Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Christian Eckes finished each of the first two stages of Thursday's UNOH 200 in the 10th position and went on to finish the 200-lap event in the 12th position. After initially finishing 13th, the Safelite Tundra moved up one position when the fifth-place truck was disqualified in post-race inspection.
Eckes, who entered the playoffs in the eighth position two points above the cutoff line, fell to the ninth position, two points below the cutoff line after the first of three races in the Round of 10.
Stage One Recap: 
  • Eckes started from the10th position after a performance matrix based off his finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the ranking of the fastest lap he turned from the previous race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
  • In the opening laps, he advanced up to the eighth position before the field was slowed the first time for a two-truck accident on Lap 8. He restarted on the inside of the third row on Lap 13 and was scored in the seventh position on Lap 25.
  • In the closing laps of the opening stage he would fall back to the 10th position and gain just one stage point. 
Stage Two Recap:  
  • Eckes communicated to Fugle that his Toyota was "loose entry and exit," before hitting pit road for four fresh tires, a chassis adjustment and full load of fuel.
  • The Safelite Tundra would line up on the outside of the sixth row for the ensuing restart on Lap 68. When the third caution of the race occurred on Lap 82, he was scored in the 10th position, but reported that he was happy with the handling of his truck.
  • Eckes remained in the 10th position when Stage Two came to completion at lap 110, earning another stage point. 
Final Stage Recap:  
  • Eckes communicated that his Tundra "needs more overall grip," before he hit pit road for four fresh tires, a full load of fuel and a chassis adjustment between stages.
  • The Safelite Tundra lined up on the outside of the fifth row when the Final Stage went green on Lap 119. Eckes had fallen back to the 12th position when the final caution of the night occurred on Lap 156. Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road for four fresh tires, a trackbar adjustment and enough fuel to make it to the end of the event.
  • The No. 18 Toyota lined up on the outside of row seven for the ensuing restart on lap 166. He would fall back to 16th early in the final green-flag run but used the fresh tires to his advantage in the closing laps of the race to bring home a 13th-place result when the field crossed the stripe. A disqualification of the fifth-place truck in post-race inspection allowed Eckes to officially be credited with a 12th-place finish. 


After getting caught a lap down in the opening stage at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Raphael Lessard was unable to get back on the lead lap. The rookie driver crossed the line in the 19th position, but after a disqualification, the rookie driver was credited with an 18th-place finish. He remains in the 12th position in the points standings.
Stage One Recap: 
  • Lessard started in the 19th position after a performance matrix based off of finishing position from the previous race, ranking in the owner points standings and the fastest lap from the previous race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
  • Under the first caution of the night on Lap 8, Lessard radioed that his CANAC Tundra was tight at first but was better as the run went on. He would restart in the 17th position.
  • Lessard would finish the stage in the 19th position, one lap down. 
Stage Two Recap:  
  • At the stage break, Lessard radioed to his crew that his CANAC Tundra was loose. Veteran crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. summoned the 19-year-old driver down pit road and the over-the-wall crew administered a stop changing four tires, adding fuel, and making a trackbar adjustment. Lessard would restart the stage from the 17th position.
  • Prior to the third caution on Lap 83, Lessard was in position to receive the free pass, but the race leader passed his KBM teammate Chandler Smith and put him one lap down with the caution waving seconds later. Under the caution, the rookie driver radioed to his crew that he needed right-front turn. Hillman kept his rookie driver on the racetrack.
  • Lessard finished the stage in the 21st position. 
Final Stage: 
  • During the stage caution, Lessard radioed to the CANAC team that he was still battling a loose Toyota Tundra. Hillman called his rookie driver to the pit lane for four tires, fuel, and a trackbar adjustment. Lessard would start the stage in the 20th position.
  • During the fifth and final caution on Lap 157, Lessard was told that he was the fastest truck on track for the three previous laps and to keep fighting despite being one lap down. Hillman kept the rookie driver on the track. He would restart from the 19th position.
  • Lessard would finish the race in the 19th position, but after a disqualification, the rookie driver is credited with an 18th-place finish. 


For Southern California sprint car racer Eddie Tafoya Jr., the road between the west coast and Indiana is starting to look as familiar as Central Avenue in his hometown of Chino, California.  For the third time in the last two months, the 23-year-old racer is making the long trek back to the Hoosier State to compete in Friday’s Jim Hurtubise Classic at the Terre Haute Action Track and Saturday’s Haubstadt Hustler at the Tri-State Speedway.

2020 was supposed to be a big year on the track for Tafoya and his father, Eddie Sr.  Jr. was set for his second full season in  the USAC/CRA Series after winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2019.  Sr., a past draft choice of Major League Baseball’s Pittsburgh Pirates was planning on racing at their home track, Perris Auto Speedway, in the Senior Sprint Car Series.  However, the ongoing COVID crisis has prevented racing in California.  Thus, the only racing for the duo has all been done by Eddie Jr.

Tafoya has appeared one time each on Terre Haute and Tri-State.  That was in July on his first trip to race in Indiana during Indiana Sprint Week.  At Terre Haute, which is a big, bad fast half-mile, he was anything but intimidated, qualifying 20th in the 42-car field.  He was sixth in his heat race and only missed the transfer to the feature by two spots in the B Main.   A few nights later in his initial appearance at Tri-State Speedway, the Chino Hills, California resident only qualified 33rd out of 40 cars.  Things improved when racing began when he only missed the transfer to the A main by one spot out of his heat race.  In the B main, he battled with some of the legends of Midwest racing for the final transfer spot.  He seesawed in and out of the transfer spots before finishing eighth.  The tenacity displayed in that B main garnered a lot of attention for the west coast racer. 

Three weeks ago, Tafoya turned in his best Indiana appearance with a late-race charge that saw him advance from his mid-pack starting spot to take the final transfer into the A main at the 9th Annual Smackdown at the Kokomo Speedway.   Fifty-drivers started the three-night event and only 23 qualified for the finale.  Eddie Tafoya Jr. was one of them and he placed 19th in the prestigious 40-lapper.    

If things go well for Tafoya and the Specialty Fasteners team this weekend, they may hang around Indiana for a week to race at I-69 Gas City Speedway and “Indiana’s Baddest Bullring,” Kokomo Speedway, on September 25th and 26th.

Fans who cannot get away to watch Tafoya in Indiana can catch all the action live on the Flo Racing website.  For details, please click on the following link. https://www.floracing.com/

Information on the Terre Haute Action Track and Tri-State Speedway is listed below.  

Terre Haute Action Track – 3901 S. US Hwy 41, Terre Haute, IN  47802 – (217) 764-3200 -  https://terrehauteactiontrack.net/

Tri-State Speedway – 9981 South U.S. Highway 41, Haubstadt, IN  47639 – (812) 768-5995 - https://www.tristatespeedway.com/index.php

Tafoya and his team would like to thank the following sponsors for being a part of the 2020 racing effort.  Specialty Fasteners, Circle Track Performance, Sprint Car Driving Experience, DRC Chassis, Ryder Racing Engines, and Benic Enterprises.

Eddie Tafoya PR

JD Motorsports with Gary Keller is proud to announce that Wingnutz Grill & Bar will be partnering with Colby Howard and the No. 15 Chevrolet for Friday’s Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Wingnutz Grill & Bar is a sports restaurant located in Fountain Inn, South Carolina, not far from Howard’s hometown of Simpsonville. This weekend at Bristol, the restaurant will make its debut as a primary sponsor.

Howard, who is competing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series on a part-time basis, enters the weekend looking to build upon his Bristol notebook having raced there in June. During the spring race, Colby ran up inside the Top 15 until unfortunate circumstances damaged his car. Despite the carnage, Howard still managed a 19th place finish, and has a good shot at improving on that this week.

When asked about his upcoming race at Bristol, Howard was optimistic: “Man, I’m excited to return! We had a really good car for my first race in the spring. I think that now, especially with all of my experience, we should have a really solid night on Friday. Having Wingnutz on board means a lot to me, as it’s always nice to welcome new partners! Hopefully we will make everybody proud with a good run.”

Colby Howard will start 31st in his No. 15 Wingnutz / Project Hope Foundation Chevrolet.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series season heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for the annual night race. Always a handful, the half-mile short track provides plenty of action for fans. Be sure to tune in to NBCSN on Friday at 7:00 PM ET for live coverage of the Food City 300. For all things JD Motorsports with Gary Keller, follow along on social media with the handle @JDMotorsports01. #TeamJDM


Team Penske announced today that Scott McLaughlin, the current Virgin Australia Supercars Championship points leader, is scheduled to make his long-awaited NTT INDYCAR SERIES debut in the series’ 2020 season finale on the Streets of St. Petersburg on Sunday, October 25.

The two-time and defending Supercars Champion for DJR Team Penske (DJRTP) was set to compete in his first NTT INDYCAR SERIES race earlier this year on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course before the COVID-19 global pandemic forced several delays and postponements on racing schedules, along with international travel restrictions. Before the pandemic shutdown, McLaughlin participated in the INDYCAR SERIES preseason open test at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, where he ran consistently well and posted the third-fastest time of the test session. The 27-year-old native of New Zealand also competed in separate tests at the Sebring International Raceway road course and the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway oval.

“This is something I haven’t stopped thinking about, but I wanted to ensure my focus was on winning our third-straight Supercars championship for DJR Team Penske and all our partners in Australia,” said McLaughlin. “We are still laser-focused on that and have three more rounds to get it done, but I’m equally as excited to finally get the chance and make my INDYCAR debut. I’ve been doing everything I can to keep up with the series this year, from watching as many races as I can on TV to even talking to the drivers and some of the engineers back at the Team Penske shop. I never knew if I would be able to get behind the wheel of one of these cars this year due to all the COVID-19 restrictions, but I wanted to be ready if it became an opportunity.”

McLaughlin currently leads the Supercars point standings with just three rounds of competition remaining on the 2020 schedule. McLaughlin has produced a series-best 10 wins and 10 poles and holds a 143-point lead over Jamie Whincup entering this weekend’s race at The Bend. Over the course of his Supercars career, McLaughlin has won an impressive 53 races and 71 poles, while helping DJRTP claim team championships in 2017 and 2019 and winning the driver’s title in each of the last two seasons. He also earned his first win in the legendary Bathurst 1000 race in 2019 with co-driver Alex Premat. Though he is in just his fourth season competing for Team Penske, McLaughlin already ranks third on the organization’s all-time wins list, trailing only Brad Keselowski and Mark Donohue.

Earlier this year, McLaughlin made his “virtual” INDYCAR debut, competing in the series’ iRacing Challenge and winning two races among the full field of current NTT INDYCAR SERIES drivers that were competing against each other while traditional racing was put on hold.

“Our plan has always been for Scott to run a race in the INDYCAR SERIES this season, but we never wanted to take the focus away from the main goal, which is winning another Supercars Championship,” said Team Penske President Tim Cindric. “COVID-19 certainly altered those plans early on, but with the way the schedules have lined up at the end of this season, St. Pete became an available option and we remain committed to getting him some INDYCAR seat time. We know Scott is ready for this challenge and this should add even more excitement to the 2020 season finale in St. Petersburg.”

McLaughlin will pilot the No. 3 Shell V-Power Nitro+ Dallara/Chevrolet at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, which was postponed from its original date in March and will now take place on Sunday, October 25. The race on the 1.8-mile street circuit will be seen live at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, with radio coverage on the Pennzoil INDYCAR Radio Network and SIRIUS XM.

Team Penske PR

The Lone Star Tower Condominium Clubhouse at Texas Motor Speedway will serve as a polling site for the 2020 United States presidential election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The clubhouse is located at 3565 Lone Star Circle, Fort Worth, Texas 76177, just outside Turn 2 of the speedway property. The polling site will be open from 7 a.m. - 7 p.m. CT.
"In anticipation of a very high voter turnout for the presidential election, we have been working for months to acquire polling sites throughout the county," said Frank Phillips, Denton County Elections Administrator. "We are excited that Texas Motor Speedway has offered the use of the Lone Star Tower Clubhouse as a polling site for the residents of Precinct 4048 which encompasses a large portion of the Denton County, City of Fort Worth voters. 
"We can always rely on TMS to come through for Denton County residents; earlier this year they hosted many graduation ceremonies for high school graduates who could not hold traditional ceremonies due to COVID-19, and now they are helping Denton County Elections in what promises to be a historic election."
Local, state and CDC guidelines will be followed to ensure a sanitized, safe and socially distanced voter experience.
NASCAR returns to Texas Motor Speedway Oct. 24-25 with the Texas 500 weekend. The doubleheader Sunday begins at 11 a.m. CT with the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series SpeedyCash.com 400 (FS1 and the Performance Racing Network). It gives way to the NASCAR Cup Series Texas 500 (2:30 p.m. CT on NBCSN and PRN). 
Tickets are available starting at $48 at https://www.texasmotorspeedway.com/events/texas-500-nascar-race-weekend/. One ticket will be good for both races and kids 12 and under are just $10.
Keep track of all of Texas Motor Speedway's events by following on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Keep up with all the latest news and information on the speedway website and TMS mobile app.
Visit Kingsport and Tufco Flooring return to partner with Jesse and JD Morotsports for the Xfinity Series regular season finale at Bristol Motor Speedway.  Jesse will be starting 25th at the famed the mile track.
"We are proud to partner with Jesse Little and the JD Motorsports team again this year as the NASCAR Xfinity Series takes on The Last Great Colosseum," said Jud Teague, Executive Director, Visit Kingsport. "We hope race fans will take in the Food City 300 on Friday night and extend their stay to enjoy all that Kingsport and our region have to offer." 
Kingsport, TN is home to many scenic trails, outdoor activities and unique restaurants and breweries.  You can find out more information in the Visit Kingsport website.
"Tufco Flooring is excited to be partnering again with Jesse Little and the JD Motorsports #4 Chevrolet for the Food City 300.   Jesse in his rookie year has done a great job in and out of the car representing Tufco Flooring and we are excited and looking forward to our continued partnership with JD Motorsports/Jesse Little in the #4 Chev Camaro"  "Best wishes this weekend to Jesse & the JD Motorsports team at the Food City 300 Xfinity race." Mike R. Case from Tufco said.
"Our partnership with Tufco Flooring has continued to grow this year and I'm honored to represent their products and services again at Bristol.  Tufco Flooring has all your custom floors, drains and repair kit needs covered and I'm exited about the opportunity to work with them and highlight their business success and value" Jesse said.
Be sure to check out the Jesse Little Facebook page Friday night at 4:30 PM EST to catch Jesse Trackside Live talking about all things Bristol this week with special Visit Kingsport guest TBD!   

Jesse Little PR

History and automotive afficionados should make plans now to visit the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum very soon – and again in a few weeks – to see two versions of the highly-praised exhibit, “From the Vault presented by Bank of America.”
The current iteration of From the Vault presented by Bank of America will stand unchanged until Sept. 30, when the IMS Museum curatorial staff is scheduled to begin a major rotation of vehicles on and off the exhibit floor. The “fully refreshed” version is scheduled to debut at 9 a.m. (ET) Monday, Oct. 5, and will feature more rare and one-of-a-kind automotive treasures from the Museum’s collection.
From the Vault presented by Bank of America is comprised entirely of IMS Museum-owned vehicles, trophies, rare Indy 500 memorabilia and other artifacts, representing more than 110 years of collective passion for automotive competition, innovation and performance.
Since debuting November 20, 2019, the exhibit has received rave reviews due to in part to the diverse collection of vehicles on display, from the 1964 Ferrari 250LM, the last Ferrari to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to two of Larry Bisceglia’s Indy 500 “First in Line” vans, to IMS Founder Carl G. Fisher’s 1903 Premier and Janet Guthrie’s 1978 Texaco Star Indy car.
A sampling of must-see vehicles to be part of the refreshed From the Vault presented by Bank of America include the 1938 Gulf-Miller Special – the first rear-engine car to qualify for the Indianapolis 500 – plus several late-20th century championship-winning Indy cars, a mid-century Ferrari, a NASCAR stock car and 1907 Italia Grand Prix car.
Throughout the From the Vault transition, the IMS Museum’s exhibit tribute to the life of virtuoso Indy car team owner and entrepreneur Andy Granatelli, “Granatelli: Larger Than Life presented by O’Donovan & McCardel Wealth Management by Raymond James,” continues in the Museum’s North Hall and Gallery.

Kody King will be back in action this weekend with the Victory Custom Trailers CRA Junior Late Model Series as the tour visits historic Toledo Speedway in Ohio.

The 13-year-old Iowa native has been keeping busy this season by racing his Legend car, where he finds himself second in the INEX Young Lions Dirt National rankings.
King, a Lee Faulk Racing development driver, originally didn’t set out to race his Legend car on a regular basis this year, but with COVID-19 canceling many of his planned racing activities on asphalt, he decided to turn his attention to racing his Legend car more often so he could stay behind the wheel.
“It’s really crazy. We didn’t plan on racing for points in the Legend car, but here we are. We’re second in points. We really didn’t expect that to happen,” King said.
While he’s put a lot of unexpected focus on his Legend car program, his attention will return this Saturday to the Victory Custom Trailers CRA Junior Late Model Series. With the schedule ravaged by COVID-19, King has only gotten to compete in three races with the series this year.
Despite his lack of seat time, King has shown speed every time he’s gotten in his car. He earned a pole earlier this year at the Indianapolis Speedrome and in the most recent event at Anderson Speedway king was running second with five laps to go before contact from behind resulted in crash.
This weekend he’s hoping to translate the speed he’s shown in his previous outings into a strong performance at Toledo. If he’s able to do that, he’ll put himself in position to contend for the Victory Custom Trailers CRA Junior Late Model Series Rookie of the Year Award. He’s currently six points behind the current rookie point leader.
“I’m bummed we haven’t raced the late model more this year, but I’ve still gotten to race a lot so it’s not all bad,” King said. “I’m really looking forward to getting back in the late model at Toledo. We’ve been fast every time we brought the car out, we just need to put together an entire race. I think if we do that we’ll get a good finish.”
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