Photo by Dustin Long

Engine woes keep William Byron from racing for title despite most wins

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AVONDALE, Ariz. — They came to offer condolences, a driver, crew chief and competing car owner.

Despite a broken heart, he managed brief smiles in return.

William Byron is 18 years old, has had success throughout his short driving career and entered Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race having won a series-high six races.

He’s never had a night at the track like this.

On the way to a dominating victory that would make him the favorite to win the series title, Byron saw it go away when his engine blew. After leading 112 of 150 laps, Byron left the track with a 27th-place finish.

Now, he won’t race for a championship next weekend in Miami.

Such is the whim of the Chase format where there’s no guarantee that the winningest driver will compete for a crown in the series finale.

“It just stinks that we can’t go on to Homestead and at least have a shot,’’ Byron said of a title.

“I’m trying to smile it off. The only satisfaction is that we had the best truck.’’

While Christopher Bell, Matt Crafton and Timothy Peters advanced to the title race — giving Toyota three of the four drivers eligible for the championship— David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, could not enjoy the night after seeing Byron’s engine fail.

“All you can say is I’m sorry,’’ Wilson said he told Byron. “What I really wanted to tell him was how proud of him I was and how proud of how he handled tonight.

“William is a young man with a lot of success in front of him. For him to go to Miami, six wins under his belt — should have been seven — and not be able to transfer to the championship is very hard to comprehend. For this young kid to handle it with grace and maturity is impressive.’’

Byron, who turns 19 on Nov. 29, will seek to win next week’s season finale and then focus on the Xfinity Series. Signed by Rick Hendrick, Byron will drive for JR Motorsports next season.

But Friday night his focus was on handling the biggest disappointment of his racing career.

“Just unforuntate but some things you can’t control,’’ he said.

Mental fatigue, endurance are biggest challenges for drivers in Coca 600 (video)

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While you’d think they’re the same thing, mental fatigue and endurance are two entirely different animals when it comes to racing in NASCAR’s longest race of the season, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

On Friday’s Motorsports Special on NBCSN, NASCAR on NBC analyst and former NASCAR Cup crew chief Steve Letarte explained how drivers deal with both the mental and physical strain of the grueling race. Also giving their viewpoint were Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman.

Driving around isn’t grueling you say, eh? Tell that to Brad Keselowski, who lost an incredible 16 pounds racing in a 600 a few years back.

Drivers will make sure to stay hydrated with liquids — and even snacks like candy bars to keep their energy boosted — during the course of the race.

Check out Letarte’s analysis in the videos above and below.

 

Legendary announcer Ken Squier gets you ready for Sunday’s big day of racing (video)

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Sunday is the biggest day of the year in motorsports, starting in the morning with Formula One’s legendary Monaco Grand Prix.

Then, at Noon ET, it’s the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

The final part of the tripleheader of racing is NASCAR’s longest race of the season, the 400 lap, 600 mile Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Newly-named NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2018 inductee Ken Squier gives you a great primer for what promises to be a memorable day around the world (see video above).

Roller coasters, bicycling & softball: How drivers spent their day off

Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images
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With no track activity, NASCAR Cup drivers had a free day on Friday and some were able to get out and about.

Jimmie Johnson helped organize a 69-mile bike ride Friday morning for 2006 MotoGP world champion Nicky Hayden, who died May 22 at age 35 from injures suffered when he was hit by a car while cycling in Italy. The 69 miles ridden were for the number Hayden raced with in his career. Among drivers who joined him were Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Chase Elliott and Daniel Suarez.

 

Others did other activities on their day off.

Ryan Blaney went to Carowinds amusement park just south of Charlotte, North Carolina, and took to periscope as he rode in the front row on the Fury 325 roller coaster, which reaches a peak height of 325 feet and then goes into an 81-degree drop.

The ride reaches speeds up to 95 mph. The coaster is North America’s longest steel coaster at 1.25 miles. The average ride time is 3 minutes, 25 seconds, and the ride crosses both the North Carolina and South Carolina border.

Brad Keselowski spent part of his team playing in the Team Penske softball game and provided proof of his hitting ability.

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Stewart-Haas Racing, Nature’s Bakery reach settlement that includes sponsorship

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Stewart-Haas Racing announced Friday that it has reached an agreement with Nature’s Bakery that will include the company serving as a sponsor for four Cup races split between Clint Bowyer and Danica Patrick.

Those four races will be announced at a later date.

As part of the agreement, all lawsuits between Stewart-Haas Racing and Nature’s Bakery have been dropped.

Stewart-Haas Racing filed a $31 million breach of contract lawsuit against Nature’s Bakery on Feb. 3. Nature’s Bakery had two years remaining on a three-year contract to sponsor Danica Patrick’s team when the company sent the team a notice of termination on Jan. 19 . Nature’s Bakery was to have paid $15,212,000 each season to sponsor the team.

Nature’s Bakery filed a counterclaim Feb. 25 stating it did not see the return it was led to believe in sponsoring Patrick’s team.

“It’s gratifying to see a difficult situation get resolved in a professional manner that suits all parties,” said Brett Frood, president, Stewart-Haas Racing. “Together, we worked diligently to find an equitable solution to our collective challenges.”

“I am a longtime motorsports fan and, particularly, a fan of NASCAR,” said Dave Marson, founder of Nature’s Bakery. “Our partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing began with direct, open conversations and that foundation allowed us to reach this agreement.”

Other parts of the agreement were not revealed.

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