(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Rico Abreu kisses the wall, then chance at first win goodbye

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FORT WORTH, TEXAS — Rico Abreu hopped down from his No. 98 Toyota and was immediately met by two crew members.

As William Byron conducted his second victory burnout of the year on the Texas Motor Speedway front stretch, they helped the 4-foot-4 Abreu remove his helmet and safety equipment and told him there was no reason to be mad.

Minutes before, Abreu had gone from running second with three laps to go in the Rattlesnake 400 to finishing ninth, his best result in nine Camping World Truck Series starts.

As Byron drove his No. 9 truck past where Abreu stood on pit road, on the way to victory lane, one crew member told the Abreu he had just experienced some of the most fun he’d ever had.

When Byron passed Matt Crafton with five laps to go, Abreu soon followed. The native of St. Helena, California, spent the next two laps driving like he had for most of the race and his whole career – staying as close to the Texas Motor Speedway wall as possible.

“When it gets hot and slick like that, your tires get wore out; I just felt so comfortable up there,” Abreu said of the area of the track and style of racing he mastered while rising through the ranks on dirt tracks.

The driver Abreu was chasing down had the same strategy. However, Byron, who won his first race at Kansas Speedway last month, “wasn’t paying attention much” to Abreu as he bore down on him.

“I was still running the top, because that’s what I was running (all night),” Byron said. “Then they said ‘two back’ and I was like ‘Man, we’ve got to figure something out here, so I got to make sure I hit both corners right.'”

Byron did that, taking away Abreu’s racing line, which Byron called the “name of the game” Friday night.

“A couple of guys took my line away and got me into the wall a bit, but you just can’t give up on it,” Byron said. “That outside gives you such huge momentum down the frontstretch.”

Abreu took the momentum he had and reached Byron’s bumper as they came down to two laps to go. But as they entered Turn 1, Abreu’s favorite place on the track became very uncomfortable.

“I figured I maybe could have cleared him off of (Turn) 4, maybe coming to the white,” Abreu said. “But I just got too tight behind him and got into the wall. Can’t have that stuff happening.”

Abreu kept his speed up enough that teammate Matt Crafton, who was running in third, believed Abreu would have “definitely” finished second.

But those chances ended after the white flag when Abreu once again impacted the wall in Turn 2. This time, he didn’t leave the wall until he was on the backstretch.

“That shows how much heart he had that he wanted to win the race,” said Crafton, who led a race-high 133 laps. “He likes that high, wide and handsome stuff and it bit him right there.”

The loss didn’t shake the confidence of Abreu, who started the night in 13th. But he felt bad for the crew members that met him after the best night of his short Truck career.

“They built a great truck this weekend and I just smashed it all,” Abreu said. “I got speed, I just got to put a whole damn night together. I haven’t figured that part out yet.”

2020 Cup, Xfinity and Truck Series schedules

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We’re less than a month away from the start of the 2020 NASCAR season.

While the Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb. 16, the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season begins in 25 days at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 14.

The schedules for all three national series have big changes in 2020.

Here are some of the changes, including:

  • Miami moves from the end of the season to March 22 for the Cup Series
  • The first Cup race under the lights at Martinsville Speedway (May 9)
  • The first weekend doubleheader for Cup, which occurs at Pocono (June 27-28)
  • The Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis will be held July 5. On July 4, the Xfinity Series race will be held on IMS’ road course.
  • Daytona International Speedway’s summer race shifts to August 29 and will be the final Cup race of the regular season.
  • The Xfinity Series returns to Martinsville Speedway for the first time since 2006 on Oct. 31.
  • The Truck Series returns to Richmond Raceway for the first time since 2005 on April 18.
  • Darlington Raceway hosts the opening race of the Cup playoffs on September 6.

And there’ll be a new site for the championship races for all three series — Phoenix Raceway from Nov. 6-8.

NBC will air Cup races at Indianapolis (July 5), Daytona (Aug. 29), Talladega (Oct. 4), Charlotte Roval (Oct. 11), Kansas (Oct. 18), Martinsville (Nov. 1) and Phoenix (Nov. 8).

Here’s how the schedules for all three series look for 2020:

2020 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Sun., Feb. 9 Daytona 500 Qualifying FOX 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Feb. 9 Busch Clash at Daytona FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thurs., Feb. 13 Gander RV Duel at Daytona FS1 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Feb. 16 Daytona 500 FOX 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Feb. 23 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 1 Auto Club Speedway FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 8 Phoenix Raceway FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 15 Atlanta Motor Speedway FOX 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 22 Homestead-Miami Speedway FOX 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Mar. 29 Texas Motor Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Apr. 5 Bristol Motor Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Apr. 19 Richmond Raceway FOX 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Apr. 26 Talladega Superspeedway FOX 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., May 3 Dover International Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 9 Martinsville Speedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 16 All-Star Open FS1 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 16 All-Star Race FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., May 24 Charlotte Motor Speedway FOX 6:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., May 31 Kansas Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 7 Michigan International Speedway FS1 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 14 Sonoma Raceway FS1 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 21 Chicagoland Speedway NBCSN 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 27 Pocono Raceway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 28 Pocono Raceway NBCSN 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jul. 5 Indianapolis Motor Speedway NBC 3:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Sat., Jul. 11 Kentucky Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jul. 19 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Aug. 9 Michigan International Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Aug. 16 Watkins Glen International NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Aug. 23 Dover International Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 29 Daytona International Speedway NBC 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Sept. 6 Darlington Raceway NBCSN 6:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Sept. 12 Richmond Raceway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Sept. 19 Bristol Motor Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Sept. 27 Las Vegas Motor Speedway NBCSN 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Oct. 4 Talladega Superspeedway NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Oct. 11 Charlotte Motor Speedway NBC 2:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Oct. 18 Kansas Speedway NBC 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Oct. 25 Texas Motor Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Nov. 1 Martinsville Speedway NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Nov. 8 Phoenix Raceway NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

 

2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Sat., Feb. 15 Daytona International Speedway FS1 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Feb. 22 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FS1 4:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Feb. 29 Auto Club Speedway FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 7 Phoenix Raceway FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 14 Atlanta Motor Speedway FS1 4:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 21 Homestead-Miami Speedway FS1 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 28 Texas Motor Speedway FS1 1:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Apr. 4 Bristol Motor Speedway FS1 1:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Apr. 25 Talladega Superspeedway FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 2 Dover International Speedway FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 23 Charlotte Motor Speedway FS1 1:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 30 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 6 Michigan International Speedway FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 13 Iowa Speedway FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 20 Chicagoland Speedway NBCSN 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Jun. 28 Pocono Raceway NBCSN 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jul. 4 Indianapolis Motor Speedway NBC 1:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Fri., Jul. 10 Kentucky Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jul. 18 New Hampshire Motor Speedway NBCSN 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 1 Iowa Speedway CNBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 8 Road America CNBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 15 Watkins Glen International NBCSN 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 22 Dover International Speedway NBCSN 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Aug. 28 Daytona International Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Sept. 5 Darlington Raceway NBC 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Sept. 11 Richmond Raceway NBCSN 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Sept. 18 Bristol Motor Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Sept. 26 Las Vegas Motor Speedway NBCSN 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 10 Charlotte Motor Speedway NBC 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 17 Kansas Speedway NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 24 Texas Motor Speedway NBC 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 31 Martinsville Speedway NBCSN 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Nov. 7 Phoenix Raceway NBCSN 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Tim Radio
Fri., Feb. 14 Daytona International Speedway FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Feb. 21 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Mar. 14 Atlanta Motor Speedway FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Mar. 20 Homestead-Miami Speedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Mar. 27 Texas Motor Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Apr. 18 Richmond Raceway FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., May 1 Dover International Speedway FS1 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., May 15 Charlotte Motor Speedway FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., May 30 Kansas Speedway FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Jun. 5 Texas Motor Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Jun. 12 Iowa Speedway FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Jun. 19 Chicagoland Speedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Jun. 27 Pocono Raceway FS1 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thurs., Jul. 9 Kentucky Speedway FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thurs., Jul. 30 Eldora Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Aug. 8 Michigan International Speedway FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Aug. 21 World Wide Technology Raceway

at Gateway

FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sun., Sept. 6 Canadian Tire Motorsport Park FS1 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thurs., Sept. 17 Bristol Motor Speedway FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Sept. 25 Las Vegas Motor Speedway FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sat., Oct. 3 Talladega Superspeedway FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Oct. 30 Martinsville Speedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Fri., Nov. 6 Phoenix Raceway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

 

Kyle Larson scores first Chili Bowl Nationals victory

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Kyle Larson passed Christopher Bell with 17 laps left and went on to win his first Chili Bowl Nationals crown Saturday night.

Bell, vying for a record-tying fourth consecutive win in the country’s premier midget race, finished second in the 24-car field at the River Spirit Expo Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Cannon McIntosh, 17 years old, finished third. NASCAR Xfinity driver Justin Allgaier placed 21st. 

A year ago, Larson lost this race on the last lap to Bell. Larson had a large enough lead late in Saturday night’s race that Bell wasn’t close enough to make a move.

“Its a pretty different range of emotions 365 days later,” Larson said on the MavTV broadcast. “I feel like I’m going to pass out.

“I’m sorry NASCAR, I’m sorry Daytona, but this is the biggest (expletive) race I’ve ever won. I hope to win Daytona in a few weeks but this is bad ass.”

Here’s how other NASCAR competitors did in the various races Saturday that led to the A main that Larson won:

Dillon Welch, Alex Bowman and J.J. Yeley each failed to advance from the B2 Main.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. failed to advance from the C1 Main.

Ryan Newman failed to advance from the D1 Main.

Chase Briscoe failed to advance from the B1 Main

 

Parker Kligerman will not return to No. 96 Cup car

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Parker Kligerman said Friday that he will not drive the No. 96 Cup car for Gaunt Brothers Racing this season.

Kligerman ran 14 races for the team last year, finishing a season-high 15th in the Daytona 500 and also in the fall Talladega playoff race. Kligerman ran four races with the team in 2018, placing a season-best 23rd at Sonoma.

“It was a super cool opportunity,” Kligerman told NBC Sports of driving for Gaunt Brothers Racing. “I didn’t think I was going to get a second shot at Cup. Then I had that opportunity at the Coke 600 (in 2018 with the team) and last year we did way more races than I ever thought we would do and got to be a part of the Toyota family.

“I felt like we really, as race team, improved and improved and improved and got to where our last race at Texas was one of our best races of the year. We were just solid, speed-wise and execution and all that stuff. It was cool to see that and be a part of that. That’s why I did that. I felt like we were building something.

“(Owner Marty Gaunt) has been great to me, super open to the process in the offseason. In my position, being a driver that doesn’t have any personal funding, you always know, especially being a part-time driver, you’re on borrowed time. I’m very happy for them. I wish them all the best.”

Kligerman said he does not have any rides for 2020 in any of NASCAR national series. Kligerman is a NASCAR on NBC broadcaster and co-host of the show “Proving Grounds” on NBCSN.

The team has not announced its plans for the 2020 season. Daniel Suarez, linked to the team, has not announced his plans for this year after losing his ride at Stewart-Haas Racing after last season.   

Gaunt Brothers Racing debuted in 2017, running one race with D.J. Kennington. The team ran 22 races the following year between Kligerman, Kennington, Jeffrey Earnhardt and Jesse Little. The team ran 15 races last year with Drew Herring running once along with Kligerman’s 14 starts.

Kaulig Racing announces crew chiefs for full-time Xfinity teams

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Kaulig Racing
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Kaulig Racing announced Friday the crew chief lineup for its two full-time Xfinity Series teams this year.

Bruce Schlicker, a former race engineer for Stewart-Haas Racing, will lead Ross Chastain and the No. 10 team.

Alex Yontz returns as crew chief on Justin Haley‘s No. 11 Chevrolet. Yontz led Haley’s team in 14 races last year following the death of Nick Harrison in July.

More: Kaulig Racing to attempt to make Daytona 500 with Justin Haley

Schlicker was a race engineer at Richard Childress Racing from 2012-2016 before joining Stewart-Haas Racing.

“I’m excited for the opportunity at Kaulig Racing,” Schlicker said in a press release. “It’s a great team with great resources and even better drivers. We’ve got some great support from Nutrien Ag Solutions, who will be on the No. 10 car for the majority of the races in 2020. I’m looking forward to running a full season in the Xfinity Series with Ross Chastain, winning races and chasing after the championship.”

Yontz served as a crew chief for Kaulig Racing in 24 races in 2019, also working with Austin Dillon, Elliott Sadler, A.J. Allmendinger and Chastain in addition to Haley. He was on the pit box when Chastain earned Kaulig Racing’s first NASCAR victory in the July race at Daytona.

“I’m excited to be back with Justin Haley this season full time,” Yontz said in the press release. “We have a few races under our belts together from the end of last season, and we built a really good relationship. I’m looking forward to winning races with him in 2020.”