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Gravel Grabs Grove Gold

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Trent Gower Photography

WILLIAMS GROVE, PA(Pittsburgh Racing Now – July 25, 2020): David Gravel raced to victory in the Summer Nationals for the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars at Williams Grove Speedway. It was his seventh career victory at the track where the Connecticut driver first climbed behind the wheel of a Sprint Car. He earned $20,000 for his efforts.

Gravel noted “clean air in winged racing is so important,” and he enjoyed that condition all night long. Gravel started on the front row of his heat, which he won handily, and then he started on the front row of the dash as well.
Although he finished second in the dash, that was his goal, as it gave him the faster outside line for the start of the feature event. “I got a good start and the cautions went my way, so I didn’t have to deal with any traffic.”

Donny Schatz had the pole position by virtue of his dash victory, with Gravel positioned next to him. Brock Zearfoss and Brad Sweet were in row two, followed by Jacob Allen and Lance Dewease. Logan Schuchart and last night’s winner, Shane Stewart, were in the fourth row, Daryn Pittman and Ryan smith were in row five for the start of the 30 lapper.

Gravel powered past Schatz at the drop of the green flag, Sweet was third and Dewease was in fourth. But soon after the leaders crossed the line, Tim Shaffer flipped his mount on the front stretch. He was unhurt, but the car was done for the night.

Gravel chose the outside for the restart and, once again, he drove away from Schatz. Sweet, Dewease, and Zearfoss followed. Dewease made a significant move, though, and he assumed second. Sweet also moved ahead of Schatz, who was losing power. His car coasted to a stop with a terminal motor problem.

Dewease was moved to the front row for the restart, but he was no match for Gravel. Gravel started to build a lead again, but the racers were only able to complete three more laps. Anthony Macri brought out the yellow, which was immediately followed by a red before another lap was completed. This time, there was a three-car tangle in turn two which eliminated Lucas Wolfe, Steve Buckwalter, and Kraig Kinser.

With so many interruptions, World of Outlaws officials called for a fuel stop.

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The restart was single file. And, it was determined that all further restarts would be single file because the inside line was so much slower than the preferred outside lane.

Gravel again assumed command and led Dewease, Sweet, Schuchart, Allen, Zearfoss, and Pittman for six more rounds. Sheldon Haudenschild brought out another caution when he also lost power.

Gravel led the next eleven laps before another engine failure caused the final caution of the night. This time, the victim was Danny Dietrich. Gravel had almost a three second lead when the caution came out for the track’s points leader.

Gravel got away cleanly for the final go. He clicked off the remaining eight laps without difficulty. Dewease fought off a challenge from Sweet to maintain second position. Teammates Schuchart and Allen rounded out the top five. Brent Marks was sixth, followed by Zearfoss, and Carson Macedo, who started 23rd. Macri rebounded to finish ninth. Pittman was tenth.

Dewease was satisfied with second. “How the racetrack was tonight, we weren’t very good. The track was hard to pass on.” He had good luck, though. “Schatz breaking helped me and when they went to single file that really helped me.” Indeed, Dewease had lost second briefly to Sweet on the last double file restart, back on lap five. Nonetheless, Sweet agreed that the officials made the right call to change the restarts to single file because of track conditions. Dewease was confident that his veteran crew, led by car owner Donnie Kreitz and ace mechanic Davey Brown, could build upon the outcome to get ready for the National Open coming up in early October. Dewease would like to get the 100th win of his career before then, but it would be a fitting achievement for him if it were to happen in the most prestigious race of the year.

The four heats went to Schatz, Allen, Sweet, and Zearfoss. The B Main victor was Buckwalter. Schatz won the dash. The evening’s fastest qualifier was Shane Stewart, at 17.167 seconds. Stewart also had motor problems in the A Main.

The weekend at Williams Grove caused a shake-up in the World of Outlaws NOS Energy Drink Championship points standings.  Schatz left Lernerville Speedway Tuesday night with a 4-point lead over Brad Sweet.  Today, Sweet leads Logan Schuchart by 18 and Schatz now sits in third-place, 26-points out of the top spot.

Williams Grove Speedway will host the York County Racing Club on July 31. Extra purse money will be at stake for both the 410 and 358 Sprint Cars. Coming up on August 7 will be the Billy Kimmel Memorial featuring the 410 Sprints and teh Super Late Models. A three-division Sprint Car program was added for August 14. Joining the 410 and 358 winged Sprints will be the USAC Eastern 360 Sprints, which race sans wings.

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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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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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Local Racing

RUSH Late Model Series Enhancing ‘Track Pack’ Program For 2021

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PULSAKI, PA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – The RUSH Late Model Series is bringing back and enhancing their ‘Track Pack’ program for 2021.

The ‘Track Pack’ program debuted in 2016 and continued through the 2019 season before the COVID-19 pandemic suspended the program in 2020. Each of those four years, $800 was split amongst the top five RUSH members with $300 to the champion at each RUSH weekly-sanctioned track.

In 2021 RUSH Late Model weekly-sanctioned tracks top-six will share in $2,500!  RUSH weekly member racers will accumulate points at each event and at the end of the year the top six in member points will split $2,500 with $1000 going to the champion followed by $500, $400, $300, $200, $100 for positions 2-through-6. These monies will be awarded over and above any other championship monies drivers will receive.

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“We’ve always known the strength of RUSH lays within our weekly tracks and the racers who support them,” said RUSH Director Vicki Emig. “During the pandemic, the average car counts at our weekly tracks were very impressive as most all tracks increased. In the past the ‘Summer Chase’ gave just 10 racers additional monies, but we feel by taking that money and adding another approximate $14,000 to the ‘Track Pack’ we can allow substantially more racers the ability to take home additional weekly monies at the end of the year.”

Prior to COVID-19 RUSH had announced the Touring Series Championship point fund would double to $35,500 with a record $12,000 going to the champion! This will now take place in 2021. The Touring Series schedule continues to come together and is expected to be similar to 2020’s before the pandemic.

The 2021 season is expected to be the richest in RUSH Racing Series history, which includes the RUSH Late Models, Sprint Cars, Sportsman Modifieds and Pro Mods, with additional programs and events planned throughout.

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