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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

The Kyle Larson Racing team wrapped up five nights of racing at the annual DIRTcar Nationals Sunday night at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla. Shane Stewart competed in each night of racing - Wednesday and Thursday with the All Star Circuit of Champions (ASCoC) and Friday through Sunday with the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series - and team owner, Kyle Larson, raced in three of the five nights of competition.
 
On the opening night of DIRTcar Nationals with ASCoC, Stewart was the fastest qualifier in Group B and Larson was fourth fastest in the same group. Larson started on the pole and won Heat 2, while Stewart started and finished fourth in the same event. Stewart then lined up third in the first of two dashes and finished fourth, as Larson started first and finished runner up in the second dash. In the 30-lap main event, Larson slipped from fourth to finish ninth and Stewart ran 13th.
 
The following night, Larson was the fastest qualifier in Group A and advanced from fourth to second in the opening heat race, transferring him into the dash redraw. Stewart qualified sixth in Group C and finished seventh in Heat 3. Larson then started and finished fourth in the first of two dashes, earning him the seventh starting position for the main event. Stewart lined up seventh in the B-Main and pulled into the infield with a couple laps remaining to finish 10th. Larson was able to gain two positions aboard the BRANDT No. 1k during the 30-lap feature event to earn a top-five result.
 
During the opening night of Outlaw competition on Friday, Stewart qualified seventh out of 35 competitors and won his heat race from the outside of the front row. After finishing fifth in the Craftsman Club Dash, the Bixby, Okla., native carved his way forward in the main event to earn a spot on the podium with a solid third-place finish.
 
On Saturday, Stewart turned a blistering lap in qualifying to earn fast time and was the only driver to dip down into the 12 second bracket. He won the opening heat race and finished eighth in the Craftsman Club Dash. Stewart raced as high as sixth during the 30-lap main event, but struggled on restarts resulting in a 10th-place finish.
 
During the final night of DIRTcar Nationals, the pilot of the DC Solar No. 2 qualified fourth and won his heat race from the outside of the front row. As a result of being one of the later cars to make a lap time, Larson qualified 16th, but was able to climb two spots in Heat 1, finishing fourth and advancing to the main event. Stewart drew a six wrench during the Craftsman Club Dash draw, but was able to gain a position in the dash to start fifth for the 30-lap finale. Stewart slipped as far back as eighth, but was able to climb forward to finish sixth and Larson finished the race 18th-place.
 
"I thought our DC Solar car had good speed all week, which makes me very excited for the season," said Stewart. "Our team was able to make progress every night. Thanks to Kyle, DC Solar, BRANDT, ENEOS, Rider Engines and all of our partners, it was a pretty solid week for us down here and definitely our best results at Volusia as a team."
 
The KLR team will be back in action at Cotton Bowl Speedway in Kilgore, Texas on Friday, February 23. If you cannot make it to the track, all World of Outlaw events will have live streaming pay-per-view video and free audio available at www.dirtvision.com.
 
Kyle Larson Racing PR

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.

MMM PR

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.

VMS PR

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.

NASCAR PR

Cole Rouse grabbed a runner-up finish, while his Bill McAnally Racing teammate, Derek Kraus, took fourth at New Smyrna Speedway on Sunday night as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East kicked off its 2018 season as part of NASCAR’s Speedweeks in Florida. 

Rouse – a 20-year-old from Fort Smith, Arkansas – was making his first start for BMR in the No. 99 NAPA Filters Toyota Camry as he returned to the K&N Pro Series, where he competed in the West division as a rookie in 2016.

“We were battling a little handling issue,” Rouse said of the closing laps of Sunday’s race. “I thought we could possibly get by for the win.”

He expressed his appreciation to his team, meanwhile, for preparing a fast race car.

“The BMR crew worked hard to give me a really fast NAPA Filters Toyota,” he said. “This makes for a great start to the season.”

Kraus – a Stratford, Wisconsin teenager who won the rookie title and finished third in the championship standings last year as a 15-year-old in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West – was making his first start since taking the seat of BMR’s No. 16 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota Camry.

Rouse started third on the grid in Sunday’s 175-lap event, while Kraus rolled off from the seventh spot. Rouse stayed in third for most of the race, with Kraus working his way to fourth and then challenging his teammate in the second half of the event. Rouse took advantage of a battle between the two lead cars in the final laps, to slip by and grab second coming to the checkered flag, while Kraus took fourth.

The race ended early for their BMR teammate, Hailie Deegan, who was making her series debut in the No. 19 Mobil 1 / NAPA Power Premium Plus Toyota Camry. The 16-year-old NASCAR Next driver from Temecula, California qualified ninth, but coasted to a stop with mechanical trouble 19 laps into the race.

The event was won by Todd Gilliland, who garnered back-to-back series championships driving for BMR in 2016 and 2017 – before moving on to focus primarily on racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year, while also running select K&N events for David Gilliland Racing.

Rouse, Kraus, and Deegan are set to run the full 15-race schedule in the West division of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series this year – while also racing in select events in the East division. The K&N West opens its 2018 season at Kern County Raceway Park near Bakersfield, California on March 15.

BMR provided a group of NAPA guests in attendance at New Smyrna Speedway with a VIP experience, courtesy of Chris Wall, general manager of NAPA’s Jacksonville Distribution Center. The guests went behind the scenes with a special pit tour, attended the drivers’ meeting, and were guests at a VIP Hospitality. Earlier in the day, they had the opportunity to attend the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Clash at Daytona International Speedway.

The New Smyrna race is slated to be televised on NBCSN on Feb. 27 at 6 p.m. ET.

The next event on the K&N Pro Series East schedule will be at Bristol Motor Speedway in Tennessee on April 14.

BMR PR

Twenty-year-old Cole Anderson scored his first win of the 2018 World Series of Asphalt Stock Car Racing on Saturday night at New Smyrna (Fla.) Speedway while racing the No. 97 TimberwolfPlastics.com Toyota Camry. Racing with ATF & Gunslinger, the Minnesota native has been working closely with proven NASCAR Camping World Truck Series veterans Mike Skinner and Rick Crawford to accelerate his learning curve, while gaining track time and honing his skills at the annual racing series that attracts up-and-coming talent from across the country.
 
"I can't thank everyone at ATF & Gunslinger enough," said Anderson. "I'm really excited to get to Victory Lane with Andrew [Franzone], Mike [Skinner] and Rick [Crawford]. Dustin [Skinner, crew chief] and the ATF & Gunslinger team worked hard to give me a great car tonight. I had Rick up on the spotter's stand keeping me calm and focused during the race, and Mike racing me on the track-between the two of them, they've really helped speed up my learning curve. We did some work on our late-race strategy and that really paid off tonight."
 
Marking Cole's fifth career win at New Smyrna Speedway in pro late model and super late model competition, including his second in a Pro Late Model Speedweeks' event, Anderson took Saturday night's win in dominate fashion. After qualifying on the pole, the field was inverted resulting in an eighth-place starting position for Anderson in the 35-lap feature. Falling as low at the 10th position in a caution filled race, Anderson had to avoid the on-track melee while climbing his way back up the leaderboard. Taking the lead on lap 14, Anderson remained in the point position until the checkered flag waved.
 
"I couldn't be happier with the job that Cole Anderson and the team did tonight," said Skinner. "On a personal level, I'm really proud of my son, Dustin Skinner, who has stepped up to lead this team for Cole and ATF & Gunslinger. This will be a great start for them as they kick off not only Speedweeks, but their entire 2018 schedule together. I've had a decent career and I've had a lot of fun over the years, so to be able to be a part of this and watch my son and his driver grow and succeed as racers, leaders and professionals, means so much to me now."
 
In 2018, Anderson will be behind the wheel of the No. 97 Toyota Camry in pro late model and super late model competition across the southeast.
 
"It's fun to develop young drivers when you're surrounded by good people, a good owner, and a good team that puts a fast racecar on the track for these youngsters like we did today," said Crawford. "Cole Anderson is one of the next up-and-coming drivers that's probably looking forward to a career in NASCAR's top divisions. Right now, he's a winner at New Smyrna in the World Series of Racing, and I'm really glad that I could be a part of that."
 
For more information about Cole Anderson, visit ColeAndersonRacing.com
 
Cole Anderson PR

After two days and 12 hours of testing involving 23 Verizon IndyCar Series entries at ISM Raceway, a couple things are clear: teams learned more about the performance of the 2018 car and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing established the early advantage.

RLL drivers Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal set the fastest lap in each of the four three-hour sessions spread over Friday and Saturday. Sato, in the No. 30 Honda, recorded the best lap of the Phoenix open test in this evening's final practice, at 189.855 mph (19.3790 seconds). The reigning Indianapolis 500 winner sat atop the speed chart in three of the four sessions, with Rahal leading the other practice in the team's No. 15 Honda.

PHOENIX OPEN TEST AT ISM RACEWAY: Afternoon practice results; Evening practice results; Combined practice results

"The open test was very successful, I would say," Sato said. "Lots of things done and lots of things to be tried, and I think over the course of two days we learned a lot. Great car, definitely more exercise for the drivers, definitely busier with low downforce.

"We did qualifying simulations and race traffic runs. I think the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team is really strong, so I'm really looking forward to two more road course tests and hopefully we'll be ready for St. Pete (the season opener next month)."

More than 6,000 laps were completed in the two-day test on the 1.022-mile oval. Toss in another 617 laps turned by ISM Raceway newcomers on Thursday's rookie day, and the 23 drivers totaled nearly 6,800 miles of valuable track time to get better acquainted with nuances of the 2018 car featuring the universal aero kit for all competitors.

Team Penske's Will Power posted the second-fastest lap in tonight's practice to rank second on the combined sheet for all practices. The 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series champion toured the oval at 189.769 mph (19.3878 seconds) in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet.

"Really enjoying this car; the 2018 car is awesome," Power said. "Our No. 12 Verizon Chevy's been pretty good the whole time. We're really in a good window, I feel like. So are a lot of people, by the look of it."

Tony Kanaan, entering his 21st season racing Indy cars and first with AJ Foyt Racing, was third in the final practice and overall with a lap of 189.632 mph (19.4018 seconds) in the No. 14 ABC Supply Chevrolet.

"It was a good couple of days," said Kanaan, a two-time winner at ISM Raceway including his championship season of 2004. "We tried to run in traffic a little bit at the end. It's going to be tricky, it's definitely going to be tricky. We are still learning about the downforce but, all in all, I think it was a positive test for us.

"We learned a lot, we didn't have any major problems, which that's what we're looking for at this team right now is just to build. Build confidence and build momentum."

Kanaan's teammate, Matheus "Matt" Leist, didn't fare as well. The rookie brushed the wall three times in the No. 4 ABC Supply Chevy over the course of the day, following a spin without wall contact on Friday. Despite that, the 19-year-old Brazilian was fastest of the five rookies participating at 187.431 mph.

The only incident of significance over the two days involved four-time series champion Scott Dixon, whose No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda made contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier with 30 minutes remaining in the final practice. Dixon was uninjured.

"We were just in traffic there," Dixon said. "It was our second or third lap out of the pits. A couple of the Andretti cars got by and were a little bit slower. I got low in (Turns) 1 and 2, touched the throttle and had a bit of a run and lost the rear. Kind of late in the corner, but just touched with the rear and bent the left rear suspension."

Josef Newgarden, the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series champion sporting the No. 1 on his car this year, was fourth on the speed chart with a lap of 189.399 mph (19.4257 seconds) in his Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet.

Drivers now have a month to prepare in private team testing before the 2018 season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg from March 9-11. It is the first of 17 races on this year's calendar. The race airs live at 12:30 p.m. ET March 11 on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to ISM Raceway for the Phoenix Grand Prix on April 6-7. The race weekend will commemorate the 25th anniversary of Mario Andretti's final Indy car win in 1993 at the oval in the desert. The race airs live at 9 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network.  

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The ARCA Racing Series kicked-off their season of racing on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway in what was a thrilling finish at the end. The event went into several over-time attempts before Michael Self captured his second-career ARCA Racing Series win. Natalie Decker, who enters her first full-time season in the series, started the Lucas Oil 200 Driven by General Tire on the pole.

Self, who had won the season finale the last time out at Kansas Speedway in October of 2017, survived the late-race chaos that included two lengthy red flags in his No. 15 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota for Venturini Motorsports. The Utah native started the 80-lap race, which was extended to 92 laps, in the 13th starting spot.

"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,” said Self after the race. “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."

Along with two victories, Self now holds six top five and six top 10 finishes in the ARCA Racing Series through 10 starts.

Willie Mullins later finished the night in the runner-up spot after starting in ninth. Mullins, driving the No. 3 Crow Wing Recycling Ford, avoided the multi-car accidents to keep the No. 3 car clean. Making his 12th career start in the series, Mullins, a 37-year old driver from Virginia, scored his second career top 10 finish.

"We had a really good plan," said Mullins after the long event. "Drop back from our ninth starting position and drop to the back, conserve fuel and make sure we were there at the end. Then we finally ran up to the front. I’m just so thankful for this all volunteer crew. We do this out of a little garage in Virginia. I couldn't be happier."

His first top 10 came in the season opener at Daytona in 2016 where he left the 2.5-mile oval with an eighth-place finish.

Sheldon Creed, who spent some time leading the pack at Daytona, rounded out the top three finishers. The driver, from California, started the evening in the 14th starting spot and took home his sixth career top five finish.

"We started in the back…it worked out kind of nice tonight," said Creed. "We saved so much fuel in the beginning. Then we got sucked up in the draft…it's how we got to the front. We got some really good pushes from the 54 and 27. It's all about making deals with the drivers around you. We had good people around us all night."

Natalie Decker, scoring her first career ARCA Racing Series pole on Friday, took home a fifth place finish on Saturday. In eight ARCA starts, Decker, from Wisconsin, scored her best career finish in the series despite receiving fender damage early in the running.

Max Tullman, making his ARCA Racing Series debut at the age of 19, started fourth in the No. 78 Zoomi-Myota Chevrolet for Mason Mitchell Motorsports. The young driver survived the late-race shenanigans to capture a sixth-place finish.

Noah Gragson started 21st and left Daytona International Speedway with a seventh-place finish for David Gilliland Racing. Gragson, one of the hottest young stars in the Camping World Truck Series, from Las Vegas, NV, had work to do in the closing laps of the event. The No. 54 Switch - Safelite Auto Glass Toyota was popped for laying back on the restart and was sent to the rear of the field for the final restart. The 19-year old racer was able to regain much needed spots in one lap to grab a seventh-place finish.

Several drivers found themselves involved in accidents all throughout the event. The most notable one involved ARCA Racing Series veteran driver Bret Holmes on the backstretch. The No. 23 Holmes II Excavation Chevrolet stopped on its side in a crash that involved multiple cars later in the running. He later exited the car and walked to the waiting ambulance. All other drivers involved also walked away from the incident.

The next race for the ARCA Racing Series will be at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on April 7. The event will air live on MAVTV at 8:00 p.m. ET.  ARCARacing.com will carry live radio and timing and scoring of the event.