What drivers said after Daytona road course race

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Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s inaugural Daytona road course race for the Cup Series:

Chase Elliott — Winner: “Our guys did a phenomenal job. We just had a phenomenal car. I don’t think I did anything very special today. I think Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) and all our guys did a really good job pitting there at the start. We made a couple really small adjustments, I felt like, there, at that first stop and I was really kind of able to leave it after that. So, I just appreciate everybody that makes this happen. … Just thanks to all our partners and Chevrolet. I spent a lot of time with them this past week. A special thanks to Jordan Taylor and Boris Said for reaching out and being willing to help this weekend; some road course ringers. I tried to lean on them and luckily everything worked out.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 2nd: “I just would have liked to have stayed closer to him (Chase Elliott) to put a little pressure on entries. My entries were the strong point against him, but I was giving him four car lengths so he could kind of drive the entries the way he wanted to make sure he got a good exit. I wasn’t quite clean enough the last few laps, but I definitely gave myself a chance. Those last couple corners, I felt like I did as much as I could to get to him and tried to do it the right way.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 3rd: “Thought we had a chance to win, no doubt about it. Just got caught speeding on pit road. Had to go to the rear and then got damage so we had to go to the rear again. We passed a lot of cars that last run. I know we had the speed at the end there, we were faster than anyone. Just ran out of time, but that’s how it goes. Proud of everybody on the team and still feeling really good about these road courses.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 4th: “Good job to everyone on my No. 48 Ally Chevy team. I just lacked that rear grip at the end there. That was a really fun and a solid day, that’s what we needed and now we go to my favorite track – Dover. So proud of Chase, what a road racer he is.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 5th: “That was just a fun day for our Fastenal Ford Mustang team. We needed that after a couple of hard weeks. Some decent runs and some bad luck and that was fun. I was able to mix it up and steadily work our way forward. We kept learning as we went and there at the end we got beat up. All four corners of this Mustang are beat up but we got the finish out of it. That was a good one. A good day.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 6th: “We did what we needed to do today. We had a great Mobil 1 Ford. I thought it was going to be even better there at the end, but we must have gotten hot. (William Byron) got me on the restart and then another car got by me. If I didn’t have anything to lose there I might have been able to get a few more back. But that was a good points day. I hope we are on a roll and we continue this at Dover.”

Kaz Grala — Finished 7th: “I never thought my NASCAR Cup Series debut would come in this nature. I first want to say that I’m thankful that Austin’s symptoms are mild and that his wife Whitney and baby Ace are healthy. I hope to see him back in the car next week at Dover International Speedway. It certainly was an honor to get the call from Richard Childress and drive his iconic No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet. I honestly had a blast. These Cup cars have so much power, which I really enjoyed. Today exceeded my expectations. My goal was to come in today, run all the laps, not tear anything up, and get a top-30 finish so this is certainly far above my wildest dreams. Justin Alexander called an excellent strategic race, which really helped us get up there and compete inside the top 20 most of the day. We were able to lead laps in my NASCAR Cup Series debut, and it was fun to mix it up with some of my childhood heroes. Before the last caution, I made a bold, three-wide move on a restart, which got us a ton of positions. I don’t really know what I was thinking, but it worked and put us around 12th. We were in pretty good shape with some fresher tires than the guys ahead of us and opted to stay out under the last caution. We were able to pick off a few more of those guys to finish comfortably inside the top 10.”

WILLIAM BYRON — Finished 8th: “It was a good result for us today. We chose to go for the stage points and had to pass our way through the field a few times because of that strategy. I think we did a nice job of that and getting a lot of those available points. Once we got towards the front top five we kind of stalled out though. Overall, I’m pretty happy with today and getting a good result. We just need to have a couple good weeks with solid races when we go on to Dover for two races and back to Daytona. I’m looking forward to Dover next week for sure though.”

Joey Logano — Finished 9th: “We are starting to get some consistency which is good. We tried some interesting strategy stuff today. It didn’t work but we were able to recover for a top 10. Overall, we know what we need to work on for the Roval with our Mustang and we will go to work. (Chase Elliott) obviously has been really good at these road courses, especially with this tire. We have to find some rear drive. That is where he was beating everybody. We will go to work and try to find it.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 10th: “It was a decent day. We had high hopes which is good. You should come to places like this where we have a lot of experience and track knowledge. Unfortunately we started really deep in the field and we were able to drive up to the top 10 there before the end of the first stage and then we talked about it and it was all about trying to win a race for us. We didn’t try to get stage points. We came in with a few laps to go and we were able to get into the top five and get to third. I saw those rain clouds coming and I thought that was exactly what I needed. I was hoping that it would rain because I have experience on this course in the rain and the others guys don’t really. We lost a little bit there at the end and got passed by guys that had fresher tires. We still managed to get in the top six or seven and then that caution came out with five to go. We knew we weren’t going to beat Chase and those guys up front on the same tires so we just took tires.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 12th: “That wasn’t a whole lot of fun. Started the race and tried to work our way through there and go through a cycle of green-flag pit stops and then had a flat left rear. We didn’t hit anything, so that was a big bummer. We had to pit again and then went a lap down, so we had to come back from that. We passed a lot of cars and got the lucky dog and then had to start in the back again for the third time. We drove up to 11th there before the last caution. We just had the wrong restart lane and couldn’t really go. We were down on forward drive, but pretty good by ourselves. Proud of this Axalta team for how they recovered, but a bummer to lose those four spots on that last lap.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 13th: “We were able to rally at the end and pick up a few spots. Our Wabash Ford took off pretty good but the longer runs were a struggle.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 14th: “I really enjoyed the day today, the track was a fun challenge for us. (Crew chief) Matt McCall did a nice job making adjustments on the Monster Energy Camaro, but we burned up the tires on the last longer run and just had to play a little defense in the end. It was a really fun track and I had some fun out there today, I just didn’t have enough in the end.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 18th: “Man, the Daytona International Speedway road course is tough, but our No. 8 Cat App Chevrolet team kept after it, and we were able to continue to get better throughout the day. I spent a lot of time on the Chevrolet simulator before this weekend to help prepare, but there was still a big learning curve during the first stage of this race. I struggled with some wheel hop in Stage 1, but we were able to make some adjustments before Stage 2 started to help fight that. I got more comfortable with the course as the race went on and had better drive off to fight for positions. The red flag actually helped me a little bit since I was able to cool off a little bit and review some SMT data with my crew chief, Randall Burnett. We made a fuel only stop just before Lap 50, which helped me get some good track position. Unfortunately, that final yellow came out with six laps to go, and we had to pit for four fresh tires. I got boxed in on that final stop, so that hurt our restart spot, but I was able to get our No. 8 Cat App Chevrolet back into the top 20 before the checkered flag came out. Not the day we wanted, but we maximized what we could and have three more shots to get into the playoffs, so our fight isn’t over yet.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 20th: “Strong battle for us today. Our GEICO For Your Boat Chevrolet was really strong at the beginning of the race. We battled our way up to 16th and then fell back to 30th right before that final stage. We fought real hard and ended up with another top-20 finish. It was a hot day inside the race car and a hot one outside. I’m proud of our effort and we kept it on track for the first time at the Daytona road course.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 24th: “We started to gain momentum there at the end and thought we could have put the Go Bowling Ford Mustang inside the top 10. Unfortunately, that caution came out and we pitted. I was caught behind some cars on the restart with nowhere to go. That’s road course racing. Not the day we wanted, but we kept the car on the track and in one piece. We’ll regroup and go to Dover where we know we can bring speed.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished 25th: “That was not the finish that our Richard Petty Motorsports team wanted. Going into it, I thought I would finish, but to say that the No. 43 DoorDash Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE and Bubba Wallace would be top-10 finish at a road course on the last lap – man, I never would have thought it. Hats off to my guys – they never gave up on me and brought all the confidence.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 27th: “There was some good mixed with some things our CommScope Toyota struggled with on the road course today. We did the best we could. I thought the balance of the car was pretty good. We just couldn’t find the forward bite we needed to be a little more competitive. Our brakes got pretty hot  in the middle part of the race and that hurt us, too. Overall, I think it was a good learning experience for when we go to the ‘roval’ at Charlotte in a couple of months.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 31st: “It was a long day for the Advance Auto Parts team. With the new qualifying draw, we started deep in the field, but really had to work our way forward. I sped on pit road that really cost us and I was not able to hold on the old tires late. We’ll put it behind us and get ready for Dover.”

John Hunter Nemechek — Finished 35th: “It was a really hot, really tough day for our No. 38 Death Wish Coffee Ford Mustang. There was an issue with the cool box and I ended up having to shut it off towards the beginning of the race, which meant it was extra hot inside the car. We made some adjustments throughout the day to give me more front turn and drive off, but unfortunately our day ended just shy of the checkered flag. Really proud of my crew for sticking with it all day long.”

Brendan Gaughan — Finished 39th: “That isn’t quite what we wanted here today. I spent the first half of the race just trying to feel out the race car, and get to the points that I like on the course. After the red flag, we finally got our car where we wanted and started to move up. We were getting close to that top 15 and I made a mistake. I don’t normally miss shifts but I missed two shifts to fourth (gear) and over revved the motor. When I did I lost fourth gear. We were here in Daytona to run well on this road course – not have to change the transmission just to go back out there and run around 20 laps down. We will be back here in two weeks and see if we can get a good one for the old No. 62 Beard Oil Chevy.”

Brandon Brown hopes to shed underdog role in Xfinity playoffs

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Brandon Brown knows the odds are against him advancing beyond the first round of the Xfinity playoffs.

“If I went out and we did a survey and we asked 1,000 NASCAR fans to create a playoff bracket, I guarantee that 90 to 99 percent of them have me getting eliminated in the first round,” he told NBC Sports.

But that’s not stopping him.

Brown is in the Xfinity playoffs for the first time, earning the final spot last weekend with his family-run team. He enters Saturday’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) last in the 12-driver field. Brown has 2,000 points and is 10 points behind Ross Chastain, who holds the final transfer spot, entering the first round.

MORE: Saturday’s Xfinity race start time, lineup, forecast

Regardless where he is in the standings, Brown still met the team’s preseason goal of making the playoffs.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” the 27-year-old said of making the playoffs. “It’s so exciting and so thrilling. We’re just happy. Life is good. We’re seeing the fruits of our labor.”

Much of the Xfinity playoff focus will be on Chase Briscoe, who enters with a series-high seven wins. Or Austin Cindric, who won the regular-season title. Or Justin Allgaier, who has won three of the last seven races and could be the favorite if he makes it to the championship race at Phoenix Raceway.

Brown, who is in his second full season in the series, has four consecutive top-20 finishes going into this weekend. He knows the challenge he faces.

He said a key for this weekend is to have no mistakes, be running at the end and try to take advantage of any mistakes other playoff drivers have.

Then, he’ll look to Talladega. He’ll have an upgraded Earnhardt Childress Racing engine for that race, the team spending the extra money for the engine upgrade.

“I go into that track with confidence,” he said. “I need to go out there and make it happen, go win and make an name and go ahead and punch my ticket.”

While Brown knows most look at him as the underdog of these playoffs, he hopes to drop that title someday.

“The goal will be to get rid of that underdog title and to build that program that is going to be looked on as a powerhouse of the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” he said. “I enjoy the ride (as underdog), but now I’m ready to advance past it.”

Points entering Xfinity playoffs 

2,050 – Chase Briscoe

2,050 – Austin Cindric

2,033 – Justin Allgaier

2,025 – Noah Gragson

2,020 – Brandon Jones

2,018 – Justin Haley

2,014 – Harrison Burton

2,010 – Ross Chastain

2,002 – Ryan Sieg

2,002 – Michael Annett

2,001 – Riley Herbst

2,000 – Brandon Brown

First Round races

Sept. 26 – Las Vegas Motor Speedway (7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 3 – Talladega Superspeedway (4:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN)

Oct. 10 – Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC)

Saturday Las Vegas Xfinity race: Start time, TV channel

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The NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs get underway with the Saturday Xfinity race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The race is the first of seven to determine the champion.

Chase Briscoe is on the pole after his win last weekend at Bristol

Here is all the info for the Saturday Las Vegas Xfinity race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 7:38 p.m by Cup driver Bubba Wallace. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 7:47 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 1 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 7:20 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7:30 p.m. by Motor Racing Outreach Chaplain, Billy Mauldin. The national anthem will be performed by Mackenzie Mackey at 7:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.

TV/RADIO: Coverage begins on NBCSN with Countdown to Green at 7 p.m. Race broadcast begins at 7:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage will begin at 7 p.m.. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App. Click here for the link.

FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for clear skies with a high of 95 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Chase Briscoe beat Ross Chastain and Austin Cindric at Bristol.

LAST RACE AT LAS VEGAS: Chase Briscoe beat Austin Cindric and Ryan Sieg for the win.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

General Motors announces leadership for technical center

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General Motors has announced the leadership for its new performance and racing technical center in Concord, North Carolina.

GM has tapped Dr. Eric Warren of Richard Childress Racing to be the director of NASCAR operations at the facility, which was unveiled in January.

Warren will be responsible for competition duties for NASCAR programs, “as well as expanding the involvement of GM’s product development resources in the technical strategy for the Chevrolet race teams,” GM said in a statement.

GM’s 75,000-square-foot facility will feature Driver-in-the-Loop simulators, vehicle simulation, aero development and other practices designed to advance racing and production capabilities.

Warren had been RCR’s Chief Technology Officer since 2017 and part of the team since 2012.

GM also named Mark Stielow to its new Director of Motorsports Competition Engineering position. Stielow will be responsible for overall engineering and technical direction for the NHRA, IndyCar, IMSA and Motorsports Operations. He will have a direct link to GM’s vehicle integration organization.

Charlotte Roval to host limited number of fans

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Charlotte Motor Speedway will host fans for its NASCAR Xfinity and Cup races and its IMSA race on the Roval Oct. 10-11, the track announced Friday.

The announcement comes after North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper stated this week that outdoor sports venues with a capacity in excess of 10,000 could have up to 7% capacity.

The track stated that because of the limited capacity allowed, no additional tickets will be sold for the Oct. 11 Cup playoff race. Remaining ticket holders will have the option to receive a 120% credit toward a 2021 event or a refund for the full purchase amount.

Tickets remain for the Oct. 10 Xfinity playoff race and the IMSA WeatherTech  SportsCar GT Championship Series event. Adult tickets are $50. Tickets are available by calling 800-455-FANS (3267) or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com. Kids 13 and under get in free.

“Throughout the summer, we’ve been working with local and state officials to bring fans to the Bank of America Roval 400 weekend for what promises to be one of the season’s most anticipated events,” said Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter in a statement. “While we regret that we cannot accommodate every fan who would like to be part of this spectacular race weekend, we are committed to providing the best and safest experience possible for those who are able to attend.”

Among the safety protocols for the events:

  • Mandatory temperature checks at entry gates
  • Contactless ticketing
  • Socially distanced grandstand seating
  • Cashless souvenir and concession purchases.
  • Fans and staff must wear approved face coverings at all times, except while eating and drinking.
  • Limited grandstand seating will be in groups of up to six people properly socially distant from any other group.

Fans can bring food and unopened beverages in a soft-sided clear bag no larger than 14 inches on its longest side. To limit contact, cash will not be accepted.