, you’re letting the rest of that team down because they’re locked, loaded and ready with the details that it takes to be competitive. And if we’re not competitive, we have access to a group of people who can communicate and do the things needed to figure it out. I want to do whatever we have to do to get back to victory lane and be competitive. I love going to the racetrack with the guys that I have on our car, and everybody at Stewart-Haas has been so great. From the very beginning, they let us go out and hire Rodney (Childers, crew chief) and let him build a group of guys around our No. 4 car, and I think the success speaks for itself. It’s going to be a fun year with a lot of stories and things that we’ve done and remember when we came here for the first time nine years ago. We’re going to laugh and pat each other on the back and tell each other how much we’ve enjoyed the beginning days all the way through to the end. Everybody knows that we’re going to show up and do the same things that we’ve done and be prepared just like we would be, because that’s our job.”

 

You ran your first Daytona 500 21 years ago. What was that experience like?

“For me and my career, a lot of things happened backward, probably the opposite of the way they should have. My first season in Cup (2001), I ran every race but the Daytona 500 because of Dale Earnhardt’s death and replacing him in the car. Coming back to the Daytona 500 in 2002 was probably one of the bigger moments in my career just because of all the hype and anticipation from 2001 that led into the Daytona 500. I think I wound up at the front of a 23-car pileup, so it was definitely one of those moments where you wish you could’ve done it a little bit differently and had the outcome be a little bit better. But the Daytona 500 can get your emotions and twist them upside down and make you just crazy and want to do things that you know you shouldn’t do and take risks that you know you shouldn’t take and aren’t going to work, but you’ll do them anyway just because of it being the Daytona 500. Controlling those emotions and controlling those expectations – controlling the week, really – is important. It used to be 12, 14 days of the buildup to the event – we still have the buildup, it’s a much shorter amount of time – but the plot goes everywhere. You have a good qualifying race, bad qualifying race. You used to have the Clash at Daytona – good Clash, bad Clash. PR day, PR stories, whatever, there’s just a lot of hype and buildup that goes into the race and you can’t get caught up in it.”

 

What is it like to compete in the Daytona 500?

“There’s nothing like coming to the green flag at the Daytona 500. The reason is hard to explain unless you’ve done it. There’s no other race like the Daytona 500, and I realized that when I won the Daytona 500 in 2007. You look at the names on that trophy and you go back and look at the history of our sport, and a lot of it has been made at Daytona. Whether it’s from the beach or the big track, it’s the who’s who of NASCAR. The Daytona 500 is the biggest race you’ll ever be a part of, and it’s the biggest win you’ll ever have. It’s definitely the heart of NASCAR and what we do.”

 

You’re often asked about your strategy in a superspeedway race. But what strategy is there for the entire week of Daytona, where you want to show speed, but also keep a clean car through qualifying, the Duel and then, finally, the Daytona 500?

“As you go through the week, it’s that evolution of the enthusiasm ramping up as you get closer to the Daytona 500. You have to maintain a pretty even-keeled approach to things just because of the fact that you don’t want to be so jacked up and make a stupid move and tear up your car before you even get to the Daytona 500. But you also want to get everything that you can because you want to get the best starting position you can and the best pit selection that you can for the 500. It’s a different mentality than any other week because you practice and race and practice and race again. But it’s not just a race. It’s the Daytona 500. So, it’s a different type of enthusiasm headed for the green flag.”

 

What does it take to win the Daytona 500?

“The superspeedways, in general, are difficult to have everything line up to get a win out of the weekend. For the Daytona 500, it’s our biggest race of the year, but it’s also the one race a year that you have months to prepare for. Every team in the garage has their most prepared car that shows up at the Daytona 500. On top of that, you have the most aggression and enthusiasm to try to take risks and do things that you normally wouldn’t do to win races because the Daytona 500 only comes once a year, and it can make a year and it can also make a career out of winning that race. I think as you look at the Daytona 500, it’s just different than any other race and it becomes difficult to win because of all the risk-taking that you don’t see on a weekly basis.”

 

How does a Daytona 500 win impact your career?

“I’d always heard that when you win the Daytona 500, it’ll be like no other race, and it really is. You win more money, and you’re always introduced as the Daytona 500 champion from that particular year. When you start the year off by winning the Daytona 500, your season’s pretty much made. Racing against Mark Martin and beating one of the sport’s greats back to the finish line, that’s a moment in time that will always be special, not only in my career, but the sport, in general.”

 

When you won the 2007 Daytona 500, you beat Mark Martin by .02 of a second in a frantic green-white-checkered finish. Take us through that final lap.

“A lot of things that people overlook about that race is that it really wasn’t about the final lap. With 12 or 15 laps to go, we were 30-something – a long way from the front. Those last several laps, when you go back and watch the in-car video, you see all the passes and us scraping the fence and yellows and restarts, and then the push down the back straightaway from Matt Kenseth, which really is what helped us win that race. When I go back and look at that last lap, I think pulling out of line and seeing Jeff Gordon and Jeff Burton back there and not really knowing if Matt would pull out. The thought process at that particular time was, if I pulled out, Matt would know that Jeff was going to pull out, and it all kind of played out and Matt just gave us a huge push down the back straightaway. Then it was just a side-drafting game off turn four back to the start-finish line, and we were in good position to be on the right side of that. It was an exciting last 12 or 15 laps when you look back at it. I think the pit box was closed and covered and everybody was probably taking things back to the hauler. I don’t even think all the guys were still in the pit box. Best I can remember it was crew chief, engineer, car chief and DeLana sitting on the pit wall waiting for the race to end just because they thought it was over. It wasn’t over, and that’s been the case a lot of times. That Daytona 500 sticks out because of the fact that it’s our sport’s biggest race and it puts you in a position to be on that Harley J. Earl trophy next to some of the biggest names in our sport.”

 

Did going back to Daytona feel different after you had become a Daytona 500 champion?

“Well, I think you put a lot less pressure on yourself just because when you’re around this sport for a long time, you understand the importance of having that Harley J. Earl trophy and having your name on it. When you look at the names that are on it, you understand its significance – how it’s migrated from the beach to the biggest single race in our sport.”

 

TSC PR

Fresh off the presses is the 2023 schedule of events at Evergreen Raceway. The 1/3-mile paved oval nestled in Butler Township will once again see owner/operator Jason Makarewicz handling the reigns which marks his ninth season of running the track.

Throughout the season, which begins on March 26 and continues through the end of October, there is an ample amount of events to whet the appetite of all race fans.

Of note regular race days for the ’23 season will be held on Sunday afternoons.

The ground pounding Tour Type Modifieds will of course be the top attraction. The Modifieds will hit the track on five dates starting with Opening Day, May 7. Additional shows will be on June 18 which will be the Annual Tony Fisher Memorial Twin 25’s, August 20, September 10 and October 14 which marks the 22nd running of the King of the Green.

Additionally regular track classes from last year will be back in action including Late Models, Evergreen Modifieds, 602 Crate Modified, Street Stocks, 4-Cylinder Stocks and the Novice.

New for 2023 is the Evergreen Raceway/Mahoning Valley Speedway Dual Track Series (DTS) for the 602 Crate Modifieds and 4-Cylinder Stocks.

Race dates for the 602 Crate Modified DTS are April 22/Mahoning Valley, June 11/Evergreen, July 8/Mahoning Valley, August 13/Evergreen, September 17/Evergreen and October 7/Mahoning Valley.

The dates for the Hobby Stock/4-Cylinder Stocks DTS are as follows; April 29/Mahoning Valley, June 18/Evergreen, July 29/Mahoning Valley, August 20/Evergreen, September 9/Mahoning Valley and October 1/Evergreen.

In the event a race is rained out the make-up will take place at the next regularly scheduled date for that track.

During the season the traveling clubs of the American Three Quarter Midget Racing Association, the Rotten Forgotten and the East Coast TQ Midgets will make several stops as well.

Prior to the May 7 lid-lifter the raceway will play host on Sunday, March 26 to a ‘Gut N’ Go’ 4/6-Cylinder Enduro plus there will be Spectator Drags and the JuiceBox Division for the younger set.

An open practice for all classes will takes place Saturday and Sunday, April 29 & 30.

As noted the 23rd edition of the King of the Green will be held over a three day weekend, October 13-15 with a rain date slated for the following weekend, October 20-22.

The popular Drift Evergreen has inked weekend events each month from April through October.

The complete schedule and up to date news is available online at the official track website at https://www.evergreenracewaypark.com/

Evergreen Raceway PR

A grand total 102 DIRTcar UMP Modifieds packed the Volusia Speedway Park pit areas for opening night of the 52nd annual Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals Monday night and put the newly refreshed event format on display for the first time, awarding six of the field’s top drivers with the first gator trophies of the week for their Feature wins.

 

Feature #1 – Lucas Lee

For a driver that has not been fond of Volusia in the past, Lucas Lee made it look like he’d been winning races at the half-mile oval for years with his flag-to-flag performance in the opening Feature.

 

Lee led all 20 laps, virtually unchallenged for the win, holding off podium finishers George Dixon and Trent Young through several restarts to bag his second career DIRTcar Nationals victory. Despite his speed, Lee said there were still some issues he’s hoping to have fixed asap.

 

“The car was good, but the motor wasn’t running right,” Lee said. “It was just loading up real hard; not running real well. It wouldn’t get up to temperature, and my car wouldn’t fire-off.”

 

“Other than that, everything else was decent. I think if I can get the car to pull harder, I might have more traction.”

 

Feature 1 (20 Laps): 1. 12L-Lucas Lee[1]; 2. 77-George Dixon[3]; 3. 10Y-Trent Young[5]; 4. 13-Charlie Mefford[4]; 5. 90R-Raymond Kable[13]; 6. 60-Shannon Fisk[9]; 7. 8A-Austin Holcombe[8]; 8. 99G-Gavin Graham[16]; 9. 51-Dalton Lanich[7]; 10. 12-Robert Gast[11]; 11. 130-Chase Allen[6]; 12. 07N-Adam Nayler[10]; 13. 29-Steve Shellenberger[12]; 14. 9PG-Percy Gendreau[14]; 15. 16C-John Clippinger[2]; 16. 34X-Shane O'Connor[17]; 17. 463-Daniel Sanchez[15]

 

Feature #2 – Kyle Strickler

Two-time Gator Championship Feature winner Kyle Strickler added to his collection of small gator trophies with his 10th career DIRTcar Nationals Feature win in exciting fashion.

 

Strickler sat on the outside pole and jumped out to a nice lead in the opening laps over polesitter Justin Allgaier. Allgaier, the 2021 Gator Championship winner, stayed with Strickler the entire race, and when Strickler got tripped-up by a stray lapped car, Allgaier nearly blew by on the bottom for the lead.

 

“I just didn’t want to wreck, because that’s been how our luck’s been going lately – if something bad can happen, it’s going to happen to us,” Strickler said. “Ol boy decided to pit right in front of us, and I had to turn hard to the right, got up over the cushion and then was coming back down the racetrack. Got into Allgaier a little bit and had to put it on the fence and blast it around the top.”

 

However, Strickler was able to recover, get back in front of Allgaier and drive it across the line first to bag the win.

 

“I love driving the Modifieds,” Strickler said. “The Late Model stuff can be a lot of high pressure and high stress, so it’s fun to come back and just enjoy the week of going back to my roots and running the Modified stuff. They’re so much fun to drive.”

 

Feature 2 (20 Laps): 1. 8-Kyle Strickler[2]; 2. 7A-Justin Allgaier[1]; 3. 99M-Mike Mullen[5]; 4. 18L-Michael Long[3]; 5. 51G-Brandon Green[4]; 6. 114-Clayton Bryant[7]; 7. 8X-Cody Brightwell[6]; 8. 11S-Jared Spalding[10]; 9. 17-Rob Pitcher[11]; 10. 00EH-Steve Arpin[8]; 11. 23B-Ethan Boomsma[12]; 12. 100-Robert Murray[15]; 13. 21C-Taylor Cook[9]; 14. 11Z-Zane Oedewaldt[13]; 15. 6B-Dave Baldwin[14]; 16. 12M-John McClure[17]; 17. 24-Zeke McKenzie[16]

 

Feature #3 – Tyler Nicely

In one of the more dominating performances seen all night, Tyler Nicely bagged the fourth gator trophy of his career, leading all 20 laps unchallenged and adding 80 points to his Florida Speedweeks total.

 

He broke out a brand-new Elite Chassis that he’d been saving specifically for DIRTcar Nationals, which seemed to pay dividends.

 

“We tested it two weeks ago at All-Tech [Speedway] and it seemed really good,” Nicely said. “Nick Hoffman and his crew got here today and we changed a few things, and it was pretty spot-on tonight.”

 

Feature 3 (20 Laps): 1. 25-Tyler Nicely[1]; 2. 88-Matt Crafton[5]; 3. 25W-Allen Weisser[8]; 4. 90-Jason Beaulieu[4]; 5. 9-Ken Schrader[3]; 6. 25A-Jason Altiers[7]; 7. 07-Curtis King[9]; 8. 22J-John Baker[10]; 9. 77B-Ray Bollinger[6]; 10. 7D-T J DeHaven[13]; 11. 1S-Brian Shaw[2]; 12. 77S-Jim Shipman[15]; 13. 57-Fletcher Mason[12]; 14. 4S-Craig Shaw[11]; 15. 59-Doug Stine[14]; 16. 54-Zachary Hawk[16]; 17. 27-Jason Garver[17]

 

Feature #4 – Justin Haley

Less than 24 hours after competing in NASCAR’s headline Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles, Justin Haley showed up at Volusia, running on no sleep and a strong drive to win. He did just that Monday night in an intense battle with Illinois weekly racer Trevor Neville.

 

Starting on the pole, Haley jumped out to a small advantage over the guy to his right. That gap, however, was quickly dissolved, and Neville got another chance on the outside. He made it stick in the outside lane and took the spot, which was later taken back by Haley with a big dive into Turn 1 on Lap 5.

 

Haley held onto the spot from that point forward and drove it back across the stripe to bag his second career DIRTcar Nationals Feature win, thanks in part to a certain caffeinated beverage in his arsenal, which sponsors his Cup Series team.

 

“Yeah, a lot of Celsius,” Haley said. “I’m ready to go to sleep.

 

“I had a Coke on the plane and then probably three Celsiuses, so I’ve got it all covered. I’m definitely ready for bed; I haven’t been to sleep in 48 hours.”

 

Feature 4 (20 Laps): 1. 99-Justin Haley[1]; 2. 777-Trevor Neville[2]; 3. 09-Michael Leach[15]; 4. 4-Mike Learman[5]; 5. 22K-Dale Kelley[11]; 6. 72X-Todd Neiheiser[8]; 7. 7G-Seth Geary[4]; 8. 22TW-Tim Ward[9]; 9. M20-Mike Potosky[13]; 10. 17C-Coleman Evans[7]; 11. 00-Dylan Henkins[17]; 12. 3D-Makayla Tyrrell[14]; 13. 11W-Chris Wilson[6]; 14. 199-Travis Pastrana[10]; 15. 21S-Kenny Shaw[16]; 16. 41-Brad Goff[3]; 17. 24D-Jesse Dill[12]

 

Feature #5 – Ethan Dotson

Only one Feature was decided by more than a two-second gap Monday night, and that was the one won by 24-year-old Modified sensation Ethan Dotson.

 

Dotson, the 2022 Reutimann Memorial winner from Bakersfield, CA, led all 20 laps unchallenged and beat second-place Drake Troutman to the line by nearly five seconds. With the speed Dotson has showed thus far, it’s going to be one tough task for any driver to try and match him this week.

 

“Our Longhorn Chassis was super good tonight,” Dotson said. “We were one of the last Features, so it got pretty slick and slow, so that’s good for Saturday. We can put it in our notes and build on that for the big show on Saturday.”

 

Feature 5 (20 Laps): 1. 00E-Ethan Dotson[1]; 2. 5T-Drake Troutman[2]; 3. 145-Kyle Hammer[4]; 4. 21CZ-Benji LaCrosse[6]; 5. 43A-Mark Anderson[8]; 6. 21J-Clay Harris[3]; 7. 2A-Matt Altiers[12]; 8. 35W-Ethan Weber[5]; 9. 7B-Brad Deyoung[13]; 10. 7-Evan Taylor[7]; 11. 32-Chad Roush[11]; 12. 2C-Ronnie Chance[14]; 13. 0-Glenn Styres[15]; 14. 40R-Shawn Reiss[16]; 15. 33-Kenny Mihalik[10]; 16. 222-Cory Hupp[17]; 17. 17T-Tyler Evans[9]

 

Feature #6 – David Stremme

After breaking through last February for his first DIRTcar Nationals Feature win since 2018, David Stremme now has wins in back-to-back years at Volusia.

 

The Lethal Chassis builder/co-founder led flag-to-flag and fended-off a hungry Michael Altobelli, driving a brand-new Lethal Chassis, in the closing laps. Altobelli came from ninth and was challenging for the lead after the final restart with three-to-go, but Stremme kept him at bay.

 

“Michael’s a great guy; that’s a brand-new car we built him,” Stremme said. “I’m just happy that he was coming up through. He had some issues in Qualifying. Michael is a great racer.”

 

Feature 6 (20 Laps): 1. 35-David Stremme[1]; 2. 95-Michael Altobelli[9]; 3. 05-Dave Wietholder[7]; 4. 97-Mitch Thomas[2]; 5. 5CS-Curt Spalding[3]; 6. 49-Brian Ruhlman[4]; 7. 22B-Austen Becerra[8]; 8. 49G-Billy Green[10]; 9. 91B-Chris Beaulieu[5]; 10. 1-Randy Giroux[14]; 11. 22-Doug Carson[11]; 12. 99W-Wade Olmsted[17]; 13. 00B-Buzzie Reutimann[12]; 14. 11-Jesse Rupe[6]; 15. 3-Josh Sanford[13]; 16. 7M-Steve Maughan[16]; 17. 4M-Tim Monroe[15]

 

UP NEXT

 

The UMP Modified bash at Volusia Speedway Park continues on day #2 of the 52nd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals – Tuesday, Feb. 7 – racing alongside the All Star Circuit of Champions Sprint Cars.

 

Hot Laps set for 5:30pm ET. Tickets are available at DIRTcarNationals.com or at the gate. If you can’t be in attendance, watch every lap live on DIRTVision.

 

DIRTcar Series PR

An All-Star cast of motorsports and entertainment talent will descend on North Wilkesboro Speedway May 19-21, thrilling fans in an unrivaled weekend of NASCAR All-Star Race excitement. Midland, a GRAMMY Award-nominated country music group, will join multi-Platinum certified country singer and songwriter Chase Rice in performing for fans at North Wilkesboro’s All-Star Friday presented by Raymer Oil Company – which owns a number of IGA Marketplace grocery stores and is the Official Grocery Store of North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Nominated for a GRAMMY and a CMT Music Award for their hit song, “Drinkin’ Problem,” Midland will rock the Wilkesboro mountains with a performance featuring songs from albums including “On The Rocks” and “The Last Resort: Greetings From,” as well as the Texas-based band’s chart-topping album, “Let It Roll.”

In addition to “Drinkin’ Problem,” Midland has four singles featured on Billboard’s Top Country Songs chart: "Burn Out", "Make a Little", "Mr. Lonely," and "Cheatin' Songs."

“We are honored to be even a small part of this celebrated all-star event,” said Cameron Duddy, Midland’s bass guitarist. “We don’t race cars (legally) but we sure do enjoy watching the best of the best lay it all on the line for the greatest fans in the world: NASCAR fans!”

Chase Rice – set to release his eagerly anticipated album I Hate Cowboys & All Dogs Go To Hell on Feb. 10 – is deeply rooted in North Carolina. A graduate of A.C. Reynolds High in Asheville, Rice played football at the University of North Carolina and won NASCAR Cup Series championships as a pit crew member at Hendrick Motorsports, however his star-studded career as a singer and songwriter trumps his accomplishments on the gridiron and on pit road. 

One of Country music’s rare Diamond-certified songwriters (as a co-writer on Florida-Georgia Line’s genre-changing hit “Cruise”), Rice topped the charts with his own Triple-Platinum hit “Eyes On You” in 2019, one in a series of hits that he will perform alongside brand new music off the forthcoming album during his one-hour set at North Wilkesboro.   

“As a kid who was born in Daytona and grew up not far from Charlotte, racing has been in my life for as long as I can remember,” reflects Rice. “I’m a big fan of NASCAR and always love spending a day at the track, so I can’t wait to get out there for All-Star Race Weekend and bring this new music to the fans.”

Raymer Oil Company’s sponsorship of All-Star Friday continues a relationship with North Wilkesboro Speedway, dating back to the track’s reopening last year.

A full race weekend schedule will be revealed at a later date.

TICKETS:
A limited number of tickets will be available Feb. 22 for Saturday, May 20, which features a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race in addition to NASCAR All-Star Race qualifying. Single-day tickets for Friday, May 19, will also be on sale Feb. 22, and include the Midland and Chase Rice concerts, as well as practice sessions for the Cup and Craftsman Truck Series – which mark NASCAR’s first race-weekend action on the iconic five-eighths-mile oval since 1996. Single-day tickets will not be available for the NASCAR All-Star Race.

MORE INFO:
Fans can obtain the latest news and information surrounding NASCAR All-Star Race week by following North Wilkesboro Speedway on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook or by visiting www.NorthWilkesboroSpeedway.com.

NWS PR

Rackley W.A.R. and 2022-23 U.S. Legends Cars standout Carson Brown will team up for Pro Late Model action at the nostalgic New Smyrna World Series “Speedweeks” events in advance of the 2023 Daytona 500 announced today by team co-owner, Willie Allen.

Brown, 14, of Mosely, Virginia has been driving for Joe Ryan Race Cars going on two years and is also part of the Hornaday Development Program.

His list of very impressive highlights include:

-2021 INEX Legends Young Lions Dirt Nationals Champion

-2022 INEX Legends Semi-Pro Winter Nationals Road Course Champion

-2022 INEX Legends Semi-Pro Winter Nationals Dirt Champion

-2022 INEX Legends Semi-Pro Summer Shootout Champion at Charlotte Motor Speedway

-2022 INEX Legends Nationals Touring Champion

-2023 INEX Legends Semi-Pro Silver State Road Course Champion

Carson will be making his Pro Late Model debut at New Smyrna and expressed his desire to learn and gain valuable seat time over the World Series’ long schedule that sees him racing in seven events.

“I am really excited to make my first start in a Pro Late with Rackley W.A.R at New Smyrna Speedway.  Speedweek is a great opportunity for me to gain a lot of seat time and experience in just over a week of racing. I appreciate Curtis Sutton and Willie Allen giving me this opportunity to drive the No. 25 Rackley W.A.R. car alongside my teammate Dawson Sutton.  It is going to be a pretty awesome week."

"I would like to thank Ron Hornaday, Jr. and Candice Hornaday from Hornaday Development, Joey Coulter from Drive Refine, Joe Ryan and Billy Workman, Jr. from Joe Ryan Race Cars and all of my sponsors, PayCafe, ABio Clinical Research Partners, Bilstein, GBS Corp, Atomic Wash and BrakeSafe Technologies. We’re also thankful to have Rackley Roofing Company and W.A.R. Shocks on board with us for this event.  My continued growth as a race car driver would not be possible without the continued support of all these people and sponsors.”

Rackley W.A.R. team co-owner and mentor to the team’s development program, Willie Allen, said that Carson Brown’s achievements thus far in his young career certainly garnered his attention when the opportunity to make the New Smyrna run presented itself.

“We are really excited to have Carson join us for the New Smyrna World Series. What he has accomplished in his Legends career is incredible. He has a ton of focus and I think he definitely has a bright future. He was a teammate with Dawson Sutton at Joe Ryan Race Cars over the last year and into this year, and the two should work really well together. There’s a lot of excitement in the shop to have Carson on board in the No. 25 car.”

The 57th Annual World Series of Stock Car Racing at New Smyrna Speedway (FL), kicks off February 10th and runs through February 18th. Carson Brown and Dawson Sutton (car No. 26) will compete in 7 races over the 9-day event with some 33 Pro Late Model entries to date. All events will be available for view live on FloRacing.com.

Follow Rackley W.A.R. on social media to keep up to date with the latest news, information and exclusive content. Visit Rackley W.A.R.’s Twitter page - @Rackley_WAR and on Instagram at @rackley_war. “Like” Rackley W.A.R. on the official Facebook page at facebook.com/RackleyWAR.

Rackley WAR PR

Ryan Ellis and Alpha Prime Racing are proud to announce that Shippy’s Rolling Plains Construction will be the primary sponsor of Ellis’ No.43 Chevrolet at Phoenix Raceway in the United Rentals 200 on Saturday, March 11th. This will be Rolling Plains’ first sponsorship in NASCAR.

Founded in 1984, Rolling Plains Construction is the largest Fireproofing Contractor in the nation specializing in Spray Applied Fireproofing, Thermal & Acoustical Insulation, Shop Applied Fireproofing, Firestopping, and Board Application. We provide our array of services to all 50 U.S. states and worldwide.

Rolling Plains Construction has over 700 employees with offices in Phoenix, AZ, Denver, CO, Dallas, TX, and Tampa, FL. Our nationally recognized firm provides over 35 years of experience in the Division 7 Scope. Our depth and width of experience is above and beyond that of any company in the Fireproofing Industry.

"Rolling Plains Construction is excited to sponsor Ryan Ellis and the Alpha Prime Racing team at our home raceway in Phoenix. We look forward to attending our first NASCAR event as a sponsor and cheering on the No.43 Chevrolet. The RPC car wrap looks incredible! We know Ryan and the Alpha Prime Racing will do an excellent job on the track.”,” said Robert Shippy, Owner of Rolling Plains Construction.

This partnership will debut at Phoenix Raceway - with Phoenix being one of several “home bases” for Rolling Plains. While Ellis is excited for Phoenix’s on-track action, he is just as excited for the potential of this partnership.

“We’re all really excited to have Rolling Plains support our team at Phoenix Raceway. We had a great season last year at Alpha Prime Racing with a solid run at Phoenix in the spring. We ended up just outside the top-15 in 16th, but were running some really fast laps that could have put us finishing within the top-10,” said Ryan Ellis, driver of the No.43 Rolling Plains Construction Chevy. “Having the support of Rolling Plains means a lot to our team. I hope that we’re able to do a great job on and off the track representing them and their 700+ employees nationwide because we want this to be a growing successful partnership in 2023 and beyond. Thank you so much to Robert Shippy and the entire Rolling Plains family for their support. I can’t wait to get this beautiful race car on track for them.”

“As a native Arizonian, I was instantly excited to see Rolling Plains Construction come onboard Ryan’s car for Phoenix,” said David Schildhouse, Vice President of Alpha Prime Racing. “This is a track that has historically produced strong performances for us and I think Ryan is coming back with a bit of a chip on his shoulder to improve on that 16th-place finish from last year. It’s a big deal when a company sponsors racing for the first time and we’re honored that Rolling Plains Construction wants to take that leap with us.”

Tune In Info: The United Rentals 200 kicks off Saturday, March 10th at Phoenix Raceway with practice and qualifying occurring at 9:30 and 10 AM local-time to set the lineup for the Xfinity Series’ 200 lap race. The green flag drops later that afternoon at 2:30pm local time with coverage on FS1. Additional radio coverage will be hosted on Sirius XM NASCAR and MRN/PRN.

ARP PR

 The single toughest test of endurance in DIRTcar UMP Modified racing hits the half-mile of Volusia Speedway Park this week in the 52nd annual Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals.

 

Six-straight days of racing. Over 100 cars expected to compete. All in pursuit of the iconic Big Gator trophy and $5,000 check as winner of the Gator Championship Feature Saturday night.

 

The event format has been completely overhauled for 2023, featuring six separate Features on each of the first five nights of competition. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s Features will be lined up by Qualifying laps, while Thursday will set the field according to points accumulated by each driver over the previous three nights. Friday’s field will be split in half for the Gator Qualifier night before Saturday’s Gator Championship.

 

Read More: Purse Increase, New Format for UMP Modifieds at 52nd DIRTcar Nationals

 

The driver with the most points at week’s end will be crowned the DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator champion and hoist the iconic Big Gator trophy. Drivers will also be earning points toward the UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks championship chase, which crowns its champion after the conclusion of Saturday’s Feature.

 

To get your tickets, visit DIRTcarNationals.com. If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch the entire week of Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals live on DIRTVision.

 

Here are the drivers to watch for and storylines to follow this week:

 

NEW GATOR CHAMP – For the first time in seven years, a driver not named Nick Hoffman will hoist the Big Gator trophy as DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion at the conclusion of the week.

 

Hoffman, who has not missed a DIRTcar Nationals since his Volusia debut in 2009, won the division’s event points title every year from 2016-2022. This week, however, he will sit on the sidelines, with his focus on his World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model ride, and be a resource to the several Elite Chassis drivers in the field.

 

Hoffman will also have the Tye Twarog Racing, NOS Energy Drink #9 Super Late Model with him as he prepares for competition during week #2 of DIRTcar Nationals with the DIRTcar Late Models and World of Outlaws. Hoffman recorded finishes of fourth and eighth in his first two starts as a full-time World of Outlaws driver in January at the DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals.

 

HORNS UP – If there’s one driver among the 100-plus UMP Modifieds expected for the week that’s highest amongst the favorites to win the Big Gator trophy, it’s Bakersfield, CA-driver Ethan Dotson.

 

Dotson, the 24-year-old Longhorn Chassis UMP Modified house driver, won the ninth annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial in his Volusia debut last November – one day after breaking the 11-year-old track record.

 

He returns to Volusia this week for his DIRTcar Nationals debut, piloting one of the most well-maintained cars in the pits, backed by Longhorn and the knowledge of multi-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner Steve Arpin.

 

A DOLLAR BET – A multi-time motocross and rallycross champion, and a NASCAR Truck Series champion walk into Volusia. No, really – it’s happening. And there’s a big bet on the line.

 

Travis Pastrana will make his DIRTcar Nationals debut this week in a UMP Modified built by 2007 DIRTcar Nationals champion and fellow ex-rallycross racer Steve Arpin and his Longhorn Chassis brand, backed by his partners at Black Rifle Coffee Company. After being asked if he was “too much of a sissy to drive” by fellow Black Rifle Coffee driver Matt Crafton, Pastrana took on Crafton’s challenge and made a one-dollar bet with him to see who could finish higher in races throughout the week.

 

Crafton, a regular of the UMP Modified division at DIRTcar Nationals, will pilot his own K1 RaceGear Elite Chassis #88 against Pastrana’s #199, all in pursuit of his first career gator trophy.

 

POINTS LEADER – Lucas Lee comes into Volusia as the UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks points leader by 17 over second-place Drake Troutman. On the back of three Feature wins and top-10s in all seven races on the Speedweeks trail, Lee now faces his toughest challenge of all at Volusia.

 

Lee, the defending Speedweeks champion from Paris, TN, historically, has not been as big of a factor at Volusia compared to the other Speedweeks venues. But with a win already at North Florida Speedway (Jan. 29) and two he garnered at East Bay Raceway Park (Feb. 3 and 4) to cap-off Winternationals, he’s the one driver going in with more momentum than any Speedweeks championship chaser.

 

Lee does have one gator trophy on his mantle at home, having captured one of the Gator Qualifier Features at Volusia in 2019.

 

ELITE-IST – Tyler Nicely currently holds onto the third spot in Speedweeks points, currently 60 points back from leader Lucas Lee.

 

Nicely, the 27-year-old Modified standout from Owensboro, KY, has two wins in seven Speedweeks starts, and has consistently been a contender for the win throughout Speedweeks with top-10 finishes in all but two events thus far (East Bay 2/1 [DNF, 21st]; East Bay 2/4 [DNF, 14th).

 

Prepared special for this week, Nicely will be armed with a brand-new Elite Chassis built by the seven-time DIRTcar Nationals champion Nick Hoffman in pursuit of his first Gator Championship Feature win and second UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks points title.

 

THE BIG CATCH – Coming off an action-packed week at East Bay, Drake Troutman rides the Jerry Foster Racing, Longhorn Chassis #5, into Volusia with only a 17-point deficit to points leader Lucas Lee.

 

Troutman, the 17-year-old racer from Hyndman, PA, got the win on the opening night at East Bay, and nearly did it again Friday night if not for a post-race penalty assessment. Despite the blunder, however, he’s the only driver to record top-five finishes in all seven Features thus far.

 

DIRTcar Series PR

Martin Truex Jr. won the Clash at the LA Coliseum after leading the final 25 (of 150) laps. It is Truex Jr.’s first Clash victory and the seventh Clash win for Toyota. Tyler Reddick finished sixth in his Toyota debut, while Denny Hamlin (ninth) and Bubba Wallace (23rd) both spent time out front in the annual non-points event.

 

Toyota Post-Race Recap

NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

The Clash – 150 laps

 

TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS


1st, MARTIN TRUEX JR.

2nd, Austin Dillon *

3rd, Kyle Busch*

4th, Alex Bowman*

5th, Kyle Larson*

6th, TYLER REDDICK

9th, DENNY HAMLIN

13th, CHRISTOPHER BELL

22nd, BUBBA WALLACE

26th, TY GIBBS

*non-Toyota driver 


 

TOYOTA QUOTES

MARTIN TRUEX JR., No. 19 Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing

Finishing Position: 1st

You’ve accomplished a lot in your career, but winning the Clash was not one of the accomplishments until now. What was the difference tonight?

“Really good race car. The guys did a great job with this Bass Pro Shops Club Toyota Camry – TRACKER Boats, Reser’s Fine Foods, Auto Owners, True Timber, Cessna, just all of our partners that let us do this. Last year was a pretty rough season for us with no wins, so to come out here and kick it off this way – I’m just really proud of all of these guys. Tonight was about perseverance, not giving up – just battle through and we found ourselves at the right spot at the end. Sometimes they work out your way, sometimes they don’t. Tonight it went our way and we made some good adjustments too.”

 

How satisfying was it for you that with all of those late cautions you were still able to get the job done after last year and all those crazy situations that unfolded?

Yeah, it was definitely satisfying. Anytime you win it's obviously satisfying. I had some good guys around me. Austin and Kyle raced clean, and for the most part I've never had really any big issues with those guys. You come to a track like this, it's pretty easy to just blow the corner and knock the guy out of the way in front of you. It's just easy to do. Thankfully they didn't do that. They gave me a lap to get going, and obviously we were fast enough to drive away from them.”

 

Over the years you and Kyle (Busch) might have gotten along the best or raced each other the best of all the JGR teammates; like you guys seemed to get it with each other. On that restart I was kind of like, are things going to change now? Did that go through your head at all? Were you worried he would race you any differently now that you're not on the same team?

No. I never thought about it once. We had a really good race in our heat race today, and we talked about it after, and it was like, hey, that was pretty fun. We put on a little bit of a show for a heat race, running side by side for the lead and swapping back and forth two or three times. We've raced together for a long time. We understand the sport. I've got a ton of respect for Kyle, obviously, and I feel like he's one of the guys that gives it back to me. It goes all the way back to '04 when we ran for a championship against each other, and we probably didn't get along very well then or we didn't cut each other many breaks then. But I think we've all grown up around the sport and raced together a lot and understand that we're going to be racing together a lot, and it's a lot easier to do things the right way and have that respect.” 

 

Your crew chief, James Small, said that you were different this off-season. I'm wondering if you are different, and if so, how?

Mad. Just determined. Just have a lot of fire in my belly to go out and change what we did last year. 

If you look at all the statistics, we had a decent year. We were consistent. We scored a lot of points. We struggled on short tracks and road courses, which ultimately is what kept us out of the playoffs. 

Just so many times that we felt like we were doing the right things and probably should have won a couple races, and they got away from us. That was very, very frustrating. Knowing that we were doing everything we needed to do to win, it sucked. Just wanting to go out and show them what we can do. We've been very fired up this off-season, working very hard, all of us. It's just nice when it all works out and you can come to the track and things go the way you hope they will. Hopefully we can do a lot more of that. We've got a lot going on good in our camp, at Toyota. I've got a great team, and I knew they were great last year, and we'll just see how far we can go, but I feel really good about things. Fired up and excited, and it's just a good feeling to be able to win a race, and even though it's not points or anything, it's just good momentum.” 

 

You kind of touched on it there, but is this a statement in some way?

No, I just think for us it reminds us that we're doing the right stuff and we can still go out and win any given weekend. We felt that way last year, but it never happened. You always get those questions, right, like are we fooling ourselves or whatever, but it's just always nice when you finish the deal. 

And racing is funny. We didn't really change anything, the way we do stuff. We just tried to focus and buckle down and say, okay, these are things we've got to look at and work on, and that's what we did, and we had a little fortune tonight. The 41 (Ryan Preece) was really strong. He had some issues. We've certainly been in that position a lot, as well. Not sure how that would have worked out if he didn't have issues. He was really strong. Then like the restarts just worked our way. I was having tons of brake issues all night and throughout the second half of the race, so just lucky to be able to put it all together and hang on to those restarts and put it all together with the brake issues I was having.” 

 

What can a win like this, despite it being an exhibition race, do as far as momentum to carry in to Daytona and to start the season on the right foot?

It's huge. It's a huge confidence booster. Just reminds you that you're doing the right stuff. Honestly, we were probably the worst car here last year, literally, besides maybe the guys that didn't have charters. We were just God awful. We barely made the race. Rode around the back and I spun out by myself on the last lap it was so bad, you know, trying to pass one car. To come back this year and be first in practice, I was really honestly nervous last night. I went to bed thinking today was going to suck. It was going to be a long day because it's going to be hard to pass and we were starting sixth in our heat on the outside. They only take five. It's like, well, if you finish fifth you're still going to suck in the race because you're going to start 20th. To be able to drive up through the field in the heat and win that was just huge. It was a huge confidence builder. I knew after that if we could just be smart tonight and stay up front all night we'd have a shot at it. But it's a big deal. Any of these races are hard to win. All of them are hard to win. Doesn't matter if there's points or not. We're proud of this one. It's a big deal.”

 

Can you take us through what you were going through mentally and emotionally when you dropped the hammer? And also, now that you won this tight quarter mile track, do you feel more comfortable driving through LA traffic?

“LA traffic is no problem. It's just like Jersey traffic. But I hate traffic. Hate all of it. If I see it, I'm like, oh, this sucks. Just want to hide, pull off the road, drive through them. But on the restarts at the end, it's frustrating when you've got a big lead, and like the 34 was trying to -- he rode around at like 10 miles an hour for three or four laps; he should've just got off the damn track, you know what I mean? Obviously he wasn't going to finish the race, so why was he just riding around? So that was frustrating. Then the other stuff, it's just guys getting into each other on a tiny little track and getting spun out and things. The restarts you're just trying to get a good jump and then not screw it up. Like I said earlier, I was having lots of brake issues. I'm not sure what was going on. Our rear brakes got too hot or we did something and lost all the rear braking and start locking up front tires getting into the corner, and I just kept putting more rear brake in and I was about to be out of adjustment. I've never, ever in my whole entire career put that many rounds of rear brake in a car, so I was a little nervous about that. I was kind of locking up all four tires getting into the corner I and just trying to make the corner. It was a little sketchy at the end, but everybody was out of tires and we had so many restarts and so much air in our tires that everybody just kind of was slipping and sliding. Luckily I was just able to get a good enough jump and get cleared, and then just tried not to give it away and totally miss a corner.” 

 

This is a very exciting event even though it's preseason. What does it mean to you that you're participating in this event?

It's fun to come here, but it's a lot more fun to win it. Last year wasn't all that fun. This weekend was a blast.” 

 

Earlier you also said you're more determined. Is there any event that you have sort of a checklist so far this season?

You know, we'd like to win them all. We're one for one right now, so that's a good way to start. Daytona 500 is a huge race. It's the biggest race of the year for us, and going there with momentum is great. Been really close there before; it would be an awesome one to check off the list.” 

 

Apart from all the hard driving and hard work you've put in today, just over the couple days of preparation, even Friday and Saturday and Sunday, culminating your today, your perspective on the fans that turned out for the event tonight?

Yeah, it's definitely exciting. It's a different venue for us and it's kind of got a different vibe with all the things going on and the history around this place, like giving the medals and doing the podium, and it's a unique event. It's a one-off deal and it's fun. We've done the Clash for a long time and it's never really been hyped up like it is now being its own standalone event, and I think that's really neat, especially doing it somewhere totally different like here with a lot of history. It's definitely a lot of fun, and hopefully the fans keep supporting it and coming out. There's no telling what we can make this thing into.”

 

With you being competitive this time around, did it in any way remind you of the Busch North days back then with the beating and banging on a short track like this?

“Yeah, it was funny. After Victory Lane, I was like, I've raced a lot of races that are 150 laps, because most of our races back then were 150s, and I don't ever remember one taking that long. That felt like a 400-mile race. It was forever and ever, caution, caution, caution. Yeah, we raced on a lot of tracks that there was a lot of beating and banging like that, especially for me up front on those restarts, you know, how many times we'd kind of go back and forth. It definitely reminded me a lot of those short tracks back in those days. Not really taking each other out, just running hard, rubbing a lot, and kind of getting out of shape. It was a ton of fun.” 

 

You've said a couple times you had fun tonight. In the moment, the way that race was, as choppy as it was, the beating and the banging, is that fun?

“When you're not getting spun around, turned around backwards, yes. When you're up front and you're just kind of banging and beating and guys are sliding into the corner making mistakes and all that, that's fun. It's no fun when you just get run over and turned around, which I feel like is a lot of what was going on with all the cautions. Luckily we weren't involved in that. We had a few instances where it got close, but we were able to hang on. Yeah. It's always fun it be up front and have a shot at the win.”

 

Had you not won, would you still think it's fun?

“Yeah. I feel like if I would have finished up front, which I -- there's a lot of points in the race where I felt like I didn't really have the car where I needed it to be to win, and I was still enjoying it. 

To answer your question, yeah, as long as nothing really stupid happened, I think I would have had fun most of the time.” 

 

You mentioned Ryan Preece, the 41 car, kind of being the only one that gave you a run for your money pretty much. How shocking was that to see a driver you didn't race against last year, a car that's not typically up there, be the one that you're struggling to track down?

“I'm not shocked at all really. He's a great short track driver. Won tons of short track races, modifieds, et cetera. He's run a lot of races in tracks like this or a similar to this. I wasn't surprised at all, and I've raced with him before, and he's in really probably better equipment now than he's ever been, and I'm sure he's got a really good team. I wasn't surprised, and at that point in the race I felt like my car was off when he got the lead from us there and -- or, let's see, he didn't get the lead from me. I think I was second at the time and he got by me on a restart then got the lead. He was just really strong at that point in the race, and I didn't feel like my car was that good. For whatever reason the second half of the race it really took a long, long time for my car to get going, which it's kind of been that way the whole weekend, but it felt like the second half of the race was even more so. I think just because it was cooling off outside and the track temp was dropping and it was taking longer to come in. We were starting to get real equal to him, maybe a little faster, when he started having his issues. 

No telling what would have happened, but it was fun to race with him. He's a great kid and he's a great talent.” 

 

Could this race be a points race here?

“No. How are you going to put all the cars out there? How are you going to do pit stops?” 

 

There aren’t pit stops at the Bristol dirt race and it pays points.

“It's dirt. Different. I mean, I don't know. I don't think we can get 36 cars -- you're going to put 36 cars out there? 38? Hell yeah. I think you do. Maybe somebody doesn't think you do. I don't make those decisions, but in my opinion, I don't think it should be, but it's such a great event. Why would you want to screw it up and make it a points race? It's like a one-off deal, the Clash. The Clash used to -- since I've been doing it, it just kind of got boring, from back in the day when it was just pole winners from last year, then it was champions, and then it was everybody that made the playoffs. It just got all weird, and now this is really cool. It's got its own identity, fun race, all the way out here in a cool venue that's got a lot of history. I don't know, I think it's kind of got a good vibe to it now. Let's not maybe screw that up. And we have enough points races. How many are we going to have? Where are you going to take it from?”

 

You mentioned track temps when talking about Preece. How much of a difference do you think it taking longer for tires to come in in the second half, how much of a contribution do you think that was to all the chaos in those first 10 laps?

“Yeah, I would say that it was probably a big factor. The restarts, I mean, I felt like I was John Force out there all night just smoking the rear tires during the cautions, two or three times every straight away, just trying to keep them warm, and everybody was doing that because the tires are so hard, the track is brand new pavement. These tires don't like to cool off. Yeah, I would say that's a lot of it. You're just sliding so bad on restarts that guys would get in the corner and they're locking the brakes, they can't turn, can't get the rear to hook up. So they're just sliding into each other, and that was, I'm sure, a big factor. Daytime racing probably would have been a little bit less as far as cautions go, I think.” 

TRD PR

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