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What drivers said after AAA 400 Drive For Autism at Dover

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Matt Kenseth – finished 1st: “It feels good to be (in victory lane). It always feels good to win. Dover has always been my favorite track. I made my first Cup start here many moons ago. It feels good to get one, and I feel like this is usually one of my better places, and it’s been a little bit of a struggle lately. It feels good to be here, for sure.”

Kyle Larson – finished 2nd: “We were really good. We were better than Matt (Kenseth) there. … I didn’t think I would catch (Kenseth), but I got another shot at him at the end and was trying to do all I could to pass him without getting into him. Matt, except for a couple of instances last year, he is probably the cleanest driver out here. I wanted to race him with all that respect and felt like I did a good job. I probably could have got into him in the middle of (Turns) 1 and 2 there once and maybe got by him, but I didn’t want to do that. Looking back, maybe I should have because I could be in the Chase right now, but we will just keep working hard.”

Chase Elliott – finished 3rd: “It was definitely wild from my view. If the fans didn’t get what they wanted to see today then they need to go do something else. That was a heck of a race, in my opinion. Obviously, wish we could have come out on top. Matt (Kenseth) and Kyle (Larson) were racing really hard for the lead. I tried to steal one from them. They were a little better than we were, but we worked hard and tried to stay in the ballgame today and fortunately came out with a decent finish, just not close enough.”

Kasey Kahne – finished 4th: “We had to work really hard. The pit crew did great on pit road. We passed a lot of cars there. The adjustments got the car better. We were real tight landing/loading and then over at the three-quarter mark, too. It was tough, but we got our Farmers Insurance Chevy better as the race went and then avoided the big wreck on the frontstretch and ended up with a top five.”

Kurt Busch – finished 5th: “It was a good top-five finish. I thought we could run down (Matt) Kenseth and (Kyle) Larson. It was great running with Chase Elliott. I just smacked the fence off of Turn 2 with about 15 (laps) to go. It was like I cashed in my chip and I’m like, ‘I’m going now,’ and I overstepped the limits of the car. I got tight. I induced that tight by driving it too hard and smacked the ol’ fence. The concrete always wins. The car always has to suffer. I let my guys down today.”

Brad Keselowski – finished 6th: “This was one of those Dover races I don’t think anybody will forget anytime soon. There was a lot of chaos, and we ran really well. Unfortunately, we got caught up running second and leading a lot of laps and tore up the car. I guess the car in front of me (Austin Dillon) had a flat tire, and it just happened all too quick for me to do anything. It knocked a lot of speed out of our Wurth Ford Fusion, but we were still very competitive. I am proud of my guys to recover to finish sixth at the end. We caught some breaks with that big wreck, which probably gave us five or six spots, and then we clawed from there. We restarted ninth and drove up to sixth. It was very respectable.”

Ryan Blaney – finished 8th: “It was a long day. We got better throughout the day. I don’t know what happened to us in that last run, we weren’t nearly as good as we were the runs before that. I was confident we would finish better than that, but we will have to look back and see what we changed and what happened. Not a bad day for us. It was a good solid run and hopefully we can start stringing together some of these good finishes. … It got wild there for a while, and there were a couple big wrecks. We missed the big one. I don’t know how we missed it but somehow we did. It was definitely a strange day and definitely a strange first Dover Cup race for me.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished 9th: “At the beginning of the race, we were a fifth-, sixth-place car and just kept working on it and when we needed to be the best car, I think we were. Just one of those deals. Wrong place, wrong time (being involved in the multi-car wreck). Frustrating, but we got a top-10 out of it, so not too bad. The guys on pit road did a great job fixing it. Just hate that it happened. I wanted to be fourth on that restart, but I didn’t want to be fourth that bad. I should have been third so maybe I should have not let the 19 beat us off pit road. I don’t know how you can see those things coming. All in all good day, just bad finish.”

Trevor Bayne – finished 10th: “Sometimes, we haven’t felt like this season we got the finishes we deserved, and today we didn’t get a finish we deserved, but we will take it. The shoe was on the right foot today. It is nice to get a finish like that after not having a great weekend. We were really tight all day. That last run we were pretty fast at the end of it. We will learn from it, come back next time and count our blessings here and take a top 10 happily. I was on the edge of my seat out there for sure. It is a really grueling race track. You can’t let your guard down for a second, or it will bite you. We saw that in practice and saw that in the race. I am just glad to get out of here without any wounds.”

Paul Menard – finished 11th: “Yeah, it was a struggle. We just could not get going on restarts. After 20 laps we were pretty good. We got a little lucky with all the wrecked cars.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 12th: “Yeah, just crazy. It is what it is. I’m happy with the finish. We have got to get better. Definitely, we just keep gaining. We’ve got to keep doing what we are doing and keep persevering here and hopefully, we will be where we need to be and meet our goals at the end of the year.”

Rodney Childers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick – finished 15th: “We had a good car. We had driven from 20th back to fourth there before the caution. You had a couple of guys stay out and caused a big mess on the restart and got tore up. The guys did good on pit road to keep it out there and keep it going and at least get a decent finish out of it.”

Landon Cassill – finished 19th: “I feel really motivated right now to figure this car out. We have had good finishes and good runs without taking off yet. We are really motivated and communicating about what this car needs. I am excited about that. I am glad we got a 19th place finish because it keeps your attitude up while you keep your head down working on the car.”

Joey Logano – finished 22nd: “We couldn’t see (the big multi-car wreck). When you are stacked up on the restart like that there isn’t much to be able to see at all. Unfortunately, it looked like the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) had trouble getting going and it stacked us up. I tried checking up and going to the bottom like we were going to miss it and got hit from behind and that sent me into it more. We have been the victim of circumstances the last few weeks. It is what it is. I am not going to say it was bad luck. We put ourselves in position to be back there on our pit stop. It is our fault. We have to smarten up and get a little better at every little area. We had a decent car. We weren’t the fastest car, but we were a top-five car for sure. Things happen.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished 25th: “I got a great start in second gear. As I went to put it in third (gear) and came across the shifting gate it never went into third. It actually got locked in the neutral area of the transmission. I had plenty of time. Martin (Truex, Jr.) was plenty patient with me and I was trying to get third, and I couldn’t. I tried for fourth and third and fourth, and I finally got hit. Just a freak deal with something with the transmission. I’ve never had that happen to me in my career.”

Carl Edwards – finished 28th: “I didn’t see much. I was trying to give Kurt (Busch) a little room, it looked like he got choked up and as I looked at the replay it looked like I moved down a little and (Kyle) Larson got underneath me. I don’t think he meant to do it, but it surprised me. I didn’t know he was that close. We’ll just chalk it up to racing, but the hard part is we felt like we were going to win that million bucks for those kids, and I felt like we could win this race. It’s tough not to be out there.”

Greg Biffle – finished 29th: “I didn’t see anything. I just saw cars stopped in front of me and there was just no way we could stop. The spotter was telling me to go low, which I am not sure if that was the right move either. I don’t know if there is anything I could have done. I just tried to stop as quickly as I could. There was just no time to stop, I guess. (It’s) really frustrating. We had probably a top-12 car there and it was going to be a good day for us. It was the first time we had run this well in awhile.”

Kyle Busch – finished 30th: “We either missed something today or we had something break – just something wasn’t right. Got really, really, really evil there about lap 230 or lap 250, something like that, and I was having a real hard time holding onto it and even making laps. Just trying to check everything out and see if there was anything that was broke, but obviously now there’s a lot of things broke and hard to decipher what we can figure out and learn about what we might have had happen there today. Just a tough break.”

Aric Almirola – finished 31st: “It just stinks we all got stacked up like that. I banged up my hand. I think I may have a broken finger, it is pretty sore and swollen. We worked really hard to get back on the lead lap, and we were actually making a lot of progress it just took us all race to get back up on that lead lap. I hate that our day is going to turn out like that. That is a shame. Then to make matters worse I think I have a broken pinky finger. That isn’t very many is it?”

Dale Earnhardt Jr. – finished 32nd: “They started wrecking way up in front of us. I couldn’t really tell what was going on. I got to the outside and thought we had missed (the wreck), but the No. 13 (Casey Mears) came up the track, he got collected in it.”

Austin Dillon – finished 33rd: “I think it was the brakes. I was complaining about them before that, having to pump them up. I am just frustrated. Had the same issue at Bristol, and we come here and we have another issue with the brakes. I’m frustrated, but we had a good car. Our Chevrolet was fast, and we had good shot of running top 10, top five depending on track position. We will just have to get them next week.”

Tony Stewart – finished 34th: “Well, the track bar broke, and the back of the car flops back and forth. I don’t know what more there is to say about that. It just broke. … We had been fighting, the car was acting weird for the last 80 to 100 laps. I’m sure it was already starting to break, and it finally just broke the rest of the way.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished 40th: “(The wreck) kind of came out of the blue. We had a decent car and were running OK, and then it drove off into (turn) one. Either something broke or it blew a right front. We’re not really sure. I hate it for my guys. They worked hard. We changed everything going into the race, it’s unfortunate. Thank you to Cosmo Motors, the whole team at BK Racing. I’m always grateful for the opportunity and we’ll go get them next week.”

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NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick back at No. 1

NASCAR Power Rankings
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Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Kevin Harvick is the No. 1 driver in this week’s NASCAR rankings.

Martin Truex Jr. held the top spot for just a week before Harvick reclaimed the crown with his series-leading ninth Cup win of the year Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

This week’s rankings includes three ties as 12 drivers received votes.

More: Playoff standings after Round of 16

Harvick takes his power rankings lead to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the start of the Round of 12.

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has three wins in the last five races: Dover, the Southern 500 and Bristol night race.

2. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 7): Finished seventh at Bristol for his third top 10 in five races. His 11 top fives so far matches his total from each of the last two seasons. He scored a career-high 12 top fives in 2017.

3. (tie) Kyle Busch (Last week No.  9): Finished second in Bristol after he started from the rear due to inspection failures. Has three consecutive top 10s for the first time this season.

3. (tie) Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Followed consecutive third-place finishes with an 11th at Bristol.

5. (tie) Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 1): Finished 24th in Bristol following contact with Denny Hamlin after an unscheduled pit stop.

5. (tie) Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): After winning at Richmond, Keselowski had a rough night in Bristol. He finished 34th due to power steering problems.

7. (tie) Aric Almirola (Last week unranked): Finished fifth in Bristol for his third consecutive top 10 and his fourth in five races.

7. (tie) Clint Bowyer (Last week unranked): Placed sixth in Bristol for his third consecutive top-10 finish and to keep his playoff chances alive.

9. Austin Dillon (Last week No. 3): Placed a respectable 12th to finish the first round after consecutive top fives.

10. Erik Jones (Last week unranked): Placed third in Bristol for his seventh top-five finish of the season and his second in the last three races.

Also receiving votes: Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin

NASCAR Silly season features Bubba Wallace, Michael Jordan

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NASCAR Silly Season took a twist Monday. A day that started with the announcement that Ross Chastain would drive for Chip Ganassi Racing next year ended with the news that Denny Hamlin would co-own a team with Michael Jordan and have Bubba Wallace as the driver in 2021.

As JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said: “I think it’s a pretty dynamic trio with Michael, Denny and Bubba. They’re going to be like rock stars.”

The 26-year-old Wallace is in his third full Cup season. All 105 of his starts in NASCAR’s premier series have been with Richard Petty Motorsports.

“Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series and we believe he’s ready to take his career to a higher level,” Hamlin said in a statement. “He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure he has the resources to do just that. Off the track, Bubba has been a loud voice for change in our sport and our country. MJ and I support him fully in those efforts and stand beside him.”

A team name, car number, manufacturer and sponsors will be announced at a later time.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 10: Aric Almirola extends deal with Stewart-Haas Racing for 2021 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through 2022.

No. 42: Ross Chastain takes over Chip Ganassi Racing’s ride for the 2021 season.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

No. TBA: Bubba Wallace joins the new team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and NBA great Michael Jordan. The team purchased Germain Racing’s charter. Germain Racing will not continue after this season.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto said Sept. 17 that Wood Brothers Racing has an option to pick up his contract for next year and the deadline is the end of September.

No. 32: Ride is open with Corey LaJoie announcing he will not return to Go Fas Racing in 2021.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace will not return to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2021, the team confirmed on Sept. 10.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Spire Motorsports purchased the charter and assets of Leavine Family Racing and will be a two-car operation in 2021.

No. 96: Daniel Suarez and Gaunt Brothers Racing announced Sept. 15 that they would part ways after this season.

 

Brad Daugherty: Michael Jordan to NASCAR is ‘huge moment’

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Brad Daugherty calls Michael Jordan’s ownership of a Cup team a “huge moment for NASCAR.”

Jordan and Denny Hamlin will co-own a Cup team next season. Bubba Wallace will be the driver. Jordan will become the first Black majority car owner of a full-time team since Wendell Scott owned and raced cars in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Daugherty, the only Black owner of a full-time Cup team currently, is excited about Jordan’s entrance into NASCAR.

“It’s a big momentum shift for this sport culturally, period,” said Daugherty, co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing and an analyst for NBC Sports. “Three years ago, this would have never happened. A year ago, this wouldn’t have happened. It’s the timing. If the timing is right and you have someone like Michael Jordan put his brand and what he’s all about into whatever you are doing, it adds a lot of credibility. I look forward to whatever he can bring to the table to help continue to build NASCAR.”

Daugherty told NBC Sports that Jordan can help the sport reach more people.

“The eyeballs are going to be incredible,” Daugherty said of Jordan’s potential impact. “The opportunity for entrance into the sport will be made more available as far as people being aware of the availability to get involved in NASCAR as a fan or as a business. There’s just so many different areas that will light up just because of who he is and what he represents. His entire legacy creates opportunity for everyone.

“Now, we start talking diversity with what he’s able to do from a corporate standpoint and also just from a legacy standpoint with his brand. It’s going to be exciting. I’m excited because I think more people now, more than ever, will take a look at NASCAR with a keen eye and keen interest and be excited about maybe participating as a fan or as a business partner or as someone wanting to learn how to drive a race car or own a race team. The more notoriety the better.”

NASCAR stated Monday: “Michael is an iconic sports figure and celebrated champion whose fiercely competitive nature has placed him among the greatest athletes of all time. His presence at NASCAR’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around our sport. We wish Michael and his team tremendous success.”

Jordan told The Charlotte Observer on Monday that the deal came together in about 10 days because of the chance to hire Wallace.

“When (Hamlin) told me there was a possibility of getting Bubba Wallace, I’m saying, ‘OK, this is perfect!’” Jordan told The Observer. “If I’m getting involved in NASCAR, then get a Black driver (with) a Black owner.”

For all that Jordan can bring to NASCAR, Daugherty knows that the competition can prove challenging.

“I’m sure he’s committed to next season and we’ll see how that goes and if it goes well, you go beyond that,” Daugherty said. “He had a (Superbike) team for a long time and loved that. He understands it’s a different business model. He’s at the point in his life, he’s like Roger Penske and Rick Hendrick and those guys to where it’s really not a detriment to him financially if he’s not making money. We’ll have to see how much he can stomach because it’s an interesting business model for sure.”

Jordan told The Observer he’s in it to win.

“If I’m investing, if I’m a participant, then I want to win! I don’t want to be out there to be just another car,” Jordan said.

Daugherty looks forward to seeing Jordan, Hamlin and Wallace at the track.

“I think it’s a pretty dynamic trio with Michael, Denny and Bubba,” Daugherty said. “They’re going to be like rock stars.”

Daugherty also looks forward to something else next year.

“Look forward to racing against those guys,” he said, “and trying to kick their butts.”

Germain Racing sells charter, will exit sport at end of season

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Germain Racing car owner Bob Germain announced Monday that he has sold the team’s charter and will end the team after this season.

The charter was purchased by a new team that will have Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan as owners and Bubba Wallace as the driver.

Germain said in a statement that the No. 13 team will continue the rest of the season with Ty Dillon as driver.

“Being an owner in NASCAR for the last 16 years has been a thrilling and rewarding adventure,” Germain said in a statement. “From winning two NASCAR Truck Series championships in 2006 and 2010 to competing at the highest level of motorsports in the Cup Series for the last 12 seasons, I have experienced the highs and lows of our sport. I’m extremely proud of what Germain Racing has accomplished at every level and I will be transitioning out of ownership with many memories and friendships. I appreciate the interest and offers made over the last couple of weeks and I am excited to see how the sport continues to grow in the future.

“Thank you to GEICO for their loyalty to Germain Racing for over a decade. It has been a great source of pride for our team to represent their brand on the track. Doug Barnette with Player Management International has facilitated our GEICO relationship since the beginning and I truly appreciate his efforts. Finally, to my employees: building a team camaraderie and creating a family atmosphere has been a highlight of this journey. I will miss each of you.”

Germain pondered a sale when GEICO decided not to renew its contract after this season with the team.  GEICO is one of NASCAR’s Premier Partners, joining Busch Beer, Coca-Cola and Xfinity.

Dillon spoke in late August about the challenges facing single-car teams in Cup.

“The model is very tough right now for single-car teams,” he said. “I’m hoping that NASCAR is going to change it and help on it. But it needs to change for one-car teams to be more successful that haven’t already been at the top level of the sport or have an incredible amount of money to leapfrog into the top spot. If you don’t have three or four teams to spread the wealth with big name sponsors and a lot of money behind the effort, it’s just not a model that’s going to survive long term.”

Hamlin acknowledged the challenge a one-car team can have.

“I do believe that the (ownership) model will hopefully get better,” Hamlin said before last weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. “Do I think it’s fixed? No, I think there is still some work to be done to make the model a viable business. You want a business that everyone wants to be a part of, not the ones that are fleeting. Certainly, I think NASCAR is trying it’s best to make the teams a little more healthy. I think that outlook toward the future is what’s interesting to me.”

Germain Racing is the second team to sell its charter since August. Leavine Family Racing announced it had sold its charter on Aug. 4. Spire Motorsports purchased it and will be a two-car team in 2021.