Joey Logano is picture of perfection: Leads all 300 laps en route to Xfinity Series win at Bristol

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Joey Logano was absolutely perfect in Saturday’s Drive To Stop Diabetes 300, leading all 300 laps en route to victory at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Logano took the lead away from pole-sitter Erik Jones shortly after the green flag dropped and never looked back, earning his 23rd career Xfinity Series victory.

“Such a dominating car,” Logano told Performance Racing Network after the race. “It was fun to drive it. The whole time, you were so nervous that something would happen. It’s such a fun thing to win at Bristol. It’s Bristol. Any time you win here, it’s neat.”

Logano appeared as if he was on coast, but he admitted he was concerned that fellow Sprint Cup regular Kevin Harvick might rally late. As it was, Harvick finished seventh.

“I thought Harvick was really fast and was probably faster than me when we were single-file,” Logano said. “I was hoping for lapped traffic, which is never the case when you’re the leader.”

Logano was so dominant early that by Lap 36, he had lapped half of the 40-car field before cautions bunched the pack back up.

Xfinity Series rookie Daniel Suarez, a native of Mexico, earned a career-best second-place finish, followed by Chris Buescher, Jones and Ty Dillon.

How Logano won: One word best describes Logano: Dominant. Like a police K9 chasing a crook, Logano sunk his teeth in and went for the jugular right from the green flag. He was able to hold off challenges at various points in the race from drivers such as runner-up Daniel Suarez, fellow Cup driver Kevin Harvick, pole-sitter Erik Joes and Chris Buescher, among others.

Who else had a good day: Without question, Daniel Suarez had the most emotional story of the day. Not only did the native of Mexico give Logano a run for his money in the final 30 laps or so, Suarez also likely made headlines back in his native land by finishing a career-best runner-up, his best showing in his rookie Xfinity Series season. Said Suarez, “We kept fighting. All day we had a good car and kept improving it on every stop. … It was a good day. I’m very happy.”

Who had a bad day: There was one significant incident of note. JJ Yeley suffered heavy damage when he smacked the Turn 2 wall after making contact with Landon Cassill. Ryan Sieg also tagged the wall in the same incident. Yeley hit the wall so hard that three laps later, the race was red-flagged so that track and NASCAR officials could examine and repair a part of the SAFER barrier, which had part of the splitter from Yeley’s car embedded in it.

Notables: Chris Buescher finished third, while Ty Dillon finished fifth. As a result, the two drivers are now tied atop the Xfinity Series points standings (Buescher came into the race two points behind Dillon) after seven races into the 33-race junior league season. Chase Elliott and Bubba Wallace are tied for third at 22 points back in standings. Buescher said: “It was eventful. We had a lot of things going on today. I heard we’re in a good points situation now, so that’s pretty awesome.” Added Ty Dillon, “This is the boost we needed. We struggled last couple weeks. As soon as they dropped the green flag, we went to the top. I’m glad we’re back on track with our team and we’ll keep battling.”

Quote of the day: Pole-sitter Erik Jones was somewhat disappointed in his 40th place finish. “It’s alright. You can’t pass. It’s not any fun. We worked back up to the front, weren’t as good as the 22, kept working on it and thought we were a top-3 car.”

What’s next: Toyota Care 250 on Friday, April 24, at Richmond International Raceway.


Unofficial results of Drive for Diabetes 300:

1 Joey Logano … 300 laps

2 Daniel Suarez … 300 laps

3 Chris Buescher … 300 laps

4 Erik Jones … 300 laps

5 Ty Dillon … 300 laps

6 Chase Elliott … 300 laps

7 Kevin Harvick … 300 laps

8 Brian Scott … 300 laps

9 Brendan Gaughan … 300 laps

10 Elliott Sadler … 300 laps

11 Brennan Poole … 300 laps

12 Darrell Wallace Jr. … 300 laps

13 Jeremy Clements … 299 laps

14 John Wes Townley … 297 laps

15 Jeffrey Earhardt … 297 laps

16 Austin Dillon … 297 laps

17 Ryan Sieg … 296 laps

18 David Starr … 296 laps

19 Cale Conley … 296 laps

20 Mike Bliss … 295 laps

21 Ryan Reed … 294 laps

22 Blake Koch … 294 laps

23 Dakoda Armstrong … 294 laps

24 Todd Bodine … 293 laps

25 Joey Gase … 293 laps

26 Eric McClure … 291 laps

27 Ross Chastain … 273 laps

28 Landon Cassill … 268 laps

29 Harrison Rhodes … 260 laps

30 Regan Smith … 252 laps

31 Denny Hamlin … 229 laps

32 Peyton Sellers … 227 laps

33 JJ Yeley … 206 laps

34 Timmy Hill … 198 laps

35 Mike Harmon … 106 laps

36 Carlos Contreras … 60 laps

37 Derrike Cope … 55 laps

38 Morgan Shepherd … 41 laps

39 Jeff Green … 28 laps

40 Derek White … 11 laps

Time of Race: 1 hour, 50 minutes, 00 seconds

Average Speed: 87.218 mph

Margin of Victory: 1.172 seconds

Caution Flags: 8 for 48 laps

Lead changes: 1 among 1 driver

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Christopher Bell: ‘Pretty scared’ about future before re-joining JGR

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Early last week, Christopher Bell was “pretty scared” about his NASCAR future after Leavine Family Racing, the Toyota-backed team the rookie driver competes for in the Cup Series, announced it would sell its assets to Spire Motorsports.

That left Bell’s relationship with Toyota, the manufacturer that’s been the “centerpiece” of his racing career since 2013 and 2015 in NASCAR, up in the air.

“I’ve said it time and time again, but Toyota has been my – they’re the ones that got me here,” Bell said Tuesday in a press conference. “They’re the ones that took me from dirt track racing to pavement racing to Truck (Series) racing to Xfinity racing and then obviously made this deal happen with LFR too. At the time, it’s either the 20 car (at Joe Gibbs Racing) or I’m done with Toyota. There’s no other options. It was very scary. I didn’t want that to end.”

Bell acknowledged that despite his 2017 Truck Series title, his seven Truck wins and 16 Xfinity wins, a lack of sponsorship backing didn’t make him the most valuable hire for another team.

“The sponsorship piece is a huge part of it,” Bell said. “It’s no secret, you have to have sponsors in order to succeed in this sport and I’ve been really fortunate to have Rheem with me for the last couple of years. If I get pushed out of the Toyota group, I don’t really have much to say, ‘hire me.’”

Bell said, “I knew that once LFR shut down, there was only one place for me to go and the 20 car has obviously got a great driver in there right now.”

That driver was Erik Jones, who has been with Joe Gibbs Racing in Cup full-time since 2018 and been a Toyota driver in NASCAR since 2013 in the Truck Series with Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“‘How is that going to work?'” Bell asked himself. “‘How am I going to be able to go to JGR whenever they’re full?’ Unfortunately my homecoming so to speak was at the expense of another driver.”

Two days after LFR’s announcement, Joe Gibbs Racing revealed Jones would not return to the team in 2021, a move that “blindsided” Jones.

On Monday, JGR announced Bell’s ascent up the ranks would finally land him in the No. 20 next season.

“It was very, I mean, uncomfortable is a good way to put it,” Bell said. “I don’t think any of us – myself, Joe Gibbs Racing, Toyota – none of us expected the whole LFR deal to go down like it did, so I think that put everybody in a little bit of a box. … I’m extremely grateful that I get to continue that relationship and that I get to continue to drive Camrys on Sundays and race with TRD for hopefully a long time to come.”

How does Bell see his relationship with Jones playing out over the final 14 races of the season?

“As far as me versus him, that situation is already done, so I don’t know how he’s going to race me going forward,” Bell said. “I’m going to be cheering for Erik, just as everybody is at Joe Gibbs Racing, just hoping that he gets a nice solid deal and lands on his feet. I’ll be cheering for him and trying to race him with as much respect as I can, just like every other competitor. I hope he performs well, and obviously, the better he performs now in the 20 car, the better off I’ll be at the start of the year with the owner points standings. It’s really important that he does well this year in the 20 car for my future next year as well.”

Bell observed that it’s “absolutely crazy” to look back at his career path, which began in UASC Midgets and has led to him driving a “house” Toyota Cup car at JGR next year.

Going into 2021, Bell said he still has a “great relationship” with the people at JGR from his time there in the Xfinity Series.

“Whenever I was on the Xfinity side, I still got to mingle and interact with the Cup shop a little bit, so I have a rough idea how everything operates there,” Bell said. “I got in a little bit deeper with the LFR deal, and having that technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing, but it’s going to be very nice to be able to go back home.”

Spire Motorsports confirms purchase of Leavine Family Racing

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Spire Motorsports confirmed Tuesday that it will acquire the assets from Leavine Family Racing upon the completion of the 2020 season. Spire Motorsports also will expand to a two-car team in the Cup Series in 2021.

The purchase will include LFR’s charter, the team’s race shop near Charlotte Motor Speedway and all of its owned inventory. LFR’s fleet of cars and chassis will be returned to Joe Gibbs Racing.

Spire, which began competing in 2019 after it purchased Furniture Row Motorsports’ charter, fields the No. 77 Chevrolet. It has made 58 starts for more than a dozen drivers since last year, including an upset win in the July 2019 race at Daytona with Justin Haley behind the wheel.

The team is co-owned by Jeff Dickerson and Thaddeus “T.J.” Puchyr.

“This is an exciting moment for Spire as we take the natural next step in our long-term plan to build our race team and prepare for the Next Gen car in 2022,” said Dickerson in a press release. “Bob Leavine invested more than money into LFR and this industry. He built a team brick-by-brick and we have long admired how he took his own steps in the garage. He also did it with his family at his side. We won’t let that be lost in this transaction. When you build something with your family, it always means a little bit more. His ability to connect with fans was genuine and we are thankful he chose us to carry this team forward.

“These are no doubt trying times, but I have never been prouder to be part of this sport. NASCAR has managed several difficult situations this spring and into the summer. We believe in the ownership model that NASCAR has built and where this sport is going now more than ever.”

The team said details about drivers and manufacturers for 2021 will come later.

Daytona road course entry lists

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NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

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No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.