Kevin Harvick wins at Dover; Jimmie Johnson eliminated from Chase

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Facing likely elimination, Kevin Harvick did what he had to: he won Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway to advance to the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

The defending Sprint Cup champion dominated, leading 355 of the event’s 400 laps. Kyle Busch finished second, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray and Aric Almirola.

“That guy in the seat brings us together and makes it happen,” winning crew chief Rodney Childers said of Harvick.

Sixth through 10th were Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Kyle Larson and Joey Logano.

The news was not so good for four other drivers, who became the first to be eliminated from further advancement in the Chase: six-time champ Jimmie Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer

Johnson suffered a broken rear axle seal on Lap 104, requiring a complete repair of the rear axle assembly, costing him to miss 36 laps in the garage. He ultimately finished 41st in the race and missed advancing in the Chase by 12 points.

MORE: Results and stats for Sprint Cup’s AAA 400 at Dover

MORE: Driver points: Harvick, Earnhardt advance; Johnson, McMurray eliminated

How Harvick won: Sheer determination and unwavering confidence that he could get the job done led to Harvick’s first career win at Dover. After rough finishes at Chicagoland (42nd) and Loudon (21st), Harvick was focused on just one thing: winning – and he was not going to let anyone deny him. Pole-sitter Matt Kenseth led 24 laps before Harvick took over with unquestionably the best car in the field. Harvick did everything right, from restarts to quick pit stops to saving fuel when he needed it at times. It was Harvick’s first win since March at Phoenix. Now that he’s advanced to the second round of the Chase, don’t be surprised if there are more wins to come in the remaining seven races for the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet.

Who else had a good day: Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished third, which was a good day in and of itself. But in doing so, and keeping fourth-place finisher Jamie McMurray at bay, Earnhardt advanced to the second round by one point, while McMurray failed to advance. … Kyle Busch, who came into the race on the Chase bubble, also did what he needed to do by finishing second, thus advancing to the second round. Busch didn’t have a car to match Harvick for the win, but in this case, finishing runner-up didn’t necessarily make Busch the first loser, as Ricky Bobby in Talladega Nights would say. … Aric Almirola earned his fourth top-11 finish in his last five races. … It was a good day overall for non-Chase drivers, with four finishing in the top-10: Almirola, Kahne, Stenhouse and Larson.

Who had a bad day: Obviously, Jimmie Johnson and the other three drivers who were eliminated from further advancement in the Chase — Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer — had among the worst days of all. … Jeb Burton wrecked on Lap 192 and had to make a quick exit after bringing the car to pit road after it caught fire. Burton was uninjured. … Paul Menard finished three laps out and was eliminated from the Chase. Menard and Jamie McMurray both made the Chase for the first time in their respective careers this season, and both were eliminated after the first round.

Notable: This is the first time in the last 12 races that neither a Joe Gibbs Racing nor a Penske Racing driver did not win. … Harvick’s team broke into a chant of “I believe that we can win” in victory lane. … Jimmie Johnson, who was eliminated from advancement in the Chase: “I’ve lost championships this way and I’ve won championships this way. It’s not the way we want to end this season, it’s unfortunate it turned out this way, but that’s racing, there’s not much we can do about it.” … Jamie McMurray tied with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the points, but because Earnhardt finished ahead of him in the race, McMurray was eliminated from advancing to the second round. “I’m thrilled with our performance today,” McMurray said. “It’s frustrating that we weren’t able to make it to the next round. We just needed one more point.”

Quote of the day, No. 1: “Obviously, we weren’t in a great position (coming into) today. But that’s what these guys are made of and what teamwork is all about.” – Race-winner Kevin Harvick.

Quote of the day, No. 2: “I think we’re better than we were last year just because of the experiences and things that we’ve had.” – Kevin Harvick, which could be a bad omen for his fellow Chase competitors going forward.

What’s next: After the first four drivers were eliminated at Dover, the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins the second round Saturday night Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

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.”

Brennan Poole joins Bayley Currey at JD Motorsports for 2023

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Brennan Poole will join Bayley Currey at JD Motorsports for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity season, the team announced Friday.

Poole will drive the No. 6 car for the full season. Currey returns to the team’s No. 4 car for the season. Currey scored five top-15 finishes last season for the organization.

JD Motorsports is planning to run the No. 0 car next season. No driver or sponsor has been announced for that ride.

“We’re full throttle here and getting ready to go,” Davis said in a statement from the team. “Bayley and Brennan are signed on and looking forward to chasing races and points next year. We’re actively moving along looking for sponsor commitments and for drivers and sponsors for the No. 0 car.”

“We’ve always taken the approach here that we want to go after the series with multiple cars, and that’s how we’re looking toward 2023. The new schedule is very interesting and provides new challenges to our drivers and team members.”

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