What drivers had to say after Can-Am Duel No. 2, won by Denny Hamlin

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Denny Hamlin rebounded from a pit penalty to win the Cam-Am Duel No. 2 at Daytona International Speedway. It’s Hamlin’s third win in the qualifying race for the Daytona 500.

Here’s what drivers had to say after the 60-lap event.

Denny Hamlin, winner – “We definitely had a strong car but so much of that race was single file and so it was really tough to show what we could do in the pack once we got two and three wide, but it looked like our car could make some really good moves and got a great push from the 3 (Austin Dillon) there at the end. It looked like our cars worked really, really well together there so we’ll keep that in mind when I need somebody to draft with in the 500. Great job by the team. The car was great. Had a little penalty there but definitely felt confident we could come back from it and we did.”

Clint Bowyer, finished second – “Damn, this is fun again. Man, what a rocket ship. Hats off to all these guys that put all this hard work into these cars for Ford. This is going to be a great year. This is fun. (Crew chief) Mike (Bugarewicz) and all the guys on the 14 car, it is just – it has been a long time coming. It is fun to get out here on one of my favorite race tracks and run up front. I want to thank everybody.”

Kurt Busch, finished third – “I’m satisfied with it. We had a good run and it’s not on the wrecker. I just didn’t execute like I needed to. Me and and (Clint) Bowyer were like two brothers walking down the hallway looking at each and going in different directions. We just didn’t have a clean exchange. It wasn’t anyone’s fault, we just didn’t have a good exchange. I wasn’t able to execute to get to him back bumper and get to Denny (Hamlin) at the end.”

AJ Allmendinger, finished fourth –  “I lost the draft early on. When we go to the bottom we kind of struggle on the bottom there and need a little bit of help. We keep it wound up on the top. The car is pretty good. The last 10 laps I just hung to the top and kept hoping the line was going to move. The seas parted going into (Turn) 3. I thought ‘heck maybe I can get to the top two here’. And then about off of Turn 4 I thought ‘oh crap we are crashing this race car now.’ Overall I think it was the first time in awhile that we get to take the Kroger Click List Chevy primary car to the Daytona 500. We have had to take the back-up the last couple of years, so good night.”

Austin Dillon, finished fifth – “I felt like I put myself in a good position. I just… down the backstretch didn’t move quick enough, obviously, and put us to fifth. Good race anyways, I just feel like I needed to move faster to the right. I know the momentum is in the top lane and I didn’t get there.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished sixth  – “They just had a good run at the end. I was doing what I could to keep the lead, but once they got clear of that inside lane they built so much momentum real fast right there at the end of that back straightaway, and had such a big run. If it was the Daytona 500, same thing. There ain’t much you can do about that. It’s not really defendable. So, it’s a good job by Denny and those guys putting it all together at the end.”

Danica Patrick, finished seventh – “It was nice to tell Edsel Ford that the Ford was really good. I told him I’ve had my best finishes in stock car racing in Fords. It’s been a good start. The car is in one piece. I feel like the car is more stable in traffic than it has been in years. I feel like the power is good. I feel like we have a really good shot on Sunday. The cars is in good shape and running well.”

Ryan Newman, finished eighth – “Well we kept the Caterpillar Chevrolet in one piece, which was a challenge a couple of times there.  Just realized more so what we need to work on without any practice and know that we have a little better car than what we finished, but we don’t have a good enough car to win right now.  So, we’ve got some time to go to work.”

Kyle Larson, finished ninth – “I felt like my car works better in the bottom lane. I thought there, both Jamie, especially Jamie and myself, I thought we had more speed than we normally have at superspeedways. I was happy about that and looking forward to Sunday.”

Ty Dillon, finished 10th – “I’m still learning. As a rookie, this is only my third time doing it, but I’m getting more and more comfortable every time. I felt like this time I was actually able to relax and focus on learning and getting better drafting. It was a decent finish. Still made some mistakes, too many mistakes, but I’m getting better at it.”

David Ragan, finished 11th – “I was trying not to push the 21 too aggressive because Jimmie was side-drafting him pretty hard. When you’re pushing someone in front of you, it’s hard to push straight and when someone is side-drafting that hard, I was trying to lay off the 21 as much as I could and I think Jimmie just was tight and I just barely caught him in the right-rear quarter-panel and right-rear bumper cover and got him a little loose. It’s just part of racing hard. He was being a little risky side-drafting that hard and I was being a little risky pushing the 21, but you’ve got to race like that. If you don’t race aggressive in the top five or six, they shuffle you out pretty quick. It was fun to race up there with those guys.

Kasey Kahne, finished 14th – “I had a really strong car. I was really happy with it and everything out there. Kevin Hamlin (spotter) did a great job spotting. It was good. Denny (Hamlin) had so much speed he was just pushing on my bumper and he could just choose left or right. So, I kind of covered left and he went right and that put me behind and I was trying to work back up there and lost again towards the end.”

DJ Kennington, finished 15th – “I’m an old man now. Years and years of racing and trying and doing all these things is nothing but good things for my career. There are so many people that have helped me get here. That’s who I want to thank the most is anybody that’s ever pitched in and helped. Thank you. This is huge. This is huge for Canada. It’s huge for all my team and all my friends and my family. It’s just an unbelievable feeling.”

Ryan Blaney, finished 20th – “I thought it was going really good. I thought we were real fast. Our car was really, really fast. It showed a lot of speed and I was really happy with that. We were able to get good pushes and shove us towards the front. We kind of got back in the pack and were able to recover, which was really encouraging that we could be aggressive. We handled really good, so it’s not often you’ve got speed and handle well, so we’ll see how that goes on Sunday when it’s hot. Hopefully, we’ll be able to fix this.”

Short-track ace Sam Ard shares Xfinity record with Noah Gragson

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Former two-time Xfinity Series champion Sam Ard’s name returned to the forefront in the past week as Noah Gragson tied Ard’s series record for consecutive victories at four.

Although Ard has been nominated for the NASCAR Hall of Fame, his exploits generally aren’t well-known among many who follow the modern sport of stock car racing. He was on the Hall voting list for the 2023 class but was not elected.

In the 1970s and ’80s, Ard was a short-track master in the vein of stars like Jack Ingram, Harry Gant and Butch Lindley, drivers who could show up at virtually any half-mile track across the country and take home the trophy.

He won the NASCAR Late Model (now the Xfinity Series) championship in 1983 and 1984, scoring 18 wins across those two seasons. He put together four victories in a row late in the 1983 season, winning at South Boston, Virginia; Martinsville, Virginia; Rougemont, North Carolina and Charlotte.

Ard was so dominant in 1984 that he had wrapped up the seasonal championship with two races remaining. In 28 series starts that year, he had 24 top-five finishes and 26 top-10 runs. He won eight times.

In the next-to-last race of the 1984 season, at North Carolina Speedway in Rockingham, Ard suffered critical head injuries when his car slid in fluid from another vehicle and hit the track’s outside wall.

That crash effectively ended Ard’s career and impacted the rest of his life. Ard often talked of learning to walk again as part of his recovery. He said he would use a walker in a pile of sawdust in his backyard so that the landing would be softer when he fell.

Ard eventually was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. In 2006, responding to Ard’s financial problems, drivers Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr., among others, launched a drive to raise funds for his family.

Ard, a native of Scranton, S.C., died in April 2017. He was 78.

 

 

 

 

 

Drivers to watch in Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway

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The NASCAR Cup Series playoffs will reach a critical point Sunday in a 500-mile chase at treacherous Talladega Superspeedway.

The overriding factor in any race at Talladega, NASCAR’s biggest track, is the unknown. With cars running so fast and so close together, multi-car accidents are not only possible but expected, and it’s easy to become the innocent victim of someone else’s mistake.

MORE: NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

The tension is doubled for the 12 playoff drivers. A bad finish at Talladega could open the door for a probable playoff exit at the end of the round Oct. 9 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

The playoffs to date have seen four wins by non-playoff drivers, an unprecedented result. Tyler Reddick was the most recent to join that list with a win last Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

A look at drivers to watch at Talladega:

FRONTRUNNERS

Denny Hamlin

  • Points position: 6th
  • Last three races: 10th at Texas, 9th at Bristol, 2nd at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 2 career wins

Although he hasn’t won, Hamlin has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. In the past six races at Talladega, he has four finishes of seventh or better. Now if he can just keep people from running into him…

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Last three races: 7th at Texas, 3rd at Bristol, 6th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is a second

Byron stands alone as the only playoff driver who has been able to avoid major crashes and trouble in the pits, and he has finished in the top 10 in all four playoff races. After Tuesday’s penalty for his incident with Denny Hamlin at Texas, he sits below the cutline entering Sunday’s race.

Brad Keselowski

  • Points position: 24th
  • Last three races: 8th at Texas, 13th at Bristol, 25th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 6 wins, the active leader

Even in trying times, Keselowski is a threat at Talladega, where he last won in April 2021 (his last Cup victory). He has led 268 laps there in the past 13 races.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 15th
  • Last three races: 36th at Texas, 34th at Bristol, 26th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2008

Is Busch going to steadily disappear into the mist as he rides out the final weeks of his final year with Joe Gibbs Racing? His best finish in the past four races is 26th. On the positive side this week, he’s the only driver to finish in the top 10 in this year’s three races at Daytona and Talladega.

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 8th
  • Last three races: 32nd at Texas, 2nd at Bristol, 11th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: 1 career win, in 2019

Can Elliott rebound from a fiery finish and a 32nd-place run at Texas? Playoff points give him some comfort, but a second career win at Talladega would be greatly appreciated in the Hendrick camp.

Martin Truex Jr.

  • Points position: 17th
  • Last three races: 31st at Texas, 36th at Bristol, 5th at Kansas
  • Past at Talladega: Best career finish is 5th

Will one of the sport’s most enduring mysteries continue at Talladega? In 70 career starts at Daytona and Talladega, Truex, a former champion and a smooth driver, has zero wins. At Talladega, he has only three top-five finishes in 35 starts.

 

 

 

NBC will broadcast final six NASCAR Cup Series playoff races

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The final six races in the chase for the NASCAR Cup Series championship will be televised by NBC.

The races remaining on the schedule are at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16), Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 23), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6).

NBC’s broadcasting team will be on hand Sunday for what is typically a seasonal highlight — a 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. The next week the playoffs move on to Charlotte for a cutoff race. The lowest four drivers in the playoff point standings will be eliminated from championship competition.

The Round of 8 is scheduled at Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville, with the tiny Martinsville track serving as the final cutoff race. The four drivers who advance from Martinsville will race for the title at Phoenix Nov. 6.

The high drama of the Phoenix race, in which the championship will go to the highest finisher of the four competing drivers, will be carried by both NBC and Peacock.

Post-race commentary and analysis for all six remaining Cup races will be carried on Peacock.

Kyle Larson is the series defending champion. Joey Logano carries the point lead into Sunday’s race at Talladega.

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Talladega Superspeedway

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After a messy Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move on this weekend to another potentially messy spot — Talladega Superspeedway.

Home to the Big One — an almost certain multi-car crash, Talladega also occasionally produces unexpected winners, including Richard Brickhouse, James Hylton, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Brad Keselowski.

The mix of tight drafting, the Next Gen car and general playoff tension should make Sunday’s 500-mile run quite the adventure.

On Sunday at Texas, Tyler Reddick became the second driver (after Chase Elliott) to score three wins this season.

Joey Logano enters Talladega with the playoff point lead.

Playoff rookies roll on

The four drivers participating in the Cup playoffs for the first time remain factors approaching the second race in the second round.

Ross Chastain is second in the standings, 18 points above the cutline entering Talladega.

MORE: NBC NASCAR rankings put Denny Hamlin first

Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate, is seventh. He’s four points above the cutline.

Two other playoff rookies — Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric — will start Talladega below the cutline. Briscoe is four points below the cutline. Cindric is 11 points below the cutline.

Looking for wins

Only six of the remaining 12 playoff drivers have won races at the two remaining tracks in the second round (Talladega and Charlotte Roval).

Among the six, Joey Logano has the best win record at Talladega, having finished first there in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Other Talladega winners in the group: Ryan Blaney (two), Denny Hamlin (two), Chase Elliott (one), Ross Chastain (one).

The Charlotte Roval is relatively new, of course, but Chase Elliott already owns two wins there. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson also have won at the Roval.

An opening for Brad?

Few people who watched it will forget the first Cup Series victory scored by Brad Keselowski.

It occurred at this week’s tour stop — Talladega Superspeedway — in April 2009. Keselowski and Carl Edwards made contact approaching the finish line and notched the win, even as Edwards’ car flew into the frontstretch fence, spraying car parts into the grandstands.

Thirteen years later, Keselowski returns to NASCAR’s biggest track having recorded six Talladega wins. No other active drive has more than three.

Keselowski’s refurbished team — Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing — has new fire with Chris Buescher winning at Bristol and Keselowski winning the pole and finishing eighth at Texas.

RFK Racing has led 309 laps in the past two races, more than the team had led in the prior 105 races combined.

Although he hasn’t won a Cup race since scoring a victory in a Team Penske Ford in April 2021 at Talladega, Keselowski must be considered a threat Sunday.

Entry lists

Thirty-seven drivers, including Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson and reigning Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric, are entered for Sunday’s Cup race.

Talladega Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are Trevor Bayne, Parker Kligerman, Timmy Hill and Jeffrey Earnhardt.

Talladega Xfinity entry list

Forty-one drivers are entered for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Included are Kaz Grala, Ryan Preece, Natalie Decker, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Parker Kligerman.

Talladega Truck entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 30

Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 77. (Weather note: There is the possibility that Hurricane Ian could impact the race weekend, depending on its path).

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Forecast: Overcast with showers at times. Potential for heavy rainfall. High of 73. 60% chance of rain.

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Forecast: Sun in the morning, increasing clouds in the afternoon. Slight chance of a shower. High of 74.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)