PWC: Champions crowned in Utah

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Editor’s note: this weekend’s Pirelli World Challenge Nissan Championship Finale brought to you by Motul from Miller Motorsports Park will air on NBCSN on Sunday, September 28, at 2:30 p.m. ET. If you don’t care to know the outcome until then, we’d advise you read no further.

A pair of dramatic races wound up producing two repeat champions in the GT and GTS classes, to cap off the 2014 Pirelli World Challenge season.

Johnny O’Connell (Cadillac, GT) and Lawson Aschenbach (Chevrolet Camaro, GTS) took their second straight titles, and third (O’Connell) and fourth (Aschenbach) overall as World Challenge capped off its 25th Anniversary season at Miller Motorsports Park outside Salt Lake City, Utah in Tooele.

O’Connell finished second in Round 15, and seventh in Round 16 to secure the title in GT. The GT title was good as decided after Friday when an axle issue took out O’Connell’s title rival Mike Skeen (Audi) right off the start. O’Connell ended second following another of his and the Cadillac’s trademark dynamic starts, behind Guy Smith, who took Bentley’s first North American win in the Dyson Racing Team Bentley entry. Skeen was mathematically eliminated upon the green flag on Saturday.

In the second race of the weekend, Robert Thorne delivered a dynamic drive to hold off Ryan Dalziel. Thorne, 24, drove beyond his years to hold off one of sports car racing’s top overall drivers for the win, both his first in GT and the first for the McLaren 12C GT3 on North American soil, as well. Cadillac held off Audi for its third straight GT Manufacturer’s Championship.

Michael Mills won the inaugural GT-A division for EFFORT Racing and Porsche with his sixth win of the year in Round 15 and another podium in Round 16; Tim Pappas scored the final GT-A race win of the year, his second of the season.

GTS saw heartbreak for the pair of Kia Racing/Kinetic Motorsports drivers, particularly Canadian Mark Wilkins, who entered the weekend with an 80-point lead.

A half shaft failure off the line in Friday’s Round 15 left Wilkins stranded, and then hit by of all people, teammate Nic Jonsson. Both were out of contention, although Jonsson later returned to the track and wound up setting the fastest race lap, which proved crucial.

The Kia retirements, Andy Lee’s move up from GTS to GT in a Lamborghini and the Chevrolet Camaros struggling for pace left the top of GTS rather jumbled. Jack Baldwin led the majority of the race before, ironically, Lee collided with him and cost him the lead spot. TRG-AMR’s Nick Esayian took advantage for a surprise, if popular, second career win in the series in his Aston Martin GT4. Teammate Drew Regitz scored his first career series podium in third, ahead of Aschenbach in fourth.

Baldwin rebounded to win on Saturday ahead of Aschenbach and Regitz. Wilkins charged from 18th to sixth before his Kia suffered an overheating problem, and Jonsson was the one to fall victim for a half shaft failure this time around. Despite the trials and tribulations, Kia still managed to secure the GTS Manufacturer’s Championship.

In the Touring Car ranks, Adam Poland and Steve Doherty each bagged their second wins of the year, while champion-elect Michael DiMeo fought through a challenging weekend and wasn’t on the podium either day. Still, by virtue of his record-tying eight wins from the first 10 races earlier this year, DiMeo easily secured the TC class crown for Compass360 Racing and Honda.

Rookie Jason Wolfe took the TCA title for Kia, and Kia won that class Manufacturer’s Championship on a 6-5 wins tiebreaker over Honda. Wolfe and teammate Nic Jonsson split the wins; myriad mechanical issues plagued Shea Holbrook in her quest to become the first female champion in series history, although she still finished second.

Brian Price took the underdog Unlimited Racing/RP Performance to the TCB driver’s title over youngsters Nathan Stacy and Tyler Palmer. Price, 37, is three years older than Stacy (14) and Palmer (20)… combined (34). Price and Johan Schwartz split the race wins.

All told it was an incredible year of Pirelli World Challenge competition, later celebrated on Saturday night.

World of Outlaws release 2023 Sprint Car Series schedule

2023 Outlaws Sprint schedule
World of Outlaws
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The 2023 World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series schedule features 87 races, almost identical to the last year’s number, to be contested at 36 venues across 19 states. With cancelations for mostly weather, they closed out this year’s calendar on November 5 with 69 events in the books. Carson Macedo won a series high 11 races.

In 2022, David Gravel chased Brad Sweet into the three-race finale on the Dirt Track at Charlotte Motor Speedway in one of the most hotly contested championships in Outlaws history. Sweet emerged victorious for the fourth straight year.

For the 19th consecutive season, the Outlaws Sprints will begin their season at Volusia Speedway Park for the DIRTcar Nationals from Feb. 9-11 and will return March 5-6 for another two-day show before hitting the road with a three-track swing into Pennsylvania to take on the Posse.

MORE: 2023 World of Outlaws Late Model Schedule

“Every year we continue to build the best schedule we can for drivers and fans across the country,” said World of Outlaws CEO Brian Carter is a series release. “I’m excited for the journey we’ve put together, which includes the biggest races in Sprint Car racing, our new Spring Swing through Pennsylvania, the thrill of combining the World of Outlaws and ‘Bike Week’ and so much more.”

Some tracks returning from hiatus and one brand new course include 81 Speedway in Park City, Kans. in April and again in October, Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon City, Ill. in April, Ogilvie (Minn.) Raceway in June and BAPS Motor Speedway in York Haven, Penn.

BAPS hosts its first race in more than 30 years when the track was known as Susquehanna Speedway. This midweek show will give the local Pennsylvania Posse 14 attempts to beat the traveling Outlaws.

Ogilvie Speedway is completely new to the series and makes it the 224th different venue they will have challenged.

MORE: Brad Sweet protects his place in history

Notably missing from the calendar are Vado (N.M.) Speedway Park, Cotton Bowl Speedway in Paige, Texas, Bakersfield (Calif.) Speedway and the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt Track.

In addition to the new spring Pennsylvania Swing, the second date at Volusia Speedway will coincide with Daytona Beach’s Bike Week and bring new eyes to the sport.

Knoxville Raceway adds another multi-night show to the calendar in April, giving this track eight sanctioned events in 2023.

And of course, there are plenty of mainstays and high dollar events, such as the Memorial Day Spectacular at Lawrenceburg (Ind.) Speedway, the 35th running of the Brad Doty Classic in July and the Labor Day Spectacular at Gray’s Harbor in Elma, Wash.

Several big paydays are on the line in 2023 including the 40th annual Kings Royal at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio paying $175,000 to the winner, the Huset’s High Bank Nationals’ $250,000-to-win finale and the grandaddy of them all, the 62nd Knoxville Nationals with a total purse exceeding $1 million.

2023 Outlaws Sprint Schedule

Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 9-11 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)

Sunday-Monday, March 5-6 – Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, FL)
Friday-Saturday, March 10-11 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, March 17 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday, March 18 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday, March 24 – Talladega Short Track (Eastaboga, AL)
Saturday, March 25 – Magnolia Motor Speedway (Columbus, MS)
Friday, March 31-Saturday, April 1 – Devil’s Bowl Speedway (Mesquite, TX)

Friday, April 7 – US-36 Raceway (Osborn, MO)
Saturday, April 8 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, April 14-15 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Friday-Saturday, April 21-22 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday, April 28 – Tri-City Speedway (Granite City, IL)
Saturday, April 29 – Tri-State Speedway (Haubstadt, IN)

Friday-Saturday, May 5-6 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, May 10 – Lincoln Speedway (Abbottstown, PA)
Friday-Saturday, May 12-13 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Friday, May 19 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Saturday, May 20 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, May 26-27 – Atomic Speedway (Chillicothe, OH)
Monday, May 29 – Lawrenceburg Speedway (Lawrenceburg, IN)

Friday, June 2 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, June 3 – Ogilvie Raceway (Ogilvie, MN)
Friday-Saturday, June 9-10 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Friday-Saturday, June 16-17 – Beaver Dam Raceway (Beaver Dam, WI)
Wednesday-Saturday, June 21-24 – Huset’s Speedway (Brandon, SD)
Friday, June 30-Saturday, July 1 – Cedar Lake Speedway (New Richmond, WI)

Friday, July 7 – 34 Raceway (West Burlington, IA)
Saturday, July 8 – Wilmot Raceway (Wilmot, WI)
Tuesday, July 11 – Attica Raceway Park (Attica, OH)
Friday-Saturday, July 14-15 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Wednesday, July 19 – BAPS Motor Speedway (York Haven, PA)
Friday-Saturday, July 21-22 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)
Saturday-Sunday, July 29-30 – Weedsport Speedway (Weedsport, NY)

Friday-Saturday, Aug. 4-5 – Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 (Pevely, MO)
Wednesday-Saturday, Aug. 9-12 – Knoxville Raceway (Knoxville, IA)
Thursday-Saturday, Aug. 17-19 – Jackson Motorplex (Jackson, MN)
Friday, Aug. 25 – River Cities Speedway (Grand Forks, ND)
Saturday, Aug. 26 – Red River Valley Speedway (West Fargo, ND)
Thursday, Aug. 31-Saturday, September 2 – Skagit Speedway (Alger, WA)

Monday, Sept. 4 – Grays Harbor Raceway (Elma, WA)
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 7-9 – Silver Dollar Speedway (Chico, CA)
Friday, Sept. 15 – Keller Auto Speedway (Hanford, CA)
Saturday, Sept. 16 – Placerville Speedway (Placerville, CA)
Friday, Sept. 22 – Eldora Speedway (Rossburg, OH)
Saturday, Sept. 23 – Sharon Speedway (Hartford, OH)
Friday-Saturday, Sept. 29-30 – Williams Grove Speedway (Mechanicsburg, PA)

Friday-Saturday, Oct. 6-7 – Port Royal Speedway (Port Royal, PA)
Friday, Oct. 13 – 81 Speedway (Park City, KS)
Saturday, Oct. 14 – Lakeside Speedway (Kansas City, KS)
Friday-Saturday, Oct. 20-21 – TBA

Wednesday-Saturday, Nov. 1-4 – The Dirt Track at Charlotte (Concord, NC)