What Drivers Said after Daytona

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Justin Haley, winner: “It’s absolutely a blessing.  It’s pretty incredible that I have so many great people around me that have given me this opportunity to come to this level and the stage that we’re performing on. …

“I never even saw myself running a Cup race until I got a call a few months ago to do Talladega, and it’s just unreal.  I don’t know how to feel.”

William Byron, finished second: “If a few things went our way under that last caution we might have won. You don’t want to win that way as your first win I guess … It’s not the prettiest way to do it, but I’d still take it. … Unfortunately, that’s wasn’t what the cards played for us today. To finished second with a backup car from the back starting 40th is really good.”

Jimmie Johnson, finished third: “If it did go back to green, I think there’s only a handful of cars that are still in good shape. Certainly William and I were going to do everything we could to get a Hendrick car to victory lane. But it is what is its, the race has been called and we’ll take the third-place points and go home.”

Ty Dillon, finished fourth: “We didn’t have a chance to race for the win but this was a first top five and best finish ever and I’m pretty pleased with that. I’m thrilled for our Germain Racing Team. It’s a nice little shot in the arm for our team to get the second half of the season going. There has been a little bit of disappointment the last couple of weeks. So, to be able to have a good finish is going to catapult us in the second half of the season. And hopefully we continue to build off that momentum. I’m proud of our effort today. Sometimes it just seems to work out.”

Corey LaJoie, finished sixth: “Sixth for us, no matter what the circumstance, is a good day.  If you told me I could take a sixth-place finish before we even started I would have taken it to the bank and ran with it.  That’s cool for Justin (Haley).  That’s obviously not how he wanted to win his first race, but at the end of the day there’s no asterisk in the record book and there’s no asterisk in the record book for finishing sixth, either.  We had a good Shine Armor car.  Our tactic was just to ride and try to miss those big ones and that’s what we did.  In hindsight, we shouldn’t have pitted and we probably could have ended up second, but coulda, woulda, shoulda.”

Aric Almirola, finished seventh: “It was a crazy day.  I think every time you come down here to Daytona you hope that you’ve got a shot to win and at certain points throughout the race I thought we would, and then at certain points throughout the race I thought we were in big trouble.  To get out of here with a top 10 is a good day and I think points-wise we stayed steady. I think we maybe moved up a spot to 10th in points and we built a little bit more of a gap back to 16th, so that’s important leaving here.”

Matt DiBenedetto, finished eighth: “I couldn’t see anything in the crash other than crap everywhere, so I listened to Doug (Campbell, spotter) 100%. I went wherever he told me. He said go low and I just slammed it down on the apron and hoped no one was underneath me. There wasn’t and we avoided it somehow, so Doug gets credit for that one.”

Kurt Busch, finished 10th: “I feel like we were in a really good position to win the race and it’s just a matter of when the one random lightning bolt comes down to decide when you make the call. It was a judgment call on their part.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr., finished 24th: “We were trying to work our way back to the lead and was in the top 10, so we were in decent position, but obviously when the wreck starts on the front row it’s all about luck after that and we weren’t able to get our Fifth Third Ford through that wreck as good as we wanted.  I just spent a lot of time on pit road, go a couple laps down trying to fix it, so, all in all, it was a good first two stages when we were strong and felt good, but it just didn’t work out.”

Joey Logano, finished, 25th – “I thought things were gonna go a little better today than they ended up.  We were able to get a stage win, which was great for our Mustang, but everything was going good until it didn’t.”

Austin Dillon, finished 33rd:  “I got turned a little bit left when (Clint Bowyer) went left and it kind of shot me down there and I just kept coming left. I mean, its part of this kind of racing. I was being aggressive and trying to keep the lead, and that is what you get, its part of it.  I just thought I would try and keep it up front.  We had a fast car and I am really proud of the guys. Hate it went that way and wished we could have worked with the Chevys to finish off what we started.”

Clint Bowyer, finished 34th: “I guess (Austin Dillon) didn’t want me to pass him.  I don’t know.  I got under him and he blocked, and we got together, I got off of him – moved down and got off of him – and here he comes back down even more and just finally wrecked us all.  That’s just part of racing like this.”

Chase Elliott, finished 35th: “I was just kind of on the bottom pushing along there and I saw Austin (Dillon) get turned around. You just hope you can get left enough, and slowed down enough, to miss it.  It’s unfortunate because I thought our NAPA Camaro ZL1 was one of the best ones we have had down here. It’s unfortunate and I hate that happened because I felt like we were doing a pretty good job as a group. Just needed to keep it going.”

Ryan Blaney, finished 36th: “I haven’t seen a replay, but apparently it was a case of someone not being cleared at all, so that part is frustrating.  It’s one thing if you’re kind of pushing each other and someone gets turned, something like that, but when you just chop somebody like that, from what I hear, it’s frustrating, especially since we were rows back.  In both Daytona races this year we’ve been four rows back in the deal and just get absolutely destroyed.  There was nowhere to go and none of our doing, so that’s the way it goes.”

David Ragan, finished 38th:  “I couldn’t tell what happened.  I knew we were in the middle and it was a really big accordion effect.  I would get a really big run.  (Kyle Busch) would push me, I would push (Brad Keselowski), we would surge for half a lap or a lap and then the bottom and the top would surge and we would fall back a little bit back and forth, so I was hoping we could get back in that top lane with a few of the other Fords, where I felt like we could get rolling, but never saw that hole and the next thing I know (Keselowski) is in the wall and (Kevin Harvick) came down and clipped us a little bit.”

Brad Keselowski, finished 39th: “I know I was going straight one moment and the next moment I wasn’t.  It’s unfortunate.  We were all two and three-wide racing and just got tagged from the back.  I’m not sure exactly.  I know we got to three-wide at the top of (Turn) 3 and it looks like Kevin (Harvick) gave me a real straight push.  I don’t know.  It just took off on me.  The Fords were working really hard to run together and Kevin and Joey (Logano) and (Ryan) Blaney and myself, I thought we were doing really good at it, but for whatever reason the car just instantly turned there.  It’s a bummer for everybody, but we’ll move on and hopefully go to the next one and be alright.”

Daniel Suarez, finished 40th : “I haven’t seen the replay. I don’t really know what happened, I just know a few cars wrecked ahead of me.  I was trying to slow down and I bumped (Logano) and someone bumped me from behind and we were starting to get it back straight and somebody spun me out and the track bar broke.  My car was actually fine.  I thought we were going to continue, but unfortunately the track bar broke and it’s something we can’t fix.”

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)