1 MONTH ALERT: World of Outlaws Sprint Cars Return to Volusia For Bike Week Doubleheader, March 5-6

The event will kick off the Low-E Insulation FL to PA Spring Showdown six-race battle

BARBERVILLE, FL (Feb. 6, 2023) – The biggest two-wheel event in Florida will collide with the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Cars when the Series returns to Volusia Speedway Park, Sunday-Monday, March 5-6.

The doubleheader weekend at “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile,” will help kickoff Bike Week and commence the Low-E Insulation FL to PA Spring Showdown six-race series – which starts at Volusia and ends at Lincoln Speedway (March 18), paying $10,000 to the overall points earner, $6,000 for second and $4,000 for third.

Drivers will contend for a $10,000 payday each night, along with valuable points toward the prestigious World of Outlaws championship.


Event Highlights:

GATOR KING: The World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series begins its season at Volusia Speedway Park during the Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 9-11, handing out three Feature wins and a Big Gator Championship. The winners of each will have the best momentum going into the Bike Week doubleheader.

Last year, David Gravel won the final race of the event and took home his second Big Gator Championship.

GRAVEL’S HOME: There’s nothing more relaxing and rejuvenating for a driver than being able to race close to home. With Gravel, originally from Watertown, CT, calling Florida home, he gets the benefit of spending the first month of the season a short drive from his house. Paired with his stout record at Volusia, including two Big Gator Championships and two Feature wins, Gravel and his Big Game Motorsports team will be poised to start off the season strong and hunt down their first championship.

DRIVE FOR FIVE: Four-time and defending Series champion Brad Sweet returns with Kasey Kahne Racing to chase their fifth straight World of Outlaws title. Doing so would add his name on another page of the history books with Steve Kinser and Donny Schatz as the only drivers to win five straight titles.

Volusia has been one of Sweet’s best tracks with eight Feature wins there and two Big Gator Championships (2016, 2020).

SHARK ATTACK: The Shark Racing duo of Logan Schuchart and Jacob Allen will be at home during Bike Week, being bikers themselves. They’re both also strong competitors on half-mile tracks. Schuchart has two Feature wins at Volusia and a Big Gator Championship (2021). And while Allen has yet to win at Volusia, he earned a top-five finish last year and is coming off the momentum of a career best season.


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: UMP Modifieds Set for Six-Straight Nights at Volusia’s DIRTcar Nationals

Pastrana, Dotson, Lee, Troutman and more headline newly reformatted event

BARBERVILLE, FL – Feb. 6, 2023 – The single toughest test of endurance in DIRTcar UMP Modified racing hits the half-mile of Volusia Speedway Park this week in the 52nd annual Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals.

Six-straight days of racing. Over 100 cars expected to compete. All in pursuit of the iconic Big Gator trophy and $5,000 check as winner of the Gator Championship Feature Saturday night.

The event format has been completely overhauled for 2023, featuring six separate Features on each of the first five nights of competition. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday’s Features will be lined up by Qualifying laps, while Thursday will set the field according to points accumulated by each driver over the previous three nights. Friday’s field will be split in half for the Gator Qualifier night before Saturday’s Gator Championship.

Read More: Purse Increase, New Format for UMP Modifieds at 52nd DIRTcar Nationals

The driver with the most points at week’s end will be crowned the DIRTcar Nationals Big Gator champion and hoist the iconic Big Gator trophy. Drivers will also be earning points toward the UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks championship chase, which crowns its champion after the conclusion of Saturday’s Feature.

To get your tickets, visit DIRTcarNationals.com. If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch the entire week of Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals live on DIRTVision.

Here are the drivers to watch for and storylines to follow this week:

NEW GATOR CHAMP – For the first time in seven years, a driver not named Nick Hoffman will hoist the Big Gator trophy as DIRTcar Nationals UMP Modified champion at the conclusion of the week.

Hoffman, who has not missed a DIRTcar Nationals since his Volusia debut in 2009, won the division’s event points title every year from 2016-2022. This week, however, he will sit on the sidelines, with his focus on his World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model ride, and be a resource to the several Elite Chassis drivers in the field.

Hoffman will also have the Tye Twarog Racing, NOS Energy Drink #9 Super Late Model with him as he prepares for competition during week #2 of DIRTcar Nationals with the DIRTcar Late Models and World of Outlaws. Hoffman recorded finishes of fourth and eighth in his first two starts as a full-time World of Outlaws driver in January at the DIRTcar Sunshine Nationals.

HORNS UP – If there’s one driver among the 100-plus UMP Modifieds expected for the week that’s highest amongst the favorites to win the Big Gator trophy, it’s Bakersfield, CA-driver Ethan Dotson.

Dotson, the 24-year-old Longhorn Chassis UMP Modified house driver, won the ninth annual Emil & Dale Reutimann Memorial in his Volusia debut last November – one day after breaking the 11-year-old track record.

He returns to Volusia this week for his DIRTcar Nationals debut, piloting one of the most well-maintained cars in the pits, backed by Longhorn and the knowledge of multi-time DIRTcar Nationals Feature winner Steve Arpin.

A DOLLAR BET – A multi-time motocross and rallycross champion, and a NASCAR Truck Series champion walk into Volusia. No, really – it’s happening. And there’s a big bet on the line.

Travis Pastrana will make his DIRTcar Nationals debut this week in a UMP Modified built by 2007 DIRTcar Nationals champion and fellow ex-rallycross racer Steve Arpin and his Longhorn Chassis brand, backed by his partners at Black Rifle Coffee Company. After being asked if he was “too much of a sissy to drive” by fellow Black Rifle Coffee driver Matt Crafton, Pastrana took on Crafton’s challenge and made a one-dollar bet with him to see who could finish higher in races throughout the week.

Crafton, a regular of the UMP Modified division at DIRTcar Nationals, will pilot his own K1 RaceGear Elite Chassis #88 against Pastrana’s #199, all in pursuit of his first career gator trophy.

POINTS LEADER – Lucas Lee comes into Volusia as the UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks points leader by 17 over second-place Drake Troutman. On the back of three Feature wins and top-10s in all seven races on the Speedweeks trail, Lee now faces his toughest challenge of all at Volusia.

Lee, the defending Speedweeks champion from Paris, TN, historically, has not been as big of a factor at Volusia compared to the other Speedweeks venues. But with a win already at North Florida Speedway (Jan. 29) and two he garnered at East Bay Raceway Park (Feb. 3 and 4) to cap-off Winternationals, he’s the one driver going in with more momentum than any Speedweeks championship chaser.

Lee does have one gator trophy on his mantle at home, having captured one of the Gator Qualifier Features at Volusia in 2019.

ELITE-IST – Tyler Nicely currently holds onto the third spot in Speedweeks points, currently 60 points back from leader Lucas Lee.

Nicely, the 27-year-old Modified standout from Owensboro, KY, has two wins in seven Speedweeks starts, and has consistently been a contender for the win throughout Speedweeks with top-10 finishes in all but two events thus far (East Bay 2/1 [DNF, 21st]; East Bay 2/4 [DNF, 14th).

Prepared special for this week, Nicely will be armed with a brand-new Elite Chassis built by the seven-time DIRTcar Nationals champion Nick Hoffman in pursuit of his first Gator Championship Feature win and second UMP Modified Florida Speedweeks points title.

THE BIG CATCH – Coming off an action-packed week at East Bay, Drake Troutman rides the Jerry Foster Racing, Longhorn Chassis #5, into Volusia with only a 17-point deficit to points leader Lucas Lee.

Troutman, the 17-year-old racer from Hyndman, PA, got the win on the opening night at East Bay, and nearly did it again Friday night if not for a post-race penalty assessment. Despite the blunder, however, he’s the only driver to record top-five finishes in all seven Features thus far.

Doe Run Raceway to Host Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series on July 21 

DOE RUN, MO – Feb. 6, 2023 – Dirt Midgets will race around Doe Run Raceway for the first time in the track’s 29-year history when the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota makes its debut there on Friday, July 21. The 1/6-mile oval in Missouri, more widely known for its weekly racing program of Winged Outlaw Micro Sprints, 206 Cage Karts, Mod Lites, B-Modifieds and the newly added Junior Sprints, will take on the national stars of the Xtreme Outlaw Midgets as part of the Series’ two-day weekend with Southern Illinois Raceway (July 22) in the Midwest. “It’s awesome to have a national series like the Xtreme Outlaw Midgets come to Doe Run Raceway,” said Track Owner & Promoter Tommy Harris. “We’ve always dreamed of it for the last five years since we bought the track. We’ve made it bigger and better to bring something new to the locals around here.” Doe Run fills the last remaining TBA date on the schedule, bringing the Series’ 2023 schedule to a complete 35-race slate. “It’s exciting to form a new relationship with the Doe Run staff and bring Midget racing to a new local fanbase,” said Xtreme Outlaw Series Director Tyler Bachman. “We’re honored that Tommy and his team have chosen the Xtreme Outlaw Series to host their first-ever Midget event, and can’t wait to see what the future holds at the facility.” Catch the rising stars of the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota in action at Doe Run Raceway on Friday, July 21. If you can’t be at the track, watch every lap live on DIRTVision.

Wieland Winternationals Features Six Nights at East Bay Raceway Park

BATAVIA, Ohio (February 6, 2023) – The Wieland Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park and the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series will take center stage this week in Tampa, Fla. Race Teams are looking forward to a thrilling week of racing at the “Clay by the Bay” for the 47th Annual Wieland East Bay Winternationals – presented by Lucas Oil. The action starts on Sunday, February 5 with an open practice from 6:00PM ET – 9:00PM ET. Monday and Tuesday, February 6 and 7, teams will compete for a $5,000 top prize. Wednesday, February 8 will see drivers gunning for $7,000 in top prize money. On Thursday, February 9 the winner’s prize increases to $10,000 before the stakes get even higher on Friday, February 10, with teams competing for a $12,000 paycheck. The week will end on Saturday, February 11, boasting a $15,000 top prize. A full program is scheduled for each of the six nights, which includes: Dirt Draft Hot Laps, Allstar Performance Time Trials, Heat Races, B-Mains, and the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series main event. Each day, Hot Laps will begin at 5:30PM ET. Saturday’s program begins with a Dirt Racing Outreach service at 3:30PM ET in the main grandstands near turn one. You can watch all six nights of the 47th Annual Wieland East Bay Winternationals – presented by Lucas Oil from East Bay Raceway Park via MAVTV on FloRacing. For ticket and camping information, visit www.ebrp.co. For more information about the Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series, visit www.lucasdirt.com.    About Wieland Metal Services:Wieland serves virtually all metalworking sectors with its extensive range of services and products. The inventory includes copper and brass alloys, as well as aluminum alloys and stainless steel, engineered plastics and other niche materials in strip, sheet, rod, bar, profile, coil, and foil forms. In addition, Wieland offers a variety of value added services including, but not limited to, strip slitting, tinning and electroplating, cutting, finishing, metal coatings, and traverse winding. With a broad geographical presence and IT-based service offerings, customers can rely on Wieland’s strong market position to meet their custom needs. To learn more, visit www.wieland-metalservices.com.
Track Information:East Bay Raceway ParkPhone Number: (877) 457-5611Location: 6311 Burts Road, Tampa, FL 33619Website: www.ebrp.coDirections: Directions to Track: I-75 to exit 250, then 2.0 miles west, then 1.2 miles north on US 41, then right 1.3 miles on Old US 41, then right on Burts Road.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Tire Rule February 6 – February 8:Must use the same set of 4 tires for Time Trials, Heat Races, and B-Mains:Left Rear/Fronts – Hoosier (90) NLMT1Right Rear – Hoosier (92) NLMT2, (92) LM20 For the A-Main, competitors may use 1 new right rear tire:Right Rear – Hoosier (92) NLMT2, (92) LM20 *Can cut and/or sipe any tire.*Flat tire must be replaced with a used tire of the same compound and construction to retain starting position.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Tire Rule February 9 – February 11Must use the same set of 4 tires for Time Trials, Heat Races, and B-Mains:Left Rear/Fronts – Hoosier (90) NLMT1Right Rear – Hoosier (92) NLMT2, (92) LM20
For the A-Main, competitors may use 3 new tires:Left Rear/Fronts – Hoosier (90) NLMT1, (90) NLMT2, (90) LM20, (90) NLMT3, (90) LM30sRight Rear – Hoosier (92) NLMT2, (92) LM20, (92) NLMT3, (92) LM30s
*Can cut and/or sipe any tire.*Flat tire must be replaced with a used tire of the same compound and construction to retain starting position.
Wieland Winternationals Presented by Lucas Oil Purses:Monday and Tuesday – 1. $5,000, 2. $3,000, 3. $2,000, 4. $1,500, 5. $1,000, 6. $800, 7. $750, 8. $700, 9. $650, 10. $600, 11. $550, 12. $500, 13. $500, 14. $500, 15. $500, 16. $500, 17. $500, 18. $500, 19. $500, 20. $500, 21. $500, 22. $500, 23. $500, 24. $500, 25. $500, 26. $500 = $24,050
Wednesday – 1. $7,000, 2. $3,500, 3. $2,000, 4. $1,500, 5. $1,400, 6. $1,300, 7. $1,200, 8. $1,100, 9. $1,000, 10. $950, 11. $900, 12. $850, 13. $800, 14. $750, 15. $725, 16. $700, 17. $700, 18. $700, 19. $650, 20. $625, 21. $625, 22. $600, 23. $600, 24. $600, 25. $600, 26. $600 = $31,975
Thursday – 1. $10,000, 2. $5,500, 3. $3,500, 4. $2,700, 5. $2,500, 6. $2,300, 7. $2,200, 8. $2,100, 9. $2,050, 10. $2,000, 11. $1,600, 12. $1,400, 13. $1,200, 14. $1,000, 15. $950, 16. $925, 17. $900, 18. $875, 19. $850, 20. $825, 21. $800, 22. $800, 23. $800, 24. $800, 25. $800, 26. $800 = $50,175
Friday – 1. $12,000, 2. $6,000, 3. $3,500, 4. $2,800, 5. $2,500, 6. $2,300, 7. $2,200, 8. $2,100, 9. $2,050, 10. $2,000, 11. $1,600, 12. $1,400, 13. $1,200, 14. $1,100, 15. $1,050, 16. $1,000, 17. $1,000, 18. $1,000, 19. $1,000, 20. $1,000, 21. $1,000, 22. $1,000, 23. $1,000, 24. $1,000, 25. $1,000, 26. $1,000 = $54,800
Saturday – 1. $15,000, 2. $6,500, 3. $3,500, 4. $3,000, 5. $2,500, 6. $2,400, 7. $2,300, 8. $2,200, 9. $2,100, 10. 2,000, 11. $1,600, 12. $1,400, 13. $1,300, 14. $1,200, 15. $1,050, 16. $1,000, 17. $1,000, 18. $1,000, 19. $1,000, 20. $1,000, 21. $1,000, 22. $1,000, 23. $1,000, 24. $1,000, 25. $1,000, 26. $1,000 = 59,050


(Feb. 06, 2023) – It was announced today that Flav-R-Pac Frozen Fruits and Vegetables, a recognized brand of PNW VEG CO., LLC DBA NORPAC, a subsidiary of Oregon Potato Company (OPC) which is owned by Frank Tiegs, will be featured as a primary sponsor on Robert Hight’s Chevrolet Camaro Funny Car during the 2023 NHRA Camping World Drag Racing Series season.
In addition to maintaining their primary sponsorship of Brittany Force’s Top Fuel dragster for half the season, Flav-R-Pac has stepped up to take on four races with the three-time Funny Car champion. Hight will field the Flav-R-Pac / Cornwell Tools / AAA Chevrolet Camaro SS Funny Car to open the 2023 season at the Amalie Motor Oil NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway in Florida March 10-12.
“I’m extremely excited for the opportunity to race the Flav-R-Pac colors. Frank Tiegs, who owns Flav-R-Pac and Montana Brand / Rocky Mountain Twist on Austin Prock’s dragster, has been a major part of the John Force Racing family over the last several years. I think it really says something about how well the partnership is working to have him take on an additional car with us for four races,” said Hight, President of John Force Racing. “I look forward to celebrating with him in the winner’s circle and maybe even getting a double up with Brittany in her Flav-R-Pac dragster. That would be huge.”
“Over the years we have continued to grow our relationship with John Force Racing. That growth was always part of the plan when we first signed on with them,” said Frank Tiegs, owner of Flav-R-Pac Frozen Fruits and Vegetables. “I’m looking forward to having a Funny Car run the Flav-R-Pac colors. After such a successful season from Robert last year, it was an easy decision to support his Funny Car in a more prominent way. Partnering with John Force Racing has been a perfect fit for Flav-R-Pac so I’m looking forward to what the future will bring us.”
In addition to debuting at the season opening Gatornationals, Hight will pilot the Flav-R-Pac Chevy Funny Car at the NHRA Arizona Nationals, the NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Las Vegas and the Circle K NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte.

Whiskey Myers Band Returns as World of Outlaws Sponsor, Increases Support

Whiskey Myers will again sponsor the “4-Wide Salute to the Fans” and now be a part of the World of Outlaws’ contingency programCONCORD, NC (Feb. 6, 2023) – Multi-Platinum band Whiskey Myers is bringing its rock ‘n’ roll energy back to the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series in 2023 in multiple ways.The band will continue to be the presenting sponsor of Johnny Gibson’s famous “4-Wide Salute to the Fans” at all World of Outlaws Sprint Car races and will now also be a part of the Series’ contingency program for drivers.“As a fan of World of Outlaws, it was exciting to be able to partner with them last season and to become more involved in the sport,” shares Whiskey Myers drummer Jeff Hogg. “We’re excited to come back in a bigger way this year to support the series and the drivers, and we can’t wait to get the season underway!”This will be the first full World of Outlaws season that Whiskey Myers’ genre-bending music is paired with the “4-wide” call, starting with the season-opening event at Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals, Feb. 9-11. And, as part of the contingency program to reward more money to drivers at the end of the night, the band’s logo will be featured on all full-time World of Outlaws drivers’ cars throughout the year, along with awarding $50 each Feature to any driver – with the Whiskey Myers decal on their car – who finishes sixth.Whiskey Myers shares its birthplace with the World of Outlaws, having formed in Texas and now selling out shows across the globe. Composed of members Cody Cannon, Cody Tate, John Jeffers, Jeff Hogg, Jamey Gleaves and Tony Kent, the group has sold more than 1.5 million albums and amassed over 2 billion streams while earning six RIAA Platinum & Gold certifications as an independent band.Their latest self-produced album, Tornillo, is available everywhere now as the band known for their high-energy live show prepares for another exciting year on the road, from headlining their own tour to serving as direct support across several dates of Eric Church’s Outsiders Revival Tour.Fans will also see Whiskey Myers spots on DIRTVision throughout the year. The band previously partnered with the premier dirt racing broadcast provider, which broadcasts every World of Outlaws race live, in December to livestream its concert from the Macon Centreplex in Macon, GA.To find out more about Whiskey Myers, visit whiskeymyers.com and follow on social media @WhiskeyMyers. Be on the lookout for social sweepstakes during the year.For the full 2023 World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series, CLICK HERE.

chevy racing–nascar–busch light clash post race notes

 TOP TEAM CHEVY UNOFFICIAL MAIN EVENT TOP-10 RESULTS:POS.   DRIVER2nd     Austin Dillon, No. 3 Get Bioethanol Camaro ZL13rd      Kyle Busch, No. 8 BetMGM Camaro ZL14th      Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1 5th      Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL18th      Ross Chastain, No. 1 Worldwide Express Camaro ZL110th    William Byron, No. 24 RaptorTough.com Camaro ZL1 TOP-FIVE UNOFFICIAL MAIN EVENT RESULTS: POS.  DRIVER1.        Martin Truex Jr. (Toyota)2.        Austin Dillon (Chevrolet)3.        Kyle Busch (Chevrolet)4.        Alex Bowman (Chevrolet)5.        Kyle Larson (Chevrolet)

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season officially kicks off at Daytona International Speedway with the Daytona 500 on Sunday, February 19, at 2:30 P.M. ET. Live coverage can be found on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
TEAM CHEVY POST-RACE NOTES AND QUOTES:Austin Dillon, No. 3 Get Bioethanol Camaro ZL1Finished: 2nd“The Get Bioethanol Chevy was really fast. Keith [Rodden] and our engineer did a really good job. We were prepared for the race and it showed up. We really weren’t great in practice until the very last one and I felt like we had something to race with. Qualifying went well, and we got to beating and banging out there pretty good but we ended coming home second. It was nice. Kyle [Busch], he knew we had a really fast car and he let me run down Truex at the end. That was nice of him. Loving my new teammate. We’ll go to Daytona and see if we can’t return the favor.” Kyle Busch, No. 8 BetMGM Camaro ZL1Finished: 3rd“Man, if I had another 15 laps of rear tires on it, I think we could’ve went spin to win. All of these boys would’ve been sad seeing that happen. It was a good run for us. You can never count us out. You’ve always got to bet on the BetMGM Camaro and we made the most of it today with going to the back, coming to the front, passing on the outside, passing on the inside, and everywhere we could. Just a lot of chaos, a lot of mayhem, a lot of disrespect if you will. That’s tight quarters racing at a quarter mile. What do you expect, right? All good though. I’m looking forward to Daytona and getting the season started.”
Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1Finished: 4th“I think it went pretty well. We struggled here last year and didn’t have a good weekend. I was nervous a little bit and didn’t know what to expect. Yesterday went really well, and today went pretty well. When you come out of here with fourth kind of bummed about it, it’s a good weekend. I think the whole team is working really well together and Blake’s fitting in really, really well.”
Justin Haley, No. 31 Celsius Camaro ZL1Finished: 11th “I’m so proud of everyone at Kaulig Racing and where we have come in a short amount of time. The race results weren’t exactly what we wanted, but this weekend was a fun confidence booster. It’s pretty cool to get mine and Kaulig Racing’s first NASCAR Cup Series pole, points race or not, and I think we really showed we belong here. I feel pretty confident about where we are, and I think we are in a good spot to start the season.”
Noah Gragson, No. 42 Sunseeker Resort Camaro ZL1Finished: 14th“I felt like we had a decent No. 42 Sunseeker Resort Chevy. We just had some damage on the front from the heat race that hurt us with cooling the right front and the brakes. We got really tight in the first half of the race. We started cutting some of it away, but overall, it was just a pinball machine out there. I thought we had some good restarts; good lane choices and we were making our way back up there. We got back up to eighth but just didn’t have enough there. I kind of made some poor decisions there at the end and chose the wrong line. I thought they were all going to stack up there on the bottom, so I went to the outside and they didn’t. It’s just part of the learning curve. 
Thank you to everyone at LEGACY MOTOR CLUB; Jimmie Johnson, Maury Gallagher, Richard Petty, Mike Beam.. everybody that’s a part of this team. Definitely the Sunseeker team. They worked really hard and I’m definitely excited to start the year off with making it into this race. I’m just very thankful.” 
Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Jockey Camaro ZL1Finished: 19th“It was tough. I couldn’t breathe and it was tough because of that. I think at lap 30 or so in the first stage, we had contact in the right side of the car, and that made the exhaust get some fumes inside the cabin. After that, I struggled a lot, especially the second half of the race. I felt like I was okay for a while, but then the second half of the race I struggled big time. We just have to continue to get better. I felt like the car was okay. We definitely made a big swing for the main race and we showed that, but actually went to the other side of it. We just have to continue to work and continue to learn.”    
Erik Jones, No. 43 Allegiant Camaro ZL1Sidelined by damage sustained in an accident on lap 16. Finished: 27th It’s early in the race for Erik Jones to be standing in the infield. We saw the move by Michael McDowell, diving into the inside. Was it ultimately just too late to react to it? “Yeah, I couldn’t move over. I was clear on the straightaway, but obviously he (Michael McDowell) really wanted the spot. When we got spun out, I think we must have got hit in the right rear and it bent the toe link pretty bad. It kind of is what it is. Michael has gotten me twice pretty good now, which is frustrating. I think we had a decent car. We were kind of moving up there and I felt good about it. It’s a tough little place and it’s easy to get in trouble like that. We’ll move on with the No. 43 Allegiant Chevy to the Daytona 500 and hopefully go for a win.”
TEAM CHEVY RACE QUICK NOTES: ·       12 Chevrolet drivers made up the 27-car field for the 45th running of the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum. ·       The first caution of the race flew on lap 16, involving Erik Jones and the No. 43 Allegiant Camaro ZL1 team. Damage sustained in the on-track incident ultimately ended the day early for Jones. ·       The halfway break on lap 75 saw five Camaro ZL1’s in the top-10 of the running order, led by Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Get Bioethanol Camaro ZL1 team in the third position. ·        Camaro ZL1’s finished in the top-five of the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum main event, led by Austin Dillon and the No. 3 Get Bioethanol Camaro ZL1 team in the runner-up position. ·       Joining Dillon in the top-five of the final running order was Richard Childress Racing teammate Kyle Busch (third); and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Alex Bowman (fourth) and Kyle Larson (fifth). 

Burton, Motorcraft/Quick Lane Team End Up One Spot Short of Clash Berth

February 5, 2022

A loose condition entering Turn One while running in second place with eight laps to go in the first of two 50-lap Last Chance races cost Harrison Burton and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane team a starting berth in the main event of Sunday night’s Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Burton and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane team entered Sunday’s races with hopes of once again racing their way into the 150-lap main event. On Saturday, Burton qualified 13th, earning the fourth starting spot in the first of four 25-lap qualifying races.
But two laps into that race, Burton was spun around, bringing out the caution flag. Restarting in ninth place, he worked his way to seventh, giving him the third starting spot in the first 50-lap Last Chance race.

He spent most of that event running in second place, only to lose that spot in the closing laps and wind up one finishing position shy of a transfer spot.

Burton and the No. 21 team now turn their attention to preparing their Mustang for the season-opening point-paying race – the Daytona 500 on Feb. 19.


Burton Qualifies 13th for the Clash at the Coliseum

February 5, 2023

Harrison Burton and the No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang were 13th fastest in qualifying for Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. 

Burton’s quick trip around the quarter-mile temporary track inside the Coliseum means he will start fourth in the first of four 25-lap heat races.

The top-five finishers in each heat race will earn starting spots in Sunday’s 150-lap main event. The remainder of the line-up will be determined by two 50-lap last chance races, with the top-three finishers in those events advancing to the feature race.

Sunday’s program starts at 2 p.m. (5 p.m. Eastern) with the four 25-lap heat races, followed by two 50-lap last chance races. 

The 150-lap main event begins at 5 p.m. Pacific (8 p.m. Eastern), with Sunday’s coverage on FOX.


Thornton Claims Point Lead with All-Tech Victory

ELLISVILLE, Fla. (February 4, 2023) – In a race that saw five lead changes among three drivers, Ricky Thornton Jr. emerged victorious on Saturday night at All-Tech Raceway. Thornton passed race leader Max Blair after a lap 29 restart and went on to win his second Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series race of the season. For the first time in his career, Thornton has taken over the top spot in the championship point standings after his seventh career series win. Tim McCreadie, the two-time and defending series champion, came from the 12th starting spot to finish in second. Brandon Sheppard, who started eighth came him in third, followed by 14th starting Devin Moran. Tyler Erb completed the top five to earn the Todd Steel Buildings Hard Charger of the Race after he started 21st on the grid. Thornton started on the outside of the front row and grabbed the lead at the start of the 50-lap main event. He quickly built a sizable lead in the opening laps of the race until Shane Clanton, who started alongside Thornton on the front row was able to close the gap and take over the point with eight laps scored. Clanton would hold the lead until lap 17 when Thornton regained the top spot. At the halfway mark it was Thornton still in front followed by Clanton and Max Blair, who was now up to third. Blair then went to second on lap 27 and two laps later took the lead away from Thornton to become the third different leader of the race. A caution came out with 29 laps complete with Blair out in front. On the restart Thornton swung to the outside as he pressured Blair and completed the pass heading down the backstretch. Thornton then had to withstand two cautions in the waning laps, one with nine laps to go and one with just two circuits remaining, holding off McCreadie both times. In Lucas Oil Victory Lane, the 32-year driver who continues to be the most consistent driver to start the 2023 season said: “I really didn’t know what to do tire wise. I knew Max [Blair] and Kyle [Strickler] were on softer tires. I told Max to go soft and it lasted a while for him. I didn’t know if there was really a line there in one and two. It was kind of a do or die. I was like I really want to win this pretty bad, so I was trying really hard on that restart, and it worked. I kept missing the bottom there in three. It was getting tight. Luckily, we held them off.” McCreadie moved into third in the championship chase with his runner-up finish. “This Paylor Motorsports team just keeps battling. One of these days we’ll be able to start near the front maybe and put some pressure on them early so they have to work a little harder than they are working. That’s the way it goes. We keep passing as many cars as we can. They are not going to slow this team down.” Sheppard, who finished second in last year’s championship standings continues to make strides with his new team. “That was typical All-Tech right there. That was a lot of fun. It was tricky and slippery all over the place. You could chase the brown a little bit. It was a good night. We’ve been needing this for sure. That practice night this week helped us a lot. I learned a lot of stuff on the car.” The winner’s Todd and Vickie Burns, SSI Motorsports-owned, Longhorn Chassis is powered by a Clements Racing Engine and sponsored Big River Steel, Hoker Trucking, Sub-Surface of Indiana, Dyno One Inc., West Side Tractor Sales, D&E Outside Services, Certified Inspection Service Co. Inc., Murty Farms, Sunoco Race Fuels, and Bilstein Shocks. Completing the top ten were Hudson O’Neal, Max Blair, Shane Clanton, Kyle Bronson, and Spencer Hughes.
Lucas Oil Late Model Dirt Series Race Summary Winter NationalsSaturday, February 4, 2023All-Tech Raceway – Lake City, FL
Allstar Performance Time TrialsFast Time Group A: Spencer Hughes / 18.170 seconds Fast Time Group B: Ricky Thornton, Jr. / 17.691 seconds (overall)
Penske Shocks Heat Race #1 Finish (8 Laps, Top 4 Transfer): 1. 25C-Shane Clanton[4]; 2. 11-Spencer Hughes[1]; 3. 20-Jimmy Owens[6]; 4. 46-Earl Pearson Jr[7]; 5. 16-Tyler Bruening[5]; 6. 10-Garrett Smith[3]; 7. 31-Tyler Millwood[8]; 8. 66JR-Eddie Carrier Jr[2]; 9. 44D-Dalton Cook[9]; 10. 86-Kyle Beard[10]; 11. 01-Jason Garver[11]; 12. 23-Chad Walter[12]
Summit Racing Products Heat Race #2 Finish (8 Laps, Top 4 Transfer): 1. 8K-Kyle Strickler[2]; 2. 28-Dennis Erb Jr[1]; 3. 96V-Tanner English[4]; 4. 19M-Wil Herrington[7]; 5. 89J-Jeff Choquette[6]; 6. 19R-Ryan Gustin[3]; 7. 1T-Tyler Erb[9]; 8. 76B-Blair Nothdurft[8]; 9. 5-Mark Whitener[5]; 10. 99B-Boom Briggs[10]; 11. 14W-Dustin Walker[11]
Simpson Race Products Heat Race #3 (8 Laps, Top 4 Transfer): 1. 20RT-Ricky Thornton Jr[1]; 2. 111B-Max Blair[4]; 3. 1H-Hudson O’Neal[3]; 4. 99-Devin Moran[8]; 5. 40B-Kyle Bronson[5]; 6. 17SS-Brenden Smith[7]; 7. 58-Garrett Alberson[6]; 8. C4-Freddie Carpenter[10]; 9. 21-Billy Moyer Jr[9]; 10. 76-Brandon Overton[2]; 11. 4S-Danny Snyder[11]
AP1 Insurance Heat Race #4 Finish (8 Laps, Top 4 Transfer): 1. 18D-Daulton Wilson[4]; 2. B5-Brandon Sheppard[1]; 3. 39-Tim McCreadie[5]; 4. 22*-Payton Freeman[8]; 5. 12-Ashton Winger[7]; 6. 49-Jonathan Davenport[11]; 7. 3S-Brian Shirley[10]; 8. 1Z-Logan Zarin[9]; 9. 7-Ross Robinson[6]; 10. 25Z-Mason Zeigler[2]; 11. 89-Logan Roberson[3]
Fast Shafts B-Main Race #1 Finish (10 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 16-Tyler Bruening[1]; 2. 19R-Ryan Gustin[4]; 3. 1T-Tyler Erb[6]; 4. 5-Mark Whitener[10]; 5. 10-Garrett Smith[3]; 6. 76B-Blair Nothdurft[8]; 7. 89J-Jeff Choquette[2]; 8. 31-Tyler Millwood[5]; 9. 66JR-Eddie Carrier Jr[7]; 10. 86-Kyle Beard[11]; 11. 44D-Dalton Cook[9]; 12. 99B-Boom Briggs[12]; 13. 01-Jason Garver[13]; 14. 23-Chad Walter[15]; 15. 14W-Dustin Walker[14]
UNOH B-Main Race #2 Finish (10 Laps, Top 3 Transfer): 1. 17SS-Brenden Smith[3]; 2. 40B-Kyle Bronson[1]; 3. 3S-Brian Shirley[6]; 4. 76-Brandon Overton[11]; 5. 89-Logan Roberson[14]; 6. 21-Billy Moyer Jr[9]; 7. C4-Freddie Carpenter[7]; 8. 7-Ross Robinson[10]; 9. 58-Garrett Alberson[5]; 10. 49-Jonathan Davenport[4]; 11. 4S-Danny Snyder[13]; 12. 1Z-Logan Zarin[8]; 13. (DNS) 12-Ashton Winger; 14. (DNS) 25Z-Mason Zeigler
Winter Nationals Feature Finish (50 Laps):
Race Statistics Entrants: 45Terminal Maintenance & Construction Pole Sitter: Shane ClantonLap Leaders: Ricky Thornton, Jr. (Laps 1-7); Shane Clanton (Laps 8-16); Ricky Thornton, Jr. (Laps 17-28); Max Blair (Lap 29); Ricky Thornton, Jr. (Laps 30-50)Wieland Feature Winner: Ricky Thornton, Jr.Arizona Sport Shirts Crown Jewel Cup Feature Winner: n/aBrandon Ford TV Challenge Feature Winner: n/aMargin of Victory: 0.428 secondsStop-Tech Brakes Cautions: Wil Herrington (Lap 29); Earl Pearson, Jr. (Lap 40); Earl Pearson, Jr. (Lap 48); Jonathan Davenport (Lap 48 Restart)Series Provisionals: Garrett Alberson; Ross RobinsonFast Time Provisional: n/aSeries Emergency Provisionals: Jonathan Davenport; Garrett Smith; Logan RobersonTrack Provisional: n/aBig River Steel Podium Top 3: Ricky Thornton, Jr., Tim McCreadie, Brandon SheppardPenske Shocks Top 5: Ricky Thornton, Jr., Tim McCreadie, Brandon Sheppard, Devin Moran, Tyler ErbTodd Steel Buildings Hard Charger of the Race: Tyler Erb (Advanced 16 Positions)Wilwood Brakes Lucky 7th Place Finisher: Max BlairDeatherage Opticians Lucky 13th Place Finisher: Dennis Erb, Jr.Earnhardt Technologies Most Laps Led: Ricky Thornton, Jr. (40 Laps)Sunoco Race for Gas Highest Finisher: Ricky Thornton, Jr.Midwest Sheet Metal Spoiler Challenge Point Leader: Brandon OvertonO’Reilly Auto Parts Rookie of the Race: n/aEtchberger Trucking Fastest Lap of the Race: Ricky Thornton, Jr. (Lap 1 – 19.614 seconds)MD3 Tough Break of the Race: Jonathan DavenportOuterwears Crew Chief of the Race: Anthony Burroughs (Ricky Thornton, Jr.)ARP Engine Builder of the Race: Clements Racing EnginesMiller Welders Chassis Builder of the Race: Longhorn ChassisDirt Draft Fastest in Hot Laps: Hudson O’Neal (18.185 seconds)Time of Race: 29 minutes 21 seconds
The Big River Steel Chase for the Championship Presented by ARP Point Standings:

BOO-YAH: Lee Dominates for Second Career East Bay Winternationals Finale Victory

Florida Speedweeks action resumes Monday, Feb. 6 at Volusia for DIRTcar Nationals

TAMPA, FL – Feb. 4, 2023 – On the heels of a drama-filled past 24 hours, Lucas Lee served his critics a dominating performance in the conclusion to DIRTcar UMP Modified Winternationals at East Bay Raceway Park.

Lee led all but the first six laps of the 75-lap Feature Saturday night, passing polesitter Drake Troutman for the top spot on Lap 7 and fending off all challenges from that point forward to bag the $5,000 grand prize for the second time in his career.

From inside the second row, Lee wasted zero time making a break for the head of the field. He had already advanced two spots after the first trip around the 1/3-mile oval, and by Lap 3, had only Tuesday night winner Troutman left in front of him.

Troutman, the 17-year-old Modified sensation from Hyndman, PA, redrew the pole starting spot as high-point man through the first four races of the week. Though he carried speed in the opening laps, Lee was stronger on the bottom, and got a great bite out of Turn 2 and zoomed past Troutman into the lead on Lap 7.

“I was gonna ride, but when you’ve got Drake [Troutman] and Tyler [Nicely] up there, it’s like – how do you ride? You’ve gotta try and get in front of them,” Lee remarked on his early race strategy.

“I knew my shot with Tyler would be to get him on the bottom quick because he could roll that middle pretty good. I kinda figured Troutman wasn’t going to be able to hold that bottom. I got by them before I got to the lapped cars, which I kinda didn’t want to do, but I’m glad it worked out.”

For all 75 laps, Lee hugged the bottom of the racetrack, even in the thickest of traffic – some of which came before the first caution flag was displayed on Lap 31. For the next restart, and each of the numerous ones that followed, Lee kept his speed up on the bottom and middle lanes, more so than any other driver. He reflected on his 2019 victory in the event and recalled similar track conditions to Saturday night, which he said may have played into his favor.

“In 2019, it kinda did the same thing,” Lee said. “It went through a transition and cleaned-up really well. When it cleaned-up, I was in the right place at the right time. It was kind of a similar racetrack.”

Lee’s biggest challenge came from two-time Winternationals winner Rodney Wing in the Jeff Mathews Motorsports #33W. Wing, the racer and track owner/promoter from Meridian, MS, drove from the seventh starting spot to second by Lap 23 and began to work on finding a way around Lee.

He tried looking to Lee’s outside for a shot at the lead on multiple restarts but was unsuccessful on all attempts. Lee was simply too quick on the bottom.

“I was up beside him a couple of times, so really, I just needed to handle a little better through the corner,” Wing said. “I kept having to break traction to get it through the corner. If I had been able to circle the corner a little better, I think I could have got him.”

Though Wing never got close enough to seriously put Lee in danger of losing the lead, Lee did acknowledge his presence. Throughout the race, Lee’s car was finding considerably more traction than any of his fellow competitors through the bottom-middle lane, which aided in his efforts to keep the lead.

“I left the car free,” Lee said. “I knew I had to get [to the bottom lane] pretty quick, and I could circle that bottom when it had traction down there. Luckily, Travis [Norden, crew member] told me [Wing] was out there and I moved up.”

After multiple top-10 and top-15 finishes throughout the week, Wing took home second when all was said and done. Though he hadn’t piloted a Modified in succession like at Winternationals, he was slowly getting more used to the car as the week went on.

“Every night, we’ve been inching up on the setup more and more to my liking,” Wing said. “That’s been the main thing – just got it closer and closer.”

Crossing the stripe in third was Illinois ringer Allen Weisser. The DIRTcar regional champion stayed inside the top-10 the entire race and spent the second half battling his way through the top-five. In the end, he had to settle for third, as Lee and Wing were too far out in front.

Despite the struggles, Weisser is still finding success on the Speedweeks circuit, and takes a strong point total into Volusia Speedway Park next week.

“This is probably the best Speedweeks we’ve ever had,” Weisser said. “These tracks are just so different from what we’re used to running. We’ve just kinda struggled down here, but this car has been really good.”


A Feature 1 (75 Laps): 1. 12-Lucas Lee[5]; 2. 33W-Rodney Wing[7]; 3. 25W-Allen Weisser[10]; 4. 145-Kyle Hammer[18]; 5. 5-Drake Troutman[1]; 6. 14-Mavrick Varnadore[16]; 7. 25-LJ Grimm[8]; 8. 54J-Jason Jack[19]; 9. 25A-Jason Altiers[23]; 10. 1H-Ben Harmon[24]; 11. 205-Travis Varnadore[13]; 12. 69B-Bryan Bernhardt[11]; 13. 21CZ-Benji LaCrosse[20]; 14. 25N-Tyler Nicely[2]; 15. 17-Chris Wilson[12]; 16. 5X-Joe Godsey[17]; 17. 2-Devin Dixon[4]; 18. 40-Kevin Adams[3]; 19. 23B-Scott Bane[25]; 20. 99-Blake Brown[14]; 21. 72-Todd Neiheiser[21]; 22. 2A-Matt Altiers[22]; 23. 24-Zeke McKenzie[9]; 24. 90-Tim Gay[15]; 25. 20-Brian Skaggs[6]



  Three Team Chevy Drivers Take Heat Race Pole Positions 
·       On-track action at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum got underway this afternoon with a practice session. Alex Bowman led Chevrolet drivers on the speed chart, clocking in a fourth-fastest lap overall in his No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL1. 
·       Single car qualifying determined the starting lineups for tomorrow’s four heat races, with the top-four fastest cars securing the pole position for each heat race. 
·       Justin Haley and the No. 31 Celsius Camaro ZL1 team topped the leaderboard in qualifying, securing his first career NASCAR Cup Series Clash pole win.  
·       Three of the top-four fastest cars in qualifying came from the Bowtie brigade. Joining Haley in securing a heat race pole position included Kyle Busch, No. 8 BetMGM Camaro ZL1 (second-fastest), and William Byron, No. 24 RaptorTough.com Camaro ZL1 (fourth-fastest). 
·       FOX will telecast from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, February 5, starting with qualifying heat races and last chance qualifying races at 5 p.m. ET, followed by the main event for the 45th running of the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum at 8 p.m. ET. Live coverage can also be found on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.  
TEAM CHEVY PRACTICE LEADERBOARD: POS.   DRIVER4th      Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL17th      Ross Chastain, No. 1 Worldwide Express Camaro ZL110th    Justin Haley, No. 31 Celsius Camaro ZL113th    Kyle Busch, No. 8 BetMGM Camaro ZL114th    William Byron, No. 24 RaptorTough.com Camaro ZL119th    Chase Elliott, No. 9 NAPA Auto Parts Camaro ZL122nd   Austin Dillon, No. 3 Get Bioethanol Camaro ZL123rd    Daniel Suarez, No. 99 Jockey Camaro ZL124th    AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Action Industries Camaro ZL125th    Corey LaJoie, No. 7 Animal Control FOX Camaro ZL126th    Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL127th    Erik Jones, No. 43 Allegiant Camaro ZL128th    Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Food 4 Less / Velveeta Camaro ZL129th    Noah Gragson, No. 42 Sunseeker Resort Camaro ZL132nd   Ty Dillon, No. 77 NASCAR Fan Rewards Camaro ZL136th    BJ McLeod, No. 78 Celsius Camaro ZL1 
TEAM CHEVY UNOFFICIAL TOP-10 QUALIFYING RESULTS:   POS.   DRIVER1st      Justin Haley, No. 31 Celsius Camaro ZL12nd     Kyle Busch, No. 8 BetMGM Camaro ZL14th      William Byron, No. 24 RaptorTough.com Camaro ZL16th      Austin Dillon, No. 3 Get Bioethanol Camaro ZL18th      AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Action Industries Camaro ZL19th      Alex Bowman, No. 48 Ally Camaro ZL110th    Kyle Larson, No. 5 HendrickCars.com Camaro ZL1
Justin Haley, No. 31 Celsius Camaro ZL1, Press Conference Transcript – Q. You got your first career NASCAR Cup Series pole here. Talk about that advantage heading into tomorrow. “It’s obviously key. We fired off here last year and we were pretty good. Obviously, we had some trouble during the race.  I felt like we had a pretty good No. 31 Celsius Chevy in practice. I just felt like I wasn’t getting the full potential out of the race car, and then obviously in qualifying, our lap was just dominant.  I feel pretty confident about where we are. It’s a good place to start the season. I’m not sure why we’re so good here. I wish I had this much talent at all of the races, but I’m pretty thankful. It’s pretty cool to get Kaulig Racing their first NASCAR Cup Series pole; my first pole as a driver in my second year here; and get Celsius their first pole.” Q. Any difference in the track? How it handled, characteristics? “No, it’s the same. It probably doesn’t look fast, but yeah it’s pretty similar. I wouldn’t say anything is noticeably different.” Q. Did you come with the same setup that you started with here last year? “No idea. They do not let me know any details on setups. I couldn’t tell you a single air pressure or a single spring. That comes from Chris Rice. He just wants me to drive the race car. I have no idea if I have four tires on the race car or three.  I would assume we’re close. We’re obviously pretty good. I wish I had a better answer for you, but I honestly don’t know details like that.” Q. What do you think suits you about this track? “I don’t know. I’m terrible at Martinsville (Speedway). Martinsville might be my worst race track.  I just feel like we’ve been good. Obviously, the car is a lot of it. It’s cool that we’re good here. We just have to figure that out everywhere else.” Q. Did you ever end up having a conversation with (Kyle) Larson? “Yeah, I did right after the race.  Right after the race, I went up to him when he was getting out of the car. I was pretty calm and I was just like, ‘hey, what was that’. We just had a conversation, he said he messed up. I said ‘cool’ and that was it. No reason to hold a grudge or anything. Obviously he’s an excellent race car driver and we’ve been good ever since. Today at our seminar we had, I asked him what kind of jeans he bought because we’re pretty similar in fit and leg length in jeans. Yeah, we’re good friends.” Q. I was talking to Chris (Rice) earlier today about the amount of coverage you get, or lack thereof. How important was it for you to beat out a lot of more high profile drivers during qualifying? “Yeah, that’s a tricky line to say. Obviously the better we run, the more coverage we’re going to get. There was a race last year in the Playoffs at the (Charlotte) ROVAL where we ran in the top-five all day and didn’t get an interview afterwards. I think that he’s always been pretty upset about that. We weren’t a playoff car and we have to run better week in and week out to get talked about.  We’re also a young team. Matt Kaulig is building this thing from the ground up. He didn’t buy a race team that was already pre-built. He’s done it all from the ground up and you have to respect that about him. We have to earn our name in the sport, earn my name in the sport. I have to feel like I belong, which has been tough for me. It was a very humbling year last year trying to figure out if I belong at the top or not. Yeah, it’s been hard, but having moments like this solidifies it a little bit more.” Q. You said no grudges held with Larson, but is there still payback owed? “No, it’s terrible to intentionally wreck another race car driver.” Q. Is there a chip on your shoulder with the strong showing you had here last year? “I feel like I have to prove myself every week and we have to prove ourselves as a race team. We have to go out there every week and prove that we’re a team worthy of being here, and that I’m a driver worthy of being in this field.  I think the biggest thing last year was just respect. I think towards the end of the year, I gained a lot of respect from other drivers. I started talking with a lot of them a lot more. It’s hard being a new driver in a top series. It’s tough, but I kind of feel like I’ve earned that respect now and I’m pretty good friends with a lot of the other drivers.” Q. Talk to us about how the track changed between practice and qualifying, and what does that tell you about tomorrow between the heat races and the main event? “I think it was pretty similar. The tough part is obviously just getting heat in the tires. You see us all playing all kinds of weird games to do so. Honestly, I felt like we were better on the long runs. I thought we were going to struggle in qualifying and I told AJ (Allmendinger) that. I thought we were going to qualify around the 20’s. But I don’t think the track really changed. It being new asphalt, it definitely had some oils and grease in it. But I honestly can’t say that I felt like it was any different.”  Q. Talk about your crew chief and your team. “I have the exact same team as I did last year, with Trent Owens as my crew chief. Darren is my car chief and Garrett is my engineer. The only change we had this year was an interior guy.  The No. 16 team helps a lot. We all go to the simulator together and we all share very similar setups at Kaulig Racing. We usually go to the race track identical. It’s very important to have AJ (Allmendinger) on full-time this year. He was professionally racing when I was born, so just to have his expertise, all of his knowledge and everything he’s been through.  I feel like we’re pretty strong. We’re still a very little team. Our pit crews are still leased out from Trackhouse, so we don’t have that in-house, and we have an alliance with RCR.” Q. How important is it to just focus on what is at hand, focus on driving? “Usually the cool part about this race is that there’s nothing to lose. We’re just out here not points racing or anything, and just putting it all out on the line. That’s definitely a different mentality going into it. I think the heat race format is cool. Still haven’t lost a heat race. I don’t want to jinx myself, but I won both of them last year. So we’ll try to keep that streak going. Tomorrow is going to be a long day and I’m excited for it.”

chevy racing–nascar–los angeles coliseum–kyle busch





FEBRUARY 4, 2023

KYLE BUSCH, NO. 8 BETMGM CAMARO ZL1; ROSS CHASTAIN, NO. 1 WORLDWIDE EXPRESS CAMARO ZL1; AND DANIEL SUAREZ, NO. 99 JOCKEY CAMARO ZL1, met with the media in advance of the NASCAR Cup Series practice and qualifying session at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Press Conference Transcript: 

Q. Daniel, where are your expectations for Trackhouse Racing after such a successful year that you and Ross both had in 2022? 

Daniel Suarez: “The expectations are definitely higher than last year. Last year, our team was working very hard. We didn’t know where that would take us, but we were hoping it would take us somewhere good. I feel like now, it’s a little bit different because we know what we’re capable of doing. We know that we’re capable of winning and we know that we’re capable of racing with some of the teams that have been doing this for a long time.

We have to go out there and just continue to work because in my opinion, if we do exactly the same thing that we did last year, it won’t be enough. Everyone is always evolving, so we have to continue to work and show up every weekend with the best that we can do.” 

Q. What was your personal experience with this event last year and the atmosphere that comes along with it? 

Suarez: “Last year was probably one of the most amazing events I have ever been a part of. NASCAR, you guys the media, and the teams knocked it out of the park. The event was unbelievable. The fans were super amazing. The energy was unbelievable, as well. I have never felt so much excitement from the fans during driver introductions like we did last year. It was quite special. 

For me, racing here in L.A. is similar to racing at home. There are a lot of Hispanics here, so it’s extra exciting for me to race here, where I can call it almost home.”

Q. For Daniel and Ross, are you guys ready to start the season? The off-season is over. Are you glad to be getting back in the race car? 

Ross Chastain: “Yeah, I’m ready.”

Suarez: “I personally, honestly, I had the best off-season I’ve ever had. Normally in the past, I would be dealing with moving from one team to another. This off-season was the first time ever that I was really able to disconnect from racing for a few weeks, and that really made me recharge my batteries 110 percent. It was very, very good for me to have some time off. We came back excited and ready to go race again. Everyone in November is tired, very exhausted. So for me, it was very important to be able to take that time.”

Q. Ross, earlier this week, the official rule came out on your move last season at Martinsville Speedway. Any thoughts on that? 

Chastain: “I’m glad I don’t have to do it again. That was the longest wreck of my life. It was successful, but I have no desire to ever do that again. Selfishly, I’m glad I get to be the only one that goes down in history as the only driver to successfully do it. It really mattered and it really paid off.”

Q. Kyle, this event and the format – the eliminations, smaller field, this track – could this be a points race? 

Kyle Busch: “I mean, it can, sure. We do it at Bristol (Motor Speedway). You’ve got heat races there and then you have a feature and things like that. It certainly could, but I feel like what it is – the way the format is designed initially when we came here last year and the way the show was – was super enticing for the fans. I felt like it was really good for the drivers that hit it and that were up front most of the time, like myself, (Joey) Logano, (Tyler) Reddick. We did a good job early on in the weekend with practice, qualifying,  everything to set yourself up and we were able to stay up front. I don’t know that it needs to be a points race, but it certainly could be.”

Q. Ross, is there any sense of pride that NASCAR made a rule on a move that you did? 

Chastain: “(laughs) Yeah, there is. I am proud. Proud that I was able to take advantage of it like I did. Looking back, neither one of them were planned. Yes, I’m proud of it, but I never want to do it again though.” 

Q. Daniel, following up on a comment made earlier. I know this is an important race to get some laps in before the season starts, but how important is it to have that party atmosphere for the fans and the sport? 

Suarez: “It’s definitely very important. This is a venue like no other. We are racing at such a historical place and we get to put a show on. Walking into this facility, all you see is history. All of the major events that have taken place here. It’s quite special. I, personally, feel that the first time was a tremendous success and the expectations this year are higher. I think we are going to see another amazing event by NASCAR, you guys and all of the racers out there. I’m excited to start the season at a place like the L.A. Coliseum.”

Q. Kyle, was this off-season any different for you than prior off-seasons? Obviously having to change teams from JGR to RCR, but also converting KBM to a Chevrolet team, as well. 

Busch: “Yeah, it was very busy. I heard Suarez when I walked in talking about how he got a chance to be off and not have to worry about much and recharge his batteries. Not quite the same here. Obviously, just changing teams; getting into the system and working with all of the RCR guys, and kind of understanding how they do it and what they do as the Chevy-way. As well as just what I’ve been accustomed to and try to implement some of the stuff that I’ve been doing the last 15 to 18 years. Just try to help the overall program. It’s been really good. We’ve had some really good discussions. There have been some things that have come out of it that I’ve learned and they’ve learned. Obviously, too, the swap over to Chevy at KBM. That’s been pretty seamless. The guys over there have been really great to work with and help us through some of that stuff. All of the hardware of the trucks and all of that is kind of the easy part. The software with the simulator, the data and all that, that’s going to be a bit more challenging and trying to get that where we want it.”

Q. Kyle, who do you think the G.O.A.T. in NASCAR? 

Busch: “I’d say there’s probably a toss up between five guys at the top, in my opinion.”

Q. How do you think that gets sorted out.. era? Car?

Busch: “It’s tough. I think with the different eras, you always have the career statistics that particular driver may have over another driver because of X, Y and Z. Like Richard, many of his earlier years prior to probably ’80 was 90 percent of his success, right? But he still raced into the ‘90s. There were 12 or 13 years there where you could argue success wasn’t great. You look at (Jimmie) Johnson who obviously was great all the way through.. his last few years were maybe a little slower. (Dale) Earnhardt’s was short-lived, not quite able to fully execute his career. 

I also look at guys like David Pearson, who I would put at the top of that list. He never won a championship, but yet he could win every single weekend that he was out there on the race track. He was always fast. A lot of times, he never ran a full season. I think it’s always up for debate. I think in other sports, you can kind of say in my opinion, there is one guy that’s the G.O.A.T. But ours, to me, it’s hard to pick just one in NASCAR.”

chevy racing–nascar–los angeles coliseum–kyle larson


  KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1, and CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1, met with the media in advance of the NASCAR Cup Series practice and qualifying session at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Press Conference Transcript:  
Q: With the backdrop here, looking as strong as it did last year and coming back a second year, how important is it for this event to be back a second consecutive, and with everything you’ve learned over the past year with this car?
Kyle Larson: “I think this is a great location for a race. It’s good to introduce our sport to [fans], and hopefully get some fans out of it. I thought last year’s event was amazing. I thought NASCAR and everybody did a great job pulling it off. The show aspect of it, too, was really good. Glad to have it back again for a second year. There’s a lot of things I’m sure NASCAR could learn from and apply to this year. I’m excited to get on track in a little bit and see a good show.”
Q: With stage breaks being eliminated, races will stay green at road courses, what are your reactions for later in the year?
Chase Elliott: “I would say I don’t have a problem with that. I feel like the strategy of the race is already pretty much done based on when the stage breaks were. We’ll have to kind of see. I haven’t really looked at what it’s kind of going to look like when you have to stop and things. I know that the stages really dictate a lot of the strategy. I don’t think it will be bad.”
Q: How important is it going into this season to have that strong start, build momentum, and start strong?
Larson: “I think it’s always important to start the year off strong. There’s been years where I’ve struggled the first year, and kind of like you’re digging yourself out of a hole from the very beginning. Although it’s a long season, it’s definitely important to get off to a good start and shape the scope of your season and how you prepare for each race, and how you call each race. The goal is to win every race, but early in the year, you want to finish to get off on the right foot.” 
Q: At the Cup level, the concept of sending people home and having guys not make the show for a race like this is still kind of new. What do you guys think of that? Could that be something that sticks around in other races at some point? Not every week, but, you know, for, for certain occasions.” 
Elliott: “I think it’s a good thing. I don’t see where it hurts anything at all. I’m fine with that, and I feel like, like Kyle {Larson] said, I thought the event last year was good and he ended up figuring it out itself out at the end, and I feel like most of the time it’s going to do that.” 
Larson: “I come from the land of B-Mains and stuff where people will miss the show. It makes those consolation races really intense, and as we saw last year, I think it adds a storyline. Even though it’s not nearly as intense as at Daytona, you see it every year in the Duels, and that’s really the coolest part about the Duels.. seeing those guys race and follow their pit strategy and pits stops. And if they keep up with the draft, it makes the Daytona 500 for those teams, and any team really, mean more and much more special to make it. You had to earn your way in. When you’re getting rid of cars, you see your fields big. That shows the sport is healthy. I think it’s good. And if we introduce those car counts where we send someone home every week, I think it’s something exciting.” 
Q: You won at Auto Club last year. What are your thoughts about the track being converted and also off the schedule for a year, maybe two years, before it returns after being converted to a short track? 
Larson: “It’s definitely a long process for them to reconfigure not only the track but a lot of the facilities. It’s pretty intense. I know with California and all the codes that you have to go through, it’s probably hard to have everything stay on schedule. I don’t know exactly the extent of what they’re doing with the track and how big it’s going be, the shape and banking and all that. I love the two-mile track. But I think the more shift tracks we can have, the better off our sports going to be. It’s neat that they’re investing that money to try and grow the growth racing in California, but also help NASCAR.” 
Q: For so many years, you’ve been around long enough. The debate is: how much is the driver? How much is the car for? You guys often say, probably like 80-90% of the car with this new car. How much more is does the driver have control of things? How much more is the driver playing a factor. Are you sensing or getting a feel of having more of input than when maybe when you first came in or early years with, with that crop?
Elliott: “That’s a really tough debate. I’m not sure you’ve ever heard me say those exact numbers, but, nonetheless, I think everyone has to have something good to drive no matter how good or bad of a race car driver you are. You can be in a really good car and not necessarily be putting yourself in positions to have as much success as you need to be doing too. I think you still have to have a horse to ride my opinion.” 
Q: With both of you being really successful in road courses in the past, what were your thoughts on elimination of stage breaks and how much of the difference is it going to make when you go there?
Larson: “I think it’s good. I always thought it was odd in a road course that you would pit early before a stage. That’s just not like racing to me. Being able to race from start to finish is good. I honestly haven’t even followed along with the rules updates. I don’t know the exact rules or whatnot, but I think that’s been something teams and drivers have been trying to get NASCAR to do the last few years. It’s nice that they listen, and I think it’s going to be better overall for the race.” 
QWho is the G.O.A.T. [greatest of all time] in NASCAR?
Larson: “I think my goat would be Jimmie [Johnson]. I guess the way I look at it, and I’m probably biased because I got to compete with him, but just the quality of competition and car. His era was, in my opinion, much more difficult. That’s why he would be. Anyone goes five in a row, that’s crazy.” 
Elliott: “I would agree. And I was going to mention the five in a row. I know the seven he’s talked about a lot, but that five in a row thing doesn’t get talked about enough, in my opinion. I know the format was different, but it makes it a little more possible to do. But still, that’s a tall order. That’s pretty impressive.” 

Lee Declared Friday East Bay Winternationals Winner After Troutman’s Penalty

Troutman, Lee, Nicely, Adams, Dixon, Skaggs locked into Saturday’s 75-lap, $5,000-to-win finale

TAMPA, FL – Feb. 3, 2023 – In a wild race to the checkered flag, Lucas Lee was declared the winner of Friday’s DIRTcar UMP Modified Winternationals Feature event at East Bay Raceway Park after track officials penalized Drake Troutman for jumping the final restart.

Lee, the 2019 Winternationals finale winner from Paris, TN, was the leader for the race’s final restart with two laps remaining. Troutman, the 17-year-old racer from Hyndman, PA, was sitting in the runner-up spot for the restart, and lined up Delaware double-file behind Lee on the outside lane.

The green flag dropped, and the field got on the throttle out of Turn 4. Troutman, who had been running nearly the entire race on the high side, got a big head of steam down the frontstretch and gave Lee a big challenge for the lead as they dove into Turn 1.

The two raced side-by-side for nearly the entire lap, but Troutman’s topside speed out of Turn 4 pushed him past Lee to take the lead as they crossed under the white flag. Troutman abruptly moved down to the low side of the track to defend the lead through Turns 1-2 and made it stick, slightly gapping Lee as they raced down the backstretch toward the checkered flag.

With Troutman cranking the RPMs on the high side and Lee steadily maneuvering the bottom, the two rounded Turn 4 nearly side-by-side and crossed the stripe – Troutman ahead of Lee at the line by .263 seconds.

After the checkered, Troutman began a victory lap around the 1/3-mile oval in celebration of what appeared to be his second win of the week, but was soon informed that he had been docked two positions for jumping the final restart. The penalty, in effect, moved Troutman back to third in the official Feature finish, handing the win over to Lee.

From his perspective, Lee was more concerned with Troutman’s maneuver in Turn 1 after taking the white flag.

“I’m sure he was hanging out there, but that’s what he’s gotta do,” Lee said. “I’m not saying it was right or wrong, but I wasn’t really worried about him doing that so much as I was him chopping the hell out of me in Turns 1 and 2 when he ran the top. Which, that’s racing also.”

Troutman did not share the officials’ view of the restart in question and instead pointed to a possible tire spin for Lee when the field got back on the throttle out of Turn 4.

“You start on the bottom at this place, and you’ll spin [your tires] from one end to the next on the frontstretch and the backstretch, too,” Troutman said. “I figured if I could fan-out and get a run… and [Lee] could probably tell you this, I felt like he probably spun.

“I got a really good run, but it’s one of them deals. [Lee] ran a good race, and congratulations to him. It just wasn’t our night.”

Leading up to the dramatic finish, Lee and Troutman put on another great battle in the final 10 laps.

Polesitter Lee led the first 22 of the 30-lapper before fifth-starting Troutman made up a 3.5-second advantage on him in eight laps, riding the high-side momentum as they worked through lapped traffic.

With several slower cars on the bottom in front of him, Lee managed to escape the bigger clusters, but got hung-up behind Shane Burrows on Lap 23 as Troutman sailed around him for the lead.

“I knew they’d be coming pretty hard,” Lee said. “I was just sticking down there and hoping [the flagman] would [show the move-over flag] and they would get out of the way, but they didn’t.”

“It was on the absolute ragged edge,” Troutman said. “[Lee] got caught up in lapped traffic, and I was just able to keep my momentum rolling up there.”

A caution was thrown later that same lap, restacking the field for the restart. Lee got strong speed as the green came back out and was able to retake the lead from Troutman in Turn 2.

“I knew I’d drive back by him because he picked me in lapped cars,” Lee said. “When my stick guy told me to stay on the bottom, I stayed.”

Lee maintained the top spot until the one final, fateful restart with two-to-go. Despite all that happened in the end, Troutman still found the positive in the situation.

“I love racing with Lucas,” Troutman said. “We always have good races, and we can usually race side-by-side all the time.

“He’ll get over it, I’ll get over it, we’ll move onto tomorrow, and I’m sure we’ll probably be racing side-by-side again tomorrow.”

Thursday night winner Tyler Nicely also benefitted from Troutman’s penalty and was moved from third up to second in the official Feature finish. Troutman was officially scored third, while Devin Dixon and Chris Wilson rounded out the top-five.

With all four preliminary nights now complete, the top-six in overall event points have been locked into Saturday’s 75-lap, $5,000-to-win main event. Those drivers currently sit as follows:

1. Drake Troutman (285)
2. Lucas Lee (260)
3. Tyler Nicely (241)
4. Buzzy Adams (233)
5. Devin Dixon (210)
6. Brian Skaggs (190)


The final night of DIRTcar UMP Modified Winternationals hits the clay of East Bay Raceway Park Saturday, Feb. 4, featuring Heat Races for all non-qualified cars, Last Chance Showdowns and the 75-lap, $5,000-to-win Feature.

If you can’t be at the track, Follow DIRTcar Racing on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for live updates throughout the program.


A Feature 1 (30 Laps): 1. 12-Lucas Lee[1]; 2. 25N-Tyler Nicely[7]; 3. 5-Drake Troutman[4]; 4. 2-Devin Dixon[15]; 5. 17-Chris Wilson[10]; 6. 33W-Rodney Wing[3]; 7. 25W-Allen Weisser[11]; 8. 22-Austen Becerra[19]; 9. 25-LJ Grimm[6]; 10. 205-Travis Varnadore[24]; 11. 20-Brian Skaggs[16]; 12. 3F-Rob Fuqua[23]; 13. 16C-John Clippinger[14]; 14. 90-Tim Gay[13]; 15. 40-Kevin Adams[2]; 16. 69B-Bryan Bernhardt[8]; 17. 70B-Shane Burrows[12]; 18. 56-Chris Wilson[18]; 19. 99-Blake Brown[9]; 20. 2J-Troy Johnson[5]; 21. 145-Kyle Hammer[17]; 22. 54J-Jason Jack[21]; 23. 54-Jason Kinney[22]; 24. 130-Chase Allen[20]

chevy racing–indycar–california test– day 2 recap





FEBRUARY 3, 2023

THERMAL, CALIFORNIA – February 3, 2023 – After two successful days of testing on the 3.067-mile, 17-turn road course at The Thermal Club in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, California, the 12 full-time Chevrolet powered teams and drivers leave with a notebook full of learnings as they prepare for the season-opening race on the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 5, 2023.

Six Team Chevy drivers hovered in the top-10 both days as teams improved setups and performance. In addition, the debut of the Shell 100% Renewable Race Fuel in a competitive environment produced positive reviews from drivers, teams and manufacturers.

Callum Ilott, No.77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet was the overall quickest of the Chevy drivers. In a field that was separated by a mere seven tenths of a second, Will Power, No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet, Scott McLaughlin, No.3 Team Penske Chevrolet, Felix Rosenqvist, No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet and Alexander Rossi, No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet all fell within that very tight window.

Although there were 27 cars in attendance, there were a few off-track excursions during the test. And no driver damaged a car in their mishaps.

Another two-day test will be held at Sebring mid-February before the 17-race season kicks off on the Streets of St. Petersburg. 

Josef Newgarden

Press Conference Transcript

THE MODERATOR: Josef, I guess you go back to Content Day on Wednesday, you were curious about how it was going to play out, but not get overly excited about a good performance, too down on a bad performance. How do you leave here today?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think that rings true, for sure. Productive for us. A lot of new people on the 2 car. Nice to have this competitive environment.

Everyone looked like they were pushing. Looked like typical INDYCAR, right? A couple 10ths on the top split. It was really productive. I was happy with the second half of the day. We were getting the car in a good window. I made a mistake about an hour to go, kind of ruined our last hour there. That was unfortunate.

These are things that happen. It’s good to have this type of environment to make that mistake and get ready for St. Pete. I leave here feeling really confident that we’ve got a team that can build together and try and push from the very beginning of the season.

THE MODERATOR: We’ll begin with questions.

Q. Josef, you had Jeremy (Millss) as an engineer for a while. Any tips and hints for Kyle?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: He’s a unique individual. I’ve never met anybody like Jeremy. He’s crashed four plans. He’s probably not telling people that nowadays, so maybe you only know two of them.

He’s a very unique man. He’s a very good engineer. I think you’ll have a good time with him. He’s great to work with.

Yeah, I don’t need to give Kyle advice. I think he’ll naturally probably get on a good page with Jeremy quickly. He’s easy to get along with, a lot of fun, great engineer. I’m sure they’ll have a good go.

Q. Nobody knew quite what to expect entering this test. What did you learn?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, about what?

Q. The track, what it can do, whether it’s capable of ever putting on a race here, the facility, anything about the car.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think it’s a first-class facility, no doubt. I think the entire facility here at Thermal really rolled out the red carpet for us. They did a tremendous job.

It was a fairly flawless test, I would say, for two days. I think the great thing about this was we had a two-day test, which was fantastic. You got to have this warmup, this pre-season build. That was the biggest positive for me, is that we were here, we were running cars. It was a great facility to do it at.

I think the track was a lot more fun than we anticipated. It was challenging, definitely technical. I don’t know how relevant it is. For us, it wasn’t really relevant to anywhere we’re going, but that’s okay.

In a lot of ways it is relevant. For us it was relevant for building the team up, trying to work in a competitive environment, be competitive together. That’s everything. So regardless of is the setup going to apply to a certain track or another, doesn’t really matter.

For us, it was applying the principles of how we’re going to work together. From that standpoint it was very productive for everybody. Race-ability-wise, it’s hard to say. It was chewing tires up. Big dropoff from run one to two. I think from a race standpoint, that would be quite positive. You’d have big tire deg here.

You’d have to do more work on runoff areas if we wanted to race here, but it’s possible. I don’t think it would take much effort to do the things to run an actual race.

Q. How good a race would it put on?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It’s hard to say. I mean, no one really ran together like that. It’s pre-season testing. Everyone is working on big gaps.

I couldn’t give you a good answer from my side.

Q. Josef, two days of testing, do you have a sense if you feel like things are going better at this point of the year in terms of everyone gelling together than maybe they were at this point a year ago?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think similar. In a lot of ways, the first race last year was an anomaly. We had another thing going on during that weekend that we just were struggling to overcome, which had nothing to do with the chemistry or the cohesiveness of the team.

Then you saw second, third race, we win two right in a row. It was really a dream start for that group. No real lag time to get up to speed.

I feel no differently about this new group, as well. I think they’re very capable. I have the highest confidence in every individual that’s there. Really excited for Luke Mason. I think he’s an absolute star. I don’t want to just single him out because I think it’s everybody on the team. They’re all fantastic.

I have a high level of confidence, but I’m also very aware of the increasing difficulty of this environment in INDYCAR. You can’t get too ahead of yourself. It’s one of the most competitive series out there and it gets harder every year. Every year takes shape differently.

I’ve said this before, but it’s hard to compare seasons because they all take their own form. It’s going to be interesting to see how this one shakes out, but I feel very good about my group specifically, then Team Penske overall. I think we got the best of the best.

Q. It seemed like over the two days we had someone off track, a red flag fairly frequently. Do you have any sense of why it seemed like things 


People were pushing. Everyone has been off for five months. You have everyone pushing like crazy. It’s the time to test the limit, get back in the swing of things.

Yeah, it was a challenging track in some respects, high tire deg, unfriendly offline. If you got a bit wide, dust and marbling was pretty high. That’s what happened to me. I pushed a bit hard in turn nine, I was basically asking to spin. I just let into it. I knew it was going to happen. I let it happen. Probably some others did the same.

Not surprising. This is the time to do it, to test the limits, try to get back into the rhythm and push things. I think a lot of people were doing that.

Q. Do you know whether you were running 2023 spec engines? The reason I ask is obviously there’s a lot of first-gear corners around here. Was it indicative of anything worthwhile, Honda top of each session?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I mean, I believe so. I don’t want to speak out of term. I’m pretty positive we’re carrying the engine that we just ran into St. Pete. I’m pretty positive, yeah. These are race spec engines. Yeah. This should be fresh. Everyone is on their first engines.

I felt really good with our package. The progress we made in 2022 was very evident here, very useful because of what you just asked about, first-gear corners, very big premium on traction, traction capability. I thought our drivability was fantastic.

I thought the performance on the 100% renewable fuel was fantastic. It’s a huge step that we’re making as a series with Shell to run 100% renewable fuel. The first series in the United States to be able to do that.

I didn’t notice any performance loss from the engine. I can’t speak highly enough about that step. We should be shouting that from mountaintops. It’s very cool what Shell has been able to provide us. I think the Chevrolet engine has adapted quite well to it. The drivability has been excellent.

Q. Did you notice anything about fuel mileage? Does it vary track to track, and you don’t get an idea of that here?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, probably a hard track for reference just because we have never been here so we don’t have a reference point.

I didn’t notice a big difference. I thought it was very comparable to years past.

Q. Josef, the drivers asked for it and Jay Frye delivered by eliminating the double points at Indianapolis. Now that the decision has been made, could you comment?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I mean, when I started at INDYCAR, this is what I looked like. It’s back to the beginning for me.

Q. In a lot of ways wasn’t it more of a deficit for anybody that finished below fifth than necessarily a bonus?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I know the implications of the double points, I can tell you that. If you look at the history the last five years, there would be some differences, for sure.

Q. From your veteran experience, watching some of the pre-season tests, do you feel like it’s common that younger guys, if it’s common to have some younger guys pushing all out, whereas veteran guys are honed in on trying to work through a checklist?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I wouldn’t shortchange the younger guys. I think they’re just excellent drivers. Kyle, he’s a good shoe. There’s some of that youthfulness where you’re just ready to attack. I remember when I first started, it was like 10/10ths every session. That’s not for everybody. I’m not trying to blanket everybody. But I think there’s something to that, for sure, when you’re young.

They’re also very good. You’re seeing them up at the top of the time sheets because they’re good drivers. When they get in a good car, too, it only makes a bigger difference. That’s more of it than anything, the fact that they’re just really talented.

chevy racing–indycar–california test–zak brown, sam schmidt, gavin ward, felix rosenqvist, pato o’ward and alexander rossi





FEBRUARY 3, 2023

Zak Brown, Sam Schmidt, Gavin Ward, Felix Rosenqvist, Pato O’Ward and Alexander Rossi

Press Conference Transcript:

LAUREN GAUDION: Good afternoon, everyone. We have a great audience here at Thermal. I’m Lauren Gaudion, director of communications with Arrow McLaren.

Joining me onstage we have No. 5, Pato O’Ward, No. 6 Felix Rosenqvist, No. 7 Alexander Rossi, McLaren CEO Zak Brown, racing director Gavin Ward, and team owner Sam Schmidt.

We’ll start with some opening statements from Zak, then move along to Gavin and open it up for questions.

Zak, you want to get us started.

ZAK BROWN: Certainly. It is officially good afternoon. So good afternoon, everyone. Excited to be here at Thermal for the first-ever INDYCAR spring training test.

Very excited to be here with our three drivers, our newest one here that we worked hard to get, Mr. Rossi, and of course our returning veterans now of Arrow McLaren, Felix and Pato. Great to be here with our partner Sam and our racing director Gavin Ward. We’re very excited about Gavin leading the team moving forward.

It’s been a very busy off-season, ultimately recruiting a lot of people for our expansion, then of course announced Tony joining us for the Indy 500 this year, and Kyle Larson joining us in ’24. We’re definitely thinking long-term about our commitment to INDYCAR racing.

I think we’re going to field very competitive racing cars with aspirations for them all being in a position to win races and compete for the championship.

That being said, we are still a pretty young team, especially with onboarding. The amount of people that we’ve onboarded over the winter will take some time to work through the experience of working together.

But we are very excited.

So let me turn it over to Gavin, who is ultimately responsible for leading the performance of our racing team.

GAVIN WARD: Gavin Ward here, racing director. Very happy to be here at Thermal. Very happy to be here getting some race cars back on track.

We’ve got very few days to get ready for St. Pete. So this is crucial time for us with the additions and growth of the team, to pull this team together and gel, get ready for St. Pete. It’s going to come up in a hurry.

So far been very happy with it. Blown away by the positive atmosphere and the great integration of Rossi into the team. Yeah, it’s been a neat venue for us.

For us, the approach here is not so much about going to win the test, but really about making sure we learn as a team, we nail our processes, we learn how to work together, and we learn about the development to the race car so that we can be more competitive once racing starts here.

LAUREN GAUDION: With that, we’ll starred taking questions from the field.

Q. (No microphone.)

ZAK BROWN: INDYCAR racing is different from Formula 1. I think we always have to be careful to think that bringing Formula 1 is some sort of magic to INDYCAR racing. INDYCAR racing is as competitive as any form of racing I’ve ever seen.

That being said, we do have aspects of our Formula 1 technology and know-how that we will ultimately long-term be beneficial to our INDYCAR teams.

So to have someone like Gavin who understands the capabilities of a Formula 1 team and an INDYCAR team is what you need to understand where are there areas that you can extract knowledge and know-how to the benefit of the INDYCAR team.

I think when we looked at Alex as a driver, it is great that he has Formula 1 experience. I’ve been following Alex prior to being in Formula 1. Alex and I first met in England. When we looked at Alex, alongside Felix and Pato, we thought it was the perfect complement of speed, experience and kind of global knowledge of motorsports. We think Alex will bring a lot to the table for what is still a pretty young team.

Q. Gavin, the ability to work with all three drivers as the race director, how important is that? What are some of the bigger-picture ideas you bring to the team that can help them increase even further?

GAVIN WARD: I think you kind of nailed it with the start of that question. To succeed in INDYCAR requires exceptional collaboration amongst drivers, engineers, crew. It’s interesting with how tight it is in this sport, we kind of have to raise the bar as a team working together.

I think that’s my big emphasis actually right there.

Q. Zak, how influential is it going to be having Tony onboard for the Indy 500?

ZAK BROWN: I think he’s got a lot of experience. He’s won the race, as has the guy sitting to my left. So I think, I don’t know, that’s probably one for the drivers because I think where he adds value is obviously with the team, but maybe ask Felix and Pato, who have yet to win Indy. Gotten really close.

Q. For yourself, Pato, Felix, go ahead.

FELIX ROSENQVIST: Yeah, I mean, Tony has been around for a very long time.

ZAK BROWN: I’ll tell him you said that (smiling).

FELIX ROSENQVIST: One of the first drivers I knew in INDYCAR. He’s a great guy off the track as well. I think he has the mentality where he always tries to help, is a team player. I think that’s more valuable than anything.

If we all want to do well, we’re all going to have to work very closely together. I think that’s already in the mentality with me, Pato and Alex. We don’t really hide anything. I think adding Tony, he will definitely be onboard with that.

He won the race. He’s had a lot of success there. He finished between me and Pato last year in P3. So, yeah, looking forward to having him.

Q. I was curious why did we pick Tony Kanaan to run the 500 this year?

GAVIN WARD: Tony, he’s super experienced, very capable, no doubts that he’ll be straight up to speed. For us, with a growing team, that’s an obvious choice for us to put in the car and build out our depth for the biggest race of the year, the biggest race in the world.

That would be the obvious one.

Q. Zak, motorsport is a business. With the number of New Zealanders you have driving for you, what does it mean to you culturally, significance-wise, having the name McLaren associated with the team?

ZAK BROWN: I mean, I grew up as a McLaren fan, as I think many people have. My earliest memories of McLaren date back to ’88 with Senna versus Prost, back when I was racing. I feel like I’ve got the second-best job in motorsports. I feel like the guy to my left, the two to my right, have the best job in motorsports.

I don’t know. Alex, you’ve been a fan of McLaren. I think the drivers can probably talk more to what it means to be a McLaren driver.

ALEXANDER ROSSI: Yeah, I mean, there’s a huge amount of obvious performance that’s synonymous with the team. And for us as individuals that are a part of it, it’s up to us to raise our game on and off the track to represent the brand.

There’s a huge privilege that comes with that, but also responsibility.

It’s early days for me, but very excited to be able to call McLaren home and look forward to pretty cool things we’re going to be able to accomplish together.

Q. Sam, in many ways what you did in the Indy Lights program was the foundation for where we are now. When you look back, does that make you very proud to know you created some of this?

SAM SCHMIDT: Overwhelmingly. Second only to being the father of two great kids, I think this is very similar.

As Zak mentioned, I’ve known Zak for over 25 years, we’re both racers as heart. That’s why we’re here. That’s why everybody in this room and on this paddock are here.

We want to win. Through 10 years of Indy Lights, seven championships and 80 wins, probably the biggest compliment I ever got was by the announcers being the Roger Penske of Indy Lights, right?

It still wasn’t good enough. You want to win the Indy 500, you want to win championships. After eight years of punching above our weight with guys like Simon Pagenaud, et cetera, I can tell you the guy at the other end, we tried to get him seven or eight years ago. This caliber of driver is what it takes to win. I believe we started strategizing with Zak right about 2018.

I want to be involved. It’s obviously difficult to travel all over the world. The competition with racing in multiple forms of series, Formula E, INDYCAR, Global Rallycross, you name it. I didn’t have the bandwidth to do that, nor the resources.

I think this is the perfect two-year engagement, now a bit of a marriage. Resource-wise it gives us the opportunity to have everybody you have sitting up here, lots of orange shirts in the paddock, you can’t miss us. Sorry, papaya. Have to get that right (smiling).

This is a dream come true. I can be associated with people like Arrow and Onsemi and Lucas Oil and NTT, pursue my dreams in a car again, do some things with the foundation that we couldn’t do, but also be a part of this going forward for a long time to come.

Thank you for the question. But, yeah, seems kind of weird coming from me, but I live the dream every day.

Q. I wanted to ask again about somebody who is not here, Tony Kanaan. If he wins the 500 this year, it’s going to be hard to get rid of him when you already signed Larson. Are you looking forward to running five cars at next year’s Indy 500?

ZAK BROWN: I hope we have to deal with the luxury, challenge of having one of our drivers drinking milk at the Indy 500.

I’ve known Tony for 30 years. We were teammates in 1993. We were laughing about it the other night. He didn’t really speak in English. That was before he came over to do Indy Lights.

I’m looking forward to us racing with Tony.

Q. Gavin, I wanted you to talk about how easy or difficult it was to expand at a time when we all know it’s really hard to find really good personnel. You chose this year to field three cars.

GAVIN WARD: That’s a great question.

Yeah, I mean, it’s a fight for talent out there. There’s no hiding that right now. Very happy with how our recruitment has come together in the off-season. We’ve had to get a little bit creative.

I think that’s actually how we always looked at it. We didn’t look at just wanting to bring in people from the INDYCAR paddock necessarily to fill the slots we needed to fill, we always kind of wanted to bring in a good mix.

We’ve got some great hires from other racing series. We have a great mechanic from World of Outlaws, a great mechanic from Williams F1. We brought in engineers in from Cup. We have an engineer from Boeing, one that has a Salesforce background. Happy with the amount of diversity we’ve brought in there.

Also a little bit of promoting from within. Chris Lawrence stepping up as engineer for Felix. Really happy to give him that opportunity and recognize his success and contribution with this team.

Q. Felix and Pato, how do you feel after the first day and a half of testing and where are you at after an off-season of hard work now?

FELIX ROSENQVIST: I mean, it’s hard to say. This track is very different from anything we do. I think it has some similarities to maybe Portland, some Indy GP. There’s some really slow corners that we don’t have in the calendar.

We try to learn where we kind of have a corner that are similar to what we normally do.

Honestly, the cars are so even now, they’re very equal to what we all ran for the past two years. It’s all in the details. I mean, we’ll be strong. We’re up there. But now is not really the time to judge if you’re going to be on pole or not in the next race. We’re just trying to learn. We have a master list of things to go through.

No, I’m very positive about it. It feels very good so far. As Gavin said, new engineer this year, Chris. Just getting up to speed with that, as well.

Everything feels good. But I can’t answer if we’re 5/10ths or 1/10th, plus 1/10th quicker than last year.

Q. Zak, some big news in Formula 1 with Ford coming onboard for Red Bull. Do you have any kind of opinion on that, what it means for Formula 1 and McLaren from your perspective?

ZAK BROWN: Yeah, I think it’s great. Formula 1 is growing in leaps and bounds at the moment. Long may it continue. Ford has a great history. Jim Farley, who I know quite well, is a racer at heart, as is the Ford organization.

I think it’s fantastic for the sport to see another big OEM come in and join our sport.

Q. Alex, we spent Content Day bugging you, asking you how you’re feeling, how are you getting acclimated. Now you have three sessions, how are you feeling after that?

ALEXANDER ROSSI: Yeah, we’re getting there. I mean, it’s a lot of new things. It’s obviously a new team, but there’s new people on the team, as well. I’m not the only new person. There’s new computers. Everything is new, right?

There were some bugs yesterday that we were sorting through. It’s a new manufacturer for me. It’s been a little bit weird because Felix and Pato don’t really have a benchmark of what the car should feel like here either, so we’re all kind of learning together in a strange way.

It’s been very productive. This morning was heads and shoulders better than how yesterday was going for us. I think we’re getting settled in and this afternoon should be another step better.

Generally happy. The big thing is, everyone has kind of faced adversity and everyone has just kind of dealt with it. There’s been no stress or panic. We’re kind of taking it one step at a time, which is very encouraging.

Q. You talk about the new manufacturer. Often we see drivers switch teams. Have you felt any differences, nuances, that you can share?

ALEXANDER ROSSI: Yeah, they’re certainly different. I mean, I think it’s very public knowledge that Team Chevy and the teams that had Chevy engines worked really hard in the off-season 2021 and 2022 to close the gap of what the Chevy drivers felt like they were missing compared to the others. I think that was obviously proven last year with winning the drivers and manufacturers championship.

There is differences. There are some things that, me being so fresh out from the other side, I’m able to have a very clear black-and-white understanding of this is better, this is worse. Hopefully we can come out of here with a couple bullet points to continue and take forward going into St. Pete.

Q. Gavin, this is a bit of a different role than what you’ve done in the past. Has it been easy or difficult as an adjustment? If so, why?

GAVIN WARD: Yeah, so I’d say it’s been a pretty easy adjustment. Probably easier than I expected. I said it before, but I feel, although I come from an engineering background, and I’m still pretty hands-on in the engineering world here, this evolution kind of fits the way that my career has evolved, to be more people focused and more focused on the human performance aspects of the sport. As I’ve come to learn, at the end of the day that’s what really makes this happen or makes this sport tick. So yeah.

Q. In terms of the infrastructure at the team, have you had to change anything in that regard?

GAVIN WARD: Yeah, we have. I mean, the growth we’ve had, as everyone has talked about, is huge. From an infrastructure point of view, we’ve been building everything up, testing out some new systems here. As Alex mentioned, we had a few growing pains to work through yesterday, which I think we’ve made a lot of progress on.

We’re trying to turn this team. It’s quite difficult to develop, to grow and develop at the same time. I think we did a big sprint to get the right people in place. Now it’s all about building our processes, people working together well, gelling the team.

The culture is strong. I have no issues with that at all. We’re trying to hit that fast forward button, trying to do things in a number of weeks that might naturally take a bit longer here to get full stride, but also build the systems in the team so that not only are we going to hit St. Pete with competitive race cars, but aim to be able to continually bring performance through the year to try and really fight the Penskes and Ganassis out there.

Q. How beneficial is it to have three experienced drivers on the team? They all appear to have different driving styles. Is that beneficial for the team or not?

GAVIN WARD: Yeah, I mean, there’s nothing more important in INDYCAR to having a strong driver lineup. I think we’ve got the best one out there.

As for driving styles, I mean, I’m a believer that there’s as many driving styles as there are racing drivers. It’s up to us to give each of these drivers what they need to execute on the day.

We’re heads down trying to do that.

Q. Zak, you obviously move between a lot of different motorsports series. Where do you feel INDYCAR is on the commercial side of things? What kind of atmosphere is there for improved commercial aspects?

ZAK BROWN: I think lots of opportunity. We sat at a team owner meeting yesterday with the league, they laid out their plans, and they have big aspirations, which is great. Lots of new activity coming. Lot of focus on the drivers, which I think is great.

I know they met with the drivers, what was it, yesterday? All my days are running together now. Ultimately the drivers are the star of motorsports, not just INDYCAR.

Yeah, we’re here to support them. I think we can bring some value to the series as well. I think the new TV programming that they have will be excellent. It’s the best broadcast schedule that I think I’ve seen certainly in the recent times. Good schedule. Doing new things like testing here in spring training.

Q. Zak, last year Pato had a lot of testing in Formula 1. What is the plan for Pato in this season to try to prepare for Formula 1? What will be the main change in the team? Last two seasons Pato has been fighting for the championship. Unfortunately had some problems. What will be the main change in the team to try to resolve these problems?

ZAK BROWN: First thing is we want our three drivers to compete for the championship this year in INDYCAR. That’s priority number one.

We are still developing our Formula 1 testing plans for the balance of this year. Right now we’re focused on getting Oscar up to speed. Pato will be back in our Formula 1 car at some point later this year. But right now we want to be laser focused on the job at hand, which is getting the most out of our INDYCAR team.

Pato, I know you spoke with Andrea not too long ago. I don’t know. What do you think?

PATO O’WARD: I think it’s great (smiling).

I mean, the schedule in INDYCAR is so tightly packed. I know we don’t have a lot of testing before St. Pete. I feel like once we’re done here and once we’re done mid February in the Sebring test, it’s coming fast. Once that kind of ramps up, it’s pretty much non-stop up until September.

As I mentioned I think a couple days ago, the F1 stuff is more of an off-season project. The cars are very different. I think Zak is on the same boat as well as Andrea, we don’t want to take away from the energy and the hunger of the things we want to accomplish in INDYCAR to get a test in in the Formula 1 car. I think that will come later in the season, as Zak mentioned.

We’ve got a big ambitions for this year. I think these two test days have been really good to get all the little gremlins out. It’s definitely not been the smoothest, but I think session after session we’re just getting back into the flow of everything.

As Gavin mentioned, so many new people. That’s been really nice. I’ve really enjoyed just working together with everybody. I guess in a month, a little over a month, we’re going to be in St. Pete, yeah, starting the season.

Q. Alex, earlier in your career you knew what McLaren meant to that series. Now you’re a McLaren driver. What does it mean to you to be part of McLaren?

ALEXANDER ROSSI: Yeah, I mean, kind of as I said before, it’s a huge honor, but it’s also a big responsibility, right? There’s a lot of extra eyeballs that are on the organization because of the name and then the brand that’s associated with it.

For us, it’s very important to make sure that we dot our Is and cross our Ts, but at the same time show what McLaren is about. That’s about obviously performance, but also as Gavin mentioned, having the diversity aspect of hiring people from different aspects of life, bringing ideas from all corners of the team and organization in order to improve it.

I think that’s something that’s very unique to the INDYCAR paddock. On top of that, having the resource that we can rely upon back in England, assuming all Internet connections work. That’s a really positive thing (smiling).

Something I’m looking forward to continuing to evolve with as time goes by with the team. But, yeah, just incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to be here.

Southern Sprint Car Shootout Returns as Marquee Three-Day Event Jan. 25-27

BARBERVILLE, FL (Feb. 3, 2023) – After a successful inaugural Germfree Southern Sprint Car Shootout at Volusia Speedway Park, the event is expanding in 2024 to a high-paying three-day spectacular, Jan. 25-27.

Set to feature the best 360 Sprint Car drivers around the country, and beyond, the event will boast a more than $65,000 overall purse, paying $2,500 to win on Thursday and Friday, and then award a massive $10,000 payday on Saturday.

“After a great reception to the inaugural Southern Sprint Car Shootout, we saw the potential for it to be the next marquee 360 Sprint Car event in the country,” said Tyler Bachman, the event’s coordinator. “By expanding it to three days in 2024 and presenting an increased purse, we’re laying the groundwork for its continued growth for years to come.”

The inaugural event in January proved its future potential by attracting high-profile names like Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Anthony Macri, future stars like Ryan Timms and Gavan Boschele, international travelers from the United Kingdom and Canada and a plethora of the best 360 Sprint Car drivers in the region.

And along with the names, it produced two nights of thrilling action around “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile” with Timms, the 16-year-old standout, taking the inaugural victory. Then, Florida’s Tyler Clem won the main event on Saturday, holding off a stout field of drivers for what he called, “the biggest win of his life.”

The second running of the event in 2024 will host a practice night on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Then, there will be the three nights of Feature action for the Sprint Cars, which will be accompanied by 3/4 Modifieds.

Further details about the purse and format will be announced later.

To keep up with the latest information about the 2024 edition of the Southern Sprint Car Shootout, visit VolusiaSpeedwayPark.com and follow the track’s social pages.

1 Month Alert: Tennessee Tipoff at Smoky Mountain Speedway on Tap for World of Outlaws Late Models March 3-4

A Potential $25,000 payday is on the line if a driver can sweep the weekend

MARYVILLE, TN – February 3, 2023 – A new challenge awaits the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series when it returns to Smoky Mountain Speedway for the 10th Annual Tennessee Tipoff, March 3-4. 

The two-day event will be the first-time drivers will see the track’s new configuration, shortened to 3/8-mile from its 4/10-mile size in the offseason.

A total of $115,000 is on the line in Feature purse money throughout the weekend.

It’ll be the 12th and 13th appearance for the Series at Smoky Mountain, the first Tennessee track to see Dennis Erb Jr.’s title defense, and one of the most exciting rosters in Series history.


Here’s What You’ll See:

A New Era: Like the World of Outlaws CASE Late Models, Smoky Mountain Speedway is moving into a new era in 2023. 

Track officials decided to shorten its length to 3/8-mile, meaning the first driver to reach Victory Lane in the Tennessee Tipoff will be the first driver to win in that configuration.

Money Time: The Tennessee Tipoff is the first trip to the Volunteer State for the Series in 2023, and drivers can grab a solid payday no matter where they finish.

While $10,000 is on the line on Friday, March 3, the prize is even higher on Saturday, March 4, as $15,000 will go to the winner. Any driver who sweeps the weekend takes home $25,000.

A total of $115,000 will be up for grabs between the two Features.

Volunteer State Glory: Tennessee’s Jimmy Owens has the chance to make history on night one of the Tennessee Tipoff.

The Newport, TN driver was the last World of Outlaws CASE Late Models winner on the 4/10-mile configuration and will be the first to win on both style tracks if he finds Victory Lane on March 3.

Joining him will be 2018 Series champion Mike Marlar of Winfield, TN, who won the event in 2020.

Current Series points leader Chris Madden has also had plenty of success at the Tennessee track, winning the Tennessee Tipoff in 2021 and the track’s Mountain Moonshine Classic last July. 

Eleven-time World of Outlaws winner Devin Moran will also be on hand for the Tennessee Tipoff after scoring back-to-back wins at Volusia Speedway Park’s Sunshine Nationals. He’s searching for his first World of Outlaws win at Smoky Mountain—a track promoted by his car owner Roger Sellers.


If you can’t make it to the track, you can watch every lap live on DIRTVision – either at DIRTVision.com or by downloading the DIRTVision App.

AN AWESOME TIME: Travis Pastrana’s Road to Daytona Starts With DIRTcar UMP Modifieds at DIRTcar Nationals

BARBERVILLE, FL (Feb. 3, 2023) – Having won numerous motocross and rally championships, co-created Nitro Circus and Nitro Rallycross, performed several miraculous stunts, and raced in NASCAR, amongst a plethora of other accomplishments, there isn’t much left on Travis Pastrana’s bucket list.

Except for the Daytona 500.

His plan to run the historic NASCAR Cup Series event with 23XI Racing and Black Rifle Coffee Company led to another unexpected venture, all hinged on a dollar bet.

Pastrana will kick off his Florida Speedweeks run with the DIRTcar UMP Modifieds during the 52nd Federated Auto Parts DIRTcar Nationals at Volusia Speedway Park, Feb. 6-18.

Looking to do “really cool stuff” that involves the community and helps veterans and first responders, Pastrana said the group at Black Rifle Company approached him and asked what he’d like to do this year.

“And I said, ‘Daytona 500,’” Pastrana said with a joyous laugh. “They were like, ‘Well, that’s kind of the opposite.’ I said, ‘No, no, it’s good. We’re going to go down, we’re going to go hangout with (three-time NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion and DIRTcar UMP Modified racer) Matt Crafton, one of their drivers, we’ll go to Modified races and watch all the Late Models. We’ll watch the racing, and we’ll bring veterans down and hangout with (Longhorn by Loenbro boss and Rallycross driver, Steve) Arpin.’

“I told Crafton and he goes, ‘Ah, too much of a sissy to driver?’ I called Arpin, and said, ‘So, Longhorn, I heard you guys have vehicles that can kick the crap out of Crafton’s vehicle.’ [Arpin] said, ‘Yeah, if you don’t suck, you can beat him.’ I said, ‘Alright, I’m in.’”

Pastrana will drive one of Arpin’s Longhorn Chassis DIRTcar UMP Modifieds, sponsored by Black Rife Coffee Company, during the first week of DIRTcar Nationals – holding a dollar bet with Crafton on who will have the better finish. That first week will feature six UMP Modified Features a night, Monday (Feb. 6) through Friday (Feb. 10), and then the prestigious Gator Championship race on Saturday (Feb. 11). Pastrana hopes to run every night.

“He cares so much about the sport, so much about the people that are in the sport” said Arpin, who has six DIRTcar Nationals Feature wins in a DIRTcar UMP Modified. “He cares so much about the people that make the sport, that for us to have him drive for us… it’s like, the guy gets in a boat, he jumps out of hotels, it just doesn’t matter, he just does it. For us to get to put him in a car and have this be a bucket list thing for him is absolutely unbelievable.

“He just cares so much about the sport and the industry that he’s just the most kindhearted, big-hearted, normal guy that just happens to be a global celebrity and a talent beyond belief.”

While Pastrana is used to sliding sideways on dirt with his rallying experience, dirt track racing is an entirely new discipline for him. He made one previous dirt track start during the 2010 Prelude to the Dream at Eldora Speedway in a dirt Late Model but only made five laps.

In a two-day test in one of Arpin’s Modifieds, Pastrana joked he wasn’t sure if they were going to let him get back in the car on day two.

“[Arpin] showed up the second day after hearing how bad the first day was,” Pastrana said jokingly. “But he just told me, until you commit, it’s not going to work. Once I committed, it started making a lot of sense. But coming in, if you’re lifting off the gas while trying to turn, it just doesn’t turn and all your natural instincts say, ‘Don’t get on the gas.’ So, yeah, I feel like it should suit my driving style because I’m more of an aggressive sideways type of driver, but it was very difficult. Turning and sliding, I’m fine. Getting it there is not the easiest.”

Arpin attested to the difficulty of trying race a dirt car versus a rally car, having gone from racing Modifieds to rally cars in his career. However, after day two of testing, he said, “we’re pretty confident Crafton is going to have to run hard to keep his dollar.”

Like any athlete, Pastrana wants to be competitive – and as he put it, “kick Crafton’s ass.” But more so, he wants to have fun. He wants Aprin and the Longhorn team to have fun. He wants his sponsors to have fun. He wants his friends and family to have fun. And like with everything he does, he wants to put on a good show for the fans.

“How this all started was, it’s been an awesome ride for me, and I don’t have much left on my bucket list,” Pastrana said. “To do the 500 was something that felt like a now or never deal. You know, I have some great sponsors with Black Rifle Coffee Company, and Dixxon Flannel jumping on board. Even Wienerschnitzel jumping in. Basically, calling in all the favors from all my buddies. Everybody, long lost relatives, friends, family, sponsors from all the years of motorcycles to rally to NASCAR to everything. They’re all going to be there.

“It’s going to be an expensive weekend. Not everything is covered. If I crash anything it is going to be all on me. This is one of those things where I want to come down and have fun. I want to hang out with the crowd, I want to sign autographs and give high fives. Especially for the Modified crew, that’s the grassroots racing that I love and some of my friends are involved with. We’ll be camping down there with Arpin and all the Longhorn guys, just hanging out. I feel like that’s a great opportunity for us to bring a lot of veterans and bring people that are into racing and aren’t into racing, friends and family, and just have an awesome time.”

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