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Larson Succeeds at Grandview

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BECHTELSVILLE, PA (June 30, 2020 Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Kyle Larson finally broke through the barriers that kept him from reaching victory lane so far in the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek. He scored his third win in four years on the high banks of Grandview Speedway, earning $10,000 in the process. Larson also left the speedway with the points lead heading into round six at Port Royal Speedway. He took the lead with just two laps remaining in the contest foiling the bid by third generation driver Freddie Rahmer, Jr.

“Owen (Larson’s son) has been giving me a lot of crap the last few nights about finishing second and then sixth,” the happy victor said. “I guess he won’t have too much to say on the ride tonight,” he added with a laugh. When asked why he has had so much success at Grandview, Larson noted “well, it IS the shortest track in PA, and that helps coming from California.”

Larson was chasing Rahmer as the laps wound down. He tried two sliders entering turn one on successive restarts, but he was unable to make them stick. “I knew that I couldn’t pass him because he was setting such a good pace,” Larson said. “On the restarts, I didn’t want to follow him off the top and go over the shelf and I could come off two (on the bottom) and leave myself some room,” he explained. Larson then added that he was concerned that if he left the bottom line open, Sammy Swindell might have been able to pass him.

The front half of the field was laden with talent for the 35 lap race. Christopher Bell drew the pole and Rahmer was next to him. Larson lined up third with Swindell beside him. Then came Aaron Reutzel and Danny Dietrich. Brock Zearrfoss and Ryan Smith were in row four, followed by Logan Wagner and Anthony Macri. Lucas Wolfe and Lance Dewease, two pre-race favorites, were mired in rows six and seven, respectively.

As expected, Bell blasted into the lead when the green light flashed on. He immediately opened up a comfortable margin over Rahmer, Swindell, Larson, and Dietrich. Smith and Reutzel kept Zearfoss and Wagner at bay.

Bell had everything going his way for the first five laps. That is, until Kyle Reinhardt slowed in turn one immediately ahead of him. Bell had nowhere to go and clipped Reinhardt’s disabled racer as he went by. Bell sustained a flat right rear and pitted for a new tire. However, other damage was too severe to be fixed, so he was out for the rest of the race.

That handed the lead over to Rahmer for the restart. Swindell lined up behind him, followed by Larson, Dietrich, and Smith. When the green came out Swindell looked to the inside but he was unable to get by Rahmer. The wily veteran was looking for an opportunity to make the pass, but another caution slowed the pace. Reinhardt was involved in a turn three shunt with Rico Abreu and both were eliminated. Robert Ballou also spun but he was able to resume the race.

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The racers got six more laps recorded before the next stoppage for Brett Michalski slowing in turn four. Rahmer held sway throughout while Swindell and Larson were starting to mix things up. Dietrich and Smith likewise were racing side by side when the caution was displayed.

The top five stayed in that order for the next twelve circuits. However, at the end of that run, Larson zipped by Swindell for second and Smith worked his way past Dietrich for fourth. It was during this portion of the race that Dewease started his march forward. He reached seventh before the caution came out.

Larson’s dive bombing runs into turn one did not pay off on the restarts. He chased Rahmer until lap 33, when he was able to make the low side work to his advantage. He slid up ahead of Rahmer and it was all over but the victory celebration.

Rahmer followed Larson across the finish line. Swindell turned in his best run of the week so far, nabbing third. Smith held off Dietrich for fourth. Dewease made one more pass to earn the sixth spot in the pay-off line. Zearfoss, Reutzel, Macri, and Logan Wagner completed the top ten.

Smith, Swindell, Zearfoss, and Dietrich copped the preliminaries. Rico Abreu dominated the B Main. Bell was the night’s fastest qualifier turning in a lap of 11.552 seconds.

The track’s 358 Modifieds provided the support tonight, and it was outstanding. Ryan Watt battled the early leader, Kevin Hirthler, for nineteen laps. Lurking close behind were the likes of Craig von Dohren, Jeff Strunk, and Ryan Kressley. Unfortunately, Kressly got hooked up with a lapped car coming off turn four and they came to a stop entering turn one bringing out the first caution of the race. Another quick caution set up the stretch run for Watt with no traffic ahead of him. Strunk muscled by Hirthler, but he was no match for Watt. Von Dohren crossed in third, followed by Hirthler and Doug Manmiller.

Grandview Speedway will be in action Saturday night with the Freedom 40 for the Sportsmen Stock Cars. The 358 Modifieds will also be on the card. Speedweek will resume at Port Royal Speedway for round six on Wednesday. Joining the 410 Sprints will be the 360 Sprints of the United Racing Club.

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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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IndyCar

Racing Notebook: Kellett Returning to A.J. Foyt For ’21; U.S. Motorsports Association Forms Leadership Council Plus Extreme E

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A.J. Foyt Racing

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.
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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.

Extreme E names Race and Sporting Directors as their inaugural 2021 season approaches.

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