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Gallagher Aces Applefest Sprints, Rudolph Doubles in Mods at Tri-City Raceway Park

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Tri-City Raceway Park

FRANKLIN, PA (September 20, 2020): Darin Gallagher picked a perfect time to score his first career 410 Sprint Car victory. After sliding his mentor, Jack Sodeman, Jr., for the lead, Gallagher had to fend off a strong challenge from Dan Shetler to earn the $5,000 Applefest payday At Tri-City Raceway Park. But, Erick Rudolph had the most profitable weekend, scoring $4,000 wins in both the Big Block Modifieds and the 358 Modifieds.

Other victories were scored by Jeff Schaffer (Crate Modifieds), Zack Morrow (RUSH Sprint Cars), Chris Schneider (Pro Stocks), and Pat Hanlon (Mini Stocks).

“This feels great, I’m ecstatic,” Gallagher gushed after his impressive victory. “I had to slide Jack to get the lead, and I’ve never done that before.” Gallagher then commented, “I was running so hard. Dan (Shetler) and I have a lot of respect for each other and I knew that we could run close like that.”

Indeed, Shetler chased Gallagher down and he did take the lead away, but Gallagher rallied and ran the outside line to regain the lead after a few laps racing side by side. “That’s an old Dash 12 that I bought last year and I think that I lost a cylinder,” Gallagher said. “I dont know if it was a bad spark plug or something internal,” but on the slick surface the lack of horsepower could have been his ace in the hole. “I wasn’t spinning my wheels, I was able to use everything it had.”

Sodeman, who was gunning for a track championship, started on the pole for the 30 lapper. Next to him was A.J. Flick. Gallagher and Shetler were in row two, with Dan Kuriger and Carl Bowser in row three. Brandon Spithaler, who entered the final points race trailing Sodeman by just six markers, was in row four, along with George Hobaugh, Jr. Sye Lynch and Brandon Matus made up row five.

At the drop of the green, Sodeman took the lead, with Flick, Gallagher, Shetler, and Kuriger in tow.

While Sodeman led, Spithaler began to work his way to the front. He reached second by lap nine, when the race was slowed for debris in turn one. Spithaler was pressing Sodeman for the lead after the restart, but on lap ten, his title hopes took a major blow. Spithaler spun in turn two and had to start at the rear of the field.

The drama began to build soon thereafter. Sodeman was being challenged by his protege. Just after Gallagher slid Sodeman in turn two to grab the lead, Kuriger powered into second. Sodeman started falling back through the field, while Spithaler was marching forward.

Gallagher began to put some distance on Kuriger in the middle stage of the race. Kuriger’s run came to an end on lap 22, when he spun in turn four. By that time, Spithaler had passed Sodeman, but he needed some help. He was only two positions ahead when the race resumed.

In the final nine laps, Gallagher and Shetler battled for the lead. Shetler started cutting into
Gallagher’s advantage and the engine in Gallagher’s machine started to sputter. Shetler took the lead, but Gallagher stayed close. They ran side by side for a few laps, while Flick started to close in as well.

Gallagher would not give up, though, and he drove by Shetler in turns one and two with just a couple of laps remaining. Shetler continued to give chase, but Gallagher was flawless.

At the finish, it was the young Butler pilot raising his hand in victory. Shetler was second, followed by Flick, Bowser, and Spithaler. Brandon Matus was sixth and Sodeman seventh, good enough to clinch the championship by a slim margin of two points unofficially. Jeremy Kornbau, Hobaugh, and Brent Matus completed the top ten.

Gallagher, Flick, and Sodeman won heats held on Saturday. There was no B Main.

In the Big Block Modified feature, Empire State drivers Chad Brachmann and Erick Rudolph had the front row. Shawn Kozar and Rex King, Sr. were in row two, with Garrett Krummert and Jeremiah Shingledecker in row three. Jim Rasey and Rick Regalski were in row four. Steve Barr and J.R. McGinley were in row five.

Rudolph slid under Brachmann entering turn one on the opening lap. Brachmann skid across the slick surface and lost six positions as Rudolph pulled away. King Sr. move into second, followed by Shingledecker and Kozar.

Rudolph was cruising out front,. but there was a spirited battle for second between King Sr. and Shingledecker. They banged wheels going through turns three and four and then they got together coming down the front stretch. Shingledecker got out of shape and his car began to tumble toward the first turn. King Sr. was penalized for his role in the incident, moving Brachmann into second for the restart.

The two New Yorkers continued racing out front, while Rasey, Brad Rapp, and others fought for spots in the top five. Kozar rolled in turn two with 18 laps complete to bunch things up again. Nonetheless, Kozar was able to restart the race as his car was battered but not broken.

In the final laps of the race, Rudolph and Brachmann pulled away from the rest of the pack. Rasey and Rapp continued their struggle, but Garrett Krummert entered the picture. along with King Sr. and Rex King Jr. who pitted for two new tires while Kozar was being turned back onto his wheels.

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At the finish, it was Rudolph, Brachmann, Krummert, King Jr. and King Sr. Rapp faded to sixth.Regalski, Barr, Kyle Fink, amd Mike Turner rounded out the top ten. Rasey spun in between turns three and four on the final lap and he was scored eleventh based upon laps completed.

Regalski and Krummert won the qualifying rounds on Saturday. There was no B Main.

Rex King, Jr. had the pole for his first 358 Modified start. Two-time winner Greg Martin was on his flank. Rudolph and Tim Holden, another two-tine victor, were in row two. Brachmann and Brian Sadler were in row three, with Ryan Riffe and Shingledecker in row four. Ryan Susice and Brandon Michaud were in row five.

King Jr. led the opening lap, but Rudolph was stalking him. Martin hovered in third, with Brachmann, Holden, Riffe, and Susice following. Rudolph powered by King J. on lap two and was never headed.

King Jr. continued on in second through the halfway mark. However, Susice took the position away soon thereafter. Shingledecker and Kevin Hoffman cracked the top five as Martin began to slide back.

A pair of cautions on lap 17 set up an eight lap run to the checkers. Rudolph completed them without incident. Shingledecker came on strong to get the second spot. Suicice helpd on for third. King Jr. was fourth followed by Martin. J.R. McGinley, Jimmy Holden, Brian Sadler, Tom Holden, and Jeff Schaffer, Jr. were sixth through tenth.

Suicise, Riffe, and Rudolph scored the preliminaries on Saturday. There was no B Main.

Zack Morrow started on the pole for the RUSH non-wing Sprint Car feature and he would go wire to wire for the emotional victory. He dedicated the win to his father, who passed on about a week before the race. Shaun Smith moved from third into second early in the contest, but he was no match for the high-flying Morrow in this one. Jeremy Weaver chased him home. Steve Pedley and Gale Ruth, Jr. rounded out the top five.

Nolan Graves, Brian Hartzell, Rick Regalski, , Andy Feil, and Amelia Clay made up the second group of five finishers.

Morrow and Ruth were the heat winners in Saturday’s action. There was no B Main.

The Pro Stocks ran for 50 laps. Noah Brunell earned the pole Saturday based on his heat and dash wins. He led the first 19 laps, but he could not break free from Chris Schneider, who also was a heat winner. Schneider made the pass and went on to lead the remaining 31 laps.

Bobby Whitling gave chase for a significant portion of the second half of the race, but he surrendered the runner-up spot to Randy Wyant. Wyant closed in on Schneider, but never posed a threat for the win.

At the finish, it was Schneider, Wyant, Whitling, Jimmy Fosnaught, and Jackson Humanic who came from the last row on the starting grid. Joe Stajnrajh, Blaze Myers, Pat Fielding, Rod Laskey, and Josh Seippel completed the top ten.

Joining Brunell and Schneider in heat wins Saturday was Doug Iorio, II. There was no B Main.

Jeff Schaffer, Sr. was back behind the wheel of a Modified for the first time in a couple of years and he made the most of the opportunity leading the entire twenty laps for the Crate Modified win. His teammate, Garrett Krummert was second. Kyle Martell was third, followed by Kole Holden and D.J. Schrader. David Kalb, Jr., Todd Gabriel, Kevin Hoffman, Jessica Kriegisch, and Gage Priester completed the top ten.

Krummert won the only heat race held on Saturday. There was no B Main.

Pat Hanlon stormed from twenty-third to second in less than a handful of laps in the nightcap for the Mini Stocks. He inherited the lead when Dillon Speer could not get his mount to shift out of first gear after a critical restart. J.R. Shaner was second. Austin Fedder, Patrick Lane, and Justin Bailey were the next three finishers. Jesse Armstrong, Joseph DeWoody, Kelly Clark, Mike Barr, and Zack Swartz held down positions six through ten.

Dillon Speer and Bill Fuchs were heat winners Saturday. There was no B Main.

Based upon their performances all season long, Sodeman (410 Sprints), Fink (358 Modifieds) and Dillon Speer (Mini Stocks) were named as champions for the three core classes at Tri-City Raceway Park.

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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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