Jeff Gordon says new tire changer brings air-gun knowledge

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CHARLOTTE – The most recent high-profile pit crew acquisition in NASCAR’s premier series was as much about obtaining trade secrets as gaining speed.

After a seven-year run at Joe Gibbs Racing, front-tire changer Nick O’Dell joined Jeff Gordon’s No. 24 team before last week’s Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway. Gordon said Hendrick Motorsports expected that O’Dell would make an impact on improving the team’s pit crew equipment.

“That was an opportunity (to hire) someone that is highly regarded on pit road (and) very knowledgeable  about more than just changing tires,” Gordon said Tuesday during media day for the second round of the Chase for the Sprint Cup at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “He was somebody that a lot of people wanted to get their hands on. I’m very proud that he came to our organization. I think it’s going to pick our program up.”

Gordon said O’Dell made an impact on swifter pit stops Sunday but said Hendrick still is “a little behind in the equipment,” meaning the air guns used to change tires.

“I feel like we’ve been off,” Gordon said. “We train guys. We have very talented individuals, but it goes further than that. Now we’re starting to see where these pit guns are a crucial part of pit stops. It’s something we’ve been working on, and now (adding O’Dell) helps us take it to the next level.

“He brings a lot of things. He’s very, very in tune with all that equipment and was a big part of that at Gibbs.”

Busch estimated that it would take “six to eight months for those guns to appear (at Hendrick), but we’ll see them next year, and we’ll be competing against them, I’m sure.”

Busch said his No. 18 Toyota had made a “seamless” transition without O’Dell the past two races but expressed remorse about the loss.

“Nick O’Dell is one of my best friends,” he said. “I’m friends with all my guys, and if any of them left, I’d be hurt about it.

“I didn’t want to see Nick go, but things happen for a reason I guess in this business. Certainly being a part of Joe Gibbs Racing and the development work and everything that we’ve done with those air guns … obviously Nick was a part of that and knows some of that stuff, so he’s a guy who does have some of that knowledge and will share it (with Hendrick).”

The addition of O’Dell to Gordon’s team also resulted in the move of front-tire changer Scott Brzozowski to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s team. The teams of Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski also have made pit crew changes for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

“You’re just always trying to find out where you need more strength and what can make you better,” Gordon said. “Track position has become so important.

“I think next year (track position) will be less important because of the aerodynamics. I think that’s great for the sport. But we’re never going to stop trying to figure out how to find time on pit road if it’s possible and to do it consistently. Right now, it’s so crucial. The aerodynamic power and combination we have, it’s so difficult to pass once you get the green flag and get strung out. Very, very difficult.”

Jordan Anderson in fiery crash in Talladega Truck race

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NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Jordan Anderson was airlifted to an area hospital after being involved in a fiery crash during Saturday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Anderson’s car caught fire in the middle of a pack of drafting trucks. Flames burst from three areas around the truck as Anderson tried to slow the vehicle and move onto the track apron. The truck hit the inside wall. Anderson climbed from the vehicle in a cloud of smoke as it came to a stop.

Anderson, 31 and a resident of Forest Acres, S.C., was transported to the infield medical center before being airlifted. NASCAR confirmed Anderson’s trip to the hospital.

Fox Sports reported that a team member said Anderson had burns.

Anderson is a part-time driver in the Truck Series. He has a top finish of 14th this season.

Starting lineup for Talladega Cup race: Christopher Bell wins pole

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Six playoff drivers will start in the top 10 for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Christopher Bell won the pole for the race Saturday with a speed of 180.591 miles per hour. He was followed by Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe.

MORE: Talladega Cup starting lineup

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

Playoff drivers starting in the top 10 are Bell, Larson, Hamlin, Briscoe, Ross Chastain (sixth) and William Byron (ninth).

Noah Gragson, who qualified seventh, is replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms.

Ryan Blaney, starting 19th, is the lowest playoff driver on the starting grid.

 

Christopher Bell wins Cup Series pole at Talladega Superspeedway

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Playoff driver Christopher Bell won the pole position Saturday for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Bell, 11th in the playoff standings and below the cutline entering Sunday’s race, ran 180.591 mph to edge second-place Kyle Larson at 180.516.

Playoff drivers took six of the top-10 starting spots.

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

The race is the second in the second round of the playoffs. Any playoff driver who wins the race will automatically advance to the next round.

Joey Logano leads the playoff standings.

Noah Gragson, replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms, qualified seventh.

The race (2 p.m., ET) will be broadcast by NBC.

 

 

Sunday Talladega Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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Sunday will mark a difficult crossroads for NASCAR. As several of its top drivers express serious concerns about safety, the Cup Series is at Talladega Superspeedway, the circuit’s biggest track and site of many massive wrecks over its 53 years of existence.

Adding to the tension is the fact that Sunday’s 188-lap, 500-mile race is the middle event in the second round of the playoffs. With a win automatically advancing any of the 12 playoff drivers to the next round, the final laps are likely to be frantic.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) will begin with Joey Logano atop the playoff point standings. Following him in the top eight are Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott and Chase Briscoe.

Below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron fell below the line this week when NASCAR penalized him for bumping Hamlin under caution during last Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalty.

Bowman will miss Sunday’s race because of concussion-like symptoms he has experienced after a crash at Texas. Noah Gragson will replace him.

Bell won the pole Saturday with a speed of 180.591 mph.

Details for Sunday’s race:

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jimmy Rane, president of Great Southern Wood Preserving, at 1:52 p.m. (ET). … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:04 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver introductions are at 1:15 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Barbara Embry, chaplin of Citizens Baptist Medical Center, at 1:43 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by the 313th U.S. Army Band at 1:45 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 188 laps (500 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 60. Stage 2 ends at Lap 120.

STARTING LINEUP: Talladega Cup starting lineup

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 1 p.m. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 1 p.m. … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. High of 78. 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Bubba Wallace won last October’s race, which was shortened to 117 laps by rain. Brad Keselowski was second.

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