What drivers said after Sprint Cup race at Richmond

(Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
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Here’s what the field had to say Sunday after the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway, which was won by Carl Edwards.

CARL EDWARDS — Finished 1st: “Man, I didn’t think we had anything. Kyle was so good there for that run. I was doing everything I could. He never spun his tires and if Dave (Rogers, crew chief) hadn’t screamed at me to just go get him that last lap I don’t know if I would’ve dove it in there that well. Just a team effort.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 2nd: “We were fast. Maybe not as good as Carl (Edwards) was on the long run but we did everything right. We did everything we were supposed to do and put ourselves in the right position. Adam (Stevens, crew chief) made some awesome adjustments to this car. We lost it there the second to last run and were fading a little bit but the guys gave me an awesome pit stop, got me track position and got us out front and we had a shot to win so that’s all that matters.”

Jimmie JohnsonFinished 3rd: “I think this tire was perfect for what we’ve been asking for. We had multiple lanes that laid the rubber in the race track and we didn’t have all those marbles build-up on the outside, where it really limited your opportunities up high. It was fun. The cars were slipping and sliding; there was a ton of fall off. I enjoyed the long runs. I really like sizing-up guys that I’m racing with and seeing how that works out.”

Kasey KahneFinished 4th: “The pit stops were awesome and just the communication with Keith (Rodden, crew chief) and the team all weekend long; same as last week and same as the weekend before in Texas. It’s been solid and we’re heading in the right direction. It’s been really nice. We got a good restart there at the end. I had pretty good starts all day. I screwed one up and other than that, we had good restarts.”

Kevin HarvickFinished 5th: “We started really loose to start the race and got into the wall there and we had to make some more adjustments after I self-adjusted it (laughs). And then, we had a couple of really good runs there in the middle of the race. As we started adjusting on it, we never could get the rear drive to go along with the turns. It’s kind of a balance of where the turn is good enough and you can still manage the drive, but everybody tried everything we could. We threw a lot at it and just never could find that magic balance for the car that we had there in the middle of the race.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 6th: “Definitely the track was really slick. As you could see the line was all over the race track. So, fun race. The tire did a good job holding up there and had a good fall off. Proud of the whole FedEx Ground team. We fought back from the pit road penalty and good for our teammates there one-two and we were just right there behind them.”

Matt KensethFinished 7th: “I thought the track was okay. There was a little bit more room than there typically was. I never really went for it real far. I got back to about seventh, where we are, and that’s about what I was at the beginning when we had our problems so I could never quite get up there with the best cars. But, it was nice it widened out a little bit.”

Joey LoganoFinished 8th:  “I needed to find a different lane. Every lane I found didn’t work. At the end it started to and I felt like maybe a couple of more restarts and good pit-stops we could have track positioned ourselves to be closer to the front and maybe squeak out a top-five at the end. Taking a car from being the 35th place car to a top-five car throughout a race is quite impressive for what my team was able to do today. It was great teamwork.”

Martin Truex Jr.Finished 9th: “Everyone was fighting the slippery track. It was great for the fans and television viewers, but for the drivers it was a challenge. I was sliding all around with no forward drive. It was difficult to make up time when the tires got hot. At times we were pretty good, but didn’t have the consistency to run closer to the front.”

Brad KeselowskiFinished 11th:  “We were probably a 5th-10th place car and fell back from the strategy but drove up there into about 11th and honestly we just ran out of time.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr.Finished 13th: “We got tight at the end. I don’t know … we couldn’t keep our track position. The car wasn’t turning in the middle. I didn’t like restarting on the bottom that hurt me a little bit. We just couldn’t get the car to turn at the end. The last two runs were real tight. I’m not sure exactly what we should have done to the chassis, but we certainly didn’t keep up with the track there. We did a good job all day long. Greg (Ives, crew chief) was giving me some good adjustments to get the car better. We weren’t that good at the start of the race. We kind of finished where we started. The car was about as good at the end of the race as it was at the beginning. Right in the middle there we had it handling pretty well. All of those debris cautions hurt us. We didn’t have good short run speed. We needed the long runs and didn’t really need that. Those last several cautions kind of tightened the track up on me a little bit. I just wish it would have gone green, but it didn’t.”

Greg BiffleFinished 14th: “We certainly didn’t end up where we were running. We were running mostly around 11th or 12th most of the day and the last couple of restarts we got shuffled back. That happens though. I guess that is racing. I wish we were better than that but we definitely had a better car than 14th which makes you feel good.”

Trevor BayneFinished 17th: “We ran solidly inside the top 15 for much of the day and would’ve finished there if we had a few more laps. I just want to thank all my guys for their hard work. We’ll get after it next week in Talladega.”

Ryan NewmanFinished 18th: “This was definitely not the finish this Grainger team expected, or deserved. We raced solidly in the top 10 until a competitor made contact with us and it cut down our tire with less than 100 laps to go. At first I just thought we had a tire go down but then the team came over the radio and said someone got into us on the restart after watching the replay. At that point all we could do was pit and restart from the 22nd position. We obviously got some of our positions back but certainly not enough. We ran out of laps.”

Tony StewartFinished 19th: “Line them up again and let’s run another, hell, make it 800 laps. Line them up and I’ll run 800 laps right now and not have a problem. There will be a bunch of these guys falling out of the seat if they had to run 800 more laps, but I will not be one of them.”

Austin DillonFinished 20th: “We had a better showing at Richmond International Raceway than we have in the past but there is certainly room for improvement. As a team, we just made too many mistakes today and it affected our overall performance. We had a few issues on pit road but we can work on those. We made a wedge adjustment in the middle of the race that put us behind.”

Paul MenardFinished 22nd: “Track position was important today and we just didn’t have it until the end. The handling of our Chevrolet SS was loose into the turns and tight through the center and despite all the adjustments we made, we were still a little bit off in finding the right balance that we needed.

Danica PatrickFinished 24th: “The Nature’s Bakery Chevy was better on the longer runs today. It just didn’t take off on restarts. I couldn’t be as aggressive with it as I needed to be and ended up losing a bunch of ground each time. (Crew chief) Billy (Scott) made a really great call for us to take the wave-around late in the race. At the end of the day, the car wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t great either. Tough times don’t last; tough people do. And we just have to keep working at it hard to get to where we need to be.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Finished 26th: “Our Fifth Third Ford was one the fastest cars on the track late in the runs, but we struggled on the short runs,” Stenhouse said. “Our finish definitely didn’t reflect on where we ran for a majority of the race. Hopefully we can get rid of this bad luck soon.”

Ryan BlaneyFinished 28th:  “It was a struggle all day for us. We weren’t very good in the beginning and got a lap down early and short-pitted and that actually worked out well for us. We still ended up a lap down but kind of gained a few spots. We raced hard for the Lucky Dog all day and at one point I thought we had it but they gave it to somebody else which was unfortunate. That made us kind of be on equal tires the rest of the day as we were taking wave arounds. It was just a big struggle today.”

Appeal panel gives William Byron his 25 points back

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William Byron is back in a transfer spot after the National Motorsports Appeals Panel rescinded his 25-point penalty Thursday for spinning Denny Hamlin at Texas.

By getting those 25 points back, Byron enters Sunday’s elimination playoff race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC) 14 points above the cutline.

Daniel Suarez is now in the final transfer spot to the Round of 8. He is 12 points ahead of Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric. Christopher Bell is 45 points behind Suarez. Alex Bowman will not race this week as he continues to recover from concussion symptoms and has been eliminated from Cup title contention.

NASCAR did not penalize Byron after his incident with Hamlin because series officials did not see the contact. Two days later, NASCAR penalized Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for intentionally wrecking Hamlin.

The National Motorsports Appeals Panel stated that Byron violated the rule but amended the penalty to no loss of driver and owner points while increasing the fine to $100,000.

The panel did not give a reason for its decision. NASCAR cannot appeal the panel’s decision.

The panel consisted of Hunter Nickell, a former TV executive, Dale Pinilis, track operator of Bowman Gray Stadium and Kevin Whitaker, owner of Greenville-Pickens Speedway.

Here is the updated standings heading into Sunday’s race at the Roval:

Byron’s actions took place after the caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash. As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race that the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

“I felt like he ran me out of race track off of (Turn) 2 and had really hard contact with the wall,” Byron said. “Felt like the toe link was definitely bent, luckily not fully broken. We were able to continue.

“A lot of times that kind of damage is going to ruin your race, especially that hard. I totally understand running somebody close and making a little bit of contact, but that was pretty massive.”

On the retaliatory hit, Byron said: “I didn’t mean to spin him out. That definitely wasn’t what I intended to do. I meant to bump him a little bit and show my displeasure and unfortunately, it happened the way it did. Obviously, when he was spinning out, I was like ‘I didn’t mean to do this,’ but I was definitely frustrated.”

Drivers for Drive for Diversity combine revealed

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The 13 drivers who will participate in the Advance Auto Part Drive for Diversity Combine were revealed Thursday and range in age from 13-19.

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity Development Program was created in 2004 to develop and train ethnically diverse and female drivers both on and off the track. Cup drivers Bubba Wallace, Daniel Suarez and Kyle Larson came through the program.

The 2020 and 2021 combines were canceled due to the impact of COVID-19.

“We are thrilled that we are in a position to return to an in-person evaluation for this year’s Advance Auto Parts Drive for Diversity Combine,” Rev Racing CEO Max Seigel said in a statement. “We are energized by the high-level of participating athletes and look forward to building the best driver class for 2023. As an organization, we have never been more positioned for success and future growth.”

The youngest drivers are Quinn Davis and Nathan Lyons, who are both 13 years old.

The group includes 17-year-old Andrés Pérez de Lara, who finished seventh in his ARCA Menards Series debut in the Sept. 15 race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Also among those invited to the combine is 15-year old Katie Hettinger, who will make her ARCA Menards Series West debut Oct.. 14 at the Las Vegas Bullring. She’s also scheduled to compete in the ARCA West season finale Nov. 4 at Phoenix Raceway.

 

 

Name

Age Hometown
Justin Campbell 17 Griffin, Georgia
Quinn Davis 13 Sparta, Tennessee
Eloy Sebastián

López Falcón

17 Mexico City, Mexico
Katie Hettinger 15 Dryden, MI
Caleb Johnson 15 Denver, CO
Nathan Lyons 13 Concord, NC
Andrés Pérez de Lara 17 Mexico City, Mexico
Jaiden Reyna 16 Cornelius, NC
Jordon Riddick 17 Sellersburg, IN
Paige Rogers 19 New Haven, IN
Lavar Scott 19 Carney’s Point, NJ
Regina Sirvent 19 Mexico City, Mexico
Lucas Vera 15 Charlotte, NC

 

Dr. Diandra: Crashes: Causes and complications

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Two drivers have missed races this year after hard rear-end crashes. Kurt Busch has been out since an incident in qualifying at Pocono in July. Alex Bowman backed hard into a wall at Texas and will miss Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET, NBC).

Other drivers have noted that the hits they’ve taken in the Next Gen car are among the hardest they’ve felt in a Cup car.

“When I crashed it (at Auto Club Speedway in practice), I thought the car was destroyed, and it barely backed the bumper off. It just felt like somebody hit you with a hammer,” Kevin Harvick told NBC Sports.

The three most crucial parameters in determining the severity of a crash are:

  • How much kinetic energy the car carries
  • How long the collision takes
  • The angle at which the car hits

Angle

The last of these factors requires trigonometry to explain properly. You can probably intuit, however, that a shallower hit is preferable to a head-on — or rear-on — hit.

A graphic show shallower (low-angle) hits and deeper (high-angle) hits
Click for a larger view

When the angle between the car and the wall is small, most of the driver’s momentum starts and remains in the direction parallel to the wall. The car experiences a small change in velocity.

The larger the angle, the larger the change in perpendicular speed and the more force experienced. NASCAR has noted that more crashes this season have had greater angles than in the past.

Busch and Bowman both had pretty large-angle hits, so we’ll skip the trig.

Energy — in pounds of TNT

A car’s kinetic energy depends on how much it weighs and how fast it’s going. But the relationship between kinetic energy and speed is not linear: It’s quadratic. That means going twice as fast gives you four times more kinetic energy.

The graph shows the kinetic energies of different kinds of race cars at different speeds. To give you an idea of how much energy we’re talking about, I expressed the kinetic energy in terms of equivalent pounds of TNT.

A vertical bar graph showing kinetic energies for different types of racecars and their energies

  • A Next Gen car going 180 mph has the same kinetic energy as is stored in almost three pounds of TNT.
  • Because IndyCars are about half the weight of NASCAR’s Next Gen car, an IndyCar has about half the kinetic energy of a Next Gen car when both travel at the same speed.
  • At 330 mph, Top Fuel drag racers carry the equivalent of six pounds of TNT in kinetic energy.

All of a car’s kinetic energy must be transformed to other types of energy when the car slows or stops. NASCAR states that more crashes are occurring at higher closing speeds, which means more kinetic energy.

Longer collisions > shorter collisions

That seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Who wants to be in a crash any longer than necessary?

But the longer a collision takes, the more time there is to transform kinetic energy.

A pitting car starts slowing down well below it reaches its pit box. The car’s kinetic energy is transformed into heat energy (brakes and rotors warming), light energy (glowing rotors), and even sound energy (tires squealing).

The same amount of kinetic energy must be transformed in a collision — but much faster. In addition to heat, light and sound, energy is transformed via the car spinning and parts deforming or breaking. (This video about Michael McDowell’s 2008 Texas qualifying crash goes into more detail.)

The force a collision produces depends on how long the car takes to stop. Compare the force from your seat belt when you slow down at a stop sign to what you feel if you have to suddenly slam on the brakes.

To give you an idea of how fast collisions can be, the initial wall impact in the crash that killed Dale Earnhardt Sr. lasted only eight-hundredths (0.08) of a second.

SAFER barriers use a car’s kinetic energy to move a heavy steel wall and crush pieces of energy-absorbing foam. That extracts energy from the car, plus the barrier extends the collision time.

The disadvantage is that a car with lower kinetic energy won’t move the barrier. Then it’s just like running into a solid wall.

That’s the same problem the Next Gen car seems to have.

Chassis stiffness: A Goldilocks problem

The Next Gen chassis is a five-piece, bolt-together car skeleton, as shown below.

A graphic showing the five parts of the Next Gen chassis.
Graphic courtesy of NASCAR. Click to enlarge.
The foam surrounding the outside of the rear bumper
The purple is energy-absorbing foam. Graphic courtesy of NASCAR. Click for a larger view.

That graphic doesn’t show another important safety feature: the energy absorbing foam that covers the outside of the bumpers. It’s purple in the next diagram.

All cars are designed so that the strongest part of the car surrounds the occupants. Race cars are no different.

The center section of the Next Gen chassis is made from stout steel tubing and sheet metal. Components become progressively weaker as you move away from the cockpit. The bumper, for example, is made of aluminum alloy rather than steel. The goal is transforming all the kinetic energy before it reaches the driver.

Because the Next Gen car issues are with rear impacts, I’ve expanded and highlighted the last two pieces of the chassis.

The rear clip and bumper, with the fuel cell and struts shaded

The bumper and the rear clip don’t break easily enough. The rear ends of Gen-6 cars were much more damaged than the Next Gen car after similar impacts.

If your initial thought is “Just weaken the struts,” you’ve got good instincts. However, there are two challenges.

I highlighted the first one in red: the fuel cell. About the only thing worse than a hard collision is a hard collision and a fire.

The other challenge is that a chassis is a holistic structure: It’s not like each piece does one thing independent of all the other pieces. Changing one element to help soften rear collisions might make other types of collisions harder.

Chassis are so complex that engineers must use finite-element-analysis computer programs to predict their behavior. These programs are analogous to (and just as complicated as) the computational fluid dynamics programs aerodynamicists use.

Progress takes time

An under-discussed complication was noted by John Patalak, managing director of safety engineering for NASCAR. He told NBC Sports’ Dustin Long in July that he was surprised by the rear-end crash stiffness.

The Next Gen car’s crash data looked similar to that from the Gen-6 car, but the data didn’t match the drivers’ experiences. Before addressing the car, his team had to understand the disparity in the two sets of data.

They performed a real-world crash test on a new configuration Wednesday. These tests are complex and expensive: You don’t do them until you’re pretty confident what you’ve changed will make a significant difference.

But even if the test goes exactly as predicted, they aren’t done.

Safety is a moving target.

And always will be.

NASCAR weekend schedule for Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

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NASCAR Cup Series drivers race on the road for the final time this season Sunday, as the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval course ends the playoffs’ Round of 12.

The 17-turn, 2.28-mile course incorporating the CMS oval and infield will determine the eight drivers who will advance to the next round of the playoffs. Chase Elliott won last Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway and is the only driver who has qualified for a spot in the Round of 8.

Entering Sunday’s race, Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman are below the playoff cutline. Bowman will not qualify for the next round because he is sidelined by concussion-like symptoms.

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

Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Cup and Xfinity)

Weekend weather

Friday: Sunny. High of 81 with a 6% chance of rain.

Saturday: Mixed clouds and sun. High of 67 with a 3% chance of rain.

Sunday: Sunny. High of 68 with a 3% chance of rain.

Friday, Oct. 7

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 12 – 5 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Saturday, Oct. 8

Garage open

  • 7 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 8:30 a.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. — Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying (NBC Sports App)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, USA Network coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.)
  • 1 – 2 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity race (67 laps, 155.44 miles; NBC, Peacock, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 9

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 2 p.m. — Cup race (109 laps, 252.88 miles; NBC, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)