What drivers said after Talladega Cup race

0 Comments

Joey Logano – Winner: “I guess we got luck. I have a great spotter. Dale Jr. left me a good one with TJ Majors, who allowed me to make the right decisions. He gives me the picture behind me and tells me where to go. I just hold the steering wheel and make the right moves. It was a great car, very fast. The Fords dominated today. I am so proud to be in a Blue Oval with Roush Yates motors under the hood. That is a huge deal. A big part of our victory today. Teamwork was a big part of it as well. At the end you are racing and don’t know what will happen, you just hope to get in the right lanes at the right time with the right moves. It is always exciting to win at a superspeedway, especially Talladega because you never know you’ve got it until you cross the line. After waiting a full year since our last win, it feels so good to get back in victory lane and get into the playoffs. It feels really good to get those playoff points, and now we will make a run at a championship.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 2nd: “We just needed the assistance from behind. (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) was strong. All the Fords were great today. I was hoping he would get to us on the back straightaway so we could go on offense on the front to go win it but it just didn’t materialize. I wanted to stay with Harvick, my teammate, and navigate around (Logano), but everyone behind kind of broke off and was racing too hard and nobody got that big head of steam to try to push through and break apart (Logano)’s lead.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 3rd: “I thought our NAPA Chevy was good. It wasn’t as fast as we’ve been previously at the restrictor-plate tracks, but I feel like it was a solid car. I got to the end, and those guys around me were working together so much. I thought for sure one of them wanted to win a little worse than what they did. They were being very patient with one another, and I was surprised by that. If it was me, I feel like I would have wanted to try or do something. Those guys weren’t having it. I was trying to move forward and make a lane and push, and they were not interested in advancing. So, it could have been a lot worse, so we’ll move on to Dover.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 4th: “We had a really good Bush Ford. We got the handling a lot better there after the first run of the race when it was pushing really bad and loose in the corners and through the trioval. They did a good job adjusting the car. (Kurt Busch) pulled out sooner than I thought he would there, and we wound up getting hung out. All in all, it was a really good day. I am happy to finish the race. It is a good day for the guys. We can tweak on one finally rather than having to rebuild one.”

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. – Finished 5th: “I just wasn’t sure what to do there. I knew (Chase Elliott) was going to try to get by us, and we are all trying to get a win there. (Joey Logano) was in a great position. When we got two-wide behind him, it didn’t slow him down much. We weren’t ever really gaining on him. It was a lot of fun out there today. I made a few mistakes on pit road, and we caught some good cautions to keep us on the lead lap. I thought the racing was good. The cars were super tough to drive. They were sliding around everywhere, which was fun. I think that made for a good race throughout the runs and the stages and the different strategies that we had. All in all it was a fun weekend, and I had fun on the boulevard with all the fans. I appreciate all of them coming out. I really wanted to win on Dale Sr.’s birthday. That would have been really cool.”

David Ragan – Finished 6th: “We had a fast car all weekend. We qualified 12th, and if it wasn’t for my speeding penalty early, I think we could have run in the top 15 all day. Kudos to the Front Row Motorsports guys for assembling this car and the team at the shop and the engine shop and even Roush Fenway Racing, who put a lot of effort in. Special thanks to Jimmy Fennig for helping us on this car.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 7th: “It was an unusual Talladega. The cars are a big handful. They keep getting them lower and lower and lower, and we are going faster and faster and faster, but the cars just drive worse. It is a lot harder to run in a big pack three- and four-wide all day long. You definitely saw it kind of file out and pit strategy and a lot of that stuff. The one thing that I do know is that the Fords were all really fast. All of us were really fast. We had a great Smithfield Ford Fusion the whole weekend. We put ourselves behind in qualifying, but that was a nice way to battle back with a solid day for us. I thought we had a car capable of getting up there and racing for the win, but we got shuffled there on the restarts. Coming from the back to get a top 10 is a good day.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 8th: “The cars are just pretty unstable, so the racing is just different. Nobody is going to want to race quite as hard because their stuff is not driving as good to be able to do it. I feel like people were pretty limited on how their stuff drove, but our stuff drove better than most. We were really fast until we got that hole in the nose, and that just killed us. Miscommunication on that, but we will learn from it and move on.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 9th: “I’m just happy to have been in front of the ‘Big One’ for a change. The start of our weekend saw us caught up in a practice wreck. It is what it is at a place like this. So many things happen here that are out of our control, but we kept our primary engine and raced the backup. Stage 1 did not go as planned for us, but we managed to get back out front by Stage 2 to run in the top 10. My plan was to go when we could but be smart about it, and fortunately for us, we had luck on our side. We’ve been running well but haven’t had much to show for it as of late, so I’m happy that this Cat Racing team can leave here with a ninth-place finish.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished 10th: “It was OK. Made a lot of mistakes through the day. We went out there to survive and tried to get a decent finish, and that’s what we got. We have to keep working to get these race cars a little bit better. There were a lot of people who were having issues handling-wise; we were one of them as well. We don’t have a lot of luck at superspeedway racing, but there’s definitely work to be done.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 11th: “Yeah, that was good for our Kroger Clicklist JTG Daugherty team. We needed to come here and have a good showing. We ran good at Daytona this year and trying to stick to a strategy that keeps us out of trouble. It’s still hit or miss. AJ (Allmendinger) was on the same deal and got caught up in that one there. It’s a little bit of luck involved with just being out of that stuff. Definitely, a more white-knuckled race than usual here. Very on edge. Tires gave out a lot and really slowed our pace down or hurt the handling. So, it was a more fun race than normal out here. I will say that. I am not the best advocate for plate racing, but I can enjoy it from time to time. I’m glad we were able to bring our Degree Camaro ZL1 home in one piece with very limited damage, and we got an 11th-place finish out of it.”

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 12th: “I knew I had help somehow just the way it turned around. Unfortunately, when I was sliding, (Ryan Blaney) hit us and bent something in the rear end. It wasn’t the same after. (Looking at the car), there really isn’t much damage, and he hit me pretty hard on the other wheel and it was just super draggy and slow that last restart. Something is bent in the rear end and very loose.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 13th: “Once we got in that wreck, it was over, but we had a decent car up until then. We got the car handling better all day long and every adjustment we made to it was an improvement and gave us more on the racetrack, but we just lack speedway speed.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 15th: “Geico 500 weekend was not an easy one for us. Our primary car was incredibly fast in practice, but we were forced pull out our backup car after I got caught up in the big wreck on Friday. We were confident in this backup car though because it has run well at superspeedways in the past. We knew that we wanted to run a conservative race at the beginning after we got too aggressive in Daytona and were taken out before the end of Stage 1. Our plan to survive worked, but we were bit by a tire issue early on and had to come back from a lap down. It is not how we wanted to race, but we battled back to the lead lap and a top-15 finish. A solid finish is exactly what we needed. I know it was a tough weekend for our Geico Camaro ZL1 team, and I appreciate all of their hard work to keep us in this thing.”

William Byron – Finished 29th: “Honestly, I think we just got side-drafted going into (turn) 3 and got me a little bit free and then I think I just packed some air on his (Jimmie Johnson) left rear. I haven’t seen a replay, so I can’t really tell. Hopefully, one of our guys can get it done. It was just unfortunate that we couldn’t get to the end of the race, but we’ll learn from it and come back here in the fall and hopefully have an even better run.”

Paul Menard – Finished 30th: “We just got the bottom lane rolling decent and kind of got shuffled back. It is so hard to get back forward. We went for the top, and that wasn’t working, so we went to the bottom and started going forward, but (Jimmie Johnson) just cut across (William Byron) from what I saw and caused a big wreck.”

Clint Bowyer – Finished 31st: “It looked like, I don’t know if he got loose or was trying to get in a whole, but (Jimmie Johnson) wasn’t clear and wrecked a bunch of us. That was just kind of par for our day. It started when we locked the right-rear wheel up somehow coming to the pits and flat spotted that and had to come back in. We finally got two laps back. I got one lap back and then finally got on the lead lap and then we wrecked. Par for the course.”

Michael McDowell – Finished 32nd: “All I saw was smoke unfortunately. We were just in the wrong lane at the wrong time. We had a really fast Love’s Travel Stops Ford. Unfortunately, that happens here at Talladega, and it always feels like it is 20 to go when we crash. I am not sure how to get to the end of these ones. It has been a rough last few years.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 33rd: “There was just a wreck in front of me, and I couldn’t make any sense really of what happened, and we just got into it.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 34th: “Yeah I’m not sure what happened. I just saw (Jimmie Johnson) spin, and all heck broke loose after that. I actually got it checked up, got it to the apron. There was so much smoke and grass flying. I had it slowed down. I wasn’t going to drive into the wreck and just got clobbered from the right side. I don’t know. I felt like I did everything I was supposed to do and still got wrecked.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 35th: “I just saw them wrecking in front of me and I got it slowed down. I went to cut through the grass because everybody was kind of wrecking that way, and when I hit the grass, it just tore the oil cooler off of it. It sucks because we really wouldn’t have had any damage if I had kind of rolled through the grass. It’s part of this racing and hate it. We were on the good side of it at Daytona, bad side here we will just go back to Daytona and see what we can do there.”

Trevor Bayne – Finished 38th: “We went into Turn 1, and I saw Kyle Busch kind of get rooted up high. The third lane seemed to be the best for us. The car was on the splitter, and the higher I could stay the better off we were. I went to the top to keep my run going and coming off the corner, I didn’t see what happened but watching the replay it looks like (Erik Jones) got turned and turned up into us. It stinks. You try to manage your highs and lows, though. We will move on and go to Dover next weekend. It is frustrating because Talladega is one of the ones you know you can win at, and we wanted to do that today.”

Erik Jones – Finished 39th: “We’ve been fighting a loose car all day and unfortunately just got down on the apron there and kind of fighting it being free and then it took off up the hill after that. I was out of the throttle with it cranked left, and there’s only so much you can do. Unfortunately, it ruined our day and took out a few others along the way, so it’s really unfortunate for them and for us. It’s not what you want to have happen. We’ll move on and go to Dover next weekend and hopefully have a better weekend.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 40th: “Yeah, I mean I haven’t really seen what happened. I saw Jamie (McMurray) get loose and then I saw (Erik Jones) get into the wall and then Jamie came back down, and I ran into him. Just nothing I could really do, and then there wasn’t much we were trying to repair there. We were just waiting on pit road to close so we could back up and get back to the garage area and out of the way of everybody on pit road. I hate that we are going to get a DNF (Did Not Finish) here. I feel like our Credit One Bank Chevy drove a little bit better than it did at Daytona, so would have liked to have gotten to race. I didn’t really ever feel like we got to race. We were just single file, and it was kind of boring. I was ready to start racing, get two and three wide. It would have been fun but ended up getting in a crash.”

Kyle Busch to run five Truck races for KBM in 2023

0 Comments

Kyle Busch Motorsports announced Wednesday the five Craftsman Truck Series team owner Kyle Busch will race this season.

Busch’s Truck races will be:

March 3 at Las Vegas

March 25 at Circuit of the Americas

April 14 at Martinsville

May 6 at Kansas

July 22 at Pocono

Busch is the winningest Truck Series driver with 62 career victories. He has won at least one series race in each of the last 10 seasons. He has won 37.6% of the Truck races he’s entered and placed either first or second in 56.7% of his 165 career series starts.

Zariz Transport, which specializes in transporting containers from ports, signed a multi-year deal to be the primary sponsor on Busch’s No. 51 truck for all of his series races, starting this season. The company will be an associate sponsor on the truck in the remaining 18 series races.

Myatt Snider to run six Xfinity races with Joe Gibbs Racing

0 Comments

Myatt Snider is the latest driver to be announced as running a select number of Xfinity races in the No. 19 car for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

Snider will run six races with the team. Ryan Truex (six races), Joe Graf Jr. (five) and Connor Mosack (three) also will be in JGR’s No. 19 Xfinity car this year.

Snider’s first race with the team will be the Feb. 18 season opener at Daytona. He also will race at Portland (June 3), Charlotte Roval (Oct. 7), Las Vegas (Oct. 14), Martinsville (Oct. 28) and the season finale at Phoenix (Nov. 4).

The deal returns Snider to JGR. He worked in various departments there from 2011-15.

“We’re looking forward to have Myatt on our No. 19 team for six races,” said Steve DeSouza, executive vice president of Xfinity and development. “Building out the driver lineup for this car is an opportunity for JGR to help drivers continue to develop in their racing career, and we’re looking forward to seeing how Myatt continues to grow.”

Said Snider in a statement from the team: “With six races on our 2023 schedule, I’m looking forward to climbing into the No. 19 TreeTop Toyota GR Supra with Joe Gibbs Racing this year. Having worked with JGR as a high schooler and a young racer, it’s an awesome full circle moment to return as a driver to the team that taught me so much about racing itself.

“It’s good to be reunited with (crew chief) Jason Ratcliff as we have an awesome history working together. With many memories and wins from 2013 and 2014 when I worked on the No. 20 Toyota Camry under Jason’s leadership, the team has always been more of a family relationship to me. I’m glad to be returning to the JGR family and looking forward to continuing to learn and grow as a driver.”

Daytona will be Snider’s 100th career Xfinity start. He has one series win and 21 top 10s. He was the rookie of the year in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2018.

Tree Top will be Snider’s sponsor for his six races with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Also in the Xfinity Series, Gray Gaulding, who will run full season with SS Green Light Racing, announced that he’ll have sponsor Panini America for multiple races, including the Daytona opener. Emerling-Gase Motorsports announced that Natalie Decker will run a part-time schedule in both the ARCA Menards Series and Xfinity Series for the team.

 

Travis Pastrana ‘taking a chance’ at Daytona

0 Comments

In so-called “action” sports, Travis Pastrana is a king. He is well-known across the spectrum of motorsports that are a bit on the edge — the X Games, Gymkhana, motorcross and rally racing.

Now he’s jumping in the deep end, attempting to qualify for the Daytona 500 and what would be his first NASCAR Cup Series start.

Pastrana, who is entered in the 500 in a third Toyota fielded by 23XI Racing, will be one of at least six drivers vying for the four non-charter starting spots in the race. Also on that list: Jimmie Johnson, Conor Daly, Chandler Smith, Zane Smith and Austin Hill.

MORE: IndyCar driver Conor Daly entered in Daytona 500

Clearly, just getting a spot on the 500 starting grid won’t be easy.

“I love a challenge,” Pastrana told NBC Sports. “I’ve wanted to be a part of the Great American Race since I started watching it on TV as a kid. Most drivers and athletes, when they get to the top of a sport, don’t take a chance to try something else. I like to push myself. If I feel I’m the favorite in something, I lose a little interest and focus. Yes, I’m in way over my head, but I believe I can do it safely. At the end of the day, my most fun time is when I’m battling and battling with the best.”

Although Pastrana, 39, hasn’t raced in the Cup Series, he’s not a stranger to NASCAR. He has run 42 Xfinity races, driving the full series for Roush Fenway Racing in 2013 (winning a pole and scoring four top-10 finishes), and five Craftsman Truck races.

“All those are awesome memories,” Pastrana said. “In my first race at Richmond (in 2012), Denny Hamlin really helped me out. I pulled on the track in practice, and he waited for me to get up to speed. He basically ruined his practice helping me get up to speed. Joey Logano jumped in my car at New Hampshire and did a couple of laps and changed the car, and I went from 28th to 13th the next lap. I had so many people who really reached out and helped me get the experience I needed.”

Pastrana was fast, but he had issues adapting to the NASCAR experience and the rhythm of races.

“It was extremely difficult for me not growing up in NASCAR,” he said. “I come from motocross, where there’s a shorter duration. It’s everything or nothing. You make time by taking chances. In pavement racing, it’s about rear-wheel drive. You can’t carry your car. In NASCAR it’s not about taking chances. It’s about homework. It’s about team. It’s about understanding where you can go fast and be spot on your mark for three hours straight.”

MORE: Will Clash issues carry over into rest of season?

Pastrana said he didn’t venture into NASCAR with the idea of transferring his skills to stock car racing full time.

“It was all about me trying to get to the Daytona 500,” he said. “Then I looked around, when I was in the K&N Series, and saw kids like Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. They were teenagers, and they already were as good or better than me.”

Now he hopes to be in the mix with Elliott, Larson and the rest of the field when the green flag falls on the 500.

He will get in some bonus laps driving for Niece Motorsports in the Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona.

“For the first time, my main goal, other than qualifying for the 500, isn’t about winning,” Pastrana said. “We’ll take a win, of course, but my main goal is to finish on the lead lap and not cause any issues. I know we’ll have a strong car from 23XI, so the only way I can mess this up is to be the cause of a crash.

“I’d just love to go out and be a part of the Great American Race.”

 

Front Row Motorsports adds more Cup races to Zane Smith’s schedule

0 Comments

Reigning Craftsman Truck Series champion Zane Smith, who seeks to qualify for the Daytona 500, will do six additional Cup races for Front Row Motorsports this season, the team announced Tuesday. Centene Corporation’s brands will sponsor Smith.

The 23-year-old Smith will drive the No. 36 car in his attempt to make the Daytona 500 for Front Row Motorsports. That car does not have a charter. Chris Lawson will be the crew chief. 

Smith’s remaining six Cup races will be in the No. 38 car for Front Row Motorsports, which has a charter. Todd Gilliland will drive the remaining 30 points races and All-Star Open in that car. Ryan Bergenty will be the crew chief for both drivers this year.

Smith’s races in the No. 38 car will be Phoenix (March 12), Talladega (April 23), Coca-Cola 600 (May 28), Sonoma (June 11), Texas (Sept. 24) and the Charlotte Roval (Oct. 8). 

He also will run the full Truck season. 

Centene’s Wellcare, which offers a range of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will be Smith’s sponsor for the Daytona 500, Phoenix, Talladega and Sonoma. Centene’s Ambetter, a provider of health insurance offerings on the Health Insurance Marketplace, will be Smith’s sponsor at Texas and the Charlotte Roval. 

Smith’s sponsor for the Coca-Cola 600 will be Boot Barn. 

The mix of tracks is something Smith said he is looking forward to this season.

“I wanted to run Phoenix just because the trucks only go to Phoenix once and it’s the biggest race of the year,” Smith told NBC Sports. “I wanted to get as much time and laps as I can at Phoenix even though it’s in a completely different car. I wanted to run road courses, as well, just because I felt road course racing suits me.”

Smith also will be back in the Truck Series. Ambetter Health will be the primary sponsor of Smith’s Truck at Homestead (Oct. 21). The partnership with Centene includes full season associate sponsorship of Smith’s Truck and full season associate sponsorship on the No. 38 Cup car. 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150
Zane Smith holding the Truck series championship trophy last year at Phoenix. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Smith’s connection to Centene Corporation, a St. Louis-based company, goes back to last June’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis. Smith made his Cup debut that weekend, filling in for Chris Buescher, who was out with COVID-19. Smith finished 17th.

“It’s cool to see how into the sport they are,” Smith said of Centene Corporation. “It started out with an appearance I did for them (at World Wide Technology Raceway). I’ve gotten to know that group pretty well.”

Centene also is the healthcare partner of Speedway Motorsports and sponsors a Cup race at Atlanta and Xfinity race at New Hampshire. 

Smith’s opportunity to run select Cup races, including major events as the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600, is part of the fast trajectory he’s made.

In 2019, he made only 10 Xfinity starts with JR Motorsports and didn’t start racing full-time in NASCAR until the 2020 season. Since then, he’s won a Truck title, finished second two other times and scored seven Truck victories.

“I feel like I’ve lived about probably three lifetimes in these four years just with getting that part-time Xfinity schedule and running well and getting my name out there,” Smith said.

He was provided an extra Xfinity race at Phoenix in 2019 with JRM and that proved significant to his future.

“That happened to be probably one of my best runs,” he said of his fifth-place finish that day. “We ran top four, top five all day and (team owner) Maury Gallagher happened to be there. He watched that.”

He signed with Gallagher’s GMS Racing Truck truck.

“It was supposed to be a part-time Truck schedule and (then) I won at Michigan and it was like, ‘Oh man, we’re in the playoffs, we should probably be full-time racing.’ I won another one a couple of weeks later at Dover.”

His success led to second season with the team and he again finished second in the championship. That led to the drive to a title last year.

The championship trophy sits in his home office and serves as motivation every day.

“First thing you see is when you come through my front door is pretty much the trophy,” Smith said. “It drives me crazy now thinking I could have two more to go with it and how close I was. … Really just that much more hungrier to go capture more.”