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What drivers said after the Advance Auto Parts Clash

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Joey Logano swooped in to win the Advance Auto Parts Clash after his teammate Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin collided on the last lap while Hamlin led.

The win is Logano’s first in the exhibition race and Ford’s first since 2004.

Here’s what most of the 17 drivers in the field had to say after the race.

Joey Logano, winner – “The Toyotas are so selfless, I guess is the way to look at it. They are able to work together and think of one car of winning, and they’re really good at that. We had to think the same way as Ford and with Stewart-Haas and the Penske cars and we were able to get a good enough,  run to work together enough to break them up and make the passes and then there at the end was kind of a mess. Everything was going really fast. Everything was going on and I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Kyle Busch, second place – “When (Joey Logano) got so far out in front that he was a lone duck and I feel like if we both could have worked together then we could have tracked them back down and then the three of us could have gone for the win instead of just automatically giving it to the 22. Just trying to see what (Alex Bowman‘s) mindset was with it all and figure out what got him to that decision. Overall, good day and I need to eliminate some mistakes here for myself on this M&M’s team – the guys did a great job, the guys executed really well.”

Alex Bowman, third place – “It’s easy; hindsight is 20/20, right? It’s hard to see. I was on the top with all that stuff happened getting into Turn 1 and I didn’t know (Joey Logano) was out there by himself. So, he’s (Kyle Busch) probably right. We probably could have caught the No. 22 and had a shot to win it, but at the same time, he didn’t work with me much all day, either. A lot of guys hung us out every chance they got. So, to come home third shows what a great race car Hendrick Motorsports brings to the track.”

Danica Patrick, finished fourth – “If you’re gonna have one track where I’ve had good races, you kind of hope Daytona is one of them or maybe the one. It would be great to get a 500 win, but it’s great to run up front. We start off with the biggest race of the year. … The way that the cars are handling in the heat of the day more. It’s a nice, sunny day. We’ve got plenty of humidity out there from all the rain, but it’s good practice for the 500, more so than it would have been if we would have run at night by all means.”

Kevin Harvick, fifth place –  “It went really well. For us, we were very fortunate that the race wound up in the day, a lot like the 500 is going to be, just because we didn’t really know what we needed and where our balance was going to be, so we were really loose to start the first 25 laps and were able to get that fixed. Speed is not an issue. Circumstances just needed to work out a little bit differently, but, all in all, I’m excited for the week.”

Brad Keselowski, sixth place – “Once you make contact the banking kind of wedges you two together. It’s unfortunate. I had to make the move. I know all the other drivers are back watching and they know not to make that block on me again … I think I’ve been in position to win it three or four times – in second or third in like the last two laps and it kind of falls apart with something, but you’ve just got to keep knocking on the door.”

Daniel Suarez, finished eighth – “I really felt like I went to school. I went to school with this race, racing with all of these guys and learning about the aero of the car and how the tires fall off. The fall off is not even close to the Xfinity cars and I learned that today. And how the car works – it works really, really different. There’s nothing similar in a race like this with 75 laps in a pack of 17 cars that I can practice. I think my team did an amazing job. They put me in the front and gave me the opportunity to finish in the top five and we just came a little short I guess.”

Jamie McMurray, finished 10th – “It was okay. Drafting is hard when you get to the rear if there are not 30 cars or so on the track. Especially when the bottom lane got lined up because you just couldn’t get enough cars on the outside. It was pretty good. I kind of liked running in the day versus the night. I thought that was good. Handling wasn’t a big issue. I thought it was going to be a bigger concern because it is pretty warm right now. But it is early in the week and it seems like as the Trucks run, the Xfinity cars, it gets slicker by Sunday, but overall it was a pretty good time. We didn’t scratch our car, which is awesome to survive a plate race.”

Austin Dillon, finished 12th – “It’s hard to be the Lone Ranger out there. If you look at the race, the top five were all team cars and I didn’t have a teammate in the race or anybody to work with. I am really proud that I was able to run up there with those cars knowing how important it is to have help. I was involved in the wreck at the end so I ended up cutting the right-front tire and that caused us to limp home to a 12th-place finish. Overall, though, it was a good run. I learned a lot and I thought I drafted pretty well.”

Denny Hamlin, finished 13th – “There’s really not much I can do differently at the end. Perhaps staying in the middle lane there through one and two and trying to side draft. (Brad Keselowski) had help from the 22 (Joey Logano). I was in a bad spot there. He was just coming so much faster than what I was. There’s not much that I could have done to defend. We lined up so well as Toyota teammates throughout the race that once those guys started breaking that up and leapfrogging, (Keselowski) had commitment from (Logano) and the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and when they were able to back up there that really put us at a speed differential.”

Kyle Larson, finished 14th (garage after penalty) – “It is an odd way to be done I guess. But this race doesn’t matter for points. … I think it will just take a few incidents like we had to remind everyone of the rules, or explain what the rules mean. It seems like the teams were a little confused after the driver’s meeting.”

Martin Truex Jr., finished 15th (crash) – “I was having trouble with my mirror all day. I just flat cut in front of (Kyle) Larson and spun myself out so it was our own mistake. We didn’t get the mirrors quite right in the car before the race and then just trying to fit in the hole I wasn’t sure I could fit in and trying to get track position towards the end of the race. Completely my fault but glad we didn’t tear up a lot of race cars there.”

Jimmie Johnson, finished 16th (crash) – “It’s bizarre because it drove really good everywhere else, then off of (Turn) 4 the first time I had a handling problem was when it broke free and I got into the No. 41 (Kurt Busch) and then after that it was really loose. After that caution and the last long stretch before I crashed again. Just off of Turn 4. The sun certainly sits on that edge of the track a little bit harder than anywhere else. We will take some notes and learn from those mistakes and apply that to the (Daytona) 500 car.”

Kurt Busch, finished 17th (crash) – “I was just minding my own business in the low groove and we got tagged in the right-rear. It’s kind of a shame – all of the hard work and the effort everybody puts into the off-season – Doug Yates and his engines and everybody from Ford and everybody at Stewart-Haas, all of the effort put towards building a car and we didn’t even make it to the first pit stop, so it’s kind of a bummer.”

Danica Patrick has a Daytona 500 team: Premium Motorsports

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The first piece of the “Danica Double” has been fully confirmed.

According to the Associated Press, Danica Patrick will drive the No. 7 Chevrolet for Premium Motorsports in next month’s Daytona 500. The AP reported that the car will be locked into the field through a charter and will receive engineering support from Richard Childress Racing.

Patrick entered NASCAR driving the No. 7 for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series from 2010-12. For the Feb. 18 race, she also will be reunited with crew chief Tony Eury Jr., who helped guide Patrick to her career-best NASCAR finish of fourth in a 2011 Xfinity race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The car will be sponsored by GoDaddy, which announced last week that it would sponsor Patrick in both this year’s Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500. Patrick has yet to reveal which team she will drive for in the Indy 500, which will conclude her racing career.

She already has made history in both events.

As a rookie in 2005, she became the first woman to lead the Indy 500 before taking fourth (and became the highest-finishing female in the race’s history with a third in 2009).

In the 2013 Daytona 500, she became the first woman to win the pole position and lead a race in NASCAR’s premier series.

New details of road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway

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CONCORD, North Carolina — The Sept. 30 Cup race on Charlotte Motor Speedway’s road course will be on a slightly altered 2.28-mile circuit.

The race, which airs on NBC, will serve as the conclusion of the first round of the playoffs. It is the first road course race in the 14-year history of the playoffs.

The alterations shorten the original 2.4-mile, 13-turn layout of the circuit. The track is now 2.28 miles and 17 turns after the removal of two of the last three infield turns. There will be more than 35 feet of elevation changes between Roval Turn 4 – the lowest point in the track – and Roval Turn 9, the highest point.

A chicane has also been added to the backstretch right before the entrance of Turn 3 of the oval. The track is adding 440 temporary rumble strips.

The distance for the race will be announced at a later date.

NASCAR held a test on the road course last October with Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Daniel Hemric and Jamie McMurray. Busch suggested the elimination of those turns in order to “speed up the track.”

“There are a lot of slow sections with Turns 5, 6 and 7,” Busch said. “Those are good rhythmic corners. … (But) a 3,500-pound car going 35 mph too many times isn’t too exciting.”

Truex was part of Monday’s presentation and gave his thoughts on the change.

“The lap times were so long that we were going to be looking at a race that was, I don’t even know how many hours,” Truex said. “Way too long. Basically taking out those two turns cut out quite a bit of lap time off the laps. It’s more so like a regular road course like Watkins Glen … we’ll be in kind of that realm.”

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said that the race could be held at night if pushed back for various reasons. The race is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. ET.

“We’re working with the track who we believe will have something in place,” O’Donnell said. “Goodyear will be ready with rain tires if we had to make some adjustments.’’

There will be a Goodyear tire test in March and an open test for Cup teams in July.

O’Donnell said NASCAR is “comfortable” with the current layout of the course and that no changes are expected to be made following the tests.

NASCAR on NBC analysts Dale Jarrett and Jeff Burton took a few laps around the new layout and shared their thoughts on Facebook Live.

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ThorSport Racing partners with Ford in Truck Series

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ThorSport Racing has partnered with Ford in a multi-year deal in the Camping World Truck Series, the team announced Monday.

The team’s announcement comes a week after it revealed the mutual decision to part ways with Toyota.

“With 23 years in the NCWTS, we look forward to our new partnership with Ford Performance in NASCAR,” team owner Duke Thorson said in a press release. “Our pursuit of wins and championships remains at the forefront of our objectives.”

ThorSport, based in Sandusky, Ohio, had been paired with the Toyota for six years, winning two titles with Matt Crafton.

“We’re excited that ThorSport Racing has decided to switch to a F-Series truck for the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports in a press release. “ThorSport is a proven championship-level team in the series, and we look forward to providing them the aero and simulation technical support that will ensure they remain at the top level of the Truck Series.”

In 2017, Brad Keselowski Racing fielded the only two full-time Ford entries in the series. That team shut down following the end of the season.

Crafton will be returning to ThorSport for his 17th season – and 14th consecutive – with the team. The rest of the team’s driver lineup will be announced at a later date.

The Truck Series season begins Feb. 16th at Daytona International Speedway.

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D.J. Kennington to attempt to qualify for Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing

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Canadian driver D.J. Kennington will try to qualify for the Daytona 500 with Gaunt Brothers Racing for the second year in a row, the team announced Monday.

Kennington, a native of St. Thomas, Ontario, will drive the No. 96 Toyota sponsored by Lordco Auto Parts and Castrol.

The team, sponsor and driver combination made the 2017 edition of the race, making Kennington the first Canadian driver to compete in the Daytona 500 in 29 years.

Kennington started 28th and finished 36th following a multi-car crash at the start of Stage 2.

“Last year was an awesome experience for my sponsors, Lordco and Castrol, and me,” Kennington said in a press release. “We knew once it was over, we wanted to do it again. (Team owner) Marty (Gaunt) and everybody at GBR is pulling out all the stops for us this year. I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of the Lordco/Castrol Toyota Camry and seeing the difference a year makes.”

The 40-year-old driver has five Cup starts with a best finish of 26th in last November’s race at Phoenix.

Gaunt Brothers Racing does not own a charter, meaning Kennington is not guaranteed a starting spot in the Feb. 18 Daytona 500.

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