Kurt Busch dominates to win rain-rescheduled race at Richmond

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A debris caution prevented Kurt Busch from earning a win at Fontana last month, but the Las Vegas native was not to be denied in Sunday’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Busch dominated, leading a race-high and a single-race career high of 291 laps en route to victory in the 400-lap event, which had been rescheduled due to rain on Saturday night.

It was Busch’s 26th career Sprint Cup victory and his first since March 2014 at Martinsville Speedway, a span of 35 races.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” Busch told Fox Sports in Victory Lane. “It’s a total team effort. It seemed like we were building and building to this.

“I’m here in Victory Lane and it feels great to do it here in Richmond. … We got it done today. It was pretty good.”

Busch, who was suspended by NASCAR for the first three races of the season due to domestic violence accusations, becomes the seventh different driver to win a race thus far in the first nine races of 2015. It was a 1-2 Stewart-Haas Racing finish, as teammate Kevin Harvick finished second.

Jimmie Johnson finished third, followed by Jamie McMurray and Joey Logano.

Sixth through 10th were Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer and Martin Truex Jr.

With the exception of two brief laps, Busch led from Laps 95 through 258. He finally yielded the lead to Jamie McMurray on Lap 259 when teams began a series of green flag pit stops.

Busch regained the lead for two laps (260-261) before McMurray regained the advantage from laps 262-264. Brad Keselowski then assumed the point Lap 265 and held it through Lap 272 before Busch regained the lead once again on Lap 273.

On Lap 350, a yellow caution flag came out for debris on the backstretch but Busch did not relinquish his lead following the restart on Lap 358.

Contact less than one lap later between Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart brought out another caution. When the race restarted on Lap 367, the yellow caution came right back out one lap later when Jeb Burton spun.

Busch refused to yield when the race restarted on Lap 374 and began to pull away from the rest of the field.

How Busch won: When Busch held off all potential challengers on the last three restarts. But it was the restart on Lap 358 that all but put the win away for good. There were two cautions afterward, but his car was unquestionably the class of and the fastest of the field. No other driver could challenge Busch from that point on. Busch also had the heads-up run of the day on Lap 270. He passed Keselowski to get back on the lead lap just before a caution came out for Brett Moffitt’s cut tire.

Who else had a good day: It was a good day for Stewart-Haas Racing as Busch and teammate Kevin Harvick finished 1-2. … Jimmie Johnson rallied to pass Jamie McMurray on the last lap to take third place. Hendrick Motorsports had three drivers in the top eight (Johnson 2nd, Kasey Kahne 6th and Jeff Gordon 8th). … Pole-sitter Joey Logano led the first 94 laps but eventually yielded to Busch and was unable to work his back to the front of the field from that point on.

Who had a bad day: Brad Keselowski was forced to compete at least half of the race down one cylinder. While he was competitive until that point and challenged for the lead, Keselowski gradually fell behind and finished 17th. … Tony Stewart was having a decent run before he was involved in a slight mishap with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on Lap 359. It appeared Stewart clipped the left rear of Earnhardt, sending Stewart spinning and just barely glanced off the inside retaining wall. Stewart could not get his car restarted and was forced to settle for a disappointing 41st-place finish at what is Stewart’s admitted favorite racetrack on the Sprint Cup circuit.

Notables: Sam Hornish’s struggles continued. The former three-time IndyCar champion finished a disappointing 35th. … Kevin Harvick broke the track bar adjuster in his car about three-quarters of the way through the race, but still managed to make it to the finish line as runner-up in the race. … Chase Elliott made his second career Sprint Cup race and finished 16th.

Quote of the day: “I don’t know. You’ll have to ask him. He hit me in the left-rear quarter panel. I was trying to clear the 51 on the outside of me, so I was as high as I could go. You’ll have to ask him.” – A very upset Dale Earnhardt Jr. on his contact with Tony Stewart (who refused to talk to the media after the incident between the two).

What’s next: Geico 500 at Talladega Superspeedway, Sunday, May 3, 2015.

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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.