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Larson Wins Again at Williams Grove

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Chad Warner

WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now – July 17, 2020): Kyle Larson’s amazing hot streak continued at the Williams Grove Speedway. The former NASCAR pilot captured the Tommy Hinnershitz Memorial Classic named for the first-ballot Hall of Fame driver who happened to score the first victory in the 81 years of the historic track. Larson was greeted in victory lane by a member of the Hinnershitz family, who readily agreed that Tommy would have been proud of the rim-riding style displayed by Larson throughout most of the race. Ironically, the winning move was something Larson had learned from his good friend, Lance Dewease. On lap 26, Larson dove low in turn three and blasted by Anthony Macri who was seeking his first 410 Sprint Car win at the track.

“I’ve won a lot of races, but I have never been on a streak like this before,” Larson said modestly. Despite the down time due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the missed races due to his NASCAR obligation, Larson now has more than 20 victories in Sprint Car and Midget competition.

“I felt really good the whole race,” he said. He admitted to being “a little sloppy” until he adjusted his wing. That enabled him to get off the corners better. Adding to his late-race advantage, the straightaways cleared off and Larson was able to get a run into the corners as well. The higher entry speed led to more momentum through the corners, as was evident when he pulled the trigger on the unsuspecting Macri.

Macri had the pole for the star-studded 30 lapper. Next to him was Kerry Madsen. Row two should have been comprised of Carson Macedo and Sammy Swindell. However, Swindell’s car began to leak oil and water on the pace laps, and he was forced to retire form the contest. That moved up Daryn Pittman to the second row. Larson and Cory Eliason were the third row pairing. David Gravel and Brent Marks lined up in row four and Aaron Reutzel was joined by Kyle Reinhardt in row five.

Macri took the lead, but Madsen, Macedo, Pittman and Larson stayed close in the early going. Macri built up a substantial lead as the laps clicked off. He had a bit of a scare on lap nine, however. “I misjudged the corner and got into the curb,” he explained. Madsen pulled up beside the young driver who kept his poise and the lead. Macri began to pull away again, but his lead was wiped out by the only caution of the race. On lap 15, soon after Macri got the halfway signal, Josh Baughman coasted to a stop on the long back chute.

Macri and Madsen were nose to tail for the restart. Madsen tried to slide under Macri in the first turn, but Macri made a block before sliding up to the cushion. “I went to the bottom on the restart and I tried to carry the momentum around the top,” he explained. The maeuver worked and Macri again began to build his lead over the Aussie.

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“I’ve never had much luck at Williams Grove,” Madsen said. “I thought I had a car that could win it in the middle of the race,” he added. But after his two runs at Macri, Madsen was unable to mount another challenge. Instead, it was Larson who kept getting faster and faster as teh race moved into the final stanza. “Paul (Silva) prepares an awesome car and I can trust it a lot,” Larson noted.

Indeed, he moved into fourth on the restart and he seemed destined to remain there for the rest of the race. But suddenly, the California-based car came to life. He reached second by lap 22 but Macri still had a lead of several car lengths. Larson began to close the gap despite jumpingthe cushion a couple of times in turn four. He was on Macri’s tail with five to go and made the big move one lap later to nail down his second win of the season at the Grove.

Larson and Macri were followed by Madsen, Gravel, and Pittman.Brock Zearfoss rallied in the last ten laps to get sixth. Danny Dietrich advanced ten positions to nab seventh.Macedoand Reutzel crossed before Freddie Rahmer, Jr.

Marks, Swindell, Reutzel, and Macedo took the preliminaries. Lucas Wolfe topped the B Main. The twin dashes went to Macri and Madsen. Larson was the evening’s fastest qualifier with a lap of 16.950 seconds. He was the only friver below 17 seconds this night.

Kevin Nouse scored his second 358 Sprint Car win, leading the entire 20 laps. Doug Hammaker, Chris Frank, Tyler Brehm, and Scott Fisher were the other members of the top five.

Williams Grove Speedway will host the Summer Nationals next Friday and Saturday. The World of Outlaws will be present in full force, but other invaders are expected as the All Stars will be off that weekend. Yung Money (Larson) will also be in the house. Lance Dewease will return in the hopes of scoring his 100th career win at the track.

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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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