What drivers said after Texas

0 Comments

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.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

HELIO’S ‘DAYS OF THUNDER’ MOMENT: Recalling a memorable 2022 victory drive through the smoke

“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Though Castroneves is out, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported that Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing still is considering IndyCar driver Conor Daly for its seat.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

0 Comments

A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”

Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals

0 Comments

Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

MORE: Chase Briscoe signs contract extension with Stewart-Haas

Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension

0 Comments

Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

MORE: A better way to determine the Cup champion?

Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.