Kurt Busch overtakes Kasey Kahne to lead Sprint Cup Happy Hour at Bristol

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Kurt Busch kept Kasey Kahne from sweeping all three practice sessions in preparation for Sunday’s Food City 500 In Support of Steve Byrnes at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Kahne won Friday’s session as well as the first of two Sprint Cup practices Saturday morning.

But Busch, who ran 100 laps, rallied to take the top spot in the Happy Hour final practice with a very stout run of 127.554 mph, well over one mph more than Kahne, who was second-fastest (126.537 mph).

David Ragan was third-fastest (126.503), followed by Jeff Gordon (126.420) and Brad Keselowski (126.378).

The top 10 drivers all exceeded 126 mph.

Here’s how Saturday’s final practice session played out:

1 Kurt Busch … 127.554 mph … 100 laps

2 Kasey Kahne … 126.537 … 71 laps

3 David Ragan … 126.503 … 102 laps

4 Jeff Gordon … 126.420 … 76 laps

5 Brad Keselowski … 126.378 … 74 laps

6 Joey Logano … 126.287 … 88 laps

7 Kevin Harvick … 126.245 … 71 laps

8 Denny Hamlin … 126.220 … 66 laps

9 Jimmie Johnson … 126.204 … 104 laps

10 Carl Edwards … 126.129 … 69 laps

11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 125.988 … 109 laps

12 Jamie McMurray … 125.897 … 105 laps

13 Kyle Larson … 125.823 … 76 laps

14 Ryan Newman … 125.346 … 77 laps

15 Brett Moffitt … 125.256 … 82 laps

16 Tony Stewart … 125.256 … 83 laps

17 Clint Bowyer … 125.207 … 86 laps

18 Sam Hornish Jr. … 125.158 … 65 laps

19 Matt Kenseth … 125.085 … 66 laps

20 Austin Dillon … 124.995 … 76 laps

21 Justin Allgaier … 124.987 … 101 laps

22 Paul Menard … 124.963 … 64 laps

23 Casey Mears … 124.922 … 71 laps

24 Aric Almirola … 124.889 … 73 laps

25 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. … 124.759 … 45 laps

26 Martin Truex Jr. … 124.565 … 49 laps

27 Matt DiBenedetto … 124.525 … 66 laps

28 AJ Allmendinger … 124.525 … 53 laps

29 Michael Annett … 124.363 … 126 laps

30 Jeb Burton … 124.283 … 67 laps

31 Alex Bowman … 124.242 … 57 laps

32 Trevor Bayne … 124.146 … 57 laps

33 Chris Buescher … 124.130 … 84 laps

34 Landon Cassill … 124.114 … 57 laps

35 Cole Whitt …. 124.090 … 37 laps

36 Greg Biffle … 124.090 … 69 laps

37 Danica Patrick … 124.058 … 77 laps

38 David Gilliland … 123.970 … 83 laps

39 Josh Wise … 123.937 … 81 laps

40 Michael McDowell … 123.174 … 77 laps

41 Mike Bliss … 123.063 … 52 laps

42 JJ Yeley … 122.733 … 48 laps

43 Alex Kennedy … 121.305 … 87 laps
Best Consecutive 10 Lap Average

1 Kevin Harvick … 125.934 mph

2 Kasey Kahne … 125.396

3 Joey Logano … 125.273

4 David Ragan … 125.224

5 Brad Keselowski … 125.161

6 Kurt Busch … 125.107

7  Kyle Larson … 124.749

8 Matt Kenseth … 124.631

9 Carl Edwards … 124.603

10 Jimmie Johnson … 124.482

11 Dale Earnhardt Jr. … 124.477

12 Clint Bowyer … 124.362

13 Tony Stewart … 124.338

14 AJ Allmendinger … 124.208

15 Ryan Newman … 124.131

16 Justin Allgaier … 124.061

17 Austin Dillon … 124.056

18 Sam Hornish Jr. … 124.014

19 Jamie McMurray … 123.911

20 Jeff Gordon … 123.890

21 Denny Hamlin … 123.836

22 Martin Truex Jr. … 123.760

23 Brett Moffitt 123.743

24 Alex Bowman … 123.719

25 Aric Almirola … 123.713

26 Matt DiBenedetto … 123.580

27 David Gilliland … 123.540

28 Michael Annett … 123.165

29 Jeb Burton … 123.049

30 Danica Patrick … 123.048

31  Trevor Bayne 122.923

32 Greg Biffle … 122.733

33 Landon Cassill … 122.639

34 Chris Buescher … 122.614

35 Michael McDowell … 122.470

36 Paul Menard … 122.460

37 Josh Wise … 122.350

38 Mike Bliss … 122.133

39 Casey Mears … 121.780

40 JJ Yeley … 121.379

41 Alex Kennedy … 120.270

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Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

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“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Though Castroneves is out, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported that Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing still is considering IndyCar driver Conor Daly for its seat.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

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A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The team stated Thursday night on social media that Taylor Collier and Devin Fokin had been treated and released. The team stated that Taylor was treated for smoke inhalation and Fokin was treated “for serious burns.”

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”

 

Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals

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Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

MORE: Chase Briscoe signs contract extension with Stewart-Haas

Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension

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Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

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Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.