Getty Images

Alex Bowman focused on win to join teammate Chase Elliott in next round

Leave a comment

TALLADEGA, Ala. — Alex Bowman’s hopes of advancing to the next round of the playoffs will rely as much as on help from others as what he does.

Bowman enters Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC) last among the 12 playoff drivers in the standings. He is 34 points out of the final transfer spot.

I don’t think stage points are going to help us make the transfer to the next round,” Bowman said Saturday. “I think a win is going to have to get it done.”

That’s where he can use the help of his Hendrick Motorsports teammates.

Teammate Chase Elliott has moved on to the next round with his win last weekend at Dover. Jimmie Johnson was eliminated in the first round and William Byron did not make the playoffs.

A focus for Hendrick Motorsports will be to help Bowman advance in the playoffs.

“I’m appreciative of any help they give me, and I will take what I can get, but I don’t know exactly what that is going to be,” Bowman said. “ We have had situations where just the four of us have tried to work together before and we have never been able to make it work like some of the other manufacturers have. We have some work to do just to get all that ironed out, let alone trying to push one car to the front.”

But what is the responsibility for Elliott? Help his teammate or seek to score more stage or playoff points since he’s still in title contention?

I know that if I was in his position I would certainly want at least my teammates not to hurt my effort,” Elliott said. “You don’t want to impede that progress, but I feel like the boss (car owner Rick Hendrick) has always kind of been a race win guy and I don’t think he is ever going to let something like that pull me out of a potential contention to win or me laying over to let him win. That stuff is, to me, never really been the topic of conversation at Hendrick Motorsports since I’ve been there. 

“I think the topic will probably be more along the lines of just try not to hurt one another and try to help (Bowman) when we can. I am certainly open to doing that. If he can move on as well that does nothing but help all of us in our company.”

Bowman has found his way to the front in the three restrictor-plate races this season. He’s lead 40 laps, which ranks most among all Chevrolet teams and fourth this season. 

MOST LAPS LED ON RESTRICTOR-PLATE TRACKS THIS SEASON

118 — Ryan Blaney

73 — Joey Logano

66 — Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

40 — Alex Bowman

33 — Denny Hamlin

30 — Brad Keselowski

26 — William Byron

24 — Martin Truex Jr.

21 — Kurt Busch

20 — Kevin Harvick

20 — Michael McDowell

Sam Bass, famed paint scheme and race program designer, dies

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Sam Bass, the artist known for designing many iconic NASCAR paint schemes and race programs, died Saturday.

His wife Denise confirmed Bass’ passing on Twitter. He was 57.

Bass, who designed Jeff Gordon’s striking “Rainbow Warriors” paint scheme, had spent the last few years looking for a new kidney. That was a result of a sepsis infection that originated in a blister on his left foot in 2005 and led to a below-the-knee amputation in 2008. Bass also had Type 1 diabetes, which he was diagnosed with at the age of 29.

Bass was inspired to become a NASCAR artist when he was 7 after attending his first race at Southside Speedway in suburban Richmond, Virginia.

“I was so amazed that night not only by the excitement and watching those cars run around and beat and bang on each other, but also the color – how all the cars were painted so many different colors,” Bass told NBC Sports in 2017. “I was like, ‘How cool is this?’ I couldn’t wait to get home to pull out my markers.”

The first car Bass designed was Bobby Allison’s Miller High Life car in 1988. That car went on to win the Daytona 500.

He went on to design the first Cup schemes for Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Bass first designed a race program for the 1985 World 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He designed programs for it and other Speedway Motorsports, Inc. tracks through 2018.

Marcus Smith, the CEO and President of SMI, issued the following statement.

“Our deepest sympathies are with Denise and her family today. Sam Bass has been a significant part of NASCAR’s history. He poured his heart, soul and talent into producing souvenir program covers at many speedways including Charlotte for more than 30 years. His work provided our fans a keepsake to treasure, and that was so appropriate, because Sam was always such a fan of our sport and he was such a treasure to the entire NASCAR family. His body of work will be a legacy that lives forever. We will miss Sam’s smile and positivity.”

Michael McDowell leads final Daytona 500 practice

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Front Row Motorsport’s Michael McDowell was fastest in the final practice session for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on Fox).

McDowell and his No. 34 Ford recorded nine laps and a top speed of 191.440 mph.

The top five was completed by Ty Dillon (191.432 mph), pole-sitter William Byron (191.339), Alex Bowman (191.278) and Daniel Hemric (190.921).

Only 20 cars made at least one lap in the session.

Kurt Busch recorded the most laps in the session with 16 and was 11th on the speed chart at 189.741 mph.

Of four drivers to make a 10-lap run, Bowman had the best average at 190.334 mph.

There were no incidents in the session.

Click here for the practice report.

Jeffrey Earnhardt honors grandfather Dale Earnhardt with helmet design

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Xfinity Series driver Jeffrey Earnhardt is honoring the “GOAT” in his family with a helmet he’s debuting this weekend at Daytona International Speedway.

The “GOAT” – or “Greatest of All-Time” – is his grandfather, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt.

The helmet, which you can see below, bears an image of the seven-time Cup champion riding a horse while shirtless and wearing a cowboy hat.

Next to the image is the text, “Just a goat on his horse!”

Earnhardt will have the helmet today as he starts on the front row of the Xfinity Series season opener (2:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1).

It is the first of nine Xfinity races he’ll start for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

MORE: Jeffrey Earnhardt ready for challenge of winning in Xfinity

Today’s Xfinity race at Daytona: Start time, lineup and more

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
1 Comment

The NASCAR Xfinity Series kicks off the 2019 season today with the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Speedway.

The 38-car field will feature defending series champion Tyler Reddick, who seeks to become the first driver to defend his Xfinity championship since Ricky Stenhouse Jr., won in 2011 and repeated in 2012.

Here’s how today’s pre-race schedule looks:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given by Drew Patey, VIP Partner of the NASCAR Racing Experience, at 2:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 2:49 p.m.

PRERACE CEREMONIES: Driver introductions begin at 2:10 p.m. The invocation will be given at 2:30 p.m. by Sonny Gallman, Pastor of Central Baptist Church in Daytona Beach, Florida. The National Anthem will be at 2:31 p.m. and sung by Gina Marie Incandela.

DISTANCE: The race is 120 laps (300 miles) around the 2.5-mile track.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race. Coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 2 p.m. and also can be heard at MRN.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for cloudy skies with a high of 74 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Tyler Reddick won last year’s season-opening race. He started 11th and led 11 laps en route to the victory.

TO THE REAR: Pole-sitter Tyler Reddick will start from the rear after changing a tire with an air leak. Max Tullman also will start from the rear for a tire change. Jeremy Clements, unapproved adjustments.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.