Thursday, March 30, 2017

Four-Time Pirelli World Challenge Champion Set For Long Beach Race

Johnny O'Connell after another Great Race at Mazda Raceway 9-2016. (Photo by: Dicken Wear)

Legendary Sports Car Hero Ready for Redemption after losing LB race last year.

Veteran Johnny O’Connell first drove at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in 1986.  He still remembers he didn’t finish the race.

Last year, some 30 years later, O’Connell was the first driver to take the checkered flag but he didn’t get the win after his Long Beach debut. Despite the bitter loss in 2016, Johnny still loves the atmosphere at the “Road by the Shore.”

“Long Beach is a great party for the sponsors and fans,” O’Connell said. “But the partying part disappeared a long time ago for me. You learn what you need to do to prepare for each race. The hardest thing for a driver is to get that first win at a race track. But now at Long Beach, I have a bunch of wins there. There is so much to do at the Long Beach race for the fans. It is one of those races everyone wants on their resume. Southern California embraces the race so well. It has the street race atmosphere. There is an electricity to the race.  It’s special.”

Now, the 54-year-old four-time Pirelli World Challenge GT champion comes back to the streets of Long Beach on April 7-9 for a little redemption and fond memories of the race he calls the “U.S. Monaco.”

“We won the race on the track last year and the officials moved us to second after a pre-race inspection for being over boost with our turbocharged engine which was a blink of an eye,” said O’Connell, the 20-time PWC race winner of Flowery Branch, Ga. “So, I want to get back to Long Beach and rectify that win. I want another first-place trophy from Long Beach.”

The sports car legend has numerous victories at Long Beach including his last one in 2014 in the 50-minute Pirelli World Challenge sprint event in his popular Cadillac. But last year was tough to take for “Johnny O” after a sensational pass for the lead midway in the race over 2016 GT champion and pole winner Alvaro Parente.

“The cool thing last year was that I really respect all of my competitors but Alvaro Parente, who got the win after the race, did a very awesome deal,” said O’Connell. “He finished second on the track but I went to him at the next race (Barber Motorsports Park) and gave him the winning trophy. But he said to me, ‘Dude, you won that race. Please keep the trophy.’ And that showed me a lot of honor from him.”

Now, the personable O’Connell returns to Long Beach with his bright red No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATS-V.R. machine against a stellar GT field which includes some of the most exotic GT3 sports cars in the world with likes of McLaren, Porsche, Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, Bentley, Acura, Audi as well as the Cadillacs.

“Pirelli World Challenge is insane how good it is right now,” Johnny said. “You have factory drivers from around the world battling nose to tail at every race. Guys like Patrick Long and Alvaro Parente are some of the best sports car drivers in the world and they are incredible to race with. We have young guys like my teammate Michael Cooper who will have a great career ahead of them. The series is a destination where top drivers want to be.”

After O’Connell established himself as an endurance legend with wins at Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring, he thought that driving a Cadillac in PWC might be a downturn his racing career. But it has made the former race driving instructor at the Bondurant School event better and his record proves it. He scored four consecutive series titles from 2012 to 2015.

“You know when I got out of endurance racing with Corvette, I felt a little disappointed,” he explained. “But now in the Pirelli World Challenge, I can’t really put into words the excitement of this type of racing with these incredible GT3 sports cars. I love showcasing Cadillac to the world with the ATS-V.R. model and racing the likes of Porsche, Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes, Bentley, Audi, Acura and others is a thrill right now for me. I have no regrets with the move to Pirelli World Challenge. It is a great series and we want the fans to take notice of the competition level.” 

In addition to the driving level in the series, O’Connell enjoys the technical aspect of the machines in the GT division.

“The technology of these GT3 cars is really crazy,” he said. “You have paddle shifting, ABS brakes, traction control and not only do you have to be a good athlete in the car but also a technician out of the car relaying information to your engineers. It’s funny, guys in the IndyCar paddock come over and look at our cars. They want to race them. I know several of the IndyCar drivers have asked around to see what it would take to do a race in a GT3 sports car.”

After the Long Beach loss and dropping the coveted title to Parente in 2016, O’Connell has a renewed passion for a run for a fifth Pirelli World Challenge championship.  He believes he is ready for another win in the streets at Long Beach and a quest for another crown.

“We missed out on the championship last year,” said Johnny. “We had one weekend when we had an electrical problem for two races. But without that, I think we could have had five straight Pirelli World Challenge championships. So, this year we are going to connect all of the dots and make sure that we pull it off.”

But racing against drivers half his age, O’Connell still possesses the fire of a young man seeking to reach the level the Connecticut native has already achieved.

“Back in 1986, I was a young punk in my career and I had a great enthusiasm for the sport,” he said. “I still have that drive and will to win. But now I also have that experience and it helps us a lot against the young guys who remind me of myself 30 years ago. These kids are good and I still love racing going head-to-head with these guys.”

When it comes to racing at Long Beach, few have the record of O’Connell or the drive of a 54-year-old who is still in the prime of his racing career.

Practice for the Pirelli World Challenge at Long Beach begins Friday (April 7) at 3:30 p.m. PDT. The 50-minute GT sprint race is schedule for Sunday (April 9) at 10 a.m. PDT with the CBS Sports Network same-day telecast set for 2:30 p.m. EDT. 

Story Courtesy Tom Blattler, Pirelli World Challenge

Monday, March 27, 2017


Minutes before the end. (Photo by: Dicken Wear)
The Happy Crew. (Photo by: Dicken Wear)
After the Checker. (Photo by: Dicken Wear)
A Very Happy Chip Ganassi. (Photo by: Dicken Wear)
Only time I saw Chad Johnston smile. (Photo by: Dicken Wear)
One Happy Race Driver. (Photo by: Dicken Wear)
FONTANA, Calif. – Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series leader and Elk Grove, Calif. native Kyle Larson (No. 42, Target Chevrolet) made Auto Club Speedway home sweet home this weekend and atoned for runner-up finishes in each of his previous three Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts by pulling into victory lane at the 21st Annual Auto Club 400 Sunday.

Larson’s second Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series victory in 116 starts comes on the heels of winning the pole position for the race on Friday and winning Saturday’s XFINITY Series Service King 300 race. He is the first driver to win both races and the Cup Series qualifying run in one weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary throughout 2017, Auto Club Speedway hosted its 28th NASCAR Cup Series race – second all-time among active California racetracks – and crowned its 16th winning NASCAR Cup Series driver.

“Lots of fun to be Kyle Larson right now,” Larson said. “Our race cars are really fast in XFINITY and Cup. Our cars are, by far, the best they’ve ever been. I feel I have a shot to win at every race track. I came out of (Turn) 4 (on the final lap) and I told them (the crew team) on the radio to put the bridesmaid’s dress back in the closet. I don’t want to wear that ever again. It was a solid weekend. Definitely the best of my NASCAR career.”

Larson, 24, is the fourth driver to sweep the weekend of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR XFINITY races at Auto Club Speedway, following the lead of Kyle Busch (2013), Matt Kenseth (2007) and Kasey Kahne (2006).

Larson, who finished second at Auto Club Speedway during his rookie year in 2014, led for 110 laps overall and increased his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season points lead to 29 over Chase Elliott.

2015 Auto Club 400 champion Brad Keselowski (No. 2, Wurth Ford) endured a battle of attrition as his car was hit four laps into the race and on another occasion. Yet, he gradually worked his way back to a runner-up finish.

Recording his eighth top-10 finish in 17 career Auto Club Speedway starts and his fourth top-10 finish on the  Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series circuit this year, Keselowski encountered a fender bender with six-time Auto Club Speedway champion Jimmie Johnson (No. 48, Lowe’s Chevrolet) in Turn 4, leading to the race’s first caution flag.

“I got ran over the back and it did a lot of damage to the car. And then I got ran over again. The car was all torn up,” Keselowski said. “A lot of adversity but we were able to overcome it. We executed after the restarts. It takes a little bit of execution, good work by the team and luck the last few yellows.

“By the time things cleared up, Kyle (Larson) was far gone. It’s impressive to me that he’s been able to sustain it a handful of weeks in a row to start the new season. You knew this was going to be a good track for him, and it’s the type of track that suits his style the best.”

Clint Bowyer (No. 14, Rush Truck Centers Ford) placed third after starting the race from the 17th position. It was Bowyer’s eighth top-10 finish in 17 races at Auto Club Speedway. Daniel Suarez (No. 19, Subway Toyota) placed as the highest-finishing rookie, in seventh.

The Auto Club 400 featured 17 lead changes among eight different leaders, and seven caution flags for a total of 29 laps. Four of the race’s five caution flags that weren’t related to stage finishes dropped in the last 20 laps.

A caution prompted Larson to pit and further refresh his tires with seven laps to go. Only three cars stayed out of pit row during this caution including Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78, Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Boats Toyota), who was running second at the time. The move paid off for Larson as he restarted third and regained the lead on Lap 197. One more late caution, on Lap 198, pushed the race’s final lap tally to 202.

“I was just trying to stay calm and focused on what was ahead of me and what I needed to do in the restarts,” Larson said. “Seems like every time I get in the lead in one of these NASCAR races, a lot of cautions drop.”

2016 Auto Club 400 winner Johnson began the race in 37th position (out of 39) and placed 21st. He fell two laps back of the leader in the first half of the race.

The first two 60-lap stages of the Auto Club 400 were won by Larson and Truex Jr. in succession, with Larson winning the final 80-lap stage at Auto Club Speedway’s two-mile oval.  (Story Courtesy of ACS Media Office).

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

John Force Racing's 2,500th Funny Car round win.

BROWNSBURG, Ind. (March 21) – John Force’s Funny Car victory Sunday in the NHRA Gatornationals in Gainesville, Fla., was memorable for many reasons, including yet another milestone over the team’s 40-year existence in the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series.

After winning all four rounds, and coupled with Robert Hight’s first-round victory, the team achieved the 2,500-round victory threshold for Funny Cars. Force’s final-round win over rookie Jonnie Lindberg sealed the deal.

JFR’s first round victory was June 1, 1979, when Force defeated Tom McEwen at the Cajun Nationals in Baton Rouge, La. Force himself has accounted for just over half of those 2,500 Funny Car round victories, as he now stands at 1,269, with six round wins this season. He defeated Del Worsham, Jack Beckman, and Tommy Johnson Jr. before beating Lindberg on Sunday.

Even more impressive is that JFR’s 2,500 NHRA Funny Car round wins account for more than 20 percent of wins all-time in the class. 

“It was the reign of terror that started it all, with Austin Coil, Bernie Fedderly and John Medlen,” Force said. “It was really about a group of guys – it wasn’t about me. I just wrote the checks, but I got to drive one of the baddest hot rods on the planet. We won just about everything.

“But those days are gone now. John Force wants to stay in the game, and now we’ve got Robert Hight, my daughter Courtney, young Austin Prock is coming,” he continued. “I’m really excited about this. We put the band back together. Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones said life’s a drag, but today, life’s not a drag – it’s a drag race, and we won.”

Winning races and elimination rounds is one of the things John Force has done best. Overall, nine drivers have won Funny Car rounds with JFR. The total includes:
  • John Force 1,269
  • Robert Hight 375
  • Tony Pedregon 292
  • Courtney Force 134
  • Mike Neff 118
  • Gary Densham 108
  • Ashley Force Hood 105
  • Eric Medlen 95
  • Phil Burkart Jr. 4

Hight added to his total Sunday, besting Bob Tasca III in the first round with career-bests in time and speed, and has two round wins this season. Courtney Force won her first three rounds of the season at Pomona, making it to the final round.

“It’s amazing, but what’s really amazing is when you look at who has most of those wins,” Hight said. “John Force’s records – he’s so far out in front of everybody else – it’s not even achievable. With the competition level and everything else there is today, these records we keep getting will never, ever be broken. I was lucky enough to get the 200th victory for John Force Racing at Topeka (2011), and that was pretty exciting."

To do it at Gainesville, Hight said, was special. In the 1990s, for example, Force participated in 37 rounds out of a possible 40, and won 33 of those 40 rounds. He just kept winning ... and winning ... and winning.

“He’s had good luck at Gainesville,” Hight said. “But I take away from this that all three of our Funny Cars are running good, and we’re not searching for faster cars but right where we want to be. We just need to get a little consistency. I’m just happy to be a little part of those 2,500 round wins. We have three good cars now, and we’re going to get a lot more wins.”

The milestone is more than just a number. It represents tireless efforts by drivers, crew chiefs, team members, fabricators, shop workers, and office staff who have worked with Force since the 1970s.

“If you look at the Tony Pedregons that drove for me, the Eric Medlens, the Gary Denshams, Robert Hight, my girls – if you go down that list, they were all part of that. It wasn’t just about me," Force said. "I’ve done well in the sport, because I’ve lived it and loved it. I give 110 percent to my sponsors, never 100 percent. We overdeliver, you have to.

“With the cast of characters we have, we’re going to keep hitting them with all we’ve got."

The team earned its 2,500th round victory across all NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series classes last year. Including the team’s Top Fuel dragster – piloted by Brittany Force and sponsored by Monster Energy – the team’s round victory total stands at 2,593. Brittany Force added another Top Fuel round victory Sunday, and stands at 93 in her career.

The fourth round of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series, the NHRA Nationals, is March 31-April 2 at The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada. John Force Racing has won five races at the spring race in Las Vegas, most recently with John Force running the table in 2015.

(Story Courtesy: Lee Montgomery JFR-PR).
 Photo Credit: Gary Nastase for Auto Imagery

Monday, March 20, 2017


Richard Childress and Ryan Newman, post race. (Photo by: Dicken Wear)

PHOENIX – Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 31 Grainger Chevrolet, snapped a 127-race winless streak on Sunday by taking the checkered flag at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 at Phoenix Raceway.  Although Newman led just six laps of the 314-lap race, a late-race pit strategy by crew chief Luke Lambert led to Newman’s overtime victory, and his second Cup win at Phoenix Raceway.

"I lost track of how long it's been (since the last win)," said Newman, who averaged 104.271 mph." But man, (it was) just a gutsy call by Luke. I called for two tires and he called for none. I've won more races with no tires than I ever have before, so I'm just proud of these guys. We had a good car all day, kept it out of trouble, and collected in the end."

Prior to today, Newman’s last Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series win occurred on July 28, 2013 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. His previous win at Phoenix Raceway came in the Subway Fresh Fit 600 on April 10, 2010.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Skittles Toyota, appeared poised to head to Gatorade Victory Lane, as he held a commanding lead with eight laps remaining in the race. But a caution came on lap 306 when Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, blew a right front tire and made a hard hit on the outside wall. Busch came off pit road second behind Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 42 Credit One Bank Chevrolet. But three drivers stayed out, including Newman. Busch ended the race with a third-place finish.
Larson put up a fight, but struggled to get into second with barely a lap to try to pass Newman and finished second, just 0.312 of a second (about two car lengths) behind. Rounding out the top five were No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who also stayed out, and No. 2 Brad Keselowski.
"Once we got out front, thanks to my pit crew, that car really liked clean air," said Busch, who led a race-high 114 laps. "So, we just fought a little bit in traffic early on in the race, but we were mindful of that. We just kind of bided our time and got up to the front when we did and then had a little miscue there on pit road with Kurt (Busch). From there, it was just too many cars that stayed out. If it was only two that stayed out, maybe, but we definitely needed the outside like (Kyle) Larson had. Overall, we should be proud of our run today and we move on."
Logano started on the pole and led all but one lap in Stage 1 of the new NASCAR stage race format. There was one caution for Corey LaJoie, driver of the No. 83 BK Racing Graphics Toyota, hitting the wall on the backstretch on lap 27. The top five at the end of Stage 1 were Logano, Larson, Keselowski, No. 24 Chase Elliott and No. 1 Jamie McMurray.
Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 24 Napa Auto Parts Chevrolet, took home Stage 2 after a bold move on a lap 83 restart. Elliott went three-wide on the outside of Logano and Larson, passing both drivers. There was one caution for LaJoie again, and Logano and Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 43 Smithfield Ford, were caught for speeding on pit road. The top five at the end of Stage 2 were Elliott, Larson, Busch, No. 48 Jimmie Johnson and Keselowski.

(Story Courtesy: Aimee Dulebohn of PIR).

Sunday, March 19, 2017

John Force gets 155th career Pole at NHRA Gatornationals.

PEAK Chevrolet driver John Force corrals 155th career 
No. 1 ahead of Sunday’s Gatornationals
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (March 18) – The last time John Force qualified No. 1 for the NHRA Gatornationals, he drove his Funny Car all the way to the 2006 final round.

And the most recent time Force earned the No. 1 spot for any event, he took his hot rod to the finals of the 2015 Mile-High Nationals in Denver.

Now, the Yorba Linda, Calif., driver, chasing his 17th NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series Funny Car championship, seeks to continue both trends heading into Sunday’s 48th NHRA Gatornationals at Gainesville Raceway. 

Force, in the PEAK Motor Oil and Coolant Chevrolet Camaro SS, garnered the top spot in Friday’s second round with a run of 3.832 seconds at 333.25 mph, and held it through two rounds of qualifying Saturday to earn the record-extending 155th No. 1 of his illustrious career.

Both time and speed are Gainesville bests, while the 3.832-second time is a career best.

“It’s exciting to come to Gainesville,” said Force, who now has seven No. 1s at Gainesville. “I haven’t run this good in years. We kept low ET, that’s an honor, I love it. It’s a good weekend for us; the team gelled. I want to thank my guys back in Brownsburg (Indiana shop). They really did the job this week to give us race cars in time to run Gainesville.”

Force and several members of his teams and leadership made the decision last week to swap crews with Robert Hight’s team, giving Force the opportunity to work with crew chief Mike Neff and co-crew chiefs Jon Schaffer and Jason McCulloch again. Together, Force and Neff won the 2010 Funny Car title. The decision has already paid dividends – Force made three solid passes in the 3.8-second range this weekend. Those efforts netted him eight bonus points.

Force will face No. 16 Del Worsham in Sunday’s opening round. Force has a 53-29 career mark against Worsham, including a 3-3 record last season. It showcases a rematch from last year’s Gatornationals, which Force won, also in a first-round matchup. But it’s not so much who he’s facing next, Force said. It’s all about going from point A to point B.

“I want to come out here tomorrow and I want to try to win,” Force said. “Don’t know who I race, don’t matter, I race my lane. I go A to B. But I’m really excited just to be in the hunt.

“I don’t want them in my head,” Force said of his competitors. “I want to go up there and race, whether I race my daughter (Courtney Force), Robert Hight or ‘The Hulk’ (Matt) Hagan or Ron Capps, the champ.”

Now, Force’s mind is taking a new car to winner’s circle and winning his eighth Gatornationals and first since 2001.

“I wanted to do good today with this new car,” Force said. “So, I’m going to be around awhile.”

Fox Sports 1 will televise elimination rounds Sunday, beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern.

(Story courtesy of: Lee Montgomery, John Force Racing Public Relations).

Justin Allgaier wins the DC Solar 200 at PIR

PHOENIX – Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 BRANDT Chevrolet, may have run the race of his NASCAR XFINITY Series career in Saturday's DC Solar 200. Not only did he take home the victory at Phoenix Raceway in dominant fashion by leading 85 of the 200 laps, but he also won $100,000 in the first NASCAR XFINITY Series Dash 4 Cash race of the 2017 season.
"Last year was tough," said Allgaier, 30, who averaged 91.013 mph. "We had really good runs all year and were never able to get to Victory Lane, but these guys fought hard, like the same group of guys that we had last year.  These guys didn't give up, the pit crew did awesome; they gave me great pit stops. I knew it was going to come down to a short run at the end and I knew we had the car. We just needed a restart at the end, and we got that."

This was Allgaier's 18th start at Phoenix Raceway and first win. His previous best finish in the Valley of the Sun was second place in 2012. He had four top-5s and eight top 10s going into Saturday's race.
The race featured fresh faces at the front of the field, as Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars with five or more years of experience are ineligible for Dash 4 Cash races, which were designed to showcase the talents of XFINITY series regulars and make them more familiar to race fans. This meant powerhouses like Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano could not run. But there were five younger Cup drivers in the race, including Ryan Blaney, driver of the No. 22 Discount Tire Ford, who finished second, and Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 Reser's Main St Bistro Toyota, who was third.

"I thought the Discount Tire Ford Mustang was really good on long runs," said Blaney, 23, who finished second by just 0.741 of a second. "Unfortunately, we didn’t get any of those at the end. The No. 7 was spectacular on short runs, so it just kind of played into his hands. We had a shot at it, just not quite enough. This team is getting really close (to victory)."

In addition to Allgaier, the four Dash 4 Cash finalists today included William Byron, driver of the No. 9 Axalta/Ameristar Chevrolet, Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet and Tyler Reddick, driver of the No. 42 Broken Bow Records Chevrolet. The four finalists were determined as they were the top qualifiers following the first two stages of the race.

Three of the four full-time JR Motorsport drivers finished in the top five. Allgaier was accompanied by William Byron, driver of the No. 9 Axalta/Ameristar Chevrolet, who won the pole and finished fourth and Elliott Sadler, driver of the No. 1 OneMain Financial Chevrolet, who finished fifth. The other JR Motorsports entry, Michael Annett, driver of the No. 5 Pilot Flying J Chevrolet, finished ninth.
Allgaier had to endure many late restarts before claiming victory, including an incident involving No. 2 Austin Dillon, No. 00 Cole Custer and No. 39 Ryan Sieg. Contact between Custer and Dillon triggered the wreck, and Dillon retaliated under caution. He was subsequently parked by NASCAR.
There were nine total cautions, including two for the end of the first two stages. 
Tomorrow's feature event -- the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 500 -- gets the green flag at 12:30 p.m., local time.

About Phoenix Raceway
Since 1964, Phoenix Raceway has been the premier motorsports venue in the Southwest. Founded as an open-wheel racing mecca, Phoenix Raceway is proud to once again host the Phoenix Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series race under the lights on April 29. Phoenix is the only track in the West to feature two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekends a year, beginning with the Camping World 500 race weekend in March 17-19. The schedule is anchored by the upcoming Can-Am 500 race weekend on Nov. 10-12, the semifinal race in NASCAR’s Playoffs after which the field is reduced to the final four championship contenders. For more information,

Story Courtesy: Aimee Dulebohn of PIR.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


PHOENIX – Joey Logano, driver of the No. 22 Shell Pennzoil Ford, continued his hot streak in the desert at Phoenix Raceway on Friday’s Gatorade Pole Day. The 26-year-old followed up his win in last November's Can-Am 500 by turning in the fastest lap in qualifying to capture pole position for Sunday's Camping World 500.

"The guys did a great job on our Shell Pennzoil Ford," said Logano. "When we were going down the front straightaway, I thought I had a pretty good one and two, I was able to hook the bottom, pretty good there. I didn’t think it was going to be quite good enough, but I pushed as hard as I could. Sometimes you overdrive it a little bit and you still can make some heat. I’m proud of this team, proud of our Ford Front Row, so it’s a pretty special deal. Time to race now."

This is Logano's first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series pole at Phoenix Raceway and his fourth overall at Phoenix - he has started first in XFINITY series races in 2010, 2012 and 2015. Logano won Gatorade Pole Day by touring the legendary one-mile oval with a lap of 137.321 mph. He will be joined on the front row by Ryan Blaney, driver of the Wood Brother’s No. 21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford. Blaney's second-best qualifying performance today was his career best in NASCAR's top series.

"I thought we had a lot of speed all day, which is really nice," Blaney said, "It’s nice to have good starts the past two weeks, we’ve been third and second this week. We’re creeping up on it. I really wanted the pole. I’ve never been a great qualifier, so it’s something we’ve been working on as a team, I think we’ve got a really fast Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Fusion, and the other side is pretty good as well. It’s nice to be out in Phoenix. I’ve always liked this place, so it’s going to be a good race Sunday."

Rounding out the top five were No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 42 Kyle Larson and No. 1 Jamie McMurray. Logano's Penske teammate, Brad Keselowski, driver of the No. 2 Alliance Truck Parts Ford, qualified sixth in the second Team Penske entry. (Editor's note: PIR used to belong to Roger Penske, and it was under Roger's ownership that the track became the world class facility, and became a great source of economic growth for the Avondale area. Stay tuned for news about the new remodel of this great Raceway). DW

The three-stage, knock-out style qualifying format saw Kyle Larson win the first round as the field was trimmed to 24 competitors, while Logano won the second stage as the eligible group for the pole was reduced to 12.
Blaney also had a strong showing in NASCAR XFINITY Series action leading up to Saturday's DC Solar 200. Driving Team Penske's No. 22 Discount Tire Ford, Blaney posted the top-two times in all three practices for Saturday's featured event, including the fastest time in the second session. Erik Jones, driver of the No. 20 Reser's Main St. Bistro Toyota, was fastest in the first session, and Brendan Gaughan, driver of the No. 62 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet, was quickest in final practice.
Saturday's action features NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying at 10:05 a.m. and the DC Solar 200 at 1 p.m. Sunday's Camping World 500 gets under way at 12:30 pm. (Editor's note: Discount Tire is based here in Scottsdale, Arizona and is by far the "BEST" Tire Store chain in the US). DW

About Phoenix Raceway
Since 1964, Phoenix Raceway has been the premier motorsports venue in the Southwest. Founded as an open-wheel racing mecca, Phoenix Raceway is proud to once again host the Phoenix Grand Prix Verizon IndyCar Series race under the lights on April 29. Phoenix is the only track in the West to feature two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series weekends a year, beginning with the Camping World 500 race weekend in March 17-19. The schedule is anchored by the upcoming Can-Am 500 race weekend on Nov. 10-12, the semifinal race in NASCAR’s Playoffs after which the field is reduced to the final four championship contenders. For more information,

Press release courtesy : Aimee Dulebohn of PIR.

Friday, March 17, 2017


FONTANA, Calif. (March 13, 2017) – Roger Penske, Richard Petty, Michael Waltrip, and Rusty Wallace are reuniting for a “Legends Q&A” session to share their racing stories and memorable moments prior to the start of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Auto Club 400 on Sunday, March 26. Moderated by Jamie Little, NASCAR on FOX Pit Reporter, the Legends Q&A session is open to all ticket holders and scheduled from 9:40 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. on the main stage in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Fan Zone.
“These racing legends have so many great stories,” said Dave Allen, President of Auto Club Speedway. “We are honored to have them as our special guests and can’t wait to share this unique experience with our fans.”
The Legendary Panel includes:
·       Roger Penske: A true visionary and accomplished racing legend that built and created Auto Club Speedway, a world-class motorsports facility in the heart of Southern California.
·       Richard Petty: While he never raced at Auto Club Speedway, “The King” has raced at the former Riverside International Raceway and Ontario Speedway. NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty is the most decorated driver in the history of NASCAR racing, winning a record number 200 career races and seven NASCAR Cup championships.
·       Michael Waltrip: The two-time Daytona 500 winner, racing commentator and part-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Driver, Waltrip made his track debut at Auto Club Speedway in 1997.
·       Rusty Wallace: His 2001 NASCAR Cup victory at Auto Club Speedway was a memorable moment as he held off Jeff Gordon for the win. The NASCAR Hall of Famer is a retired American racing driver and a former NASCAR Cup Champion. 
Auto Club Speedway celebrates its 20th Anniversary Reunion at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Auto Club 400 race weekend - March 24-26. With a race ticket, fans have access to 20th Anniversary celebrations in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Fan Zone including the special Q&A, historic show cars on display, and musical entertainment.

To purchase tickets or upgrade ticket packages to NASCAR’s Auto Club 400 Weekend at Auto Club Speedway, call 1-800-944-RACE (7223), shop online at  

(News Release Courtesy: Hillary Angel of ACS)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Keselowski and Busch to be Honored at Auto Club Speedway Walk of Fame.


What:           Brad Keselowski, winner of the 2015 NASCAR Auto Club 400, and Kyle Busch, winner of the 2014 Auto Club 400, will be inducted into the Speedway’s Walk of Fame.

Ticket holders are welcome to watch the Walk of Fame Induction Ceremony.

When:          Friday, March 18, 2016
                    9:40 a.m. – Kyle Busch
                    1:00 p.m. – Brad Keselowski

Where:         Auto Club Speedway
Outside the O’Reilly Auto Parts Fan Zone at Gate B
                    9300 Cherry Ave. Fontana, CA 92335
                  1-800-944-RACE (7223)

Info:             To purchase tickets to NASCAR Auto Club 400 race weekend, call 800-944-RACE (7223), or visit

About Auto Club Speedway:
Located 50 miles east of Los Angeles in Fontana, Auto Club Speedway is California’s premier motorsports facility, hosting over 320 days of track activity each year including the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Auto Club 400 weekend March 18-20, 2016.  The two-mile D-shaped oval is one of the fastest tracks on the circuit.  The Speedway is also home to numerous movies, television and commercial productions, photo shoots, new car testing, club racing and a variety of racing schools. For more information on events at Auto Club Speedway call 1-800-944-RACE (7223) or visit