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Racing Notebook: Friday, March 6



Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Friday’s Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook takes a look at the NASCAR/ARCA weekend at Phoenix Raceway plus Ryan Blaney signs extension with Team Penske and Port Royal Speedway opens on Sunday.

William Byron & Chase Elliott Fastest in NASCAR Cup Series Practices:

  • Hendrick Motorsports William Byron was fastest in the first NASCAR Cup Series practice at Phoenix Raceway.  Byron’s fast lap of 26.474-seconds (134.595 mph) in the No. 24 Hertz Chevrolet was 0.149-seconds faster than his teammate Chase Elliott.  Elliott turned the fastest lap of the final practice in the No. 9 UniFirst Chevrolet at 26.823-seconds (134.213 mph).  Tyler Reddick and Kevin Harvick had the fastest 10-lap consecutive averages. Phoenix Cup Practice 1. Phoenix Cup Final Practice

Chandler Smith Wins ARCA Menards Series Race At Phoenix:

  • Chandler Smith won the ARCA Menards Series General Tire 150 at Phoenix Raceway.  Smith half off Michael Self, who won the season opener in Daytona, and Ty Gibbs on a restart with 2-laps to go to grab the checkered flag.  Tanner Gray came home fourth followed by Zane Smith in fifth.  Nick Sanchez, Hailie Deegan, Chase Cabre, Christian McGhee and Lawless Alan rounded out the Top 10.
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Ryan Blaney Signs Extension To Stay At Team Penske:

  • Team Penske announced today that it has signed Ryan Blaney to a multi-year extension, which will keep him an integral part of the organization for years to come.  The driver of the No. 12 Ford Mustang, and current NASCAR Cup Series points leader, has been a member of Team Penske since 2012. During that time, he has earned three Cup Series victories and qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs in each of his three full-time seasons in the Cup Series.

Charlotte Motor Speedway Enhancing Fan Experience:

  • Charlotte Motor Speedway is gearing up for their 60th anniversary season by instituting five, fabulous fan enhancements in 2020 that are designed to deliver the ultimate race day experience for fans during the back-to-back NASCAR weekends in May.  The five enhancements are: VIP All-Star Garage Experience, Enhanced Grandstand Seating, Speedway Marketplace, Improved Infield Public Address System and Every Ticket Is A Pit Pass.  For more information visit

Port Royal Speedway Opening Weekend:

  • Port Royal Speedway in Port Royal, PA kicks off their 78th season this Sunday with 410-Sprint Cars and Super Late Models on the race schedule.  The Sprint Cars will by competing for a $5,000 grand prize to the feature winner while the Super Late Models will be battling for a $2,500 grand prize to the feature winner.  Saturday Port Royal will host a test and tune session that is open to all divisions competing at the Juniata County track in 2020.  For more details visit

Local Racing

Pennsylvania Racing Economic Impact Surveys Released



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:

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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:

Marketing and media professionals have a survey that the MCP is asking them to complete.  Here is a link to that survey:

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:

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



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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Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled



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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