Recently, we penned an article evaluating the ongoing silly season in the Dirt Late Model world. If you didn’t get a chance to read it, then you can check it out by Clicking Here. There was so much positive feedback from that piece, we thought it only made sense to put together one for the Sprint Car ranks. Certainly, it’s been an equally insane time of change over the past few months. Wholesale driver and team changes have surfaced in the winged ranks since late October.
So, without further ado, let’s look at some of the notable shakeups.
After three years with CJB Motorsports, Watertown, Connecticut’s David Gravel parted ways with the team at the end of the 2018 season. During his tenure in the GoMuddy.com #5 Sprinter, Gravel accumulated 33 wins with the World of Outlaws (WoO) Sprint Car Series. Most notably, he mowed down 18 series wins in 2017. He also finished Third in the final standings all three seasons.
However, as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end. Such was the case for CJB Motorsports and Gravel. He now moves into his new digs with Jason Johnson Racing (JJR) in the team’s iconic #41.
After the untimely passing of Johnson in June 2018, many people in the sport questioned whether the team would continue. After seeing drivers, including Carson Macedo and Joey Saldana, moonlight in the car during the latter half of the season, the team hired Gravel for the 2019 campaign. The duo plans to contend for the 2019 WoO championship.
“Continuing JJR is an overload of emotions right now,” Bobbi Johnson said. “We continue together with excitement at this point in our lives, as Jaxx lives for these races and the boys that make up this dream team we have assembled. It is so awesome to sit in the stands and watch that #41 car go around at these tracks.”
The highly-personable Shane Stewart saw an era come to an end at the end of the 2018 campaign. The Bixby, Oklahoma-native parted ways with Kyle Larson Racing (KLR) after a five-year tenure with the team. The 2015 King’s Royal Champ enjoyed success at KLR, but the past few years saw Stewart battling through random bad luck.
For 2019, he moves into the CJB Motorsports seat vacated by David Gravel. The combo will tackle the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series slate. Stewart recently voiced his excitement for the upcoming season.
“I’m really excited to join CJB Motorsports for 2019,” Stewart said. “In this day in age in Sprint Car Racing, especially World of Outlaws Sprint Car racing, it is very difficult to find a good crew chief and this car comes with one of the best in the business in Barry Jackson. I hope to continue the success this car has had over the past few years and add to the record book a bit. Obviously, we want to win a Knoxville Nationals title and a World of Outlaws title. Those are big ones.”
Just days before the 2018 edition of the World Finals at The Dirt Track at Charlotte, Carson Macedo was announced as the 2019 pilot for Kyle Larson Racing (KLR). Fresh off a six-win season, which included five All-Star Sprint Car triumphs and a runner-up finish in the series points, Macedo got an early start with KLR. He entered the World Finals in a team car to Stewart in early November. The California-native looked impressive with a pair of strong runs. In fact, he led several laps in the finale before a flat tire sent him pitside late in the event.
The 22-year-old racer now has his sights set on the 2019 Kevin Gobrecht Rookie of the Year title with the World of Outlaws. He will make a solid edition to the tour’s already potent roster.
“This is a dream-come-true opportunity for me. I’m just thrilled that Kyle is willing to give a young guy a shot,” Macedo commented. “We have some really good people and sponsors involved with this team and I look forward to continuing my relationship with Joe, as well as to start working with Heath and Jakob. I hope to make Kyle and the entire team proud competing on the World of Outlaws tour next season.”
2013 WoO Sprint Car Champion, Daryn Pittman is another driver with new digs for the 2019 campaign. After a six-year run with Kasey Kahne Racing, the Oklahoma-native joins California-based Roth Motorsports. Pittman will pilot the HR Livestock Transport #83 on the WoO tour.
“First, I would like to thank Kasey Kahne and everyone associated with Kasey Kahne Racing for six great years on the road in the #9 car,” Pittman said in a release from Peterson Media. “To win a World of Outlaws Championship, and win a ton of races, will certainly always be a very special part of my career that I truly do cherish, and I wish KKR the best moving forward.
“With that said, I am extremely excited for a new chapter in 2019 in joining Roth Motorsports and continuing on the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series tour,” Pittman continued. “The #83 is a very iconic car that I am excited to drive, and I am looking forward to the challenge of finding success and putting this car in victory lane where it belongs. I cannot thank Dennis and Teresa Roth, Todd Ventura, and everyone at Roth Motorsports enough for this opportunity.”
Pittman finished Fourth in the 2018 WoO standings and had nine series’ wins on the season. He replaces Cory Eliason, who picked up a pair of WoO Feature wins with the team in 2018.
While not a team change, Kasey Kahne’s 2019 plans in his #4 Sprint Car bear mentioning. With him announcing his retirement from racing full-time in the NASCAR ranks in October due to his battle with severe dehydration issues, he now turns his primary focus back to Sprint Cars. The nature of Sprint Car racing’s shorter events allows Kahne to put more focus into the sport where he got his start. He’s indicated that he plans to run as many 50-60 Sprint Car events in 2019.
“This is the most excited I have been in a long time to get back to racing,” Kahne commented in a team press release. “I feel great, and I’ve been working out a lot preparing for the upcoming season. Returning to Sprint Cars on a more regular basis is something that I have been looking forward to for years.”
Terry McCarl, a seven-time Knoxville Raceway Track Champion, is joining forces with Destiny Motorsports for the 2019 season. After having Destiny Motorsports on board as a marketing partner for the past four years, the veteran racer announced in early December he would be teaming up with the Rick and Barb Rogers-owned team for a full schedule of racing.
Operations for Destiny Motorsports have been in Fairmont, Indiana, since 2013, but are relocating to Mitchellville, Iowa for the 2019 season. McCarl, along with crew chief Doug Rank, and crew member Steve Fitzpatrick, will oversee the operation at the new location.
Indiana’s Parker Price Miller and Pennsylvania’s Brock Zearfoss split driving time with the team in 2018.
The complete schedule for the team has yet to be revealed, but they will debut on February 8-10 at Volusia Speedway Park (Barberville, Florida) with the WoO.
After four seasons in the Hunter Racing #10 Sprinter, Ohio’s Chad Kemenah announced in October 2018 that he and the team would be going separate ways for 2019.
“I have to thank Rob and Rita Hunter for the past four seasons of racing. They have provided my brother and I with a tremendous opportunity,” Kemenah noted. “During the past four seasons, our entire race team accomplished a lot with two All Star Championships, Rob and Rita’s first World of Outlaws win at Fremont Speedway, and two top ten finishes at the Knoxville Nationals.”
The six-time champion for the All Star Circuit of Champions is currently seeking a ride for the upcoming season.
Again, these changes represent just a few of the shake ups for the 2019 campaign. As always, stay tuned to OneDirt.com as we share the latest and greatest breaking news in the world of dirt track racing.