Thursday, October 10, 2019

FROM KARTING AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY TO WINNING LATE MODEL RACES




It’s Hispanic Heritage Month, the ties between Latinos and NASCAR are only growing. NASCAR attracts fans from all backgrounds and we see that more in the sport as time goes on.

This is evident from the race track side, where we saw Cuban-born Ralph Sanchez build his dream track of Homestead-Miami Speedway, to the driver side where we saw Mexican-born driver Daniel Suarez win his first NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship in 2017.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program is an essential example of the growth in diversity in our sport. We’ve seen drivers like Suarez, Bubba Wallace, and Kyle Larson succeed and run in NASCAR’s top series. At the end of the day, the goal of all the drivers in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program is to reach the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

A driver that is currently a part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program and has been making his name known in the sport is Miami’s own, Nick Sanchez. Sanchez is from Cuban descent and began racing karts at Homestead-Miami Speedway at age 12.

The 18-year-old began seeking other racing opportunities after a few years of racing karts in the state of Florida. He applied for the NASCAR Drive for Diversity legends car program and was given the opportunity to run the Bojangles Summer Shootout in 2017 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The Miami native is unlike many drivers trying to make it in the stock car racing world. Sanchez fell in love with racing on his own as his family had very little interest in racing while he was growing up.

“No influence from my family at all,” Sanchez said. “My dad works in construction and my mom is an account executive so they have nothing to do with racing. My dad has always been into classic cars and being raised around classic cars whether it is a Corvette or Cobra you just love anything with an engine, I guess that had an influence.”

Sanchez was fortunate enough to run in the 2019 NASCAR Whelen-All American Series. He picked up wins at Myrtle Beach Speedway and at the season finale at Langley Speedway in Virginia.

“It’s been an awesome season,” Sanchez said. “We’ve actually raced at about five tracks. So, we’ve had a vast majority of differences in the tracks and it definitely helps an overall driver and has helped me as a driver improve being exposed to different types of surfaces and tracks and different characteristics.”

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program opened his doors to diversify his racing ethics. Having success running karts on road courses has transferred over to different tracks across the southern region.

“They’ve been an amazing help and without them, I wouldn’t have been exposed to the stock car world,” Sanchez said. “I’m used to road coarse karting and the Formula car aspect and I never really knew what a late model, legend car, or even K&N car was growing up and then knowing about this program and hearing from people around to eventually applying led me to this end and my new found love of NASCAR.”

His appreciation of NASCAR and gaining experience in stock cars continues assisting Sanchez to climb the ladder in racing. He hopes for the 2020 campaign that he can obtain an opportunity in one of the ARCA Menards Series.

Furthermore, this young Hispanic driver that is trying to make it in the sport is grateful for the opportunity he has been given in the NASCAR Drive for Diversity Program. “I’d like to thank Max Siegel for allowing me to drive his race cars and believing in me,” Sanchez said.

Monday, October 7, 2019

KYLE LARSON CLINCHES SPOT IN ROUND OF 8, JOEY LOGANO, CHASE ELLIOTT HAVE EARLY TROUBLE



Kyle Larson led 154 laps and went on to win the Drydene 400 at Dover International Speedway this past Sunday. The Elk Grove, California native snapped a two-year drought since his last win and locked himself into the Round of 8 for the first time in his career.

He became the first Chip Ganassi Racing driver to reach the Round of 8 and captured his first victory at Dover where he had placed in the top-five six times in his career.

“To win a playoff race, my first playoff victory is special,” Larson said after his win. “I hope there's another win in our future, especially in the next round. We'll see what we can do. I've kept saying that I felt really close to winning here or anywhere right now. Our pit crew has been doing a better job, our team has been doing a better job. I've been doing a better job. So just gotta keep it going now.”

The 27-year-old expressed that he is worry-free heading into Talladega Superspeedway next weekend and can solely begin to focus on the next round of the playoffs. Joe Gibbs Racing driver Denny Hamlin led the most laps of the event (218 laps) and went on to finish fifth.

The No. 11 FedEx Toyota Camry driver dominated the early portions of the race. With 130 laps to go, Hamilin advised his team that he was having engine issues. Despite his concern, he was still the fastest car on the mile oval.

The runner-up Martin Truex Jr. seemed to be the second-best car toward the end of the race. After finishing first at the conclusion of Stage 2, Truex lost the lead to Larson on pit road and fell short of catching him at the end of the race.

“We were catching him at the end, got close, just unfortunate there,’’ Truex said. “We win and lose as a team and the guys will clean it up for sure. Every week is about getting most points you can, so a positive day for us.’’

The top-six finishers were made up of playoff drivers which included Hamlin, Alex Bowman, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch. For some championship contenders there were problems early on in the race.

Joey Logano faced mechanical issues as the green flag was set to wave and didn’t even begin the race. The defending champion fell short 23 laps as he played catch up all afternoon and finished in the 34th position.

“We used the playoff points we accumulated; we just have to be perfect now,” Logano said. “We have two really good racetracks coming up, though: Talladega is arguably one of our best racetracks, and I would say Kansas is as well. We just have to be perfect from here.”

Team Penske teammate Ryan Blaney finished 35th while running in the top-10 most of the day. Due to a brake issue, the team was forced to take the car to the garage. Last week's winner Chase Elliott was another driver that faced adversity during the race. With less than 10 laps into the race, the No. 24 Hooters Chevy Camaro had an engine failure. Elliott now sits 11th in the playoff standing and 22 points behind the cutline.

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the 1000Bulbs.com 500 on Sunday, Oct. 13 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It is second race in the Round of 12. Coverage starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Here are the standings going into Dover:




AN ODE TO RALPH SANCHEZ AND AL GARCIA


From a sold-out crowd at the Grand Opening on November 3, 1995, to 18 consecutive years of the Ford Championship Weekend, we take a look at the impact that both Ralph Sanchez and Al Garcia have made on motorsports in South Florida during this year's Hispanic Heritage Month, a month dedicated to recognizing the contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans to the country's history, heritage, and culture. If it weren’t for them, the Speedway wouldn’t be where it is today.

Sanchez, a Cuban-born businessman, came to America aboard a freedom flight from Havana to Miami. After arriving in Miami, he lived with his aunt and uncle, later residing in a Catholic orphanage until he turned 18. Sanchez earned an accounting degree from Florida Atlantic University, became a real estate salesman, before moving on to become a land developer, and then a motorsports enthusiast. He had a vision of changing the way South Florida viewed motorsports, beginning with the Grand Prix of Miami and eventually Homestead-Miami Speedway. Because of him, Homestead-Miami Speedway was a major facilitator in the revitalization of Homestead after Hurricane Andrew wiped out the town. Since then, amazing things have happened. It was Ralph who changed the way South Florida saw motorsports.

Current track president Al Garcia is an original employee of Homestead-Miami Speedway and got his start in motorsports because of Ralph. He grew up in Miami and began working for Sanchez in 1985, where his career started with the Miami Grand Prix. Through the tragedy of the hurricane, Garcia had a big hand in helping to rebuild Homestead. Since then, he has continued to give years of dedication to the track and community of Homestead. 

From the words of Al Garcia himself: “I am very proud to have known Ralph and to have worked alongside him.”

Gracias por todo, Ralph y Al!

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

INFIELD BEACH PARTY PASSES NOW AVAILABLE FOR FORD CHAMPIONSHIP WEEKEND AT HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY



Fans coming to Homestead-Miami Speedway can now enjoy the same amenities as they would visiting South Beach. Access passes to Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Infield Beach Party are on sale beginning today.

NASCAR’s first ever Infield Beach Party, which is open to guests ages 18 and over, is located on a 20,000 square-foot beach located in the Speedway’s infield, inside of Turn 3. The beach sits on the spring-fed 7-acre lake that spans the width of the backstretch.

The beach includes a floating dock, palm trees and a swimming area. The Infield Beach Party is about more than just relaxing in the sand, as attendees will be treated to an exclusive experience that includes live entertainment, including an appearance by Miami’s own DJ Irie, unique food and beverage options, beach and water activities, and much more.

The Infield Beach Party will debut during the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 championship race on Sunday, November 17. Access to the Infield Beach Party starts at $40.

Tickets for 2019 Ford Championship Weekend, which consists of the Ford EcoBoost 200 (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship race), Ford EcoBoost 300 (NASCAR XFINITY Series championship race) and Ford EcoBoost 400 (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship race), are now available and can be purchased by calling (866) 409-RACE (7223) or visiting www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.