Speedway Digest Staff
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The March 7 Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is sold out. Due to a limited-capacity requirement imposed by the Southern Nevada Health District, the speedway has reached its allowable threshold and no longer can sell tickets to the NASCAR Cup Series event.
Tickets do remain for both the Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series races on Saturday, March 6 as well as the Bucked Up 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, March 5.
“This is the first time I can ever remember being disappointed to announce a sellout,” said LVMS President Chris Powell. “While we appreciate that Gov. Sisolak has provided sports and entertainment venues an opportunity to get fans back in the stands, we’re disappointed that the local health district has not allowed us to reach the 20-percent capacity recommended by the governor. Nonetheless, we know it will be three great days of racing for those who are able to attend, and we hope to welcome a full house in September for the South Point 400.”
The speedway estimates 12,500 fans will be in attendance for the Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube. That number represents grandstand seating as well as suites and clubs.
Race fans still can get their speed fix on Friday and Saturday as good seats remain for both races. Saturday tickets are $29 and Friday tickets are $19. Kids 12 and under are free on both Friday and Saturday. Visit www.lvms.com for tickets, RV camping and race weekend information.
Football Standouts with Miami Ties – Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa and FOX NFL Analyst Jonathan Vilma - to Serve as Honorary Officials for Dixie Vodka 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval will become a gridiron of sorts this weekend. As the track is set to host the NASCAR Cup Series Dixie Vodka 400 on Sunday (3:30 pm ET, FOX/MRN-Sirius XM Channel 90) two local football stars will have prominent roles in the race, the third of the 2021 NASCAR season.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa will serve as the virtual Grand Marshal for the race and utter the most famous words in motorsports, “Drivers, Start Your Engines!” Miami native and former University of Miami Hurricane and Super Bowl-winning linebacker Jonathan Vilma will kick off Sunday’s race, as he waves the green flag from high atop the start/finish line in the starter’s stand.
“Having Tua and Jonathan join us for this special weekend is a true honor, and we are thrilled to host them,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia. “Tua helped to return the Dolphins to their winning ways last year, and Jonathan was a key member of several successful University of Miami teams, continuing the school’s tradition of greatness. We know that many NFL players have recently taken a vested interest in NASCAR, and we are happy that both will have the opportunity to see just how exciting our sport can be.”
Tagovailoa was the fifth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. He started nine games in his rookie season as the Dolphins compiled a 6-3 record in his starts. He completed 186 of 290 passes for 1,814 yards and 11 touchdowns last year and led the Dolphins to wins in each of his first three starts.
Prior to his NFL career, he played at the University of Alabama where he set school single-season records as a sophomore in 2018 with 43 touchdown passes and 3,966 passing yards. He was the winner of the Walter Camp Award and the Maxwell Award that year, while finishing second in the Heisman Trophy balloting, and guiding the Crimson Tide to the BCS National Championship Game.
Vilma grew up in Miami and attended Coral Gables High School. He went on to star at the University of Miami where he was a critical member of a defense that helped the Hurricanes to the 2001 National Championship. He was drafted in the first round by the New York Jets in 2004, and went on to have a 10-year NFL career (2004-13).
He also played with the New Orleans Saints and was the heart and soul of a defense which helped New Orleans to the franchise’s only Super Bowl win, following the 2009 season. Upon conclusion of his NFL career, Vilma got in to broadcasting, serving as a college football analyst for ABC and ESPN. He is now an NFL game analyst for FOX, where he works alongside play-by-play announcer Kenny Albert.
In addition to the Dixie Vodka 400, Homestead-Miami Speedway will host the NASCAR Xfinity Series Contender Boats 250 on Saturday (4:30 pm, FS1/ MRN-Sirius NASCAR Radio Channel 90).
Grandstand tickets are still available for the Contender Boats 250 on Saturday with many great seating options, including the “Family 4-Pack.” This special $80 offer includes 2 adult tickets, 2 kids tickets (12 and younger), and 2 Racing Electronics scanner rentals to get the inside track of all the action on the track. A number of premium seating options are also available for Saturday’s race. Individual adult tickets start at just $30 with kids 12 and under free for the Contender Boats 250 with the purchase of an adult ticket.
Homestead-Miami Speedway will host a limited number of fans for both events. Fans seeking all ticket options, as well as learning all safety protocol guidelines for the weekend, can visit www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com or call 866-409-RACE (7223).
Homestead Miami Speedway PR
World Wide Technology Raceway, the home of NASCAR, INDYCAR and NHRA racing in the St. Louis-Metro East region, will host two job fairs in March in preparation for the 2021 events season. Many positions in a number of departments are available. Positions also are available at the Gateway Kartplex.
- The first will be held on Wednesday, March 3, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
- The second job fair will take place on Saturday, March 6, from 9 a.m. to noon.
- The job fairs will be held in the infield media center inside the oval track.
- The WWTR Event Operations and Ticket Sales departments also need college students for summer internships.
- Prospective candidates should bring a resume and identification. Please wear a mask and bring a completed application or your own pen to complete an application in person.
- WWTR is located at 700 Raceway Boulevard in Madison, Illinois, just five minutes from downtown St. Louis. For more information, please visit: www.wwtraceway.com/careers.
For additional information on World Wide Technology Raceway, please call (618) 215-8888 or visit www.WWTRaceway.com. Follow WWTR on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
So much learned.
Teenage standout Parker Retzlaff turned heads in the 2021 ARCA Menards Series East season-opener earlier this month at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway by dominating 55 of the first 65 laps of the Jeep Beach 175.
Unfortunately, an array of issues would plague the 17-year-old rising star leaving him with a ninth-place finish aboard his No. 42 Ponsse | Strike Force Toyota Camry when the checkered flag was thrown.
“We had such a good start to the race, it is a shame the rest of the race turned out as it did,” said Retzlaff. “I learned a lot though. “I probably was too hard on the tires during the first half of the race and then we developed some issues following the red flag for rain and just never could get ourselves back to the front.”
Being a young driver, especially in ARCA, Retzlaff knows he’s going to likely experience a number of hardships before relishing in the moment of victory.
Eyeing his first career ARCA Menards Series East top-five finish in just his eighth career start, Retzlaff hopes to deliver for his Cook Finley Racing team in Saturday’s race.
Retzlaff, 17, returns to Five Flags (Fla.) Speedway, the site of Saturday’s Pensacola 200 presented by INSPECTRA not only determined to recover from New Smyrna but improve on his 10th place finish at the historic Florida short track last October.
“You can say the pressure is on,” offered Retzlaff. “I’m ready for it though. With every race under my belt, I am learning. I am eager to learn and some things behind the wheel of this Cook Finley Racing Toyota I will only learn the hard way.
“I know from a driver’s standpoint where I can be better and I plan to execute that on Saturday. Our finish last year at Five Flags may be a little discouraging though.
“Even though it was a top-10, circumstances didn’t work out as we hoped and I think robbed us of a better finish. Five Flags though is a demanding race track with some similarities to New Smyrna.
“We have shown that we are a team capable of not only running inside the top-five but also controlling the race. Now, we just need to do it from start to finish. Hopefully, that happens this weekend.”
Ponsse, which manufactures and markets a range of forestry vehicles and machinery such as forwarders and harvesters will return as the primary partner of Retzlaff’s No. 42 Toyota this weekend, while Iron Horse Loggers, Eco-Tracks, Paul G. Senft & Sons Trenching LLC, Strike Force Energy, MMI, Sunwest Construction, Zamp, Absolute Realtors and HDFive | Horvath Design will all join as associate partners for the 200-lap race on Feb. 27.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to have a stack of companies that believe in me and our Cook Finley Racing team,” added Retzlaff. “We earned them some time in the spotlight at New Smyrna, it’s time to do more of the same in Pensacola.”
With seven East races remaining this season, Retzlaff is ninth in the championship standings, three points from fifth and 11 behind current points leader Max Gutiérrez.
Before turning complete attention to ARCA Menards East competition this year, Retzlaff has had a busy offseason.
Last month, he participated in the open ARCA Menards Series test at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway driving for ARCA champion Andy Hillenburg.
He was hand-selected for the Road to Daytona program by ARCA officials after his successful ARCA East campaign in 2020. He was one of 56 drivers to turn a lap at the historic 2.5-mile superspeedway in the No. 10 Fast Track Racing prepared entry.
Additionally, Retzlaff has stayed busy with iRacing, where he continues to rack up victories and currently ranked inside the top-10 as one of the winningest iRacing drivers in the world. To date, he tallies over 1,520 victories and more than 50,000 laps led since 2016.
The Pensacola 200 presented by INSPECTRA (200 laps | 100 miles) is the second of eight races on the 2021 ARCA Menards Series East schedule. Practice begins for the one-day show on Saturday, February 27 from 12:15 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. General Tire pole qualifying is set for later in the day at 2:30 p.m. The event will take the green flag just after 5:00 p.m. with live television coverage on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. All times are local (CT).
The event will be rebroadcasted on a tape-delayed basis on NBCSN on Thurs., Mar. 4, 2021, at 4:00 p.m. ET.
For more on Parker Retzlaff, please visit parkerretzlaff.com, like him on Facebook (Parker Retzlaff Racing), Instagram (@parkerRetzlaff) and follow him on Twitter (@Parker79p).
Parker Retzlaff Racing PR
World Wide Technology Raceway announced today that motorsports industry veteran Tony Sizemore has joined the St. Louis area venue in the newly-created role of Vice President of Marketing and Communications. Sizemore comes to WWTR after serving as Senior Director of Consumer Marketing at Darlington Raceway since 2014 and as Sports Marketing/Brand Manager at Anheuser-Busch from 2001 to 2013.
“Tony has a record of success in planning, developing and executing industry-leading strategies and programs,” said Chris Blair, World Wide Technology Raceway Executive Vice President and General Manager. “As we continue to grow and evolve, Tony’s expertise will be instrumental as we develop brand initiatives and strengthen our St. Louis area community relations. He is well respected not only in the motorsports community, but also has strong ties to our region that will be critical in the improvement of existing events and the development of future events.”
“I’m honored to join the talented team at WWT Raceway,” said Sizemore. “This really is a dream come true for me. I’ve been so impressed with the foundation they have put in place here under the leadership of owner Curtis Francois and Chris Blair. Their passion to provide the highest quality of racing for the fans, industry and competitors is evident in every decision they make to ensure WWTR is the home of the most authentic race experience for everyone.”
Sizemore will move back to the St. Louis area and begin his new role on March 22. He will report directly to Chris Blair.
In addition to Sizemore, Blair also announced the hiring of two additional new members of the WWTR team. Elizabeth Flora and Kelly Predmore will begin their respective duties on March 1.
Flora, formerly an Events Coordinator for Sonoma Raceway, has been named Track Rental Operations and Ticket Services Manager. In her role, Elizabeth will be responsible for the coordination and production of road course activities while also assisting with ticketing and credentials for all events.
Predmore is a respected food and beverage specialist with motorsports industry experience and has been named Director of Food Service for Speedway Concessions and Catering. Predmore previously served as the concessions and catering supervisor for Summit Motorsports Park in Norwalk, Ohio.
“Our goal has been to build a roster focused on delivering the best race day experience for our fans, participants, sponsors and stakeholders that support WWTR events,” continued Blair. “I take great pride in announcing these key additions and believe Tony, Elizabeth and Kelly will make an immediate positive impact on the quality of entertainment at our venue.”
For additional information on World Wide Technology Raceway, please call (618) 215-8888 or visit www.WWTRaceway.com. Follow WWTR on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram.
Ilmor, widely recognized as one of the most successful high-performance engine design and manufacturing companies in the world, and Edelbrock Group, a leading manufacturer and distributor of automotive aftermarket performance parts, have joined Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) as official suppliers.
The six-race short-track series airing this summer on Saturday nights in primetime on CBS features purpose-built racecars designed by NASCAR Hall of Fame crew chief and team owner Ray Evernham. Each will be powered by Ilmor’s 396 engine, a 700-horsepower V8 with 530 ft-lb of torque. Inside the engine is Edelbrock Group’s COMP Cams camshaft, push rods and rocker trunnions, and outside are Edelbrock Group’s water pump, timing cover and ignition coils.
“The engine is the heart of any racecar, and the Ilmor 396 with Edelbrock Group components is the heart of the SRX racecar,” Evernham said. “Performance was obviously important, but so was reliability and equality. SRX is about the drivers and who can make this racecar work the best for them. The combined technologies from Ilmor and Edelbrock Group ensure that the drivers are the ‘X’ factor in SRX.”
Ilmor has been making horsepower since 1983 when two engineers – Mario Illien and Paul Morgan – designed and built an innovative turbocharged engine for IndyCar that would dominate the series. Ilmor’s success in IndyCar expanded to championships in Formula One, ARCA and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ilmor also took to the water, powering multiple P1 World Championship boats and a thriving marine engine division.
“We are truly excited to contribute to the success of SRX and to be collaborating with Edelbrock,” said Paul Ray, President, Ilmor Engineering. “This series, which showcases the talents of so many celebrated drivers spanning the spectrum of motorsports, aligns perfectly with Ilmor’s 35-year history of providing power to many of the world’s greatest drivers.”
Edelbrock Group’s history dates back to 1938 when company founder Vic Edelbrock wanted to better the performance of his 1932 Ford Roadster so he designed a new intake manifold. Today, Edelbrock Group designs, manufactures and distributes performance parts for the entire automotive aftermarket.
“We’re thrilled to be a part of SRX,” said Chris Douglas, Chief Commercial Officer, Edelbrock Group. “The unique format of SRX is sure to bring added excitement and new fans to the sport of auto racing. The diversity of the racers with their unique backgrounds and personalities, coupled with fast and powerful cars, will provide ‘must watch’ events. The Edelbrock Group’s racing heritage of speed and performance made SRX a perfect fit, and we’re certain our partners and customers will be excited about our participation.”
SRX features sprint races with drivers from a variety of motorsports backgrounds competing in identically prepared racecars on a variety of tracks, including pavement and dirt. The SRX driver lineup currently includes Tony Stewart, Tony Kanaan, Paul Tracy, Bobby Labonte, Willy T. Ribbs, Bill Elliott, Ernie Francis Jr., Marco Andretti, Helio Castroneves and Michael Waltrip.
SRX debuts June 12 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway. After Stafford, SRX visits back-to-back dirt tracks – Knoxville (Iowa) Raceway on June 19 and Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, on June 26. SRX returns to pavement July 3 at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis and then ventures north to Slinger (Wis.) Speedway on July 10. SRX’s inaugural season culminates July 17 at the iconic Nashville (Tenn.) Fairgrounds Speedway.
Jesse Little announced today that David's Electric will partner with Jesse and the No. 78 B.J. McLeod NXS car Saturday at Homestead-Miami Speedway. "I am excited that David's Electric chose to come aboard with us for their first primary sponsorship opportunity. It means a lot to me that they have moved from an associate sponsor at the CUP level to a primary sponsor with us at the Xfinity level. I look forward to an exciting weekend with David's electric onboard," Jesse said. "Finding great partners, such as David's Electric, to work with through the season is a top priority, and we are looking for additional partners for both Las Vegas and Phoenix."
David's Electric welcomes the opportunity to partner with Jesse Little and B.J. McLeod Motorsports during the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Season. "With Jesse off to a good start during the 2021 season and currently tied for 12th in the Xfinity driver points we decided to jump on board with Jesse and add another race," said David Poerio, owner of David's Electric. "The Xfinity Series with Jesse Little is the perfect arena for David's Electric to highlight our company and discuss possible B2B connections in the KY market. We look forward to supporting Jesse and the team during the 2021 season."
For over 25 years, David's Electric of London Kentucky has been Central Kentucky's premier Commercial Electrical contractor specializing in hotel construction projects. David's Electric highly skilled team can provide the expertise to customize a solution for your company’s new construction, systems upgrades, or preventive maintenance needs, no matter how big or small the electrical job. Their team takes tremendous pride in getting the job done on time and within budget.
Jesse has had a great start to the 2021 season and currently sits tied for 12th position in points. "The Daytona Road Course treated us well with a 14th place finish," Jesse said. "I am thankful for my B. J. McLeod Motorsports, Inc. group and all they do to keep me competitive on the track."
"We are getting ready to head further south to one of my favorite tracks, Homestead-Miami Speedway, and I am grateful David's Electric has jumped on board for the weekend" Jesse continued. "Last year we finished 15th and 18th and look forward to improving on those finishes with the No. 78 David's Electric Camaro."
At Homestead-Miami Speedway, Denny Hamlin has another chance to make history
Denny Hamlin had a chance to make history in the Feb. 14 Daytona 500.
A victory in the Great American Race would have given the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota an unprecedented three straight. Hamlin ran well, sweeping the first two stages, but he was in fifth place when a last-lap caution made a winner of opportunistic Michael McDowell.
As the NASCAR Cup Series heads for Homestead-Miami Speedway for Sunday’s Dixie Vodka 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), Hamlin has a shot at another record. With three victories at the 1.5-mile track, he is tied with Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart for most wins at the venue, which has hosted Cup events since 1999.
Boosting his chances, Hamlin expects the season’s first race on an intermediate speedway to run closer to last year’s form than either the Daytona 500 or the Daytona Road Course event, both of which produced first-time winners (McDowell and Christopher Bell). Kevin Harvick led the series with nine Cup victories last year, followed by Hamlin with seven.
“I think it will be more status quo on where we were last year,” Hamlin said. “That doesn’t mean me and Kevin, since it’s a mile-and-a-half, that we are going to dominate. With the mid-tier teams, this is where the resources that they don’t have will come into factor a little bit more.
“I don’t think I would call the 20 car (Bell) mid-tier, and I don’t think I would call the 34 (McDowell) a shock, because we were at a superspeedway. I think the winners list is like, ‘Oh wow, where (are) our superstars?’ but we are about to get into a chunk of the season where you are going to start to see some of your normal winners in the bracket.”
Also arguing in Hamlin’s favor is his starting spot. With fifth and third-place finishes and his strength in the stages of the first two races, Hamlin leads the series standings and will start from the pole at Homestead. That’s exactly where Hamlin started last year, when he collected his third win at the track.
In fact, seven of the winners in 22 Homestead-Miami Cup races have started from the front row, three from the pole and four from the second spot. That’s good news for Joey Logano, whose victory at Homestead in 2018 locked up the series championship. Logano starts second on the grid on Sunday.
Nor can you ignore the “rim riders” who have had success running the wall at the 1.5-mile track. Tyler Reddick finished fourth at Homestead last year after claiming back-to-back NASCAR Xfinity Series titles by winning at the track. Kyle Larson, notorious for running the wall, has three top-five finishes in seven starts there.
SANTINO FERRUCCI HAS HARD ACT TO FOLLOW IN XFINITY SERIES DEBUT
Though only 22 years old, Santino Ferrucci already has a long history in motorsports, but none of that experience has come in stock cars.
A professional driver since age 14, Ferrucci spent two years as a test driver for the Haas F1 team, before turning to IndyCar full-time in 2019. That same year, he finished seventh in the Indianapolis 500 to earn Rookie of the Year honors.
In 2020, he ran fourth in the Indy 500. His only experience in a full-bodied car, however, was a super late model test for Fury Race Cars last year. Nevertheless, Ferrucci will make his NASCAR Xfinity Series debut in Sam Hunt Racing’s No. 26 Toyota in Saturday’s Contender Boats 250 (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Last Saturday, Ty Gibbs won the Xfinity Series race on the Daytona Road Course in his first start in the series, but Gibbs had winning experience in stock cars in the ARCA Menards Series. Ferrucci doesn’t have that luxury.
“It’s tough showing up at Homestead cold turkey,” said Ferrucci, who will compete in the next five Xfinity races. “But my knowledge as a race car driver will always remain from everything I’ve done in my career—how to look at building cars, how to set cars up, my feelings from driving, my knowledge of how to do pit stops, how to race. None of that will go away, which is nice.”
Ferrucci won’t even get a chance to drive the car until Saturday, though he has spent time in the Toyota simulator.
“I’ve only got to sit in the car a bunch of times,” Ferrucci said during a video conference with reporters on Tuesday. “I don’t even have my firesuit yet. It’s kind of a funny process, but we don’t have too many expectations going into Homestead.
“You just want the car to come back in one piece, log some laps for us. We have five in a row, so there’s no sense in throwing away your first race trying to do something spectacular. It’s all about trying to be consistent and building up to it slowly.”
Ty Gibbs won’t be racing at Homestead this week. Another Ty — Ty Dillon — will be behind the wheel of the No. 54 Toyota Supra, assuring that Joe Gibbs Racing will have plenty of firepower. JGR’s Harrison Burton won the first of two races in one Homestead weekend last season, with the schedule compressed after a 10-week hiatus forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Burton’s most formidable competition is likely to come from Team Penske’s Austin Cindric, who opened the defense of his 2020 series championship with a victory on the Daytona oval and ran second to Gibbs on the road course. As the current series leader, Cindric will start from the pole in Saturday’s race.
JD Motorsports with Gary Keller is proud to announce that KSDT CPA will serve as Ryan Vargas’ primary sponsor for Saturday’s Contender Boats 250 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
On Monday, the Miami-based accounting firm announced that it would return as the Official CPA of JDM in addition to a multi-race deal with Jeffrey Earnhardt. Heading into the race weekend at their home track, they have stepped up the partnership to also include Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender Ryan Vargas in addition to Earnhardt.
KSDT CPA is one of South Florida’s largest and one the country’s fastest growing accounting firms. They are proud to have experienced double-digit growth for 12 out of the past 15 years with an average of 22% over the past 5 years. The firm has also been recognized as a Gulf Coast Regional Leader by Accounting Today and once again recognized by Forbes as one of the ‘Top Tax and Accounting Firms’ for 2021.
Ryan Vargas is the newest driver for KSDT CPA, as the firm has been a loyal partner with the team spanning five seasons with multiple drivers. Ryan looks forward to the opportunity to represent a well-known partner for the first time on Saturday.
“I am very excited to have KSDT CPA on our No. 6 Chevy Camaro this weekend at Homestead! KSDT CPA has been a great partner of the entire JD Motorsports organization over the past several years, so I’m proud to carry them for the first time at a race taking center stage in their backyard!”
Vargas looks to rebound from a part failure in last weekend’s race at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course where he finished 37th. The rookie will make his first career start at the Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The NASCAR Xfinity Series season makes a stop in South Florida at the Homestead-Miami Speedway this Saturday. To keep up with Ryan Vargas, follow his social media pages and visit his official website at www.RyanVargas.com. For all things JDM, follow along on our social media pages @JDMotorsports01, and visit the team’s official website at www.TeamJDMotorsports.com. #TeamJDM