What drivers said after Texas

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Austin Dillon – winner: “Not bad for a silver spoon kid, right? I’ll take that. (Teammate) Tyler Reddick, he raced me clean. 1-2 for RCR – this has been coming. We’ve had good cars all year. (Crew chief) Justin Alexander and my whole crew. I’m just so happy – thank God. … To tell you the truth, it means a whole lot. Just for the family, for everybody, all of our partners. That was fun. … I definitely had to earn it.

” I just had to have confidence that in the moment we had a car that had potential. It didn’t really run well in traffic. Justin and I both talked about what kind of happened in Kentucky with Cole, the way they ran. If you can get the track position at some point, you can be fast. You saw when we got out front, we had a hot rod.

“It came down to just some restarts, not screwing up, making it happen when it counted on those restarts, getting through the gears, timing them. I had some good pushing. My buddy Kurt Busch gave me a good push that first one. Joey Logano was also a lot of help down the stretch.”

Tyler Reddick — finished second: “What a great day for Richard Childress Racing. This organization is working so hard and to have a 1-2 finish like we did is incredible. It felt like we had everything happen to our No. 8 Cat Oil and Gas Chevrolet, but strategy was king today. We had good speed overall and earned some stage points at the end of the first stage, but we got shuffled back for the majority of the second stage when we took two right side tires. That really messed with the handling of our Chevrolet and trapped us a lap down for a while. There were a couple major wrecks later in Stage 3 that we were able to miss and that helped us get our lap back to be able to contend at the end. My crew chief, Randall Burnett, made a great call to take fuel only during the caution with about 30 laps to go and that put us up front for those final restarts with our teammate, Austin Dillon. We really couldn’t ask for much more than what we got today. One spot better would have been great, but the recovery this No. 8 Cat Oil and Gas team made today was huge. We’re racing for the big picture of making the playoffs, so we have to race smart. Days like this will help us get there.”

Joey Logano — finished third: “Air-pressure.  Air is what cost us there.  Air-pressure in the tires, just on the splitter too much firing off.  It took us 15 laps to get rolling.  Our long run speed was incredible, but it took too long and the guys up front were smart, they put fuel only and kept their car off the splitter in three and four over the bumps and maintained the clean air and just couldn’t do it.  I could make runs, but I’d get to three and four and start chattering up the racetrack and had these big moments.  Overall, I’m proud of what the Shell/Pennzoil Ford team did today, scoring a second-place in the second stage and a third in the finish.  It’s not a win, especially when you come to Texas and all the fans here.  Thank you guys for coming out, but it’s not the win we were hoping for as I look at the fire in Victory Lane is super-cool, but it’s progress.  We’ve had a little rough streak on these 550 races, so I’ll take it as a little bit of a momentum-builder.”

Kyle Busch — finished fourth: “It was a good finish and proud of the effort for everyone on this Interstate Batteries team. We came a long way today. We got a lot of damage on the frontend of the car that you can’t see with the eye. Going through the grass, it killed it. I thought early on in the first stage, second stage maybe that we had a second-place car and then as the day went, we just kept getting further and further behind. Still a lot of work to do. The car didn’t drive very good at all. Just was able to get something out of nothing there at the end. We’ll go to Kansas and see if we can get a win there.”

Kevin Harvick — finished fifth: “The cars were just so bad in traffic, ours was anyway — our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang. The guys did a good job of putting us in a position and doing all the things we needed to try because we got in a wreck there and had to fix the car and put tires on it and the tires just didn’t mean anything. There were a couple of slower cars out there and no one could pass them. Just really proud of our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang guys for the day and all the fight that had in them. We got a top-five out of it. You always want to win here, but it is what it is.”

Erik Jones — finished sixth: “It was kind of a weird day. I thought the Craftsman Camry was decent all day long and had good speed at times when we could get some clean air and make some passes here and there. It was kind of a struggle to make some of those passes. It was challenging there towards the end with the short runs and the restarts. Our car really took 15 laps or so to get rolling so that kind of hurt us at the end, but we’ll take it. Sixth place isn’t too bad. We needed a solid run and mistake free and that’s what we did. I thought coming into this race if we could just go in and have no mistakes and have decent speed we could run top-five and we came real close to that. We have to keep doing that. Obviously, we need to get some points, especially with two winners the last two weeks that have been from outside the Playoff picture. That kind of changes things for us. We’ll keep rolling, but a decent day for us.”

Ryan Blaney — finished seventh: “It was a strong start to the day.  We were able to start on the front row and get the lead there.  We pitted on the competition caution, which I thought was a good call, and that inherited us the lead later and was able to win us that stage with just being fast and being able to make up all the time.  Then we were able to do the same thing in the second stage, and I thought we had a good strategy for the last stage and the caution came out maybe eight to ten laps before all the other guys that were on the different strategy would have had to pit, so that just stunk.  We had to take the wave around and lined up 15th or something and could only get back to seventh in that short amount of time.  It’s a disappointing finish, for sure.  We had a dominant car all day, especially on long runs, but really proud of that and just unfortunate with the way it ended for us.”

Kurt Busch — finished eighth: “We had one of our best points days so far this season with the Monster Energy Camaro. We scored stage points in the first and second stages, followed by another top-10 result. I really battled a loose handling car all day, it was really difficult on the restarts and short-runs, so I really had to work my butt off there at the end with all the cautions”.

Brad Keselowski — finished ninth: “We started off really struggling and took us a little while to figure out what was wrong and about a little before halfway we made some adjustments and the car was just hitting the racetrack really bad and I couldn’t make any speed.  I had to slow down a bunch in the corners, so we worked on that under yellow and kind of gave up our track position working on it and was able to work the cycle to get back up towards the lead, but still didn’t quite have enough speed.  So we worked on it again some more and got up to right about fifth and sixth and that was about all we had.  We ended up the last restart and got the bottom lane and fell back a spot or two to I think ninth, but, all in all, a decent finish.  It’s not the day we were hoping for, but a decent finish and we keep piling in on the top 10s and top fives, which is a good feeling.  Our strategy has been really good.  Jeremy and I are really clicking on all of those things, just looking to be a little bit faster.  If we can combine our execution with a little more speed, we’re gonna be a serious threat to win week in and week out.  We’re just not quite there yet.”

Aric Almirola — finished 10th: “Man. One of these days we’ll get everything to go our way. That was my fault on the penalty, but we had such a fast car and got it back in position to compete for a win again before that caution came out. We’re still bringing fast Smithfield Ford Mustangs every weekend and we learned a lot for when we come back here and compete for a championship.”

Clint Bowyer — finished 11th: “That was a hot, tough day for sure. We worked hard all race trying to get our Rush Truck Centers Ford to turn better and the guys did a great job fixing our damage from the wreck. I didn’t know if we were going to finish because our engine temperature was so hot. They got it cooled down and we made it to the end with a good finish.”

Bubba Wallace — finished 14th: “A top-15 day for the Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Cash App Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE team at the Texas Motor Speedway – a long, hot day that’s for sure. Proud of the efforts from our team. Cash App was on the car for the first time, so that was cool. We got Cash App a really good first finish. I thought we had a chance there. If that last caution had not come out, we maybe could have held on for a top-10 finish. But all-in-all, a great effort. Good bounce back from our last two weeks and we’ll just keep pushing to get our cars better. Shoutout again to Cash App for jumping on-board. Being a part of the sport, how cool is that? Get them their first top-15 finish and go onto the Kansas Speedway. We’ll see what we got there.”

Michael McDowell — finished 15th: “That was a long and hot day at Texas Motor Speedway. I’m really proud of my team; they did a great job. We started off really rough and the car was bouncing really bad over the bumps through Turns 3 and 4, but luckily Drew and the guys were able to work on it and get some good adjustments in; move some packer around and finally get it to where the car stopped bouncing and we were okay. From there, we were able to get back on the lead lap and come out with a Top-15. We battled hard today for 500 miles and got a good finish.”

Matt Kenseth — finished 18th: “The results unfortunately don’t show it, but the No. 42 team worked really hard today to get the McDonald’s Chevy in a position to be competitive. We started the race way too loose and it was really hard to make any passes with the car handling that way. Chad (Johnston) and the guys kept working on it, and the handling got much better during the second stage, which allowed us to race up to just outside the top-10 at the end of the second stage. We were in a good spot to start the final stage, but got some damage that affected the handling when we were caught up in that big wreck on the frontstretch. We worked as hard as we could following the damage to make the most of our day, so, proud of the team for all the effort today.”

Daniel Suarez — finished 23rd: “I want to thank everyone for all the effort today. Our Toyota Certified Used Vehicles Camry was turning pretty good the last part of the race, but it was a struggle to find grip all day, especially in traffic. We got a respectable finish out of it, but obviously we know where we’re at and we know we need to just keep working. We have a lot of work to do.”

Alex Bowman — finished 30th: “That was not the way that we needed to finish Texas. We struggled some, but overall, our ChevyGoods.com/Adam’s Polishes team was good today. Our team worked really hard on the car today and the changes during our pit stops. We were in the wrong place at the wrong time, but we will move on to Kansas this week.”

Ty Dillon — finished 35th: “I’m bummed the way today ended for my Germain Racing team. Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 1LE was really good. We battled being loose at the start of a run, but it would get better and better as the laps clicked away. My guys worked extremely hard to turn this car around from Kentucky and we were putting ourselves in position to have another solid finish. My car jumped out on me under the No. 24 and I hate it for William and his guys too. I had a little damage on the left rear and just wasn’t expecting the car to jump out on me like that. We will rebound and get after it in Kansas on Thursday. On to the next one.”

William Byron – finished 37th: “(How hard will it be to make the playoffs?) Honestly, it’s going to be tough. We just have to find speed first. We’re not really running good at all and we’ve got to figure that out. Obviously, the 13 (Ty Dillon) got up into us there and took us out, but we were pretty far back anyway. Thanks to Axalta and everybody on the team. We’ve just got to figure it out and figure it out quick before the fall.”

Cole Custer – finished 39th: “(It looked like a chain-reaction incident, right?) Yeah, I mean it’s always one of the most humbling sports you can be a part of — winning last week and part of a wreck this week.  I was on the brakes as hard as I could and then the 19, I think, came down from hitting the wall.  It’s just one of those things where you couldn’t go anywhere.  It felt bad.  I thought we were getting our Haas Automation Mustang better as the day went and was trying to keep up with the racetrack, but didn’t really have much to show for it.  I thought we would have ended up pretty good right there.”

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NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

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Photo: Dustin Long
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Pilot error played a key role in the August 2019 crash of a plane carrying Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his family, a final report by the National Transportation Safety Board stated Wednesday.

Earnhardt, wife Amy and daughter Isla were on board the plane, which crashed after a hard landing at Elizabethton (Tennessee) Municipal Airport on Aug. 15, 2019. The report stated all three suffered minor injuries. 

The NTSB listed the probable causes of the accident as: “The pilot’s continuation of an unstabilized approach despite recognizing associated cues and the flight crew’s decision not to initiate a go-around before touchdown, which resulted in a bounced landing, a loss of airplane control, a landing gear collapse, and a runway excursion. Contributing to the accident was the pilot’s failure to deploy the speedbrakes during the initial touchdown, which may have prevented the runway excursion, and the pilot’s attempt to go around after deployment of the thrust reversers.”

A “go-around” occurs when a pilot pulls out of a landing and gains altitude to make another landing attempt.

The report stated that “the flight crew made several comments about the airplane flying too fast and allowed the airspeed to increase well above the reference speed for the approach.”

The report stated that “the pilot did not extend the speedbrakes upon touchdown, which landing checklist required, but instead attempted to deploy the thrust reversers immediately after touchdown, which was a later item on the landing checklist.”

Earnhardt’s Cessna 680A Citation Latitude bounced twice upon landing as it traversed the 5,001-foot runaway.

After the fourth touchdown, the right main landing gear collapsed. The plane went off the road and through a 400-foot long area of grass. It went down an embankment, through a creek and a chain-link fence. It continued up an embankment. The plane came to rest about 600 feet beyond the runway at the edge of a four-lane highway.

The passengers and two pilots escaped as the plane burned.

The full report can be read here.

Champion or not, Chase Briscoe won’t let Xfinity title define season

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Like the 11 drivers he’ll compete against in the Xfinity Series playoffs, a championship is the endgame for Chase Briscoe.

However, with the Stewart-Haas Racing driver one win from matching his preseason goal of at least eight victories, Briscoe wouldn’t be too disappointed if he failed to claim the title at the end of the seven-race playoff.

“I feel like to this point if we don’t get to eight (wins) … I feel like I accomplished or proved what I was trying to say at the beginning of the year,” Briscoe told NBC Sports on Tuesday. “There’s still no reason why we can’t get to 10 wins. I feel 100% confident in my team that we’re going to have the cars capable of doing it, I just need to do my job. If we do that, hopefully we can get to Phoenix and then (whoever’s) the best team once we get there wins.”

As he prepares to open the playoffs Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN), Briscoe is wary of not letting “the championship define you and define your season. … Winning races is a big deal. That’s what you get paid to do is go win races and obviously win championships as well, but today’s format anything can happen in that final race.”

Briscoe can attest to importance of winning races. He enters the playoff with a series-leading seven wins, which has helped him start the postseason with 2,050 points and ties him with Austin Cindric.

Briscoe’s impressive numbers come a year after he had just one win in a season where Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell and Cole Custer combined to win 21 of 33 races.

Briscoe believes the perception of his abilities as a driver are “way different” from last year as he struggled to chase those three drivers now competing in Cup.

“Personally, I felt like I could win races, and I think a lot of it was learning,” Briscoe said. “Last year, there were still a lot of tracks I had never been to before and didn’t even have 100 pavement starts in my entire career, and now I have that experience. I have the confidence to go with it and all of those things are totally different, and when I said what I said at the beginning of the year (about winning eight races) I felt like I was capable of doing that.

“If I could back it up, it would look even better. … I think I’ve proven my worth in this sport. I feel like if I do get the opportunity to move up, I feel like I’m ready, but I also feel like I could get a lot of benefit out of coming back to the Xfinity Series and running again.”

Briscoe, a Ford development driver, says he still doesn’t know what’s in store for him in 2021.

He said the uncertainty of his future is a “little bit easier” to handle compared to last year because of the wins he’s racked up.

Regardless of not knowing his NASCAR fate, if Briscoe can “somehow get to 10 wins this year and win the championship, then that would just make it, I feel like, a lot easier for the decision-makers.”

Mike Wallace’s appeal of indefinite suspension denied

NASCAR suspends Mike Wallace
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Mike Wallace‘s indefinite suspension by NASCAR was upheld by the National Motorsports Appeals Panel on Wednesday.

Wallace, who has made three Xfinity Series starts this season, was suspended Sept. 10 for violating Sections 12.1; 12.8; 12.8.1.e of the rule book.

According to the rulebook, a violation of section 12.8.1.e is any “Public statement and/or communication that criticizes, ridicules, or otherwise disparages another person based upon that person’s race, color, creed, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, marital status, religion, age, or handicapping condition.”

As part of the suspension, Wallace is required by NASCAR to attend sensitivity training.

The three-member appeals panel was made up of Dixon Johnston, Bill Lester and Kevin Whitaker.

Wallace has the right to appeal the decision to the National Motorsports Final Appeals Officer.

Wallace wrote the following on Facebook shortly after his suspension was originally announced:

“You know as I fly across the United States today I’m ready various people’s political views and I have to say a famous four star Military General that I spent time with in the MidEast told me Mike let me give you some advice don’t ever get in a conversation about politics or religion unless you are really smart. I said why do you say that comment His response it’s like being balanced on a single edge razor blade if you slip you will get cut!

Think about that before we all make foolish uneducated post! Moral of this story is most of use just repeat what we have heard we really don’t know.
Have a great positive day!”

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.