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.”

Drivers to watch in Clash at the Coliseum

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The 2023 NASCAR season will begin with Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the second race on a purpose-built track inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Although a non-points race, last year’s Clash generated intense interest as NASCAR moved the event from its long-time home at Daytona International Speedway to Los Angeles. The race was rated a success and opened doors for the possibility of future races in stadium environments.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: 10 historic moments in the Clash

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Year Two will find drivers competing on a familiar landscape but still with a track freshly paved. Last year’s racing surface was removed after the Clash.

Drivers to watch Sunday at Los Angeles:

FRONTRUNNERS

Joey Logano

  • Points position: Finished 2022 as Cup champion
  • Last three races: Won at Phoenix, 6th at Martinsville, 18th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Won in 2022

Logano put bookends on 2022 by winning the first Clash at the Coliseum and the season’s final race at Phoenix to win the Cup championship. He’ll be among the favorites Sunday.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 2nd in 2022
  • Last three races: 3rd at Phoenix, 4th at Martinsville, 2nd at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Did not qualify last year

Chastain was the breakout star of 2022, winning a pair of races and generally putting himself front and center across much of the year. Can he start 2023 on a big note? If so, he will have to do so without replicating his Hail Melon move at Martinsville after NASCAR outlawed the move Tuesday.

Kevin Harvick

  • Points position: 15th in 2022
  • Last three races: 5th at Phoenix, 16th at Martinsville, 8th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 10th in 2022

Sunday will begin the final roundup for Harvick, who has said this season will be his last as a full-time Cup driver. He is likely to come out of the gate with fire in his eyes.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 13th in 2022
  • Last three races: 7th at Phoenix, 29th at Martinsville, 9th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 2nd in 2022

Welcome to Kyle Busch’s Brave New World. After 15 seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing, he begins a new segment of his career with Richard Childress Racing. He led 64 laps at last year’s Clash but couldn’t catch Joey Logano at the end.

Tyler Reddick

  • Points position: 14th in 2022
  • Last three races: 23rd at Phoenix, 35th at Martinsville, 35th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 21st in 2022

Reddick ran surprisingly strong in last year’s Clash, leading 51 laps before parking with drivetrain issues. He starts the new year with a new ride — at 23XI Racing.

Ty Gibbs

  • Points position: Won Xfinity Series championship in 2022
  • Last three (Cup) races: 19th at Martinsville, 22nd at Homestead, 22nd at Las Vegas
  • Past at Clash: Did not compete in 2022

After a successful — and controversial — Xfinity season, Gibbs moves up to Cup full-time with his grandfather’s team. Will he be the brash young kid of 2022 or a steadier driver in Season One in Cup?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interstate Batteries extends sponsorship with Joe Gibbs Racing

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Interstate Batteries, which has been a Joe Gibbs Racing sponsor since the team’s first race, has expanded its involvement with the team for 2023.

Interstate, based in Dallas, will be a primary JGR sponsor for 13 races, up from six races, the number it typically sponsored each year since 2008.

Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs will run the majority of Interstate’s sponsorship races, but Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. also will carry the sponsor colors.

MORE: NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with our founding sponsor, Interstate Batteries,” said team owner Joe Gibbs in a statement released by the team. “They have been such an important part of our team for over three decades now, and it’s exciting to have them on board all four of our cars this season. The best part of our partnership is the relationships we’ve built with everyone there over the years.”

Bell will carry Interstate sponsorship in Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the All-Star Race May 21, the Coca-Cola 600 May 28, at Texas Motor Speedway Sept. 24 and at Martinsville Oct. 29.

Gibbs, in his first full season in Cup racing, will be sponsored by Interstate at Daytona Feb. 19, Bristol April 9, Nashville June 25, Chicago July 2, Texas Sept. 24 and Charlotte Oct. 8.

Hamlin will ride with Interstate sponsorship March 26 at Circuit of the Americas, and Truex will be sponsored by Interstate July 23 at Pocono.

Interstate was a key JGR sponsor in the team’s first season in 1992.

NASCAR announces rule changes for 2023 season

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CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR announced a series of rule changes for the 2023 season that includes outlawing the move Ross Chastain made at Martinsville and eliminating stage breaks at all six Cup road course events.

NASCAR announced the changes in a session with reporters Tuesday at the NASCAR R&D Center.

Among new things for this season:

  • Updated penalty for a wheel coming off a car.
  • Change to the amount of time teams have to repair cars on pit road via the Damaged Vehicle Policy.
  • Change to playoff eligibility for drivers.
  • Cars could run in wet weather conditions on short ovals.
  • Expansion of the restart zone on a trial basis.
  • Choose rule will be in place for more races.

MORE: Ranking top 10 moments at the Clash

NASCAR updated its policy on a loose wheel. Previously, if a wheel came off a car during an event, it would be a four-race suspension for the crew chief and two pit crew members. That has changed this year.

If a wheel comes off a car while the vehicle is still on pit road, the vehicle restarts at the tail end of the field. If a wheel comes off a vehicle while it is on pit road under green-flag conditions, it is a pass-thru penalty.

The rule changes once a vehicle has left pit road and loses a wheel.

Any vehicle that loses a wheel on the track will be penalized two laps and have two pit crew members suspended for two races. The suspensions will go to those most responsible for the wheel coming off. This change takes away a suspension to the crew chief. The policy is the same for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks.

With some pit crew members working multiple series, the suspension is only for that series. So, if a pit crew member is suspended two races in the Xfinity Series for a wheel coming off, they can still work the Cup race the following day.

The Damaged Vehicle Policy clock will be 7 minutes this season. It had been six minutes last year and was increased to 10 minutes during the playoffs. After talking with teams, NASCAR has settled on seven minutes for teams to make repairs on pit road or be eliminated. Teams can replace toe links on pit road but not control arms. Teams also are not permitted to have specialized repair tools in the pits.

NASCAR will have a wet weather package for select oval tracks: the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Lucas Oil Raceway Park, Martinsville, Milwaukee, New Hampshire, North Wilkesboro, Phoenix and Richmond.

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said that teams have been told to show up at these events prepared for wet weather conditions as they would at a road course. That includes having a windshield wiper. Wet weather tires will be available. 

“Our goal here is to get back to racing as soon as possible,” Swayer said. “… If there’s an opportunity for us to get some cars or trucks on the racetrack and speed up that (track-drying) process and we can get back to racing, that’s what our goal is. We don’t want to be racing in full-blown rain (at those tracks) and we’ve got spray like we would on a road course.”

NASCAR stated that it is removing the requirement that a winning driver be in the top 30 in points in Cup or top 20 in Xfinity or Trucks to become eligible for the playoffs. As long as a driver is competing full-time — or has a waiver for the races they missed, a win will make them playoff eligible.

With the consultation of drivers, NASCAR is expanding the restart zone to give the leader more room to take off. NASCAR said it will evaluate if to keep this in place after the Atlanta race in March.

NASCAR stated the choose rule will be in effect for superspeedways and dirt races.

NASCAR eliminates stage breaks for Cup road course events

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CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR will do away with stage breaks in all six Cup road course races and select Xfinity and Truck races this season, but teams will continue to score stage points. 

NASCAR announced the change Tuesday in a session with reporters at the NASCAR R&D Center. 

MORE: NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

NASCAR stated there will be no stage breaks in the Cup road course events at Circuit of the Americas (March 26), Sonoma (June 11), Chicago street course (July 2), Indianapolis road course (Aug. 13), Watkins Glen (Aug. 20) and Charlotte Roval (Oct. 8).

There will be no stage breaks for Xfinity races at Circuit of the Americas (March 25), Sonoma (June 10), Chicago street course (July 1), Indianapolis road course (Aug. 12), Watkins Glen (Aug. 19) and Charlotte Roval (Oct. 7).

There will be no stage breaks for the Craftsman Truck Series race at Circuit of the Americas (March 25).

In those races, stage points will be awarded on a designated lap, but there will be no green-and-checkered flag and the racing will continue.

The only road course events that will have stage breaks will be Xfinity standalone races at Portland (June 3) and Road America (July 29) and the Truck standalone race at Mid-Ohio (July 8). Those events will keep stage breaks because they have non-live pit stops — where the field comes down pit road together and positions cannot be gained or lost provided the stop is completed in the prescribed time by NASCAR.

NASCAR has faced questions from fans and competitors about stage breaks during road course races because those breaks alter strategy in a more defined manner than on most ovals.

Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition for NASCAR, said the move away from stage breaks at road courses was made in collaboration with teams and response from fans.

“When we introduced stage racing … we took an element of strategy away from the event,” Sawyer. “Felt this (change) would bring some new storylines (in an event).”

NASCAR instituted stage breaks and stage points for the 2017 season and has kept the system in place since. NASCAR awards a playoff point to the stage winner along with 10 points. The top 10 at the end of a stage score points.

It wasn’t uncommon for many teams to elect to pit before the first stage in a road course race and eschew points to put themselves in better track position for the final two stages. By pitting early, they would be behind those who stayed out to collect the stage points. At the stage break, those who had yet to pit would do so, allowing those who stopped before the break to leapfrog back to the front.