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Gravel Goes at the Grove

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Paul Arch

WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (October 2, 2020): David Gravel was unstoppable at Williams Grove Speedway on the opening night of the National Open weekend. The $10,000 victory was his sixth career win at the track, including two prestigious triumphs in the grand finale.

Gravel, who got the jump on the initial start and led wire to wire in the non-stop affair said, “I had a couple of close calls. I had no idea how big of a lead I had, and there were a lot of lapped cars. With thirty cars in the field, I got to them pretty quickly.” However, Gravel was able to dispatch them easily enough, as acknowledged by the second place finisher, Kyle Larson. “David has been really fast, he picked off some lappers and we couldn’t get close.”

On one occasion late in the race, Larson thought that he may be able to narrow the gap. However, as Larson explained it, “I saw David hung up with some lapped cars and I overdrove the corner.” He got sideways in two, and Freddie Rahmer, Jr. checked-up as well, narrowly averting a crash that would have eliminated both racers. “Fortunately, Freddie saw me or else we both would have crashed,” Larson noted.

Rahmer had the pole as a result of his impressive dash victory. Gravel was next to him. Row two consisted of Larson and Shane Stewart, who set a new track record in qualifications this night. Row three belonged to Anthony Macri and James McFadden. Jacob Allen and Aaron Reutzel were in row four. Row five had Kerry Madsen and Donny Schatz, and in the sixth row were Brian Montieth and Gio Scelzi.

As noted, Gravel surged into the lead at the drop of the green. Rahmer tucked into second, with Stewart holding off Larson for third. Macri and McFadden came next. Gravel began pulling away from Rahmer in the clean air and he was able to stretch his lead even when he reached the lapped traffic.

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Larson moved into third on lap eleven, but he still had ground to make up on Rahmer. Over the next nine laps, he was able to do so. Larson tried to slide under Rahmer in turns one and two with five laps remaining in the contest. He did nose ahead briefly, but Rahmer fought back and regained the position as the duo thundered down the back stretch. It took Larson two more rounds to make another run at Rahmer and, this time, he was able to make the pass count.

“Maybe if I could have gotten Freddie the first time, maybe I could have chased (Gravel) down,” Larson mused.

As the track slicked off, some drivers began to make progress through the field. One was Reutzel, who came up to fourth in the last five laps of the race. Schatz and Lance Dewease were two others who picked off several cars to earn top ten credits for the night. The most successful driver at passing cars, though, was Brad Sweet. The current World of Outlaws points leader passed eleventh cars on his way to eleventh at the checkers.

Gravel, Larson, and Rahmer nailed down the podium positions. Reutzel bested Macri for fourth. Stewart slipped back to sixth in the final tally. Then came Schatz and Dewease. McFadden and Madsen rounded out the top ten.

Heat winners were Stewart, Reutzel, Gravel, and Larson. The D Main went to Wayne Johnson. Topping the C Main was Kyle Moody, while the B belonged to Parker Price-Miller. Rahmer scored in the dash. The non-qulaifiers race went to Brent Shearer. Stewart’s time of 16.111 broke an 18-year-old record held by Brian Paulus in the days before 410 Sprint Cars had a mandatory minimum weight requirement. Gravel was just over three tenths off that pace when he topped Group B in time trials.

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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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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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