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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.

NWES PR

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.

Corporate sponsorship at a variety of levels is available for all remaining events. Interested parties should contact Danny Sammons at 609-888-3618 or e-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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:

 

1st           43

2nd          42

3rd          41

4th          40

5th          39

6th          38

7th          37

8th          36

9th          35

10th        34

11th        33

12th        32

13th        31

14th        30

15th        29

16th        28

17th        27

18th        26

19th        25

20th        24

21st        23

22nd        22

23rd        21

24th        20

25th        19

26th        18

27th        17

28th        16

29th        15

30th        14

31st        13

32nd        12

33rd        11

34th        10

35th        9

36th        8

37th        7

38th        6

39th        5

40th        4

41st        3

42nd        2

43rd        1

 

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.

AMS PR

An impressive, strategic lap in mixed conditions rewarded Kuno Wittmer and the AWA team with the first IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge pole position of 2020.
 
In his first showing with AWA, the Quebecker posted a fastest lap of one minute, 52.951 seconds (113.465 mph) in the No. 13 McLaren GT4 for the team’s first Motul Pole Award since joining the series in 2017.
 
“It’s awesome, it’s hats off to the AWA team and McLaren and everyone involved,” said Wittmer. “This deal came together quite late and now it’s time to get the job done with (co-driver) Orey (Fidani) behind the wheel and myself tomorrow. We’ve got a pretty good strategy lined up.”
 
With a stacked 33-car Grand Sport (GS) class field, Wittmer described how the perfect lap came to be with perfect timing.
 
“The lap was not easy,” Wittmer said. “We saw the times clicking off and who was putting pace down. It was all about getting that gap and not getting hooked up with the slower traffic coming out of pit lane. The team did a great job. They guided me the right way. They told me when to go, it was the perfect amount of fuel in the car, the perfect tire pressure and you can’t do more than that. You just put the lap down.”
 
Carbahn Motorsports with Peregrine Racing will kickoff their quest for back-to-back GS championships from outside the front row, with Jeff Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie returning to the lineup in the No. 39 Audi R8 GT4. Starting third will be Winward Racing’s No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Indy Dontje and Russell Ward.
 
The BMW Endurance Challenge begins at 1 p.m. ET on Friday, January 24 and can be streamed live exclusively in the United States on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. International viewers can stream the race on IMSA.tv and the IMSA App. IMSA Radio also has live coverage on RadioLeMans.com. The race will be broadcast on NBCSN on Thursday, Feb. 6 at 1 p.m. ET.
Lewis Delivers Alfa Romeo’s First Pilot Challenge Pole Award
Florida’s own Tim Lewis made Pilot Challenge history on Thursday by earning the first every Motul Pole Award for Alfa Romeo.
 
Piloting the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta in the TCR class, the Boca Raton native edged out the rest of the 18-car field with a qualifying time of 1:59.296 (107.430 mph). For the second consecutive year in this car, Lewis will be co-driving with Roy Block.
 
In the team’s initial season in TCR, the team’s only top-five finish came at the penultimate round in WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, coming home in fourth.
 
“It was a trying offseason, a lot of development was put into the car after a difficult 2019 season,” said Lewis. “We’re really proud to have the local Alfa Romeo of Daytona on the car and we’re looking forward to a good race tomorrow.
 
“To be honest, we were pretty off in the wet and it was mixed conditions. We went out in the 15-minute session before qualifying and it was drying up. I knew we needed to go to dry’s obviously and the track dried up just enough in one lane to get a good lap in.”
 
Hot on their tails with the second-best lap will be the No. 21 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N of Harry Gottsacker and 2019 TCR co-champion Mark Wilkins. Starting third in its IMSA debut will be Team Premat’s No. 18 Audi RS3 LMS, qualified by rookie Stephen Vajda and co-driven by Alexandre Premat.
 
 

 

A year ago, Oliver Jarvis broke a 36-year-old record on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway circuit to win the Motul Pole Award for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Jarvis didn’t quite break his own track record of one minute, 33.685 seconds on Thursday afternoon in qualifying for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona. But he did win his second consecutive Motul Pole Award in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P Daytona Prototype international (DPi) machine and once again will roll off the grid at the head of the field on Saturday afternoon when the twice-around-the-clock classic gets under way at 1:30 p.m. ET.
 
The Rolex 24 At Daytona gets under way on Saturday, Jan. 25 on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway. NBC will have live network coverage of the start of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday and also will televise the race finish beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 26 as part of NBC Sports’ complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout race weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio (XM 202, Sirius 216, Online 972).
 
Jarvis posted a best lap of 1:33.711 (136.760 mph) eight minutes into what was supposed to be a 15-minute qualifying session to take the provisional pole. Four minutes later, with Jarvis still holding the top spot, Ricky Taylor spun and crashed the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 DPi machine in the bus stop.
The checkered flag wave shortly thereafter Taylor’s incident, with Jarvis on the pole for the second straight year. It was the British driver’s fourth career IMSA pole.
 
“What a car [the team] just gave me,” said Jarvis, who is co-driving the No. 77 with Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla. “I cannot say ‘Thank you’ enough. This year feels different. This year feels business-like. Last year, there was a huge amount of emotion. It was the first time. This year, it feels like we came in to do a job and this is just a small part of what we want to achieve this weekend.”
 
Jarvis will share the front row with reigning WeatherTech Championship DPi champion Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05. Montoya – a three-time overall Rolex 24 winner – posted a best lap of 1:34.154 in the car he is sharing with his 2019 DPi co-champion, Dane Cameron, and 2019 Indy 500 winner Simon Pagenaud.
 
Third on the grid went to Jonathan Bomarito in the other Mazda Team Joest entry. Bomarito turned in a best time of 1:34.169 (136.095 mph) in the No. 55 DPi that he is co-driving this weekend with Harry Tincknell and 2014 Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.
 
Brazilian Felipe Nasr, the 2018 WeatherTech Championship Prototype champion, qualified fourth in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R at 1:34.294 (135.915 mph) and Ryan Briscoe rounded out the top five in the 2019 Rolex 24-winning No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Briscoe’s best qualifying lap was a 1:34.442 (135.702 mph).
Keating Drives No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA to LMP2 Pole
Texan Ben Keating claimed the second Motul Pole Award of his 10-year IMSA career and his first LMP2 pole with a best lap of 1:37.446 (131.519 mph) aboard the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA.
 
He’s pulling double duty this weekend, driving in both the LMP2 class in the No. 52 machine and the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3. Keating will have to complete at least four-and-a-half hours in each car and can’t drive more than four hours in any six-hour period.
 
Keating, who is sharing the No. 52 with Nick Boulle, Gabriel Aubry and Simon Trummer and the No. 74 with Gar Robinson, Lawson Aschenbach and Felipe Fraga, was pleased to earn the Motul Pole Award. He also believes the starting position offers significant benefits.
 
“I don’t feel like qualifying is a huge deal in a 24-hour race like this, but for the P2 class, it does give a big advantage,” Keating said. “At the beginning of the race, the GTLM cars are right behind us. They’re a little bit heavier and they get heat in their tires and warm up a little bit quicker. I feel like it’s one of their main objectives to pass as many of the P2 cars to separate themselves from the cars behind them.
 
“Being in front of the P2 class will give me a little bit more room to warm up my tires and get going. I’m very excited about it.”
 
Henrik Hedman qualified second at 1:37.728 (131.139 mph) in the No. 81 ORECA for the DragonSpeed USA team, which won the LMP2 class in last year’s Rolex 24. Hedman’s co-drivers this weekend are Ben Hanley, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey.
 
John Farano will start third in the LMP2 class after a best qualifying lap of 1:39.275 (129.095 mph) in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks ORECA. He’ll go into battle this weekend with a trio of co-drivers that all have won at least one 24 Hours of Le Mans – Ryan Dalziel, David Heinemeier Hansson and Nicolas Lapierre. Dalziel also scored an overall Rolex 24 victory back in 2010.

 

In track record pace, Nick Tandy put the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) pole for the 58th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. 
 
Tandy’s time of one minute, 42.207 (125.392 mph) bettered his own track record set a year ago. And it also marked the fourth time (2013, 2016, 2019, 2020) that Tandy has captured the pole for the WeatherTech Championship season opener, which ties Scott Pruett for the most Rolex 24 pole wins by a driver.
 
“It’s a great start to the year in our defense of the championship,” Tandy said. “I’ve got some new teammates this year, so it’s great to share it with those guys. 
 
“A new car, and it all starts with a one-two, so I can’t be happier.”
 
As Tandy referenced, the sister No. 912 Porsche GT Team car driven by Laurens Vanthoor completed the front row with a lap of 1:42.256 (125.332 mph).
 
While the Porsches swept the front row, the Corvette C8.Rs did the same for the second row. Antonio Garcia qualified the No. 3 Corvette Racing in third with a time of 1:42.545 (124.979 mph) and the No. 4 entry driven by Tommy Milner was fourth in 1:42.801 (124.668).
 
The Rolex 24 At Daytona gets underway on Saturday, Jan. 25, on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway. NBC has live network coverage of the start of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. The network will have the race finish beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 26 as part of NBC Sports’ complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout race weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio (XM 202, Sirius 216, Online 972).Tickets for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona are available on DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
Plaid on Pole: Pfaff Porsche Earns Motul Pole Award in GTD One Year after WeatherTech Championship Debut
The new partnership between Pfaff Motorsports and Motul could not be off to a better start.
 
In fitting fashion on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, the No. 9 Pfaff Porsche 911 GT3 R claimed the first Motul Pole Award of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) season for the prestigious Rolex 24 At Daytona.
 
Motul, already the “Official Motor Oil” of IMSA, struck up a partnership with the Canadian-based team in December following its first season in IMSA’s top-tier series.
 
Behind the wheel of the “Plaid Porsche” was Zacharie Robichon, whose time of one minute, 45.237 seconds (121.798 MPH), bested the previous track record by .02 seconds set in 2019 by Marco Gomes. The last time Porsche swept both GT pole positions was at VIRginia International Raceway in 2019, with both Tandy and Robichon the successors again in their respective classes.
 
“Last year, we had a couple of pole positions and that was the beginning of the relationship with Motul,” said Robichon. “As our first official race with them, it was nice to embrace it this way. I think there’s no better way to get the relationship started, but obviously it’s just the beginning and we’re looking forward to everything that comes next.”
 
In addition to two previous Motul Pole Awards last season, Robichon scored two victories with Pfaff in 2019 and was also crowned the inaugural WeatherTech Sprint Cup champion.
 
The car had been quick all day at the World Center of Racing on Thursday, with the No. 9 Porsche second on the charts in both of the day’s two practice sessions. Robichon will be co-driving in this weekend’s twice-around-the-clock event with Dennis Olsen, Lars Kern and Patrick Pilet.
 
While it won’t be hard to spot the plaid on track, it won’t be hard to spot the drivers in the paddock or in the pits as well. In addition to the new sponsorship, Pfaff is sporting new, eye-catching firesuits with bright red plaid from the waist up and dark grey solid print from the waist down.
“It ended up being quite popular last year, so we decided to take it a step further this year and do the suits,” said Robichon. To me, it feels natural. This is basically what I wear at home most of the time. I fit right in. We get a couple looks but I think most people are used to it by now. The first time we wore it, we did get a couple people looking at us sideways, but we cherish it and at least it gets people talking.”

 

The NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series is ready for a duel in the desert, bringing plenty of adrenaline-filled action to Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park for the 36th annual NHRA Arizona Nationals on Feb. 21-23.
 
It is the second of 24 races during the 2020 NHRA season, providing the opportunity for an early-season victory at one of the traditional stops on the NHRA circuit. Southwest race fans have enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells and thrills of NHRA racing for more than three decades, with the early-season fixture set to provide more pulsating 11,000-horsepower, 330-mph action in 2020.
 
The thrilling NHRA Prime Time, where drivers perform a burnout to their favorite jams played by an onsite DJ, takes place during the second qualifying session on Friday and will help kick off the weekend in style, while all the stars in Top Fuel, Funny Car and Pro Stock will look for some early-season momentum during the NHRA’s annual stop in the Valley of the Sun.
 
Billy Torrence (Top Fuel), Matt Hagan (Funny Car) and Jeg Coughlin Jr. (Pro Stock) were last year’s winners of a race that will be televised nationally on Fox Sports 1 (FS1), including finals coverage on Sunday, Feb. 23.
 
It was a Torrence who won in Top Fuel at Phoenix for a second straight year, only it was Billy, the father of back-to-back world champ Steve Torrence, who ended up in the winner’s circle in 2019. It was the start of a career-best season for the elder Torrence, while Steve, who won the race in 2018 for the first time, ended up with his second straight world title. The Torrence family is aiming for three straight in Phoenix, but it won’t be easy in a loaded class. Leah Pritchett won two straight races at the track in 2016 and 2017, and others to watch include Antron Brown, a three-time race winner, veteran Doug Kalitta, 2017 world champ Brittany Force, Shawn Langdon, who is returning to the class, Clay Millican, Terry McMillen, Austin Prock and Mike Salinas.
 
In Funny Car, Hagan has enjoyed a strong run at Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park in recent years. His victory last year gave him three wins in the past five years in Phoenix, and the two-time world champ will look to grab more early-season momentum. Trying to stop him will be a slew of talented drivers in the star-studded class, including defending world champ Robert Hight, who won the race in 2012, Hagan’s Don Schumacher Racing teammates Jack Beckman, Tommy Johnson Jr. and Ron Capps, John Force, who has an NHRA-best eight wins at the track, previous race winner Alexis DeJoria, who is returning to the class in 2020, 2018 world champ J.R. Todd, Tim Wilkerson, Bob Tasca and Cruz Pedregon.
 
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2020, the Pro Stock class will head to Phoenix with plenty of fanfare. The class continues to provide plenty of thrills, much like Coughlin did last year en route to his third career victory at the track. Coughlin finished second in points last year, trailing only Elite Motorsports teammate and reigning world champ Erica Enders. The three-time world champ will look for her second win at the facility against the likes of Greg Anderson, Jason Line, who is retiring from driving following the 2020 season, Alex Laughlin, Deric Kramer, Chris McGaha, who won the race in 2018, Bo Butner and Matt Hartford.
 
The event also will feature thrilling competition in the NHRA Lucas Oil Drag Racing Series, where future stars of the sport hone their skills. After nitro qualifying, fans can watch a trio of spectacular jet cars, including a pair from the Lucas Oil Muy Caliente team, as well as Scott Arriaga’s “Wicked Sensation” jet car. Known for exciting pre-run flame shows and after burner pops, jet cars are thrust driven vehicles propelled by jet engines.
 
New for the 2020 event will be the Arizona Big Tire Shootout. The shootout will feature an eight car field that consists of one time trial, plus three rounds of eliminations. A chip draw will take place to determine ladder placement. The winner will receive a special acrylic version of the coveted Wally.
 
NHRA fans can take part in the Mello Yello Walking Tour to see the cars and teams hard at work in the pits. Fans can also attend Pro Stock School and Nitro School to learn how the cars operate and reach their thrilling speeds. Wild Horse Pass Motorsports Park will also host a Mello Yello autograph session and allow fans to meet their favorite drivers as well as the Sealmaster Track Walk hosted by NHRA announcer Joe Castello. Another can’t-miss experience is the winner’s circle celebration on Sunday after racing concludes. NHRA fans are invited to congratulate the winners of the event as they celebrate their victories.
 
The Motorsports Park has moved its popular Camp Wild Horse overnight campground to Maricopa Road just outside of the main gate, behind the starting line. The new campground experience at the track will allow campers and fans easy access to and from the track. The fee for an overnight camping spot will remain at $225, but the experience and value will increase significantly. Camp Wild Horse access will be granted to anyone with an event ticket.
 
Camp Wild Horse will be hosted each night by 2016 NHRA Funny Car World Champion Ron Capps, driver of Don Schumacher Racing’s NAPA Auto Parts Dodge Charger. Capps will be on stage for question-and-answer sessions and autograph signings.
 
As always, fans will have the opportunity to interact with their favorite drivers as they’re granted an exclusive pit pass to the most powerful and sensory-filled motorsports attraction on the planet. This unique opportunity in motorsports gives fans direct access to the teams, allowing them to see firsthand the highly-skilled mechanics service their hot rods between rounds, and get autographs from their favorite NHRA drivers.
 
Fans will want to visit NHRA’s popular Nitro Alley and Manufacturers Midway, where sponsors and race vendors create a carnival atmosphere, with interactive displays, simulated competitions, merchandise, food and fun for the entire family.
 
Mello Yello Drag Racing Series qualifying will feature two rounds at 1:45 and 4:45 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 21 and the final two rounds of qualifying on Saturday, Feb. 22 at 1:30 and 4 p.m. Final eliminations are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 23.
 
To purchase general-admission, reserved seats or a Camp Wild Horse spot, call (800) 884-NHRA (6472) or visit www.NHRA.com/tickets. Kids 12 and under are free in general admission areas with a paid adult. To honor the Salute to First Responders, military and first responders can save 20 percent on general admission tickets at the gate. For more information about the NHRA visit www.NHRA.com.
                    

 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).

 
The Rolex 24 At Daytona gets under way later this week on the 3.56-mile road course at Daytona International Speedway. Practice and qualifying starts today, with the green flag flying on the twice-around-the-clock battle just past 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 25.
 
NBC will have live network coverage of the start of the race beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 25, and also will televise the race finish beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Sunday, Jan. 26 as part of NBC Sports’ complete coverage of the event that includes windows on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
IMSA Radio also will have live coverage throughout race weekend on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com, with complete race coverage also airing on SiriusXM Radio.
 
Tickets for the 58th Rolex 24 At Daytona are available on DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com.
 
Now, let’s look at what to expect in GTD:
 
No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Zacharie Robichon/Dennis Olsen/Lars Kern/Patrick Pilet
 
The Canadian Pfaff team adapted well in its debut WeatherTech Championship season in 2019. Robichon won the inaugural WeatherTech Sprint Cup and the team finished third in the overall GTD standings with victories at Lime Rock and Road America.
 
For 2020, the team welcomes a new title partner in Motul and Robichon welcomes a new full-season teammate in Olsen, who co-drove the No. 9 Porsche to the team’s first WeatherTech Championship victory last year at Lime Rock. Olsen also is an Intercontinental GT Challenge champion, while Robichon was the 2018 champion in the IMSA-sanctioned Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama.
 
Lars Kern, a Porsche engineer and production-car record holder at the famed Nurburgring circuit, will complete the team’s driver lineup for the four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events, while 2015 WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) champion Patrick Pilet will join the team at Daytona.
 
No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Richard Heistand/Steijn Schothorst/Franck Perera/Albert Costa
 
The No. 11 Grasser Lamborghini team heads into the 2020 Rolex 24 riding a three-race winning streak in IMSA competition. The team won the GTD class at the 2018 Rolex 24 in its lone appearance of the year, then returned and won both the Rolex 24 and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts last year in what were the team’s only 2019 WeatherTech Championship starts.
 
This year, the No. 11 team will take on the four-race IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, while the overall Grasser organization also will field two GTD entries for the full WeatherTech Championship season. The No. 11 will have a revised driver lineup. Perera is back in the No. 11 two years after winning the Rolex 24 with the team.
 
Heistand had a successful 2019 with AIM Vasser Sullivan in WeatherTech Championship/Sprint Cup competition, recording back-to-back victories at Mid-Ohio and Lime Rock. He also won the Bob Akin Award at season’s end as the top sportsman driver in GTD, earning him an automatic bid to compete in the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans.
 
Dutchman Schothorst – who has been successful in Blancpain GT Series competition – completes the team’s Michelin Endurance Cup driver lineup, while Spain’s Costa, a Blancpain GT race winner, fills out the lineup at Daytona.
 
No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan
Lexus RC F GT3
Frankie Montecalvo/Townsend Bell/Shane van Gisbergen/Aaron Telitz
 
Montecalvo and Bell are back for a second consecutive full-season effort with AVS. They finished eighth the WeatherTech Championship GTD standings in 2019, with a best result of second in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
 
Bell is a Rolex 24 and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner, as well as a 2015 WeatherTech Championship GTD champion, while Montecalvo has 10 career IMSA podium finishes. Wisconsin native Telitz is a standout Indy Lights competitor and the 2016 Pro Mazda champion. He also was part of AVS’ driver lineup for all four IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup events in 2019.
 
New Zealand’s van Gisbergen is a superstar in Australian Supercars and won both the Supercars championship and the Blancpain GT Series endurance cup in 2015. This will be the fifth Rolex 24 appearance for “The Giz,” but his first since 2017. His best result in the event was a runner-up GTD result in 2015.
 
No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan
Lexus RC F GT3
Parker Chase/Jack Hawksworth/Michael De Quesada/Kyle Busch
 
The No. 14 squad will have a revised driver lineup in 2020 after a successful, two-win debut season in GTD last year. Hawksworth is back aboard a Lexus RC F GT3 machine for the fourth straight year and welcomes a new season-long co-driver in Chase, an 18-year-old Texan who won the 2018 World Challenge SprintX Pro/Am championship.
 
All eyes will be on the No. 14 throughout the weekend, with two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Busch participating in his first Rolex 24. This will be Busch’s first race since clinching the NASCAR Cup Series title for the second time last November at Homestead-Miami Speedway. De Quesada also brings winning experience to the lineup. He won the GTD class in the 2017 Rolex 24.
 
No. 16 Wright Motorsports
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Ryan Hardwick/Patrick Long/Anthony Imperato/Klaus Bachler
 
Hardwick, the 2018 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Pro/Am world champion, moves into new machinery in 2020 after driving the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini in the 2019 WeatherTech Championship. He will be teamed with Long, a longtime Porsche factory racer who’s won everywhere from Le Mans to Daytona to Sebring and many points in between.
 
Imperato, who has had a long association with Wright Motorsports in various series including the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama, is making his Rolex 24 debut with the team. He made two WeatherTech Championship starts with the team last year at Lime Rock and Road America.
 
Austrian Bachler brings FIA World Endurance Championship and Porsche Supercup experience to the team. He is competing in his fifth Rolex 24.
 
No. 19 GEAR Racing powered by GRT Grasser
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Christina Nielsen/Katherine Legge/Tati Calderon/Rahel Frey
 
Two-time WeatherTech Championship GTD champion Nielsen and Legge – a four-time WeatherTech Championship race winner – are paired together for the full 2020 season with the new GEAR team after teaming up for selected rounds last year with Heinricher Racing with Meyer Shank. The No. 19 is part of a three-car effort run by two-time and defending Rolex 24 winners GRT Grasser Racing Team.
 
Legge and Nielsen will welcome a pair of newcomers to their Rolex 24 driver lineup in Colombian Calderon and Swiss driver, Frey. Calderon came up through the European open-wheel ranks and is an Alfa Romeo F1 test driver participating in her first Rolex 24. Frey has raced in DTM, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Bathurst 12 Hours and was added to the lineup in place of Bia Figueiredo, who revealed earlier this week that she is pregnant. This also will be Frey’s first Rolex 24.
 
No. 23 Heart of Racing Team
Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Roman De Angelis/Alex Riberas/Ian James/Nicki Thiim
 
The Heart of Racing program returns to the WeatherTech Championship for the first time since 2016 with a full-season program fielding the No. 23 Aston Martin. Canadian teenager De Angelis, who won both the GT3 Cup Challenge USA and Canada championships in 2019, moves into full-time WeatherTech Championship competition.
 
He finished third in his lone WeatherTech Championship appearance to date, the 2019 Rolex 24 At Daytona. De Angelis will be paired for the full season with Aston Martin factory driver Riberas, whose two career WeatherTech Championship victories include a Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring triumph in 2015.
 
Riberas also was part of Heart of Racing’s last full-time WeatherTech Championship effort in 2016 alongside James, who serves as team manager for the program and also will drive in Michelin Endurance Cup rounds. Thiim, another Aston Martin factory driver – an FIA WEC champion and 24 Hours of Le Mans winner – fills out the Daytona lineup.
 
No. 44 GRT Magnus
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
John Potter/Andy Lally/Spencer Pumpelly/Marco Mapelli
 
After fielding his own program for several years, Potter has enlisted the powerhouse GRT to support the No. 44 Magnus Lamborghini in 2020. Potter – a two-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner – continues for the full GTD season alongside longtime co-driver Lally, the winningest active driver in the Rolex 24 with five class wins in the twice-around-the-clock classic.
 
Pumpelly is a two-time Rolex 24 winner and again completes the team’s Michelin Endurance Cup in addition to competing full time in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Team Hardpoint. Mapelli is a Lamborghini factory driver competing in his third Rolex 24 and second straight with Magnus.
 
No. 47 Precision Performance Motorsports
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Brandon Gdovic/Eric Lux/Mark Kvamme/Jonathan Hoggard
 
The North Carolina-based PPM team will compete in the Rolex 24 and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in 2020. At Daytona, the team’s lineup includes Gdovic, who won both the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America AM title and the Super Trofeo Gallardo world championship in 2015 and has competed in various NASCAR divisions.
 
Kvamme and Lux are both longtime IMSA racers. Lux has six IMSA premier series victories and Kvamme is a three-time WeatherTech Championship podium finisher competing in his eighth Rolex 24 this year. Nineteen-year-old Hoggard is the Sunoco Whelen Challenge winner who also earned the Aston Martin Autosport Young Driver of the Year in 2019 from the British Racing Drivers Club (BRDC).
 
No. 48 Paul Miller Racing
Lamborghini Huracán GT3
Madison Snow/Bryan Sellers/Corey Lewis/Andrea Caldarelli
 
The 2018 GTD championship-winning band has been put back together, as Snow has rejoined Sellers as full-time co-drivers of the No. 48 Lamborghini. Snow is a two-time Motul Petit Le Mans winner and won the 2018 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring alongside Sellers and Lewis. Sellers owns 10 IMSA premier series victories, while Lewis has won three WeatherTech Championship races.
 
They’ll go for their first Rolex 24 At Daytona victory alongside Italian racer Caldarelli, who returns for his fourth consecutive Daytona with the team. He won last year’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe title and also has had success in Japan’s Super GT competition.
 
No. 54 Black Swan Racing
Porsche 911 GT3 R
Tim Pappas/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Sven Muller/Trenton Estep
 
Black Swan owner/driver Pappas has been reunited with Dutchman Bleekemolen – a long-time WeatherTech Championship and race winner now competing full time in the 2019-20 FIA WEC – for the first time since 2012. Pappas was injured in a crash last year in practice for the Bathurst 12 Hours that forced him to miss a majority of the 2019 season, but he successfully returned to competition in November’s Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring International Raceway with a third-place showing.
 
German Porsche factory driver Muller – a 2016 Porsche Supercup champion – has joined the No. 54 lineup alongside Estep, the 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama. Estep is making his WeatherTech Championship debut in the Rolex 24.
 
No. 57 Heinricher Racing with MSR Curb-Agajanian
Acura NSX GT3
Alvaro Parente/Misha Goikhberg/Trent Hindman/AJ Allmendinger
 
The No. 57 Acura will have a brand-new driver lineup for 2020 led by season-long WeatherTech Championship teammates Parente and Goikhberg. Portuguese racer Parente is a past World Challenge champion and winner of the Bathurst 12 Hours with one career WeatherTech Championship GTD victory.
 
Goikhberg is moving to GTD competition after spending the past several seasons in the WeatherTech Championship prototype ranks. He owns three career WeatherTech Championship wins, including a Rolex 24 Prototype Challenge (PC) class victory in 2016.
 
Hindman will race the full IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup season with the No. 57 team in 2020 after taking the 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTD title last year with Mario Farnbacher in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura. Allmendinger – a veteran of Champ Car and NASCAR who claimed an overall Rolex 24 victory in 2012 with the Shank team – returns for his 14th Rolex 24 appearance.
 
No. 63 Scuderia Corsa
Ferrari 488 GT3
Cooper MacNeil/Toni Vilander/Jeff Westphal/Alessandro Balzan
 
MacNeil and Vilander return in the No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari for their second full season of WeatherTech Championship competition after placing fifth in the GTD standings last year. They’ll be joined by Westphal – who won last year’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport championship – and two-time WeatherTech Championship GTD champion, Balzan.
 
MacNeil is pulling double duty this weekend at Daytona, also competing in the season-opening doubleheader for Ferrari Challenge North America. He won both the 2018 and 2019 Ferrari Challenge titles. Vilander has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a Ferrari factory driver.
 
All drivers are looking to add Rolex 24 winners’ watches to their already impressive résumés.
 
No. 74 Riley Motorsports
Mercedes-AMG GT3
Lawson Aschenbach/Gar Robinson/Ben Keating/Felipe Fraga
 
Aschenbach and Robinson were among the first to confirm their plans to compete in the full 2020 WeatherTech Championship with the Riley team, which they did last year at the VIRginia International Raceway event in August. Last year, they focused on the WeatherTech Sprint Cup.
 
Robinson, a Trans Am champion, and seven-time professional sports car racing champion Aschenbach will be joined at the Rolex 24 by Keating and Fraga, who won the 2019 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup. In fact, Keating has won the Michelin Endurance Cup in the GTD class each of the past three years.
 
The Texan is doing double duty at Daytona this year, also competing in the LMP2 class aboard the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA. He’s looking for his second Rolex 24 victory, while the other three are aiming for their first this weekend.
 
No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian
Acura NSX GT3
Matt McMurry/Mario Farnbacher/Shinya Michimi/Jules Gounon
 
The 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTD champion team has a new lineup in 2020. Farnbacher, who won last year’s title with Trent Hindman, now will share the No. 86 entry with McMurry, who won the WeatherTech Championship LMP2 title last year with PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports.
 
They welcome Japanese-American driver Michimi, who brings substantial Lamborghini Super Trofeo experience. He made his WeatherTech Championship debut last year at Motul Petit Le Mans.
 
Gounon, meanwhile, is back for his second Rolex 24 appearance and first since 2017. He has been a factory driver for Bentley since 2018 with a ADAC GT Masters championship title in 2016 and a 2017 victory in the Spa 24 Hours.
 
No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport
Audi R8 LMS GT3
Mirko Bortolotti/Rolf Ineichen/Daniel Morad/Dries Vanthoor
 
The Canada-based WRT Speedstar program is back for its second straight Rolex 24 after finishing third on its debut last year. The team’s driver lineup includes Bortolotti and Ineichen, who have won the GTD class in the Rolex 24 each of the past two years, as well as last year’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
 
Morad is a Rolex 24 winner also, taking the GTD victory in 2017. Vanthoor, meanwhile, is the younger brother of 2019 WeatherTech Championship GTLM champion Laurens Vanthoor. He won the GTE Am class in the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans and also has victories in the 2018 Bathurst 12 Hours and the 2019 Nurburgring 24 Hours.
 
No. 96 Turner Motorsport
BMW M6 GT3
Robby Foley/Bill Auberlen/Dillon Machavern/Jens Klingmann
 
Foley and Auberlen are reunited for the full 2020 WeatherTech Championship GTD season. Last year, they finished second in the GTD championship standings with two victories, the last of which was the 60th of Auberlen’s IMSA career. That moved him into a tie with Scott Pruett for most all-time IMSA wins and the drive for 61 begins this weekend.
 
Auberlen and Foley will be sharing the car with Machavern, who won the 2017 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport championship, as well as German racer Klingmann, who owns three previous WeatherTech Championship victories. Auberlen is the only one of the Turner quartet with a previous Rolex 24 victory. He actually has two class victories, coming back in 1997 and 1998.
 
No. 98 Aston Martin Racing
Aston Martin Vantage GT3
Pedro Lamy/Ross Gunn/Mat Lauda/Andrew Watson
 
The factory Aston Martin team has a trio of longtime factory drivers – Lamy, Gunn and Lauda – with Aston Martin Racing junior driver Watson completing the lineup. Watson was named as a late stand-in for Canadian Paul Dalla Lana, who had planned to compete in the race but was injured in a skiing accident just prior to the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
 
Lamy brings a vast amount of experience, including Formula 1 and sports car competition, while Lauda is the son of late F1 legend Niki Lauda. Gunn is the 2015 British GT Championship GT4 champion, while Watson has a wealth of racing experience in the FIA WEC and other races, including the Bathurst 12 Hour.
 
The No. 98 and the No. 23 teams both will be looking to give Aston Martin its first Rolex 24 victory.

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. 

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