Some Cup drivers anxious about qualifying and racing on same day

Some Cup drivers anxious about qualifying and racing on same day

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LONG POND, Pa. — It’s not a novel concept, qualifying shortly before a race, but it is new to Cup teams, so it’s natural that competitors have concerns heading into Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Cup teams will qualify at 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday on NBCSN. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:18 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Qualifying and racing on the same day is common in the Camping World Truck Series and Xfinity Series, but not to Cup.

Cup teams also will qualify and race on the same day at Watkins Glen and Martinsville. The purpose of shortening race weekends is to give crews more time at home and help teams cut travel costs. If it works, more races could see this schedule. With no track action on Friday, tracks are holding fan fests with Cup drivers.

As Cup teams prepare to qualify and race on the same day, there’s some anxiety.

“I’m not crazy about qualifying Sunday,’’ said Matt Kenseth, who had the fastest lap in the opening practice session Saturday. “I’d rather qualify Saturday night. Especially Watkins Glen. Just with shifting and all that stuff. Backup cars aren’t allowed to have engines in them. If you have something go wrong that close to the race and got to get a backup car out, or miss a shift and got to put an engine in it or something, you’re really flirting with not even being able to start the race.

“I guess that’s the part that probably concerns me the most. I like the idea of two-day shows and the condensed scheduled. If it’s me, I’d rather qualify on Saturday night or much earlier on Sunday.’’

Said Ryan Newman: “The biggest question mark is if you tear a car up, you’ve got to have time to get the backup out. We’ll see. They’ve, I guess, tried to put their best educated guess of what time we need to cover all bases and, hopefully, we don’t have to cover all bases.’’

Even with the challenges, Kevin Harvick said the move to this type of schedule is good for teams.

“It saves the guys a lot of work in the garage,’’ he said. “It saves the teams a lot of money from dumping oils and putting on brake rotors and all the things we do to the cars. I like how we’re trying to clean all this up and adding this type of fan event is something we can do every week.’’

The challenge for teams will be to have a setup that qualifies well but is better in the race.

“Having to qualify in race trim with just impounded adjustments, it’s going to be really tricky to figure it out,’’ Martin Truex Jr. said. “It’s going to be handful, I’m sure.’’

After qualifying, teams will only be able to do the following to their car when accompanied by a NASCAR official:

• Plug in oil heater.

• Turn Master Switch ON/OFF.

• Open Hood. 

• Open oil cooler bypass valve.

• Cool down unit lines may be removed 

• Set cooling system level. (may add water manually or with the cool down unit)

• Add or remove tape

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Results, statistics from Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck season finale

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Chase Briscoe earned his first Camping World Truck Series victory in Friday’s season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

And while finishing second is supposed to be the first loser, it wasn’t for Christopher Bell, whose runner-up showing clinched the 2017 Truck Series championship for him.

Click here for the full results from Friday’s race.

MORE: Christopher Bell wins Truck Series championship, Chase Briscoe earns first career Truck win

MORE: Here’s the final 2017 Camping World Truck Series driver standings

 

Here’s the final 2017 Camping World Truck Series driver standings

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Christopher Bell won the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship in Friday’s Ford EcoBoost 200, with all four Championship 4 drivers finishing within four points of each other.

Bell finished with 4,035 points, 2016 Truck champ Johnny Sauter finished second in the standings with 4,034 points, rookie Austin Cindric finished third (4,032) and two-time series champ Matt Crafton finished fourth (4,031).

Click here for the final 2017 season driver standings.

MORE: Christopher Bell wins Truck Series championship, Chase Briscoe earns first career Truck win

MORE: Results, statistics from Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck season finale

Christopher Bell wins Truck title, Chase Briscoe earns first career series win

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The first champion of the NASCAR Championship Weekend was crowned Friday night as Christopher Bell earned his first Camping World Truck Series title.

Chase Briscoe won the race, the Ford EcoBoost 200, leading a race-high 77 laps in the 134-lap event, while Bell captured the championship by finishing second.

“It’s a dream come true,” Bell told FS1. “These trucks are so good and they pay so much attention to all the detail that goes into these things, and that’s what makes these Tundras so fast. I’m just speechless.”

MORE: Results, statistics from Ford EcoBoost 200 Truck season finale

MORE: Here’s the final 2017 Camping World Truck Series driver standings

Bell, an Oklahoma native who turns 23 on Dec. 16, has already been announced to drive next season in the Xfinity Series for Joe Gibbs Racing. He ends the 2017 Truck campaign with five wins and 21 top-10s in 23 Truck races.

“To be see Christopher be able to mature and grow … it just goes to show these guys develop and we do a good job of developing these guys,” team owner Kyle Busch told FS1. “Erik Jones won our first driver’s championship and now with Christopher Bell bringing home our second, it just continues to solidify our legacy.”

Briscoe, who also turns 23 one day before his good friend Bell, helped send Brad Keselowski Racing out on a high note. BKR is closing after this season.

“This is a long time coming,” Briscoe told FS1. “I’m so proud of these guys to know they’re not going to have job next year, yet they continue to bring real good trucks even though we were outside of the playoffs. … For those guys to continue to believe in me, I’m so blessed and thankful.”

Briscoe was also named Truck Series Rookie of the Year.

Team owner Brad Keselowski, who will be vying for the NASCAR Cup championship on Sunday, told FS1 about Briscoe: “He has a big, bright future ahead of him and along with (BKR teammate) Austin Cindric and I’m just happy to play a role and help him out.”

The other Championship 4 contestants that came up short were 2016 Truck champ Johnny Sauter (finished third), Austin Cindric (fifth) and Matt Crafton (sixth).

STAGE WINNERS: Stage 1 (Christopher Bell), Stage 2 (Ben Rhodes)

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Cindric showed a lot of mettle while running near the front much of the race. Not bad for a 19-year-old rookie. … Bell did exactly what he needed to do to win the title: finish ahead of his other three challengers.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Noah Gragson had a rough night, finishing 18th, three laps behind the leaders.

NOTABLE: Toyota earned its fifth consecutive Truck Manufacturers Championship, and 10th overall in the last 14 seasons. … With the exception of the two cautions between stages, there were no other cautions caused from on-track action.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This whole organization, this whole team has been so good for so many years, you just don’t want to be that guy to let them down – and I’m really glad I didn’t let them down tonight.” – 2017 Truck Series champ Christopher Bell (via FS1).

WHAT’S NEXT: The 2017 season has concluded. The next race is the 2018 NextEra Energy Resources 250, Friday February 16, Daytona International Speedway.

Starting lineup for Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Cup title race

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After making contact with both the outside wall and Chase Elliott last Sunday at Phoenix, Denny Hamlin failed to advance to Sunday’s Ford EcoBoost 400 Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

But that didn’t stop Hamlin — who has two career wins at the South Florida 1.5-mile track — from earning his second career pole for Sunday’s race.

Martin Truex Jr. — who has six wins on 1.5-mile tracks in his seven overall victories this season — was the highest qualifying Championship 4, starting on the front row alongside Hamlin.

The other Championship 4 drivers qualified third (Kyle Busch), fifth (Brad Keselowski) and ninth (Kevin Harvick).

Click here for the starting lineup for Sunday’s race.