What drivers said after Richmond

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Kyle Busch — Winner: “Yeah, I’m not going to qualify here anymore (laughter). It’s a waste of time for us. I don’t know why, I just can not qualify here, but we’ve got a really good race car when it comes down time to have a race and especially the later it gets. (Kevin) Harvick was getting me a little bit there at the end, but I think I was running myself pretty hard with Brad (Keselowski) a little bit earlier than that so I think he had a little bit more than I had there later in the game. This M&M’s Toyota Camry was awesome tonight. I can’t thank (crew chief) Adam Stevens and all my guys enough. Great job at working on this thing and getting it put back together today and being able to get it ready for tonight to be a great race car. Also want to thank Rowdy Nation. It’s awesome to come out here. I saw a lot of 18 gear here this weekend so really fun to see that and be able to put on a good show coming from the back all the way up to the front and being able to win for all those guys.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished second: “We were starting to track (Kyle Busch) down there at the end. I needed about 25 more laps. I gotta thank everybody on our Jimmy John’s Ford. They did a great job on a weekend when we needed to do a great job with all the unknowns going into next week. It will be a fun weekend but it will be kind of trial and error as we go through the weekend. It was a good night for us here at Richmond and we did a good job on pit road, just came up a little bit short.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished third: “Another pit stop maybe. We used it up there at the end trying to get — I think we restarted eighth on the outside and to get back to third we were kind of used up at the end. But, man, what an awesome race car the guys brought here. The Auto Owners Toyota was fast. It was really good all day. Just man, I don’t know what we’ve got to do to win this race. We’ve probably led more than anyone here ever that’s not won it. It’s crazy, but it wasn’t meant to be tonight. Hell of an effort by the guys and good recovery by the guys on pit road. Thanks to all you guys back in Denver working your butts off to bring these fast cars and just keep digging and we’re moving on. So, that’s the name of the game, and hopefully, we’ll get the win when we really need it.”

Chase Elliott — Finished fourth: Yeah, just appreciate Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) making some good calls overnight.  I feel like we changed about everything before qualifying yesterday.  Typically, that does not work, so, just appreciate everybody’s efforts on my Hooters team to do that and put enough thought process and care into it to want to get better and for those guys to do what they did and make our car drive like it did tonight was really impressive.  We had probably one of the worst practice days I’ve ever had throughout the season.  We are in a position where we have got to run like that to get through.”

Aric Almirola — Finished fifth: “I just couldn’t quite get it to turn the way I needed to to make pace with those guys in front of me. I am so proud of these guys on the Smithfield team. Our Ford Fusion was fast. We had a good night. We executed and ran top-five all night. That is the exact night we were looking for to build a little bit of a point cushion going into the Roval next week where we are all unsure of what we will have. I am really proud of the night and we will see what happens next week.”

Austin Dillon — Finished sixth: “That’s what we needed. I hate that we could have had stage points in the first stage if we would have qualified better. If we would have qualified better, we probably wouldn’t have had the car we had tonight. Impound, we knew we were going to have to bite the bullet in qualifying to have a car free enough to race good. We were just super-loose in qualifying. That was a long night to sleep on that. But to wake up we had confidence in the Dow Vorasurf Chevy and that was a heck of a run for us. We’ve done all we could in these playoffs, so I’m really proud right now. I hope all the studying I’ve done for the Roval will pay off also. We don’t want to be the first group out.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished eighth: “The track bar adjustments weren’t working, so I was really limited on the adjustments in the car; especially here. You need to have the track bar so high to get started and then lower it in the course of a run. I just had to deal with it. I think we could have been better, but it was a nice top 10 finish. Hopefully we can go to the Roval and have a great day. Richmond is not our best track. And to get a top 10 is a respectable run for us. I think we could have been at least inside the top five. I think we came close to maximizing what we had in it. So, I feel good about that. We came from the back two or three different times for different reasons and had a good finish out of it.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished ninth: “We had a lot of short-run speed, and I knew that was our chance to win the race there, and we ran it pretty hard, and it didn’t quite work out. We didn’t quite catch the breaks we needed there. Burned off the rear tires. We ran good but we still have some things to work on.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 10th: “That’s one of the hardest top 10s we’ve ever had to work for. We were loose in and off the corner all night, and we threw a bunch of changes at it to try and get it right. We made some headway with it and salvaged an OK finish, but OK doesn’t cut it in the playoffs.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 12th: “We probably took a sixth-place car and ran 12th with it. So it’s a little frustrating. We just had to go a direction for the shorter run there at the end because it took probably 35 or 40 laps for our car to come in the previous couple of runs. And it just didn’t work. So, we tried something and learned from it and we’ll move on.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 13th: “We struggled the first couple of runs. (Crew chief) Brian Pattie made some great strategy calls that kept us in the ballgame. Our main focus is to finish the season strong and learn for next year.”

Joey Logano — Finished 14th: “We just were a little bit too loose most of the race and then we had a mistake on pit road that cost us probably six or seven spots. That is just the things that you can’t have during the playoffs but we will work through them. We are still in an okay spot. We are not in a good enough spot to not be concerned about next week totally but it does put us in a decent position.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 16th: “We probably need to go (to Charlotte) and win. I’m not worried about the playoffs. I’m just worried about running better. With our teammate winning, and us running like a bag of shit, it’s just disappointing every week. We were just bad all day. It just seems like once we get in race trim, I can’t get the car to do anything that it’s supposed to do. I can make it go fast for a lap in qualifying, just not do the things that it’s supposed to do around the racetrack. And the things that I watch (Kyle Busch) doing successfully. It’s just really disappointing. I thought after practice we’d be quite a bit better, but as soon as we dropped the green, the car just didn’t have a good feel to it. I knew we were in trouble the first 10 laps.”

William Byron — Finished 20th: “The guys did a good job on pit road and I felt like it was a pretty straightforward race.  A lot of green flag runs, which I thought was going to be a strong suit, but just kind of ran where we ran.  So, go back and work on it a little bit.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 28th: “Richmond Raceway is a really good track for me. I’ve always enjoyed coming here. We tested the track a couple months back and were really happy with the results. Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 had speed in both practice sessions. We just struggled through the corners during the race under the lights. I was too tight through the middle, but I would lose grip when my team made adjustments to loosen me up. It was a tough balance to get a handle on. But, I never gave up on my team and they didn’t give up on me. Tonight was definitely a battle for us, but we’re going to keep moving forward to finish the season strong.”

 

Joe Gibbs Racing adds young racers to Xfinity program

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Connor Mosack, 23, and Joe Graf Jr., 24, each will drive select races in the No. 19 Xfinity Series car for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

Mosack, who has a 20-race Xfinity schedule with Sam Hunt Racing this year, will run three races for JGR: Chicago street course (July 1), Pocono (July 22) and Road America (July 29) while also competing in six ARCA Menards Series races for JGR, including Feb. 18 at Daytona.

Graf, who has a 28-race Xfinity schedule with RSS Racing this year, will run five races in the No. 19 Xfinity car for JGR: Auto Club Speedway (Feb. 25), Las Vegas (March 4), Richmond (April 1), New Hampshire (July 15) and Kansas (Sept. 9).

“I made my Xfinity Series debut with JGR last June at Portland and from the moment I made my first lap in their racecar, I realized why they’ve been so successful,” Mosack said in a statement. “Their equipment was second to none and the resources they had in terms of people and their knowledge was incredible.

“Jason Ratcliff was my crew chief at Portland and he’s got a ton of experience. I was able to learn from him before we even went to the track. Just in our time in the simulator, we made some great changes. So, to be back with him for three Xfinity races is going to be really valuable.

“And when it comes to JGR’s ARCA program, it’s the class of the field. After having to race against JGR cars, I’m really looking forward to racing with a JGR car. No matter what track they were on, they were always up front competing for wins. To have that chance in 2023 is pretty special, and I aim to make the most of it.”

Said Graf in a statement about his opportunity with JGR: “Running five races with JGR is a fantastic opportunity for myself and for my marketing partners. I think I can learn a lot from JGR and showcase my skills I’ve been growing in the series in the past three years. 2023 is shaping up to be a great year and I’m pumped to get started with the No. 19 group.”

Ryan Truex has previously been announced as the driver of the No. 19 Xfinity Series car in six races this season for JGR. The remaining drivers for the car will be announced at a later date.

Mosack didn’t start racing until he was 18 years old. He went on to win five Legends car championships before moving to Late Model stock cars in 2019. He graduated from High Point University in 2021 with a degree in business entrepreneurship. Mosack’s first Xfinity Series race with Sam Hunt Racing this season will be March 11 at Phoenix Raceway.

 

NASCAR weekend schedule for Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

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NASCAR’s winter break ends this weekend as Cup Series drivers return to the track for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.

The second Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum has been expanded to 27 (from 23) drivers for the 150-lap main event. Qualifying, heat races and two “last chance” races will set the field.

MORE: Drivers to watch in the Clash

Joey Logano won last year’s Clash, the perfect start to a season that ended with him holding the Cup championship trophy.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Cup)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Mostly sunny. High of 71.

Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 66.

Saturday, Feb. 4

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 2 – 11:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 6 – 8 p.m. — Cup Series practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 8:35 – 9:30 p.m. — Cup Series qualifying (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Feb. 5

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. – 12:30 a.m. Monday — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 5 – 5:45 p.m. — Four Heat races (25 laps; Fox, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 6:10 – 6:35 p.m. — Two Last chance qualifying races (50 laps; Fox, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 8 p.m. — Feature race (150 laps; Fox, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drivers to watch in Clash at the Coliseum

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The 2023 NASCAR season will begin with Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the second race on a purpose-built track inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Although a non-points race, last year’s Clash generated intense interest as NASCAR moved the event from its long-time home at Daytona International Speedway to Los Angeles. The race was rated a success and opened doors for the possibility of future races in stadium environments.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: 10 historic moments in the Clash

MORE: Toyota looking to expand NASCAR presence

Year Two will find drivers competing on a familiar landscape but still with a track freshly paved. Last year’s racing surface was removed after the Clash.

Drivers to watch Sunday at Los Angeles:

FRONTRUNNERS

Joey Logano

  • Points position: Finished 2022 as Cup champion
  • Last three races: Won at Phoenix, 6th at Martinsville, 18th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Won in 2022

Logano put bookends on 2022 by winning the first Clash at the Coliseum and the season’s final race at Phoenix to win the Cup championship. He’ll be among the favorites Sunday.

Ross Chastain

  • Points position: 2nd in 2022
  • Last three races: 3rd at Phoenix, 4th at Martinsville, 2nd at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: Did not qualify last year

Chastain was the breakout star of 2022, winning a pair of races and generally putting himself front and center across much of the year. Can he start 2023 on a big note? If so, he will have to do so without replicating his Hail Melon move at Martinsville after NASCAR outlawed the move Tuesday.

Kevin Harvick

  • Points position: 15th in 2022
  • Last three races: 5th at Phoenix, 16th at Martinsville, 8th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 10th in 2022

Sunday will begin the final roundup for Harvick, who has said this season will be his last as a full-time Cup driver. He is likely to come out of the gate with fire in his eyes.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Kyle Busch

  • Points position: 13th in 2022
  • Last three races: 7th at Phoenix, 29th at Martinsville, 9th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 2nd in 2022

Welcome to Kyle Busch’s Brave New World. After 15 seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing, he begins a new segment of his career with Richard Childress Racing. He led 64 laps at last year’s Clash but couldn’t catch Joey Logano at the end.

Tyler Reddick

  • Points position: 14th in 2022
  • Last three races: 23rd at Phoenix, 35th at Martinsville, 35th at Homestead
  • Past at Clash: 21st in 2022

Reddick ran surprisingly strong in last year’s Clash, leading 51 laps before parking with drivetrain issues. He starts the new year with a new ride — at 23XI Racing.

Ty Gibbs

  • Points position: Won Xfinity Series championship in 2022
  • Last three (Cup) races: 19th at Martinsville, 22nd at Homestead, 22nd at Las Vegas
  • Past at Clash: Did not compete in 2022

After a successful — and controversial — Xfinity season, Gibbs moves up to Cup full-time with his grandfather’s team. Will he be the brash young kid of 2022 or a steadier driver in Season One in Cup?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interstate Batteries extends sponsorship with Joe Gibbs Racing

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Interstate Batteries, which has been a Joe Gibbs Racing sponsor since the team’s first race, has expanded its involvement with the team for 2023.

Interstate, based in Dallas, will be a primary JGR sponsor for 13 races, up from six races, the number it typically sponsored each year since 2008.

Christopher Bell and Ty Gibbs will run the majority of Interstate’s sponsorship races, but Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. also will carry the sponsor colors.

MORE: NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

“We’re extremely proud of our partnership with our founding sponsor, Interstate Batteries,” said team owner Joe Gibbs in a statement released by the team. “They have been such an important part of our team for over three decades now, and it’s exciting to have them on board all four of our cars this season. The best part of our partnership is the relationships we’ve built with everyone there over the years.”

Bell will carry Interstate sponsorship in Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum, the All-Star Race May 21, the Coca-Cola 600 May 28, at Texas Motor Speedway Sept. 24 and at Martinsville Oct. 29.

Gibbs, in his first full season in Cup racing, will be sponsored by Interstate at Daytona Feb. 19, Bristol April 9, Nashville June 25, Chicago July 2, Texas Sept. 24 and Charlotte Oct. 8.

Hamlin will ride with Interstate sponsorship March 26 at Circuit of the Americas, and Truex will be sponsored by Interstate July 23 at Pocono.

Interstate was a key JGR sponsor in the team’s first season in 1992.