What drivers said at Pocono

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Kyle Busch — winner: “I passed one guy on the outside of Turn 3 and that was the only guy I needed to pass, I guess. It was hard otherwise. We kind of got stuck in traffic back there a little bit earlier in the race. We were about fifth or sixth and couldn’t really do anything. But overall my guys on pit road were awesome. We got some spots there, track position.”

Brad Keselowski: — finished 2nd: “We had decent speed. We didn’t have speed enough to go up and pass guys, but we could run with them. I feel like if we would have got to the front, nobody ever would have passed us. One of those races, with the way the cars are, if you’re the leader you could be a 20th-place car, nobody is going to pass you. You just try to make the most you can and take advantage of the restarts and the pit strategy and do the best you can as a driver to make up for it.

Erik Jones — finished 3rd: “If we were both on four tires would have been pretty even, but (Kyle Busch) had an advantage on tires there at the end. We needed some track position so we had to take two, and had it stayed green, we were going to run second, and we ended up third. You know, a good day overall.”

Chase Elliott — finished 4th: “Playing the strategy game was really important. Pitting before the stages was giving up stage points doing that, but ultimately having track position in the back half was where it was worth it. Luckily, (crew chief Alan Gustafson) and our group saw that earlier in the race and we kind of jumped on board with that strategy. It worked out for a top five. I’m proud of the effort. We’ve had some good NAPA Chevrolet’s the last couple of weeks. We’ve been good, just not great and you have to be great to win these things. I’ll go to work and try to do a better job, and we’ll see what we can do next week.”

Clint Bowyer — finished 5th: “We had a pretty good car. We had a third- to fifth-place car. That is about what we had and we did a good job finishing with what we had. We are just giving up way too many stage points. We have to figure out how to get some stage points. That is all we had today.”

Denny Hamlin — finished 6th: “It was a good run. We didn’t hit the wall. That’s a first in about a month. Didn’t blow a tire. That’s about the first in a month. The positives are we got a decent finish out of it there. We had a pretty good car in clean air. I thought the 18 (Kyle Busch) definitely was substantially better. The 4 (Kevin Harvick) was pretty good as well, but I thought we could hold our own there. We were running third and got four tires there at the end. We really – track position was just such a huge deal. I didn’t see many cars out there passing today and we were one of them that couldn’t. You got stuck behind guys and it didn’t matter how old their tires were in front of you, you just got stuck behind them and we were one of those guys. Then we had an inside lane restart on the end that cost us a spot or two. Overall, a decent day. We’re at least back on the train of a good run and not tearing our car up so we’ll build from there and go to Michigan next week.”

Joey Logano — finished 7th: “It was brutal to pass. Really hard in dirty air. Tough. Tough racing here. It was all about strategy and restarts and you saw some chaotic restarts. The last restart was insane. I was in the middle of it and we were four or five-wide down into (Turn 1) and I wasn’t sure where I was supposed to be. You hope it all sorts out and somehow it did. That is where the race is at, trying to get a good restart and then figure out a way to get ahead of everyone on strategy.”

Daniel Suarez — finished 8th: “We had a little bit more speed than an eighth-place car but we struggled through the race at one point in traffic. We got the balance back by the end but it wasn’t easy. I feel like a top 10 is what we deserve today and we have to work on it.”

William Byron — finished 9th: “We had some really good parts of the race. We kind of went for the points, which with the way the strategy was, it was hard to get back there. But we got a lot of points today, which was great. I know it doesn’t sound super good, but we had really good stages and really good runs there. So, we were able to go from 12th to ninth on that last restart and that was nice and we finished with a top 10, so hopefully we can go to Michigan and be able to improve on that even more.”

Aric Almirola — finished 10th: “I honestly don’t know how well this will translate to the July race, but I feel like we learned quite a bit today. Our car was decent but we didn’t have anything for the 18. Our car was decent and we were pretty competitive, we just fought track position. I got up to fifth or sixth there and just barely brushed the wall off Turn 3 and had bad tire smoke and had to come pit so that I didn’t blow a right rear tire and end our day. I erred on the side of caution there and then we just fought to recover from that the rest of the day. We were buried in traffic and had to be aggressive on restarts to try to get back up through the field.”

Daniel Hemric — finished 13th: “I thought we did a really good job of maximizing our day with this No. 8 Kalahari Resorts & Conventions Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. We struggled a little bit too much on restarts, and I have to figure out how to position myself better to not give up so much track position. In the race, the car took off too loose on corner entry to attack. I thought we would never get that connected to make some decent lap times. As soon as (crew chief) Luke Lambert and this team were able to make some adjustments … we were able to do that and made forward progress. Staying out long on the next-to-last run and pitting late for right side tires and fuel gave us a huge amount of track position and made our lap times much better than the cars around us.”

Alex Bowman — finished 15th: “That was not what we needed today. We had a good car, and we just fought some handling issues off and on. There at the end, it just came out of fourth gear and wouldn’t stay in. I had to hold it in place for the end of the race.

Kyle Larson — finished 26th: “It felt like our team did a really good job of calling pit strategy the first half of the race for those two stage wins. I felt like our car was really good, especially in that final stage. I just didn’t have the track position, but I could pass people when I felt like other people couldn’t pass. So, I was happy about that. And then, just that restart, I tried to be really aggressive and fit in that hole. I haven’t seen a replay, but am assuming I just wasn’t clear and I turned myself in the wall. I hate that I did that, but I felt like that was a good opportunity to fit in that hole and just get the run and maybe get by whoever was in front of me because I feel like I had a really good car at the time. So, I’ve just got to be smarter.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — finished 32nd: “That was a hard lick. We actually got the car a little bit better but we still weren’t very good all day. We made it better and better and had a little contact early and cut a right rear tire. We were trying to battle back. We were gaining on it. I feel like we could have maybe got three more spots before the end of the race but the tire let go going into (Turn 2). That is about the worst place that can happen. That was a bummer. All in all, we will just try to figure out how to get our cars better here. Us and the 6 were struggling all day.”

Martin Truex Jr. — finished 35th: “I don’t know. We just lost an engine there – dropped a cylinder down the backstretch and figured I might as well pit. I thought maybe it was a possibility we were out of gas, but it started smoking out of the pipes and shut off. Tough day. TRD (Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A.) does a great job of building engines and obviously they’re fast. Probably a fluke deal. I’m not sure, but we’ll go back to look at it. Frustrating day.”

Austin Dillon — finished 37th:Paul Menard has been doing this for a long time. I was a teammate with him at some point. I don’t know. He still hasn’t figured it out, I guess. I don’t know where I was supposed to go or what I was supposed to do. He just ran into the back of me and missed the corner. He overshot it.”

2021 NASCAR Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes

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The 2021 Cup schedule features the first race on a dirt track for the series in more than 50 years, three new venues and six road course points races.

Responding to fan interest, the series adds three road course events to the 2021 schedule. Those new races are May 23 at Circuit of the Americas, July 4 at Road America and Aug. 15 on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The other points races on road courses in 2021 will be at Sonoma, Watkins Glen and the Charlotte Roval. The Daytona road course will host the Busch Clash exhibition race.

The race that might gain the most attention, though, could be the March 28 Cup race at Bristol. The track will be converted to dirt.

There are no midweek races. Pocono Raceway continues to have the only doubleheader weekend. There is a two-week break in late July/early August during the Olympics. NBC’s portion of the schedule will begin with the June 20 race at Nashville Superspeedway.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president & chief racing development officer, says the plan is to have practice and qualifying for new venues (Circuit of the Americas, Road America, Nashville) and new configurations (Indy road course) along with key events (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 and Phoenix championship weekend). The plan is for the other races to be one-day shows.

The schedule is flush with change. Here’s a look at those changes:

NEW EVENTS

March 28 – Bristol Dirt race: It is the first Cup race on dirt since 1970 at Raleigh, a race won by Richard Petty.

May 9 – Darlington: The track that NASCAR returned to after the season was halted by the COVID-19 pandemic this year will host two races in 2021. The track adds a spring date and it will be run on Mother’s Day. It will be only the third time in the last 40 years Cup has run on Mother’s Day. The added race comes from Michigan International Speedway, which will have one race in 2021.

May 23 – Circuit of the Americas: Inaugural race for the series on the road course in Austin, Texas that has hosted Formula One and IndyCar, among other series.

June 13 – All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway: First time the All-Star race has been held at this track. Marks third different year for the event after being in Charlotte in 2019 and Bristol this year.

June 20 – Nashville: The 1.333-mile track will hold its first race for Cup. The track hosted Xfinity and Truck races from 2001-11. The date comes from a Dover, leaving that race with one NASCAR race weekend in 2021. This weekend begins NBC Sports’ coverage of NASCAR races.

July 4- Road America: Will host the Cup Series for the first time. Gets holiday weekend with July 4 date. The date comes from Chicagoland Speedway, which will not have a NASCAR race in 2021.

July 11 – Atlanta: Kentucky race date moves to Atlanta to give track a second race. The first race at the track in 2021 will be March 21.

Aug. 15 – Indianapolis road course: After comping on the oval since 1994, Cup moves to the road course. Will be a part of a race weekend with the IndyCar Series. 

OTHER DATES OF NOTE

Feb. 21 – Miami: Moves to second race of the season and comes a week after Daytona 500.

Feb. 28 – Auto Club: Moves up a week earlier and this will be its last race as a 2-mile track. Track will be converted into a short track after this event for 2022.

April 10 – Martinsville: Track hosted its first night race in June but did not have fans because of the coronavirus. This April race will be at night. Provided fans will be allowed at that point, it will be their first time to witness a night Cup race there.

July 25 & Aug. 1: No Cup races because of the Olympics. 

Sept. 5 – Nov. 7: Cup playoffs. Same 10 tracks as 2020. Only difference is Texas and Kansas flip-flop weekends in the Round of 8. Texas will open that round on Oct. 17. Kansas will follow on Oct. 24. Round of 8 ends at Martinsville on Oct. 31. Phoenix again will host the title race, doing so Nov. 7.

 

2021 NASCAR CUP SERIES SCHEDULE

(Times, weekend schedule and TV info to be announced later)

 

Date Race / Track
Tuesday, February 9 Clash (Daytona Road Course)
Thursday, February 11 Duel at Daytona
Sunday, February 14 Daytona 500
Sunday, February 21 Homestead-Miami
Sunday, February 28 Auto Club
Sunday, March 7 Las Vegas
Sunday, March 14 Phoenix
Sunday, March 21 Atlanta
Sunday, March 28 Bristol Dirt
Saturday, April 10 Martinsville
Sunday, April 18 Richmond
Sunday, April 25 Talladega
Sunday, May 2 Kansas
Sunday, May 9 Darlington
Sunday, May 16 Dover
Sunday, May 23 COTA
Sunday, May 30 Charlotte
Sunday, June 6 Sonoma
Sunday, June 13 All-Star (Texas)
Sunday, June 20 Nashville Superspeedway
Saturday & Sunday, June 26-27 Pocono Doubleheader
Sunday, July 4 Road America
Sunday, July 11 Atlanta
Sunday, July 18 New Hampshire
Sunday, August 8 Watkins Glen
Sunday, August 15 Indianapolis Road Course
Sunday, August 22 Michigan
Saturday, August 28 Daytona
Sunday, September 5 Darlington
Saturday, September 11 Richmond
Saturday, September 18 Bristol
Sunday, September 26 Las Vegas
Sunday, October 3 Talladega
Sunday, October 10 Charlotte Roval
Sunday, October 17 Texas
Sunday, October 24 Kansas
Sunday, October 31 Martinsville
Sunday, November 7 Phoenix
  • Races in bold are playoff races

 

 

All-Star Race moves to Texas in 2021

All-Star Race
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The All-Star Race moves to Texas Motor Speedway in 2021, marking the third different track the event will held in a three-year period.

The 2021 race will be held June 13, the track announced Wednesday. Eddie Gossage, track president, said the race will be at night. He said he will talk to NASCAR about a format and wants to have fans play a role in the event.

The complete 2021 Cup schedule will be announced Wednesday afternoon by NASCAR.

MORE: COTA to host Cup road course race in 2021

MORE: 2021 Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes 

The All-Star Race was held from 1985-2019 at Charlotte Motor Speedway except for 1986 when Atlanta Motor Speedway held the race. The event moved to Bristol Motor Speedway in July because of COVID-19 restrictions on public gatherings in North Carolina.

Chase Elliott won Bristol All-Star Race.

Texas also announced it will host a NASCAR Camping World Truck race June 11 on All-Star weekend. The Xfinity Series will race June 12.

Texas will remain in the playoffs in 2021. It will host a Cup playoff race Oct. 17. The Xfinity Series will race at Texas on Oct. 16.

NASCAR Cup Series to go dirt trackin’ at Bristol in 2021

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Cup teams will compete on a dirt track for the first time in more than 50 years when the series races March 28 at Bristol Motor Speedway, the track announced. 

The full Cup schedule is set to be released at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

“Bristol Motor Speedway has hosted many historic events over the years and we will be adding to that resume,” Jerry Caldwell, general manager of Bristol Motor Speedway, said on Wednesday. “We can’t wait to see how the stars of NASCAR take to the dirt.”

MORE: 2021 Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes 

Said Austin Dillon of the race on dirt: “I’m super pumped. … I’m hoping it becomes a staple.”

Caldwell said the track will work with NASCAR on the race format for the dirt event.

“This is returning to our roots in racing,” Caldwell said. He noted that this concept has been talked about for “awhile.” He also said the track will “explore other options” on any other series that could race on dirt beyond NASCAR.

Caldwell said the change comes from feedback from fans. Marcus Smith, Speedway Motorsports President and CEO, said Wednesday that he pitched the idea of a dirt race at Bristol for the 2020 schedule.

Bristol hosted dirt races in 2000-01 with the World of Outlaws (see video below of 2001 race) and dirt late models. The track used 14,000 truckloads of dirt for the project.

The last Cup race on dirt was Sept. 30, 1970 at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds. Richard Petty won a 200-lap race on the half-mile track. He earned $1,000. Petty was among one of five Hall of Famers in the 23-car field that day. Bobby Isaac finished third, Bobby Allison placed sixth, Benny Parsons was 14th, Wendell Scott placed 20th.

The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series raced on dirt at Eldora Speedway from 2013-19. It was not held this year because of COVID-19 restrictions.

Bristol also will host a second race. That event again will be in the playoffs. The Sept. 18 race again will be an elimination race in the first round. The playoff race will be on the concrete track surface.

Road America to host 2021 Cup race on July 4

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Food, fireworks and road course racing will fill the July 4 calendar for NASCAR fans with Road America hosting the Cup series on that holiday weekend in 2021.

The track announced the race date Wednesday. The full Cup schedule is set to be released at 3:30 p.m. ET today.

The 4.048-mile course has hosted Xfinity races since 2010. Among the current Cup drivers who won there in the Xfinity Series are Michael McDowell in 2016 and Christopher Bell in 2019.

MORE: Cup to run on Indy road course in 2021

MORE: Circuit of the Americas to host Cup for first time in 2021

MORE: 2021 Cup schedule features new tracks, bold changes 

The track takes the holiday date that had been held by Daytona International Speedway from 1959-2018 before Indianapolis Motor Speedway hosted the Cup Series that weekend last year.

“We certainly have been working very close with (Road America) not only how we bring this to life but, ultimately, where it was going to be located on the schedule,” Ben Kennedy, NASCAR vice president of racing operations, told NBC Sports, said of adding the Wisconsin track to the schedule. “We started to really toss around the idea of hey, what about July 4th weekend and what would that look like for the track?

“Just even the name, Road America, it feels like Americana and the July 4th weekend and everything. Fireworks, camping and cookout, everything that goes along with it. That track is almost synonymous with it. I think that’s where we really ended up kind of tying Road America to July 4th weekend. Working with NBC on that as well, they are certainly very bullish on it and excited about having Road America on that weekend.”

Tim Flock won the lone Cup race at Road America in 1956. Flock was among nine NASCAR Hall of Famers among the 26 drivers in that race. Others included Fireball Roberts (third), Herb Thomas (sixth), Buck Baker (eighth), Rex White (11th), Lee Petty (13th), Joe Weatherly (20th), Curtis Turner (24th) and Junior Johnson (26th).