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The battle for the European NASCAR title will have one more contender with a brand new team joining the grid in Valencia for the season opener: 20-year-old Dutch talent Loris Hezemans will enter the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in the ELITE 1 Division at the wheel of the #50 Ford Mustang fielded by Hendriks Motorsport.
After spending the last couple of years developing into a top driver in TCR and GT series, Hezemans had the chance to drive a Euro NASCAR car in one of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Recruitment Days in December and figured immediately among the quickest drivers on track.
“I was really surprised by how the car handled and how funny it is to drive, but also by the potential of the series and future opportunities it offers. If you look at the budgets involved and what you get in return, it is very interesting. To have the chance to go racing in the US is fantastic. NASCAR is completely new for me and I want to have a shot at making a career there,” said Hezemans, who also plans to take part in an extensive GT program in 2018. “I think I adapted well to the NWES car, we are tied with the right team with Hendriks Motorsport and I can’t wait to drive the car again. I look forward to a great season!”
Hezeman’s car will be owned by a motorsport icon: his father Toine Hezemans. A winner of all the most prestigious endurance races between the 60’s and the 70’s, including the 24 Hour Of Le Mans, the 24 Hours of Daytona and the legendary Targa Florio, Toine Hezemans believes the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series is an ideal proving ground for Loris to develop his talent.
“After the test Loris was really happy with the car and was among the fastest drivers out there. I love racing and I have always liked to be personally involved, so we decided to take this step. Personally for me it’s all about the fun and the love for racing,” said the 74-year-old veteran, who also has a vast experience as a team manager, especially in the FIA GT Championship. “I think the whole NASCAR Whelen Euro Series concept is great. The field is very competitive, performances are high and the costs are kept very low with clever choices by the organization.”
Strong of its many oval racing successes in the Netherlands, Hendriks Motorsport will make its NASCAR debut fielding the #50 Ford Mustang and will face a new challenge in preparing the car for road course racing. The team is poised to prove its worth in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series and is currently scouting for an ELITE 2 driver to share the the car with Hezemans and will undergo the first test session of 2018 in Italy at the Autodromo di Franciacorta on February 28th.
“We have done many projects with Mr. Hezemans and when he decided to buy a NWES car, it was a perfect match for us to be the ones to prepare it,” said team co-owner Roy Hendriks. “We have been to some Euro NASCAR races in the past to study what the best teams are doing. The level is high and it’s all rather new for us, but we have podium ambitions so we will need to adapt very quickly and I’m confident we can do it.”
The first event of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will be held at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia, Spain on April 14-15.
NASCAR Euro Series PR
It was a magical week for 20-year old rookie driver Natalie Decker who started on the pole position and finished a career best 5th in last weekend’s ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
“I don’t know what to say – I’m just so happy right now,” said Decker. “My first time at Daytona and I sat on the pole and finished fifth. It’s amazing. I think It’s going to take a few days for all of it to sink in. What a great way to start the season and none of this would be possible if it wasn’t for the support I continue to receive from N29 Capital Partners, Venturini Motorsports, Toyota and of course my fans.”
Decker, performing on racing’s biggest stage, added her name to the record books becoming just the third woman in ARCA’s history and fourth in Daytona’s 59-year track history to start a race from the pole position. Decker joins Patty Moise and Erin Crocker as the only female General Tire pole winners at Daytona.
The Eagle River, WI native driving Venturini Motorsports’ flagship No.25 N29 Capital Partners – Yamaha Power Products Toyota Camry also picked up the series’ SCOTT Brand rookie of the race honors as top finishing rookie driver of the race.
“That was a crazy race – that’s all I can say,” added Decker. “I made a few mistakes but fortunately got away with them I learned a bunch. Honestly, Dave Leiner (Crew Chief) and Eddie D’Hondt (Spotter) deserve a lot of credit. They kept me calm and really helped me out there today. There’s no place quite like Daytona – it’s a total team effort.”
After leading the field to the green flag Decker gave up the lead and settled inside the top-3, running up front during the early stages around Daytona’s intimidating 2.5-mile superspeedway. Staying in the lead pack early Decker fell back to the 24th position after pitting twice during the midway point of the race.
Driving her way back up through the field Decker avoided the “big one” by impressively maneuvering her N29 Capital Partners Toyota through several wrecks to maintain her chances. Finding herself 10th after the first of two red flag stoppages Decker put herself in contention for the race win restarting fourth on the final restart with one lap remaining, but was unable to find the advantage.
Decker finished fifth behind race winner and teammate Michael Self and fourth-place finisher Tom Hessert. Leilani Munter, Decker’s fourth VMS teammate and the only other female driver in the field finished eighth.
Decker and Munter’s Daytona finishes marked the first time in ARCA Racing Series history that two female drivers finished in the top-10 at Daytona in the same race.
Participating in the full ARCA schedule with Venturini Motorsports, Decker will continue her pursuit of Rookie of the Year and Championship dreams next in the Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville on April 7.
Willie Mullins and Mullins Racing came into the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday as underdogs and almost left with the trophy.
Mullins avoided multiple crashes and piloted the No. 3 Crow Wing Recycling/Bugsy’s Auto Ford to a career-best second-place finish in the Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire after starting from the ninth position.
“It’s unbelievable,” Mullins said. “We’re still trying to wrap our heads around it. We finished second at Daytona. That’s not too bad for a little team based out of Virginia that only runs a few ARCA races a year. We couldn’t be happier.”
Mullins and his team decided to start from the rear of the 39-car field after qualifying ninth, preferring to take the cautious route until the first caution flag of the race waved for a multi-car incident on lap 22. Mullins’ crew chief Andy Belmont called him down pit road for fuel during the caution period.
“We decided to start in the back. We were just going to wait out all the wrecks and that’s basically what we did,” Mullins said.
From there Mullins slowly worked his way up through the field, picking off cars when he could as he avoided a multitude of incidents that took out contenders in front of him. Mullins was running just outside the top-10 on what was originally going to be the last lap when a massive multi-car crash on the backstretch happened in front of him. Mullins managed to dodge the mayhem, emerging from the smoke and debris in the 11th position.
“With one lap to go we were running about 14th and we thought we’d waited a little too long to make our run to the front,” Mullins said. “Then that wreck happened down the backstretch. I saw that car flipping through the air on my right, then I saw (Dave) Mader hit the 41 car in the side. I kind of just shot for the hole between the two big piles. I was down there digging, running through the grass and I put a little bit of right wheel in it right there by the chicane and the car hit the asphalt and we were good.”
When another car in front of him came down pit road, that put Mullins inside the top-10. With ARCA Racing Series rules requiring the race finish under green flag conditions, Mullins still had a shot at improving his finishing position.
The driver from Fredericksburg, Va., managed to gain a few positions on the restart as the leaders battled ahead of him. The battle for the lead soon turned disastrous as all four of the lead cars crashed in turns three and four, allowing Michael Self to emerge with the race lead while Mullins avoided the crashing cars to take over the second position.
“The seas kind of parted during that second wreck and we looked like heroes,” Mullins said. “Believe it or not I was calm. I was able to stay clear minded and I was able to get through all those big wrecks without tearing the car up at all.”
With at least one more restart coming, Mullins lined up second alongside Self, with veteran Tom Hessert and polesitter Natalie Decker directly behind the front duo.
When the green and white flags waved, Mullins attempted to get a good restart but he wasn’t able to get up to speed as fast as Self. That allowed Self to pull out to a comfortable lead as Mullins battled to hold on to the second position with Hessert, Decker and a fast closing Sheldon Creed.
Mullins stayed side-by-side with Hessert throughout the final lap and a push from Creed coming out of turn four allowed him to clear Hessert heading into the tri-oval. Self would win the race, with Mullins scoring an unlikely runner-up finish in his third career start at Daytona International Speedway.
“We had a longer third gear in the car, so that made it hard to get going on the restarts,” Mullins explained. “The car just wouldn’t get going. We had a Venturini car behind us and we needed someone to help push, but they obviously were going to protect since Self was also driving a Venturini car. Thankfully we got a big push from Sheldon Creed down the backstretch, which allowed us to get by Hessert and hold on to second.”
The No. 3 Mullins Racing Ford carried sponsorship from Crow Wing Recycling, CW Metals, Bugsy's Auto, Snap On by Timmy Brann, Morgan Lumber, County Waste, Sherwin Williams, Belmont’s Garage and Dinah Marie Photography at Daytona International Speedway.
Mullins Racing PR
Mason Mitchell Motorsports Experience Rollercoaster Day at Daytona, Earn Top-10 Finish with Max Tullman12 Feb 2018 Written by Steven B. Wilson
Since Mason Mitchell Motorsports (MMM) entered the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards in 2014, the teams motto has always been “never give up.” The MMM team demonstrated that attitude Saturday at the Daytona International Speedway in the Lucas Oil 200 driven by General Tire as Max Tullman fought back for a sixth-place finish to lead the charge for the championship team.
“What an up and down day,” an exhausted Tullman said after the event. “I don’t even know where to begin. We had such a strong car all weekend long and especially pacing the field. Someone checked up on that restart and we got hit from behind. We fought through adversity to fight back with a top-ten finish.”
“The MMM crew had a great plan in place when we got the damage. I can’t thank them enough for their hard work all weekend long. My goal was to complete all of the laps, earn my competitors respect and I believe we did that. Hopefully we can build on this and come back and race again in ARCA.”
Tullman who made his ARCA Racing Series debut driving the No. 78 Zoomi/Myota Chevrolet turned heads all weekend long at the “World Center of Racing.” Friday, he qualified the No. 78 in the fourth position. When the green flag dropped on the 2018 season, Tullman quickly asserted himself as a contender moving into the runner-up position on lap two. The sportscar veteran would claim the lead for the first time on lap 30. He would then reclaim the lead 33 and lead the next nine circuits. Tullman brought the No. 78 down pit-road at lap 41 and returned to the race in 17th. On the ensuing restart the field stacked up leaving nowhere for the No. 78 to go receiving front and rear damage.
Two late red flags allowed the MMM team to build a plan and continue to work on the damaged machine. Tullman, would exert patience like a veteran and was rewarded a sixth-place finish for his patience and hard work.
Quin Houff had unfinished business at DIS last weekend. Houff led 23 laps in the 2017 version of this race until a late race incident set him back in the final running order. Houff driver of the No. 98 Beatincancerwithduke.org Chevrolet qualified in the 11th position for the 80-lap event. Houff moved up four spots to seventh in the opening six laps and was content riding single file with the rest of the leaders. After a great pit-stop by the Mark Setzer led team, Houff returned to the action inside the top-five in the fourth position. Houff would push teammate Tullman into the lead but wouldn’t be able to slide in line and was stuck on the outside groove fighting for position. While racing in the sixth position, working his way back to the front of the field, Houff was pushed up the track and was swept up in a five-car incident. Houff received heavy damage to the rear of the car sending him to the garage 15 laps early. He would finish in the 32nd position.
”It was a rough way to end our day at Daytona,” a dejected Houff stated. “I learned a ton in these cars. “We kept getting stuck on the outside during restarts and had to fight very hard to get to the bottom. It felt good to be back on track just wish the evening had a better ending for us! I can’t thank everyone on this MMM team enough for their heard work this weekend. I’m looking forward to these next three races with MMM starting at Charlotte in May.”
The next event for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville Saturday night, April 7. The race will be live on MAVTV
Follow MMM on Social Media: To keep up-to-date with the latest, news, information and race updates, follow MMM racing’s twitter page @MMM_Race and “like” their facebook page at Mason Mitchell Motorsports.
Richmond Raceway eSports welcomes Michael Conti, the 2014 NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series (NPAS) champion, as the sixth and final member of the inaugural CHAOS CREW iRacing Team. Conti, a New Jersey native and current Charlotte, N.C. resident, will drive the #5 4FRONT, formerly PCG SportsDesk, during the 2018 NPAS season.
Conti will join his CHAOS CREW teammates Marcus Richardson of the #1 TOYOTA OWNERS 400, Nick Ottinger of the #18 Federated Auto Parts 400, Jimmy Mullis of the #27 RacingVirginia.com, Logan Clampitt of the #46 Richmond Raceway, and Brian Schoenburg of the #55 HeymanHustle.com to compete in the upcoming 2018 NPAS Season.
“I'm honored to be a part of the growth of Richmond Raceway eSports,” said Conti, 2014 NPAS Champion. “I am confident we are going to drive this initiative forward in 2018. Never before has the NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series had a NASCAR sanctioned track field its own entry, and I can only hope the success of this deal will bolster my place in the series and attract the interest of other tracks and affiliates alike.”
The newly formed CHAOS CREW iRacing Team will compete in the 2018 NPAS season beginning with the Daytona race on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. (ET) on iRacing Live with coverage provided by RaceSpot TV.
“Michael’s accomplishments in the iRacing world have already resulted in one NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series Championship, and like his other CHAOS CREW teammates, he is going to be a another strong contender for the 2018 championship,” said Richmond Vice President Mike Waddell.
Conti will be driving the #5, featuring a primary sponsorship from Richmond Raceway’s digital agency of record, 4FRONT (formerly PCG SportsDesk). Founded in 2007, 4FRONT is a sponsorship and consultancy firm focused on driving traditional and non-traditional revenue growth in the sports and entertainment industries. With offices in Chicago, Dallas and Denver, 4FRONT has worked with some of the best sports organizations in the nation including Hendrick Motorsports and Major League Baseball.
“Our team has a rich history of helping International Speedway Corporation tracks and NASCAR embrace a digital mindset and design some of the world’s most innovative sports marketing strategies,” said Dan Migala, Co-Founder and Partner of 4FRONT. “It’s a natural evolution that we partner with Michael Conti and the CHAOS CREW to put this team at the forefront of NASCAR eSports.”
Conti finished ninth in the 2017 NPAS standings. Fans can follow Conti on Twitter at @mikeconti5.
The NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series is iRacing’s World Championship series officially sanctioned by NASCAR. The series features the world’s most elite oval sim-racers competing on simulated version of the actual real-world NASCAR tracks and Gen6 cars available on iRacing.
Rounds run every other Tuesday night starting Feb. 20 at 9 p.m. (ET). Each round will be broadcast live to the general public on iRacing Live, with coverage provided by RaceSpot TV. For the full 2018 NPAS schedule, click here.
Stay up to date with the CHAOS CREW iRacing Team throughout the 2018 NPAS season, by following the team on Twitter at @CHAOSCREWRVA.
Richmond Raceway PR
It’s the most highly anticipated event of the year playing out on racing’s biggest stage. On Saturday, the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards kicked off the new season with the 55th running of the series’ Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire at Daytona International Speedway.
Coming off a sub-par season, Venturini Motorsports dedicated the offseason to regaining their form. After an organizational reboot, the long-time ARCA Series team went to work rebuilding from the ground up in preparation for the season opener.
Rising to the occasion the team’s off-season commitment was rewarded and on full display Saturday evening when Michael Self drove his No. 15 Venturini Motorsports’ prepared Sinclair Oil Toyota Camry to Daytona’s Gatorade Victory Lane giving the 27-year old driver his second career series victory and first at the World Center of Racing.
Self’s victory handed Venturini Motorsports it’s 45th overall ARCA win and second at Daytona since 2012.
Self's teammates Tom Hessert (No. 55 U.S. Turf Equipment Toyota), Natalie Decker (No. 25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota) and Leilani Munter (No.20 VeganStrong.com Toyota) finished fourth, fifth and eighth respectively, giving Venturini Motorsports four finishes inside the top-10.
Decker, who made headlines of her own, started from the pole position and notched a new career best with her top-5 finish. Decker became the third female driver in history to win a pole award for the ARCA race at Daytona.
Leilani, making her 12th career series start since 2010, set new personal bests qualifying fifth and finishing eighth earning her first ever top-10 finish.
Self, a native of Park City, Utah, survived two late-race multi-car crashes to get in position for the biggest win of his career.
"Survived man…just survived," said Self in victory lane.
"I got really lucky. I made it through all the wrecks. This thing is rough…it's beat up. I made some mistakes, but we were able to overcome them. I had a lot of help on the radio…that's why we're here. This is especially great for Sinclair. It's insane how rewarding this feels. That company took a chance on me. They're from my home state, and that's really special."
With the leaders bunched up the entire way, even Self had no idea how he managed to drive away from the pack in the end.
"I have no idea how we got that big lead…I really don't. The car just took off. I was worried going down the backstretch…all those cars behind me with all that momentum. Those guys just seemed to stall each other out behind me.”
The next event for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the Music City 200 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville on Saturday night, April 7.
It will be a 2018 star stripes that Nicholas Risitano, 29-year-old Roman talent who has just signed the agreement with the Racers to dispute the season of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series that will begin next April in Spain. The Roman will sit behind the wheel of the Ford Mustang # 8, in cohabitation with Dario Caso. Risitano is therefore the third driver announced by the team of Onofrio Veneziani and Franco Ercoli, after the confirmation of the 2016 Challenger Champion and Gianmarco Ercoli, at the start with the trusty Mustang # 9.
"I can not wait to get started! I am really in love! I fell in love with the car from the first moment, beautiful, powerful, smooth, genuine and it gives a lot of fun at the wheel ... I'm sure that with the Racers I will be able to grow a lot in hurry, the goal is to be competitive right away and fight with the former already at the end of the regular season, then try to be a protagonist in the Playoffs.But it will not be easy, the level of the championship is very high and I will have everything to learn, but I believe it! " commented beaming Risitano, who sees in NASCAR that missed opportunity with F1. "After returning to racing last year, this season I chose the Euro NASCAR because I think it is the best option for those who want to grow and create their own space, where meritocracy still prevails, who knows how to drive ahead and who is ahead has the opportunity to go to the United States and get noticed, Alon Day and Anthony Kumpen have shown it in these seasons, I want to find here the opportunity that European motorsport and F1 took away from me. "
Nicholas Risitano started running at the age of 10, immediately causing a sensation in the karting world. In 2003 the results achieved on the track led him to be chosen by Birel as an official driver and, without betraying expectations, the Roman immediately took home the European title - the only Italian to succeed - in a parterre of talents he saw at the start numerous names that will come up to Formula 1 like Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari, Jules.Bianchi and Valteri Bottas. After a 2004 full of confirmations and successes, Risitano was reported in 2005 by the ACI CSAI Federal School as a 'worthy pupil' and was given the license to race by car a year in advance. The debut in Formula Azzurra is to be shouted with the pole position in the opening round at Monza. In 2009, the agreement that could change his life with Giancarlo Minardi, who proposed a plan that provides a path driven by Formula 3 Formula 1, passing through Formula 2. Unfortunately, the lack of sponsors stop the dream in half. Nicholas, disappointed, decides to retire, at least until 2014 when he returns to touch the world of engines as a tester. In 2017 the active return to the races, with the participation in the Mini Challenge.
"We are proud to have Nicholas with us! He is a very smart and fast guy, I'm sure his talent will not start to bloom." - were the words of Onofrio Veneziani - Here in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series has the opportunity to do that path he had interrupted in the past, with the advice of Gianmarco and Dario he will grow fast and become one of the references in the series. "
The NASCAR Whelen Euro Series will launch in Spain on April 14 and 15 2018 at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia.
Nicholas Risitano PR
If Sunday night's NASCAR K&N Pro Series East finish is any indication, the sport's future is going to be exciting.
Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton, a pair of 17-year-old NASCAR Next drivers, put on a two-lap brawl that had fans on their feet at the finish and social media buzzing long after the checkered flag flew.
Gilliland emerged with the victory in the New Smyrna 175, diving under Burton for the lead on the white flag lap and winning the drag race down the back stretch. Cole Rouse, 20 and another rising young star, nearly made it three-wide across the line and stole the runner-up spot from Burton at the finish.
"Hard racing for the win,” Gilliland said of the battle. “That stuff is going to happen. We were both very hungry to get the win.”
Burton, who led 79 laps, lost the top spot on Lap 131. But with two to go, he used a bump-and-run into Turn 3 to take the lead back. Gilliland, though, muscled his way by less than a half-lap later.
The victory was the sixth career on the East, and was his 19th victory combined in the K&N Pro Series.
"Luckily we put this Toyota Camry in Victory Lane.” said Gilliland, who will be running a split schedule between the K&N Pro Series and Camping World Truck Series after winning the last two K&N Pro West titles. "I can’t thank everyone on my team enough. It’s a dream come true to be back here.”
The Sherrills Ford, North Carolina, driver started from the outside of the front row after Burton won the pole, and the two swapped the lead back and forth throughout the race. The major twist in the battle came when Gilliland and the rest of the leaders pitted during the first of two race breaks on lap 63 and Burton stayed on the track.
Burton found himself in fuel conservation mode for the rest of the race – up until the final few laps of battling.
“We were saving gas from the beginning of the race,” Burton said. “At the end of the race, you aren’t think about it when you are racing like that, but I’m sure we were pretty close. It was just two guys going hard for the win, that’s what we come to do, we are both racing for the W.”
Rouse's Bill McAnally Racing teammate, Derek Kraus, finished fourth.
Tyler Ankrum, who blew a motor in practice and was forced to start at the tail end of the field, nearly drove to the front and rounded out the top five.
Spencer Davis finished sixth, followed by Anthony Sergi, Ronnie Bassett Jr., Tyler Dippel and Brandon McReynolds.
The New Smyrna 175 will air on NBCSN on Tuesday Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. ET.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East returns to the track on April 14 at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Zombie Auto 150.