The chips fell on the side of Tony Stewart this weekend. He wasn’t driving but had his hand in it from Phoenix to Gainesville.

Stewart-Haas driver Chase Briscoe clocked his first Cup win at Phoenix in the Ruoff Mortgage 500. NHRA driver Matt Hagan notched a win at the Gatornationals for Tony Stewart Racing.

For NASCAR, this new car is still presenting itself. Drivers are still finding the limits and pit crews are still rolling with one lug instead of five. However, for Phoenix the Cup race played out with several drivers keeping their performance running well throughout. Race winner Briscoe was top 10 in both stages one and two. Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Tyler Reddick were top 10 at the finish and the stages also.

The Xfinity race held similar even though the car is much the same as the previous season. Noah Gragson, Trevor Bayne and Brandon Jones were top five for the stages and the finish with Gragson taking the final win.

This weekend, of course, NASCAR is back at it in Atlanta. NHRA takes a little time before they go 4-wide in Vegas the first of April. What is big this weekend is IMSA getting back at it after the ROLEX 24 back in January. Mobil 1 – Twelve Hours of Sebring is on this week.

Virginia is looking ahead for April and NASCAR at Richmond and Martinsville. This weekend, another track with big NASCAR history gets officially under way. South Boston Speedway is on with their Danville Toyota opener. There is no wait necessary to catch real late model racing action. SoBo always has a show and NASCAR AAPWS National Champion and track Division Champion Peyton Sellers is set to defend the titles.

Racing doesn’t have to wait for the NASCAR Cup circus to come along. Great racing tickets are going to be hitting the weekly series short racks throughout Virginia and the USA with weather going into Spring. Don’t wait – Go Racing!

It’s on! Temperatures are a little chilly for Florida but the racing is set to roll with the sun. Rain is not in the forecast for Daytona and the ROLEX 24 is on the grid with 61 entries over 5 classes. The driver list is deep with talent from across the motorsport spectrum. Once again, to get up to speed on who is driving what and how the colors and numbers play out, get the Official ROLEX 24 Spotter’s Guide from Andy Blackmore Designs!

Racing has already begun with IMSA as the Michelin Pilot Challenge / BMW M Endurance Challenge raced Friday, January 28. Porsche made a big appearance with their 718 Cayman GT4 placing 3 spots in the top 5 including the win with the #28 RS1 team in the Grand Sport class. Turner popped their #95 and #96 M4 machines in the third and fifth slots.

In the Touring class, KMW took the checkers with their #5 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce with spots two and three going to the Bryan Herta Hyundai teams.

Saturday racing will begin with the IMSA Prototype Challenge set for Saturday morning. For watching the ROLEX 24, the options present variety and choice. Flag to flag coverage is available on Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. An active subscription to a cable provider or a nominal fee may be required to watch this way. Broadcast times vary across standard NBC or USA TV.

Yes. Yes it is a bit confusing and just a little frustrating as NBC shut down NBCSN in favor of Peacock and the app pay gates. On the other hand, it is not expensive and their is a large variety of programming outside of IMSA.

Catch what you can as the ROLEX 24 goes green with the IMSA / WeatherTech schedule for 2022!

It’s time. Literally. This weekend the “Roar” is set for testing and practicing for the ROLEX 24 which goes green the following weekend. Next month, the Daytona 500 will start NASCAR with a new car design. With that, NASCAR is not heavily represented with the “Roar” and ROLEX this time around. On the surface, it would seem a good idea as some aspects of the “Next Gen” Cup Car are pulling from the IMSA racing style. As examples, consider the center hub wheels and the refueling system. NASCAR Xfinity Series Champion Austin Cindric may be a lonely representative racing a Mercedes in GTD Pro.

IndyCar, however, has a wider set of drivers ready to rolling out with the opening weekends for IMSA. Jimmie Johnson, NASCAR champion and current IndyCar driver, will drive with ALLY / Action Express. Defending IndyCar champion Alex Palou will be racing Ganassi Cadillacs with Scott Dixon and Marcus Ericsson. Meyers Shank Racing team mates Helio Castroneves and Simon Pageanud are running. Alexander Rossi is also in a seat for the ROLEX.

A big thing missing from IMSA for 2022 is NBCSports. NBCSN had been a staple on cable systems for quite some time. Now, in order to watch the bulk of IMSA racing, a pay gate subscription to NBC Peacock TV is required. Note that the late season NASCAR races will be on broadcast NBC or cable USA. The Peacock subscription is only $4.99/month and brings with it a lot of sport and entertainment, including expanded coverage of the upcoming Winter Olympics. It is, however, a bit of a kick to add yet another subscription to those most of us already have.

Some fans, based on social media discussions over the “ROAR” weekend, seem to be put out just as the season gets started. Beyond any perceived difficulties in watching the races, the “old ways” discussions are popping once again. What is it about race fans, surrounded by technology every day, that make them complain about change on every level? It has to be obvious that automotive technology has progressed to the point that there is no “going back” to racing like it was even 10 years ago. Computers, engineering and safety as a constant concern with competition have pushed all of motorsport to review everything that happens on race tracks.

This weekend, as the “Roar before” practices and runs some of the qualifying, IMSA has apparently stepped in with some changes. This has folks that are bigger fans of confrontation instead of competition throwing accusations and pointing fingers. It comes down to the “Balance Of Performance” to maintain a level field of competition. Fuel capacity changes along with some performance adjustments have some fans claiming this is an effort on IMSA to give advantages to certain manufacturers or teams.

Let’s be real, here… IF there was an effort to give an advantage to a team (or teams) by the sanctioning body (IMSA) that was so obvious that the average domestic beer consumer could see it then, certainly, the owners and drivers on site and being supplied with these rule changes would see it. The money and logistics involved in racing at this level would not allow BoP changes to make it unsustainable. No team is going to field a car if they can see from the onset there is no competitive chance on race day. Perhaps some race fans watch too much professional wrestling…

Corvette was given a slightly larger air restrictor… BMW has a bit more boost… Ferrari has a little more boost but also a weight increase… Fuel capacities were adjusted…

Obviously… The world is ending…

The ROLEX 24, despite these changes and the beer fueled criticisms, will run the last weekend of January. It is a an event full of variety, speed and color. Sixteen manufacturers, plus the prototype chassis suppliers, are represented with this endurance race to officially open the United States racing season. Check your Peacock status and let’s go racing!

IMSA online – IMSA, Info, Schedules, Results

Peacock TV – Online subscription

Daytona International Speedway – Raceday Info and Schedules

2022 is starting much like 2021. This pandemic thing is still with us and causing all sorts of issues. How those issues play out as the racing season begins to look at green flags is yet to be seen.

However, some of the changes coming to racing within the sport are quite extensive. As January opens, the eyes turn to Daytona and IMSA / WeatherTech. The ROLEX 24 will see some changes in the classes such as GTD Pro instead of GT Le Mans. GT Daytona retains the designation from before. To review the classes and schedule for the upcoming season, check IMSA / WeatherTech online.

Daytona remains in focus, of course, as IMSA rolls out and NASCAR rolls in for the season opener Daytona 500. It is here that 2022 racing will showcase change on a scale unprecedented in NASCAR. The engineering and styling in the move to the 2022 Next Gen car far surpasses the changes that brought in the “Car of Tomorrow” over the familiar late model style. The 2008 CoT brought forth a new focus on driver safety with chassis, seating and cage enhancements. The Gen-6 Cup car that is being retired as of last season brought body shapes closer to manufacturer versions and put other progressions in place such as digital dash panels and more views on safety.

The Next Gen car making its debut in the Cup series is a leap in every way. The styling is meant to further represent manufacturer street versions. The body is now a composite of carbon fiber and plastic instead of sheet metal. Team fabrication shops will be focusing on Xfinity or Camping World series chassis as Cup cars will have a uniform central chassis that is the same for all. The front and rear suspension and drive train are also fairly uniform and bolt on to the common subframe. Independent suspension and rack and pinion steering change up the handling while a 5 speed sequential transmission replaces the 4 speed pattern. Larger brakes mean a step up to larger wheels. 18 inch aluminum wheels with a center axle lug replace the 5 lug steel wheels. This may be the most obvious change to fans as these wheels will look much different than before. The refueling system and wheel changes may resemble the pit stops of the sports cars which just ran a few weeks before at the ROLEX 24. Goodyear Eagles are still the tires on the track but with a wider stance and lower profile than before.

“Next Gen” NASCAR Cup Car new for 2022 – See more at NASCAR.com

Fans should be excited for the new season and the changes. However, hangers on to the past still haunt the sport. Some just can’t get over the wall with the changes that have come along since the death of Dale Earnhardt. They can’t seem to grasp that time and technology have influenced safety and cost beyond the “good old days” and there is no going back. However, NASCAR can and should do a better job of bringing the personalities of the drivers and teams closer to the fans. Many tracks have embraced the concept with expanded access to garages and infield viewing. The fans follow drivers. The drama is not based on the cars but the interaction of the drivers is what pumps the attention of the fans. The tracks that do well have embraced the national aspect of the sport while inviting the local flavor of the fans in the area.

The local short tracks, the ovals from the hard pack dirt to the paved historic starters of the sport, are also gearing up for some performance changes. The fans may not notice but the teams and the drivers have been busy over the “off season” to make sure their cars are up to the match standards set in place for 2022. There are some body allowance rules and some chassis enhancements that will need attention before the first late model green flag drops for 2022. Hopefully, there has been some “catch up” time for the tires to get stocked for the demand. The late season of 2021 had races cancelled and tracks scrambling for tires just to make events on the basic level.

The costs of NASCAR sanctioned late model style racing has been a hurdle for many and low “car counts” at many tracks has been an issue. Fans want a show and 5 cars on track doesn’t really bring it. New rules are trying to address these cost issues but racing is often a money pit that is hard to fill. Tracks are looking at new events and new types of racing to bring in participants and fans. Drivers, tracks, sponsors and fans are facing some challenges but tracks are committed to push on.

INDYCar is putting off major changes to next year. An expanded hybrid engine system is expected. Formula 1 is putting a number of changes in place for 2022. Much like NASCAR, F1 is putting emphasis on competition and expanded safety. Aerodynamic downforce through wing and body shape design should enhance close racing with better stability. Larger wheels and low profile tires should also enhance handling and reduce heat in race conditions. The front wing and nose have a new design and the rear wing has rounded, rolled tips. F1 changes are targeted, like NASCAR, to engage racing from the driver to the fans.

Other series will likely have some changes. NHRA, for example, is expanding some options for engine performance in some of the classes. Rallycross is looking at some format changes to increase competition. Motorcycle racing from superbike to motocross may also make a change or two for the upcoming season but who can tell…? Those 2 wheel racers are a bit off to begin with…

Expectations are high for many. Short tracks, dirt tracks and other small and local racer venues are looking at their own challenges moving into the year. Drivers and teams are digging for sponsors to carry to the tracks but racing will need attendance to thrive. For 2022, racing fans should take a little time and visit the tracks that run every weekend instead of just holding out for the “Big Guns” in the national series to visit a handful of tracks.

Let’s go local. Let’s go racing.

It was a bit of a wait from August. As it happens, Virginia International Raceway in October is actually quite fantastic. It may have been a “one off” as the 2022 schedule has the date for VIR and the IMSA weekend back in the throws of August. For 2021, the date was moved to October as Le Mans (yeah, the French one) was moved and conflicted with some IMSA drivers to drive. To accommodate IMSA involvement with Le mans, the VIR date was shifted.

For next year (2022) the date is back to August. For this one, October brought cooler temperatures across the weekend. Rain, always a possibility, brought a threat and did fall on some practices and qualifying late Friday and early Saturday but did pull back for the racing.

The IMSA WeatherTech Micheln GT put a bit of a boxing match on for GTLM. The Corvettes and the WeatherTech Porsche threw bumpers and fenders at each other as the #79 Porsche pushed to the front. Kevin Estre in the Porsche could not sustain the lead against the recharge of Nick Tandy in the #4 Corvette. The Porsche later lost traction and skidded off to finish behind the Corvettes. The GTD class started with what looked like a run away for the Turner BMW #96. In the closing laps, the #3 GTLM Corvette went a bit loose when getting past the Turner BMW which bumped the #96 off allowing the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche to get on the GTD lead and take the win in the class.

Sunday could have been “Stevan McAleer Day” as he ran in the Prototype Challenge and the Michelin Pilot Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix. McAleer went wide at “Oak Tree” on the final lap in the #43 Robillard Racing Duqueine D08 which opened the path for Rasmus Lindh in the #6 Motel 6 Ligier JS P320. Some side by side down the back straight put McAleer off at and out at turn 14 while Lindh went on for the #6 win. In the Michelin Pilot race, McAleer was in the #23 Notlad Racing / RS1 Aston Martin and racing out front but Jan Heylen managed to get the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche around him for the lead and win.

CLICK HERE for Full Gallery of photos from Saturday October 9 at VIR

CLICK HERE for Full Gallery of photos from Sunday October 10 at VIR

We’re less than one month away from WeatherTech/IMSA at Virginia International Raceway. The original schedule for the race in August was shuffled to allow drivers and teams to participate at LeMans for the big 24 hour race. So… With October just on the horizon, it would be good to get up to speed on who is running and who is winning. The Daytona Prototypes and LeMans Prototype 2 will not run at VIR, leaving the GT LeMans and GT Daytona classes to race without having to keep eyes out for the larger cars.

However, with racing still to go, it should be noted the top 3 teams in DPi are all within one race in points to be on top. The top 3 in LMP2 are racing practically the same. One race can easily blow the points up and change the game for any of these teams. We won’t see these at VIR but it’s good to catch up.

For GTLM, it’s pretty much a race of Porsche against the Corvettes. The WeatherTech Porsche team got a much needed win at Road America. It was their 2nd win of the season but the Corvettes grabbed it again at Laguna Seca. The Corvettes have notched 5 wins so far.

The GTD class has more diversity but the the top 4 are also running close and within 100 points. The Turner BMW team is currently leading but the PFAFF Porsche team grabbed 2 recent wins and is moving up with Heart of Racing / Aston Martin team has recently fallen back to 3rd overall. Paul Miller Racing and their Lambo is still in the hunt at 4th in points.

The Michelin Pilot Challenge classes of Grand Sport and Touring combine a much larger field of manufacturers and teams. The Turner BMWs are out in front of the GS group with the Winward AMG and Wright Porsche following and within points. The Touring class has the Hyundai / Bryan Herta Autosport #77 on top with another Herta Hyundai chasing up. The KMW/TMR Alpha Romeo team and the Atlanta Speedwerks Honda are chasing up.

VIR will also host the Prototype Challenge featuring the LeMans P3 classes. Muehlner Motorsports #21 is leading the field with #54 MLT Motorsports on the bumper 10 points behind. Conquest Racing #61 is leading in the P3-2 class.

Porsche Carrera Cup North America will also be running events at Virginia International Raceway. All the drivers will be competing in identical spec 911 GT3 Cup Cars so the track will be putting driver skill on the line.

October 8-10 offers up a full weekend of racing and sportsmanship with variety and speed on the full course at Virginia International Raceway. Check IMSA online and VIR online for schedules and tickets!

Mustang, Mazda, Porsche, BMW, Corvette, Acura… Racing on a track with twists, turns, up and down grades…

You might immediately bring to mind the 12 Hours of Sebring… And you would be right. Throw in Cadillac, Lamborghini, Lexus and Aston-Martin with some exotic prototypes and you could fill the IMSA field at Sebring.

However… On the same weekend in March, a paddock full of enthusiast racers gather for club racing at another track a little further north. The track is also on the IMSA schedule but later in the year. (A little later than originally scheduled because of Le Mans… )

Virginia International Raceway, just along the border with North Carolina, is filled with many of the same manufacturers running with IMSA, even if the model years are a little older. The National Auto Sport Association and the March Madness gathering brings club racers of the Mid Atlantic Region to VIR. The drivers are the owners and they take their track time seriously and push the racing they do with the same dedication as the “pros” do. They may have a day job on Monday that is distant from the racing life but the weekends the club gathers are their holidays.

They tune their own cars, trade performance tips and upgrades and take part in course classes to improve their laps. Once the tests and registration and course instruction is done, they line up on the grid and race. There may not be big payouts or national media and sponsorships but the thrill of door to door racing and a shot at the checkered flag and some trophy thrown together from bits in the back of a garage is enough.

This is grass roots love of speed and the cars that bring it. Virginia International Raceway is host to several clubs and similar events throughout their schedule. Practically anyone can come with a car and race. Granted, there are safety items the car must have and the driver must pass some basic racing classes for rules, etiquette and skill to run with other cars but the door is there to drive through.

You might want to have an understanding spouse or a bit of a cushy bank account. Perhaps both. Racing is not the cheapest weekend but it also is not the most expensive. Plus, different clubs have different classes of participation so there is likely a spot for your budget.

The Twelve Hours Of Sebring is pretty big. However, It’s not big enough to keep these NASA club drivers out of their cars when the green flag waves. Some of them may catch the last few hours of Sebring on TV but it’s more likely it will be on in the background as they recall their own day at the wheel with their fellow drivers.

Virginia International Raceway hosts IMSA in October. Between now and then, there is room for the clubs to have lots of laps on the same pavement. Go racing.

Event / Track images gallery. *Note: For official NASA Mid Atlantic photos for purchase, contact Tae Tyson at Flat Out Images or Tony Politi at Politi Pixels. Images below are reference / editorial only.