Kevin Harvick blasts Roush for handling of Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s exit

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CONCORD, N.C. — Kevin Harvick criticized Roush Fenway Racing’s move to dump Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season and the agency that represented Stenhouse for a “really, really, really, really bad contract.”

Harvick said his agency, KHI Management., will begin representing Stenhouse next year.

Harvick was bothered by how little warning Stenhouse had before Roush Fenway Racing informed him Wednesday morning that he would not be retained after this season.

“We’re trying to help him through a pretty bad situation and a really, really, really, really bad contract that was already written before we had been involved,” Harvick said Friday after Cup qualifying at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

“It’s unfortunate timing. Those particular business practices are tough to deal with just because of how late in the season it is and how few cars there are. Based on everything that we’ve been involved with, nothing had ever been talked about.

“When I had tough moments at (Richard Childress Racing) and things were bad, we would sit down and we would talk through things and we’d say OK this is what we need to do, this is what I need to do better, this is what I think the team needs to do better. You had real life conversations. Just to drop the hatchet in a surprise meeting with seven days to go is pretty bad business ethics in my opinion.”

Roush Fenway Racing decided to release Stenhouse after Chris Buescher became available.

“You’re blindsided by the decision,” Harvick said. “We’ve been trying to help Ricky though the situation. Spire hasn’t done anything for him all year but it’s their contract that they’re living under.”

Spire Sports + Entertainment issued a statement in response to Harvick’s comment.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is not only one of the most talented drivers we have had the opportunity to represent, he is a better person. We were fortunate enough to be with Ricky all the way from his winged sprint car days … to NASCAR and watched him grow up right in front of our eyes. 

“We went through a lot with Ricky both on and off the track and were always humbled as he approached his life with a Southern matter of factness few have.

“Ricky gave us notice that he was terminating our agreement in December 2017. A settlement was reached and he was free to sign with any agency if he so chose to do so. We were puzzled at the comments of Mr. Harvick today as neither RSJ nor Spire had any further obligations to each other. However, Ricky remained a friend to all of us and we continued to cheer him on every weekend. It goes without saying, but he knows we are always here to help in any situation but we respected his decision and his reasons behind it. 

“We were shocked to read this week that Ricky would not be driving for Roush beginning next season. Apparently, his current management team was as well. Finding out this late in the game that you have to find your client a job in a shrinking market can be a little jarring and maybe that was behind the comment. We sympathize with our friends at KHI Management, as well as to our former client who gave his heart and soul to Roush Racing and brought not only wins but championships to that organization.

“It was not easy watching him struggle in the Cup series while Roush admittedly searched for their footing, yet Ricky continued to give it his all every week. Perhaps it had run its course as we read this week, but we have no doubt that whatever team is fortunate to have Ricky as their driver will reap the benefits of having a driver that stands on the gas every time he is on any type of racetrack and has integrity and values off of it.”

Asked if he’s tried to help Stenhouse, Harvick said Friday:

“We’ve tried to be a little bit of an assistance in trying to help him forward through a process where he doesn’t have anybody. Ricky has got a great reputation in the garage, well connected. He’s the only driver at Roush Racing that has won races since Carl Edwards left. That’s the unfortunate thing. He’s a Cup winner. He’s a two-time Xfinity Series champion. It’s just a bad timing and it sucks.”

Asked if Roush Fenway Racing should have given Stenhouse more notice that his job was in jeopardy, Harvick said: “I don’t run their business. That’s not the way I would run a business.”

Zane Smith joins GMS Racing for full-time Truck Series ride

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Zane Smith will compete full-time for GMS Racing in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series next year, the team announced Tuesday.

Smith, 20, joins the team after competing part-time with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series this year, where his best result in 10 races was fifth twice.

He will be GMS Racing’s fourth full-time entry next year, joining Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum. Sam Mayer will compete part-time.

Smith will have veteran Kevin “Bono” Manion as his crew chief.

“When I got the offer from Mike Beam asking me to run a truck full-time for GMS Racing, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity,” Smith said in a press release. “GMS is a championship-caliber team and to be a part of an organization like theirs is a once in a lifetime opportunity. I’m looking forward to working with Manion again. He has a lot of experience and I know we will be a great team.”

Manion, who has 24 wins across all three national NASCAR series since 2003, joins GMS Racing after serving as a crew chief for DGR-Crosley in 2019, including working with Rookie of the Year Tyler Ankrum. Manion was crew chief for Smith in 2018 when he made his Truck Series debut at Gateway and finished fifth.

“I am really excited to join GMS Racing and Zane (Smith) for the 2020 season,” Manion said in a press release. “With GMS Racing’s championship caliber equipment and Chevrolet support, we have all the resources to win some races and be in the hunt for the 2020 Championship. I got the opportunity to crew chief Zane (Smith) in his first Gander Trucks start in 2018 at Gateway and we worked really well together. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish next season.”

Sponsorship and an assigned truck number for Smith will be announced at a later date.

Penalty report from Homestead-Miami Speedway

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NASCAR issued four fines and one suspension for lug nut violations during its championship weekend in Miami.

Cup Series

Mike Wheeler, crew crew chief on Matt DiBenedetto‘s No. 95 Toyota, was fined $10,000 for one unsecured lug nut.

Xfinity Series

Mike Shiplett, crew chief on Cole Custer‘s No. 00 Ford, was fined $5,000 for an unsecured lug nut.

Truck Series

Steve Lane, the owner of On Point Motorsports and crew chief on Danny Bohn‘s No. 30 Toyota, was fined $5,000 and suspended one points race for two unsecured lug nuts. The No. 30 truck competed part-time this season and made 16 starts. NBC Sports has asked the team if it will appeal the suspension.

Trip Bruce III, crew chief on Stewart Friesen‘s No. 52 Chevrolet, was fined $2,500 for one unsecured lug nut.

Other

NASCAR issued an indefinite suspension to Jeffrey Schmidt for violating its substance abuse policy.

Truck Series gets minor name change for 2020

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Four days after the end of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series season, NASCAR announced the series will receive a minor name change for the 2020 season.

The series will be called the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series when the season starts in February at Daytona International Speedway.

This is the second name change for the series in two years.

This season saw the name change from the Camping World Truck Series, which had been the title from 2009-2018.

Gander Outdoors and Camping World are owned by the same company.

Next year will also see a different name for the Cup Series. With the series going to a new sponsorship model, it will simply be called the NASCAR Cup Series.

Silly Season Scorecard: Post-Miami edition

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NASCAR’s championship weekend in Miami has come and gone and with it came a flurry of driver announcements from teams about the 2020 racing season.

Among them was the news that Cole Custer is being promoted by Stewart-Haas Racing to the Cup Series, where he will take over the No. 41 Ford driven by Daniel Suarez this year.

Here’s a look at all the official driver announcements made so far for next season.

OPEN RIDES ANNOUNCED FOR 2020

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

No. 36: Front Row Motorsports announced Nov. 13 it was parting ways with Matt Tifft so he could focus on his health following his seizure at Martinsville in March. Tifft said he could not commit to racing in 2020.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Nov. 1 a multi-year extension with Kurt Busch.

No. 6: Roush Fenway Racing announced Oct. 30 that Ryan Newman would return to the car as part of the news that Oscar Mayer would sponsor the No. 6 through 2021.

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer was announced Oct. 17 as returning to Stewart-Haas Racing for a fourth season.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing announced Nov. 15 Cole Custer will replace Daniel Suarez.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

JTG Daugherty Racing: It was announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Preece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher. The team said that an announcement on car number and sponsor would come later.

Rick Ware Racing: JJ Yeley will drive one of the team’s three full-time rides.

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Daniel Suarez — The driver revealed Nov. 14  he would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020 after one season driving the No. 41.

Corey LaJoie – The driver hasn’t announced his plans for 2020, but he said in October he and Go Fas Racing were “working toward” him returning to the No. 32 Ford. The team announced on Nov. 1 it would enter a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing next year and that “2020 driver negotiations are still ongoing.”

Xfinity Series 

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, joining Justin Haley.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Announced Oct. 17 Harrison Burton will drive its No. 20 Toyota full-time in 2020. Announced Oct. 31 Brandon Jones would return for a third year in the No. 19. Revealed Nov. 5 it would field a third full-time entry with Riley Herbst in the No. 18.

JR MotorsportsJustin Allgaier will return to the team for a fifth year in the No. 7 Chevrolet. The No. 8 car will be driven by Daniel Hemric for 21 races, Jeb Burton 11 races and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race. Noah Gragson will also return for a second season in the No. 9 car, while Michael Annett returns for a fourth year with the team in the No. 1 car.

Richard Childress Racing — Has not announced its driver plans for 2020, but Richard Childress said after Tyler Reddick claimed the Xfinity title that it would field a full-time entry.

Stewart-Haas Racing – The team has not announced plans for the No. 00 Ford with Cole Custer moving to Cup or whether Chase Briscoe will return to the No. 98.

JD MotorsportsJesse Little will compete full-time for the team.

Truck Series

GMS RacingDriver lineup will include Brett Moffitt, Sam Mayer, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum

Kyle Busch MotorsportsRaphael Lessard will drive the No. 4 full-time while Christian Eckes will drive the No. 18 full-time.

Hattori Racing EnterprisesAustin Hill will return to the No. 16 Toyota for a second year.

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