Answers about new NASCAR rule limiting Cup drivers in other series

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NASCAR announced Wednesday that it will limit how many Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races Sprint Cup drivers can run beginning in 2017.

Here is a breakdown of the rule and what it means.

WHAT IS THE RULE?

NASCAR states that any Sprint Cup driver with more than five years full-time experience can compete in a maximum of 10 Xfinity and seven Camping World Truck Series races in 2017.

NASCAR announced that any Sprint Cup driver with more than five years full-time experience will be prohibited from competing in the final eight Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series races next year. That’s the regular-season finale for both and the seven-race Chase for each series.

NASCAR also stated that any Sprint Cup driver with more than five years full-time experience will not be allowed to compete in the Xfinity Dash for Cash races next year.

Drivers earning Cup points in 2017 also are not eligible to compete in the Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series title races in 2017 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

HOW IS FULL-TIME CUP EXPERIENCE DEFINED?

A driver who has attempted to qualify for every NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race in a given season is considered to be a full-time driver in that series.

Thus, former Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne, who has made 126 career Cup starts, is not impacted by this rule because this is only his second full-time season in Cup.

Also, Landon Cassill would not face these restrictions. Cassill, who has 219 Cup starts, ran full seasons in 2014 (failed to qualify for two races), 2015 and is set run the full season this year. He ran 33 of 36 races in 2013 but was not entered in the other three events, thus did not make a qualifying attempt. He ran 32 of 36 events in 2011 but was not entered in the other four races and did not make a qualifying attempt.

WAIT A MINUTE. WHAT ABOUT A DRIVER LIKE Elliott Sadler, WHO HAS RUN MORE THAN FIVE YEARS IN CUP? DOES THIS IMPACT HIM?

No, it won’t because he will declare to run for the points in the Xfinity Series next year with JR Motorsports. The rule about more than five full-time Cup seasons impacts those drivers declaring points for the Cup Series.

HOW MANY XFINITY DASH FOR CASH RACES WILL THERE BE IN 2017?

NASCAR has yet to say. There were four such races this year — Bristol in April, Richmond in April, Dover in May and Indianapolis in July.

SO WHAT RACES WILL SPRINT CUP DRIVERS WITH MORE THAN FIVE YEARS OF FULL-TIME EXPERIENCE BE BARRED FROM IN 2017?

The final eight Xfinity races. That’s the regular-season finale and the seven Chase races.

Those races will be Chicagoland (Sept. 16), Kentucky (Sept. 23), Dover (Sept. 30), Charlotte (Oct. 6), Kansas (Oct. 21), Texas (Nov. 4), Phoenix (Nov. 11) and Homestead (Nov. 11).

In the Truck Series, those eight races will be Chicagoland (Sept. 15), New Hampshire (Sept. 23), Las Vegas (Sept. 30), Talladega (Oct. 14), Martinsville (Oct. 28), Texas (Nov. 3), Phoenix (Nov. 10) and Homestead (Nov. 17).

WHO ARE THE CUP DRIVERS COMPETING IN 2016 WHO WILL NOT HAVE MORE THAN FIVE YEARS FULL-TIME EXPERIENCE IN 2017 AND NOT FACE THESE RESTRICTIONS NEXT  YEAR (EXCEPT THE RESTRICTION OF NOT COMPETING IN THE XFINITY AND TRUCK FINALES IF THEY SCORE CUP POINTS)?

Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Danica Patrick, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chris Buescher, Trevor Bayne, Landon Cassill, Brian Scott, Michael McDowell, Michael Annett, Matt DiBenedetto, Alex Bowman, Josh Wise, Cole Whitt, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Reed Sorenson and Ty Dillon. Erik Jones, who will be a rookie next season, will not face these restrictions in 2017.

HOW MANY XFINITY RACES HAVE BEEN WON BY CUP DRIVERS THIS YEAR?

Cup drivers have won 19 of 30 Xfinity races this year — 63.3 percent. Three races remain in the Xfinity season.

The breakdown: Kyle Busch (9 wins), Austin Dillon (2), Joey Logano (2), Chase Elliott (1), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1), Denny Hamlin (1), Kyle Larson (1), Aric Almirola (1) and Michael McDowell (1).

Based on the new rule, only Dillon, Elliott, Larson and McDowell of the group above will be eligible to compete in Xfinity next year without restrictions.

HOW MANY XFINITY RACES HAVE BEEN WON BY CUP REGULARS SINCE 2011?

Since 2011, Cup regulars have won 138 of 196 Xfinity races (70.4 percent)

— In 2016, Cup regulars won 19 of 30 Xfinity races (63.3 percent)

— In 2015, Cup regulars won 23 of 33 Xfinity races (69.7 percent)

— In 2014, Cup regulars won 22 of 33 Xfintiy races (66.7 percent)

— In 2013, Cup regulars won 28 of 33 Xfinity races (84.8 percent)

— In 2012, Cup regulars won 18 of 33 Xfinity races (54.5 percent)

— In 2011, Cup regulars won 28 of 34 Xfinity races (82.4 percent)

HOW MANY CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES RACES HAVE BEEN WON BY CUP DRIVERS THIS YEAR?

Cup drivers have won three of 19 races this year. Four races remain this year.

The breakdown: Kyle Busch (2 wins) and Kyle Larson (1).

Martin Truex Jr.: VHT ‘a huge factor’ in Coca-Cola 600 — but wouldn’t work as well elsewhere

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CONCORD, N.C. — Though the rain paid a visit to the Coca-Cola 600, the traction agent applied high in the corners of Charlotte Motor Speedway was a “huge factor” in NASCAR’s longest race, according to Martin Truex Jr.

Truex, who led a race high 233 laps, lauded the VHT chemical used to improve racing at the 1.5-mile track after a dud of an All-Star Race.

“I think last weekend the middle groove, middle to high middle, was nonexistent,” Truex said after finishing third early Monday morning. “It was the slickest part of the racetrack.”

But that changed Sunday. Following Saturday’s Xfinity Series race, NASCAR and the track reapplied refresh coats of VHT to the upper grooves in the turns after consulting drivers and crew chiefs. Even after a downpour swept over the track on Lap 143, Truex said the traction compound was a factor for 375 of the race’s 400 laps.

“It was the main groove,” Truex said of the higher grooves. “Where typically there is the least grip (there) on this racetrack, it was the most tonight. It definitely played a factor. It changed the race quite a bit. I think the downforce rules this year changed it quite a bit as well. The bottom of the racetrack is so bumpy and so slick, I’m telling you after 10 laps it’s all you can do to make laps without crashing down there.

“It definitely changed the race tonight. It made it a lot of fun. I thought it was a good addition.”

Winner Austin Dillon thought the VHT – also known as PJ1 TrackBite – benefited the race. But the Richard Childress Racing drive would like to see a change in where the agent is applied to the track surface.

“The middle groove had a lot of speed, took away from the bottom,” Dillon said. That’s usually dominant here. The bottom got good again. After the rain, the bottom was pretty dominant. As the race went on, I could actually see the VHT leaving the track. It was getting clean higher and higher.

“We’ve got something there as far as trying it. It’s not a bad thing. I really think we should try it more often. I think the next thing you look into is the placement of it. I feel like we needed more on the very top because the middle was really dominant, but you couldn’t really get into the top of it like you needed to. That would be my next shot at it. It’s not a bad thing at all. I like it.”

What’s next?

The chemical has been used on the concrete high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway and the asphalt of Charlotte and been mostly praised.

Should it be tried at any other tracks on the NASCAR circuit?

“I don’t think so,” Truex said. “I think this track is so unique, the pavement here, the geometry of the racetrack, the bumps that are in it. It’s almost got a concrete feel the way the bumps are. They’re really, really small, high‑frequency bumps, almost like a washboard, kind of the feeling you get at Dover (International Speedway). Most asphalt tracks are not bumpy that way. They’re more of a swell. The car kind of goes through swells, a place like (Chicagoland Speedway) or Atlanta (Motor Speedway).

“It’s very, very different here. The pavement is different than anywhere we go. The bumps in the racetrack are way different than anywhere we go. I think both of those things kind of contribute to us needing to do some different things here to change-up the racing.”

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. defends Kyle Busch’s surly mood after the Coca-Cola 600

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CONCORD, N.C. – A second-place finish in the Coca-Cola 600 left Kyle Busch in an irate mood, which is perfectly fine, according to Dale Earnhardt Jr.

A seemingly agitated Busch, cupping his face in his hands after sitting down, entered the media center at Charlotte Motor Speedway Center shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday. It was roughly 10 minutes after Austin Dillon scored the first victory of his career in NASCAR’s premier series by stretching his final tank of fuel for 70 laps.

Was Busch surprised that Dillon made the checkered flag? What did it mean for a driver to get his first win?

“I’m not surprised about anything,” Busch snapped. “Congratulations.”

He dropped the mic on the dais. There were no further questions. (The video is available above).

Shortly afterward on Twitter, Earnhardt took up for his peer (whom he replaced at Hendrick Motorsports in 2008).

Busch, who hasn’t won since last July at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (a span of 28 races) gave more elaborate answers shortly after exiting his No. 18 Toyota, which finished 0.835 seconds behind Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet.

He apparently didn’t realize until late in the race that his pass of Martin Truex Jr. (who led a race-high 233 laps) with a lap remaining was for second instead of the victory.

“This M&M’s Camry was awesome tonight,” Busch said. “It was just super fast. I mean we had one of the fastest cars all night long and then (Truex) was probably the fastest. There at the end, somehow we ran him down. You know he got a straightaway out on us, but there that last 100 laps we were able to get back to him and pass him so you know that was promising for us there at the end in order to get a second-place finish, but man just so, so disappointed.

“I don’t know. We ran our own race. We did what we needed to do and it wasn’t – it wasn’t the right game. We come up short and finish second.

“It’s a frustrating night, man. There’s nothing we could’ve done different.”

Others took a different view of Busch’s tirade.

But some agreed with Earnhardt’s stance.

After defending Busch, Earnhardt also poked some fun at him later Monday, too.

 

Martin Truex Jr. takes Cup points lead after Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. — Martin Truex Jr. took over the Cup points lead with a third-place finish in Saturday’s Coca-Cola 600.

The Furniture Row Racing driver, who led a race-high 233 laps, also extended his lead in the playoff standings by winning the second stage and bringing his total to 16 points.

Kyle Larson, who had led the standings for eight consecutive races since Phoenix International Raceway, fell to second in the rankings after crashing and finishing a season-worst 33rd. Larson trails Truex by five points in the race for the regular-season championship (and 15 playoff points).

Click here for the points standings after Charlotte.

Results, stats for the 58th annual Coca-Cola 600

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With a fuel gamble, Austin Dillon won the Coca-Cola 600 for his first NASCAR Cup win.

It comes in his 133rd start and is the second win for Richard Childress Racing this year.

Following him was Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin.

Click here for the full results.