Kenseth aims to race hard but clean vs. Johnson in final races

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It’s all to play for between Matt Kenseth and Jimmie Johnson, who are tied atop the Sprint Cup championship standings heading into Sunday’s AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

But despite the tense battle between them, Kenseth indicated that he’ll race Johnson hard but clean in the final three races – which include Sunday’s event at TMS, the Nov. 10 Advocare 500 at Phoenix International Raceway, and the season-ending Ford Ecoboost 400 on Nov. 17 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I think you always race as hard as you can, but at the same time you try to be as fair and clean as you can,” Kenseth said before qualifying sixth this afternoon for Sunday’s race. “I think you always throughout your career, you make mistakes and learn from them, all those kind of things. But, I think if you try to race people the way you want to be raced, it usually works out both ways.

“The goal is to always get your car running good where you can go pass and you can go out run other guys and not worry about that.”

Kenseth crashed during a test session at TMS last week, but has seen tremendous success on 1.5-mile ovals this season and would appear to have momentum after placing second last weekend at Martinsville Speedway – three spots ahead of Johnson, an eight-time winner at Martinsville in his Cup career.

The two rivals have each performed well over the years at TMS, and they’re expected to have another tight duel Sunday. As time runs out on the season, one could assume that a psychological battle may take shape in parallel with what occurs on the track.

But Kenseth said Friday that he won’t take part in any “head games” versus Johnson.

“My brain is over-capacity already with trying to figure out how to make my race car fast enough to be the best,” he said. “They always say, ‘If you want to be the man, you have to beat the man’ and [Johnson’s] always definitely been the man.

“[I’m] really just trying to concentrate on that and trying to figure out how to make our car fast enough to go out and be able to compete with not only him, but the rest of the field each and every week. It’s a competitive group.”

The Callaway Corvette GT3 is coming to America, in PWC

Photo: Callaway Competition USA
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Pirelli World Challenge has been in need of some good news from a car count standpoint early into this offseason, and receives it Monday with confirmation Callaway Competition will bring its GT3-spec homologated Corvette C7 GT3-R Stateside next season.

The withdrawal of the factory Cadillac Racing program after PWC’s season finale in Sonoma in September has opened the door for the factory-blessed Corvette C7 GT3-R to run in North America, because Cadillac’s ATS-V.R has been the lone GT3-spec car under the General Motors awning for the last three seasons, while the Callaway Corvette has raced only internationally.

Reeves Callaway has been on site at the tail end of the PWC season to survey the opportunity and now a deal has been struck for a factory effort to run next year, before the Callaway Corvette program becomes a customer effort in 2019. This follows the same timeline as Acura did with its new NSX GT3 this year to run it as a factory program in 2017 before shifting to customer efforts in 2018.

“Joining the Pirelli World Challenge has been a long term objective for Callaway Competition,” Callaway said in a release. “Now the field is a roll-call of the most capable sports cars from every country. To do well here, you must beat the best in the world. What better way to showcase our iconic American car?

“For 2018, we will run a Callaway factory team to give us the best chance of continuing the championship record the Corvette has achieved in international competition. For 2019, we will not race against our customers, but provide high-quality support to them in the tradition of other manufacturer customer racing support programs.”

“For several years fans have asked when they would see the Callaway Corvette GT3 run in the Pirelli World Challenge,” added Greg Gill, President and CEO of Pirelli World Challenge. “The wait is over and we are very pleased to announce the arrival of the Callaway Corvette GT3 for the 2018 season.”

The Callaway Competition USA Corvette C7 GT3-R will be unveiled and both full season drivers announced at the Performance Racing Industry show in Indianapolis on December 7 at the Pirelli World Challenge booth. Following the unveiling event, the car will be on display for the remainder of the trade show. Details of the presentation will be announced in the coming weeks.

Callaway’s confirmation comes amidst the likely drawdown of potentially nine or 10 cars that raced in PWC’s GT and GTA ranks either all season or most of it in 2017, among at least five manufacturers. That’s not to say those losses can’t be recouped elsewhere on the grid, over the next several months before the St. Petersburg season opener in March.

PWC will hold its annual state of the series and competitor meeting to finalize the next year’s plans at the PRI show as well.