John Hunter Nemechek Partners With Chip Ganassi Racing’s NXS Team In 2018

John Hunter Nemechek

 Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) announced today that they have signed John Hunter Nemechek, a five-time winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) and former NASCAR NEXT driver, to pilot the No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro in multiple NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) races in 2018. Nemechek, 20, will work with veteran NXS crew chief Mike Shiplett, who has led the team for the last four seasons. Nemechek’s No. 42 Chevrolet will carry primary sponsorship from Fire Alarm Services, Inc. in 2018.

NOTES OF INTEREST:

 

  • Behind the Wheel: Nemechek began his racing career in quarter midgets at the age of five. He was the 2011 Allison Legacy Race Series Rookie of the Year and followed-up with the series championship in 2012. Nemechek moved into late models in 2013 and won the Miller Lite Super Late Model Series Championship at Mobile (Ala.) International Speedway. He won three of the biggest Super Late Model races over the next two seasons including the famed All-American 400 in Nashville, Tenn., the Snowball Derby and Snowflake 100 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla.

 

  • Fully Covered: Headquartered in Arvada, Colo., Fire Alarm Services, Inc., provides superior fire, life safety, and security services and products for protecting their client’s real estate investment. They are the one source for all of their customer’s fire alarm, electrical, security, sprinkler, fire extinguisher and fire suppression needs.

 

  • Making His Way Through NASCAR: Nemechek made his NCWTS debut in 2013 at Martinsville Speedway at just 16 years old. He competed in the NCWTS on a part-time basis in 2013, 2014, and 2015. Nemechek captured his first series victory at Chicagoland Speedway in 2015 and was also named the series’ Most Popular Driver. He moved to full-time driving duties in 2016 and 2017, where he qualified for the NCWTS playoffs in both seasons. In 76 starts, Nemechek has five wins, one pole, 22 top-five and 38 top-10 finishes. He finished eighth in the final points standings in both 2016 and 2017.

 

  • Family Ties: John Hunter is the son of 1992 NXS Champion and multi-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) winner Joe Nemechek. Joe drove for CGR co-owner Felix Sabates’ SABCO Racing team from 1997-1999 and scored the team’s final MENCS victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September 1999. John Hunter’s namesake is his late uncle, John Nemechek, who competed in the NCWTS from 1995-1997. He passed away due to complications from head injuries sustained in an accident during a 1997 NCWTS race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, just three months before John Hunter was born.

 

CGR QUOTEBOARD:

 

  • Chip Ganassi, Owner, Chip Ganassi Racing: “We are happy to have John Hunter join our organization and also announce the relationship with Fire Alarm Services. We had a very successful 2017 with our XFINITY program and look to improve upon that.  We feel that John Hunter has the talent to be a future star in the sport and can’t wait to get him behind the wheel.”

 

  • John Hunter Nemechek, Driver No. 42 Chevrolet Camaro:  “I couldn’t be more excited to join Chip Ganassi Racing. I feel like their cars and organization were the talk of the garage in 2017 and I hope to play a part in continuing their run of success in 2018 and beyond. Also, Fire Alarm Services has been a supporter of my career since 2016 at our family-owned team, and I am looking forward to continuing that partnership at Chip Ganassi Racing. I am extremely grateful to Shannon and Connie Smith, owners of Fire Alarm Services, Inc. I also want to thank my father for all that he has done to help grow my passion for racing.”

 

About Chip Ganassi Racing:

Chip Ganassi has been a fixture in the auto racing industry for over 30 years and is considered one of the most successful as well as innovative owners the sport has anywhere in the world. Today his teams include two cars in the Verizon IndyCar Series, two cars in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, one car in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, two factory Ford GT’s in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and two factory Ford GT’s in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Overall his teams have 18 championships and more than 195 victories, including four Indianapolis 500s, a Daytona 500, a Brickyard 400, seven Rolex 24 At Daytona, the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ganassi boasts state-of-the-art race shop facilities in Indianapolis and Concord, N.C., with a corporate office in Pittsburgh, Pa.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Dreams Realized For Champions Across The Globe

Todd Gilliland

For a 17-year-old, Todd Gilliland was in a familiar situation when he took the stage at the Charlotte Convention Center at the NASCAR Hall of Fame Friday night.

He had, after all, done this all before. Just one year ago.

“Ever since I was little, all I wanted to do was drive a race car,” said Gilliland. “When I got that chance to do that for Bill McAnally Racing, I really wanted to win him a championship. And now I’m here giving my speech for my second year in a row; 2017 has been a dream season.”

Gilliland wasn’t the only familiar face honored at the NASCAR Home Tracks Awards, officially receiving their NASCAR championship rings and trophies. Doug Coby received the hardware for his fifth NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championship, Lee Pulliam picked up his fourth NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national championship trophy, and Mexico’s Abraham Calderón took home his second NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series title trophy.

They were joined by first-time champions Harrison Burton (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East), Alon Day (NASCAR Whelen Euro Series) and Alex Labbe (NASCAR Pinty’s Series).

Whether they came from Israel and Quebec or North Carolina and Virginia, there was a common theme that was echoed throughout the night of celebration.

Dreams realized. And the support behind chasing the drivers chasing them.

“This season has created so many memories that will stay with me my whole life,” said Burton. “So much has gone into winning this championship, and it’s awesome to just slow down and celebrate it with my team, friends and family.”

“What a journey,” said Day. “To end up here tonight as a NASCAR champion. Who would have thought an unknown driver from a small country in the Middle East would one day wind up being a NASCAR champion. That achievement never would have been reached without the help of so many people.”

It was a night that celebrated the future of NASCAR and toasted the historic achievements of NASCAR veterans.

A year after becoming the youngest champion in NASCAR touring or national series history, Gilliland became the first driver to win back-to-back NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championships since Mike Duncan in 2004-05. He nearly became the first driver to sweep the K&N Pro Series East and West titles, but Burton overcame an eight-point gap by winning the East season finale. In the process, he broke Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Joey Logano’s record as the youngest champion in NASCAR K&N Pro Series East history.

Both Gilliland and Burton also ran several NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races in 2017 as they look to move up the racing ladder.

Canadian Labbe is also eying a move up, but first he had unfinished business in Canada. After a disappointing end to 2016, the 24-year-old bounced back with a decisive 2017 campaign that saw him finish sixth or better in all but the finale en route to the Pinty’s Series title – the national stock car racing championship in Canada.

“It means a lot — I’ve been working on it for a long, long time,” said Labbe. “To finally get that championship, to get the trophy at the end of the year: It’s a dream. It’s something that I’m going to have with me all my life.”

Likewise, Calderón took home his country’s stock car national championship. While he won his first title in 2014 without winning a race, he had a series-high five victories this year, including four in a six-race summer stretch to take command of the series lead.

“For me and my team, it’s something huge — it means a lot — to be here celebrating our second NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series championship. It’s something we’ll never forget,” said Calderón. “I remember the last race in Mexico City, it was a stunning event. I’d like to explain with words what it felt like crossing the finish line but I cannot. It’s something that just flows through your body and makes you feel alive. It was just really, really amazing.”

Day finished second in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series in 2015 and third in 2016 before a magical run in 2017. He made his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup debut at Sonoma, and then won three of the final four races of the Whelen Euro season to edge two-time champion Anthony Kumpen.

For Coby, though, the year started like a nightmare. He was involved in wrecks in his first two races, and four races into the season he was still 51 points out of the championship lead. The Milford, Connecticut, driver didn’t mind that everybody was looking to knock him off the perch.

“I’d rather be the guy with the bull’s eye on his back than the one swinging at it,” said Coby, who scored top fives in 10 of the last 12 races to earn his fourth straight title and fifth in the last six years.

Coby joined NASCAR Hall of Famers Jerry Cook and Richie Evans, NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee Mike Stefanik along with Tony Hirschman Jr., as the only drivers in NASCAR Modified history with five or more titles.

“I’m just racing against who I’m racing against and doing thing best I can do in this era,” Coby said.

“It’s a testament to what you’ve done in the sport,” Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, told Coby. “When you look back at the series and who can represent the sport the best, (the Modifieds are) where legends are made. You’ve heard Doug talk about just concentrating on the present. But it’s fitting we’re here in the NASCAR Hall of Fame. With five championships, you’re well on your way to an historic career.”

Likewise, Pulliam moved closer to one of short track’s indelible records.

Piling up 155 Late Model wins in 290 starts since 2011, the North Carolina native tied Philip Morris for second-most national titles. He’s one behind NASCAR Hall of Fame nominee, the late Larry Phillips. Phillips won five titles between 1989-96.

“Before you become legendary, you’ve got to be successful,” Helton told Pulliam. “I think you’ve laid the foundation on becoming one of the legends in NASCAR.”

Pulliam won 14 times at Myrtle Beach Speedway on his way to the track and South Carolina titles. He finished with 19 wins, 36 top fives and 43 top 10s in 45 starts at eight different tracks across the southeast.

“You’d think I’d be used to it by now, but it gets me every time,” said Pulliam. “I told my wife in 2017, I was going as hard as I can to win national championship number four. As Michelangelo once said, the greatest danger for most of us is not from setting our aim too high and falling short, but in setting our aim too low and hitting our mark.

“Chasing a national championship requires help and sacrifice from so many people. Many nights we saw the sun come up, with no sleep. My guys never gave up. We fought, clawed and battled as a team to accomplish this. This championship was won by people banding together and not stopping until the goal was accomplished.”

Pulliam noted that at 29 years old, he feels he has plenty of racing left.

“And I think I’ve got more titles in me,” said Pulliam.

The championship car owners and crew chiefs were also recognized Friday night.

There were plenty of other trophies handed out, too.

Missouri’s Cody Jolly (Division II), Ontario’s Eric Yorke (Division III), Michigan’s Cole Roelofs (Division IV) and Iowa’s Dustin Thompson (Division V) joined Pulliam in receiving their NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national titles. The night got underway with the awarding of 34 U.S. state and Canadian province championships, along with 59 NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Division I track champion trophies.

In addition to the championship awards, each series rookie of the year was honored. Calvin Carroll (NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour), Derek Kraus (NASCAR K&N Pro Series West) and Chase Purdy (NASCAR K&N Pro Series East) were the Sunoco Rookies of the Year in their respective series; Adam Martin (NASCAR Pinty’s Series) and Mitch Keeter (NASCAR Whelen All-American Series) received their Josten’s Rookie of the Year for their series; and Stienes Longin was awarded the Junior “Jerome Sarran” Trophy by the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series as the series’ top young driver. Enrique Baca was the top rookie in the NASCAR PEAK Mexico Series.

Ryan Vargas, another rising star who is moving from Late Models in California to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East next year as part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity and Rev Racing, won the Wendell Scott Trailblazer Award for the second straight year. The award is given to the top performing minority or female driver in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Kyle Larson Assumes Sole Ownership Of Sprint Car Team

Shane Stewart and crew
NASCAR star and dirt racing veteran “Young Money”,  Kyle Larson, will shift into the sole owner of Larson Marks Racing starting in 2018. The team will be run under the Kyle Larson Racing banner and Justin Marks will assume an advisory role with KLR moving forward.

“I couldn’t be more proud of what LMR has accomplished the past few years,” said Marks. “I was always hopeful that Kyle would learn about team ownership and operation to the point where he could be comfortable taking this project on himself. He’s ready for it and I’m looking forward to supporting him and KLR in the future.”

Kyle Larson Racing will continue with Shane Stewart of Bixby, Okla., as the pilot of the No. 2. KLR will be led by crew chief Lee Stauffer, with the support of fellow Pennsylvanians Heath Moyle and Dennis Christ rounding out the team.

“I am excited to make this change and take over the reins of the sprint car team,” said Larson. “We have been very successful the past four seasons and it has been great working with Justin, Shane and all of the guys at LMR. It was always the plan for me to move to the forefront of our ownership group and the time is right to make this a natural step. Justin has taught me a lot about what it takes to be an owner. He has displayed great leadership and made this team to what it is today. I look forward to his continued involvement in our team.”

While the core of the Larson Marks Racing team will stay intact, Larson has also added Paul Silva of Sacramento, Calif., to the KLR lineup as General Manager. Larson and Silva have previously worked together as driver and crew chief. Last year, they won eight of the 16 events they competed in together, including a runner-up finish at the 5-Hour ENERGY Knoxville Nationals.

Silva will also continue his crew chief role with Larson when the young NASCAR star is able to get back to his racing roots at the local dirt tracks.

“I have had long relationships with both Kyle and Shane, both with a lot of success in racing,” said Silva. “I hope to carry that over into my new role at Kyle Larson Racing. I’m really looking forward to getting to work with these guys and starting the season off on the right foot in Florida.”

Silva and Stewart also raced together on and off for years, including competing full time for three seasons. They won two American Sprint Car Series National Championships, several World of Outlaw wins, a podium finish at the 2011 410 Knoxville Nationals and an impressive five 360 Knoxville Nationals, four of them in a row from 2010 to 2013.

“Adding Paul to the group we already have established will only bring more success to our team,” said Stewart. “I think everyone having a history together will make this transition extremely smooth. I am excited to see Kyle stepping up into this role. Justin has become a great friend and I am happy he will still be supporting the team.”

Since its inception, the former Larson Marks Racing team has amassed 35 wins, including the famed Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio, the Front Row Challenge at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa, preliminary night victories at the Knoxville (Iowa) Nationals, two Capitani Classic wins at Knoxville Raceway and the Winter Heat Championship at Cocopah Speedway in Somerton, Ariz.

KLR will kick-off the 2018 season at Volusia Speedway Park in Barberville, Fla., during the DIRTcar Nationals in February. The team will be vying for the World of Outlaws Craftsman Sprint Car Series Championship. Sponsorship details will be released after the new year.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Alexander Rossi And Marco Andretti Swap Seats For 2018

Alexander Rossi

 

Andretti Autosport Sheild
ANDRETTI AUTOSPORT
PRESS RELEASE
ANDRETTI HERTA AUTOSPORT CONTINUES PARTNERSHIP
Marco Andretti named driver of the No. 98 Andretti Herta Autosport Honda

INDIANAPOLIS (Dec. 7, 2017) – The race-winning partnership between Bryan Herta Autosport and Andretti Autosport will continue for a third season in the Verizon IndyCar Series. The Andretti Herta Autosport team will again field the No. 98 Honda, but this season it will be third-generation driver Marco Andretti behind the wheel.

While remaining co-owner of Alexander Rossi’s entry in 2017, Bryan Herta stepped off the No. 98 timing stand and moved within the Andretti Autosport team to call strategy for Andretti. The duo and No. 27 team collected five top-10 finishes together, with a best finish of fourth on the streets of Toronto.

“I’m thrilled to be continuing the partnership with Andretti Autosport,” said Herta, president of Bryan Herta Autosport. “The relationship has worked really well both on and off the track for us and our partners. I’m looking forward to moving back onto the No. 98 timing stand with Marco and can’t wait to get the 2018 season started.”   

“I’m very much looking forward to being in the Andretti-Herta entry,” said Marco Andretti. “My goal is to bring the No. 98 another Indy 500 win along with many other victories. Working with Bryan has been refreshing – he is very committed to getting me all the tools I need to get back into victory circle. He believes in my talent and is dedicated to turn that into results.”   

Andretti Herta Autosport has earned two victories in its two-year partnership, the first at the historic 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 and the second in 2017 at Watkins Glen International after starting from the pole position.

With the 30 year-old climbing in to the No. 98 car for 2018, Alexander Rossi will transition to pilot the No. 27 entry of Andretti Autosport with NAPA AUTO PARTS returning for a 10-race co-primary package. The two teammates will join veteran driver Ryan Hunter-Reay (No. 28 DHL Honda) and rookie Zach Veach (No. 26 Group One Thousand One Honda) for the all-American 2018 line-up. The Verizon IndyCar Series season kicks off March 9 on the Streets of St. Petersburg, Florida.


About Bryan Herta Autosport 
Co-founded by veteran driver Bryan Herta, Bryan Herta Autosport has been a race winning team since its debut in 2009, including the 2011 Indianapolis 500 with driver Dan Wheldon and the 2016 Indianapolis 500 with Alexander Rossi. Bryan Herta Autosport competed in Indy Lights from 2009 to 2014 and has been running in the Verizon IndyCar Series since 2010. Bowen Motorsports of Ontario, Canada has partnered with Bryan Herta Autosport, beginning in 2012. The team has since expanded into Red Bull Global Rallycross operating under Bryan Herta Rallysport. At the start of the 2016 season, Bryan Herta Autosport joined forces with Andretti Autosport fielding the No. 98 Honda as Andretti-Herta Autosport in the Verizon IndyCar Series. For more information about Bryan Herta Autosport, please visit  www.bryanhertaautosport.com 

About Andretti Autosport
Based in Indianapolis and led by racing legend Michael Andretti, Andretti Autosport boasts a wide racing portfolio rooted in tradition and designed for success.  Together with Andretti Formula E and Volkswagen Andretti Rallycross, Andretti Autosport fields multiple entries in the IndyCar Series and Indy Lights, along with entries in the FIA Formula E Championship and Global Rallycross. Additionally, the team competes in the Australian Supercars category through partnership with Walkinshaw Racing and United Supercars. Walkinshaw Andretti United will celebrate an inaugural season in 2018.  The global racing enterprise boasts four IndyCar Series championships (2004, 2005, 2007, 2012), two Indy Lights titles (2008, 2009), one Pro Mazda championship (2013) and one USF2000 championship (2010) and has captured victory five times at the famed Indianapolis 500-Mile Race (2005, 2007, 2014, 2016, 2017). Additionally, the team holds two X Games Gold Medals and three Global Rallycross championship (2015, 2016).  To share in the Andretti story, please visit online atAndrettiAutosport.com and follow along on Twitter via @FollowAndretti.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Team Penske and LTi Printing Partner Up For 2018

Ryan Blaney

Team Penske announced a new partnership today with LTi Printing, one of the nation’s leaders in print and print related solutions.

As part of the multi-year agreement that begins with the 2018 season, LTi Printing will be featured as the primary sponsor on Team Penske’s championship-winning No. 22 Ford Mustang team for two races in the 2018 NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS), including the event at Pocono Raceway in June and at Iowa Speedway in late July. LTi Printing will also be an associate sponsor on the No. 22 NXS Ford for the rest of the 2018 season.

LTi will also provide printing services to Team Penske while the partnership will create strategic business-to-business opportunities for the industry-leading printers among the Penske Corporation companies and Team Penske’s diverse partner portfolio.

“We are incredibly excited to partner with Team Penske and their NASCAR XFINITY Series program this coming year,” said Mike Frost, President of LTi Printing. “Team Penske has a proven record of success both on the track, but also in fostering solid business-to-business relationships off the track.  And for us, offering such a diverse portfolio of print products and solutions allows us to be relevant to almost any Team Penske partner. After some time in the NASCAR Truck Series, we are very excited for the move to the XFINITY Series and to have the opportunity to partner with a world class racing organization like Team Penske.”

Team Penske and its partners will have access to a wide-range of printed products and services through the new partnership. LTi Printing focuses on high quality commercial print, folding cartons, pressure sensitive labels, digital printing, and fulfillment. With its branding on the No. 22 Ford Mustang next season, LTi Printing will experience unique exposure and marketing opportunities with a team that just earned its fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series Owners’ Championship.

“We welcome LTi Printing as a new partner to Team Penske and we certainly see the opportunities that exist within this new relationship,” said Roger Penske. “We believe Team Penske can help provide value to LTi through brand exposure as a race team sponsor along with a direct connection to world-class companies, and we are excited to help create solutions for our partners with a first-class printing services provider.”

LTi Printing will make the transition to Team Penske in 2018 after serving as a sponsor with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) team owned by Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski this season. The company was also the entitlement sponsor for the NCWTS race at Michigan International Speedway this August – the LTi Printing 200.

About LTi Printing

LTi Printing was founded in Sturgis, Michigan in 1983 and is based on four business principles: its customers, employees, community and stakeholders. The family owned company specializes in packaging, commercial print, labels, digital print, mailing and fulfillment. Among the variety of industries served by LTi Printing are healthcare, manufacturing, food & beverage, nutraceutical, universities, sports marketing and children’s toys. LTi Printing utilizes industry-leading equipment in both production and graphic technologies and is ISO certified.

About Team Penske
Team Penske is one of the most successful teams in the history of professional sports. Cars owned and prepared by Team Penske have produced more than 470 major race wins, over 540 pole positions and 32 Championships across open-wheel, stock car and sports car racing competition. Over the course of its 52-year history, the team has also earned 16 Indianapolis 500 victories, two Daytona 500 Championships, a Formula 1 win and overall victories in the 24 Hours of Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring. For 2018, Team Penske will compete in the Verizon IndyCar Series, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, the NASCAR XFINITY Series and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The team also races in the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship, in a partnership with Dick Johnson Racing, as DJR Team Penske. For more information about Team Penske, please visit www.teampenske.com.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Richard Petty Switches To Chevy And Aligns With Richard Childress Racing

Aric Almirola

Richard Petty Motorsports will switch from Ford to Chevrolet, be aligned with Richard Childress Racing and relocate to the RCR campus in Welcome, North Carolina, according to a report Thursday by SportsBusiness Daily.

Spokespersons for Chevrolet, Richard Petty Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing told NBC Sports on Thursday they had no comment on the report.

Richard Petty Motorsports is in the midst of significant change. The team announced Oct. 25 that Darrell Wallace, Jr. would drive the No. 43 car next season. He will take over for Aric Almirola, who left after this season to join Stewart-Haas Racing.

RPM stated Aug. 28 that it would vacate the race shop it leased in Mooresville, North Carolina, after the season.

The organization continues to look for sponsorship. Smithfield had been a primary sponsor the past six years. Smithfield will sponsor Almirola at Stewart-Haas Racing next year but also is expected to stay on in some form with RPM, according to a SportsBusiness Daily report in October. Richard Petty Motorsports announced Nov. 3 that Click n’ Close will sponsor the car in at least three races next year, including the Daytona 500. STP announced Nov. 13 that it would sponsor RPM in two races in 2018. 

The pairing of Richard Petty Motorsports and Richard Childress Racing makes sense because RCR appears to have room at its facility. Richard Childress Racing, which has run three full-time Cup teams the past six seasons, has not announced plans for the No. 27 Cup team. That ride was left in question after Paul Menard and sponsor Menard’s announced in July that they would move to the Wood Brothers for 2018.

Richard Childress Racing, which has three charters, has announced only Cup entries for next season for Austin Dillon and Ryan Newman. Richard Petty Motorsports has two charters (it leased one last year) but is only expected to field the No. 43 for Wallace.

By partnering, it would allow RPM to have access to the engineering support Richard Childress Racing can supply. By adding RPM, it would allow Earnhardt Childress Racing Engines to offset the loss of the No. 27 team if it doesn’t run next season.

Also, a move by Wallace and RPM to Chevrolet would mean that half the 14 Chevrolet Cup drivers who have been announced with rides for next season would be age 25 or under to start the season. Wallace is 24 and would join William Byron (age 20), Chase Elliott (22), Alex Bowman (24), Kyle Larson (25), Ty Dillon (25) and Chris Buescher (25) in the Chevrolet roster with such a move.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Michael “Buddy” Kofoid Makes A Huge Sprint Car Leap In 2018

Michael Kofoid

Sixteen-year-old sprint car driver Michael “Buddy” Kofoid is set to embark on his most ambitious racing schedule to date after joining Harley Van Dyke Motorsports.

Kofoid, who rocketed into the national spotlight in 2016 when as a 14-year-old he won a preliminary feature during the Trophy Cup at Thunderbowl Raceway in Tulare, Calif., is slated to run between 70 and 80 races on the West Coast and in the Midwest aboard the Van Dyke No. 5h.

“We’re planning on running for Harley Van Dyke after running for Dan Simpson for a couple of years,” Kofoid explained. “We plan on running 70 to 80 races. We plan on starting in Las Vegas with the Outlaws (in March) and we’ll follow their swing up to California.

“Then we would run some local shows with King of the West as well as the SCCT (Sprint Car Challenge Tour) series,” Kofoid continued. “Then around June we’ll head back East and possibly run with the All Stars during Ohio Speedweek, the 360 and 410 Knoxville Nationals and then we would come back to California and finish out the season with some more local shows as well as King of the West and SCCT again.”

It’s another big step for Kofoid as he continues to make a name for himself in the world of sprint car racing. Earlier this year, he captured his first King of the West-NARC Sprint Car Series victory, winning the Howard Kaeding Classic at Ocean Speedway in Watsonville, Calif.

In addition to his King of the West victory, Kofoid finished fifth in the Elk Grove Ford Sprint Car Challenge Tour standings and eighth with the King of the West-NARC Sprint Car Series.

The opportunity for Kofoid to join Harley Van Dyke Motorsports, whom he drove for during one race in October, came about after Kofoid began exploring his options for the 2018 season. After talking with several teams, Kofoid settled on Van Dyke Motorsports because of the chance to race on the West Coast and in the Midwest.

“You can’t really stay in California forever,” Kofoid said. “You’ve got to expose yourself to different areas and race against different people. The best people aren’t just in one place, they’re all spread out over the country. You’ve got to race against all of them and race in different places for track time and experience.

“We’ll just see how it pans out,” Kofoid added. “Harley’s got super good equipment and definitely equipment that can win anywhere, so it’s just up to me to see if we can get it done.”

Kofoid will also make his first trip to Australia in the next few weeks, where he’ll be driving a sprint car fielded by Bernie Gordon during his trek Down Under.

“I’ll be down there for a month. I’ve never been out of the country either so that’ll be cool to experience a totally different atmosphere and run around 12 to 14 times in a month,” Kofoid said. “Everything is set in stone and we’re just waiting on the day to come that we can leave. I’m super thankful for that.

“I like the idea of new things and new experiences, so I think it’ll be well worth it and hopefully we can make something good out of it.”

For those race fans not living on the West Coast and who are not familiar with this young gun, I can only say that you need to keep your eyes and ears open!  Buddy has a heap load of raw talent that is coupled with the enthusiasm of a 16-year-old!!  I first saw this youngster race in The Winter Heat Sprint Car Showdown in 2015 and I was quite impressed with his abilities.  Likewise, Kofoid showed off his racing talent in the Gold Cup at Chico this past September and everyone knew that he was in the house!

Stay tuned, I think that there are great things in store for this young man.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Andretti Autosport Has Been Flat Out Since Sonoma

Marco Andretti
The checkered flag may have waved on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season back in September, but that hasn’t slowed the pace for Michael Andretti and Andretti Autosport.

“What offseason? Man, it’s been flat out,” the team’s CEO said.

That’s because the battle of preparation with next year’s universal aero kit has teams doing all they can to extract every detail before the season opener on the streets of St. Petersburg in March. Andretti’s team received its first universal aero kit early this week from Dallara and immediately began the process to attach it to the Dallara IR-12 chassis.

For Andretti, there is much optimism entering next year after a 2017 that saw glimpses of a return to form. The team saw three of its four full-time drivers finish in the top 10 in the championship. Takuma Sato handed the team its third Indianapolis 500 win in the past four years in May. Alexander Rossi drove to an impressive win at Watkins Glen in September that planted his stake firmly in the ground as a contender.

All series entries will compete with the universal kit in the 2018 season, following three seasons of aero kit competition between manufacturers Honda and Chevrolet. With the opportunity to be on equal footing with rivals in that respect, it presents a potential game-changer in Andretti’s mind.

“I hope so,” he said. “I think we’ve stepped up our game as a team, so that’s nice. Starting on even ground (with the universal kit), I’m hoping that with all the changes we made, that hopefully we’ll do a little bit better than our competition.

“I’m sure everybody up and down pit road is saying the same thing, but I’m hoping that, starting new, we’ll be able to find things that the other guys won’t.”

Andretti is a major proponent of retaining continuity within the team. From the engineering staff to the drivers, the only significant change for 2018 is rookie Zach Veach replacing Sato, who signed with Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. All four of the team’s full-time drivers – Rossi, Veach, Marco Andretti and Ryan Hunter-Reay – are locked into multiyear deals.

“Absolutely, that helps,” said Michael Andretti, shown above with Hunter-Reay (left) and Rossi (right). “That helps a lot. I’m excited about the next few years that we’re not going to be talking about who is going to be in what car and all that stuff, and we’re going to be able to just focus on the plan of making our cars and our team better.

“It’s going to be nice not having that distraction.”

Paul “Ziggy” Harcus, the race strategist for Sato this past season, credits much of the positive change to Eric Bretzman, who joined Andretti Autosport as technical director following the 2016 season.

“I think that engineering has picked it up,” Harcus said. “Eric Bretzman has done a great job of keeping those guys pointed in the right direction of what we want and what we need to get our qualifying better. That always helps our races.

“I think the team as a whole, we’re making steps. If we keep doing that next year, we’ll be better than the Penskes and the Ganassis as well. So we’re all good with that.”

Although manufacturer testing has begun, Andretti Autosport hasn’t been able to put a driver on track like fellow Honda teams Chip Ganassi Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Andretti accepts the blame since his team was deciding whether to stay with Honda for 2018 or switch to Chevrolet when Honda had to select its manufacturer test teams.

“It’s a little frustrating that we haven’t been able to play with it,” Andretti admitted, “but it’s a little bit of our fault because we made our decision so late (to remain) with Honda that they had to make their plans with somebody else in case we weren’t there. It hurts a little bit that we’re not involved in any of these tests, for sure.”

Andretti Autosport hasn’t had a driver finish in the top five in the standings since Marco Andretti was fifth in 2013. Its last champion was Hunter-Reay in 2012. With the new aero kit expected to necessitate a more technical type of driving, the team owner believes his drivers can move back to the top.

“I think that ever since the (previous) kit came out (in 2015), that Marco and Ryan haven’t been the Marco and Ryan that we’ve known and there’s something in it that I think was screwing with them somehow,” said Andretti. “So now, getting back to a more conventional type of race car, I’m hoping that it’s going to be good for those two and get them back up front where they need to be.”

One place where Andretti Autosport has remained up front is on the historic Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. With Rossi and Sato winning the past two Indy 500s, Andretti has a chance in May to become just the third team owner to win three in a row. Only Lou Moore (1947-49) and Roger Penske (2001-03) have accomplished that feat.

“Last year, we knew we had a little bit of an advantage there because that was one that, luckily for us, Honda seemed to be a little bit better than the Chevys,” Andretti said. “So that was a good thing. We’re not going to have that this year, so hopefully Honda is just going to give us more horsepower and then that will help us.

“It’s going to be tough. I mean, winning it once is really tough. Winning it three times in a row is going to be really, really difficult, but anything is possible.

“We’ve got the drivers to do it, we’ve got the engineers to do it and we think we’ve got the engine to do it. I think we have a good shot.”

The 2018 season opens with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 11. The 17-race schedule concludes with the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Sept. 16. Click here for the entire schedule.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

What Made Martin Truex, Jr. The Champion?

Martin Truex, Jr.

Understandably, the proudest moment of Martin Truex’s racing life was simultaneously a source of enormous frustration for Kyle Busch.

But both drivers recall with indelible clarity the closing laps of the Nov. 19 Ford Eco-Boost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race that made Truex a champion and Busch a disappointed runner-up for the title.

For the record, Truex powered his No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Toyota across the finish line, with Busch’s No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota .681 seconds in arrears. But the outcome was in doubt for the final 17 laps, after Busch passed Kevin Harvick for second place on Lap 250 of 267 and took off after Truex, who had claimed the lead off pit road for a restart on Lap 234.

With Busch driving a faster long-run car, Truex found a small patch of grip high in Turn 4 and kept Busch’s Camry in his mirror.

“For me, it’s probably one of my proudest moments, because I got put in that position, and my guys said, ‘Here it is; it’s all up to you now; here’s the lead with 32 laps to go – show us what you’ve got,’” Truex told the NASCAR Wire Service.

“It’s definitely one of the proudest moments of my career to be able to bring it home for them, after all, they’ve done for me and giving me the opportunity they have and putting me in a position to be a champion. I was glad I could hold up my end of the deal.”

Though Truex hasn’t watched a replay of the race in its entirety, he relishes the memory of every second of the closing green-flag run.

“I can remember every single one of those laps,” Truex said. “I can remember everything that happened, everything I thought, when I missed the line when I hit it, and, most importantly, when I found that little patch of grip up there off of Turn 4.

“That was the game-changer for me.”

For Busch, not so much.

“I tried that same patch – it didn’t work for me,” Busch said after Wednesday’s Myers Brothers Awards ceremony in the Encore Theater. “I tried to get as close to the wall as I could off of (Turn) 4. I was way too loose. I just didn’t have the drive-off that I needed, and I think that was a lot to do with being in his wake, just being behind him and having the aero deficiency that I had.”

The final 15 laps weren’t just a two-car battle. Enter Kyle Larson, who charged past Harvick for the third position on Lap 252 and, running against the outside wall, quickly rolled up near Busch’s back bumper and began contemplating his prospects of passing the No. 18.

“I got to third, and I felt like, if I was going to win or pass those guys – which I felt like I could – I needed to pass them before 10 (laps) to go,” said Larson, who was eliminated from championship contention by an engine failure at Kansas Speedway.

“I felt like, once we got to 10 to go, I needed to respect them and kind of let things play out between those two… I didn’t want to screw one guy and not the other.”

Interestingly, Busch contemplated letting Larson pass him in the closing laps.

“I actually thought about, with maybe 15 to go, something like that… he (Larson) was really close to me, and I was like, ‘I wonder if I let him go, and he gets in-between us if he’ll go and try to race Truex and pass Truex and help Truex come back to me,” Busch said.

“So I thought about doing that, but I said I can’t give in to that at this moment of letting somebody else within the battle, because, if he doesn’t go up and pass the 78, he just pushes me further behind. That’s why I stayed the way we were and tried to fight it out.”

With Truex making ground near the top of the track, Busch tried a low line, and with three laps left, he lost momentum off Turn 2. With a head of steam around the top, Larson was there to give the No. 18 a nudge.

“I was hoping to launch him forward, but I kind of got him squirrely,” Larson said. “I’m glad he didn’t hit the wall, because I was just trying to help him out. Not that I wanted him to win over Martin. I just wanted to get him closer to make the racing more exciting, I guess.”

In the moment, Busch understood Larson’s intent.

“I knew that was a moment of help,” Busch said. “It wasn’t a moment of trying to screw with me at all. I knew what that was. It’s just that these cars are so loose on the straightaways, with not a lot of downforce, and of course, we were on older tires, with higher air pressure and everything like that, and it got me juked up.

“But I was expecting that, and I was fine with it. It was all good.”

In the end, the bump from Larson didn’t help enough to put Truex’s title in jeopardy. But it helped to make the final 17 laps of the event some of the most riveting in recent memory.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!

Trevor Bayne And Advocare Are Back In Black!

Trevor Bayne
Trevor Bayne’s AdvoCare Ford Fusion will sport a different look when it hits the track to begin the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season as the famed Roush Fenway Racing #6 will be sporting the primary color of black.

“This new paint scheme is pretty awesome,” said Bayne. “If you look through history a lot of the great drivers have driven black race cars as their primary scheme and I am pretty excited to have one as well going into 2018. I think that this new look by AdvoCare is really great and shows that we mean business every time we head out onto the racetrack. This scheme just makes me even more excited about getting back behind the wheel in 2018.”

This new scheme marks the first time that the Roush Fenway #6 will be primarily black in the MENCS since the 2005 season with NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin.

“It is really cool to have the #6 Ford black again for Roush Fenway,” added Bayne. “I know that Mark (Martin) ran really well in these colors and hopefully we can replicate that same success next season.”

Bayne, who is coming off of a 2017 campaign that saw a career-high in top-10 finishes, enters his fifth season with AdvoCare as his primary partner and his fourth with the Plano, Texas company in the MENCS.

The 2018 MENCS season kicks off with the 60th running of the Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 18, 2018.

TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!