What drivers said at Kansas

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Here is what drivers said at Kansas after Sunday’s Round of 8 playoff race:

Joey Logano — Winner: “You gotta want it man. What an amazing team this Shell Pennzoil team is. I am worn out. I spent more time in the mirror than I did in the windshield there. Pit stops got us positions nd got us the lead. The 4 was fast, real fast, especially down the straightaways. I thought if I could hold him off the first 15 laps that I would have a chance. Dirty air was the best for us. As we caught lap traffic I was able to gap ourselves as he got more dirty air and I was able to draft somebody because I was a little slow down the straightaway. Man, I am exhausted after that. We are going to Phoenix and racing for a championship again.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 2nd: “We just needed to get off of pit road first. It came down to controlling that restart and we lost the lead there on the restart and wound up trying to battle and didn’t get the lead on the restart but just really, really fast Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang. All our guys did a great job and we had a fast car, we moved all over the race track and we weren’t the best behind somebody but I had a lot of options as they made the car better towards the end of the race. It was a good run for us. I wish we could have one, but we were one short.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 3rd: “I think it’s obviously a really good day for us. We didn’t have the car that we hoped to have.  We struggled with it quite a bit today. Still got good stage points. Didn’t really have the speed we wanted to have. But our last couple changes really got the car dialed in. We needed a little bit longer run there at the end.  I think we were the fastest car, just kind of ran out of laps. Happy and sad, a little bit bummed we lost points. A little bummed Joey won. That makes my life harder over the next couple weeks.  I feel like we had a really good day.  I’m really proud of my race team. A lot of people said we were going to go out early in the playoffs. We’re still here fighting. We’re still bringing really fast cars to the racetrack each and every week.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 4th: “You know, here and Texas are two tracks we were nervous about. We were really fast all day, we just didn’t quite have enough there at the end. I feel like if we would have had the lead we could have won but it just wasn’t in the cards today.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 5th: “Any time you get back in the pack, it’s just so hard to pass and work your way up towards the front. Everybody is so equal and with the dirty air, trying to get through some of that stuff is a challenge. But any time we got up front it seemed like our car was way different, way better and had a better opportunity to run in the top three, top five. Even when we were on old tires earlier in the day, that was probably the best it was and we held onto third, I think, for that run there.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 6th: “Sometimes you try to get greedy (on restarts) and you end up hurting yourself. I feel like that’s kind of what I did. There on a couple of occasions, sometimes to have a big run and realize that not doing something with it is going to net you better in a couple of laps. That’s just something I need to do a better job of.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 7th: “We had a really good Menards/Moen Ford today. I think at points we had a race winning car but just lost the balance late, which stinks. We’ll try a get a win next week in Texas. We had a great car there in the first race this year.”

William Byron — Finished 8th: “It was a good day for us by the end there. We had a couple things happen early on that we had to recover from. We took two tires early and fell back really far in the field and that was tough. We rebounded from that though and got our car tightened up which we needed. We were just too loose for the majority of the day. By the end our car was really fast and we could have ran around fifth to seventh-place and ended up finishing eighth. That’s a good day for us. We’re putting together solid runs and we just need to keep that going as the year ends.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 9th: “We were eighth in both stages and then ninth at the end. We didn’t really have much more than that. If we could have got some track position at times, the really long runs we were strong. Just restarts were really tough to fend people off. We just didn’t quite have the short run speed. Missed it a little bit there with it being so cool out today, I guess. Just didn’t have what we hoped to have. Proud of everybody on this 19 team.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 10th: “It was pretty good. I felt like my Germania Insurance Camry was really fast all day. Kind of the worst we were all day was right there in the end. It’s good to be disappointed finishing 10th. I feel at our best, we were easily a top-five car. Definitely a good day to build on. I feel like the last couple weeks, the road course we were really good, obviously, we were pretty good today, and we have a couple good race tracks for us at the end of the year, hopefully, we can execute and finish with some good runs.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 11th: “I’m so proud of my No. 3 American Ethanol Chevrolet team. My crew chief, Justin Alexander, and all of the guys did a great job working on our Chevy throughout the race, and we definitely learned a lot. The track was really fast today with the cold temperatures in Kansas, and restarts were wild. For most of the race we were too loose, but once we got tightened up we were able to contend and just nearly missed a top-10 finish. The bumps in Turns 1 and 2 weren’t working with us today, so we will do our homework to address that during the off-season. Overall, it was a good run for us. On to Texas Motor Speedway, where we will try to get another win before the season winds down.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 13th: “We battled loose-handling conditions, tight-handling conditions, and then found some neutral balance here and there. For such a cold day we rallied back to race for a top-10 and just came up short. We still have some good tracks left to try and get a win at in 2020.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished 15th: “Obviously we damaged the car and at these tracks, you can’t have any damage on the car. I was fortunate to get a couple cautions there to get us back on the lead lap. That was as far as I could go with the damage that I had. It just hurt the FedEx Camry so bad. To finish 15th with that damage, that was the best we could probably hope for with that damage. Still, definitely had a race-winning car today. Just threw it in the fence.”

John Hunter Nemechek — Finished 17th: “Our No. 38 Speedy Cash Ford Mustang was ‘speedy fast’ today. We fired off pretty decent and made a couple of slight adjustments throughout the day to get us to an even better place. We picked up some damage at the end of Stage 2, but my guys on pit road did a great job and we were able to overcome and stay competitive for the rest of the race. We never gave up and managed to come away with a top-20 finish. I’m really proud of my Front Row Motorsports team and so thankful for the effort these guys put in each and every week.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished 18th: “A pretty uneventful day for us. That was the best car we’ve had at a 1.5-mile track in a really long time. We did our homework. The guys did a really good job getting our No. 43 Richard Petty Motorsports Cash App Camaro ZL1 1LE kind of where we needed it all day. We started out really good and maintained that. We got a little behind on that last pit stop – a little on the tight side. But the pit crew was beyond flawless today, so super proud of them. Great effort for us for Kansas Speedway – come out of there with a good run and learned a lot heading into Texas Motor Speedway. We’ll see what we’ve got.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 19th: “It was definitely a long day for us here at Kansas. We didn’t start off that great, but Drew and everybody on this Love’s Travel Stops team did a really good job of getting our race car faster near the end of the race and we were able to make up some spots and bring home a Top-20 finish. It was a decent day, but we definitely had higher expectations, for sure. It was just really nice to get a decent finish, as the last few weeks have been pretty rough for us.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 24th: “Our GEICO Camaro ZL1 1LE was a lot better there at the end of the race. We just didn’t have the speed overall that we needed with this package. You have to have so much downforce in the car to make up any ground on the track. Our Germain Racing team never gives up and even though the timing of a couple cautions didn’t go our way, we battled back to finish 24th. We have three races left together and our focus now shifts to Texas next week.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 25th: “We had good speed in our No. 8 Caterpillar Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE at Kansas Speedway today. It was hard at times to get a feel on the handling of our car since it felt like it would take about seven to eight laps for the front tires to come in today, but we did a better job adjusting throughout the race this time than during our first trip to Kansas earlier this year. It felt like for most the day I was snug on entry to the corners but then would become loose on center and exit, so a lot of our focus was on figuring out what changes would help me the most overall. We just have a couple other things to continue to work on as a team to put ourselves in better contention at these races. I thought maybe I had a right front tire going down a couple laps before I got into the wall towards the end of Stage 3, but it was tough to tell if that is what was happening in that moment. That’s a feeling I’ll definitely put in my notebook and learn from.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 26th: “I’m disappointed because it looked like we were going to have a top-10 today. It was all about the restarts out there. We just got some damage and had to pit. It’s pretty frustrating because I wanted to leave here with a really good finish. I appreciate what the track (on the pace laps) and NASCAR did before the race. It was good to see the fans and be home today.”  

Daniel Suarez — Finished 27th: “We had a pretty positive result the last time we were here (18th place in July), but today we couldn’t make our car as good. We had probably a 30th-place car – 29th – and we ended up 27th. The balance of our GF Machining Solutions Toyota was actually decent, but we just needed more speed if we were going to be able to fight for a better result.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 38th: “Everything is so buttoned up these days in the engine department. I haven’t seen an engine problem in years. No fault of anybody at Hendrick engines. We’re running hard here. We were running top five and there’s a ton of RPM down the front-straightaway with the tail wind. We were right in the mix. We were doing the deal. I just couldn’t quite clear some guys to get into that top three or four and then our car would come back to us on the long run after about lap 30. It’s a shame for everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing. Having an engine failure in the Playoffs – it’s just like a huge parachute that slows you up. We’ll pack that parachute up, throw it away and we’ll go to Texas to win.”

Kyle Busch to run five Truck races for KBM in 2023

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Kyle Busch Motorsports announced Wednesday the five Craftsman Truck Series team owner Kyle Busch will race this season.

Busch’s Truck races will be:

March 3 at Las Vegas

March 25 at Circuit of the Americas

April 14 at Martinsville

May 6 at Kansas

July 22 at Pocono

Busch is the winningest Truck Series driver with 62 career victories. He has won at least one series race in each of the last 10 seasons. He has won 37.6% of the Truck races he’s entered and placed either first or second in 56.7% of his 165 career series starts.

Zariz Transport, which specializes in transporting containers from ports, signed a multi-year deal to be the primary sponsor on Busch’s No. 51 truck for all of his series races, starting this season. The company will be an associate sponsor on the truck in the remaining 18 series races.

Myatt Snider to run six Xfinity races with Joe Gibbs Racing

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Myatt Snider is the latest driver to be announced as running a select number of Xfinity races in the No. 19 car for Joe Gibbs Racing this season.

Snider will run six races with the team. Ryan Truex (six races), Joe Graf Jr. (five) and Connor Mosack (three) also will be in JGR’s No. 19 Xfinity car this year.

Snider’s first race with the team will be the Feb. 18 season opener at Daytona. He also will race at Portland (June 3), Charlotte Roval (Oct. 7), Las Vegas (Oct. 14), Martinsville (Oct. 28) and the season finale at Phoenix (Nov. 4).

The deal returns Snider to JGR. He worked in various departments there from 2011-15.

“We’re looking forward to have Myatt on our No. 19 team for six races,” said Steve DeSouza, executive vice president of Xfinity and development. “Building out the driver lineup for this car is an opportunity for JGR to help drivers continue to develop in their racing career, and we’re looking forward to seeing how Myatt continues to grow.”

Said Snider in a statement from the team: “With six races on our 2023 schedule, I’m looking forward to climbing into the No. 19 TreeTop Toyota GR Supra with Joe Gibbs Racing this year. Having worked with JGR as a high schooler and a young racer, it’s an awesome full circle moment to return as a driver to the team that taught me so much about racing itself.

“It’s good to be reunited with (crew chief) Jason Ratcliff as we have an awesome history working together. With many memories and wins from 2013 and 2014 when I worked on the No. 20 Toyota Camry under Jason’s leadership, the team has always been more of a family relationship to me. I’m glad to be returning to the JGR family and looking forward to continuing to learn and grow as a driver.”

Daytona will be Snider’s 100th career Xfinity start. He has one series win and 21 top 10s. He was the rookie of the year in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2018.

Tree Top will be Snider’s sponsor for his six races with Joe Gibbs Racing.

Also in the Xfinity Series, Gray Gaulding, who will run full season with SS Green Light Racing, announced that he’ll have sponsor Panini America for multiple races, including the Daytona opener. Emerling-Gase Motorsports announced that Natalie Decker will run a part-time schedule in both the ARCA Menards Series and Xfinity Series for the team.

 

Travis Pastrana ‘taking a chance’ at Daytona

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In so-called “action” sports, Travis Pastrana is a king. He is well-known across the spectrum of motorsports that are a bit on the edge — the X Games, Gymkhana, motorcross and rally racing.

Now he’s jumping in the deep end, attempting to qualify for the Daytona 500 and what would be his first NASCAR Cup Series start.

Pastrana, who is entered in the 500 in a third Toyota fielded by 23XI Racing, will be one of at least six drivers vying for the four non-charter starting spots in the race. Also on that list: Jimmie Johnson, Conor Daly, Chandler Smith, Zane Smith and Austin Hill.

MORE: IndyCar driver Conor Daly entered in Daytona 500

Clearly, just getting a spot on the 500 starting grid won’t be easy.

“I love a challenge,” Pastrana told NBC Sports. “I’ve wanted to be a part of the Great American Race since I started watching it on TV as a kid. Most drivers and athletes, when they get to the top of a sport, don’t take a chance to try something else. I like to push myself. If I feel I’m the favorite in something, I lose a little interest and focus. Yes, I’m in way over my head, but I believe I can do it safely. At the end of the day, my most fun time is when I’m battling and battling with the best.”

Although Pastrana, 39, hasn’t raced in the Cup Series, he’s not a stranger to NASCAR. He has run 42 Xfinity races, driving the full series for Roush Fenway Racing in 2013 (winning a pole and scoring four top-10 finishes), and five Craftsman Truck races.

“All those are awesome memories,” Pastrana said. “In my first race at Richmond (in 2012), Denny Hamlin really helped me out. I pulled on the track in practice, and he waited for me to get up to speed. He basically ruined his practice helping me get up to speed. Joey Logano jumped in my car at New Hampshire and did a couple of laps and changed the car, and I went from 28th to 13th the next lap. I had so many people who really reached out and helped me get the experience I needed.”

Pastrana was fast, but he had issues adapting to the NASCAR experience and the rhythm of races.

“It was extremely difficult for me not growing up in NASCAR,” he said. “I come from motocross, where there’s a shorter duration. It’s everything or nothing. You make time by taking chances. In pavement racing, it’s about rear-wheel drive. You can’t carry your car. In NASCAR it’s not about taking chances. It’s about homework. It’s about team. It’s about understanding where you can go fast and be spot on your mark for three hours straight.”

MORE: Will Clash issues carry over into rest of season?

Pastrana said he didn’t venture into NASCAR with the idea of transferring his skills to stock car racing full time.

“It was all about me trying to get to the Daytona 500,” he said. “Then I looked around, when I was in the K&N Series, and saw kids like Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson. They were teenagers, and they already were as good or better than me.”

Now he hopes to be in the mix with Elliott, Larson and the rest of the field when the green flag falls on the 500.

He will get in some bonus laps driving for Niece Motorsports in the Craftsman Truck Series race at Daytona.

“For the first time, my main goal, other than qualifying for the 500, isn’t about winning,” Pastrana said. “We’ll take a win, of course, but my main goal is to finish on the lead lap and not cause any issues. I know we’ll have a strong car from 23XI, so the only way I can mess this up is to be the cause of a crash.

“I’d just love to go out and be a part of the Great American Race.”

 

Front Row Motorsports adds more Cup races to Zane Smith’s schedule

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Reigning Craftsman Truck Series champion Zane Smith, who seeks to qualify for the Daytona 500, will do six additional Cup races for Front Row Motorsports this season, the team announced Tuesday. Centene Corporation’s brands will sponsor Smith.

The 23-year-old Smith will drive the No. 36 car in his attempt to make the Daytona 500 for Front Row Motorsports. That car does not have a charter. Chris Lawson will be the crew chief. 

Smith’s remaining six Cup races will be in the No. 38 car for Front Row Motorsports, which has a charter. Todd Gilliland will drive the remaining 30 points races and All-Star Open in that car. Ryan Bergenty will be the crew chief for both drivers this year.

Smith’s races in the No. 38 car will be Phoenix (March 12), Talladega (April 23), Coca-Cola 600 (May 28), Sonoma (June 11), Texas (Sept. 24) and the Charlotte Roval (Oct. 8). 

He also will run the full Truck season. 

Centene’s Wellcare, which offers a range of Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Plans will be Smith’s sponsor for the Daytona 500, Phoenix, Talladega and Sonoma. Centene’s Ambetter, a provider of health insurance offerings on the Health Insurance Marketplace, will be Smith’s sponsor at Texas and the Charlotte Roval. 

Smith’s sponsor for the Coca-Cola 600 will be Boot Barn. 

The mix of tracks is something Smith said he is looking forward to this season.

“I wanted to run Phoenix just because the trucks only go to Phoenix once and it’s the biggest race of the year,” Smith told NBC Sports. “I wanted to get as much time and laps as I can at Phoenix even though it’s in a completely different car. I wanted to run road courses, as well, just because I felt road course racing suits me.”

Smith also will be back in the Truck Series. Ambetter Health will be the primary sponsor of Smith’s Truck at Homestead (Oct. 21). The partnership with Centene includes full season associate sponsorship of Smith’s Truck and full season associate sponsorship on the No. 38 Cup car. 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Lucas Oil 150
Zane Smith holding the Truck series championship trophy last year at Phoenix. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Smith’s connection to Centene Corporation, a St. Louis-based company, goes back to last June’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway near St. Louis. Smith made his Cup debut that weekend, filling in for Chris Buescher, who was out with COVID-19. Smith finished 17th.

“It’s cool to see how into the sport they are,” Smith said of Centene Corporation. “It started out with an appearance I did for them (at World Wide Technology Raceway). I’ve gotten to know that group pretty well.”

Centene also is the healthcare partner of Speedway Motorsports and sponsors a Cup race at Atlanta and Xfinity race at New Hampshire. 

Smith’s opportunity to run select Cup races, including major events as the Daytona 500 and Coca-Cola 600, is part of the fast trajectory he’s made.

In 2019, he made only 10 Xfinity starts with JR Motorsports and didn’t start racing full-time in NASCAR until the 2020 season. Since then, he’s won a Truck title, finished second two other times and scored seven Truck victories.

“I feel like I’ve lived about probably three lifetimes in these four years just with getting that part-time Xfinity schedule and running well and getting my name out there,” Smith said.

He was provided an extra Xfinity race at Phoenix in 2019 with JRM and that proved significant to his future.

“That happened to be probably one of my best runs,” he said of his fifth-place finish that day. “We ran top four, top five all day and (team owner) Maury Gallagher happened to be there. He watched that.”

He signed with Gallagher’s GMS Racing Truck truck.

“It was supposed to be a part-time Truck schedule and (then) I won at Michigan and it was like, ‘Oh man, we’re in the playoffs, we should probably be full-time racing.’ I won another one a couple of weeks later at Dover.”

His success led to second season with the team and he again finished second in the championship. That led to the drive to a title last year.

The championship trophy sits in his home office and serves as motivation every day.

“First thing you see is when you come through my front door is pretty much the trophy,” Smith said. “It drives me crazy now thinking I could have two more to go with it and how close I was. … Really just that much more hungrier to go capture more.”