kenny wallace

Gateway Dirt Nationals

Kyle Larson wins, advances to tonight’s Gateway Dirt Nationals finale

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NASCAR Cup star Kyle Larson captured Friday night’s Main A feature in the second night of the three-night Gateway Dirt Nationals at The Dome at America’s Center in downtown St. Louis.

After winning his heat race earlier in the evening, Larson powered on to take the checkered flag again in the main event, holding off Cannon McIntosh, Michael Pickens, Tanner Thorson and Cole Bodine.

NBC Sports’ reporter Dillon Welch finished sixth, Gio Scelzi (son of four-time NHRA drag racing champ Gary Scelzi) was seventh, followed by Jonathan Beason, Sean McClellan and Robert Digby.

Two other NASCAR notables, Chase Briscoe and Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 12th and 16th, respectively.

Larson took home a $5,000 prize and advances to Saturday’s main event.

Joining Larson, Welch, Briscoe and Stenhouse in tonight’s midgets main event will be Ryan Newman and Christopher Bell, who both competed in Thursday night’s Main A, finishing 11th and 15th, respectively.

 

In the evening’s late model Main A event, Tyler Carpenter won a close battle with Tanner English by .02 of a second to take home the $5,000 winner’s prize and advance to Saturday’s big showdown.

 

Lastly, veteran NASCAR driver and St. Louis native Kenny Wallace finished 15th in the Modified class Main A feature due to a blown motor.

 

The main event for all three categories – midgets, modifieds and super late models – begins Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET. The winner of each race will take home $10,000 apiece.

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Ryan Newman 11th, Christopher Bell 15th in first night of Gateway Dirt Nationals

Photo courtesy Ryan Newman official Twitter page
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Even though he hasn’t driven a midget car on dirt for nearly 20 years, it was like getting back on a bicycle for NASCAR Cup star Ryan Newman in Thursday night’s midget Main A event on the first of the three-night Arizona Sport Shirts Gateway Dirt Nationals at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis.

Newman finished 11th  in the 17-car field, 9.543 seconds behind winner Thomas Meseraull, who pocketed $3,000 for taking the checkered flag.

Budding NASCAR star Christopher Bell was knocked out of the race after just five laps when something broke in his suspension, relegating him to a 15th-place finish, 15 laps down to Meseraull.

 

As for the other competitors in the midget Main A, Justin Grant finished second, followed by Blake Hahn, Chris Windom, Logan Seavey, Anton Hernandez, Tyler Courtney, Andrew Felker, Paul Nienhiser, Austin Brown, Newman, Tim Crawley, Ace McCarthy, Sam Johnson, Bell, Karter Sarff and Daniel Robinson in 17th.

The three-day Gateway Dirt Nationals feature midget cars, modifieds and super late models. Four more familiar names will put the pedal to the metal on Friday, including Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chase Briscoe and NBC Sports reporter Dillon Welch will compete in the prelims.

In addition, former NASCAR driver and St. Louis native Kenny Wallace is entered in Friday’s modified preliminary race.

The main event for all three categories is scheduled to begin Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET. The winner of each race will be awarded $10,000.

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Ryan Newman among NASCAR drivers entered in Gateway Dirt Nationals

Ryan Newman
Getty Images
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Several NASCAR drivers are entered into this weekend’s Arizona Sport Shirts Gateway Dirt Nationals in St. Louis, which features midget cars, modifieds and super late models.

The three-night event runs from Thursday through Saturday and will be held at The Dome at America’s Center and will feature the likes of Ryan Newman, Kyle Larson, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., incoming Cup Series rookie Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe and NBC Sports reporter Dillon Welch.

All six of them will be competing in the midget portion of the event.

Newman and Bell will race in the Thursday night preliminary. Larson, Stenhouse, Briscoe and Welch are entered in the Friday night preliminary.

Former NASCAR driver Kenny Wallace is competing in the modifieds portion of the event. He is in the Friday night preliminary event.

On-track activity for both nights begins at 4 p.m. ET

The main event for all three categories is scheduled for Saturday night at 8 p.m. ET. The winner of each race will be awarded $10,000.

NASCAR community mourns death of former Truck owner Mike Mittler

Photo: Jamie McMurray
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Former and current NASCAR drivers mourned the passing of former Truck Series owner Mike Mittler on Friday. Mittler was 67.

Mittler’s Truck teams competed in 301 series races from 1995-2018. Although his team never won a Truck race, it made an impact in NASCAR, providing rides for such drivers as Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray, Justin Allgaier and Brad Keselowski, among others. Copp Motorsports announced before the season it was dedicating the year to Mittler. The team changed its number from 83 to 63.

“If it wasn’t for people like Mike who have paved the way, we wouldn’t have the opportunities that we have now to participate in NASCAR,” Copp Motorsports owner DJ Copp said.

Mittler stated Oct. 3, 2017, on his Facebook page that he had been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. He stated in that posting that he had his first chemo treatment that day and was at the shop after the treatment.

Many in the sport paid tribute to Mittler on Friday.

Chris Blair, executive vice president and general manager of World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois, stated about Mittler: “Mike was special. He was a great man who inspired many. I value each moment shared with him through the years, especially those in the garage along with my son.”

Here is what others in the sport said about Mittler:

Mike Wallace ready to make another run at NASCAR Cup racing

Mike Wallace before his last Cup start, the 2015 Daytona 500. Photo: Getty Images
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When Mike Wallace developed a heart issue that resulted in triple bypass surgery in April 2015, it left the veteran NASCAR driver with unfinished business in his racing career.

Now, nearly four years later and fully healthy, the 59-year-old brother of NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace and Kenny Wallace hopes to finish some of that business in the 2019 season with Rick Ware Racing.

“I still have that passion,” Mike Wallace told NBC Sports on Wednesday. “I didn’t quit. I didn’t stop racing in 2015 on my own terms. And I’m very comfortable with life. It’s not like I have to do this to complete it, but I just like racing, I like it a lot, I like to be behind the wheel.”

Rick Ware Racing has two NASCAR Cup charters for 2019, which means both the No. 51 and No. 52 must run every race. Ware has offered one of those rides to Wallace, but the latter has to attract more sponsorship.

“Rick reached out, asked me to drive for him, but we have to find some money,” Wallace said. “Rick’s not in a position to hire a driver straight out. So we have a little bit of associate sponsorship put together. But we need sponsorship dollars to complete the package.

“It could be a great deal for him and his team, a great deal for me and it’s an incredibly reasonable, great opportunity for a marketing partner or partners to get involved, because you probably couldn’t get yourself into this sport and the NASCAR business any more reasonable than you can right now.”

Wallace posted on both LinkedIn and Facebook in the last couple of days seeking sponsors for the No. 52 car that he hopes to drive all season, with the exception of the Daytona 500 (although if a primary sponsor steps forward in the next week, Wallace could potentially still compete in that race).

“I know because of my age, Roger Penske, Joe Gibbs, people like that aren’t going to be calling for me to drive their cars, so why not do it if you can do it,” said Wallace, who turns 60 in March. “I still think I’m alert, healthy, have done every test you can do, have great endurance, eyesight, everybody says I’m good to go.

“Passion drives my desire. I’ve always had a passion for being a race car driver and motorsports and the NASCAR world. NASCAR racing is the coolest thing in the country.”

For now, Wallace said he and Ware have enough sponsor dollars to field the No. 52 for Atlanta, California and Las Vegas for starters.

“We worked together years ago, Rick actually fielded my daughter Chrissy in 2007-2008 era, I’ve raced against him or cars he’s owned forever,” Wallace said. “As he told me, he’d like to have a nice season with a driver like myself who can win races and run competitively and take care of equipment. We just have to make it work (financially).”

Wallace and son Matt competed in Super Late Model competition last year and it whetted the elder Wallace’s appetite to give NASCAR another go.

Wallace has made 197 Cup starts, the last race coming in 2015 (Daytona 500) just before his heart issue. He also has a combined 609 starts across both the Xfinity and Truck series, with a combined nine wins and 55 top-5 finishes.

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