What Drivers Said after Chicagoland

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Alex Bowman becomes the first first-time winner this season and one of only two drivers other than those from Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske to win this season.

Here’s what Bowman and other drivers had to say after Sunday’s Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway:

ALEX BOWMAN – winner: “It’s all I’ve wanted my whole life. I feel like this is a lot of validation for a lot of people that said we couldn’t do this. I’m so proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports and Axalta and the Hendrick Engine Shop. My guys have worked so hard and we struggled so bad last year and the beginning of this year. I had questions if Mr. Hendrick was going to let me keep doing this. All the rumor mills. But, to be here winning a race in the Cup Series means so much. I just couldn’t do it without these guys. My pit crew is the best pit crew on pit road. And, this is all I ever wanted. … I’m just tired of running second. I don’t want to do that anymore. So, I feel like this is the last box, aside from chasing the championship, I needed it personally for myself, to validate my career. I feel like obviously there’s a lot more left to accomplish but this is always what I hear is ‘you haven’t won a race’. So, I think even Chad (Knaus) said something about me not winning a race. So, Chad Knaus, there we went and did it. Everybody can stop giving me crap. We finally did it!”

Kyle Larson – finished second: “I could see him (Bowman) struggle when I was getting to him, and when I got by him, I’m like, all right, good, he’s going to be in my dirty air and get loose. He could get big runs on me down the straightaways, and I think that allowed him to get that run into (Turn) 1 and he got to the main side and I got tight, I don’t know if him getting air on my spoiler or something got him tight, but I had to kind of breathe it a little bit, and then we side drafted on the backstretch. I wish I would have maybe done some things different into (Turn) 3 instead of going all the way to wall, maybe chase him to bottom, just try to hang on his quarter, but he might have cleared me anyways down there. But yeah, I wish I could have got a win for McDonald’s and got them to Victory Lane.

“But still a great day for Chevy and Hendrick engines. That was really cool to see a lot of us Hendrick engine guys up front and kind of drafting and breaking away from the groups behind us on the short runs. I felt good about my car on the long runs. If I was out in clean air, I think we just had a lot of downforce and drag in our car, so I just felt slow in clean air, but when I could get behind people I was okay and could just wait until we got laps on tires, then I could start making ground. Was actually surprised I even got to him. I thought when he came out about the same distance off pit road in front of me, I thought he was just going to check out. But like I said, he was struggling, and we were able to get to him and get by him, but he did a good job. He did a good job regrouping and figuring out how to make his car drive better and got the win. Cool to see him get the win there. Would have liked for him to have to wait another week or so, but happy for him. He’s an open-wheel guy, so cool to see.”

Joey Logano – finished third: “It looked like after we had that last green flag cycle things were looking pretty good. We ran down (Larson) and I thought if we could get by him we were catching (Bowman) together, both of us were. I just couldn’t get to his inside or outside and get a run. I would get right to him but not enough of a run to make a move. I just got tight at the end and he drove away at the end. We were pushing really hard on the front tires and eventually they are going to give out. Congrats to Alex, that is his first win and there is nothing like that. That is cool for that team but I don’t really care a whole lot about that. It is all about our car and we come home with a third out of the day, so we will take it.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished fourth: “It was just a solid performance for our Ally team. I’m really proud of everyone. I just couldn’t clear the No. 4 car (Kevin Harvick) when he was so on-track and the car to beat and I think he was probably the strongest car tonight. The way some of those restarts unfolded, the No. 88 (Alex Bowman) had a great opportunity with the draft and working very well and got the lead. Once he had that control, there’s really no taking it from him. I’m extremely happy for Hendrick Motorsports. I can’t wait to see Alex and congratulate him and this No. 48 team is smiling. It was a good night.”

Brad Keselowski – finished fifth: “That was a struggle all day. We couldn’t get a handle on it. We got our best at the end which is certainly what matters. A decent day. We will take it and learn from it and move on. (What were you missing?) Somewhere in the balance of speed and handling 1+1 didn’t equal 3. I am a little frustrated. I was hoping to be a little better than we were today. … We dug really hard at the end. We had a good run at the end and made a lot of passes and made a lot of ground with some good strategy on pit road and good execution. It wasn’t quite enough speed to run with them. We had some real good glimpses of having what it takes but they were just glimpses, it wasn’t long enough.”

Ryan Blaney – finished sixth: “Myself and two other cars blew tires at the same time early in the race and that stunk. We were running second and put a splash of gas in it to end the first stage. There were five or six guys doing that and the right rear started peeling apart and that pretty much ruined our day. We went a lap down and had to play catch-up all day. I think we gained seven seconds on the leader there during the last run, so today, the fastest car didn’t win the race.”

Erik Jones – finished seventh: “We put it together pretty well. The DeWalt Camry was good, and it was good at the end. I really think we had a top-four car. We just gave up to much on the second-to-last run. We were loose and fell back to 15th and just had to work up from there. It made it kind of difficult to get the track position from there. It just was a little bit tough to pass all day and get up there. The car was good; it had good speed. But good day for us. … I think we have to keep improving our stuff. It looks like the Hendrick (Motorsports) cars were really fast this weekend. We’re going to have to keep working to keep up with them. It’s a different kind of race track; Chicago is kind of its own animal. We will keep improving our stuff; we will have to keep working to keep up with them.”

William Byron – finished eighth: “We were really good. We just had a couple of things not go our way; the one restart and we had one run that wasn’t the greatest. We got back to the top five and we just didn’t quite have enough that last run. Alex (Bowman) and those guys were really fast. Congrats to them. They did a great job. I just have to close in on those details a little bit more. We, as a team, are really close. It’s a little disappointing now that we have the speed that we do, but it’s good to take the lead at some point in the race. I think that’s six or seven in a row for that, so we just have to continue to do that. It’s good for Alex (Bowman) and hopefully we can piggy-back on that. I think we had another good points day, which doesn’t sound great, but we are making our way up the playoff grid.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished ninth: “Fought it hard. We knew at the end of practice that we were a little bit lost on what we needed to do to try to hit the balance today. We were kind of taking a big swing at it and it was not bad. At one point in the race, we were really good, and we were the fastest car and then the next restart, it wouldn’t go because it was on the track so hard. We lost that track position and then we got it back on that really long run. We got all the way to the front and then had a good restart and got to fifth or fourth or something. Then when we had the caution for the 4 (Kevin Harvick) scraping the wall in (Turns) 1 and 2, the next restart we got the bottom and it didn’t go so well. I got drug back and I got really tight on that run. We lost all our track position that we worked all day to get at the beginning of that third stage. At the end, just ran out of time. We were fast again.

“Our car was really sensitive and on edge all day. It would go from too loose to too tight without almost doing anything different from lap to lap. Little bit of a tough day, but we soldiered home to a fifth and a sixth in the stages and ninth at the end. When you have a tough weekend, that’s a good day to get a top 10. … (Is this just one race or a new trend with this package?) I think it’s just one race. You look at these things and you come to these tracks now with this package and every track is just so different. I can’t stress it enough how different it is. You only get two 50-minute practices and we came here, and we were totally lost for the first whole practice and then two-thirds of the second practice and it’s like, if we had another 30 minutes, we could have been so much better. It’s one of those things where all these tracks are so different, and they want just a different package all together that the first time here is hard to hit it. Clearly, they (Hendrick Motorsports) hit it out of the park because they were fast right off the truck.”

Austin Dillon – finished 10th: “The outside on restarts was awful. It was a freight train on the bottom and it was just wild. I need to go back and watch the restarts; it was crazy trying to see how to gain momentum. It was fun. We had a really good car on the long runs and got some track position there at the end. We’ll build off of this. Our cars are fast; we got a pole and a top ten so that’s a good start to where we need to head. We got behind in track position and it’s just so hard. We were fast enough to run in the top five and that gives you a better position. But we need a little bit more. It’s good to see a Chevrolet win. Alex (Bowman) and team have gotten their stuff better progressively the last couple of weeks with all of the second-place finishes. Hopefully we can learn off of they’ve done somehow.”

Daniel Suarez — finished 24th: “Our Ruckus Ford was too free all day, and we had a hard time making the right adjustments to get the handling to where we needed it. It was hard to get any laps back with the green-flag pit stops, but the No. 41 guys worked hard all day, and we’ll keep learning and getting better.”

Ty Dillon – finished 35th: “Our result doesn’t show how much speed and grip we had in our GEICO Military Camaro ZL1. I feel very confident that today was going to be our best mile and a half race of the season so far. My Germain Racing team continues to work hard to improve our cars and this weekend was a step in the right direction. It’s a shame we had a loose wheel and broke a stud during the first stage, because even when I went back out after repairs, the car was still very good. We made the most of our situation though and learned as much as possible to carry over into future intermediate races.”

We will add more driver quotes as they become available. Please check back.

Rodney Childers fined $100,000, suspended for four races

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NASCAR has suspended Rodney Childers, Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, for four races and fined him $100,000 for what the sanctioning body called modification of a part supplied by a vendor.

Harvick, who is out of the Cup Series playoffs, and the Stewart-Haas Racing No. 4 team were docked 100 points.

Harvick’s car and that of Martin Truex Jr. were taken to NASCAR’s Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C. after last Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. There were no penalties assessed to the Truex team.

Harvick has been particularly critical of the Next Gen car in recent months, once referring to the “crappy-ass parts” provided by suppliers.

Harvick’s car erupted in flames during the Southern 500 Sept. 4 at Darlington Raceway. After he climbed from the smoking car, Harvick blamed the fire on “just crappy parts on the race car like we’ve seen so many times. They haven’t fixed anything. It’s kind of like the safety stuff. We just let it keep going and keep going.

“The car started burning and as it burned the flames started coming through the dash. I ran a couple laps and then as the flame got bigger it started burning stuff up and I think right there you see all the brake fluid that was probably coming out the brakes and part of the brake line, but the fire was coming through the dash.

“What a disaster for no reason. We didn’t touch the wall. We didn’t touch a car, and here we are in the pits with a burned-up car, and we can’t finish the race during the playoffs because of crappy-ass parts.”

MORE: AJ Allmendinger to return to Cup Series in 2023

Unless the team appeals, Childers would miss races at Charlotte, Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville and would return for the season finale at Phoenix.

NASCAR president Steve Phelps told the Associated Press that officials have not targeted Harvick. “I would say that’s ridiculous,” he said. “No one has a vendetta against Kevin Harvick or Rodney or anyone at Stewart-Haas Racing.”

On Wednesday afternoon, Harvick tweeted, “Seems strange…” A Childers tweet called the penalty “Shocker…..”.

NASCAR also announced Wednesday it has suspended Young’s Motorsports crew chief Andrew Abbott indefinitely for a behavioral violation during pre-race inspection. He must undergo anger-management training to be reinstated. The team races in the Camping World Truck Series.

Drivers to watch in NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Roval

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The lineup for the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs Round of 8 will be decided in Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

Entering the race, the final event in the Round of 12, Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman are below the cutline. Bowman will miss the race — and thus the cutoff — as he continues to battle concussion-like symptoms. Noah Gragson is scheduled to drive the No. 48 Chevrolet Sunday.

Cindric is tied with Chase Briscoe for the eighth playoff spot, but Briscoe would claim it on the tiebreaker. Byron is 11 points back, and Bell is 33. Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalty to Byron that dropped him below the cutline. That appeal is scheduled to be heard Thursday.

MORE: Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

Any playoff driver who wins Sunday’s race and isn’t already qualified — Chase Elliott qualified for the Round of 8 by winning last week at Talladega Superspeedway — automatically advances to the Round of 8.

Drivers to watch Sunday at the Roval (2 p.m., ET, NBC), the final road-course race of the season:

FRONTRUNNERS

Chase Elliott

  • Points position: 1st
  • Last three races: Won at Talladega, 32nd at Texas, 2nd at Bristol
  • Past at CMS Roval: Won in 2019 and 2020

Elliott is the clear favorite to win a second championship. He won Sunday at Talladega to advance to the Round of 8 and can relax Sunday at Charlotte having punched his ticket. Relaxing isn’t likely, however, as Elliott will be among the favorites to win.

Ryan Blaney

  • Points position: 2nd
  • Last three races: 2nd at Talladega, 4th at Texas, 30th at Bristol
  • Past at CMS Roval: Won in 2018.

Blaney continues along a path that could result in him winning the Cup championship without winning a race. He came within an eyelash of winning Sunday at Talladega but fell victim to Chase Elliott’s last-lap charge. He should be a threat Sunday at the Roval, where he has four straight top 10s.

Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 6th
  • Last three races: 18th at Talladega, 9th at Texas, 5th at Bristol
  • Past at CMS Roval: Won in 2021

Larson’s last win — and his last top-four finish — came at Watkins Glen seven races ago. He is 18 points over the cutline entering Sunday’s race.

QUESTIONS TO ANSWER

Austin Cindric

  • Points position: 9th
  • Last three races: 9th at Talladega, 15th at Texas, 20th at Bristol
  • Past at CMS Roval: Sunday will mark his first Cup race. Has three top threes in four Xfinity starts.

Cindric hasn’t won since the season-opening Daytona 500 and is one of five drivers still in the playoffs who own only one victory this year. His ninth-place run at Talladega ended a streak of four straight finishes of 12th or worse.

MORE: NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

Daniel Suarez

  • Points position: 7th
  • Last three races: 8th at Talladega, 12th at Texas, 19th at Bristol
  • Past at CMS Roval: Best finish in four starts is 13th

Suarez is 12 points above the cutline entering Sunday’s race. He has never led a lap at the Roval and has never finished in the top 10.

Chase Briscoe

  • Points position: 8th
  • Last three races: 10th at Talladega, 5th at Texas, 14th at Bristol
  • Past at CMS Roval: Finished 22nd last year in his only Cup start

Briscoe is teetering on top of the cutline in search of a spot in the Round of 8. He hasn’t won since the fourth race of the year at Phoenix and had a poor performance at the Roval last year.

 

 

AJ Allmendinger to return to NASCAR Cup Series in 2023

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AJ Allmendinger is getting another shot at success in the NASCAR Cup Series.

Kaulig Racing announced Wednesday that Allmendinger, currently chasing the Xfinity Series championship, will drive full-time in Kaulig entries in the Cup Series next season.

Allmendinger raced in Cup from 2007 to 2018 but won only one time — at Watkins Glen International — across those years. He moved to the Xfinity Series part-time with Kaulig in 2019, winning on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. He won twice in 2020 and five times in 2021 and is a favorite to win the Xfinity championship this year. He has won four Xfinity races this season, including last Sunday at Talladega.

MORE: Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

Allmendinger, 40, will drive Kaulig’s No. 16 car in Cup next year. Justin Haley will drive the team’s No. 31.

Chandler Smith will replace Allmendinger in the Xfinity Series next year.

“It’s crazy how the last five years of my life have gone,” Allmendinger said. “More than anything, I love this organization. I know the fans get tired of me talking about all the men and women of Kaulig Racing. This is not a race team. This is a huge family.

“There will be tough times and growing pains, for sure. But I love what they’re about, and they believe in me. I’ll be OK whether it’s good or bad.”

MORE: Chase Elliott atop NASCAR Power Rankings

Team owner Matt Kaulig said Allmendinger is “one of the best in the world at every type of track. He’s done so much for Kaulig Racing and our program. He’s a gigantic part of what we’re building.”

Team officials said Allmendinger has a multi-year contract.

 

 

 

 

 

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Charlotte Roval

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Sunday provides a final chance for drivers to advance to the Round of 8 and keep their Cup championship hopes alive.

Talladega winner Chase Elliott is the only driver who has advanced to the next round. That leaves seven spots available going into Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe holds the final transfer spot by a tiebreaker over Austin Cindric. At least for now.

William Byron is 11 points behind both drivers, but Hendrick Motorsports will appeal Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas on Thursday. Should Hendrick win and Byron get those points back, he would move into a transfer spot.

There’s just part of what to watch for in Sunday’s race.

Favorites to be No. 20

This season remains tied for the most different winners in series history at 19, but there are a few candidates who could become the 20th different winner this year on Sunday.

Among the favorites to do so:

Ryan Blaney, who came close to winning last week at Talladega, won the inaugural Cup race at the Roval in 2018.

Martin Truex Jr., who has four career Cup wins on road courses, still seeks his first victory of the season.

Michael McDowell, who is coming off a third-place finish at Talladega, has had a career-high 12 top-10 finishes this season, including top 10s in each of the last four road course events this year.

Will history repeat?

Last year, the four drivers eliminated after the Roval were Kevin Harvick, Alex Bowman, Christopher Bell and William Byron.

Harvick was eliminated in the first round this year, but Byron (-11 to the cutline) and Bell (-33) are in jeopardy of being eliminated in this round again. Bowman stated Tuesday that he will miss his second consecutive race because of continued concussion symptoms. He will be among the four eliminated from title contention.

Bowman missed last weekend’s race because of concussion-like symptoms suffered at Texas. A decision on if he’ll be able to race at the Roval will come later this week.

Will chaos continue?

Consider what some of the former Roval winners have endured on their way to the checkered flag:

In 2019, Chase Elliott drove into the Turn 1 wall on a restart while the leader. He recovered to win.

In 2020, Elliott overcame a loose wheel to win for the second year in a row.

In 2021, Kyle Larson won after his team changed batteries and put the alternator belt back on.

Could a similar fate be in store for this year’s winner? Or will they have a cleaner day?

Entry lists

Thirty-nine drivers are entered including IndyCar driver Conor Daly, former Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat, former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Mike Rockenfeller and former 24 Hours of Daytona winner Joey Hand. JJ Yeley will drive the No. 51 for Cody Ware, who stated that he would skip this event because of his ankle injury at Texas the footwork needed on a road course.

Charlotte Roval Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are IndyCar driver Marco Andretti and former F1 driver Daniil Kvyat.

Charlotte Roval Xfinity entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Saturday, Oct. 8

Forecast: Partly cloudy with a high of 66 degrees. No chance of rain during the Xfinity race.

  • 10 – 10:30 a.m. — Xfinity practice (NBC Sports App)
  • 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. — Xfinity qualifying (NBC Sports App)
  • 12 – 1 p.m. — Cup practice (NBC Sports App, USA Network coverage begins at 12:30 p.m.)
  • 1 – 2 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA Network, NBC Sports App)
  • 3 p.m. — Xfinity race (67 laps, 155.44 miles; NBC, Peacock, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 9

Forecast: Sunny with a high of 64 degrees. No chance of rain during the race.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup race (109 laps, 252.88 miles; NBC, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)