Round of 8 outlook for each Cup playoff driver

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The Cup Series begins its Round of 8 Sunday at Martinsville Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

The round consists of Martinsville, Texas Motor Speedway and ISM Raceway in Phoenix.

Here’s a breakdown of the eight drivers who will contend for slots in the championship round in Miami.

 

Kyle Busch

Points: 4,055

Wins: Seven (Texas I, Bristol I, Richmond I, Coke 600, Chicago, Pocono II, Richmond II)

Career Playoff wins: Six

Best Round of 8 track: Martinsville. He’s won two of the last six races there and not finished outside the top five in that stretch.

Worst Round of 8 track: Phoenix. He has one win there (in his second start) and a low of eight top fives. But he hasn’t finished worse than seventh in the last six races.

Playoff high: Only Big 3 member to win so far in the playoffs.

Playoff low: DNF in Charlotte Roval race for crash.

 

Kevin Harvick

Points: 4,054

Wins: Seven (Atlanta, Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Dover I, Kansas I, New Hampshire, Michigan II)

Carer Playoff wins: 12

Best Round of 8 track: Phoenix. Harvick is the all-time leader in wins at the track with nine. Hasn’t finished lower than sixth in the last 10 starts.

Worst Round of 8 track: Martinsville. One win in 29 starts. Hasn’t finished higher than fifth since the fall 2011 race.

Playoff high: Finished second at Richmond. Only top three since Michigan win.

Playoff low: Leading 452 laps through six races (including 286 at Dover) without a win.

 

Martin Truex Jr.

Points: 4,038

Wins: Four (Auto Club Speedway, Pocono I, Sonoma, Kentucky)

Career Playoff wins: Six

Best Round of 8 track: Texas. No wins, but has just one finish outside top 10 in last seven starts (crash in April)

Worst Round of 8 track: Martinsville. Four top fives – including in the last two starts – but an average finish of 19th in 25 starts.

Playoff high: Led 259 laps in first two races and finished third.

Playoff low: Led going into final two turns at the Charlotte Roval before being turned by Jimmie Johnson. He finished 14th.

 

Chase Elliott

Points: 4,018

Wins: Three (Watkins Glen, Dover II and Kansas II)

Career Playoff wins: Two

Best Round of 8 track: Phoenix. One finish outside top 10 in five starts. Led 140 laps in the 2017 races.

Worst Round of 8 track: Chase Elliott and crew chief Alan Gustafson have noted Texas is one of their worst tracks since the repave before the 2017 season. In three starts since, Elliott has placed ninth, eighth and 11th.

Playoff high: Winning two of three races in Round of 12

Playoff low: DNF in playoff opener at Las Vegas (crash).

 

Clint Bowyer

Points: 4,015

Wins: Two (Martinsville I, Michigan I)

Career Playoff wins: Five

Best Round of 8 track: Martinsville. One win, six top five and a career-best 15 top 10s.

Worst Round of 8 track: Phoenix. Two top fives, seven top 10s in 26 starts.

Playoff high: Finishing second at Talladega

Playoff low: DNF for crash at Dover, where he led his only lap of the playoffs.

 

Joey Logano

Points: 4,015

Wins: One (Talladega)

Career Playoff wins: Seven

Best Round of 8 track: Texas. Six top 10s in last seven starts.

Worst Round of 8 track: Phoenix. Only one top 10 – a win – in last five starts.

Playoff high: Won pole, Stage 1 and led 100 laps at Kansas, finished eighth.

Playoff low: Finished 14th at Richmond, one lap down. Only finish off lead lap in playoffs.

 

Kurt Busch

Points: 4,015

Wins: One (Bristol II)

Career Playoff wins: Three

Best Round of 8 track: Phoenix. One win and an average finish of 13.6.

Worst Round of 8 track: Martinsville. His two wins are two of his three top fives in 36 starts.

Playoff high: Consecutive top fives on the Charlotte Roval and at Dover.

Playoff low: Led career-best 108 laps at Talladega before running out of gas on last lap. Finished 14th.

 

Aric Almirola

Points: 4,006

Wins: One (Talladega II)

Career Playoff wins: One

Best Round of 8 track: Phoenix. One win and an average finish of 13.6.

Worst Round of 8 track: Martinsville. His two wins are two of his three top fives in 36 starts.

Playoff high: Earned second career Cup win at Talladega.

Playoff low: Lost lead at Dover in pits with less than 10 laps to go and was involved in crash.

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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