Daniel Suarez: ‘It hurts to be close’ after earning career-best result at Pocono

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Even after the best weekend of his Cup career, Daniel Suarez was left disappointed.

Following his second-place finish to teammate Kyle Busch Sunday at Pocono Raceway, Suarez told NBCSN, “It hurts to be close.”

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver earned his career-best finish through 57 starts Sunday after leading a career-high 29 laps from the pole, the first of his career.

But the 26-year-old driver was unable to get his No. 19 Toyota around Busch over the last seven laps, which saw two restarts, one of them in overtime.

“I thought I was better than Kyle and the 18 guys on new tires for five, seven laps or so,” Suarez told NBCSN. “But on the longer run he was better than me, he was just turning better for whatever reason. I was getting too tight. I was trying to adjust my tools as much as I could to free the car up a little bit, but it wasn’t helping the rotation, what I needed.”

The final restart saw Suarez, Busch and fellow JGR driver Erik Jones go three wide into Turn 1.

“The last restart it was very good on my side,” Suarez said. “I was side drafting (Busch) very well. I was even with him, and because we were even, (Jones) was coming with a big run, and when I saw him coming, I started blocking him but instead of pushing me he decided to try to take the lead, as well, and after that obviously it was ‑‑ I put myself in attack mode but defense mode at the same time.”

Said Busch: “I was just nervous for that fact, that we were all going to race down into Turn 1 and not really know what grip level we all had (on tires). Bombs going off everywhere and figuring out where we were going to land at the end of it.”

It was Busch who came out ahead as Suarez and Jones fought for what was left.

Busch added “humbly” that part of him regretted being the one to win the race.

“I kind of feel bad I was the guy that was in front of Daniel when he finished second, he could of won,” Busch said. “He was right there with us all day long. He trailed us that whole run and I couldn’t shake him, I couldn’t get away from him.”

Suarez bettered his previous best result by one spot. He placed third at Dover earlier this year and last season at Watkins Glen International, the road course the series returns to this weekend.

Suarez led 14 laps there last season.

“I was just talking about that, how good is this result for our race team and for everyone in the 19 group because we know how good we run in the Glen, and we had a good result my first time there in the Cup car,” Suarez said. “We are not expecting anything less. We have good momentum right now on our side, and hopefully we can keep that going.”


Penalty report from Bristol Motor Speedway

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NASCAR has issued three fines to Cup Series crew chiefs for unsecured lug nuts following Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Paul Wolfe, crew chief on Brad Keselowski‘s No. 2 Ford, Alan Gustafson, crew chief on Chase Elliott‘s No. 9 Chevrolet and Michael Bugarewicz, crew chief on Clint Bowyer‘s No. 14 Ford, have each been fined $10,000 for having one unsecured lug nut.

Those fines are in addition to the points penalties against Tyler Reddick‘s Xfinity Series team (10 driver and owner points) for failing pre-qualifying inspection four times.

NASCAR also indefinitely suspended Bayley Currey for violating its substance abuse policy.

Michael McDowell to honor Jimmy Means with Darlington scheme

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Front Row Motorsports is changing things up on its No. 34 Ford for the Throwback Weekend at Darlington Raceway next week (6 p.m. Sept 1 on NBCSN).

After three years of using the same retro Love’s Travel Stops paint scheme, the team will show up in Darlington next weekend with Dockside Logistics as Michael McDowell‘s primary sponsor. With that sponsor comes a tribute to long-time NASCAR owner and former driver Jimmy Means.

McDowell’s car will be made to look like the No. 52 Alka-Seltzer Pontiac Means owned and drove part-time from 1989-91 in the Cup Series.

One of Means’ cars, which was driven by Mike Wallace, is located in Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s car graveyard.

More: Retro Rundown of Southern 500 paint schemes

Front Row Motorsports was originally known as Means-Jenkins Motorsports, based on a partnership between Means and current FRM team owner Bob Jenkins. Their relationship began with Jenkins sponsoring Means at Bristol with his local Taco Bell franchise, which led Jenkins to a partial ownership of Means’ race team. The team was active for one year before Jenkins separated and founded Front Row Motorsports.

“Throwback weekend at Darlington is one of my favorites of the whole year,” McDowell said in a press release. “It’s fun to recreate some of the most well-known paint schemes throughout the history of our sport. Our owner, Bob Jenkins, has always admired Jimmy Means, and the Alka-Seltzer car is definitely a favorite of his. I’m really excited that we can honor their friendship with our No. 34 Dockside Logistics Ford.”

Corey LaJoie to carry ‘Scooby Doo’ paint scheme at Martinsville

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Popular cartoon character Scooby Doo will be featured as the theme on Corey LaJoie’s No. 32 Go Fas Racing Ford Mustang for the First Data 500 on Oct. 27 at Martinsville Speedway.

Long-time team sponsor Keen Parts/CorvetteParts.net will transform the team’s usual paint scheme to what it’s calling “the Mystery Machine” for the Martinsville race, which will be four days before Halloween.

“Scooby Doo was my favorite cartoon growing up, so when Tom and TJ (team co-sponsors Tom and TJ Keen) asked what I wanted to do for Martinsville, there was no doubt that I wanted to be driving the Mystery Machine,” LaJoie said in a media release. “They always have really cool themes behind their Halloween-weekend schemes and I’m excited to be part of this one and thankful for all that they do for our team.”

For last year’s fall race at Martinsville the team and sponsor combined for a purple and black Peanuts scheme that featured Snoopy and quickly became a much-talked about fan favorite.

“We are super excited to present this paint scheme to Corey to run at Martinsville,” said lTJ Keen. “This cartoon was his favorite as a kid and I bet it still is today. We cannot thank the team enough for letting us do these schemes and we hope you fans will enjoy it.”

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Richard Childress resigns from National Rifle Association’s Board of Directors

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On Monday, Richard Childress submitted his resignation letter as a member of the Board of Directors for the National Rifle Association and a handful of the organization’s committees, NBC Sports has confirmed.

The resignation came two days after the owner of Richard Childress Racing helped give the command to start engines  for the Cup Series night race at Bristol Motor Speedway, which was co-sponsored by Bass Pro Shops and the NRA.

“At this time, it is necessary for me to fully focus on my businesses,” Childress said in his letter. “I owe that to my employees, our partners, my family, and myself. Since proudly agreeing to serve on the NRA Board, I have supported the organization and its important mission to preserve and protect our Constitutional rights. But when, as now, I am no longer able to be fully engaged in any commitment I have made, it becomes time for me to step down. I have reached that point in my ability to continue to serve the NRA. As such, I must resign.”

According to the Washington Post, Childress is the sixth member of the Board of Directors to resign since May. The Board of Directors totals more than 70 members.

Childress was elected as the NRA’s second vice president in 2015 and had also served as the first vice president until he stepped down in April of this year.

Childress will retain his NRA membership moving forward.