Bump and Run: Who had most impressive Darlington run?

1 Comment

Who had the more impressive performance Sunday at Darlington: Kevin Harvick, Tyler Reddick or Matt Kenseth?

Nate Ryan: Kenseth. A new team he barely knew (and hardly could get to know much because of social distancing restrictions), a downforce-horsepower package he hardly raced, a track he hadn’t practiced on … not exactly a recipe for his second consecutive top 10 in Cup races that were 547 days apart. What he did at Darlington was as impressive or more than finishing sixth in his Cup debut at Dover in September 1998 (filling in for Bill Elliott with a team he also barely knew).

Dustin Long: Matt Kenseth’s performance considering his circumstances was impressive, but I’m going to go with rookie Tyler Reddick. He’s been fast, he’s been toward the front in some races this season but hadn’t put together a complete race. To do so in his first Cup start at Darlington and without the benefit of practice of qualifying speaks volumes of his performance. Even Kenseth was impressed

Daniel McFadin: Matt Kenseth, easily. To come off the bench after more than 15 months of not competing in NASCAR and race at Darlington without any practice or qualifying and finish 10th further cements him as one of the most reliable drivers of his era. Chip Ganassi is probably very relieved.

Jerry Bonkowski: Matt Kenseth. Here’s a guy who had not been in a Cup car for more than 1 1/2 years, had no practice or qualifying, and yet was able to earn a top-10 finish in his first race back. It was like riding a bike: Kenseth didn’t forget how to race. If there was a theme song that best epitomized Kenseth’s return on Sunday, it’s “Back In The Saddle Again” (either the Gene Autry or Aerosmith version).

 

Sunday marked the first of five Cup races scheduled in 14 days. They series is scheduled to race twice at Darlington, twice at Charlotte and once at Bristol by May 31. What will you be watching for in this stretch?

Nate Ryan: Whether the gulf between well-funded and well-staffed powerhouse teams and the have-nots becomes even greater. And which drivers and teams are the most physically and mentally fit to handle the frenzy (keeping an eye on Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch).

Dustin Long: I want to see who excels and who falters. This stretch represents more than 20% of what is remaining in the regular season. That’s a significant portion. A series of strong runs could elevate a team. And a series of poor finishes could all but destroy a team. Who will rise and who will fall?

Daniel McFadin: I’ll be watching to see if performance from one race translates to the next, especially with the Darlington and Charlotte races. With Kevin Harvick’s team bringing his winning car back Wednesday night, will his car still perform the same way under the lights as it did in the daytime?

Jerry Bonkowski: Fatigue will be the biggest thing to watch for, particularly next Wednesday’s race at Charlotte and the race at Bristol. Whoever can best manage the fatigue of five Cup races in two weeks could make a big statement. Hand-in-hand with managing fatigue is consistency. The driver who has the best combination of finishes in those five races could potentially lift himself to be the driver to beat heading into the meat of the schedule.

 

What do you think of how NASCAR is setting the starting lineup for the second Darlington and second Charlotte Cup races by inverting the top 20 from the previous race at those tracks?

Nate Ryan: A good idea that makes me as intrigued to watch Wednesday night as Sunday’s return (and maybe even more so). The shorter race distances for both events also are a good idea for ratcheting up the action.

Dustin Long: Will be interested to see how this plays out in a shorter race. Adds another element to the race. 

Daniel McFadin: I’m very intrigued by it and whether it will have a significant impact on who is competitive. Having Ryan Preece and Ty Dillon start on the front row Wednesday is enticing. Will the rules package help them stay up front longer or will they quickly be afterthoughts? It’s also a valuable move for sponsors of teams that might not run in the top 10 often.

Jerry Bonkowski: Given there is no practice or qualifying, I think that’s a very fair way of setting the starting lineup. It makes everyone on the same page and, in a sense, really isn’t all that much different from how a driver qualifies in regular fashion. Some days you’re going to qualify higher and other days lower. Inverting the top 20 from the previous race finish is the best way to do so until we eventually go back to qualifying.

Daytona road course entry lists

Leave a comment

NASCAR’s national series will make their debuts on the Daytona road course this weekend. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck events will be held without any practice or qualifying.

NASCAR is prohibiting drivers from competing in more than one series this weekend on the Daytona road course in an effort to get extra track time. NASCAR states that is to make the event fair for everyone.

Sunday’s Cup race will be broadcast on NBC.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for the races at the Daytona road course 

Cup – Go Bowling 235 (3 p.m. ET Sunday on NBC)

Thirty-nine drivers are entered for the race at the Daytona road course.

JJ Yeley is in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing.

Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for Petty Ware Racing.

Gray Gaulding is in the No. 53 for Rick Ware Racing.

Brendan Gaughan is in the No. 62 for Beard Motorsports.

Timmy Hill is in the No. 66 for Motorsports Business Management.

Reed Sorenson is in the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.

Click here for Cup entry list

 

Xfinity – UNOH 188 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

Thirty-eight cars are entered.

Andy Lally is back in the No. 02 Our Motorsports car after finishing fifth last week at Road America.

AJ Allmendinger, who finished second last week at Road America, is in the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing.

IMSA driver Earl Bamber will make his Xfinity debut this weekend in the No. 21 for Richard Childress Racing.

Brandon Gdovic will make his second start of the season, driving the No. 26 for Sam Hunt Racing.

Click here for Xfinity entry list

 

Truck – Sunoco 159 (Noon ET Sunday on FS1)

Thirty-nine trucks are entered in the race that will be held before the Cup event on Sunday on the Daytona road course.

Alex Tagliani will drive the No. 51 for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Click here for Truck entry list

Silly Season Scorecard: Christopher Bell moves back to JGR

Leave a comment

No surprise that Christopher Bell moves over to the No. 20 at Joe Gibbs Racing next season with Leavine Family Racing being sold and Erik Jones not remaining with JGR beyond this season. Joe Gibbs Racing made the announcement Monday.

While JGR lets the 24-year-old Jones, who has 133 Cup starts go, it brings in the 25-year-old Bell who has made 22 career Cup starts. Jones said before Sunday’s race he was “blindsided a little bit” by JGR’s move.

It’s part of the building momentum of Silly Season. In the last week, Team Penske signed Brad Keselowski to a reported one-year extension and Bubba Wallace said he has an offer for next year not only from Richard Petty Motorsports but also Chip Ganassi Racing.

Here’s how the Cup Silly Season scorecard looks as of Aug. 10.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2021

No. 00: Quin Houff enters the second year of his two-year deal with StarCom Racing.

No. 1: Kurt Busch enters the second year of a multi-year contract that Chip Ganassi Racing announced last season.

No. 2: Brad Keselowski and Team Penske announced a contract extension Aug. 3.

No. 4: Kevin Harvick signed a contract extension in February that will keep him at Stewart-Haas Racing through the 2023 season.

No. 8: Tyler Reddick said in a press conference Aug. 7 that he will be back with Richard Childress Racing next season.

No. 9: Chase Elliott is under contract with Hendrick Motorsports through the 2022 season.

No. 11: Denny Hamlin is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 12: Ryan Blaney and Team Penske announced a multi-year extension earlier this season.

No. 18: Kyle Busch is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 19: Martin Truex Jr. is signed with Joe Gibbs Racing through at least next year.

No. 20: Christopher Bell moves from Leavine Family Racing to take over this ride in 2021.

No. 22: Joey Logano is tied to Team Penske “through the 2022 season and beyond.”

No. 24: William Byron is under contact with Hendrick Motorsports through at least 2021.

No. 47: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. enters the second year of a multi-year deal with JTG Daugherty Racing.

No. 88: Alex Bowman will race for Hendrick Motorsports under a one-year contract extension announced earlier this year.

 

Available/possibly available rides

No. 10: Aric Almirola is in a contract year at Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon is in a contract year at Germain Racing.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer is in a contract year to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto is in a contract year at Wood Brothers Racing. He said after the Aug. 9 Michigan race: “I haven’t really talked about that stuff for next year yet, but we’ve just been so focused and head down on digging and trying to make the playoffs and run well. We haven’t even really talked about it, so, hopefully, I stay here for a very long time to come and that’s what they had expressed to me when I came over here.”

No. 32: Corey LaJoie is in a contract year at Go Fas Racing.

No. 42: Matt Kenseth told NBC Sports on Aug. 8 in regards to talks with Chip Ganassi Racing for next year: “We really haven’t had any very meaningful discussions really about any of that to be honest with you.

No. 43: Bubba Wallace said Aug. 9 he has an offer from Richard Petty Motorsports and an offer from Chip Ganassi Racing to drive the No. 42 car next season.

No. 48: With Jimmie Johnson retiring from full-time competition, Hendrick Motorsports has this seat to fill.

No. 95: Leavine Family Racing announced it was selling its assets earlier this week. The buyer has not been announced. Christopher Bell will move to the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing team for 2021.

Christopher Bell to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2021

2 Comments

Christopher Bell will drive for the No. 20 next season for Joe Gibbs Racing, the team announced Monday, a decision that was expected with Erik Jones’ contract expiring after this season and it not being renewed. 

“I’m so appreciative of the opportunity I have this year with LFR and I want to finish this season strong for Bob (Leavine) and everyone there,” Bell said in a statement from the team. “At the same time, I’m extremely excited to return to Joe Gibbs Racing starting in 2021. It’s an organization I’m very comfortable with and have had a lot of success with.”

Said car owner Joe Gibbs: “We are excited to bring Christopher into our Cup Series program starting in 2021. He obviously had tremendous success in the Xfinity Series with us and we look forward to his return to JGR.”

Bell drove for JGR in in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019, winning 15 races, before moving to the Cup Series and Leavine Family Racing this season. Leavine Family Racing announced last week that it has been sold.

Entering Sunday’s race at the Daytona International Speedway road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC), Bell is 19th in points. His best finish this season is fourth at the first Pocono race in late June.

Xfinity playoff grid after Road America

Leave a comment

Brandon Brown extended his hold on the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid last weekend at Road America after struggles early in the race.

Brown needed to be pushed back to pit road before the field took the green because of a mechanical issue. He fell a lap down as his crew diagnosed the issue, got his lap back, scored four stage points in the second stage and finished 12th, one spot off his best career finish on a road course.

MORE: Brandon Brown wants to reward father with a special celebration

MORE: Austin Cindric wins at Road America 

Brown’s effort and Jeremy Clements misfortune in being collected in a crash to finish 29th led to Brown extending his lead on Clements for the final spot in the Xfinity playoff grid to 53 points. Myatt Snider is 73 points behind Brown. Eight races remain until the Xfinity playoffs begin Sept. 26 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Here is a look at the playoff grid. Drivers shaded in green are locked in the playoffs. Those shaded in yellow are in a playoff spot based on their point total. Drivers shaded in red are outside a spot in the Xfinity playoff grid.