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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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Martin Truex Jr. on Cole Pearn’s departure, what he seeks in next crew chief

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Martin Truex Jr. got a phone call from Cole Pearn on Sunday and Truex quickly had a very bad feeling about it.

“When he started talking it was in the back of my mind that, ‘This is not good. I feel like something big is about to come,'” Truex recalled. “Sure enough, it was surprising.”

Pearn had called to tell Truex what everyone else would learn the next day: after five years together, he was resigning as his crew chief and leaving NASCAR.

Truex discussed the end of Pearn’s tenure and what he wants from his next crew chief during a break from giving out Christmas toys to patients at Levine Children’s Hospital.

“Thought I could get a couple more years out of him, to be honest,” Truex said before admitting he completely understood Pearn’s reasons for getting out of NASCAR while seemingly at the top of his game: a long season that keeps him from seeing his family.

“I understand the grind, I understand just how hard he has to work to produce a level of competition that he does,” Truex said. “I’ve seen it first hand, his hours and what’s he’s willing to do. I don’t know that there’s anyone in the garage willing to put as much work into racing as he did.”

He continued: “It’s time for him to move into doing something else. His kids are growing up too fast and he doesn’t get to see them that much. It was big decision for him and I know … he feels somewhat like he let all us down. I told him, ‘Hey, you’ve got to do what’s best for your family, we all understand and all our guys will understand, we’ll go on and try to the best with someone else filling his role.'”

When it comes to figuring who will take over as crew chief on the No. 19 Toyota, Truex said, “We’ve got a few guys in mind. I feel like we’re narrowing it down. We should know something in the next couple of days for sure.”

Whoever takes over will follow in the wake of a crew chief who worked with Truex to produce 24 wins in five seasons, four appearances in the Championship 4 and the 2017 Cup title.

How did half a decade of success with Pearn change what Truex wants from a crew chief?

“Honestly, that’s a good question,” Truex said. “Obviously, I need to find somebody that has his demeanor, a guy that approaches racing the way he does, because it’s kind of what works for me. I feel like we approach racing the same way, Cole and I did. Our attitudes and just the way we thought about things was so similar. We could almost finish each other’s sentences.

“It’s so weird, we’re so different people outside of racing. In racing, that’s just the way we grew up. Our dads racing and racing go-karts and moving up through the ranks ourselves. We just did things a lot the same and we had similar beliefs in the way we did things. Just kind of the same thought process.”

Truex believes he and Pearn “approached a lot of things together more so than me being a rookie and him being a veteran like it was when I first started.

“No question, he was really good at getting the most out of me and I’ll need somebody to do that,” Truex said. “I’m not the most outspoken guy and so I need sometimes somebody to pull that information out of me, especially when it comes to the cars and building the cars. When they’re not good enough, how do you make them better? He was really good at that. I feel good about the guys we’re talking to and we’ve got a few options there and hopefully it’ll work out.”

Kyle Busch Motorsports announces 2020 driver, crew chief lineup

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Kyle Busch Motorsports announced its driver-crew chief roster for the 2020 Gander Outdoors Truck Series season on Wednesday. It includes the addition of veteran Danny Stockman.

Stockman will be in charge of the No. 51 Toyota, which will be driven by Kyle Busch, Chandler Smith and more drivers to be announced at a later date.

Stockman was a long-time crew chief at Richard Childress Racing, most recently working with Austin Dillon in the Cup Series this season. He was Dillon’s crew chief when he won his titles in the Truck Series (2011) and Xfinity Series (2013).

Ryan “Rudy” Fugle will be paired with Christian Eckes on the No. 18 Toyota. Fugle worked on the No. 51 this year as it won six races, including all of Busch’s five wins and Greg Biffle‘s victory. Fugle has led KBM teams to five owner titles (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019) and two driver titles (2015 and 2017).

Mike Hillman Jr. will be the crew chief for Raphael Lessard‘s rookie season in the No. 4 Toyota. Hillman has two Truck Series titles, including Toyota’s first in 2006 with Todd Bodine.

 

DGR-Crosley switches from Toyota to Ford beginning in 2020

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Ford Performance is strengthening its driver development program by joining forces with DGR-Crosley, which announced its move from Toyota to Ford Wednesday.

The multi-year agreement will see team co-owner David Gilliland, a former Cup Series driver, lead the team’s driver development program as it field entries in late models, the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.

“We’re very excited to have DGR-Crosley come to Ford as part of our long-term efforts to develop drivers for NASCAR,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports in a press release. “We have just scratched the surface of what is possible in developing the next generation of Ford drivers with people like Chase Briscoe, and we believe a coordinated effort with a team like DGR-Crosley will help move that process forward successfully.

“David Gilliland was a trusted and valued Ford driver in NASCAR for many years, and we look forward to renewing that relationship with him in this new effort.”

Said Gilliland: “I’m super excited about the partnership with Ford and how things are lining up for 2020. I spent a lot of time racing Fords throughout my career, and it’s really special to now be able to bring them into our race shop. A lot of time and consideration was spent on this decision, and internally we know that this is the move that we needed to make in order to advance our program to the top level. We have a great group of hard-working, talented people at DGR-Crosley, and with Ford coming on board, our future is really bright. We’re excited for all the things ahead.”

DGR-Crosley will announce its driver lineup at a later date.

The team first entered the Truck Series in 2018. Tyler Ankrum won its first race this year at Kentucky Speedway, qualifying for the playoffs in the process.

It fielded a team record five entries in the playoff race at ISM Raceway.

Brennan Poole to compete full-time for Premium Motorsports in Cup Series

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Former Xfinity Series driver Brennan Poole will compete full-time in the Cup Series in 2020 with Premium Motorsports, Poole announced Wednesday on social media.

Poole, 28, will drive the No. 15 Chevrolet and would make his Cup debut in the Daytona 500.

He joins a rookie class that includes Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer.

“I’ve been working towards this moment since I was 5 and feel blessed to have the caliber of people surrounding me that I have in this next chapter of my racing career,” Poole said in a press release. “I look forward to the opportunity to showcase our sponsor partners, both new and existing, who are supporting me at the highest level of NASCAR competition.”

Poole takes over the car that was driven by Ross Chastain in a majority of his Cup starts in 2019.

A native of The Woodlands, Texas, Poole drove for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Xfinity Series from 2016-17. His best finish was second in the 2017 race at Kentucky Speedway.

He made 13 starts in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in 2019, driving for On Point Motorsports. His best result was second in the May race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I’m very happy to welcome Brennan and his group to the Premium Motorsports family,” team owner Jay Robinson said in the press release. “Brennan is a very talented and dedicated young man, I believe he has a very bright future in the NASCAR Cup Series.”