What Drivers Said after Bristol

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Here’s what drivers had to say after Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway:

Kyle Busch – winner: We’re crazy. We just do what we do, try to win. It’s pretty awesome to be able to snooker those guys, get our win today here at Bristol. Love this place. It was fun to battle out the brother there at the end. I know we didn’t quite get side-by-side racing it out. I saw him working the top. I’m like, I better go. I got up there, was able to make some ground. Man, just awesome to be here in front of this crowd, here at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Skittles Camry wasn’t the best today, but we made the most of not having the best and got everything we needed here at the end. … (On having won eight times now at Bristol; Darrell Waltrip has 12 wins) It ain’t 12, that’s for sure. So I got more to go. We’re getting there and it’s fun. It’s the most (among) active driver(s), I guess. I think I heard that. But, you know, there’s a lot more years left hopefully. … I felt like we had to overcome a lot especially there just on the short runs. We just didn’t have the burst-off speed that we needed for the first 30-40 laps. It kind of seemed after that we could maintain with a bunch of those guys and then we could kind of run those guys back down just a little bit. It was hit or miss a little for us today and this weekend. We thought we had a pretty good car in second practice yesterday and going into the race. We just didn’t quite have the speed. We just didn’t show exactly what we needed there. … I love winning at Bristol. You love winning everywhere. It’s nice to continue to bounty up some of those bonus points for the playoffs.”

Kurt Buschfinished second: It was tough battling our No. 1 Chevy. The Monster Energy team is doing a good job. But that one was tough. I really wanted to beat him. I was going to wreck him (laughter). I was wanting to stay close enough so that when we took the white, I was just going to drive straight into (Turns) 3 and 4; I mean he’s already won. I figured he could give a little love to his brother, but no. I wanted that one bad. I feel like him right now. I’m like ugh, I’m mad because I didn’t win. But, this car, we’re struggling on qualifying and we struggle on taking off. And, I just can’t get the right rear to grip until it gets heat in it. And, it’s hard to be patient when you’re running for the win on old tires. So, I’m happy that we were in position to do it, this group of guys. We’re not quite ready to win yet, but that was close. And I was going to wreck my little brother to win today. But with three laps to go, I just stepped out in Turn 1 and I wasn’t close enough after that. But, thanks to (crew chief) Matt McCall and everybody at Ganassi. This No. 1 Monster Chevy is fast. We’ve just got to fine-tune it all.”

Joey Loganofinished third: “Right at the end there, I thought when we got by the 2 (teammate Brad Keselowski), I said, ‘If I can just hold him off, that’s the pass for the win.’ I was pretty confident we were gonna be able to do that for 15 laps or so and then the caution came out and what do you do? Do you pit? Do you stay out? You know a few of them are gonna stay out. It’s really hard to pass and by the time I got to third those cars were so far ahead of me I was stuck and was not going to get to them. It stinks when you have the fastest car and don’t win, but it’s a team sport and it takes every piece to make it work. We had the car part figured out today, we just missed it on some other ends and just have to keep fighting hard. We got a stage win and that was nice, and led a lot of laps, but you want to win at Bristol so bad. Bristol is the coolest track. You see the start-finish line and think you’re gonna get it, but things happen quick here.”

Ryan Blaneyfinished fourth: “I need to get better as the track kind of rubbers out. Joey is really good at it. I thought he had the best car, probably. The track rubbers in and I just need to do something different there. Overall, not a bad day. We were up there all race and just tried to keep up with the track. The track was really racy today from bottom to top. I thought it put on a really good show.”

Denny Hamlin – finished fifth: “We struggled today. We just didn’t really have the car that we needed to go out there and compete. It was just a little bit off. We kind of hung around that 10th to 13th place all day and then we just got it closer there at the end and that’s when we kind of made a charge towards the front – that and some good strategy. I screwed up our strategy on pit lane. We’ll get it cleaned up. Just got to work through all the kinks and clean stuff up. We didn’t have a race-winning car. Top-five finish with a car that probably shouldn’t have been there is a good day.”

Paul Menardfinished sixth: “We qualified really well and had good track position from the start. I messed up our first pit stop and got us behind. I went to neutral to stop and it popped into third, so I killed the car. I put us behind doing that and track position is so important. Greg (crew chief Greg Erwin) made a good call to stay out and came home with a top 10.”

Clint Bowyerfinished seventh: “We had a good car, it’s just horribly disappointing. You get that close. Long runs were my strong suit. I couldn’t take off all day long. Some of those things made sense. We were down a little bit on air and it took a little bit of time for them to come in. The problem is when you balance around that and you just pump the air-pressure up, then it doesn’t work either and you don’t handle there. It’s just disappointing.”

Daniel Suarezfinished eighth: “Today was difficult. We made a lot of mistakes that we were lucky to overcome and finish in the top 10. I’m proud of that. We have to keep better, but it’s kind of good that we’re making these mistakes now so we can clean them up and be stronger in the second part of the season. We have a very good team. We have great race cars and it’s always good to perform well. Today, we had a lot of speed. I felt like we had top five speed at times and when we’re not very good we have top 10 speed and that’s where we ended up, so after all of those mistakes it was still a decent day.”

Ryan Newmanfinished ninth: “It was a good run for us. We had a car better than what we finished. I’m not sure what the call was on pit road there with the penalty, but then I don’t know why we ended up having to start fifth when we were actually sixth. It was a penalty to be moved up a spot, but a good run for our Wyndham Rewards Ford. The guys did a good job today, we just don’t have the total result to show for it, but it’s definitely and improvement and I’m proud of them.”

Jimmie Johnsonfinished 10th: “We did make a jump in our performance so I hope we can find another chunk that quickly that will put us in that top-five mix consistently. I think we are going to right way and I am very optimistic about that, so I am very thankful and grateful for that. We will celebrate these small victories and get ready for the big one.”

Chase Elliott – finished 11th: “Definitely not what we started out hoping for. We got turned late in the race, that was about it. We fell behind from there. Had a great car, even without the power steering.”

Austin Dillonfinished 14th: “We had a struggle with our Camaro all day. It wasn’t ever really good but somehow we maintained, stayed on the lead lap. More attrition, working hard to stay up there. At one point we got the car pretty decent. The car was pretty tight, but it was decent. There at the end I hit the wall because we had the rear to free. It damaged it. So through all that, 14th is 14th. But I’ll take it.”

Ty Dillonfinished 15th: (On his stage win) “That was huge for our team, to go head-to-head with the top teams is huge for GEICO and Germain Racing. That was a really cool moment, something we are really proud of. We are proud of the direction we are going with our race team. We are going to keep getting better for Chevrolet, GEICO and Germain Racing. I’m really proud of how we are doing with our Camaro.”

BRAD KESELOWSKIfinished 18th: (On restart controversy where he was penalized) “Nobody could figure out the lineup. There wasn’t enough communication and it was just a tough deal.”

Kyle Larsonfinished 19th: “Not much up to it. We had a loose wheel and we had to come down pit road and lost two laps. Then we had an uncontrolled tire. Had a penalty for that and lost a lap. We fought back to get on the lead lap and then had a right front tire going down, so we lost a lap and finished a lap down. Not much to show for how quick our Camaro was today.”

Daniel Hemric — finished 30th: “Man, what a day. We knew going into today’s race we had a tall task ahead of us, but a few things in the opening stage made it an even tougher day. When the first caution of the race happened, I had slowed down but got hit from behind and received damage to the nose of the No. 8 Caterpillar/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The pit crew did a good job making the necessary repairs, and we were logging some laps in the top 20 when we just got hit from behind by the No. 15, spun and backed into the wall. That hurt the handling of the car pretty bad, and it was all I could do to hang on for the rest of the day. This was definitely a frustrating race, but the crew never gave up all weekend and made the most of the situation. Here’s hoping we find some good luck soon. We just need a clean race, and that is the goal next weekend in Richmond.”

Aric Almirola — finished 37th: “The 24 (William Byron) just got loose under me. He struggled to get going on the initial start. He spun his tires and then was just loose and out of control that whole first lap. When we went down in turn one he lost it under me and wiped us out. I’m pretty frustrated. You work all weekend, all week getting ready for the event and to make it one lap is kind of uncalled for, so I’m disappointed, frustrated, but life goes on. We’ll go to Richmond. Honestly, I think some of it is inexperience on William’s part. I think he started to panic because he started to lose spots on the start because he spun his tires on the start, and probably a little bit over his head with the tire pressures and everything not coming up and he just lost it. He got loose underneath me, lost it and ran right into the side of us and wrecked us. Part of that comes with experience, I guess, but, either way, it doesn’t change the outcome for us today.””

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NASCAR will have choose rule for All-Star Race at Bristol

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Following support from drivers, NASCAR will allow competitors to choose which lane they want to restart in during the July 15 All-Star Race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

The choose rule designates a spot on the track where a driver must select if they wish to restart on the inside lane or outside lane. The choose rule also will be in place for the NASCAR Open.

NASCAR also announced the format for the NASCAR Open and All-Star Race.

In the NASCAR Open, which is for drivers who have not qualified for the All-Star Race:

  • Stage 1 will be 35 laps
  • Stage 2 will be 35 laps
  • The final stage will be 15 laps

The winner of each stage advances to the All-Star Race. After the NASCAR Open, the Fan Vote winner will be announced. That will go to the driver not yet qualified for the All-Star Race after competing in the NASCAR Open.

In the All-Star Race, the format will be:

  • Stage 1 will be 55 laps
  • Stage 2 will be 35 laps
  • Stage 3 will be 35 laps
  • The final stage will be 15 laps

Both green flag and yellow flag laps will count in the first three stages. Only green flag laps will count in the final stage. There will be an unlimited number of attempts at a green, white, checkered finish under green flag conditions.

NASCAR also stated that the car number will move from the door toward the rear wheel to give more exposure to the teams’ sponsors

The biggest change is the choose rule. At Bristol, the outside line is dominant on restarts. The leader chooses to restart on the outside line and the driver starting in the second row — in fourth place — often is second shortly after the restart because of the lane’s advantage. With the rule change, others would have the chance to start on the outside lane if they wanted.

“I see nothing bad that it can bring,” Joey Logano said of the chose rule concept in May. “It brings another strategy to the table, it’s definitely something to talk about. You don’t have luck becoming involved. …

“I tell you, if I see a bunch of 12-year-olds do it in the Summer Shootout at Charlotte Motor Speedway, I’m pretty sure all of us could figure it out.”

Said Austin Dillon: “As a sport we’re always changing. We’ve done a really good job with the mile-and-a-half program and brought it back to life. I think the next thing is trying to make it better for the fans and create more drama than it already has.”

Some drivers have called for this type of rule to prevent the brake checking that takes place at the exit of pit road so a driver can be in an even-number position in the running order and restart on the outside lane.

“It takes out pit crew’s fast stops,” Dillon said. “Your pit crew could’ve gained a couple of spots there, but instead you’re giving up two spots because you’d rather start on the outside. That’s gotta stop. I think it’s gonna knock someone’s nose in at the end of pit road before too long, so that will end a guy’s race. I don’t feel like it is a hard thing to do.”

The All-Star Race was moved from Charlotte Motor Speedway to Bristol Motor Speedway because of the COVID-19 pandemic and North Carolina restrictions on mass gatherings. Bristol will be allowed to have up to 30,000 fans.

Drivers who have already clinched an All-Star Race spot: Ryan Blaney, Alex Bowman, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Justin Haley, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Matt Kenseth, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

 

Can anybody catch Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick?

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Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin.

Or is it Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick?

They’ve won four of the last six Cup races, including the past two, and came within a late caution flag of being the last two Brickyard 400 winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, site of Sunday’s race (4 p.m. ET on NBC).

MORE: Indianapolis weekend schedule

MORE: Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick 1-2 in Power Rankings

“For the most part, when we have had chances to win races, we have won them,” Harvick said. “I think Sunday (at Pocono) was probably the only one that I could point to and say that we had the car to win the race and didn’t win the race. I think for the majority of the races that we have had chances to win we have capitalized on those situations.”

That Pocono race Sunday? Harvick finished second to Hamlin, who has won two of the last four races.

“I would say specifically the last 10 to 11 (races) we’ve been exceptional, really since coming back from the break that we had,” Hamlin said. “I thought we’ve been really good.

“My team is really strong. They’re doing a lot of really good work at the race shop preparing our cars to be set up, optimized right from the first run of the day.

“Where we’re really struggling is not getting stage points. I think we’d be winning the regular season if we could get some. The way the races have played out, we’ve kind of made our bed to try to win the race because we’ve had race‑winning cars. I’ll definitely take race wins over stage wins, especially knowing that a race win counts for five (playoff points).”

Harvick enters Sunday’s race at Indy as the defending winner. He led 118 of 160 laps in last year’s race, winning by more than six seconds.

In 2018, Hamlin led at Indy when a caution with six laps to go took away his advantage. Brad Keselowski passed Hamlin coming to the white flag and won.

If not Harvick or Hamlin this weekend, Keselowski could be one to watch.

“My confidence level right now is very, very high that we can be a contender for the entire season and continue to build and get stronger,” said Keselowski, who has two wins and eight top-10 finishes since the season resumed in May. “Very, very pleased to see how the team has come together. … Now we’re starting to show a lot of speed. I don’t think we’ve reached our full potential.”

Even with Keselowski’s success, Harvick and Hamlin have been stout. This is how dominant Harvick and Hamlin have been all season and since May:

Most wins this year (15 races)

Most wins since season resumed (11 races)

  • Denny Hamlin (3 wins)
  •  Kevin Harvick (3 wins)
  • Brad Keselowski (2 wins)

Most top-five finishes this year (15 races)

Most top-five finishes since season resumed (11 races)

  • Denny Hamlin (8 top 5s)
  • Kevin Harvick (7 top 5s)
  • Chase Elliott (6 top 5s)
  • Ryan Blaney (6 top 5s)

Most top 10 finishes this season (15 races)

  • Kevin Harvick (12 top 10s)
  • Denny Hamlin (10 top 10s)
  • Brad Keselowski (10 top 10s)

Most top 10 finishes since season resumed (11 races)

  • Kevin Harvick (8 top 10s)
  • Denny Hamlin (8 top 10s)
  • Brad Keselowski (8 top 10s)
  • Martin Truex Jr. (8 top 10s)

Patriots of America PAC to be primary sponsor for Go Fas Racing in nine races

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Patriots of America, a political action committee supporting President Donald Trump’s re-election bid, will be the primary sponsor of Corey LaJoie’s car this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Go Fas Racing announced Wednesday.

Patriots of America PAC will be the primary sponsor on the car for eight additional races.  

“Our mission is to get voters registered and to the polls in November,” said Jeff Whaley on behalf of Patriots of America PAC. “We are excited about our sponsorship with Go Fas Racing No. 32 and Corey LaJoie. We feel this partnership is the best way to help us communicate this message to the NASCAR community and encourage all Americans to do their part by heading to the polls.”

Team owner Archie St. Hilaire said in a statement: “I am honored to be part of the President’s re-election campaign through the Patriots of America PAC. As a Trump 2020 supporter, this team will do everything possible to secure victory on and off the track electing President Donald Trump to a second term. Let us bring this country back and Keep America Great!”

According to public documents, Patriots of America has paid Go Fas Racing $350,000 to this point for the sponsorship.

Sunday’s Cup race airs at 4 p.m. ET on NBC.

NASCAR, Coca-Cola to honor military, frontline healthcare workers

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NASCAR will honor members of the U.S. Armed Forces and frontline healthcare workers throughout the month of July as part of this year’s expanded “NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola” initiative.

Per a media release, NASCAR said the program will be “an industry-wide opportunity to recognize and thank those who have gone above and beyond to keep society safe and healthy.”

The kickoff event for the program begins with Sunday’s Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at the Brickyard (4 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), shifting to a mid-summer window due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We take pride in honoring all who work tirelessly to keep our nation safe, whether a frontline worker in the fight against COVID-19 or part of our U.S. Armed Forces protecting us around the world,” said Jill Gregory, executive vice president and chief marketing and content officer, NASCAR. “The NASCAR industry has always been passionate about saluting our nation’s heroes both past and present, and we once again look forward to recognizing those who serve.”

Per a statement in the media release, NASCAR and Coca-Cola will create content to honor the “heroic work from our military and first responder community during the COVID-19 pandemic. … Through NASCAR digital and social channels, the industry will spotlight even more stories with a new ‘NASCAR Salutes Refreshing Moments’ feature that will also be hosted on NASCAR.com/Salutes.”

“While this crisis has impacted everyone’s daily lives, we are able to race because of the selfless acts by our military community and frontline workers,” said John Mount, vice president, sports marketing and region assets, Coca-Cola North America. “NASCAR Salutes offers an impactful opportunity to showcase our pride and appreciation for these heroes and their families.”

In addition to premier partner Coca-Cola, several other NASCAR Official Partners will also take part in the program:

  • Mack Trucks will wrap its NASCAR Mack Anthem haulers with NASCAR Salutes-themed graphics voted on by fans at com/NASCARSalutes. The paint schemes honor both military and frontline heroes and the winning designs will be unveiled July 4 and debut during the NASCAR Salutes window.
  • AMR, the “Official Emergency Medical Services Partner of NASCAR,” will feature the NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola branding on its NASCAR safety trucks and safety team helmets throughout the program.
  • Goodyear continued its tradition of replacing the iconic “Eagle” sidewall for 600 Miles of Remembrance at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This year’s recognition was the Honor and Remember organization, which works closely with the industry to honor gold star families who have lost family members while serving.
  • Mack Trucks and Blue-Emu also collaborated on a day-long effort to thank truckers and critical workers for their hard work during COVID-19. After a kickoff at Mack Trucks’ headquarters, NASCAR’s Mack Anthem haulers visited Virginia-based Sovah Health to thank the frontline workers at the hospital en route to the NASCAR Cup Series race at Martinsville Speedway.

Fans can learn more about the heroes honored throughout the NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Colaprogram by visiting NASCAR.com/Salutes.