By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Beyond a doubt, Hoosier racing fans were pulling for Jeff Gordon to enjoy a sixth Brickyard 400 win in his last racing appearance at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway or, second best, to see Tony Stewart rejuvenate his career Sunday.
Stewart was the ol’ Tony after qualifying fourth fastest Saturday at 182.82 mph for his 17th Brickyard race. He definitely was upbeat.
“It’s a moral victory if nothing else, for us and the team,” he said after qualifying. “It’s been a rough season so far, so this is a great way to come to your home track.”
Beech Grove Mayor Dennis Buckley expressed his appreciation for Gordon’s accomplishments, as did Beech Grove business owner Mike Heimel, who also acknowledged Gordon’s career but cheered for Stewart.
Stewart, who lives in Columbus, was bolstered emotionally by returning to the Speedway. “That’s what you want when you come home; they (fans) are a big part of this when it comes to keeping your morale up.”
He even joked about returning to the Indianapolis Speedrome that night by saying, “I don’t know whether to be honored by it or if it is a true sign I’m getting old. They don’t normally name races after 22-year old drivers."
Stewart’s comment about it being a rough season is a vast understatement; a sixth-place finish at Bristol stands as his only top 10. He left the Speedway mired in 26th place.
He began Sunday’s race by running as high as second and as low as 12th during the first 100 laps, but a late gamble to stay on the track with worn tires eventually dropped him to 28th.
Stewart served as guest emcee and official starter for the 100-lap Tony Stewart Classic midget car race at the Speedrome. He was back at his open-wheel roots, where he won his first midget car race in 1991 and USAC Regional Series Rookie of the Year laurel.
“Being back at the track where I won my first midget car race against Mel Kenyon, Ted Hines and Michael Lang, I really feel that this is the track where my professional career began,” Stewart said.
He watched as Kyle Hamilton of Danville led all but the first 13 laps and became the race’s inaugural winner.
Although Hamilton won, Verizon IndyCar Rookie of the Year contender Gabby Chavez and Beech Grove’s Kyle O’Gara stole the show.
In his first midget car race, Chaves was third at the end of 75 laps and chose to go to the back of the pack and race for a $10,000 bonus if he would win. Hamilton controlled the final 25 laps, but Chavez still managed an impressive sixth.
O’Gara sustained a damaged engine in a full-sized midget car earlier Saturday. That forced dad Andy O’Gara and the crew to return to a Southside shop and roll out their smaller and underpowered Kenyon midget. O’Gara finished seventh and earned Stewart’s praise afterward.
Yeah, he told me I drove a smart and clean race,” O’Gara said in front his brother and dad, Johnny O’Gara.
Gordon’s unfortunate day
Starting from a disappointing 24th position, Gordon never came close to the day he had sought in his last Brickyard race. He moved up to 15th but spun on Lap 50 and struck the outer wall to avoid Clint Bowyer’s spinning car.
The No. 24 crew worked in intense heat in Gasoline Alley for an hour and made enough repairs so that Gordon could return to the track.
“It was an unfortunate day,” Gordon said. “I feel so fortunate to have just gotten an opportunity to race here. Certainly to have five wins here is just unbelievable as well.”
Meanwhile, Kyle Busch continued his torrid streak by sweeping the Xfinity and Sprint Cup races. NASCAR’s hottest driver has won four of his last five Sprint Cup races after missing the first 11 while recovering from leg injuries at Daytona.
Penske at Speedrome
In prerace ceremonies Saturday at the Speedrome, longtime NASCAR team owner Roger Penske, the winningest car owner in Indianapolis 500 history with 16 wins, was among 12 inductees into the USAC Hall of Fame. Penske and veteran midget car builder Don Kenyon accepted their plaques in person.
Penske reminisced: “Sixty-four years ago my dad took me to the race at Indianapolis. Racing is all about family, the team and the people. I owe thanks to Frankie Del Roy (USAC official) at California. I was in line to get credentials and Frankie said, ‘See that tall man standing over there – he’s Rick Mears, keep an eye on him.’ ”
Penske eventually hired Mears, who won four Indy 500 and six poles at the IMS.
Family members or designated representatives accepted on behalf of two-time USAC stock car champion and 2015 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Fred Lorenzen and five-time USAC national stock car champion Butch Hartman, Clint Brawner, Jimmy Caruthers, Jim Hurtubise, Sheldon Kinser, Larry Rice, Shorty Templeman and Sleepy Tripp.
PHOTOS BY AL STILLEY NASCAR and IndyCar team owner Roger Penske was among 12 inductees into the United States Auto Club Hall of Fame during ceremonies Saturday at the Indiana Tech Indianapolis Speedrome. Penske is with Amanda Gardstrom, daughter of Fred Lorenzen, a two-time USAC national stock car champion and winner of 26 NASCAR races.
By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon knows that his emotions will run wild this weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
He will return home Thursday to Pittsboro for a rain-postponed parade in his honor at noon. Gordon lived there and raced midgets and sprints on Indiana dirt tracks as a teenager. He is alum of Tri-West High School in Hendricks County.
The IMS is his home track. His historic triumph in the inaugural NASCAR Brickyard race was only the second win in his Sprint Cup career in 1994. He won again in 1998, 2003, ’04 and last year.
“The sentiment has to do with my history and the memories that I have at that track,” Gordon said in anticipation of his homecoming at the Speedway. “When I heard the crowd applaud on race day for driver introductions (Sonoma), it really stuck with me, and it was cool. I anticipate that at Indianapolis as well.
“The cheers and the support have been overwhelming everywhere we’ve gone. But when you talk about the significant tracks in my career, Indy certainly comes to mind because of the support I’ve always had there. At Indianapolis it will hit me too that this (final race) is happening.”
Gordon announced after the 2014 season that he would no longer race on a full-time basis. This is his farewell tour. He has won more NASCAR races (92) than any active driver; teammate Jimmie Johnson has 74 wins; Tony Stewart is third with 48.
“It rained on my parade,” Gordon joked at Kentucky Speedway, where the test session also was rained out. “The town means a lot to me because of all the support I had from the people there.”
Then Gordon summed up his emotions by saying, “That whole Brickyard weekend is going to be a great one.”
Indeed it will be one to remember for Gordon, whose roots include USAC’s national midget and Silver Crown championships.
Gordon’s string of races at Kentucky Speedway ended July 11 without a win – the only track he’s raced where he was not victorious. He was seventh in the No. 24 AARP Member Services Chevrolet, which ran better late in the race.
Gordon has received many gifts and accolades at each track this season, but none as unique or plentiful than at Kentucky Speedway.
Track representatives and Kentucky Bourbon master distillers Jimmy Russell (Wild Turkey), Jim Rutledge (Four Roses), Fred Noe Sr. (Jim Beam) and Willie Pratt (Michter’s) presented a dozen bottles each of four distinct brands.
However, veteran motor sports writer Gary Graves pointed out that Gordon would have traded all those bottles to drink champagne if he would have won at Kentucky Speedway.
Tenth in points before Sunday’s race in New Hampshire, Gordon is still searching for his first win of 2015, which would virtually guarantee him a spot in The Chase. His four titles were earned prior to The Chase format.
“It really bums me out that I haven’t won under this format,” Gordon said. “We’ve been close, but haven’t won it. I’m using that as motivation in this final season to run for the championship. I would love to get into that same position that we were in this past year and do that again this year with running for the championship at Homestead.”
Gordon’s successor in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 will be second-generation driver Chase Elliott, son of 2002 Brickyard winner Bill Elliott. Chase became NASCAR’s youngest champion last year by winning the Nationwide (now Xfinity) Series at 18.
“Obviously we want to make the race,” said Chase Elliott, who will have to qualify fast enough to make the field on his time. “I’ll be asking him (Gordon) a lot of questions before then.”
Elliott, who is among the top three in points in the Xfinity Series, will race Saturday and hopefully Sunday at 3:50 p.m. in the Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard.
Looking ahead to 2016, Elliott said, “It will be an honor to drive that car (No. 24) next year.”
The fabled No. 24 will roll on but without Indiana’s adopted racing son behind the wheel.
By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Dale Earnhardt Jr. likes what NASCAR is doing by ordering different aero packages for specific racetracks, but owner-driver Tony Stewart does not.
After a two-day test at Chicagoland Speedway last week, Earnhardt commmented, “I’m excited to see what happens – whether this stuff works, fails, whatever – but it’s fun to go through it. This is a big deal really, to change the whole thing for everybody at this track and then try something so extreme at another track.”
Stewart, who is a four-team Sprint Cup team owner with industrialist Gene Haas, wants NASCAR to help the owners financially when the sanctioning body makes aero package changes during the season.
“The part that’s hard for the teams is the process, you know, changing this, changing that,” Stewart said. “All that cost comes out of our pockets. It doesn’t come out of NASCAR’s pocket. NASCAR decides they want to change something, we’re the ones that have to spend the money to do it.
“I think all the owners will do whatever’s in the best interest of making it better. I would like to see NASCAR share some of the expenses.”
NASCAR executive Chris O’Donnell announced several weeks ago that aero packages would change for races at Indianapolis and Michigan, with a higher rear spoiler and other alterations for more drafting and hopefully more passing. A shorter rear spoiler was well received by most competitors after being implemented for the July 11 race at Kentucky Speedway.
Drivers are definitely talking about Indianapolis, where more passing is needed.
“It (taller rear spoiler) is really extreme and should really alter the racing and what it looks like there,” Earnhardt said. “What’ll it look like, I don’t know; but it’s not going to be the same. Fans are going to tune in to see that, whatever it is that happens. That’s great.”
Drivers have urged NASCAR to put more of the driving of a 3,250-pound stock car in their hands, particularly after the development of the Gen.-6 look-alike cars and changes since. They want a stock car that’s harder to handle.
Five-time Brickyard winner Jeff Gordon is taking a wait-and-see attitude about changes at Indianapolis. He noticed little change in the stock cars at Kentucky when they were racing side by side.
Joey Logano was the most diplomatic among drivers at Kentucky Speedway while discussing the rules for the Brickyard. “Hopefully, we can make the runs and be able to see cars draft up and be able to pull out,” said the Team Penske driver. “We’re talking a 9-inch spoiler, and that’s huge. That thing’s going to be pushing a boulder through the air. We’re going to be wide open a lot.
“Obviously, horsepower is going to show a lot when we go to a racetrack like that. And obviously a lot of people will obviously be trying to trim their cars out with that much drag on the cars. There’s a lot of unknowns, but directionally, we got to try something different there because that’s one of our most important races of the year.”
With a past history of few passes on the track, drivers know the importance of putting on a competitive race Sunday in the Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard.
Logano pointedly said, “We can’t afford to have a bad show, and I feel like we have had some not very good racing there (Brickyard) in the past. You look at Indy cars, that’s one of their best races because they can draft down the straightaways. I think that’s what we’re going to try to do at a track like that.”
However, with all aero package changes in the works for selected tracks, drivers do not want any such changes once The Chase starts Sept. 20 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Bonus pictures from Al Stilley
By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Noblesville’s Dakota Armstrong remains determined to show team owner Richard Petty that he is improving over his first Xfinity Series campaign last year.
Armstrong, 24, is bettering himself as he prepares for the 250-mile race Saturday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“We’ve made it into the top 15 points, and that’s a big step,” Armstrong said at Kentucky Speedway. “No doubt we could have had better finishes; we are getting better.”
Although he grew up in open-wheel territory, Armstrong has raced mostly stock cars. Last year was his first in NASCAR’s No. 2 series.
Armstrong admired Jeff Gordon for his NASCAR career from racing sprints and midgets in Indiana and taking a stock car path.
“Our paths were a bit different, but I’m trying for the same goal, to race in Sprint Cup,” Armstrong said. “Jeff is ‘that guy’ for my generation because we look up at what he has accomplished. He is a big leader of the sport. Every young driver wants to become the next Jeff Gordon.”
After 16 races, Armstrong is 12th in points with a best finish of sixth earlier this month at Daytona, where he started on the pole last year. He was 13th in points for the season with three top 10s. He has flirted with the top-10 ranking this season.
“If you’re running consistently in the top 10, you’ll have shots at winning races,” he said. “That’s the goal – to run consistently in the top 10 so we can have a good season.”
Newman not so quiet
South Bend native Ryan Newman usually does his talking on the racetrack. The graduate of USAC midget and sprint cars has 17 wins and 51 poles in 14 years of Sprint Cup competition. He was winless last year but was the series runner-up.
He has not won a Sprint Cup race since his 2013 Brickyard with Newman-Haas Racing. His best finish this season, his second with team owner Richard Childress, was second at Martinsville, Va.
Newman expressed his true desire to win this season and make The Chase on wins instead of points.
He has been outspoken twice this season.
In an interview with NBC after the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway earlier this month, Newman talked about the horrendous multiple-car accident that sent Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet airborne into the front stretch catch fence. The potential for tragedy was alarming, particularly in the aftermath of Dan Weldon’s fatal crash at Las Vegas in 2011 and Dale Earnhardt’s death at Daytona in 2001.
“NASCAR got what they wanted, that’s the end of it,” said Newman, who has an engineering degree from Purdue University.
“Cars getting airborne, unsafe drivers, same old stuff. They just don’t listen. They had an event in 2001, and they’ve had several events since then. They just don’t pay attention to safety, simple as that.”
At least some drivers have NASCAR’s collective ear. The recently established drivers council has urged the governing body to make car rules so that the driving is back in the drivers’ hands.
Earlier this season Newman was part of the Tiregate at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, where officials had been looking at a number of teams who had allegedly altered tires by drilling small holes in the tires to let air out during the course of a run for better wear and grip. Tires were taken after the March 22 race at Auto Club
Speedway in California.
Newman’s team, the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet owned by Richard Childress, was assessed a 75-point reduction and a $125,000 fine for crew chief Luke Lambert, who was suspended for six races along with a tire technician and team engineer.
Newman was dropped to 26th in points, but he is back to 14th after the Quaker State 400. If he continues winless but remains in the top 16, he could make the Chase.
Nevertheless, he is looking forward to the Brickyard 400 and breaking his winless slide.
Brickyard aero package
The mandated aero package at the Brickyard requires a 9-inch rear spoiler, a 1-inch wicker bill, a 2-inch leading edge on the front splitter and a 43-inch splitter extension panel.
NASCAR executive Chris O’Donnell expects lap speeds to be 10 mph slower than last year. Officials expect more passing and drafting with the new rules.
Kevin Harvick holds the one-lap qualifying record of 188.470 mph at the Brickyard.
Schedule of events
Activities begin Thursday on Main Street in Speedway with the annual hauler parade and entertainment from 5-8 p.m.
Sprint Cup and Xfinity drivers have practice sessions from 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Friday, with autograph sessions at 9 and 11 a.m. Xfinity Series qualifying is at 11:35 a.m. Saturday, followed by Sprint Cup qualifying at 1:10 p.m. The Xfinity Lilly Diabetes 250 starts at 3:50 p.m.
The Crown Royal presents the Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard starts at 3:30 p.m. Sunday. Country music star Kellie Pickler will sing the national anthem.
The Brickyard race honors Jeff Kyle of Texas, a recipient of the Navy Achievement Medal for leading the first Marine detachment to transport a nuclear submarine through hostile waters. He was deployed multiple times to Iraq and Africa during his eight years of military service.
Honoring Sgt. Kyle is part of Crown Royal’s unique program that recognizes a military hero with his name as part of the Sprint Cup race at the Brickyard. He was announced as the winner last month at a Texas Rangers home baseball game, where he threw the first pitch.
Kyle is an advocate for veterans and provides support through his involvement with several organizations.
• Jeff Gordon, who won his fifth Brickyard last year, has 17 top-10 finish in 21 Brickyard 400s. Gordon is the race’s youngest winner, having taken the checkered flag for the inaugural race in 1994, just two days after his 23rd birthday.
• Kyle Larson, who finished seventh last year, was the highest finishing rookie.
• Bill Elliott is the oldest winner; he was 46 when he won in 2002.
• Gordon has the most wins with five; his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson has four. Tony Stewart and Dale Jarrett have two each. Other winners are Bobby Labonte, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Newman, Ricky Rudd, Harvick, Earnhardt and Bill Elliott.
• Team owner Rick Hendrick has nine wins. Roger Penske, who has a record 16 Indianapolis 500 wins, has never won the race.
Five-time Brickyard 400 winner Jeff Gordon grins just moments before Saturday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway. Gordon, who announced his retirement from racing earlier this year, finished seventh and is looking forward to his final race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 26.
By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Only Jeff Gordon could manage a bit of a smile among the Hoosier-bred racers or former IndyCar drivers after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Quaker State 400 Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
Gordon, competing in his farewell season, finished a career-best seventh in the five races at the 1.5-mile track, the only venue where he failed to win.
“It was a solid evening; it wasn’t a winning evening, but I’m still proud of the effort,” Gordon said. “We had to fight through a few handling issues and some restarts and pit road and a bunch of things, but there at the end everything kind of came together. We got the car working really well, got a couple of good restarts and a good pit stop.”
Gordon, driving the No. 24 Hendrick Chevrolet, trailed winner Kyle Busch, who led the most laps, 163-of-267, runner-up Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Brad Keselowski, who won the Xfinity Kentucky 300 Friday night.
Four of the top five finishers drive Toyotas for Joe Gibbs Racing.
Other drivers with Indiana or IndyCar connections had all kinds of problems.
Only 2013 Brickyard 400 winner Ryan Newman joined Gordon among the top 20; Sam Hornish Jr. was 22nd, Casey Mears 23rd, A.J. Allmendinger 26th, Tony Stewart 33rd and Danica Patrick 34th.
Hornish led one lap (189) by staying out under caution while most drivers pitted.
Patrick was among the top 20 briefly, but the GoDaddy Chevrolet was rammed in Turn 1 by Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose Chevrolet had no brakes. The feisty Patrick retaliated by bumping into Earnhardt later on pit road.
“I didn’t have any brakes going into the corner,” Earnhardt said. “I know better than to run into her because it gets so much attention. There wasn’t nothing I could do. It’s not like I just drew her name out of a hat and decided she was the one I was going to run into tonight.”
Stewart had to take the high groove and scraped the backstretch wall while trying to avoid two cars that had made contact on Lap 144.
The top 27 finishers were on the lead lap.
Busch led the final 20 laps after outracing Logano for the lead. Busch is on a determined comeback trail after missing 11 races due to leg injuries sustained in a crash at Daytona. He is 78 points from 30th place, which would guarantee him a spot in The Chase with his two wins. There are only eight races left to determine the 16 drivers for The Chase.
The race was the first one this season with a revised aero package which featured a much smaller rear spoiler and less downforce; the setup will also be used on the Labor Day weekend race at Darlington, S.C.
“I felt like a race car driver again,” Edwards said. “We were able to drive these cars again, and this track had always been a challenge to make passes.”
Gordon took more of a wait-and-see attitude.
“Kentucky is such a challenging racetrack already, and basically the cars just drove really bad right from the beginning and just always drove bad around all the cars,” Gordon said. “It didn’t change a whole lot when you are around other cars … the only way you can make a low downforce package work is to have the proper tire.”
NASCAR will try a different aero package for the Brickyard 400 July 26 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The result could be more drafting and passing.
The series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway before the Brickyard 400 July 26 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
After 10 days of chaos, maybe the chatter in the motorsports world will begin to subside.
IndyCar, NASCAR and even the Confederate flag were turned upside down in 10 day stretch from June 27 with fears of pack racing at the MAVTV 500 in California to the early morning hours of July 6 when the NASCAR Sprint Cup 400-miler at Daytona ended with a big bang.
Between those races, IndyCar CEO Mark Miles gave his mid-season review that drew Southsider/RACER magazine columnist Robin Miller’s wrath and NASCAR hopped on the “politically correct” bandwagon and banned the Confederate flag from NASCAR tracks.
Ryan Briscoe went for a wild ride with two laps left in the race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif. He was in an eight-car pack when he made contact with Ryan Hunter-Reay’s car on the frontstretch. Briscoe’s race car became airborne, landed nose first into the rain-soaked infield grass, flipped again and game to a stop.
Criticism of IndyCar’s racing package and pack racing came from some drivers but were put down by driver-owner Ed Carpenter, who commented on Twitter, “I love close IndyCar racing. Hate to see drivers bad-mouthing a series. If you want to race, race. If not, retire.”
For pack racing, all motorsports fans had to do was look at NASCAR’s “400” at Daytona that began at 11:41 p.m. July 5 and ended at 2:44 a.m. July 6.
Austin Dillon, grandson of team owner Richard Childress, was in the middle of a two-lane pack at the end of the race, because airborne and slammed into the catchfence. Miraculously he escaped any serious injuries but 13 fans were treated for minor injuries.
“It was just crazy,” said Dillon who slid on his stomach in the rain-slickened infield grass July 4 to celebrate winning the XFINITY Series 250-mile race. “It’s just a wad right there at the end, and that’s the way these speedway races end and you’re just praying and hoping that you get through it.”
Dillon and long-time Hendrick Motorsports crew chief Dale Knauss suggested that NASCAR needs to further slow down the stock cars at Daytona and Talladega where restrictor plates already are in use to cut down horsepower.
“Wreckers or checkers,” Dillon commented.
At the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Miles addressed the media July 1 in a press conference and conference call session.
Miles suggested some drivers were “irresponsible” in their comments after the California race, said that Fontana could be scheduled in 2016 after the inaugural Labor Day race in Boston, added that IndyCar could return to road America and Phoenix, admitted that the new and controversial aero packages continue to evolve and liked the TV ratings of the California race.
However he drew criticism from retired two-time Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti who tweeted, “The drivers aired their views...because they’re not listened to by the series in private.”
And then the Confederate flag crept into the picture as NASCAR czar Brian France defended the sanctioning body’s ban on the Confederate flag at all NASCAR racing events. The ban includes NASCAR races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Enforcement of the ban by NASCAR is a dilemma. Many Confederate flags were flying in the infield at Daytona and the traditional Labor Day weekend returns to Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
When the 10 days of chaos had ended, the fallout from two death-defying crashes and all the rhetoric resulted in no immediate solutions to improving track safety or further reducing the dangers of major league racing.
NASCAR changes rules
NASCAR officials announced rules changes to reduce aerodynamic downforce on all stock cars for the 400-mile race Saturday night at Kentucky Speedway.
The Sprint Cup cars will feature a 3.5-inch rear spoiler, a 25-inch radiator pan and a front splitter overhang at 1.75 inches less than before. Similar changes will be utilized Sept. 6 at Darlington.
Indiana’s own Tony Stewart, 25th in points, is hopeful that he can apply more horsepower instead of being hampered by drag that will fit his usually aggressive driving style.
Also announced earlier this week, the rules package for the July 26 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Aug. 16 at Michigan International Speedway will have a nine-inch spoiler for increased drag, hopefully to allow more passing, a two-inch splitter and a 43 inch radiator pan.
Franklin Central junior winning awards
By Al Stilley
Senior staff writer
Third-generation stock car driver Jack Dossey III teems with confidence when competing in Championship Racing Association stock car races in the Midwest.
The Franklin Central junior already has won the 2014 McGunegill Engine Performance Late Model championship and Rookie of the Year honors at Anderson Speedway, as well as three consecutive races this year through June 12. He was second in CRA Sportsman points last year and was the top rookie.
“I have won some significant races,” Dossey, 16, said. “If I set my mind to it, do my best and give it my all, I can come out with good results. My mom and dad raised me to be confident.”
His dad, Jack Dossey Jr., won seven Late Model season championships at the Indianapolis Speedrome, a record six World Championship Figure-8 Three-hour Endurance Races and numerous short track races and Legends Cars features. His wife, Jennifer, is the behind-the-scenes anchor of the family’s racing program, which is based in Franklin Township.
Jack Dossey, the family patriarch, won a stock class championship at the Speedrome.
“He (dad) tells me to be aggressive but be smart,” Dossey III said. “He’s experienced everything that I may have issues with on or off the race track. He is a tremendous mentor in every aspect of racing.”
Dossey Jr. recalled, “My dad was a pretty good driver, but in my career he wasn’t there to keep me calm. I was a hothead and that doesn’t work. The days of Dale Earnhardt and Tony Stewart are gone – you don’t want to do anything negative on or off the track.”
Dossey III is a graduate of FasKarts, Legends Cars, three figure-8 races at the Speedrome and stock car races at the vacated Mount Lawn Speedway, where he was the youngest winner of the prestigious Raintree 100.
His next outing will be in a CRA Sportsman race at Lucas Oil Raceway in Brownsburg at 7:45 p.m. Friday.
He is being groomed for a full-time run in the ARCA/CRA Super Series in 1916 and will get a taste of that competition at Anderson (July 18), Lucas Oil Raceway (July 24) and Winchester Speedway (Sept. 6 and 7).
“Right now we just want to get our feet wet and have fun to get ready for next year,” Dossey III said of the ARCA/CRA SuperSeries.
He is fifth in the CRA Sportsman Series and leads the MEP LM Series at Anderson, where he recently set a track record of 12.839 seconds June 12.
The youngest Dossey has adapted to each step along the way without being intimidated by veterans or new race tracks. “Sometimes I forget my age,” he said. “I try to act like an adult on the track and compete with them. Being this young is not as bad as it looks because I’m getting the experience that I need.”
The Dosseys are not only working on getting more racing experience to keep climbing the ladder – hopefully from the ARCA/CRA Super Series to ARCA national events and into NASCAR – but they are making several appearances this year to promote races.
They also plan to feature one of their No. 20 Hart’s Auto Center/Mike Heimel Auction Chevrolets at various auto shows this winter in the Midwest. They will need far more sponsorship for the full SuperSeries than they have now.
Jack Dossey Jr. said he is proud of his son’s fast learning curve. “He has learned how to take care of the equipment that he races, and he has patience. Early in my career I didn’t have much patience. For his age he is very mature, real smooth, and he’s not rough on equipment. He’s smooth but aggressive. He doesn’t really let the competition get into his head.”
The team consists of crew chief Tim Neal and Jackie Neal plus Pete Harlow, Pete Alcorn and Kenny Etter, who were with Dossey Jr. for more than 20 years at the Speedrome.
Dossey III works at Hart’s Auto Center, owned by his dad and uncle John Dossey, on the Near Eastside
Dossey Jr. and wife Jennifer have been married for 28 years. She was his staunch supporter for many years at the Speedrome. “She is the backbone of this operation,” he said. “She is the one who keeps us organized and prepared for our next race and the future.”
Al Stilley is the senior sports writer for the Southsider Voice and has years of experience covering motorsports.