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Chip Ganassi Racing Looking To Add A 2nd Daytona 500 Win In Their 30th Season

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Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

DAYTONA, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s trophy’s are all on display at the team’s race shops in Indianapolis, Indiana and Concord, North Carolina.  One trophy Ganassi and company would like to add to the display case is another Harley J. Earl trophy, which goes to the winner of the NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500.

Team Ganassi won the Daytona 500 a decade ago when Jamie McMurray took the No. 1 to Gatorade Victory lane.  2010 was a magical season for the team as they won the Daytona 500, the Indianapolis 500 and the Brickyard 400.

Three drivers out of the Ganassi stable will try to add to the team’s history by trying to win this year’s Daytona 500.  2004 Cup Series Champion Kurt Busch is driving Ganassi’s No. 1 Monster Energy Chevrolet (pictured above).  Busch won The Great American Race in 2017 and says there are a victory is not only prestigious but a key to starting a championship run.

“When you win the most iconic race in your series, for us in NASCAR it’s the Daytona 500, Sports Cars it’s the 24-Hours at Daytona or 24 Hours of Le Mans, in IndyCar if you win the Indianapolis 500 it’s a Championship all on its own,” Busch told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.  “It’s so powerful because of the prestige, the history and the value of what the race means.  It elevates you to championship status immediately before the season even really gets underway.”

Kyle Larson is in the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet.  Larson had a shots at winning, ironically in 2017 when Busch took the win driving for Stewart Haas Racing.

“Hopefully we can do it,” Larson told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.  “I’ve been close one other time and ran out of fuel leading on the last lap.  It would be cool to win with Chip and Credit One Bank and add my name to the list of guys who’ve won this race.”

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 09: Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet, during practice for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series 61st Annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 9, 2019 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  Photo: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

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Ganassi’s third driver in this year’s Daytona 500 is Ross Chastain.  Chastain is driving the No. 77 Advent Health Camaro.  It’s a Ganassi-prepared car that is being fielded in partnership with Spire Motorsports.  Chastain will start 20th in the field.

“This is a lifetime opportunity,” said Chastain.  “If I have a car with somewhat clean fenders at the end, we’re going to have a bullet and you just point and shoot at the end and hope you make it.  Making it to the end is a big deal.  That’s what we did last year, we attrition-raced.  It’s not pretty when you are doing it but man we were there at the end with 10 or 11-cars left and had a shot.”

The No. 77 Advent Health Chevrolet Chip Ganassi Racing Camaro and driver Ross Chastain.

The former driver-turned-owner, who has 19-Championships in his tenure, still knows what it takes to win.

“In NASCAR you have to get your car running on old tires because you’re on old tires more than anything,” Ganassi told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.  “When you put on a new set of stickers on you go out and rip off a fast lap that’s great and it looks good on the sheet, but I don’t know what it means for the race, because so often you’re going 40, 50, 60-laps without a stop time after time after time so you have to get car working on old tires to have any chance.”

There are only seven active Daytona 500 winners set to hit the track for Sunday’s 62nd running of the historic race. Denny Hamlin (2016, 2019) and Jimmie Johnson (2006, 2013) are the only drivers in the field with multiple checkered flags.  The other past winners include Austin Dillon (2018), Joey Logano (2015), Kevin Harvick (2007), Ryan Newman (2008) and Busch (2017).

Hamlin and seven-time NASCAR Cup Champion Johnson are the only active drivers to have won two Daytona 500 races. Three drivers in series history have won back-to-back Daytona 500 events (Sterling Marlin – 1994, 1995; Cale Yarborough – 1983, 1984; Richard Petty – 1973, 1974).

JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will lead the field to the green flag. Hendrick Motorsports Alex Bowman will start on the outside of the front row.

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Motorsports Council Of Pennsylvania Aims To Help Grassroots Racing In PA

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BETHEL PARK, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The newly formed Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania is gearing up to help grow grass-roots racing in the Commonwealth.

The Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania (MCP) will support racing with advocacy, education and promotion.

“The mission of the Motorsports Council is to support grassroots racing of all forms across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania Executive Director Robert Johnson told The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.

Those forms include drag racing, motorcycle racing, short track racing (both dirt and pavement) and road course racing.

“It’s time for motorsports to be heard,” said Johnson.  “There are other groups out there.  For example Aviation, they have their own council in Pennsylvania.  Horse racing, they have their own advocacy group.  The focus will be State and Local government affairs and local advocacy.”

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The MCP has several long-team goals including:

  • Promoting the many economic and community benefits of racing.
  • Establishing permanent relationships between Motorsports and Government Officials.
  • Enlisting more public support of grassroots motorsports.

“We want to work better with our County tourism offices across the State and our State tourism bureau,” said Johnson.  “We want to do more promotion of the tracks.  Many of our race tracks across the State are in rural areas, we want to show the benefits the race tracks are having in those rural areas.”

One of the biggest priorities for the MCP is to have an economic impact study done and available for the racing community to utilize prior to the start of the 2021 season

The MCP has already begun identifying funding and tax relief from COVID-19 to support Motorsports tracks, small businesses and other related organizations.

“As Chairman of the Pennsylvania Motorsports Caucus I welcome more input from the racing community”, stated Representative David Maloney (R-Berks). “The Motorsports Council is an excellent idea to support racing.  Pennsylvania has approximately one hundred motorsports facilities and many more businesses which rely on the racing Industry for revenue.”

MCP will be hosting an introductory information call for motorsports organizations Wednesday October 7th at 4:00pm EST. All tracks, businesses, and vendors are encouraged to participate in this call. Visit: RacingPA.com for call information.

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Rahmer Rapid at Williams Grove

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WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (September 25, 2020): Freddie Rahmer, Jr. won the final tune-up at Williams Grove Speedway before the World of Outlaws invasion for the National Open to be held on October 2-3. The win was Rahmer’s third of the season, and him gave him some much-needed breathing room in the points standings. Seeking to regain the track title, Rahmer saw his lead dwindle in recent weeks.

“We got it pretty good from where we were earlier in the summer,” Rahmer noted in Victory Lane. “We are getting close. I don’t know how good I was with the lapped cars. We had a few things go our way tonight.”

One thing that definitely went Rahmer’s way was the dash. His win over Robbie Kendall put him on the pole for the A Main, which Rahmer led from start to finish. T.J. Stutts lined up beside Anthony Macri, who is still searching for his first career win at the speedway. Brian Montieth and Lance Dewease were in row three. Dewease, who is seeking career win 100 at the track, was unable to finish the dash and his crew had to hustle to make repairs before the feature started. Brent Marks and Brian Brown occupied row four, with Chad Trout and Dylan Cisney in row five.

Rahmer jumped out front at the drop of the green for the 25 lap race. He never looked back and he never slowed down, as the race ran without interruption.

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Stutts moved into second on the opening lap, but Kendal got his momentum going on the top, and he was able to take over second just a few laps into the contest. Macri rode along in third, with Brown, Montieth, and Dewease fighting for position. That race within the race would not last for long as Dewease pulled in soon after the halfway mark.

Danny Dietrich, Rahmer’s biggest challenger for the track title, did a 360 in turn two with just a couple of laps remaining. That miscue was costly, as he lost several positions in the running order.

In the final rundown, it was Rahmer over Macri, Marks, Kendall, and Montieth. Stutts led the next quintet, which included Brown, Matt Campbell, Dietrich, and Kyle Reinhardt.

Heat wins went to Rahmer, Dewease, and Macri. The B Main winner was Jeff Halligan. The evening’s fastest qualifier was Stutts, with a lap of 16.629 seconds.

In the 358 Sprint undercard, Derek Locke won the battle and the war. His third season win clinched the track championship. His challenger, Kevin Nouse, led the early stages of the race and went on to second. The 2020 Sportsmanship Award winner, Brett Wanner, was third. Steve Owings and Alyson Dietz were fourth and fifth. Billy Heltzel had a vicious crash at the start of the B Main, and he was transported to a local hospital for observation.

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Lysakowski Named New Lernerville Speedway General Manager

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Stivason Photos/Lernerville Speedway

SARVER, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Lernerville Speedway officials announced the hiring of Mike Lysakowski as the new track manager in a podcast after the World of Outlaws Commonwealth Clash on Saturday night. Lysakowski, who takes over on October 1, follows Fr. Tim Tomson, who resigned midway through the Covid-adjusted season to devote more time to his ministry.

Lysakowski first met members of the Tomson family soon after they acquired Lernerville Speedway from the World Racing Group. “They attended the promoter’s workshop and I spent a lot of time with them that first year in between the seminars that I was teaching. I wanted to help introduce them to different people in the industry.”

But, as has been the case with other Tomson business ventures, members of the family took an active role in speedway operations. Hence, the appointment of “Padre,” as he is affectionately called, to be the general manager even though he was not familiar with the quirky world of racing.

“We started talking before Tim left,” Lysakowski said. At that time, he was not looking for a major career move, and the Tomson family was not planning any changes either. “I was talking to them about doing programs for the track.” One of Lysakowsi’s many accomplishments in racing is the production of programs for several Western Pennsylvania facilities under his Motorsport Aspects banner. But, the tenor of the discussions changed after Padre’s unexpected departure.

Other than some one-off appearances on the microphone at area tracks, Lysakowski noted that he has never had a racing job so close to his home in New Castle, PA. Most recently, he served as general manager at Jennerstown Speedway and as the announcer at Tri-City Raceway Park.

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Lysakowski was unsure how he would adjust his busy schedule. However, he was emphatic that Lernerville Speedway would be his “first priority,” and that he planned to devote his full-time attention to it. “I will be in the office five days a week, 52 weeks per year.”

Lysakowski did concede that he will cut down on his travel. For years, he traveled far and wide to broadcast races or to call the action. “I don’t want to be on the road traveling any more. It’s OK when you are young and looking for opportunities.”

Lysakowski was appreciative that there would be a few more weeks of racing at the Action Track so that he could familiarize himself with the ownership group, the staff, and the facility. “I have been coming to Lernerville since I was a child. I grew up in the grandstands here.” Lysakowski was proud that, on report card day, his good grades in school would give him more leverage with his parents to attend the weekly programs. His attendance at Lernerville declined as he began working in motorsports media and promotion. But, “I was still coming to Lernerville as a fan.” He knows that things will be different now.

“This is a place that doesn’t need change,” Lysakowski said. He has been in that situation before, when racing series or speedways would reach out to him to rehabilitate their images or improve their attendance or programs. “Everything is on the right course here. I’ve been brought into so many series or places that needed change. This bus doesn’t need a mechanic, it needs a driver,” he summed up.

Lysakowski added, “I don’t see challenges here, I see opportunities for growth.” He plans to use his contacts to the Butler area business community to help promote the speedway. He has established relationships with the Butler Chamber of Commerce and he was a founding member of the Butler Young Professionals, “back when I was young and professional,” he said with a laugh. He believes that his contacts and his enthusiasm can help bring new fans to the speedway.

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