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Stewart Stuns Them All at Williams Grove

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Trent Gower Photography

WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now – July 24, 2020): Shane Stewart upset the World of Outlaws and the Pennsylvania Posse on the opening night of the Summer Nationals at Williams Grove Speedway. It was the first victory of the season for the driver from Bixby, OK, who is running a partial, independent schedule in Bernie Steubgen’s potent machine. Stewart dominated the race and neither Anthony Macri nor Donny Schatz were able to challenge for the lead.

“I was thinking about quitting, but Bernie called me and said, ‘hey, let’s get together for a little schedule,’ and I am very appreciative for the opportunity,” Stewart said. “The car’s been very fast all summer but Bernie’s got a very successful business in Indy (Indy Race Parts) and we don’t get to race much.” Stewart, who took off Thursday night to spend time in the shop of engine builder Charlie Garrett, was ready ti race this night. “We spent the day at Charlie Garrett’s place and he told us a bunch of stories about his successes. It puts a lot of pride in his motors and that puts a lot of pressure on us.” Stewart said that Garret told him earlier in the night, “I will see you in victory lane.”

Stewart had the pole position for the 25 lap preliminary feature. Anthony Macri was by his side and the young, local pilot was looking for his first World of Outlaws win and first career win at the Grove. A pair of Outlaws champions line up behind them, Daryn Pittman and Donny Schatz. Crowd favorite Lance Dewease and David gravel were in the third row, Then came Jacob Allen and Steve Buckwalter. Brad Sweet and Brock Zearfoss were in the fifth row,

Stewart blasted out to an early lead, with Macri, Schatz, Pittman and Dewease in tow. Just as the racers were starting to settle in, the red flag came out for a minor incident in turn three. Landon Myers spun and Wayne Johnson hit him before turning over on his side. Neither driver was injured in the collision.

Stewart led Macri and company into turn one on the restart. Pittman and Schatz started a tug of war for the third position while Dewease watched from some distance back. Gravel followed, while Sweet, Allen, T.J. Stutts, and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. were swapping positions.

Stewart reached the back of the field by lap 12. Although Macri started to close in, he never got the opportunity to see if the traffic would upset Stewart enough to give him a shot at a pass. Brian Montieth brought out a caution that cleared the track for Stewart. On the restart, Macri did throw a slider at Stewart and briefly took the lead. However, Stewart turned back under him coming through the second corner, and Macri resumed the role of chaser.

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Schatz took over third on the restart, followed by Pittman, Dewease, and Gravel.

As the leaders crossed for lap 15, Dewease slowed drastically and coasted to a stop. His bid for win number 100 at the venerable speedway came to an end.

On the ensuing restart, Schatz slid under Macri for second place. But, Schatz was no match for Stewart in the clean air. Stewart completed the last ten laps without incident.

“We were missing lapped traffic tonight,” Schatz explained. “Every time we came close the yellow came out. We needed Shane to move off his line in traffic but he didn’t have to do it.” Macri concurred, adding that he “got upon the curb and bobbled a little bit and I lost my composure for a lap or two.” Nonetheless, he brought his car home third, a very respectable showing.

Fourth went to Pittman and fifth to Grave. Positions six through ten belonged to Sweet, Logan Schuchart, Carson Macedo, Sheldon Haudenschild, and Rahmer.

Dewease, Gravel, Stewart, and Pittman. Stewart won the placement dash. Schuchart topped Haudenschild in the B Main. Dewease clocked the fastest time of the night, 17.025 seconds.

The Summer Nationals will conclude Saturday night at Williams Grove. 410 and 358 Sprints will be on the card next Friday, July 31. Late Models will join the 410s for the Billy Kimmel Memorial on August 7. A show was added to the schedule for August 14, featuring 410 and 358 Sprints, along with the USAC Eastern 360 Sprints.

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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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