Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
The second running of the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 is one week from commencing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Before NASCAR’s most spectacular showcase of Playoff drama, road course excitement and high-speed competition gets underway, here’s a look at some attractions no fan can miss when taking in all there is to offer at America’s Home for Racing:
Ride the Ferris Wheel
Looking to witness the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 from a bird’s-eye view? Race fans can ride a giant, LED-lit 90-foot Ferris wheel powered by Renu Energy Solutions at the Turn 4 Sun Deck throughout race weekend – taking the race weekend fun to new heights. Rides are FREE for fans with a race ticket.
Chris Lane Pre-Race Concert
Fans can enjoy a FREE pre-race concert featuring Chris Lane, one of country music’s hottest rising stars, on the frontstretch at 12:30 p.m. The Big Loud Records artist, who attended college and played baseball at nearby University of North Carolina-Charlotte, will perform songs from his latest chart-topping album, “Laps Around the Sun,” including the PLATINUM-certified smash hit “Take Back Home Girl” featuring Tori Kelly.
Rock The ROVAL™
Once the checkered flag falls on Saturday’s Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, crank up the volume with the Rock the ROVAL™ Party in the infield, which features a concert with Yacht Rock Revue – the “greatest show on surf” – performing hits from the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a concert with country music star Tim Dugger. Drivers including Ryan Blaney and Corey Lajoie will make appearances at the speedway’s Trackside Live stage. Ticketholders to the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 or the Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina will have FREE admission.
Experience the ROVAL™ First Hand
Take the race-week ride-along of a lifetime with NASCAR Racing Experience. Featuring numerous options to suit every fan’s needs, a ride on the ROVAL™ provides fans with an up-close look at the challenges drivers face and an unforgettable experience on the innovative course. Book your ROVAL™ Racing Experience at https://www.
Fan Zone Fun
Race fans of all ages will find plenty of fun displays, music, games and interactive attractions throughout the speedway’s Fan Zone. At the expansive Bank of America display, fans can race the ROVAL™ on a slot car race track, simulators and NASCAR Heat 4. Fans can take a photo with a life-sized Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 logo, and a local artist will be painting the Grand Marshal car into a rolling work of art highlighting Bank of America’s local community partners.
Fans can also check out the Monster Energy freestyle motocross show, excavator demonstrations by Caterpillar, an Air Force flight simulator virtual reality experience, a rock-climbing wall and inflatable fun in the Atrium Health Play Zone for kids, plus displays by Toyota, Advance Auto Parts, NGK Spark Plugs, Tommy Pike Customs and many more.
Grab a Souvenir Race Program
Souvenir programs remain one of the longest traditions – and most collectible items – fans can find at America’s Home for Racing. This year’s Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 souvenir program cover features a colorful layout of the 2.28-mile, 17-turn ROVAL™ with an image of the unforgettable 2018 race finish featuring winner Ryan Blaney as well as Jimmie Johnson and Martin Truex Jr. Fans will find plenty of in-depth stories about drivers, teams and the speedway’s illustrious history packed into the program's pages. Additionally, redeem the voucher inside the program for a lineup sheet poster detailing the field for the race. Programs are on sale on the concourse as well as at gate entrances.
Bite into a Pickle Sandwich or Sip Some Melonhead Shine
In addition to Rocky ROVAL™ ice cream – a salted caramel-flavored ice cream paired with bits of marshmallow and candied bacon – fans should try the new Melonhead Shine, a refreshing, watermelon mixed drink with moonshine, Sprite and lemon. If you’re looking for a unique sandwich, give the pickle sandwich: a new, made-to-order delicacy like no other.
Pit Stop Pier
This sandy, island-inspired oasis near Oval Turn 1 gives fans a chance to cool off in a tropical atmosphere that’s close to the action as cars go from the ROVAL™ infield corners to the high-speed, 24-degree banked turns. Fans can kick back, relax and enjoy a drink and a snack in a unique setting fit for fans seeking a new experience, featuring a 1960s-themed Richard Petty boat as well as island-themed decorations and games.
Visit the STEM Expo
Don’t miss out on the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) Expo at zMAX Dragway on Sept. 27 prior to Bojangles’ Qualifying. More than 1,500 students from across the Carolinas will attend the event, which begins at 9 a.m. The STEM EXPO gives attendees an educational, in-depth look into how the technologically advanced world of motorsports operates and evolves through lessons on subjects like acceleration, friction and G-force. The expo features more than 50 interactive stations displaying attractions including NASCAR inspection laser technology and reaction-testing platforms. Among the additional displays are Carolinas Aviation, the Queen City Robotics Alliance and U-Race Simway.
Tickets and camping packages for the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400 are available at the gates, by visiting charlottemotorspeedway.com/
Fans can connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway by following on Twitter and Instagram or becoming a Facebook fan. Keep up with all the latest news and information with the Charlotte Motor Speedway mobile app.
Team Penske and Hitachi Group announced today that they will continue their winning partnership for the 2020 IndyCar Series season. Building on a relationship that first began in 2012, Hitachi and Team Penske have agreed to an extension that ensures the global technology, electronics and automotive company will remain a key collaborator with the team.
Under the new agreement, the distinctive black and white Hitachi branding will continue to adorn the No. 2 Dallara/Chevrolet IndyCar driven by 2017 series champion Josef Newgarden, who is pursuing his second career IndyCar Series crown in this weekend’s season finale at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Hitachi will be the primary sponsor on the No. 2 Chevy for eight races in 2020, while the company will once again be featured as an associate sponsor on all Team Penske cars competing in the IndyCar Series.
“We are proud to continue our partnership with Hitachi and build on the success we have enjoyed together over the last eight seasons,” said Roger Penske. “Hitachi has been such an important partner for our IndyCar program and we also utilize their technology and services across many of our Penske Corporation businesses away from the track.”
Newgarden, who entered this weekend’s Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey with a 41-point lead in the series championship standings, has produced three of his four wins this season while driving the Hitachi-sponsored Chevrolet.
“We’ve had a great season with Hitachi and everyone at Team Penske is looking forward to finishing the year strong with them on Sunday,” said Newgarden. “The support Hitachi provides to our team is so valuable and we see that in the results on race weekend. We can’t wait to build on that momentum with Hitachi in 2020.”
After joining forces with Chevrolet to provide the direct fuel injection systems for the Chevy IndyCar engines, Hitachi first began competing with Team Penske during the 2012 IndyCar Series. The following season, Hitachi expanded its presence to become a primary sponsor with the team.
Hitachi experienced its first series win as a primary sponsor in 2014 when Helio Castroneves drove the Hitachi Chevy to Victory Lane in Detroit. The company has been a part of numerous wins, Indianapolis 500 victories and series championships as a valued Team Penske partner.
“Hitachi is thrilled to announce the continuation of our partnership with Team Penske for the 2020 IndyCar Series season,” said Toshiaki Higashihara, President & CEO, Hitachi, Ltd. “Hitachi and Penske Corporation envision this partnership to be a catalyst for innovation within the transportation industry. By combining Penske’s world-class industrial expertise with Hitachi’s industry-leading IoT and data analytics solutions, we can advance this sector in a way that will generate value for both our customers and society at large.”
Team Penske PR
Brian DeFebo wins Mahoning Modified 50; Bobby Jones, Frankie Althouse, Jon Moser, Bobby Kibler Sr., and Al Arthofer are division champions; Octoberfast 2019 up next.22 Sep 2019
Saturday night’s 50-lap Modified feature at Mahoning Valley Speedway won by Brian DeFebo served as a prelude to the marquee Octoberfast 150 on October 12 and the indication for the $5000-to-win event will be an outstanding display of racing evidenced by the great exhibit of competition throughout the field.
DeFebo withstood a throng of pressure from runner-up Kyle Strohl, newly crowned champion Bobby Jones and Austin Beers before pulling away late for a two car length margin of victory worth $2000. It was his third win of 2019 and 105th overall.
DeFebo took the reins of the race on lap nine from a very impressive running BJ Wambold. Afterwards he began to check out on the pack. Wambold stayed strong holding onto second before Strohl unseated him 21 laps in. Still at that point DeFebo was the dominant car as Strohl was several lengths back.
It wouldn’t be until a restart on lap 32 that DeFebo was under the gun as Strohl and Jones stepped up their game and stayed hot on the leader’s tail and it shortly thereafter Beers hitched along and made it a close four car battle.
DeFebo had no choice but to guard both high and low lanes as the trio continued coming on strong against him. Strohl was able to secure second spot within the closing laps while Beers was ever-so-close to unseating Jones. By that point, however, DeFebo wasn’t having any parts of that as he pulled slightly ahead by the time the checkers waved.
“This is really exciting and I love racing here,” said DeFebo.
“I didn’t want to lead that early on and I knew the car was very good but you have to take advantage of it when can to get out front and set your own pace. This is definitely a warm-up for that 150 (lapper) and we are hoping for the same results.”
Runner-up Strohl, who locked the Sportsman Modified title the week prior when rain cancelled that show, was the only other driver that had a shot at Jones for the Modified crown.
Jones’ third place earned him his first track championship in 25 years and first here in a Modified.
Beers was advancing nicely before the race ended and is a pre-race favorite for Octoberfast where he was second to Matt Hirschman a year ago.
Wambold meanwhile turned plenty of heads with his fine drive as he recorded his first top five with a Modified.
In the Late Models it was Frankie Althouse not only winning the race but his second consecutive championship as well.
In what was nothing short of the thrilling battle between he and Jeremy Miller who ran in side-by-side formation for a many laps, Althouse didn’t have full control of the race until the final circuits.
In taking his class leading eighth win of the season it sealed a year long fight between him and point runner-up Mike Sweeney.
“Last year my son Cash had some real bad health issues and we were to the point this year where he was getting worse and at that point I about had the car sold,” explained an emotional Althouse.
“But my wife talked me out of it and said he’s not going to be sick forever. So going from selling the car to this is pretty damn sweet. We now have to come back and win Octoberfast.”
Todd Ahner is a classy, respected veteran racer so when he won the Street Stock feature it was understandable that so many well-wishers greeted him in Victory Lane.
After running up-front all season long but falling short on one to many occasions for victory, the all-time careers wins leader in Street Stocks took the top spot from Josh Mooney on lap seven and once there never looked back, winning for the first time since Octoberfast 2017.
Mooney, for the second time in as many races settled for a solid second. With his third place tally Jon Moser claimed the division championship, his third with the class.
In the Pro 4s Bobby Kibler Sr., not only won for an unparalleled seventh time but in doing so also finished atop the point standings and won his career first track championship after nearly 40 years of racing.
Kibler dashed his way by Kadie Pursell on lap seven and then powered to his class leading verdict. Jeremy Guerra runner-up with Cody Kohler third.
Perhaps the most anticipated race of the night was the Hobby Stocks as five drivers where mathematically eligible for the title and after all was said and done Al Arthofer was that driver, winning the battle by a mere one point over Devin Schmidt. Arthofer didn’t secure the crown until the final lap when he passed Schmidt for fifth spot.
The race was won by another of the contenders, Travis Solomon who won the caution free affair over Kassidy Altemose. Solomon ended a close third in the final standings rundown.
After further review of issues, the Dirt Modified feature on June 22, 2019 will be scored as the competitors finished on the track, a race that was won by Mike Stofflet over Ricky Yetter, who finished second. With the Dirt Modified division no longer racing, Ricky Yetter ends the season in the top spot of the division’s points standings for a record third time.
Modified Feature Finish (50-laps): 1. Brian DeFebo, 2. Kyle Strohl, 3. Bobby Jones, 4. Austin Beers, 5. BJ Wambold, 6. John Markovic, 7. Earl Paules, 8. Lorin Arthofer, 9. Josh Scherer, 10. Eric Kocher, 11. Stacey Brown, 12. Jarred Nace, 13. DJ Wagner, 14, Terry Markovic, 15. Corey Edelman, 16. Austin Kochenash, 17. Nick Bear, 18. Anthony Sesely, 19. Heath Metzger, 20. Don Wagner, 21. Todd Bear
Late Model Feature Finish (25-laps): 1.Frankie Althouse, 2. Jeremy Miller, 3. Dylan Osborn, 4. Samantha Osborn, 5. Avery Arthofer, 6. Mike Sweeney, 7. Kenny Hein
Street Stock Feature Finish (30-laps): 1. Todd Ahner, 2. Josh Mooney, 3. Jon Moser, 4. Eric Kocher, 5. Randy Schlenker, 6. Jared Ahner, 7. Jamie Smith, 8. Matt Deysher, 9. Mark Martini, 10. Aaron Kromer, 11. Randy Ahner, 12. Kevin Weierbach, 13. Brennen Coulter, 14. Jill Long, 15. Louie Horvath, 16, Dennis Buss, 17. Rick Reichenbach
Pro 4 Feature Finish (20-laps): 1.Bobby Kibler Sr., 2. Jeremy Guerra, 3. Cody Kohler, 4. Jake Kibler, 5. Randy Schaffer, 6. Josh Kuronya, 7. Tucker Muffley, 8. Matt Clark, 9. Tyler Stangle, 10. Kadie Pursell DNS: Bobby Kibler Jr.
Hobby Stock Feature Finish (25-laps): 1.Travis Solomon, 2. Kassidy Altemose, 3. Cody Kohler, 4. Peyton Arthofer, 5. Al Arthofer, 6. Devin Schmidt, 7. Jacob Boehm, 8. Trisha Connolly, 9. Rich Mutarelli, 10. Cody Boehm, 11. John Petro, 12. Eddie Jones, 13. Tad Snyder, 14. Tyler Nemeth, 15. Ralph Borger Jr., 16. Sam Ryan, 17. Mallory Kutz DNS: Jesse Bollinger, Todd Geist
Veteran racer Mike Gular returned to his “home track” of Grandview Speedway on Saturday night to participate in the running of the 49th Annual Freedom 76-lap T.P. Trailers 358 Modified feature which netted him $25,000 plus lap money as the winner.
The 2018 defending point champion accomplished the goal he set out to achieve last year which was a point title. The 2019 season saw the Sassamansville, PA speedster venture to other tracks as a learning experience in which he did quite well despite the long haul to New York.
Gular, who started seventh in a field of 31 competitors, moved into third on the fourth lap and made a bold move when Frank Cozze and Rick Laubach running first and second got bottled up behind lap traffic. T.J. Lily broke right at the finish line causing the top three to scramble. Gular saw an opportunity open and shot into the lead just as the yellow came out on the 19th lap. Gular maintained the lead on the restart and held off the challenges of Cozze and later eventual runner-up Laubach on the three restarts needed once he was in front. When the checkered unfurled Gular proved he still knew his way around the 1/3-mile oval and pulled into victory lane for a well-earned triumph. It was a “dream come true” for Gular and the team since it was something he wanted to win for several years.
In addition to monetary awards from T.P. Trailers and product certificates from VP Fuels provided he sported the proper decals, Gular received the Dan’s Deli ½-way hoagie award and a Bob Hilbert Sportswear jacket. Craig Von Dohren, who finished sixth after starting 29th having to get into the field via the Minuteman 20, received $500 from fellow driver Bobby Gunther Walsh and his sponsors as the Hard Charger of the race.
Through the luck of the draw Cozze, a guaranteed starter by finishing second in the Forrest Rogers Memorial a race won by 2019 point champion Duane Howard which also earned him guaranteed position, grabbed the early lead trailed by Laubach, Billy Pauch Jr., Ryan Beltz and Gular.
Beltz, while running fourth, spun into the backstretch infield for the first yellow on the third lap. The previous lap Pauch Jr., third place runner, pulled out of competition. Cozze held onto the lead when action resumed with Laubach trying every which way to get around him.
The top there comprised of Cozze, Laubach and Gular, scrambled on the 19th lap yellow when Lilly broke on the homestretch. Gular saw an opening just before the yellow was thrown to overtake the lead as the trio crossed the line. Second through fifth with Gular at the head of the pack when action went green again was now comprised of Cozze, Jared Umbenhauer, Laubach and defending race winner Howard. Trying to get into the top five was Brett Kressley and he did that on the 30th lap.
By the half-way marker Gular distanced himself from the competition with Cozze, Laubach, Brett Kressley and Umbenhauer in tow having a four-way battle for second. Right in the thick of the action was Doug Manmiller in sixth and by the 56th lap he overtook Kressley for fifth.
Kressley, in sixth, spun in the second turn with a flat tire for the 68th lap yellow, but Gular still maintained the number one position on the restart.
A multi-car tangle between turns three and four brought out the yellow with 69 laps in the books. Gular wasted no time pulling away on the restart as he knew now Laubach, Manmiller, Cozze, Howard and Von Dohren wanted to change the order.
Gular stuck to the bottom trek while Laubach attempted to overtake him running the top lane.
Gular never gave up the lead and went on to claim the biggest win of his career. Chasing him across the line were Laubach, Manmiller, Cozze and Howard. Rounding out the top ten were Von Dohren, Jeff Strunk, Umbenhauer, Mike Lisowski and Bobby Varin.
Kressley, Colt Harris, Nick Rochinski, Beltz, Ray Swinehart and Umbenhauer won the six 12-lap qualifying heats. The two consies in which three from each advanced to the Schaeffer’s Motorsports Minuteman 20 were won by Von Dohren and Glenn Strunk. Bobby Varin won the non-stop Minuteman Man 20 with Billy Osmun III, Richie Pratt, Ryan Watt and Von Dohren also getting into the Freedom 76.
Howard also picked up an additional $1,000 and a Penske Shocks certificate by winning the 10-lap Cash Dash.
Tire certificates were also awarded by Lias Tires.
Coming up next at Grandview Speedway is Enduro and Blast from the Past Vintage racing. It all happens on Saturday, September 28th at 6 p.m. and features Big Cars, Small Cars, Junk Yard Cars, Mechanics Race, Xcel 600 Modifieds along with two features for the Vintage racers. A lot of action for just $10 (adults) and youngsters under 12 free.
Then on Saturday, October 19th, 6 p.m. Thunder on the Hill Halloween Party featuring 358/Big Block Modifieds in a 40-lap main event plus Sportsman and MASS Sprinters.
49TH FREEDOM 76 T.P. Trailers Modified Feature (76-Laps): 1. Mike Gular, 2. Rick Laubach, 3. Doug Manmiller, 4. Frank Cozze, 5. Duane Howard, 6. Craig Von Dohren, 7. Jeff Strunk, 8. Jared Umbenhauer, 9. Mike Lisowski, 10. Bobby Varin, 11. Danny Erb, 12. Brandon Grosso, 13. Kenny Gilmore, 14. Briggs Danner, 15. Richie Pratt Jr., 16. Jimmy Reppert, 17. Billy Osmun III, 18. Ray Swinehart, 19. Brett Kressley, 20. Richie Hitzler, 21. Dylan Swinehart, 22. Neal Williams, 23. Ryan Lilick, 24. Alex Yankowski, 25. Nate Brinker, 26. Colt Harris, 27. T.J. Lilly, 28. Ryan Watt, 29. Billy Pauch Jr., 30. Matt Stangle, 31. Ryan Beltz. DNQ: Ryan Grim, Clay Butler, Timmy Buckwalter, John Willman, Kyle Weiss, Kevin Hirthler, Glenn Strunk, Ron Kline, Don Norris Jr., Dave Dissinger, Keith Hoffman, Ryan Anderson, Mike Laise, Dave Dissinger, Danny Bouc, Frank Yankowski, Louden Reimert, Craig Whitmoyer, Kyle Lilick, Bobby Gunther Walsh, Dominic Buffalino, Jesse Leiby, Steve Swinehart, Ron Myers, Joe Funk III, Justin Grim, Kory Fleming, Brian Hirthler.
Schaeffer Motorsports Minuteman 20: 1. Bobby Varin, 2. Billy Osmun III, 3. Richie Pratt Jr., 4. Ryan Watt, Craig Von Dohren
Cash Dash (10 Laps): 1. Duane Howard, 2. Ray Swinehart, 3. Jared Umbenhauer, 4. Colt Harris, 5. Frank Cozze, 6. Brian Kressley, 7. Ryan Beltz. DNS: Rich Rochinski.
Grandview Speedway PR
The calendar might show the arrival of fall next week, and many around East Tennessee will welcome the expected cooler temperatures after an extremely hot summer the region has experienced with around 40 days reaching the 90-degree-plus mark.
Fans were treated to an exciting Chase for the Championship six division points racing program Saturday at Volunteer Speedway, and the action was heated on the high banks.
Tim Byrd from Jonesborough set fast-time in Crate Late Model qualifying at 13.359 seconds, with his former teammate Jensen Ford of Johnson City second quickest at 13.451.
The two Washington County residents Byrd and Ford led the 16-car field to green from the front row, and over the first four laps they put on a show as they battled side-by-side for the lead before Ford moved to the point. Directly behind them Logan Roberson was glued to Byrd’s back bumper, followed by Rusty Ballenger and divisional points leader Tim Maupin.
With Ford showing the way out front, Byrd on several occasions stuck the nose of his ride under Ford through the corners. But Ford was up-on-the-wheel maintaining his advantage. Midway through the 30-lap event, Ford had put around eight car lengths between himself, Byrd and Roberson.
Byrd had his hands full in trying to hold back the hard-charging “Thugg Nasty” Roberson. Behind them racing between Ballenger, Maupin, Heath Alvey and Gary Crittenden for position was good.
With the race running clean-and-green, a late race caution waved on lap 23 when John Tweed spun directly in front of the lead trio of Ford, Byrd and Roberson between turns one and two, forcing them into evasive action to avoid making contact.
Ford smashed the loud pedal on the single-file restart leaving Byrd and Roberson to fight it out for the runner-up spot. Maupin dropped a couple of positions to Alvey and Crittenden.
But out front the race belonged to Ford as he completed the flag-to-flag run to the checkered flag for his second win of the season over Byrd, Roberson, Ballenger and Alvey.
Noted race engine builder Travis Fultz of Harrogate doesn’t get the opportunity to race as much nowadays as he once did in the past, due to his position traveling on weekends as head technical inspection director for the American Crate All-Star Series. But there’s no doubt when he does get behind the wheel, he’s a definite front-running contender for the victory.
Fultz set fast-time at 13.653 seconds to earn the pole position for the Sportsman Late Model feature, narrowly edging out veteran racer Vic Chandler’s time of 13.668.
Fultz powered into the lead on the opening lap while Chandler was quickly overtaken for position by Rex Coffey and Chris Coffey. An early caution when David Bullington spun between turns one and two slowed the action.
Back under green and Fultz flexed his muscle in pulling out to almost a full-straightaway advantage over the Coffeys, Kip Sawyer and Chandler. Chandler was feeling pressure from Brad Dyer, with Logan Seal and Chris Raines following.
Fultz was making just his third start of the season, with one win and a fifth-place finish to his credit. The race he didn’t win, he was leading midway through the feature when cars wrecked directly in front of him and he had nowhere to go.
Fultz cruised to his second win over Rex Coffey, Chris Coffey, Sawyer and Dyer, who got around Chandler a few laps from the finish.
Shannon Emery jumped out to lead at start of the Modified Street feature and quickly put several car lengths between himself and closest challengers Chris Rickett and Wayne Rader. Rickett and Rader got together racing off the fourth turn on lap 7, with Rickett spinning to bring the caution out and pulling into the pits ending his race.
Back under green with Emery leading Rader and Kurt Owens, caution waved when Owens slowed to a stop high in turn four. Looking like he was on his way to victory, Emery slowed on lap 10 with mechanical issues and entered the pits. Rader, from Parrottsville, assumed the lead and went on to win over Kaleb Trent, Landon Steele, Lance Creasman and Austin Lefevers.
Tony Trent was fastest in Street Stock qualifying, but it was fellow front-row starter Austin Atkins of Morristown capturing his fifth feature win. He was chased to the checkered flag by Trent, Jamie Whitt, Tim Stevens and divisional points leader Jason Rollins.
Michael Millsap took the checkered flag over John Stevens and Shane Taylor in the Classic feature, but unfortunately for Millsap his car failed post-race technical inspection. Thus Stevens, from Wallins Creek, Ky., recorded his division-leading 11th victory over Taylor, Chris McKinney, Chad Manning and Chuck Kilian.
Making his first-ever Mini Stock start at "The Gap," Shane Bullock of Caryville grabbed the lead at start of the 20-lap feature and held off a hard-charging Chad Manning at the finish to get the win. Rounding out the top five were Daniel Moody, John Gulliver and Justin Meredith.
Volunteer Speedway PR
It’s a rare moment in motorsports when a rookie pulls out a huge victory in the top echelon of their driving discipline. On this night, Rookie of the Year contender Demetrios Drellos did just that, shocking the world of Big Block Modified racing by winning his first Super DIRTcar Series race at Albany-Saratoga Speedway in one of the biggest races of the year.
Drellos battled back the best in the business including Matt Sheppard, Larry Wight, Billy Decker, and Mat Williamson to pick up $10,000 and a guaranteed start in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 at NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII. Billy Decker crossed the line in second and Mat Williamson had his two-race win streak broken with a third-place finish.
The night of racing started out well for the Queensbury, NY driver Demetrios Drellos after setting the second fastest lap in his Time Trial group, which put the No. 111 on the outside pole for his Heat Race. Pole-sitter Matt Sheppard got the best of him but soon the roles were reversed. In the Dig Safely NY 811 Redraw, Drellos drew the pole position and Matt Sheppard’s designated drawer put the No. 9s on the outside pole.
At the drop of the green flag, The Greek Streak outdueled Sheppard to retain the top spot in the early going. He eventually stretched out a substantial lead with the first caution coming around lap 40. After that, the rest of the heavy-hitters like Larry Wight, Billy Decker, and Mat Williamson stepped up to the plate but Drellos denied all-comers.
“Every lap that clicked by I thought Larry, Matt, Billy, or Williamson would get by on the bottom. I was just so persistent on the top. I know it’s really risky picking the top lane here on the restarts but the top has been so fast here. It worked out for me,” said Drellos.
The No. 111 pilot sliced and diced his way through heavy lapped traffic in the latter half of the race. The track conditions were conducive to fast, side-by-side racing, which made the traffic difficult to work through.
“I follow a lot of good guys on the Series and they aren’t afraid to take risks in lapped traffic. You gotta go and if you don’t go, someone’s gonna pounce on you,” Drellos explained.
Needless to say, Drellos was a very happy driver in Victory Lane. He’s worked hard learning new tracks and refining his Time Trial program all season.
“It’s been such a learning curve running with these guys every week and it’s finally paid off.”
Drellos’ voice wavered with emotion as The Voice of the Super DIRTcar Series Shane Andrews interviewed him in Victory Lane when he said, “I watched a lot of Super DIRTcar Series races from those seats right up there and it feels really amazing to be standing down here not too many years later beating the best.”
The win will take a little time to sink in because it’s a rare feat to beat your heroes at their own game:
“I’m speechless, to be honest. You have Mat Williamson, Matt Sheppard, Billy Decker, Pat Ward, Tim Fuller, I mean, I’ve watched those guys for years. They are just unbelievable stars here. Just to say I beat them in a Super DIRTcar Series race is something I never even dreamed of.”
The Franklyn Flyer Billy Decker was the final driver to reach the rear bumper of the No. 111 but he too failed to overtake the young rookie.
Mat Williamson now has four podium finishes in a row including two race wins. The team has been constent all year but now Williamson is clicking off great finishes and has begun reeling in points leader Matt Sheppard.
“Confidence as a lot to do with it. It seems like when we won Orange County [Centennial Celebration] it started rolling from there. Fortunately, I have a really good car owner and really good crew guys. They make my job real easy behind the wheel,” noted Williamson.
The racing surface was tacky and provided a lot of grip from the bottom to the top of the speedway.
“We tried to move all over the place. The track was really fast and racy,” said Williamson. “I think we tightened up a little bit too much. Demetrios was really good. Hats off to those guys, it’s cool to see him win.”
Mike Mahaney stormed through the field to pick up sixteen positions as the KSE Racing Hard-Charger Award. He finished seventh after starting deep in the field, but the tenacious Huttig No. 35 team’s hard work paid off.
In the Dig Safely NY 811 Redraw, Peter Britten had his daughter for a designated drawer. The curly-haired youngster joyfully picked up a neon yellow t-shirt and awarded Britten one free Hoosier Racing Tire, but also a twelfth place starting position.
Home-track hero Kenny Tremont Jr., who picked up the 2019 Mr. DIRT Track USA title at Lebanon Valley Speedway, set the fastest lap in Time Trials, which granted him the Billy Whittaker Cars Fast-Time Award.
The next Super DIRTcar Series race is the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 on Sunday, October 13 at Oswego Speedway to conclude NAPA Super DIRT Week XLVIII.
FEATURE (100 Laps)
1. 111-Demetrios Drellos [$10,000]; 2. 91-Billy Decker [$5,000]; 3. 88-Mat Williamson [$2,500]; 4. 44-Stewart Friesen [$1,800]; 5. 99L-Larry Wight [$1,600]; 6. 9S-Matt Sheppard [$1,400]; 7. 35-Mike Mahaney [$1,300]; 8. 93-Danny Varin [$1,200]; 9. 18-Anthony Perrego [$1,100]; 10. 2-Ronnie Johnson [$1,000]; 11. 19m-Jessey Mueller [$800]; 12. 20-Brett Hearn [$700]; 13. 19-Tim Fuller [$600]; 14. 25-Erick Rudolph [$575]; 15. 97-Bobby Hackel [$550]; 16. 3d-Matt Delorenzo [$525]; 17. 2L-Jack Lehner [$500]; 18. 98H-Jimmy Phelps [$500]; 19. 26-Ryan Godown [$500]; 20. 74-JR Heffner [$500]; 21. 91NY-Jackie Brown [$500]; 22. 27J-Danny Johnson [$500]; 23. R2-Rusty Smith [$]; 24. 21A-Peter Britten [$500]; 25. 17-Marcus Dinkins [$]; 26. 115-Kenny Tremont [$500]; 27. 96S-Paul St.Sauveur [$500]; 28. 3j-Marc Johnson [$500]
KSE Hard Charger Award: 35-Mike Mahaney[+16]
Super DIRTcar Series PR
NASCAR fans will be up for an exciting final battle for ELITE 2 Division title at Circuit Zolder on October 5-6 with Giorgio Maggi and Lasse Soerensen separated by just nine points entering the last two races of the 2019 season. The Dane closed the gap on championship leader Maggi by grabbing a spectacular win in Sunday’s Semi Final race at Germany’s Hockenheimring.
RESULTS ELITE 2 SEMI FINAL 2
The Dexwet-Df1 Racing rookie grabbed the lead right after the start and fended off Maggi in the early stages of the 16-lap race, surviving two restarts to grab his fifth Euro NASCAR win of the season.
“It was a really good race today, as my plan was to catch Maggi right from the beginning,” said the 22 year old Dane, who managed to position himself in the title hunt despite missing the season opener in Valencia. “The plan worked out really well but I had to defend my position after the two cautions, which was not that easy. I managed to have three good starts and it seems like I was very quick in the first 2-3 laps after each restart. Now I want the title, which was the goal even before the start of my season in Italy. We will get there!”
NWES debutant Hugo De Sadeleer grabbed his second Euro NASCAR podium out of two starts by finishing right behind Soerensen. The Swiss took over second place in his #88 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang on lap 14 with a bold maneuver on championship leader Giorgio Maggi, who had to deal with brake issues in the closing stages and settled for a smart fifth place under the checkered flag.
Racers Motorsport’s Alessandro Brigatti ended up third and earned himself the first NWES podium finish with a strong performance. The average age of the drivers on the podium was below 22, confirming the quality of the new talents making their NWES debut in 2019. The Rookie Trophy podium mirrored the overall top-3.
“We were very fast in the beginning of the race, but I struggled a lot in the end,” said NWES newcomer De Sadeleer. “I was side-by-side with Lasse in the closing laps, but due to the yellow flags I was not allowed to overtake him in the Motodrom. I’m really pleased with the result and Racing Engineering did a great job, setting up an awesome Ford Mustang. Hopefully I will be able to come back at Zolder and fight for the win.”
Brigatti commented his first ever NWES podium: “It’s crazy and unbelievable to stand on the podium here at Hockenheim. I never expected to finish inside the top-3, but we managed to get there. I didn’t run in qualifying but I did a good lap in a strong first race. We had a better starting position in the second race and a good pace. I’m really happy with the result today.”
The safety-car was deployed two times, the first on lap 4 after 16-year-old Ben Creanor hit the wall in the famous Motodrom. The second caution came on lap 7 due to a multi-car crash. Andre Castro, Mirco Schultis and Pol van Pollaert were all involved in the accident and had to retire from the race. On the following restart, Soerensen took the lead in turn one and never relinquished it, bringing home the win in the NASCAR GP Germany.
Jesse Vartiainen confirmed Saturday’s strong pace by finishing fourth. The Alex Caffi Motorsports driver took advantage of Maggi’s technical problems in the closing stages to pass the Swiss in the last lap. Maggi contained the damage and brought home his #50 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang in fifth place, preserving the championship lead by nine points on Soerensen.
Brigatti’s teammate Nicholas Risitano ended up sixth ahead of CAAL Racing’s Advait Deodhar and Martin Doubek at the wheel of the #7 Hendriks Motorsport Ford Mustang. Deodhar’s teammate Pierluigi Veronesi finished ahead of American NASCAR veteran Myatt Snider, who closed the top-10 in his #48 Racing Engineering Ford Mustang.
Memphis Racing’s Ian Eric Waden grabbed another Legend Trophy win at the Hockenheimring, bringing his season total up to five and setting up a very tight battle for the over-40 classification in Zolder. At the wheel of her #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet, Arianna Casoli, who also won the Lady Trophy classification, was second among the Legend drivers ahead of points leader Michael Bleekemolen.
The ELITE 2 Division will be back in action on October 5-6 at Circuit Zolder in Belgium. The qualifying and both final races will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NWES Facebook and YouTube page, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world.
Loris Hezemans will be the man to beat on October 5-6 in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series Finals at Circuit Zolder, Belgium. The Hendriks Motorsport driver grabbed his fourth consecutive ELITE 1 win of 2019 in an exciting dash to the checkered flag in which he beat Nicolo Rocca by just 0.203 seconds.
RESULTS ELITE 1 SEMI FINAL 2
The Dutchman also stretched the championship lead he took over after Saturday’s race to 21 points over Rocca, making it a perfect weekend for Hendriks Motorsport. The team took three wins out of four races at the NASCAR GP Germany.
When polesitter and current race leader Alon Day was sidelined by a technical problem on his #54 CAAL Racing Chevrolet SS on lap 3, his teammate Thomas Ferrando was the quickest to take advantage of the moment and grabbed the provisional lead. Hezemans was too strong for the Frenchman, and moved past the #27 CAAL Racing Mustang just two laps later. He then fended off every attack from a charging Rocca brought in the remaining 15 laps until the checkered flag dropped.
Rocca fought hard to catch Hezemans, but had to settle for second when a couple of door-to-door battles were not enough for the PK Carsport driver to pass the Flying Dutchman.
“It’s been a great feeling to win the second race here at the Hockenheimring,” said the Hezemans, who’s the winner of the Tijey’s Fastest Driver Award. “It wasn’t easy as Alon was driving very well until his car broke down. Hopefully he can compensate that at Zolder. When Alon slowed down Rocca and I were a little bit surprised, but then we saw Ferrando take the lead and I was thinking: ‘Wow, we gotta go!’ The team did a great job and we find a great way to have a fast car. In Zolder it’s all about bringing the car home and win the championship.”
Rocca said about his second place: “It was a great weekend and we’re still in the middle of the championship battle. We showed that we have the right pace and can fight Loris. I tried my best to overtake him and I was way more aggressive than yesterday. I really wanted to win, but I’m happy with the second place. I hope, it was an entertaining race to watch with all those intense battles. Everything can happen in Zolder and the gap is not that big. We’ll focus on qualifying to have a good starting spot on the grid and we’ll be going for the championship.”
Racers Motorsport’s Gianmarco Ercoli carved his way up to third after an intense battle against Racing Engineering’s Romain Iannetta and RDV Competition’s Frederic Gabillon, who closed the top-5.
“It’s amazing to be back on the podium, as this season is not my best one in NWES,” said Ercoli. “I worked very hard to be back on top of the standings and I’m really happy about the podium today and the fourth place yesterday. The team did a great job, they really deserved it and we are all very happy.”
After leading the race in the early stages, Thomas Ferrando fell back to sixth. The CAAL Racing driver closed the Junior Trophy podium behind Hezemans and Rocca. Ander Vilarino was part of the podium battle too until lap 18 when he was shuffled back to 15th.
Go Fas Racing driver and former Formula One World Champion Jacques Villeneuve was seventh ahead of Alexander Graff. Scott Jeffs finished ninth in his ELITE 1 debut for Braxx Racing and grabbed his first ELITE 1 top-10 in what was his second start in the NWES premier division. Reigning ELITE 2 champion Ulysse Delsaux, who celebrated his 22nd birthday on Sunday, rounded out the top-10.
Ioannis Smyrlis won the Challenger Trophy in the very first NWES weekend of his career. The Marko Stipp DF1 Racing driver edged Kenko Miura and Henri Tuomaala in the championship for bronze and silver drivers of the ELITE 1 Division.
The only caution of the race came up in lap 13, just seven laps before the checkered flag. Dario Caso’s Racers Motorsport Ford Mustang broke down and the Italian had to stop the car beside the race track.
On October 5-6 at Circuit Zolder it will be Hezemans versus Rocca for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title. Qualifying and all races from the legendary Belgian track will be streamed live on Fanschoice.tv, the NWES Facebook and YouTube pages, Motorsport.tv and a vast network of websites and social media pages from around the world.