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Larson Strikes Again

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HAGERSTOWN, MD (July 2, 2020 – Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Kyle Larson extended his points lead in the 30th Annual Pennsylvania Sprint Car Speedweek with his victory at Hagerstown Speedway in the Johnny Grum Memorial. His second win of the series boosted his margin to 110 points over Danny Dietrich and 190 over Freddie Rahmer, Jr. with just two races remaining. Larson earned over $5,000 for his night’s work.

Larson noted that the win was his first on one of the big half miles in the area. After his win two nights ago at Grandview Speedway, Larson expressed a preference for the smaller venues, which are few and far between here. “I like it a lot better now,” he said with a smile. “Any time you win, you have a lot of fun.” Larson made the win look very easy. “My car was really good, I could get through (turns) one and two pretty respectably. I could carry a lot of speed on entry and I could drive through the middle. I didn’t have to run the cushion, but I could slide up to it in two and get a good run down the backstretch.” He added that turns three and four held a lot of moisture through the night, so he could run the bottom at that end of the track.

Larson’s only disappointment was with the caution, which came out on lap 23 of 30. “I wanted it to stay green because I knew that I had lapped a lot of cars so I knew that I had a big advantage over the second place car.” That happened to be Brent Marks, who had taken the position away from Sammy Swindell in traffic. “I thought we may have had something for (Larson) after the yellow there, but I needed him to mess up a couple of times,” Marks commented. Swindell agreed. “I knew that I wasn’t going to get Kyle unless he messed up real bad.” Unfortunately for Marks and Swindell, Larson was free of any errors on this night.

The luck of the draw put Larson on the pole for the feature event, and he had his son, Owen, to thank for that. He quipped that Owen would have to do the honors for the rest of the weekend becasue it was the first good pill that he had during Speedweek. Brock Zearfoss was on the outside of row one. Marks and Swindell were in the second row. Then came Dietrich and Rico Abreu. Kyle Reinhardt and Ryan Smith were in row four with Anthony Macri and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. in the fifth row.

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Larson entered turn one with the lead and he never was pressured. Zearfoss held second position for the fist eight laps of the race. That was when Swindell powered off turn two to take it away from him. Abreu held fourth for a few laps before giving way to Dietrich and Marks. Macri, Kyle Moody, Smith, and Rahmer raced along in the top ten.

Marks took over the second position just two laps before the caution was displayed for Zearfoss, who spun in turn four while racing in the fifth spot. That eliminated all of the lapped cars that separated Larson from the rest of the pack, but when the green light came on again it did not take him very long at all to open up his lead over Marks and Swindell.

Larson completed the final seven laps without incident, as did Marks and Swindell. The same could not be said for Dietrich, however. With two circuits left, Dietrich slowed on the backstretch, losing several positions. benefiting most were Abreu and Rahmer, who completed the top five. Other beneficiaries of Dietrich’s misfortune were Macri and Smith. Following the faltering Dietrich across the line were Chase Dietz and Mike Wagner.

Scoring wins in their heats were Reinhardt, Marks, Smith, and Swindell. Robbie Kendall took the B Main. Larson’s quick time of 15.593 was just .013 seconds off the track record.

Hagerstown Speedway will host the Ultimate Late Model Series on Saturday for a $5,000 to win event. Speeweek round eight will be held Friday night at Williams Grove Speedway. It will be the Mitch Smith Memorial paying $15,000 to the winner. It will be a Sprint Car only show, with fireworks for added entertainment. Speedweek will then conclude at the Port Royal Speedway with the Greg Hodnett Classic paying another $10,000 for first place.

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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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