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A championship-winning crew chief and transformative NASCAR executive whose career in motorsports has spanned more than 50 years, Gary Nelson received the prestigious Smokey Yunick Award ahead of Sunday’s fourth running of the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Legendary car owner and mechanic Henry “Smokey” Yunick instituted the award in 1997 to annually recognize an individual who rose from humble beginnings to make a major impact on the motorsports industry. Yunick passed away on May 9, 2001, and Charlotte Motor Speedway has continued the award in his memory.
Nelson joins a long list of NASCAR greats in receiving the honor, including Cotton Owens, Banjo Matthews, Ralph Moody, Ray Evernham, Dale Inman, Richard Childress, Rick Hendrick, Waddell Wilson, Larry McReynolds and Jeff Hammond.
“Smokey was a friend and I always admired his innovation, and patterned myself in thinking outside the box like he did,” Nelson said. “I always start every week wanting to win a trophy and I got a trophy today, so I’m good. It’s great to receive this.”
A native of Elgin, Illinois, Nelson scored 21 wins in an accomplished career as a NASCAR Cup Series crew chief from 1973-’91, managing strategy for prominent drivers including Darrell Waltrip, Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd, Geoff Bodine and Kyle Petty. The pairing of two innovative minds in Nelson and Allison saw DiGard Racing take the sport by storm in the early 1980s.
The duo captured victories in the Daytona 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 in 1982, one year before DiGard’s No. 22 machine – piloted by Allison and wrenched by Nelson – claimed the NASCAR Cup Series championship in 1983.
Following a three-year tenure with Allison and DiGard which included 16 victories, Nelson developed a reputation for building race-winning teams from the ground up. Ambitious new team owner Rick Hendrick tapped Nelson and driver Geoff Bodine to guide half of Hendrick’s first multi-car effort in 1986, a project which met with immediate success when the pair won the Daytona 500 in their first try.
In 1988, Felix Sabates hired Nelson to develop a new team, SABCO Racing, with driver Kyle Petty – which went from missing the Daytona 500 in 1989 to winning two races in the next two seasons.
In 1992, Nelson left the team side of the industry and assumed the role of NASCAR Cup Series director, where he served for more than a decade before being named vice president of research and development. In that role, Nelson focused his efforts on improving safety in motorsports.
Today, Nelson is the founder of Gary Nelson & Associates, which manages a variety of race teams from motorcycles to IMSA.
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Circuit Zolder in Belgium is becoming Martin Doubek’s favorite track on the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series schedule. The Czech won EuroNASCAR 2 Round 10 after a thrilling three-way battle with his teammate and pole setter Tobias Dauenhauer and Saturday’s race winner Naveh Talor. The Hendriks Motorsport driver made the decisive move on lap 12 and took the lead from Dauenhauer. Afterwards, Doubek fended off all attacks by his chasers to score season win number four, the same as his German teammate. The two will enter the October 30-31 Finals very close to each other on top of the points standings.
“Circuit Zolder somehow became my hometrack”, said a happy Doubek, who scored his 6th EuroNASCAR 2 career win, the third at Zolder. “I’m really happy to be back in the Victory Lane and score important points in the championship battle. The team did an amazing job and it was a thrilling and exciting race with the guys at the front. I’m now looking forward to the season finale at Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy. The Championship is on the line and I will give my best.”
EURONASCAR 2 RESULTS: FIRST PRACTICE | FINAL PRACTICE | QUALIFYING | ROUND 9 | ROUND 10
Doubek sped to victory after claiming the lead from Dauenhauer to cross the finish line 6.615 seconds ahead of Vladimiros Tziortzis. The battle for the lead heated up on lap 12 when Doubek overtook his German teammate and Saturday’s debut winner Talor was forced off the track. While Dauenhauer was given a 10-second penalty, Talor was shuffled down the order. This opened the door for Tziortzis to make a remarkable comeback.
The Cypriot was involved in an incident on lap 1 one that triggered a caution period. As lap 1 was not completed, race control reverted to the initial starting line-up for the restart. Tziortzis, who came down into the pits to change his damaged tire, took back fourth position, when the green flag was waved on lap 6. After the accident on lap 12, the Academy Motorsport / Alex Caffi Motorsport driver took over third and was ranked second in the end due to Dauenhauer’s penalty.
EuroNASCAR newcomer Melvin de Groot followed in third. The Dutchman racing for Team Bleekemolen scored his maiden overall podium and topped the standings in the Rookie Trophy and in the Legend Trophy. Dauenhauer, who’s still the championship leader ahead of the season finale at Vallelunga, was classified fourth after 10 seconds were added to his total race time. DF1 Racing’s Justin Kunz rounded out the top-5 with another strong run on his #22 Chevrolet Camaro.
Not Only Motorsport’s Alberto Panebianco finished second in the Rookie Trophy ranks by crossing the finish line in sixth overall. The Italian edged his teammate Talor, who ended up seventh after his off-road ride on lap 12. Pierluigi Veronesi was eighth ahead of Leonardo Colavita, who completed the Rookie Trophy podium. Rounding out the top-10 was Yevgen Sokolovskiy – the second-placed driver in the Legend Trophy. Max Lanza rounded out the special classification’s podium for drivers aged 40 and over in 13th behind Gil Linster and Thomas Krasonis. Arianna Casoli beat Alina Loibnegger in the race for the Lady Trophy.
While the 2021 EuroNASCAR 2 Championship will be decided at Autodromo di Vallelunga in Italy on October 30-31, the EuroNASCAR PRO top stars will wrap up the NASCAR GP Belgium with Round 10 at 3:55 pm CET. The last race of the regular season finale will be broadcasted live on EuroNASCAR’s platforms – YouTube, Facebook, Twitch, NWES App – and Motorsport.tv.
Open the NAPA Super DIRT Week record book to a random page and blindly lay your finger down anywhere. There’s a good chance it rests on the name Stewart Friesen. However, it's visibly absent in one section.
The Northeast Modified star, turned NASCAR Truck Series championship contender, holds the second most Billy Whittaker Cars 200 victories with five. In the last 11 years of the event, he’s only missed the podium twice. And of his five wins, he holds two of the most prestigious victories in the history of the event – he won the final 200-lap Super DIRTcar Series race at the Syracuse Mile and won the event’s first race hosted at Oswego Speedway.
But of all his NAPA Super DIRT Week accomplishments, he’d never won the DIRTcar 358 Modified Salute to the Troops 150. He finished second four times, but never stood atop the podium. He changed that Saturday night at Oswego Speedway.
Having locked himself into the prestigious $20,000-to-win, 150-lap, race as one of the six fastest drivers in Thursday’s Tim Trial sessions, Friesen lined up fourth on the starting grid and methodically planned out his quest to accomplish the feat that’s denied him year after year.
To get to that point, he had to duel with a stellar cast of 358 Modified drivers. Billy Dunn, the 2021 DIRTcar 358 Modified champion, had earned the SRI Performance Pole Award and 2021 DIRTcar 358 Modified Hoosier Tire Weekly champion and defending Billy Whittaker Cars 200 champion Mat Williamson was on the Low-E Insulation Outside Pole. Rising Modified star Tim Sears, Jr. started to the inside of Friesen and seven-time Salute to the Troops 150 champion Billy Decker was one spot behind him.
There was going to be nothing easy about picking up his first Salute to the Troops 150 title.
When Dave Farney showed the 40-car the green flag for the first time, Williamson launched ahead of Dunn to take the lead, while the red #49 faded from the pole to fourth. The long race was halted early when Peter Britten’s night ended on Lap 3 after an incident put him in the Turn 2 wall.
Williamson, who had won every NAPA Super DIRT Week Feature event this week, held command out front for the first quarter of the race. It wasn’t a comfortable 60 laps on the throne, though. Sears kept the pressure on him the whole time, occasionally peaking his nose underneath the red #6 for a pass. During this time Friesen had fallen out of the top-five.
A caution came out with about 90 laps to go and several lead drivers like Williamson, Larry Wight – who had charged his way up from seventh to third – and Friesen decided it was the right time to pit for adjustments. That handed the lead to Sears and placed Dunn in second.
When the race commenced, Sears maintained a steady lead over Dunn and Michael Maresca, now in third. The top-three at the time were each separated by about two car lengths and rarely gained or lost time to each other. Only when a mistake was made, or a rut was hit wrong were they able to close the gap. At one point Dunn was able to sneak underneath Sears when he missed his line going into Turn 1 but failed to make the past. Shortly after, Dunn had his own misstep, which allowed Maresca to steal second place.
Friesen, Wight and Williamson were slowly making their way back to the front after their pit stop. Williamson had restarted 22nd and didn’t crack the top-10 for another 26 laps. Friesen restart beside him in 21st but had better luck with his march back to the front, finding the top-10 in a 15-lap span. Wight restarted 15th and only needed six laps to get to 10th.
The sixth caution of the night came out on Lap 90 for Rocky Warner, who slowed on track with an issue. Officials decided it would be their competition caution. Sears and Anthony Perrego, who was third at the time, were the only two top runners to take advantage of it. With them pulling off, that placed Maresca in the lead, Danny Johnson in second, Wight in third, Friesen in fourth and Williamson in fifth.
By this point in the race, Friesen had found his groove around the high side of the track. He stuck to it, and it never failed him.
“It was a little dirty early,” Friesen said about the top lane. “Just tried to clean it off and the top started getting better and better and better. Then, I was able to set sail up there. Got through a couple cautions. Maresca was super-fast. It was a pretty nerve-wracking 150 laps.”
He got by Wight for third on Lap 94 and then past Johnson for second on Lap 95. Ten laps later, Wight suffered a right rear suspension failure that eventually took him out of the race.
When the race resumed, Friesen continued to work his high lane to perfection. With it conforming to his liking he was able to power to the outside of Maresca and pass him for the lead on Lap 115.
The record books will show the Niagra-on-the-Lake, Ontario native led every lap from that point on to claim the elusive victory, but Maresca did not let him breathe easy. He kept the pressure on the Halmar #44 for those closing 35 laps, holding Friesen close enough to pounce if he made a mistake. And with two laps to go, it almost happened.
“That last couple got a little crazy,” Friesen said. “My spotter said good job guys, while I hooked down in the middle and almost flipped. Everyone said keep going, keep going, one more lap. We had a great race car. Enough to get it done.”
Friesen saw the duel waving checkered flags first with Maresca on his bumper at the line.
However, when the race concluded, Maresca was found to be more than 20 pounds light at the scales and disqualified, placed 40th in the finishing order. That moved fellow Canadian Williamson to second and Jimmy Phelps into the final podium spot.
“We had a good car, just had to survive there,” Williamson said. “I was really surprised there that Michael (Maresca) was able to make it on fuel. He had a good car. I feel bad for them guys. He was definitely up there battling for a win. That sucks for them guys. You don’t want to finish second this way, but we’ll take it.”
Phelps was the Penske Racing Shocks Hard Charger, picking up an extra $500, with his incredible run from 35th to third. He had to race his way into the main event through a Last Chance Showdown and then lap by lap picked his way through the field in his #98H machine.
“Obviously, attrition helped a little bit. We had a car that stayed together,” Phelps said. “It shows how good these guys are.
“I’m not going to lie. I was half tempted to pull in early. I couldn’t see. It was rough as hell. And they’re not the easiest to drive with a full load of fuel. But as the race went on, the guys made some good changes during the pit stop that helped me get more comfortable. When the fuel burned off, I was able to move around a little more and find some speed.”
An 11th place finish for Dunn wasn’t the result he envisioned after starting from the pole, but with most of his body panels off the car after getting involved in a wreck late in the race, he was proud to finish. And in doing so, he clinched the 2021 DIRTcar 358 Modified championship.
“I wanted to finish the race,” Dunn said. “We had a pretty competitive car there for a while. I was trying not to have this happen, but we finished the race, and I got the points championship. That’s all that matters.”
When Farney went to congratulate Friesen in Victory Lane, the first thing the newly crowned Salute to the Troops 150 champion could say was, “Wow.”
“It's all about the troops," Friesen said. "The men and women who serve north of the border and here in the United States. I'm proud to be here. We’ll celebrate this for an hour or two, get to bed, and then try to do it again tomorrow (on Sunday, Oct. 10, for the Billy Whittaker Cars 200)."
For tickets to Sunday's 49th NAPA Auto Parts Super DIRT Week finale, CLICK HERE.
If you can't make it to the track, you can watch all the action live on DIRTVision – either online or with the DIRTVision App.
NOTES: St. Lawrence Radiology Last Chance Showdowns ahead of the Salute to the Troops 150 Saturday night completed the fields for Sunday’s Super DIRTcar Series Billy Whittaker Cars 200 and DIRTcar Sportsman Chevrolet Performance 75. For the Billy Whittaker Cars 200, Keith Flach won the first showdown over Erick Rudolph while Jimmy Horton took the second over Gary Lindberg. Both winners took home a cool $1,000 for the wins. … In the DIRTcar Sportsman showdowns, Tyler Murray, JJ Courcy and Nick Heywood emerged as victors and were each awarded $500.
FEATURE — 1. 44-Stewart Friesen; 2. 6-Mat Williamson; 3. 98H-Jimmy Phelps; 4. 83-Danny Johnson; 5. 91D-Billy Decker; 6. 111-Demetrios Drellos; 7. 42P-Pat Ward; 8. 31W-Lance Willix; 9. 12-Darren Smith; 10. M1-David Marcuccilli; 11. 49-Billy Dunn; 12. 28M-Jordan McCreadie; 13. 215-Adam Pierson; 14. 58M-Marshall Hurd; 15. 713-Tommy Collins; 16. 38-Jason Parkhurst; 17. 39-Ryan Bartlett; 18. 2A-Mike Gular; 19. 3J-Marc Johnson; 20. 25-Erick Rudolph; 21. 44P-Anthony Perrego; 22. 99L-Larry Wight; 23. 62X-Tim Sears Jr; 24. 3-Justin Haers; 25. 63R-Billy VanInwegen Jr; 26. 98JS-Rocky Warner; 27. 60-Jackson Gill; 28. 66X-Carey Terrance; 29. 34S-Rusty Smith; 30. 11S-Steve Lewis Jr; 31. 32R-Ronnie Davis; 32. 20K-Kyle Inman; 33. 15-Todd Root; 34. 19-Tim Fuller; 35. 36-Ben Bushaw; 36. 27W-Nick Webb; 37. 55-Matt Woodruff; 38. 8R-Rob Bellinger; 39. 21A-Peter Britten; 40. (DQ) 7MM-Michael Maresca
DIRTcar Series PR
GMS Racing PR
Rick Ware Racing Joins Ford Performance and Forms Alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Yates Engines for 2022
Rick Ware Racing (RWR) will join the Ford Performance family at the start of the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season, with the launch of the new Next Gen car. In addition to a new manufacturer, RWR has formed an alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and Roush Yates Engines.
With a rich and extensive history, Rick Ware Racing has been part of the racing fabric in the USA for over 30 years. The team currently competes in the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series, NTT INDYCAR Series and NASCAR Pinty's Series. The team most recently claimed the 2020 Asian Le Mans Series Championship and won invite to 24 Hours of Lemans.
"I am really excited about what 2022 has in store for RWR," commented team owner, Rick Ware. "We have been waiting for the Next Gen car to become a reality and step up our program. RWR has had a great relationship with SHR over the years, from Cole Custer making his Cup series debut with us, to utilizing their development pit crew over the years. I am excited to have an engineering alliance with a great team like SHR, to be able to assist in building our cars and have the support thru this major development process, all the way thru the 2022 season. Partnering with Roush Yates Engines and SHR is the logical next step in continuing to grow as an organization."
“Rick and his team have been great to work with over the years and we are looking forward to growing the existing relationship” commented Joe Custer, a President at Stewart-Haas Racing.
In addition to the Stewart-Haas Racing alliance, RWR has agreed to a multi-year Roush Yates Engines package, starting in 2022. The engine program will include a leased engine package, that includes the 2021 Next Gen testing, as well as the full season in 2022 and 2023.
Doug Yates commented, "We are excited to welcome Rick Ware Racing to the Ford Performance and Roush Yates Engines Family. We look forward to working together for the debut of the Next Gen Car and 2022 NASCAR race season."
The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season opener, The DAYTONA 500 at Daytona International Speedway is set for February 20, 2022. For more information on Rick Ware Racing, visit www.wareracing.com, or follow along on social media; Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.
Bill McAnally Racing drivers Cole Moore and Jesse Love were in contention for the win at All American Speedway on Saturday night before getting caught up in the rough-and-tumble short track action that dominated the NAPA AutoCare 150 presented by Berco Redwood and kept the sold-out crowd of fans on their feet.
Moore was able to battle back from the late-race incident to drive his No. 99 NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry to a top-five finish in the ARCA Menards Series West event that finished in overtime.
Love, a victim of the same incident, was also battling back – but his No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry got turned around off the front bumper of another car while coming to the white flag. He lost a lap in the incident and finished 12th.
Jolynn “JoJo” Wilkinson, in a third BMR entry, started 12th and worked her way up as high as eighth just before the midway point of the race. She went on to finish 15th in the No. 1 Instacoat Premium Products Toyota Camry.
Love, who qualified second, and Moore, who had started fourth, charged to the front at the drop of the green flag. Love led initially, before Moore took command and stayed out front for the first third of the race. The two BMR drivers ran in second and third, until Moore charged back out front on Lap 91.
They continued to battle in the top four positions until about a dozen laps from the finish, when Moore was slammed from behind going into Turn 1 – igniting an incident that caught up the race leader and Love. Moore mounted a charge back to the front after the restart, with Love also on the hunt. While Moore was able to grab a fifth-place finish, Love got tagged from behind and spun around – losing a lap in the incident and finished 12th.
Love, who had a nine-point lead in the championship standings coming into the event, retained the top spot by one point. The title battle is one of the closest in series history. The top five are separated by just six points – with Love in first and Moore in fifth – as the series heads to the final event of the season.
As it has been in past years for the Roseville race, NAPA AUTO PARTS played a major role in the event. In addition to being the event sponsor, other activation by NAPA involved a VIP hospitality for 900 guests, pit tours, VIP guest crew members, and rides in BMR’s 2-seater NAPA AUTO PARTS No. 16. NAPA representatives also served as the honorary starter, gave the command to start engines and presented the winning trophy.
Thomas Meseraull passed Kevin Thomas Jr. with six laps to go and then held off Thomas and teammate Justin Grant to win the USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series’ Saturday night feature at Tri-State Speedway in a Toyota one-two-three finish.
The win is the fourth for Meseraull in USAC competition this season and the 52nd national midget feature victory for a Toyota-powered driver in 2021.
Thomas dominated the early going, taking the lead on the opening lap over Daison Pursley, with Cannon McIntosh in third, followed by Buddy Kofoid in fourth. As Thomas settled in, McIntosh would overtake Pursley for second on lap five, with Kofoid taking over third on lap six. By lap nine, Meseraull had moved up into the top four, with a three-way battle soon to follow for second place.
On lap 14, Kofoid would go high to move past McIntosh for second going into turn four, but McIntosh would go back underneath him with Meseraull by his side as they came to the flag stand. The three cars would make contact with Kofoid flipping, while McIntosh damaged a tire. Both would be able to continue, but the incident would end chance either had for the victory.
Thomas continued to lead after the restart as Pursley took over second and Meseraull running in the third position. Mastering the bottom of the track, Meseraull would overtake Pursley on lap 19 and then set his sights on Thomas.
On lap 25, Meseraull would run low through turns one and two and take over the lead coming onto the back straight and would be able to hold the lead as they came back to the scoring stand. By lap 26, Grant would move past Pursley and begin to close on Meseraull and Thomas. The three battled down the stretch, but Meseraull was able to maintain the top spot, winning by two car lengths as Thomas narrowly took second.
Pursley would finish fourth, while Chris Windom climbed up from 13th to take fifth as Toyotas captured each of the top-five finishing positions. Logan Seavey would finish seventh, with Bryant Wiedeman in eighth and Kofoid recovering to take ninth to give Toyota eight of the top 10.
The USAC NOS Energy Drink National Midget Series is off until November 12 when the series kicks off the western Swing with a double-header at Arizona November 12-13.
Toyota Driver Quotes:
Thomas Meseraull, RMS Racing: “I’ve run second enough here to know the bottom eventually comes back. Hats off to my guys. I almost wadded it up with Buddy and Cannon. Midget racing is tough. It’s so tricky here, but when in doubt, stand on it.”
Kevin Thomas Jr. , Petry Motorsports: “I just couldn’t stick the bottom like those guys and at the end of that’s where you needed to be. We had a good run at the end. We just have to go out west and make a good run there.”
A.J. Allmendinger saved his best for last in Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL™. Allmendinger saw a nine-second lead evaporate with four laps to go, when Tommy Joe Martins crashed – but the cagey veteran Allmendinger withstood a late restart to reign triumphant in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ cutoff race in the Playoffs’ Round of 12.
Allmendinger’s win was his fifth of the season and the 10th of his Xfinity Series career. The Kaulig Racing pilot became the first driver to win the same Charlotte Xfinity Series race in three consecutive years.
Fellow Playoff contenders Austin Cindric, Daniel Hemric, Justin Haley and Brandon Jones rounded out the top five. Noah Gragson, another Playoff-eligible driver to advance to the Round of 8, finished sixth. Preston Pardus was seventh with Myatt Snider eighth, Justin Allgaier ninth and Sam Mayer 10th.
Hemric, a native of nearby Kannapolis, North Carolina, won Stages 1 and 2. Cindric started from the pole and led a race-high 22 laps.
Snider, Jeb Burton, Riley Herbst and Jeremy Clements were eliminated from the Playoffs.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER, No. 16 Hyperice Chevrolet (Race Winner): “It’s special, for sure, to win this race three years in a row and for it to be Drive for the Cure 250. The celebration, seeing the women in victory lane who’ve survived breast cancer makes it all the more special. For me, what means the most is to be able to represent them and it reminds me that we’re just out here racing cars. What they represent is bigger than racing. Today, I was nervous. We had a good points gap, but Talladega showed that anything can happen. We were deciding whether to go for points or go for the win. Once we decided that, our Hyperice Chevy was so good out front. I’m just pumped up to be able to get another win.”
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 Menards/Richmond Ford (Runner-Up): “I feel like this has honestly one of my weakest road courses. I felt like I was driving a skid pad car after about 10 laps. I feel a bit lucky and a bit fortunate that I didn’t get moved or put in the wall. Either way, we had a fast car, set a fast lap time and got a good finish. It sets us up well for Texas, but I wish we could’ve taken advantage and gotten a Playoff point.”
DANIEL HEMRIC, No. 18 Poppy Bank Toyota (Third-Place Finisher): “We advanced further than we could’ve hoped for (by pitting with four laps to go). It was a great call by (crew chief) Dave Rogers. We were going to run fourth or sixth. I’d lost my rear tires trying to get back through the field. We gave ourselves a shot. That’s all you can ask for.”
Fans can catch all the action from Sunday’s Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 for as little as $49, while kids 12 and under are just $10. For details or to purchase, visit www.
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