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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

New home for Super DIRT Week 2016: Central New York Raceway Park

credit: superdirtweekonline.com
Super DIRT Week at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse comes to an end this year, but it won’t be leaving Central New York: on Wednesday, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $5 million from New York State will be invested in the completion of Glenn Donnelly’s Central New York Raceway Park in Central Square in Oswego County. That investment will get the track ready for a spring 2016 opening and get it ready to host Super DIRT Week in 2016.

“We keep Super DIRT Week,” said Cuomo. “We don't want to lose the economic engine of the racing industry.”

The facility will include a 1/2-mile synthetic dirt oval, a 2.2-mile road course, NASCAR style garages, VIP suites, a full service restaurant and full television and radio production studio.

“We are pleased that we were chosen as the future site of Super DIRT Week,” said CNYRP President Donnelly, who also manages Rolling Wheels Raceway Park in Elbridge, NY. “We look forward to working with World Racing Group and to continue to make Super DIRT Week the biggest event in dirt racing.”

Get more information on Central New York Raceway Park at www.centralnyracewaypark.com

NASCAR 2015: Who’s hot and who’s not in the Chase at Dover

credit: NASCAR Media
The AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway in Delaware marks the third and final race in the Challenger Round of the 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup – the field gets cut by four drivers at the end of the race, and right now four Chase favorites are in precarious positions near the bottom of the standings: Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. are in 10th and 12th respectively, with Earnhardt Jr. just one point ahead of 13th-place Kyle Busch and 23 points ahead of reigning Cup Series champ Kevin Harvick in 15th. Who has a chance to make it out of the cellar and on to the Contender Round?

LUKEWARM – Jeff Gordon – Gordon stands the best chance to make it into the Contender Round of the Chase: five previous Dover wins and 26 top 10 finishes in 45 starts, plus four poles. Gordon has finishes of 14th and seventh in the two Chase races so far, and is still looking for a win in his final full-time season in the series.

HOT – Jimmie Johnson – he’s nowhere near bubbling under, but Johnson owns Dover, and that will keep him in the hunt through this round. Johnson has 10 wins and 20 top 10 finishes in 27 starts, plus three poles; his most recent win was in the May race. Johnson is fifth in points after finishes of 11th and sixth at Chicagoland and New Hampshire, respectively, 16 points behind leader Matt Kenseth.

LUKEWARM – Kyle Busch – Busch, who was in contention to advance after the Chicagoland race, has two wins and 13 top 10 finishes in 21 starts at Dover; a rough race a New Hampshire and a 37th-place finish relegated him to the 13th position in the standings. Much like Talladega did for Busch last year, one bad finish can break a championship run – it would be a shame to eliminate Busch so soon after his impressive run to make the Chase after his season-opening injuries.

NOT – Kevin Harvick – Dover is one of just five tracks the reigning champ has failed to win at in his 15 years in the Cup Series: he has 13 top 10 finishes in 29 starts. In spite of excellent starting spots – pole and outside pole at Chicagoland and New Hampshire, respectively – in the first two Chase races, an accident relegated Harvick to a 42nd-place finish at Chicagoland and a fuel-mileage decision dropped him from leading to 21st in the final two laps at New Hampshire. If he’s going to defend as champ, he’s going to have to win.
Matt Kenseth is the current points leader
credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/Todd Warshaw


HOT – Matt Kenseth – points leader Kenseth got hot at the right time: early August, when he won a fuel-mileage battle at Pocono. Since then, he’s won three of the last seven races, including last weekend’s fuel-mileage battle at New Hampshire. At Dover, Kenseth has two wins and 21 top 10s in 33 starts, plus a pole; he’ll need to do better than he did in May, when he finished 39th with suspension problems.


Qualifying for the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway takes place Friday at 3:45 p.m. ET, with the race going green on Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET. Keep up with the weekend action at www.nascar.com

Monday, September 28, 2015

Hirschman, Hanbury take top wins in U.S. Open at Lancaster

Tony Hanbury of Orchard Park captured the win in the 75-lap Sportsman feature on Saturday, while Northampton, Pennsylvania’s Matt Hirschman took the checkered flag in the 125-lap Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour feature on Sunday during the 27th annual U.S. Open at Lancaster National Speedway.

In other Saturday action, Terry Weldy of Corfu won the 25-lap Street Stock main, while Bobby Hanel Jr. of Buffalo won the 25-lap 4-Cylinder feature. Jeremy Haudricourt of Bliss picked up his sixth U.S. Open win in the Legends feature, and Jonathan Reid of Lockport won the NYPA TQ Midget feature.

On Sunday, Blasdell’s Jake Wylie won the 25-lap Super Stock feature, while Dave Russell of Clarence won the 30-lap Late Model feature.

Hanbury, who won the RoC portion of last year’s U.S. Open, ended Andy Jankowiak’s five-year win streak in the Sportsman race at the U.S. Open. Jankowiak finished third behind Hanbury and Rusty Smith. Weldy led all 25 laps from the outside pole to win the Street Stock feature; it was his third U.S. Open win, having already won the Street Stock feature in 1999 and the Super Stock feature in 2002. Hanel Jr. picked up his first U.S. Open since 2002 with a victory in the 4-Cylinder feature.

Haudricourt joined Kirk Rutherford and Jankowiak in a three-way tie for most U.S. Open wins all-time with his sixth U.S. Open Legends win in seven years. Haudricourt started on the pole and led all 25 laps; the win guarantees Haudricourt a starting spot in the $1,500-to-win Legends race at the Race of Champions at Chemung Speedrome on October 3. Reid picked up his third U.S. Open win in the NYPA TQ Midgets, leading all 25 laps from the pole.

Hirschman passed Mike Leaty for the lead with 18 laps to go to earn his fourth career U.S. Open win. It was Hirschman’s first win of the year on the Race of Champions Modified Tour.

“It’s been over a year since we won an RoC race,” said Hirschman. “It’s been tough, there were some opportunities this year where things didn’t work out. I was really focused in on this, I prepared hard for this, even with the stopping for that caution I was just determined to get it done.”

Russell earned his first career U.S Open feature win, passing Jeff Brown for the lead on Lap 17. Bobby Weber was denied a perfect season in the Late Models at Lancaster after he was involved in two incidents early on in the race. Weber’s car was damaged when he tangled with Matt Alix on Lap 2, and later on Lap 9, he developed mechanical issues which eliminated him from competition.

Jake Wylie won the 25-lap Super Stock feature, his second win of the season at Lancaster. He becomes the third member of his family to win an U.S. Open feature: Wylie’s father, Rick, is a three-time Late Model Pro Stock winner while his brother, Scott, has won twice in the Cup Lites and once in the IMCA-Style Modifieds.

The 2016 oval track season begins Sunday, April 17 with the return of the RoC Modifieds. The 2016 U.S. Open will take place September 16-18. Keep up with the off-season at www.lancasternationalspeedway.com.

Quotes and information in this piece provided by Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway.

All photos: paulathompsonfreelance for wnymotorsports.com.

TQ Midget winner Jonathan Reid

Legends winner Jeremy Haudricourt

4-Cylinder winner Bobby Hanel Jr.

Street Stock winner Terry Weldy
 
Sportsman winner Tony Hanbury

Super Stock winner Jake Wylie

Late Model winner Dave Russell

RoC Modified winner Matt Hirschman

D’Agnolo wins Ironman Classic Race of Champions at Lancaster Dragway

Pete D'Agnolo with his Ironman Trophy
credit: Mary Neffke Motorsports Photography
Rochester’s Pete D'Agnolo won Lancaster National Dragway's 26th annual Ironman Classic Race of Champions on Tuesday, September 22, defeating Bill Balser Jr. of West Seneca in the final run-off to determine the overall event winner.

D'Agnolo advanced to the final from the No-Box bracket after surviving five rounds of eliminations. D'Agnolo received an IHRA Ironman trophy plus $750 for his accomplishments. Balser Jr. advanced from the Box bracket after taking out Jan Winkowski in the finals. He received an Ironman trophy plus $500. 

Both drivers qualified for the event by winning in their respective classes during the 2015 season. Former track champions and Race of Champions event winners were also eligible to compete. 
In regular Tuesday night action, Art Misuraca of Lakeview won the Senior Nostalgia class in his 1934 Ford, defeating Bill Ostwald in the finals. 


The 2015 season for the Franco's Pizza IHRA Drag Racing program concludes on Saturday, October 10 with Pro Mod-A-Palooza and the Grand Champion Run-Offs, crowing the remaining track champions with the final points races for all weekly classes and Quick 16; there will also be a shootout between some of the top Pro Mod teams in the region, and the Buffalo Street Outlaws will part of the show as well. For more information visit www.promodapalooza.com or www.lancasternationalspeedway.com

National weekend wrap-up: September 25-27, 2015

credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/
Todd Warshaw

Sprint Cup Series – after leading 216 of the race’s first 298 laps, Kevin Harvick came up short on fuel, leading to a disappointing 21st-place finish in Sunday’s Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, handing the win to Matt Kenseth. Denny Hamlin finished second, with Joey Logano, Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards rounding out the top five.



Xfinity Series – Ryan Blaney took home the checkered flag in the VisitMyrtleBeach.com 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday, beating Ty Dillon to the finish line. JR Motorsports teammates Regan Smith and Chase Elliott finished third and fourth, respectively, followed by Brandon Jones in fifth.

Camping World Truck Series – Austin Dillon won the UNOH 175 at New Hampshire this weekend, leading 80 of the race’s 175 laps; it was the 500th race in the Truck Series since its inception in 1995. Matt Crafton finished second, followed by Johnny Sauter, Timothy Peters and John Hunter Nemechek.


credit: NHRA Media
NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series – Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Drew Skillman (Pro Stock) and Hector Arana Jr. (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home Wallys from the NHRA Midwest Nationals at Gateway Motorsports Park near St. Louis. Mike Knowles took home the Wally in the Pro Mod portion of the schedule; Lancaster’s Mike Janis is still leading the points standings in Pro Mods, 28 points up on Troy Coughlin with one race remaining.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Lancaster Speedway and Dragway offers peak at 2016 schedule

credit: Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway
If you attended this weekend’s U.S. Open at Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway, you may have found out a few of the highlighted dates for the 2016 schedules for both drag racing and stock cars. If you missed it, here are a few dates to mark on your calendars for next year.

2016 Stock Car Racing – Race of Champions Modified Tour dates
  • Sunday, April 17 – 75 laps
  • Thursday, June 30 – Ol’ Boy Cup II – 60 laps
  • Saturday, August 20 – Tommy Druar/Tony Jankowiak Memorial – 110 laps
  • Friday through Sunday, September 16-18 – U.S. Open weekend – 125 laps

2016 Drag Racing
  • Saturday, April 16 – season opener
  • Friday, July 15 – Nitro Night of Fire
  • Saturday and Sunday, August 6-7 – Nostalgia Weekend


For more dates as they become available, visit www.lancasternationalspeedway.com

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Hinchcliffe set to test at Road America

James Hinchcliffe earlier in the 2015 season at Barber
Motorsports Park
credit: IndyCar Media/Joe Skibinski
James Hinchcliffe is set to return to the racetrack on September 28 during the second round of Verizon IndyCar Series team testing at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, driving the No. 5 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Honda. It will be Hinchcliffe’s first on-track activity since he sustained a serious thigh injury May 18 in a practice crash at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"I expect to be grinning like an idiot for the first few runs," said Hinchcliffe.

INDYCAR announced in August that the Road America Grand Prix on June 24-26 would be part of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. Road America, the renowned permanent road course meandering through the Kettle Moraine area of east central Wisconsin, held its first race in 1955 and hosted Indy car races from 1982-2007.

Hinchcliffe, a Toronto native, underwent two surgeries following the accident. He has now been cleared to drive by the INDYCAR medical team.

"This is obviously the day that has been the goal and the motivation to get through the last four months," said Hinchcliffe, who won the inaugural race at NOLA Motorsports Park earlier this year. "And the fact that it is at Road America, one of my favorite road courses in the country, makes it that much better."

"I'm under no illusions that it won't be a massively difficult day," added Hinchcliffe, who will enter his second season with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in 2016. "Going to a track we haven't run, on top of the physical stress of getting back in (a car), but that's OK. I'm definitely ready for a little hard work."

Other teams and drivers scheduled to participate in the test, with car number in parentheses, are:
  • Andretti Autosport: Marco Andretti (No. 27), Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28)
  • Dale Coyne Racing: Tristan Vautier (No. 19)
  • KVSH Racing: Sebastien Bourdais (No. 11)

Keep up with the off-season action at www.indycar.com.

Quotes in this piece provided by IndyCar Media.

Pitkat to honor Jerry Cook at NHMS

Press release from NASCAR Media.

Pitkat's modern-day No. 38 tribute to Cook
credit: Buzz Chew Motorsports
NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship contender Woody Pitkat will sport a different car number and colors this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, but the marks will be plenty familiar to longtime modified fans.

Piktat’s regular No. 88 black and blue Chevrolet has transformed into a red and white No. 38 as a tribute to NASCAR Hall of Fame-elect Jerry Cook for Saturday’s F.W. Webb 100. The throwback scheme features a red paint with white lettering and numbers outlined in black, and the look comes complete with Cook’s primary sponsors Hollebrand Trucking and B&M Speed Shop. The No. 88 team’s present day sponsor Buzz Chew Chevrolet is also featured on the car with a retro logo.

Although Cook had retired from competition by the time New Hampshire’s “Magic Mile” opened in 1990, the track is the most prominent venue the Whelen Modified Tour visits, providing a fitting place for the tribute to take place.

The selection of the Buzz Chew Motorsports team for this tribute opportunity was also apt. Pitkat is the defending winner of the F.W. Webb 100 and is just one point out of first in the 2015 championship race.

“This is a great honor to have Buzz Chew Racing and Woody Pitkat carry my colors and number at New Hampshire,” Cook said. “Being elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame is as great as it gets. It’s out of this world for sure.”

Jerry Cook
credit: Getty Images for NASCAR
Cook barnstormed his way up and down the East Coast chasing wins and points. He compiled 342 checkered flags in 1,474 starts and earned six NASCAR modified division national championships from 1971-77. Only six drivers in the history of NASCAR racing at all levels have more series titles than the Rome, New York, native.

“All of the racing they did, the accomplishments he had and the championships he won, it’s a huge honor for our team to be able to do this,” Pitkat said.

Cook often raced a handful of times a week, and Pitkat – who maintains an aggressive racing schedule himself by today’s standards – feels a bit of a kindship to the man his team is paying tribute to.

“I’m kind of in the same boat because I do a lot of racing myself,” Pitkat said. “I race four different cars – he was probably doing it with just one car back then – but it makes me feel good that I’m kind of doing the same thing he did.”

Cook will join former competitor and rival Evans, also from Rome, New York, as the only competitors from NASCAR’s weekly and regional touring division ranks to receive NASCAR Hall of Fame election.

In a similar effort, Mystic Missile Racing featured an Evans tribute paint scheme at New Hampshire in the September 2011 Whelen Modified Tour event following his posthumous NASCAR Hall of Fame election.

“To me it’s a huge honor,” Pitkat said. “I remember a few years ago when Bobby [Santos] drove the Richie Evans tribute car and that was really cool.”

The NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony is scheduled for Friday, January 22, 2016, and will be broadcast on NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, live from Charlotte, North Carolina. Cook will be inducted alongside Bobby Isaac, Terry Labonte, O. Bruton Smith and Curtis Turner.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

NASCAR 2015: Who’s hot and who’s not in the Chase at New Hampshire

credit: NASCAR Media
Chase Race No. 2 is the Sylvania 300, taking place at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, NH on Sunday, September 27. Race No. 1 at Chicagoland Speedway saw one of the favorites take a significant hit in the points standings after contact with another Chase Challenger, but does it spell the end? Not hardly. Here’s how some of the Chase drivers stack up going into this weekend’s race at the 1.058-mile track in New England.

HOT – Joe Gibbs Racing – spots Nos. 1-4 in the Chase standings after Chicagoland belong to the hottest team in NASCAR, with Chicagoland winner Denny Hamlin sitting second behind Matt Kenseth by two points; Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch are both three points behind Kenseth. At New Hampshire, all but Edwards have wins at the track, led by Hamlin and Busch with two each; Kenseth has one. Edwards has six top 10 finishes in 22 starts, with an average finish of 13.6.

LUKEWARM – Kevin Harvick – one race won’t break Harvick’s chances to repeat as Sprint Cup champ, but it has dug him into a significant hole, currently 43 points behind Kenseth after Chicagoland. Harvick’s NHMS stats are comparable to Kenseth’s: Harvick has a win and 15 top 10s in 29 starts, while Kenseth has a win and 16 top 10s in 31 starts.

HOT – Jeff Gordon – behind in points to begin with after a winless regular season, Gordon is 21 points behind Kenseth after one race – but sits in the final transfer spot to move into the Contender Round. At New Hampshire, Gordon has three wins, 23 top 10s and four poles in 41 starts – the only active driver to compete in every race at the track.

NOT – Paul Menard – Menard, currently 14th in points (25 back of Kenseth), has a career-best finish of 12th at New Hampshire, with an average finish of 23.8 – worst among the Challengers. Menard picked up a 17th-place finish in the first Chase race at Chicagoland.

HOT – Kurt Busch – Busch finished third at Chicagoland, leading 37 laps, and sits just four points back of Kenseth. At New Hampshire, he has three wins and 12 top 10 finishes in 29 starts, with an average finish of 15.9.

Qualifying for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway begins Friday at 4:45 p.m. ET, with the race going green Sunday at 2 p.m. ET. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com

Monday, September 21, 2015

WNY weekend wrap-up: September 18-20, 2015

Lancaster TNT Hot Rod Series winner Jon Jablonski
credit: Mary Neffke Motorsports Photography
Lancaster Dragway – the final night of the regular season saw Jon Jablonski take the win light in the TNT Hot Rod Series Friday night. Mike Nowak took the win in the Quick 16, while Rick Szewczyk won in Top ET. Dale Eckert won the Mod ET class, Rob Brandel won in Bikes and Sleds and Louie San George won in Street ET.

Holland Speedway – 87 Enduro cars competed on Saturday night during Crash-A-Rama at Holland, with Steven Leisten taking the win. The team of Mike Meyers and James Eddy outlasted seven other teams to win the Stock Roller Derby six-lap event. Marty Hughes led the entire School Bus Figure 8 race, while Jason Eck took the win in the Flag Pole Race. The Boat Trailer Race saw 26 entrants take part with Matt Serafin taking the win, and 14 entrants took part in the Demolition Derby with Ryan Palmer taking the win.


Humberstone Speedway – the end-of-season tradition Eve of Destruction took place Sunday at Humberstone, with Mark West winning the Enduro and Grant Carrie winning the Backwards Race. Emily Puchalski picked up the victory in the Ladies Race, while Bill Bleich Jr. won the Point-to-Point race. Neil Martens picked up the win in the Enduro-Cross and also grabbed the win in the Figure 8’s. The team of Craig Gilbert and Grant Carrie won the Chain Race, while Karl Sault won the Trailer Race. Rick Laramee won the small car Demolition Derby while Olivier Larocque won the large car demo.

National weekend wrap-up: September 18-20, 2015

Denny Hamlin punched his ticket to the next round of
the Chase by winning at Chicagoland Speedway
credit: Getty Images/Sean Gardner via NASCAR Media
Sprint Cup Series – Denny Hamlin took the win and an automatic bid to the next round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup on Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway, winning the myAFibRisk.com 400 over his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Carl Edwards. Kurt Busch finished third, followed by Ryan Newman in fourth and Matt Kenseth in fifth.

Xfinity Series – Kyle Busch took the win in Saturday’s Furious 7 300 at Chicagoland, beating Kenseth to the checkered flag. Darrell Wallace Jr. finished third, followed by Paul Menard and Ty Dillon in fourth and fifth, respectively.

Camping World Truck Series – John Hunter Nemechek became a first-time winner in the Truck Series, winning the rain-delayed American Ethanol E15 225 race at Chicagoland Saturday morning. Tyler Reddick finished second, with Timothy Peters finishing third. Daniel Suarez and Johnny Sauter rounded out the top five.


NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series – Antron Brown (Top Fuel), Del Worsham (Funny Car), Erica Enders (Pro Stock) and Andrew Hines (Pro Stock Motorcycle) took home Wallys from the NHRA Carolina Nationals at zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina. Danny Rowe picked up the win in the Pro Mod class, where Mike Janis still holds the points lead.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lancaster National Speedway’s U.S. Open: September 25-27, 2015

credit: Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway
The 27th annual U.S. Open wraps up the 2015 Lancaster National Speedway oval track season Friday through Sunday, September 25-27. The three-day event will feature eight divisions plus fun for families and kids of all ages.

Friday night, September 25 is a free-admission practice session and Kick-off Party in the concourse. Grandstands open at 6 p.m., with practice scheduled from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The after-party will feature a band and run through approximately 11:30 p.m.

On Saturday, September 26, grandstands open and practice begins at 2:30 p.m. Opening ceremonies begin at 4:30 p.m. and action will include the NYPA TQ Midget, 4-Cylinder, Legend, Street Stock and Sportsman classes followed by a fireworks display.

On Sunday, September 27, grandstands open and practice begins at 10:30 a.m., with opening ceremonies just after noon. The Super Stocks and Late Models will be joined by the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour on Sunday, racing in their next-to-last race of the 2015 season.

Camping during the U.S. Open weekend is free in the designated camping area, and the track is hosting a “Best Appearing Campsite” contest, with voting on Saturday evening and the announcement of the winner on Sunday. The winner will receive a $100 gift certificate from Colton RV.

Grandstand admission for adults is $20 on Saturday and $25 on Sunday, or a two-day pass is just $40; for kids ages 12-17, Saturday admission is $8 and Sunday is $10 – a two-day pass is $15; kids under 12 get free admission all weekend. Find a complete schedule of events and more information at thelancasterusopen.com.  

Thursday, September 17, 2015

NASCAR 2015: Who’s hot and who’s not in the Chase at Chicagoland

credit: NASCAR Media


The Chase for the Sprint Cup begins this week at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois, home of the MyAFibStory.com 400 on Sunday, September 20. Seven of the Chase Challengers have previous wins at the 1.5-mile oval, but for the No. 1 seed, it’s one of only three tracks where he doesn’t have a win.



HOT – Kyle Busch – the driver of the No. 18 M&Ms Crispy Toyota Camry has been on fire since returning from injury in late May, winning four races and earning nine total top 10s in 15 starts since his return and working his way into the top 30 in points and a Chase spot. At Chicagoland, Busch has a win (2008) and five top 10s in 10 starts, as well as two poles; three of those top 10s came in the last three races there.

NOT – Jimmie Johnson – Johnson picked up his four wins early in the season, but has had a rough go of the last 10 races, with a couple uncharacteristic finishes of 22nd at New Hampshire and 39th at Michigan. At Chicagoland, Johnson has three runner-up finishes, and 10 total top 10 finishes, in 13 starts, but has yet to break in to the win column; last season, Johnson finished 12th and failed to lead a lap for just the second time in 13 races there.

HOT – Brad Keselowski – Keselowski quietly made his way into the Chase with an early-season win at Fontana, putting together 18 top 10s in the first 26 races of the season. At Chicagoland, Keselowski is one of two Chase drivers with two wins (2012 and 2014), and has four total top 10s in six starts, with an average finish of 10.7. Since a disappointing 29th-place finish at Daytona in July, he’s put together a string of nine top 10 finishes, including runner-ups at New Hampshire, Pocono and Darlington.

NOT – Joey Logano – Logano finished up the “regular season” on a hot streak, with five top 10 finishes – including two wins – in the last five races, but his stats at Chicagoland have been disappointing: two top 10s in six starts, including a fourth-place finish last season. In 2013, Logano won the pole and led 32 laps before engine problems relegated him to a 37th-place finish. Of the 16 Chase drivers, Logano’s average finish of 16.8 is among the bottom four.

HOT – Kevin Harvick – Harvick won two of the season’s first four races, then put together a season of 22 top 10 finishes in 26 starts, his worst finish being an uncharacteristic engine problem at Pocono in August (42nd); that stretch included an impressive 10 runner-up finishes. Harvick led the actual points standings for all but the first two weeks of the season, and goes into the Chase as the No. 5 seed. At Chicagoland, Harvick won his first two career starts at the track (2001 and 2002), and has nine top 10s in 16 starts, with an average finish of 9.6.

Qualifying for the MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway begins Friday at 5:45 p.m. CT, with the race going green Sunday at 2 p.m. CT. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com

Janis heads to Charlotte as NHRA Pro Mod leader

credit: NHRA Media
Lancaster native Mike Janis heads down to zMAX Dragway in Concord, North Carolina – near Charlotte – this weekend as the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series points leader with three races left in the 2015 season.

He’s been racing well, with a win and final round appearance in his last two events, and knows the field will be chasing him at the eighth annual NHRA Carolina Nationals.

“It’s definitely hard to block out,” said Janis. “We’re going to just try to race, do our thing, try to go round-by-round and win the race, but it’s a pretty big deal (to be the points leader). There’s definitely a lot of pressure but I just want to drive well and not let the team down. We’ve got a big fan base here in town and it’s hard to believe in a small town there’s so many people rooting for you.”

Janis reached the final round at Charlotte last season, losing to Troy Coughlin in the finals; Janis now leads Coughlin by 52 points in the standings. Janis moved from sixth to third following the win in Norwalk in July, and took the lead at Indy Labor Day weekend.

“Obviously we want to try to qualify in the front half of the field and try to run the car hard like we always do,” said Janis. “We may not take any chances as far as hurting the car and things like that, but we’ve been working on that all week long, making sure everything is in order. There’s a lot of good cars right behind us and it’s very close. The guys are all charged up and hopefully we don’t have a letdown. We went into Norwalk way behind and you realize that in just one race you could be 100 points behind again. I just have to keep racing hard and hope things go my way.”

Qualifying for the J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the NHRA Carolina Nationals begins Friday at 2:30 and 4:45 p.m. ET, with one final qualifying session on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. ET, followed by the first round of eliminations on Saturday at 2:30 p.m. ET; eliminations continue on Sunday. Keep up with the action at www.nhra.com.

Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

NASCAR 2015: The Chase is on

The 2015 Chase for the Sprint Cup field
credit: Getty Images/Matt Sullivan
The field of 16 is set for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, 2015 edition. Here’s a look at the 16 drivers qualified for the Challenger Round of the 2015 Chase.
  1. Jimmie Johnson – four wins – Atlanta, Texas, Kansas, Dover
  2. Kyle Busch – four wins – Sonoma, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Indianapolis
  3. Matt Kenseth – four wins – Bristol 1, Pocono 2, Michigan 2, Richmond 2
  4. Joey Logano – three wins – Daytona 1, Watkins Glen, Bristol 2
  5. Kevin Harvick – two wins – Las Vegas, Phoenix
  6. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – two wins – Talladega, Daytona 2
  7. Kurt Busch – two wins – Richmond 1, Michigan 1
  8. Carl Edwards – two wins – Charlotte, Darlington
  9. Brad Keselowski – one win – Fontana/Auto Club
  10. Martin Truex Jr. – one win – Pocono 1
  11. Denny Hamlin – one win - Martinsville
  12. Jamie McMurray – in on points
  13. Jeff Gordon – in on points
  14. Ryan Newman – in on points
  15. Paul Menard – in on points
  16. Clint Bowyer – in on points


National weekend wrap-up: September 11-12, 2015


credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/
Jonathan Moore
Sprint Cup Series –Matt Kenseth earned his fourth win of the season Saturday night in the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, leading 352 of the race’s 400 laps and beating his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch by nearly one second. Joey Logano finished third, followed by Aric Almirola and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in fourth and fifth, respectively.


credit: NASCAR via Getty Images/
Sarah Crabill



Xfinity Series – Chase Elliott broke a 39-race winless streak Friday night, taking the checkered flag in the Virginia529 College Savings 250 at Richmond ahead of Busch. Brian Scott finished third, followed by Logano and Erik Jones. Elliott led a race-high 83 laps in the win.

Abbott Rd. Pizza increases Late Model purse for U.S. Open

Late Models in action - 8/29/15
credit: paulathompsonfreelance.com
Abbott Rd. Pizza, located at 1177 Abbott Rd. in South Buffalo, will be the presenting sponsor of the X-Press Signs Late Model feature at the U.S. Open at Lancaster National Speedway on Sunday, September 27.

With their sponsorship comes a purse increase for the race, for which the winner will now take home $2,000; the runner-up will take home $1,000, and the third-place finisher takes home $850. The race will pay a minimum of $350 to start.

The Late Models ran three times at Lancaster during the 2015 season, with Bobby Weber of Clarence Center winning all three events. Weber has five previous wins in the U.S. Open Late Model feature.


The 27th annual U.S. Open weekend at Lancaster National Speedway will feature eight classes in two days of racing, September 26-27; a practice session and kick-off party will take place Friday, September 25 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. with free admission. Find a complete schedule and more information at the U.S. Open website, www.thelancasterusopen.com

Lancaster preps for 2015 U.S. Open, September 25-27

credit: Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway
The 27th annual U.S. Open at Lancaster National Speedway, taking place September 25-27, will feature eight divisions, headlined by the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour on Sunday, September 27.

The weekend kicks off Friday, September 25 with a free practice session; gates open at 6 p.m. with practice from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Following practice is the U.S. Open Kickoff Party on the main concourse, featuring live music and the adult tricycle race.

On Saturday, September 26, grandstands open at 2:30 p.m., with action set to start at 4:30 p.m. Saturday’s action will include heats and features for 4-Cylinders, INEX Legends, Street Stocks and Sportsman classes, plus heat races for the NYPA TQ Midgets.

On Sunday, September 27, practice begins at 10:30 a.m., with racing action underway at noon. Sunday’s action includes the feature for the NYPA TQ Midgets plus heats and features for the Super Stocks, Late Models and RoC Tour.


Two-day adult general admission tickets are $40, student (ages 12-17) tickets are $15 for the weekend and kids under 12 are free; family passes will also be available. Find a complete schedule and more information at the U.S. Open website, www.thelancasterusopen.com

Thursday, September 10, 2015

NASCAR 2015: Who to watch in the Last Race Before the Chase at Richmond

credit: NASCAR Media
Saturday night marks the end of the Sprint Cup Series’ “regular season,” the 26 races before the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. 11 drivers are locked into the 16-driver field based on wins, leaving five spots open for a new winner and/or the top-finishing point-earners. These perennial favorites are among the drivers still looking to clinch a spot in the Chase, and they only have one more chance to do so – the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Ryan Newman – Newman’s stats are RIR are among the best of the top 16: 16 top 10 finishes, including a win, and a pole in 27 starts, with an average finish of 11.2. Newman earned top 10 finishes in both races last year (eighth and ninth) and finished 11th in the spring race this year.

Jeff Gordon – Gordon, seeking his final entrance into the Chase, knows how to get around the 0.75-mile track: in addition to six poles, he has two wins and 29 total top 10 finishes in 45 starts; his average finish is 13.5. Gordon last won at RIR in the fall 2013 race, and last fall he finished second.

Clint Bowyer – wanting to send Michael Waltrip Racing off on a high note, Bowyer is seeking to redeem himself after missing the Chase last year. Bowyer has two wins and 11 top 10s in 19 starts at RIR, with an average finish of 11.4. Last fall he finished third in the race, and in the spring 2015 race he finished ninth.

Kasey Kahne – Kahne, who is 31 points behind Bowyer for 16th, has a win at Richmond from the pole back in the spring of 2005, but has struggled over the last 10 races there, earning just three top 10 finishes. He has eighth total top 10 finishes in 23 starts, with an average finish of 17.2.

Greg Biffle – Biffle is 84 points behind Bowyer in the standings, and is a long-shot for a win at RIR: he has just six top 10 finishes in 26 starts, with an average finish of 17.2. Last fall, he finished 19th, and in the spring race this year finished 21st.

Team to watch – Joe Gibbs Racing – when haven’t they been the team to watch lately? The four-car team, which has won 10 of the first 25 races this season, has a combined eight wins at RIR, led by Kyle Busch with four. They’ve won seven of the last 10 races on the schedule, and have been dominant since Busch’s return from injury in Charlotte.


Qualifying for the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway begins Friday at 5:45 p.m. ET, with the green flag flying at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday. Keep up with the action at www.nascar.com

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

National weekend wrap-up: September 4-7, 2015

Carl Edwards celebrates his Southern 500 win
NASCAR via Getty Images/Robert Laberge
Sprint Cup Series – Carl Edwards earned his first career win at Darlington in the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Sunday night, beating Brad Keselowski and JGR teammate Denny Hamlin to the checkered flag. Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick finished fourth and fifth, respectively.

Xfinity Series – Hamlin led a Joe Gibbs Racing podium at Darlington on Saturday, winning the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200. His JGR teammates Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez finished second and third, respectively. Harvick finished fourth, followed by Chris Buescher in fifth.

NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series – Morgan Lucas hasn’t lost a step since moving to a part-time schedule in the Top Fuel class, as he proved Monday when he won at the Chevrolet Performance NHRA U.S. Nationals at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Antron Brown won Saturday’s Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Top Fuel. Jack Beckman continued his hot streak, winning both the Traxxas Nitro Shootout for Funny Car on Sunday and the Funny Car Wally on Monday. Erica Enders picked up the Pro Stock win at Indy, while Jerry Savoie won in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Rick Snavely took the Wally in the Pro Mod class, the first of his career.

Ironman Classic Race of Champions, Pro-Mod-a-Palooza rescheduled at Lancaster Dragway

credit: Lancaster National Speedway and Dragway
Lancaster National Dragway officials have announced that the 26th annual Ironman Classic Race of Champions has been moved to Tuesday, September 22, to coincide with our weekly test n' tune and amateur drag racing program. The Race of Champions is open to any driver that has won at Lancaster in 2015, has won a track championship or is a former winner of the Race of Champions event. 

The event is broken down into a Box and No-Box bracket with the winner of each taking home $500. The Box and No-Box winners will then go head-to-head to determine the overall champion and an extra $250 bonus. New for 2015 is that the Box and No-Box winners will each receive an IHRA Ironman trophy. 

Gates will open at 4 p.m. on September 22 with time trials for the Test n' Tune program and the Senior Nostalgia class beginning at 5 p.m. Qualifying for the Race of Champions begins at 6 p.m. 

The track also announced the rescheduled date for the "Pro Mod-a-Palooza" event that was rained out on August 14 will be Saturday, October 10, now part of the Season Championship Run-offs . This is the final event of the season for the Franco's Pizza IHRA Drag Racing program at Lancaster. 

Uncle Bob's Self Store Quick 16, McGard Top ET, Mod ET, Hebeler's Sales Bikes & Sleds and Street will all be action on October 10, and the Buffalo Street Outlaws will also be part of this event. Pre-sale tickets for Pro Mod-a-Palooza are now available online at www.promodapalooza.com – Adult all-access passes are just $20. The start time and schedule of events will be released in the near future. 

Aasbo wins Formula Drift Canada, extends points lead

Fredric Aasbo battles Tomy Boisvert-Bellemare in the
Formula Drift Canada event
credit: Larry Chen/Scion Racing
Fredric Aasbo extended his lead in the Formula Drift World Championship with the first perfect event of his career at the Autodrome Saint-Eustache in Montreal this weekend. Aasbo qualified first in the Rockstar Energy Drink / Hankook Tire Scion tC and won every match to take the event victory.

"I've been lucky enough to drift in a lot of exotic places around the world and I have to say the Canadian fans are right up there with the best in the world," said Aasbo. "They're rowdy and enthusiastic, and they really know the sport. It was a fantastic experience to compete here. The win was really the icing on the cake of an already amazing weekend."

"There were a lot of very tough competitors here and hats off to all these local drivers who welcomed us this weekend. I hope we can see more of them in international competition."

In addition to the on-track show, Aasbo took part in autograph sessions and walked the racetrack's campground to meet with some of the most dedicated enthusiasts who set up tents to celebrate the final long weekend of summer with Formula Drift. He also visited with guests from KMC Wheels and Scion Canada, as well as many Rockstar Energy Drink fans.

"We're excited we were able to add this event to the schedule and that's thanks to our partners, who saw an opportunity to support Fredric's charge in the World Championship," said team owner Stephan Papadakis. "This was an incredibly fun experience and the win gives us some great momentum heading into the U.S. Formula Drift season ender at Irwindale next month."

Aasbo now leads the Formula Drift World Championship – which combines events in North America and Asia for a 10-stop global series – by 100 points over his closest challenger, Ken Gushi. The Formula Drift season finale, Final Fight, takes place October 9-10 at Irwindale Speedway in California. 

Quotes and information in this piece provided by Papadakis Racing.

WNY weekend wrap-up: September 2-6, 2015

Ransomville Speedway – Stewart Friesen picked up the win Wednesday night at Ransomville in the rescheduled Alex Friesen Summer Nationals Super DIRTcar Series Big-Block Modified race; Tim Fuller and Pat Ward finished second and third, respectively. The race was named for Friesen’s late uncle, a former promoter at Ransomville and Lancaster Speedways.

Ryan Susice picked up his first career Modified championship Friday night at the Big R, adding to his already impressive resume of Go-Kart, Street Stock and Sportsman titles; Erick Rudolph won the Modified main event. Cody McPherson and James Michael Friesen tied for the Sportsman title, with McPherson picking up the win on Friday. Brandon Sherwood picked up the race win in Street Stocks, Brandon O’Keefe won in 4 Bangers and Austin Susice won in the Novice Sportsman class.

Lancaster Dragway – Brian Hitchcock picked up the win in the Quick 16 class Friday night, while Dave Surmatchewski won in Top ET. Reid Ricketson took the win light in Mod ET, with Mike Peters winningin Bikes and Sleds and Chris Kujawski winning in Street ET.


RoC winner Andy Jankowiak at Oswego
credit: paulathompsonfreelance.com
Oswego Speedway – Andy Jankowiak made a late-race pass on Matt Hirschman and held on to win the Race of Champions Asphalt Modified Tour Modified Classic 100 at Oswego Friday night, the opening night of International Classic Weekend at the “Steel Palace.” On Saturday, Bryan Haynes took the win in the Bud Light SBS Classic, while Tim Jedrzejek won the ISMA Supermodified Super Nationals. On Sunday, Bob Bond picked up his third International Classic 200 Supermodified win in six years.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Janis runner-up at Indy, takes points lead

credit: NHRA Media
Lancaster’s Mike Janis was runner-up to Rick Snavely Monday in the finals of the NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Drag Racing Series portion of the Chevrolet Performance U.S. Nationals, which were run at Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis. Janis is now the points leader after the previous points lead Bob Rahaim failed to make the Top 16 at Indy.

Snavely’s 5.890-second pass at 257.53 mph bested Janis’ 5.945-second pass at 242.50. Snavely, in only his second career NHRA Pro Mod race, took round wins over Bill Glidden, Steve Matusek and Rickie Smith, while Janis defeated Troy Coughlin, Michael Biehle II and No. 1 qualifier Khalid alBalooshi to reach the finals.

“There are no words to explain it,” said Snavely. “Everybody just worked their butts off constantly. All the parts and pieces just came together. I’m still excited that I even came here. I’m sure it’ll set in but it’s unbelievable.”

In seven 2015 Pro Mod events, there have been seven different winners. Rahaim won the season-opening race in Gainesville while Don Walsh took home a Wally from Houston. Kenny Lang won the third Pro Mod event at Atlanta Dragway and Glidden picked up his first career win in Englishtown. Smith won the series’ fifth event in Bristol while Janis won the most recent event in Norwalk.

The NHRA J&A Service Pro Mod Series competes next at zMAX Dragway in Charlotte, NC, home of the NHRA Carolina Nationals, September 18-20.

Quotes in this piece provided by the NHRA.