Brian France, drivers have opposing views on pack racing


LOUDON, N.H. – NASCAR chairman Brian France’s pleas for more pack racing in the Sprint Cup Series has been met by resistance this week from drivers unconvinced it’s feasible.

After winning the pole position for the 5-hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Carl Edwards said NASCAR should limit the practice of bunching cars together in tight groups to its twice annual visits to Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway.

But the Joe Gibbs Racing driver also posited that it wouldn’t be possible to engineer such racing at a 1.5-mile oval such as Kentucky Speedway, where a lower-downforce rules package made its debut last Saturday and produced a dramatic rise in green-flag passing and raves from many drivers, including Edwards.

“As far as the physics of being able to have stock car racing like that and to have pack race or drafting, I don’t think that’s possible,” Edwards said. “ I think they’re two completely different things. I think we have plenty of pack racing in this sport with the four races (at Daytona and Talladega). I think we should stay as far away from that at the other tracks as possible.

“But NASCAR is not going to make changes based on one driver’s opinion or three or four driver’s opinions. I think Brian France made that clear. But I want to be very clear that I don’t prefer a style of racing, I prefer stock-car racing where you slide cars around and you can race close to one another. The coolest thing is that NASCAR is trying all these things.”

In a Monday interview on SiriusXM Satellite Radio’s NASCAR channel, France said there “were a lot of things we liked” about the Kentucky race but lamented the lack of drafting and pack racing.

NASCAR will roll out a high-drag package next week at Indianapolis Motor Speedway that also will be employed next month at Michigan International Speedway. The objective of the change is the same as Kentucky – enhance the ability to pass – but it’s achieved in a different manner.

At Kentucky, the reduction in downforce was intended to make cars more ill-handling and lessen the importance of aerodynamics that often gives the lead car an inherent advantage over the trailing car. At Indy and Michigan, a 9-inch spoiler will increase drag in the hopes of punching a larger hole through the air on the straightaways that theoretically would increase the closing rates of a trailing car and engender the likelihood of more “slingshot” drafting.

During a break from a three-day test at Chicagoland Speedway, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said Wednesday that he like the high-drag concept but was skeptical about France’s desire for more drafting and pack racing across the board.

“Yeah, I was surprised by some of his comments about drafting, in particular,” Earnhardt said. “I mean, you’re not going to see drafting at Kentucky, I don’t care what you do. I don’t know how in the heck we’re going to try and accomplish that, if that’s what they’re looking for.
“I thought the racing was good, the fans like it, and I think we had more passing. … You’re not going to draft (at Kentucky). That place is wore out. It’s rough as hell down the straightaways. You ain’t going to draft. You’re going to pass in the corners, you’re going to chase guys around in the corners and get out of shape and beat around each other in the corner and race hard like we did.”

A longtime supporter of removing downforce, Edwards said Kentucky was strong evidence for his plan to “just cut the splitters completely off and the spoilers completely off and just go race.”

But he understands that NASCAR will “try other packages. That’s a scientific method and whatever turns out to be the best direction, hopefully they go all the way down that path and go that direction and let it rip.

“The one thing that I’m very impressed with Brian France and everyone involved is that they’re willing to try things, they’re willing to make changes. They want the exact same thing that the drivers want and the fans want, they just want this to be the greatest sport on earth and to have the most fun watching it and doing it and have it be competitive. I think with that in mind, regardless of everyone’s opinions, if you try a bunch of different things, you pick the best one and move forward or pick a mix of things. I really applaud NASCAR for doing that.”

Edwards, though, cautioned that the subjective nature of evaluating racing makes it difficult to land on a universally commendable direction.

“The way a race looks and the way a race is are two completely different things,” he said. “You can just leave the pace car out there and we can all sit in line nose to tail, and that’s a pretty good picture, but it’s not a race.

“A stock car race is guys taking cars that are not meant to go that fast, they’re not aerodynamic devices, they’re just cars that go race on pavement, and they can race close and guys have to manage the cars because they’re heavy and they’re powerful. That’s a race. I think it’s a very fine line that NASCAR has to walk on between putting on the best competition, which is one thing, and putting on the show that looks the best, which is another. I think there’s less substance (in the latter).”

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin

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NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Elliott’s car slapped the outside wall. Elliott’s car then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Xfinity points after Charlotte

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.