What drivers said after Cup Series race at Atlanta

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Kevin Harvick – winner: “(My crew) had a great pit stop.  We got a restart on the bottom and they got my car to take off.  I was able to get track position and then once I could get through those first 10 laps and my car was freed up enough to where I could get in a rhythm and really start hitting my marks, and then by about lap 25 I could start driving away.”

(How cool is it to win on the your chief’s (Rodney Childers) birthday?) “That’s pretty cool. We struggled most of the day with our car and he definitely earned his birthday present today.  They did a great job adjusting on our Busch Light Ford.”

(On moving into 12th on the all-time wins list): “Sometimes I just laugh because you talk about that list and you talk about the names on it and everything that’s happening, and it’s just a situation that you almost just ‑‑ you shake your head and you’re like, ‘Man, I can’t believe this is happening.  It’s pretty crazy to think about that.  I tell people all the time I’m very lucky to drive cars for a living and call it my job, and to be able to have won so many races with a couple different teams and be able to contend.  Winning races is what it’s all about, and to be able to do that is something I’m really proud of.”

Kyle Busch – finished second: “Our Fudge Brownie M&M’s Camry was pretty decent. We had good speed, you just couldn’t really push too hard. Every time I pushed too hard, it would really hurt my tires in the long run. I think that was for everybody. That last run, I was trying to keep up with those front guys and as soon as I felt like I was pushing too hard and they were inching out on me, I just gave up and decided just to run and try to make sure I didn’t slip a tire and do the best I could without pushing anything too hard. Was able to get Martin (Truex Jr.) at least there at the end. Can’t say enough about all my guys – Adam Stevens (crew chief) and everybody, they’re doing a really good job. We’re working hard and trying to get it all better.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished third: “The last two or three runs there, we just got too tight. Not sure what happened. The car was really good. The guys did a great job. Auto Owners Camry was fast all day. Got our first two stage wins of the year, which was huge. We just can’t seem to get over the hump at the finishes. With about 25 (laps) to go, I was clicking off some good lap times, but I knew I was pushing it too hard on the right front tire and with about 10 (laps) to go, it said, ‘Oh hell no more.’ Just ran out of tires at the end and lost second to Kyle (Busch). I figured at that point, I could see the 4 (Kevin Harvick) and was just going to give it all I had and see if there was any opportunity, but he was just too good. Just got too tight at the end. I don’t know why, but we’ll go back and look at it. Hell of a job by everybody and a good, solid day.”

Ryan Blaney – finished fourth: “We started off pretty far off, to be honest with you, and just really, really loose for the first three or four runs of the day and really wasn’t going anywhere.  We were kind of going backwards and then we finally started making some good headway there the second run of the second stage there and were able to close in and finish second in the second stage, which is good.  We had a good pit stop and got us out fourth and from there on out just tried to manage our tires.  I didn’t think I had anything for (Harvick) or (Truex) or (Kyle Busch).  They were pretty good, but I felt like a fourth or fifth-place car and that’s where we ended up, so I was really proud of the effort in making our car a lot better throughout the day.  That was really big gains that we did.”

Denny Hamlin – finished fifth: “It was okay. Our FedEx Camry got up there on a restart late in stage one. Thought we had a second or third-place car, somewhere in that range. Then we had a bad pit stop leading into the final stage and that took us back to ninth. Just kind of clawed our way back to fifth. We weren’t stellar, the last run of the day was kind of the worst run that we had. Still good enough for a top five. Pretty encouraged by that and it looked like all of our cars were running a little bit better. Hopefully this is a good sign for us.”

Kurt Busch – finished sixth: “My boys, (crew chief) Matt McCall and everybody at Ganassi, were pushing hard and apparently we didn’t pass tech like we were supposed to. So, we had to start in the back and do a drive-through (penalty). We were fifth or sixth after we came back out, but we were a lap down and had to race hard to be in the position for the lucky dog. The car was dialed in right from the start and we got our lap back early on. As the race went on, man, just loose – tight – loose – tight, and then ended up P6!”

Brad Keselowski – finished ninth: “It was an up-and-down day for us.  We kind of started off the race just a little bit too free.  We adjusted the car really well in the middle part of the race and then got too tight at the end.  We just kind of missed it a little bit.  I’m not sure exactly where I lost it, but the middle of the race I felt we were gonna win because we were so fast.  Driving through the field after I got a pit road speeding penalty, which is a real bummer.  I’m not real sure what happened there because I thought I was going slower than my lights, but apparently I wasn’t, so that kind of put us back.

“All in all, I don’t know if we could have beat (Harvick), but in the middle of the race I felt like we were right there with them.  It seemed like he was pretty good there at the end, so it just didn’t come together for us today.  Sometimes you run these races and you don’t have no practice and you say, ‘Oh, perfect.  Don’t change a thing.’  And then sometimes you run them and you don’t have practices and you say, ‘Man, if I’d have just had one practice I could have dialed it in a bit better.’  It just kind of felt the later of the two, but some lessons learned and we’ll apply them and move forward.”

Joey Logano – finished 10th: “Slick.  Atlanta.  Like normal, which is awesome and a lot of fun.  We started up front there and I was able to maintain some decent track position and then had a not-so-good restart on the top side, spinning our tires coming to the end of the first stage, which put us in a bad spot going down pit road.  We hit and crashed with a car exiting their pit box aggressively and I was already three-wide on the bottom and had to move up to not get hit on the inside and ended up getting some damage in the right-rear.  We tried to fix it and still felt like we kind of had a parachute, so we fixed it better and at that point we’re starting the final stage of the race and it’s really hard to pass.

“It was just a really good long-run car is where we were at, so those last 20 laps of the race we were hauling the mail, just a little too little too late to get back up there.  I know it feels like a long race, but I wouldn’t have minded another 100 miles to that one.  I felt like I had a really good car and something I could probably go up there and compete, especially on the long haul, maybe not the short run, but on the long haul that thing was special.  Just a little bit short.  We still got a top 10, but wish it was better.”

Austin Dillon – finished 11th: “Man, we were just one position shy of earning our third consecutive top-10 finish! I’m feeling good after the race. We’ve been putting a lot of work into our program. This No. 3 Symbicort (budesonide/formoterol fumarate dihydrate) Chevrolet team showed how much fight we have. We adjusted all day and tried our best to keep up with changing track conditions. It was frustrating because for a while it seemed like no matter what we did, we couldn’t go forward. We never gave up, though, because no matter what happens we focus forward. We pitted early during the final green-flag pit stop cycle, and that helped us gain some track position. It also meant that we had to manage tires for the last run of the race. We were able to fight our way to an 11th-place finish. I’m proud of everyone on this Richard Childress Racing team for their hard work and for hanging in there until the end.”

Alex Bowman – finished 12th: “We didn’t have the greatest day. Had some ups and downs. Started really loose and got the car better. I think the track tightened up a little bit after that. Got too tight there and got it freed back up there at the end. We tried some pit strategy which is always good to try, but at least we finished where we ran. Wish we could have been a little better, just not the greatest day for us. We just really struggled through the bumps today.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished 13th: “I thought we had a shot at a top 10 there – got some stage points. The NOS Energy Drink Camaro looked awesome on the race track and drove really good, especially at the start of the race. I felt like we lost the handle there towards the middle and just got behind. And then I ran the tires off of it at the end and gave up a couple spots. But, all-in-all, a solid effort. This JTG Daugherty Team is putting in a lot of work and it’s a lot of fun to drive this 47 car. I’m looking forward to just building on this and building on the speed that we have.”

“It was hot out there. I burned 3,150 calories to be exact. But we put in a lot of hard work at my gym. Trainer Ryan has been pushing me hard, especially during this quarantine, giving me workouts to do and been busting my butt. Rogue’s supplied me with great equipment to workout with every day. This heat – it’s hot. We’ve got a long summer ahead, but feeling good, strong and ready to go.”

Matt Kenseth – finished 15th: “A lot of challenges again today. We got some damage early, on pit road. We got some damage and lost our track position. We were trying to battle back from that. I felt like we were pretty close to being a top-10 car and got run into again near the very end, which knocked the front end out of alignment. Kind of a disappointing day, but the finish could be worse. I feel like there are some things that we improved on; we learned about our Credit One Bank Camaro, its fast, we’ve just got to put a whole race together.”

Tyler Reddick – finished 16th: “We had to grind it out today for every position we could get with our No. 8 Roland Chevrolet. We had speed during the first stage and were able to race up into the top 10, but as the stage came to an end, it felt like a tire was going down, so I slowed down to take care of the car and ended up getting shuffled back through the field. From there, it was just a challenging day. I couldn’t really run anywhere except for the bottom, and even that was tough. The car would swing from being too loose to being too tight and struggle over the bumps in Turns 3 and 4. It seemed like no matter what adjustment we made throughout the day, it just didn’t make a huge difference in the handling of our car. I know everyone on my team will study this race to try to learn what went wrong and improve for next time. We never gave up though and hung on to grab as many spots as we could, which is important as we try to fight our way into the Playoffs. I know my crew chief, Randall Burnett, has a good feel for Martinsville Speedway, so I’m looking forward to racing there on Wednesday for the first time in a long time.”

Aric Almirola – finished 17th: “We’ve got a lot of things to work on. Our Smithfield Ford Mustang was good for 25 laps before we lost position on pit road and a loose wheel put us a lap down. We couldn’t recover from that in dirty air. Atlanta is such a tough track to rebound at. If there’s one positive takeaway it’s that we remained top-12 in the point standings, so we’ll have a shot at a good starting position in Martinsville.”

Cole Custer – finished 19th:

Bubba Wallace – finished 21st: “Not the day we wanted for our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 McDonald’s Chevrolet, that’s for sure. We thought we were OK – we had that loose wheel, but all-in-all, we couldn’t get a hold of our balance. We’ll go on and go to Martinsville Speedway.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 20th: “That stunk. We were fast today, but kept burning up tires. Just disappointed. We’ll go back at it Wednesday in Martinsville.”

John Hunter Nemechek – finished 23rd: “We had a challenging day in our No. 38 YANMAR America Ford Mustang. Wish we could have had a better result for our partners at YANMAR at their home track. It was a difficult day from the start. We fired off really loose and the car just kind of stepped out on me early on. Managed to avoid contact and damage, and we kept trying to tighten up the handling, but we just couldn’t find that sweet spot.”

Michael McDowell – finished 24th: “It wasn’t the day that we wanted for our No. 34 Fr8Auctions Ford Mustang. We battled hard all day to try and tighten up our loose race car, then unfortunately got spun late in Stage 2 and lost some track position. We had to take the wave-around a few times throughout the day to get back on the lead lap and just didn’t quite have the speed that we had hoped for.”

Matt DiBenedetto – finished 25th:

Corey LaJoie – finished 27th:

Ty Dillon – finished 29th: “Long day for our GEICO Camaro team.  We started the race fast, but over time, our car just didn’t have the grip that those fast guys did. Even though we didn’t get the finish we were looking for, (crew chief) Matt (Borland) and the guys never gave up all day.  During the last green flag stop, I made a mistake, sped on pit road and then had to do a pass-through penalty.  Just a tough day overall.  We will keep digging as a team and go to Martinsville on Wednesday and look to rebound in the GEICO Hump Day Chevy.”

William Byron – finished 33rd:

2023 NASCAR, ARCA schedules

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The start of the 2023 racing season moves closer with each passing day.

Here are the Cup, Xfinity and Truck schedules (playoff races in bold), along with the ARCA, ARCA East and ARCA West schedules for the upcoming season:

2023 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

Date Race / Track Network Start Time (ET) Radio
Sunday, February 5 Clash (L.A. Memorial Coliseum) FOX 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thursday, February 16 Duel at Daytona FS1 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, February 19 DAYTONA 500 FOX 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, February 26 Auto Club FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 5 Las Vegas FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 12 Phoenix FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 19 Atlanta FOX 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 26 COTA FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 2 Richmond FS1 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 9 Bristol Dirt FOX 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 16 Martinsville FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 23 Talladega FOX 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 30 Dover FS1 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 7 Kansas FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 14 Darlington FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 21 NASCAR All-Star Race (North Wilkesboro) FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 28 Charlotte FOX 6:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, June 4 World Wide Technology Raceway FS1 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, June 11 Sonoma FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, June 25 Nashville Superspeedway NBC 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 2 Chicago Street Race NBC 5:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 9 Atlanta USA 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 16 New Hampshire USA 2:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 23 Pocono USA 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 30 Richmond USA 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 6 Michigan USA 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 13 Indianapolis Road Course NBC 2:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 20 Watkins Glen USA 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 26 Daytona NBC 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, September 3 Darlington USA 6:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, September 10 Kansas USA 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 16 Bristol USA 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, September 24 Texas USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 1 Talladega NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 8 Charlotte Roval NBC 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 15 Las Vegas NBC 2:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 22 Homestead-Miami NBC 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 29 Martinsville NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, November 5 Phoenix NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Saturday, February 18 Daytona FS1 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, February 25 Auto Club FS1 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 4 Las Vegas FS1 4:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 11 Phoenix FS1 4:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 18 Atlanta FS1 5:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 25 COTA FS1 5:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 1 Richmond FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 15 Martinsville FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 22 Talladega FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 29 Dover FS1 1:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 13 Darlington FOX 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 27 Charlotte FS1 1:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 3 Portland FS1 4:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 10 Sonoma FS1 8:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 24 Nashville Superspeedway USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 1 Chicago Street Race USA 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 8 Atlanta USA 8:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 15 New Hampshire USA 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 22 Pocono USA 5:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 29 Road America NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 5 Michigan NBC 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 12 Indianapolis Road Course USA 5:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 19 Watkins Glen USA 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, August 25 Daytona USA 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 2 Darlington USA 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 9 Kansas NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, September 15 Bristol USA 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 23 Texas USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 7 Charlotte Roval USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 14 Las Vegas USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 21 Homestead-Miami NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 28 Martinsville USA 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, November 4 Phoenix USA 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

 

2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Friday, February 17 Daytona FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, March 3 Las Vegas FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 18 Atlanta FS1 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 25 COTA FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 1 Texas FS1 4:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 8 Bristol Dirt FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, April 14 Martinsville FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 6 Kansas FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, May 12 Darlington FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 20 North Wilkesboro FOX 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, May 26 Charlotte FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 3 World Wide Technology Raceway FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, June 23 Nashville Superspeedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 8 Mid-Ohio FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 22 Pocono FS1 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 29 Richmond FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, August 11 Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 27 Milwaukee FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, September 8 Kansas FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thursday, September 14 Bristol FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 30 Talladega FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 21 Homestead-Miami FS1 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, November 3 Phoenix FS1 10:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

2023 ARCA Menards Series Schedule

  • Broadcast schedule, including event start times, will be released at a later date.
Feb. 18 Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, FL
March 10 Phoenix Raceway Avondale, AZ
April 22 Talladega Superspeedway Talladega, AL
May 6 Kansas Speedway Kansas City, KS
May 26 Charlotte Motor Speedway Concord, NC
June 17 Berlin Raceway Marne, MI
June 24 Elko Speedway Elko, MN
July 7 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Lexington, OH
July 15 Iowa Speedway Newton, IA
July 21 Pocono Raceway Long Pond, PA
Aug. 4 Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, MI
Aug. 11 Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park Brownsburg, IN
Aug. 18 Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, NY
Aug. 20 Illinois State Fairgrounds Springfield, IL
Aug. 27 The Milwaukee Mile West Allis, WI
Sept. 3 DuQuoin State Fairgrounds DuQuoin, IL
Sept. 8 Kansas Speedway Kansas City, KS
Sept. 14 Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, TN
Sept. 30 Salem Speedway Salem, IN
Oct. 7 Toledo Speedway Toledo, OH

 

2023 ARCA Menards Series East Schedule

March 25    Five Flags Speedway              Pensacola, Fla. 

April 28      Dover Motor Speedway           Dover, Del. 

May 13      Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway    Nashville, Tenn. 

May 20      Flat Rock Speedway              Flat Rock, Mich. 

July 15      Iowa Speedway                  Newton, Iowa 

Aug. 11     Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park  Brownsburg, Ind. 

Aug. 27     The Milwaukee Mile              West Allis, Wisc. 

Sept. 14    Bristol Motor Speedway           Bristol, Tenn. 

 

2023 ARCA Menards Series West Schedule

March 10    Phoenix Raceway                Avondale, Ariz. 

April 1     Irwindale Speedway               Irwindale, Calif. 

April 22    Kern County Raceway Park          Bakersfield, Calif. 

June 2      Portland International Raceway      Portland, Ore. 

June 9      Sonoma Raceway                Sonoma, Calif. 

July 1      Irwindale Speedway               Irwindale, Calif. 

July 29     Shasta Speedway                 Anderson, Calif. 

Aug. 19     Evergreen Speedway             Evergreen, Wash. 

Sept. 30    All-American Speedway            Roseville, Calif. 

Oct. 13     The Bullring at LVMS              Las Vegas, Nev. 

Oct. 21     Madera Speedway                Madera, Calif. 

Nov. 3      Phoenix Raceway                 Avondale, Ariz. 

Each ARCA Menards Series East and West stand-alone race will be streamed live on FloRacing and televised on a delayed basis on USA Network. Race start times, as well as broadcast details for combination races with the ARCA Menards Series will be announced at a later date. 

 

2022 spotlights: The Clash, the King and Martinsville Mania

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The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season brought something new (a race inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum!) and something old (a win by the No. 43!) and a lot in-between.

In many ways, it was one of NASCAR’s best seasons. There were new winners, the Next Gen car kicked up competition a bit and there was a race finish (see the Ross Chastain file) like none other in the history of the sport.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: The name game

There were downsides, too: The safety of the new car came under fire (figuratively and literally, as wheel-well flames ended more than a few rides), drivers’ seasons were interrupted or ended because of hard wrecks and some races were less than stellar.

Looking back over the February-to-November marathon, some races stand out:

Rocking the City of Angels – Despite the naysayers, the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was a roaring success. A platter of questions, including whether the purpose-built track inside the stadium would hold up under heavy stock cars and generate good racing, awaited as teams rolled into LA. The racing wasn’t sensational, but it was good, and there were no problems with the track. A huge crowd showed up, and NASCAR left town with many ideas, having proven that it could run a race on a temporary track inside a large stadium. It has escaped no one’s notice that there are many other large stadiums in the country – and, by the way, outside it.

Wiggling at Watkins Glen – The venerable New York road course produced another hot finish as teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott battled for the win. Larson forced Elliott out of the main groove and took the lead for good with five laps remaining. “I’m not proud of it, but I knew it’s what I had to do to get the win,” Larson said. Elliott didn’t publicly criticize Larson, but it was clear he wasn’t pleased with Larson’s move.

MORE: Fighting knights and pie in the sky

Six hundred miles, and then some – The long history of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 600-mile race has produced some great competition – and some races that prompted long naps. This year’s was one of the craziest and, by the way, the longest. The race went to two overtimes, finally ending after 413 laps and 619.5 miles, making it the longest race in NASCAR’s 75 years. The winner – perhaps most accurately described as the survivor – was Denny Hamlin, who outran teammate Kyle Busch over the final two laps.

The King is back…but where is he? – The Cup playoffs opened at Darlington Raceway with the storied Southern 500, but the playoffs took a back seat to other storylines. Erik Jones scored an upset win in Richard Petty’s No. 43, marking the iconic car’s first victory since 2014. Petty, however, missed the Victory Lane festivities. He and Dale Inman, the No. 43’s former crew chief, left the race early for the drive home to North Carolina. The long night held several incidents, including one involving Kevin Harvick, who criticized NASCAR after his car caught fire, uttering his now-infamous diatribe about what he called “crappy-ass parts.”

No watermelon, but a lotta juiceThe finish of the Oct. 29 playoff race at Martinsville Speedway generated international interest. Christopher Bell won in a must-win situation to advance in the playoffs, but the post-race spotlight was on Ross Chastain, who rode the outside wall through the final two turns at speeds rarely seen on the short track and finished fourth, good enough to stay in the championship hunt. Chastain’s remarkable move drew comment from observers outside NASCAR, including Formula 1 drivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 5: Memorable images from 2022 NASCAR season

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The end of the season provides a chance to look back and each year I go through the photos on my phone and find those that show the highs and lows of a sport that goes from February to November. 

Here are some of the photos that stood out for me:

1. Daytona 500 

Although the time spent in Daytona Beach, Florida, has shrunk in recent years with a more compact track schedule, the intensity remains. As do the emotions. 

Cup rookie Austin Cindric accomplished “a racer’s dream” in winning the Daytona 500, accomplishing something in his second attempt that took Darrell Waltrip 17 times and Dale Earnhardt 20 times to accomplish.

Cindric blocked teammate Ryan Blaney coming to the finish line and beat Bubba Wallace by half a car length. 

It was the second time Bubba Wallace had finished runner-up in this race. Unlike 2018, when Wallace was excited with finishing second, Wallace felt no such emotion this time. 

“2018 was awesome,” Wallace said of his runner-up result in the Daytona 500. “2022 was not awesome.

“I didn’t have a fighting chance the first time in 2018. This one being that close, it’s like a gut punch.”

The photos that stand out to me are of the picture of Cindric’s car covered in red, white and blue confetti before going through post-race inspection and the disappointment Wallace wore on pit road after the race.

Austin Cindric‘s car after winning the 2022 Daytona 500. (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

A dejected Bubba Wallace after finishing second in the 2022 Daytona 500. (Photo: Dustin Long)

2. Road America 

The Cup Series is not returning to the Wisconsin road course after two years there. Instead, this race will be replaced by the Chicago street course event in 2023.

This past season’s race was memorable. Tyler Reddick scored his first career Cup win on July 3. Nine days later came the announcement that he was leaving Richard Childress Racing for 23XI Racing in 2024 (That timetable moved up to 2023 after RCR signed Kyle Busch to replace Reddick in the No. 8.).

Among the special moments from the Road America race was Austin Cindric walking the length of pit road to victory lane to congratulate Reddick.

Austin Cindric hugs Tyler Reddick in victory lane at Road America on July 3, 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Walking with Cindric, I asked him why he was making the trip to see Reddick.

“I think of anyone in the field, he probably deserves that win more than anybody else,” Cindric told me. “I think he’s put himself in position. He’s a really likable guy, and I feel like you can see how hard he works. 

“I’ve seen him mature as a driver and a person and as a friend and a father. It’s cool to see somebody you’re close to go through that.”

When Cindric arrived in victory lane, he walked up to Reddick and gave his friend a bearhug, lifting Reddick well off the ground.

In all the excitement, Reddick’s son, Beau, was not impressed. He was sound asleep in victory lane.

Tyler Reddick’s son Beau sleeps in victory lane after his father’s first Cup win in July 2022 at Road America. (Photo: Dustin Long)

3. Special moments

One never knows what you’ll come across in a season that stretches so long through the calendar. 

These are a few such moments that proved special for one reason or the other.

As storm clouds gathered over Daytona International Speedway in February, the sun was settling, creating a sky both ominous and spectacular. The photo captures that scene as Cole Custer walks through the garage. After this season, Stewart-Haas Racing announced it was replacing Custer with Ryan Preece in the No. 41 Cup car and that Custer would run in the Xfinity Series for the team.

Cole Custer walks under an ominous sky at Daytona in February 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Another photo that stands out to me comes from the Clash at the Coliseum. There were so many questions about the exhibition race inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, such as if the specially built track would withstand the rigors of cars, what would the debut of the Next Gen car be like and would fans really be interested in such an event.

The track held up. So did most of the cars and the fans came. While not a sellout, more than 50,000 people attended the event and NASCAR noted that many had not purchased tickets to a NASCAR event before. The event was a success.

What stood out to me was the lines of people waiting to buy souvenirs the day of the race. In some places, lines stretched well away from the merchandise trailers. 

Fans stand in line for merchandise at the Clash at the Coliseum in Feb. 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Sometimes you never know what you’ll see at at event. At an event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Dale Inman and Ray Evernham all stood together. That is 18 Cup championships (eight by Inman, seven by Petty and three by Evernham).

NASCAR Hall of Famers Ray Evernham, Richard Petty and Dale Inman at the NASCAR Hall in April 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

4. New winners 

This season saw five first-time Cup winners: Austin Cindric (Daytona 500 in February), Chase Briscoe (Phoenix in March), Ross Chastain (Circuit of the Americas in April), Daniel Suarez (Sonoma in June) and Tyler Reddick (Road America in July).

I caught this scene of Suarez alone in his thoughts in the garage at Nashville Superspeedway in his first race since that Sonoma victory.

Daniel Suarez at Nashville Superspeedway in June 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

5. Martinsville

Ross Chastain’s video game move on the last lap of the playoff race was stunning. Needing two positions to advance to the championship race, Chastain put his car into fifth gear, planted his car against the wall in Turn 3, took his hands off the wheel and let the wall guide his Chevrolet around the final two turns while he floored the throttle.

Amazingly, it worked. He passed five cars and earned a spot in the championship. Although he didn’t win the Cup title, Chastain provided one of the most memorable moments of the 2022 season.

As I was leaving the infield late that Sunday night. I stopped to take a picture of the wall and the marks Chastain’s car had left on its remarkable charge.

Turn 4 wall after Ross Chastain’s video game move on the last lap of the October 2022 race. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Dr. Diandra: 2022 accidents steady, spins up 200%

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Cautions were up in 2022 despite fewer stage-end and competition cautions of any year since stage racing began. The third installment of 2022 by the numbers focuses on the causes (and causers) of cautions.

Cautions

I divide cautions into those that are planned — like competition and stage-end breaks — and so-called ‘natural’ cautions. Natural cautions include accidents, spins, stalled cars, debris or liquid on track and weather.

My first graph shows that this year’s 302 cautions are the most total cautions since 2014. That’s despite only 73 planned cautions, the fewest since stage racing started.

A stacked bar chart showing the planned and natural cautions from 2013 to 2022

The 2022 season had 43 more total cautions relative to 2021, and 57 more natural cautions than last year. That’s the most natural cautions since 2016.

Causes

Caution classification is subjective. Obviously, a car spinning is a spin and cars colliding is an accident. But if a car spins and then hits another car, is it a spin or an accident? If an accident happens at a stage break, do you record the caution as an accident or a stage break?

This year presented an even thornier problem.

The 2022 season had more blown tires and wheels coming off cars than any season I can remember. NASCAR classified some incidents arising from blown tires as debris cautions, others as accidents.

To me, a blown tire seems fundamentally different from a stray car part on the track.

The myriad tire and wheel problems prompted me to review all 302 cautions. I added three additional caution categories: wheel issues, fire and tire issues.

Tire issues were so labeled only if a blown tire preceded a crash or spin. Tires that blow because of contact with the wall or flat spotting aren’t included. If I couldn’t tell for sure that the blown tire came first, I left the caution in its original category.

My re-categorization complicates comparing cautions by category to previous years. That concern is offset by the need to set a benchmark against which to measure next year’s data.

The table below compares my breakdown of cautions with NASCAR’s for the 2022 season. I admit that I’m not totally objective, either. But I believe my categorization better reflects the overall nature of the 2022 season.

A table comparing breakdowns of cautions

The most surprising statistic is the extraordinarily large number of spins. Cup Series drivers spun between 20 and 27 times per season between 2016 and 2021. Drivers in 2022 spun 60 times.

There haven’t been that many spins since 2007, when the series recorded 66 spins. That was the first year of the Gen-5 car; however, the number of spins this year is similar to the numbers for the Gen-4 car. Fans wanted a car that was harder to drive. The spin statistics are a good argument that they’ve gotten their wish.

Drivers in accidents, spins and stalls

I treat accidents, spins, and stalls as a single category because of the questions about differentiating between them. ‘Incidents’ combines all the spins, all the accidents and all the stalls.

And remember: being involved in an incident doesn’t imply that driver caused the incident.

The graph below shows all drivers with 12 or more incidents during the 2022 season.

A stacked bar graph showing the drivers involved in the most accidents, spins and/or stalls

Remember also that this count doesn’t include wheel or tire issues. A driver crashing because a tire blew is fundamentally different from an accident or spin.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Ross Chastain were involved in the most incidents in 2022. Both drivers had 15 accidents. Stenhouse also had two spins and a stall, while Chastain had three spins. Stenhouse led in caution-causing incidents in 2021 with 17 accidents.

Kyle Busch comes in third in total incidents, and first in spins with seven. For comparison, no other driver had more than four spins.

No full-time driver evaded incidents entirely. Justin Haley was involved in the fewest: four. William Byron tallied six while Aric Almirola and Michael McDowell came in at eight each.

Cautions by race

The Coca-Cola 600 was the longest Cup Series race in history in terms of mileage. Its 18 cautions helped make it long in terms of time, too.

But longer races offer more opportunities to crash. A better metric is the number of crashes per 100 miles of racing. I removed stage and competition cautions because planned cautions don’t depend on race length.

The Bristol dirt race’s 14 cautions were the third highest total after the Coca-Cola 600 and Texas’s 16 cautions. But the dirt race was the shortest race of the season at 133.25 miles.

A vertical bar graph showing the races with the most cautions per 100 miles of racing

That gives the Bristol dirt race a whopping 9.0 natural cautions per 100 miles of racing. Last year, the Bristol dirt race was also at the top of the list with 7.4 total cautions per 100 miles of racing.

Bristol’s asphalt race had the second-most cautions per 100 miles at 3.4  The two Bristol races are followed by COTA (3.0) and Texas (2.8).

What about superspeedways?

The only superspeedway race in the top-10 cautions-per-100-miles graph is the second Atlanta race. The fall Talladega race had the fewest cautions per 100 miles this year of any oval at 0.80.

But superspeedways claim more cars per accident. The summer Daytona race featured 46 cars involved in five accidents for an average of 9.2 cars per accident. Some cars were involved in multiple accidents, which is why the total number of cars in accidents is larger than the number of cars racing.

The fall Talladega race comes in second in terms of wreckage per accident with an average of 8.0 cars. The spring Talladega race ties with the Bristol asphalt race. Both had an average of 7.0 cars per accident.

Road America had the fewest cautions of any race in 2022. With only two stage-break cautions, Road America had 0.0 natural cautions per 100 miles. Sonoma had 0.72 natural cautions per 100 miles and the Charlotte Roval 0.78.

We normally use cautions as a proxy to count accidents and spins. The problem is that not every incident causes a caution — especially at road courses. There were seven cautions for wheels coming off cars, some wheels came off on pit road. Some drivers limped their cars back to the pits after losing wheels.

And there were a lot more spins that didn’t bring out cautions.

Next week, I’ll tell you all about those.