Carl Long explains why No. 66 Cup team withdrew at Texas

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Carl Long said in a Facebook post that the No. 66 Cup team with driver Timmy Hill withdrew Friday because it did not have a sealed engine at Texas Motor Speedway.

Section 20.6.1.1.1.b of the Cup Rule Book states that “Teams that are not considered ‘full-time’ teams will not be permitted to compete in more than two consecutive Points Events without using a short block sealed engine that has been used in Competition in a preceding Event(s).”

Long explained why he didn’t have a sealed engine in his Facebook post:

“My last sealed engine was ran at Dover. The oil pump broke … killing engine. Next was our 1st race, Kansas, with our new engine program. Engine 1 broke a valve at beginning of Saturday practice. Then we had a huge amount of issues getting backup engine to fit. Neither of these engines were sealed at that time and both were destroyed.

“So we rented one from PME at Martinsville, a piece we ran earlier, but it did not have seals as the heads were removed for maintenance. So it was sealed at Martinsville, however, it saw fire damage and could not be used at Texas.

“I went to Texas with a fresh engine, knowing we had plenty of sealed engine starts on the #66 … Not knowing we were classified as a part time team. The official told a person on the crew I had to be sealed in Texas at the Martinsville race. I had no sealed engines and I knew we had plenty of sealed starts. Not realizing we are part time classified by NASCAR. During Xfinity practice I was called to the Cup hauler. My engine is not sealed and therefore not eligible to qualify. I pleaded my case. I have destroyed all my sealed engines. My backup is not sealed, and the one in my Phoenix car is not sealed.

“At this time we will be out of Cup racing. I can’t run at Phoenix without a sealed engine. So I will not be able to go to Homestead as I don’t have one ran at Phoenix. I could run a sealed engine from another team, but unfortunately their prices are usually more than we can afford. 

“The sponsors have been great in supporting us. I don’t see them remaining with us. What we do receive is just not enough $ to rent another engine and pay the race cost.”

On the issue of being a part-time or full-time team, Section 20.6.1.1.1.c of the Cup Rule Book states the definition of a full-time team is one that is “entered in all Events for the season).” Long’s team had not entered all the events this season, so remained classified a part-time team even though he had been at all races since July.

UPDATE: In a Facebook post Saturday, Long wrote: “We have a plan to return to Cup in Phoenix … hope to see you there!” but had no details.

Long also wrote in his Facebook post: “Unless something happens unexpectedly … We are done in Cup for 2018. I hope to build on 2019 with 2 cars at Daytona in Cup (yes, I’m still stupid) and 2 Xfinity cars.”

NASCAR America: Daytona 500 ‘Turning Point’ came on Stage 2 pit stop

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The moment that set up Denny Hamlin‘s Daytona 500 win on Sunday came on Lap 108, according to NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte.

That’s when Hamlin made a pit stop near the end of Stage 2.

“(Crew chief Chris) Gabehart calls his car to pit road,” Letarte said. “He doesn’t care about stage points. He cares about four fresh tires on a hot, slick Daytona track.”

Then on Lap 122, during the stage break pit stop, Gabehart decided to only put fuel in the No. 11 Toyota when he was 21st.

“On Lap 163 he got six seconds of gas, that’s it, no tires,” Letarte said. “That gave him track position (eighth) in front of all of those accidents. The turning points to this race was before Stage 2 even ended.”

Watch the above video for more.

Garrett Smithley in Spire Motorsports car at Atlanta as entry lists released

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Garrett Smithley is listed as the driver of Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 Chevrolet for Sunday’s Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Smithley, a native of Peachtree City, Georgia, competes in the Xfinity Series with JD Motorsports and made three Cup starts last year.

Spire purchased Furniture Row Racing’s charter after the team closed at the end of last season. It fielded Jamie McMurray in the Daytona 500 in the No. 40 in a partnership of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Quin Houff also will compete for Spire this season.

Click here for the preliminary Cup entry list.

Click here for the preliminary Xfinity entry list.

Click here for the preliminary Truck Series entry list.

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Daytona 500 recap

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and recaps all the action from Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett will discuss all the major storylines from the race that saw Denny Hamlin claim his second 500 win.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

‘Bizarre’ Daytona 500 marks Jamie McMurray’s likely final Cup start

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If Sunday’s Daytona 500 turns out to be Jamie McMurray‘s 583rd and final Cup start, then the race threw all it could at him as a going away present.

McMurray finished 22nd in what the Chip Ganassi Racing driver called a “bizarre” Daytona 500.

The 43-year-old driver had to start his 17th “Great American Race” at the rear due to a rear gear change. By Lap 19 in he was in 19th.

His day was complicated on Lap 50 when he was caught up in a six-car wreck, which damaged his right front fender. With repairs made to his No. 40 Chevrolet, the 2010 Daytona 500 winner continued.

Even with the damage, McMurray managed to navigate his way up to 10th by Lap 84.

He then led the field from Laps 164-169, with just the last two laps under green.

Then chaos reigned.

The final 20 laps saw three multi-car wrecks, but McMurray managed to avoid the ones that caught 21 and seven cars.

“Certainly, a bizarre 500 to have so much green-flag racing and then so many wrecks at the end,” McMurray said. “It’s incredible to me how many times we were able to crash in the last 10 laps. It’s part of it. You were able to get big runs. It seemed like as the sun went down those runs happened more often. When the Daytona 500 is on the line, people are willing to take big risks. They just all waited to the end.”

But McMurray couldn’t avoid the last major wreck. While running eighth he was ensnared in a nine-car melee that resulted in the overtime finish. 

“I’m thrilled I made it as long as I did,” said McMurray. “I made it through two or three wrecks I should have been in and didn’t get torn up. It is just part of it. It is what it is and I’m just thankful I’m safe. This is just one of those places you come to that there are a lot of unknowns and certainly after flipping at Talladega (last April), speedway racing was a little different in my mind.”

McMurray will now transition to an analyst role for Fox Sports.

Should the native of Joplin, Missouri, never make another Cup start, he ends his career with seven wins, 63 top fives and 168 top 10s.

He exits the NASCAR stage after 581 consecutive Cup starts.

Next week’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway will be the first without McMurray since the Oct. 20, 2002 event at Martinsville Speedway. That was the race after McMurray scored a surprise first career win at Charlotte Motor Speedway driving Ganassi’s No. 40 Dodge in substitution of an injured Sterling Marlin.

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