Racing News (11759)
Racing News from around the World
California racing star Eddie Tafoya Jr. made a favorable impression in his midget racing debut at last week’s 34th Annual Chili Bowl Midget Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Through two-nights of action on the tight Tulsa Expo Center Raceway inside the River Spirit Expo Center, the newcomer stayed out of trouble and moved forward in three of his four races.
Pitted against an intimidating field comprised of 358 other drivers from various disciplines of racing including NASCAR and Indy Cars, the 22-year-old wheeled the A.J. Felker owned Specialty Fasteners FSC/Esslinger at the event that drew nearly 90,000 fans. After a Monday afternoon practice, Tafoya took his first competitive laps in a midget in the Wednesday night preliminary show. The 2019 USAC/CRA and USAC Southwest Series “Rookie of the Year,” started sixth in his eight-lap heat race and finished eighth. It was the only time he did not move forward during his initial Chili Bowl adventure.
The heat race finish put Tafoya in one of the night’s C mains. This time he caught the eye of pit siders starting 10th and advancing four positions to finish sixth. Unfortunately, the race was only 12-laps and he ran out of time before he could get to one of the transfer spots.
For Saturday’s finale, Tafoya found himself in one of the K features early in the day. He started seventh in the 10-lapper and advanced one spot forward to book a ticket into one of the J features.
The J feature proved to be the event newcomer’s best outing of the week. Against a tougher field, handsome Tafoya started dead last in the 15-car lineup and he was headed for a transfer to one of the I features. He passed six-cars and was up to ninth, but once again, “Father Time” worked against him as the race was only 10-laps and he finished shy of the advancing positions. However, it was a fitting way to close his first Chili Bowl with another forward performance that met with the approval of many longtime race watchers.
With his first midget experience behind him, Tafoya will now concentrate on getting back to the friendly confines of his silver #51 sprint car for the opening of the 2020 season. His first race will be in the USAC Southwest Series “Steve Stroud Memorial” at Canyon Speedway Park in Peoria, Arizona on February 14 and 15. He will return to the same Arizona oval for the “Spring Showcase” with the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars on March 6 and 7.
Tafoya and his team would like to thank the following sponsors for backing him in last year’s run to the Rookie of the Year Crown. Specialty Fasteners, Circle Track Performance and Sprint Car Driving Experience.
Eddie Tafoya Jr. PR
Only the elite teams with top flight drivers win a TQ Midget feature on the Indoor Auto Racing Series fueled by VP. Just qualifying for one of the five 40 lap features held annually is considered an achievement by many of the competitors.
When Saturday night’s NAPA Know How feature takes place inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall on February 1st, 26 drivers will take the green flag, but an equal will be disappointed spectators.
Thanks to long time series sponsor Dr. Williams Lowe, 15 drivers who failed to qualify for the first two events of 2020 held inside the PPL Center in Allentown, Pa. will get their own shot in racing in Saturday’s prestigious Gambler’s Classic.
For the second consecutive year, Dr. Lowe is sponsoring a Friday night non-qualifiers race which will reward the race winner with a spot in Saturday’s 40 lap feature.
The Allentown non-qualifiers will compete against one another in an added event to open the NAPA KNOW HOW weekend on Friday night January 31st. The winner of the Dr. Lowe Second Chance 15 will earn the last starting spot in the 18th running of the Gambler’s Classic on Saturday, February 1st. As a side benefit, the race winner will receive $200, the last starting spot in the race and all starters will receive added track time.
Drivers eligible to compete in the Dr. Lowe’s Second Chance 15 for the TQ Midgets are Bruce Leote, Chad Jones, Chris deRitis, Christopher Hirt, Cole Mullen, Cory Grenzy, Dakota Kessler, Derek Robbie, Jesse Maurer, Kyle Hutchinson, Rob Schultz, Ron Mullen, Shea Willis, Tim Nye and Tyler Lindsay.
Randy Cabral driving the Donnie Preece owned TQ won the inaugural Second Chance race in 2019. Cabral, who had never qualified in 10 past Atlantic City appearances, then made the show under normal merits. That gave Marc Johnson a second chance and he started shotgun in Saturday’s race.
Preece’s car is again eligible for the Second Chance race with this year’s driver Kyle Hutchinson who made his debut in the car in Allentown in January.
Ryan Bartlett, Stephen Kemery and Jeremey Haudricourt who were in last year’s Second Chance qualifier race are not eligible this year after having career best finishes in Allentown.
Two top finishes in Allentown has Bartlett second in the point standings entering Atlantic City’s race weekend. If needed, he would be eligible for a points provisional as long as current leader in the standings Matt Janisch qualifies.
Kemery finished a career best second in Saturday’s feature in Allentown while Haudricourt was thrilled with his third place in that same event.
The quick and agile Champ Karts and the unpredictable and rugged Slingshots will once again be part of the triple header along with the headline TQ Midgets.
Friday Night action will include not only the Dr. Lowe Second Chance 15 that will open the show but it will be followed by four 20 lap A-Main Qualifiers for the TQ Midgets. Champ Karts and Slingshots will also compete in qualifying events.
On Saturday night, heat races for the TQ Midgets will be followed by B-Mains, a Dash and feature events for the Slingshots and Champ Karts. The program will end with the 40 lap Gambler’s Classic.
Past Gambler’s Classic TQ Midget feature race winners include first time winners Andy Jankowiak in 2019 and Ryan Flores in 2018. Both will be in search of a second victory.
Three-time winner Erick Rudolph (2012, 2015, and 2017), the defending series champion, is coming off a win in the 2020 opener in Allentown.
Another three time winner, Anthony Sesely (2013, 2014, and 2016) will be a strong contender as well. The late Ted Christopher won twice (2009, 2011) as did Lou Cicconi, Jr. (2006, 2010) and Joey Payne (2004, 2007). The first Gambler’s Classic winner, Andy Mackereth (2003), Jeff Heotzler (2005) and Mike Tidaback (2008) are all one time winners.
Indoor auto racing inside Atlantic City’s Boardwalk Hall dates back to the late 1930s. Indoor racing was revived for the first time in 1965 and continued through 1981 when, with the advent of casino gambling, racing ceased. Len Sammons brought the event back to life in 2003.
Following the BELFOR “Concrete Series” event in Atlantic City, a special non-point event for Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series fueled by VP Racing Fuels, will be held on a banked clay oval. The third annual East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals will again be held at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J. on Friday and Saturday nights February 21st and 22nd featuring nearly 100 wingless 600cc Sprints.
The “Concrete Series” season finale follows on Friday and Saturday March 13th and 14th in a second year return to the brand new Expo Center located on the grounds of the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. N.Y.
Information, including ticket links for all event, are available at indoorautoracing.com. Tickets are also available daily and the day of the events at the Boardwalk Hall box office.
Indoor Auto Racing PR
After five years Gianmarco Ercoli will return to the team he made his NASCAR Whelen Euro Series debut with. Poised to become the first driver to win both EuroNASCAR championships, the Italian will drive one of CAAL Racing’s cars in EuroNASCAR PRO in the 2020 season.
It was with CAAL Racing that Ercoli entered his first EuroNASCAR 2 race at Brands Hatch in 2014, when he was 19 years old. That first season saw him go exceptionally close to Victory Lane several times and ended with two podium finishes. Ercoli and CAAL Racing then parted ways and the Rome native grabbed the 2015 EuroNASCAR 2 title and his maiden EuroNASCAR PRO win all for the Racers Motorsport organization. The first EN2 Champion to reach Victory Lane in the PRO championship, Ercoli is now back where he began, with the clear goal to put his name in the NASCAR Hall Of Fame as the fifth NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Champion.
“With CAAL we always had a good relationship and we kept in touch in the last few years and I am really happy to join them in 2020. We already did very well together and we want to pick up where we left. I’m sure they are perfectly prepared and we’ll have to work to hit the ground running in Valencia,” said Ercoli, who already took part in an early test session with CAAL. “I want to thank everybody at Racers Motorsport because we had five great years together. Now I’m ready to open a new chapter and I’m looking forward to hit the track again soon!”
CAAL Racing is one of the powerhouses of the European NASCAR championship. The Italian team took the NWES crown two times in a row with Alon Day and scored an outstanding 28 wins and 19 pole positions overall – the most all-time – in EuroNASCAR’s top category with four different drivers.
“We are very happy to have Gianmarco back with us after 5 years. He’s a driver who showed since the very beginning he has the potential to be among the best and the last few years he improved a lot and CAAL Racing did as well,” said Luca Canneori, CAAL Racing’s team manager. “We did a positive test and we are looking forward to the upcoming season, we are confident we can fight for the title and we believe Gianmarco can take the final step and climb on top of the final podium in Hockenheim.”
In the 2019 season, Ercoli ended up seventh in points after scoring one podium in Hockenheim and eight top-10 results in 13 races. His best results came in the four playoff races, in which he never finished outside the top-5.
“The ambition is the same as the other 30 drivers on the grid: winning. We want to be competitive for the win right from the start and score as many points as possible because with such a strong competition in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, the margin for error is getting smaller and smaller every year,” concluded Ercoli. “I am particularly looking forward to the Vallelunga playoff race because it’s my home track and it’s a challenging one. I’ll be even more motivated and I’ll wait for everybody at the Colosseum!”
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series championship will kick off on April 25-26 at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, with four exciting NASCAR races around the 4Km Spanish road course.
New England Modified and SK Modified standout Matt Galko will be broadening his racing horizons substantially by competing in the TQ Midget events at the NAPA Know How Indoor Auto Racing Series races inside Atlantic City, NJ’s famed Boardwalk Hall.
Galko of Meriden. CT, is the latest entrant for the BELFOR Concrete Series events part of the Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series fueled by VP Racing Fuels, being held Friday and Saturday, January 31st and February 1st. The 26 year-old driver will be making his first start indoors and in a TQ Midget behind the wheel of a car owned by Nick Giordano of Oxford, CT.
“I’ve been to Atlantic City before, about four years ago, but only to watch. Coming back to drive was on my bucket list and now I have the opportunity,” Galko said.
The chance to race came about when car owner Giordano’s 2020 Indoor Auto Racing Series driver Derek Robbie had a date conflict with the Atlantic City race. Though Robbie will be in the car again at the series finale in Syracuse, N.Y. on March 13th and 14th, Galko is Atlantic City bound.
“I think I have as good a chance as anybody,” Galko said. “I’ve always been able to learn new tracks pretty quickly.”
Galko’s progression started with Quarter Midgets, then Half Midgets and ultimately Micro Sprints on dirt at the now closed Whip City Speedway in Massachusetts. He then moved to asphalt racing for the first time, and moved through the ranks at Stafford Motor Speedway to become a feature winning SK Modified driver.
For the 2020 outdoor season, however, Galko and his family-owned team is heading in a different direction.
“We’re going to run as many of the Open Modified races as we can,” Galko said. “There are a lot of them at Stafford, the Tri Track Open Modified Series has a good schedule at different tracks and there are other opportunities to race a Tour Mod including the Tour itself.”
Andy Jankowiak, Ryan Flores and Erick Rudolph, the last three winners of the headline Gambler’s Classic TQ Midget races in the building come to Atlantic City are pre-race favorites.
‘Andy J’ of Buffalo, N.Y. still savors his 2019 Gambler’s Classic win as the highlight of his driving career and he wants nothing more to do it again.
After two rounds of Indoor Auto Racing Series action fueled by VP Racing Fuels, Matt Janisch is the current leader in the Championship standings. Janisch, of Nazareth, PA, had Allentown finishes of third and seventh.
Janisch leads upstate New York dirt Modified driver Ryan Bartlett in the TQ standings heading into Atlantic City by ten points. Bartlett made his first start behind the wheel of a new-to-him Lafler built TQ Midget.
Allentown, Pa. opener winner Erick Rudolph is third, 17 markers out of first and Briggs Danner is fourth, 20 points out of the lead. Jankiowiak completes the top five, 24 points out of first.
Jeremy Haudricourt, Shawn Nye, Tim Buckwalter, Ryan Flores, who also won in Allentown, and Anthony Payne are sixth through tenth.
The wild and crazy Slingshots and darty Champ Karts will make up the tripleheader program as they have in the past.
Dylan Hoch and Tyler Brown, winners of the Allentown Indoor opening races in Slingshot and Champ Kart action, are atop their point standings heading into Atlantic City.
Danny Buccafusca is the reigning Atlantic City Indoor Slingshot race winner and Doug Stearly was the 2019 Champ Kart Atlantic City race winner. Both are entered in this year’s races.
Racing action begins on Friday at 7:30 p.m. with Saturday action getting the green flag at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 on Friday night. On Saturday doors open at 5 p.m. with fans holding reserved tickets given the opportunity to attend Fan Fest on the speedway. All cars competing in the program will be positioned on the speedway and drivers made available for autographs until 6:30.
Following the BELFOR“Concrete Series event in Atlantic City, a special non-point event for Indoor Auto Racing Championship Series fueled by VP Racing Fuels, will be held on a banked clay oval. The third annual East Coast Indoor Dirt Nationals will again be held at the CURE Insurance Arena in Trenton, N.J. on Friday and Saturday nights February 21st and 22nd featuring nearly 100 wingless 600cc Sprints.
The “Concrete Series” season finale follows on Friday and Saturday March 13th and 14th in a second year return to the brand new Expo Center located on the grounds of the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse. N.Y.
Tickets are currently available in a range of different prices for all the Indoor Series events through links on www.indoorautoracing.com and the different venue box offices.
Lower level reserved seats for Saturday night in Atlantic City, which will gain attendees’ access to the coveted Fanfest are nearly sold out, but plenty of additional tickets are still available.
Indoor Auto Racing PR
The ARCA Menards Series has announced a change to its championship points format, aligning the series point structure with those in the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR XFINITY Series, and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series as well as the ARCA Menards Series East and West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series.
Previously, the ARCA Menards Series used a format that awarded 235 points to a race winner, 220 points for second, and then a five-point interval per position throughout the field. Five bonus points were available for winning the General Tire Pole via qualifying, for leading a lap, and leading the most laps, meaning a driver could earn a maximum of 250 points per race.
Under the new system, a race winner will earn 43 points plus a three-point bonus for winning the race for a total of 46 points, second would earn 42 points with a one-point per position interval through the remainder of the field. There will be a one-point bonus for winning the General Tire Pole via qualifying, and one-point bonuses for leading a lap and leading the most laps, meaning the maximum a driver could score by sweeping an event is 49 points.
As it has been in the past, ARCA will award teams points for competing in each five-race segment within its 20-race season. In 2020, those segments are scheduled to end at Charlotte, Lucas Oil Raceway, Watkins Glen International, and at the season finale at Kansas Speedway. Any driver or owner attempting to compete in each of the five races per segment will earn a 50-point bonus, with any driver or owner entering and competing in all twenty races earning the maximum 200 bonus points. The same system will apply in the ARCA Menards Series East and West as well.
“Entering our third year as NASCAR property and now as the sanctioning body for the ARCA Menards Series East and West, we felt it was time to align our points system to fall more in line with the other national series,” said ARCA president Ron Drager. “The one-point-per-position points format has led to some great championship battles since it was implemented, and we are looking forward to seeing how it plays out in the ARCA Menards Series in 2020.”
The battle for the 2020 ARCA Menards Series championship kicks off with the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway on February 8. The race will be televised live on FS1 starting at 4:30 pm ET. The ARCA Menards Series East opens its season on Monday, February 10 at New Smyrna Speedway and the ARCA Menards Series West opens with the Star Nursery 150 at The Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Thursday, February 20. Both of those races will be streamed live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold, and will be televised on a tape-delayed basis on NBCSN.
ARCA Menards Series Championship Points Distribution:
Bonus points available: 3 points for winning the race, 1 point for winning the General Tire Pole via qualifying; 1 point for leading a lap; 1 point for leading the most laps.
The final installment in our four-part series detailing the field for the 58th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona showcases the largest of the four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes, GT Daytona (GTD).
Volusia Speedway Park welcomes the Super DIRTcar Series for five nights of DIRTcar Nationals action Tuesday-Saturday, Feb. 11-15. The World’s Fastest Half-Mile will rumble and shake beneath the fury of the Northeast’s premier Big Block Modified touring series once again.
The 2019 Super DIRTcar Series champion Mat Williamson, from St. Catharines, ON, and his No. 88 Buzz Chew Racing team are planning a full-scale assault on Volusia Speedway Park. Williamson wants to start 2020 right where he left off: In Victory Lane.
Race fans will look forward to seeing Waterloo, NY’s Super Matt Sheppard go for The Big Gator once again. Sheppard has eight race wins on the Florida oval. The seven-time Super DIRTcar Series champion wants to start 2020 off with a head full of steam.
After a strong run at the Chili Bowl in Tulsa, OK, Larry Wight will be strapping back into his No. 99L Gypsum Racing Big Block Modified to take on Volusia and looking for a repeat. Last year, Wight captured his first Big Gator. Coming off his win last year at the Can-Am World Finals, Billy Decker will have the famed #91 alongside in the pit area.
2019 rookie sensation Demetrios Drellos picked up his first career Super DIRTcar Series win at Albany-Saratoga Speedway by holding off the best in the business last September for a $10,000 pay day. Drellos improved steadily throughout the 2019 season, The Greek Streak will be looking to big up his first Gator this year in February.
Ransomville, NY racer Erick Rudolph gave Matt Sheppard a run for his money for the Series in 2018 with the points chase coming down to the final race of the season at the Can-Am World Finals. Rudolph has picked up track championships at Utica-Rome Speedway, Ransomville Speedway, and the Land of Legends as well. Needless to say, Erick Rudolph is a perennial Gator hunter in Barberville.
The Baldwinsville Bandit Jimmy Phelps, with his brand new HBR Bicknell hot rods, will shake and rattle the Barberville half-mile oval. Phelps has never taken home a DIRTcar Nationals Gator. Will the Bandit steal one in 2020?
The ever-likable Peter Britten will be making his first start stateside. He spent the holidays back home in his native Australia and just like years past he will have a familiar face and car alongside the returning Rich Scagliotta after being injured during the 2019 season.
Brett The Jet Hearn will join the Super DIRTcar Series for all five nights of action. Hearn has stepped away from full-time racing in favor of taking on the role of Director of Motorsports at Orange County Fair Speedway. But this February, Hearn will climb behind the wheel of the Madsen Motorsports No. 20 for another shot at Gator glory at Volusia.
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck star Stewart Friesen will bring his Halmar International No. 44 to four of the five nights and hopes to repeat his popular win in the Nationals finale last year.
The legendary Billy Pauch and his hand-painted No. 1 Super DIRTcar Series Big Block Modified are DIRTcar Nationals bound as well. Pauch has 14 Series wins including one win at Volusia Speedway Park in 2008. No one can miss the Johnny Rutherford/Pennzoil Chaparral throwback yellow Big Block screaming around the Florida clay.
Fan-favorite Ronnie Johnson, from Duanesburg, NY, has plied his trade at Lebanon Valley Speedway and Albany-Saratoga Speedway over the years with success. Johnson will be behind the wheel of Eugene Mill’s No. 30 as a teammate to JoJo Watson.
Anthony Perrego, who will be racing in the Hoosier Racing Tire Weekly Championship at Albany-Saratoga Speedway and Orange County Fair Speedways, had a stout week of racing at last year’s DIRTcar Nationals. Can Perrego breakthrough in 2020 with a Big Gator trophy?
Three-time Volusia Speedway Park winner and North Country ace Tim Fuller will haul down to The World Fastest Half-Mile for a go a Gator. Another veteran warrior Pat Ward, The Genoa Giant, is bringing his No. 42 Gypsum Racing machine down as well.
Billy Dunn will anchor the potent two-car team from the Ray Graham stable. For the second car, Graham will keep everyone in suspense with a “driver to be named later.” Rick Laubach has also been a mainstay in Florida and that will be no different when his familiar No. 7 pulls into the pits.
Other expected entries include Land of Legends star Justin Haers, asphalt modified standout Jimmy Zacharias, Thunder Mountain regular Jeremy Smith, Dave Rauscher, Western Pa. runners Rick Regalski and Ralph McBride, plus the North Country’s Michael Maresca, and more to be announced.
Race fans cannot go wrong heading down to the DIRTcar Nationals. The Super DIRTcar Series runs in conjunction with the World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models for four out of the five nights of racing. The Late Model events are full points shows and pay $10,000-to-win.
The Super DIRTcar Series purse has been raised as well. Tuesday-Friday the 30-lap Features pay $3,000-to-win and $250-to-start. The finale on Saturday, February 15 awards $5,000 to the winner of the 40-lap Feature with $300 to take the green flag.
If you can’t make it down to Florida in February, be sure to sign up for a subscription to DIRTvision. DIRTvision will broadcast all twelve nights of DIRTcar Nationals action including the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars, World of Outlaws Morton Buildings Late Models, UMP Modifieds, and of course the ground-pounding, earth-shaking, window-rattling Big Block Modifieds of the Super DIRTcar Series.
Get your tickets for the DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, FLA here or call 844-DIRT-TIX today.
Stay up to date with all Super DIRTcar Series previews, race reports, highlights, and more at the new Super DIRTcar Series website. Follow the Series on Twitter for up-to-the-minute race day updates, videos, and photos. Even more content can be found on our Series Facebook page and Instagram. There is no shortage of ways to stay connected to the premier Big Block Modified touring series.
DIRTcar Series PR