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What drivers had to say after Can-Am Duel No. 2, won by Denny Hamlin

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Denny Hamlin rebounded from a pit penalty to win the Cam-Am Duel No. 2 at Daytona International Speedway. It’s Hamlin’s third win in the qualifying race for the Daytona 500.

Here’s what drivers had to say after the 60-lap event.

Denny Hamlin, winner – “We definitely had a strong car but so much of that race was single file and so it was really tough to show what we could do in the pack once we got two and three wide, but it looked like our car could make some really good moves and got a great push from the 3 (Austin Dillon) there at the end. It looked like our cars worked really, really well together there so we’ll keep that in mind when I need somebody to draft with in the 500. Great job by the team. The car was great. Had a little penalty there but definitely felt confident we could come back from it and we did.”

Clint Bowyer, finished second – “Damn, this is fun again. Man, what a rocket ship. Hats off to all these guys that put all this hard work into these cars for Ford. This is going to be a great year. This is fun. (Crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz) and all the guys on the 14 car, it is just – it has been a long time coming. It is fun to get out here on one of my favorite race tracks and run up front. I want to thank everybody.”

Kurt Busch, finished third – “I’m satisfied with it. We had a good run and it’s not on the wrecker. I just didn’t execute like I needed to. Me and and (Clint) Bowyer were like two brothers walking down the hallway looking at each and going in different directions. We just didn’t have a clean exchange. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, we just didn’t have a good exchange. I wasn’t able to execute to get to him back bumper and get to Denny (Hamlin) at the end.”

AJ Allmendinger, finished fourth –  “I lost the draft early on. When we go to the bottom we kind of struggle on the bottom there and need a little bit of help. We keep it wound up on the top. The car is pretty good. The last 10 laps I just hung to the top and kept hoping the line was going to move. The seas parted going into (Turn) 3. I thought ‘heck maybe I can get to the top two here’. And then about off of Turn 4 I thought ‘oh crap we are crashing this race car now.’ Overall I think it was the first time in awhile that we get to take the Kroger Click List Chevy primary car to the Daytona 500. We have had to take the back-up the last couple of years, so good night.”

Austin Dillon, finished fifth – “I felt like I put myself in a good position. I just… down the backstretch didn’t move quick enough, obviously, and put us to fifth. Good race anyways, I just feel like I needed to move faster to the right. I know the momentum is in the top lane and I didn’t get there.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished sixth  – “They just had a good run at the end. I was doing what I could to keep the lead, but once they got clear of that inside lane they built so much momentum real fast right there at the end of that back straightaway, and had such a big run. If it was the Daytona 500, same thing. There ain’t much you can do about that. It’s not really defendable. So, it’s a good job by Denny and those guys putting it all together at the end.”

Danica Patrick, finished seventh – “It was nice to tell Edsel Ford that the Ford was really good. I told him I’ve had my best finishes in stock car racing in Fords. It’s been a good start. The car is in one piece. I feel like the car is more stable in traffic than it has been in years. I feel like the power is good. I feel like we have a really good shot on Sunday. The cars is in good shape and running well.”

Ryan Newman, finished eighth – “Well we kept the Caterpillar Chevrolet in one piece, which was a challenge a couple of times there.  Just realized more so what we need to work on without any practice and know that we have a little better car than what we finished, but we don’t have a good enough car to win right now.  So, we’ve got some time to go to work.”

Kyle Larson, finished ninth – “I felt like my car works better in the bottom lane. I thought there, both Jamie, especially Jamie and myself, I thought we had more speed than we normally have at superspeedways. I was happy about that and looking forward to Sunday.”

Ty Dillon, finished 10th – “I’m still learning. As a rookie, this is only my third time doing it, but I’m getting more and more comfortable every time. I felt like this time I was actually able to relax and focus on learning and getting better drafting. It was a decent finish. Still made some mistakes, too many mistakes, but I’m getting better at it.”

David Ragan, finished 11th – “I was trying not to push the 21 too aggressive because Jimmie was side-drafting him pretty hard. When you’re pushing someone in front of you, it’s hard to push straight and when someone is side-drafting that hard, I was trying to lay off the 21 as much as I could and I think Jimmie just was tight and I just barely caught him in the right-rear quarter-panel and right-rear bumper cover and got him a little loose. It’s just part of racing hard. He was being a little risky side-drafting that hard and I was being a little risky pushing the 21, but you’ve got to race like that. If you don’t race aggressive in the top five or six, they shuffle you out pretty quick. It was fun to race up there with those guys.

Kasey Kahne, finished 14th – “I had a really strong car. I was really happy with it and everything out there. Kevin Hamlin (spotter) did a great job spotting. It was good. Denny (Hamlin) had so much speed he was just pushing on my bumper and he could just choose left or right. So, I kind of covered left and he went right and that put me behind and I was trying to work back up there and lost again towards the end.”

DJ Kennington, finished 15th – “I’m an old man now. Years and years of racing and trying and doing all these things is nothing but good things for my career. There are so many people that have helped me get here. That’s who I want to thank the most is anybody that’s ever pitched in and helped. Thank you. This is huge. This is huge for Canada. It’s huge for all my team and all my friends and my family. It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”

Ryan Blaney, finished 20th – “I thought it was going really good. I thought we were real fast. Our car was really, really fast. It showed a lot of speed and I was really happy with that. We were able to get good pushes and shove us towards the front. We kind of got back in the pack and were able to recover, which was really encouraging that we could be aggressive. We handled really good, so it’s not often you’ve got speed and handle well, so we’ll see how that goes on Sunday when it’s hot. Hopefully, we’ll be able to fix this.”

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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