Archive for March 12th, 2017

Hirschman Looks to Continue Myrtle Beach Success

Matt Hirschman of Northampton, PA discounts his experience at Myrtle Beach (SC) Speedway ahead of Saturday’s NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour opener. He cited teams that privately tested or competed in a 50-lap Modified race last month, where he finished third. Hirschman has three consecutive podiums at Myrtle Beach.

“It’s not gonna be totally foreign to them,” Hirschman said. “But it’s a unique place and having raced there now a few times over the last year and a half certainly helps and we have won a race there which is always a boost of confidence.”

The tire wear at the half-mile oval is well known. Last month’s Modified race demonstrated conservation’s role with part of the field dropping back to preserve tires.

“There are abrasive tracks and then there’s Myrtle Beach. It’s hard to explain but it’s definitely the extreme on that end. It’s really unlike any other track I’ve run at.”

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Utica-Rome Speedway Closes the Door On 2016 Season with Awards Banquet, Prepares for the 2017 Season

VERNON, NY- On Saturday, March 11, the Utica-Rome Speedway held its annual Awards Banquet and honored its top drivers for the 2016 season in front of a crowd of nearly 200 patrons at the Vernon Downs Hotel in Vernon, NY. Matt Sheppard received top accolades in the Gates-Cole Insurance Modifieds as he captured his second consecutive title and third overall while Matt Janczuk was the SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman champion. Steve Way was Broedel Energy Open Sportsman title winner for the second year in a row with Pete Stefanski securing his first ever G&I Homes of Vernon Pro Stock championship.

After splitting with his previous car owner during the 2015 offseason, Matt Sheppard teamed up with Tom and Roxann Cullen in 2016 and never missed a beat. Winning on opening night and carrying that momentum throughout the season to win six events, including two Ferris Mower Race of Champions events plus the lone Super DIRTcar Series race in July, Sheppard took home another title in a season often marred by rainouts. Larry Wight kept the point battle interesting for much of the season, but the two-time feature winner had to settle for second in the season long point battle. Another two-time feature winner, Danny Varin, was honored for third place point finish while one-time victor Pat Ward and two-time race winner Rob Bellinger rounded out the top five. Marc Johnson, Vic Coffey, Mike Mahaney, Alan Johnson, and Matt Hulsizer filled out the remaining top 10 positions.

Matt Janzcuk celebrated his first ever SUNY Canton 602 Sportsman title after a season-long dogfight with Sportsman kingpin Rocky Warner. A dozen points was the final margin as two-time feature winner Janzcuk used consistency to hold off five-time winner Warner for the highly-contested championship. Kyle Kiehn, Brent Joy, and Chris Mackey made up the rest of the top five point earners with Rocco Leone, one-time feature winner Jason Rood, Casey Williams, David Schilling, and feature winner John Christian also recognized for their efforts.
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“What They’re Saying” from the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 1 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series champion): “It’s definitely a champion team for regrouping like they did, understanding the issue we had in qualifying. This morning in the warmup, I was back home in my car. It was great to get that feeling back. The race, the car was fantastic. We got very lucky at the start, I would say. We went through the chaos. I think God had something to play with it actually, because he put the car back where it needed to go. Very lucky. Then after that, we were a bit lucky with strategy. But that was actually the plan. So thanks to (strategist) Kyle Moyer and (engineer) Ben Bretzman for their work on that. They gave me some clean air. We had to save quite a bit of fuel to manage till the end. (Sebastien) Bourdais was untouchable today. It’s 1-2 French. Sorry for the French Revolution, guys. I’m very happy for him. It’s been his hometown actually. He’s been here since he moved to America. With Dale Coyne and Honda, they’ve shown a lot of strength. Fantastic for them. I wish it was P1 for me, P2 for him. Next time maybe. But very happy for him. Very happy for second. We started second last year as well. Hopefully, it’s our good luck charm.”

JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “It was a good day for the Team Penske Verizon Chevrolet.  We were a top-five car – maybe even a podium car. The yellows just didn’t fall our way and we found ourselves caught out during that first stint. Tim (Cindric, race strategist) was going to bring me in, but we had just passed pit lane as the caution came out. I’ve been caught out by those type of yellows before and I’ve been the beneficiary of those type of yellows. That is the risk in this type of racing and sometimes it’s just the way it all plays outs. A top 10 is not ideal, but it could have been worse. We finished the race and learned a lot. I feel like it’s a good starting points for our team. It’s nice to get this first race under our belt and out of the way. It’s been a great first weekend with the team. We got what we needed out of it.”

HELIO CASTRONEVES (No. 3 Hitachi Team Penske Chevrolet): “For someone who started 16th and finished sixth, it’s pretty darn good. The No. 3 Hitachi Chevrolet boys did an excellent job. We had a little bit of luck and no luck. There was an accident that could have helped us out to finish on the podium, but we, unfortunately, got a piece in our nose so we had to take it off and stop again. Great job for everyone Team Penske and Hitachi Group, especially on the pit stop when we were able to beat Marco (Andretti) in the end so that we could finish in the sixth position. Well done. Now, we move on to the next.”

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Bourdais drives from last to first in St. Petersburg win

ST. PETERSBURG, Florida (Sunday, March 12, 2017) – Sebastien Bourdais went for a Sunday drive in his adopted American hometown, but it was far from leisurely. The Frenchman charged from last to first to win today’s Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, the opening race on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule.

Bourdais piloted his No. 18 Dale Coyne Racing Honda to a 10.3508-second victory over countryman Simon Pagenaud in the 110-lap race on the 1.8-mile temporary street circuit to secure the 36th victory of his illustrious Indy car career. It moved the 38-year-old Bourdais past Bobby Unser into sole possession of sixth place on the all-time win list.

“It’s probably the hardest race to recover, the (pit) windows are really narrow and it’s really hard to pass,” said Bourdais, whose Indy car career began 14 years ago at the inaugural St. Petersburg race.

Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg box score

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NWMT: Rob Fuller Motorsports Adds Chase Dowling

Rob Fuller Motorsports of Shrewsbury, MA brings a new driver for next season. Chase Dowling of Roxbury, CT joins the team with 4 top fives and 15 top 10s in 32 NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour starts. He was the youngest Sunoco Rookie of the Year winner when he ran in 2015. Fuller and Dowling spoke at the World Series last year regarding 2017.

“Rob was one of the first people that approached me about driving a racecar for him,” Dowling said. “…I just want to win races and Rob Fuller’s going to give me the opportunity to provide me a car where I can be up front.”

Rob Fuller of Boylston, MA sees positives in his new driver. The No. 15 car is the house car for LFR Chassis, which won the last two NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour championships with Doug Coby. The adjustments on the car are different and Fuller wants a driver to provide the best feedback.

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