What drivers said after Daytona race

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RICKY STENHOUSE JR — Winner: “Wow, these guys. I kept my Talladega car and told them to build a new one. We won the Firecracker 400! This is awesome! I have been coming here since 2008. I actually came in 2006 one time with Bobby Hamilton Jr. and it is cool to put it in victory lane and get our second win this year. I love it!’’

Clint Bowyer — Finished 2nd: “We finished second two weeks in a row, so that’s a huge confidence booster for our team, but nonetheless, the pressure cooker is turning up. You’re sitting there looking up there that green‑white‑checker coming to the green there, and you’re thinking, ‘Oh, no, somehow, some way, I’ve got to get up there and keep one of those guys that are going to be first time winners out of this thing.’ That’s real, it’s alive, and it’s something you’re going to have to pay attention to. You hope you keep riding this wave and turn one of those seconds into a win.’’

Paul Menard — Finished 3rd: “We wanted to race hard all night long, but I forget who wrecked up in 1 and 2 but we got in the wall pretty hard and had to work on some damage so that put us back right at the end of the first stage and couldn’t go anywhere. So kind of bailed out of the stages and was a bunch of attrition obviously, and we kind of passed some cars that way, but got some really big runs toward the end and made up a lot of ground and Bowyer pushed the hell out of me the last lap. I just couldn’t get a run off Turn 4 coming to the checkered. I guess I used it all the lap before.’’

Michael McDowell — Finished 4th: “It’s nice to do this week after week. This isn’t our first good run. We had a good run the last three or four weeks, and we’ve been putting together solid runs. At the same time, coming to the line second, I thought I had a shot at him but just they had such a big run behind I couldn’t hold them off.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 5th: “I don’t want to say we got lucky, but we got lucky.  We did not dominate tonight by any means.  We rode around in the back for most of the race and it played out between everybody but Austin. It was a little bit of luck, but it was calculated and it was good enough for a top-five tonight.

David Ragan — Finished 6th: “I’m certainly proud of our effort tonight. We had a great day on pit road. Our car fast and it drove really good. I give us an ‘A’ for the night. I missed my mark a bit coming to the white line. I zigged when I should have zagged. It’s tough to block two or three lanes coming to the white flag. I missed it on that run. If I couldn’t win I’m glad another Ford is is victory lane. Ricky (Stenhouse) is a good guy and I’m proud for that team. I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t close the deal.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 8th: “We had a plan that we weren’t going to race until 40 to go, and it all worked out.  It was crazy back there. You are kind of hanging on. I thought the Quick Lube Chevy had good speed and handled really well. That has always been our strength here and it was again. The guys did such a great job. It was our backup car. I kind of crushed the roof of the primary car at Talladega.  They got it ready and it had decent speed in it.  You just wish you could re-do it.  I thought I was doing everything right.  On that first restart I had a big push there on David (Ragan) and thought we were going to get clear that second restart. I couldn’t get to Ty’s (Dillon) bumper as good as I wanted to. I was going to shoot the gap, and Ty went high and the 38 went low and I got pinned in the middle and lost our chance to win.”

Erik Jones — Finished 9th: “It was an up-and-down night. We were up front at a few points and back at a few points – just learning and trying to figure everything out. I don’t know exactly what happened when we got spun around. I think I got up inside of somebody or somebody came down on me and just got spun around unfortunately. Still got a decent finish out of it – top 10 at a superspeedway so that’s a good finish and some momentum for next week.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 10th: “Really nice to finish Daytona. We tried to have a smart race and just hang out there in the back so we could have a good piece at the end. The team did a great job on giving me a good race car all weekend. We knew qualifying would be what it was, but the car raced and handled really well and we got a top-10 out of it.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 12th: “It is nice when you are rewarded with good points and important championship points – points that carry into the bonus rounds with our wins and stage win last week.  I really thought we were in a great position and I got smashed into the wall by the No. 95  (Michael McDowell) off of two. But to come back and have the car tore up still in 12th, decent day for us. Excited about that, but really looking forward to the summer stretch. We have some great tracks coming. 

Jamie McMurray – Finished 14th: “So we had probably the best plate car tonight that we have had in four or five years. We got caught up in that wreck and obviously it killed a lot of speed in the car.  I didn’t choose good lanes at the end and I got hung out one time and went from a fourth or fifth place finish to 14th.”

Darrell Wallace Jr. — Finished 15th: “That was fun. Probably the most fun that I’ve had at the Speedway. I missed three, four wrecks. Just a big chess game. Way different than Xfinity race. Just trying to plan out my attacks. I hate that we got in that wreck late and put us in the back. A good rally to get to 15th. We keep improving.” 

Ty Dillon – Finished 16th: “I wanted to do it so bad for Bob Germain who gave me this opportunity. That is two close ones and if you keep getting these close ones, you will get one eventually. We work hard every week but not every week are we contending for wins, but when it’s our chance we make the most of it. So I am proud of the way we are growing as a team and we are leading a lot of laps any way we can.  I just feel disappointed. When it’s the white flag you go for it. Nobody went with me and so that is kind of the pains of being a rookie, but I would have been mad at myself if I didn’t make a move right there. The move cost me a good finish but didn’t really determine what our day was.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ — Finished 17th: “The race was good and we ran definitely much better than where we finished. Just all the starts and restarts, those last two restarts we were on the bottom and it wasn’t going anywhere. Just a little bad luck there at the end of the race.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 21st: “We were really fast and made our way up through there on a few occasions. But we were just never in the right place at the right time.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 26th: “I am not sure what happened. I saw (Kyle Larson) get turned and get up in the air a little bit. I just couldn’t miss him. I was already on the top and I hate that I T-boned him. I just couldn’t get out of the way. I thought we had a really good car. We were racing hard. Everyone was racing hard. We got kind of shuffled out. I didn’t pick a very good lane. We were working our way back forward when that happened.’’

Matt Kenseth — Finished 27th: “It’s been really hard to get a finish. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) had a great strategy tonight and had us out front. Obviously I should’ve got down in front of the 17 (Ricky Stenhouse). He made up a lot more ground through three and four than I thought. I should’ve got to the bottom and tried to get by the 5 (Kasey Kahne) there. I thought we were still in OK shape and then the 5 got real loose into one and something happened and it checked our whole lane up and then, as luck would have it, as soon as we lost those 10 spots the wreck happened. Just nowhere to go. Disappointing end.”

KYLE LARSON — Finished 29th: “I’m fine. I was just up front there and doing what I could to stay up front. The 38 (David Ragan) got to my inside, and I saw that in my mirror and I kind of felt it a little bit because you can feel the air. I was just trying to leave him a little bit of room and I just moved up too high and ran across Ricky’s (Stenhouse, Jr.) nose and I hate that I caused that wreck and I feel pretty bad about. It was going to be an extremely good points day and we hurt that a little bit.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., – Finished 32nd: “The attention and the reaction from the fans makes me feel great.  Hopefully we are able to turn that around and back on them for the rest of the season and thank them for all they had done. I wish we had had a good finish tonight if not a win. We were working up in there and having a good time and being aggressive and wearing out the sides of that race car.  It just wasn’t to be.’’

Kevin Harvick — Finished 33rd: “We just blew a tire. That’s the way it goes. It just blew out right in the middle of the corner. I hate to wreck half the field. That’s a part of what we do.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 34th: “I just tried to slow down, but you know you get hit from behind, you hit the guy in front of you – there’s nothing you can do. When you’re going 190 something and everybody stops in front of you, it’s kind of hard to do anything. This July race, man, I don’t think I’ve finished it in like five years. It’s just – it’s been a tough one every time. Every time we feel like we’re doing something okay we get in a big wreck, so it’s been a tough one for sure but rebound and go to Kentucky and hopefully go for some more wins.”

Joey Logano — Finished 35th: “I saw four our five laps before the wreck that the 95 (Michael McDowell) got into the side of the 18 (Kyle Busch). I didn’t see any smoke off the 18, just a near miss. Then four or five laps later I think the left rear popped on the 18 and around he started going and we were there. Wrong place at the wrong time again for us. It’s superspeedway racing. Sometimes you’re on the good side of it, sometimes you’re on the wrong side of it. That was the bad one. We’ll just move and head to the next race.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 36th: “I didn’t see and am not sure.  I tried to slow down, I downshifted and it wasn’t enough. We knocked the oil cooler and radiator out.  I should have been smarter and rode around like half of the others in the field, but we were trying to get some bonus points there coming to the end of the stage. It didn’t work out.”

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Daniel Hemric, Daniel Suarez’ racing roots

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America begins at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview the Round of 12 elimination race at Kansas Speedway.

Carolyn Manno hosts with Kyle Petty and Parker Kligerman from Stamford, Connecticut.

On the show:

  • We’ll debate which past Cup Series champion will advance to the Round of 8. Defending champion Jimmie Johnson currently leads 2015 champ Kyle Busch by only seven points for the final transfer spot. Who has the edge going into Kansas this Sunday? This elimination race will be a heated competition just to finish above the cut line. Log on to NBCSports.com/NASCARVote and weigh in!
  • Xfinity Series playoff driver Daniel Hemric calls into the show to talk about his chances of advancing to the championship four in Miami. He’ll also describe his experience being one of the four drivers to participate in the recent tire test at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “Roval.”
  • We take a look at the Daniel Suarez’s Racing Roots and discuss his transition from Xfinity Series champion to Monster Energy Cup Series rookie.
  • Parker Kligerman hops into the iRacing simulator to preview Sunday’s elimination race at Kansas, as well as the Formula 1 race in Austin, Texas.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, you can also watch it via the online stream at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Daniel Hemric gets unexpected introduction to Cup car at Charlotte road course test

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Being a native of Kannapolis, North Carolina, a lot of Daniel Hemric‘s racing firsts are connected to Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 26-year-old Xfinity Series driver got another one this week when an unexpected call shortened a vacation to Mexico and put him in a Cup car for the first time.

Hemric, who drives Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet in his rookie season, was visiting the country as part of a birthday vacation for his wife, Kenzie.

“As soon as the wheels touched down I got a call from some guys a RCR asking ‘Hey, would you mind driving a Cup car Tuesday at a test?'” Hemric said Wednesday.

“Do I need to fly home right now or what?” Hemric responded.

Come Tuesday morning, Hemric was sitting in the cockpit of Ryan Newman‘s No. 31 Chevrolet as one of four drivers taking part in the first Goodyear tire test on the Charlotte Motor Speedway road course, a 2.42-mile, 18-turn circuit made up of most of the original 1.5-mile track and the infield road course.

MORE: Cup drivers share thoughts on Charlotte road course

The two-day test could give Hemric a step up on his Xfinity competition as the series also will run on the road course next year.

“The first two or three runs was about getting me acclimated (to the car) but since then I think we’ve done a good job of communicating with Goodyear and trying to figure what we need to be able to make sure fans will be able to see racing and side-by-side racing and a lot of action, which I think you’re going to see.”

Added Hemric: “These Cup cars get up to speed so quick compared to the Xfinity car, with such low downforce and high horsepower. It’s been fun to figure out how to get that laid down here around the roval.”

Luckily, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr. and Jamie McMurray were all experiencing the road course for the first time.

“Obviously, being my first time in (a Cup car), you’re trying to be aware of what you’re doing yourself,” Hemric said. “But to be able to lean on those guys, have the same thoughts as them, really collaborate with NASCAR and the race track to figure out where we should place those chicanes and all that stuff. I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress working as a group.”

MORE: Daniel Hemric returning to RCR in 2018

 

Spencer Boyd will compete in Xfinity full-time in 2018 for SS Green Light Racing

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SS Green Light Racing announced Thursday Spencer Boyd will compete full-time for it next season in the Xfinity Series.

Boyd will drive the No. 76 Chevrolet sponsored by Grunt Style, a veteran-owned lifestyle brand.

Boyd, 22, has made four starts for the team this year in the No. 07 Chevrolet, which has primarily been driven by Ray Black Jr.

“This is the day I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Boyd said in a press release.  “I’ve been racing something since I was 5 years old with the dream of making racing my career. Grunt Style has made my dreams come true.”

A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Boyd has 12 starts between the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series. In six Xfinity starts, including the four this year, his best result is 27th at New Hampshire.

Jason Miller will serve as the crew chief on the car that is owned by Bobby Dotter. Dotter has fielded cars in 116 races in the Xfinity Series since 1995 and 305 Truck Series entries since 2004.

“(Spencer) is one of the hardest working drivers I’ve seen,” Dotter said in the press release. “He is at the shop everyday helping with the cars and making the guys laugh.  Our organization is better because the team believes it when he says this is a team sport.  We are looking forward to a great 2018 season.”

Dave Pericak stepping down as director of Ford Performance on Dec. 1 after ‘heck of a ride’

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After a three-year stint as director of Ford Performance, Dave Pericak will leave the role Dec. 1.

Pericak will stay with Ford on its production side, serving as the engineering director for Unibody.

Motorsport.com first reported the news.

Pericak said Thursday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “Tradin’ Paint” that his time at Ford Performance was a “heck of a ride.”

His time included Ford winning the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans GTE Pro class and recruiting Stewart-Haas Racing to Ford from Chevrolet.

The first year of the relationship with SHR has seen Kurt Busch win the Daytona 500 and Busch and Kevin Harvick make the playoffs.

“We can’t underestimate what it’s like to switch to a new manufacturer and all the work that goes into that,” Pericak said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We weren’t able to start until the last race last year working together in earnest. There was a short amount of time to get ready and running. I think they’ve done an amazing job. I think they’re really gaining traction right now on understanding the Ford body and everything that goes with it. We’ve given them quote a few tools that were new to them as well. Next year, I have high expectations for Stewart-Haas and I know they do too.”

Harvick is one of four Ford drivers still alive in the playoffs, including Brad Keselowski, Ryan Blaney and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

If any of those drivers win the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, it would be Ford’s first since Kurt Busch won the title in 2004.

“I can tell you guys, rest assured, we are doing everything in our power to make sure that we end up at Ford Championship weekend with more than one driver there and for the ability to win that race,” Pericak said. “The championship means a lot to Ford. We haven’t had a championship in a while. I know the teams have recently said to me that they have even more of an incentive now that they know I’m leaving. They want to hand me the championship before I go.”

Pericak’s tenure also included the manufacture reeling off seven consecutive wins in Cup restrictor-plate races. That was capped off by Brad Keselowski’s win Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

“I think what you’re seeing now is everything’s coming together and it’s really starting to click,” Pericak said “This team is ready to continue on. They don’t need me to do so. I’m actually going back into the mainstream now and take all the learnings and approaches that I’ve had here at Ford Performance and take it back into the bigger Ford (body) and affect a larger portion of the company.”

With his new role as engineering director for Unibody, Pericak will be responsible for the engineering on all Ford products that are not trucks.

“Anything that’s not on a frame, engineering globally I will be responsible for,” Pericak said. “It’s a really big job within the company. Several thousand people will report to me. It’s the next evolution for me and my career.”

Pericak’s last year with Ford Performance also saw its NASCAR competitors, Toyota and Chevrolet, make significant body changes and announcements. Toyota brought a new nose to the Cup Series and Chevrolet revealed it will bring the Camaro to Cup after years of use in the Xfinity Series.

Pericak was asked if Ford plans to promote the Mustang from Xfinity to Cup in the near future.

“Clearly for 2018 we’ll be running the cars that we’re running now,” Pericak said. “We’ll have to see what we do in 2019. It would be great to see the Mustang out on the track. I think it would lend itself quite well to this racing. All I’ll say guys is stay tuned.”