Leavine Family Racing (LFR) welcomes Christopher Bell to the organization for the 2020 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) season as the driver of the No. 95 Toyota Camry with sponsorship from Rheem and Procore.
In addition to Bell in the driver’s seat, the technical alliance between LFR, Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) and TRD, U.S.A. (Toyota Racing Development) will also be enhanced for the 2020 season. TRD will continue to build the team’s engines and provide technology, data and technical assistance. Enhancements to the technical alliance between JGR and LFR, which began with the 2019 MENCS season, will continue to build into the 2020 season.
Bell’s NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) crew chief, Jason Ratcliff, will join him in the transition to LFR and the Cup Series. Ratcliff is no stranger to NASCAR’s premier series as he spent six full seasons serving as a Cup crew chief at JGR with drivers Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Mike Wheeler will remain with LFR and transition to the role of Competition Director, working alongside Ratcliff. Wheeler was instrumental in LFR’s growth during the 2019 season serving as crew chief of the No. 95 as the organization ran Toyota Camrys for their first year in an alliance with the manufacturer and JGR. With Wheeler’s promotion to Competition Director, Michael Leavine who is LFR’s current Competition Director will now become the Vice President of Racing Operations for the organization. Leavine will play an active role in guiding LFR through the upcoming competition changes within NASCAR.
“I’ve said from the start, I want this team to be competitive,” said Bob Leavine, LFR team founding owner. “Christopher is one of the most talented drivers we’ve seen come up through NASCAR’s ranks and together, with JGR and Toyota’s support, I’m confident our team will continue to grow, just as it has this past year. We’re certainly happy to continue to progress our relationship with both JGR and TRD as the technical partnership takes the next step forward.”
Bell is currently competing in his second full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) season for JGR, where he’s amassed 15 career-series victories and in 2018, set the record for most wins (seven) by a rookie in the series. With seven wins in his Toyota Supra already in 2019, Bell is set for another championship run as he currently ranks first in the driver point standings.
“Since I was young, I wanted to make a career out of racing,” said Bell. “To take this next step and race in the NASCAR Cup Series with the support of LFR, JGR and Toyota is just a dream come true. It also means a lot to me to have Rheem make the move to Cup racing with me. I wouldn’t be in the position I am today without their support and I’m also excited to have the opportunity to represent Procore now.
“Having been under the JGR banner these past seasons in the Xfinity Series and with TRD for as long as I can remember, having their continued support as I transition to LFR is extremely comforting and will be a tremendous benefit to me. I can’t wait to close out this season in the Xfinity Series with a strong run, and I’m looking forward to the challenge that awaits in 2020.”
A native of Norman, Oklahoma, Bell began his career racing on local dirt tracks around the Midwest. He then moved on to compete in USAC Racing’s National Midget Series where he joined TRD’s driver development program and won the 2013 title.
Bell’s NASCAR career started in 2015 racing a Toyota Tundra in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Just two years later, he won the 2017 Truck Series championship, and that same year he captured the first of three-consecutive Chili Bowl titles (2017, 2018, 2019) driving a TRD-powered Midget for Keith Kunz Motorsports.
“TRD and Toyota have worked with Bell since his early dirt track career and we’ve been proud to see him work his way to NASCAR’s highest level,” said David Wilson, president of TRD. “Christopher is a special talent and we’re happy to have him winning races and championships in a Toyota. We look forward to seeing his continued growth and success at Leavine Family Racing in 2020. We’re also pleased with how the relationship between JGR and LFR has progressed during their first season working together. We’re confident this enhanced alliance for 2020 will continue to make them a threat for race wins week in and week out.”
Founding LFR team owners Bob and Sharon Leavine began their foray into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2011. A single-car team, LFR has focused on growing competitively on the race track each year, improving its average finishing position since racing full-time in the series starting with the 2016 season.
Bell will make his Cup Series rookie debut when the 2020 season begins with the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 16, 2020.
Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Co., parent company to IndyCar, says that fans have turned out in greater numbers for the NTT IndyCar Series in 2019.
Miles delivered a “State of the Nation” address to media on Friday at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, accompanied by IndyCar president Jay Frye and NBC Sports’ president of programming Jon Miller and executive producer, Sam Flood.
Miles stated: “We’ve seen, I think, continued progress in the recent additions at Gateway [reintroduced in 2017] and Portland , and we’re really pleased about that.
“And attendance – while we don’t have auditable numbers from all of our promoters, I think it’s fair to say that it’s meaningfully up. We believe at about eight of our races there has been increased attendance from year over year at their tracks.
“We think four of our races set weekend records for their events, and we think it’s fair to say that more than 1.5 million people in total attended our races this year before this weekend.”
Miles said he was also gratified by the sponsorship situation, and the Indianapolis 500’s enduring popularity.
“We had a great May,” he said. “We’ve continued to have a series of great successes in May over the last several years, and that’s just so important for us.
Miles added: “Ninety-seven percent of our sponsorships are in place through 2020, so we’re now really focused on selling for 2021, and I believe we have the kind of story to tell and the momentum which will help us continue to grow.”
As well as thanking Firestone, with whom IndyCar are signed until at least 2026, Miles went on to address esport’s presence within IndyCar.
“This year there was, I think, sort of an unnoticed major development from our perspective,” he commented. “We teamed up with Microsoft and Forza for their Bounty Hunter challenge. A number of our drivers laid down times for May and then gamers tried to see if they could beat them for points and various prizes.
“700,000 downloads of the Forza 7 game occurred as part of this initiative, and the Forza team told us that given the link – that it was not a new introduction in terms of a game – it was the biggest number they saw for downloads in their experience in the space so far. That bodes well for us, I think.
“The last few months we’ve done a lot of work to decide what our strategy ought to look like for esport. We’re not going to get into that today, but you will see us stepping up and getting more into the esports space next year for sure.”
Drydene Performance Products, headquartered in Jonestown, Pennsylvania, announced a multi-year partnership with Dover International Speedway, serving as entitlement sponsor for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) “Drydene 400” on October 6, as well as primary sponsorship for MENCS driver Corey LaJoie in the race during a press conference Thursday morning in front of the Monster Monument at Victory Plaza at Dover International Speedway.
In addition to those announcements, a sweepstakes was unveiled where one lucky fan will win a 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 if LaJoie wins any stages of the Drydene 400.
“Drydene Performance Products is thrilled to announce the inaugural Drydene 400 and bringing Corey LaJoie onto Team Drydene,” said Dave Klinger, President of Drydene Performance Products. “A partnership with the iconic track at Dover is a natural fit: like Drydene, Dover International Speedway is part of American racing heritage.”
Klinger opened the press conference unveiling the “Drydene 400” brandmark with Dover International Speedway president and CEO Mike Tatoian. The event is the track’s second MENCS race of 2019 and Drydene’s first event entitlement sponsorship of a NASCAR event with Dover International Speedway.
This year’s “Drydene 400,” scheduled for Sunday, October 6 and set to air on NBCSN at 2:30 p.m. ET, is the first race of the Round of 12 in the MENCS postseason and the 100th NASCAR Cup Series race at the Monster Mile. Dover will be just the 10th track to host 100 or more NASCAR Cup Series events. The October 4-6 NASCAR tripleheader weekend caps the Monster Mile’s 50th Anniversary celebration.
“We are excited to partner with another historic and performance-driven brand, Drydene Performance Products, for the Drydene 400,” said Tatoian. “We are looking forward to having Drydene as part of our Monster Mile family as we continue our track’s 50th anniversary celebration.”
Drydene also announced a partnership with MENCS driver Corey LaJoie for the 2019 and 2020 Drydene 400. The Drydene No. 32 Ford Mustang of Go Fas Racing that LaJoie will race at the Drydene 400 was also unveiled during the press conference.
“For the Drydene 400, Corey is joining an outstanding group of drivers, both past and present, that have competed as part of the Team Drydene brand: from dirt to asphalt, local to nationwide, our drivers embody the hard work, dedication, and tenacity that is part of who we are,” stated Klinger.
“I’m excited to partner with Drydene for the Drydene 400 at Dover,” said Corey LaJoie. “Their support of racing as a whole makes this a great match, and we’re excited to take it to the next level.”
LaJoie is in his first full-time season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, but his racing roots run deep. The third-generation racer followed his grandfather, Don LaJoie, a member of the New England Auto Racing Hall of Fame, and his father, Randy LaJoie, the 1996 and 1997 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, into the motorsports profession. LaJoie has an impressive racing career that includes numerous wins in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the ARCA Series, and several top 10’s in NASCAR’s top series.
Drydene also announced a third component to the partnership offering fans the opportunity to enter an exciting sweepstakes. Fans will have the chance to win a 2019 Ford Mustang Shelby GT350. If LaJoie wins any stage of the Drydene 400, one registered fan will receive the keys and ownership of the car, courtesy of Hertrich Ford of Milford, Delaware. Fans can enter the sweepstakes at Drydene400.com from September 19 to noon on October 6. ENTER CONTEST HERE
Fans can follow Team Drydene, Corey LaJoie, and Dover International Speedway on social media for updates preceding the Drydene 400. For tickets or more information on Monster Mile events and 50th Anniversary activities, call (800) 441-RACE or visit DoverSpeedway.com. To celebrate this announcement, fans can purchase tickets at a special buy one, get one free rate by entering code “DRYDENE” at checkout.
The very best modified drivers from across the region will be at New Egypt Speedway on Saturday October 5th. Come out on see NES regulars such as 2019 Vahlco Wheels Modified champion Billy Pauch Jr., 2018 Track Champion David VanHorn, Danny Bouc, Brandon Grosso, Mike Butler, Ryan Krachun, Rich Rutski, Cale Ross, Davey Sammons, Pat Wall and more as they take on expected invaders that include Massachusetts’ very own Andy Bachetti, New York’s Danny Creeden, Pennsylvania’s Frank Cozze, Duane Howard, Jeff Strunk, and Alex Yankowski, along with Garden State invaders such as Dominick Buffalino, Wade Hendrickson and Jimmy Horton. Many many other drivers have expressed interest and you just never know who will show up at New Egypt Speedway on October 5th.
The Crate vs. Sportsman will complete the racing card on the 5th with a 25-lap main event that will pay $1,000 to the winner and $100 to start.
Pits and Grandstands will open at 3PM, Hot Laps are scheduled for 5PM with the first green flag of the evening flying at 6PM! Adult admission (16+) is $28, Seniors (65+) are $25, Teens (12-15) & Military w/ID are $18 with Kids 11 & Under being FREE! Pit admission will be $40. Event entry blanks and race information will be on the New Egypt Speedway website in the coming days.