Drivers blast NASCAR’s use of group qualifying for Daytona 500


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Competitors had plenty to say Sunday about using group qualifying for the first time for the Daytona 500. Most of their comments weren’t positive.

Drivers and owners raised questions and concerns about group qualifying at restrictor-plate events last season but the chorus grew louder at Daytona International Speedway after a session that featured a crash, confusion and, in the words of many, chaos.

Here’s what they said:

Ryan Newman: “The frustrating part is dealing with this whole system which makes no sense whatsoever. It’s hard to stand behind NASCAR when everybody I talk to up and down pit road doesn’t understand why we’re doing this. Maybe I need to be sat down and educated a little bit.’’

Denny Hamlin: “Mayhem. There’s no other word to describe it.’’

Clint Bowyer: “There’s no reason to be out here. These guys have spent six months working on these cars, busting their butts on these cars. … It’s NASCAR’s fault for putting us out in the middle of this crap for nothing. We used to come down here and worry about who would set on the front pole in the biggest race of the year. Now all we do is come down here and worry about how a start‑and‑park like this out of desperation is going to knock us out of the Daytona 500.”

Jeff Gordon: “When it turns out like the way it did for me, you like it. When it turns out like the way it did for Bowyer, you hate it.’’

Kyle Larson: “I think they need to go back to single-car qualifying. I think that’s about it for superspeedways anyway because this is pathetic. They just tore up a ton of cars in the first qualifying (session). I don’t see how it’s exciting. I don’t think the drivers think it’s exciting. This race has always been made off of how hard your team works to get the pole. I think they should go back to single car qualifying at superspeedways.”

David Gilliland: “It’s definitely chaotic. It’s just too circumstantial on a deal like this. To me, it’s not very good. It’s the craziest thing I’ve ever done. It needs to be fine-tuned a little bit.”

Kurt Busch: “We’re a lot of smart people here. There’s drivers, owners, NASCAR.  We got to find a better system. Too much hard work goes into these cars, then you have this roulette wheel for qualifying. It doesn’t seem the proper system.”

Brad Keselowski: “I think it’s about exactly what we expected.’’

David Ragan: “This session is real gimmicky and it all depends on who you get paired up with and a lot of it is luck and chance. That is just the way it is though. There are some really good cars that didn’t have good speed, and some really bad cars that did have good speed just because of situations. I would be very frustrated if this was it. I am not a fan of this format but it is what it is.”

Denny Hamlin: “There’s going to be a lot of unfavorable talk about it for sure. It can get dangerous when different cars are on different agendas and speeds. We’re either going to have to get better and smarter or it will have to change to make it a little bit safer. Other than that, we all knew for months that this was going to be the case. You tried to do the best you could.”

Richard Childress: “It has to have some adjustments. Definitely got to be adjusted. You can’t be wrecking people. You can’t depend on making the race the way we’re doing it here. We’ll let them figure it out.’’

AJ Allmendinger: “Honestly, I could have cared less how I qualified. I just didn’t want to wreck. So, I just kind of went along with the plan and that was it. Didn’t care.’’

Austin Dillon: “It ain’t right. I think we should go back to single-car (qualifying) myself. That is all I can say.”

Martin Truex Jr.: “My thoughts are they need to do something different. I don’t know, it’s just doesn’t seem like it’s a good show. It’s not fun. It’s kind of chaos. I don’t know, seeing cars get tore up and other stuff. I’m not a fan of it, but hey it is what it is.’’

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.