What drivers said after Las Vegas race

2 Comments

Kevin Harvick — Winner: “We have definitely had three good race cars with the Xfinity Car and the Cup car and we had a good race car at Daytona as well and got caught up in a wreck. As you look at the last two weeks and our 1.5-mile program in general it has been really good since I started here at SHR. They put a lot of effort into everything we do from every standpoint to get these cars going like they are.’’

Kyle Busch — Finished 2nd: “Our M&M’s Camry was really strong there the last 100 laps of the race. Early on, just having to start the race on our qualifiers (tires) was really bad for us and then we over tightened and over adjusted for the second run. From there we were making small tweaks to it to get it back. It was rolling fast the last 100 laps or so. A lot of those guys would go and short pit on the long side of it and I think that helped us too getting back up through those guys, too. We came here and prepared well. They did a good job through practice getting us a great race car. There was no catching that 4 (Kevin Harvick), he was on rails today and lights out. I don’t know what we need to do to catch up and get better like those guys, but certainly we have some work to do, especially here at Vegas and some other places we go to maybe we’ll get closer. It was a great day for us and we’ll go to Phoenix.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 3rd: “I don’t know about catching the Ford (winner Kevin Harvick). He was quite a bit faster than everybody. But I felt like for the most of the day we were second or third best. I had to fight pretty hard there after a few bad pit stops. But, it’s nice that we have really fast race cars. If we can just clean up everything, I think we’ll be a contender for more wins. We’re not too far off from a win, I don’t think.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 4th: “It was up and down for sure, it was a battle. We battled the car, battled track position a lot and had some trouble in the pits here and there. All in all, good solid day. We started fourth and finished fourth, it sounds easy, but there was a lot going on in between there that we had to overcome. It definitely wasn’t easy, but I’m proud of everybody. Still trying to figure it out and we’ll just keep working forward here. We’re right there, we just can’t get the balance of our car where we need it. Just been struggling with getting it to turn good enough these last two weeks and when we get that figured out we’ll be right there with them.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 5th: “I thought it was a solid day for us. We had a pretty decent Ford all day. The first run we weren’t great and we got better. I thought our strongest run was right before the last green flag pit stops. We lost a little speed the last run there. Overall it was a good weekend for us. That is what we need to do, just have good, consistent weekends like that. Hopefully we can do the same for the rest of this west coast swing and the rest of the season. We will see.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 6th: “We had really good short-run speed and I thought we would be really good on the long runs today but it turned out we were really good on the short runs. That wasn’t at all what I was expecting. The short run speed was really strong but I just couldn’t get anywhere to capitalize on it.”

Joey Logano — Finished 7th: “We were better than seventh. We ran up top five most of the day and got to the lead for a little bit and took two. We were the only car that took two and the run went really long and we lost a lot of track position there as we fell back on the two tires. We never got a caution to kind of reset and get those spots back. We faded back to seventh, a little further back even, but were able to get a couple spots back. Overall we have been solid with the Pennzoil Ford all season. That was a solid race. Pit crew did a good job. We have okay speed in the car. We aren’t anywhere close to the 4 but we are competitive with the rest. We will keep working toward that. It is a decent start for us and I think we are second in points. We are running hard and running strong right now. We just have to find a bit more to be able to beat Kevin.”

Erik Jones — Finished 8th: “It was a decent day for us. This SportClips Camry was really fast. Just never had the track position we needed or wanted to run up front. Good to get a top-10 and good to get us more points to get us back in a good points spot after Daytona and starting out behind. We’ll be going to Phoenix and will keep going after it.”

Paul Menard — Finished 9th: “A great weekend for us. We unloaded fast on Friday and fell behind a bit on Saturday. We all got together last night and talked about what we needed to do and it worked out for us. A solid car all day.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 10th: “Finally a top-10 for our Smithfield Ford Fusion. We have had a solid string of races and obviously everybody has been working really hard at Stewart-Haas Racing and the cars are obviously fast. We had to battle back from a lot this weekend. Our car was not very good on Friday or Saturday morning. The guys made a lot of changes for final practice and we finally hit on something that felt good for me.”

Ryan Newman — Finished 11th: “Well, we struggled at the start.  Had a real bad vibration, a set of tires I think, but that was a good bounce back for us with the Caterpillar Chevrolet. We’ve got some work to do it looks like. The boys with the Fords are strong here on the 1.5-miles, so we’ve shown that we’ve got some speed. We’ve just got to get it there the entire race. I know we can. We had it here in the test and we just… for whatever reason didn’t have it when we came back. We will regroup and go on to the next one.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 12th: “Yeah, that first set of tires, those scuffs we were on were just really off for our car. I don’t know what went on there. We just put tires on for the second run and had a lot more pace in the car and a lot easier to drive and then we just kept chipping away at it all day long. The last restart we had to start at the tail end. I wish we would have had a chance to start up in there with everybody. I think we could have been up inside of the top 10. Every outing we are learning more about (the car). There is a piece of performance that is familiar from last year, so I think we have some work to do ourselves underneath the body with the chassis and the set-up of the car. But, today I was in a lot of different aero situations that at first, I was flinching in and then I grew very comfortable with and kept charging and driving through. I think the body is definitely helping the car, we’ve just got some other stuff to sort out to go along with it and kind of find the sweet spot for the car too.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 13th: “We fought hard. We didn’t have enough speed to really fight with those guys up front. Getting to stay on the lead lap at the end of that first stage, getting the lucky dog twice and just fighting all day for that. That is the hardest I’ve fought for 16th just driving the wheels off of it for that position. It ended up paying off and we got all the way up to 13th. I’m proud of my guys they worked hard all day. Just got to find some speed in the racecars. Obviously, some of these other guys, other teams are doing a good job. We’ve got to do a better job also. (Ryan) Newman got to 11th, that is promising.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 15th: “That was a lot of fun first of all.  Best race we have had this year and looking at quite a few at the end of last year. From what I remember that was big. For us to be able to get a top 15 with our Natural Light Camaro ZL1 here at Vegas makes me excited to come back for the second one. I know conditions will be a lot different, but man it was a good time. We were able to go up there and pass some cars and get in a good spot. We just got a little bit off on that last stop there, but at the end of the day that was a lot of fun.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 17th: “We were pretty good and had a top-five car. We just sped on pit road under green, got a lap down and then just had struggles with a pit gun and lost some spots there. Then a caution comes back out and somebody else gets the ‘lucky dog’ – every time I was in the ‘lucky dog’ position and I needed to get the caution to get back on the lead lap we didn’t get it. I felt like we had a strong car and then we dropped a cylinder there with about 30 (laps) to go and ended up (with) seven cylinders. All in all, it was a tough weekend, but I know we have a car a lot better and that will perform pretty well in the race.”

Kasey Kahne — Finished 19th: “We struggled just getting the front to turn. I was quite the handful, but the guys got it better. They stayed after it the whole time and we ended up with a top 20. I just wish we could have had it a little better we could have had more speed. It was just a little bit, but geez it was a long race.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 24th: “It took us a while to find a balance that worked. The dynamic of the car just changed so much from practice to the race. We finally got it to where it needed to be and were the best we had been all day at the start of the final stage. My boys were fast on pit road, didn’t make any mistakes. We just have to find our speed from the beginning of the race.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 34th: “Yeah, I think he (Kurt Busch) just got loose in the bottom there and I was, unfortunately, the guy that was up top. So, we were just trying to be solid today and make the most of what our NAPA Camaro had, and I thought we were doing a pretty good job of that; kind of like what we did last week in trying to get a little bit better. I was just kind of there at the wrong spot and the wrong situation and I’m headed home early. I thought we were getting a little bit of momentum. We had a really good pit stop there and gained a bunch of spots on pit road, got ourselves inside the top five and could run with them for a few laps. So, just trying to make the most of what we had and there was no guarantee how it was going to end up and ended up poorly. We will move on down the road.”

KURT BUSCH — Finished 35th: “I was running the low groove and it just stepped out on me. I wasn’t even trying to fill the hole or go 100 percent. I had it at 90 percent, and I knew Chase was going to be on my outside and it was just that quick. We were back there in the dirty air, but Turn 4, I always know it is slick and I wasn’t even pushing through there and it stepped out on me. Ruined his day, ruined my day. I hate it for all the Chase Elliott fans and the Kurt Busch fans and my hometown fans. I wasn’t even pushing hard. I knew we had one more stop and then we were going to go. It just stepped out on me. It is ridiculous.”

Jamie McMurray – Finished 36th: “I blew a right-front tire. I don’t really know what happened. Up to that point we were definitely better than we were at Atlanta. I thought we had a good car. It was hard to pass today. The track really rubbered in and it seemed like the bottom was the preferred groove and when everybody was running the bottom it was pretty tough to pass, but we had a good car.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 37th: “We are still trying to diagnose exactly what happened. We started to lose some power there and had a lot of smoke in the cockpit. Normally they don’t fix themselves. The Love’s Ford was fast today. We had a good strategy and played it out. We were back on the lead lap, in a good position. We were able to maintain that first run but unfortunately it just wasn’t meant to be for us today. I am really proud of everyone at Front Row Motorsports. We brought a fast car here. It is going to hurt us in the points.”

NASCAR Awards to air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

0 Comments

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joey Logano didn’t need much time to answer the question.

Who would the two-time Cup champion want to introduce him at the NASCAR Awards?

Racing icon Mario Andretti, Logano immediately said. 

And there was Andretti on the stage at the Music City Center introducing Logano, the 2022 Cup champion. Watch that and the rest of the night’s festivities at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock. You can order Peacock here.

MORE: See the red carpet scene

MORE: Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

NBC Sports’ Marty Snider and Kim Coon co-hosted the show along with Fox Sports’ Kaitlyn Vincie. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck champions were honored. Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, whose father died hours after Gibbs won the Xfinity title last month, received a standing ovation and thanked the industry for its support.

The highlight of the night for Logano was having Andretti on stage to introduce him.

“He’s just been a great role model for me, not only as a racer, but as a person for so long,” Logano said afterward. “I had his picture on my wall. I looked at Mario Andretti before I went to sleep every night as a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing that he signed it to me.”

NASCAR Awards and Champion Celebration
Cup champion Joey Logano on stage with racing icon Mario Andretti during the NASCAR Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Logano and Andretti have gotten to know each other through the years. Logano ran a throwback car that honored Andretti at Darlington Raceway in 2015 and 2021.

But none of that compared to being on stage with Andretti.

“That’s still like a pinch-me moment,” Logano said. “It’s Mario Andretti. He’s the man. The fact that he knows my name I think is really, really cool.”

Catch the NASCAR Awards at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

0 Comments

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NASCAR community showed its support Thursday at the NASCAR Awards for the Gibbs family, grieving the death of Coy Gibbs on Nov. 6. 

During his interview on stage, car owner Joe Gibbs thanked the NASCAR industry for its support. (The NASCAR Awards show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock).

Coy Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs and father of Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, died hours after seeing Ty Gibbs win the series title last month at Phoenix Raceway. Coy Gibbs, 49, was the vice chairman and chief operating officer at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR chief operating officer, introduced Ty Gibbs at the NASCAR Awards and noted that “everyone gathered tonight is all a part of the NASCAR family, and I know I speak for everyone that the entire NASCAR family is 100% percent behind this young man.”

Ty Gibbs received a standing ovation.

“Thank you,” he told the crowd, “that means a lot.”

Ty Gibbs spoke for less than a minute, thanking his team, sponsors, fans and the NASCAR community.

He closed his speech by saying “And thanks to my family. I love you. I hope everybody has a great offseason. Enjoy it. Thank you for all the support. Thank you for all the claps. I really appreciate it.”

Ty Gibbs spoke to the media earlier Thursday. Asked how he was doing, he said: “I’ve been doing good. Thank you for asking and definitely appreciate you guys. We’ve been doing good, doing a lot of stuff this week. … It’s been fun to experience this stuff.”

Asked about Joe Gibbs addressing the organization after Coy’s death, Ty Gibbs politely said: “For right now, I’m not going to touch on any of that subject at all. I’m just going to stick with all the racing questions and go from there.”

Cup champion Joey Logano said he spent time with 20-year-old Ty Gibbs on Wednesday at the champion’s dinner.

Logano said he told Ty Gibbs that “we’re here for you. You need something reach out.”

Brennan Poole joins Bayley Currey at JD Motorsports for 2023

0 Comments

Brennan Poole will join Bayley Currey at JD Motorsports for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity season, the team announced Friday.

Poole will drive the No. 6 car for the full season. Currey returns to the team’s No. 4 car for the season. Currey scored five top-15 finishes last season for the organization.

JD Motorsports is planning to run the No. 0 car next season. No driver or sponsor has been announced for that ride.

“We’re full throttle here and getting ready to go,” Davis said in a statement from the team. “Bayley and Brennan are signed on and looking forward to chasing races and points next year. We’re actively moving along looking for sponsor commitments and for drivers and sponsors for the No. 0 car.”

“We’ve always taken the approach here that we want to go after the series with multiple cars, and that’s how we’re looking toward 2023. The new schedule is very interesting and provides new challenges to our drivers and team members.”

The 2023 Xfinity season begins Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

Friday 5: Will Kyle Busch become NASCAR’s Tom Brady, Peyton Manning?

0 Comments

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The weight of an unfulfilled season, deciding where he’d race in 2023 and the impact on his Truck Series team are off Kyle Busch.

It’s back to racing for the two-time Cup champion, who seeks to reignite his career at Richard Childress Racing this season.

Busch performed his final duty representing Joe Gibbs Racing at Thursday’s NASCAR Awards (show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock) and it’s now all about helping RCR win its first Cup championship since 1994.

MORE: NASCAR Awards red carpet scene

Busch will be with Richard Childress Racing this weekend at Circuit of the Americas for World Racing League endurance events. Busch said the team has turned an old Cup car into an endurance car for the event. Last year, RCR won an eight-hour endurance race there with Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick and Kaz Grala.

Busch seeks better fortunes at RCR than what he’s had recently at Joe Gibbs Racing.

He has one Cup win in his last 53 starts — 14 drivers have won more races than Busch in that span, dating back to the July 2021 race at Road America.

His 17 top-10 finishes this past season were his fewest since scoring 16 top 10s in 2015. 

He was running at the finish in 29 of 36 points races — the first time he’s been running at the finish in fewer than 30 races since 2015. Two blown engines in the opening round of the playoffs led to failing to advance to the second round for the first time in his career. 

“It’s obviously been a challenging, not just this year, but the last little while,” Busch said Thursday at the Music City Center. “So, it’s kind of maybe a blessing in disguise, honestly, where it might just be time for a fresh start, time for something new, time for something different.”

He looks to future NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for inspiration.

Brady won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots before  joining Tampa Bay and winning a Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers.

Manning won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Denver Broncos and winning a Super Bowl there in his final season in the NFL.

“I’m kind of looking at it as a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning aspect where they left great teams, great organizations where they won championships and they were able to win a championship somewhere else,” Busch said. “I’d like to think I still have that opportunity to be able to do that at RCR.

“I look at the opportunity with the new Next Gen race car as an easier move to make now with that vs. years past with previous generation cars.”

He says that because with the previous generation of cars, there was a greater separation between teams because NASCAR did not regulate as much of the car. With the the Next Gen car, teams have the same parts. Two-time Cup champion Joey Logano that his team still has much to learn about the car and maximizing setups. 

Even with his struggles at the end of his tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch says he doesn’t go to RCR with a chip on his shoulder. 

“I don’t think I have anything to prove or I need to have a chip on my shoulder,” Busch said. “I just want to go out there and run well again. … I felt like we had a lot of strong runs this year. There were like six races I can count that we could’ve, would’ve, should’ve won and we didn’t whip is very frustrating. 

“We were so good at giving them away that I need to get back to I’m so good at stealing them and earning them.”

2. Special delivery 

Among the perks with winning a Cup title is getting the Champion’s Journal. Jimmie Johnson started the tradition after his 2010 championship. The existence of the journal remained a secret until 2017 when Johnson posted a picture on social media of him handing the journal to Martin Truex Jr.

The journal passes from champion to champion with the current champion holding on to it for a year and adding an entry for the next champion before handing it to them. Logano will receive the journal from Kyle Larson. 

“I can’t wait to read it again,” Logano said before Thursday’s NASCAR Awards. “I’m telling you, it’s probably one of the coolest things. Jimmie deserves all of the credit for coming up with the idea. 

“I wish it started sooner. It’s so interesting. Some drivers are very detailed what they write to the next champion and some are kind of quick and simple. It’s very interesting to read it. It’s cool. It’s a real secret. It’s kind of like an unwritten rule, you can’t take pictures of it and post it. It’s a thing that only the championship drivers know and have read and seen.

“Every time I get it, I’m so nervous. I’m like don’t spill anything on this thing, don’t lose it. It would suck to be the guy that loses that. That would be bad. I’m putting it right in the safe.”

Logano won his first Cup title in 2018. He then gave the journal to Kyle Busch, the 2019 series champion.

“It’s something you put a lot of thought into, at least I did,” Logano said of what he penned. “I wrote a letter to Kyle. You put a lot of thought into it. It’s something that will be there as long as our sport is around. I hope so at least. It’s a really great tradition.”

3. Fun factor 

The day of last year’s NASCAR Awards, William Byron said he wanted compete in more races outside NASCAR in 2022. 

Byron, who seeks to make Sunday’s prestigious Snowball Derby Super Late Model race, has fulfilled his goal, winning, gaining confidence but also having fun.

“What I got out of it was immediate fun, sort of relief,” Byron said of racing various Super Late Model races this year. “It was not racing the Cup car. It was different. It was not as stressful working with the team and things like that because there’s not as much on the line. There’s still prize money and things, and honestly you’re there to have fun. I enjoyed that.

“As I got going in it, I realized how productive it really was for me to do it, how much I was learning. As I did it more often throughout the season, I learned little nuances that were helping me get back in the Cup car with a better skill set.”

That element of fun stood out to Byron. Cup racing is full of pressure with the multi-million dollar sponsors, expectations to win and all the people at the shop relying on the car’s performance. That’s significant pressure, on top of what any driver puts on themself.

“There’s a lot of guys that you are trying to provide for and do a good job for,” Byron said of Cup racing. “There is a weight to that. You want to perform for those guys that work non-stop at the shop. There’s just a much broader net that you are casting as a driver. Whenever you go to the short track level, it’s you and six to 10 guys working on the car. … There’s natural pressure with what we’re trying to do at the Cup level because it is the No. 1 motorsports in the U.S.”

4. Looking for a ride

Ross Chastain says he’s been “trying for years” to get a ride in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway without success but that hasn’t deterred him.

“I’ve met with the president of IMSA,” said Chastain, who finished second to Joey Logano for the Cup title this season. “I’ve met with team owners. I’ve talked to drivers. I just can’t find my way in yet. I haven’t found the right person yet to either tell me how to do it or give me the opportunity. I could show up with sponsorship and get a ride, but how do I get in as a race car driver? I haven’t found that spot yet.”

Chastain said he’s reached out to some this offseason with no luck. 

He said the prestige of the season-opening IMSA event (Jan. 28-29, 2023) draws him but he also wants to gain more experience racing on a road course — even with his win at Circuit of the Americas this past season. And Chastain is not picky on the type of ride he’d like to have for that race.

“I’m not even looking to be in the top class. I want to find a mid-pack Xfinity team of the Rolex and go run there and experience it and then just to be around those road racers that do it year around. I know I could learn something. … I just want to race.”

5. Indy 500-Coke 600 double

It has been eight years since Kurt Busch competed in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, the last time the feat has been accomplished. 

Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson are among those who have expressed interest in running both races in the same day but don’t appear to be in a position to do so in 2023 because of the limited IndyCar rides available. 

Roger Penske, owner of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said he could see Jimmie Johnson attempting it this year, and others as soon as next year. 

“It’s about having the car and the manufactures, whether it’s Chevy and or Honda,” Penske said, referring to the IndyCar manufacturers. “All would be interested to see somebody run the double. Maybe Jimmie is going to do it, which would be great. 

“He has the experience. He did very well on the ovals. … It’s my understanding that he’s going to run potentially the 600 as one of his races (with Petty GMS). We’ll see.”