Joey Logano ‘very surprised’ Michael McDowell didn’t push him at end of Daytona 500

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Joey Logano questioned fellow Ford driver Michael McDowell’s decision to help a Toyota driver Kyle Busch in the final lap of Sunday’s Daytona 500.

McDowell said the decision was easy. He felt Busch had a better chance and that the “Fords weren’t that friendly to me this weekend.”

Logano went to McDowell’s car on pit road shortly after the race to express his displeasure. The short conversation proved unsatisfying to Logano, the reigning series champion.

“Typically you kind of expect manufacturers to work together like the Toyotas do or the Chevys do, and just was expecting that, as well, in that moment coming to the checkered flag,” Logano said of McDowell’s move, which helped Busch finish second while Logano placed fourth. “I was very surprised by his decision.”

McDowell, who finished fifth for Front Row Motorsports, was unapologetic about his late-race move.

‘I just told him that my team doesn’t pay me to push Joey Logano to a win,” McDowell said after his second career top-five finish. “That’s not what I get paid to do. At 200 mph, I made a split-second decision on what was the fastest car and who had the best shot at winning the race and that’s where I went.”

“I would have loved to work with Joey, but he was moving left to right. (Busch) had a big run, a lot of momentum and Joey had a lot of damage, the back of his car was completely smashed, no rear bumper, parachute hanging out it. Joey wasn’t going to win the race. I wanted to put myself in the best shot to win the race. And the Fords weren’t that friendly to me this weekend.”

Said Logano: “At that point, (McDowell) wasn’t go to win. He’d have to pass Kyle.”

McDowell also was frustrated with Ford driver Clint Bowyer, who attempted to pass McDowell late and came up the track, triggering a nine-car crash that set up the final overtime finish.

“The Bowyer wreck was all his fault,” McDowell said. “He flat out tried to shift me out and cleared himself and he wasn’t clear. That’s what is so frustrating. You’ve got guys that say, ‘Hey, why don’t you go with me … well because every time I’m in the front you shook me out and so what makes you think I’m going to push you to a win when you leave me high and dry the whole entire day?”

Said Bowyer of his move on McDowell: “Hey, it is the Daytona 500, I had to go for it. I had a big run on (McDowell) and knew that I had to make quick work of him because in the mirror they were going three-wide and losing their minds so you knew that was going to come down on you. So I decided to lose my mind too.”

As for the finish, McDowell said: “I think for a small team it’s awesome. There’s no doubt about it, but I’d be lying to you all if I told you I was over the moon excited. I’ve been in the Cup Series over 10 years now. I have one goal and one goal only and that’s to get a win. I was close to getting there tonight or at least had a shot at it and wasn’t able to get it done at the end. I’m happy with the finish.  I’m proud of the team, but that wasn’t the goal.”

NASCAR mourns Kobe Bryant

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Joining their brethren in other sports, the NASCAR world took to social media upon learning the tragic news of the death of Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant, killed Sunday morning in a helicopter crash in Calabasas, California, about 30 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles.

Bryant had met a number of NASCAR drivers in his career, including Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney and Joey Logano. They were among a number of NASCAR notables who took to social media to mourn Bryant:

 

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Chad Knaus and wife expecting second child

Photo courtesy Brooke Knaus official Instagram account
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Seven-time NASCAR Cup champion crew chief Chad Knaus and wife Brooke are expecting their second child.

Brooke made the announcement Saturday on her Instagram account.

The couple, already parents to one-year-old son Kip, will soon be adding a daughter to their growing family.

Brooke Knaus’s Instagram post said the baby is due in July.

Kip figured prominently in the baby revelation, coming at the end of mom and dad’s ski run while vacationing in Telluride, Colorado:

 

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Kyle Larson flips, misses finals of Australia’s biggest sprint car race

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Kyle Larson’s hope of following up last week’s Chili Bowl win with a triumph in Australia’s prestigious Grand Annual Sprint Car Classic fell far short Sunday.

Larson’s bid to race his way into the 24-car finals of the three-day race at Premier Speedway in Warrnambool, Australia, ended when he flipped (uninjured) on the opening lap of a last-chance qualifying heat race earlier in the evening.

Instead of being one of the featured drivers in the Classic’s 40-lap finale – the largest and most popular sprint car race of the year in the land down under – Larson was left to watch the event from the pits and cheer on Dyson Motorsport teammate and fellow American Carson Macedo.

Even that didn’t go very well, as Macedo flipped his own sprint car on the first lap of the Classic, resulting in a last-place finish. The highest finishing American was Cory Eliason, who ended up fourth.

Meanwhile, it was an all-Australian podium, with James McFadden winning the Classic for the second time in his career, followed by James Veal and Kerry Madsen.

In eight days, Larson went from capturing what he called the biggest win ever of his racing career on all levels – the Chili Bowl in his 13th try last Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma – to nothing but bad luck and utter frustration throughout his Australian journey.

Larson’s first race on Wednesday in the King’s Challenge at Borderline Speedway was rained out.

Then, in the first night of the Classic on Friday, Larson wrecked heavily in his first heat race, including flipping (he was uninjured). After his team repaired his car, Larson went back on the track, only to suffer a blown engine that knocked him out of contention to race in that evening’s feature event.

After not being on the schedule to race in Night 2 of the Classic on Saturday, Larson had one last chance to make Sunday’s featured championship event.

A total of 80 drivers battled it out in the B, C and D Mains for the eight remaining spots in the A Main, but Larson would end up not being one of those — as can be seen in the second line of the following tweet by his team:

Larson now returns to the United States to prepare for the Daytona 500 on February 16.

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Kyle Busch feeling like ‘the new guy’ during his Rolex 24 debut at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Kyle Busch was looking forward to his first stint at 6 p.m. Saturday in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The two-time Cup champion was less enthused about his second turn behind the wheel in the IMSA season opener. Busch will climb back into the No. 14 Lexus RCF GT3 at 2 a.m. Sunday, just past the midpoint of the endurance race classic at Daytona International Speedway.

“That’s going to suck, yeah,” Busch deadpanned. “That’s exactly when I told them I did not want to run, and I got it.  Thank you very much.

“(I’m) the new guy.  I pulled the short straw.”

Click here to read more about how Busch felt about his AIM Vasser Sullivan car.