Kaulig Racing

Ross Chastain joins Kaulig Racing for three-race Xfinity deal; returns to JD Motorsports

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Ross Chastain‘s Xfinity schedule has filled out with a three-race deal with Kaulig Racing and a 30-race deal with JD Motorsports.

Chastain will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet in the Feb. 16 season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. Chastain will be sponsored by Nutrien Ag Solutions at Daytona, Chicagoland Speedway (June 29) and the playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway (Nov. 2).

Nutrien Ag Solutions, an agricultural retailer of crop inputs and solutions, was intended to be a sponsor of Chastain at Chip Ganassi Racing.

Other than the three races with Kaulig Racing, Chastain will compete for JD Motorsports in the No. 4 Chevrolet the rest of the season.

Chastain was set to compete full-time for CGR this season before it shut down its Xfinity operation due to lack of sponsorship. That was a result of the Dec. 18 raids by the Federal Bureau of Investigation on the California headquarters of DC Solar, Ganassi’s primary sponsor, and the home of Jeffrey Carpoff, the company’s CEO.

Chastain remains under contract with Ganassi.

“It has been awhile in the making, with a group of folks I didn’t have much to do with before,” Chastain said. “But Nutrien (Ag Solutions) is an agriculture company, so they knew my background (as a watermelon farmer). They felt like I would be a good fit for Nutrien (Ag Solutions).”

Chastain later added: “When I got into the Xfinity Series with Jimmy Dick and Viva (Auto Group), I had a Watermelon car. We were trying to figure out how to market it and our hashtag was the #AGcar.

“That was my goal coming into the series was to figure out a way to have an agriculture-based race car. This is a really big step in that direction. It goes with everything I believe in about outside the race car, right? Feeding the world, man. Nutrien (Ag Solutions), they’re stepping up to the plate world-wide. It’s incredible what they’re doing.”

Kaulig first fielded the No. 10 in the last year’s Xfinity race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with Austin Dillon behind the wheel.

Chastain, who said two weeks ago that he would declare for points in the Xfinity Series, will be teammates with Justin Haley in his three races. Haley, a rookie, will drive the No. 11 full-time for Kaulig Racing.

“Been working with Justin quite a bit trying to get up to speed on everything they have going on and see what he thinks about stuff,” Chastain said. “Just trying to fit in and do my job. (Team owner) Matt (Kaulig) wants to run good and he wants to win. And that’s what I want to do with him. That’s my goal if I got in a wheelbarrow.”

While he will collect points in Xfinity, Chastain has other NASCAR plans. He’s already set to run full-time in Cup with Premium Motorsports in addition to running select races in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series with Niece Motorsports in the No. 45.

He will step into the ride that former Kaulig Racing driver Blake Koch was announced as taking in December. A press release cited Koch’s desire to focus on overseeing the success of his company, Filter Time.

Chastain will have sponsorship from RM Parks, Inc, EZ Angus Ranch and Mc Divitt Sign Company during all five West Coast races this season.

Today also marks the first of a two-day organizational test for Cup and Xfinity teams at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Chastain has been tapped by Chevrolet to drive a wheel-force car that is designed to collect data and information.

“I’m just confident in what I’m doing now and what Chevrolet is affording me the opportunities to do to get better as a race car driver are head and shoulders above what I’ve ever been able to do to prepare,” Chastain said. “I’ve never raced between Homestead and Daytona since I got into NASCAR. … Not that I’ve raced anything this year, but I’ve been putting in a lot of work with Chevrolet. So grateful to them for that.”

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Denny Hamlin hopes teams don’t shoot selves in feet with pit guns

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Denny Hamlin is the hottest driver on the Cup circuit. He has two wins – including Saturday night at Bristol – as well as two runner-ups, and a third- and fifth-place finish in the last six races. He’s also moved up to third in the rankings in that string.

But Hamlin isn’t taking anything to chance, particularly some of the smallest details – such as loose lug nuts and wheels.

Hamlin appeared Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On-Track” show and was asked about how not only his team, but also other Cup teams, can overcome the loose lug nuts and wheels issues.

Hamlin said a significant part of the problem – particularly at a place like Bristol Motor Speedway – is pit guns, which are allocated and issued in a pre-race lottery by NASCAR, rather than have teams use their own guns.

MORE: Denny Hamlin earns hard-fought win over Matt DiBenedetto at Bristol

Hamlin does not like that system and explained why:

“(Bristol) puts probably some of the biggest loads we have on our tires. Truth be told, over the last two years since we’ve had these guns issued to us, they’re not capable of getting all the wheels tight, they really aren’t.

“It’s a lottery whether you get a gun that’s good enough to get ‘em tight. Through JGR, Stewart-Haas and other teams that have documented it, in the spring race there were over 20 loose wheels. This is not just a team thing. It’s just that the equipment is not quite up to par as far as what it’s capable of.

“We keep track of all the guns and how good they are and how bad they are. It’s a lottery system of whether you’re going to get (a good or bad one). It doesn’t matter how fast you go, you can hold the gun on there and it’s just not going to get the torque quite tight enough.”

Hamlin experienced a loose wheel that forced him to pit under green on Lap 186 of Saturday night’s race at Bristol, leaving him two laps behind the leaders. Hamlin had another loose wheel on Lap 374 and pitted while running 10th.

Thus far this season, in addition to several loose wheels in races, Hamlin’s team has also been penalized four times for loose lug nuts after races: Fontana, Bristol spring race, Chicagoland and the July race at Pocono.

This isn’t the first time Hamlin has publicly complained about pit guns and loose lug nuts and wheels.

NBC Sports has reached out to NASCAR for comment.

Check out what Hamlin said about that after Saturday night’s race in the video above (Hamlin talks about this issue starting around the 6:00 mark).

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Preliminary entry lists for Xfinity, Trucks this weekend

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While the NASCAR Cup Series will be off this weekend, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any racing.

On the contrary, the Xfinity Series will be racing Saturday at Road America and the Truck Series will compete Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Here are the entry lists for both series:

Xfinity – CTECH Manufacturing 180 (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

There are 39 cars entered.

Regan Smith will be in the No. 8 J.R. Motorsports Chevrolet.

A.J. Allmendinger will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

Saturday’s Cup runner-up, Matt DiBenedetto, will drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

There is no driver listed yet for the No. 117 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Chevrolet Silverado 250 (2:30 p.m. ET FS1)

There are only 28 Trucks listed for the entry list.

All seats are filled.

Click here for the entry list.

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. thanks all who have ‘lifted us up’ since plane crash

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Dale Earnhardt Jr. issued his first public comments Monday since he and his family survived a plane crash last Thursday afternoon at Elizabethton (Tennessee) Municipal Airport.

Earnhardt offered thanks to “everyone who has lifted us up with phone calls, messages and prayer since last Thursday. We are truly blessed that all on board escaped with no serious injuries, including our daughter, our two pilots and our dog Gus.”

Earnhardt also thanked the pilots, emergency personnel, law enforcement and hospital staff.

He stated that wife “Amy and I continue to be very appreciative of the privacy extended to us to process everything. It has been important to do that together and on our own time.”

Earnhardt stated that because of the ongoing investigation “we will not be speculating or discussing the cause of the accident.”

A preliminary report from the National Transportation Safety Board is expected this week. Ralph Hicks, a senior investigator for the NTSB said in a briefing last Friday that “the airplane basically bounced at least twice before coming down hard on the right wing landing gear. You can actually see the right wing landing gear collapsing on the video (from nearby buildings). The airplane continued down the runway, off to the end, through a fence and came to a stop … on highway 91.”

Both pilots have been interviewed and Hicks stated that what they said was “very consistent” with what the video showed. Hicks also said investigators had talked to the Earnhardt family.

NASCAR America 6-7 p.m. ET on NBCSN: Recapping Hamlin’s Bristol win

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs on NBCSN at a special time, from 6-7 p.m. ET, and will recap Denny Hamlin’s win at Bristol.

Steve Letarte will be joined by NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett and A.J. Allmendinger to discuss Hamlin’s win and other storylines.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch 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 for the special start time at 6 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.