What drivers said after the Charlotte Roval

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Ryan Blaney — Winner: “We restarted sixth the last one there and got to third with a couple to go. I was really just riding third. We were good to go on points and was going to advance to the next round on points no problems. They were so far ahead I wasn’t even really trying and then I saw them kind of close to each other through the oval track in three and four and I was like, ‘Oh, something might happen here.’ And we went down I there and they touched just trying to win the race and I was lucky to sneak through there. That’s not how you really want to win them. I’d rather go out and dominate the race and win by a lap, but you’ve got to take them how you can get them nowadays. We put ourselves in a spot to be there, though. We did a great job all day of winning a stage and putting us in a good spot for points. “

Jamie McMurray — Finished 2nd: “Our DC Solar Chevy was really good all day long. We got a little bit off in the last pit sequence. We got a little bit behind, but had a really good car and then we had the one restart when Brad (Keselowski) was on the front row and I happened to be on the inside and that was the lane to be in so you could avoid the wreck. And then on the last restart, I got a good restart being on the outside… a little bit disappointed only because my left-side mirror fell off in the chicane with like 25 laps to go and I ended up having to let the No. 12 (Ryan Blaney) go because I couldn’t see if he was inside of me. I don’t think he was. I’m like, if that wasn’t the case, you would be the guy in Victory Lane now versus finishing second, but overall it was a pretty fun day. I thought Marcus (Smith) and the team here did a really good job getting the track ready. It’s crazy that we ran a road course inside of this facility, but really great place.”

Clint Bowyer – Finished 3rd: You knew something was going to happen at this deal.  Everybody knew, everybody dubbed this the wild card race, and I guess I’m lucky that I survived it, but I’m happy for our sport that it lived up to the expectation, up to the hype that you guys all sold.

… It wasn’t much sleep the last couple nights.  The little one woke up at 5:00 a.m., and once you’re up, you start thinking about this gremlin that’s ahead of you today, there wasn’t any more sleeping.  I stood there and watched the sun come up thinking about the chicane on the back straightaway, thought about the chicane on the front straightaway, thought about Turn 8, how I was going to get off that.  I hit the wall in Turn 8.  Just thought about restarts and things like that.

Now it’s time to think about a cold beer because, my God, I want one.

Alex Bowman — Finished 4th: “Yeah, it makes up for the fact that we probably should have won there. We just got boxed in that last restart. We had 20 lap fresher tires than all the guys in front of us. Things kind of fell our way there at the end to get us up front. Just got boxed in and couldn’t make it happen. Congrats to the No. 12 (Ryan Blaney) we were on the same strategy as them. It is what it is. Glad to make it in. A lot of people said we were going to be one of the guys out and to make it in and prove some of those guys wrong, definitely makes me feel good.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 5th: “I thought we did as good as job as communicating as a team and working together through all the different obstacles all weekend. The only thing that went against us is I had a bad restart on the outside lane once and I lost four or five spots and that’s when we were hanging out with the 48 and the 78 most of the day, so that means Billy Scott chose the right strategy. I just lost three or four spots on that one restart and then we gained some back on the next one, but too far. You’ve got to be like top four or top six if you want a shot at it and we were just a little bit too far behind at the end. All in all, maybe we got the most points out of today because we were second in the first stage, third in the second stage, so a lot of points today. We had to race that way, but the race almost came to us at the end.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 6th: “It was still kind of eventful for us. You look at how the day went there and just anything can happen. It’s just hard and you can’t feel comfortable in those situations there at the end. I wish I had been a little more aggressive on that last restart. I felt like I was just kind of playing defense. It’s just not worth busting your butt and not making it through to the next round when you had a little bit of cushion. So, I am just glad we are moving on and I am looking forward to the next three because there are some good tracks for us.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 8th: “I had been so good into that final breaking zone, I really felt like I could put some pressure on them and take a shot at it. I got out of the chicane on the back straightaway better than he did and put some pressure on him. Got him loose and off the bottom and I thought that was my chance. Unfortunately, down here through the bumps coming into that braking zone, I just locked up the rears (tires) and couldn’t control my car and spun. I didn’t think that I initially got into him, but clearly, I did and spun him around. Took myself out of a shot at the championship and obviously affected their day which I feel bad about. (Sigh) I wish I wouldn’t have been so focused on a race win and I could have transferred and kept my championship hopes alive, but we had such a good car and just one of those split-second decisions to race for the win instead of for the points and it bit me.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 9th: “Today actually went way better than I hoped it would. I think as you look at the way that we ran all day and where we ran all day, we were in the top 10 and up in the top five and back and forth, and just way better than we were yesterday. It’s tough starting behind your teammate who is trying to make it in there at the end. You’ve got to be careful with what you do and not drive in there too far and do something dumb. I lost a couple spots, but in the end it was a good day for us.”

Joey Logano — Finished 10th: “We executed the plan. The plan wasn’t fun, but we did the plan. My plan is to win a lot of times, not that if it was there we would have tried to take it, but in general to transfer was the ultimate goal and I’m happy we were able to do that.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 11th: “I told Johnny (Klausmeier) when we came in here, leaving here plus one will be fine with me. I guess plus zero is good enough too.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 14th: “Last corner desperation behind us, that’s what you get. I gave him (Johnson) the inside lane and he had the run through (Oval Turn) 4 and I was real tight down there. I let him have the inside going down inside coming out of four there to the chicane. He just over-drove it and was never going to make it and used me as brakes and turned us both around. It sucks, we could have raced side-by-side off the last corner for a win and that would have been cool. The fans would have been digging it, but instead we finished 14th and he’s locked out of the Playoffs. I guess that’s what he gets.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 25th: “I knew that it was going to be tough to turn getting into (Turn) 1. I didn’t know that all of us were going to go in there and not be able to turn at all. I was going to struggle to make the corner and then the No. 2 (Keselowski), he just went head-on into the wall. I was hoping I would have enough room to squeak by him, but I got into him and destroyed the right-front of our car. So, I mean I still don’t really know if we are in or not, but we had a great Clover by First Data Chevy today, led a bunch of laps, would have liked it to have played out there and just run to the end there. I was saving fuel and it sounded like the No. 2 was really short on fuel. I felt like I could have won, but the No. 17 (Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.) ended up spinning out and the caution came out. Obviously, we all went down on that restart and couldn’t turn, so like I said, I hope we made it, pretty hectic last lap for me. They said they were all crashing there at the end and I ran really hard and blew a right-front and hammered the wall twice and got at least one extra point. So, it sounds like we might be in a tie. Not sure who the tie breaker goes to, but hopefully it’s us.”

Erik Jones — Finished 30th: “It was a good year, but we just didn’t have a good first round. We didn’t finish in the top 10 in any races and that’s not going to get you to the next round. Some circumstances we couldn’t help, but we just need to get it better.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 31st: “The whole field went down into Turn 1 it looked like and we all went straight. I don’t know. Maybe we all overdrove it. Maybe the track had something on it. I don’t know. I got in the corner. I didn’t feel like I got in it, I got in hard, but not like ridiculously hard and it just locked up. I couldn’t get the tire to unlock, so I felt really, really dumb when I hit the wall and then I got back in the care center and saw the replay and saw everybody kind of did the same thing. I don’t know. It’s frustrating, but I really have to give a lot of credit to Paul Wolfe and the team on this Truck Alliance Parts Ford. This car was a rocket. I wrecked the car in practice and we unloaded this car just for the race and it was screaming fast. I thought we were gonna win today. It just didn’t come together.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 32nd: “I guess (the accident) just comes down to us all being on old tires and not really knowing what to expect or how much grip these tires would actually have. That’s about all that happened – we all over-drove the corner, and that’s all there is to it. I mean, you hate tearing up racecars and what not, but I guess they’re road course cars anyway, so you don’t necessarily need them anytime soon. Overall it just wasn’t a good day for our M&M’S Toyota Camry. It was going to be a fine day if we could’ve made it through that corner and had those other two guys out of our way, and then it was a race between the 78 (Truex) and us, but it doesn’t matter anyway.”

William Byron — Finished 34th: “We were having such a good run today – staying in the top 10 most of the day. It was definitely disappointing to have this happen so late in the race. We’ve run so good on the road courses. This was a good challenge, and I felt like we were making the most of it. The Roval is a good, new challenge, maybe we do better figuring out the restarts and clean up the track a little better because nobody could get any grip on the restart. But it was a good challenge.”

Trevor Bayne — Finished 35th: “I’m really frustrated with that result. I felt like I put together a really good weekend and had speed. I never made any mistakes in practice, qualifying or the race for that matter until I got caught up on that last lap. I said it was gonna happen and I told my spotter, ‘They’re gonna crash in Turn 1, just get me through it,’ and they did. They all crashed. I made it through the first part of the wreck and I guess it was the 18 (Kyle Busch) that bounced off the front of the 8 (Daniel Hemric) and I couldn’t check up and hit him. I thought we were done wrecking and got the second one.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 37th: “I just struggled here all week, really. I didn’t feel comfortable at the test and then the infield section I feel like I was really good, and really from the time I got on the big track through the chicanes I was really struggling. We got some damage there on that restart when we were leading and our car was really loose after that and hard to drive.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 39th: I just … really wasn’t a mistake by me, the No. 37 (Chris Buescher) through NASCAR (turns) 3 and 4 I don’t know if it was damage or what, he got loose and when he did I was on the outside of him and I lost it after I tried to miss him. I hit the right-side wall and the damage ended up cutting our right-front (tire) down.”

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.