What drivers said after Michigan

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Kevin Harvick— Winner: “Keelan is saving me some work. Usually when I get home the next day we have to mock up a victory lane celebration. For him to be here and able to do that and be a part of NASCAR and bring your son to work and do all the things that we get to do with our kids, I have had him with me by myself the last three weeks and we have had a ball. I couldn’t be happier to be a dad and be a part of NASCAR where they let your family come to the race track and be a part of it.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 2nd: “We kind of clawed all day and had some good restarts with the Discount Tire Ford and got all we could get out of it but just ended up one spot short and that is so frustrating.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 3rd: “You better be right on to win these races these days with the guys that are winning and being able to execute at the end of the day. Our Interstate Batteries Camry was pretty close, but certainly wish we had just a tick more. Overall, good day for us – it’s Michigan and we don’t count on much when we come to Michigan. We were able to take that, but the restarts were the name of the game here and we were kind of on the bottom there the last couple of them and got shuffled back and wasn’t able to pass once everybody got strung out. Air was the reason why everybody got strung out and one everybody did that you couldn’t make up any time on anybody at that point. Best chance we had to pass guys was just on strategy there at the end and on pit road. The car was good and we got the most out of our day.”

AUTIN DILLON — Finished 4th: “I got to battle with (Kevin) Harvick there and that was awesome. I’m so proud of the guys for having a car capable of doing that. Yeah, (losing positions on the last lap) really stunk. We were kind of in position that if something happened to the No. 4 we could win the race. With two (laps) to go, I went into (Turn) 3 and I kind of missed the corner. When I came down the straightaway, it was just shaking like either the tire was unraveling or it was a loose wheel. But, I didn’t want to lose this great finish we had in front of us, but we brought it home with a top five at least.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 5th: “It was a good showing for us today. Really all weekend I thought we were pretty strong. There were a couple cars better than us all day and a couple that got better at the end. Second half of the race the track kind of changed and our car lost a little bit of speed but I am happy with a fifth after the last two weeks that have been a struggle for us. It is good to get back on the right track which is where we belong. Hopefully we can keep this going here for the next few weeks and then into the playoffs.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 6th: “Is this groundhog day? Is it deja vu? We are running so strong, not making mistakes and chiseling away. That is why we are fourth in points. Consistency. Anytime I get to the back bumper of the 4, 18 or 78 they inch away from us. We are sliding both ends of our car. We are so close. We will find our day. We have good rhythm, we just can’t steer to far away from this rhythm.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 7th: “It was a solid day. We ran top 10 both stages and finished top 10. Finally a normal weekend for us where we had good speed and kind of executed all day. We had some bad restarts and had a couple stops on pit road that we struggled on but overall it was a decent day and a good way to build our momentum back as we head into the playoff stretch.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 9th: “Yeah, we didn’t have a lot of pace and very frustrating, but I feel like we made the most of it.”

Joey Logano — Finished 10th: “It is frustrating. I felt like we finished 10th with a fifth place car today. I couldn’t restart very well and I lost spots on every restart. I am proud of the team though. Everyone else did good, I just wasn’t able to get anything going on the restarts and that made life really difficult today.”

Erik Jones — Finished 13th: “It just wasn’t a very good day right from the start. I spun out early and had some contact late and spun us out again. We were fighting from behind all day. Our stuff wasn’t that great as it was, but we made the most out of it – it wasn’t a top 10, that would have been an extremely stellar day. We worked on the Doosan Camry to get it better and we got a little bit better, but not where we needed to be. We have to work here and get better for next time, but fortunately it’s not a Playoff race and this track isn’t in the Playoffs either so we’ll be alright.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 14th: There’s one thing that was for certain, it was not our day. I told our friends in the 5-hour Energy suite this morning that whatever it is, we either finish top-five or 14th. Sure enough we’re 14th. I think what we can take out of today is that we got the race car a lot better and we had good speed, we were up front there saving fuel and they couldn’t do anything with us until we started saving so much that obviously I had to let them go. I passed a lot of cars today and had a good car today when we could get some track position. It’s one of those days where we had bad pit stops and nothing just went our way. Getting spun out early really hurt. That damaged the car and that hurt us, but we were able to recover from that and then the fuel situation and being a lap down because of the penalty, it just wasn’t our day. Still to come back to 14th isn’t awful.

Ryan Newman — Finished 15th: “It was a good rebound of a day for the Grainger Chevrolet. I barely caught the wall off of (Turn) 4 in some dirty air there. It basically rubbed a hole in the right rear tire. Had, I guess, probably the save of the day going 290 into Turn 1 it felt like and just lost a brake line, recouped from that and the guys did a good job of fixing it. My fault, I stuck it in the fence in the first place. A good rebound, but not near where we should have finished.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 28th: “Yeah, we led some laps and were much more competitive today, so that was encouraging. Unfortunately, a loose wheel there at the end relegated us to laps down in the result, but we definitely raced way better than that.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 38th: It was either a battery or a chunk of lead, which is really unfortunate. When you’re going that fast, you don’t realize until you hit something and it goes through your oil cooler and you have no control of your car.

Vote for best 2018 Cup paint schemes

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It’s time to take stock of the 2018 Cup season.

That means voting in the best paint schemes of the year tournament.

The NBC Sports tournament has now reached its final four.

Here’s the bracket so far.

Bubba Wallace, RPM reinlist US Air Force as two-race sponsor

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Richard Petty Motorsports will continue to receive support from the United States military. On Friday, they announced the US Air Force will continue as a primary sponsor in 2019 as well as a major associate sponsor throughout the season on Bubba Wallace’s No. 43.

The two races for which the Air Force will be the primary sponsor are Saturday, July 6 at Daytona International Speedway (4th of July weekend) and Sunday, Nov. 10 (Veteran’s Day weekend) at ISM Raceway. Last year during his rookie campaign, Wallace finished in the top 15 in both of those races. He was 14th in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona and 10th at ISM.

“The Air Force continues to see benefits from our partnership with Richard Petty Motorsports and driver, Bubba Wallace,” said Major Ross McKnight, Chief, Air Force National Events Branch at Air Force Recruiting Service in a press release. “Wallace Jr. and his personality align well with our target audience’s interests and the Air Force’s commitment to teamwork and technology. The combination of Bubba Wallace and the iconic No. 43 provides a continuing sponsorship opportunity that reflects our Air Force core values of Integrity, Service and Excellence, as well as has a positive impact on generating public awareness about the U.S. Air Force, our people and our mission.

“Like NASCAR, much of our work is based on science, technology, engineering and math principles combined with teamwork and training. This sponsorship is a great way to highlight that connection.”

Last year, Wallace visited four Air Force bases. He participated in drills at each and flew in an F-16 with the 77th Fighter Squadron “Gamblers” at Shaw AFB in South Carolina.

“I was really impressed with all the different aspects of the Air Force, and the different opportunities they offer,” said Wallace Jr. “I was able to visit different bases and see the Airmen in action and actually participate myself. That gets me excited and then I’m able to talk to inspiring students who are looking at a career in the Air Force. I’m pretty humbled to represent the Air Force.”

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John Hunter Nemechek, Chase Briscoe approved to run for Xfinity Rookie of the Year

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NASCAR has approved John Hunter Nemechek and Chase Briscoe to compete for the Xfinity Series Rookie of the Year title in 2019, NBC Sports has confirmed.

Nemechek made 18 Xfinity starts in 2018 with Chip Ganassi Racing while Briscoe made 17 with Stewart-Haas Racing and Roush Fenway Racing.

Nemechek will compete for GMS Racing in the No. 23 Chevrolet. Briscoe will drive the No. 98 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing.

When Nemechek was announced on Dec. 6 as joining GMS Racing, a team press release said he would compete for Rookie of the Year. But a NASCAR spokesperson said his eligibility had not been decided on at the time.

The Rookie of the Year title was not mentioned in SHR’s Nov. 27 press release about Briscoe going full-time.

The Xfinity rookie field next year will include Nemechek, Briscoe, Noah Gragson in JR Motorsports’ No. 1 Chevrolet and Justin Haley in Kaulig Racing’s No. 11 Chevrolet.

Briscoe said in an Q&A on Reddit he was “honestly surprised” he was approved.

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Richard Childress Racing reveals Daytona 500 cars, sponsors and Xfinity details

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WELCOME, N.C. – Richard Childress Racing kicked off its 50th anniversary Friday at its headquarters in Welcome, North Carolina, with announcements about the 2019 season.

RCR announced Daniel Hemric will drive the No. 8 Chevrolet in his rookie Cup season. Hemric had originally been announced as driving the No. 31.

Hemric, who moves up after two years in Xfinity, drove the No. 8 in his two Cup starts in 2018.

Richard Childress Racing

Hemric will be sponsored by Caterpillar, Bass Pro Shops, Liberty National Life Insurance, Cessna and VF Workwear.

Cessna is also a sponsor at Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Growing up in Kannapolis, it was all about racing,” Hemric said in a press release. “I always dreamed of having the opportunity to drive for RCR and for Richard himself. Now, two iconic numbers, the 3 and the 8, are going to be under one roof. I know it makes Richard happier than anybody, just understanding what that means for the sport of NASCAR and how our fans are going to be able to connect with that.”

RCR also confirmed NBC Sports’ report that Luke Lambert would be the crew chief for Hemric.

Photo by Daniel McFadin

The team revealed gold-themed cars Hemric and teammate Austin Dillon will drive during Speedweeks in Daytona to celebrate the team’s 50th anniversary.

Dillon’s No. 3 Chevrolet will be sponsored by Bass Pro Shops in the Advance Auto Parts Clash.

The scheme for the exhibition race is based on the car Dale Earnhardt Sr. drove in the 1998 All-Star Race.

Xfinity Series

Team owner Richard Childress confirmed Tyler Reddick would be the organization’s only full-time Xfinity Series driver in 2019.

The defending series champion will drive the No. 2 Chevrolet and be paired with crew chief Randall Burnett, who worked with Matt Tifft on the No. 2 in 2018.

Childress said its second Xfinity car will be the No. 21 “more than likely.”

Technical Alliance

Childress confirmed the teams that will be full members of a technical alliance with RCR in 2019.

In Cup, RCR will be joined by StarCom Racing (No. 00), Germain Racing (No. 13) and Richard Petty Motorsports (No. 43).

Kaulig Racing in the Xfinity Series (No. 11 Chevrolet) will also be a part of the alliance.

Childress said ECR engines would be provided for all those teams.

Charter

Childress said the team would sell a team charter to StarCom Racing that had been leased to the team in 2018.

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