Taylor Moyer set to crew chief doubleheader for Dale Jr., Daniel Hemric

Dale Jr.
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When NASCAR announced the Xfinity Series would hold a doubleheader this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, crew chief Taylor Moyer’s reaction wasn’t necessarily an enthusiastic one.

The 32-year-old crew chief for JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet wouldn’t only be preparing for a doubleheader. He would be preparing for a doubleheader with two different drivers.

The first would be the “Boss Man,” Moyer’s nickname for team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., set to make his lone start of the year Saturday. The driver for Sunday’s race is former Cup Series driver Daniel Hemric.

In his second year working on the No. 8 car, Moyer wasn’t even concerned about having to come up with two different setups for the No. 8 car.

He was worried about seats.

“I had nine drivers last year and I’ve got three this year (Earnhardt, Hemric and Jeb Burton) and the way we did the nine last year, other than the Boss Man, everybody ran the same seat shell,” Moyer told NBC Sports. “We run a (Hendrick Motorsports) carbon fiber seat shell, and it’s mounted in the same place in the car and everybody got poured for a custom insert. So interior swaps are very easy. We have a great interior guy at the shop, but even we could do it. You pull out one insert, you put in the other one, you adjust the steering wheel, the steering column … You swap out the steering wheel for whatever size wheel they want. And you put pedal extensions on. So we have that down to a science.”

Unfortunately, that science only applies under normal circumstances in a normal season. This year has been anything but that, with the doubleheader at Miami the latest NASCAR oddity in a COVID-19 world.

Saturday’s race is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox) and Sunday’s is scheduled for Noon ET (FS1).

While Moyer’s team can switch out car setups in roughly 15 minutes, switching from Earnhardt’s seat shell to Hemric’s isn’t so easy. With the inclusion of taking a brake assembly apart, it’s a process that will take roughly two hours.

Daniel Hemric (left) with crew chief Taylor Moyer.(HHP/Alan Marler)

“The Boss Man’s seat shell was custom built for him when he was at Hendrick back when I was there,” Moyer said. “He sits in a very a unique seat position. Sits real low, leans way back, like laying back in the car, kind of like his dad. He sits with his legs very wide open. His is a very, very different seat shell than all my other guys are on. And I know changing a seat shell, with all the componentry that goes with it, is probably out of the question for Homestead with the time they’re giving us to change, it has to be the same car.”

When the team had Hemric try out Earnhardt’s seat shell, Moyer said “his feet wouldn’t touch the pedals even though Dale’s not that much taller.”

The team poured Hemric a one-time insert for Earnhardt’s shell and then added pedal extensions and a new throttle pedal assembly and other “little Daniel idiosyncrasies.”

“Then luckily NASCAR’s letting us bring a couple additional crew members to the track and one of which is our interior guy from the shop, but that was the biggest concern,” Moyer said of the seat shell swap. “It wasn’t set up or anything like that, it was how do I physically in the time allotted let both drivers be safe and comfortable in the race car.”

Then Moyer can worry about the races. What difficulties are there in preparing two setups for two drivers who will be racing in different parts of the day?

“Maybe we over simplify it, but I don’t worry about stuff I can’t control,” Moyer said. “When we ended up racing Darlington a day later (due to rain), you can’t control the weather. Who knows when the races will actually fire off. So it all boils down to both guys. I was blessed to work with Dale a lot when he was at (Hendrick). I was the test engineer for that team. So I’ve tested a lot at Homestead with Dale. I feel like he loves to rip the wall. And I just want to put a car underneath him that’s very predictable out of the truck that he feels like he can put everywhere and is in complete control.

“Even if we don’t unload lightning fast, like he has to be a little tightened up so we don’t have it slip out from underneath him. I think confidence off the truck for him will be key. I’m using a little bit of what I know from last year working with him as his crew chief at Darlington. I know as the race goes, if he is passing cars and he is in a good mood it is lights out. It’s easy. I know if I miss it off the truck or I make the car too loose, and it’s slipping and sliding it’s gonna be much more of a chore than just freeing up a little bit if I’m too tight off the truck. With Daniel, we’re just gonna pick up where we left off at Atlanta.”

Saturday’s race will be Moyer’s second working with Earnhardt after he directed Earnhardt’s run last year at Darlington. But Moyer and Hemric have seven races together this season. They’ve finished sixth or better in the last four races, including a fourth-place finish at Atlanta.

“You have the differences of the pure little things of setup that one of us likes and one doesn’t,” Hemric said Thursday in a Zoom press conference. “I think Taylor and our engineers … they’ve done a great job of trying to get us to where we feel like our baseline is gonna suit both of us. Obviously, for me I get to be a part of the team and be very integrated into the process for the race on Saturday and as that happens, I think it will be enough for us to lean on.

“Dale’s a very practical race car driver and a guy when you look at what works and what doesn’t and I think he believes in the direction that we’ve chosen to go down for his race and hopefully it’s close enough where we can just fine tune it for myself.”

Moyer will have two goals this weekend: to get his boss and NASCAR’s 15-time most popular driver one more win and to get Hemric his first NASCAR national series victory.

Which provides the most pressure for the sophomore crew chief?

“That’s a tough one,” Moyer said. “I’m sure Junior Nation would carve my face into a tree somewhere, maybe as a monument if I get Dale another win. But I think Daniel is a good friend of mine now. We spend a lot of time together. And I want to see the kid win. Whether it’s me crew chiefing or not.  He’s a super strong talent. And I don’t know, he’s got six seconds now and man, he’s right on the cusp.”

 

Saturday NASCAR schedule at Talladega Superspeedway

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Both the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series will race Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway.

Cup cars will start the day’s action by qualifying for Sunday’s playoff race, followed by the Truck playoff race and then the Xfinity playoff race.

Talladega Superspeedway (Cup, Xfinity and Truck)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Sunny. High of 78.

Saturday, Oct. 1

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 9:30 a.m. — Truck Series
  • 1 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.