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Racing Notebook – Friday, April 17: NASCAR postpones Martinsville; Spengler Takes Laguna Seca IMSA Win and more

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – NASCAR postpones Martinsville due to COVID-19 plus Bruno Spengler stays undefeated in IMSA iRacing Pro Series Competition and INDYCAR drivers get ready to return to Twin Ring Motegi via iRacing.

NASCAR Postpones Martinsville:

  • The Coronavirus has forced NASCAR to postpone events at Martinsville Speedway.  The sanctioning body released a statement saying “NASCAR is postponing the scheduled events on May 8-9 at Martinsville Speedway.  Our intention remains to run all 36 races, with a potential return to racing without fans in attendance in May at a date and location to be determined.  The health and safety of our competitors, employees, fans and the communities in which we run continues to be our top priority.  We will continue to consult with health experts and local, state and federal officials as we assess future scheduling options.”  Including Martinsville, NASCAR has postponed eight events.
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Bruno Spengler Undefeated In IMSA iRacing Competition:

  • Bruno Spengler picked up the win in Thursday night’s IMSA iRacing Pro Series Challenge at virtual WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.  Spengler’s BMW M8 GTE crossed the finish line 1.772-seconds ahead of New Zealand’s Shane Van Gisbergen.  Nicky Catsburg grabbed the third spot on the podium.  The next round of the IMSA iRacing Pro Series is set for Thursday, April 30 at the virtual Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  Round 4 will be held at virtual Road America on Thursday, May 14 and the fifth round will be at virtual VIRginia International Raceway on Thursday, May 28.

INDYCAR Drivers Ready For Return To Twin Ring Motegi:

  • The NTT INDYCAR SERIES has not raced at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan since 2011 and the last time they raced on the oval was in 2010 so many veteran drivers are looking forward to a return to the egg-shaped track albeit virtually. Ten drivers in the field for the Firestone 175 on Saturday also competed in the last INDYCAR event at Twin Ring Motegi on Sept. 18, 2011: Scott Dixon (winner), Will Power (second), Marco Andretti (third), Sebastien Bourdais (sixth), Takuma Sato (10th), Graham Rahal (12th), James Hinchcliffe (15th), Tony Kanaan (17th), Helio Castroneves (22nd) and Ryan Hunter-Reay (24th).  The races starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App.

NASCAR Back On (Virtual) Track This Sunday At Richmond Raceway:

  • The eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series is back in action this weekend at virtual Richmond Raceway for the Toyota Owners 150. The unique 150-lap eNASCAR iRacing event will feature a 30-car field (26 invited entries and four transferring from a Sunday morning qualifying race). The starting lineup will be set by a qualifying session, and each driver gets one reset during the main event.  Sunday morning’s Richmond Qualifier will consist of 13 drivers, ranging from fan-favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. and NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte to current NASCAR Cup Series drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Daniel Suarez. The top two finishers from the 25-lap event will advance to the main race, as well as two additional provisionals chosen by FOX. The race will be televised by FOX, FS1 and the FOX Sports App on Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.
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Racing Notebook

Racing Notebook: Erik Jones Out At JGR; NASCAR Sets Playoff Schedule and more

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook has news about Erik Jones status at Joe Gibbs Racing plus NASCAR sets the remainder of their schedule for 2020 and local Late Model racers get ready for the Jook George Steel City Classic.

Erik Jones Out At Joe Gibbs Racing Following This Season:

  • Multiple media outlets including Fox Sports are reporting that Erik Jones will be out of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota after the 2020 season.  The 24-year-old has driven the No. 20 Toyota Camry for three seasons and has two career wins (Daytona, Darlington), and made the playoffs in 2018 and ’19.  JGR is reportedly moving Christopher Bell into the No. 20 since Leavine Family Racing has been sold.
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NASCAR Sets Playoff Schedule:

  •  NASCAR announced on Thursday that all 10-playoff venues and dates will remain intact from the original 2020 schedule with the postseason kicking off at Darlington Raceway on Sunday, September 6 on NBCSN. In the Xfinity Series, Talladega Superspeedway has been added as the second race in the opening round on Saturday, October 3.  Bristol Motor Speedway moves to the regular season finale on Friday, September 18.  The Xfinity Series Playoffs will begin at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, September 26.

NASCAR Announces Two Procedural Changes:

  • NASCAR announced on Thursday two procedural changes, one goes into effect this weekend at Michigan International Speedway.  Drivers will have the opportunity to choose their lane for restarts beginning this weekend.  The “choose cone” rule was tested at the All-Star race at Bristol Motor Speedway and was universally applauded by the drivers.  The second change is in regard to qualifying and goes into effect next weekend for the road course at Daytona.  NASCAR will use a “performance matrix” to determine the starting lineup and pit selection.  The matrix includes season-long performance, single-race performance as well as the most recent races finishing position, fastest lap and owners points.

Jook George Steel City Classic This Saturday At PPMS:

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Racing Notebook

Racing Notebook: Crew Chief Change On Ganassi’s No. 42; Leavine Sells NASCAR Team;

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PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The Pittsburgh Racing Now Notebook has news about a Crew Chief change on Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 42 plus Bob Levine sells Levine Family Racing

Crew Chief Change On Ganassi’s No. 42:

  • Chip Ganassi’s NASCAR program is making a Crew Chief change on the No. 42 Credit One Bank/McDonald’s Camaro. “Phil Surgen has been named crew chief for the No. 42 team at Chip Ganassi Racing beginning this weekend at Michigan International Speedway and for the balance of the 2020 season,” the team posted on its official Twitter account. “Surgen, who is currently a race engineer on the No. 42 team, has been with the team since 2016.”  Surgen replaces Chad Johnston, who is no longer with the team.

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Leavine Family Racing Is Sold:

  • Leavine Family Racing and its assets have been sold, team owner Bob Leavine announced. Leavine has fielded cars in the Cup Series since 2011 for various drivers.  This year Christopher Bell is behind the wheel of the No. 95 Toyota in an alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing.  Adam Stern of the Sports Business Journal is reporting that Spire Sports & Entertainment, who field the Spire Motorsports No. 77, are the purchasers.

Heritage Trophy Up For Grabs At Michigan:

  • The top-finishing Manufacturer from the weekend NASCAR Cup Series events will be presented with the Michigan Heritage Trophy, which has been awarded by Michigan International Speedway since 2013. The Heritage Trophy gives well-deserved bragging rights to the winning manufacturer of the Michigan race weekend. This coming weekend a manufacturer must win one or both NASCAR Cup Series races at Michigan International Speedway. If one manufacturer sweeps both races, that manufacturer will be declared the winner of the Heritage Trophy. If different manufacturer’s win on August 8 and 9, then the award will go to the manufacturer with the most points earned by top 10 finishers of both races.
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Local Racing

Weekend Racing Notebook

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Paul Arch

PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The weekend winners from around the world of motorsports including Local tracks plus the Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions, and IMSA.

Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All-Star Circuit of Champions Weekend:

  • Cory Eliason picked up his first Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions victory Sunday night at the reopening of Huset Speedway.  Dominic Scelzi finished second and Kerry Madsen rounded out the podium.
  • Kyle Larson won his seventh straight Ollie’s Bargain Outlet All Star Circuit of Champions presented by Mobil 1 feature on Saturday night at Knoxville Raceway, setting a record with the series. Rico Abreu finished second and Gio Scelzi rounded out the podium.
  • Larson also picked up the win in Friday night’s feature at 34 Raceway.  Eliason finished second and Tucker Klaasmeyer finished third.
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Acura, Corvette, Lexus Claim IMSA Wins At Road America:

  • Helio Castroneves found traction with his Acura ARX-05 where others could not, as he and his Acura Team Penske co-driver Ricky Taylor prevailed in monsoon-like conditions in the final hour to win in the Daytona Prototype International Class in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Road America.
  • DragonSpeed USA’s Ben Hanley and Henrik Heeman took home the victory in LMP2.  Hanley switched from slick tires to rain tires as the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA, which was leading went off course due to the wet conditions.  They rallied to finish fourth behind the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA and the No. 18 Era Motorsports ORECA.
  • Corvette Racing scored a 1-2 finish at Road America in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.  The No. 3 Vette with Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia finished first with the No. 4 of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner coming home in second place.
  • Frankie Montecalvo and Townsend Bell parked the AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus in victory lane in the GT Daytona (GTD) class.  The victory was the third straight for the team. Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry finished second in their Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo.

Mother Nature Wins At Tri-City, PPMS, Jennerstown and Port Royal:

  • Rains throughout Western Pennsylvania forced several area race tracks to cancel their programs.  Tri-City cancelled their Sunday program while Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway (PPMS) and Port Royal had to throw the red flag on their programs Saturday night.

Norris, Flick, King Jr & Schneider Win At Lernerville:

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