Smart driving keeps Kyle Larson out of trouble on ‘nerve-racking’ restarts

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LONG POND, Pa. – Stung by a spate of recent crashes (some attributable to carelessness), Kyle Larson drove with a measure of caution Sunday.

Not that anyone would have been able to tell the way he pushed winner Denny Hamlin on the second-to-last restart at Pocono Raceway.

“My less aggressive than normal is probably still more aggressive than a lot of people’s,” Larson said with a smile after a fifth-place finish.

Starting from the rear in a backup No. 42 Chevrolet for the second consecutive week after a practice crash, his attentiveness might have been most evident on the final restart.

Hamlin got a good jump on the outside, but Larson managed to keep pace behind him in fourth. But as he began to lose the handle beside Erik Jones and slide up toward the Turn 1 wall, Larson “bailed out of the throttle to keep myself from hitting the wall.”

The move cost him a few spots, but he still finished with 38 points – 30 more than he amassed last week at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, where he crashed his primary in practice and his backup in the race.

“It was a good day,” said Larson, who had finished 26th in the June 2 race at Pocono from damage on a restart. “It was a lot better car than I thought I was going to have. This just goes to show how good our team is now and how good our cars are. Last week I felt like we had one of the fastest cars and didn’t get to show it. Today I feel we’re one of the fastest cars.

“The past two weeks, I feel like we’ve had good speed in our backup cars, so I’ve been really happy with that. I don’t want to race backup cars, so I just have to stop crashing. I just didn’t want to do anything dumb. There were moments I was aggressive, but rather than tear up another car and cost myself points, I had to be smart.”

There were questions about whether Larson had enough fuel if the race had gone longer than two laps past the scheduled distance, but the Chip Ganassi Racing driver was more concerned about avoiding mistakes because “restarts have been scary.

“I’d have rather tried to stretch it then have some late-race restarts and risk a crash or anything,” he said. “The restarts were more nerve-racking to me than trying to save fuel. I was behind Keselowski there, and he’s the best at saving fuel in this sport. I was managing my lap time to his, so I felt like I was saving as much as I could and hopefully enough to make it.”

Larson, who is winless since September 2017, picked up six points on the playoff cutline and is ranked 14th in the standings, 37 ahead of 17th-ranked Jimmie Johnson with five races remaining in the regular season.

“If I could just race a primary car, who knows what we could do,” he said. “We just have to clean up what I’m doing in practice and in the races, and hopefully we can get a win.”

Sioux Chief to sponsor ARCA Showdown, East Series to race at Nashville Fairgrounds

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ARCA announced Saturday that Sioux Chief Manufacturing will be the entitlement sponsor of its 10-race ARCA Menards Series Showdown in 2020.

Sioux Chief Manufacturing is a Missouri company that designs and manufactures rough plumbing products, parts, and accessories for residential, commercial, industrial and government applications

Sioux Chief has been involved in ARCA since 2015 as a race event sponsor and special awards program sponsor and sponsored ARCA’s former Short Track Challenge.

As part of the deal, a newly increased point fund, combined with race purses, owner plan, and contingency awards, will offer teams a chance to compete for a share of over $920,000 in posted awards throughout the series.

The Sioux Chief Showdown will bring together the best drivers from the ARCA Menards Series, the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West, formerly known as the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Those events, held on oval tracks 1.25-miles in length and under and road courses, offer drivers who may not be able or eligible to run the full 20-race ARCA Menards Series schedule the opportunity to run for a championship. Combined with the overall ARCA Menards Series championship, and the East and West championships, drivers will have four separate championships to compete for in 2020.

The announcement was made at the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show in Indianapolis. Also present was promoter Bob Sargent of Track Enterprises, who announced that the ARCA Menards Series East would compete at Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on May 2.

The Tennessean reported this week that the Nashville Fairgrounds was negotiating with Sargent to promote at least three races at the short track in 2020. Sargent’s involvement in the track comes after Nashville’s Fair Board voted to terminate its agreement with Formosa Productions to run the track over outstanding debt.

The ARCA Menards Series has competed at the Fairgrounds the last five seasons. The ARCA Menards Series East, formerly known as the K&N Pro Series East, competed there from 2007-08.

GMS Racing reveals full-time driver-crew chief lineup, number assignments

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GMS Racing has announced its full-time driver-crew chief lineup for the 2020 Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season and number assignments for its trucks:

– Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team. Moffitt drove the No. 24 in his first season with the team. Norris has been with GMS Racing for two years and directed the effort that delivered the team its 2018 Xfinity Series win at Talladega.

– Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team. 2020 will be Ankrum’s first season with GMS Racing. Walter served as an engineer for Ankrum this season at DGR-Crosley. Walter has five wins and 42 top fives in 208 Xfinity Series starts as crew chief.

– Kevin “Bono” Manion is paired with Zane Smith on the No. 21 Chevrolet. 2020 will be Smith’s first full-time Trucks season after competing part-time for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Manion has 24 wins as crew chief across all three national series since 2003. He led Martin Truex Jr. to his two Xfinity Series titles.

– Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.

Social Roundup: How NASCAR drivers are spending their offseason

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NASCAR’s Champion’s week is now behind us and we are firmly in the offseason.

Well, sort of.

The NASCAR world never really stops, which is evident simply due to the continued announcements for the 2020 season.

But with Joey Logano testing the Next Gen car at Phoenix earlier this week and Dale Earnhardt Jr. helping clean up North Wilkesboro Speedway for iRacing, it’s been anything but quiet.

Here’s a look at what else happened in the NASCAR community this week.

Someone needs to check in on Jimmie Johnson, he could be in his own version of Mr. Mom.

Chris Buescher is home again.

The 2015 Xfinity Series champion is back at Roush Fenway Racing for the 2020 Cup season and he’s got the firesuits and cars to prove it.

Brad Keselowski recently became father to a second daughter.

He’s now learning some important life lessons.

Former Front Row Motorsports driver Matt Tifft is now off the market after getting married to his fiance, Jordan. Now they’re on their honeymoon.


Matt DiBenedetto showed off one of the perks of being a Wood Brothers Racing employee.

Ryan Blaney and Bubba Wallace went somewhere warm to start their holiday.

Joey and Caitlin Gase welcome twin sons

Joey Gase
Joey Gase Twitter
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Xfinity Series driver Joey Gase and his wife Caitlin are now parents to twin boys

The babies were born on Wednesday. Their names are Jace and Carson.

More: Brad and Paige Keselowski welcome second daughter