Getty Images

When Kyle Busch had to tell eager-to-learn teammate Daniel Suarez ‘No more’

Leave a comment

Kyle Busch is one of the first people young NASCAR drivers go to for advice.

It’s no wonder, given that the younger Busch brother has won 170 combined races in all three of NASCAR’s major series, as well as the 2015 Sprint Cup championship and the 2009 Xfinity crown.

Busch knows the drill all too well: The young drivers want to pick his brain by asking questions, seeking advice, ask for tips on how to drive a certain track, how to set up their race car better and so forth.

When Joe Gibbs Racing elevated Daniel Suarez to full-time status in the Xfinity Series in 2015, the Mexican driver asked Gibbs for advice and how to acclimate himself to NASCAR’s junior league.

We’ll let Busch – as late broadcaster Paul Harvey used to say – pick up the rest of the story:

“Coach (Gibbs) said, ‘Daniel, go to your teammates,’” Busch explained during Tuesday’s Media Day session in Charlotte.

“(Suarez) is very eager, that’s for sure,” Busch said of Suarez wanting to learn everything he can. “He definitely was either told by Coach or Steve DeSouza (JGR Xfinity chief) or both, ‘You better go use the resources as much as you can, so go use Kyle’ because we were teammates in the Xfinity Series.

“So his rookie season in Xfinity he came to me every single Thursday. It was set on the calendar, ‘Daniel Suarez, phone call, 3 o’clock!’ And we’d talk about that weekend’s racetrack, about what to do, about what to expect, this and that, practice, tire wear and everything else.

“Then during our (at-track) practice breaks with Xfinity, if I didn’t have to go back to a Cup car, he’d come over to my hauler and he’d be right there. He wore me out, that’s for sure. It was a good thing, it wasn’t a bad thing. But then  we started getting to the racetracks for the second time, I was like, ‘No, no, you can’t do this again, you already were there once. I already gave you everything I knew the first time’ so no more. I told him he has to cut it back a little bit.

“Then this past year, he came to me a couple times and I said, ‘You know, you don’t use me as much as you used to.’”

Busch, who will now be NASCAR Cup teammates with Suarez as he replaces the retired Carl Edwards, then attempted to imitate Suarez’s reply, saying with an accent, “You told me not to.”

“And I said, ‘No, I didn’t say you couldn’t,’ I just said ‘Use me sparingly, like once every five weeks is ok.’ Now that he has me, Matt (Kenseth), Denny (Hamlin) and Martin (Truex Jr.) to go to, I would be once every five weeks again, so I’m like that works, that’s good.”

Obviously, the 25-year-old Suarez learned his lessons well from Busch: He won the NASCAR Xfinity Championship in 2016. This year, he’ll be going for NASCAR Cup Rookie of the Year honors.

When media session host Doug Rice thanked him for attending the session, Busch slipped back into his Suarez accent and quipped, “No problem, man. Adios.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Erik Jones fastest in 1st of 2 Cup practices at Fontana; Harvick, Ragan hit wall

Getty Images
Leave a comment

NASCAR Cup rookie Erik Jones was fastest in the first of two practice sessions Saturday at Auto Club Speedway in preparation for Sunday’s Auto Club 400.

Jones drove his No. 77 Furniture Row Racing Toyota to the top of the speed charts at the Fontana, California track with a best lap of 187.251, the only driver to exceed 187 mph.

Jones was followed by Chase Elliott (186.843), Ryan Newman (186.732), Jimmie Johnson (186.384) and Brad Keselowski (186.292).

There were two incidents of note during the session:

* With just over nine minutes remaining in the practice session, Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet hit hard into the outside retaining wall, sustaining damage on the right side.

However, the team chose to repair the damage rather than go to a backup car.

Prior to the incident, Harvick’s car was sixth-fastest (186.128 mph).

* In the final two minutes, David Ragan spun and impacted the Turn 3 wall. It appeared something came loose from under Ragan’s car before impact.

Given the amount of damage, Ragan will likely have to go to a backup car.

Click here for how Saturday’s first of two practice sessions played out:

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Danica Patrick: ‘NASCAR makes a really big mistake of fining for some stuff’

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Danica Patrick wants her money back. Or she at least wants to know what it bought.

Fined $70,000 over the past 17 months for intentionally wrecking a rival driver under caution and tossing and walking onto the track to gesture at another, Patrick was asked Friday at Auto Club Speedway how she felt about Austin Dillon avoiding a fine for crashing Cole Custer under caution at Phoenix.

Give me my money back,” the Stewart-Haas Racing driver said. “I think NASCAR makes a really big mistake of fining for some stuff, especially something that happens in the car because it makes for good TV, just like fights and all that stuff.  We can handle it.

“I think it’s a mistake.  I might be speaking too much, but I’ve been fined a few times, and I think that it makes for good TV, and I think that we handle it out on the track ourselves.”

NASCAR has said it funnels the fine payments to the NASCAR Foundation, which supports several charitable organizations.

Patrick would prefer NASCAR avoid fining everyone but is curious about how the money gets earmarked.

“I would actually rather know what it did,” she said. “I would actually love to see like the playground that got built for it, or homeless people that got food.  I would like to see actually what the money does for fines because it’s supposed to go to charity, right?  So what does it really do?  I would like to see that.”

Today’s Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway: Start time, weather, TV/radio info

Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Leave a comment

After four races, Xfinity Series regulars have won twice (Ryan Reed at Daytona and Justin Allgaier at Phoenix) and Cup drivers have won twice (Kyle Busch at Atlanta and Joey Logano at Las Vegas). The Xfinity Series regulars will look to take the lead in that category at Auto Club Speedway.

Here are the particulars for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: Stu Crum, COO of Service King, will give the command for drivers to start engines at 4:07 p.m. ET. The green flag is scheduled for 4:16 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 150 laps (300 miles) around the 2-mile oval.

PRERACE SCHEDULE: The Xfinity garage opens at 10 a.m. The drivers meeting is at 2:15 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3:35 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: Karen Waldrup will perform the Anthem at 4:01 p.m.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Its coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network will broadcast the race on radio and at mrn.com. MRN’s coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com site predicts 63 degrees at race time with a 7 percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST YEAR: Austin Dillon took the lead on a wild final lap and went on to win. Kyle Busch led and cut a tire. Daniel Suarez took the lead but ran out of fuel. Busch managed to retake the lead. Dillon got by Busch for the lead in Turn 4 after hitting the wall. Busch finished second and Darrell Wallace Jr. was third.

STARTING LINEUP: Qualifying at 12:30 p.m.

NASCAR’s Saturday schedule at Auto Club Speedway

Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Xfinity Series ends its part of the “West Coast swing” today with the Service King 300.

But the day is filled with Cup Series practice and Xfinity qualifying prior to the race.

Here is the full schedule for the day with TV and radio info.

All times are Eastern.

Saturday, March 25

10 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

10 a.m. – 6 p.m. – Cup garage open

11:30 a.m. – 12:25 p.m. – Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

12:30 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying; single vehicle/two rounds (FS1)

2:15 p.m. – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting

2:30 – 3:20 p.m. – Final Cup practice (FS1, MRN)

3:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

4 p.m. – Service King 300 Xfinity race; 150 laps/300 miles (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)