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Kyle Larson the day after runner-up finish: “I would have liked to be one spot better”

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INDIANAPOLIS – Kyle Larson arrived at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Monday morning not to announce a shock participation in this year’s 100th Indianapolis 500.

And he didn’t have a win to hang his hat on either when he arrived, following arguably his near-miss of his elusive first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory. In Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive for Autism at Dover, he came second again after getting beat by Matt Kenseth.

Instead, Larson was in Indy to support fellow Chip Ganassi Racing Teams driver Charlie Kimball as Kimball’s Indianapolis 500 car number will change to match Larson’s No. 42, with Tresiba support.

Larson’s runner-up result was a needed one for he and his No. 42 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet team. Larson’s best result this year had been third at Martinsville in April.

“There were a lot of people cheering for you in Indianapolis,” Kimball told Larson before Larson spoke to the room of assembled reporters.

“Man, it was fun yesterday. But I would have liked to be one spot better, and I’d be happier,” Larson replied.

Larson did admit that improvements have come to his No. 42 team lately even though the results haven’t particularly shown it.

“I definitely think we’ve made some big improvements over the last month or so,” he said. “We started out pretty poorly at the first couple mile-and-a-halfs. We made a small step.

“The last couple races we’ve made pretty big gains. We just have to keep working hard. The cars and sport changes so frequently, it’s hard to keep up with it. We have to keep up with the ever-changing garage area.

“I’m proud of everyone at the race shop. It’s starting to show in results.”

Team owner Ganassi echoed the sentiments, noting the team hasn’t “turned the corner” as he was asked but instead made the incremental steps that have made the difference.

“You know, things are so close in racing today you don’t have to be very far off on the stopwatch because it’s such a matter of tenths and hundredths,” Ganassi said.

“I wouldn’t characterize it as ‘turn the corner.’ We think we’re closer to the sweet spot right now.”

Larson may be on site at Indianapolis race morning to support Kimball and the rest of the Chip Ganassi Racing team, which has four cars entered in the Indianapolis 500 this year with Kimball joined by Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Max Chilton. It is yet to be decided whether he will or not.

“It’s cool to be here to support Charlie and Novo, and see him run the 42 car. This is a special event,” Larson said.

“Yeah, it’s gonna be fun to cheer him on as well as all the other CGR teammates. My cousin is a type-one diabetic. I believe he’ll be one of the 42 names on the car, so that’s special to myself and family. He’s had good runs here in the past. Hopefully, he ends a couple spots better than last year (Kimball finished third).”

Could Larson run the Indianapolis 500? It’s an age-old question that brought the same age-old answer.

“I wish I could be a part of it. Maybe talk Chip into sending me out for rookie orientation later,” Larson quipped.

“I’d love to do it someday. But you’ll have to ask the person sitting to my left; he’d make that call.”

Sioux Chief to sponsor ARCA Showdown, East Series to race at Nashville Fairgrounds

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ARCA announced Saturday that Sioux Chief Manufacturing will be the entitlement sponsor of its 10-race ARCA Menards Series Showdown in 2020.

Sioux Chief Manufacturing is a Missouri company that designs and manufactures rough plumbing products, parts, and accessories for residential, commercial, industrial and government applications

Sioux Chief has been involved in ARCA since 2015 as a race event sponsor and special awards program sponsor and sponsored ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge.

As part of the deal, a newly increased point fund, combined with race purses, owner plan, and contingency awards, will offer teams a chance to compete for a share of over $920,000 in posted awards throughout the series.

The Sioux Chief Showdown will bring together the best drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those events, held on oval tracks 1.25-miles in length and under and road courses, offer drivers who may not be able or eligible to run the full 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule the opportunity to run for a championship. Combined with the overall ARCA Menards Series championship, and the East and West championships, drivers will have four separate championships to compete for in 2020.

The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis. Also present was promoter Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, who announced that the ARCA Menards Series East would compete at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 2.

The Tennessean reported this week that the Nashville Fairgrounds was negotiating with Sargent to promote at least three races at the short track in 2020. Sargent’s involvement in the track comes after Nashville’s Fair Board voted to terminate its agreement with Formosa Productions to run the track over outstanding debt.

The ARCA Menards Series has competed at the Fairgrounds the last five seasons. The ARCA Menards Series East, formerly known as the K&N Pro Series East, competed there from 2007-08.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.

 

Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter