ABBOTTSTOWN, PA (June 29, 2020 – Pittsburgh Racing Now): An invader finally triumphed in the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek. Rico Abreu, who hails from St. Helena, CA, dominated round four held at the at Lincoln Speedway. The win was worth $7,000 to the popular driver who held off another visitor, Aaron Reutzel, the current points leader with the All Star Circuit of Champions series.
“It was a lot of fun, and fortunately there was not a lot of traffic,” Abreu said. “I had good entry to center speed and I could get a launch off the corner, especially off turn two.” Abreu explained that he just waited for the lapped cars to drop down in the corners and then “I could rocket right by them.” Abreu commented that “Lincoln is a tough track even without the World of Outlaws being here. But the track was awesome tonight.”
With the win, Abreu positioned himself to be the only driver eligible to claim a $5,000 bonus offered by Drydene. To do so, Abreu must also win the Drydene 40, a non-sanctioned event added to the Lincoln Speedway schedule for July 29, and the Seventh Annual Dirt Classic coming up at the speedway in September. When asked if he would compete in those shows, Abreu said, “I will be here if you (pointing to the enthusiastic fans in the grandstand) come back too.”
Abreu had the prime starting position for the 30 lap contest, but he had Reutzel positioned next to him. Ryan Smith and Christopher Bell were in row two. Kyle Larson and Cory Eliason were in the third row. Brent Marks and Danny Dietrich had row four covered. Brock Zearfoss and Brian Montieth were in the fifth row.
Abreu basted out to an early lead and Reutzel fell in behind him. Smith and Bell raced side by side, with Larson looking for an opening. He found it on the second lap and moved into fourth. While Abreu and Reutzel set a blistering pace, Larson and Bell began swapping the third position.
Robbie Kendall brought a halt to the action with ten laps down. Soon after the restart, Larson slid high in turn four while fighting with Bell for third. Larson nearly spun out, but he saved the car and did not lose a position. He was not as fortunate coming off turn two, though, and this time he did lose a couple of spots in the running order. It took him several laps to get them back.
The second and final caution was displayed on lap 19 when Zearfoss brought his car to a stop in the fourth turn. The restart line-up had Abreu out front, with Reutzel and Bell ahead of Larson and Marks, and the fans were all primed to see a heavyweight clash for the final eleven laps.
Unfortunately, that never materialized. Abreu got away cleanly and Reutzel could do nothing but watch the blue machine pull away from him. He was able to open up a margin of his own over Bell. Larson began to fade from contention in the last third of the race. However, Freddie Rahmer, Jr. provided some excitement. The third generation driver was sitting in tenth for the restart, up eleven spots from his starting position, and he still had some moves to make. Rahmer did pick up a few places before the checkers flew.
Abreu sailed under the victory bunting with almost a two second advantage over Reutzel. “He did a hell of a job, he set a great pace,” said the tall Texan. “I could see that he was having some trouble getting off the corners late in the race, but I needed heavier traffic to have a shot at him. He was just too good tonight.”
Bell crossed in third and seemed to be pleased with the outcome. “I’m just glad to be here, this is a real hotbed for Sprint Car racing.” Bell explained his plans to race in the next two rounds of Speedweek before heading out to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for his next NASCAR event. “I love to do this and I don’t get the chance to do it enough,” he added.
Marks and Smith completed the top five. Larson fell to sixth at the finish, his worst finish in several weeks of action. Dietrich was right behind him, though, so do not expect to see much if any changes in the Speedweek points heading into the next event at Grandview Speedway. Rahmer was eighth. Eliason and Tim Wagaman rounded out the top ten.
Larson, Bell, Smith, and Eliason were the heat race winners. Rahmer was best in the B Main. Larson was the evening’s fastest qualifier, turning in a lap of 13.564 seconds to lead Group A. Reutzel was tops in Group B at 13.841 seconds.
Lincoln Speedway will host the 358 Sprint Car Summer Series this Saturday, July 4, along with the 305 Sprints and two additional divisions. Round five of Speedweek will be held on the high banks of the Grandview Speedway.
— FloRacing (@FloRacing) June 30, 2020
Indy Autonomous Challenge Race Car Unveiled
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.”
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.
Racing Notebook: Kellett Returning to A.J. Foyt For ’21; U.S. Motorsports Association Forms Leadership Council Plus Extreme E
PITTSBURGH, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – A.J. Foyt Racing brings back Dalton Kellett plus The U.S. Motorsports Association forms Leadership Council and Extreme E names Race Director and Sporting Director.
Dalton Kellett Returning To A.J. Foyt Racing:
- Canadian Dalton Kellett will drive A.J. Foyt’s No. 4 Chevrolet full-time in the 2021 NTT INDYCAR Series. K-Line Insulators USA returns as the primary sponsor, moving from the No. 14 to the No. 4 for the upcoming season. The 27-year-old rookie drove for Foyt in eight races this year, sharing the driving duties of the No. 14 Chevrolet with Tony Kanaan and Sebastien Bourdais. Bourdais returns to drive the No. 14 Chevrolet full-time as announced earlier this year.
U.S. Motorsports Association Forms Leadership Council:
- The U.S. Motorsports Association announced the official formation of the first-ever national Circle Track Leadership Council (CTLC), a group of circle track owners and industry leaders, who are committed to working on current and future issues related to the sport. Members of the council include Lucas Oil Speedway’s Dan Robinson, Anderson Speedway’s Rick Dawson, Five Flags Speedway’s Tim Bryant, Knoxville Raceway’s John McCoy, Jackson Motorplex & Huset’s Speedway’s Doug Johnson, Track Enterprises’ Bob Sargent, Madison International & Midwest Tour’s Gregg Mckarns and Wilmot Raceway/IRA Sprint Cars, Steve Sinclair.
Extreme E Names Race and Sporting Directors:
- Extreme E, the new electric off-road racing series, has strengthened its sporting team with the appointments of Scot Elkins as Race Director and Guy Nicholls as Sporting Manager for its inaugural 2021 season. Elkins has served as Race Director for the FIA Formula E Championship the past three years. Elkins started out as an engineer for Robert Yates Racing in NASCAR. Elkins has also held technical sporting roles with the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and Champ Car World Series and has served as Deputy Race Director for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, FIA Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3.
RUSH Late Model Series Enhancing ‘Track Pack’ Program For 2021
PULSAKI, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The RUSH Late Model Series is bringing back and enhancing their ‘Track Pack’ program for 2021.
The ‘Track Pack’ program debuted in 2016 and continued through the 2019 season before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the program in 2020. Each of those four years, $800 was split amongst the top five RUSH members with $300 to the champion at each RUSH weekly-sanctioned track.
In 2021 RUSH Late Model weekly-sanctioned tracks top-six will share in $2,500! RUSH weekly member racers will accumulate points at each event and at the end of the year the top six in member points will split $2,500 with $1000 going to the champion followed by $500, $400, $300, $200, $100 for positions 2-through-6. These monies will be awarded over and above any other championship monies drivers will receive.
“We’ve always known the strength of RUSH lays within our weekly tracks and the racers who support them,” said RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “During the pandemic, the average car counts at our weekly tracks were very impressive as most all tracks increased. In the past the ‘Summer Chase’ gave just 10 racers additional monies, but we feel by taking that money and adding another approximate $14,000 to the ‘Track Pack’ we can allow substantially more racers the ability to take home additional weekly monies at the end of the year.”
Prior to COVID-19 RUSH had announced the Touring Series Championship point fund would double to $35,500 with a record $12,000 going to the champion! This will now take place in 2021. The Touring Series schedule continues to come together and is expected to be similar to 2020’s before the pandemic.
The 2021 season is expected to be the richest in RUSH Racing Series history, which includes the RUSH Late Models, Sprint Cars, Sportsman Modifieds and Pro Mods, with additional programs and events planned throughout.