While it can’t top Carl Edwards announcing he won’t drive this year, one of the more surprising things that took place this offseason was the news that Chris Buescher, a Ford driver, would be loaned to JTG Daugherty, a Chevrolet team.
“At first sight, it certainly gave us second thoughts,” admitted Raj Nair, executive vice president for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer for Ford. “As we thought about it … this is the right thing to do.”
Dave Pericak, Global Director for Ford Performance, said there wasn’t room for Buescher, a Roush Fenway Racing driver, with another Ford team for this season.
Roush Fenway Racing downsized to two teams and both were set with sponsorship for Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports downsized to one team and that car was set with sponsorship for Aric Almirola. Team Penske was not expanding. The Wood Brothers have Ryan Blaney in the car. Stewart-Haas Racing, which joins Ford this year, had no room. Front Row Motorsports, where Buescher was loaned to last year and made NASCAR’s playoffs after his Pocono win, also wasn’t a viable option and will have David Ragan and Landon Cassill as its drivers.
That meant the 24-year-old Buescher would need to run with another manufacturer if he was to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season. Roush loaned Buescher and a charter to JTG Daugherty to ensure Buescher is in every race.
“If you look at where we are in our transition and our plans going forward, we just didn’t have a seat for him and it’s not right to ask him to sit and not drive,” Pericak told NBC Sports. “That’s just not right. Knowing he wants to be a Ford guy, knowing we want him to be a Ford guy, we thought there might have been a unique solution to keeping him basically in the Ford family. This is the right thing for him.”
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Things have been going relatively well for Denny Hamlin on the track in 2018.
The Joe Gibbs Racing driver enters this weekend’s race at Martinsville Speedway sixth in points. Through five races, he’s finished outside the top six once (17th, Las Vegas).
NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Nate Ryan discussed his season so far in addition to Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske.
Letarte said Hamlin has displayed “remarkable consistency.”
“Denny Hamlin is in my mind a super star driver that I know I am guilty of leaving him out of super star conversations,” Letarte said.
Ryan pointed to mistakes on pit road that have prevented Hamlin from enjoying more success this season and in his career overall. His result at Las Vegas was the result of a speeding penalty.
“Five races this season, four pit mistakes,” Ryan said. “He overshot his box at Daytona, he did that at Fontana, he sped in the pits at Phoenix. While I think they’ve had speed, I think that team is still stumbling in the same ways it has in the past. Unless they correct that, I don’t know if they’re championship level yet.”
Hamlin heads to Martinsville where he has won a career-best five races.
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Rain washed out the second day of Goodyear tire testing Wednesday on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s Roval. Goodyear has tentatively scheduled May 1 as a make-up test date.
Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard and Kyle Larson took part in the test Tuesday.
“I just took some slow pace laps and got a feel for the race track,” Bayne said in a statement from Charlotte Motor Speedway. “I was nervous, but I wasn’t anxious because I was never going to go out there and make qualifying laps. We worked our pace in and our plan, we stuck to it. I felt really good by the end of the day.
“You have to be on your game, that’s for sure. You can’t really let your guard down anywhere. There’s no room to make mistakes. If you make a mistake, you’re going to pay for it pretty quickly. If you try to do something and it doesn’t work, you’ll pay the price. It’s going to be a survival race. … If you’re smart, you take care of your car and you don’t make mistakes, you’ll have a really good shot at the end for a good finish. I enjoyed it. It was a challenge for me – something new – and I enjoyed that part of it.”
Organizational tests at Charlotte will be in July. There will be two different sessions. Each team is allowed to test at one of the two sessions, which will be July 10 (rain date of July 11) and July 17 (rain date of July 18).
The Charlotte Roval hosts the final race of the first round of the Cup playoffs on Sept. 30 on NBC.
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NASCAR announced two crew chief fines for unsecured lug nuts last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.
Adam Stevens, crew chief on Kyle Busch‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.
In the Xfinity Series, Eric Phillips, the crew chief for Ryan Preece‘s No. 18 Toyota, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.
No other penalties were announced.
Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and begins to look forward to this weekend’s racing at Martinsville Speedway.
Marty Snider hosts with Dale Jarrett, Steve Letarte and Nate Ryan from the “Big Oak Table” in Charlotte.
What to expect from today’s show.
- The same names have been dominating the headlines in the first five races in the 2018 season. We will take a look at some of the other drivers to be on the lookout for as the season rolls on.
- One of NASCAR’s most historic tracks is up this weekend – Martinsville! We’ll check out some of the recent drama “The Paperclip” has provided ahead of the race.
- In the spirit of March Madness, our panel will tell us about their most memorable sports moments, as well as some of NASCAR’s biggest upsets.
- Plus, The Indianapolis 500 will have a new home in 2019. We’ll have all the details on NASCAR America.
If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.
Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.
Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.