NASCAR, ARCA announce new format for 2020; ARCA to take over K&N Series

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NASCAR and ARCA announced Wednesday the addition of a new format that will include four championships beginning in 2020, as well as ARCA’s acquisition of what has been the K&N Pro Series East and West, which will be rebranded ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West.

Per a joint NASCAR and ARCA media release, the four championships for 2020 will be:

* Replacing the existing NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and West, the new ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West will continue the traditions established by the Busch North Series (founded in 1987) and Pacific Coast Late Model Series/Winston West (1954), as well as the K&N Series. The two series will feature an annual schedule of six to eight races each and the crowning of separate regional champions.

* ARCA Menards Series – The 20-race ARCA Menards Series, founded in 1953, a mix of national-series combination events at venues such as Daytona International Speedway and Charlotte Motor Speedway, as well as short tracks like Madison International Speedway in Wisconsin and the Illinois and DuQuoin State Fairgrounds mile dirt tracks.

* ARCA Racing Series Showdown – The new championship will see 10 races within the larger ARCA Menards Series — essentially a championship within a championship — that will feature the best of the three series (competitors from the Menards Series as well as Menards East and Menards West) coming together to crown a Showdown champion.

We cannot be more excited about 2020,” said Brandon Thompson, Managing Director, NASCAR Touring Series. “Both NASCAR and ARCA have worked extremely hard over the last year (NASCAR acquired ARCA in April 2018) to provide a rules package and schedule that will serve as the foundation for the preeminent series for racing at this level. It was important for us to move the series forward while creating an environment inclusive for both the current long-term owners and drivers in the series as well as aspiring competitors.”

Added ARCA President Ron Drager, “What first started as a friendship between Bill France Sr. and John Marcum nearly 70 years ago took a momentous step forward today. The amount of history and tradition these series are bringing together to form four elite championships for drivers is an amazing testament to the strength of this sport.

We are proud and honored to be able to bring the ARCA sanction to the East and West Series; and we are looking forward to working with the race teams, tracks, media partners, fans, and sponsors that have helped those series achieve their long term success.”

In addition to ARCA being a development step for young drivers aspiring to reach the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series or NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, ARCA will also continue to provide a highly-competitive professional avenue for veteran short-track drivers.

NBCSN will continue to carry the ARCA Menards Series East and West as part of its extensive NASCAR coverage. MAVTV and FOX Sports will share televising of the 20 ARCA Menards Series races, including the 10-race Showdown.

As for other highlights of Wednesday’s announcement:

* The 2020 ARCA Menards Series begins Saturday, Feb. 8 at Daytona with the Lucas Oil 200. It will mark the 57th annual ARCA visit to Daytona.

* The Showdown begins with ARCA’s inaugural visit to ISM Raceway in Phoenix on March 6.

* The ARCA Menards West Series begins at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Other West dates also include traditional events at Irwindale Speedway and Sonoma Raceway, and will crown its champion at ISM Raceway in November.

* The East will race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida, as well as Toledo Speedway, Watkins Glen International, and again be part New Hampshire Motor Speedway’s annual Full Throttle Fall Weekend. The East season will culminate with the championship race at Dover International Speedway.

* In addition to Daytona and Charlotte, the ARCA Menards Series schedule will include Talladega Superspeedway, Michigan International Speedway, Chicagoland Speedway and Pocono Raceway, and finish the season at Kansas Speedway on Oct. 16.

* The Showdown 10-race schedule features Salem Speedway, Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis, Minnesota’s Elko Speedway, Bristol Motor Speedway, Iowa Speedway and World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, and will crown its first Showdown champion at Memphis Motorsports Park on Sept. 26.

Complete schedules for all four championships will be announced shortly.

NASCAR also announced if a current K&N East and West or current ARCA Menards Series car owner has a car that meets the 2019 rulebook, there will be a rules package that will allow them to compete in 2020.

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

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“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Though Castroneves is out, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported that Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing still is considering IndyCar driver Conor Daly for its seat.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

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A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The team stated Thursday night on social media that Taylor Collier and Devin Fokin had been treated and released. The team stated that Taylor was treated for smoke inhalation and Fokin was treated “for serious burns.”

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”

 

Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals

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Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

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Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension

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Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

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Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.