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Kahne, Scelzi join Outlaws; will we see any defections? | Daily 1-23-2023

A bunch of news items for you today, including World of Outlaws full timer additions, a new open wheel team from a NASCAR driver, and more. Let's go!

It's Monday, January 23rd, I'm Justin Fiedler. This is DIRTRACKR Daily.

Back on Friday while I was already in the midst of uploading that day's show, we had a few drivers commit full time to the World of Outlaws Sprint Car Series for 2023, so I wanted to kick things off by doubling back to that news. The first announcement to drop was for Kasey Kahne. He'll join KKR teammate Brad Sweet out on the road full time. Kahne attempted to go full time last season, but several crashes through the year slowed his rookie run down, and he eventually had to miss 27 races recovering from injuries. There were some bright spots though in the 44 appearances he did make with the Outlaws, including leading laps and finishing on the podium at Huset's in June, and a top five at Eldora in July. Kahne's team will be crew chiefed by Justin Adams, who had spent time in the previous two seasons working on James McFadden's car. He is still seeking his first ever World of Outlaws win, which is crazy to think about given all the winning he's done in his career at other levels, and the nearly 200 appearances he's made with the series. Overall, Kahne has five top fives and 33 top tens in his Outlaw career, and does have six All Star victories on his resume, with the last coming in 2003.

Not long after Kahne was announced, KCP Racing also dropped the news that they will join the Outlaws for a full time run with driver Gio Scelzi. KCP had previously been on the road with the Outlaws with driver Ian Madsen, but this will be the rookie year for Gio. This shouldn't be a massive transition though for either KCP or Gio, as they have run packed sprint car schedules the previous few years, which included 49 Outlaw races in 2021, and 46 in 2022. Since 2018, Gio has 168 Outlaw appearances, with five victories, 32 top fives, and 84 top tens. His two Outlaw wins a year ago were at Tulare and Bakersfield in March. KCP was full time with Madsen in 2018 and 2019, finishing eighth in the standings both years. I do expect Gio to be a regular contender for victories, and should be in the mix in that top six to eight in points by year's end. This squad was one of the two I had heard was considering going out with the Outlaws. The other was Tyler Courtney with Clauson Marshall, but it sounds now like they may run the All Stars for another season. I was going to be all in on a Sunshine vs. Gio rookie battle, but it doesn't appear as though we will get that. So here is the list of confirmed full time teams right now. It includes Brad Sweet, Kasey Kahne, Gio Scelzi, Logan Schuchart, Jacob Allen, Brock Zearfoss, Noah Gass, Bill Rose, Robbie Price, and James McFadden. That's ten so far, with nothing official from David Gravel, Carson Macedo, Donny Schatz, Sheldon Haudenschild, Spencer Bayston, or Kraig Kinser. At this point though, I don't know that I'd expect any defections. I think it's highly likely we start the year with 16, which would be everyone from last year, including Kasey Kahne and the addition of Scelzi. We are still a little more than two weeks away from the season opener down at Volusia.

There have been a few other sprint car news items over the past few days as well. First, Christopher Bell is partnering up with his father in law, Brian Kemenah, to start a new team, Bell Kemenah Racing. They are going to campaign micros and sprint cars for drivers Gavan Boschele, Jadan Bowling, and Cullen Hutchison. We'll see this new team as soon as this coming weekend down at Volusia, as Boschele will be in action in the sprint car against the USCS at the Southern Sprint Car Shootout. Don't expect Boschele at any big 410 shows, as he's still too young to compete withe bigger series. Looking at his website though, it does look like we'll see him at a number of USCS events into the spring, along with racing at Millbridge in the micro and in a pro late model on pavement. And unless they have flipped in recent days, I don't think you'll see Bell in the sprint car either, as his NASCAR team in Joe Gibbs Racing has apparently put the kibosh on his dirt schedule. Brian Kemenah, while also being Bell's father in law, is also a very accomplished sprint car crew chief, including leading Chad Kemenah and Tim Shaffer to All Star titles, and crew chiefing Shaffer to the 2010 Knoxville Nationals title.

Elsewhere, with the departure of JJ Hickle who is headed to run the Seeling car in Ohio, Brandon Ikenberry's team was without a driver. But we found out today that Aussie driver Lachlan McHugh is joining that group for something like 50 races this season. That should mean a healthy dose of Knoxville weekly, probably Huset's, and some midwest national series shows as well.

And fresh off his rookie run in a USAC midget with Chad Boat, Mitchel Moles will compete full time in 2023 in the Reinbold Underwood non-wing sprint car. They'll chase the USAC National Sprint Car points, with that season starting in a few weeks down in Florida.

Down at Volusia over the weekend, we only got one of the final two nights completed for the World of Outlaws Late Model Series opening event. They raced Friday, but Saturday was lost to weather. Friday's show though was a repeat of Thursday, with Devin Moran starting third and eventually winning. Ricky Thornton Jr. and Nick Hoffman led that Friday feature early, but Moran roared up from third to take the lead on lap eight and wasn't challenged again out front. He topped Tim McCreadie, with RTJ also on the podium. With just the two race nights complete, Chris Madden currently leads the way-too-early points standings over Nick Hoffman and Brian Shirley. We won't see the Outlaws again until they return to Volusia on February 16th, but there is plenty of other late model racing coming up with Lucas getting started later this week at Golden Isles.

A couple of other notes from Volusia. The Big Frog car ended up having three drivers in two nights. Scott Bloomquist ran Thursday, but ended up fourth in a B-Main and didn't race the feature. Chris Ferguson climbed into the car on Friday, and raced it through the B-Main, but Bobby Pierce ended up driving it in the feature, finishing 17th after starting 28th. And Ross Robinson decided to pack it up after Thursday night's action and wait for the Lucas opener at Golden Isles after he was docked four spots in his heat race for failing the droop rule. On his Facebook page, the team said quote "Any rule where you can check multiple times and get multiple readings is an unenforceable rule that has no place in this sport" unquote. It's interesting to hear that from Robinson, especially after he competed all season last year with Lucas who did enforce that same rule. There were also nearly 50 other cars at Volusia the two nights who had no problem passing the checks. I don't often understand the reactions that come out of these penalties for racers. Just like when you hear about tire doping. Fans and competitors piss and moan about things not being fair and rules not being enforced, but then when someone does get busted, it's suddenly they aren't guilty, or the rule is bogus, or the lab has fake results, or whatever. You aren't going to convince me that veteran officials and racers like Kenny Kenneda and Steve Francis don't know how to enforce these rules. Whether intentional or not, take your penalty and move on.

A quick thanks before we wrap it up to all of the new channel members. We are now at 34 with the addition of Brian, Gordon, Joshua, Nicholas, Joshua, Dawn, Justin, Artie, Barry, and Paul. Thank you so much for the support. If you want to check out the membership program, head over to youtube.com/dirtrackr/join.

There are three shows on today's streaming schedule. DIRTVision has the iRacing World of Outlaws and DIRTVision Now, and there is FloRacing 24/7. To see the full daily streaming schedule with links to watch, visit dirtrackr.com/watchtonight.

Alright, that's it for the show today. Thanks everyone for tuning in. We'll be back here tomorrow for more DIRTRACKR Daily.