Kurt Busch praises Ford, Doug Yates power for Stewart-Haas surge

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First it was NASCAR Cup points leader Kevin Harvick.

Now, Kurt Busch has joined his Stewart-Haas Racing teammate in praise of the team’s switch to Ford in 2017 from Chevrolet.

Two weeks ago, Busch won the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career. As big of a personal achievement it was for Busch, it was also a huge achievement for SHR and Ford, as it was the organization’s first race with Ford and Doug Yates’ power under the hood.

“When we made the announcement that we were switching to Ford last year, it came with extra meetings and longer driver debriefs,” Busch said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “We were looking at blueprints and different front-end geometry changes because of Doug Yates’ engines and how they’re built slightly different, with where the pulleys are and the way the belt serpentine system works as well as the pressurized system versus unpressurized.

“So, a lot of extra work had to go into switching our cars over to Ford. When you roll up your sleeves with a group of racers like we have at Stewart-Haas Racing, it allowed us to go over the car with a finer tooth comb and we looked at every area.

“When you’re changing suspension components around and you’ve got great Haas CNC machines to make these pieces, you can go through versions A, B, and C and get a lot of work done quickly. I’ll tell you, though, it was a full-on effort to get these cars switched over, but I love the way we went over them in extra detail and Tony Gibson is a master at the restrictor-plate races, so his wisdom and expertise was distributed to the other teams.

“Rodney Childers (crew chief for Kevin Harvick) is great at the mile-and-a-half tracks, so his lead for Atlanta and Vegas really kicked in. The way that the rest of the group chipped in to find all these areas, it’s like each team took care of one specific project and the four of us have worked together in a stronger fashion than we ever have before.”

Busch also credited Yates’ power, which replaced the Chevrolet power from Hendrick Motorsports that SHR ran with the last several years, including winning Cup championships in 2011 and 2014.

“Doug Yates’ power, I want to say, is slightly better than where we were, it just feels that way,” Busch said. “The aerodynamic balance of the Ford has more distribution on one region of the car than another and it feels better. “

Other reasons Busch cited for SHR’s strong start in 2017: “Tony Stewart being a full-time owner, Clint Bowyer coming in with his ideas.  We upgraded in all categories at Stewart-Haas, so it’s really neat to see everything come out of the box strong.

“We still have to get through this west coast run and get to Martinsville, and once we get past Martinsville we’ll evaluate where things are. You just can’t go off of two races. Let’s give it five, six or seven.”

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Justin Allgaier wins pole for Charlotte Xfinity race

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CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won the pole for the Xfinity Series’ Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

With a speed of 182.488 mph, Allgaier earned his fifth Xfinity pole and his first since the March 2013 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Allgaier is joined on the front row by Austin Dillon (181.519).

The top five is completed by Ryan Blaney (181.378), Daniel Hemric (181.324) and Kevin Harvick (181.245).

Christopher Bell will start seventh in his first Xfinity race.

Brad Keselowski and Dakoda Armstrong will start from the rear after not passing inspection in time to qualify.

Click here for full qualifying results.

Ryan Blaney leads second Coke 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney posted the top speed in the second practice session for the Coca-Cola 600.

Blaney’s No. 21 Ford produced a speed of 188.055 mph Saturday morning around Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The top five was filled out by Erik Jones (187.598 mph), Martin Truex Jr. (187.084), Daniel Suarez (186.838) and Trevor Bayne (186.239).

Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick was ninth fastest at 185.567 mph. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was 14th quickest at 185.141 mph.

Kyle Bush recorded the most laps in the session with 48.

Click here for the full practice report.

Eight teams lose 15 minutes of Coke 600 practice for failing pre-qualifying inspection

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CONCORD, N.C. — Eight Cup teams will be held 15 minutes during Coca-Cola 600 practice today for failing pre-qualifying inspection on Thursday

Drivers include Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Paul Menard, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Kyle Larson, Corey LaJoie and Chris Buescher.

Buescher’s team also loses pit selection for Sunday’s race due to failing pre-qualifying inspection three ties.

Larson and LaJoie’s loss of practice time comes on top of them not making qualifying runs on Thursday after neither of their cars passed inspection in time.

 

NASCAR America: How much risk should drivers take in the Coca-Cola 600?

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As in many things in life, whether something is worth doing comes down to risk vs. reward.

Such will be the case in Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. How much are drivers willing to risk? Will that risk be worth reward, particularly with the additional stage to the race?

On Friday’s NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman jumped into the iRacing simulator and showed the greatest strategies to employ in Sunday’s race, especially with the traction compound up top.

Check out the above video.