What Cup drivers said after Kansas playoff race

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Denny Hamlin, winner: “I just had to hold the bottom and get a good push. It was all about the push that I got from the 9 (Chase Elliott) and really the 18 (Kyle Busch) those last couple of restarts. That was the most important thing for us – to get a good restart. Once we got out front, we could hold it wide open. Our car was built for downforce, so it worked out that it was just fast enough to win.”

Chase Elliott, finished second: “I was trying to make a run at Denny.  We never got our momentum up enough for me to do anything about it.  The restarts were helping his cause on tires. The good news was the bottom lane rolled good enough on the last restart to at least get back to second.  So, I appreciate the effort.  We were really struggling there at one point in the race.  You have to stay fighting in these things, especially with these late‑race restarts. Just proud of the effort today. Just excited we get to fight another race.”

Kyle Busch, finished third: (Do you feel like you made strides in today’s race?) “No, it’s about how we’re supposed to run. I guess if you’re not in control on the last restart then you don’t have a chance to win.”

(Did you work together with your teammates to ensure a Joe Gibbs Racing Camry won the race today?) “I think we proved that point when there were three Gibbs cars on the bottom row and all we did was basically push each other and stay in line with one another all the way down into the corner.”

Kurt Busch, finished fourth: “We got fresh tires at the end and the outside lane really worked well for us. I was able to give it a lot of throttle on time and knife my way up to fourth place. It was nice to have Advent Health on our car today. We had a breast cancer survivor Nicole riding with us and she got us a top five. We struggled a little bit, didn’t get any stage points but you can’t be disappointed with a top five.”

William Byron, finished fifth: “Yeah, it’s just a bummer (not advancing in the playoffs). But we had a great run today and we can take pride in that, for sure. We had a great car, one of the best cars we’ve had on a 1.5-mile track. It was fun, but we just needed to win and we couldn’t do that. But it is what it is. It was a great day for us overall, we’ll move onto the next couple of weeks and keep fighting. If we can go out and win, that’s all that really matters now.”

Martin Truex Jr., finished sixth: “It was a good race and we had a good Bass Pro Toyota all day long. We just got off there those last couple runs of the race. When it got cloudy, we got tight and we couldn’t quite get it dialed in where we needed to. Overall, a solid day and we did what we needed to do.”

Erik Jones, finished seventh: “It was a good day. Kind of up and down. We lost some track position there in that middle stage and it was just a struggle to get it back all day. I thought the Reser’s Camry was really good on the long run and we were kind of running those guys down before we had the caution come out late for the first of those final restarts. We just didn’t have a great short run car and it didn’t play out the way we needed it and not a clean enough race to contend. It’s frustrating when you have that fast of a car, but a good day.”

Clint Bowyer, finished eighth: “Obviously we wanted to be in victory lane. I like the situations that we could put the car in and it would withstand. We got a little bit of damage there on that last stage. I don’t really think that affected it that much. It was a decent day. It wasn’t a stellar day by any means. I am proud of our effort. I am proud of trying something there and it working out.”

Kevin Harvick, finished ninth: “That was not a very good weekend from top to bottom. I just didn’t have a very good car today and didn’t have a very good day on pit road. Nothing went right all weekend. It was definitely one of the worst weekends we have had in a while. We had to start in the back and had a tough day getting through traffic.”

Alex Bowman, finished 11th: “We got up to fifth or sixth there pretty quickly and obviously had a really good car to start. I got loose, I saved it and it was all good; that’s just racing. I guess just the 6 (Ryan Newman) being right there tore the left rear off of it. You wouldn’t think it, but that’s probably the most sensitive corner on these cars for rear downforce and rear side force. We really fought with it the rest of the day and all but crashed it for the remaining 260 laps or however long it was.”

“We didn’t get in (to the Round of 8), so that sucks. We had a good start and a really good car there for five laps or however long it lasted. It just sucks driving a wrecked race car for the rest of the day.”
Kyle Larson, finished 14th: “Today was our roughest day that we’ve had in a long time. I stalled it on that green flag stop and we just had some really slow stops. My pit box was really slick, so I couldn’t get in aggressive enough and I couldn’t leave fast enough. It made the pit stops seem worse than they were. It’s tough to have a day like that, but we had a fast car. We tried to gamble on tires there. It worked out for Denny (Hamlin), but it didn’t work out for us and we got ate up on those restarts. We finished 14th with a top-three car.”
Ricky Stenhouse Jr, finished 16th: “We were really tight all day. No matter what we did to our Fastenal Ford it just remained tight. It’s definitely not what we wanted after running so well here in the spring but overall it was a decent finish. Our main goal is just to finish the season strong and we have done that the past few weeks.”

Joey Logano, finished 17th: (Surprised you were able to survive and advance?) “Yeah, it felt like that this whole round. Starting in Dover when we watched the race start in the garage. Then the crash in Talladega but scoring enough stage points and an okay enough finish to get some points. Then today, whew, we got that stage win which was great and that is a point that will continue on, so that is a big deal. We needed every point we could and it looked like we were in a good spot. Next thing you know they are wrecking on the outside and I get hit and I am going through the grass. I felt comfortable before that but the next thing you know – I am watching it here on the replay for the first time – I didn’t hit anything so I got lucky for sure. I have been lucky a few times. We were able to finish Talladega and I parked the thing and there was a hole in the radiator. It was hard-fought and blue-collar round for sure. We

Brad Keselowski, finished 19th: “We didn’t make it (to the Round of 8). I pushed as hard as I knew how and didn’t quite do good enough on the last restart and that was it. We clawed as hard as we could and there were times it looked like we were going to be fine and times it didn’t. In the end it didn’t work out.”

Ryan Blaney, finished 21st: “It was an up and down day. We didn’t start off great but we got better throughout the race. We were able to get up to second there but (Hamlin) was pretty phenomenal and I could only make time at the wall and had to pound the fence to do anything. Lap cars were running the fence and they wouldn’t give you the fence so I would lose time trying to run down. We couldn’t really run different lanes of the race track. That kind of stunk. Eventually I got too close to the fence trying to run it and run those guys back down and hit it. We blew a tire before we could get to pit road. We knew we had to take that chance today trying to run hard. It sucks that I blew a tire and caused that caution.”

Austin Dillon, finished 23rd: “Man, what a day. I was excited about our top-10 starting position, but we were just way too loose to start the race and lost a lot of positions. We ended up falling one lap down to the leader and struggled all day to earn our lap back. Crew chief Danny Stockman called for a lot of adjustments but no matter how many my crew made, we just never got a solid feel for the handling of the Roland Chevrolet.”

Daniel Hemric, finished 31st: “We had a fast Chevrolet this weekend, and it was really special to earn our first pole award as a group at Kansas. I was hoping once the green flag dropped we’d be able to set sail, lead laps and be in contention for the win. Unfortunately, our Caterpillar Chevrolet was just a little tricky to balance today. I needed more rear grip throughout most of the day, but never got it to where I could run both the top and bottom grooves like I wanted to. On the first attempt at a late-race restart, it all just happened so fast on the frontstretch and before I knew it, (Daniel Suarez) was turned down in front of me and we made contact.”

Daniel Suarez, finished 32nd: “We had a really good ARRIS Mustang to start the race. We held our position up front, and then I got shuffled back on one of the restarts. We were working on adjusting the car and trying to make up our track position, and towards the end we had made a lot of ground. Unfortunately, we got in an accident getting ready to take the white flag.”

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

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“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Though Castroneves is out, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported that Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing still is considering IndyCar driver Conor Daly for its seat.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

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A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The team stated Thursday night on social media that Taylor Collier and Devin Fokin had been treated and released. The team stated that Taylor was treated for smoke inhalation and Fokin was treated “for serious burns.”

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”

 

Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals

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Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

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Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension

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Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

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Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.