NASCAR no longer regulating minimum air pressure requirements

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR will not regulate minimum air pressure requirements this season, giving crew chiefs more control of how little they put in their tires but also increasing the risk of a blowout.

“How much do you want to risk it to get the biscuit?’’ Joey Logano said. “Except that one hurts a lot more. Believe me.’’

Goodyear will continue to provide teams with a minimum tire pressure recommendation.

Previously, NASCAR mandated the right front tire pressure and, in some cases, left-front tires. Now, it is up to teams to determine how low they inflate their tires.

Robin Pemberton, senior vice president of competition, said NASCAR is allowing teams to police themselves in this area.

“With Goodyear constantly working on their communications with the teams on tire durability, it’s putting it in the team’s hands for different strategies,’’ he told NASCAR Talk Friday at Daytona International Speedway. “How low they think they can go.’’

Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of race tires sale, said: “(Teams) have to make those calls. We try to give them as much data as we can for them to make those types of decisions.’’

Pemberton said officials are working on having a tire pressure monitoring system on the dashboard to give drivers a warning when tire pressure is too low. Pemberton said that the system is “a ways away” from happening.

For now, Kasey Kahne said teams will take advantage of lowering the air pressure.

“There are certain tracks where you are at minimum, and if you could go down 2 more pounds, you would definitely definitely do it,’’ he said.

What’s the advantage of lowering air pressure? It provides better grip. That’s pivotal on short tracks and on some bigger tracks with worn and bumpy surfaces. It also is vital on restarts, especially late in a race.

“As a competitor, you have to push limits to make it better, and you get yourself in a box where you’re running on the edge,’’ said Paul Wolfe, crew chief for Brad Keselowski. “If nothing changes at this point, are we going to see a lot of failures? I have a feeling we could potentially.

“I know there’s multiple tracks where we were racing at the Goodyear minimum already and to sit here and say we aren’t going to try to go below it, I’d be lying to you.’’

Low air pressures at Daytona International Speedway are not expected to be an issue because that doesn’t help performance as much. Atlanta, the season’s second race, also might not be a track that sees lower air pressures because of the high speeds and loads. Tracks that could see teams dropping air pressures could be New Hampshire, Martinsville, Kentucky and Auto Club, among others, crew chiefs say.

Last July, Jimmie Johnson suffered two left rear tire failures at New Hampshire. He claimed it wasn’t because of low air pressure but Goodyear said otherwise.

“I think you will more see more variability in whether you want to set up for a short run or a long run when we get to the short tracks and how far you are going to be able to push it,’’ said Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex Jr. “I really see that is going to be the biggest thing that changes with the air pressure rule.’’

Ryan Blaney fastest in final Cup practice at New Hampshire

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Ryan Blaney was fastest in the Cup Series’ final practice session at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Blaney posted a top speed of 133.572 mph.

He was followed by Denny Hamlin (133.226 mph), Kyle Busch (132.739), Kevin Harvick (132.688) and Martin Truex Jr. (132.646).

Brad Keselowski (sixth) and Kurt Busch (14th) each recorded the most laps in the session with 61.

Blaney also had the best 10-lap average.

Click here for the speed chart.

Alex Bowman wrecked in Turns 1 and 2 in the middle of the session.

Bowman, who was already in a backup car after he had a driveshaft failure in qualifying Friday, will now go to a second backup car. The No. 88 team will use Jimmie Johnson‘s backup car.

Matt DiBenedetto‘s left-rear tire shredded twice during the session.

“Not a lot of warning, I’ll tell you that,” DiBenedetto told NBCSN after the first tire problem. “I went down into (Turn) 1 and I was passing (Landon Cassill), as soon as we got down into the corner I don’t know if we ran over something or what but the left rear went down in a hurry.”

DiBenedetto, who qualified seventh for Sunday’s race, was able return to the track to make a lap right before the session ended.

 

Practice mayhem at New Hampshire as Alex Bowman crashes backup

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LOUDON, N.H. — Alex Bowman will be moving to his third Cup car of the weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and this Camaro isn’t even his.

After suffering a driveshaft failure in qualifying Friday that ruined his primary car, Bowman crashed his backup No. 88 Chevrolet in final practice Saturday on the 1.058-mile oval.

Hendrick team members immediately began scrambling to prepare the backup No. 48 Chevrolet of teammate Jimmie Johnson for Bowman (Hendrick’s fourth driver, William Byron, already was in a backup after crashing Saturday morning).

Hendrick Motorsports vice president of competition Jeff Andrews told NBCSN’s Dave Burns that the team elected to use Johnson’s car instead of Chase Elliott‘s No. 9 because Johnson’s car had a traditional paint scheme that made the switchover more favorable to wrapping the car in the No. 88’s sponsor colors and logos.

“To rewrap the 48 vs. the 9, that’s a better option for us in terms of body tolerances and things like that,” Andrews said. “There’ll be only decals to rip off (Johnson’s car) due to the fact that the base coat is a paint and then we’ll apply the 88 wrap to that 48 chassis and body.

“Obviously we’ve got a great group of guys. Unfortunately, we’ve been put through a lot the last couple of days, but we’ll get through it, and we’ll line up and go racing tomorrow. It’s been a tough day, but we’ll get through it.”

Crew chief Greg Ives gathered all of Bowman’s team in the No. 88 hauler after the wreck.

“I think for Alex and the team, you just have to keep track of the big picture here, and we have to stay focused and not panic and go out tomorrow and do the best we can in the race,” Andrews said. “Certainly yesterday was not Alex’s fault. We had a mechanical failure there, and today we’re not really sure what happened there, but obviously at this point in time, we just need to get the best car underneath Alex and the race team.”

There are five drivers who will start from the rear in backup cars for Sunday’s Cup race at New Hampshire: Bowman, Kyle Larson, Byron, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin.

Newman and Hamlin crashed in practice Friday, and Byron and Larson had trouble in the first session Saturday morning.

Matt DiBenedetto also suffered two tire problems on his No. 95 Toyota (without sustaining major damage) during the final practice, which was paced by Ryan Blaney.

Tyler Reddick, girlfriend Alexa De Leon expecting first child

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Defending Xfinity Series champion Tyler Reddick has a new title: Father-to-be.

Reddick, 23, announced on Instagram Saturday that he and girlfriend Alexa De Leon are expecting their first child.

The Richard Childress Racing driver made the announcement while the Xfinity Series is competing in New Hampshire.

The birth of the child will make Reddick one of only two drivers in the top 10 in Xfinity points who have children. Justin Allgaier, who is 33, is the other.

 

Today’s Xfinity race at New Hampshire: Start time, lineup and more

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Cole Custer, Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick have combined to win 10 of the last 11 Xfinity Series races heading into today’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

Bell won this race a year ago. Will the dominance of the Xfinity Series’ Big 3 continue or will a new winner emerge?

Here is all the info you need for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START:  The command to start engines will be given at 4:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:16 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage opens at 7:30 a.m. Qualifying is at 11:05 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. by Pastor Mark Warren. Ellen Kane will perform the National Anthem at 4:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (211.6 miles) around the 1.058-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green on NBCSN. The Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 3:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for mostly sunny skies and a temperature of 94 degrees and a 2% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Christopher Bell beat Brad Keselowski and Ryan Preece to win his second of three consecutive Xfinity races. 

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.