Wednesday, Feb 01
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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THE MODERATOR: Good morning. Everybody. We're ready to get started with this unique announcement and celebration. Thanks so much for making time to come along this morning, and happy race day. Pleased to say this is the biggest crowd ever at the Rolex 24 here at Daytona, which is a reason to celebrate. Round of applause.

(Applause.)

A beautiful celebratory day in sports car racing in this country, and we're going to continue the significant announcement for later this year in the summer for the 100th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Garage 56 project.

For those of you, and I know there were many of you with us in the room at Sebring last year when we broke the news, and that was a pretty joyous occasion, as well, this unique collaboration between IMSA, NASCAR, General Motors and Chevrolet, Goodyear, the ACO, Hendrick Motorsports. There's so many entities involved collaboratively but it's come together so wonderfully, and the excitement level kicks it up a notch here.

Want to welcome John Doonan, the president and project leader of Garage 56, president of IMSA; Jimmie Johnson, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion; Mike Rockenfeller, who we were just having a chat backstage that it was almost 20 years ago that Rocky came here as a youngster - might have even still be a teenager then, I think - and almost won on debut here in a GT car; 2009 Formula 1 world champion, Jenson button -great to see Jensen here at the World Center of Racing; and Jeff Andrews, president and GM of Hendrick Motorsports.

Round of applause for everybody, please.

(Applause.)

I know that many you know this very well. Some of you may not as much, but Garage 56 is a unique program that the ACO implemented many years ago with technology, with a point of difference in mind, whether that's alternative fuels, alternative technology. Many of you will remember the delta wing, projects like that that partake -- there's a special place at Le Mans for Garage 56.

What point of difference are you bringing to this wonderful event? That's what today is all about, and you're going to see the people to pilot it.

John, we've been to Le Mans many years. We've seen Garage 56 projects, but this is something altogether different, and turning concept into reality, you're almost there.

JOHN DOONAN: We are, Leigh, and thanks to all the journalists and media from around the world that have come here to help us tell stories certainly about the 61st running of the Rolex 24, but stories like this, really special stories for our sport.

When Bill France Sr. wanted to put NASCAR on a global stage in 1976, he did a little bit of his own Garage 56 project. He took two NASCAR teams over to compete in what we all know is the most iconic 24-hour race in the world, including, of course, our own Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Jim France, our chairman, decided he wanted to recreate that same story. A special opportunity to put NASCAR on a global stage. He certainly had an opportunity to do that with the new Next Gen Cup car, and then he said, let's bring a team of All-Stars together, the winningest race team in NASCAR history with 14 Cup championships, the winningest auto manufacturer in NASCAR history, Chevrolet, NASCAR's tire partner since 1954, Goodyear, and working with our partners at the ACO, and I had to do a costume change from IMSA to Garage 56, but Pierre Fillon and his board have been open to this idea.

We definitely took him to a steak dinner. We're still waiting for our official invitation, which will hopefully come in about 30 days. But it's truly an All-Star team. Then the last bit was who's going to pilot this car, and we're thrilled to be able to announce that today.

THE MODERATOR: Jimmie, of course people naturally associated you with it because of your wonderful history with Hendrick Motorsports, but your diversity, the last couple years in INDYCAR, all the years you raced here and almost won the Rolex 24 overall. I happened to be with Mr. H when he rang you at Sebring. We were sitting on the taxiway, and he said to me, Do you think Jimmie would be interested? And I said, Yeah, I think so. So are you pleased that you're a part of this?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, especially being the youngest driver up here on stage, I'm so pleased to be here (laughter) and be a part of this program. When Rick called, I couldn't resist the opportunity. It's been a big dream of mine to go to Le Mans and compete and be in Le Mans and experience what it's all about, and to have the experience I have had here, I know how special this event is, and I'm sad that I'm not out there today.

But to know that I'm going to Le Mans with this great group of drivers, this great team, the collaboration between GM, NASCAR, everybody involved, it's really a special, special opportunity.

THE MODERATOR: Rocky, you've won the 24 hours of Le Mans overall, you've won the Rolex 24 here at Daytona, you've represented all kinds of manufacturers. You've done a lot of the grunt work, if you wish, a lot of the testing and development work. What's this like and what's it like for you to be part of this unique program?

MIKE ROCKENFELLER: Well, I'd just kind of underline what Jimmie said. It's an incredible group of partners on this project. To be involved from day one is just a great honor, a lot of fun, and I can't wait now to share the car with these two especially young teammates.

THE MODERATOR: Jenson, this is something different. You've often said post-Formula 1 year, you're eyes wide open, open to different things, different projects. You still love to compete. This fits the boxes different, doesn't it.

JENSON BUTTON: Yeah, this is a total surprise. I was on the way to Disneyland and took the wrong road.

Yeah, it's really, really special to be here. Seriously, I've always thought of myself as a racing driver, and I've finished my F1 career and I look for new challenges. This is definitely an exciting challenge, to work alongside these two.

As you can see already there's some good banter here with Jimmie dreaming that he's the youngest. I think it just shows that that teamwork that we will need to go to Le Mans and to perform as we would like.

Very excited to work with this All-Stars team, and I think we can achieve something very special.

THE MODERATOR: Not to mention your coach, Jordan Taylor, right?

JENSON BUTTON: Yeah, where is Coach? There he is. I followed Jordan on social media and he's very funny, so I'm looking forward to working with you, Coach.

THE MODERATOR: Jeff, talk about it from a Hendrick Motorsports point of view. Like we said, there's a lot of cooks in the kitchen or a lot of entities trying to collaborate and collaborating successfully. What's it been like to have been the master puppeteer along with John?

JEFF ANDREWS: Thank you, Leigh, and I want to say on behalf of Hendrick Motorsports we couldn't be more proud of this driver lineup that's going to go forward and represent this great effort, kind of a monumental effort, so to speak, that we've been working on for quite some time.

We know they're going to represent NASCAR and Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet and Goodyear. This is going to be a great opportunity not only for us but for them, and we're looking forward to our trip to Le Mans here in June.

Yeah, from a vehicle side, everything is coming along well. We've got a test down here Tuesday and Wednesday. We're looking forward to that, on-track time and first time to get these three guys in that car consistently and get their feedback.

THE MODERATOR: By the way, Chad Knaus is here. You'll get a chance to talk to Chad later. The guys are going to take some questions now.

  1. Maybe for Jeff first, Jeff Gordon I know was trying to get in race shape and maybe do this. What happened there?

JEFF ANDREWS: I think I could speak for him and say these three guys came to the surface, and he was really good with the decision.

  1. Jimmie, are you okay with the decision, because he would have been the oldest?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: That would have helped tremendously, yes, and then I thought Rocky was in his 40s and he's still only 39, so I insulted him on the way over.

  1. Jimmie and Rocky, you come full circle here because you sent the email after the crash at Le Mans about Rocky in 2011. Both of you comment on that, how cool that is that you're going to be racing together at the event where you got to know each other.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I guess through time, that portion of the story hasn't been in my mind. I just know the last two years and sharing the car with him here at the Rolex 24 how much fun we've had, the relationship we've built, and honestly being around one another and both being in the Action Express car really helped us move forward with this program and be in the early days of developing the car, and then now we've got the nod to participate in it together.

It's been a great couple of years. I think we've built a great friendship, and certainly looking forward to racing together in Le Mans.

MIKE ROCKENFELLER: Not much to add, I think. He said it all.

Like I said, to be with Hendrick for me, it was the first time, obviously, to work with the team, and it's such a high level. It's really, really impressive, and all the other partners involved.

To be with Jimmie, I know him, and from the early days we talked about it, when this thing started. I knew there was a high chance he would be involved; he told me. That was fun, so now to have a chance, which I never raced with in the same car, but we actually did race against each other once I think in Hockenheim, right, in a DTM race where he showed up, and I think we were in the press conference together.

Yeah, let's hope that we have some fun, and definitely I think the fans will love this car in Le Mans. That's for sure.

  1. Jenson, can you give us the backstory about how it came together? I know you've worked with Jeff Gordon in the past, but obviously this is a Hendrick executive. Did he help make this happen?

JENSON BUTTON: No, actually, it was initially through Jimmie a long time ago.

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Long time ago.

JENSON BUTTON: I was just asking Jimmie what he was up to in 2023, because this guy can't sit still. He was running through a few things he's hoping to do, and he said, I'm hoping to bring NASCAR to Le Mans. I was like, sorry, what? It started there, and then I got in touch with Rocky, and he said, we're testing out in Sebring. He said, come and check out what we're doing and see if it's something that would interest you. Then spoke to John, and it all started from there.

Yeah, I haven't driven the car yet, but I was at the test in Sebring watching and listening to all the information that the drivers were feeding back about the car and the big steps forward that they were making with the car was very impressive.

Yes, looking forward to driving the car on Tuesday.

  1. So Jimmie, you dumped Jeff? You picked Jenson and got Jeff out of there?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Sure, and then I kicked him out of the GTP car this morning, so I could drive it, as well.

  1. But he's sick, right?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah.

  1. You tested the Next Gen this week earlier --

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I did.

  1. And that was your first time, correct?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: First time.

  1. So what did you think?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: It's a much different vehicle than what I remember. From the drive line perspective and shifting, just the general feel, the attitude of the car, I'm not used to the cars running so nose up, and now with the underwing on the car and trying to charge the underwing itself for downforce, it's just a different animal. So I'm very thankful I got those laps.

It did feel foreign, but it felt a hell of a lot closer to home than driving an INDYCAR. Within six laps I was right there on pace with the guys, so that was nice to be back at home.

  1. Jimmie, can you tell us a little bit how much different this car is to your usual NASCAR car?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I think we're going to have some more details come out in another announcement more specific to the car itself, but I can say that we're taking every effort we can to really carry the NASCAR DNA over to Le Mans. That's really the design and the intent for this program. Even that big V-8 engine, everybody in France is going to love hearing that thing scream down the straightaways.

  1. You obviously in the last couple years have driven a lot of different stuff. How does this compare, and how is it going to feel representing both NASCAR and Hendrick at Le Mans?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Huge honor to represent NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, all the partners involved, Goodyear, Chevrolet. A lot of history -- I have a lot of history with all the people involved, so it's very meaningful to me to be invited to come do this and to represent everyone.

Then yeah, the car is different than your typical NASCAR vehicle. There have been some modifications made. But it's really a fun car, and I'd kind of put it somewhere in between what a NASCAR vehicle is capable of and maybe one of the prototypes that are on track here this weekend. It's kind of a hybrid of the two.

  1. For Jeff, Hendrick Motorsports obviously involved in this program, they helped Jimmie in his North American endurance championship years, and you're going to Indianapolis in 2024 with Kyle Larson. Do you see Hendrick Motorsports going past part time programs in other motorsports? Do you want to go full time in IMSA or INDYCAR?

JEFF ANDREWS: For us, we certainly have an interest in obviously Mr. Hendrick and racing and winning and doing well, and we're certainly as a company over the years, no doubt have been really solely focused on NASCAR, but now we're taking some opportunities with some different drivers we have and getting out and looking at some other things.

This is another great example of Chad Knaus has put together an amazing team at Hendrick Motorsports, Greg Ives, former crew chief for us, Ben Wright, a lot of experience in this industry.

We're definitely getting our toe in the water, just to kind of see what's out there. We do want to be involved in some other forms of racing. I don't have a time frame for you, but this is a great way for us to kind of get our toe wet.

  1. This question is for Jimmie. When it's all said and done, I know you've done Sebring, done a lot with NASCAR and INDYCAR, but when your career is all said and done, do you want to feel like you've accomplished everything that you can on the motorsports stage where you left nothing undone?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: Yeah, I think that is buried in my mind somewhere. More than anything, I just want to drive race cars. I think the last couple years I've proven that or I've shown that, I should say, and an opportunity like this is a chance-of-a-lifetime opportunity.

It's the last thing standing on my bucket list, as well, my own personal list that I've had through the years, is to go to Le Mans. But I also feel like with my involvement now with Legacy Motor Club and my future in the sport itself, I'm not done. I love motorsport far and wide and really look forward to the years that I have ahead of myself.

I think there are less years driving the car and holding the steering wheel and more years outside of, but just really excited for the challenges ahead.

  1. The thought of driving in a 24-hour race, is that something that -- how do you approach that knowing that this is one heck of a challenge and it's on that list of things that you're looking to accomplish?

JIMMIE JOHNSON: I have enjoyed the races I've had here at the Rolex 24 and can only imagine what it will be like in France. As an endurance sports athlete, doing triathlons and marathons and such, I just love that kind of challenge. I've always left a 24-hour race here just exhausted physically and mentally with a smile on my face. I really do enjoy the challenge.

  1. In terms of the new GTP class and Hypercar class at Le Mans, would that interest any of you drivers in driving those in the future, or is that something you've put behind you?

MIKE ROCKENFELLER: Yeah, I think the year after we are all together in the top category. We start with the Garage 56 and then we will be there.

No, of course it's a great era. Let's be honest; I have been there, I don't know when it was the first time in a GT car in Le Mans, and for me Le Mans is really, in Europe, in endurance racing, one of the -- the biggest race in the world.

To be there and fight for overall victory, I think every driver wants to do that. But this year for sure for us it's a little different. We won't be able to.

But we will for sure see the cars and watch it closely, and I think for the sport, it's just amazing to see all these manufacturers coming to Le Mans. I remember we raced there and we were one or two brands, and it was already great. But now to have all these manufacturers on the grid, it's truly amazing for Le Mans but also I think we don't need to look that far, we just watch the race today and we see already what it will be like.

  1. Jenson, these two guys next to you are no surprise on this project. You are a little bit. Were there any reservations when you were first offered the opportunity?

JENSON BUTTON: Reservations, no. I wanted to understand the project a lot more and I wanted to spend a bit of time with the team, speak to these two drivers. I visited Hendrick Motorsports, and I have to say I was blown away at the facility. I've raced for some of the best Formula 1 teams in the world, and it still surprised me how good the facility was, the intrinsic detail that goes into everything they do within the team.

I knew they would be developing and producing a fantastic car for us to race at Le Mans. Still a lot of work to do, obviously, but it's a great base, and something that us three with our involvement, and Jordan, we should be able to make something that is nice to drive at Le Mans and also competitive to race at Le Mans.

Getting back to the previous question, I raced at Le Mans in 2018, and before I went there, I was like, what's the big deal with Le Mans. I thought Formula 1 is the pinnacle. But Le Mans is such a special race. It's such a big team event.

We all have to work together to perform and to get a result out of it. Even though I didn't finish in 2018, it just got me excited to go back there for more.

This is my first time back since then, and really looking forward to it. Yeah, possibly in the future if there's the right situation, I would jump at the chance to jump in an LMH, LMDH.

  1. For John, quite the varied mix sitting next to you. Was that the intent of the project from the start, to have this kind of mix of backgrounds?

JOHN DOONAN: I would suggest if there is ever such a thing as an All-Star team in motorsports, this project is the absolute poster of that. First started with Jim France's vision. Then it started almost a year ago with a conversation with Rick Hendrick. The organization that Rick and his whole entire organization, it's unbelievable to have Chad Knaus and Greg Ives involved in this. You couple that with what Chad and Jimmie accomplished over 15 seasons, seven championships, 83 wins, twice here on this stage in '06 and 2013, unbelievable.

Then you go on to Mike Rockenfeller, Le Mans winner, unbelievable endurance sports car experience. Then you add in a world champion from Formula 1, it's exactly what the vision was was to put NASCAR on a global stage and bring drivers from so many different disciplines like you've seen in NASCAR Cup.

Mike ran twice last year at Watkins Glen, the Charlotte Roval; Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen and on and on and on, and the list keeps growing. Then it was a conversation with the folks at Chevrolet, Mark Reuss, Jim Campbell, Jim Danahy and their whole entire team, and they embraced the idea of joining in this project. Then of course Goodyear, Justin Fantozzi, Stu Grant, Rich Kramer, those folks said absolutely, what an amazing opportunity to be with this All-Star team.

In the end our hope is to put NASCAR on a global stage. Steve Phelps, Steve O'Donnell, John Probst, Brandon Thomas, they have created something absolutely incredible with the Next Gen Cup car. 19 different winners in Cup last year, unbelievable. I'd like to think that we're going to break that record as a company in 2023.

The other piece is we've learned a lot already about this car and what might be able to be applied to the Next Gen Cup car. Just this week, based on the work Rocky has done in the sim, Jimmie has done in the sim, Jenson in the sim, Dr. Eric Jacuzzi, our aerodynamicist for NASCAR, there were components that we've tested on the Garage 56 car that were tested at Phoenix that might be applied for short track racing or road course racing.

Then here on Tuesday, we're going to fire up headlights, working headlights, working taillights. No more stickers.

We're really excited about that, to help maybe bring some things from this project that could be applied, and again, it's all about putting NASCAR on a global stage.

On behalf of Jim France and Rick Hendrick who really started this, we have an awesome opportunity, and I know on February 23rd Mr. France is going to be rushing to the mailbox waiting for that invitation from Pierre and the board, and I think his first phone call will be to Mr. Hendrick to let him know the great news that this awesome team of All-Stars are going to go over and compete at Le Mans. Unbelievable.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you very much. Thank all of you gentlemen.

NASCAR today announced a prestigious driver lineup to pilot its Garage 56 entry in the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 100th anniversary of the legendary race.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson, former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller, and 2009 Formula One world champion Jenson Button will share the driver’s seat of the Next Gen Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which is anticipated to be approved for entry by l'Automobile Club de l'Ouest (ACO) in the coming weeks.

The Garage 56 project is a partnership between NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear – the winningest team, manufacturer and tire in the sport’s 75-year history.

“Since the beginning of the Garage 56 project, it has been our goal to partner with the top racers in the world to represent us in Le Mans,” said Jim France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “The lineup of Jimmie, ‘Rocky’ and Jenson is everything we could have dreamed of – three elite drivers who have won at the highest levels of motorsports worldwide. As we celebrate the 75th anniversary of NASCAR, we are honored to have these world-class champions help bring the sights and sounds of a NASCAR race car to fans in Le Mans, and across the world.”

France was honored last year with the 2022 Spirit of Le Mans Award in recognition of his longtime impact in motorsports and his work securing a historic convergence agreement between IMSA and the ACO. The first chicane at Le Mans’ Mulsanne Straight is now called the “Daytona Chicane” and the chicane at Daytona International Speedway – once referred to as “The Bus Stop” – is now called the “Le Mans Chicane.”

Johnson won a record-tying seven NASCAR Cup Series championships and 83 races for Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet in his illustrious career. He recently became part owner of NASCAR Cup Series team LEGACY MOTOR CLUB and will race in next month’s Daytona 500. Johnson helped test the Garage 56 car at Sebring in December.

“I’m super thrilled – it’s been at the top of my bucket list to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans someday,” Johnson said. “To have this opportunity come – and to partner with everybody and this driver lineup – is truly an incredible opportunity and one that I am thankful to be a part of.”

Rockenfeller, whose sports car accolades include winning the 2010 24 Hours of Le Mans, the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans GT Class, the 2010 ROLEX 24 at Daytona and the 2013 German DTM championship, has served as the lead test driver for the Garage 56 project.  He has driven the car at every on-track test and spent countless hours behind the wheel in the simulator.

“It has been a great journey so far with the whole team and project,” Rockenfeller said. “To be involved as a driver from day one until now was already a great honor, and to now have Jimmie and Jenson alongside me as teammates in Le Mans is unbelievable.”

Button had one of the most prolific careers in F1 history finishing with 15 wins and 50 podiums on top of his 2009 World Championship and is widely considered one of the top British drivers of all time.

“As a lifelong racing fan, I have always dreamed of racing certain cars, with and against certain drivers and competing in certain events,” Button said. “In June, a number of those dreams will come true in one event when I get to bring NASCAR to the world stage alongside my pals Jimmie and ‘Rocky’ for the 100th anniversary of the most prestigious race in the world. I’m really looking forward to sharing this journey with NASCAR, Hendrick Motorsports, Chevrolet and Goodyear, and current and future NASCAR fans from around the world.”

All three drivers will participate in next week’s two-day test at Daytona International Speedway.

Jordan Taylor, who currently competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Corvette Racing, will serve as the backup driver and help coach the drivers. Taylor won the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro Class and has finished on the podium four times. He is a four-time IMSA champion.

NASCAR PR

Andy Jankowiak became a three-time winner of the Gambler’s Classic Indoor Auto Racing Series TQ Midget feature Friday night as part of the NAPA Auto Parts racing weekend inside historic Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City, NJ, hoisting the iconic Gambler’s Classic trophy emblematic of victory.
 
 Jankowiak’s fellow front-row starter Scott Kreutter jumped into the lead at the start of the Gambler’s Classic before Jankowiak passed him after a thrilling side-by-side struggle. Close behind was fastest qualifier Briggs Danner, who worked his way under Jankowiak for command on lap 16. At the halfway mark of the 40-lap event, Danner, Jankowiak, and Kreutter were joined by Ryan Flores and Tommy Catalano all inches apart.
 
Danner, who nearly spun out unassisted while leading, was passed by Jankowiak. Camped on Danner’s outside, Jankowiak nosed ahead on lap 24 and when a caution flew on lap 25, Jankowkiak restarted up front.
 
 Danner then dropped back to third, with Flores gaining ground on the lap-25 restart to become Jankowiak’s main rival. The race took a turn on lap 30 when Danner spun and Erick Rudolph, who had moved into contention, spun as well when the two collided.
 
 This gave Jankowiak the lead with eight laps left and Flores right behind him. Tommy Catalano and Tim Buckwalter ran third and fourth with three laps left.   Two final restarts reshuffled the field putting Catalano in front of Jankowiak and Flores with Kyle Lick and Joey Bailey moving into the picture.
 

 Catalano’s bid for victory was derailed by an engine issue that robbed him of power on the final restart with two laps remaining. Jankowiak took over the lead for the fourth different time in this wild race to win with Buckwalter taking second in the scramble behind Catalano’s slowing car. Anthony Sesely, who started 19 th in the feature, closed with a rush to third with Catalano’s power-starved car fourth.  Mike Christopher, who had flipped in his qualifying heat, made the feature through a B Main and started 20 th, finished a solid fifth.  Lick, Flores, Bailey, Nick Ladyga, and Chad Jones completed the top ten in the thrilling event.

 
 After Danner bested a 52-car field in time trials (8.166 seconds), six TQ Midget 10-lap heat races were won by Tim Buckwalter over Danner, Tyler Wagner over Shawn Nye, Andy Jankowiak who bested Kyle Lick, Erick Rudolph over Tyler Ferris, Matt Swanson over Nick Ladyga and Jeremy Haudricourt over Matt Janisch. Mike Christopher, Jr. escaped injury in the only crash in the sixty laps of intense racing. Three TQ Midget 12-lap B Mains were won by Anthony Sesely over Andrew Molleur, by Christopher over Tyler Thompson, and by Matt Roselli ahead of Dakota Kessler.
 

 The headline TQ Midgets will do it all over on Saturday, January 28 with the big night ending with the 2023 Gambler’s Classic. The race winner will once again hoist the prestigious Gambler’s Classic winners trophy.

 Joining the TQ Midgets Saturday will be the Slingshots, sponsored by Pa.’s Kutztown Action Track, the Hoosier Tire Champ Karts, and the 600cc Dirt Micro Sprints. Champ Karts, 600 Micros, and Slingshots ran qualifying races Friday that helped set their fields for Saturday night’s features.

 
 Tyler Brown (9.270) out-qualified 43 Champ Kart drivers.  Heat winners were Preston DeMello, TJ Reed, and Chase Keiser. 
 
 Brett Bieber (9.882 seconds) set fast time for the 42 Slingshot entrants. Mark Mohr, Simon Egan, and Tyler Ulsh won the three Slingshot heat races.
 

 Kyle Lick (8.966 seconds) was the fastest in Friday's 600 Micro time trials. Lick and Tyler Gunn won the pair of heat races.

 Prior to Saturday’s event Fan Fest will be held on the racing surface for those with lower-level reserved tickets from 5 to 6:15.  Drivers from the event as well as  NHRA Funny Car champion Ron Capps will be signing autographs.

 Once the Indoor Auto Racing Series Fueled By VP points are calculated, the 2023 champion will be presented the TC Cup Trophy, named after the late Ted Christopher, a seven-time Indoor Auto Racing Series race winner including two Gambler’s Classic. The presentation will be made at trackside.

 Good seats for Saturday’s races remain available at Ticketmaster, a direct link is available from the series website, indoorautoracing.com, or daily at the Boardwalk Hall Box Office where the price is increased by $5 the day of the event.

 For those who cannot attend, the Saturday event will be available on DTD Pay-Per-View for $39.99.

 
 Gambler’s Classic TQ Midget Feature (40 Laps): 1. Andy Jankowiak, 2. Tim Buckwalter, 3. Anthony Sesely, 4. Tommy Catalano, 5. Mike Christopher Jr., 6. Kyle Lick, 7. Ryan Flores, 8. Joey Bailey, 9. Nick Ladyga, 10. Chad Jones, 11. Briggs Danner, 12. Tyler Ferris, 13. Jeremy Haudricourt, 14. Timmy Catalano, 15. Shawn Nye, 16. Tyler Wagner, 17. Ryan Bartlett, 18. Scott Kreutter, 19. Andrew Molleur, 20. Dakota Kessler, 21. Erick Rudolph, 22. Matt Swanson, 23. Tyler Thompson, 24. Matt Roselli, 25. Matt Janisch, 26. Zach Bealer.
 
AARN PR

RSS Racing and Joe Graf Jr. jointly announced today that the veteran NASCAR Xfinity Series driver will join the Sugar Hill, Ga.-based team for a majority of the season beginning with the Beef. It’s. What’s. For. Dinner 300 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Feb. 18, 2023.

Graf Jr. will continue his relationship with Ford Performance, Roush Yates Engines and a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing through RSS Racing for his fourth season on the circuit. 

 

The former ARCA Menards Series winner will pilot an RSS Racing Ford Mustang in a minimum of 28 Xfinity Series events, including Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in April, the site of his career-best finish achieved during the 2022 season.

 

Veteran crew chief Steve Addington will lead Graf’s efforts at RSS Racing beginning at Daytona.

 

“I am very appreciative to be welcomed into the RSS Racing family,” said Joe Graf Jr. “I am opening a new chapter in my Xfinity Series career in 2023 and I am determined to make it my best yet.

“I’m looking forward to having Ryan (Sieg) who is not only respected in the garage as my teammate but also driving for a family-owned team is certainly going to bring back memories. I hope we are able to make some new memories of our own this season with all of our great marketing partners.” 

 

In his move to RSS Racing, Graf Jr. will bring a batch of previous marketing partners including Bucked Up Energy Drink, CoverSeal®, G-Coin, Gtechniq and JACOB Companies. He will also introduce a new primary marketing partner Lefcourt Brothers Racing, a group of exotic car collectors, enthusiasts and investors.

 

"My brother Jeff and I have been fans of motorsports our entire lives. Jeff even owns a local racetrack," said Lefcourt Brothers Racing co-owner Jonathan Lefcourt. "We have both spent many years cultivating extensive exotic car collections. Lefcourt Brothers Racing has given us the opportunity to be more involved in racing and to support a talented young driver."

 

Bucked Up (buckedup.com/energy) started in 2013 when twin brothers Ryan and Jeff Gardner started marketing a product called Deer Antler Spray. After selling thousands of bottles to GNCs nationwide, the company morphed into what is now Bucked Up, a full-fledged vitamins and supplements manufacturer.

 

The company has gone from its humble beginnings to becoming the No. 1 best-selling pre-workout brand that’s available in over 10,000 stores worldwide.

 

Based in Los Gatos, California, CoverSeal® (getcoverseal.com) protects vehicles, grills, and furniture with innovative patented design. Each weatherproof CoverSeal® product offers a 360-degree weighted bottom, sealing it effortlessly to the ground and prevents rodents from getting inside. This patented innovation also keeps the cover on in high winds. 

 

CoverSeal® solves several issues not addressed by other products. We keep things out that would degrade your investment in your prized car, patio furniture, barbecue, or many other things you can choose to store under our covers.

 

G-Coin (gcoin.com) is a digital title to real physical gold, where one G-Coin® is 1 gram of a 99.99% pure, sustainably sourced Responsible Gold™ kilobar.

 

G-Coin® allows for easy savings and sending of real gold with zero transaction fees and near real-time settlement. With G-Coin® you now can buy, sell, and track the value of your gold from the convenience of your smartphone.

 

In 2004, scientists at Gtechniq created a superior line of products aimed at perfecting all vehicle surfaces. And over the last 20 years, these products have been continually improved to provide a range that outshines and outlasts the competition.

 

Gtechniq’s line of surface preparation and finishing products are designed to clean, polish, and protect all automotive, marine and bike interiors and exteriors, in a way no traditional wax applications can match.

 

“Without the support of my longtime partners this season would not have been possible,” added Graf Jr. “It means a lot to continue to have the support of Bucked Up Energy Drink, CoverSeal®, G-Coin and Gtechniq while welcoming Lefcourt Brothers Racing front and center this season.

 

“I will work hard to continue to build their brands through our marketing initiatives while looking forward to having the opportunity to race near the front in their colors with RSS Racing in 2023.”

 

With the addition of Graf Jr., RSS Racing will field at least two full-time Xfinity Series entries this season with Ryan Sieg and Graf Jr.

 

Additional announcements from RSS Racing are pending. 

 

“We saw the improvement of Joe’s on-track performance during the course of the 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and we believe he can continue that progression with RSS Racing this season,” said team spokesperson Rod Sieg.

 

“Joe brings a welcomed enthusiasm with a determined focus to help make 2023 one of the best

seasons yet for RSS Racing.” 

 

For more on Joe Graf Jr. visit JoeGrafRacing.com, like him on Facebook (Joe Graf Jr.), follow him on TikTok (@JoeGrafJr), Twitter (@JoeGrafJr), Instagram (@joegrafjr) and YouTube.

 

Joe Graf PR

The Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum is NASCAR’s first event of its 75th anniversary season. It’s also going to be a party for the ages.

That’s because NASCAR announced today that global DJ phenomenon Cheat Codes will perform during the caution breaks of its season-opening celebration and join forces with global superstar Dixie D’Amelio for a special performance of “I’ll Remember.”

Combined with a pre-race performance by Cypress Hill and a race-break performance by Wiz Khalifa, this addition creates a power-packed lineup of entertainment to accompany the stars and cars of the NASCAR Cup Series on Sunday, Feb. 5.

“Adding Cheat Codes and Dixie D’Amelio to the lineup of entertainment takes the Busch Light Clash to the next level,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR’s senior vice president for racing development and strategy. “They are current artists with a global reach that numbers in the billions. Their addition to the Busch Light Clash takes this event to the next level.”

Cheat Codes is considered an inescapable musical force hopscotching through genres of electronic, dance, pop and now country. The Los Angeles trio’s impact of innovation and collaboration throughout popular culture has produced a total stream tally eclipsing a staggering 6 billion plays. Their diverse discography includes the platinum Pop Radio Top 5 smash “No Promises” (feat. Demi Lovato), the gold certified “Feels Great” (feat. Fetty Wap & CVBZ), and gold-selling breakout “SEX” with Kriss Kross Amsterdam.

Dixie D’Amelio is a multifaceted talent whose music has topped 625 million streams to date and a social media reach eclipsing 100 million followers. In addition, she has a successful TV show on Hulu (The D’Amelio Show), her own clothing brand with Hollister, Social Tourist, and brand partnerships with Puma, Valentino, Burberry, and more. She is one of the top 10 most followed creators on TikTok and was named one of YouTube’s Top 10 Breakout Creators of 2020 with one of the fastest growing channels globally. Her entrepreneurship combined with her influence on social media, has earned her coveted spots on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 and Forbes’ top creators list as well as, AdWeek’s Young Influentials and Variety’s Power of Young Hollywood Impact List.

In 2020, Dixie’s debut single “Be Happy” landed on the US Top 40 and Billboard’s Top Triller U.S. chart within a week and garnered more than 300 million streams. Most recently, her collaboration with Cheat Codes, and country singer Russell Dickerson on a remix of the hit song “I Remember (Dixie Remix)” has propelled her to even greater heights. On November 4th, 2022, Dixie made a cameo at Marquee Nightclub in New York City and joined Cheat Codes on stage for a surprise performance of the single.

Now, the powerhouses will join forces again at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for an unforgettable day of NASCAR racing and entertainment.

Tickets for the 2023 Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum begin at $65, and kids 12-and-under are $10. Fans who want to take their race-day experience to the next level can upgrade to the Ally Pre-Race Party, which includes brunch, a drink ticket for Busch & Coca-Cola products, exclusive entertainment, a pre-race track walk and a special appearance from driver Alex Bowman.  Fans are encouraged to get their tickets now while supplies last by visiting www.nascarclash.com. It’s one of the many anticipated events taking place this year as a part of the venue’s centennial anniversary celebration – “Coliseum Forever.”

College students can experience the Busch Light Clash from The Coca-Cola Torch Party Porch for just $40. This standing-room-only general admission section, located on the Coliseum’s peristyle steps, provides college students with up-close access to all the musical entertainment, driver introductions and racing action. College students can take advantage of this exclusive offer by visiting www.nascarclash.com/student.

NASCAR PR

South Boston Speedway and the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System are partnering to create a new reading initiative, Race to Read.

The Race to Read campaign is a comprehensive reading program for children, teens and adults that includes a reading contest for all ages during the month of February. The individual in each category that reads and logs the most books between February 1 and February 28 will win prizes including tickets to South Boston Speedway’s season-opening race on Saturday, March 18, pace car rides on event day, and a certificate from South Boston Speedway and the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System.

In addition, “Speedway Storytime” will be held each month March through October at the South Boston Public Library. “Speedway Storytime” will feature books about cars and racing being read to young children, with racing-related coloring sheets provided to all children at the end of the program.

Along with those program components, a South Boston Speedway Collection consisting of books and DVDs related to racing, competitors, tracks, and race cars will be housed at the South Boston Public Library. All items in the collection will feature a South Boston Speedway logo for easy recognition.

A special program, “Saturday with the Speedway” will be held Saturday, March 11 at 1 p.m. at the South Boston Public Library. Highlighting the event are a question-and-answer session with a guest speaker from South Boston Speedway, an up-close look at the South Boston Speedway pace car and refreshments provided by the South Boston Public Library.

“The speedway is ecstatic about partnering with the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System to bring this fun campaign to life and provide new, exciting ways for the community to experience the local libraries and speedway,” said South Boston Speedway Senior Director, Marketing & Administration Carly Brashears. “This campaign between the libraries and speedway truly aligns with the family values that are important and dear in our work at the speedway. We look forward to a wonderful partnership encouraging reading in the community.”

Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System Director Jay Stephens is excited about the library system’s new partnership with South Boston Speedway.

"We are very excited to be partnering with South Boston Speedway to promote racing and reading in Halifax County,” Stephens remarked.

“Both the speedway and the library have long histories as integral parts of the community and we are all looking forward to this joint venture. Our partnership will give racing fans an opportunity to learn more about the library, and it will give readers some exciting new programs that will perk their interest in racing.  We are especially excited about the Race to Read contest that will be held in February, with entrants having the opportunity to compete to win tickets to the season opening race at the speedway.

"Racing is a sport that can be enjoyed by anyone, anywhere, much the same as reading,” Stephens added. “It makes perfect sense for South Boston Speedway and the Halifax County-South Boston Public Library System to work together to promote both racing and reading."

South Boston Speedway’s first spectator event of the 2023 season will be the SoBo Drifts Powered by Barlow’s Tire on Saturday, March 4. Drifting is set to begin at 11 a.m.

The track will host its annual pre-season test day on the following weekend, Saturday, March 11.

South Boston Speedway’s first NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series racing event, the Danville Toyota presents the 2023 Season Opener, is set for Saturday afternoon, March 18, featuring twin 75-lap races for the Sentara Healthcare Late Model Stocks, twin 30-lap races for the Budweiser Limited Sportsman Division, a 25-lap race for the Southside Disposal Pure Stock Division and a 20-lap race for the Virginia State Police HEAT Hornets Division.

A total of 13 events are currently set on the 2023 South Boston Speedway schedule. Advance tickets for all 2023 racing events are on sale on the track’s website, southbostonspeedway.com. Tickets for the March 4 SoBo Drifts powered by Barlow’s Tire event will be sold only at the gate on the day of the event.

The latest news and updates from South Boston Speedway are available on the speedway’s website, southbostonspeedway.com, and through the track’s social media channels. Information may also be obtained by phoning the speedway at 434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540 during regular business hours.

SBS PR

After a career best season at Stafford Speedway in 2022, Plainville, CT native Adrien Paradis, III is set to move from the Street Stock up to the Limited Late Model division in 2023 and challenge for Rookie of the Year honors behind the wheel of his #19 CSB Communications Chevrolet. 

“I’m excited to make the move up,” said Paradis.  “We had talked about this as a team back in 2020 but things didn’t quite work out for us then.  Last year we hurt a motor and we wrecked a car so the plan was that this was a perfect time to make the move since I had to rebuild the motor.  It will be nice to get a little bit of extra money from the Limited Late Model purse versus the Street Stock purse and everything kind of fell into place for me to make the move now with my great sponsors CSB Communications, JSB Motorsports, Laser Crazy, D & F Wraps, Smedley Crane, and Paula’s $5 Paparazzi.”

The 2022 season, which marked Paradis’ fourth year in the Street Stocks, saw him set career highs with 2 wins, 15 top-5, and 16 top-10 finishes in 18 races, including 9 podium finishes.  Paradis’ on track efforts also resulted in a career best finish of third in the points standings and he is hoping that the last four seasons worth of experience will help to make his transition from Street Stock to Limited Late Model a smooth ride.

“With my experience I have the track down, I’ll just have to get used to a new style of car,” said Paradis.  “I hope I can get adjusted to it quicker than I did when I came from Waterford to the Street Stock division.  The car will be a little different and it will have a little harder tire than the Street Stock car.  It should be an easier transition for me to make and I’m hoping that it won’t take 2 years to get my first win like it did with the Street Stock.  That was a long waiting period for sure.”

Paradis will have Joe Brockett as his crew chief to help him get adapted to a brand new car.  Paradis looked into purchasing an existing car but when that didn’t pan out, he teamed with former 2-time Stafford Street Stock champion Zack Robinson to build a brand new car from the ground up.

“When it comes to fender cars, Joe Brockett knows a lot,” said Paradis.  “He won two championships with Zack in the Street Stocks and Zack was able to win a Late Model race as a rookie and we all know the Late Model division has some pretty stout competition.  We were actually talking with a team about possibly buying a car but they weren’t ready to sell the car.  Zack was building a car and I told him I needed a Limited Late Model and he said he would sell me the car he was building.  Building a new car was a better option than buying a car from someone because I’m not dealing with a car that might have been bent.  It also gives me the opportunity to learn every square inch of the car.  I have to give a big thank you to Joe and Zack because without their help, I wouldn’t be able to make this move up.”

Paradis came to Stafford for the first time in 2019 and he took down Rookie of the Year honors in the Street Stock division, a feat that he would like to repeat in 2023.  Paradis has finished in the top-5 of the points standings in three of his four Street Stock seasons and he would like to once again be a top-5 car in 2023.

“We’d like to win Rookie of the Year and put a win on the board this season,” said Paradis.  “There’s some really good competition at Stafford and we just have to try to stay with the frontrunners.  I would like to be in the top-5 again in the points at the end of the year.  If we can do like we did last year and keep our nose clean and avoid some wrecks, I think we can definitely be there.  I just have to get the week 4 or 5 monkey off of my back of wrecking a car.  It seems like the last couple years that’s where trouble starts for us and I think it was 2020 when I wrecked the car in the first race.  I’d like to keep that momentum of improving every year going.”

With Paradis looking to get as much track time as he can to be ready for the season opening NAPA Spring Sizzler® on Saturday, April 29, Paradis will take part in a track rental session in early April to get his first taste of a Limited Late Model car and shake down his new machine. 

“We have a track rental already scheduled for early April and that will be good to try to get the car figured out with the harder tire than what I’ve been used to,” said Paradis.  “Hopefully we’ll have everything right on the car and it’ll handle well but you know how racing can go.”

Paradis is also anxious to get on track with other cars so he can start getting an idea of the competition that he will be facing throughout the 2023 season.

“I haven’t really paid much attention to the competition in the Limited Late Model division,” said Paradis.  “I’d rather start doing that once I get on the track with the Limited Late Model drivers because a lot of times what you see from the stands versus what you see on the track are two totally different things.”

Paradis will take to the track for the first time in Limited Late Model competition during the 51st Annual NAPA Spring Sizzler®, which kicks off on Saturday, April 29 and will consist of feature events for the Limited Late Model, Street Stock, and Vintage All-Star divisions along with two 40-lap NAPA Duel qualifying races for the Open Modified division that will set the field for Sunday’s NAPA Spring Sizzler®. The American Canadian Tour (ACT) Late Models will also make their return to Stafford Speedway on April 29th with a 75-lap feature with over 40 cars expected for the race.

Order 51st NAPA Spring Sizzler® Tickets

Sunday, April 30th will play host to the $20,000 to win 51st NAPA Auto Parts Spring Sizzler®.  Filling out Sunday’s racing card will be qualifying and feature racing for the SK Modified®, SK Light Modified, and Late Model divisions along with last chance qualifiers for the Spring Sizzler®.

For more information, visit staffordspeedway.com, follow Stafford Speedway on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Stafford Speedway PR

Mitchel Moles took the USAC world by storm a year ago with five feature wins across the AMSOIL National Sprint Car and NOS Energy Drink National Midget divisions.
 
Now the 23-year-old Raisin City, Calif. native tackles the challenge of the big cars in 2023, teaming with Wisconsin-based car owner Hans Lein and crew chief Greg Nelson to compete on all the dirt races throughout the USAC Silver Crown season.
 
“It’s definitely going to be an experience, I’d say,” Moles exclaimed. “I can’t thank Hans and Greg enough for bringing me on board.”
 
Most of the venues, the type of car, the length of the race and the team will all be new tests for Moles, the 2022 USAC National Midget Rookie of the Year. However, he’s game for the challenge right off the bat. He nearly won his first career USAC National Sprint Car start last year and aims to come out swinging in similar fashion straight out of the gate when he steps foot for the first time in a champ car.
 
“It’s definitely going to be a change of pace since I’ve never run any dirt mile tracks in my life,” Moles pinpointed. “I’m thankful for those guys and Joe at DRC Chassis for helping put some feelers out for me that maybe some of these young guys like me can do it. The Silver Crown world has a lot of great veteran drivers, but I want to show that some of us newer guys to the division can do it too.”
 
Nelson, the team’s crew chief, a past Badger Midget driving champion in 1983 and a Silver Crown veteran driver himself, recently met Moles and his father for the first time during January’s Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Okla. In addition to Nelson and Moles’ mutual bond of the outdoors (hunting, fishing, etc.), Nelson had witnessed Moles’ abilities firsthand and knew full-well the will and desire he had to succeed. Soon, Nelson knew Moles was the man do the job and a deal was struck to make Silver Crown racing part of his plans for 2023.
 
Also noted by Nelson was the fact that the style of the car and the pace of the race in modern day Silver Crown competition is conducive to a young driver like Moles, and the jump from a sprint car to a Silver Crown car is much more relatable than it maybe once was in years past.
 
“I think he has the ‘it factor,’” Nelson said of Moles. “That’s definitely a big part of it. The other part is that it kind of seems like the cars are matching the style of the driver now instead of a ‘you have to run this, and this is how you run the race’ type of deal. It’s more of a sprint now. These days, they’re basically 100-lap sprint car races. That’s what’s going on and it more fits these guys’ style now.”
 
Lein and Nelson’s No. 97 has been a stalwart on the USAC Silver Crown dirt trail over the past six seasons between 2017-2022 with drivers such as USAC National champions Tyler Courtney, Dave Darland, Chris Windom, and most recently, Buddy Kofoid. With Courtney, the Lein team captured both the 2017 4-Crown Nationals at Eldora and the 2019 Hoosier Hundred at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.
 
Moles has run less than a handful of long distance races in his career, all of which have come in a midget during 100-lappers at California’s Placerville Speedway and South Dakota’s Huset’s Speedway, both of which included fuel stops at the halfway mark. Moles knows the Silver Crown cars are a bit of a different animal in that regard, but big fuel tanks and long distance races are quests he’s eager to take on as he scanned his way through the checklist for the 2023 season.
 
“I feel like I should be pretty comfortable on the dirt half-miles,” Moles stated. “But Belleville is going to be a change of pace for most everyone. A few of the guys have run there and it will be cool to say I’ve raced at Belleville with so much history at that place. I would say the Springfield and Du Quoin miles will be biggest challenge for me overall.  It’s something that’s going to take a little bit of thought on the strategy. I’m definitely going to talk to some of the guys who’ve done it for a while and just try to pick their brains on it. We’ll do our homework; we’re only running dirt for now, so we’ve got to try to win since the championship is out of the window.”
 
USAC PR

Chevrolet today debuted the new Corvette Z06 GT3.R racecar, a year before it makes its competition debut at the 2024 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

 

Making its public debut at Daytona International Speedway ahead of Saturday’s Rolex 24, the Corvette Z06 GT3.R is Chevrolet’s first racecar that fully meets FIA technical regulations for GT3 cars. 

 

Design and development of the mid-engine Z06 GT3.R is a collaboration between GM’s Competition Motorsports Engineering and Pratt Miller Engineering. With an eye specifically toward customer racing, the Z06 GT3.R will be eligible for multiple championships in North America and around the world with a high level of parts and technical support available for its customers.

 

The Corvette Z06 GT3.R will race for the first time as part of the GT Daytona (GTD) PRO category at the 2024 Rolex 24 At Daytona to open next year’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

 

“The Corvette Z06 GT3.R breaks new ground for Chevrolet and the Corvette Racing program,” said Mark Stielow, director, GM Motorsports Engineering Competition. “This customer-focused racecar leverages learnings from throughout Corvette Racing’s lengthy and successful history, plus the expertise of our Corvette production design, engineering and powertrain teams.”

 

Track and street

The Z06 GT3.R is a landmark racing vehicle for Chevrolet. Based on the highly acclaimed mid-engine Chevrolet Corvette Z06 supercar, this new race car takes the level of technology transfer between racing and production to a new level with more shared components and features than ever before.  

 

“Corvette Racing has been an important influence on the design of Corvette production cars for 25 years,” said Tadge Juechter, executive chief engineer, Corvette. “Corvette production and racing teams worked together closely in development to maximize the benefits of a mid-engine design, sharing lessons learned that set both programs up for all-out performance on the track.”

 

The Z06 GT3.R begins its life as an aluminum chassis frame from Chevrolet’s Bowling Green Assembly plant in Kentucky[i]. The frame provides a lightweight yet strong and durable underpinning for both Z06 and Z06 GT3.R. Once in Michigan at Pratt Miller, a purpose-built steel roll cage is welded onto a base plate, which is secured to the chassis.

 

A double-wishbone suspension at the front and rear promotes a higher level of adjustability and fitment of racing-specific tire sizes. This is the same front and rear suspension configuration as on the Z06 production vehicle. 

 

The motorsports engineering team added race springs and dampers, competition-specific rotors, calipers and pads. The Z06 GT3.R rides on 18-inch front and rear wheels — the same as on the C8.R.

 

Advanced aerodynamic strategies also link the road-going Corvette and its GT3 counterpart. Motorsports engineers worked with the GM Design Studio to develop an aero package specific to the Z06 GT3.R to optimize levels of downforce, stability, drag reduction and cooling.  

 

The goal was to design a GT3-spec Corvette that is suitable across different tire specifications, balance-of-performance settings and other customer preferences while not sacrificing performance or drivability on a variety of tracks and racing surfaces.

 

In order to enhance performance of the Z06 and Z06 GT3.R, each uses similar carbon fiber splitters which provide optimal downforce at the front of the vehicles. On the underside of the Z06 GT3.R, a new and purpose-designed carbon fiber diffuser routes air from the front the car toward the rear in order to create an optimal level of overall car stability.

 

The underbody aerodynamic devices work together in complementing the functionality of a new-for-2024 wing that aids in airflow at the rear of the Z06 GT3.R and the creation of downforce for enhanced cornering ability.

 

Aggressive and efficient ducting will move air to cool internal components. Intakes at the front of the Z06 GT3.R draw in air to cool the front brakes. A single, large opening on the hood — a new design philosophy from the C8.R — extracts out air after it moves over the radiator. 

 

From the top of the windshield to the rear of the car, the surface elements of the Z06 stayed intact for the Z06 GT3.R, accentuating the tie between production and racing. Most notable are side air ducts behind the doors — directly inspired by Z06 production road car — that help to cool the engine, transaxle and rear brakes.

 

Corvette production power for Z06 GT3.R

The Corvette Z06 GT3.R will feature a 5.5-liter, flat-plane crankshaft DOHC V-8 engine derived from the production Z06. This engine began on-track development in 2019 with the initial testing of the C8.R, ahead of its use in the production Z06. 

 

The LT6 engine for the GT3.R originates from the Performance Build Center in Bowling Green, the same line on which all production Corvette Z06 engines are built.

 

The 5.5-liter powerplant shares more than 70 percent of its parts with the production Z06 engine, including the crankshaft, connecting rods, cylinder heads, fuel injectors, coils, gaskets and a variety of other sensors. 

 

“Racing continues to play a key role in the development of our production engines,” said Russ O’Blenes, director, Performance and Racing Propulsion Team. “There were valuable lessons learned during the C5-R through C7.R programs that aided in the development of our V-8 engines for production and racing — many dealing with efficiency, materials and light-weighting. The flow of information from Corvette Racing to production engineering and back has helped us build race and street-car engines that are fast, reliable and efficient.”

Safety Structure

Chevrolet and Pratt Miller have worked together to incorporate a number of features into the GT3.R, building on safety construction from the C8.R.  The Z06 GT3 features a side-impact crash structure between the driver’s side door and roll cage. Pioneered in the C7.R, the box features an outer casing of carbon fiber and Kevlar, and is filled with an aluminum honeycomb construction.

 

The GT3 Corvette’s integrated steel roll cage is slightly modified from the current racing Corvette to provide easier ingress and egress.

 

Testing

The reveal of the Z06 GT3.R follows a two-year testing program. Virtual simulation through Chevrolet’s Driver in the Loop simulator began in early 2021.

 

The first on-track test of the Z06 GT3.R took place in September 2022 — which means the Z06 GT3.R will have a full year of on-track development when it gets into the hands of customers in the third quarter of 2023.

 

“We’re all very pleased with the results from the track testing program so far,” said Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM sports car racing program manager. “What’s even more encouraging is the correlation between simulator sessions and what we’re finding in the real-world track testing. It’s another level of validation that gives us confidence in the development process.”

 

Driven by success

The Z06 GT3.R is the latest in a line of championship-winning Corvette racecars that date back to the late 1990s and the introduction of Corvette Racing and the Corvette C5-R. Entering its 25th season, the program has scored 122 race victories around the world, including 113 in IMSA competition.

 

Those wins have led to 14 Manufacturer’s and Driver’s championships and 15 Team titles. No team in IMSA history has won more races or championships than Corvette Racing in that span.

 

The mid-engine C8.R — the predecessor of the Z06 GT3.R — has won 15 times around the world since its on-track debut in 2020. The 2023 season will be its second and last with a dual program in both the WeatherTech Championship and the FIA WEC. The latter will move from the current GTE regulations to the global GT3 platform beginning in 2024.

 

Customer support and options

Chevrolet and Corvette Racing is establishing a complete customer support program that will be available to teams running the Z06 GT3.R in North America and elsewhere around the world.

 

An at-track parts truck will be a fixture at North American race events starting in 2024 with expansion to overseas support ramping up in the first two years of the Z06 GT3.R program. 

 

Corvette Racing will carry full spares packages of bodywork and internal components for its customer teams in supported championships. On the technical side, engineers will assist teams with items such as pre-race documentation, including chassis setup and data sharing plus post-event documentation, data analysis, and relative comparisons. 

 

Full engineering, race strategy and other items also are incremental support options for Corvette Z06 GT3.R customer teams.

 

Customer integration doesn’t stop at the racetrack. Corvette Racing and GM Motorsports engineers will be available for remote engineering and operations support. 

 

“Supporting our customers is an area where we are putting in a lot of time and effort,” said Christie Bagne, GM assistant sports car racing program manager. “With this being our first customer GT3 offering, we have had meetings with many prospective customers to learn from their previous experiences, find what is important to them from a support standpoint and come up with a program that meets their expectations.”

 

The 2024 championships

For 2024, Chevrolet and Corvette Racing will continue targeting key sports car racing championships with North American and global entries.

 

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will see up to four Corvette Z06 GT3.R entries with a mix of GTD PRO and GTD teams starting with the 2024 Rolex 24.

 

Two Corvette chassis will be bound for FIA WEC in hopes of a double entry in the yet-to-be-named GT category, which would include the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

 

Chevrolet Motorsports will also be evaluating opportunities to be represented in SRO Motorsports including SRO America and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

 

Specific team announcements including drivers will be announced at a later date.

 

“This has been an intense but very rewarding process,” Klauser said. “From the time we announced a Corvette GT3 car, I’ve received more inquiries than I can count. It’s a testament to a known product like Corvette, the minds behind design, development and build, and the quarter-century success of Corvette Racing.”

 

[i] Assembled from US and globally sourced parts. 

GM PR

Alpha Prime Racing is proud to announce that Rajah Caruth will be returning to the team for select races during the 2023 NASCAR XFINITY Series season.

“Rajah is a special young racecar driver who is exactly the type of person we want in our building,” said APR Vice President David Schildhouse. “Keeping him here at Alpha Prime Racing for his Xfinity starts was a top priority for us this offseason. We look at Rajah as a vital part of our future and look forward to giving him the best tools possible to continue his growth in this sport.”

Caruth made 7 starts in the Xfinity Series in 2022, all with APR, and experienced the highs and lows of competing at the second highest level in NASCAR. Despite 2 DNFs in his first 4 starts, Rajah finished his campaign with 3 straight top-20 finishes including a 12th place run at Martinsville last October. For Rajah, his desire to return to APR was not only fueled by the performance of the team but also the people within it.

"I'm so enthused to bolster my NASCAR schedule this year by returning to Alpha Prime Racing for some Xfinity races,” said Caruth. “Tommy and his family took a chance on me before I had even ran an ARCA race, and to represent them as well as Caesar (Bacarella), his family and every man and woman in the APR fold is a blessing. I can't wait to build on the finishes we put together late last year and continue to show what both myself and this team is capable of.”

Details regarding sponsorship and Rajah’s scheduled events will come at a future date.

APR PR

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