Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Are speeds too fast at Dover? Drivers offer their opinion

1 Comment

Kyle Busch says he thinks the speeds are too fast at Dover International Speedway this weekend and cautions how that could impact Sunday’s race.

Cars have 750 horsepower and more downforce this weekend as part of the new package for this season. That’s led to eye-popping speeds.

Kurt Busch posted the fastest lap in Cup practice Friday at 168.445 mph. His lap was 4 mph faster than the track qualifying record of 164.444 mph set in June 2014 by Brad Keselowski. Twenty-three cars were faster than Keselowski’s track record Friday in practice. 

Kurt Busch’s lap Friday was 10 mph faster than Kyle Larson’s pole-winning lap of 158.103 mph for this event a year ago.

“There’s no question that you feel you’re going really fast,” Kyle Busch said. “It’s really fast. It’s probably too fast. The faster we tend to go in the middle of the corners doesn’t always produce the best racing.

“It’s going to be big numbers obviously in qualifying. but we’ll see how that transfers to the race. I’m not overly excited about it.”

Asked what is too fast, Busch said: “You pretty much know as a driver what too fast is. If you have a problem here now with the speeds we’re carrying through the corners, it’s going to hurt. It’s really going to hurt. The faster you go, the harder you’re going to hit the wall.

“Eventually there comes a point where it could be too fast for a stock car. Whether that it is or not, I guess that is for people other than myself to think. I’d much rather appreciate racing and being able to race at a more tolerable speed than what we’re going right now.”

He was then asked if the sport is approaching the danger zone and Busch said: “no question.”

Eleven-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson didn’t share all of Busch’s concerns.

“From a safety standpoint, I don’t have big concerns,” Johnson said. “The type of racing we’ll see on Sunday, I am nervous about that. The faster we go, the harder it is to pass, the wider the race track needs to be. The critical areas around this track are pretty narrow and there’s really one groove around the bottom in most years I’ve been here.

“The tall spoiler, the higher speeds, I think that’s going to make the cars very difficult to really pass the car in front of you. From that standpoint, I think track position is important and that’s where my concerns are.”

Talladega winner Chase Elliott didn’t raise as much concern about the speeds.

“You’re paid to go fast so let’s go fast, I guess,” he said. “It’s not fun hitting something real hard anytime you do. Certainly isn’t going to be when you do it at these speeds. It’s definitely physical for sure. I think this is going to be a very, very physical race on Sunday, especially if the sun comes out and it’s hot.

“It’s fast. Is it too fast? Like I said, this is our job. It’s what we signed up for.”

Martin Truex Jr. said drivers are on the throttle now more than they have ever been at this track.

“I can’t explain to you how fast it feels,” he said. “It’s pretty hairy out there. Pretty wild ride, a lot of fun, but you’ve got to really attack. We went faster every time we hit the race track without doing a whole lot to our car, just trying to figure out where the limit is because it’s something we just haven’t done here before like this.”

Truex also noted how the faster speeds could impact the racing.

“There’s no question it’s going to be harder to get close to someone as fast as we’re going,” he said. “It’s really fast. Obviously you don’t want to hit anything. It’s a race car, there’s always danger involved, I guess.”

Here is what some other drivers said:

Alex Bowman: “I think that we are paid to go fast. We are supposed to be the 40 best race car drivers and doing our jobs.  Part of our job is to go fast. I am not going to complain about going too fast by any means, but we are definitely pretty quick … “I don’t think there really is such a thing as too fast. But it’s really fast and it’s going to be hard to pass and super tough to race. But I am all for it.”

Ty Dillon: “I think it’s not a good speed, at least for a race. I think if it’s a different kind of series, maybe; but I think it’s gotten too fast. I think it’s going to be tough to put on a good race. But we’re all going to go out here and do the best we can. But, if something out of your control happens and you hit the wall at some of these speeds in qualifying, we’re getting into the danger of people are going to get hurt. And, I don’t think it’s a very smart thing.”

NBC Sports Power Rankings: Kyle Busch ends the season No. 1

Getty Images
1 Comment

The 2019 season is over and Kyle Busch is the NASCAR Cup champion. And not surprisingly, the younger Busch brother also ends the season as No. 1 in this week’s Power Rankings.

Busch received 39 of 40 possible points to take the No. 1 spot, followed by the other three Championship 4 contenders: Martin Truex Jr. (35 points), and Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick (tied for third place with 28 points each).

The biggest surprises in this week’s standings were Xfinity Series champ Tyler Reddick in fifth and Gander Outdoors Truck Series champ Matt Crafton in sixth.

Here’s this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Kyle Busch (39 points): Finally gets that second title. Last week: Second.

2. Martin Truex Jr. (35 points): Inexcusable pit mistake left him as the championship runner-up for the second year in a row. Last week: Fourth.

(tie) 3. Denny Hamlin (28 points): Came so close to his first championship, only to be fall short yet again. Could this be the closest he’ll ever get? Last week: First.

(tie) 3. Kevin Harvick (28 points): Needed a bit more help than he got going against the Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut. Still, a very strong season regardless. Last week: Third.

5. Tyler Reddick (18 points): It’s hard enough to win one championship, but back-to-back championships with two different teams? Should be a force to be reckoned with when he moves to Cup next season. Last week: Unranked.

6. Matt Crafton (14 points): Wins the championship without even winning a race (in fact, his last win was more than two years ago). Thrived on his underdog status and handled the championship race pressure perfectly. Last week: Unranked.

7. Ryan Blaney (12 points): Finished 11th or better, including a win at Talladega, in five of the last six playoff races. Last week: Fifth.

(tie) 8. Joey Logano (11 points): Ends year with four consecutive top 10s, but fell short when it counted: to make it to the championship round and try to defend last year’s title. Last week: Eighth.

(tie) 8. Erik Jones (11 points): Ends season with four top 10s in last five races. That bodes well for next season. Last week: Seventh.

10. Christopher Bell (6 points): Missed his chance to add an Xfinity title to his prior Truck championship. Still, with eight wins, had an outstanding season. Up next: a promotion to the Cup Series. Last week: 10th.

Others receiving votes: Kyle Larson (5 points), Clint Bowyer (5 points), Cole Custer (4 points), Austin Hill (2 points), Brad Keselowski (1 point), Brett Moffitt (1 point).

Zane Smith joins GMS Racing for full-time Truck Series ride

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zane Smith will compete full-time for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series next year, the team announced Tuesday.

Smith, 20, joins the team after competing part-time with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series this year, where his best result in 10 races was fifth twice.

He will be GMS Racing’s fourth full-time entry next year, joining Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum. Sam Mayer will compete part-time.

Smith will have veteran Kevin “Bono” Manion as his crew chief.

“When I got the offer from Mike Beam asking me to run a truck full-time for GMS Racing, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Smith said in a press release. “GMS is a championship-caliber team and to be a part of an organization like theirs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with Manion again. He has a lot of experience and I know we will be a great team.”

Manion, who has 24 wins across all three national NASCAR series since 2003, joins GMS Racing after serving as a crew chief for DGR-Crosley in 2019, including working with Rookie of the Year Tyler Ankrum. Manion was crew chief for Smith in 2018 when he made his Truck Series debut at Gateway and finished fifth.

“I am really excited to join GMS Racing and Zane (Smith) for the 2020 season,” Manion said in a press release. “With GMS Racing’s championship caliber equipment and Chevrolet support, we have all the resources to win some races and be in the hunt for the 2020 Championship. I got the opportunity to crew chief Zane (Smith) in his first Gander Trucks start in 2018 at Gateway and we worked really well together. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next season.”

Sponsorship and an assigned truck number for Smith will be announced at a later date.

Penalty report from Homestead-Miami Speedway

Leave a comment

NASCAR issued four fines and one suspension for lug nut violations during its championship weekend in Miami.

Cup Series

Mike Wheeler, crew crew chief on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 95 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

Xfinity Series

Mike Shiplett, crew chief on Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Ford, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Truck Series

Steve Lane, the owner of On Point Motorsports and crew chief on Danny Bohn‘s No. 30 Toyota, was fined $5,000 and suspended one points race for two unsecured lug nuts. The No. 30 truck competed part-time this season and made 16 starts. The team told NBC Sports it will not appeal the penalty.

Trip Bruce III, crew chief on Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet, was fined $2,500 for one unsecured lug nut.

Other

NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to Jeffrey Schmidt for violating its substance abuse policy.

Truck Series gets minor name change for 2020

Getty Images
1 Comment

Four days after the end of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, NASCAR announced the series will receive a minor name change for the 2020 season.

The series will be called the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series when the season starts in February at Daytona International Speedway.

This is the second name change for the series in two years.

This season saw the name change from the Camping World Truck Series, which had been the title from 2009-2018.

Gander Outdoors and Camping World are owned by the same company.

Next year will also see a different name for the Cup Series. With the series going to a new sponsorship model, it will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.