Dirt tracks reverse course, cancel their weekend racing programs

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After a controversial decision by some to race last weekend despite the novel coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19), more dirt tracks are putting events on hiatus.

In a statement on its website, Williams Grove Speedway announced it won’t hold racing Friday based on recommendations of Gov. Tom Wolf. The track in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, held its traditional opening day March 13 with the tacit support of the governor and had planned to continue this weekend.

Wolf apparently has reversed course from Monday when he said he wouldn’t make tracks in his state cancel their races.

According to multiple reports, Lancaster Motor Speedway in Lancaster Country, South Carolina (about 35 miles from Charlotte, North Carolina), also has decided to cancel its Saturday program of racing.

The track in Lancaster, South Carolina, initially canceled its March 22 program Wednesday but then decided Thursday that the races would happen.

A Facebook post from the Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office read, “There have been a lot of conversations this week concerning the race tomorrow night at Lancaster Motor Speedway. After those conversations, the officials at Lancaster Motor Speedway have made the decision to cancel tomorrow night’s race out of concern for their fans and the general public.”

Here’s the statement from Williams Grove Speedway on canceling its March 20 program:

“Williams Grove Speedway will not be racing this Friday, March 20, based on the recommendations of the governor of Pennsylvania. The status of future races will be announced. Keep up to date on all speedway news and information by visiting the oval’s official website at http://www.williamsgrove.com.”

The dirt racing season has yet to open at some tracks around the country.

Eldora Speedway, perhaps the country’s most famous dirt track, tweeted a photo last week of snow blanketing its famous half-mile. The 2020 schedule on its website still shows as opening its 67th season April 18 with Dirt Late Models, Modifieds and Super Stocks.

“There will be early season events affected and postponed, but the situation changes so rapidly that it’s difficult to know how many or what dates are available for rescheduling,” Eldora Speedway general manager Roger Slack told NBCSports.com via text. “We have been following the guidance and recommendations of the State of Ohio and the federal government and urge all of our race fans and competitors to do so as well.”

Santino Ferrucci will drive No. 14 for AJ Foyt Racing full time in 2023 IndyCar season

Santino Ferrucci AJ Foyt
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Santino Ferrucci will return to full-time racing in the NTT IndyCar Series next season, joining AJ Foyt Racing.

Ferrucci had made eight IndyCar starts with three teams since his last full-time season in 2020 while also racing part time in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year.

He will drive the storied No. 14 Dallara-Chevrolet for four-time Indy 500 winner A.J. Foyt’s team, which will field the car from its Waller, Texas headquarters.

“It’s incredibly exciting to be back in the INDYCAR Series full time,” Ferrucci said in a team release. “Being a part-time driver over the last two years has been hard for me, personally. I’m a race car driver, and I want to compete. Working with different teams has been exciting, and I’m proud that no matter which car I’ve raced, I’ve always shown speed and consistency. I couldn’t be more excited to join AJ Foyt Racing in the 14 Chevy. I can’t wait to make the best of it.”

Ferrucci, 24, had finished a career-best fourth in IndyCar four times, including the 104th Indy 500 in 2020. He was the 2019 Indy 500 rookie of the year with a sixth.

In nine Xfinity starts since 2021, Ferrucci has a career-best finish of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“I am thrilled to welcome Santino to the team,” Larry Foyt said in a release. “He’s shown a knack for getting toward the front of the field, and I think he is a racer who moves forward on race day. A.J. sees the fire in him and has enjoyed their meetings together. I think Santino’s experience will help his rookie teammate as well, so he is a great addition to our roster.”

Ferrucci will be teamed at AJ Foyt Racing with Benjamin Pedersen, who finished fifth in the 2022 Indy Lights standings. The team has yet to specify the number for Pedersen’s entry, which will be fielded out of its Indianapolis race shop.

Foyt’s two full-time drivers last season were Dalton Kellett and Kyle Kirkwood, who is moving to Andretti Autosport.