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Bump & Run: How much merit do Kyle Busch’s Dover comments have?

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Kyle Busch spoke up about the speeds at Dover on Friday and called the package raced there “terrible” on Monday. Do the former champion’s comments have merit or are they sour grapes?

Nate Ryan: There is merit here. Drivers warned all weekend that they were on throttle too much, and even winner Martin Truex Jr. admitted it was hard to pass with a dominant car after starting at the rear. In changing its rules for 2019, NASCAR officials said an objective was to ensure cars didn’t “check out” on the field, and that’s what happened Monday. Busch is known for being churlish after a mediocre finish, but the 2015 series champion also doesn’t whine this way unless it’s justified.

Dustin Long: They have merit. Busch has been clear about how he didn’t want this high downforce package previously. So you know where he’s coming from, but he wasn’t the only driver to raise issues about the package after the race. While those comments weren’t as sharp as what he said, they further lend validity to his words. Busch’s comments about the higher speeds also should not be ignored.

Daniel McFadin: Sour grapes. Martin Truex Jr. and Alex Bowman came from the rear of the field and placed 1-2. Busch was stuck in 10th-15th for most of the race. He didn’t have a better car than that. 

Jerry Bonkowski: Kind of in-between. I think there should have been more testing at Dover, given how much greater the speeds were compared to years past. Might smaller engines have been a better option? How will the fall playoff race be? Right now, there’s a lot of questions that need answering – and Busch certainly has quite a few – before the fall race.

 

Who was Dover a bigger race for — runner-up Alex Bowman, third-place finisher Kyle Larson or fifth-place finisher Chase Elliott?

Nate Ryan: While I agree with Jeff Gordon’s assessment of Dover being a “career race” for Bowman, Larson’s jump back into a provisional playoff spot was the bigger moral victory.

Dustin Long: Chase Elliott. While the race was a nice pick-me-up for Kyle Larson and Alex Bowman, Elliott scored back-to-back top 10s for the first time this season. That they were top fives meant even more. This is a team that could be a force in the playoffs (Chase won twice in last year’s playoffs) but needs to build momentum and consistency. Maybe these are the first steps toward a title run.

Daniel McFadin: I’m going with Bowman because he had to come from the rear. He also never had consecutive top fives before Monday, while Elliott and Larson have plenty of their own top fives. Larson definitely needed Monday’s race, but what Bowman did was more impressive.

Jerry Bonkowski: No doubt about it, Kyle Larson, with his season-best finish. He finally had a decent race with no incidents for the first time this season. Given how cyclical this sport is, for as bad as Larson may have been in the first 10 races, he now could potentially go on a big run over the next 10 races. The motivation and momentum from Dover could take him and his team a long way, potentially even to victory lane.

 

Are you surprised there hasn’t been a winning vehicle disqualified so far this season?

Nate Ryan: Very surprised. It’s only a matter of time, and the ticking clock will get much louder if it doesn’t happen before the end of the regular season (because teams are bound to push the limits in the playoffs).

Dustin Long: Mildly but it’s still early. I’ll be surprised if it goes a whole season without a winner from either Cup, Xfinity or Trucks disqualified.

Daniel McFadin: Absolutely. That it hasn’t happened at least once in all three of the national series is astounding. It’s possible the threat of losing wins actually did the trick. But I don’t see us making it back to Daytona without it happening for the first time.

Jerry Bonkowski: To an extent, yes. NASCAR is very adamant that it will no longer tolerate overt cheating, and potentially teams even working in the proverbial “gray area.” While disqualifying a winning vehicle would be embarrassing to the sport and especially the team involved, it’s good to know NASCAR has put some teeth in its bite if it needs to. And in a way, if/when (you know it’s going to happen sooner or later) a winning vehicle is DQ’d, it has the potential of bringing more fans back or into the sport, seeing that NASCAR means business about cheating.

Daytona road course entry lists

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NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

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No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.

Christopher Bell to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021

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Christopher Bell will drive for the No. 20 next season for Joe Gibbs Racing, the team announced Monday, a decision that was expected with Erik Jones’ contract expiring after this season and it not being renewed. 

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” Bell said in a statement from the team. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”

Said car owner Joe Gibbs: “We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021. He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”

Bell drove for JGR in in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019, winning 15 races, before moving to the Cup Series and Leavine Family Racing this season. Leavine Family Racing announced last week that it has been sold.

Entering Sunday’s race at the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC), Bell is 19th in points. His best finish this season is fourth at the first Pocono race in late June.

Xfinity playoff grid after Road America

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Brandon Brown extended his hold on the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid last weekend at Road America after struggles early in the race.

Brown needed to be pushed back to pit road before the field took the green because of a mechanical issue. He fell a lap down as his crew diagnosed the issue, got his lap back, scored four stage points in the second stage and finished 12th, one spot off his best career finish on a road course.

MORE: Brandon Brown wants to reward father with a special celebration

MORE: Austin Cindric wins at Road America 

Brown’s effort and Jeremy Clements misfortune in being collected in a crash to finish 29th led to Brown extending his lead on Clements for the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid to 53 points. Myatt Snider is 73 points behind Brown. Eight races remain until the Xfinity playoffs begin Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Here is a look at the playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Those shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Xfinity playoff grid.