What drivers said at Pocono

14 Comments

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.”

Martin Truex Jr. on Cole Pearn’s departure, what he seeks in next crew chief

Getty Imags
Leave a comment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Martin Truex Jr. got a phone call from Cole Pearn on Sunday. Quickly, Truex had a very bad feeling about it.

“When he started talking it was in the back of my mind that, ‘This is not good. I feel like something big is about to come,'” Truex recalled. “Sure enough, it was surprising.”

Pearn had called to tell Truex what everyone else would learn the next day: after five years together, he was resigning as his crew chief and leaving NASCAR.

Truex discussed the end of Pearn’s tenure and what he wants from his next crew chief during a break from giving out Christmas toys to patients at Levine Children’s Hospital.

“Thought I could get a couple more years out of him, to be honest,” Truex said before admitting he completely understood Pearn’s reasons for getting out of NASCAR seemingly at the top of his game: a long season that keeps him from seeing his family.

“I understand the grind, I understand just how hard he has to work to produce a level of competition that he does,” Truex said. “I’ve seen it first hand, his hours and what’s he’s willing to do. I don’t know that there’s anyone in the garage willing to put as much work into racing as he did.”

He continued: “It’s time for him to move into doing something else. His kids are growing up too fast and he doesn’t get to see them that much. It was big decision for him and I know … he feels somewhat like he let all us down. I told him, ‘Hey, you’ve got to do what’s best for your family, we all understand and all our guys will understand, we’ll go on and try to the best with someone else filling his role.'”

When it comes to figuring who will take over as crew chief on the No. 19 Toyota, Truex said, “We’ve got a few guys in mind. I feel like we’re narrowing it down. We should know something in the next couple of days for sure.”

Whoever takes over will follow in the wake of a crew chief who worked with Truex to produce 24 wins in five seasons, four appearances in the Championship 4 and the 2017 Cup title.

How did half a decade of success with Pearn change what Truex wants from a crew chief?

“Honestly, that’s a good question,” Truex said. “Obviously, I need to find somebody that has his demeanor, a guy that approaches racing the way he does, because it’s kind of what works for me. I feel like we approach racing the same way, Cole and I did. Our attitudes and just the way we thought about things was so similar. We could almost finish each other’s sentences.

“It’s so weird, we’re so different people outside of racing. In racing, that’s just the way we grew up. Our dads racing and racing go-karts and moving up through the ranks ourselves. We just did things a lot the same and we had similar beliefs in the way we did things. Just kind of the same thought process.”

Truex believes he and Pearn “approached a lot of things together more so than me being a rookie and him being a veteran like it was when I first started.

“No question, he was really good at getting the most out of me and I’ll need somebody to do that,” Truex said. “I’m not the most outspoken guy and so I need sometimes somebody to pull that information out of me, especially when it comes to the cars and building the cars. When they’re not good enough, how do you make them better? He was really good at that. I feel good about the guys we’re talking to and we’ve got a few options there and hopefully it’ll work out.”

Kyle Busch Motorsports announces 2020 driver, crew chief lineup

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Busch Motorsports announced its driver-crew chief roster for the 2020 Gander Outdoors Truck Series season on Wednesday. It includes the addition of veteran Danny Stockman.

Stockman will be in charge of the No. 51 Toyota, which will be driven by Kyle Busch, Chandler Smith and more drivers to be announced at a later date.

Stockman was a long-time crew chief at Richard Childress Racing, most recently working with Austin Dillon in the Cup Series this season. He was Dillon’s crew chief when he won his titles in the Truck Series (2011) and Xfinity Series (2013).

Ryan “Rudy” Fugle will be paired with Christian Eckes on the No. 18 Toyota. Fugle worked on the No. 51 this year as it won six races, including all of Busch’s five wins and Greg Biffle‘s victory. Fugle has led KBM teams to five owner titles (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019) and two driver titles (2015 and 2017).

Mike Hillman Jr. will be the crew chief for Raphael Lessard‘s rookie season in the No. 4 Toyota. Hillman has two Truck Series titles, including Toyota’s first in 2006 with Todd Bodine.

 

DGR-Crosley switches from Toyota to Ford beginning in 2020

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Ford Performance is strengthening its driver development program by joining forces with DGR-Crosley, which announced its move from Toyota to Ford Wednesday.

The multi-year agreement will see team co-owner David Gilliland, a former Cup Series driver, lead the team’s driver development program as it field entries in late models, the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.

“We’re very excited to have DGR-Crosley come to Ford as part of our long-term efforts to develop drivers for NASCAR,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsports in a press release. “We have just scratched the surface of what is possible in developing the next generation of Ford drivers with people like Chase Briscoe, and we believe a coordinated effort with a team like DGR-Crosley will help move that process forward successfully.

“David Gilliland was a trusted and valued Ford driver in NASCAR for many years, and we look forward to renewing that relationship with him in this new effort.”

Said Gilliland: “I’m super excited about the partnership with Ford and how things are lining up for 2020. I spent a lot of time racing Fords throughout my career, and it’s really special to now be able to bring them into our race shop. A lot of time and consideration was spent on this decision, and internally we know that this is the move that we needed to make in order to advance our program to the top level. We have a great group of hard-working, talented people at DGR-Crosley, and with Ford coming on board, our future is really bright. We’re excited for all the things ahead.”

DGR-Crosley will announce its driver lineup at a later date.

The team first entered the Truck Series in 2018. Tyler Ankrum won its first race this year at Kentucky Speedway, qualifying for the playoffs in the process.

It fielded a team record five entries in the playoff race at ISM Raceway.

Brennan Poole to compete full-time for Premium Motorsports in Cup Series

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Former Xfinity Series driver Brennan Poole will compete full-time in the Cup Series in 2020 with Premium Motorsports, Poole announced Wednesday on social media.

Poole, 28, will drive the No. 15 Chevrolet and would make his Cup debut in the Daytona 500.

He joins a rookie class that includes Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer.

“I’ve been working towards this moment since I was 5 and feel blessed to have the caliber of people surrounding me that I have in this next chapter of my racing career,” Poole said in a press release. “I look forward to the opportunity to showcase our sponsor partners, both new and existing, who are supporting me at the highest level of NASCAR competition.”

Poole takes over the car that was driven by Ross Chastain in a majority of his Cup starts in 2019.

A native of The Woodlands, Texas, Poole drove for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Xfinity Series from 2016-17. His best finish was second in the 2017 race at Kentucky Speedway.

He made 13 starts in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series in 2019, driving for On Point Motorsports. His best result was second in the May race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“I’m very happy to welcome Brennan and his group to the Premium Motorsports family,” team owner Jay Robinson said in the press release. “Brennan is a very talented and dedicated young man, I believe he has a very bright future in the NASCAR Cup Series.”