What drivers said after Southern 500

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Here is what drivers said after the 67th annual Bojangles’ Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Martin Truex Jr. – Winner: “This is just – this is unbelievable. So many people to thank obviously. I’ve always loved this race track. I’ve led a lot of laps here in my career. I feel like just something always happened and just so proud to get to victory lane with this group. The pit crew was flawless tonight. They won us the race. They took a lot of heat from last week with what happened. I’m glad he’s (Ryan Newman) not riding home with me – he’d be waiting a while. But just a big weekend for us to – we’ve had a terrible string of back luck. We’ve had super-fast race cars. Auto-Owners Insurance, this is their second race with us and one more with us this year and really excited for them. They went a little retro. I’ve got my zoot suit. This is something here that’s really special to us – I ran this wheel today and it’s real special to take that thing to victory lane. We do a lot with our foundation for ovarian and pediatric cancer. It’s awareness month for both of those diseases, so big day for us there, but just can’t say enough about this team and Barney Visser (team owner) and Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) – the engines have been unbelievable this year – and Bass Pro Shops and Furniture Row, Denver Mattress and everybody that’s made this possible. Cole Pearn (crew chief) and these guys are just amazing. I knew when the bad luck would stop coming we’d start racking them off and tonight we weren’t the best car for once and we actually won, so that was really cool and just couldn’t be more excited to win at Darlington, the Southern 500. I’ve been wanting to win this thing a long time and got to thank Sprint, the fans were great – tons of fans here today – and really excited. Glad they stuck around for a good finish and I don’t know – I could go on and on for hours I guess.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 2nd: “Our team in the garage did a great job. They brought the fastest race car to the track once again and we just didn’t do a good job on pit road and gave it away … We (re)started 12th and eighth and sixth and we had a great race car all night just got to thank everybody in the shop and in the garage for putting the race cars under us. We can’t just continuously shoot ourselves in the foot every few pit stops … It’s just the same old thing. You get in position where you bring a dominant car. The guys in the shop and the guys in the garage are doing a great job, and the guys on pit road are doing a terrible job. You get in a position to win races, and they continually step on their toes and don’t make it happen. You’re not going to win races like that. I’m really proud of the car that we brought tonight and the things that we’ve done on the race track, but you can only make so many excuses for pit road.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 3rd: “It was long. My spotter said we were halfway and I was like ‘are you kidding me we still have however many to go?’ But it was a good night. We had to fight pretty hard to get to the top four or five. Our pit stops weren’t great there in the beginning, but they rebounded and we had some good stops there at the end to maintain. The last probably five or six stops I thought were pretty good. We were able to get past Denny (Hamlin) and get to the lead and lead some laps. We had a really good car out front. In traffic, I was just too tight for a little while and as we went I would get too loose on exit, but I found some lines that worked for me and that helped, but a tough race. It is good to come back after the win last week and finish third. I’m really happy with everybody on this Target team for working so hard and digging deep there throughout the race to get us in position.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 4th: “Proud of the top-five run that we got going on, but definitely been a great a track for us. Just want more wins obviously, but we needed long runs really for that to try to materialize. Our car was very good when the track was rubbered up and really slick. Just didn’t go on restarts. Didn’t go on the short run and that was probably our Achilles’ heel tonight.”

Joey Logano – Finished 5th: “Yeah, it just doesn’t matter if it isn’t a win. At this point I guess momentum means something so I guess something matters. I disagree that I didn’t have anything for them. I did on the long run. We were the fastest car on the long run every time. We hit a lot of short runs at the end and that would kill us. I lost two or three spots every restart for the first five or six laps and then it would kick in and off I would go. I was fighting to get them back. We kind of hurt ourselves there with restarts tonight. We needed to go green from about 100 to go. We would have been good then.”

Kasey Kahne – Finished 7th: “Yeah, we had great pit stops. The guys did a really nice job the entire race, but really at the end it gave us some positions, which was great to get a top 10. We just had a nice car with the Liftmaster Chevrolet. We had a vibration that really hurt us a lot throughout the race and we had it again the final run. When we had that I was nowhere near as good as I was when I didn’t have it. I only didn’t have it like once or twice, but it seemed like that was a pretty big part of our night. But when we didn’t have it I felt like we had a pretty nice car. A couple of things we could work on to be better though.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 8th: “Yeah a good effort, but I mean guys have got to step it up in the pits. I mean we try hard, but trying hard ain’t good enough when you are losing three spots at a time.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 9th: “It was an up and down night for us out there tonight with the Miller Lite Fusion. We fought real hard but didn’t get the finish out of it that we wanted. We had to fight through a lot of adversity out there tonight. Darlington will do that to you. I am proud of my team for that. They never stop fighting.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 13th: “That’s a long race to begin with and we made it longer by having bad racing luck with that caution early in the race, which put us down two laps. Then I got into the wall in (Turns) 3 and 4 that caused a flat tire, then got together with the 47 (A.J. Allmendinger) and we were down two laps. At about the halfway part of the race there wasn’t much to feel positive about but the team kept working and battling and we ended up with a decent finish.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 17th: “Yeah, from that side of things it was a good points night for our Love’s Ford. At the end of the night it wasn’t a bad race for us. If we could have qualified and had a better spot maybe it would have been different. We worked hard on this thing all day and the team made good adjustments to get it rolling forward. It isn’t bad for our first Cup series race here in Darlington.” 

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 18th: “We got a lucky break there. I got to run up front a little bit but all in all we didn’t get our balance right all night. It was back and forth all night. It was a tough night for us with the Fastenal Ford. We couldn’t do anything to make it fast and ran the same speed all night. Some of those cars got us at the end. They made their cars better and we weren’t able to do that tonight.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 34th: “We had a tough night. You’ve got to be ready for battle on these restarts. Just not enough give. Too much take. For me, we had a tough night. We were trying to get the loose and tight worked out. He’s (No. 27 Paul Menard) just sideways. He just pushed too hard. That’s what happens when I didn’t give him enough room. He overdrove. I was right there on our limit. It’s the end of our night. It was just a tough night for all the hard work that goes into it. All these races come down to the restarts at the end. There’s no such thing as a long green flag run anymore. And you’ve got to be ready to battle on these restarts. The problem is that everybody’s got good give and take at early in the race, nobody has it at the end.”

Tony Stewart – Finished 35th: “Yeah, overheating was the first part of it, and it finally grenaded. It was 375 degrees on water temperature. There’s a screen in there that keeps all the trash from getting into the radiator and it got separated from its mount, so all the trash was getting underneath it and going up inside the radiator and it just kept blocking it until we finally lost the motor.”

Brian Scott – Finished 39th: “I was trying to let those guys go that had newer, fresher tires. I was trying to let Tony (Stewart) go there and I think he got inside of me and got loose there. I was pointing him to the inside to let him go. Apparently he got mad at me … I have a lot of respect for Tony. He has always raced me really clean. I am not sure what he thought was going on there. I am not sure if he thought I was trying to hold him up there, I wasn’t. I was trying to let him go. I even pointed him to the inside. Maybe he thought I was giving him the finger or something. I will talk with him. We will figure it out. It is a tough race. The Southern 500 is a tough race. Everybody is slipping and sliding a lot. It is getting to the point where people’s tempers are getting short.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 40th: “I really hate that that happened. Matt (Puccia, crew chief) made some great adjustments that got our AdvoCare Ford to handle great but we were in a tough position because we were down a cylinder. I’m proud of all of my guys’ effort this weekend. We’ll give it everything we can next weekend and go for the win to get into the Chase.”

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NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge to debut Monday

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Reigning Cup champion Kyle Busch, three-time Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin and NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. are among the headliners in the NASCAR America presents the NBC eSports Short Track Challenge.

The week-long event begins at 7 p.m. ET on Monday on NBCSN.

From Monday-Wednesday, six different drivers will compete in two timed races in Cup Series cars at an iconic track at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. The top two finishers from each night will advance to the championship race at the virtual Martinsville Speedway on NBCSN.

Monday night’s races will be at a virtual Rockingham Speedway

Tuesday night’s races will be at a virtual Lucas Oil Raceway in Indianapolis.

Wednesday night’s races will be at a virtual Myrtle Beach Speedway.

Thursday night’s championship race will be at a virtual Martinsville Speedway.

Here is the driver lineup for each night:

Monday at Rockingham Speedway: Kyle Busch, William Byron, Austin Dillon, Parker Kligerman, Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace.

Tuesday at Lucas Oil Raceway: Justin Allgaier, Christopher Bell, Chase Briscoe, Harrison Burton, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson.

Wednesday at Myrtle Beach Speedway: Landon Cassill, Matt DiBenedetto, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Timmy Hill, Ryan Preece and Myatt Snider.

“We’re proud to continue our successful collaboration with iRacing and NASCAR, which began last year, to produce the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge,” said Jeff Behnke, vice president, production, NASCAR on NBC and NBCSN. “Thanks to all the drivers from the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series for joining in what should be four consecutive nights of entertainment and fun for all the great race fans and viewers.”

“Of all of the events we’ve been putting together for real-world pros, the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge should be one of the most fun,” said Steve Myers, iRacing executive producer. “So many of the top drivers in NASCAR have honed their skills on both local short tracks and iRacing, and combining the two for a virtual week-long showdown should deliver plenty of excitement. We can’t wait to see who takes the checkered flag and bragging rights!”

This marks the latest collaboration between NBC Sports and iRacing, which began in 2019 when NBC Sports telecast the first-ever eNASCAR live event on television. NBC Sports and iRacing teamed up to present the 2019 eNASCAR PEAK Antifreeze iRacing Championship in a two-hour event live on NBCSN last October. Earlier this year, it was announced that six races of the 2020 eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series Playoffs will air live on NBCSN later this fall.

NBC Sports NASCAR commentators Rick Allen and Steve Letarte will call the action, including interviews with drivers during the races. Jeff Burton and Marty Snider will host the NBC eSports Short Track iRacing Challenge via Zoom.

April 2 in NASCAR history: Dale Jr. gets first Cup win in Texas

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One day late in matching his father’s own achievement 21 years earlier, Dale Earnhardt Jr. began etching his name in the history of the Cup Series on April 2, 2000 with his first career win.

The victory came at Texas Motor Speedway, the same track the third-generation driver earned his first Xfinity Series win at two years earlier.

Earnhardt led 106 of 334 laps and beat Jeff Burton to score the victory in just his 12th career start, four races sooner than his father’s first win in 1979. The victory also was the first for Dale Earnhardt Inc. in the Cup Series.

“I’ll tell you what, that was the hardest race I’ve ever drove,” Earnhardt told CBS in Victory Lane. “Had the flu all day long, all week long, felt pretty good. Once the race started, we had a good race car and I was pretty happy.”

Earnhardt’s victory was the last time a Cup Series driver earned their first career win at Texas Motor Speedway.

Also on this date:

1967: Driving for the Wood Brothers, Cale Yarborough led 301 of 334 laps at Atlanta to earn his second Cup win and his first on a speedway.

1978: Darrell Waltrip beat John Utsman (relief driver for Benny Parsons) by one lap to earn his first of a record 12 career Cup wins at Bristol Motor Speedway.

1989: Harry Gant ended a 90-race winless streak with a dominant win at Darlington. He led 171 of the last 180 laps to beat Davey Allison and Geoff Bodine. The race was plagued by a 19-lap caution at one point in order to correct a scoring error that gave Gant a one-lap lead on the field.

1995: Jeff Gordon earns his first of four consecutive wins in the Food City 500 at Bristol. It was his third win in the first six races of the season, as Gordon would go on to claim his first Cup Series championship.

Kevin Harvick, Tony Kanaan discuss IndyCar-NASCAR doubleheader

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Over a 22-year IndyCar career featuring its share of adversity, Tony Kanaan has learned to embrace trying to find the positives in a negative situation.

He believes NASCAR and IndyCar will find a tiny silver lining from the novel coronavirus pandemic. The series will race on the same day at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course in a July 4 doubleheader, which he believes sends a message of unity he’d like to see from the world during this dark period.

“It’s time to send that message (of unity),” Kanaan told “Happy Hours” hosts Kevin Harvick and Matt Yocum in a Wednesday afternoon interview on SiriusXM’s NASCAR Channel. “If we don’t come out of this situation as better people, globally, in every way, shape or form … it’s just being kind to people. Hopefully, we’ll be sending the right messages, doing radio shows together, doing live on Instagram together, doing races together.”

Click here to read the entire story on NBCSports.com’s MotorSportsTalk page.

How NASCAR and racing community are helping in COVID-19 fight

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Given the emphasis on safety in racing, NASCAR and several other motorsports entities are increasingly pivoting to focus on safety in other areas to help out during the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The biggest emphasis is on personal protective equipment for health care workers as well as things such as respirators for those infected with coronavirus.

According to a report by The Associated Press, here are what several groups across NASCAR and other motorsports series are doing:

* NASCAR’s Research and Technology Center in Concord, North Carolina has shifted from building parts and working on the Next Gen car to producing face shields.

According to the AP report, NASCAR has a team of eight engineers volunteering their time to keep five 3D printers operating nearly 18 hours per day to produce protective face shields for health care workers. The largest printer is capable of producing three shields every 2 ½ hours.

“That’s the one we try to keep running almost nonstop,” Eric Jacuzzi, senior director of NASCAR’s aerodynamics and vehicle performance, told the AP. “You are sitting around watching the news and you think, ‘We just put this big, beautiful new machine in, let’s see what we can do and use it for something good.’”

NASCAR is donating all shields it produces to health care facilities and workers. It is also working with North Carolina State University as consultants to help hospitals with their own 3D printers to produce personal protective equipment, according to the AP report.

* Ford is embarking this week on a project to build as many as 50,000 ventilators in the next 100 days, according to the AP. The company has also lent a team of engineers and is providing facilities and equipment to help 3M build respirators.

Todd Hoevener, Ford Director of Technology, Strategy and Planning, told SiriusXM NASCAR on the “Happy Hours” program Wednesday afternoon, “This week we are ramping up to be able to ship one million (face shields) by the end of the week.”

* Chevrolet’s parent company, General Motors, is working with Ventic Life Systems to produce more than 50,000 face masks daily, as well as is ramping up production to build 10,000 ventilators per month, according to the AP.

* Toyota is also producing face shields and working to manufacturer ventilators, as well, according to the AP.

* NASCAR Cup driver Brad Keselowski’s company, Keselowski Advanced Manufacturing, is using 3D printers and CNC machines to build face shields.

* Roush Fenway Racing has donated 1.5 cases of N95 masks to Lake Norman Regional Medical Center and donated shields and safety glasses elsewhere. The team told the AP it is producing aerosol boxes that “protect medical professionals as they treat COVID-19 patients.” In addition, parent company Roush Industries is working on developing other personal protective equipment.

* Hendrick Motorsports has redirected some of its manufacturing resources to produce face shields for healthcare workers. Other NASCAR teams that have donated masks or other supplies include Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and JR Motorsports.

* IMSA team CORE Autosport told the AP it has produced and sold several thousand face masks for health care professionals.

* Technique Inc., which produces chassis kits for NASCAR teams, has repurposed its Jackson, Michigan factory – just a few miles from Michigan International Speedway – and expects to increase production to 20,000 face shields by the end of this week, according to the AP.

* The largest team in NHRA drag racing, Don Schumacher Racing, is using its two 3D printers non-stop to build headbands that attach to face shields, the AP reported.

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