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NASCAR

NASCAR Winter Notebook

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DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The 2020 NASCAR Season gets underway in a little over a month with the season-opening Busch Clash and Daytona 500.  The short off-season was not short on news however.  Here’s some of the biggest headlines to get you up to speed.

  • NASCAR is tweaking the short track package for the 2020 Season following a whopping six lead changes at both races at Martinsville Speedway.  The new package is a reduced downforce package that will also be in effect on road courses and includes these changes:
    • Spoiler size reduced to 2.75-inches from 8-inches.
    • Splitter overhang reduced to 0.25-inches from 2-inches.
    • Radiator pan vertical fencing to be removed.
  • Team Penske is swapping crew chiefs on all three Cup Series entries.  Jeremy Bullins moves to the No. 2 Ford Mustang of Brad Keselowski.  Todd Gordon moves to the No. 12 Ford Mustang of Ryan Blaney and Paul Wolfe moves to the No. 22 Ford Mustang of Joey Logano.  Not only are the crew chiefs moving but the road and pit crews for each team will follow their crew chiefs.
  • Joe Gibbs Racing is promoting James Small to crew chief for Martin Truex and the No. 19 Toyota.  Small replaces Cole Pearn, who announced in December that he was leaving racing to spend more time with his family.
  • Joey Gase will compete full-time in the Cup Series with Rick Ware Racing.
  • Jerry Baxter is joining Richard Petty Motorsports as the crew chief for the No. 43 Chevrolet of Bubba Wallace.  Baxter and Wallace worked together in the Truck Series in 2013-14, winning five races and finishing third in the championship.
  • Ryan Sparks will be the crew chief for the No. 32 Go FasRacing Ford Mustang driven by Corey LaJoie.  Sparks spent 13-years with Richard Childress Racing as race engineer, most recently for Austin Dillon.
  • World of Outlaws racer David Gravel, who won the Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup this past July at Lernerville Speedway, will try his hand at NASCAR by running a couple of Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races for GMS Racing.
  • NASCAR is experimenting with new pit stop procedures at select standalone Xfinity and Truck Series events.  This graphic explains the new rules:
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Speedweeks gets underway beginning Friday, February 7th when the ARCA Menards Series practice followed on Saturday with Busch Clash Practice for Cup Series followed by ARCA qualifying.  Two Daytona 500 practice sessions for the Cup Series take place in the afternoon with the Lucas Oil 200 for the ACRA Series at 4:45 p.m. ET.

NASCAR

Timmy Hill Wins eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational At Virtual Texas Motor Speedway

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NASCAR Media

Timmy Hill took home the victory Sunday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 125 at virtual Texas Motor Speedway in the second event of the eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series.

Hill’s “bump and run” moved leader William Byron off the low groove with three laps to go and put Hill out front but he still had to hold off fellow NASCAR Cup Series drivers Ryan Preece and Garrett Smithley following a green-white-checkerd to get the win.

“I told myself, ‘If I have a chance to win any race, NASCAR, short track level, if it came down to it, that’s what I would do'”, Hill said.  “It doesn’t change because it was iRacing. That’s what I would do in real life.  Going forward, I’m sure William isn’t happy about it.  “I’m sure he’ll do the same back to me.”

Byron, driver of the No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports, led 80-laps and wound up seventh.

Preece and Smithley finished second and third followed by Landon Cassill in fourth and Alex Bowman, who rounded out the Top 5.

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Hill’s home iRacing set-up is almost a parallel to his under-funded Cup Series team.

“My wheel is a 10-year-old wheel, paid 300 bucks for that,” said Hill.  “My desk, I bought that at Black Friday, Office Depot.  $75 bucks for that.  We have a hundred bucks in my chair.  The most expensive thing I have is my computer. It’s a gaming computer. Probably cost me $1,400. That’s probably the most expensive part of my little rig here.  The thing with my computer is I use it for everything.  I use it for my taxes, my business. It’s not just solely a gaming computer.  I have other things I do with it.”

The win also gives racers like Hill something that his and his team doesn’t typically receive in a regular NASCAR race.

“For me personally, what I’ll gain from this is recognition,” said Hill.  “For us, it’s hard to get that recognition because of the level of competition that we are in real life.  We’re doing our best.  Frankly, we just don’t have the money, the dollars, to compete at a high level. This win will hopefully gain some recognition and attract more sponsors for us maybe in the real world when we get back racing because they know Timmy Hill from iRacing, from FOX, from this invitational.”

The next eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational will be Sunday, April 5 at 1:00 p.m. ET from virtual Bristol Motor Speedway.

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IndyCar

Chip Ganassi Racing Begins “Best Paint Scheme” Contest

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Ford Motor Company

CONCORD, NC (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing is starting a cool contest where fans can pick the “Best Paint Scheme” that has appeared on one of the CGR cars over the 30-year history of the organization.

The contest started Wednesday on Twitter and features 32-paint schemes that have appeared on the teams NASCAR, INDYCAR and IMSA race cars.

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Fans can vote on their favorites in a bracket style elimination tournament where one paint scheme will be crowned the winner.

Cars involved include some favorites driven by Scott Dixon, Alex Zanardi, Juan Pablo Montoya, Sterling Marlin, Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Scott Pruitt, Felix Rosenqvist, Memo Rojas, Steve Arpin, Jamie McMurray, Joey Hand, Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Dirk Mueller.

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NASCAR

Denny Hamlin Edges Dale Earnhardt Jr. In eNASCAR Race At Virtual Homestead Miami Speedway

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NASCAR

Denny Hamlin edged Dale Earnhardt Jr to win Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series opener at virtual Homestead Miami Speedway.

Earnhardt was leading going into the final turn but the pair got together in Turn 4 and Hamlin was able to get off the turn and down the front straightaway for the virtual victory.

“He was smart to kind of block the bottom there because the bottom lane at Homestead on iRacing just has tremendous more grip than what the lane I was running in, but I knew that the difference in the two lanes was about a tenth and a half to two tenths, and I thought my tires were about three tenths better,” said Hamlin.  “I thought as long as I got beside him, I was going to be able to complete it, even though he was in the preferred groove.”

“I think I probably gave Denny a little more room than I really wanted to, but I had to keep from crashing him or anybody else,” said Earnhardt Jr.  “I thought I might have been able to get a photo finish at the line, but we got together in [Turn] 4 and I about wrecked there.  But it was a fun race. Denny had better tires and he was just really, really fast, but it was a good race.’’

Timmy Hill, Chase Briscoe and pole-winner Garrett Smithley rounded out the top five.

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Rounding out the top 10 were Cup Series regulars Alex Bowman, Bubba Wallace and Ryan Preece. Gander Trucks driver Ty Majeski finished ninth followed by Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing Cup Series teammate Erik Jones in 10th.

Hamlin was pleased to see the racing community come together to put on a show for the fans.

“It was a great event,” said Hamlin.  “The thing is that nobody got together and said, Hey, let’s all do this.  I think everyone just started doing it, and then iRacing got involved and emailed everyone, said, ‘Hey, this is what we’re thinking about’.  NASCAR got involved, television got involved and said they’d be interested. So, I think it all just came together. But no one really talked to the drivers about unifying and participating. It was all free will, and that’s what’s exciting is you had 25-plus full-time Cup guys out there willing to spend their time doing this.”

Hamlin hopes the event and others that are planned attract some new fans to NASCAR.

“I think at one time it was No. 1 trending (on social media), so that’s really, really big,” said Hamlin.  You know, although NASCAR has its struggles at times, for the regular fan to go out and simulate a game-winning shot or game-winning pass, like iRacing has given them that platform, and there’s no other sport — like NBA players can’t go play NBA2K and put it on TV and make it look like the real thing. You can’t go play Madden and make it look like the real thing. There’s so much animation.  But iRacing’s platform, like we really — this is something that really can gain a lot of traction simply because it’s as real as it gets. I’m excited that this was just a first step and hopefully something that builds for years and years to come.”

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