‘NASCAR’s toughest job’: Steve O’Donnell often is the man in the middle of everything

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Editor’s note — This profile of Steve O’Donnell is the second in a two-part series on NASCAR grappling with its season restart during the COVID-19 pandemic. Thursday’s  entry on the inside story of how NASCAR restarted its season can be found here.

It was during a meeting between NASCAR drivers and series executives at Daytona International Speedway in July 2019 when Steve O’Donnell and Kevin Harvick exchanged sideways glances.

A feud that began a few months earlier – in a SiriusXM satellite radio interview, O’Donnell intimated drivers might have sabotaged group qualifying to force its abolition; a day later, Harvick angrily called him out by name during his program on the same channel – suddenly exploded into a heated face-to-face discussion that de-escalated only after officials stood between them.

For O’Donnell, there were no lingering hard feelings – just another reminder that an oft-thankless job even can put him at odds with Harvick, a driver whom he has “the most respect of all because he gets it as much as anyone.

“Harvick and I have gone at it many times, almost to blows,” O’Donnell told NBC Sports. “But he also has told me, ‘If I was you, I’d be the most hated man in NASCAR.’ Because your job is just to take shit and then make a decision. He’s a guy who taught me that you don’t have to like each other all the time, and that I can’t be liked by everyone, which is hard for me to grasp. All I can hope for is to be respected.

“I like most of (the drivers). I want to hear from them. But I also realize I’m the guy who has to make the call when we fine them.”

As the executive senior vice president and chief racing development officer, O’Donnell often winds up making many critical calls on which tracks that NASCAR will visit in the future or the aerodynamic and horsepower rules that govern how its cars will race.

And despite his epiphany that those duties can preclude making friends, forming bonds might be the greatest strength of a 25-year NASCAR employee who has risen to the top of the sanctioning body while working in nearly every department (marketing, operations, competition) and offices across the company (from New York to Daytona Beach to Charlotte).

NASCAR Steve O'Donnell
NASCAR executive vice president Steve O’Donnell at a Sept. 30 news conference to announce the 2021 season at Texas Motor Speedway (Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images).

The relationships that he built have proved especially useful this year as O’Donnell spearheaded an unprecedented display of cooperation among workgroups across the NASCAR industry during the nine-week layoff because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, helping course correct the 2020 season back on track while also charting next year’s slate of racetracks and a NextGen car rollout.

“The job he’s done has been incredible,” NASCAR president Steve Phelps told NBC Sports. “That’s due largely in part to his leadership. Steve would say, ‘Hey, I’ve got good people around me,’ and that’s true, but it really comes with the relationships he has with the garage.

“He’s earned the trust and respect of the teams because he’s a man of his word who does what he says he’s going to do. Steve and his team have just done such a great job of getting the industry aligned. He’s just got good relationships with people and nurtures those. People trust him. When our format changed with the stages, Steve was the architect of that and bringing everyone together who should have a seat at the table.”

Speedway Motorsports president and CEO Marcus Smith jokes that he usually texts O’Donnell only to “tell him something good” about a race or a call being made because Smith “doesn’t want to add to other issues.

“I don’t think anybody in sports has a tougher job than Steve O’Donnell because he has so many important people to answer to,” Smith told NBC Sports. “He’s got his bosses in Jim (France), Lesa (France Kennedy) and Steve (Phelps). He’s got the promoters like me. He’s got Rick Hendrick, Roger Penske and Coach (Joe) Gibbs on the team side. And then every driver, crew chief, manufacturer and TV network.

“Steve is the one everybody has on speed dial if they have an issue. He leads the most important part of our sport, and that’s competition because everything follows from its quality. So he has to handle a lot of hot potatoes, and this year has been his best year. NASCAR has done a really good job of building the executive team to handle these tough situations, and we’ve got our best relationship now than we’ve ever had with NASCAR as a company.”

Phelps notes that O’Donnell is “not a racing guy” unlike many other past and current NASCAR competition executives who have spent a lifetime working in garages – but it’s meant as a compliment in this instance.

“Steve is very, very passionate and always wants the sport to shine and excel, and he takes it personally when we don’t,” Roush Fenway Racing president Steve Newmark told NBC Sports. “He is very good at taking a whole laundry list of issues and prioritizing what’s really critical for all the stakeholders. The key is Steve has that rare combination of technical expertise and an in-depth understanding of the business side. Steve bridges those two worlds and because of that, he’s able to collaborate with broadcasters, tracks, drivers, teams and his bosses at the league and try to make sure we come out with the best solution.”


The list of those who have overseen NASCAR’s competition like O’Donnell is fairly short, with the primary names being Bill France, Bill France Jr., Les Richter and Mike Helton.

There are many ways O’Donnell, who moved into his role five years ago, is different. He didn’t arrive with a pedigree, nor a high-profile resume.

None of his predecessors had to deal with the incessantly screeching din of social media (where O’Donnell’s Twitter account frequently is deluged with angry fans after lackluster races).

And technology also puts O’Donnell in more constant contact with drivers through a text chain that he started. It’s helped him find some go-to drivers for advice such as Harvick, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin and Kurt Busch, and it’s a more effective method than the quarterly meetings of the now defunct Drivers Council (which O’Donnell said required too many members, dulling its effectiveness with ambivalence).

But it also comes with some daily headaches.

NASCAR Steve O'Donnell
Steve O’Donnell updated the media on the status of Ryan Newman after he was injured in the Daytona 500 during a Feb. 22 news conference in Las Vegas (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images).

“To have this open line of communication had never happened before,” Fox Sports analyst Jeff Gordon told NBC Sports. “And Steve gets beat up all the time that way by drivers who have had bad days, and he has to take that abuse and still make the decisions that can affect them. Yet, I also think because of that text chain, we’ve gotten further with safety. We’ve gotten further with fan engagement and the racing. I think the sport has improved because of it.”

“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve texted him and said, ‘I’m glad I don’t have your job,’” Logano told NBC Sports. “I don’t envy his position at all, but I respect him for it. He’s smart enough to know he’s not an expert in every area, and he’s humble enough to take everyone’s opinion and make decisions. He cuts through the B.S. to understand who’s really trying to help and who’s trying to help themselves but also in trying to figure out what is best for the sport by a bit of a committee.”

Though he’s a consensus builder, O’Donnell also is known to be combative when he feels unjustly criticized. “He’s not afraid to have the hard conversation or voice his opinion,” Phelps said.

During the race manipulation scandal in the 2013 regular-season finale at Richmond Raceway, Gordon “fired off a very heated opinion” about NASCAR’s handling and was surprised when O’Donnell immediately shot back in defense.

“I saw the fiery side of Steve, but I also got to see how much he cares,” Gordon said. “We were always good from that point, even though we have the moments we don’t agree.”

O’Donnell also can be a sympathetic ear when needed. Toyota Racing Development president David Wilson said when the manufacturer struggled mightily during its first season, a motorhome meeting at Texas Motor Speedway with O’Donnell helped assuage Toyota’s frustration that it lacked “a healthy relationship” with NASCAR.

“I articulated in a very transparent way a number of these concerns we had,” Wilson told NBC Sports. “Steve was amazing in that he was embarrassed about it, and it was unacceptable. He expressed candidly that a lot of these things were endemic of the sport at that time, and he genuinely shared his determination to change those things and give Toyota a sense that it would have a shot.

“You can have a beer with Steve and enjoy his company while shifting between talking shop and socializing. He’s always been good at that and giving you a sense he cares.”

One of O’Donnell’s favorite expressions is “That’s fair,” which comes up multiple times over the course of an interview that runs more than two hours.

So does Twitter, which has been a sore spot. O’Donnell was among the first in NASCAR to join the platform but recently took a sabbatical because of too much fan negativity (including some threats).

But he concedes that he also could be overly engaged, particularly in taking umbrage at how a race was perceived or how fans absorbed an overhaul to the engine-horsepower combination aimed to improve racing at 1.5-mile intermediate tracks (which NASCAR tacitly has backed off on while reducing the number of intermediates on its 2021 schedule).

“I’m too sensitive, and I take things too personally,” O’Donnell said. “I’ve tried to work on that.”


He also can be self-critical to a fault and has fretted about falling short of knowing drivers as well as the late NASCAR PR guru Jim Hunter, a mentor to O’Donnell and many NASCAR stars.

“Jim Hunter did a much better job than me of communicating,” said O’Donnell, who went through a period of inviting Cup drivers over for dinner. “I struggle with this, but I don’t look at myself as a guy who should be able to pull Ryan Blaney aside and just say, “Man, how’s it going?’ But I look at Hunter and the respect that he had with Tony Stewart and Harvick, and that’s really cool. How do I get that? That’s been one I’ve struggled with, and listening is more of my fallback of, ‘Hey, got any ideas? Let me run with it.’ ”

NASCAR Steve O'Donnell
Jim Hunter, the late vice president of corporate communications for NASCAR, was a mentor and role model in driver relationships for executive vice president Steve O’Donnell (Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR).

Hamlin said O’Donnell has done well with balancing what drivers want vs. what NASCAR needs despite the inevitable confrontations that can arise from that.

“We aren’t afraid to call each other out,” Hamlin told NBC Sports. “I hold Steve and his team accountable for things they’re not doing right, and they do the same thing with the drivers.

“It looks like we’re butting heads, but we’re also having open conversations that people can’t be afraid to have. That’s how you grow by continuing to listen. And I think Steve really has done a good job of balancing what drivers believe is better for competition to what NASCAR thinks is better, and he’s been implementing it. He’s listening to us, and that’s been a difference. His leadership on the competition side really has been a big improvement from early in my career.”

O’Donnell, 51, started at NASCAR in 1996 after working in minor-league baseball and the Citrus Bowl. His first job in racing was with NASCAR’s marketing services helping run victory lane, moving on to managing the Craftsman, Winston and Anheuser-Busch accounts while also working as a jack of all trades. When NASCAR was shoring up its New York branch that was overwhelmed with sponsorship pitches in the late 1990s, O’Donnell spent six weeks answering phones at its Manhattan office while temporarily living in Brian France’s Upper East Side penthouse.

He shifted into competition and oversaw NASCAR’s weekly racing series, a collection of more than 90 short tracks across the country that kept O’Donnell constantly on the road. He was moved to the R&D Center, NASCAR’s competition hub in Concord, North Carolina, in 2007 and recalls how his arrival was greeted in the first meeting: “Who the hell is this marketing guy and how does he fit into this group?”

NASCAR Steve O'Donnell
When there are questions for NASCAR officials after races, Steve O’Donnell often fields them as he was here after the 2015 Southern 500 (Matt Sullivan/Getty Images).

But others of import took notice. Team owner Richard Childress cold-called O’Donnell and offered to fly home with him to North Carolina after a race in 2006, and O’Donnell would spend three days at his house while touring Richard Childress Racing and attending its competition meetings to learn more about competition.

When NASCAR attempted to change its rules on springs a few weeks later, O’Donnell fought and won a battle to keep things static because he knew it would be a multimillion-dollar change after seeing an RCR warehouse full of springs that cost several hundred apiece.

“That helped start my credibility,” O’Donnell said. “Richard took it upon himself to say, ‘For you to succeed, you need to learn what the hell we do.’ ”

O’Donnell has a natural aptitude for education. Born in New Jersey and raised in Massachusetts, he is the son of a principal and a kindergarten teacher who moved their family to Egypt in sixth grade. He learned the principles of being an active listener in the supercharged environment of being a high school freshman whose Egyptian and Israeli classmates passionately debated diametrically opposed views on the Six-Day War. The overseas exposure also has fueled O’Donnell’s passion for racial equality.

“It gave me a perspective to listen to other people’s perspectives and cultures,” he said. “It’s just been part of who I am. I enjoy talking to people. I don’t think I’m the smartest guy in the room, so what can I learn.”


He feeds his intellectual curiosity by exclusively reading nonfiction and watching documentaries (a recent viewing was on Heini Zachariassen, the founder of the wine app Vivino). He also is a voracious consumer of podcasts (he is a fan of “Flying Coach” with the Golden State Warriors’ Steve Kerr, whose brother, Andrew, was one of O’Donnell’s best high school friends in Egypt).

He is a rabid sports fan (the Yankees, New York Giants and Tottenham of the Premier League are among his favorites) who constantly benchmarks NASCAR against other pro sports in both competition and outreach – particularly with the need to showcase drivers’ personalities.

During a conversation about NASCAR’s restart, O’Donnell frequently posed open questions about the steps taken by the U.S. Open, Major League Soccer and the NBA and what could be learned and applied to NASCAR (he also mentions NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood and NASCAR chief marketing officer Jill Gregory as important sounding boards for his ideas).

“He’s got a creative mind, and it’s unusual to have a 25-year employee that is willing to change as much as Steve is,” Phelps said. “He always challenges us – and we need him to – with ‘How can we do this better?’ He’ll be honest and say when he doesn’t think we had a very good race, and he’ll put it all on the game board to see if there’s a better way to do it, drive results “without being a hard charger and making people feel uncomfortable.”

Before every race he watches from NASCAR scoring tower, O’Donnell sits down beside official Mike Phillips with a playful greeting: “Don’t screw up.”

Among the things that bothers him is a garage reputation that he doesn’t smile enough. “I feel like my favorite thing to do in life is make people laugh,” O’Donnell said.

Steve O’Donnell and Denny Hamlin shared smiles during the Jan. 23, 2017 news conference to announce NASCAR  stage racing (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).

He also brings a new notebook to every race he attends, filling them with observations about how NASCAR handled officiating and scoring situations. He rarely steps in during events, saving the feedback for debriefs the next week.

He wants more diversity within the NASCAR competition department, which he believes could be achieved in part by pushing for more scholarly analytics mathematicians to drive competition decisions through building five-year statistical trends. NASCAR’s youth also is a major focus for O’Donnell, who quotes a podcast he recently heard in which former NCAA basketball coach George Raveling said he hangs with younger people because “people my age, all they talk about is dying.”

“I have completely failed if I haven’t identified the next leadership team at R&D that all the industry believes in,” O’Donnell said. “So that drives me.”

His current competition department is hand-picked with Scott Miller, competition director Jay Fabian and senior innovation VP John Probst all having joined over the past four seasons. O’Donnell believes it’s brought NASCAR credibility.

“We’re never going to out-engineer a team, but if we have the right guys who at least they respect, that’s huge,” said O’Donnell, who also relies heavily on NASCAR operations manager Tom Swindell. “And I’ve seen that, and it’s been a godsend. Jim Hunter taught me this. Hire people who are smarter than you, and you’ll be good. If you try and run it, you’ll be dead”

Miller was hired  after being suggested to O’Donnell … by Harvick (who had worked with Miller at RCR).

O’Donnell said he put things right with Harvick shortly after the blowup at Daytona.

“We’re on the same page a lot more often than not and are alike in many ways,” he said. “Because I know where he stands. And when he says, ‘Hey, you should look at this,’ we will.”

Steve O’Donnell congratulated Kevin Harvick after his Nov. 5, 2017 NASCAR victory at Texas Motor Speedway (Chris Graythen/Getty Images).

Harrison Burton looks for progress in second year in Cup

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Harrison Burton made the first start of his NASCAR Cup Series partnership with the Wood Brothers in the bright lights of Los Angeles.

Burton and the Woods teamed last season as Burton jumped into full-time Cup racing after two full seasons (and four wins) in the Xfinity Series. Their first race was the Clash at the Coliseum, and it was a good start — Burton qualified for the feature and finished 12th on the lead lap.

Then things headed downhill. Crashes at Daytona and Auto Club Speedway left Burton with finishes of 39th and 33rd, respectively. After the first five races of the year, he had four finishes of 25th or worse.

Now, Season Two, and there are higher expectations. Much higher.

MORE: Drivers to watch in Clash at the Coliseum

“The start of last year was really, really rough,” Burton told NBC Sports. “It kind of put us in a hole. We got into the wreck in the 500 and crashed at Fontana. Things kind of stack up on you, and all of a sudden you’re buried in points and it’s hard to make it back up.

“But, at the end of the year, three of the last four weekends were big for us (three consecutive top-20 finishes). We need to build off that and try to get out of the West Coast swing and have a clean group of those races. That’s really important. We need to get our average finish up in the first four to five races and not put ourselves in a hole we can’t get out of, and then go from there.”

The Wood Brothers team typically brings strong cars to the Daytona 500, the season’s first point race. Trevor Bayne scored the team’s latest win in stock car racing’s biggest event in 2011.

“We ran well in the 500 last year until I was upside down,” Burton said. “We had a fast car and qualified well and finished third in our duel. Then in the second Daytona race we put ourselves in good position late, so we were in contention in both Daytona races. The speed was there, and the cars drove well.”

The team’s primary goal is to make the playoffs, Burton said. “And we want to be a contender,” he said. “Cup races are so hard. First, you have to contend. Having a good average finish is really important. If you average around 17th or 18th all year, you can kind of point your way into the playoffs, and doing that is on our minds for sure.”

MORE: Power Rankings: 10 historic moments in the Clash

Burton looks for a strong start in Sunday’s Clash, which will present teams with a mix of the old and the new. Drivers got the experience of racing inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum last year, and notes from that race will be useful, but the racing surface will be all new again.

“Every repave has a different tendency,” Burton said. “We’ll see how close it is to last time and how different. Obviously, there is experience on that track, but still it’s a completely new surface, so it’s going to be a mixture of old and new. There’s some knowledge we can build off of, but we kind of have to go into the weekend with that knowledge as tentative because we don’t know if the track is going to be different.”

Burton heads for Los Angeles with a win already under his belt this year. He and teammate Zane Smith, last year’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion, won last Friday’s International Motor Sports Association’s Michelin Pilot Challenge Series race on the Daytona International Speedway road course.

Burton drove the finishing laps in the four-hour race. He was third with about 50 minutes to go but moved in front with 22 minutes left when leader Elliott Skeer parked. Burton outran second-place Spencer Pumpelly by .688 of a second for the win.

“I thought we could run well,” Burton said. “After the test we did, we were really fast, so I was pretty excited. But apparently there is a lot of sandbagging that goes on there, so I wasn’t sure where we were. We had to have some things go right for us, and they did.”

 

 

 

 

Dr. Diandra: Muffling racecars won’t change fan experience

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Last week, NASCAR tested the muffler that will be used for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum.

“Heresy,” some fans cried. They argued that it is against the laws of man and nature to muffle racecars. That noise is an integral part of the fan experience. That you’re not supposed to be able to have conversations during races.

Relax.

The cars will be plenty loud.

Loud is fast

Engines produce power by combusting fuel and air in their cylinders. Each combustion produces high-pressure gases that push the piston up. The same gases make a loud popping sound when they escape the cylinder and finally the exhaust.

At 8,000 rpm, an eight-cylinder engine performs about 520 combustions every second. The faster an engine runs, the more combustions per second and the higher the frequency of the tailpipe noise.

That’s why NASCAR engines sound like grizzly bears and F1 engines, which run at higher speeds, sound more like angry mosquitoes.

Maximum horsepower requires getting the spent gases out of the cylinder as quickly as possible so the next combustion reaction can start. And that’s the problem with mufflers, from a racing perspective.

Mufflers on street cars bounce sound waves from the engine around a metal can. The waves interfere with each other, which decreases the overall volume coming from the exhaust.

Mufflers can also mitigate noise by directing the exhaust through a sound-absorbing material. Borla, the sole-source supplier for this weekend’s muffler, makes commercial racing mufflers that feature a robust sound-absorbing material superior to the commonly used fiberglass.

Both methods slow the exhaust gases — the first more than the second. The ideal racing muffler diminishes sound with minimal horsepower reduction.

Decibels

Sound-level measurements come in decibels (dB), a unit named after Alexander Graham, not Christopher — and apparently by someone who wasn’t the best speller.

But decibels don’t tell the whole story. Sound intensity decreases with distance, so you need to specify how far away the sound source was.

The easiest way to explain the decibel scale is to relate it to real-world noises, as I’ve done below.

A bar chart showing representative sound levels expressed in decibels.

  • Zero dB is the threshold of human hearing.
  • A whisper you can just barely make out is about 20 dB.
  • Most everyday noises are in the 60 dB to 100 dB range but are sometimes louder.
  • Exposure to 130 dBs can be painful.
  • A 150-dB sound can cause permanent hearing damage in a very short time.

Ringing in your ears the day after a rock concert was a badge of honor in high school. Older me wishes I had been a little smarter.

Hair cells — not to be confused with ear hair — facilitate hearing. Sound bends these hair-shaped cells, and the cells convert sound into electrical signals that the brain interprets. Loud sounds can bend these cells so much that they break.

Unlike animals such as sharks, zebrafish — and even the lowly chicken — humans cannot grow new hair cells. Once your hearing is damaged, you can’t get it back.

How loud are racecars?

A noise mitigation study for the proposed Nashville Fairgrounds track measured a single Next Gen car at COTA generating 112 dB on a straightaway at 100 feet.

A 2008 study measured the sound level inside a Gen-6 car to be an average of 114 dB. The study also compared sound in the stands, the infield and the pits.

Let’s add those numbers to our graph.

A bar chart showing representative sound levels expressed in decibels, including sound measurements from the Gen-6 and Next Gen cars

  • The Next Gen car at 100 feet is about the same loudness as a person screaming at top volume 1 inch from your ear.
  • The Next Gen car at 100 feet is just a bit quieter than sitting inside the Gen-6 car.
  • Bristol reached peak sound levels loud enough to cause permanent hearing damage.

The graph data suggests that inside the Next Gen car should be around 10 times louder than inside the Gen-6. Some drivers made new earmolds to cope with the additional noise in the cockpit.

Because of the way sound works, the numbers don’t add like you’d expect them to. A Next Gen car might be 112 dB, but two Next Gen cars are more like 115 dB. A full field would be only 5-7 dB louder.

The mufflers won’t muffle much

NASCAR expects a six to 10-dB reduction in sound with mufflers. A 10-dB reduction would make the Next Gen car about as loud as the Gen-6 car was.

Another way of looking at it: Good earplugs reduce sound levels by 25 to 30 dB. Wearing earplugs just barely gets you into the range of being able to hold a conversation if you stand very close to each other and you both shout.

You won’t notice the change in sound inside the track.

You also won’t notice a change in speed this weekend, despite a drop of 30-40 horsepower. The Next Gen car takes around 14 seconds to traverse the L.A. Coliseum’s quarter-mile track. That means cars won’t be going much faster than typical expressway speeds.

If you’re headed out to the track this weekend — despite the mufflers — bring earplugs or over-the-ear headsets. This is especially important for children, as their hearing is more easily damaged.

Joe Gibbs Racing adds young racers to Xfinity program

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Connor Mosack, 23, and Joe Graf Jr., 24, each will drive select races in the No. 19 Xfinity Series car for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

Mosack, who has a 20-race Xfinity schedule with Sam Hunt Racing this year, will run three races for JGR: Chicago street course (July 1), Pocono (July 22) and Road America (July 29) while also competing in six ARCA Menards Series races for JGR, including Feb. 18 at Daytona.

Graf, who has a 28-race Xfinity schedule with RSS Racing this year, will run five races in the No. 19 Xfinity car for JGR: Auto Club Speedway (Feb. 25), Las Vegas (March 4), Richmond (April 1), New Hampshire (July 15) and Kansas (Sept. 9).

“I made my Xfinity Series debut with JGR last June at Portland and from the moment I made my first lap in their racecar, I realized why they’ve been so successful,” Mosack said in a statement. “Their equipment was second to none and the resources they had in terms of people and their knowledge was incredible.

“Jason Ratcliff was my crew chief at Portland and he’s got a ton of experience. I was able to learn from him before we even went to the track. Just in our time in the simulator, we made some great changes. So, to be back with him for three Xfinity races is going to be really valuable.

“And when it comes to JGR’s ARCA program, it’s the class of the field. After having to race against JGR cars, I’m really looking forward to racing with a JGR car. No matter what track they were on, they were always up front competing for wins. To have that chance in 2023 is pretty special, and I aim to make the most of it.”

Said Graf in a statement about his opportunity with JGR: “Running five races with JGR is a fantastic opportunity for myself and for my marketing partners. I think I can learn a lot from JGR and showcase my skills I’ve been growing in the series in the past three years. 2023 is shaping up to be a great year and I’m pumped to get started with the No. 19 group.”

Ryan Truex has previously been announced as the driver of the No. 19 Xfinity Series car in six races this season for JGR. The remaining drivers for the car will be announced at a later date.

Mosack didn’t start racing until he was 18 years old. He went on to win five Legends car championships before moving to Late Model stock cars in 2019. He graduated from High Point University in 2021 with a degree in business entrepreneurship. Mosack’s first Xfinity Series race with Sam Hunt Racing this season will be March 11 at Phoenix Raceway.

 

NASCAR weekend schedule for Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

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NASCAR’s winter break ends this weekend as Cup Series drivers return to the track for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum in Los Angeles.

The second Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum has been expanded to 27 (from 23) drivers for the 150-lap main event. Qualifying, heat races and two “last chance” races will set the field.

MORE: Drivers to watch in the Clash

Joey Logano won last year’s Clash, the perfect start to a season that ended with him holding the Cup championship trophy.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum (Cup)

Weekend weather

Saturday: Mostly sunny. High of 71.

Sunday: Partly cloudy. High of 66.

Saturday, Feb. 4

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 2 – 11:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 6 – 8 p.m. — Cup Series practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 8:35 – 9:30 p.m. — Cup Series qualifying (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Feb. 5

Garage open

  • 11 a.m. – 12:30 a.m. Monday — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 5 – 5:45 p.m. — Four Heat races (25 laps; Fox, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 6:10 – 6:35 p.m. — Two Last chance qualifying races (50 laps; Fox, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 8 p.m. — Feature race (150 laps; Fox, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)