Brett Moffitt

Denny Hamlin stays out on old tires in one-lap shootout, captures Stage 2 at Kansas

Leave a comment

In a one-lap shootout to wrap up Stage 2, Denny Hamlin on old tires held off the rest of the field to win the middle stage of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kentucky Speedway.

Kevin Harvick (on new tires) was second, followed by Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch (also on new tires).

The younger Busch brother has dominated the race thus far, winning Stage 1, leading 57 laps in Stage 2 and a total of 94 laps of the first 180 laps in the scheduled 267-lap event.

Hamlin and Keselowski were both penalized for speeding on pit road after the stage ended.

Among incidents during Stage 2:

* Martin Truex Jr. came off Turn 4 and made an abrupt entry onto pit road on Lap 92 after complaining of a vibration in his Toyota, potentially from a loose wheel. Truex took four tires and fuel and returned to the track.

* Denny Hamlin misunderstood a command from crew chief Mike Wheeler on pit road during his stop on Lap 128. After the jack dropped, Hamlin hesitated because he thought he heard Wheeler say “hold up” on the team radio. Wheeler actually said “Hard out.” The miscue cost Hamlin a couple of seconds and returned to the track in 17th position.

* Brett Moffitt hit the outside wall for the second time in the race on Lap 156, bringing out the caution in the waning moments of Stage 2 to set up the one-lap shootout. He also hit the wall on Lap 46 in Stage 1.

Kyle Busch takes Stage 1 at Kansas, engine issues befall Kyle Larson

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Buch won Stage 1 of Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Busch led 37 of the 80 laps. The stage ended under caution brought out when Kyle Larson‘s engine blew up on Lap 76.

Kevin Harvick finished the stage second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Ryan Blaney and Jamie McMurray.

Among incidents during the first stage:

* The No. 00 of Derrike Cope was penalized twice for driving through too many pit boxes, as well as for speeding.

Cope also took the car to the garage after the first penalty before returning to the track and eventually adding the second pit box penalty.

* Points leader Martin Truex Jr. was penalized on Lap 36 for a restart violation on the restart following the competition caution on Lap 30. Truex served his pass-through penalty on Lap 38.

During the pre-race driver/crew chief meeting, NASCAR Cup Series Director Richard Buck told drivers:

“Restarts, just want to remind everybody to get lined up in the order of race control, bumper to bumper, door handle to door handle. A reminder to stay in your lane until you cross the start-finish line. The front row establish the lanes and the inside lane must be established above the inside painted line.’’

* The No. 83 of Brett Moffitt brought out the second caution when he hit the wall on Lap 46.

* Larson came to pit road with 15 laps left in the stage with apparent engine issues. After his team looked under the hood, Larson came back on the track and crew chief Chad Johnson told him over the team radio to run the car as much – and as long – as he could.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last very long as on Lap 76, Larson’s engine blew up — although he’s still technically in the playoffs, 29 points above the cut line, depending on what happens in the final two stages. It’s the first engine failure for Larson since he became a full-time Cup driver, according to NBCSN.

“I felt it drop a cylinder or something,” Larson told NBCSN. “It’s a disappointing way to finish our race and probably our season, but we’ll be alright.

“I’ll cross my fingers and pray to anything I can pray to, but I don’t think 29 points (the margin he was above the cut-line coming into the race) is enough. It sucks to have an engine failure, but it is what it is. … Disappointing, but still a long race left to go, so maybe we can get lucky.”

Brian France: NASCAR seeks to control expenses ‘in a way not done in motorsports before’

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
3 Comments

CONCORD, North Carolina — NASCAR chairman Brian France hinted Sunday at drastic changes for the sport as it seeks to manage expenses for teams.

“There’s a lot more we can do, and we’re going to do it,’’ France told NBC Sports at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “That’s what the charter opportunity gives the chance to do. We’re working with (teams) to see how we can control expenses in a way that has not been done in motorsports before.’’

One of NASCAR’s three main tenets is cost containment (along with safety and competition). France met with Andrew Murstein, majority owner of Richard Petty Motorsports, and John Tisch, owner of the NFL’s New York Giants, in July where Murstein discussed the notion of a spending cap for teams.

Murstein told NBC Sports after that meeting that France appeared open to the idea “if we came up with some more details.’’

Asked Sunday what can be done to help teams with costs, France told NBC Sports: “There are structural changes that can be smarter than we’re doing it today that we are working on with the teams to adjust the expense model and other things in a smarter way.”

When will this be done?

“It’s as soon as we can,’’ France said. “It’s a process, but it takes a little bit of time.’’

Costs to team have become a bigger issue this week.

Denny Hamlin raised issues this week about revenue redistribution in the sport and giving teams and drivers the opportunity to make more money.

“The pie has to be shifted for sure,” Hamlin said Wednesday. “The TV dollars coming into NASCAR is higher than it’s ever been, but we’re seeing fewer and fewer teams, and it just can’t survive. So it economically doesn’t make sense. The pie, the amount of TV money that the race teams share, has to go up, in my opinion.”

On Friday, BK Racing’s two cars did not run in practice or qualifying. Brett Moffitt told NBC Sports that the reason the team didn’t run was because “bills were not paid.” Car owner Ron Devine declined comment to NBC Sports. The team was prepared to practice Saturday, but both sessions were canceled by rain. Both cars were to run Sunday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR has implemented various rule changes with the long-term goal of saving teams money. NASCAR announced last month that Cup teams will be required to use 13 short block engines for two full race weekends next season to help defray costs. Teams also can only use one engine for Daytona Speedweeks next year.

In the Xfinity Series, teams debuted the flange-fit composite body at Richmond in September. It ran at Dover and will run later this year at Phoenix. The composite body can be used in 2018 for all races except superspeedway events. Series officials plan to make the composite body mandatory in 2019.

Also, NASCAR is experimenting with less on-track activity. Cup teams were on track only two days, including race day, at Pocono and Watkins Glen in August and will have the same schedule later this month at Martinsville Speedway.

 and on Facebook

BK Racing cars do not turn a lap in practice, qualifying Friday at Charlotte

Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
4 Comments

CONCORD, North Carolina — Both of BK Racing’s cars did not go on track Friday, missing Cup practice and qualifying Friday at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“Bills were not paid,’’ Brett Moffitt, driver of the No. 83 BK Racing Toyota, told NBC Sports.

BK Racing owner Ron Devine declined comment to NBC Sports when informed of Moffitt’s comment.

Asked if his cars would be on track for Saturday’s practices, Devine texted NBC Sports: “Wait and see.’’

NASCAR confirmed Saturday that BK Racing’s cars are able to compete in Sunday’s race. Both BK Racing cars passed qualifying inspection and were prepared to practice Saturday before both sessions were canceled by rain. LaJoie will start 39th in the No. 23 car, and Moffitt will start 40th in the No. 83 car.

Moffitt, who drove the No. 83 two weekends ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway for BK Racing, said this was not a new issue.

“We had an issue similar to this at Loudon and it got taken care of earlier in the day,’’ Moffitt said. “We’ll see about this one. You just wait and find out. That’s about all we can do.’’

Moffitt and LaJoie both took part in all three practice sessions at New Hampshire, qualified and raced. Moffitt finished 32nd and LaJoie placed 27th.

The No. 23 car for BK Racing, which has a charter, has run every race this season. The No. 83 car for BK Racing, which does not have a charter, has run all but two races this season.

In January, KickintheTires.net reported an arbitration ruling was signed by North Carolina Superior Court Judge Richard Doughton that BK Racing was to pay Race Engines Plus $1,462,648. The money was owned from 2013-15 for use of its engines, parts and rent. The ruling states that Race Engines Plus was not wrong to withhold engines and engines parts to the team in the offseason in 2014 and following a split between the two entities in April 2015. The ruling also stated that Race Engines Plus was to return engines and engine parts that were still being held as of Dec. 2016.

In August, Fronstretch.com reported on some of the financial difficulties BK Racing had had and that Devine said that Gray Gaulding, who drove for the team earlier this season, owed him $560,000 in sponsorship money, while owing him $1.36 million overall.

 and on Facebook

 

Denny Hamlin wins pole for Bank of America 500

1 Comment

CONCORD, North Carolina — Denny Hamlin won the pole for Sunday’s Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Hamlin won his first pole of the year and his first since the 2016 regular-season finale with a speed of 191.598 mph.

He will be joined one the front row by his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth (191.489).

It is Hamlin’s 25th Cup pole.

“You always like keeping streaks alive and I hadn’t had a pole this year,” Hamlin told NBCSN. “Had one every other year (except 2011) . It’s good. We’ve been so close and we’ve made so many final rounds, been in the top five but not as fast as our other teammates. Today we adjusted on it, got it a little bit better each round and had some good results.”

Completing the top five for Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET on NBC) are Kevin Harvick (191.394), Kyle Busch (190.941) and Clint Bowyer (190.584).

Brad Keselowski (sixth), Chase Elliott (seventh) and Kyle Larson (10th) are the other playoffs drivers who will start in the top 10.

Danica Patrick qualified 12th. It is the fourth time she has qualified in the top 12 this year (Daytona 500, Sonoma, Daytona II).

Four playoff drivers only made it to the second round: Ryan Blaney (15th), Martin Truex Jr. (17th), Jamie McMurray (18th) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (22nd).

Truex’s start is his worst since he started 25th at Daytona in July.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. will start 23rd in his final Cup start at Charlotte. In the first round Earnhardt knocked teammate Jimmie Johnson out of the top 24. The eight-time winner at Charlotte will start 25th.

“Multiple trips through the inspection line doesn’t help by any stretch,” Johnson told NBCSN. “We just missed it. Another frustrating Friday, unfortunately. … It sucks getting behind, starting the weekend behind like this. It is what it is and we’re going to have to go to work on Sunday.”

Johnson is the only playoff driver who will start outside the top 24.

Erik Jones was unable to make a qualifying lap after his No. 77 Toyota made it through inspection but not in time for him to get on track. He will start 38th Sunday. BK Racing’s two entries of Brett Moffitt and Corey LaJoie also did not make qualifying runs.

Click here for the full qualifying results.