Speedway Digest Staff
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Brett Kressley sits on top of the Grandview Speedway NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series point standings leading the T.P. Trailers Modifieds while Brian Hirthler leads the T.P.Truck Equipment Sportsman. Both are on top of the standings as a result of being opening night feature winners.
Kressley, a former Sportsman champion, has 308 counters to top the 39 drivers that took part in the first official point event of the season. Craig Von Dohren, 11 time track champion and the defending champion, is second with 296 points. Ryan Grim holds down third with 290 followed by six time champion Duane Howard who has earned 279 points. Howard was the winner of the VP Race Fuels Bruce Rogers Memorial, a non-point event, run back on April 3rd. In fifth spot is Kevin Hirthler with 270 points.
In the Sportsman class Brian Hirthler, a two time and defending Sportsman champion, is on top of the standings with 259 points topping 34 point earners during the opening night racing. Second spot is held by Brandon Edgar with 250. In third is veteran racer Kenny Gilmore having earned 240 points. Fourth spot is held by Ryan Beltz with 230 followed by Kyle Lilick with 220.
All the opening night racers plus a few more are expected to see action on Saturday, April 17th, when the 602 Sportsman join the Modifieds and Sportsman creating a tripleheader show of stock car racing action starting at 7 p.m. Adult admission is $18 while youngsters 11 and under are admitted free. Active military with ID are admitted free also.
Racers must be signed into the pits by 5:30 p.m.
Any driver planning to compete just in the 602 Sportsman events will not need a NASCAR license. However those planning to race in both 602 and T.P.Truck Sportsman will need a NASCAR license in order to participate.
Racers are reminded to bring their own fuel. American Racer tires are available at the track or can be purchased on Tuesday and Thursday nights from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 72 Wilt Road, Bechtelsville.
New to the schedule is the recently announced Checkered Flag Fan Club Night on May 8th with a May 15th rain date.
The United States Auto Club National Sprint Tour will see action at Grandview on Thursday, April 22nd along with the 358 Modifieds. Racing starts at 7:30 p.m.
Outlaw Racing Series Vintage Racers will be part of a tripleheader card of racing on Saturday, April 24th that will also include the Modifieds and Sportsman.
Current information on Grandview Speedway can be found at www.grandviewspeedway.com, Facebook or telephone 610.754.7688.
Grandview Speedway PR
Spencer ‘The Bald Eagle’ Boyd has added another Made In America company to his sponsor lineup in 2021. Eastlake, OH EZPOLE Flagpoles will be the primary sponsor of the Youngs Motorsports No. 20 Chevrolet Silverado at Bristol Motor Speedway in September. A special tribute paint scheme will be run marking the 20th anniversary of the September 11 attacks.
“Never Forget is a term that we as Americans should honestly never forget,” said 25-year-old Boyd. “That’s why I’ve teamed up with EZPOLE for this race. They support our first responders and veterans everyday while providing jobs for hard-working Americans. Nothing would please me more than to look up and see the Bristol Motor Speedway stands filled with American and Never Forget flags at our race in honor of all the families that lost loved-ones that day.”
EZPOLE manufacturers residential and commercial flagpoles so that people can fly their American Made flags on American Made poles. “Most people don’t realize the pole they fly their American flag on was made overseas,” said Todd Adkins of EZPOLE. “We have a solution for that at EZPOLE, so jump on our website, www.ezpole.com to get a new residential flag and pole kit to represent the USA 100%.”
EZPOLE sells more than just American flags and flag poles on their website. You can get your state’s flag or a Gadsden flag on their website. You can get accessories to light up your flag or mounts to mount your flagpole just about anywhere. They also have The Patriot Store which sells apparel and other items to display your patriotism.
Firefighters were a huge part of the lifesaving efforts on September 11, 2001. As such there are two parts of the partnership that honor firefighters. EZPOLE is selling their limited edition ‘Champion Bred’ t-shirts with UFC Fighter Stipe Miocic on EZPOLE.com with proceeds going to help out first responders. The truck will also have a special passenger riding shotgun with Spencer for the race. The late Danny Foley, FDNY firefighter and hunting friend of Spencer Boyd, will have his name grace the passenger side of the EZPOLE No. 20 for the race at Bristol.
Spencer Boyd reflected, “I’m insanely proud to be an American. I love to see new Americans come to our country and see what I see which is the greatest place on earth. If it wasn’t for the people that came before us to pave the way for our freedoms, we wouldn’t be racing. I just want to do my little bit to honor them.”
EZPOLE’s first appearance with Boyd will be at Richmond Raceway on the No. 20 WML Enterprises Silverado. The paint scheme for Spencer Boyd and EZPOLE’s No. 20 Chevrolet Silverado will be unveiled at a later date.
Spencer Boyd PR
Raphael Lessard will take part in his sixth NCWTS race of the season this Saturday on the wide, nearly flat 0.75-mile oval at Richmond Raceway at the wheel of his #24 CANAC Silverado. His performance and that of his GMS Racing team impressed everyone at Bristol, and Raphael Lessard is going for another podium finish this coming weekend. His performance on the Bristol dirt surface confirmed his ability to adapt and learn quickly, and demonstrated his level of professionalism after only one full season in a NASCAR series, and despite the odd circumstances imposed by the pandemic. Raphael Lessard Racing team members are working to find the necessary financing to participate in all 22 races of the season.
"We are well prepared for Richmond this weekend. This is my second race at this track, and the experience I gained over the 2020 season will allow me to drive faster and to quickly adapt my driving to the behaviour of my #24 Silverado CANAC truck over the race distance. The track surface is hard on the tires and I have to drive smoothly to protect them. I am comfortable on a short track like Richmond with its low banking in corners 1 and 2. The entrance to turn 3 is almost flat and you have to be careful when braking not to slide the rear tires, which wears them out too quickly. My CANAC truck will be fast and I'm sure it will be great for the race," says Raphael Lessard with enthusiasm.
Raphael Lessard and the NCWTS
After five (5) races in NASCAR trucks in 2019, Raphael Lessard competed in all 23 races of the NCWTS in 2020, his first full season at that level. His first 10 races of 2020 served him well as he worked hard with a professional team, and against seasoned drivers.
He learned more advanced driving techniques from these experienced drivers as well as from his spotter: learning new track quickly without a pre-race test or qualifying session, watching their driving trajectories and test new ones for himself as the track changes over the course of the race, managing downforce and turbulence, overtaking more effectively and protecting your position in the race, adapting to handling defects and adjusting his driving during a run, communicating effectively with the team during a run to describe any problems, managing front/rear braking distribution during a run, managing tire wear to optimize their performance at the end of the race and working in unison with team members during a pit stop.
The effects of this learning were clearly visible over the second half of the 2020 season, as Raphael Lessard caught and worked his way to the leaders several times to put himself in a position to win, as he did at Talladega, and accumulating four top-5 and seven top-10 finishes over the course of the season.
Raphael Lessard career highlights
Right from his start on the track at age 11, Raphael Lessard has raced throughout the Eastern Canada and then on to the United States, establishing a solid reputation as a driver to watch along the way.
In 2020, the young Beauceron decided to leap into professional racing and competed in all 23 races of the NCWTS series (formerly the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Trucks Series). In 28 starts (five in 2019) in NCWTS trucks, Raphael Lessard has won one race, finished four times in the top-5 (two podiums), and nine times in the top-10, giving him an average finish of 14.5.
In 2019, Raphael Lessard led 83 race laps, finished twice in the top-5 and three times in the top-10 in three starts in the ARCA Menards Series. He earned a win, a top five and two top10 finishes in the NASCAR Pinty's series. His NASCAR Pinty's series win came on his home track, Autodrome Chaudière in Vallée Jonction (Quebec, Canada), on June 29, after leading 153 of 300 laps on the way to an emotional win.
He also won two important Super Late Model Series races in 2018, including the U.S. National Short Track Championship at Bristol Motor Speedway in May, and the ARCA/CRA Super Series Red Bud 400 race at Anderson Speedway in July.
In 2016, Raphael Lessard won the CARS Tour Super Late Model Championship after recording four wins, one pole, leading 157 laps and finishing with eight top-five and nine top-ten finishes out of 10 races.
For Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Menards/Libman team, a third-straight short-track race is just what he says they need to continue climbing up the Cup Series standings.
DiBenedetto said he finds lots of positives heading into Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at the three-quarter-mile Richmond Raceway.
“The biggest thing I’m excited about is it’s a short track,” he said. “Our Menards/Libman Mustangs have been the strongest on the short tracks.”
He’s also looking forward to putting to use some of the information he and his Wood Brothers team gathered last fall at Richmond.
“We tried some things and learned a lot,” said DiBenedetto, who is set to start 16th on Sunday. “I feel really confident as far as coming up with a set-up that gives me what I need out of the car.”
Then there’s the alliance between the Wood Brothers and Team Penske, which won the most recent Cup race at Richmond with its No. 2 team and driver Brad Keselowski.
“Brad was really fast in that race,” DiBenedetto said. “Our alliance with Team Penske is really helpful. We can learn a lot from that.”
After a disappointing start to the 2021 season, which saw the No. 21 team finish outside the top 30 in the first two races, there’s been a steady climb. DiBenedetto and the team have climbed 15 spots in the points standings to 22nd, largely on the strength of five consecutive finishes between 11th and 16th.
“We’ve been able to come up in the standings even with some crazy circumstances thrown at us,” he said. “We’ve overcome tons of adversity and put together some OK finishes, even though our finishes are still not reflective of how good a race team we have.”
DiBenedetto said it’s important to remember that even though he and his team have had some bad luck this year, other drivers and teams have had more misfortunes.
“It just shows how tough this sport can be,” he said.
Sunday’s 400-lap, 300-mile race is set to get the green flag just after 3 p.m. Eastern Time, with no pre-race practice or qualifying. There will be Stage breaks and Laps 80 and 235. FOX will carry the TV broadcast.
CBS Sports has revealed its all-star announce team for the inaugural Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) season, which debuts this summer airing live on the CBS Television Network and streaming on Paramount+. The brand-new racing series will run on six consecutive Saturday nights in primetime beginning Saturday, June 12 (8:00 PM, ET). The announce team features veterans of the motorsports television industry as well as current and former drivers.
Lindsay Czarniak, Allen Bestwick, Brad Daugherty and Matt Yocum will work all six races on the SRX schedule and bring viewers inside the made-for-TV racing series. Czarniak serves as host of the series, with Bestwick providing play-by-play of each race. Daugherty serves as a roaming analyst, offering exclusive access to the inner workings of the series and showcasing the SRX experience. Yocum is the series’ pit reporter providing behind the scenes content with the drivers and crewmembers telling their stories at the track and beyond.
Each race will also feature a driver analyst, with Danica Patrick, James Hinchcliffe and Dario Franchitti each joining the broadcast team for two races on the schedule. Patrick is scheduled to kick off the series as the driver analyst at Stafford Motor Speedway on June 12, as well as Knoxville Raceway on June 19. Hinchcliffe is scheduled to join for the races at Eldora Speedway (June 26) and Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway (July 17) while Franchitti is scheduled to lend his voice to the races at Lucas Oil Raceway (July 3) and Slinger Speedway (July 10).
“The exceptional broadcast crew we have put together is a great reflection of what SRX is all about, bringing together all-stars from a variety of racing backgrounds to create a made-for-TV racing experience,” said Pam Miller, CBS Sports SRX Producer. “Each member of the team brings his or her own unique experience in the racing world with deep knowledge of the legacies involved and the entertainment value of racing. Between the amazing drivers behind the wheel, best-in-class television production and historic tracks, SRX will be a tremendous viewing experience for race fans across the nation.”
In 2020, CBS Sports and Superstar Racing Experience (SRX), a property created by The Montag Group, NASCAR Hall of Famers Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart, and investor George Pyne announced a multi-year partnership to produce a yearly six-race, short-track series. The six-race series will feature drivers from a variety of racing backgrounds competing on short-tracks with a total emphasis on head-to-head competition in short, sprint races. SRX has secured driver commitments from some of the sport’s biggest names, including, Stewart, Tony Kanaan, Willy T Ribbs, Paul Tracy, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Bill Elliott, Ernie Francis Jr., Michael Waltrip and Marco Andretti.
See below for the full SRX race schedule with announcer assignments:
June 12: Stafford Motor Speedway (Stafford Springs, Conn.)
Announcers: Lindsay Czarniak / Allen Bestwick / Brad Daugherty / Matt Yocum / Danica Patrick
June 19: Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, Iowa)
Announcers: Czarniak / Bestwick / Daugherty / Yocum / Patrick
June 26: Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, Ohio)
Announcers: Czarniak / Bestwick / Daugherty / Yocum / James Hinchcliffe
July 3: Lucas Oil Raceway (Clermont, Ind.)
Announcers: Czarniak / Bestwick / Daugherty / Yocum / Dario Franchitti
July 10: Slinger Speedway (Slinger, Wis.)
Announcers: Czarniak / Bestwick / Daugherty / Yocum / Franchitti
July 17: Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway (Nashville, Tenn.)
Announcers: Czarniak / Bestwick / Daugherty / Yocum / Hinchcliffe
*Assignments subject to change
SRX Racing PR
Darlington Raceway and Goodyear announce a partnership on the entitlement of the spring NASCAR Cup Series race as part of the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR on May 9. The official name of the race will be the Goodyear 400.
“Goodyear is one of the most iconic brands in the history of motorsports, so we are proud to welcome them back to Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400,” said Darlington President Kerry Tharp. “Goodyear has been a part of many monumental moments in Darlington Raceway’s storied history. We look forward to writing a new chapter with Goodyear as part of the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR.”
Goodyear has a rich history at Darlington Raceway as it conducted its first official NASCAR tire tests at the track in 1954 and earned its first NASCAR victory in the 1959 Southern 500® with driver Jim Reed.
In support of the Official Throwback Weekend of NASCAR, Goodyear will once again replace the yellow “Eagle” logo on the sidewalls of its racing tires with a vintage “Blue Streak” sidewall design. In keeping with the race weekend’s throwback theme, the Blue Streak tires will include white Goodyear lettering and a white logo that reflect the design of NASCAR tires used in the 1960’s and 1970’s. The Blue Streaks were phased out in 1981 as Goodyear’s racing tires moved to the “Eagle” design.
“Goodyear is honored to be a part of the Official Throwback Weekend, a tradition that drivers and fans look forward to each year,” said Karen Maroli, Goodyear's vice president of marketing. “Goodyear and NASCAR have a shared legacy that spans six decades and multiple generations, and the throwback nature of the Goodyear 400 allows us to celebrate the accomplishments of the past while also showcasing the incredible talents of drivers today.”
The Goodyear 400 is a continuation of Goodyear’s longstanding relationship with the sport of racing. As the “Exclusive Tire Supplier” for NASCAR’s top three series, Goodyear is the longest-running continuous partner in NASCAR history. From the introduction of the racing slick in 1972 to the radial tire in 1989 and multi-zone tread design in 2013, Goodyear and NASCAR have consistently innovated to deliver compelling racing.
Goodyear produces more than 100,000 tires for NASCAR’s top three series every year, and each tire is custom-built by the hands of passionate Goodyear associates in Akron, Ohio – Goodyear’s global headquarters – and donned with the name of the employee who helped produce it.
The Goodyear 400 will be broadcast on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio on Sunday, May 9 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
To learn more about Goodyear Racing, visit Goodyear.com/Racing.
Darlington Raceway PR
Team Penske President Tim Cindric Presenting Rose-Hulman Commencement Address, Receiving Honorary Degree
Team Penske President Tim Cindric will return to his alma mater May 29 to present the Commencement address at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in an in-person outdoor morning event on Phil Brown Football Field of Cook Stadium. He also will be awarded an honorary doctorate in engineering from the institute.
Cindric, a 1990 mechanical engineering graduate, has overall management responsibilities for Team Penske’s racing operations, including teams racing at the top levels of the NTT IndyCar Series, Monster, the NASCAR Cup Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He also oversees Penske Technology Group, Penske Restoration, the Penske Heritage Center, and Penske Racing Museum.
“I’m honored to have the opportunity to address Rose’s Class of 2021 as they embark on their next chapter in life,” Cindric said. “As I reflect on my career, it wasn’t until I went out into the world that I realized how much the Rose experience helped me to differentiate myself along the way.”
Under Cindric’s leadership, Team Penske has earned more than 300 race victories and 19 series championships. He has been in the winner’s circle for several of the most iconic events in motorsports, including eight Indianapolis 500-mile races, two Daytona 500 victories, and an overall win at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
On race days in the NTT IndyCar Series, Cindric has used his engineering and problem-solving skills as race strategist for IndyCar Series championship and Indianapolis 500-mile race winning cars driven by Josef Newgarden, Will Power and Helio Castroneves.
“Tim has been a faithful alumnus whose commitment to Rose-Hulman is evidenced in his time and resources,” said President Robert A. Coons. “He is invested in supporting the institution’s ongoing success as the nation’s premier undergraduate engineering institution. We’re looking forward to having him provide words of insight and encouragement to the Class of 2021.”
An Indianapolis native, Cindric’s skills as a four-year varsity basketball player (1987-90) and 1,081 career points earned him placement in the Rose-Hulman Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001. He earned the Alumni Association’s Honor Alumni Award in 2013.
After graduating from Rose-Hulman, Cindric worked as interim general manager and design engineer for the TrueSports IndyCar team. He then became team manager for Team Rahal from 1994-99 before joining Team Penske.
Cindric’s career achievements also include receiving the Herb Porter and Tom Carnegie memorial awards from the Indianapolis 500 Old Timer’s Club.
Cindric lives in Mooresville, North Carolina, with his wife, Megan, and their two sons, Tanner and Austin.
Team Penske PR
A quick look at Kyle Busch’s NASCAR Cup Series statistics at Richmond (Va.) Raceway shows six career victories at the .75-mile short track – most among active drivers.
In addition to his six career wins there, the stat sheet for the driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Red Nose Day Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) also shows 18 top-five finishes and 23 top-10s in 30 career starts there, making him the most consistent active drivers at the track located in the “Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia.”
Additionally, the Las Vegas native is tops among active drivers with his average Richmond finishing position of 6.8. Next best there is Kevin Harvick’s average finish of 7.9. Busch has completed all but one of the 12,029 laps available to him in his 30 Richmond starts. Of those laps completed, Busch has run in the top-15 for 10,691 laps, or 88.9 percent, which ranks second to Harvick’s 93.0 percent among active drivers.
Busch will have the familiar M&M’S Red Nose Day scheme on board for Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400, the scheme that went to victory lane with Busch at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City in May 2016. Red Nose Day is a campaign with the mission to end child poverty by funding programs that keep children safe, healthy, educated and empowered. M&M’S has raised more than $7 million for Red Nose Day with the racecar scheme elevating the awareness among race fans each year since 2015. Fans can grab a digital Red Nose at RedNoseDay.org and Walgreens.com, with the money raised going to help kids around the world.
Busch and the M&M’S Red Nose Day team look to get back to victory lane at Richmond where, in addition to the 2018 sweep of the spring and fall races, Busch also won four consecutive Cup Series spring races from 2009 to 2012, besting Richard Petty’s previous record of three Richmond spring-race wins in a row from 1971 to 1973.
With those impressive statistics and records to back him up, it’s little wonder that a visit to the Virginia capital is one of Busch’s favorite stops on the NASCAR tour.
So, as the series heads to Richmond for the first time this season, Busch and the M&M’S Red Nose Day team hope to follow their noses to victory lane yet again with their seventh Richmond victory.