Matt Crafton grabs fifth win of year at Martinsville

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Starting 13th in a race that featured 12 cautions didn’t keep Matt Crafton from winning the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway for his fifth victory of the season.

Crafton held off John Hunter Nemechek, teammate Cameron Hayley and Cole Custer in the final 63 laps to secure his second career win at the short track and his 10th Truck win overall.

It’s Crafton’s first win since July at Kentucky Speedway and comes after he ran out of gas in the final laps at Las Vegas while leading and crashed multiple times at Talladega.

“It’s been a very trying last two months,” Crafton told Fox Sports 1. “We weren’t that great on the short run and like I said I never give up on these guys, they just keep fine tuning and fine tuning.”

Crafton led the most laps at both Las Vegas and Talladega but couldn’t win. The two-time defending champion believes his truck wasn’t as good as the one that also started 13th in the spring race at Martinsville and led 100 laps before finishing second.

“I have no idea (how many) laps we led today but we led enough and led the right one,” Crafton said. “Finally we got to finish off what we started the last two weeks.”

Crafton trails Erik Jones by 10 points in the championship standings.

More: Race results

More: Point standings

HOW MATT CRAFTON WON: Crafton battled his way to the front after starting 13th and led the final 63 laps.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Cole Custer started from the pole and led 96 laps before being called for speeding on pit road. The JR Motorsports drivers fought his way from the back of the pack to finish third … John Hunter Nemechek started third and led twice for 32 laps before finishing second for his sixth top five of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: It started early for Timothy Peters. The Talladega winner spun on his own in Turn 4 on Lap 8. On Lap 85, Peters fell off the pace on the frontstretch after accidentally hitting his kill switch and was spun by Dalton Sargeant in Turn 1. Sargeant again spun Peters on Lap 155 in Turn 4. Peters finished sixth … The second caution of the day came when Gray Gaulding spun Paige Decker in Turn 3 on Lap 61 … Lap 73 saw Erik Jones spin teammate Daniel Suarez in Turn 4 while running in seventh. Suarez would finish 16th … JJ Haley lost the brakes on his truck on Lap 121 and slammed into the Turn 1 wall. Haley finished last … On Lap 132, John Wes Townley lost his left-rear tire exiting Turn 2. The Las Vegas winner didn’t have any notable damage but finished 11th… Ray Black Jr. brought out the ninth caution with 29 laps left when he spun into the outside wall out of Turn 2 … Austin Cindric’s Truck debut ended in the wall with seven laps to go after he got stuck between two trucks, including points leader Erik Jones. Cindric finished 25th, the last driver on the lead lap.

NOTABLE: 12 cautions over 69 laps means more than 1/4th of the race was run under caution.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “I knew I had to pace myself and save enough tires there at the end of the race so I could have some green-white-checkered speed there at the end, because we know that’s what it’s going to be about here.” Matt Crafton after leading the final 63 laps to win at Martinsville.

WHAT’S NEXT: WinStar World Casino 350k at Texas Motor Speedway on Nov. 6 at 8:30 pm ET on Fox Sports 1.

 

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).

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

HELIO’S ‘DAYS OF THUNDER’ MOMENT: Recalling a memorable 2022 victory drive through the smoke

“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.

MORE: A better way to determine the Cup champion?

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.