Twelve drivers announced as part of 2015-16 NASCAR Next class

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At the same building where NASCAR recognizes the accomplishments of its greatest drivers, the sanctioning body on Tuesday introduced a group of young drivers it hopes will take the sport into the future.At the NASCAR Hall of Fame in downtown Charlotte, N.C., 12 drivers were introduced as members of the 2015-16 NASCAR Next class.Included in this year’s class are Cole Custer, 17, the youngest driver to win a race in NASCAR’s national series; Rico Abreu, 23, winner of the 2015 Chili Bowl and the 2014 USAC national champion; and K&N Pro Series West driver Nicole Behar, 17, the highest-finishing female in the 61-year history of the series.“The NASCAR Next initiative spotlights the future of NASCAR, a collection of promising young talent who have shown the potential to one day reach the highest level of our sport,” NASCAR Senior Vice President for Industry Services Jill Gregory said in a release.

“Alumni – and current members – of the NASCAR Next program are achieving success at the national series level, and we are confident that this class will build upon that foundation of excellence for many seasons to come,” Gregory added.

Through five years there have been 28 drivers in the Next program, including Chip Ganassi’s Sprint Cup driver Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott, who will replace Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon in the No. 24 in 2016.

The 2015-16 NASCAR Next class:

•   Rico Abreu (23, Rutherford, Calif., Twitter: @Rico_Abreu) – A 2014 USAC national champion and winner of the 2015 Chili Bowl, he has two top-10 finishes in three K&N Pro Series East starts, his first season racing in stock cars.
•   Nicole Behar (17, Otis Orchards, Wash., @NicoleBehar33) – Tied the series record for highest finish by a female driver in just her fifth K&N West start with her second-place mark at Irwindale Event Center, and has top-10 finishes in four of six West starts.
•  Kyle Benjamin (17, Easley, S.C., @kylebenjamin71) – This Roush Fenway Racing developmental driver earned his first K&N Pro Series win at Bristol Motor Speedway, and is the youngest race winner in ARCA history.

•  James Bickford (17, Napa, Calif., @Bickford_James) – The 2014 K&N West Sunoco Rookie of the Year earned his first win at State Line Speedway last season and finished fifth in the season championship.

•  William Byron (17, Charlotte, N.C., @WilliamByron) – With a win at Greenville Pickens Speedway and three top 10 finishes, he sits atop the K&N Pro East season championship standings.

•  Cole Custer (17, Ladera Ranch, Calif., @colecuster00) – He holds the records for youngest pole award and race winner in both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR’s touring series, and led late in the Truck race at Martinsville Speedway earlier this season.

•  Ruben Garcia Jr. (19, Mexico City, Mex., @rubengarcia4) – The runner up in last season’s NASCAR Mexico Series season championship, he had one win and 10 top-10 finishes there while also competing in three NASCAR XFINITY Series races.

•  Austin Hill (21, Winston, Ga., @_AustinHill) – Had three consecutive K&N East wins in the final two races in 2014 and the 2015 season opener at New Smyrna Speedway, where he captured his first pole award and led every lap.

•  Jesse Little (18, Sherrill’s Ford, N.C., @jesselittle97) – Had a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 2014 to finish fourth in the season standings.  Won the pole at Bristol Motor Speedway in his 2015 K&N East debut.

•  Dylan Lupton (21, Wilton, Calif., @LuptonDylan) – Was the 2014 K&N West championship runner up with a win at Kern County Speedway and registered 14 top-10 finishes; made his NASCAR XFINITY Series debut at Phoenix International Raceway in March.

•  John Hunter Nemechek (17, Mooresville, N.C., @JHNemechek) – Earned six top-10 finishes in 10 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts in 2014, and won the prestigious Snowball Derby Late Model race at Five Flags Speedway in December.

• Dalton Sargeant (17, Boca Raton, Fla., @DaltonSargeant) – Has a win at Kern County Raceway Park in the West this season,  and four top-five finishes in five combined East and West races.

Ryan Luza wins NASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race at Bristol

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Ryan Luza won Tuesday night’s NASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series race held on a digital Bristol Motor Speedway.

Luza, who competes for Williams ESports, claimed the win in a three-lap overtime finish over Garrett Lowe and Zack Novak.

Then event was slowed by five cautions in the last 48 laps of regulation, with the last one occurring with four laps left and forcing the overtime finish.

Luza is the first repeat winner of the season after winning consecutive events.

“We just had an amazing long-run car,” Luza said. “I had a pit stop malfunction on the first pit stop after we got to third on the first run. I was pretty upset. But we got another long run and we came flying through the field after about 30 laps. … I think we pretty much had the field covered on the long run there.”

The series’ next race is scheduled for April 14 on a digital Richmond Raceway.

Results

  1. Ryan Luza (Williams eSports)
  2. Garrett Lowe (Wood Brothers Racing)
  3. Zack Novak (Richmond Raceway eSports)
  4. Michael Conti (JR Motorsports)
  5. Bobby Zalenski (Virtual Racing School)
  6. Brad Davies (JR Motorsports)
  7. Alex McCollum (G2 eSports)
  8. Michael Guest (Team Dillon eSports)
  9. Caine Cook (Renegades eSports)
  10. Justin Bolton (Stewart-Haas eSports
  11. Bob Bryant (Kyle Larson Racing eSports)
  12. Keegan Leahy (Denny Hamlin Racing)
  13. Nick Ottinger (William Byron eSports)
  14. Jake Nichols (Mode Motorsports)
  15. Ray Alfalla (Virtual Racing School)
  16. Christian Challiner (JTG Daugherty Racing)
  17. Graham Bowlin (Joe Gibbs Racing)
  18. Steve Sheehan (Kyle Larson Racing)
  19. Matt Bussa (Williams Esports
  20. Kollin Keister (Roush Fenway Racing)
  21. Logan Clampitt (Burton Kligerman eSports)
  22. Michael Guariglia (Jim Beaver eSports)
  23. Chris Shearburn (Letarte eSports)
  24. Jarl Teien (G2 eSports)
  25. Phil Diaz (Mode Motorsports)
  26. Brian Schoenburg (Clint Bowyer Racing)
  27. Casey Kirwan (Denny Hamlin Racing)
  28. John Gorlinsky (William Byron eSports)
  29. Ashton Crowder (Burton Kligerman eSports)
  30. Brandon Kettelle (Clint Bowyer Racing)
  31. Malik Ray (Joe Gibbs Racing)
  32. Jimmy Mullis (Richmond Raceway eSports)
  33. Chris Overland (Wood Brothers Racing)
  34. Santiago Tirres (Letarte eSports)
  35. Corey Vincent (Renegades)
  36. Dylan Duval (Stewart-Haas eSports)
  37. Jeremy Allen (JTG Daugherty Racing)
  38. Eric Smith (Jim Beaver eSports)
  39. Nathan Lyon (Roush Fenway Racing)
  40. Blake Reynolds (Dillon eSports)

 

Joey Logano Foundation establishes $1 million COVID-19 fund

Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images
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The Joey Logano Foundation has established a $1 million COVID-19 response and recovery fund in partnership with Elevation Church, the foundation announced Tuesday.

The funding will address a variety of needs, including educational equity and access, medical supplies, food distribution and financial shortages throughout the greater Charlotte, North Carolina area and communities across the United States. Elevation Church is based in the Charlotte suburb of Matthews, North Carolina, and has locations in Virginia, South Carolina, Florida and Canada.

“I’ve been blessed to have the ability to help others with our platform and for the past few weeks, the Joey Logano Foundation has been able to help in multiple ways on a local level,” Logano said in a statement. “However, (wife) Brittany and I knew we could do more and felt a huge calling to give on a larger capacity at a statewide and national level.

“Partnering up with Elevation Outreach couldn’t have been a better fit. At a blistering pace, Elevation Outreach and the Joey Logano Foundation have been able to create a $1,000,000 COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which will help provide funding and necessary supplies for organizations in need during this scary time. Part of JLF’s mission is to inspire others to live a life of generosity and our hope is that this Response and Recovery fund is a catalyst for others to be inspired to give back during this pandemic.”

For more information, contact foundation@joeylogano.com or outreach@elevationchurch.org.

NASCAR Texas event tops TV record for eSports event

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Last weekend’s eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series event from a virtual Texas Motor Speedway, drew 1.3 million viewers, breaking the record for eSports TV viewership set bv the previous week’s race.

The data is according to Nielsen Sports.

Last weekend’s event from the digital Texas Motor Speedway, won by Timmy Hill, was broadcast on FOX and FS1. Not all FOX markets aired the race.

The previous record for eSports viewership on TV was 903,000 for the March 22 race from a digital Homestead-Miami Speedway that Denny Hamlin won and aired on FS1. The Texas viewership was 1,339,000.

The next event in the eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series takes place at 1 p.m. ET Sunday from a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway. The race will be broadcast on FOX, FS1 and the Fox Sports App.

 

A look at iRacing rigs NASCAR drivers are using

Photo: Erik Jones
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With NASCAR racing postponed through early May at this point, drivers are spending their time on their iRacing simulators.

The eNASCAR Pro Invitational iRacing Series continues this weekend with drivers competing at a virtual Bristol Motor Speedway on Sunday. Denny Hamlin won the opening race at a digital Homestead-Miami Speedway. Timmy Hill won last weekend’s race at a virtual Texas Motor Speedway.

Here’s a look at the various sim rigs drivers are using.