What drivers said after Kansas Cup race

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Kevin Harvick – Winner: “Well, I think this weekend shows really how good the race team is. Everything didn’t go exactly smooth, and everybody just kept a good demeanor about things and kept calm and kept working through things. The same thing tonight. Everybody just kept working through trying to make the car better, and we were able to wind up in Victory Lane. Those are the days that you just grind it out.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 2nd: “I thought we were going to be all right there. Like three or four to go, my car just got real tight, and I chattered the right front off of turn four, and I was like, ‘Oh boy, that’s not good.’ We had been so tight all night and I didn’t know where to go once he was getting there. If I go to the top, he’s just going to catch me on the bottom. I might as well run where I feel I can run the fastest, and I did and it just wasn’t enough. Good strategy call by Cole (Pearn, crew chief) and overall, just a hell of an effort by everybody on our team. We had to fight hard. We were awful at the start of the race. We’re missing something right now, just can’t get the thing turned, so we felt tight all night long. Got better for sure the last three or four runs of the race but still have to find some turns. We’ll get to work on that.”

Joey Logano – Finished 3rd: “I really just had two bad restarts in a row, which is frustrating to me. As the leader, I feel like I probably took the wrong lane, which cost me the lead in the first place and then the last time I was trying to time him on the bottom, and he just read it really well and kind of stopped me, and then I spun the tires after that. The car behind me wasn’t the best of pushers. He wanted to win the race, too, and I don’t blame him. He’s not my teammate. He’s there to win, too. I just hate being that close. It’s a great run for AAA and Team Penske, but when you’re that close to winning it’s pretty frustrating as a driver and probably as a team we’re all probably a little frustrated right now.”

Kyle Larson -Finished 4th: “Yeah, we just had a really good car tonight. Our Clover Chevy was fast. I always run pretty good here at Kansas, so it was nice to lead some laps. I thought we were going to have a really good shot to win there, and Kevin (Harvick) was able to get to my outside. And then, I was tight in traffic there. Yeah, then (Ryan) Blaney was side-drafting really hard and I was as high as I could get and we made contact, whatever, and we had a bunch of damage, so I hate that we didn’t turn today into a win, but it’s satisfying to see how much speed our car had tonight. And, it’s definitely good to show that Chevy has a lot of speed, at least in the No. 42 team; so, we’ll just keep working hard and try to get as fast as the No. 4. I thought, myself, the No. 4 and the No. 12 were all pretty equal tonight. It was kind of just whoever got out in clean air and could get to the top quick enough would be the fastest throughout the run. So, it was a fun race but a little bit disappointing there in the last 20 laps.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 5th: “I thought it was average. It felt balanced on the short run, and I lost the balance there toward the middle and end of the race. We optimized our finish. I certainly don’t think we had a fifth-place car, but we just did a good job with the track position there. Got a good finish out of it.”

Paul Menard – Finished 6th: “We had a good car all weekend. We made some good adjustments coming into tonight and kept working on it all night long. The track changed a lot as the sun went down. We kind of saved our best for last, I guess. We had a couple cars crash in front of us. We avoided it and the further up you can restart the better off you can stay up there and the more likely you are to stay up there, so clean air was everything tonight.”

Erik Jones – Finished 7th: “We had a really good car. Our Reser’s Camry was about a seventh-place car, and that’s where we ended up. We have to keep working. We’re getting close. There are some other teams that have some more speed right now and we’re trying to close the gap on them. We have to keep working on that and hopefully find our way to get there sooner rather than later.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 10th: “We were just a little off all weekend. But even though we were, we were able to run up near the front with our M&M’S Caramel Camry. We just ended up getting back in traffic there on the last couple of restarts and dropped too far down. We’ll go back and hopefully figure out where we are off, learn from it and move onto the next one.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 11th: “Overall, we were pretty much an 18th-place car all day. Our Ford wasn’t affected by any of the adjustments we were making, but with pit strategy and late-race cautions we were able to salvage an 11th-place finish. Not a bad points day. We’ll go back to the shop and keep working on our cars.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 12th: “Yeah, just scratching and clawing to run mediocre. We have a lot of work to do.”

David Ragan – Finished 13th: “We made good adjustments Saturday night to start the race and I felt like our car was OK the first run, and then we made a good improvement that first pit stop, so that really helped us stay on the lead lap a little bit longer, and then we just caught a couple of lucky breaks at the end, but we were just good enough that we could take advantage of those lucky breaks. I feel like we’ve made some more progress with our 1.5-mile cars. It was a fun race. We still have some more improvement we can do, but it was fun to race there with some good cars.”

Clint Bowyer – Finished 15th: “It was a solid run. All weekend long it was just not our weekend. We had tech issues and didn’t get to qualify. We started in the back and got up through there pretty good, but then kind of stalled out. We got wrecked there. I was trying to get us up in the top five and got wrecked there. That’s just part of it I guess.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 16th: “It was a hard-fought night for sure. We didn’t have a good Friday, so made kind of wholesale changes on it. Fortunately, Chris (Buescher) was really good all weekend, so we kind used a little bit of his, and that helped. Just kind of all day, I could be loose or tight, just felt like I was at a certain speed, and that was about as good as I was going to go there. The track definitely changed a lot. I thought we fought hard. I did everything I could on the restart there to get all the spots and a little fortunate from a couple of cars falling out. We salvaged a decent night from a tough weekend and hopefully just learn from this and keep going the right direction and try to make it better.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 17th: “We had a challenging night at Kansas Speedway as we battled a lack of grip and handling issues, but I am proud of this Richard Childress Racing team because they never give up. We hit a snag in the race during a green flag pit stop. Our car was gurgling in the middle of three and four and I panicked. I came down pit road too abruptly and earned us a commitment line violation. We could have made it another lap and we ended up multiple laps down. We kept digging and we were able to earn back one of our laps when the caution came out with 30 laps remaining but didn’t have enough laps left in the race to get back on the lead lap.”

Michael McDowell – Finished 20th: “It’s good to get some points and get some momentum back of just finishing races. We just started out really loose and got behind a little bit and made good changes at the end, but by then we were two laps down, and it’s just hard to make up. Everybody fought hard, and it’s still good to get a top 20. I’m really happy for my teammate, David Ragan, top 15. That’s a great run for them, and they’ve been having a good streak. That’s not what we hoped for, but all in all an OK day.”

Ryan Newman – Finished 30th: “We were just an innocent bystander really. They crashed kind of underneath me, in front of me and just got all wadded up. I mean I had no place to go. It’s just unfortunate, kind of a ho-hum race I guess you could say for so long and then to get 14 laps from the end and tear up a bunch of cars like that just kind of sucks.”

William Byron – Finished 33rd: “Yeah, that one hurt really bad. But I’m fine. We took two tires there and couldn’t get it turned on the bottom and then got sucked around at the last minute. It just should have been lower than that. Just couldn’t rotate. Couldn’t cut. I think overall, we were trying to kind of push some things there and it just didn’t work out. But, we’re going to wherever is next and that was definitely the hardest hit I’ve been in. But, I’m thankful to be walking, so that’s good.”

Chris Buescher: – Finished 34th: “It was pushing and shoving (on a) late-race restart, and everybody gets impatient so just wadded up a bunch of cars. I thought we had cleared it, and we were in the grass and just had somebody come from the top and wipe us out. Not what we wanted with our Breyers 2 N 1 Camaro. We had good speed in the sun, and the sun went down, and we lost a little something. We were working hard to get it back and trying to be fighting for the lucky dog there, and we were for a long time. We just got swiped and something that who knows, I haven’t seen a replay. I don’t know. I’m sure just uncalled for.”

Matt Kenseth – Finished 36th: “I expected us to be a little more competitive than that, so it was a really tough weekend all around. We obviously have some work to do. The good news is it’s got to get better.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 37th: “I don’t know. It was hard racing. I definitely take the blame on that one. I was just trying to side draft hard and the car was kind of light down the frontstretch there and it was just hard racing at the end. I got about spun out in one and two on the restart, getting sucked around. We were making some spots back up and just trying to get back up to the front and tried too hard. That stinks. We had a really fast race car and I hate it for REV. The two races they’ve been on our car this year and we’ve led a bunch of laps in both of them and ended up wrecked. I wish we could get over that hump, but I thought we made a good gain tonight and where our cars need to be. Hopefully, we can carry that forward into the next upcoming weeks, but it was definitely my fault just trying too hard. I made contact and it cut my right-front down. I hate I got the 42, but it was just hard racing.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 38th: “This weekend was a rough one for our Twisted Tea team. From the moment we hit the track for practice and throughout the entire race, we struggled with our Camaro ZL1. Then we got caught up in the wreck at the end. I tried to avoid it, but drove in the grass and knocked the radiator out of it. Tough ending for our Germain Racing team, but we will go back to the shop and continue to push to make our cars better.”

Stage points crucial at Las Vegas in Round of 12

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Former champion Brad Keselowski views Sunday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN) as the “second most important” to win during the season after the championship race, “because these next two weeks are very difficult to prepare for.”

What’s so difficult about the two races after Las Vegas?

Two-thirds of the Round of 12 are made up of Talladega and the Charlotte Roval: a superspeedway known for its wild multi-car wrecks and a road course that can prove unpredictable.

“The biggest thing I’ve been thinking about is the playoff bonus points and winning in Vegas,” Keselowski said. “The best thing we can do to control our own destiny is to go win Vegas and then Talladega just becomes what it is. It’s the same thing with the Roval, so we’re hopeful to just kind of not have to worry about it that way by scoring a win. If we’re not able to do that, I’d like to get a few more playoff bonus points with stages for those races and that would help a bunch, but, certainly, this round presents a lot of challenges for us.”

If anyone knows the importance of winning early in a round, it’s Keselowski. His victory two weeks ago at Richmond benefitted him in the cutoff race a Bristol when power steering issues resulted in a 34th-place finish.

Chase Elliott, who has won at both Talladega and the Roval in previous seasons, has a similar view to Keselowski.

The Hendrick Motorsports driver said “we would be messing up to already be looking ahead to Talladega,” later adding, “the way I kind of look at it is I’m probably going to crash – I think that’s just the odds.”

Were everything to go right for a driver, they can earn up to 20 stage points in the first two stages of a race.

“So, I think everybody knows how important stages are and what they can mean, especially stage wins,” Elliott said. “Getting that extra bonus point is a huge thing, too. I think everybody knows that and that’s certainly a game that’s been played. I don’t know that it was as much played that very first year that we had (playoff and stage points), but really ever since that first year, I think it has been known and everybody really gets that. And it’s just gotten more and more aggressive.”

Focusing on Vegas is key for Elliott because it’s been a “super hit or miss” track for him. In seven career starts, he has two top fives and four finishes of 26th or worse.

“We’ve crashed a bunch out there (three DNFs) and had some really bad finishes,” Elliott said. “That would be a fantastic opportunity, I think, to have a solid day.”

Kurt Busch noted that you could arguably view Las Vegas as “standard” when it comes to pit strategy and racing. But Busch provided a reminder of what happened earlier this year at Texas Motor Speedway.

“A place like Vegas fits into a track like Texas, as well; where you can change just left side tires like we saw Austin Dillon do to win the Texas race earlier this year,” Busch said. “So, there are all the different strategies and different things playing out.”

The four drivers eliminated after the Round of 16 – William Byron, Cole Custer, Ryan Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto – scored a combined six stage points. All of them were earned by Byron.

Busch observed that just because four teams have been eliminated from the playoffs doesn’t mean there’s four less cars in the field vying for points.

“There are two Hendrick cars now not in the playoffs, but they’re fast,” Busch said of Byron and Jimmie Johnson. “Same thing with (Joe) Gibbs (Racing). You’ve got the No. 20 car, Erik Jones, not in the playoffs but he’s fast. Those are points that those guys could take away from the contenders that are still left in the situations they’re in. So, you’ve just got to race hard and race smart. There are three ways to get points each and every weekend: Stage 1, Stage 2, and the finish of the race. And, that happens at all the race tracks.”

Of the 12 remaining drivers left in the playoffs, here’s how many stage points they earned in the first round.

Most Stage Points Earned in 2020 Playoffs:

Chase Elliott  – 35
Kevin Harvick – 33
Martin Truex Jr.  – 32
Kyle Busch  – 31
Alex Bowman – 29
Joey Logano  – 28
Denny Hamlin  – 26
Kurt Busch – 22
Austin Dillon – 22
Brad Keselowski – 21
Aric Almirola – 7
Clint Bowyer – 4

NASCAR fines Hendrick Motorsports $100,000

NASCAR fines
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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NASCAR has fined Hendrick Motorsports $100,000 for exceeding the amount of wind tunnel testing allowed this season.

NASCAR also announced that it had deducted 10 hours of wind tunnel testing from the organization for the 2020-21 amount allowed.

Hendrick Motorsports will not appeal the penalty. The team reported the violation to NASCAR.

The Cup Rule Book states in section 5.3.e that organizations are allocated 150 hours to be used on cars through Dec. 31, 2021 with a maximum usage of 70 hours in 2020 and a maximum usage of 90 hours in 2021. NASCAR states that testing hours are defined as billable hours reported by the wind tunnel to NASCAR. The minimum test period is four hours. Wind tunnel testing of Next Gen cars by individual organizations will not be permitted.

The L2 penalty comes with a fine of at least $100,000 and no more than $200,000.

NASCAR also announced two fines for lug nut violations last weekend at Bristol.

In the Xfinity Series, crew chief Bruce Schlicker was fined $5,000 for the No. 10 car of Ross Chastain having one lug nut not safe and secure after the race.

In the Truck Series, crew chief Kevin Bellicourt was fined $2,500 for the No. 19 truck of Derek Kraus having one lug nut not safe and secure after the race.

 

Carson Hocevar to run full Truck schedule in 2021

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Niece Motorsports has signed Carson Hocevar to run the full NASCAR Truck schedule in 2021, the team announced Thursday.

Hocevar, who turns 18 in January, has run five races for the team this season. His best finish this year is 12th at Dover. He’s scheduled to run at Martinsville on Oct. 30.

“I’m so excited to get the opportunity to race fulltime next year with the Niece Motorsports group,” said Hocevar in a statement. “We’ve had some really strong runs in the few starts that we’ve had this season and I am grateful for the chance to continue that next year. I’ve learned so much already this year and know that we will keep improving next year too.”

“Carson has really impressed us this season,” said team owner Al Niece in a statement. “He’s proven his talent – getting into the truck with no track time and really holding his own. We’re thrilled to have him with us fulltime next season and look forward to contending for wins together.”

TikTok to sponsor Ryan Vargas in six Xfinity races

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JD Motorsports
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TikTok is coming to NASCAR.

The popular video sharing app will break into the sport next month as a sponsor of Ryan Vargas in the Xfinity Series.

TikTok has partnered with JD Motorsports to sponsor the 20-year-old Vargas in the final six races of the season, beginning with the Oct. 3 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“TikTok has provided me with an incredible outlet to reach new fans and demographics through fun and creative content, and I’ve seen the highest growth in followers on TikTok over my other social channels,” Vargas said in a press release. “The opportunity to run the No. 6 TikTok Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the rest of the season is an absolute dream come true. Johnny Davis and the whole JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team took a chance on me last year and I’m excited to bring this amazing TikTok partnership their way. I wouldn’t want to make this partnership a reality anywhere else.”

Vargas has made three Xfinity Series starts this year. His best finish was 13th at Pocono.

The sponsor deal is part of TikTok’s Latinx Heritage Month programming.

A native of La Mirada, California, Vargas joined TikTok last year. He is a former member of NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity programming and a winner of the Wendell Scott Trailblazer award, which is given to a minority or female driver who displays exceptional on-track performance, sportsmanship, and community service.

The partnership and paint scheme were inspired by a concept scheme by graphic designer Ryan Pistana, a friend of Vargas’.

“Creators of all sizes and backgrounds show up to TikTok with their genuine, authentic selves,” Nick Tran, TikTok’s Head of Global Marketing, said in a press release. “Partnering with an iconic brand like NASCAR to sponsor Ryan Vargas on his racing journey is a way for us to continue to support, celebrate and elevate the diverse creators that make our TikTok community what it is today. Ryan is an incredible athlete, and we’re looking forward to cheering him on alongside the rest of the TikTok community!”

According to CNBC in August, TikTok has roughly 100 million monthly users, up nearly 800% from January 2018.

TikTok, a Chinese-owned company, has been in national headlines recently after President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app in the United States for national security reasons if it was not sold to an American company. On Sept. 19 he approved a deal for its U.S operations to be operated by Oracle and Walmart.