Perfect timing: Kurt Busch wins rain-shortened Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan

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After four red flag race stoppages due to rain, Kurt Busch ultimately was in the right place at the right time, being awarded a rain-shortened victory in Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Busch, who took over the lead on Lap 133, remained in the lead five laps later when the race was stopped for the fourth and final time after 138 laps of the scheduled 200-lap event on the two-mile superspeedway. It is Busch’s second victory of the season (won at Richmond in April), his third-career win at MIS and also with Stewart-Haas Racing, his 27th career Sprint Cup win.

Only 100 laps were run under green flag conditions. Realizing that the latest rain episode might be lengthy, not to mention track drying, NASCAR officials called it a race just after 6 pm ET.

“Tony Gibson led these guys through a back-up car, the pit crew was there giving it its best,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It’s an unbelievable feeling to know what we went through, paced ourselves and found the lead towards the latter part of the race and then the rain came in.”

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano.

MORE: Final results, stats of Quicken Loans 400

MORE: Sprint Cup points standings after Sunday’s Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan

How Kurt Busch won the race: Simple, veteran crew chief Tony Gibson was Busch’s ace in the hole. Gibson kept an eye on the approaching weather, called for a pit stop early enough that would allow Busch to get to the front of the pack, and then the team hung on for the win. It was a textbook example of how to win a rain-shortened race.

Who else had a good race: Had the race-deciding rain not fallen, Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a good chance of catching Kurt Busch. But Mother Nature intervened and Earnhardt finished second. … Even though he didn’t lead a lap, Pocono winner Martin Truex Jr. continued his strong season’s run, finishing third. Truex becomes the first racer to score 14 top-10 finishes in the first 15 races since Richard Petty did so to start the 1969 season, 46 years ago. … Trevor Bayne finished a season-best ninth. His previous best finish in his first full season in the Sprint Cup Series was 18th at both Martinsville and Texas. It was also only the fourth top-10 in Bayne’s 72 career Sprint Cup starts.

Who had a bad race: Kevin Harvick, who had tied a NASCAR record with 10 top-2 finishes in his first 14 races last week at Pocono and led the most laps in Sunday’s race (63), suffered perhaps the hardest luck of the event. He was forced to pit for a second time when a valve stem failed, leading to a flat tire. As a result, Harvick fell from a 4.6-second lead to 36th position, two laps down. He rallied slightly to finish 29th, but took a huge hit in the points standings. He still leads the series, but went from a 39-point edge to just 15 points over 2nd-ranked Martin Truex Jr. … Kyle Busch lost control and wrecked on Lap 53, suffering heavy damage to the right front of his car. While he was able to return to the race after repairs were made, he still finished 43rd, a big blow to his hopes of making the Chase (has to win a race and finish the first 26 races in 30th place or higher). For what it’s worth, Busch remains 39th in the standings, but is now 173 points out of 30th place (Justin Allgaier).

Notables: How can you not feel bad for Kyle Larson? He was in the lead from Laps 128-132, but was forced to pit for fuel and tires. Had he only had enough gas and rubber for six more laps, we likely would be talking about Larson earning his first career Sprint Cup race. … How rare was the four red flag race stoppages due to rain? NASCAR statisticians are still trying to find another race that has been stopped that many times in the sport’s history.

Quote of the day: “It’s a downpour. It was raining when we came to the green. They can see the freakin’ sky, you know what I mean?” – Kevin Harvick, shortly after Kyle Busch wrecked on Lap 53 in a solo crash, one lap after the restart on Lap 52.

What’s next: The Sprit Cup Series enjoys next weekend off. There will be an Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway on Saturday, June 20, and a Camping World Truck Series race at Iowa Speedway on Friday, June 19. The Cup schedule resumes in two weeks at Sonoma Raceway, north of San Francisco.

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Sponsor adds more races in 2023 with Josh Berry

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Jarrett Companies will increase the number of races it will sponsor Josh Berry‘s No. 8 JR Motorsports ride in 2023, the Xfinity Series team announced Monday.

Jarrett Companies will sponsor Berry in six races after serving as the primary sponsor in three races in 2022. Those six races will be Phoenix (March 11), Richmond (April 1), Dover (April 29), Atlanta (July 8), Indianapolis (Aug. 12) and Texas (Sept. 23).

The deal gives Berry at least 26 races with sponsorship for next season. Bass Pro Shops will serve as the primary sponsor of Berry’s car in 11 races in 2023. Tire Pros is back with JRM and will sponsor Berry in nine races in the upcoming season.

Berry, who reached the Xfinity title race and finished fourth in the points, will have a new crew chief in 2023. Taylor Moyer will take over that role with Mike Bumgarner serving as JRM’s director of competition.

The 2023 Xfinity season begins Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

Where are they now? Buddy Parrott enjoying down time

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Buddy Parrott played outsized roles in two of the most dramatic races in NASCAR history.

Now 83 years old and retired from the sport since 2001, Parrott looks back on those two days as highlights of a career that began in the early 1970s.

In the 1990 Daytona 500, champion driver Dale Earnhardt seemed on course to end his frustration in NASCAR’s biggest event. He held the lead roaring down the backstretch on the last lap. Suddenly, Earnhardt slowed with a blown tire.

The lead was inherited by Derrike Cope, who charged to the checkered flag to score one of racing’s biggest upsets.

Parrott was Cope’s crew chief.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

In 1984, Richard Petty edged Cale Yarborough to win the summer race at Daytona International Speedway. It was Petty’s 200th – and final – win.

Parrott was Petty’s crew chief.

Those victories were high marks in a long pit-road career that saw Parrott’s drivers win dozens of races. He worked with, among others, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Burton and Petty and for team owners Jack Roush and Roger Penske.

Parrott remains active at 83, although he admits to having moved to a slower gear.

“I haven’t been living on the edge,” Parrott told NBC Sports. “I’ve been taking it really easy. I told my sons when you get to be 80 you can do anything you want because basically you’ve already done it.”

MORE: NASCAR, ARCA 2023 schedules

His strongest current connection to NASCAR is as a voter in the annual Hall of Fame balloting.

After more than 20 years roaming pit roads as a crew chief, Parrott moved into a general manager role at Roush Racing in 1997. He retired four years later and didn’t look back.

“I finally told Jack one day, ‘I don’t have time to ride my motorcycle,’ ” Parrott said. “He looked at me and said, ‘What do you want to do about it?’ I said, ‘I’m ready to retire.’ He told me I could work whatever schedule I wanted, but I decided that was it. I didn’t have a going-away thing or whatever.”

Parrott spent much of the next 15 years traveling with his wife, Judy, who died in 2016, and playing with his grandchildren.

“I had a great time in retirement because Judy was ready and I was ready,” he said. “We had a lot of fun. We’d go to Florida for two and three months at a time. I’m so happy that I didn’t hang on and go to the shop every day and try to find something to do. I spent that time with Judy, and we had 16 years of good retirement.”

Parrott, a native of Gastonia, N.C., lives in Statesville, N.C. His sons, Todd and Brad, also were NASCAR crew chiefs.

MORE: Jody Ridley’s Dover win an upset for the ages

Parrott is perhaps best remembered as crew chief for Rusty Wallace, Team Penske and the No. 2 black cars sponsored by Miller Lite. From 1992-94, they won 19 races and were consistently competitive at the front.

“I still get a lot of cards sent to me to sign from those years,” Parrott said. “I can say that was some of the happiest times I had. Those years with Rusty – and then with Jack Roush – really stand out. And who in the hell could not have fun having a beer sponsor?”

 

 

NASCAR Awards to air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joey Logano didn’t need much time to answer the question.

Who would the two-time Cup champion want to introduce him at the NASCAR Awards?

Racing icon Mario Andretti, Logano immediately said. 

And there was Andretti on the stage at the Music City Center introducing Logano, the 2022 Cup champion. Watch that and the rest of the night’s festivities at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock. You can order Peacock here.

MORE: See the red carpet scene

MORE: Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

NBC Sports’ Marty Snider and Kim Coon co-hosted the show along with Fox Sports’ Kaitlyn Vincie. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck champions were honored. Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, whose father died hours after Gibbs won the Xfinity title last month, received a standing ovation and thanked the industry for its support.

The highlight of the night for Logano was having Andretti on stage to introduce him.

“He’s just been a great role model for me, not only as a racer, but as a person for so long,” Logano said afterward. “I had his picture on my wall. I looked at Mario Andretti before I went to sleep every night as a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing that he signed it to me.”

NASCAR Awards and Champion Celebration
Cup champion Joey Logano on stage with racing icon Mario Andretti during the NASCAR Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Logano and Andretti have gotten to know each other through the years. Logano ran a throwback car that honored Andretti at Darlington Raceway in 2015 and 2021.

But none of that compared to being on stage with Andretti.

“That’s still like a pinch-me moment,” Logano said. “It’s Mario Andretti. He’s the man. The fact that he knows my name I think is really, really cool.”

Catch the NASCAR Awards at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NASCAR community showed its support Thursday at the NASCAR Awards for the Gibbs family, grieving the death of Coy Gibbs on Nov. 6. 

During his interview on stage, car owner Joe Gibbs thanked the NASCAR industry for its support. (The NASCAR Awards show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock).

Coy Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs and father of Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, died hours after seeing Ty Gibbs win the series title last month at Phoenix Raceway. Coy Gibbs, 49, was the vice chairman and chief operating officer at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR chief operating officer, introduced Ty Gibbs at the NASCAR Awards and noted that “everyone gathered tonight is all a part of the NASCAR family, and I know I speak for everyone that the entire NASCAR family is 100% percent behind this young man.”

Ty Gibbs received a standing ovation.

“Thank you,” he told the crowd, “that means a lot.”

Ty Gibbs spoke for less than a minute, thanking his team, sponsors, fans and the NASCAR community.

He closed his speech by saying “And thanks to my family. I love you. I hope everybody has a great offseason. Enjoy it. Thank you for all the support. Thank you for all the claps. I really appreciate it.”

Ty Gibbs spoke to the media earlier Thursday. Asked how he was doing, he said: “I’ve been doing good. Thank you for asking and definitely appreciate you guys. We’ve been doing good, doing a lot of stuff this week. … It’s been fun to experience this stuff.”

Asked about Joe Gibbs addressing the organization after Coy’s death, Ty Gibbs politely said: “For right now, I’m not going to touch on any of that subject at all. I’m just going to stick with all the racing questions and go from there.”

Cup champion Joey Logano said he spent time with 20-year-old Ty Gibbs on Wednesday at the champion’s dinner.

Logano said he told Ty Gibbs that “we’re here for you. You need something reach out.”