Kyle Busch wins second qualifying race; Kenseth involved in multi-car crash on final lap

(Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
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The second Can-Am Duel qualifying race was uneventful until Kyle Busch won under caution thanks to a last-lap crash involving Matt Kenseth, the outside pole-sitter for the Daytona 500.

The 60-lap race went caution-free until a crash in Turn 2 that started when Jimmie Johnson got loose while slowing down to avoid Jamie McMurray on the outside. The No. 48 then hit Martin Truex Jr. The crash collected A.J. Allmendinger and Danica Patrick, who spun into the grass while trying to avoid it. Kurt Busch also received damage but didn’t need a backup car.

Kenseth and Johnson both will start Sunday’s Daytona 500 from the rear in backup cars. Kenseth had the lead for the first 23 laps until debris on his grille forced him to yield to Kyle Busch, who led 35 laps and is a three-time qualifying race winner.

“I guess it was pretty quiet and calm there for a long time there until the last lap when it got kind of crazy behind me,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “Great car. The guys at Joe Gibbs Racing did a phenomenal job this winter building some new pieces to come down here with and have some fun.”

His No. 18 Toyota was followed by McMurray, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Ty Dillon.

Truex, who didn’t make a qualifying attempt on Sunday due to a roof-flap problem, also will need a backup car after the wreck. Truex has been involved in last-lap accidents in the Sprint Unlimited and his Duel race.

“I’m sure it will be OK; our guys build really good race cars,” Truex told Fox Sports 1. “It’s a shame. Two cars on the last lap in two races in Turn 1.”

Robert Richardson Jr. raced his way into the Daytona 500 with an 18th-place finish. The BK Racing driver will start 40th.

HOW KYLE BUSCH WON: The defending Sprint Cup champion took the lead from Kenseth on Lap 24 so Kenseth could get debris off his grille. Kenseth didn’t regain the lead and aside from two laps during green-flag pit stops, Busch led the rest of the race.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Matt DiBenedetto, driving the “open” No. 93 car for BK Racing, finished ninth and will start 20th in the Daytona 500 … Even though she was separated from the lead pack after green-flag stops and was part of the last-lap crash, Danica Patrick finished seventh … After having crashed in the Sprint Unlimited, Brian Vickers stayed out of trouble and finished the duel in eighth.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Casey Mears ran in the top five all night and was in second place with two laps remaining when he ran out of gas. The No. 13 finished 17th, one lap down … Ryan Newman, who was involved in a practice accident Wednesday, fell off the pace at the halfway point because of a mechanical issue, visited the pits on Lap 32 and was pushed to the garage. Newman finished last in 22nd … Michael Waltrip made an unscheduled pit stop with 16 laps left and finished 20th, one lap down.

NOTABLE: BK Racing will have all four of its entries in the Daytona 500 after Robert Richardson Jr. and Matt DiBenedetto finished in ninth and 18th.

QUOTE OF THE NIGHT: “I’m very, very honored to be a part of BK Racing, having another opportunity to run here at the Daytona 500. I’ve been in it once before, but this one is very, very special to me. My wife and I welcomed our brand‑new baby boy who was born in early December. Every bit of earnings we get from this race is going to go into a college fund for him.” – Robert Richardson Jr. after qualifying for his third Daytona 500.

WHAT’S NEXT: The 58th running of the Daytona 500 is Sunday at 1 p.m. ET.

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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).

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“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.

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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.