NASCAR Sprint Cup director on late-race decisions: ‘We feel very, very confident about our actions’

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Richard Buck, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series director, met with the media after Sunday’s race at Auto Club Speedway to explain a couple of NASCAR’s calls late in the race. Here’s what he said.

On calling a debris caution before the final scheduled lap, forcing the race to go to a green-white-checkered finish:

BUCK: “We got multiple reports over the radio and confirmed it that there was a piece of material, something in the racing groove and so, we went ahead to call the caution. By the time that we called the caution, somebody had hit it. I don’t have the piece back yet. We always ask the safety clean-up crews to return that to us, but there were multiple reports (of debris on the track).’’

On NASCAR not calling a caution, which would have ended the race, when Greg Biffle had his accident on the frontstretch:

BUCK: “Safety is No. 1. We always make our best effort to let them race back. We had well over a mile. The leaders were coming off of (Turn 2). We had multiple people in the tower watching multiple things, and we’re all communicating very quickly and at a high level. We could see the cars coming off 2, and we were watching the frontstretch. Biffle got it started back up and got it turned around and headed off. We had two folks in the flag stand that were right there on top of it. We had a birds-eye view from their perspective that there was no debris, so we could let it come back to a natural finish.’’

On the multiple reports of debris on the track before the scheduled finish:

BUCK: “It’s a process during the race. It’s pretty consistent. The driver will call it in, then we’ll check with our turn spotters. That’s heard over the radio, whatever the race control is … so the teams know in case there is a piece of debris they need to know about it for safety reasons. Then we’ll confirm it. We’ve got the pit open and the pit closed folks that are close to that area. We have the caution car. We have spotters on the backstretch and on the entrance to Turn 3. We’ll go through our process quickly and make sure that we have a confirmation that there is debris, if we can identify the debris, where it’s at, if it’s anywhere in the racing groove. As you know, this place, the racing groove’s all the way across.  If it’s anywhere in the racing groove, we’ll have to go to the caution and go get it.’’

On confirming the piece of debris was hit:

BUCK: “The piece should come back on one of the cleanup trucks. It was reported multiple times as a piece of metal.’’

On how does NASCAR balance letting the race end naturally and throwing a caution for safety:

BUCK: “Safety is No. 1 and if there’s any question whatsoever, we’ll throw the caution. We want to identify it first, obviously, because there was a lot of paper flying around today. We got definite confirmation on it that it was debris, actually that it was metal. It looked like a piece of metal.’’

On how calls or non-calls can impact the race:

BUCK: “It’s strictly a process that we go through. We don’t have any favorites. We try to keep every emotion out of it. Safety is No. 1. We’ve got over 100 years of experience in the tower with (NASCAR officials) Mike Helton, Robin Pemberton, David Hoots and myself in racing. Between us, we work every closely together in a very dynamic way to identity the situation and look for the solution to it, then that solution is backed up by multiple layers. We feel very, very confident about our actions.’’

Daniel Suarez fastest in final Coca-Cola 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Daniel Suarez completed a sweep of Saturday’s two Cup practice sessions by posting the top speed in final practice for the Coca-Cola 600.

Suarez recorded a speed of 180.704 mph around Charlotte Motor Speedway. He made 51 laps in the session.

“I will say one of the best (cars of his Cup career) for sure,” Suarez said. “I feel like this year I’ve had some good race cars with an opportunity to finish in the top five and top 10, but I feel like this car has been pretty solid.  It’s fast and it’s not comfortable to drive 100 percent, but I don’t feel like anyone out there is comfortable right now, so it’s been sunny and hot and slick and that makes things a little bit more difficult, but overall my team has been doing a very good job with Stewart-Haas Racing and Ford Performance.  We have a good piece and hopefully we can take advantage of it tomorrow.”

The top five was completed by Daniel Hemric (180.686 mph), Denny Hamlin (180.553), Ryan Preece (180.469) and Kyle Busch (180.276).

“I felt pretty good with our practice there,” said Hamlin, who will start 20th Sunday. “It was one of our better practices of the year. We’re going to have to start from deep in the field, which is going to be a challenge with traffic, but we’ve got a long race to get it done. Pretty happy with where we’re at.”

Busch has the best 10-lap average at 179.485 mph

Chase Elliott recorded the most laps in the session with 62. He was 18th on the speed chart.

Click here for the speed chart.

Christopher Bell wins pole for Xfinity Charlotte race

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CONCORD, N.C. —  Christopher Bell will start first in today’s Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Bell won his third pole of the season with a speed of 184.313 mph. His previous poles were at Texas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway.

The top five is completed by Cole Custer (183.187 mph), Tyler Reddick (182.192), Austin Dillon (181.659) and Brandon Jones (181.610).

Justin Haley will start 35th after an axle broke on his No. 11 Chevrolet in the middle of his qualifying run.

Ross Chastain did not finish his qualifying run after experiencing an electrical problem in the ignition on his No. 4 Chevrolet. He will start 37th out of 38 cars.

The Alsco 300 is scheduled to start at 1:16 p.m. ET on FS1.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Check back for more.

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

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After a two-week break, the Xfinity Series returns to action today for the Alsco 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Here’s all the info you need for today’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: North Carolina Basketball Legend Phil Ford will give the command to start engines at 1:07 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 1:16 p.m.

PRERACE: Driver/crew chief meeting is at 10:45 a.m. Driver introductions begin at 12:30 p.m. The invocation will be given at 1 p.m. by Billy Mauldin, CEO and President of Motor Racing Outreach. U. S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Marc Wilka will perform the National Anthem at 1:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

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

TV/RADIO: FS1 will televise the race. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. The Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 12:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 90 degrees and a 20% percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Brad Keselowski won this race over Cole Custer and Christopher Bell.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Daniel Suarez fastest in second Coca-Cola 600 practice

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CONCORD, N.C. — Daniel Suarez topped the speed chart in Saturday’s first Cup Series practice for the Coca-Cola 600.

Suarez posted a top speed of 182.143 mph around the 1.5-mile track.

The top five was filled out by defending 600 winner Kyle Busch (182.051 mph), Austin Dillon (181.488), Ryan Blaney (181.397) and Kevin Harvick (181.366).

Denny Hamlin, who was sixth on the chart, recorded the most laps with 52.

Dillon had the best 10-lap average at 180.639 mph.

Ryan Newman got into the Turn 3 wall as the session ended and suffered significant damage to the right side of his No. 6 Ford. The team is repairing the car.

Final practice is set for 11:05 a.m. ET

Click here for the speed chart.