Mark Martin

Getty Images

Tony Gibson will be able to ‘make a difference’ in new role at Stewart-Haas Racing

Leave a comment

After 31 years, Tony Gibson will have a job in NASCAR that doesn’t send him on the road.

The former crew chief enters the 2018 season as the new production manager for Stewart-Haas Racing.

Gibson, 53, will supervise many of the departments responsible for building the cars for its four drivers, Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer. That includes the chassis, body shop and fabrication shops.

Gibson, who spent his last three seasons as a crew chief on Busch’s No. 41 Ford, detailed his new role with SHR Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

“It’s great for me because I’m a hands-on guy,” Gibson said. “I love to be working on the race cars and trying to make things better. When we were talking about this over the last year or so, how we were going to make this work, I just wanted to be where I could make a difference and help. This is a great way for me to help all the teams, all four teams, and be hands-on.”

SHR announced its new crew chief pairings on Dec. 15. Succeeding Gibson on the No. 41 will be Billy Scott, who worked with Danica Patrick the last two seasons.

Early in his career, Gibson worked as a car chief for 1992 Cup champion Alan Kulwicki. His crew chief career in Cup began in 1994 for six races on the No. 44 Ford owned by Charles Hardy.

Since then, Gibson has worked 440 Cup races from the top of a pit box, earning six wins. The last was in the 2017 Daytona 500 with Busch.

Gibson has also worked with Patrick, Bill Elliott, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Michael Waltrip and more.

Gibson was one of the last remaining crew chiefs who did not have a background in engineering.

“I’m not a paper guy, I’m not a computer guy” Gibson said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I like to go out and talk to the guys and work with them and (figure out) how I can make their jobs easier. It takes some of the experience I’ve had over the last 31 years and put(s) it in play. How can I help some of these younger guys … like John Klausmeier (crew chief for Almirola) and Billy Scott and all those guys, give them a good shot at being a crew chief and making a career out of it?”

 and on Facebook

Ken Schrader, Carl Edwards to be inducted in Ozark Area Racers Foundation Hall of Fame

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Former NASCAR drivers Ken Schrader and Carl Edwards will be among 10 inductees in the Ozark Area Racers Foundation Hall of Fame on Jan. 6.

The 31st annual event will be held at the Ozarks Empire Fairgrounds E-Plex in Springfield, Missouri.

Schrader retired from racing in the Cup and Xfinity Series in 2013, having earned two Cup wins and four Xfinity wins in his career.

He still competes in the annual NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora Speedway.

In addition to co-owning I-55 Raceway, Schrader, 62, continues to have a busy racing schedule, having competed in 65 dirt-track events in 2017.

Schrader will be joined for induction by first cousin and former NASCAR Cup driver Carl Edwards, who stepped away from racing at the end of the 2016 season.

Another NASCAR notable who will be inducted is MB Motorsports Truck Series team owner Mike Mittler.

Other inductees include Jim Campbell, James Taylor, the late Daryl Williams, Bob Aton, Chris Davis, Lonnie Snodgrass and Dan Williams.

Prior to the induction ceremonies, there will be an autograph session and a question-and-answer session with the inductees.

There will also be a blood drive that day from 2-5 p.m. to benefit Mittler, who is battling Multiple Myeloma and will undergo an autologous stem cell transplant in February, as well as local racer Brandon Riddle, who has undergone three liver transplants and one kidney transplant.

Last year’s Hall inductees included NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin and Lucas Oil founder Forrest Lucas.

Here’s your primer for Sunday’s Can-Am 500 Cup elimination race at Phoenix

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The penultimate race of the 2017 NASCAR Cup playoffs takes place this Sunday with the Can-Am 500 at Phoenix Raceway.

This is the final elimination race of the playoffs, with five drivers still eligible for the one remaining position to advance to next week’s season-ending and championship-deciding Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Or, as NBCSN’s Kyle Petty so succinctly put it, “party of five, table of one.”

Thanks to Racing Insights, here’s all you need to know about Sunday’s race and racetrack:

NASCAR Cup 2017 Season Breakdown

  • Different Winners: 14
  • Most Wins: 7- Martin Truex Jr.
  • Most Poles: 8- Kyle Busch
  • Most Runner Ups: 8 – Kyle Larson
  • Most Top-fives: 17 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Most Top-10s: 24 – Marin Truex Jr.
  • Most Laps Led: 2175– Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stage Wins: 19 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stage Top-5s: 46 – Martin Truex Jr.
  • Stage Top-10s: 53 – Kyle Larson
  • Playoff Points: 69 – Martin Truex Jr.

Phoenix recent race history:

  • The last seven Phoenix races had seven different pole winners, Alex Bowman got his first career MENCS pole driving the No. 88 in November 2016.
  • Ryan Newman won at Phoenix in March ending a 127 race winless streak and a 112 race winless streak for Richard Childress Racing.
  • Ryan Newman stayed out from seventh on the final lap 308 stop and kept the lead during the final two lap overtime finish, he went the final 56 laps on the same set of tires.
  • Ryan Newman led only six laps in his Phoenix win in March, all six came after lap 308. It was the second fewest laps led by a Phoenix winner, the fewest was four laps by Ryan Newman in April of 2010.
  • Chevrolet won seven of the last eight Phoenix races, Joey Logano’s win in a Ford in the fall of 2016 is the only non-Chevrolet win in the last eight Phoenix races.
  • Kevin Harvick has eight Phoenix wins the most of all drivers by four wins.
  • Kevin Harvick won six of the last 10 Phoenix races but failed to lead a single lap in the last two races.
  • Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are the only active drivers who have reached eight wins at a track, 
Johnson (11 wins Dover, 9 wins Martinsville, 8 wins Charlotte), Harvick (8 wins Phoenix).
  • 22 of the last 28 Phoenix races were won by drivers who currently compete for four organizations: Stewart-Haas Racing active drivers have 9 wins, Hendrick Motorsports active drivers have 8 wins, Joe Gibbs Racing active drivers have three wins and Richard Childress Racing active drivers have 2 wins. Five of those 28 races were won by drivers that no longer compete in the Cup series (Jeff Gordon 2 wins, Carl Edwards 2 wins and Mark Martin 1 win).
  • Neither stage winner finished in the top-10 in the March race at Phoenix.
  • Kyle Busch was passed for the win at Phoenix in March, it was the third straight race that a Joe Gibbs 
Racing driver was passed for the win at Phoenix and the second straight that a JGR driver was passed in 
the final eight laps there.
  • There have been zero DNFs for engine failure in the last six Phoenix races.
  • Six DNFs for accident in the race last March is tied for the most in the last nine Phoenix races.
  • 15 Lead changes in March at Phoenix, the most in the last seven races.
  • Kevin Harvick led the most laps in six of the last eight Phoenix races but failed to lead a single lap in the 
last two.
  • Kevin Harvick currently has an eight race streak of top-10 finishes at Phoenix, it is the third longest 
streak at the track and the longest active streak.
  • The last 14 Phoenix races were completed in less than 3 hours and nine minutes.
  • November 12th will be the 43rd race held at Phoenix Raceway.
  • Phoenix has hosted a Cup race every year since 1988 and two races a year every year since 2005.
  • Phoenix has been the penultimate race of the season since 2005.
  • Phoenix has hosted a race in every year of the playoffs and has been the final cut race before Miami in 
every season of the elimination style format.
  • 238 days between the Spring and Fall Phoenix races is the longest time between two events at one 
track in the same season.
  • 119 days between the November 2017 and March 2018 races at Phoenix.
  • Stage lengths at Phoenix: Lap 75 (75 laps), Lap 150 (75 laps), Lap 312 (162 laps).
  • Seven of the last 13 Phoenix winners started outside the top-10, Ryan Newman started 22nd in March.
  • There were seven or more cautions in 11 of the last 12 Phoenix races that were not rain shortened.
  • Eight Phoenix races had an overtime finish, including the last three.
  • The final green flag stretch was two laps or less in the last four races and 12 laps or less in the last seven r The driver leading the most laps failed to win in thee of the last four races at Phoenix.
  • Joey Logano, who won this race in 2016, is the only driver to win at Phoenix in the last 10 races who had 
not won there prior.

Phoenix Playoff Highlights:

  • 10 of 13 Phoenix playoff races were won by playoff eligible drivers.
  • 10 Phoenix playoff races were won by Chevrolet drivers.
  • Hendrick Motorsports leads all organizations with five Phoenix Playoff race wins.
  • Joe Gibbs Racing has won twice at Phoenix but neither win came in the Playoffs.
  • 10 of 13 Phoenix race winners started inside the top-10, including 10 of the last 11.
  • Four Phoenix playoff races had an overtime finish, the race in 2016 went to 324 laps (12 over the 
scheduled 312).
  • Phoenix was the penultimate race in 12 of 13 years of the playoffs (since 2005).
  • Hendrick Motorsports (3 poles) and Joe Gibbs Racing (2 poles) have won the last five poles in Phoenix 
playoff races.
  • Kevin Harvick in 2014 and Joey Logano 2016 clinched a birth in the final four at Miami with a Phoenix playoff race win.

2017 NASCAR Cup Season Highlights:

  • Joe Gibbs Racing (7), Furniture Row (5) and Chip Ganassi Racing (2) won 14 of the last 17 races.
  • The pole winner won six times in 2017: Kyle Larson ACS, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Talladega-1, Kyle Larson 
MIS-1, Kyle Busch POC-2, Kyle Busch NH-2, Martin Truex Jr. KS-2.
  • The final lead change came in the last 10 laps in 19 of 34 races in 2017, the final three laps in 13 races 
and on the last lap in four races.
  • Either Martin Truex Jr. or Kyle Busch won a stage in 23 of 34 races in 2017.
  • Martin Truex Jr. has won at least one stage in 14 of 34 races in 2017 but has not won a stage in the last 
six races which is his longest stretch of races without a stage win in 2017.
  • Martin Truex Jr. is the only driver to win both Stage 1 & 2 and go on to win the race (Las Vegas, Kentucky).
  • Five drivers won a race but have not won a stage in 2017.
  • Four drivers have won a stage but have not won a race in 2017.
  • Atlanta, Pocono-1, Michigan-2 and Chicagoland are the only races without a caution before the end of Stage 1.
  • Atlanta, Michigan-2 and Chicagoland are the only races to not have a caution other than stage 
breaks in the first two stages of the race.
  • Three Cautions at Watkins Glen the fewest in a race in 2017.
  • 15 cautions at Kansas-1 and Dover-1 are the most in a race in 2017.
  • Three times a driver has won after going to the rear: Jimmie Johnson Texas-1 (unapproved tire 
change), Joey Logano Richmond-1 (transmission change), Jimmie Johnson Dover-1 (rear gear change).
  • Denny Hamlin won in New Hampshire-1 after going to a backup car prior to qualifying.
  • Three times in 2017 a driver has gone on to win after a speeding penalty: Kurt Busch Daytona-1, Brad 
Keselowski Martinsville-1 and Martin Truex Jr. Chicagoland.
  • Martin Truex Jr. won at Kansas after a restart violation on lap 36, it was the fourth time in 2017 a driver has recovered from a in race infraction to win and the second time by Martin Truex Jr.
  • Three drivers got their first career win in 2017: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Talladega-1, Austin Dillon Charlotte- 1, Ryan Blaney Pocono-1, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is the first first-time winner to get his second win in 2017.
  • There have been two track records set in 2017: Kyle Busch (Kentucky), Kurt Busch (Texas-2).
  • Eight times driver has swept all three rounds of qualifying: Kevin Harvick- IMS 2014, MIS 6/14 and TX 
4/17, DAR 2017; Joey Logano MART 4/16 10/17; Brad Keselowski TX 11/15; Kyle Busch CHI 2017.
  • Kurt Busch’s pole at Texas was the fastest ever on a 1.5 mile track at 200.915 mph.
  • Qualifying was cancelled twice in 2017: Martinsville-1, Bristol-1.
  • 11 races had an overtime finish in 2017: PHX-1, ACS, TAL-1, Dover-1, Daytona-2, KY, Indy, MIS-2, 
RICH-2, CLT-2, MART-2.
  • Four races were won with a last lap pass: Daytona-1 Kurt Busch passed Kyle Larson, Talladega-1 Ricky 
Stenhouse Jr. passed Kyle Busch, Talladega-2 Brad Keselowski passed Ryan Newman, Martinsville-2 
Kyle Busch passed Denny Hamlin.
  • Three races were affected by rain in 2017: Bristol-1 (postponed until Monday), Charlotte-1 (delayed 90 
minutes lap 145), Indianapolis (Delayed on Lap 12 for 2 hours).
  • Three drivers ended the longest winless streaks of their career in 2017: Ryan Newman 127 races, Kasey Kahne 102 races, Kyle Busch 36 races.

Phoenix Raceway Track History

  • The track was built in 1964 with the goal of becoming the western location of open wheel racing. The first race at PR was on the road course. AJ Foyt won the first oval track race in March 1964.
  • Richard Petty won the first NASCAR race, a 1978 Winston West Series event. Over the years the track has hosted most professional classes of racecars.
  • In 1985 Buddy Jobe purchased the then 10,000 seat track from Dennis Wood. Jobe soon initiated a massive improvement program with the goal of landing a NASCAR Cup race.
  • The first Cup race, held on November 6th, 1988, was won by Alan Kulwicki in his No. 7 ZEREX Ford Kulwicki celebrated by performing the first ever “Polish Victory Lap.”

Long: Denny Hamlin did not need to apologize for Chase Elliott wreck

6 Comments

MARTINSVILLE, Virginia — Denny Hamlin apologized to Chase Elliott and his fans on Twitter after Sunday’s race.

It wasn’t needed.

This is what short-track racing has become, whether you like it or not. Especially with a spot in the championship round next month in Miami.

What happened Sunday night was what has happened at many short tracks throughout the country at lower levels, just that punches weren’t thrown in this case. Give Hamlin and Elliott credit for having a heated discussion on the backstretch that didn’t lead to fisticuffs.

As NASCAR Chairman Brian France has said many times, stock car racing is a contact sport. That’s what fans saw Sunday under the lights at Martinsville Speedway.

NASCAR didn’t issue any penalties or send anyone to the hauler after the race, thus it obviously was fine with what happened between Elliott and Brad Keselowski and then Hamlin and Elliott in the final laps.

So the apology Denny Hamlin sent after the race wasn’t necessary.

Want to be mad? Sure you can be mad at Hamlin, but be mad at NASCAR for setting up a win-and-you’re-in playoff system. Of course that’s the same system many of you cheered when it wasn’t your driver who lost a chance to win because of a similar type finish.

Give credit to Hamlin for saying that young drivers shouldn’t race like he did in the final laps, but that’s how most drivers races now and it’s not going to change … unless NASCAR wants it to change and NASCAR saw nothing wrong with the “bull—- chaos’’ in the final laps, as Hamlin called it. 

Fact is, that’s how most everyone races. Mark Martin is gone.

Let’s be honest, an apology doesn’t change things. It doesn’t put Elliott back into the lead. It doesn’t make him less angry. It doesn’t take away the fact that he’s got a major payback to deliver to Hamlin just about any time he wants. 

“I got punted from behind and wrecked in Turn 3 leading the race,’’ Elliott said. “I don’t know what his problem was. It was unnecessary. I hadn’t raced him dirty all day long. There was no reason for that. He comes over and talks to me a second ago and tells me he has somebody pushing him into Turn 3. And I thought that was funny because there was no one within two car lengths of him into Turn 3 behind myself.

“We had an opportunity to go straight to Homestead and because of him, we don’t.”

Said Hamlin: “He said I wrecked him. Obviously Ray Charles saw that. Obviously it wasn’t intentional. I wanted to move him out of the way. It was just not enough grip on the race track for him to save it. He washed (Keselowski) up the race track as well. We can play favorites if we want. Unfortunately, this is a ticket to Homestead at stake.’’

Yes, there’s a limit but until NASCAR is willing to be more aggressive in how it officiates the end of these races, then what Hamlin did was fair game.

As winner Kyle Busch said afterward: “Life ain’t fair.’’

And neither is short-track racing.

 and on Facebook

Charlotte Motor Speedway is a tough place to win for Xfinity regulars

Getty Images
Leave a comment

If you’re hoping to see a Xfinity Series regular driver win this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway,  you may want to temper your expectations.

In the last 25 Xfinity races at the 1.5-mile track, only one Xfinity regular has visited victory lane.

That honor belongs to Mike Bliss.

Bliss only won twice in 359 Xfinity starts, both coming at Charlotte in 2004 and 2009.

Other than that, NASCAR’s home track has been a haven for Cup drivers in the Xfinity Series in recent memory.

In the last 11 Xfinity races there, Austin Dillon (two), Joey Logano (two), Brad Keselowski (two) and Kyle Busch (two) combined to win eight times. Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson won the other three.

Of those, only Dillon and Blaney are entered in this weekend’s race. They join Cup regulars Ty DillonDaniel Suarez and Erik Jones.

Three times a Cup driver has completed the weekend sweep at the track, but none have done it since Mark Martin in 1995.

One stat going in favor of Xfinity drivers is in the recent past at 1.5-mile tracks. In the last six races at that type of track, there have been six different winners. The last two were won by non-Cup drivers, Justin Allgaier (Chicago) and Tyler Reddick (Kentucky).

Here’s some more interesting stats ahead of the Drive for the Cure 300.

  • Only three of the last 33 races at Charlotte were won from the pole. Two of the three came in 2015 when Austin Dillon won both races from the pole.
  • There were 12 cautions at Charlotte in May, the most in a race this season and the most in the last 17 races at Charlotte.
  • The driver leading the most laps failed to win the last four October races.
  • The final green flag stretch at Kentucky, the last race on a 1.5 mile track, was 104 laps, the longest green flag stretch to end a race on a 1.5 mile track in the last 70 races
  • Justin Allgaier won from 14th at Chicagoland in September, the only race on a 1.5 mile track won from a starting position outside the top 10 in the last 25 races.