What drivers said after Miami Cup race

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Here is what drivers said following Sunday’s Cup race at Homestead-Miami Speedway:

William Byron – Winner: “Yeah, it’s huge. In this format with winning being so important, it’s nice to chase points at times, but yeah, no doubt we were in a huge hole. The (Daytona) 500, we had a lot of success going down there for qualifying and was excited about the 500 and then we get crashed early and almost flip over and then we go to the road course and we had probably a top-10 run going, which was going to be good, and we had some issues. It was a tough start to the season, but we didn’t really think about that going into this week. We just thought about executing a good race. It’s always nice when the speed is there, but I feel like we put in the effort to make sure it was, and it was kind of a flawless weekend, really.”

Tyler Reddick – Finished 2nd: “Well, there’s a lot of positives. I feel like the story of our – of my rookie season and the story of our team last year was start off really good, midway through the race, just go all the – it just blows up in our face and we just don’t get a good finish out of it. Today was the opposite, which was nice. It’s something that we’ve been needing to get, figure out how we can have nights like this and what we can do to continue to stay hungry and keep fighting. We definitely tried to work on our car a lot throughout the night, but then we just made some choices to just go for track position on the pit stops, and that definitely helped us, too. There is positives, but there isn’t a whole lot you can take away from here and apply at other racetracks as a driver and how you drive the track. But how you execute and all that, you can kind of apply going forward.”

Martin Truex Jr. – Finished 3rd: “The track changed a lot. Our Bass Pro Shops Toyota Camry was really fast at times; at times, a little bit off. On that last run, for whatever reason, I was just babying it. The 24 (William Byron) got the lead from me on that restart and then the 5 (Kyle Larson) got by us and I’m just biding my time waiting for them to start coming back to me and they just never did. They obviously were really fast at the end and we weren’t quite as good that last run. These things are so hard to win. These cars are so touchy and just needed one more adjustment to have a chance.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 4th: “It got pretty intense there at the end. I was just trying to take care of my tires and was just struggling on the long runs. We were loose for a majority of the race and in that last run, we actually got kind of tight. But I felt like being tight was better for my long runs than loose, just because I could be a little more confident. I would have liked to finish second, but those guys were better than me in the end and I just couldn’t hold them off. I hate that I gave up those spots. But it was a good day for the NationsGuard Chevy team. Congrats to William Byron. It’s really cool for William to get a win this early in the year. Hats off to their team and hopefully we can get it done soon.”

Kevin Harvick – Finished 5th: “We actually had a good car the second half of the race. We were just way too loose in the first third of the race. The Busch Light Ford team did a great job of getting the car better and a great job on pit road keeping our track position and the things we had early in the race, so I’m just really proud of the way that everybody is battling right now. I would consider these three tracks that we’ve gone to so far kind of hit or miss for me as far as my likeability as far as driving and the things we have going on. To have the finishes that we’ve had in the first three races says a lot about our team.”

Michael McDowell – Finished 6th: “I think it says a whole lot for this whole Front Row Motorsports organization. We’re just making huge improvements and to come here to a very challenging mile-and-a-half and run in the top 10 and not luck our way in – we raced there all night long – is super impressive. Thank you to everybody back at the shop. I’ve got to thank Love’s Travel Stop, Speedy Cash, Freight Auctions, Speedco and especially Ford, and our Roush Yates engines are super strong right now. Everything is clicking. The momentum is going and it’s pretty awesome right now. It’s exciting to be a part of this organization and to have this momentum. Like I said, this is a win for us to come to Homestead and run in the top 10.”

Kurt Busch – Finished 8th: “I’m not going to second guess having to pit. We had a vibration and a loose wheel and we had to pit. We unlapped ourselves and drove all the way back to eighth. It just took our chance of winning away or being up front for a final restart. But what a really good long-run speed car, the Monster Energy Chevy was really fast with the sun out and on long runs, so that’s the good. We just need to find our short run speed and when the track picks up pace at night.”

Alex Bowman – Finished 9th: “Good, solid top-10 finish for our Ally Camaro. Bummed a little bit; we got some damage that hurt us there at the end. But really solid day, especially from starting in the back. Really proud of everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, especially William Byron for picking up another win. That’s really cool for him. We’ll move onto one of our best race tracks next week. I know we’ll be really good in Vegas.”

Kyle Busch – Finished 10th: “We struggled a bit tonight with our M&M’S Fudge Brownie Camry. We finally got the handling back in the right direction there closer to the end, but we just didn’t quite have the longevity we were looking for. We’ll take what we learned today and hopefully get better for Las Vegas next weekend.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 12th: “All-in-all, not a bad night for the Bass Pro Shops / TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. We really had a strong car early. We drove to the front and we were going to finish fifth in Stage 2 but the caution came out. We restarted on the bottom and just made the wrong move going into Turn 1 and lost a bunch of spots. We lost some Stage Points there, so that was disappointing. We were able to get a Stage Point at the end of Stage 1. I thought we were going to be pretty good. We just never got going again like we needed to. We kind of got jumbled on some restarts. Man, Homestead-Miami Speedway is such a fun track. I got a little too tight in and loose off at the end. We just missed it when it got darker outside. We were really good early. We were doing a good job of keeping up with the track, but it changed drastically. It was really cool to see Tyler Reddick drive up to second and show us what we’ve got. It’s on to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for us.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Finished 13th: “It wasn’t pretty, but we were able to get the job done in our No. 47 Kroger/Tide Chevrolet. We started off really good at the beginning of the race and I felt like we definitely had a car that we could run up front with and we were running up front, but on the restart right before the end of Stage 1 we got stuck in the middle lane and shuffled back. From there, we just couldn’t make up the track position as the track changed. We finally made some changes on the long run at the end that played into our advantage and we were able to salvage a decent day out of it. Homestead-Miami Speedway is unlike any intermediate track we go to, but we had a really strong day at Las Vegas Motor Speedway last year and I feel confident heading out west next week that we’ll be able to keep our momentum going and get stronger.”

Daniel Suarez – Finished 15th: “It was good. It was positive. We came through some adversity very early. We had a little damage at the start of the race and all in all, I’m very proud of my team. They did a hell of a job. The pit crew did a very, very good job. They have a lot of potential and I’m very happy to see that. I haven’t had that in probably two years. And just overall, I’m very happy with the product that we are making. We are showing well there. We just have to clean up a few things to get closer to a top-10.”

Brad Keselowski – Finished 16th: “We didn’t get the finish we wanted with our Dent Wizard Ford, but the guys had a solid day on pit road and I’m proud of them. We’ll rebound next week in Las Vegas.”

Ross Chastain – Finished 17th: “The first mile-and-half track for me with the No. 42 team, our Chevy Accessories Camaro was good. Starting in the back from last week’s bad finish did not help. We fought a tight handling car most of the night, but made some promising gains. My restarts, I need to get a little better on decisions, but we’ll be okay. A promising night, first down force race for the No. 42 car, man these things are different, but in a good way; fun to drive. Can’t wait for Vegas!”

Chase Briscoe – Finished 18th: “I felt like for all the things we went through to finish 18th was a good recovery for being two laps down to catch back up. I’m still just learning so much. I felt like it took me until halfway through the race to even understand what I needed to do and then I definitely got schooled on restarts at the beginning and that’s kind of everything in this deal. It’s gonna take time. It’s gonna take experience and learning the hard way, so we’ll continue to build on it. I felt like this was our first real race of the season in a sense, so we’ll go to Vegas and now we’ll finally be able to start a little bit towards the front and pit stall selection will be a little bit better, so hopefully it will pay dividends.”

Chris Buescher – Finished 19th: “It was a really good start for us, and I was really happy with the speed we had in the daylight in our Fastenal Ford Mustang. Really proud of this group. I think we knew this would be a pretty good test for what we were able to have made gains on during the off-season, and I think that showed that a lot of things we hit on and are headed in the right direction. With that, unfortunately the night did not do us a whole lot of favors, and dirty air was really rough on us there at the end. But we still learned a ton out of it. A little bit of fender damage that may have slowed us down. It’s an excuse basically. We’ve got to keep working at it hard, but I am really proud of everybody and everybody back at the shop. They did a really nice job on this race car. I think we made some awesome gains. We’ve just got to keep our heads down going to Vegas and see what we can apply and definitely work on what we can make better as the racing goes on.”

Cole Custer – Finished 23rd: “Well, that really stings. Mike (Shiplett, crew chief) and the guys did everything they could to help fix our ability to turn through the center of the corner, and we knew that when the sun went down we would have the rear grip we were struggling with early in the race. It was looking like it might be a top-five day, but then we needed to make sure we had fuel enough to get to the end. At worst we had our first top-10 of the season, and then the tire started coming apart with three to go. It’s a shame for the HaasTooling.com team, but we are looking forward to heading out West to Vegas and Phoenix.”

Joey Logano – Finished 25th: “We just couldn’t find the handling during the race. The guys worked on it every stop and we made some incremental gains, but we were just too far off. Pit stops were solid. We’ve got the right pieces. We’ll go to Vegas next week and try to win another Pennzoil 400.”

Erik Jones – Finished 27th: “It was a frustrating day overall for our Richard Petty Motorsports team. Starting out, the No. 43 Armor All Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE was really loose and we worked most of the day to get it better. We were fighting to stay on the lead lap and be in contention. It got better towards the end as the sun went down and the track cooled down. Our Chevrolet Camaro came to us. Unfortunately, I got in the fence, cut a tire down, lost some positions there and ended up not getting the finish that we really wanted. It was a tough day, but we will move on and keep working. It is still early in the season and we are still trying to figure each other out. We’ll continue to make stuff better.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 29th: “It was a tough day for our DEX Imaging Ford Mustang team. We struggled with the balance but felt like we were making progress. Unfortunately, I got squeezed into the wall and that basically ruined our day. We’ll put it behind us and move to Las Vegas next week.”

Aric Almirola – Finished 30th: “We fought hard all day to get our Smithfield Ford where we needed it. We found some speed there in the second stage and were headed in the right direction on the balance of the car. I got tight there and slid up the track into the 12. That put us back. On to Vegas.”

Corey LaJoie – Finished 36th: “Today was the first true test of the year for our Spire Motorsports Chevy team, after a tough week of being extremely short-handed due to COVID-19 protocols. I thought we did a good job of getting both cars to the race track with nothing falling off. Steve Letarte was in the process of making the balance of our car better, when we had an unfortunate mechanical failure, shortening our day. I’m excited to get to Vegas next week. We’ll have crew chief Ryan Sparks back & should also have a full crew, so we’ll show up better and stronger! Thanks to Letarte for pinch hitting & Marwin Sports for their partnership this week. Congratulations to fellow Team Chevy driver, William Byron, on the win.”

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)