Zack Novak takes PEAK Antifreeze iRacing championship, earns $40K

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While Roush Fenway Racing hasn’t earned a NASCAR Cup championship since Kurt Busch‘s 2004 title, it can once again call itself a championship organization after its driver, Zack Novak, in the No. 6 RFR Ford Mustang, captured the eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series championship in a live broadcast Thursday on NBCSN’s NASCAR America.

Novak earned $40,000 of the $100,000 prize pool, by winning the final race of the season at a virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway (and his fourth win overall of the now-completed iRacing season).

As for the other three championship contenders, Keegan Leahy (G2 Esports) finished second, Bobby Zalenski (Joe Gibbs Racing) finished fourth and Blake Reynolds (Team Dillon Esports) ended up with a ninth-place showing.

“(Being called champion) sounds awesome,” Novak told NBCSN. “That was a grind, all season long, and even the race itself was just a crazy grind and I can’t believe I’m in this position.

“(Leahy) kept me real honest, raced very clean. I respected him and I tried to race him as clean as I could back and I hope I accomplished that. We just really raced hard, had very comparable cars at the end and I can’t believe I came away with that.”

Zack Novak won the inaugural eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Series championship on Thursday. Photo: Zack Novak official Twitter page.

For Novak, it was his second major esports championship, having won the inaugural eNASCAR IGNITE Series (for drivers ages 13-16) title last year.

In addition to the big payday for earning the championship, as well as the weekly winnings during the season, Novak, a 17-year-old high school student from Connecticut, also earns a test day in a US Legends car and in a NASCAR Pinty’s Series vehicle with Canada’s Best Racing Team.

Novak also will take part in pre-race ceremonies for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ championship-deciding race Nov. 17 at Miami.

Leahy led most of the first half of the race, being scored the leader at Lap 70 of the 140-lap event. Unlike NASCAR Cup, Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck Series, there were no stages in the iRacing championship-deciding race.

Leahy built as much as a 2.5-second lead before the first caution of the race came out on Lap 81 due to contact between two non-championship contenders. Leahy was passed by non-championship driver Jimmy Mullis on Lap 95, with Leahy dropping back to fifth, while Novak climbed into second and Zalenski also passed into fourth position. Leahy dropped to sixth place on Lap 101.

From that point, Novak kept pace with Mullis, but as long as he was ahead of his other three title contenders, he was in a good shape. As the race approached 20 laps to go, tire wear and conserving fuel became key for all drivers, but most notably for the title contenders.

A caution came out with 19 laps to go. Mullis missed his pit stall and had to reverse back into it, falling from the lead to 12th place, allowing Novak to take the lead on the restart with 16 laps remaining.

But four laps later, Leahy regained the lead, only to have Novak take it back with seven laps left and held on the rest of the way to take the checkered flag.

Novak was overcome with emotion after taking the win, but regained his composure to do a celebratory burnout.

“We still had enough to do it, yeah!” Novak exclaimed. “When I first got in the series three years ago as a 15-year-old, I never, ever thought this moment would happen. I did well in my rookie year and potentially had a shot at this, but I never knew it would be possible, honestly.

“This is what I’ve dreamt of my whole life, to win a championship in an official sanctioned series. I won the Ignite (championship) last year. Just how much time and effort it takes to win this, I’ve put in hours and hours into this, 30-plus hour weeks working on this car. It’s a full-time job. … I hope we’ll be back here next year.”

 

 

Sioux Chief to sponsor ARCA Showdown, East Series to race at Nashville Fairgrounds

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ARCA announced Saturday that Sioux Chief Manufacturing will be the entitlement sponsor of its 10-race ARCA Menards Series Showdown in 2020.

Sioux Chief Manufacturing is a Missouri company that designs and manufactures rough plumbing products, parts, and accessories for residential, commercial, industrial and government applications

Sioux Chief has been involved in ARCA since 2015 as a race event sponsor and special awards program sponsor and sponsored ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge.

As part of the deal, a newly increased point fund, combined with race purses, owner plan, and contingency awards, will offer teams a chance to compete for a share of over $920,000 in posted awards throughout the series.

The Sioux Chief Showdown will bring together the best drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those events, held on oval tracks 1.25-miles in length and under and road courses, offer drivers who may not be able or eligible to run the full 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule the opportunity to run for a championship. Combined with the overall ARCA Menards Series championship, and the East and West championships, drivers will have four separate championships to compete for in 2020.

The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis. Also present was promoter Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, who announced that the ARCA Menards Series East would compete at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 2.

The Tennessean reported this week that the Nashville Fairgrounds was negotiating with Sargent to promote at least three races at the short track in 2020. Sargent’s involvement in the track comes after Nashville’s Fair Board voted to terminate its agreement with Formosa Productions to run the track over outstanding debt.

The ARCA Menards Series has competed at the Fairgrounds the last five seasons. The ARCA Menards Series East, formerly known as the K&N Pro Series East, competed there from 2007-08.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.

 

Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

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Joey Gase Twitter
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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter