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Sodeman Jr. Grabs Win And Points Lead Friday Night At Lernerville Speedway

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John Stivason/Stivason Photos

SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Jack Sodeman Jr. is sitting atop the Peoples Gas DIRTcar Sprints standings after grabbing the victory Friday night at Lernerville Speedway.

Sodeman led the 20-car field to the green flag and quickly grabbed the lead as the rest of the field battled behind him.  Sodeman was cruising and starting to lap the rear of the field when the caution flag came out on lap 4 for John Haligen, who got crossed up between turns 3 and 4.

The single-file restart found Sodeman leading Gary Kreiss Jr. and Danny Mumaw, who moved up to third after starting fifth.  Sodeman jumped back out front when the green flag waved with Kreiss diving low in turns 1 and 2.  Mumaw went to the high side and passed Kreiss down the back stretch to grab the second spot.  Carl Bowser, who started 10th, grabbed the eighth spot from Tim Wagaman when the caution flew for Mike Marano II.  Russ Sansosti also came to a stop during the caution period.

The race was barely back to green when Dan McCarron spun in turns 1 and 2, but not before Bowser moved into the sixth spot.  The ensuing restart found Dan Shetler and Dan Kuriger battling for fourth place when Bowser passed them both on them both on lap 10 to move into the fourth spot while Sodeman continued out front with Mumaw trailing him in second and Kreiss in third.

Sodeman continued to lead halfway through the 25-lap feature when Mumaw was able to close in to a couple of car lengths while Sodeman encountered lap traffic.  Sodeman took to the high side and Mumaw jumped to the bottom as both drivers were navigating around lap traffic, even splitting the traffic at one point.  Bowser passed Kreiss while the battle waged out front to move into third place when the caution flag came out for Leyton Wagner, who went off the top off the cushion in turn one with 9-laps to go.

Sodeman took off when the green flag waved ahead of Mumaw and Bowser with Shetler and Kreiss going at it for the fourth spot.  Kreiss held off Shetler for the fourth spot as Sodeman crossed the start/finish line with 5-laps to go.

Lap traffic continued to come into play as Bowser went to the bottom side of Mumaw heading into turn three on lap 23.  Bowser gave it another shot on the low side of turns 1 and 2 after taking the white flag waved but he couldn’t pull off the slide job.  While that battle continued Sodeman took advantage, taking his third win of the year at The Action Track.

“We got really tight there at the end,” said Sodeman.  “I think the air pressure went down during the yellows.  On the entry and about half-way through (the turns) we got really tight.”

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Sodeman’s victory vaulted him to the top of the points standing after AJ Flick, who was leading the points coming into the race, failed to make the feature.

“You can’t really look at the points because anything can happen before the last night of a race season,” said Sodeman.  “I feel really bad for AJ.  Even in the pits I tried to help him as much as I could, but it would have been nice to race it out.”

In the Precise Racing Products DIRTcar Late Models Feature, Tyler Dietz jumped out front and into the lead when the caution flag flew on lap 5 that ended the night for points-leader Ken Schaltenbrand, Mike Miller and Tommy Beck.

Dietz jumped back out front on the restart and was hooked-up, lapping a good portion of the field before the caution came out on lap 19.  The restart found Dietz on the high side and Colton Flinner attempting an ambitious move on the low side, but his attempt pushed Dietz over the banking, much to the chagrin of the Lernerville crowd.  The restart with two laps to go saw Flinner lose the lead due to a flat tire and Brandon Wearing took the top spot and never looked back to grab his first career Lernerville victory.

In the Diehl Automotive DIRTcar Big Block Modified feature Garrett Krummert led the field to green and led the first five laps when he was passed by Dave Murdick.  Murdick held the lead for the next five laps before John Mollick, who started fourth, passed Murdick for the lead on lap 11.  Rex King Jr continued a steady charge to the front passing Murdick for second on the next lap.  King continued to chase down Mollick as the leader encountered considerable lap traffic. King caught Mollick and passed him with 2-laps to go but Mollick never gave up, giving it one final shot in the final turns with King prevailing for the victory.

The Millerstown Pic-A-Part DIRTcar/RUSH Pro Stock found Terry Young in Victory Lane for the first time since 2016.  Young took the lead on lap four after an early caution and never looked back as defending-champion Corey McPherson and Tyler Dietz battled for second spot with Dietz prevailing and McPherson coming home third.

Fab 4 racing continues next Friday with only two races left in the Championship.  Visit www.lernerville.comfor information and tickets.

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IndyCar

Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled

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Indy Autonomous Challenge/Indianapolis Motor Speedway

INDIANAPOLIS, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The world’s first high-speed, head-to-head autonomous race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway will feature Dallaras as the race cars.

Energy Systems Network (ESN) and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this week unveiled the official race car that will be autonomously driven by scores of university teams in the Indy Autonomous Challenge (IAC) at the Racing Capital of the World on Oct. 23, 2021.

Dallara has been the sole racecar supplier of the Indy Lights series since 2002, and now the modified Dallara IL-15 is the official IAC racecar.

“Dallara is the best racecar engineering company in the world, yet designing the chassis for autonomous racing was really challenging,” explained Stefano dePonti, CEO and general manager of Dallara USA. “Dallara loves innovation and technological challenges, and we share the IAC’s passion for education and motorsports.”

“The Dallara-built IAC racecar is the most advanced, fastest autonomous vehicle ever developed,” stated Paul Mitchell, president and CEO of ESN, and co-organizer of the IAC. “Our IAC sponsors are providing radar, lidar, optical cameras and advanced computers, bringing the value of each vehicle to $1 million.”

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One of the teams competing in the challenge is the Panther AV RAS-ing team from the Swanson School of Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh.

Panther AV RAS-ing is part of more than 500 undergraduate and graduate students, PhDs and mentors who excel in artificial intelligence software that have responded to the challenge.  The challengers represent 39 universities in 11 countries on four continents and 14 U.S. states.

The IAC is scheduled for October 23, 2021, at the IMS, with a qualifying simulation race during the Indy 500 week in May. The total IAC prize purse is $1.5 million: $1 million awarded to the winning team of the October IAC race, and an additional $500,000 for winners of the hackathons and simulation races.

“The IAC is going to bring the best minds from around the world to solve a very complex problem, right here at the Racing Capital of the World,” said IMS President J. Douglas Boles. “As the birthplace of motorsports’ innovation, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway is a fitting setting for this event, and we can’t wait to see the winning entry cross the Yard of Bricks into history.”

Two companies headquartered in Western Pennsylvania are sponsors of the event.  Ansys, a global leader in engineering simulation that is headquartered in Canonsburg, and Aptiv, an autonomous vehicle company who is relocating from O’Hara Township to Hazelwood Green.

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IndyCar

Racing Notebook: Kellett Returning to A.J. Foyt For ’21; U.S. Motorsports Association Forms Leadership Council Plus Extreme E

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A.J. Foyt Racing

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A.J. Foyt Racing brings back Dalton Kellett plus The U.S. Motorsports Association forms Leadership Council and Extreme E names Race Director and Sporting Director.

Dalton Kellett Returning To A.J. Foyt Racing:

  • Canadian Dalton Kellett will drive A.J. Foyt’s No. 4 Chevrolet full-time in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series. K-Line Insulators USA returns as the primary sponsor, moving from the No. 14 to the No. 4 for the upcoming season.  The 27-year-old rookie drove for Foyt in eight races this year, sharing the driving duties of the No. 14 Chevrolet with Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais returns to drive the No. 14 Chevrolet full-time as announced earlier this year.
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U.S. Motorsports Association Forms Leadership Council:

  • The U.S. Motorsports Association announced the official formation of the first-ever national Circle Track Leadership Council (CTLC), a group of circle track owners and industry leaders, who are committed to working on current and future issues related to the sport.  Members of the council include Lucas Oil Speedway’s Dan Robinson, Anderson Speedway’s Rick Dawson, Five Flags Speedway’s Tim Bryant, Knoxville Raceway’s John McCoy, Jackson Motorplex & Huset’s Speedway’s Doug Johnson, Track Enterprises’ Bob Sargent, Madison International & Midwest Tour’s Gregg Mckarns and Wilmot Raceway/IRA Sprint Cars, Steve Sinclair.

Extreme E Names Race and Sporting Directors:

  • Extreme E, the new electric off-road racing series, has strengthened its sporting team with the appointments of Scot Elkins as Race Director and Guy Nicholls as Sporting Manager for its inaugural 2021 season. Elkins has served as Race Director for the FIA Formula E Championship the past three years. Elkins started out as an engineer for Robert Yates Racing in NASCAR. Elkins has also held technical sporting roles with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and Champ Car World Series and has served as Deputy Race Director for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3.

Extreme E names Race and Sporting Directors as their inaugural 2021 season approaches.

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Local Racing

RUSH Late Model Series Enhancing ‘Track Pack’ Program For 2021

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PULSAKI, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The RUSH Late Model Series is bringing back and enhancing their ‘Track Pack’ program for 2021.

The ‘Track Pack’ program debuted in 2016 and continued through the 2019 season before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the program in 2020. Each of those four years, $800 was split amongst the top five RUSH members with $300 to the champion at each RUSH weekly-sanctioned track.

In 2021 RUSH Late Model weekly-sanctioned tracks top-six will share in $2,500!  RUSH weekly member racers will accumulate points at each event and at the end of the year the top six in member points will split $2,500 with $1000 going to the champion followed by $500, $400, $300, $200, $100 for positions 2-through-6. These monies will be awarded over and above any other championship monies drivers will receive.

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“We’ve always known the strength of RUSH lays within our weekly tracks and the racers who support them,” said RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “During the pandemic, the average car counts at our weekly tracks were very impressive as most all tracks increased. In the past the ‘Summer Chase’ gave just 10 racers additional monies, but we feel by taking that money and adding another approximate $14,000 to the ‘Track Pack’ we can allow substantially more racers the ability to take home additional weekly monies at the end of the year.”

Prior to COVID-19 RUSH had announced the Touring Series Championship point fund would double to $35,500 with a record $12,000 going to the champion! This will now take place in 2021. The Touring Series schedule continues to come together and is expected to be similar to 2020’s before the pandemic.

The 2021 season is expected to be the richest in RUSH Racing Series history, which includes the RUSH Late Models, Sprint Cars, Sportsman Modifieds and Pro Mods, with additional programs and events planned throughout.

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