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Racing Notebook – Friday, February 28: NASCAR In California, #DoItForGrady

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Tony Stewart Racing

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Friday’s Racing Notebook has news on NASCAR’s visit to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California plus Tony Stewart is stepping up to help injured racer Grady Chandler and needs your help!

Alex Bowman Setting NASCAR Cup Series Pace At Auto Club Speedway:

  • Hendrick Motorsports Alex Bowman led both NASCAR Cup Series practice sessions Friday at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  Bowman’s No. 88 Cincinnati Chevrolet turned a fast lap of 179.439 mph (40.125-seconds) in the first practice session and 176.186 mph (40.764) in the second practice session.  Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson was second fastest in the first practice, turning a fast lap of 177.703 mph (40.517) in the No. 42 McDonald’s Chevrolet.  Kurt Busch was fourth fastest in both practice sessions, turning fast laps of 177.703 mph (40.592) and 175.816 mph (40.952) in the No. 1 Monster Energy Camaro.  Qualifying takes place on Saturday at 2:35 p.m. ET.  Bowman also posted the fastest 10-lap average in both practice sessions. Auto Club Practice 1 Cup. Auto Club Final Practice Cup

Noah Gragson and Harrison Burton Lead Xfinity Series Practice Sessions:

  • JR Motorsports Noah Gragson was fastest in the first NASCAR Xfinity Series practice at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.  Gragson turned a fast lap of 177.139 mph (40.646-seconds) in the No. 88 Nationwide Children’s Chevrolet.  Joe Gibbs Racing’s Harrison Burton turned the fastest lap of the second practice with a speed of 174.474 mph (41.267) in the No. 20 Dex Imaging Toyota.  Burton also posted the fastest 10-lap average in the second session.  No driver ran 10-consecutive laps in the first practice session.  Qualifying is scheduled to take place at 1:05 p.m. ET. Auto Club Xfinity Practice 1. Auto Club Xfinity Final Practice.
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Tony Stewart Raising Funds For Injured Racer Grady Chandler:

  • Tony Stewart Store, the official apparel and merchandise supplier of Tony Stewart Racing, Eldora Speedway, and Smoke, is pleased to announce that ten percent of combined sales collected throughout the entire month of March via online store portals and traveling merchandise trailer will be donated directly to Grady Chandler’s recovery fund and family.  In addition, the Tony Stewart Foundation, an organization that provides grant funding to well-qualified organizations serving children who are critically ill or physically disabled; animals at-risk or endangered; and drivers injured in the sport of motor racing, has agreed to match the ten percent gained, which will also be donated directly to Grady Chandler.  Chandler, 19, was injured in a non-wing sprint car accident during a USAC event at Creek County Speedway in Creek County, Oklahoma, on July 26. The Piedmont, Oklahoma-native suffered fractures in many of his vertebrae including his C1, C2, C3, C4 and C5.

Do It For Grady:
Facebook: www.facebook.com/doitforgrady
Twitter: www.twitter.com/chandlerracin

Tony Stewart Store:
Web: www.tonystewartstore.com
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tsrstore
Facebook: www.facebook.com/tonystewartstore

Tony Stewart Foundation:
Web: www.tonystewartfoundation.org
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thetonystewartfoundation
Twitter: www.twitter.com/14tsf

Local Racing

Pennsylvania Racing Economic Impact Surveys Released

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania (MCP) is sending out economic impact surveys to Pennsylvania race tracks, teams and racing related entities.

The data collected from the surveys will be compiled by Washington & Jefferson College professors Rob & Leslie Dunn, who along with the MCP, will produce a study on the range and economic impact of the racing industry in the Keystone State.

The economic impact study will be a valuable tool for race tracks, teams and marketing professionals in their efforts to attract partners, sponsors and other assets that may be available throughout the State.

Race teams are needed to take part in the survey!  Here is link to the team survey: https://forms.gle/XWTehM4nsKGfzTC58

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Fans are also asked to help the MCP in the efforts.  Here is a link to the fan survey so take a few minutes of your time to support race tracks and teams in this endeavor: https://forms.gle/vEcZR5XJbQHKPBLLA

Marketing and media professionals have a survey that the MCP is asking them to complete.  Here is a link to that survey: https://forms.gle/EX32bbXubANUaUGr7

Race tracks are also participating in the survey, if a track has not received a survey directly from the MCP, here is a link to that survey: https://forms.gle/fkhuwgg3EDvFTGuR7

The Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania hopes to have the Economic Impact Study completed by the start of the 2021 racing season.

Editors Note: Robert Johnson of the Motorsports Council of Pennsylvania will be one of the guests on the next episode of The Pittsburgh Racing Now Podcast.

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Local Racing

Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek Is Coming Back

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SHIPPENVILLE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Five local dirt tracks are teaming up to bring back Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek for the 2021 season.

Michael’s Mercer Raceway (Mercer, PA), Thunder Mountain Speedway (Brookville, PA), Lernerville Speedway (Sarver, PA), Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH) and Tri City Raceway Park (Franklin, PA) are the five tracks where the owners and promoters have aligned to bring back the event for the 410 Sprint Cars.

“The ‘410 Sprint Car’ division in the local area has been through many ups-and-downs over the last two decades, but there’s no doubt it’s as strong now as it ever was”, said Dave Willoughby, Sharon Speedway’s General Manager. “You see our guys competing for spots up front everywhere they go, and that even includes out at some of the tougher Central PA tracks.”

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Additional details will be released in the near future regarding the established point fund and other race night details.

Here’s the full schedule:

  • Wednesday, June 2nd – Michael’s Mercer Raceway
  • Thursday, June 3rd – Thunder Mountain Speedway
  • Friday, June 4th – Lernerville Speedway
  • Saturday, June 5th – Sharon Speedway
  • Sunday, June 6th – Tri City Raceway Park

Western Pennsylvania Sprint Speedweek was previously run from 1993-2000 by the All-Star Circuit of Champions.

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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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