Chase Elliott overcomes adversity again to conquer Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

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CONCORD, N.C. — Chase Elliott continued his mastery on NASCAR road courses Sunday at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, overcoming adversity to tame the tricky layout for the second consecutive season.

The last four road course races have been won by the Hendrick Motorsports driver, who rebounded from a loose wheel that necessitated an extra pit stop under green just before the halfway point of the 109-lap race.

Elliott rejoined the race in 36th, but the No. 9 Chevrolet driver quickly made up ground, just as he did last year after he crashed from the lead midway through this race.

He passed teammate Alex Bowman on Lap 92 and led the final 18 laps for his ninth career victory in NASCAR’s premier series. Five of those victories have been on road courses: twice at Watkins Glen International, twice at the Roval and the Daytona International Speedway road course in August.

“Just had another fast Camaro,” Elliott told NBC Sports pit reporter Dave Burns. “Road courses have been fortunate to us the last few trips, but we’ve just tried to get a little better every time and tweak on the small things.

“Just really proud of the effort and appreciate everybody at Hendrick and Chevrolet. It’s always special to win here at Charlotte with the shop across the street. Best way to get in the next round is to win. Hopefully we can do something with it.”

In his third victory of the season, Elliott finished more than 2 seconds ahead of Joey Logano. Erik Jones finished third, followed by Kurt Busch and Ryan Blaney.

MORE: Race results 

Defending series champion Kyle Busch’s tough 2020 season continued as he was eliminated with a 30th-place finish.

Busch, who is in danger of going winless for the first time in his 16th Cup season, suffered a left-front flat tire after a Lap 49 restart in which he made contact with Clint Bowyer, who also was eliminated in the Round of 12 finale. (Austin Dillon and Aric Almirola also fell out of playoff contention.)

Busch rallied into the top five and took the lead by staying on track during a yellow flag on Lap 86. But he was passed by Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Erik Jones (who was on fresh tires) a few laps after the final restart of a race that began with a damp 17-turn, 2.28-mile road course.

It was the first time in more than 60 years that a race in NASCAR’s premier series was run with rain tires. There have been multiple Xfinity races in which the tires have been used, and 22 drivers in Sunday’s race had experience with the rain tires in NASCAR.

In contrast to the Xfinity race a day earlier, the Cup race started without precipitation and a drying track, which made for much tamer racing than the standing water and puddles around the course Saturday.

But lap times until the first yellow still were more than 10 seconds slower than the pace of the first two Cup races held on the Roval in 2018-19 as the 38-car field was required to start on Goodyear’s grooved rain tires (which provide more traction but less speed).

Brad Keselowski went from third to first on the first lap Sunday, passing Elliott and Denny Hamlin as drivers tip-toed around a track that still had running water in many infield sections, particularly Turn 3.

By the Lap 10 competition caution, the track had dried enough that a couple of cars elected to pit for the faster slick tires. Over the next 10 laps under green in Stage 1, nearly the entire field had pitted for slicks except leader Bowyer, Truex and Kyle Busch.

All three stopped when John Hunter Nemechek brought out a caution flag on Lap 24, setting up a one-lap restart to end the first stage.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ty Dillon

STAGE 2 WINNER: Ryan Blaney

WHO HAD A (MOSTLY) GOOD RACE: In the same week he announced he was leaving driving for a TV career, Clint Bowyer led nine laps and spent most of the first two stages at the front. But a problem on a Lap 72 restart dropped his No. 14 Ford off the pace and out of contention. … Ty Dillon started 17th but made his presence felt early after pitting for slick tires during the first yellow. Lapping 4 seconds quicker than drivers on rain tires, he zoomed forward from 22nd to take his first lead on Lap 21 and winning Stage 1. He was involved in an incident that dropped him off the lead lap with 45 laps to go, but Dillon (who is hunting a ride next season) still proved he is a battler.

NEXT: The Cup Series will open the Round of 8 at 2 p.m. ET on Oct. 18 at Kansas Speedway on NBC.

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

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

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“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.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

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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

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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

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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.