Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Q&A with Jerry Caldwell and Steve Swift reguarding the dirt transformation at Bristol Motor Speedway
BMS executive vice president and general manager Jerry Caldwell and Speedway Motorsports senior vice president of operations and development, Steve Swift answered questions from the media today as the dirt transformation process continues at Bristol Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Cup Series Food City Dirt Race on Sunday, March 28 and the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt on Saturday night, March 27.
Q: What’s the timeline to get all of the dirt in?
Jerry Caldwell: As you can see it is going to take a while. We haven’t done this in 20 years. We are thankful to have Steve Swift leading a tremendous team of talented folks and he has done a tremendous amount of research on how to make sure we are doing this the right way and advancements that have been made in the past 20 years. We very much appreciate our partners at Baker Construction and our friends at John Deere to help us get all this ready to roll.
Q: What has been the response from the web cam that you all put up recently?
Jerry Caldwell: It’s wonderful. We’ve seen a tremendous response from people clicking on the cam to watch from home. A number of folks in the community who haven’t come to a race in a long time but are so interested to see how this place transforms. I think it’s just a testament to the history and to this place at Bristol Motor Speedway, of whether it’s a dirt track 20 years ago, a football game, the largest NASCAR events in the country or turning it back into a dirt facility. It’s special and something people want to see and be a part of.
Q: What was the reaction in the sport and with Food City when you decided to do a dirt race?
Jerry Caldwell: People love it. You get some funny looks when it first came up. That’s OK. That’s the way all great things come together. Food City has been fabulous, they have been tremendously supportive and excited about welcoming people back to our region not only during this COVID-19 season, but to welcome people back into Bristol Motor Speedway.
Q: What has been the response for the World of Outlaws and Dirt Nationals?
Jerry Caldwell: Just blown away by the response. When we opened for the Dirt Nationals which is the weekend before the Cup race, we had a tremendous response from both fans and participants wanting to come see that. We had 1,200 cars, we filled that event in less than 12 hours from a participant standpoint. That speaks the to the excitement around that event and those folks are coming from all over the country.
Q: Will the spectators be socially-distanced at the NASCAR races?
Jerry Caldwell: We will still be socially distanced. Now that we’ve reached capacity, we know. Now we start placing the people in the stands and we will know the real numbers. It’s the new way of doing business in the sports and entertainment world right now. You sell the tickets but you can’t really have an open grandstand to let people select their tickets because we have to make sure everyone is socially distanced and then we will reach out and let people know where their seats are.
Q: Do you expect a similar crowd size like last year, around 30,000?
Jerry Caldwell: We are going to have in excess of 30,000, yeah.
Q: Are you proud of the fact that you were one of the first sports to have a large number of spectators last year?
Jerry Caldwell: It’s the staff, the region, the state and county trusting us to do it. We are blessed with a tremendous team here at Bristol Motor Speedway. And from the leadership with Bruton and Marcus of saying we know how to do this and we can do it the right way. It starts at the top and comes all the way down, but we are not able to do it without the support of the state and Sullivan county. They have been tremendous partners for us to get back. I think its been important for the country. We were proud to be one of the first. Yes, it was quite the step. We had leadership willing to do that in Bruton and Marcus, now we will go, and we will do it in a safe and responsible way and it’s an important thing for the country and for our sport. We were proud to have some of the largest crowds in the country to date during all of this.
Q: Are NASCAR drivers giving any input about the track?
Jerry Caldwell: We’ve had lots of conversations – Steve Swift and his team have had lots of conversations with industry stakeholders to make sure we get input and learn from everyone about how we can do this and make sure we do it the right way and I know we will.
Q: It’s got to be pretty wild for you to see this dirt going down right now?
Jerry Caldwell: Yes, it is. But it’s like a lot of other things Bruton and Marcus have done here, whether it’s putting down the football field or building grandstands in a few months like we’ve done in the past or hanging the largest center hung TV in the air, this is just another one of those events where you don’t believe it until you see it. Even when you hear it, and then come out and see it, it really is exciting. I can’t wait to get this place full and I know the fans are going to love it.
Q: When will you announce the format of the NASCAR races?
Jerry Caldwell: We will turn to NASCAR for that, they really call the shots on that stuff it’s their event to run. We look forward to announcing that soon.
Q: Have you enjoyed watching the Chili Bowl recently?
Jerry Caldwell: It’s another testament to people liking new things. I love seeing all of these NASCAR drivers out there trying out the Chili Bowl. I think it’s good for our sport and our country. I think it’s good to get back to doing things in a safe and responsible way. I think It gives us all a sense of hope and that light at the end of the tunnel.
Q: Will the drivers be allowed to test before the race weekend?
Jerry Caldwell: NASCAR will look at that and decide who tests and who doesn’t. We will announce that if we know something. Another exciting part of this is the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt, which is the day before the Food City Dirt Race. I believe we will reach a sell out for that race. When is the last time you had back to back sell outs in a NASCAR weekend?
Q: How thick is the base and how much is the banking going to be?
Steve Swift: We are going to have varying thickness as you can kind of see. We couldn’t just put a layer of dirt down right on top of the concrete because that would be way too steep for the dirt races and would create way too much speed. We’ve shallowed it up and we will be at 19 degrees when it is all said and done. The thickest fills will be 9 and 10 feet and our smallest fill will be a foot.
Q: Are you on schedule?
Steve Swift: We are. It’s never a great time to place dirt in the middle of the winter. So far we’ve been blessed. We started Monday and we are way ahead of where we thought we would be with the weather and we are on schedule and pushing forward. We are really just getting the bugs worked out this week, which is what we had planned for this week and we are moving along a lot better than we thought, so everything is going really well.
Q: It appears that the safer barriers have been removed, can you talk about that?
Steve Swift: We worked with NASCAR and talked about all the safety parameters that we could. With the safer walls it depends on rebound, and how it collapses when it is hit, and how it comes back. Working with NASCAR and the University of Nebraska, with the speeds that will be created with the embankments being a lot less and what the cars will be able to do, the safer barriers are not necessary. If you are familiar with the trucks running at Eldora in the past, they didn’t have safer barriers up there. The speeds here will be comparable to the speeds that the Trucks had at Eldora.
Q: What has your research been like, have you reached out to any other dirt tracks?
Steve Swift: As a company Speedway Motorsports has three dirt tracks in the fleet, one in Charlotte, one in Texas and one in Las Vegas, and they run minimal schedules with events like the World of Outlaws, so we have some background in dirt. None of them have concrete underneath them at a world famous half-mile race track however, so that has made this a little more difficult to tackle that animal in lieu of just plain dirt racing. We have been fortunate; there have been a lot of people who have been more than willing to help, especially a lot of the local tracks around here like Bulls Gap, Marysville, Seymour and Wytheville, all have been more than helpful to give wisdom and tell us what type of dirt we are dealing with and what they deal with when they run their events. We’ve done a lot of research. We’ve reached out to California, Iowa, Missouri and so many others, the list is really long. They are all happy to help us and see this as a big win for the dirt world. To see the big series racing on dirt is exciting for the dirt world as well.
Q: Is there anyone here working on this now that was here 20 years ago?
Steve Swift: Quite a few actually. Baker Construction Services was the group that placed the dirt 20 years ago here and they have been a huge asset in finding resources and helping us find dirt. What we have learned with the advancement in technology is that the placement of dirt is a lot easier now compared to 20 years ago and there are a lot of systems on this equipment that makes it more precise and accurate to put the dirt in. We have a great partnership with Meade and the need for equipment is not a problem, so we have whatever equipment we need at hand and Meade has been great to supply that for us. There’s still a lot of familiar faces still here working on it.
Q: Have you reached out to anyone for tips and guidance?
Steve Swift: We have. One thing we have found is there are a lot of ‘Dirt Doctors’ out there and they have analyzed what makes a good dirt track, a dusty and non-dusty track and what kind of track surface makes for good and fast racing. We have taken advantage of that and actually sourced a new surface dirt for this race based on what we’ve learned from them and what we’ve learned over the past 20 years.
Q: Where did you get the dirt from?
Steve Swift: This dirt going down now is the base layer and it won’t be raced on. This is the dirt that was on the track back in 2001. We store it off Hwy 394 on one of our pieces of property and we stockpiled it from last time. The surface dirt that we are going to use will come from another source.
Q: Have you talked with any NASCAR drivers about the process?
Steve Swift: We have talked to several drivers as far as their input and knowledge, but when they take off for the season, they take off. I don’t want to name any names at this point, but the time for that will come as the process moves along. And remember, most guys are dirt track racers, not dirt track owners. They can tell you what they are feeling when they are out on the track, but not necessarily about what to do when you own a track.
Q: Is this one of the most difficult projects you have done?
Steve Swift: Colossus TV was one of the biggest engineering feats that I’ve ever been a part of for sure. With the Smith family, Marcus and Bruton, we’ve built some really neat and incredibly difficult things over the years. Because of the time of the year this project ranks up there in the top five, but I wouldn’t claim it as the hardest. Putting dirt on a race track is not as extreme as hanging Colossus because that was the first time anything like that had been done.
Q: Will you make any changes to the track between each of the events?
Steve Swift: Not from a banking or transition standpoint. In the dirt world, each series likes a little different dirt prep. Some like it slicker, some like a little more cushion, so it’s more of a track prep situation for each of the different races. But the way it looks overall will be similar. And no, we will not be using PJ1 on the dirt.
Q: Have you taken any notes from the Chili Bowl?
Steve Swift: It’s such a unique event. The Chili Bowl is in an inside facility, so they don’t deal with rain or any weather, so they can control every element of the environment. There’s not a complete science to it, there’s just a lot of good feel for it from a lot of years. It’s hard to compare us to the Chili Bowl, but we have looked at that event, yes.
Q: Are you having fun being an Engineer?
Steve Swift: Absolutely. We get to play in the mud, so anytime we get to do construction projects like this it’s definitely fun for sure.
Q: What is the timetable to have it finished?
Steve Swift: Definitely by March. We said if we had perfect timing and weather it would take us four weeks to get it to 100 percent ready to race. Naturally we built in some fluff time just in case and there are things we can do to if we don’t get the weather to cooperate. We have a lot of pieces in play if we get rain for two weeks.
For 50 years, Volusia Speedway Park has been an annual destination for some of the greatest dirt track racers to ever strap in behind the wheel. Standing out among them are Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified legends like Jack Johnson, Bob McCreadie, and Kenny Brightbill. Meanwhile, Brett Hearn, Matt Sheppard, and Larry Wight continue to add to their win totals on “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.”
D.I.R.T. founder Glenn Donnelley first promoted Big Block Modified racing at Volusia in 1978. The inaugural Big Block visit featured nine straight nights of racing for the “Beasts of the Northeast.”
Three-time Super DIRTcar Series Feature winner Lou Lazzaro captured the very first checkered flag awarded for a Big Block Modified race at Volusia Speedway Park. Lazzaro was followed by winners Walt Breeding and Gary Lulg the next two nights. All three of those wins turned out to be the only DIRTcar Nationals Feature wins of their careers.
Drivers Ray Dalmata, Tom Hager, C.D. Coville, Richie Tobias Jr., Craig VonDohren, J.R. Heffner, Andy Bachetti, Dale Planck, Rob Bellinger, Neal Williams, Justin Haers, and Tyler Siri make up the rest of the one-win DIRTcar Nationals Feature winners.
Also in that inaugural 1978 visit, Kenny Brightbill put together a winning streak of three. Only two other drivers have accomplished that since: Hearn won four in a row spanning 2000 and 2001, and “Lighting” Larry Wight did it in 2020 to take the Big Gator back to New York.
The Big Blocks did not return to Volusia until 1982, which included a 100-lap Feature won by “Marvelous” Merv Treichler. The rest of the 1980s were contested by the likes of Billy Pauch, Jack Johnson, Jimmy Horton, Doug Hoffman, and Danny Jonson. These heavyweights thrilled the excited crowds of local fans and visiting Daytona International Speedway goers for the decade.
In 1990, Volusia Speedway Park opened the season as an asphalt track. Doug Hoffman’s back-to-back wins in 1989 held as the final Big Block Modified DIRTcar Nationals wins until 1993. In ‘93, the Big Blocks returned but instead of “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” they raced on a 3/8-mile dirt track on the same grounds.
Hearn’s first DIRTcar Nationals victory was on the small track on Feb. 11, 1993. Only 10 Big Block races are on record at the 3/8-mile and Hearn won four of them. Prior to his great run at the dirt track in the ’90s, Hearn was both a fan and a participant at Daytona International Speedway.
“I finished up my NASCAR stuff in ’89 and my first opportunity to run the dirt track wasn’t until 1993. In ’93 we ran on the second track. It was small and flat,” Hearn noted. “We’d always gone there really well prepared and both tracks have been good to me. We’ve enjoyed some great success there and I haven’t missed a year since 1993.”
“The Jet” has gone on to win nine DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator championships.
“In 1996 I got my 500th career win there. We went on a string of some really great success there. We had a lot of good preparation before we went and just always came out of the box strong,” Hearn said of his Volusia success.
“It always breaks the winter up. As a team it always pushed us to get ready earlier rather than stretching the winter out and barely being ready by April,” the eight-time Super DIRTcar Series champion said. “It gave us a huge head start. A lot of times we would stop at other tracks to test during the trip down there. We used that information to see where we were going into the year.”
In 2000, the dirt came back to Volusia Speedway Park’s half-mile oval. Jamie Mills opened up the new dirt track era for Big Block Modifieds with the win on Feb. 15, 2000. Then Brett Hearn went on a four-race streak winning the last three in 2000 plus the 2001 opener.
2005 brought the Super DIRTcar Series non-points status to DIRTcar Nationals Features at Volusia Speedway Park, and wins counted toward Series career statistics for the first time.
This modern era has ushered in the stars we know and love today like Matt Sheppard, Stewart Friesen, Larry Wight, and Mat Williamson. However, that is not to say Billy Decker and Brett Hearn are ready to let them have all the fun in the sun just yet.
The Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modifieds return to Volusia Speedway Park Feb. 9-13 to celebrate 50 years of the DIRTcar Nationals. Tickets are available online to see the Big Blocks in person, or fans can watch live on DIRTVision with their Fast Pass subscriptions.
Super DIRTcar Series PR
Young’s Motorsports announced today that they have expanded their organization to now include the ARCA Menards Series.
Acquiring equipment during the offseason will allow the Mooresville, N.C.-based team to offer an additional layer of development to their existing NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) platform.
Young’s Motorsports will make its debut in ARCA Menards Series competition by participating in this weekend’s series’ open-test session at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
“This is an exciting new chapter that we’re proud of,” said Young’s Motorsports principal Tyler Young.
“As we continue to crave new ways of offering more seat time to our drivers, the addition of an ARCA fleet to our Young’s Motorsports stable allows us to enter a new territory and grow with the number one goal of winning.”
As part of their growth, Young’s Motorsports plans to run a limited ARCA schedule in 2021 with a priority on the ARCA Menards Series national division with a focus on the larger track venues.
While the team has an open slot for the Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire race on Feb. 13, 2021, Young’s Motorsports will take the green flag in ARCA competition this weekend with two drivers.
Kris Wright who will contend for Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series aboard the flagship No. 02 Chevrolet Silverado will pilot the No. 02 Chevrolet SS on Friday and Saturday.
Wright, a road-racing expert competed in the ARCA Menards Series last year on a limited basis earning three top-10s in six starts throughout the 20-race schedule. He ended the season on a high-note earning a career-best seventh-place finish at Kansas Speedway.
“I’m really excited to get back into the car, especially at Daytona,” said Wright. “We’re going to try a few driver comfort things for the test which is going to help us in February with the truck. I cannot wait to get out there on the track with the Young’s Motorsports crew.”
Joining the 26-year-old Wright is Toni Breidinger who returns to the ARCA Menards Series scene for the first time since 2018.
A 19-time USAC winner, Breidinger shifted her attention from dirt to asphalt and most recently finished fourth in the Carolina Pro Late Model Series in 2020 with DLP Motorsports.
Breidinger, a native of Hillsborough, Calif. made three ARCA starts in 2018 earning a career-best 10th place finish in her series’ debut at Madison (Wisc.) International Speedway.
"I’m excited to be heading to Daytona to join Young’s Motorsports this week to test for ARCA,” said Breidinger. “Driving at Daytona has always been a dream of mine and I can’t thank Tyler (Young) and the entire Young’s Motorsports team for the opportunity.”
Young says Young’s Motorsports a mainstay team in the NCWTS since 2012 would not be able to participate in the ARCA Menards Series without the evolving rule changes and cost-saving measures that NASCAR has put into place.
“When NASCAR purchased ARCA a couple of years ago, it was in our pipeline to compete in ARCA,” added Young. “We just had to make sure the timing was right. I feel that timing is upon us and look forward to seeing what the 2021 season delivers.”
In addition to ARCA, Young’s Motorsports will also field multiple entries in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season. Currently, Wright joins Spencer Boyd who returns to Young’s Motorsports for a third season as driver of the No. 20 Chevrolet Silverado.
Additional announcements from Young’s Motorsports on their 2021 lineup is forthcoming.
For more on Kris Wright, please visit, kriswrightmotorsports.com, like him on Facebook (Kris Wright Racing) and follow him on Twitter (@kriswrightraces).
For more on Toni Breidinger, please visit, tonibreidinger.com, like her on Facebook (tonibreidingerracing) and follow on Instagram (tonibreidinger) and Twitter (@tonibreidinger).
For more on Young’s Motorsports, please visit YoungsMotorsports.com, like them on Facebook (Young’s Motorsports) and follow on Instagram (youngsmotorsports) and Twitter (@youngsmtrsports).
Young's Motorsports PR
Derek Griffith with New Sponsor Returns to ARCA Menards Series with Venturini Motorsports for Daytona and More
Handwork, persistence and some spot on timing helped New Hampshire born driver Derek Griffith fulfill his desire of returning to the racetrack after making eight starts during the 2020 ARCA Menards Series season.
Teaming with Venturini Motorsports (VMS), 23-year-old, Derek Griffith, with support from San Francisco based, SpotOn, small business software and payments company, will be back behind the wheel this season in ARCA’s premier touring series for two races under the VMS banner.
Griffith, a top-10 finisher at the Snowball Derby back in December, will showcase his No.55 SpotOn Toyota Camry during the series’ season-opener at Daytona International Speedway on February 13 and again at Kansas Speedway during the May event. Both races will be televised on FS1.
“Never give up,” responded Griffith when asked about his off-season deal allowing his return to the track. “This is awesome. I’ve worked really hard during the offseason to make this moment happen. I can’t thank everyone at SpotOn enough for giving me this incredible opportunity. I’m excited to represent their brand and continue to build our relationship.”
Griffith notched two top-5 and seven top-10 finishes during his eight starts in 2020 driving the No.22 for Chad Bryant Racing in the ARCA Menards Series.
“It’s an honor to now have the opportunity to represent my sponsor racing for such a successful organization like Venturini Motorsports. They’re a great team. I’ve been talking with Billy (Venturini) for a while – I’m excited everything fell into place the way it did. I’m ready to go!”
ARCA Menards Series driver Howie DiSavino III is kicking off the 2021 season by taking his next major leap in his Motorsports career by tackling the high banks of Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for this weekend’s annual pre-season test.
DiSavino III has been steadily ramping up his resume and aggressively moving through the ladder of different tracks and scenery – but preparing for his superspeedway debut next month at the “World Center of Racing” is the opportunity of a lifetime.
“This is an awesome way to start 2021,” said DiSavino who will pilot the No. 32 Chevrolet.
“Every racer dreams for the chance to compete at Daytona and the test this weekend is the stepping stone to making that dream a reality. I can’t wait to get on the track Friday.”
To kick off the 2021 ARCA season, DiSavino continues his relationship with Win-Tron Racing and crew chief Jamie Jones, but during the offseason – Win-Tron Racing was absorbed under the AM Racing banner, which offers the opportunity for both organizations to expand their horizons.
Still housed at their Statesville, N.C. facility, AM Racing also fields a full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team – a path that DiSavino would eventually like to follow.
But before tackling the aspirations of becoming a NASCAR driver, the Chesterfield, Va. native is focused on Daytona.
“It’s a head down, fin-up type of weekend,” added DiSavino. “I think the time will go by fast, but we have a lot to accomplish. I’m sure it will take a couple of laps to get comfortable – but from there it’s about making our car as fast as we can. Some changes will work, some changes won’t – but that’s all a part of the experience.”
Throughout the two-day session, DiSavino will also be able to lean on driver coach and mentor Austin Theriault, a former Daytona ARCA winner.
“To have Austin be an ear this weekend is huge for my development,” DiSavino said. “Austin has been there through the trials and tribulations and having the opportunity to dissect the track time with him will only help me improve between the test and the race.” Preparing to make his sixth career ARCA Menards Series start next month in the season-opening Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire, DiSavino knows he’ll have the equipment to contend for the victory.
“We’re testing this weekend to put us in a position to win the race next month,” sounded DiSavino. “Kevin (Cywinski, team owner) and Jamie (Jones, crew chief) have a knack for putting together extremely fast superspeedway cars, and I don’t expect 2021 to be any different.
“I know a lot of the race can boil down to luck, but hopefully we can just be in the right place at the right time and start the year with a strong finish and a lot of momentum.”
Front Runner Boats and Bud’s Heating & Air Conditioning will support DiSavino in 2021.
Additional details on DiSavino’s 2021 program is forthcoming.
For more on Howie DiSavino III, please visit howiedisavino.com, like him on Facebook (Howie DiSavino III Racing), follow him on Twitter (@hdisavino) and Instagram (HowieDiSavino).
Howie DiSavino III Racing PR
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver, Spencer Boyd, announced today that Credit MRI will be a primary sponsor for several races in 2021. The credit repair company is well known for their “Fix Now, Pay Later” approach to helping people restore their credit score.
“I used to sell cars back in my part-time NASCAR days,” said Spencer Boyd. “I would see many hard working people unable to get approved for a car because of simple strikes on their credit reports. Credit MRI is helping those folks, without charging them upfront, navigate the confusing path of credit recovery. Anything that helps hard-working Americans is high on my list!”
For more than a decade Credit MRI has delivered professional credit repair services with its industry first and only 30 DAY NO FEE GUARANTEE. Simply put if they do not deliver results then you pay nothing. Whether you are looking to purchase a home, car, RV, jet ski, motorcycle, or simply looking to improve your credit score to lower your current interest rates, Credit MRI is your one stop credit repair partner.
Credit MRI remarked on the partnership in a prepared statement, “We know NASCAR fans are hard-working Americans. We wanted to partner with Spencer (Boyd) because he is well-known as the hardest working NASCAR driver out there. He is a spokesperson for blue-collar workers and we want to be a part of his career. Credit MRI is very much looking forward to being a part of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with Spencer Boyd.”
The No. 20 Credit MRI Chevrolet Silverado with its neon green logo will make its debut at the world famous Daytona International Speedway Road Course. Boyd, in his third year with Young’s Motorsports, finished 17th in the inaugural NASCAR race at Daytona’s Road Course in 2020. Boyd remarked, “We went there last year having never run the RC, but I had a blast and look to improve on our finish with Credit MRI on board.” Credit MRI will also be on board at Las Vegas and future races that will be announced at a later date.
To schedule a personal consultation with a credit repair expert call 888-566-9997 today! www.creditmri.com
Spencer Boyd PR
Beard Motorsports has selected Noah Gragson to drive its No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro in the 63rd running of the Daytona 500 Feb. 14 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
Upon qualifying for The Great American Race, the event will mark Gragson’s NASCAR Cup Series debut, and it will come at the same venue where the 22-year-old racer from Las Vegas scored his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory. Gragson won the Xfinity Series’ 2020 season opener last February at Daytona for JR Motorsports.
The 2021 Daytona 500 will also serve as a passing of the torch from one Las Vegas driver to another. Brendan Gaughan, a Las Vegas native who made 17 NASCAR Cup Series starts in Beard Motorsports’ No. 62 Chevrolet, hand-picked Gragson to take over the No. 62 after retiring at the end of last season. Gaughan has known Gragson for all of his 22 years and has seen him rise from regional racing in the Southwest to national NASCAR touring series competition that will soon encompass the elite NASCAR Cup Series.
“I loved racing for the Beard Family and even though I’m retired, I’m honored to be a part of their team and I’m very protective of what they’ve built,” Gaughan said. “I’ve known Noah a long time and I know he’s a very good racecar driver who is ready to do some Cup racing.
“Just as importantly, he takes good care of his equipment and he’s there at the end of races. In his entire Xfinity Series career, he’s only had four DNFs. That’s important no matter who you’re racing for, but it’s especially important for Beard Motorsports.
“I’m proud to see Noah have this opportunity and proud to see another Las Vegas guy in the NASCAR Cup Series.”
Gragson comes into the 2021 Daytona 500 after a strong sophomore season in the Xfinity Series where he scored two wins, earned 17 top-five and 25 top-10 finishes, and led 622 laps.
“I’m excited and humbled to have this opportunity with Beard Motorsports,” Gragson said. “As a young racer from Las Vegas, I had always dreamt of racing in the Daytona 500. I’m very appreciative of the faith the Beard Family and Brendan have in me, and equally appreciative to JR Motorsports for allowing me to pull double duty and compete for them in the Xfinity Series and also Beard Motorsports while we’re down in Daytona.”
Beard Motorsports has proven to be the little team that could, a modern-day David competing against the Goliaths of the NASCAR Cup Series. Owned by Mark Beard Sr., president of Beard Motorsports and various family businesses,Beard Motorsports has taken a strategic approach to its racing endeavors, forming a technical partnership with Richard Childress Racing (RCR) and running only the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. With cars constructed by RCR and powered by ECR-built engines, Beard Motorsports can race at the front, a fact proven by Gaugahn’s two top-10s in 2020 – seventh in the Daytona 500 and eighth in the Coke Zero Sugar 400, also at Daytona.
“Racing is our passion project,” said Beard, a former driver who made two Xfinity Series starts in the 1980s. “Even with Brendan’s retirement, we wanted to keep racing. We’ve accomplished a lot with the resources we have and we’re proud to give Noah the chance to chase his dream just like we chase ours.
“On top of that, racing has proven to be a very valuable asset for our companies, like Beard Oil Distributing. We’re very passionate about what we do, and the Daytona 500 is an excellent platform to show our customers the level of commitment we put into all of our work.”
Gragson will be only the second driver to race for Beard Motorsports, but both Beard and Gaughan believe Gragson is ready for the opportunity.
“Noah is in a really great position,” Gaughan said. “He’ll be in his third year of Xfinity with a strong team in JR Motorsports and he’ll get to sample and understand what the Cup Series is about. Every time you strap into a racecar it’s an opportunity to learn, but it’s also supposed to be fun. He’ll be able to do both with Beard Motorsports.”
Before joining the Xfinity Series fulltime in 2019, Gragson competed in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2017 and 2018. He won twice and finished second in the 2018 championship.
Those Truck Series results were a continuation of the kind of talent Gragson showcased in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. In 2015 and 2016, Gragson raced in this developmental league, regionally split into two divisions – K&N Pro Series East and K&N Pro Series West. Gragson won six races between the two entities and narrowly missed out on the 2015 West title by a scant seven points.
“When you’re racing Late Models and trying to work your way up, the Daytona 500 seems pretty far away,” Gragson said. “To have it become a reality is something I don’t take lightly. I’m ready for this moment and I’m proud to have it.”
The Daytona 500 starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday, Feb., 14 with live coverage on FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
Beard Motorsports PR
South Boston Speedway's cost-cutting moves make America's Hometown Track an affordable venue for races
Finances have always played a key role in racing, especially for the weekly short-track racers. That is why South Boston Speedway officials have worked hard over the years to make racing more affordable for competitors, and, at the same time, keep the competition on a level playing field and make racing fun for the competitors.
Steps taken by South Boston Speedway over the past several seasons have made “America’s Hometown Track” one of the more affordable places to race.
“We have continuously sought out ways to make racing more affordable for our drivers and teams,” said Cathy Rice, the track’s general manager, “and we have been successful in finding ways to help cut costs for the competitors.”
In 2016, South Boston Speedway implemented a two-tire rule in the NASCAR Late Model Stock Car Division, limiting teams to the purchase of two tires per event. In addition to saving teams money, the rule helped make lower-budget teams more competitive.
Along with that, the track increased its purse for competitors, guaranteeing $500 to start in the Late Model Stock Car Division. That move helps make it more financially possible for teams to move up to competition in the top-tier division and to cover costs.
South Boston Speedway officials made a major change in in the speedway’s 2021 Limited Sportsman Division rules package to eliminate bump stopping and coil binding. There will also be a new limit on the sway bar size with a new maximum of an inch and three-quarters. The last change sets a new four-inch minimum on the car’s ride height.
“These changes will not only help make racing in the Limited Sportsman Division more affordable, but they will also simplify things in the long run,” noted South Boston Speedway Race Director and Head Tech Official Jeff Bomar.
Engine rules that include multiple engine options have resulted in cost savings for competitors. South Boston Speedway also has a one-tire rule for its Limited Sportsman Division. The rule limiting Limited Sportsman Division teams to being able to buy only one new tire per race has helped teams cut costs considerably.
In addition, South Boston Speedway’s Limited Sportsman Division purse is higher than most other tracks. Competitors finishing in the Top 10 receive enough purse money to cover their tire cost.
Offering cost-cutting measures along with good purses, South Boston Speedway officials have made racing in the division more affordable and have kept racing in the division competitive.
Rocky Mount, Virginia resident Tony Housman competed in the Hornets Division at South Boston in 2019. He competed at Franklin County Speedway in 2020, starting in the track’s four-cylinder division, and later moving up to the Limited Sportsman Division. During a testing session at South Boston Speedway in December, Housman said the changes made to South Boston Speedway’s Limited Sportsman Division rules package led him to decide to compete
at South Boston Speedway in 2021.
“When I saw the rules, I said this is where we’re going to try to run,” Housman said.
“You don’t have to have $7,000 or $8,000 shocks and bump stops and everything under the sun to make it (the car) work. That’s the reason I decided to come here.”
The cost-cutting measures also extend into the track’s Pure Stock Division, which, like the Limited Sportsman Division, has a one-tire rule that limits teams to being able to purchase one new tire per event.
In addition, there will be no increase in prices at the competitors’ registration window in 2021.
“The weekly racers are the backbone of our sport,” Rice pointed out.
“It is important that we try to do what we can to help keep costs down for our competitors and keep racing affordable for them.”
Rules for South Boston Speedway’s Late Model Stock Car, Pure Stock and Hornets divisions will remain the same in 2021.The 2021 season rules are available on the South Boston Speedway website at www.southbostonspeedway.com.
South Boston Speedway gift certificates are also available. Gift certificates from “America’s Hometown Track” may be purchased by calling the South Boston Speedway office at 1-434-572-4947 or toll free at 1-877-440-1540. The South Boston Speedway office is open Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m.
Joe Gibbs Racing announced today that Reser’s Fine Foods will be the primary sponsor of Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota Camry for four races and an associate partner on the No. 19 for the balance of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season. Truex’s Camry will carry the Reser’s colors for races at Dover International Speedway (May 16), Pocono Raceway (June 27), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (July 18) and Watkins Glen International (August 8).
“I’m looking forward to having Reser’s join our team this year,” said Truex. “They have been an important partner at Joe Gibbs Racing for a long time and I’m excited to be able to continue that relationship. As I am learning, Reser’s is all about great food and good times. Our goal this year is to give them plenty to cheer about on race days.”
2021 marks the ninth season of the Reser’s-Joe Gibbs Racing relationship that began in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2013. The family-owned company is the leading provider of fresh refrigerated deli salads, side dishes, and prepared foods for the supermarket, club store, and food service industry. Since 1950, Reser’s has been a proud sponsor of good times at racetracks, picnics, BBQs, music festivals, and affordable family meals.
“Reser’s is proud to continue our relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing,” said Mark Reser, Reser’s Fine Foods CEO. “Martin Truex Jr. and his team will be great ambassadors for our foods that NASCAR fans enjoy on race day or any day.”
Reser’s joins Bass Pro Shops and Auto-Owners Insurance as primary partners on the No. 19 Camry for the 2021 season.