Getty Images

Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota extend relationship

1 Comment

Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota have extended their relationship, NBC Sports has confirmed.

No details on the agreement were made available. RacinBoys.com first reported the extension.

The news of the extension comes with JGR’s Kyle Busch in the midst of a three-race win streak, the most recent coming last Saturday in the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond Raceway.

JGR’s Cup driver roster includes Busch, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones.

JGR has been partnered with Toyota since 2008 when it switched from Chevrolet.

Since then JGR has one Cup championship (Busch, 2015) and 93 wins in Cup. It also has two Xfinity championships. In that time, Toyota has won the Cup manufacturer’s championship twice (2016, 2017) and the Xfinity manufacturer’s title four times.

Key wins for JGR with Toyota include the Daytona 500 (Hamlin, 2016), the Brickyard 400 (Kyle Busch, twice), the Southern 500 (five times) and Coke 600 (Carl Edwards, 2015).

Since its inception in 1992, JGR has driven under the banners of Chevrolet (1992-96), Pontiac (1997-2002), Chevrolet (2000-07) and Toyota.

 and on Facebook

Starting lineup for Cup race at Richmond

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Martin Truex Jr. and Chase Elliott will start on the front row for Saturday night’s Cup race at Richmond Raceway.

Truex won his third pole of the season.

The top five is completed by Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Kyle Busch, who is trying to win a third consecutive race, qualified 32nd.

Click here for the starting lineup.

NASCAR America Fantasy League: 10 Best at Richmond in last three years

Getty Images
Leave a comment

As NASCAR nears the end of its spring short track season, it heads to a course that is often transitional with elements of unrestricted, intermediate speedways tossed in for good measure. Two of the last three races have been run on tracks less than a mile in length, and while they are all very dissimilar in handling characteristics for the drivers, they share at least one important commonality.

Cars are constantly in traffic and a mistake by a driver not in contention for the win can take out the leader – just as it did Ryan Blaney last week at Bristol Motor Speedway. The unpredictable nature of short track racing is part of what makes it a fan favorite, but it can be a challenge to those responsible for handicapping the events.

Last year, only four drivers swept the top 10 in Richmond’s two races. By comparison, the Bristol Motor Speedway bullring had three drivers who swept a track that typically requires rhythm to navigate well. When erratic results creep into the statistics, it pays to take a longer look and three-year averages are one of the most meaningful ways to eliminate peaks and valleys.

Players who have not already joined the NASCAR America Fantasy league can still do so at nascar.com/nbcsportsfantasy, and then share your team using #NASCARAmericaFantasy.

1. Joey Logano (4.83)
Last year’s Toyota Owners 400 was pivotal for Logano. His victory was deemed encumbered by NASCAR and Logano was not allowed to use it to qualify for the playoffs. He finished second in the fall Richmond event , however, and this could be the week he returns to Victory Lane.

2. Denny Hamlin (7.17)
Hamlin finished 22nd in the spring 2015 Richmond race, but he has been an incredibly good value ever since. He finished sixth in the next two races, won the fall 2016 Federated Auto Parts 400 and swept the top five last year.

3. Jimmie Johnson (7.50)
Last week was the first real sign that Johnson’s season is turning around. He came from the back of the grid after making an unapproved tire change, but once he got to the leaders, he looked like the Johnson that once dominated races. It might be time to trust him again.

4. Kyle Busch (7.60 in five starts)
Busch has not scored a top-five at Richmond in three races, but his back-to-back runner-up finishes in fall 2015 and spring 2016 give him a great average. The fact that he enters the Toyota Owners 400 with back-to-back wins and a six-race streak of top-three finishes this year certainly improves his odds.

5. Kurt Busch (7.67)
Busch ticks off both boxes that fantasy players are most concerned with. He has been consistent and strong at Richmond with six top 10s in his last seven races and a win in spring 2015. Last fall, he added another top five to his Richmond record.

5. Kevin Harvick (7.67)
Harvick has been an all or nothing driver at Richmond in recent years with five top fives compared to two results outside the top 10. His most recent of three wins came in spring 2013.

7. Brad Keselowski (8.83)
Expanding the parameters a little for Keselowski reveals he has a Richmond victory in 2014 along with three other top fives in his last eight starts. He has finished worse than 11th only once in that span and makes a great utility fantasy pick this week.

8. Kyle Larson (9.33)
In four years at Richmond, Larson has been consistently better in the fall with a second-place finish in 2016 and his victory last year. He has not yet cracked the top 10 in the spring race, but could fare better now that it is going to be run under the lights.

9. Daniel Suarez (9.50 in two starts)
Now that he has survived 500 laps at Bristol, Suarez knows that his thumb will not be a problem and is prepared to earn a third top 15 in three starts there.

10. Jamie McMurray (10.00)
The one word that always comes to mind with McMurray is consistency. At Richmond, he has not finished worse than 16th in his last nine attempts there. His bad luck from 2018 has to dissipate soon and there is really no telling when or where that will happen.

Bonus Picks

Pole Winner: Matt Kenseth swept the pole last year at Richmond and the new driver of the No. 20 is no stranger to speed. Erik Jones’ first career pole came on the short track of Bristol last August, so he knows how to get around short tracks.

Segment Winners: Play the odds this week. Harvick has the most segment wins in 2018 (four), while Keselowski has earned the most segment points (100). Kyle Busch is no slouch either with 98 segment points and two wins. Whichever of these three qualify best should be the segment one pick; toss a coin for segment two.

For more Fantasy NASCAR coverage, check out Rotoworld.com and follow Dan Beaver (@FantasyRace) on Twitter.

Thumb feeling better, Daniel Suarez is ready to add to memories at Richmond

Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Daniel Suarez admits he might have been the only person who appreciated the weather delays Sunday and Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway as he recovered from a thumb injury suffered the week before in a crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

Suarez suffered an avulsion fracture in his left thumb in that crash. He told “The Morning Drive” on Wednesday that it will take six to eight weeks for the injury to heal.

“The thumb actually is doing well,’’ Suarez said on the SiriusXM NASCAR Radio show. “The rest of my hand, my fingers, was pretty tired after the race. The rest of the hand had to do the entire work. It’s hard to believe how much you use your thumb, but you don’t think about it until you don’t have it. It was a tough race for sure. I’m glad it’s over.

“I knew that if we could make it through Bristol we would be fine the rest of the month and a half that I will have to wear this cast.’’

As for how hard racing at Bristol with the injury was, Suarez, who finished 11th, said:

“I think I was the only driver on the race track that was kind of happy that we were having the stops for rain because I was having some breaks for my hand. I wasn’t sure I was going to make it 100 percent if I had all 500 laps straight. I had some extra rest, some extra breaks on my hand.’’

Suarez’s best finish of the season is an eighth-place result at Phoenix. The series heads to Richmond Raceway this week and that is a track with many good memories for him. He finished seventh at Richmond last fall and 12th in this event a year ago. Richmond also is where Suarez made his Xfinity debut in April 2014. He started 12th and finished 19th. 

 and on Facebook

Goodyear tire test at Michigan rescheduled due to weather

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The postponed Food City 500 and a wet and cold forecast has forced Goodyear to reschedule this week’s tire test at Michigan International Speedway.

Originally scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, the test will now occur next week from April 24-25.

The move means that a scheduled tire test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for those days will be rescheduled to an undetermined date.

The Michigan test takes priority with the first NASCAR race weekend at the 2-mile speedway scheduled for June 8-10. NASCAR won’t visit IMS until Sept. 7-9.

“Hopefully, this will give us much more representative conditions of what to expect for race time in June,” said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing, in a press release. “Since our Indy tire test was planned for this time, we’ll have to move that test to sometime in June or July.”

Teams and drivers scheduled to test at Michigan are Furniture Row Racing (Martin Truex Jr.), Hendrick Motorsports (Alex Bowman), Team Penske (Brad Keselowski), Richard Childress Racing (Austin Dillon) and Stewart-Haas Racing (Aric Almirola).

Indianapolis test teams include Chip Ganassi Racing (Jamie McMurray), Joe Gibbs Racing (Daniel Suarez), Roush Fenway Racing (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) and Wood Brothers Racing (Paul Menard).