What drivers said after Cup Series race at Bristol

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Brad Keselowski – Winner: “We kind of got a Christmas present here in Bristol.  We’ll take it.  We’re in position and able to strike when it counted with the Discount Tire Ford Mustang.  Joey and Chase got together there.  I don’t know what all caused it, but we were just in position to strike and here we are in victory lane.”

(HOW DOES IT FEEL TO WIN TODAY AT BRISTOL? ) “It’s great.  Bristol is a tremendous track.  I wish there were all these fans here to see it, but that’s how it goes.”

(HOW ARE YOU GOING TO CELEBRATE?)  “I’m gonna go home and see my wife and daughter.  I think she’s got some arts and crafts I’m supposed to play with her, and maybe some brownies to eat.  I wish I could celebrate with my team, but you know how everything is right now.  There’s so much going on in the world I’m just so thankful to get to be a race car driver and get to do this.”

Clint Bowyer – finished second: “We actually struggled pretty bad with our setup.  I don’t know, it was floating the nose really bad up off the corner all day long.  I could gain and make some ground up in the center of the corner in, and in the middle, but if I had to pass somebody and turn underneath of them I didn’t have the real estate.  The outside was no man’s land for me.  I couldn’t get my front end to turn at all.  (Keselowski) hit (Ryan Newman) into me and clobbered my whole left side.  I was needing (Keselowski) to be a little bit closer.  I wasn’t gonna feel bad about moving him, but it just didn’t materialize.”

Jimmie Johnson – finished third: “Wild and crazy night for sure.  Very strong performance for us.  Really proud of the guys keeping our chins up through the last four weeks.  We’ve had fast cars, really haven’t had the results to show for it. To put together a solid race, start to finish, great pit stops, fast car, be a threat.  We need more long runs.  There’s only one long race in the whole race.  We were battling for the lead with Kyle.  I wish there were more long runs because our car didn’t have the short run speed in it.”

Kyle Busch – finished fourth: “Our race was okay. We were trying to exit pit road two-wide with (Martin) Truex (Jr.) there running my lights and running on the inside, it’s a shorter distance and we got pegged for speeding. That ruined our first stage results. We were able to get back up there a little bit for the second stage, got some decent second stage points and then we were able to drive to the lead. I led for a little bit and thought we had a pretty good Skittles Camry out front. It was a little bit of a struggle in traffic until we caught lapped traffic and it kind of started to mix up the leaders a little bit.

“I felt like we could make ground back up in that after 30 or 35 laps of a run. We didn’t get those runs at the end of the race. My pit crew always does a great job and unfortunately we came down leading and then we came out third and losing control of the race lost us the race. They’re normally really, really good at getting us spots and today we just didn’t have one of those days on pit road. We got the result we got and those guys all crashed in front of us. Denny (Hamlin) got a flat after he crashed. The 9 (Chase Elliott) and the 22 (Joey Logano) got together when the 2 (Brad Keselowski) had just got by me so he was already in the lead and I had to check up for those guys wrecking. We fell to fourth and that’s all we had.”

Erik Jones – finished fifth: “It was solid. We had a pretty good Stanley Camry. At times, I thought we were better than others. We got a good finish out of it, which was nice. I got caught up in a wreck with the 4 (Kevin Harvick) car. He blew a right front, and we got some damage on the left front at the end. It slowed us down for sure. We just never really got the track position all day, never got where we needed to. We were fast enough during some of the runs that I felt like we could have maintained if we had been up in the top three, we just never got up there. Good day, good finish. Top five is always rewarding, but you always want more.”

Austin Dillon – finished sixth: “P6 for the No. 3 car. The Symbicort Chevrolet was good when it mattered. We worked really hard today; hard-fought battle. The car was tight; low right front. Goodyear said they didn’t know what happened to the tire. But we recovered and made some great adjustments. We were pretty fast there at the end. Justin (Alexander, Crew Chief) made a great call to take tires with 38 laps to go and it showed up. I can’t believe (Keselowski) won; just shows you have to stay in these races until the end. We were racing him right before that last caution, came out and he goes off and wins the race. We’re close, we’re getting there. Love how these races are playing out. Getting closer and closer! Thanks for all the support – next week is Atlanta!”

Kurt Busch – finished seventh: “Wow, what a day for us! The Monster Energy Chevrolet – not one straight panel on it. We went through a lot of damage, went through a lot of looseness early in the race. Man, we had a lot of lucky breaks that fell our way there at the end to be able to come home seventh. There were a couple of guys that wiped each other out, couple of guys chose the wrong lane on the restart and we were able to take advantage with our long run speed. We’ve got to work on our short run speed and how the car drives when it’s on stickers. But we’ll keep digging – we’re not going to give up!”

William Byron – finished eighth: “It was a tough race at the start for us but we finished eighth which was good. Lately we’ve had damage and just a lot of things go wrong for us. We just really needed a good finish and we did today. We had a loose wheel at the start of the race and had to start at the back of the field after that. We marched our way through the field, back to the top 10. We then again had to start at the back to make repairs to account for the loose wheel. For a third time we had to start back again later because of right-side damage. Once we finally got our track position back, we stayed up towards the top 10 and kept ourselves up there. At the end, some of those guys had fresher tires and we faded a couple spots.”

Christopher Bell – finished ninth:“We battled back and have begun to see some results, which is good. It’s nice to be getting some results after the start of the season we had. We are continuing to build and get better, which is the goal.”

 (What do you believe you and your team needs to do to keep the momentum going?) “Just keep learning. I’m a rookie and I’m learning more every race. Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) is new with this Cup Series package, and as we continue to go back to the tracks we are continuing to grow and learn as a team.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 10th:  “All-in-all, it was a good day at the Bristol Motor Speedway. It was fun there at the end. It was wild – that race had pretty much everything. I have seen a lot of positive comments from fans. That’s Bristol Motor Speedway for you. We will carry some momentum over – finally got a good finish after two bad ones. We got the bad juju off our back and we will go onto the Atlanta Motor Speedway! We’ve got some work to do there. I am excited about the speed we’ve been bringing to the track each week. The speed we have been bringing has been good. We need to tweak some things to get us to the next level. We are knocking on the door. We’re doing really good things.”

Ryan Preece – finished 12th: 

John Hunter Nemechek – finished 13th: “It was a tough day, but we still fought to have a good finish under the circumstances. (Crew chief) Seth (Barbour) and the crew put together a super fast Scag Power Equipment Ford Mustang. We started off the day a little tight, needing more turn. In that last stage though, we had some issues with overheating and that cost us some precious track position. It’s a challenge at Bristol to stay on the lead lap, let alone finish top 15 after the day we had. I’m so proud of my team for sticking with me and never giving up. We fought hard and still came out of it P13.”

Michael McDowell – finished 14th: “We had a great run going today at Bristol. My Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang was pretty close to the top 10, but unfortunately got involved in a mid-race collision and had some damage. Thankfully, (Crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer) and my guys on pit road did a great job of making repairs and we recovered alright to get a few spots back at the end and finish 14th. Overall, Bristol has always been a tough track for us, so to be competitive and run up front made it a solid day.”

Matt Kenseth – finished 16th: “Another tough day for me and the 42 team. We had a lot of things go right today with good stops in the pits and some runs with really good speed, but couldn’t turn it into a good finish. So, all in all a frustrating day that ended without the finish we could’ve had. We’ll keep working hard as we look forward to Atlanta and hopefully put together a better race next weekend.”

Denny Hamlin – finished 17th:

Joey Logano – finished 21st: “(Chase Elliott) wrecked me.  He got loose underneath me.  The part that’s frustrating is that afterwards a simple apology — like be a man and come up to someone and say, ‘Hey, my bad.’  But I had to force an apology, which, to me, is childish.  Anyways, man, we had a good recovery with our AutoTrader Mustang and had a shot to win.  That’s all you can hope for.  I passed him clean.  It’s hard racing at the end, I get that.  It’s hard racing, but, golly, man, be a man and take the hit when you’re done with it.”

Chase Elliott – finished 22nd: “Just going for the win, trying to get a run underneath (Logano) and got really loose. … As soon as I turned off the wall I had zero chance in making it. I’ll certainly take the blame. I feel like I had to keep him behind me right there to win the race. I hate that we both wrecked but can’t go back in time now.”

JJ Yeley – finished 25th: 

Aric Almirola – finished 29th: “We had such a good car today. We would have had a shot at a top-three finish. That’s Bristol. I felt like I had a tire going down at one point, so we pitted and even came back to the top 10 from that pretty quickly. We had a loose-wheel later and had to pit under caution that put us 10th. We were definitely making our way back towards the front and had a promising finish if we didn’t get caught up there. It looked like (Martin Truex Jr.) got into me. The car just took off towards the wall and we were done. I hate it for this Smithfield Ford team. We’re flirting on the edge of some really good runs. The good news is we came to Bristol with a setup that can win, so we’ll have confidence coming back.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished 31st: 

Corey LaJoie – finished 32nd:

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished 34th: “We just got crashed. Our Kroger Camaro was just so good. Two weeks in a row, I feel like, we had one of the best cars I’ve had at that given race track. We were just racing hard. The No. 42 (Matt Kenseth) had to check-up and the No. 48 (Jimmie Johnson) just ran into our left rear and spun us. But, it was a bummer. I felt like we had a really good shot at racing them for the win. We were getting it dialed-in there. Starting on the inside was a little tricky on re-starts in trying to get yourself up, and we were starting to get some momentum back to the top five there and just got crashed. He about got us last week. He got us this week. But, it’s just part of it. It’s short-track racing.

Cole Custer – finished 35th: “Well, that stinks. We were getting our car a lot better and then caught up in the wreck. Just so little time to react so you get caught up in them pretty easily here at Bristol. That’s just how it is here. I thought our HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang was getting a lot better. I felt like we could’ve run in the top 10. We were a lot better than where we were running. We were going forward but our pit stall wasn’t helping us either. We were getting blocked in about every time and that hurt us too. We’ll move on to the next one, but man, I thought we were going to have a good day here.”

Tyler Reddick – finished 36th: “We had a handful with the balance of our Alsco Uniforms Chevrolet today and weren’t quite where we needed to be to start the race. We worked really hard though and got it to where I thought it needed to be. We were even able to start clicking off some top-five lap times, just needed some track position to get up there and start contending. We had started to weed away at that, and I’m confident we would have gotten up there. I could run the top lane pretty well, which was helping a lot. It’s unfortunate, but it’s a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time at Bristol. I saw the No. 47 (Stenhouse) get spun, and I saw him go down but then I couldn’t see him anymore. I was worried if I checked up too much I’d get caught up in it, but it didn’t matter and I got caught up in it anyway. Just a tough situation and a tough way to end our day.”

Alex Bowman – finished 37th: “It looked like the 47 (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) crashed and I just couldn’t get stopped in time. I was hoping they would stay low and as they all came up, I got on the brake pedal, just locked the fronts up and couldn’t turn. … We had a really good car, just had some weird stuff happen today. We cross-threaded a lug nut, had to come back down and change that out. The clutch pedal fell off inside the race car, so that wasn’t good for pit stops by any means. So, we struggled with that the last pit stop and lost some more track position. And then, just wrong place wrong time.”

Ty Dillon – finished 39th: “Rough day for the third race in a row. Obviously today we got caught up in a wreck after having the car fall off the jack during a pit stop. It’s just unfortunate, but our Germain Racing team is strong though. Our cars are really fast. Our GEICO Camaros are a lot stronger than we have been in the past couple years. We have plenty of time to rebound and accomplish our goals this season. We will keep our heads up, keep digging and fight until the end. Bad days will come; it’s just how you fight through them. We will go try again in Atlanta.”

Ryan Blaney – finished 40th: “I got in the marbles and spun out. Thought we were going to be OK and the we got destroyed about six seconds later. That’s just Bristol. I don’t know. I probably shouldn’t have been pushing that hard but trying to get back to the lead. I thought we found some speed up there. Just a mistake on my part.”

 

Bubba Wallace to receive Stan Musial award for extraordinary character

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Following months of speaking out in support of racial justice and inclusion in NASCAR, Bubba Wallace‘s work has been recognized by The Musial Awards.

The Richard Petty Motorsports driver has been selected as the recipient of its Award for Extraordinary Character.

The award honors “an individual who demonstrates remarkable poise, perseverance and overall sportsmanship.”

The Musial Awards – presented by Maryville University in St. Louis – is named after Stan Musial, a former St. Louis Cardinal baseball player. St. Louis is also the home to one of Wallace’s sponsors, World Wide Technology.

More: Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

In the wake of the death of George Floyd in May, the 26-year-old Wallace has been active in helping lead NASCAR through social changes, including the banning of the Confederate flag at series events and tracks.

He also drove a Black Lives Matter car at Martinsville Speedway in June.

“Bubba Wallace exemplifies what the Stan Musial Award for Extraordinary Character is all about,” Frank Viverito, president of the St. Louis Sports Commission, which produces the Musial Awards, said in a press release. “He has overcome much to be where he is, and he has courageously stepped forward to take an important stand for change. He is most deserving of an award that stands for sportsmanship and character, and is named for Stan Musial, whose own actions promoted racial acceptance and unity.”

Wallace joins baseball legend Hank Aaron as a 2020 Musial Awards honoree. Aaron is receiving the Stan Musial Lifetime Achievement Award for Sportsmanship.

The Musial Awards will air nationally on CBS on Saturday, Dec. 26.

After three full-time seasons in Cup racing for RPM, it was announced earlier this week that Wallace would compete in 2021 for a Cup team co-owned by Denny Hamlin and basketball legend Michael Jordan.

Michael Jordan excited for NASCAR future with Denny Hamlin

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The most anticipated NASCAR team in years started with a joke.

Denny Hamlin said he was only kidding about owning a Cup team with Michael Jordan after reports linked the two in such an endeavor.

“Looks like we’re owners together, ha, ha,” Hamlin told Jordan. “Congratulations. He said, ‘Fake news, but if you want to make it real news, let me know.’ ”

Suddenly a team that will have Jordan and Hamlin as partners, Bubba Wallace as driver and potentially a far-reaching impact on the sport and Black community was born. Jordan said it all happened within 10 days.

Jordan and Hamlin discussed exclusively with NBC Sports and Fox on Wednesday their vision for their new team. Jordan, a six-time NBA champion, and Hamlin a three-time Daytona 500 winner, both look to win and plan to stay around for a long time.

Details have yet to be announced about a car number, sponsors, and manufacturer, although the team is expected to run Toyotas and align with Joe Gibbs Racing. Jordan, who becomes the first Black majority car owner since Wendell Scott, said Wednesday that when the sport opens up the infield to more than drivers and teams, he’ll be at the track often.

Hamlin admits Jordan’s reaction to his joke stunned him. It was only last November when Jordan told Dale Earnhardt Jr. in an interview on NBC before the championship race that he didn’t plan to be an owner.

“I’ve got a lot on my plate,” Jordan told Earnhardt then. “I love being a fan. I still understand the sport, but in terms of ownership, nah, I think I’m just going to sit back and watch it and support from afar.”

Jordan told NBC Sports on Wednesday that the timing was right when Hamlin joked with him.

“It was one of those things, again, it’s always been on my mind,” Jordan said of NASCAR team ownership. “I go with my gut feeling. When the time is right you know it. When this was presented to me, I felt good about it. When Bubba was involved in the whole conversation I felt good about it.

“My biggest conversation to Denny was, ‘Look, I don’t want to get in there just to go around the races and just go around and around and around and finish up 18th, 19th, 20th, 30th. I want to win. I want to be put in a position for the best chance for us to win. That’s my competitive nature. That’s always been who I am.

“When we got into this dialogue and I saw that OK, I might have a chance if we can put together the right situation to possibly win. That became more intriguing. That was my mindset going into this.

“I remember the conversation with Dale Earnhardt (last November). In essence, I love the sport. I was looking for an entry opportunity. This was the opportunity that was just presented to me in just the last 10 days.”

Hamlin said the competitive nature he and Jordan both have will ensure that “we will not do this team halfway. It will be a top-tier team sooner than later.” Hamlin said he will continue to drive for Joe Gibbs Racing while owning the team with Jordan.

“I have very good faith that Bubba is going to have everything that he needs to be capable of winning, and I think he’s got the talent to do it,” Hamlin said. “But still there would be growing pains here and there just like any team would have.”

Brad Daugherty, the only Black co-owner of a Cup team before Jordan’s entry, is looking forward to what Jordan’s team will do.

“I think it’s a pretty dynamic trio with Michael, Denny and Bubba,” said Daugherty, co-owner of JTG Daugherty Racing and teammate to Jordan on the University of North Carolina basketball team. “They’re going to be like rock stars.”

Part of the timing being right was the social change NASCAR has gone through this year. Drivers put together a video in a show of support for the Black community in June. NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its tracks and races soon after. Drivers rallied around Wallace in June at Talladega after it was thought he was the victim of a hate crime.

Jordan said one of his main goals is to create more opportunities for Black people in racing.

“It’s huge,” he said. “It’s absolutely huge. To me, you’re basically diving into a situation where very few Black people have been present into the NASCAR arena. In essence, you’re going in with the opportunity to expand that and to give a different lens to NASCAR as a whole. For so long, it’s been viewed from a negative aspect with the Confederate flag and all these other things that occurred.

“Now you go in with NASCAR making an effort to change the perspective and try to attract and connect to the next generation without losing something for today’s authenticity of the sport presented an opportunity for me to get involved in this whole process and know that I am spearheading a thought process of Blacks getting involved in NASCAR when in essence very few have since 1960s (when Wendell Scott competed and owned his own cars).”

Although Jordan unquestionably is the biggest celebrity to enter NASCAR, the sport’s history is littered with former athletes and celebrities who have come and gone as co-owners in teams.

Jordan said he plans to be in the sport for a long time.

“I’m not doing this to try to look at the financials,” Jordan said. “The financials are part of the process, but my passion drives me more than the financials. If I invest or not invest, I was still going to call Denny each and every Sunday and ask him what the hell is he doing, is he going to win today, what is he going to do, what happened?

“I’ve been a fan for so long, so I’m always going to be that. With making money or losing money, I’m going to be a fan to NASCAR. This is authenticity in the making for me in that I’m involved in something that I truly, truly love and I wake up each and every weekend looking forward to each and every race.”

Jordan’s interest goes to his childhood when his father used to take his family to the race.

“He was a big car person,” Jordan said of his father. “He used to work on engines for years. He became a big stock-car fan and he bredded us to do the same. Went to Darlington, Rockingham, Charlotte, Talladega. (Long-time NASCAR car owner) Hoss Ellington used to be from Wilmington and he used to work on cars with Hoss Ellington way back in the day. I’ve been involved in car racing for a long period of time as a fan.”

Jordan’s entrance has created an excitement in the sport for what he can potentially deliver in terms of a wider audience and potential connections with different companies. But there’s only so much one person can do to help elevate the sport. It is a more complicated puzzle.

“I’m a fan of the sport first,” Jordan said. “I love sports. I love, love NASCAR. I don’t go into with the idea and concept that I’m trying to change and shape NASCAR. I go in with my passion. I hope that whoever knows Michael Jordan or whoever supports Michael Jordan, whoever supports NASCAR see this as an opportunity to enjoy the sport.

“If we can introduce it to the next generation, to at least gauge an interest, that’s a beginning there. How that translates economically, I have no understanding of that. Those are things that I’m not in control of. All I can do is show the passion for the sport and hopefully people can understand that passion and adapt to that.

“The business aspect is the business aspect. … I go in because I love sports and then I get all these different other conversations, all these other people calling, saying, ‘hey, look, that’s pretty interesting, I would love to be involved.’ To me, that’s change. That’s how this is going to work. It may not work from a perspective of what people may expect.

“I don’t know what the agendas may be or what the barometer may be, but at the end of the day, I love that I got involved in NASCAR and if people appreciate that and want to be a part of that, great. If not, it’s not going to change my involvement. I just want to continually win.”

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Las Vegas Truck lineup

Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
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Brett Moffitt will lead the Las Vegas Truck lineup to the green flag in Friday night’s payoff race.

Moffitt is coming off his runner-up finish to Sam Mayer in last week’s Truck playoff race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Tyler Ankrum will start second in Friday night’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. He’ll be followed by Grant Enfinger, Sheldon Creed and Chandler Smith. Austin Hill starts 11th, last among the playoff drivers.

Click here for Truck starting lineup

The Las Vegas Truck lineup is set by using a formula based on four statistical categories: owner points position, owner final race position, the finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.

Performance Metrics Qualifying is a total number based on the previous race. The formula is 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the owner points position. Any ties will be broken by the rule book.

 

NASCAR Truck Series at Las Vegas 

Race time: 9 p.m. ET, Friday

Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Las Vegas, Nevada (1.5-mile speedway)

Length: 134 laps (201 miles)

Stages: Stage 1 ends Lap 30. Stage 2 ends Lap 60.

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Motor Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); mrn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Lineup: Click here for Truck starting lineup

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Las Vegas (200 laps, 300 miles), 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Cup race: Sunday at Las Vegas (267 laps, 400.5 miles), 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Las Vegas Xfinity lineup

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Chase Briscoe will lead the Las Vegas Xfinity lineup to the green flag as the series begins its playoffs Saturday night.

Briscoe enters the playoffs after his seventh win of the season last weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway. He has seven victories so far, two more than Austin Cindric who will start second Saturday night.

Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races, starts third. He’s followed by Ross Chastain and Harrison Burton. Michael Annett starts 13th, last among the playoff drivers.

Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

The opening round of the Xfinity playoffs goes to Talladega after Las Vegas and ends with the Charlotte Roval. The playoff field will be cut to eight drivers at Charlotte.

The Las Vegas Xfinity lineup is set by using a formula based on four statistical categories: owner points position, owner final race position, the finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.

Performance Metrics Qualifying is a total number based on the previous race. The formula is 15% of a fastest lap time position, 25% of the driver’s final race finish position, 25% of the owner’s final race position and 35% of the owner points position. Any ties will be broken by the rule book.

NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas 

Race time: 7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday

Track: Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Las Vegas, Nevada (1.5-mile speedway)

Length: 200 laps (300 miles)

Stages: Stage 1 ends Lap 45. Stage 2 ends Lap 90.

TV coverage: NBCSN

Radio: Performance Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: NBC Sports app (subscription required); goprn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Lineup: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

Next Truck race: Friday at Las Vegas (134 laps, 201 miles), 9 p.m. ET on FS1

Next Cup race: Sunday at Las Vegas (267 laps, 400.5 miles), 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN