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Six Opens for Schatz

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Williams Grove Speedway Twitter

WILLIAMS GROVE, PA (October 3, 2020): Donny Schatz captured his sixth win in the National Open held at Williams Grove Speedway. The win, which was worth $75,000, was his fifth of the season on the World of Outlaws Sprint tour and his twenty-first career win at the venerable track.

Schatz drove the only Ford-powered car in the field. “When you’re building something from scratch, it takes some time,” he said. He gave props to his team. “People have been working hard,” he noted. The experimental engine seems to work quite well on big tracks, but he acknowledged that they still have some work to do to make it work as effectively on the smaller tracks which make up most of the series schedule.

Schatz had some good luck through the evening. After logging the ninth fastest time in his qualifying group, he was racing second in his heat when the leader, Shane Stewart, suffered a mechanical failure. That got him into the dash, where he finished third. A good pill draw ensured a font row starting spot in the dash and his third place finish in that event got him near the front of the A Main line-up. Thus, he could conserve his equipment through the first half of the feature while keeping the leaders in sight. When it was time to make his move to the front, his car was still fresh.

When his car reached Victory Lane, however, it was a bit worse for wear. On his cool down lap, Schatz was waiving to the fans in on Beer Hill when he clobbered the third turn fence. Despite the bent right front wheel and damaged steering arm, he was able to bring the car around to the front stretch for the customary photo op.

Schatz was not the only racer to overcome a poor qualification time. LoganSchuchart raced from seventh to second in his heat and he snagged a second spot in the dash. Anthony Macri and Brent Marks earned transfers from heat one despite starting eighth and ninth, respectively. Danny Dietrich raced into the A Main from a tenth place start in his heat. Lance Dewease passed seven cars in the B Main to get his spot on the grid and, he passed twelve cars en route to an eleventh place finish in the A Main.

David Gravel and Schuchart were on the front row for the A Main. Jacob Allen and Schatz were in row two. Kyle Larson and Sheldon Haudenschild were in row three. James McFadden and Daryn Pittman occupied row four. Brock Zearfoss and Cory Eliason were in row five, and row six consisted of Kyle Reinhart and Brad Sweet.

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At the drop of the green , Schuchart assumed command. He was able to pinch Gravel down to gain the advantage coming off turn four. That strategy worked for him several more times in the early going, as cautions on laps four, eight, and twelve paired them up on the front row three more times. “I tried to hold David down in three and four, but he kept getting better and better,” Schuchart said. “He had too many shots at me and then he got a run on me into turn one.”

Indeed, after running second, Gravel was able to pull off a slider to take the lead with eleven laps in the books. He would lead ten laps before Schatz took control just a few laps before the mandatory fuel stop. Allen and Larson ran in the top five through the break, which came on lap 25.

After the break, Larson had one of the fastest cars on the track. He climbed into third on lap 26 and second one round later. He began to chop into Schatz’ advantage and, with five to go, the tension began to build. With two to go, Larson was within striking distance and Schatz was beginning to have some difficulty getting past the lapped cars. Larson explained, “I was just hoping to be close enough to him when he went to the top in one and two (to try to pass some lapped cars) but we weren’t close enough. Then, I had to go to the top in three and four and I needed a miracle.” Much to the dismay of the huge crowd, though, Larson slapped the wall coming through turn four on the final lap, ending his bid for the win. “I think we had a car capable of winning, but we fell a little short,” he added.

Schuchart followed Schatz and Larson across the line. Gravel held on for fourth. Haudenschild worked up to fifth after falling back in the early going. Pittman took sixth, with Allen, Macri, Marks, and Sweet completing the top ten.

Heat victories were scored by Larson, Allen, Schatz, and Gravel. The B Main winner was Stewart.  Tops in the C and D were Spencer Bayston and Troy Wagaman, respectively. The non-qualifiers race went to Chad Trout. Haudenschild was the evening’s fastest qualifier in Group A with a time of 16.685. Stewart was best in Group B with a mark of 17.103.

Williams Grove will be dark until the season opener in 2021. The World of Outlaws will be back in the area next week for the Nittany Showdown to be held at Port Royal Speedway on Friday and Saturday nights.

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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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