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Macri Takes Two at Port Royal

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PORT ROYAL, PA (July 1, 2020 – Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Anthony Macri found the cure for the embarrassment of failing to qualify for two of the first five rounds of the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek. Go to a big, familiar track. Macri scored his fourth consecutive 410 Sprint Car victory at Port Royal Speedway and then he backed it up with another win against the United Racing Club 360 Sprint Cars. It marked the first time in more than a decade that a driver won four straight in the headline class at the spacious Juniata County oval. His combined take for the night exceeded $9,000.

“This is a grueling week, one of the hardest, and my crew has been working very hard,” Macri said. “We were struggling at the small tracks, and we tore that care apart and got a new one out for Grandview and it seemed to work a little better.” But, this night, Macri raced his tried and true big track car. However, he changed up his strategy for the race because of the extra distance. “I played it cool and kept my tires under me. I ran a little harder in the second half. Still, I had some problems the last two laps, so I just pushed the gas a little harder.”

Macri, who was scheduled to start in the fifth spot, got a break when the pole sitter, Christopher Bell, lost oil pressure while the field was forming up. That moved Macri up a row. So, the pole went to Brock Zearfoss, with two-time and defending track champ Logan Wagner next to him. Paired up with Macri was Lance Dewease. Cory Eliason and Kyle Larson were in row three. Ryan Smith and Aaron Reutzel were in row four and Danny Dietrich and Rico Abreu had row five.

Although Dewease had a great start, challenging Wagner and Zearfoss for the lead, it was negated by a crash in turn one that eliminated Robbie Kendall and Cory Eliason. On the second try, Wagner and Zearfoss set the pace, but Macri slid into third ahead of Dewease, Reutzel, Abreu and Larson.

Wagner began to flex some muscle in the early laps, opening a considerable lead over Zearfoss. Dewease was on the charge and he took over second with seven laps in the books. Macri and Zearfoss were in a battle for third, while Reutzel and Larson stayed close.

Dewease was starting to close in on Wagner who was having some difficulties dealing with the lapped traffic. However, Macri went to the whip and took over the second spot just before the caution came out on lap 13. Although that alleviated Wagner’s problem with the slower cars, it also opened up a lane for Macri, and he swooped into the lead on the ensuing restart.

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Macri was firmly in command the rest of the way. Wagner continued in second, but Reutzel moved into third. Dewease fell to fourth in the middle stage of the race. He came back strong in the final ten laps, though, and climbed back to the second position at the checkers. As quickly as Dewease moved forward, Wagner fell back.

At the finish, it was Macri ahead of Dewease, Reutzel, Larson, and Wagner. Dietrich was sixth. Then came Smith, Brent Marks, Freddie Rahmer, Jr., and Zearfoss.

The four heat winners were Dewease, Wagner, Zearfoss, and Bell. Alan Krimes picked up the B Main. Kyle Larson was quickest in Group A with a lap of 16.246. Macri topped Group B with a round of 16.495.

In the nightcap for the URC 360 Sprints, Macri had to track down Dallas Schott and Jonathan Preston to get the victory. Macri had to pass his adversaries twice to make it count, as his initial bid for the lead was nullified by a caution. Taking fourth was Derek Locke and fifth went to Josh Weller. Steve Buckwalter came from deep in the pack to get sixth. Heat wins went to Preston, Macri, and Austin Bishop. There was no B Main.

Port Royal will close out Speedweek on Saturday with the Greg Hodnett Classic paying $10,000 to the winner. The Late Models will race for $2,500 to win. Speeweek moves south of the Mason Dixon line for the annual stop at Hagerstown Speedway on Thursday night. It will be the Johnny Grum Memorial. There also will be an exhibition of vintage racers provided by the Eastern Museum of Motor Racing.

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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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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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