Getty Images

Matt Kenseth not worried about JGR’s slow start in 2017

1 Comment

Given how the four Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Cup teams have fared in the first two races of 2017, some observers might ask “What’s wrong with JGR?”

Two races into the season and at 15th in the standings, Matt Kenseth is the highest-ranked JGR driver, followed by Denny Hamlin (18th), Kyle Busch (24th) and rookie Daniel Suarez (30th).

Don’t count Kenseth among the naysayers. He’s adopted a “What, me worry? Nah.” attitude.

Well, I mean, man, you’re only two weeks in,” Kenseth said Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. “Really it’s hard to count Daytona. It’s so easy to get caught up in a wreck there, and like our wreck at Daytona, I really didn’t have anything to do with that. We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, so there’s just nothing you can do about that.

“I don’t put a lot of stock in where you leave in the points standings after Daytona. I just never have because it doesn’t really have much to do with the rest of the season.”

Hamlin, the 2016 Daytona 500 winner, could not repeat in this year’s edition of the “Great American Race,” finishing 17th, tops of the four JGR drivers.

Suarez was next among the Gibbs crew (29th), followed by Kyle Busch (38th) and Kenseth (40th).

This past Sunday at Atlanta, Kenseth rebounded from his Daytona showing to become the highest-finishing JGR and Toyota-powered driver at third place.

Busch was next at (16th), followed by Suarez (21st) and Hamlin (38th).

Still, it’s not a lot to concern Kenseth this early in the season.

“Last week, Denny had mechanical failure, not sure about Kyle,” Kenseth said. “I thought we ran pretty well really the whole day. We just had those (two) speeding penalties.

“As far as that, we knew they added segments, it’s just you go through the segments pretty fast. When they’re twice as long, even if you’re not trying to cheat a segment or do something like that, if you look away for a second at your pit stall or whatever and you get going a little bit, you’ve got some room to slow down and correct because they’re timed segments. Where now you went through them last weekend so fast like if you ever did get one light over or whatever, there was no time to correct.

“But for us we just had the stuff set too aggressively, and I think especially after they changed something at track, you’ve just got to kind of start over and get a good baseline and err to the slow side and then go from there for the next race.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

NASCAR suspends Camping World Truck crew chief one race

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

NASCAR has suspended Camping World Truck Series crew chief Kevin Bellicourt one Truck event and fined him $5,000 because Justin Haley‘s truck failed minimum height requirements after last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The L1 penalty also docked Haley 10 points and the team 10 owner points. He finished 17th in an encumbered finish.

NASCAR also announced Thursday that Joseph P. Light has been reinstated after successfully completing NASCAR’s Road to Recovery program. He was indefinitely suspended March 16.

 and on Facebook

Stewart-Haas Racing, Nature’s Bakery reach tentative settlement

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
2 Comments

Counsel for Stewart-Haas Racing reported to North Carolina Superior Court on Wednesday that it has executed settlement documents with Nature’s Bakery.

A status report was pushed back 21 days to June 23 in the event the that the parties have not filed a stipulation of dismissal by that date.

No details of the settlement documents were detailed to the court.

Stewart-Haas Racing filed a $31 million breach of contract lawsuit against Nature’s Bakery on Feb. 3. Nature’s Bakery had two years remaining on a three-year contract to sponsor Danica Patrick’s team when the company sent the team a notice of termination on Jan. 19 . Nature’s Bakery was to have paid $15,212,000 each season to sponsor the team.

Nature’s Bakery filed a counterclaim Feb. 25 stating it did not see the return it was led to believe in sponsoring Patrick’s team.

Click here to read court document

Thursday’s schedule for NASCAR Cup, Xfinity at Charlotte

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Charlotte Motor Speedway kicks off its weekend leading up to Sunday’s main event, the Coca-Cola 600, with today’s action.

The Xfinity Series will hold two practices, while the NASCAR Cup Series has one practice and qualifies in the evening.

Here is today’s schedule:

(All Times Eastern)

11:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. – Cup garage open

1:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

2 p.m. – 3:25 p.m. – First Cup practice (Fox Sports 1)

4 p.m. – 4:55 p.m. – First Xfinity practice (FS1)

6 p.m. – 6:55 p.m. – Final Xfinity practice (FS1)

7:15 p.m. – Cup qualifying (multi-vehicle, three rounds) (FS1, Performance Racing Network)

Long: Hall of Fame moment is special for father and son

Photo by Dustin Long
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE — Sleep has not come easy for Doug Yates in some time.

It has only gotten worse lately.

He can’t stop thinking of his father, Robert, who battles liver cancer. Robert has undergone chemotherapy, but at one point doctors said they weren’t sure what how to treat the 74-year-old former NASCAR team owner and engine builder who was selected to the 2018 Hall of Fame Class on Wednesday.

That helpless feeling of not solving a problem counters what Robert and Doug have done all their lives. If there was an issue with an engine, they worked harder and longer until they fixed the matter.

This they can’t.

While Robert Yates undergoes experimental treatments, Doug is there to help take care of his father. There are bad days, Doug says, wincing.

“What I see is a man who is broken down and built back up because he is watching his father,’’ said Whitney Yates, Doug’s wife. “Sometimes (Robert) is so sick he can’t do anything and Doug is there.’’

They are more than father and son. They share a treasured relationship not every boy and his dad experiences, their bonds woven early and strengthened with each day together.

Doug fondly recalls sleeping on a cot in a race shop when he was about 5 years old while his father worked on an engine through the night. They traveled to races together. Doug reminisces of a trip to Richmond where his father, tired from work, told his son, then 12, to take the wheel while he slept. Yet, when a deer ran across their path, it was Robert who asked his son if he saw that.

They often went to the race shop together. Although family, Robert was still the boss. He would be hard on his son at times, but Doug cherishes even those memories.

Robert was only teaching his son what it took to succeed. Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett won two Daytona 500s and Davey Allison won another for Robert Yates Racing. Jarrett won the 1999 Cup championship with the team. As an owner, Robert Yates won 57 Cup races and 48 poles.

Now, Doug is the boss. He oversees the “vision” his father had of the Roush Yates Engines shop, which powered Kurt Busch to a Daytona 500 win and Ford teams to four other victories in the season’s first 11 races.

“He wants to make (his dad) proud,’’ Whitney said of Doug. “He’s always trying so hard.

“Doug is always moving the bar. I think Robert is so proud of that.’’

While Doug does what he can for his father and the family business, he couldn’t control what happened at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The past three years Robert, Doug and the rest of the family came to the Hall of Fame to see if Robert would be selected. Five are chosen each year. Robert ranked sixth in votes received twice, just missing enshrinement.

Robert Yates reacts after he is announced to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Each time, Robert said the voting panel got it right.

“Selfishly, I didn’t think so, but he did,’’ Doug said. “That was a lesson for me. Everything happens for a reason.’’

As Wednesday approached, Doug Yates’ anxiety grew. It was worse Wednesday morning and throughout the day.

As Doug walked into Hall of Fame, ahead of his father, he conceded he was “nervous.’’

He also was prepared.

Doug stocked multiple tissues in the pockets of his slacks.

“If he didn’t make it, I was going to break down,’’ Doug said of his father making the Hall of Fame. “If he did, I was going to break down.’’

Robert also felt nervous.

“If I don’t get in,’’ Robert told himself before the announcement, “that’s the reason to work real hard to be here next year to get in.’’

The family didn’t have to wait long to celebrate.

Robert Yates, who received 94 percent of the vote, was announced first.

“Wow,’’ Doug said. “I’m glad that’s over.’’

His father, sitting a row in front of Doug, reached back. Doug leaned forward. They held hands. 

After that it was a matter of relishing what had happened as four other men — Red Byron, Ray Evernham, Ken Squier and Ron Hornady Jr. — were selected to join Robert Yates in the next Hall of Fame Class.

Doug stay composed throughout. He wiped his eyes once.

When the ceremony ended, Robert Yates reached his arm around wife Carolyn and embraced her.

“My family means so much to me because they allowed me to work night and day,’’ Robert Yates said. “Do I love engines? Yes, whether one cylinder, two cylinders, six or 12 or 24. I love engines.’’

That passion led him to this moment.

“I feel like I could take a jack,’’ said the former jackman.

“I don’t know if I’ll sleep tonight.’’

Doug Yates will.

His father will be in the Hall of Fame.

 and on Facebook