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What drivers said after Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard

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From the race to the heat to the wrecks, drivers had a lot to say after Sunday’s Combat Wounded Coalition 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Here are some of their comments:

Kyle Busch – Winner: “No, I guess I didn’t. I hoped it would be like that and be that good. This Skittles Camry was awesome; I can’t thank everyone from Skittles enough and everyone from M&M’s and their 75th anniversary year this season with us. Of course, Interstate Batteries. This Toyota was awesome today; it was just so fast and able to get out front and stay out front. Not even some of my teammates could challenge. This thing was hooked up and on rails. I can’t say enough about Sprint and everything they’ve done for our sport. Of course the fans – thank everyone for being here and everyone watching on TV – you guys are awesome. We appreciate all of our partners at Joe Gibbs Racing. Adam Stevens (crew chief) and these guys are a phenomenal group, and I’m proud to be with them. It’s fun to come out here and have such a dominant piece at Indy. They don’t come along often, so I was just hoping I didn’t screw it up.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished 2nd: “It didn’t seem like it (if he had anything late in the race for teammate Kyle Busch). We never got in front of him all day, and the clean air is always really big here. It was a great day for our Dollar General Camry. We did not have a good Friday, did not have a good Saturday and pretty respectable Sunday. We were pretty competitive all day, just never got quite to the lead to see what we had.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 3rd: “It says a lot (rallying back to finish 3rd). We’ve been working really hard to get our cars where they need to be. We’re still not happy, but we’re getting closer. I’m very proud of the effort today. Unfortunately, a mistake on my part in that second segment, trying to get in the pits I got dinged for speeding and then rallied from like 24th back. So, I’m just very proud of this race team, and everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and I’m very proud to run this red car and represent all the men and women who work in Lowe’s stores all around the country. We got third, but I wish we would have gotten a win.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 4th: “(Our race) was great, our FedEx Camry was great it got through traffic well as you saw going back to 20th with that penalty and driving to the front. Proud of the effort by our whole FedEx Camry team. It’s disappointing to just get a top-five. We had aspirations to come here and win. Like I said, you have to be perfect in every part of the race team, especially on race day to win these races, especially track position races, and we just had one big mistake on pit road, and we at least came back and got a top-five.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 5th: “I don’t know that I was expecting much more than a top five, really. I didn’t know we’d have that speed in our car. And we were probably a fifth or seventh-place car. But I was able to get some good restarts there at the end. It was just a solid day for the whole Target team. The Energizer Chevy was good from the start, which helps. We qualified good for once, and it was just a solid weekend. It was a good one.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 6th: “Yeah, I thought I had a flat tire, and the car was just really tight.  I am kind of disappointed there at the end; I was in a pretty good spot and on the restart the pace car was consistently going way too slow.  It’s unfortunate they can’t correct small problems like that.  I just couldn’t get going and got the No. 78 (Martin Truex, Jr.) and the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) in front of us and wound up on the outside and then we were just treading water from there.  But, all-in-all everybody did a good job, we are definitely off a little bit.”

Joey Logano – Finished 7th: “It just was not good (his last restart) I had a decent restart the first time, and the second one I probably had just as good of a restart, but the 20 got underneath me and I was kind of stuck from that point and kind of fell into the clutches of the tires behind me. I was trying to stay down and be where I needed to be to get in front of them, but they just kept turning underneath me. I hate that we finished seventh, but it’s probably where we deserved to finish from a speed point of view. I thought our execution went very well today to give us an opportunity to win, but we couldn’t quite get it done when it mattered.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 8th: “They were wrecking all over the place on those restarts and that was costly for us. Our Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota was fast all day, but being caught in the outside lane for those restarts at the end really hurt our chances.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 9th: “Solid day.  We struggled getting track position. We had one of the fastest cars during the middle of the race. We really had to work hard to get up through there.  Restarts … we struggle man. I got to get going on those restarts.  I tried something on that last one, but it hurt me a little bit. I was able to get a bunch of it back and finish kind of where we were supposed to finish. I’m proud of my guys. We can keep working on this and see what we can do going forward. Good points day, too.”

Tony Stewart – Finished 11th: “When we got the checkered, we just didn’t want to come in quite yet. I wanted to run one more lap, and Jeff was around us. Before that last green run, I told my spotter to go get his spotter and said after this thing is over, we needed to go a lap around here together because it’s likely the last time we’ll get both a chance to do that. I couldn’t think of a better guy to share that with than Jeff … This has been the most relaxing Brickyard I’ve ever had and probably the most fun I’ve ever had in the Brickyard. It was nice to win those two races, but it was stressful to do it. We really enjoyed it, had a lot of fun from start to finish … (As for his finish) I really did the team wrong here.  I got a penalty on the last stop, and that is a green flag stop that turned into a yellow and got us a lap down.  But we fought and got our lap back. So, fought back and got something respectable out of this.  Didn’t leave anything out there.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 12th: “It wasn’t a bad day. This was definitely our best Indy performance across the board – qualifying, practices, the race. We still have a lot of work to do. We know where we need to work, we just have to make sure we get that and I think it will translate to all of the other racetracks we go to. The flatter race tracks we struggle at, so at Pocono next week we can hopefully get some ideas to help with turn two and turn three because that’s the biggest key for us is to get our car through the corner and off. I felt good with everybody on entry and through the center I just need to get a little bit better, but it was nice to come home with the Sunny D Ford in 12th.”

Jeff Gordon – Finished 13th: “Better than last year, it didn’t go very well and it was a fight, wow. The challenge to be out there against the best, especially on those restarts – I got my butt kicked on those restarts and it’s embarrassing – while I was filling in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and I hope he’s doing well, but I need a fill-in on restarts. … I’m going to need some practice on restarts for Pocono (next week’s race, where he’ll also fill in for Earnhardt). On one hand, I’m relieved that this is over. On the other hand, I would have liked it to go a little better. And a thank you to Tony Stewart, it meant a lot to me that he wanted me to make that last lap with him. … (Is Pocono his last race) “Whew!  It it’s this hot, I hope so!  My thing is that I can’t wait to talk to Dale Junior and debrief him on how today went and see how he’s doing. I want him in the car as soon as possible.  I’m too old to be doing this stuff. But to come here and do this race and finish a decent 13th, I think I can do better next week for him and then we’ll just go from there.

Chris Buescher – Finished 14th: “It was a good finish for us. We had a couple things finally go our way and stayed out of the wrecks in front of us. It is nice to have a little bit of luck and decent speed. We worked hard this weekend and got it close. It got better through the weekend and it is my first time in a Cup car here at Indy so we will definitely take that finish.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 17th: “It was a long, hard day. We just weren’t quite as fast as the Gibbs’ cars, but we were competitive.  I had a shot at it at the end when we came in and put tires on, but got caught up when the 19 spun out.  I thought we actually had a shot at winning it and kind of stealing one on tires, but when that wreck happened it took away any shot we had.  There was too much damage, but that’s just part of it.  There was nowhere to go, but that’s definitely not the result we wanted for sure.”

Kasey Kahne – Finished 18th: “We had pretty good restarts throughout the race, but just real tight and we never really could get it out of it except after the tires would wear out it would free up just off tires getting hotter.  We were just tight all day.”

Carl Edwards – Finished 35th: “It felt like I just got tight. Got down there, and whoever was on the outside of me. If indeed that’s what happened, I apologize. That’s pretty frustrating. I don’t know if I came down or they came up, but it felt like I got in there and scrubbed that right front. I was having a lot of trouble the first corner on the outside. I thought it would stick when went down there. It’s hard for everyone who got caught up in it. That’s tough.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 36th: “I didn’t really see much (his wreck). I unfortunately got back there, and I didn’t see who got together. I thought I was by it and then the 31 spun out and I didn’t have anywhere to go. I’ll have to rewatch it on replay, but it stinks. I thought we had a decent car. We kind of put ourselves in a hole and we were trying to fight back from that and this just made a bad day worse. We’ll just go to Pocono next week and try to get better.”

David Ragan – Finished 37th: “We just blew a left rear tire and slapped the wall. We were okay. We never just could get the track position. I felt like we had a top-25 car. We raced there in the mid-to-high 20s and just without a lot of cautions – a lot of opportunities to work on our race car – we were just kind of stuck. It’s really hard to pass here and felt like our Brandeis Toyota was okay. We could race around some decent cars, but just never could have the track position to really see what we could do. … Ran over something and cut a tire on the front straightaway. Tried to get it slowed down and just couldn’t slow it down quick enough.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 38th: “The No. 6 car (Trevor Bayne) was just kind of slow off Turn 4. I was trying to time it. He was just kind of in the way, so I just tried to time it a little bit and make the pass. I just nicked him as I went by with my right-front. Honestly, I didn’t think anything of it and evidently it poked a hole in the radiator when it did it. Barely had any damage to the car so I’m not sure why it got the radiator so bad, but lost water pressure and it blew up. … I think there are positives. I think we can get the back of our cars really good when we focus on that. Got to keep working on the front of the car. It would have been fun. I was finally having fun there working on the race car.”

Greg Biffle – Finished 39th: “We blew a right-front tire and went straight into the fence. We were either real loose or real tight, and we just couldn’t get the balance right. We’ve just got to get them to turn a little better. … I don’t know what happened.  The right-front went down at the end of the straightaway.  That’s the worst possible place, but unfortunately, it happened. We were a little bit tight on that run, and it’s just toast.” … (The heat) wasn’t that bad, really. I was doing pretty good.”

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Bubba Wallace to receive Stan Musial award for extraordinary character

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Following months of speaking out in support of racial justice and inclusion in NASCAR, Bubba Wallace‘s work has been recognized by The Musial Awards.

The Richard Petty Motorsports driver has been selected as the recipient of its Award for Extraordinary Character.

The award honors “an individual who demonstrates remarkable poise, perseverance and overall sportsmanship.”

The Musial Awards – presented by Maryville University in St. Louis – is named after Stan Musial, a former St. Louis Cardinal baseball player. St. Louis is also the home to one of Wallace’s sponsors, World Wide Technology.

More: Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

In the wake of the death of George Floyd in May, the 26-year-old Wallace has been active in helping lead NASCAR through social changes, including the banning of the Confederate flag at series events and tracks.

He also drove a Black Lives Matter car at Martinsville Speedway in June.

“Bubba Wallace exemplifies what the Stan Musial Award for Extraordinary Character is all about,” Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission, which produces the Musial Awards, said in a press release. “He has overcome much to be where he is, and he has courageously stepped forward to take an important stand for change. He is most deserving of an award that stands for sportsmanship and character, and is named for Stan Musial, whose own actions promoted racial acceptance and unity.”

Wallace joins baseball legend Hank Aaron as a 2020 Musial Awards honoree. Aaron is receiving the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship.

The Musial Awards will air nationally on CBS on Saturday, Dec. 26.

After three full-time seasons in Cup racing for RPM, it was announced earlier this week that Wallace would compete in 2021 for a Cup team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan.

Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

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The most anticipated NASCAR team in years started with a joke.

Denny Hamlin said he was only kidding about owning a Cup team with Michael Jordan after reports linked the two in such an endeavor.

“Looks like we’re owners together, ha, ha,” Hamlin told Jordan. “Congratulations. He said, ‘Fake news, but if you want to make it real news, let me know.’ ”

Suddenly a team that will have Jordan and Hamlin as partners, Bubba Wallace as driver and potentially a far-reaching impact on the sport and Black community was born. Jordan said it all happened within 10 days.

Jordan and Hamlin discussed exclusively with NBC Sports and Fox on Wednesday their vision for their new team. Jordan, a six-time NBA champion and Hamlin a three-time Daytona 500 winner both look to win and plan to stay around for a long time.

Details have yet to be announced about a car number, sponsors, and manufacturer, although the team is expected to run Toyotas and align with Joe Gibbs Racing. Jordan, who becomes the first Black majority car owner since Wendell Scott, said Wednesday that when the sport opens up the infield to more than drivers and teams, he’ll be at the track often.

Hamlin admits Jordan’s reaction to his joke stunned him. It was only last November when Jordan told Dale Earnhardt Jr. in an interview on NBC before the championship race that he didn’t plan to be an owner.

“I’ve got a lot on my plate,” Jordan told Earnhardt then. “I love being a fan. I still understand the sport, but in terms of ownership, nah, I think I’m just going to sit back and watch it and support from afar.”

Jordan told NBC Sports on Wednesday that the timing was right when Hamlin joked with him.

“It was one of those things, again, it’s always been on my mind,” Jordan said of NASCAR team ownership. “I go with my gut feeling. When the time is right you know it. When this was presented to me, I felt good about it. When Bubba was involved in the whole conversation I felt good about it.

“My biggest conversation to Denny was, ‘Look, I don’t want to get in there just to go around the races and just go around and around and around and finish up 18th, 19th, 20th, 30th. I want to win. I want to be put in a position for the best chance for us to win. That’s my competitive nature. That’s always been who I am.

“When we got into this dialogue and I saw that OK, I might have a chance if we can put together the right situation to possibly win. That became more intriguing. That was my mindset going into this.

“I remember the conversation with Dale Earnhardt (last November). In essence, I love the sport. I was looking for an entry opportunity. This was the opportunity that was just presented to me in just the last 10 days.”

Hamlin said the competitive nature he and Jordan both have will ensure that “we will not do this team halfway. It will be a top-tier team sooner than later.” Hamlin said he will continue to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing while owning the team with Jordan.

“I have very good faith that Bubba is going to have everything that he needs to be capable of winning, and I think he’s got the talent to do it,” Hamlin said. “But still there would be growing pains here and there just like any team would have.”

Brad Daugherty, the only Black co-owner of a Cup team before Jordan’s entry, is looking forward to what Jordan’s team will do.

“I think it’s a pretty dynamic trio with Michael, Denny and Bubba,” said Daugherty, co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing and teammate to Jordan on the University of North Carolina basketball team. “They’re going to be like rock stars.”

Part of the timing being right was the social change NASCAR has gone through this year. Drivers put together a video in a show of support for the Black community in June. NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its tracks and races soon after. Drivers rallied around Wallace in June at Talladega it was thought he was a victim of a hate crime.

Jordan said one of his main goals is to create more opportunities for Black people in racing.

“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s absolutely huge. To me, you’re basically diving into a situation where very few Black people have been present into the NASCAR arena. In essence, you’re going in with the opportunity to expand that and to give a different lens to NASCAR as a whole. For so long, it’s been viewed from a negative aspect with the Confederate flag and all these other things that occurred.

“Now you go in with NASCAR making an effort to change the perspective and try to attract and connect to the next generation without losing something for today’s authenticity of the sport presented an opportunity for me to get involved in this whole process and know that I am spearheading a thought process of Blacks getting involved in NASCAR when in essence very few have since 1960s (when Wendell Scott competed and owned his own cars).”

Although Jordan unquestionably is the biggest celebrity to enter NASCAR, the sport’s history is littered with former athletes and celebrities who have come and gone as co-owners in teams.

Jordan said he plans to be in the sport for a long time.

“I’m not doing this to try to look at the financials,” Jordan said. “The financials are part of the process, but my passion drives me more than the financials. If I invest or not invest, I was still going to call Denny each and every Sunday and ask him what the hell is he doing, is he going to win today, what is he going to do, what happened?

“I’ve been a fan for so long, so I’m always going to be that. With making money or losing money, I’m going to be a fan to NASCAR. This is authenticity in the making for me in that I’m involved in something that I truly, truly love and I wake up each and every weekend looking forward to each and every race.”

Jordan’s interest goes to his childhood when his father used to take his family to the race.

“He was a big car person,” Jordan said of his father. “He used to work on engines for years. He became a big stock-car fan and he bredded us to do the same. Went to Darlington, Rockingham, Charlotte, Talladega. (Long-time NASCAR car owner) Hoss Ellington used to be from Wilmington and he used to work on cars with Hoss Ellington way back in the day. I’ve been involved in car racing for a long period of time as a fan.”

Jordan’s entrance has created an excitement in the sport for what he can potentially deliver in terms of a wider audience and potential connections with different companies. But there’s only so much one person can do to help elevate the sport. It is a more complicated puzzle.

“I’m a fan of the sport first,” Jordan said. “I love sports. I love, love NASCAR. I don’t go into with the idea and concept that I’m trying to change and shape NASCAR. I go in with my passion. I hope that whoever knows Michael Jordan or whoever supports Michael Jordan, whoever supports NASCAR see this as an opportunity to enjoy the sport.

“If we can introduce it to the next generation, to at least gauge an interest, that’s a beginning there. How that translates economically, I have no understanding of that. Those are things that I’m not in control of. All I can do is show the passion for the sport and hopefully people can understand that passion and adapt to that.

“The business aspect is the business aspect. … I go in because I love sports and then I get all these different other conversations, all these other people calling, saying, ‘hey, look, that’s pretty interesting, I would love to be involved.’ To me, that’s change. That’s how this is going to work. It may not work from a perspective of what people may expect.

“I don’t know what the agendas may be or what the barometer may be, but at the end of the day, I love that I got involved in NASCAR and if people appreciate that and want to be a part of that, great. If not, it’s not going to change my involvement. I just want to continually win.”

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Las Vegas Truck lineup

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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Brett Moffitt will lead the Las Vegas Truck lineup to the green flag in Friday night’s payoff race.

Moffitt is coming off his runner-up finish to Sam Mayer in last week’s Truck playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Tyler Ankrum will start second in Friday night’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He’ll be followed by Grant Enfinger, Sheldon Creed and Chandler Smith. Austin Hill starts 11th, last among the playoff drivers.

Click here for Truck starting lineup

The Las Vegas Truck lineup is set by using a formula based on four statistical categories: owner points position, owner final race position, the finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.

Performance Metrics Qualifying is a total number based on the previous race. The formula is 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the owner points position. Any ties will be broken by the rule book.

 

NASCAR Truck Series at Las Vegas 

Race time: 9 p.m. ET, Friday

Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Las Vegas, Nevada (1.5-mile speedway)

Length: 134 laps (201 miles)

Stages: Stage 1 ends Lap 30. Stage 2 ends Lap 60.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Motor Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); mrn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Lineup: Click here for Truck starting lineup

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Las Vegas (200 laps, 300 miles), 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Cup race: Sunday at Las Vegas (267 laps, 400.5 miles), 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Las Vegas Xfinity lineup

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Chase Briscoe will lead the Las Vegas Xfinity lineup to the green flag as the series begins its playoffs Saturday night.

Briscoe enters the playoffs after his seventh win of the season last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has seven victories so far, two more than Austin Cindric who will start second Saturday night.

Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races, starts third. He’s followed by Ross Chastain and Harrison Burton. Michael Annett starts 13th, last among the playoff drivers.

Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

The opening round of the Xfinity playoffs goes to Talladega after Las Vegas and ends with the Charlotte Roval. The playoff field will be cut to eight drivers at Charlotte.

The Las Vegas Xfinity lineup is set by using a formula based on four statistical categories: owner points position, owner final race position, the finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.

Performance Metrics Qualifying is a total number based on the previous race. The formula is 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the owner points position. Any ties will be broken by the rule book.

NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas 

Race time: 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday

Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Las Vegas, Nevada (1.5-mile speedway)

Length: 200 laps (300 miles)

Stages: Stage 1 ends Lap 45. Stage 2 ends Lap 90.

TV coverage: NBCSN

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: NBC Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Lineup: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

Next Truck race: Friday at Las Vegas (134 laps, 201 miles), 9 p.m. ET on FS1

Next Cup race: Sunday at Las Vegas (267 laps, 400.5 miles), 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN