Crew chief Rudy Fugle strives to be a fast learner at Hendrick

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Rudy Fugle knows what winning with an elite team is like.

Over the past eight seasons with Kyle Busch Motorsports, the 36-year-old crew chief contributed to 28 victories and seven championships (five owner’s titles, two driver titles) in the Camping World Truck Series.

It’s one thing to have success in the Truck Series. But more is expected when joining one of the flagship organizations in the Cup Series.

Fugle is getting his opportunity to do it as he joins Hendrick Motorsports as the new crew chief for William Byron, five years after their first stint together at KBM.

While times have changed for both, getting up to speed there hasn’t been Fugle’s main focus in the last few weeks.

Instead, it’s been learning the ins and outs of a Cup Series machine.

“I am trying to soak up as much information as fast as I can so that I can have intelligent conversations about this specific race car that we’re racing weekly,” he said Thursday in a Zoom teleconference.

“… It’s just the cars are different aero and suspension and different things than the Trucks I’ve worked on. When you work with a team long enough, all that stuff is embedded in your brain and you know everything like the back of your hand.

“I’m trying to make it where I know all that stuff as much as possible so I can help make those decisions and know as much as possible to make things better when I’m asked upon.”

Helping him get acclimated will be one of the great crew chiefs of all time.

Fugle is replacing future Hall of Fame crew chief Chad Knaus, who oversees all four of Hendrick’s Cup programs as vice president of competition.

When asked how he sees his working relationship with Knaus going, Fugle indicated he’d be all ears when the seven-time champion has advice to give.

“Naturally, I think I’m an inquisitive person and I’m confident in what I know,” Fugle said. “I’m definitely going to listen more than I speak when I speak to somebody like that, but I think that’s just respect, right? You have a huge amount of respect for people, and for somebody that’s done what Chad has done.

“He’s a legend; just to even say it like that, he just is. You figure out how to talk to him and be respectful – and I don’t mean that in the wrong way. What’s the best way to be prepared to get somebody’s time and then ask the inquisitive questions the right way, I guess is the right way to say that.”

Also helping is a sense of familiarity and not just with Byron.

On his first day with the organization, Knaus took Fugle for a tour of the sprawling Hendrick campus in Concord, North Carolina.

As it turned out, Fugle already knew “more than half the people” either from college, previous jobs, or “from some race track somewhere.”

With the getting-to-know-you phase somewhat averted, Fugle has quickly settled in to prepare for 2021.

“Everybody on the No. 24 (team) – the majority of them were there last year,” he said. “And I’m the new guy. And that’s okay.

“They’re showing me the ropes and everything they’re doing, and I’m picking holes or what could be holes in the thing, because I’m seeing it a different way than they’ve looked at it and trying to come up with a new way to solve a problem.”

Jordan Anderson in fiery crash in Talladega Truck race

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NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver Jordan Anderson was airlifted to an area hospital after being involved in a fiery crash during Saturday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Anderson’s car caught fire in the middle of a pack of drafting trucks. Flames burst from three areas around the truck as Anderson tried to slow the vehicle and move onto the track apron. The truck hit the inside wall. Anderson climbed from the vehicle in a cloud of smoke as it came to a stop.

Anderson, 31 and a resident of Forest Acres, S.C., was transported to the infield medical center before being airlifted. NASCAR confirmed Anderson’s trip to the hospital.

Fox Sports reported that a team member said Anderson had burns.

Anderson is a part-time driver in the Truck Series. He has a top finish of 14th this season.

Starting lineup for Talladega Cup race: Christopher Bell wins pole

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Six playoff drivers will start in the top 10 for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway.

Christopher Bell won the pole for the race Saturday with a speed of 180.591 miles per hour. He was followed by Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin, Aric Almirola and Chase Briscoe.

MORE: Talladega Cup starting lineup

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

Playoff drivers starting in the top 10 are Bell, Larson, Hamlin, Briscoe, Ross Chastain (sixth) and William Byron (ninth).

Noah Gragson, who qualified seventh, is replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms.

Ryan Blaney, starting 19th, is the lowest playoff driver on the starting grid.

 

Christopher Bell wins Cup Series pole at Talladega Superspeedway

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Playoff driver Christopher Bell won the pole position Saturday for Sunday’s 500-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama.

Bell, 11th in the playoff standings and below the cutline entering Sunday’s race, ran 180.591 mph to edge second-place Kyle Larson at 180.516.

Playoff drivers took six of the top-10 starting spots.

MORE: Talladega Cup qualifying results

The race is the second in the second round of the playoffs. Any playoff driver who wins the race will automatically advance to the next round.

Joey Logano leads the playoff standings.

Noah Gragson, replacing Alex Bowman, who is sitting out the race with concussion-like symptoms, qualified seventh.

The race (2 p.m., ET) will be broadcast by NBC.

 

 

Sunday Talladega Cup race: Start time, TV info, weather

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Sunday will mark a difficult crossroads for NASCAR. As several of its top drivers express serious concerns about safety, the Cup Series is at Talladega Superspeedway, the circuit’s biggest track and site of many massive wrecks over its 53 years of existence.

Adding to the tension is the fact that Sunday’s 188-lap, 500-mile race is the middle event in the second round of the playoffs. With a win automatically advancing any of the 12 playoff drivers to the next round, the final laps are likely to be frantic.

Sunday’s race (2 p.m. ET, NBC) will begin with Joey Logano atop the playoff point standings. Following him in the top eight are Ross Chastain, Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Denny Hamlin, Daniel Suarez, Chase Elliott and Chase Briscoe.

Below the cutline are Austin Cindric, William Byron, Christopher Bell and Alex Bowman. Byron fell below the line this week when NASCAR penalized him for bumping Hamlin under caution during last Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. Hendrick Motorsports has appealed the penalty.

Bowman will miss Sunday’s race because of concussion-like symptoms he has experienced after a crash at Texas. Noah Gragson will replace him.

Bell won the pole Saturday with a speed of 180.591 mph.

Details for Sunday’s race:

START: The command to start engines will be given by Jimmy Rane, president of Great Southern Wood Preserving, at 1:52 p.m. (ET). … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:04 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver introductions are at 1:15 p.m. … The invocation will be given by Barbara Embry, chaplin of Citizens Baptist Medical Center, at 1:43 p.m. … The national anthem will be performed by the 313th U.S. Army Band at 1:45 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 188 laps (500 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 60. Stage 2 ends at Lap 120.

STARTING LINEUP: Talladega Cup starting lineup

TV/RADIO: NBC will broadcast the race at 2 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 1 p.m. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 1 p.m. … SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Mainly sunny. High of 78. 5% chance of rain.

LAST TIME: Bubba Wallace won last October’s race, which was shortened to 117 laps by rain. Brad Keselowski was second.

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