What drivers said after the Gander Outdoors 400 at Dover

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Chase Elliott — Winner: “I just feel like I’ve messed it up so many times. I was like, ‘Hey, here’s your opportunity to make it right and to do it right. I don’t know. Today just felt different. Like in those positions, I just felt more confident and just excited about the opportunity instead of unsure of what was going to happen. It’s just amazing, and I just love the opportunity that Mr. Hendrick has given me. I’m glad he was able to be here today for our second win of the year.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 2nd: “I ran as hard as I could through 1 and 2 and 3 and 4. I just couldn’t get beside him. … We chipped away at it all day long, kept moving up through the field and got here. This is kind of where we deserved. Proud of this finish, and we’ll move on to the next race. … Glad to see me and Chase could finish 1-2 here in a playoff race and not have any controversy, so happy for those guys. ” 

Joey Logano — Finished 3rd: “When you hit an axle, that’s a big piece that can do some real, real damage. It could hurt the driver in all honesty, so I’m glad we got through that and fixed our damage and got a good finish. Right at the end there, the two-tire call was good, and on that restart, we were able to make so many passes, and then they crashed, so that set us up pretty good. I honestly thought I had a really good shot at winning it but just came up a little short. I didn’t think (Elliott) could possibly win that race on old tires like that, but I think that red flag really helped him cool them off.”

Erik Jones — Finished 4th: “We were about a ninth-place car all day. We had that big wreck and then were restarting fourth. The Craftsman Camry was gifted a couple of spots, but we’ll take that. We stayed in and fought hard all day. We ran the best we probably ran here at Dover. We’ll need to figure out what we need to do to get up there and battle for the win but definitely a few steps forward.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 5th: “It was a really good day for us with the stages. We were just a little bit tight most of the day and felt like it came to us towards the end. I was giving it all I had chasing down Almirola, and the yellow comes out and from there it just changed the course of everything. It’s not even a ripple effect, it’s a tidal wave of things that happen. Once one yellow comes out that goes against what everybody thought was gonna happen, so Almirola could have won, we could have finished second. We ended up fifth. We have nothing to complain about.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 6th: “I don’t really care about points. I’d rather win.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 8th: “It worked in our favor a bit today with some other cars getting torn up. Which is unfortunate for them. Our day was not very good. Speeding on pit road took us out of the running for a top 10 and a solid finish. We got about what we deserved I guess.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 11th: “I thought we were OK all day. We were a seventh, eighth, ninth-place car, and it was hard to pass. We lost some spots on that last pit stop, and that put us in a bad spot, and we got kind of wrecked there. It wasn’t very good, but I don’t know. There are a couple good tracks coming up for us, so hopefully we can do a little bit better there, but we survived it.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 13th: “We’ve had so many opportunities and been so close and had the car to win and been in position, and I don’t know, it just seems to not come through. I don’t know. I’m frustrated and mad and angry. I don’t know. I could have been conservative and probably finished third or fourth like Kurt. It’s just track position is so tough, and it’s so hard to pass here. On that restart, I tried to at least go where they weren’t to the top, and (Hamlin) moved up to kind of block me, and I just got really tight off of (Turn) 2, and I bounced off the fence and got into Brad and tore up a lot of race cars along the back straightaway. I hate that for everybody that was involved, but it kind of killed our day, too. I don’t know. I feel like we should be over there in victory lane celebrating, but we’re not.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 14th: “I felt like we were gonna have a really great day for that, but we didn’t, so I feel really good about next week in Talladega. We’ll see what we can do there and see how it goes.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 15th: “The 5-hour ENERGY Camry was good all day, but the pit road issue put us in a place we didn’t need to be. Then we got caught up in someone else’s mess at the end. Frustrating for sure but all we can do is look ahead to next week.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 28th: “The No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) kind of got tagged and started wrecking. I thought he was going to get to the bottom of the racetrack faster than he did. Dover is typically so self-cleaning, but he slid a little longer than I thought he would, and I kind of just center-punched him. Watching the replay there was really nowhere to go. I wish I would have at least tried to go left, but part of it. Greg (Ives, crew chief) did a good job getting the car better all day today. It’s a bummer. It could have been a really good day for us.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 29th: “Dover is a tough racetrack, there’s no doubt about it. Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 was just so much tighter in the race than it was in practice. The balance started to improve towards the end of Stage 2, but I just needed more overall grip. We battled through the day to finish the race. It wasn’t easy, but my team isn’t ever going to give up. We’ll move on to preparing for Talladega. We were incredibly fast there in the spring, so I’m looking forward to going back and hopefully ending the day in victory lane.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 35th: “We broke, and I hit the wall. I’m just really disappointed. I’m frustrated with our day, obviously. We had a very fast race car. I got tore up passing a lapper and then all of a sudden we had a loose wheel. I think it was a loose wheel, and then we went back out and broke something in the front end, and it was two different things. When we pitted, it was something in the rear, obviously, the right-rear, the left-rear was loose, it was all out of control, and then all of a sudden we went back out it was fine, so I took back off and then I think something in the left-front broke. It just went straight, whether I ran over something, I don’t know. I’m just sick for Aric. He had that race won. It was his win and unfortunately his teammate had trouble and took him out of it.”

NASCAR Power Rankings: Kevin Harvick back at No. 1

NASCAR Power Rankings
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Stop us if you’ve heard this before: Kevin Harvick is the No. 1 driver in this week’s NASCAR rankings.

Martin Truex Jr. held the top spot for just a week before Harvick reclaimed the crown with his series-leading ninth Cup win of the year Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

This week’s rankings includes three ties as 12 drivers received votes.

More: Playoff standings after Round of 16

Harvick takes his power rankings lead to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the start of the Round of 12.

Here is this week’s NASCAR Power Rankings:

1. Kevin Harvick (Last week No. 1): The Stewart-Haas Racing driver has three wins in the last five races: Dover, the Southern 500 and Bristol night race.

2. Chase Elliott (Last week No. 7): Finished seventh at Bristol for his third top 10 in five races. His 11 top fives so far matches his total from each of the last two seasons. He scored a career-high 12 top fives in 2017.

3. (tie) Kyle Busch (Last week No.  9): Finished second in Bristol after he started from the rear due to inspection failures. Has three consecutive top 10s for the first time this season.

3. (tie) Joey Logano (Last week No. 3): Followed consecutive third-place finishes with an 11th at Bristol.

5. (tie) Martin Truex Jr. (Last week No. 1): Finished 24th in Bristol following contact with Denny Hamlin after an unscheduled pit stop.

5. (tie) Brad Keselowski (Last week No. 5): After winning at Richmond, Keselowski had a rough night in Bristol. He finished 34th due to power steering problems.

7. (tie) Aric Almirola (Last week unranked): Finished fifth in Bristol for his third consecutive top 10 and his fourth in five races.

7. (tie) Clint Bowyer (Last week unranked): Placed sixth in Bristol for his third consecutive top-10 finish and to keep his playoff chances alive.

9. Austin Dillon (Last week No. 3): Placed a respectable 12th to finish the first round after consecutive top fives.

10. Erik Jones (Last week unranked): Placed third in Bristol for his seventh top-five finish of the season and his second in the last three races.

Also receiving votes: Alex Bowman and Denny Hamlin

NASCAR Silly season features Bubba Wallace, Michael Jordan

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NASCAR Silly Season took a twist Monday. A day that started with the announcement that Ross Chastain would drive for Chip Ganassi Racing next year ended with the news that Denny Hamlin would co-own a team with Michael Jordan and have Bubba Wallace as the driver in 2021.

As JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty said: “I think it’s a pretty dynamic trio with Michael, Denny and Bubba. They’re going to be like rock stars.”

The 26-year-old Wallace is in his third full Cup season. All 105 of his starts in NASCAR’s premier series have been with Richard Petty Motorsports.

“Bubba has shown tremendous improvement since joining the Cup Series and we believe he’s ready to take his career to a higher level,” Hamlin said in a statement. “He deserves the opportunity to compete for race wins and our team will make sure he has the resources to do just that. Off the track, Bubba has been a loud voice for change in our sport and our country. MJ and I support him fully in those efforts and stand beside him.”

A team name, car number, manufacturer and sponsors will be announced at a later time.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 10: Aric Almirola extends deal with Stewart-Haas Racing for 2021 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through 2022.

No. 42: Ross Chastain takes over Chip Ganassi Racing’s ride for the 2021 season.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

No. TBA: Bubba Wallace joins the new team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and NBA great Michael Jordan. The team purchased Germain Racing’s charter. Germain Racing will not continue after this season.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto said Sept. 17 that Wood Brothers Racing has an option to pick up his contract for next year and the deadline is the end of September.

No. 32: Ride is open with Corey LaJoie announcing he will not return to Go Fas Racing in 2021.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace will not return to Richard Petty Motorsports in 2021, the team confirmed on Sept. 10.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Spire Motorsports purchased the charter and assets of Leavine Family Racing and will be a two-car operation in 2021.

No. 96: Daniel Suarez and Gaunt Brothers Racing announced Sept. 15 that they would part ways after this season.

 

Brad Daugherty: Michael Jordan to NASCAR is ‘huge moment’

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Brad Daugherty calls Michael Jordan’s ownership of a Cup team a “huge moment for NASCAR.”

Jordan and Denny Hamlin will co-own a Cup team next season. Bubba Wallace will be the driver. Jordan will become the first Black majority car owner of a full-time team since Wendell Scott owned and raced cars in the 1960s and ‘70s.

Daugherty, the only Black owner of a full-time Cup team currently, is excited about Jordan’s entrance into NASCAR.

“It’s a big momentum shift for this sport culturally, period,” said Daugherty, co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing and an analyst for NBC Sports. “Three years ago, this would have never happened. A year ago, this wouldn’t have happened. It’s the timing. If the timing is right and you have someone like Michael Jordan put his brand and what he’s all about into whatever you are doing, it adds a lot of credibility. I look forward to whatever he can bring to the table to help continue to build NASCAR.”

Daugherty told NBC Sports that Jordan can help the sport reach more people.

“The eyeballs are going to be incredible,” Daugherty said of Jordan’s potential impact. “The opportunity for entrance into the sport will be made more available as far as people being aware of the availability to get involved in NASCAR as a fan or as a business. There’s just so many different areas that will light up just because of who he is and what he represents. His entire legacy creates opportunity for everyone.

“Now, we start talking diversity with what he’s able to do from a corporate standpoint and also just from a legacy standpoint with his brand. It’s going to be exciting. I’m excited because I think more people now, more than ever, will take a look at NASCAR with a keen eye and keen interest and be excited about maybe participating as a fan or as a business partner or as someone wanting to learn how to drive a race car or own a race team. The more notoriety the better.”

NASCAR stated Monday: “Michael is an iconic sports figure and celebrated champion whose fiercely competitive nature has placed him among the greatest athletes of all time. His presence at NASCAR’s top level will further strengthen the competition, excitement and momentum growing around our sport. We wish Michael and his team tremendous success.”

Jordan told The Charlotte Observer on Monday that the deal came together in about 10 days because of the chance to hire Wallace.

“When (Hamlin) told me there was a possibility of getting Bubba Wallace, I’m saying, ‘OK, this is perfect!’” Jordan told The Observer. “If I’m getting involved in NASCAR, then get a Black driver (with) a Black owner.”

For all that Jordan can bring to NASCAR, Daugherty knows that the competition can prove challenging.

“I’m sure he’s committed to next season and we’ll see how that goes and if it goes well, you go beyond that,” Daugherty said. “He had a (Superbike) team for a long time and loved that. He understands it’s a different business model. He’s at the point in his life, he’s like Roger Penske and Rick Hendrick and those guys to where it’s really not a detriment to him financially if he’s not making money. We’ll have to see how much he can stomach because it’s an interesting business model for sure.”

Jordan told The Observer he’s in it to win.

“If I’m investing, if I’m a participant, then I want to win! I don’t want to be out there to be just another car,” Jordan said.

Daugherty looks forward to seeing Jordan, Hamlin and Wallace at the track.

“I think it’s a pretty dynamic trio with Michael, Denny and Bubba,” Daugherty said. “They’re going to be like rock stars.”

Daugherty also looks forward to something else next year.

“Look forward to racing against those guys,” he said, “and trying to kick their butts.”

Germain Racing sells charter, will exit sport at end of season

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Germain Racing car owner Bob Germain announced Monday that he has sold the team’s charter and will end the team after this season.

The charter was purchased by a new team that will have Denny Hamlin and Michael Jordan as owners and Bubba Wallace as the driver.

Germain said in a statement that the No. 13 team will continue the rest of the season with Ty Dillon as driver.

“Being an owner in NASCAR for the last 16 years has been a thrilling and rewarding adventure,” Germain said in a statement. “From winning two NASCAR Truck Series championships in 2006 and 2010 to competing at the highest level of motorsports in the Cup Series for the last 12 seasons, I have experienced the highs and lows of our sport. I’m extremely proud of what Germain Racing has accomplished at every level and I will be transitioning out of ownership with many memories and friendships. I appreciate the interest and offers made over the last couple of weeks and I am excited to see how the sport continues to grow in the future.

“Thank you to GEICO for their loyalty to Germain Racing for over a decade. It has been a great source of pride for our team to represent their brand on the track. Doug Barnette with Player Management International has facilitated our GEICO relationship since the beginning and I truly appreciate his efforts. Finally, to my employees: building a team camaraderie and creating a family atmosphere has been a highlight of this journey. I will miss each of you.”

Germain pondered a sale when GEICO decided not to renew its contract after this season with the team.  GEICO is one of NASCAR’s Premier Partners, joining Busch Beer, Coca-Cola and Xfinity.

Dillon spoke in late August about the challenges facing single-car teams in Cup.

“The model is very tough right now for single-car teams,” he said. “I’m hoping that NASCAR is going to change it and help on it. But it needs to change for one-car teams to be more successful that haven’t already been at the top level of the sport or have an incredible amount of money to leapfrog into the top spot. If you don’t have three or four teams to spread the wealth with big name sponsors and a lot of money behind the effort, it’s just not a model that’s going to survive long term.”

Hamlin acknowledged the challenge a one-car team can have.

“I do believe that the (ownership) model will hopefully get better,” Hamlin said before last weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. “Do I think it’s fixed? No, I think there is still some work to be done to make the model a viable business. You want a business that everyone wants to be a part of, not the ones that are fleeting. Certainly, I think NASCAR is trying it’s best to make the teams a little more healthy. I think that outlook toward the future is what’s interesting to me.”

Germain Racing is the second team to sell its charter since August. Leavine Family Racing announced it had sold its charter on Aug. 4. Spire Motorsports purchased it and will be a two-car team in 2021.