Who’s Hot and Who’s Not heading into Sunday’s race at Texas

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Three races remain in the Cup season: Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, Nov. 12 at Phoenix Raceway and Nov. 19 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Two of those races are on 1.5-mile tracks, which Martin Truex Jr. has dominated this season. Six of Truex’s seven races this year have been on 1.5-mile tracks.

Let’s check out Who’s Hot and Who’s Not heading to Texas:


No. 78 Martin Truex Jr. (Hot)

  • Finished second at Martinsville, spent all but six laps in the top 10
  • Finished top five in six of the seven playoff races
  • 2nd in the standings, +67 to the cutline and 38 ahead of 3rd place Brad Keselowski
  • Seven wins in 2017, the most by a driver since Matt Kenseth had seven in 2013
  • Finished in the top 5 16 times and the top 10 23 times this season, both are the most
  • Won 19 stages this season, the most
  • 69 Playoff Points this season, the most
  • Led a series-high 2,068 laps in 2017, led the most laps in eight races
  • Winless at Texas in 24 starts, runner up in Spring 2013
  • Finished top 10 in the last five races at Texas, led in the last four
  • Six wins on 1.5-mile tracks in 2017, most ever in a season, won the last four
  • Finished top five in all nine 1.5-mile races this season
  • Martin Truex Jr. Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Best Phoenix finish is fifth in 2009
  • Only one top-10 finish in the last seven Phoenix races
  • Finished 11th at Phoenix in March

No. 18 Kyle Busch (HOT)

  • Won at Martinsville on last-lap pass, his third win of the playoffs
  • Advances to compete for the championship at Miami for the third time in the elimination format
  • Five wins this season, all in the last 13 races
  • Led laps in the last 16 races this season, a personal best and the best streak ever among the active 
  • Two-time Texas winner, both came in his last eight starts there
  • Finished top 15 in his last 10 Texas starts (seven top fives)
  • Finished 15th at Texas in April
  • Led laps in the last six 1.5-mile races
  • Finished top 10 in four of the last six 1.5-mile races
  • Kyle Busch Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • One Phoenix win, this race in 2005
  • Finished top five in the last four Phoenix races, including leading 114 laps finishing 3rd in March

No. 11 Denny Hamlin (Hot)

  • Finished fourth at Charlotte, sixth at Talladega, fifth at Kansas, seventh at Martinsville
  • Finished top 10 in eight of the last 10 races
  • Won both races at Texas in 2010, his only wins there in 23 starts, but has only three top-10 finishes 
there in the 12 races since with no top fives
  • Finished 25th at Texas in April
  • Top-five finishes in the last five 1.5-mile races, his longest streak ever
  • Denny Hamlin Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Finished top 10 in each of the last four races at Phoenix including a 10th in March
  • Won at Phoenix in Spring 2012

No. 2 Brad Keselowski (Good)

  • Finished fourth at Martinsville, led 108 laps after winning both stages, lost the lead with five laps to go
  • Third in points, +29 to the cutline
  • Advanced to the Round of 8 with his win at Talladega
  • Winless at Texas in 18 starts, best finish of second in this race in 2015 after leading 312 of 334 laps
  • Finished top 10 in seven of the last 10 races at Texas (sixth there in April)
  • Only one top 10 in the last five 1.5-mile races (sixth at Chicagoland)
  • Brad Keselowski Look Ahead to Phoenix:
  • Winless at Phoenix in 16 starts, best finish of third in 2014
  • Finished top 10 in five of the last seven races at Phoenix, including 5th in March

No. 4 Kevin Harvick (Decent)

  • Finished fifth at Martinsville, fifth was the highest he ran all day
  • Four top-10 finishes in the playoffs and three finishes of 17th or worse
  • Currently fourth in points, +3 to the cutline
  • Winless at Texas in 29 starts, two-time runner up
  • Finished in the top 10 in the last six races at Texas (fourth in April)
  • Top 10 finishes in eight of the nine 1.5-mile races this season, second most of all drivers
  • Kevin Harvick Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Won six of the last 10 races at Phoenix, eight total
  • Finished top six in the last eight Phoenix races
  • Failed to lead in the last two Phoenix races

No. 21 Ryan Blaney (Solid runs lately)

  • Finished eighth at Martinsville, scored points in both stages
  • Finished top 10 in four of the last six races
  • Sixth in points, -6 to the cutline
  • Five Texas starts with a best finish of 12th in each of the last two races there
  • Led 148 laps at Texas in April but finished 12th after sliding through his pit box from eighth on his last 
  • Only two finishes outside the top 12 on 1.5-mile tracks this season
  • Ryan Blaney Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Top 10 finishes in two of his three Phoenix starts, best of eighth in this race last year
  • Finished 23rd in March after starting second

No. 24 Chase Elliott (His time is coming)

  • Finished 27th at Martinsville after late-race wreck with Denny Hamlin while leading. He led 123 laps.
  • Four top-five finishes in the playoffs rank second to Martin Truex Jr. (six)
  • Eighth in points, -26 to the cutline
  • Finished top 10 in all three of his Cup Texas starts with a best of fourth in October 2016
  • Got his first Xfinity win at Texas in April 2014
  • Finished top four in the last four 1.5-mile races
  • Chase Elliott Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Best Phoenix finish is eighth, worst is 12th in three races
  • Finished 12th in March at Phoenix, led 106 laps

No. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Best streak of season and is good at Texas)

  • Finished 11th at Martinsville
  • Finished top 12 in the last five races, best streak this season, including three top 10s
  • One Texas win, his first career win in 2000
  • Finished top six in his last five races at Texas
  • Finished top 10 in 10 of his last 12 Texas starts


No. 48 Jimmie Johnson (Just doesn’t seem to have it lately)

  • Finished 12th at Martinsville after starting at the rear, just didn’t have that normal Martinsville look
  • Only one top-five finish in the last 20 races
  • Top 10 finishes in four of the last eight races
  • Four top-five finishes this season, three were wins
  • Seven-time winner at Texas, most of all drivers
  • Won six of the last 10 Texas races including the race there in April
  • Only three top 10s in the nine races on 1.5-mile tracks this season, one top five (Texas win)
  • Jimmie Johnson Look ahead to Phoenix:
  • Four time Phoenix winner but none since 2009
  • Only two top-10 finishes at Phoenix in the last six races there
  • Finished ninth at Phoenix in March

No. 1 Jamie McMurray (Not – eliminated in Round of 12)

  • Finished 29th at Martinsville, third straight finish of 29th or worse
  • Left the round of 12 in 12th place -48
  • 16 top-10 finishes this season, five more than this point last year
  • Five DNF accidents in 2017
  • Best Texas finish is second in 2005
  • Finished top 10 in four of the last six Texas starts including seventh in April
  • Top-10 finishes in seven of the nine 1.5-mile races this season

No. 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Not)

  • Finished 10th at Martinsville, first top-10 finish since Daytona in July
  • Left the round of 12 in 11th place, -46
  • Best finish of 14th at Texas came in April in nine starts
  • Only two career top-10 finishes on 1.5-mile tracks in 56 starts, less than 4 percent

No. 20 Matt Kenseth (Unlucky)

  • Finished ninth at Martinsville, ran around 10th all day, was first top 10 in the last five races
  • Left the round of 12 in 10th place, -30
  • Two Texas wins, last was 2011
  • Only one top-10 finish in the last five races
  • Only four top-10s in nine 1.5-mile starts this season

No. 42 Kyle Larson (Hot in 2017, Bad last two races)

  • Finished 39th at Kansas and 37th at Martinsville, his worst two finishes in consecutive races since his first two Cup starts
  • Left the round of 12 in 9th place, -9
  • Eight runner-up finishes this season
  • Four wins in 2017, had one entering this season
  • Finished Texas-best second in April
  • Only three top-10 finishes at Texas in eight starts
  • Has yet to lead a lap at Texas
  • Finished runner-up in five of the last 10 1.5-mile races
  • Zero for 45 on 1.5-mile tracks

No. 3 Austin Dillon (Not hot – eliminated in Round of 16)

  • Finished 13th at Martinsville, best finish in the last eight races
  • Only four top-15 finishes in the last 14 races
  • Finished 14th in the first round, -4
  • Only four top-10 finishes this season, had 13 at this point last year
  • Won on fuel mileage at Charlotte earlier this year
  • Best Texas finish is 11th, Fall 2015
  • Finished 33rd at Texas in April

No. 5 Kasey Kahne (Not)

  • Finished 16th at Martinsville, his worst finish in the last five races
  • Only three top-10 finishes in the last 23 races
  • Finished 15th in the first round, -23 to the cut line
  • Six DNFs due to accidents this season
  • Won at Indianapolis ending a 102-race winless streak
  • One Texas win, 2006
  • Finished eighth in three of the last five Texas races, 38th in April (flat tire, contact with wall)

No. 31 Ryan Newman (Not good lately)

  • Finished 14th at Martinsville
  • DNF accident in two of the last four races (40th at Charlotte, 33rd at Kansas)
  • Finished round one 13th in the standings, -2 to the cut line
  • One Texas win, 2003, his second start at Texas
  • Only three top-10 finishes at Texas in the last 18 races there, 26th in April

No. 41 Kurt Busch (Not Hot)

  • Finished 22nd at Martinsville, finished 19th or worse in six of the seven playoff races
  • Finished 16th in the first round, 25 points below the cut line
  • One Texas win, this race in 2009 driving for Team Penske
  • Finished top 10 in four of the last six races at Texas including 10th in April

No. 14 Clint Bowyer (Disappointing 2017)

  • Finished third at Martinsville, first top five finish since Watkins Glen
  • Was 88 points out of a Playoff spot
  • Finished runner-up three times in 2017
  • 13 top-10 finishes in 2017, had three in all of 2016
  • Best Texas finish is second in 2011
  • Finished 11th at Texas in April, best finish in the last six races there

No. 22 Joey Logano (Disappointing season)

  • Finished 24th at Martinsville, flat tire after contact with Kyle Busch in final laps
  • Thirteen finishes outside the top 20 in the last 24 races
  • Won at Richmond after starting in the rear due to a transmission change, but win was ruled 
encumbered due to illegal suspension
  • First time he missed the playoffs with Team Penske
  • Finished top five in seven of the last nine Texas starts including a win in Spring 2014
  • Finished top three in the last three Texas races

Friday 5: Clash at Coliseum provides a reset for RFK Racing


Mired in traffic was not where Chris Buescher expected to be. Sure, he knew that racing 22 cars on a quarter-mile track inside a stadium that has hosted the Super Bowl, Olympics and World Series would put him in tight confines, but when the green flag waved for last year’s Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Buescher was in traffic on the freeway.

He was headed to the airport — along with the rest of RFK Racing. 

Both Buescher and team owner Brad Keselowski failed to make last year’s feature, sending them home earlier than expected.

“A punch to the gut,” Buescher told NBC Sports.

NASCAR’s return to the Coliseum for Sunday’s Clash is not a redemption tour for RFK Racing, said Jeremy Thompson, the team’s vice president of race operations. He calls it a reset.

That’s what last year was thought to be with Keselowski leaving Team Penske to become an owner/driver of an organization that had gone more than four years without a points victory before 2022. The Clash was a chance for RFK Racing to show its new direction.

Instead, RFK Racing and Spire Motorsports were the only multi-car teams not to have a car in the feature.

“Yes, it was not a points race, but it just looked bad,” Buescher said. “And it was bad. It hurt our feelings more than anybody else’s, I promise.”

Through that disappointment, lessons were learned.

“We didn’t have a lack of hunger that was holding us back,” Keselowski said of last year’s Clash. “We had a lack of understanding our vehicle dynamics. Understanding was just not good enough on a lot of levels.

“We continue to invest in resources and people to continue to push that forward to where we can go to events like that and feel that we’re a threat to win and we’re not just trying to make the race.

“I don’t think I understood that when I came in, where we were at as a company on the vehicle dynamics side.”

It was clear immediately that Buescher and Keselowski were in trouble. Buescher was 21st on the speed chart in practice; Keselowski was 33rd of 36 cars. 

“The car bounced so bad that I thought we were going to rip the transmission right out,” Buescher said of last year’s Clash weekend. “We spent all of practice trying to make the car just drive in a circle vs. trying to make it faster. We missed … before we ever left (the shop).”

Said Thompson about last year’s Clash: “I felt like our effort going into that was exceptionally high. We left no stone unturned. We just turned over some of the wrong stones.”

Two weeks later, both Keselowski and Buescher won their qualifying races at Daytona, but there was much work to do to overcome flaws with other parts of their program.

“We’re pushing really hard on vision and values of what it takes to be a high performer at this level, whether that is getting all the details right in the shop or on the road,” Keselowski said.

RFK Racing learned from its struggles early in the season, particularly with its short track program. Buescher, who had never placed better than 16th at Phoenix at the time, finished 10th there last March, a little more than a month after the Clash. He called his top 10 that day “a small win.”

Progress continued but it was not quick. Buescher placed third at Richmond last August before winning the Bristol night race in the playoffs. Keselowski was seventh at New Hampshire last July and won the first stage at the Bristol night race in September before a flat tire ruined his chances.

Keselowski acknowledges that turning RFK Racing into a team that can contend weekly for wins will take some time, but he sees progress.

“We’re not everywhere we need to be, but we definitely have a plan to get there,” he said. “Navigating that plan is challenging, but we’re on a path.”

2. Why not more horsepower?

NASCAR will take what it learned in last week’s Phoenix test to the wind tunnel on Feb. 13. If the wind tunnel test of short track enhancements goes well, changes could be implemented before the April 2 race at Richmond.

The changes being tested in the wind tunnel are a smaller spoiler (2 inches) and some adjustments to the underbody of the car. 

Still, one suggestion drivers often make is to give them more horsepower.

“I think there’s a misconception that we could take the existing engines and just throw 200 horsepower in it,” said John Probst, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, in response to a question from NBC Sports. 

“We do have multiple-race engines today that we have to keep in mind. (More horsepower) is something that we are actively discussing, but, obviously, we don’t do that in a vacuum. We do that with the engine builders.

“But anybody that has been around, we’ve raced high horsepower and low downforce before and ended up at some point in time deciding to go away from that to get more entertaining racing. … I think we’re open to entertaining any horsepower gains that we can get with our current (engine) architecture, but anything beyond that is actually not something that can happen quickly.”

Probst later said that keeping the engines in the current horsepower range could prove helpful for any manufacturer looking to join the sport.

“One of the reasons we landed on the horsepower range we’re in now is to try to land in areas that have existing racing engines designed for them, similar to our current (manufacturers),” Probst said. “We’re not hiding from the fact that we would like to encourage some new (manufacturers) to come in. That is part of the equation for that whole thing. I’m not saying it’s the driving reason, but it is a consideration.”

3. Crossing the line

The quarter-mile oval in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum will provide plenty of chances to hit bumpers, doors and other parts of the car Sunday.

But there’s a line between short track racing and racing without respect. 

For Ryan Preece, who is running his first race in the No. 41 for Stewart-Haas Racing this weekend, there is a clear divide.

“There’s certainly a way to go about it in quarter-mile racing where you can pass somebody without hitting them,” said Preece, a veteran of racing modifieds in bullrings. 

So how does he tell what’s crossing the line on a short track?

“If somebody drives into me getting into the center of the corner, they’re in control of their race car at that point,” Preece said. “So that or door slamming somebody, not even trying to make the corner, are two good examples (of not racing with respect).”

Preece relies on a lesson he learned racing modifieds with how to race in close quarters.

“I’ll never forget this, I was at Thompson (Speedway) and I used (seven-time modified champion) Mike Stefanik up pretty well into Turn 2 with probably six or seven laps to go, trying to chase down the leader. It didn’t happen. 

“I said, ‘Oh, hey man, I’m sorry. I had to do what I had to do for my team.’ He looked at me and said ‘Well, what about my team? What about the guys I race with?’ 

“I think that day really helped me understand that side of things. You want to race with as much respect as you possibly can. There’s a way to do it, a way to race somebody hard but not overstep the line.”

4. On the same page

Ty Dillon moves to Spire Motorsports this season as a teammate to Corey LaJoie.

Dillon will drive the No. 77 car, which has never finished in the top 30 in car owner points since its debut in 2019. The best the car placed was 31st in owner points in 2021.

Dillon says he has confidence in building the program based on Spire Motorsports’ approach.

“We aren’t unrealistic about where we are,” Dillon told NBC Sports.

But he also said that management has workable goals.

“We said, ‘Hey, here’s where we stand in the spectrum of the race teams,’ ” Dillon said. “Here’s our goals. Here’s what we believe we can accomplish. The structure of what everybody knows and how we’re all pulling in the same direction is a real confidence (boost).

“We know we’re not going to be the team that competes every single weekend for wins, but we’re going to be the best at who we are. Over time, people are going to say, ‘Damn, Spire has taken a step.’ … We’re long-term focused and everybody’s on the same page as that.

“I’ve been a part of a team that said, ‘Hey, we’re wanting to build something.’ Well, you get 10 races in and they haven’t won a race and they’re throwing everybody out the door.”

Dillon said the “realistic, genuine expectation” at Spire Motorsports makes this situation feel different for him.

“The hope and optimism is knowing that we’re all on the same page,” he said.

5. Rule book changes 

NASCAR announced a series of rule changes this week and stated that it would outlaw the video game move Ross Chastain made on the final lap of last year’s Martinsville race. 

NASCAR also made a number of changes to the rule book this week.

Among those:

— Intentionally damaging another car on pit road could lead a Cup driver to be penalized 25-50 points and/or 25-50 owner points and/or $50,000 – $100,000 fine. Last year, intentionally damaging another car on pit road could lead only to a fine of $25,000 – $50,000.

— Member to member confrontations with physical violence and other violent manifestations could result in a fine and/or indefinite suspension or membership revocation. Last year, such an infraction was listed as incurring a penalty of 25-50 driver and/or team owner points and/or a fine of $50,000 – $100,000. Violations also could result in a race suspension(s), indefinite suspension or termination.

— In the past, if a car could not go when it was time to make a qualifying attempt, it was put on a five-minute clock to do so. That’s changed this year. Now, the clock will be no more than one minute unless it is a safety issue. 

Also, NASCAR listed the length of each Cup race. The inaugural Chicago Street Course Race is scheduled for 100 laps.

Harrison Burton looks for progress in second year in Cup


Harrison Burton made the first start of his NASCAR Cup Series partnership with the Wood Brothers in the bright lights of Los Angeles.

Burton and the Woods teamed last season as Burton jumped into full-time Cup racing after two full seasons (and four wins) in the Xfinity Series. Their first race was the Clash at the Coliseum, and it was a good start — Burton qualified for the feature and finished 12th on the lead lap.

Then things headed downhill. Crashes at Daytona and Auto Club Speedway left Burton with finishes of 39th and 33rd, respectively. After the first five races of the year, he had four finishes of 25th or worse.

Now, Season Two, and there are higher expectations. Much higher.

MORE: Drivers to watch in Clash at the Coliseum

“The start of last year was really, really rough,” Burton told NBC Sports. “It kind of put us in a hole. We got into the wreck in the 500 and crashed at Fontana. Things kind of stack up on you, and all of a sudden you’re buried in points and it’s hard to make it back up.

“But, at the end of the year, three of the last four weekends were big for us (three consecutive top-20 finishes). We need to build off that and try to get out of the West Coast swing and have a clean group of those races. That’s really important. We need to get our average finish up in the first four to five races and not put ourselves in a hole we can’t get out of, and then go from there.”

The Wood Brothers team typically brings strong cars to the Daytona 500, the season’s first point race. Trevor Bayne scored the team’s latest win in stock car racing’s biggest event in 2011.

“We ran well in the 500 last year until I was upside down,” Burton said. “We had a fast car and qualified well and finished third in our duel. Then in the second Daytona race we put ourselves in good position late, so we were in contention in both Daytona races. The speed was there, and the cars drove well.”

The team’s primary goal is to make the playoffs, Burton said. “And we want to be a contender,” he said. “Cup races are so hard. First, you have to contend. Having a good average finish is really important. If you average around 17th or 18th all year, you can kind of point your way into the playoffs, and doing that is on our minds for sure.”

MORE: Power Rankings: 10 historic moments in the Clash

Burton looks for a strong start in Sunday’s Clash, which will present teams with a mix of the old and the new. Drivers got the experience of racing inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum last year, and notes from that race will be useful, but the racing surface will be all new again.

“Every repave has a different tendency,” Burton said. “We’ll see how close it is to last time and how different. Obviously, there is experience on that track, but still it’s a completely new surface, so it’s going to be a mixture of old and new. There’s some knowledge we can build off of, but we kind of have to go into the weekend with that knowledge as tentative because we don’t know if the track is going to be different.”

Burton heads for Los Angeles with a win already under his belt this year. He and teammate Zane Smith, last year’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, won last Friday’s International Motor Sports Association’s Michelin Pilot Challenge Series race on the Daytona International Speedway road course.

Burton drove the finishing laps in the four-hour race. He was third with about 50 minutes to go but moved in front with 22 minutes left when leader Elliott Skeer parked. Burton outran second-place Spencer Pumpelly by .688 of a second for the win.

“I thought we could run well,” Burton said. “After the test we did, we were really fast, so I was pretty excited. But apparently there is a lot of sandbagging that goes on there, so I wasn’t sure where we were. We had to have some things go right for us, and they did.”





Dr. Diandra: Muffling racecars won’t change fan experience


Last week, NASCAR tested the muffler that will be used for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum.

“Heresy,” some fans cried. They argued that it is against the laws of man and nature to muffle racecars. That noise is an integral part of the fan experience. That you’re not supposed to be able to have conversations during races.


The cars will be plenty loud.

Loud is fast

Engines produce power by combusting fuel and air in their cylinders. Each combustion produces high-pressure gases that push the piston up. The same gases make a loud popping sound when they escape the cylinder and finally the exhaust.

At 8,000 rpm, an eight-cylinder engine performs about 520 combustions every second. The faster an engine runs, the more combustions per second and the higher the frequency of the tailpipe noise.

That’s why NASCAR engines sound like grizzly bears and F1 engines, which run at higher speeds, sound more like angry mosquitoes.

Maximum horsepower requires getting the spent gases out of the cylinder as quickly as possible so the next combustion reaction can start. And that’s the problem with mufflers, from a racing perspective.

Mufflers on street cars bounce sound waves from the engine around a metal can. The waves interfere with each other, which decreases the overall volume coming from the exhaust.

Mufflers can also mitigate noise by directing the exhaust through a sound-absorbing material. Borla, the sole-source supplier for this weekend’s muffler, makes commercial racing mufflers that feature a robust sound-absorbing material superior to the commonly used fiberglass.

Both methods slow the exhaust gases — the first more than the second. The ideal racing muffler diminishes sound with minimal horsepower reduction.


Sound-level measurements come in decibels (dB), a unit named after Alexander Graham, not Christopher — and apparently by someone who wasn’t the best speller.

But decibels don’t tell the whole story. Sound intensity decreases with distance, so you need to specify how far away the sound source was.

The easiest way to explain the decibel scale is to relate it to real-world noises, as I’ve done below.

A bar chart showing representative sound levels expressed in decibels.

  • Zero dB is the threshold of human hearing.
  • A whisper you can just barely make out is about 20 dB.
  • Most everyday noises are in the 60 dB to 100 dB range but are sometimes louder.
  • Exposure to 130 dBs can be painful.
  • A 150-dB sound can cause permanent hearing damage in a very short time.

Ringing in your ears the day after a rock concert was a badge of honor in high school. Older me wishes I had been a little smarter.

Hair cells — not to be confused with ear hair — facilitate hearing. Sound bends these hair-shaped cells, and the cells convert sound into electrical signals that the brain interprets. Loud sounds can bend these cells so much that they break.

Unlike animals such as sharks, zebrafish — and even the lowly chicken — humans cannot grow new hair cells. Once your hearing is damaged, you can’t get it back.

How loud are racecars?

A noise mitigation study for the proposed Nashville Fairgrounds track measured a single Next Gen car at COTA generating 112 dB on a straightaway at 100 feet.

A 2008 study measured the sound level inside a Gen-6 car to be an average of 114 dB. The study also compared sound in the stands, the infield and the pits.

Let’s add those numbers to our graph.

A bar chart showing representative sound levels expressed in decibels, including sound measurements from the Gen-6 and Next Gen cars

  • The Next Gen car at 100 feet is about the same loudness as a person screaming at top volume 1 inch from your ear.
  • The Next Gen car at 100 feet is just a bit quieter than sitting inside the Gen-6 car.
  • Bristol reached peak sound levels loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage.

The graph data suggests that inside the Next Gen car should be around 10 times louder than inside the Gen-6. Some drivers made new earmolds to cope with the additional noise in the cockpit.

Because of the way sound works, the numbers don’t add like you’d expect them to. A Next Gen car might be 112 dB, but two Next Gen cars are more like 115 dB. A full field would be only 5-7 dB louder.

The mufflers won’t muffle much

NASCAR expects a six to 10-dB reduction in sound with mufflers. A 10-dB reduction would make the Next Gen car about as loud as the Gen-6 car was.

Another way of looking at it: Good earplugs reduce sound levels by 25 to 30 dB. Wearing earplugs just barely gets you into the range of being able to hold a conversation if you stand very close to each other and you both shout.

You won’t notice the change in sound inside the track.

You also won’t notice a change in speed this weekend, despite a drop of 30-40 horsepower. The Next Gen car takes around 14 seconds to traverse the L.A. Coliseum’s quarter-mile track. That means cars won’t be going much faster than typical expressway speeds.

If you’re headed out to the track this weekend — despite the mufflers — bring earplugs or over-the-ear headsets. This is especially important for children, as their hearing is more easily damaged.

Joe Gibbs Racing adds young racers to Xfinity program


Connor Mosack, 23, and Joe Graf Jr., 24, each will drive select races in the No. 19 Xfinity Series car for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

Mosack, who has a 20-race Xfinity schedule with Sam Hunt Racing this year, will run three races for JGR: Chicago street course (July 1), Pocono (July 22) and Road America (July 29) while also competing in six ARCA Menards Series races for JGR, including Feb. 18 at Daytona.

Graf, who has a 28-race Xfinity schedule with RSS Racing this year, will run five races in the No. 19 Xfinity car for JGR: Auto Club Speedway (Feb. 25), Las Vegas (March 4), Richmond (April 1), New Hampshire (July 15) and Kansas (Sept. 9).

“I made my Xfinity Series debut with JGR last June at Portland and from the moment I made my first lap in their racecar, I realized why they’ve been so successful,” Mosack said in a statement. “Their equipment was second to none and the resources they had in terms of people and their knowledge was incredible.

“Jason Ratcliff was my crew chief at Portland and he’s got a ton of experience. I was able to learn from him before we even went to the track. Just in our time in the simulator, we made some great changes. So, to be back with him for three Xfinity races is going to be really valuable.

“And when it comes to JGR’s ARCA program, it’s the class of the field. After having to race against JGR cars, I’m really looking forward to racing with a JGR car. No matter what track they were on, they were always up front competing for wins. To have that chance in 2023 is pretty special, and I aim to make the most of it.”

Said Graf in a statement about his opportunity with JGR: “Running five races with JGR is a fantastic opportunity for myself and for my marketing partners. I think I can learn a lot from JGR and showcase my skills I’ve been growing in the series in the past three years. 2023 is shaping up to be a great year and I’m pumped to get started with the No. 19 group.”

Ryan Truex has previously been announced as the driver of the No. 19 Xfinity Series car in six races this season for JGR. The remaining drivers for the car will be announced at a later date.

Mosack didn’t start racing until he was 18 years old. He went on to win five Legends car championships before moving to Late Model stock cars in 2019. He graduated from High Point University in 2021 with a degree in business entrepreneurship. Mosack’s first Xfinity Series race with Sam Hunt Racing this season will be March 11 at Phoenix Raceway.