SPEEDWAY, IN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – It didn’t take long for new Indianapolis Motor Speedway owner Penske Corporation to begin making changes at the iconic venue.
Roger Penske and the Speedway on Wednesday announced big changes to the Brickyard 400 weekend on July 3-5 beginning with the first-ever NASCAR Xfinity Series road course race at IMS, to be sponsored by Pennzoil.
“The Brickyard weekend has been a cornerstone of the IMS schedule since its debut in 1994 and we’re committed to the continued growth and revitalization of the event with its move from early September to Fourth of July weekend,” said Roger Penske, Chairman Penske Corporation. “Our partners at NASCAR, NBC, Big Machine and Pennzoil share our passion for this great event and we will work alongside them and others to deliver world-class racing and entertainment for our fans during a celebration of America.”
“Pennzoil has enjoyed success on and off the track during its partnership with race teams at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway over the decades, and we’re eager to open a new relationship with the ‘Racing Capital of the World’ by sponsoring the first NASCAR road course race at the track,” said Patty Lanning, Shell Lubricants, Vice President North American Marketing. “Every driver will want to make American racing history by winning this inaugural Xfinity Series road race on the Fourth of July at IMS. It’s going to be a great event.”
“As we’ve seen in recent years, road course racing the NASCAR Xfinity Series provides some of the most thrilling action of the entire season, and we are excited to bring it to an iconic venue like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said Ben Kennedy, NASCAR Managing Director of Racing Operations and International Development. “Roger, Doug and the entire IMS team have been tremendous partners in growing the Brickyard weekend, and we’re looking forward to what promises to be a must-see event during July 4th weekend.”
2020 marks the first time IMS will host major event weekends on two holidays that celebrate America – the Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge on Memorial Day weekend and the Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard on Independence Day weekend.
“No venue celebrates America quite like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway,” said IMS President J. Dougles Boles. “We’re ready to welcome our loyal fans for a red, white and blue celebration with great racing, exciting music and more this Fourth of July weekend. This will be a great event.”
In addition to the on-track activity this year’s Big Machine Vodka 400 at the Brickyard Powered by Florida Georgia Line (FGL) will include a full-blown FGL concert Saturday night, a fireworks show, new infield camping option and gourmet barbecue.
Last year FGL rocked the Speedway in front of 25,000 fans inside Turn 4. The remainder of the concert bill is expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Concert tickets go on sale Friday, January 24 at the IMS ticket office and on IMS.com. Early, pre-sale access is available by signing up for the IMS email list at IMS.com/FGL.
The fireworks show will be one of the State’s largest fireworks displays and promises to be an explosion of color, pageantry and patriotism over the track in a bold display of American pride. The timing of the fireworks show will not conflict with the Downtown Indianapolis fireworks, so IMS fans will be able to enjoy both displays.
Fans hoping to camp out at the Speedway will have a new infield camping option inside of Turn 3. Details about this first-ever NASCAR weekend experience will be forthcoming.
IMS is embracing the holiday tradition of grilling out with friends and family by adding a lineup of gourmet barbecue vendors to its concessions at the track.
The tentative on-track, race week schedule includes the United States Auto Club (USAC) Driven2SaveLIves BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Championship on The Dirt Track at IMS (schedule to be announced soon), The NASCAR Xfinity Series race sponsored by Pennzoil on Saturday July 4th followed by practice for the Big Machine Vodka 400 for the NASCAR Cup Series on the oval. Qualifying for the Big Machine Vodka 400 takes place on Sunday followed by the race. Both races will have live network telecasts on NBC.
For tickets and information on any of the events at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, visit IMS.com.
Brad Keselowski joining Roush Fenway Racing as partner
CHARLOTTE, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Brad Keselowski is joining Roush Fenway Racing for the 2022 NASCAR season as both driver and minority owner.
Keselowski was named the driver of the No. 6 RFR Ford Mustang for 2022 and beyond on Tuesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. In addition to the driving duties Keselowski is joining the team as minority owner.
“There were four key components for me,” said Keselowski of what he was looking for in a new deal. “To have a long-term driving contract was something I valued. I want to stay in one place and be there for a long time, hopefully for the rest of my career. That’s the intent and the goal.
“The second position which was really important to me was to be in a leadership role… to be able to express myself creatively and be able to lead the company and team to be the best it can be. That was really critical to me.
“The third thing was of course the ownership position. That’s quite a unique opportunity that really excites me… It represents growth for me, personally and professionally, which is very important. And that’s really the fourth point, to have a role in the sport after I’m done driving.”
Jack Roush, 79, is not done as an owner either, but he now has a succession plan in place.
“I welcome him as a partner, and I look forward to what we can do together,” said Roush. “There are no retirement plans for me in my immediate future. I intend to keep going to the race tracks and to be as much of a nuisance and a distraction to my drivers and my crew chiefs as I have been in the past.”
Ryan Newman, the current driver of the No. 6 RFR Ford, could drive a third RFR Ford on a part-time basis but nothing has been decided as of yet.
Aric Almirola wins NASCAR Cup race at New Hampshire, qualifies for playoffs
LOUDON, NH (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Aric Almirola’s disastrous 2021 season is taking a turn for the better after winning the NASCAR Cup Series Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday.
Almirola came into the race without a win, mired in 27th place in the Cup Series points standings thanks in-part to only 1-Top 5 and 2-Top 10’s this season, where he’s led only 26-laps before Sunday’s win.
“There’s been so many people that have just continued to support us through, like, the crappiest year ever,” said Almirola on the front stretch after the race. “All the guys that work on this car, they just keep fighting, they just keep digging, bringing the best race car they can bring every week and it is no doubt we have struggled but guess what, we’re going playoff racing.”
Almirola’s victory clearly shook up the NASCAR Playoffs standings. Sixteen drivers will qualify for the playoffs. Only race winners and the remaining teams inside the top 16 qualify. With Almirola’s win, only three spots remain
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell finished second, just missing the weekend sweep after taking the Xfinity Series checkered flag on Saturday at New Hampshire.
Bell was not happy that NASCAR shortened the race because of darkness.
“I didn’t know how may laps they cut it short, but definitely whenever I saw the board and saw that we were eight laps short, it stings man,” said Bell. “We didn’t start out the greatest and then we were really good, probably the best we were all day right there at the end of the race. That’s all you can ask for is to have a shot at it and just wish we had eight more laps.”
The Team Penske trio of Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Ryan Blaney rounded out the Top 5.
Kyle Busch started on the pole position and led the first 5-laps and was heading into turn one on Lap 6 when a wet track surface caused Busch and teammate Martin Truex Jr to spin and crash.
“We started the race under a mist,” explained Busch. “It never should have gone green to begin with, but then it kept getting worse and worse lap over lap. We’ve been talking about it for two laps that it was raining. There’s no sense in saying what I want to say, it doesn’t do you any good.”
Several drivers at the front of the pack also realized the track was wet and some spun and some were able to slow down.
Busch got the worst end of the deal as his car could not be repaired and was loaded on the truck. Busch was credited with a 37th place finish.
The NASCAR Cup Series is off next weekend.
Chase Elliott wins SRX finale at Nashville, Stewart wins Championship
NASHVILLE, TN (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chase Elliott joined the Superstar Racing Experience (SRX) for their season finale at Nashville Fairgrounds and took home the checkered flag beating Tony Stewart and his father Bill Elliott in the feature. The win was the first series victory for the younger Elliott.
Chase Elliott was on the inside with Stewart on the outside on a restart with 7-laps-to-go followed by Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte in Row 2.
Chase Elliott beat Stewart into turn one and two with Bill Elliott and Bobby Labonte side-by-side for third.
Caution came out with 5-laps-to-go when Paul Tracy made contact with Marco Andretti, sending Andretti into a spin after picking up three spots following the restart.
Chase Elliott got the jump on Stewart on the restart and held on to pick up the win. Stewart finished second and took home the inaugural series Championship.
“Man it was so much fun,” said Chase Elliott. “I had a ball. I got to race against two of my heroes tonight and I got to race against Dad there throughout the race and those are moments that I’ll cherish forever. Thanks to Ray (Evernham, Series co-owner) and Tony (Stewart, Series co-owner) and I appreciate NAPA being on the car.”
NASCAR Hall-of-famer Bill Elliott, 65, finished third and picked up a win in the first heat race where he started side-by-side with his son Chase.
“I messed up in one not getting all the stuff (marbles) off my tires,” said Bill Elliott, the 1988 NASCAR Cup Series Champion. “Man I tell you it was a lot of fun. I knew the way the tires were on these cars and the way Chase manages his stuff he was going to be tough to beat.”
“I don’t know what lit a fire under him tonight,” said Chase Elliott. “But he was as aggressive as I have seen him in years. It was amazing and a lot of fun. I thought it was going to be between he and I but he got a little high going into (turn) one.”
The win was also special for the Elliott Family as they were able to park the No. 94 in Victory Lane. Casey Elliott, the late son of legendary engine builder Ernie Elliott, raced the No. 94 in the ARCA and Busch (now Xfinity) Series before his life was cut short by cancer.
“Obviously a special number too,” said Chase Elliott. “My late Cousin Casey Elliott ran the 94 for years and years and it’s always special to run that number and I’m glad we were able to get it in Victory Lane at Nashville.”
“How could you ask for more than to finish between two Elliott’s, that’s pretty bad-ass in itself,” said Stewart. “To win this Championship is awesome. I really appreciate Marcus Lemonis and everyone at Camping World for stepping up and helping us get this thing off the ground. To be the last guy to win an IROC Championship and the first one to win an SRX Championship means a lot.”