What drivers said after second race of Chase at New Hampshire

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Here’s what drivers had to say after the second race of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, Sunday’s Bad Boy Off Road 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:

Kevin Harvick – winner: “Man, that worked out really good. The car was pretty good on the restarts. Once we got clean air there at the end, it wound up being really good up front. I’m just really proud of our team. They did a great job. … (Not needing to worry about winning next week at Dover) it’s definitely going to be nice. One of our main goals this year was to not stretch ourselves out so bad. I feel like the performance of the car and the things that we’re doing are good enough to be competitive, and we just need to not make mistakes and go from there.”

Matt Kenseth – finished second: “We were pretty good today. These guys did a good job. … (As for Dover) you always want to win. I thought we had a top-two or three car today, but we didn’t win. They put me in position to do that, and I let them down there so I feel bad about that. We ran good last week, and we ran decent today too so we’ll just go to Dover and try to race them there.” 

Kyle Busch – finished third: “If it wasn’t for those last couple of cautions, I thought maybe we had an opportunity to chase those guys down under green and pass them for the win. It wasn’t meant to be. … We made the most of it at least at the end and didn’t lose spots. We were able to maintain our position and come out of here with a decent day. Excited about the opportunity to finish third and having a good points cushion. You can’t take any of that for granted. You have to focus on what’s ahead and the big picture and the task at hand, which is to have another good, solid week next week at Dover.”

Brad Keselowski – finished fourth: “It was just a really great finish to kind of just a so-so day. It takes a team effort to do that as well, and that’s part of this sport, and my guys did a great job. … We weren’t near as fast as we wanted to be, but great execution on pit road, great execution with the pit calls and then the last few restarts went our way with being in the right lane on the restarts, which is so, so important on these double-file restarts, but also just staying out of trouble. We’re not as fast as we want to be. We almost went a lap down at one point, but we kept our head down and got through it.”

Kurt Busch – finished fifth: “We had everything thrown at us, even the kitchen sink at one point. I feel like the way that this team and everybody felt like we needed to have a solid finish, but you just can’t ask for it. It felt like we were up against the odds, and then the car ran great. Really proud of the overnight adjustments and what we did better this time around than when we raced here last time was restarts.  I think that showed that Stewart-Haas Racing, we went to work on that. Kevin (Harvick) got the win today, real happy for him, and we got a great top five.”

Carl Edwards – finished sixth: “I’m really happy to be sixth. I’m frustrated obviously because I felt like we should have been better, but at the end of the day, there for a minute it looked really bad. There was one point when people were smoking in front of us, and I thought we were going to get caught up in a wreck in the back of the pack. I’m happy with the result. We just have to keep moving forward. This is a constant push to make it to the next round, and I didn’t quit, and I’m proud of that. … I feel pretty good about Dover. Anything can happen, but there’s no better race for us to be a cutoff race. That’s a good track for me and for this team.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished seventh: “Final restart was not good for us. Final two really weren’t. You know, we’d raced with Matt (Kenseth) so hard for the lead there for such a long time that I just kind of burned my tires up and then really had trouble getting going on those last two restarts, lost a few spots. It was unfortunate to have a car that good all day long and then come home seventh, but all in all, it was a fun day. We led a lot of laps, and the team did a great job all weekend, so it was another good weekend for us, and we’ll go on to Dover and see if we can’t finish the deal off there.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished eighth: “The second half of the race, there was one run we were off and lost some track position and had to rally back from that. Those quick cautions at the end, if you were on tires you were ‘Superman,’ if you weren’t on tires, you were getting run over. It was just a chaotic close to the race. I’m glad to finish in the top 10 with this Lowe’s Chevrolet, and we will go on to Dover.”

Kyle Larson – finished 10th: “(It was) better than where I have been here the last couple of years, so that is good. Just a solid, consistent day, we got off there halfway through the race and lost some track position. We were good on just short runs, then would be bad in the middle of the run and then I would be pretty decent again there at the end of the run. We took two tires there late and needed it to go green. I probably would have finished seventh or eighth. We had some cautions there and was just able to kind of hold on for 10th.”

Joey Logano – finished 11th: “I’m proud of the ‘never quit’ attitude. We’re resilient. We just need to start a little bit faster. We can’t lose that many spots at the beginning of the race and expect to battle back every time. We did what we had to do. We almost got a top 10 out of something that we ran around 20th all day, so at least we got something out of it. We just need to go faster than that.”

Jeremy Bullins, crew chief for Ryan Blaney – finished 12: “We learned some things with our last couple of adjustments that woke our car up and got us going a little bit. Ryan and the team kept digging all day, and to walk away with another good finish is something we can be proud of. We have a lot of positive things happening right now and need to take advantage of them the next eight weeks.”

Chase Elliott – finished 13th: “I had a good car, and the cautions didn’t fall our way. … (On Dover) I feel like it’s a upcoming race, and we need to do a better job.”

Mike Wheeler, crew chief for Denny Hamlin, finished 15th: “The race was a little more eventful than we were hoping for. Ended up having a pretty good car there toward the end about that last 100 laps or so. Unfortunately, we had a pit road penalty – two stops in the end that got us really far behind and just got kind of shuffled out of the mix on a couple restarts and finished about five to 10 spots worse than we should have but still alive. … (Now on to Dover) Hit the restart button and try again. Dover is a decent track for Denny. He hasn’t had a win there yet but has had some good runs, and hopefully we can have another good run there.”

Austin Dillon – finished 16th: “Truthfully, that was a heck of a fight, and we are only five points out going into Dover, and we struggled all week long. We fought hard. I never gave in, never gave up, our team never gave up. They did a heck of a pit stop there to put us in a (free pass) position, just to gain us some more points. A bunch of them guys are just right there. Now we go to Dover, and we’ve given ourselves a shot. We’ve just got to go run good there; got something new that we think is going to help us there. I’m looking forward to it. Just a whale of a fight by the guys.”

Danica Patrick – finished 18th: “We definitely didn’t need that final caution. We had a really strong run going before it came out, but it is what it is. My Nature’s Bakery team did a great job on pit road all day and helped make the car better as the race progressed.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished 24th: “We struggled this weekend. At times our Fastenal Ford handled great but we just lacked speed. It’s definitely not the performance we wanted but we will go back and look at everything and bring something different next year. We need to take the next eight races and build off them going into the off season.”

Chris Buescher – finished 30th: “We’re just trying to get speed out of all of our cars. It was a tough day. We tried really hard with our Love’s Fusion. We put a lot of effort into it and we’ll just keep digging and trying to get it better.  We just have to keep plugging along. … That’s pretty much our situation (must win at Dover).. Dover is a really good race track.  I like that place a lot. We had a good finish for us there earlier this season, so we’ll go there and see what we can do to get a win and try to move on to the second round of the Chase.”

Trevor Bayne – finished 38th: “I thought I had a tire go down. I don’t know what else it could have been. I hadn’t been loose into (Turn 3) all day, and all of a sudden, it just jumped out. We had some right-side damage on that run. I don’t know at this point. The right rear looks up, but it just got really loose in, and I backed it into the wall. It was a hard hit.”

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NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

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Photo: Dustin Long
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Pilot error played a key role in the August 2019 crash of a plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, a final report by the National Transportation Safety Board stated Wednesday.

Earnhardt, wife Amy and daughter Isla were on board the plane, which crashed after a hard landing at Elizabethton (Tennessee) Municipal Airport on Aug. 15, 2019. The report stated all three suffered minor injuries. 

The NTSB listed the probable causes of the accident as: “The pilot’s continuation of an unstabilized approach despite recognizing associated cues and the flight crew’s decision not to initiate a go-around before touchdown, which resulted in a bounced landing, a loss of airplane control, a landing gear collapse, and a runway excursion. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to deploy the speedbrakes during the initial touchdown, which may have prevented the runway excursion, and the pilot’s attempt to go around after deployment of the thrust reversers.”

A “go-around” occurs when a pilot pulls out of a landing and gains altitude to make another landing attempt.

The report stated that “the flight crew made several comments about the airplane flying too fast and allowed the airspeed to increase well above the reference speed for the approach.”

The report stated that “the pilot did not extend the speedbrakes upon touchdown, which landing checklist required, but instead attempted to deploy the thrust reversers immediately after touchdown, which was a later item on the landing checklist.”

Earnhardt’s Cessna 680A Citation Latitude bounced twice upon landing as it traversed the 5,001-foot runaway.

After the fourth touchdown, the right main landing gear collapsed. The plane went off the road and through a 400-foot long area of grass. It went down an embankment, through a creek and a chain-link fence. It continued up an embankment. The plane came to rest about 600 feet beyond the runway at the edge of a four-lane highway.

The passengers and two pilots escaped as the plane burned.

The full report can be read here.

Champion or not, Chase Briscoe won’t let Xfinity title define season

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Like the 11 drivers he’ll compete against in the Xfinity Series playoffs, a championship is the endgame for Chase Briscoe.

However, with the Stewart-Haas Racing driver one win from matching his preseason goal of at least eight victories, Briscoe wouldn’t be too disappointed if he failed to claim the title at the end of the seven-race playoff.

“I feel like to this point if we don’t get to eight (wins) … I feel like I accomplished or proved what I was trying to say at the beginning of the year,” Briscoe told NBC Sports on Tuesday. “There’s still no reason why we can’t get to 10 wins. I feel 100% confident in my team that we’re going to have the cars capable of doing it, I just need to do my job. If we do that, hopefully we can get to Phoenix and then (whoever’s) the best team once we get there wins.”

As he prepares to open the playoffs Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Briscoe is wary of not letting “the championship define you and define your season. … Winning races is a big deal. That’s what you get paid to do is go win races and obviously win championships as well, but today’s format anything can happen in that final race.”

Briscoe can attest to importance of winning races. He enters the playoff with a series-leading seven wins, which has helped him start the postseason with 2,050 points and ties him with Austin Cindric.

Briscoe’s impressive numbers come a year after he had just one win in a season where Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer combined to win 21 of 33 races.

Briscoe believes the perception of his abilities as a driver are “way different” from last year as he struggled to chase those three drivers now competing in Cup.

“Personally, I felt like I could win races, and I think a lot of it was learning,” Briscoe said. “Last year, there were still a lot of tracks I had never been to before and didn’t even have 100 pavement starts in my entire career, and now I have that experience. I have the confidence to go with it and all of those things are totally different, and when I said what I said at the beginning of the year (about winning eight races) I felt like I was capable of doing that.

“If I could back it up, it would look even better. … I think I’ve proven my worth in this sport. I feel like if I do get the opportunity to move up, I feel like I’m ready, but I also feel like I could get a lot of benefit out of coming back to the Xfinity Series and running again.”

Briscoe, a Ford development driver, says he still doesn’t know what’s in store for him in 2021.

He said the uncertainty of his future is a “little bit easier” to handle compared to last year because of the wins he’s racked up.

Regardless of not knowing his NASCAR fate, if Briscoe can “somehow get to 10 wins this year and win the championship, then that would just make it, I feel like, a lot easier for the decision-makers.”

Mike Wallace’s appeal of indefinite suspension denied

NASCAR suspends Mike Wallace
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Mike Wallace‘s indefinite suspension by NASCAR was upheld by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel on Wednesday.

Wallace, who has made three Xfinity Series starts this season, was suspended Sept. 10 for violating Sections 12.1; 12.8; 12.8.1.e of the rule book.

According to the rulebook, a violation of section 12.8.1.e is any “Public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.”

As part of the suspension, Wallace is required by NASCAR to attend sensitivity training.

The three-member appeals panel was made up of Dixon Johnston, Bill Lester and Kevin Whitaker.

Wallace has the right to appeal the decision to the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer.

Wallace wrote the following on Facebook shortly after his suspension was originally announced:

“You know as I fly across the United States today I’m ready various people’s political views and I have to say a famous four star Military General that I spent time with in the MidEast told me Mike let me give you some advice don’t ever get in a conversation about politics or religion unless you are really smart. I said why do you say that comment His response it’s like being balanced on a single edge razor blade if you slip you will get cut!

Think about that before we all make foolish uneducated post! Moral of this story is most of use just repeat what we have heard we really don’t know.
Have a great positive day!”

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.