What drivers said after Saturday’s Cup race at Dover

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Denny Hamlin – Winner: “I’ve been running down the leaders these last few weeks, but I haven’t been able to get there. We just didn’t control that restart there and we just had to battle back. We had to go back and get it. I was able to work the top line there a little bit to get the momentum. It looked like our car was just a little bit better at moving around to different lines. Proud of this whole FedEx Office team. This Camry was fast today. It was just unbelievable how good it was. The pit crew did an amazing job. Have to thank all the partners – Toyota, Coca-Cola, the Jordan Brand, FedEx and all the employees, I appreciate them. Win 43, this is pretty awesome.”

(What does it mean to finally win at Dover after 29 starts?) “People always ask what your least favorite track is and I say Dover just because I’m not that good. I love the track, I just haven’t been very good here. We just have unbelievable cars right now. It seems like we’re coming to the race track prepared. I’m putting the work in and we’re getting results out of it.”

Martin Truex Jr. – finished 2nd: “Really, I think if the 10 (Aric Almirola) car just wasn’t pinning on the bottom in front of me I would have been fine. Every time I tried to move up and get some air on my car, he would just slide up in front of me like an idiot. He’s the reason we lost the lead, but in the end we just weren’t good enough. I thought the 11 (Denny Hamlin) was better than us all day long. We got the lead there in the pits and was able to use clean air to our advantage. I was never happy with the car all day long. The SiriusXM Camry was fast, but the balance was all over the place. It was firing off tight and getting loose on long runs. At the end, just nothing I could do. It was out of control, sideways.”

Kyle Busch – finished 3rd: Top-three – the Interstate Batteries Camry was strong there. I was following (Martin) Truex Jr. there for a little while on that last restart and we kept fading. Kept fading loose and then we came in for our final pit stop and the damn car went four numbers tight. Just crazy. The flip-flop of balance that we had, it was so bad. I don’t think we changed a whole lot. I have to get with Adam (Stevens, crew chief) on that, but overall, we got really good there the previous time we put tires on under green and I was driving through a few people and getting to the front. I was optimistic about putting tires on it and going, but then it just went stupid tight. I don’t know. Thanks to Interstate Batteries, M&M’s – it’s good to get a solid top three. Hopefully, we can make a few changes tonight. We were close. We had some speed so try to work on it.”

Kevin Harvick – finished 4th: “I wasn’t very good all day. Overall, our Mobil 1 Mustang just never would turn and then we got it so it wouldn’t turn and too loose.  We had trouble on pit road and had to come back in at one point, but everybody kept battling and doing everything that they could and wound up with a top five.”

Chase Elliott – finished 5th: “I think we had a decent Mountain Dew Chevrolet. We were off there to start and then had to take some extra time on pit road. Luckily, we got it close after we messed with it a good bit and made some adjustments, which helped. I was proud to be able to drive from the back, back to the front. We had some really good pit stops that put us in a decent position there too. I think we just needed a little more to run with Denny (Hamlin), Kevin (Harvick) and those guys so we will try to get a little better for tomorrow.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 6th: “Our No. 14 Haas Automation Ford was great right up there until the final 40 laps or so, but we did what we needed to do today. We put some stage points up on the board and got a good finish. We are getting better each week and this is a great time of the year to do that. That was a lot of fun. Let’s do this again tomorrow!”

Jimmie Johnson – finished 7th: “Solid day for this Ally Chevy team, we have some work to do but we will go to work tonight and get it right. Everyone did a great job, we have something to build on tonight and we will come back tomorrow and have something left for them. Bittersweet day tomorrow for me – my final Dover race.”

Joey Logano – finished 8th: “We had a top-10 day with the Shell-Pennzoil Ford Mustang. The pit crew did a great job maintaining or gaining positions on pit road. Track position was pretty important. We fought a little too free at times and lost a little center turn when we adjusted on that. The good news is that we’ve got another race tomorrow and we can adjust on the car tonight and hopefully find a little more speed to battle in the top-five and for a win.”

Brad Keselowski – finished 9th: “It was a decent day. Nothing to write home about, but not bad. We kind of ran solidly in the top 10 all day. We had a really good restart there in the first stage and got us third in stage one and then was just kind of okay from there. We took a little shot at running long in stage two hoping for a yellow and didn’t get it — part of the deal, just trying and ended up ninth. There’s not a lot to say other than that. The Gibbs cars were pretty much lights-out faster than everybody and we did the best we could to get what we had out of our day.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – finished 10th: “That was a fun race in our No. 47 Kroger Chevrolet to mark off another top-10 finish. We were really tight at the start of the race, but Brian Pattie made some really good adjustments throughout the race to help us get faster and faster. Our cars this year have been some of the best I’ve had in my career, and this gives us a lot of confidence heading into tomorrow’s race. We learned a lot today and I’m excited for tomorrow to continue tuning this up tonight and have an even better day tomorrow at Dover.”

Cole Custer – finished 11th: “Good rebound from last week. I think we have something to lean on for tomorrow. We can make this car better and have an even better day tomorrow.”

Erik Jones – finished 12th: First off, I want to apologize to Kurt (Busch) and the whole 1 team. I got into him on lap 1 or 2. That’s my mistake. I got tight and it ended their day really quick. I feel bad. I’ve raced with Kurt now awhile, and we have never had an issue and raced really well, so I want to say sorry to him first. Our day was kind of tough from then on, we had to cut the left rear quarter-panel off after that and I think that hurt our balance a little bit. I mean, it’s not like night or day, but it definitely didn’t help. The DeWalt Camry went back and forth. It was mostly loose all day. We tightened it up, but never seemed to be able to make a difference on it. Hopefully, we can use the same car and come back tomorrow.”

Tyler Reddick – finished 13th: “Today was a good start to our doubleheader weekend at Dover International Speedway. Our No. 8 Cat App Chevrolet was fast from the start and just needed some tweaking on handling. The track built really tight at first today, but changed over the course of the race. I struggled with being too loose in the rear of our Camaro for the second half of today, which prevented me from trying a couple different lines on the track, so that’s something we’ll need to adjust on for tomorrow’s race. But the good news is we get a second shot to finish even better tomorrow and we definitely have a solid Cat App Chevrolet to work with. This is the best start to a doubleheader weekend that we’ve had this year, so I’m looking forward to getting back after it tomorrow.”

Austin Dillon – finished 15th: “We had a fast Dow Coatings Chevrolet today and it felt good to race at Dover International Speedway with plenty of speed. We just need to work on the handling a little. I feel like I covered every inch of this place, experimenting and looking for the best line around the track for our tight-handling condition. We opted to stay out for the competition caution in Stage 1 and our gamble paid off with the race lead. Clean air was everything. We had a commanding lead early in Stage 1 but I just got too tight to hold the lead for the end of the stage. When we pitted at the end of Stage 2, we were issued a speeding penalty and had to restart at the tail end of the longest line. That mistake is on me. We ran long before pitting at the end of the race but a caution didn’t fall the way we hoped it would and we ended up finishing 15th.

Aric Almirola – finished 17th: “We had good speed in our Smithfield Ford Mustang today. A loose wheel put us behind and, without any cautions in the last stage, we had no way to get back on the lead lap. I think we could have been contenders today, but we’ll get back to it tomorrow with a good car and hope for a clean day.”

Ty Dillon – finished 18th: “My GEICO-Germain Racing guys did a good job today and I’m looking forward to tomorrow’s race. Dover is a very physically demanding track. I’ve been working really hard on my physical shape this season, so I’m excited to put it to the test. We have been really strong in the doubleheaders this season. The Sunday races have been our stronger race each time, which we will try to do again. We came out of the gate strong today and will look to translate that momentum into another solid finish tomorrow.”

Alex Bowman – finished 21st: “This isn’t how we wanted to start off the doubleheader weekend. Getting that damage early on really affected how our car handled. The guys did all they could on pit road, but we were playing the cards we were dealt. Not the first outing we wanted for Acronis, but we will make adjustments and changes tonight and be prepared for tomorrow’s race.”

John Hunter Nemechek – finished 24th: “It was a tough day for our No. 38 ACME Markets team. We didn’t roll off the way we wanted to, so it was an uphill battle for most of the race. I didn’t have a whole lot of grip going through the corner, so the front tires kept sliding, which obviously hurts your momentum. We’ve made notes for what to work on tomorrow and that’s the nice thing about these doubleheader weekends – you get another chance to improve. We’ll shake it off overnight and come back ready tomorrow.”

Michael McDowell – finished 26th: “There may have been 10 or 12 guys who had really good speed. You didn’t see a ton of cars on the lead lap even in a short race. We had good speed, but it was tough to pass for everyone. So, we just had to work track position and strategy. We’ll have to do the same tomorrow. But, I think we can take some notes to get some good adjustments into the Digital Ally Shield Cleanser Ford Mustang. We’ll need to have a good start and just grind to stay up there. We’re close, the result doesn’t show it, but I think we can have a good run on Sunday with just a few adjustments.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 28th: “Not the best effort today for our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 DoorDash Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE team. I thought we were going to have a decent day, and then we kind of lost it the second-half of the race. We lost the handling on our Chevrolet Camaro and just could not really gain it back. Our DoorDash team tried to pull some strategy to salvage a decent day and it did not go our way. We have another shot at it tomorrow with our partner Columbia for their first race, so we are excited about that. Dover (International Speedway) is one of the best tracks we go to. We still have a lot of work to do. We’ll see what happens tomorrow.”

Daniel Suarez – finished 30th: “I thought we were going to be pretty decent in the beginning. The first set of changes we made seemed to have us going in the right direction. Our CommScope Toyota was actually good on the first 20 laps of that run. But then the changes we made on our next couple of stops ended up taking us in the wrong direction. The track ended up changing quite a bit, so it turned out to be a frustrating day. We need to give everything a close look and go to work making the changes we need to bring a better car for Sunday. We just need to keep working hard.”

Kurt Busch – finished 40th: “What an unfortunate way to have our day end on Lap 6. Way too early to be racing like that. We didn’t even have a chance to get a feel for the car. Just disappointing for all of the guys that work so hard, especially on the doubleheader weekends like this. Hopefully we can turn our luck around tomorrow and have a strong run for the GEARWRENCH Chevy”.

Check back for more.

Carson Hocevar to run full Truck schedule in 2021

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Niece Motorsports has signed Carson Hocevar to run the full NASCAR Truck schedule in 2021, the team announced Thursday.

Hocevar, who turns 18 in January, has run five races for the team this season. His best finish this year is 12th at Dover. He’s scheduled to run at Martinsville on Oct. 30.

“I’m so excited to get the opportunity to race fulltime next year with the Niece Motorsports group,” said Hocevar in a statement. “We’ve had some really strong runs in the few starts that we’ve had this season and I am grateful for the chance to continue that next year. I’ve learned so much already this year and know that we will keep improving next year too.”

“Carson has really impressed us this season,” said team owner Al Niece in a statement. “He’s proven his talent – getting into the truck with no track time and really holding his own. We’re thrilled to have him with us fulltime next season and look forward to contending for wins together.”

TikTok to sponsor Ryan Vargas in six Xfinity races

JD Motorsports
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TikTok is coming to NASCAR.

The popular video sharing app will break into the sport next month as a sponsor of Ryan Vargas in the Xfinity Series.

TikTok has partnered with JD Motorsports to sponsor the 20-year-old Vargas in the final six races of the season, beginning with the Oct. 3 race at Talladega Superspeedway.

“TikTok has provided me with an incredible outlet to reach new fans and demographics through fun and creative content, and I’ve seen the highest growth in followers on TikTok over my other social channels,” Vargas said in a press release. “The opportunity to run the No. 6 TikTok Chevrolet Camaro in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for the rest of the season is an absolute dream come true. Johnny Davis and the whole JD Motorsports with Gary Keller team took a chance on me last year and I’m excited to bring this amazing TikTok partnership their way. I wouldn’t want to make this partnership a reality anywhere else.”

Vargas has made three Xfinity Series starts this year. His best finish was 13th at Pocono.

The sponsor deal is part of TikTok’s Latinx Heritage Month programming.

A native of La Mirada, California, Vargas joined TikTok last year. He is a former member of NASCAR’s Drive 4 Diversity programming and a winner of the Wendell Scott Trailblazer award, which is given to a minority or female driver who displays exceptional on-track performance, sportsmanship, and community service.

The partnership and paint scheme were inspired by a concept scheme by graphic designer Ryan Pistana, a friend of Vargas’.

“Creators of all sizes and backgrounds show up to TikTok with their genuine, authentic selves,” Nick Tran, TikTok’s Head of Global Marketing, said in a press release. “Partnering with an iconic brand like NASCAR to sponsor Ryan Vargas on his racing journey is a way for us to continue to support, celebrate and elevate the diverse creators that make our TikTok community what it is today. Ryan is an incredible athlete, and we’re looking forward to cheering him on alongside the rest of the TikTok community!”

According to CNBC in August, TikTok has roughly 100 million monthly users, up nearly 800% from January 2018.

TikTok, a Chinese-owned company, has been in national headlines recently after President Donald Trump threatened to ban the app in the United States for national security reasons if it was not sold to an American company. On Sept. 19 he approved a deal for its U.S operations to be operated by Oracle and Walmart.

Las Vegas weekend schedule

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NASCAR’s postseason continues with the Las Vegas weekend schedule, as the Cup Series begins the Round of 12.

In addition to Cup, Las Vegas Motor Speedway will host the Xfinity Series’ playoff opener and the second race of the Truck Series’ opening round.

More: Kevin Harvick on pole for Cup race

Here is the Las Vegas weekend schedule:

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 25

Noon – 2 p.m. ET – Truck Series haulers enter (screening and equipment unload)

2 p.m. – Truck Series garage opens

2 – 8 p.m. – Truck Series garage access screening in progress

2:30 – 3 p.m. – Truck Series rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5 p.m. – Xfinity rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5:30 p.m.  – Xfinity driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

8:50 p.m. – Truck Series drivers report to vehicles

9 p.m.- Truck Series race; 134 laps/201 miles (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

11:30 p.m. – Truck Series haulers exit


Saturday, Sept 26.

11 a.m. – 1 p.m. – Xfinity haulers enter (screening and equipment unload)

1 p.m. – Xfinity garage opens

1 – 6:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage access screening in progress

5 p.m. – Cup rookie meeting (electronic communication)

5:30 p.m. – Cup driver-crew chief meeting (electronic communication)

7:20 p.m. – Xfinity drivers report to cars

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity race; 200 laps/300 miles (NBCSN, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

9:30 p.m. – Xfinity haulers exit

10:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. – Cup haulers enter


Sunday, Sept. 27

Noon – Cup garage opens

Noon – 6 p.m.  – Cup garage access screening in progress

6:50 p.m. – Cup drivers report to cars

7 p.m. – Cup race; 267 laps/400.5 miles (NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

11:30 p.m. – Cup haulers exit

NTSB releases final report on Dale Jr. plane crash

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.