What drivers said after Daytona race

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RICKY STENHOUSE JR — Winner: “Wow, these guys. I kept my Talladega car and told them to build a new one. We won the Firecracker 400! This is awesome! I have been coming here since 2008. I actually came in 2006 one time with Bobby Hamilton Jr. and it is cool to put it in victory lane and get our second win this year. I love it!’’

Clint Bowyer — Finished 2nd: “We finished second two weeks in a row, so that’s a huge confidence booster for our team, but nonetheless, the pressure cooker is turning up. You’re sitting there looking up there that green‑white‑checker coming to the green there, and you’re thinking, ‘Oh, no, somehow, some way, I’ve got to get up there and keep one of those guys that are going to be first time winners out of this thing.’ That’s real, it’s alive, and it’s something you’re going to have to pay attention to. You hope you keep riding this wave and turn one of those seconds into a win.’’

Paul Menard — Finished 3rd: “We wanted to race hard all night long, but I forget who wrecked up in 1 and 2 but we got in the wall pretty hard and had to work on some damage so that put us back right at the end of the first stage and couldn’t go anywhere. So kind of bailed out of the stages and was a bunch of attrition obviously, and we kind of passed some cars that way, but got some really big runs toward the end and made up a lot of ground and Bowyer pushed the hell out of me the last lap. I just couldn’t get a run off Turn 4 coming to the checkered. I guess I used it all the lap before.’’

Michael McDowell — Finished 4th: “It’s nice to do this week after week. This isn’t our first good run. We had a good run the last three or four weeks, and we’ve been putting together solid runs. At the same time, coming to the line second, I thought I had a shot at him but just they had such a big run behind I couldn’t hold them off.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 5th: “I don’t want to say we got lucky, but we got lucky.  We did not dominate tonight by any means.  We rode around in the back for most of the race and it played out between everybody but Austin. It was a little bit of luck, but it was calculated and it was good enough for a top-five tonight.

David Ragan — Finished 6th: “I’m certainly proud of our effort tonight. We had a great day on pit road. Our car fast and it drove really good. I give us an ‘A’ for the night. I missed my mark a bit coming to the white line. I zigged when I should have zagged. It’s tough to block two or three lanes coming to the white flag. I missed it on that run. If I couldn’t win I’m glad another Ford is is victory lane. Ricky (Stenhouse) is a good guy and I’m proud for that team. I’m just disappointed that I couldn’t close the deal.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 8th: “We had a plan that we weren’t going to race until 40 to go, and it all worked out.  It was crazy back there. You are kind of hanging on. I thought the Quick Lube Chevy had good speed and handled really well. That has always been our strength here and it was again. The guys did such a great job. It was our backup car. I kind of crushed the roof of the primary car at Talladega.  They got it ready and it had decent speed in it.  You just wish you could re-do it.  I thought I was doing everything right.  On that first restart I had a big push there on David (Ragan) and thought we were going to get clear that second restart. I couldn’t get to Ty’s (Dillon) bumper as good as I wanted to. I was going to shoot the gap, and Ty went high and the 38 went low and I got pinned in the middle and lost our chance to win.”

Erik Jones — Finished 9th: “It was an up-and-down night. We were up front at a few points and back at a few points – just learning and trying to figure everything out. I don’t know exactly what happened when we got spun around. I think I got up inside of somebody or somebody came down on me and just got spun around unfortunately. Still got a decent finish out of it – top 10 at a superspeedway so that’s a good finish and some momentum for next week.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 10th: “Really nice to finish Daytona. We tried to have a smart race and just hang out there in the back so we could have a good piece at the end. The team did a great job on giving me a good race car all weekend. We knew qualifying would be what it was, but the car raced and handled really well and we got a top-10 out of it.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 12th: “It is nice when you are rewarded with good points and important championship points – points that carry into the bonus rounds with our wins and stage win last week.  I really thought we were in a great position and I got smashed into the wall by the No. 95  (Michael McDowell) off of two. But to come back and have the car tore up still in 12th, decent day for us. Excited about that, but really looking forward to the summer stretch. We have some great tracks coming. 

Jamie McMurray – Finished 14th: “So we had probably the best plate car tonight that we have had in four or five years. We got caught up in that wreck and obviously it killed a lot of speed in the car.  I didn’t choose good lanes at the end and I got hung out one time and went from a fourth or fifth place finish to 14th.”

Darrell Wallace Jr. — Finished 15th: “That was fun. Probably the most fun that I’ve had at the Speedway. I missed three, four wrecks. Just a big chess game. Way different than Xfinity race. Just trying to plan out my attacks. I hate that we got in that wreck late and put us in the back. A good rally to get to 15th. We keep improving.” 

Ty Dillon – Finished 16th: “I wanted to do it so bad for Bob Germain who gave me this opportunity. That is two close ones and if you keep getting these close ones, you will get one eventually. We work hard every week but not every week are we contending for wins, but when it’s our chance we make the most of it. So I am proud of the way we are growing as a team and we are leading a lot of laps any way we can.  I just feel disappointed. When it’s the white flag you go for it. Nobody went with me and so that is kind of the pains of being a rookie, but I would have been mad at myself if I didn’t make a move right there. The move cost me a good finish but didn’t really determine what our day was.”

DANIEL SUÁREZ — Finished 17th: “The race was good and we ran definitely much better than where we finished. Just all the starts and restarts, those last two restarts we were on the bottom and it wasn’t going anywhere. Just a little bad luck there at the end of the race.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 21st: “We were really fast and made our way up through there on a few occasions. But we were just never in the right place at the right time.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 26th: “I am not sure what happened. I saw (Kyle Larson) get turned and get up in the air a little bit. I just couldn’t miss him. I was already on the top and I hate that I T-boned him. I just couldn’t get out of the way. I thought we had a really good car. We were racing hard. Everyone was racing hard. We got kind of shuffled out. I didn’t pick a very good lane. We were working our way back forward when that happened.’’

Matt Kenseth — Finished 27th: “It’s been really hard to get a finish. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) had a great strategy tonight and had us out front. Obviously I should’ve got down in front of the 17 (Ricky Stenhouse). He made up a lot more ground through three and four than I thought. I should’ve got to the bottom and tried to get by the 5 (Kasey Kahne) there. I thought we were still in OK shape and then the 5 got real loose into one and something happened and it checked our whole lane up and then, as luck would have it, as soon as we lost those 10 spots the wreck happened. Just nowhere to go. Disappointing end.”

KYLE LARSON — Finished 29th: “I’m fine. I was just up front there and doing what I could to stay up front. The 38 (David Ragan) got to my inside, and I saw that in my mirror and I kind of felt it a little bit because you can feel the air. I was just trying to leave him a little bit of room and I just moved up too high and ran across Ricky’s (Stenhouse, Jr.) nose and I hate that I caused that wreck and I feel pretty bad about. It was going to be an extremely good points day and we hurt that a little bit.”

Dale Earnhardt Jr., – Finished 32nd: “The attention and the reaction from the fans makes me feel great.  Hopefully we are able to turn that around and back on them for the rest of the season and thank them for all they had done. I wish we had had a good finish tonight if not a win. We were working up in there and having a good time and being aggressive and wearing out the sides of that race car.  It just wasn’t to be.’’

Kevin Harvick — Finished 33rd: “We just blew a tire. That’s the way it goes. It just blew out right in the middle of the corner. I hate to wreck half the field. That’s a part of what we do.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 34th: “I just tried to slow down, but you know you get hit from behind, you hit the guy in front of you – there’s nothing you can do. When you’re going 190 something and everybody stops in front of you, it’s kind of hard to do anything. This July race, man, I don’t think I’ve finished it in like five years. It’s just – it’s been a tough one every time. Every time we feel like we’re doing something okay we get in a big wreck, so it’s been a tough one for sure but rebound and go to Kentucky and hopefully go for some more wins.”

Joey Logano — Finished 35th: “I saw four our five laps before the wreck that the 95 (Michael McDowell) got into the side of the 18 (Kyle Busch). I didn’t see any smoke off the 18, just a near miss. Then four or five laps later I think the left rear popped on the 18 and around he started going and we were there. Wrong place at the wrong time again for us. It’s superspeedway racing. Sometimes you’re on the good side of it, sometimes you’re on the wrong side of it. That was the bad one. We’ll just move and head to the next race.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 36th: “I didn’t see and am not sure.  I tried to slow down, I downshifted and it wasn’t enough. We knocked the oil cooler and radiator out.  I should have been smarter and rode around like half of the others in the field, but we were trying to get some bonus points there coming to the end of the stage. It didn’t work out.”

NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

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CONCORD, N.C. —  NASCAR announced Tuesday that it will not permit drivers to run against the wall to gain speed as Ross Chastain did in last year’s Martinsville Cup playoff race.

NASCAR made the announcement in a session with reporters Tuesday at the NASCAR R&D Center.

Chastain drove into the Turn 3 wall and rode it around the track at higher speed than the rest of the field, passing five cars in the final two turns to gain enough spots to make the championship race. NASCAR allowed the move to stand even though some competitors had asked for a rule change leading into the season finale at Phoenix last year.

NASCAR is not adding a rule but stressed that Rule 10.5.2.6.A covers such situations.

That rule states: “Safety is a top priority for NASCAR and NEM. Therefore, any violations deemed to compromise the safety of an Event or otherwise pose a dangerous risk to the safety of Competitors, Officials, spectators, or others are treated with the highest degree of seriousness. Safety violations will be handled on a case-by-case basis.”

NASCAR stated that the penalty for such a maneuver would be a lap or time penalty.

Chastain said he’s fine with being known for that move, which will never be repeated in NASCAR history.

“I’m proud that I’ve been able to make a wave that will continue beyond just 2022 or just beyond me,” Chastain told NBC Sports earlier this month about the move’s legacy. “There will be probably a day that people will learn about me because of that, and I’m good with that. I’m proud of it.

“I don’t think it will ever happen again. I don’t think it will ever pay the reward that it paid off for us that it did that day. I hope I’m around in 35 years to answer someone’s question about it. And I probably still won’t have a good answer on why it worked.”

NASCAR Power Rankings: 10 historic moments in the Clash

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NASCAR’s preseason non-points race, now known as the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum, was born in 1979 with the idea of testing the sport’s fastest drivers and cars on one of racing’s fastest tracks — Daytona International Speedway.

The concept was driver vs. driver and car vs. car. No pit stops. Twenty laps (50 miles) on the Daytona oval, with speed and drafting skills the only factors in victory.

Originally, the field was made up of pole winners from the previous Cup season. In theory, this put the “fastest” drivers in the Clash field, and it also served as incentive for teams to approach qualifying with a bit more intensity. A spot in the Clash the next season meant extra dollars in the bank.

The race has evolved in crazy directions over the years, and no more so than last year when it was moved from its forever headquarters, the Daytona track, to a purpose-built short track inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

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Over the decades, virtually everything about the race changed in one way or another, including the race length, eligibility requirements, format, calendar dates, sponsorship and title. From 1979-2020, the race was held on Daytona’s 2.5-mile oval and served as a sort of preview piece for the Daytona 500, scheduled a week later. In 2021, it moved to Daytona’s road course before departing for the West Coast last season.

Here’s a look at 10 historic moments in the history of the Clash:

NASCAR Power Rankings

1. 2022 — Few races have been as anticipated as last year’s Clash at the Coliseum. After decades in Daytona Beach, NASCAR flipped the script in a big way and with a big gamble, putting its top drivers and cars on a tiny temporary track inside a football stadium. Joey Logano won, but that was almost a secondary fact. The race was a roaring success, opening the door for NASCAR to ponder similar projects.

2. 2008 — How would Dale Earnhardt Jr. handle his move from Dale Earnhardt Inc. to Hendrick Motorsports? The answer came quickly — in his first race. Junior led 46 of the 70 laps in winning what then was called the Budweiser Shootout, his debut for Hendrick. The biggest action occurred prior to the race in practice as Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch tangled on — and off — the track. Both were called to the NASCAR trailer, where the incident reportedly accelerated. Both received six-race probations.

3. 2012 — One of the closest finishes in the history of the Clash occurred in a race that produced a rarity — Jeff Gordon’s car on its roof. Kyle Busch and Gordon made contact in Turn 4 on lap 74, sending Gordon into the wall, into a long slide and onto his roof. A caution sent the 80-lap race into overtime. Tony Stewart had the lead on the final lap, but Kyle Busch passed him as they roared down the trioval, winning the race by .013 of a second.

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4. 1984 — A race that stands out in Ricky Rudd’s career, and not in a fun way. Neil Bonnett won the sixth Clash, but the video highlights from the day center on Rudd’s 15th-lap crash. He lost control of his car in Turn 4 and turned sideways. As Rudd’s car left the track, it lifted off the surface and began a series of flips before landing on its wheels, very badly damaged. Safety crews removed Rudd from the car. He suffered a concussion, and his eyes were swollen such that he had to have them taped open so he could race a few days later in a Daytona 500 qualifier.

5. 1980 — The second Clash was won by Dale Earnhardt, one of Daytona International Speedway’s masters. This time he won in unusual circumstances. An Automobile Racing Club of America race often shared the race day with the Clash, and that was the case in 1980. The ARCA race start was delayed by weather, however, putting NASCAR and track officials in a difficult spot with the featured Clash also on the schedule and daylight running out. Officials made the unusual decision of stopping the ARCA race to allow the Clash to run on national television. After Earnhardt collected the Clash trophy, the ARCA race concluded.

6. 1994 — Twenty-two-year-old Jeff Gordon gave a hint of what was to come in his career by winning the 1994 Clash. Gordon would score his first Cup point win later that year in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte, but he also dazzled in the Clash, making a slick three-wide move off Turn 2 with two laps to go to get by Dale Earnhardt and Ernie Irvan. He held on to win the race.

7. 2006 — Upstart newcomer Denny Hamlin became the first rookie to win the Clash. Tony Stewart, Hamlin’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, had the lead with four laps to go, but a caution stacked the field and sent the race into overtime. Hamlin fired past Stewart, who had issues at Daytona throughout his career, on the restart and won the race.

8. 2004 — This one became the duel of the Dales. Dale Jarrett passed Dale Earnhardt on the final lap to win by .157 of a second. It was the only lap Jarrett led in the two-segment, 70-lap race.

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9. 1979 — The first Clash, designed by Anheuser-Busch to promote its Busch beer brand, drew a lot of attention because of its short length (20 laps) and its big payout ($50,000 to the winner). That paycheck looks small compared to the present, but it was a huge sum in 1979 and made the Clash one of the richest per-mile races in the world. Although the Clash field would be expanded in numerous ways over the years, the first race was limited to Cup pole winners from the previous season. Only nine drivers competed. Buddy Baker, almost always fast at Daytona, led 18 of the 20 laps and won by about a car length over Darrell Waltrip. The race took only 15 minutes.

10. 2020 — This seemed to be the Clash that nobody would win. Several huge accidents in the closing miles decimated the field. On the final restart, only six cars were in contention for the victory. Erik Jones, whose car had major front-end damage from his involvement in one of the accidents, won the race with help from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, who was one lap down in another damaged car but drafted behind Jones to push him to the win.

 

 

 

SunnyD to sponsor Kevin Harvick in two races, Riley Herbst in Daytona 500

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Kevin Harvick has picked up a sponsor for the new season, and Riley Herbst has picked up a ride in the Daytona 500.

Stewart-Haas Racing announced Tuesday that orange drink SunnyD will be the primary sponsor for Harvick’s No. 4 Ford at Darlington Raceway (May 14) and Kansas Speedway (Sept. 10).

SunnyD also will be the sponsor for Herbst as he joins the entry list for the Daytona 500 in the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing car. The orange drink also will be an associate sponsor for Herbst in the No. 98 Xfinity car fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing in the Xfinity Series.

The 2023 season will be Harvick’s final year as a full-time Cup driver.

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The Daytona 500 will mark Herbst’s first Cup Series start. The 24-year-old native of Las Vegas has made 109 Xfinity Series starts.

“It’s great to have Riley making his first NASCAR Cup Series start with RWR and be a part of the next step in his career,” said team owner Rick Ware in a statement released by the team.

“As a kid you always dream of being able to race in the Daytona 500, and I’m able to accomplish that with Rick Ware Racing,” Herbst said. “It’s such a big event and for it to be my first Cup start will be a crazy experience.”

 

 

RFK Racing, Trackhouse Racing, Hendrick Motorsports announce sponsors

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RFK Racing, Trackhouse Racing and Hendrick Motorsports each announced primary sponsorship deals Monday.

King’s Hawaiian, which served as a primary sponsor in three races last year, returns to RFK Racing and Brad Keselowski’s No. 6 car this year. King’s Hawaiian will expand its role and be a primary sponsor for nine races. 

The first race with the sponsor will be this weekend’s Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. King’s Hawaiian also will be the primary sponsor on Keselowski’s car for Atlanta (March 19), Bristol Dirt (April 9), Kansas (May 7), World Wide Technology Raceway (June 4), Sonoma (June 11), Pocono (July 23), Daytona (Aug. 26) and Martinsville (Oct. 29).

Jockey returns to sponsor the Trackhouse cars of Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez for three races each this season with its Made in America Collection.

Jockey will be on the No. 99 car for Suarez at this weekend’s Busch Light Clash, the Bristol Dirt Race (April 9) and  Martinsville (Oct. 29).

Chastain’s No. 1 car will have Jockey as the primary sponsor at Richmond (April 2), Dover (April 30) and Michigan (Aug. 6).

Hooters returns to Hendrick Motorsports and will be the primary sponsor on the No. 9 car of Chase Elliott for the Bristol Dirt Race (April 9), the Chicago street course event (July 2) and Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 22).