What drivers said at Kansas

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Here is what drivers said after Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway:

Kyle Busch — Winner: “What’s really cool is that we started the race good and we worked our way forward from the start of the race. We made minor adjustments all day to the car and nothing really did anything. We kept getting tighter as the day went on, even though we were trying to free up. We did a long sim session this week, that was helpful. I feel like we’re really close for Kansas at least and what we can do and what we can learn on that. I look forward to hopefully being able to celebrate with my team and hopefully have a good night tonight. It’s cool to be able to work the way we did today.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 2nd: “We had the right pit strategy once the cautions came out there. We had the pit road penalty and came in for tires and (crew chief Rodney Childers) made a great call of coming back in to put tires on and that kind of put us on the offense. We were able to be really aggressive on the two restarts we had at the end and were able to make up some ground. Everybody on our Busch Light Ford Mustang did a great job today of just hanging in there. We made a few mistakes, but we made our car better throughout the whole day and were more competitive than we had been in the last couple mile-and-a-half races.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 3rd: “We weren’t quite as fast as we wanted to be. The Gibbs cars were real fast and Kyle Larson was screaming fast, so a very similar race for us to Vegas, kind of right there on that edge of the top five. We just need a little bit more, but we almost stole one there with pitting and the yellow came out there with 10 to go and it was just kind of the restart chaos and we all run into each other, whether it’s me running into someone or somebody else running into somebody it’s just part of it, but, all in all, not a bad day for the Verizon 5G Ford Mustang.”

Matt DiBenedetto — Finished 4th: “Holy cow, I’m mentally tired. That was wild. Every restart was insane. That’s how Kansas is because you run from the bottom to the top. I’ve got to give a lot of credit again, I know I do it a lot, but my spotter Doug Campbell does an excellent job. My team did a great job today. We started the race and I was like, ‘Oh, we’re not very good.’ We were just hanging on and we had to defend all day and then to come home with a fourth is excellent. The car looked fantastic. People love this thing. The Menards and Dickies Mustang looked awesome, bright yellow, it looks good. I’m glad we brought it home. Man, we’re on a roll — another top five.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 5th: “We were solid. We weren’t anything stellar, but definitely a step in the right direction from where we’ve been over the last three or four weeks. Proud of that. Alan (Gustafson, Crew Chief) and our UniFirst team made a good call there to come get tires. I felt like that was the right move. I know it didn’t win the race, but I felt like that was the thing to do. Those restarts just get so wild and it’s really hard to predict what lane is going to do what. You just try to make the best choice that you have available at the time and hope it goes your way. Proud of the effort and hopefully we can just keep this momentum going forward. Hopefully, we’ll be where we need to be soon.”

MARTIN TRUEX, JR. — Finished 6th: “At the end there, I was second through (Turns) 3 and 4 and came off of 4 and (Brad Keselowski) and (Kevin Harvick) somehow got linked together and went flying past me doing the old bump draft deal. When they got to Turn 1, (Harvick) never lifted and turned (Keselowski) sideways right in front of me, and I had to stop, so I lost two more spots on the last lap because I lost all my momentum. Tough deal there, but overall just a tough day for us. We started there mid-pack with our Auto-Owners Camry and it took a while to get any progress. We struggled with the handling, back and forth between tight and loose all day. Just could never get it all tied together. Never could get it to do what we wanted. It was a real handful in traffic. Scratched and clawed for the best we could get and that was sixth, which is not all that terrible.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 7th: “We had a really strong No. 8 Childress Vineyards Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE today at Kansas Speedway, which we used to grab valuable stage points all throughout the day and top it all off with a seventh-place finish. I was able to run the wall really well during the early stages of the race, which really helped keep our track position and earn those stage points. Eventually my car started to build tighter and tighter throughout the runs, and that made my entry on both sides of the track a challenge. Being looser definitely worked best for our car, and my team did a good job working on the balance of the car to get it to where it needed to be later in the race. We did have a slight miscue on pit road late in stage 3, but luckily caught a caution quickly and got our lap back, letting us stay in the mix for remainder of the race. It was a good day for us. We earned the most stage points we have all year today and got out of there with a top-10 finish. The focus will now turn to Darlington Raceway, which is another good track for us, so I’m excited about that.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 8th: “That was a good ending for autoTempest Ford Mustang group. It was a fight all day. We worked hard at it and everybody did a great job to get us home with a top-10. It is a respectable finish from where we started. We kept working on it and getting better. It is a fun race track. Kansas is always fun being able to move around and have options. The late race restarts were pretty wild. We came out in once piece and the car is clean and I am just glad to be able to get autoTempest their first top-10 in NASCAR.”

William Byron — Finished 9th: “We got a top-10 here at Kansas (Speedway). We fought all day. The first stage looked really good, but we were fighting the balance and just wasn’t very maneuverable in traffic. We were just kind of stuck to the top lane. I could run the bottom, but it just wasn’t fast enough. We kind of had a struggle of a day. I felt like we were on both sides. We got it way too tight, way too loose, and then somewhere in the middle by the end. We got it to take off ok on the restarts and picked up a top-10. We’ll take that. “Really proud of the effort of the No. 24 Team. It shows the strength of our team to finish top-10 when we don’t have a good car. We’ll just keep fine-tuning those balance things and try to bring a little better package when we come back to one of these 1.5-mile tracks. We’ll work on it and definitely get better for the next one.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 10th: “We held in there all day to earn another top-10 finish in the Bass Pro Shops/TRACKER Off Road Chevrolet. We started the race sixth, but it took us a while to get the handling of the No. 3 Chevrolet dialed in. We were tight, then we would get better for a while, and then we would end up tight again. At the beginning of stage 3, we raced from 17th to 10th in one lap. There was a lot of restart chaos. With about 10 laps to go, we pancaked the outside wall hard. I was doing the best I could, but we were just too tight to make the move stick. We had to pit, and it put us all the way back to 22nd in the lineup, so I’m pretty happy with the top 10. That is exactly what this team does. We make the best of it. We do it every week.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 11th: “Well, the guys, they never give up. We had a good car, but we never really found the balance on the car. The car had good speed. We have had this package on some other 1.5-miles and we were fast in the top 10. But this time, we were just all over the place. We were just talking about that; like on the splitter, tight, loose, all over the place, and we were never able to find the right balance. By the time that we were decent, it was late. I felt like we had probably a shot at a good top 10 right at the end, but with the No. 20 (Christopher Bell) blocking and all the mess, it was like starting all over again. I feel like we were lucky a little bit in that last restart with four tires. The car was fast in the beginning and we were able to rescue a decent finish.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 15th: “That one was a battle; it was rough. Our strength is normally restarts and I couldn’t do anything. The car was swapping ends on me and I was like ‘do this, do that’, trying every different sequence we could. Man, we were just stuck. We were welded 11th to 15th. It wasn’t our best Kansas outing. We just have to figure out what trends are happening and with the way things are shaking up with the tires, I couldn’t be aggressive on restarts. The car wanted to swap ends. That’s not my normal deal – normally I’m able to plug the holes and go and grab us spots. The pit crew were the ones gaining us spots today. We’ll just keep plugging away.”

Joey Logano — Finished 17th: “I am okay. I stayed pretty hydrated in the car so everything was fine. It was a roller coaster day for our AAA Mustang. We started in the back and couldn’t get our way up there. Then we had the opportunity to take two (tires) and it was all well and good, and then we had a bad restart and hit the wall. We had damage and put tires on and got back up to 11th. When the 12 and whoever else was pushing and got all loose they stopped right in front of me on the last restart. These lanes you pick and what lane you are in on restarts is just chaos up there. I don’t want to say it is luck but one time you are better taking the top lane and worth losing two spots and then the next time I wish I had been on the bottom. (Chris Buescher) took the bottom behind me and he finished eighth. Go figure. That is what these races are coming down to and if you aren’t up in the top-three or four it just becomes a mess back there.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 18th: “Pretty trying day for us to say the least. We had a bunch of issues going on with the car. Just really missed it all day and couldn’t get the car where we needed it. Our Ally 48 Camaro was just not great. Greg (Ives, Crew Chief) and the guys worked on it a lot. We don’t really know what happened, but we will go home and get to work and figure out why we weren’t where we needed to be.”

KYLE LARSON — Finished 19th: “Yeah, just lining up behind Blaney, and my plan was just to push him as hard as I could and try and be with him on the backstretch to shove him and hopefully get them guys racing in front of me or potentially get inside or outside for the lead somehow. I had just planned on pushing him really hard, and obviously I did that and got him sideways and ended up getting us both in the wall. Probably should have just laid off once I got to the corner and hopefully a run came to where I could get to his back bumper on the backstretch. Hate that I screwed that up and cost ourselves a good finish.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 20th: “Today ultimately turned out good for us. The HighPoint.com Ford guys fought all day to get us back in a position to get back on the lead lap, and the cautions fell the right way for us at the end. We still have some work to do, but we definitely found something we can build on at these mile-and-a-half tracks.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 21st: “Unfortunate end to our race on the last restart. We had a decent Menards/Moen Ford all day, especially on the long runs it was good. The pit crew did a great job executing and we were in a position to win on the last restart. Certainly a better day than where we finished.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 22nd: “Honestly, it was a really solid day. I don’t know if we were good enough to be a top-10 car, but raced our way up inside the top 20 and really had our own throughout the day, so I’m proud of that. I’m proud of being able to establish track position at a non-track position racetrack, so our MoneyLion Ford Mustang was pretty quick. I probably had a few more adjustments left to know I would be really good, but, otherwise, just late-race restarts with comers and goers. It looked like (Ricky Stenhouse Jr.) couldn’t keep his car under control and pretty much slammed us into the wall, so it’s unfortunate to come with damage, but as far as I understand it that’s our first lead lap finish, which is kind of a kick in the gut if you ask me, but past that a really solid day without the finish to show.”

Cole Custer — Finished 24th: “Kansas is probably the trickiest mile-and-a-half (oval) we go to, and we just had a tough time shaking a condition where we couldn’t get good corner entry. That, combined with being tight in the center of the corner that we just couldn’t improve on over the long haul, it made for a pretty frustrating day. We just have to keep working hard and do everything we can to be better the next time.”

Erik Jones — Finished 25th: “Just a tough day for the Lonely Entrepreneur Chevy. Have some things to improve on for the mile-and-a half’s, but we know what direction to go.” 

Aric Almirola — Finished 29th: “Today just didn’t go our way in Kansas. The guys kept trying to make changes to my car on the pit stops, but it kept building tighter as the runs continued on. Then, we got hit with the vibration and the uncontrolled tire penalty in the final stage to put us four laps down. We just couldn’t recover from that late in the race.”

RCR reveals sponsors for Kyle Busch’s No. 8 car in 2023

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Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, 3CHI, Alsco, Lenovo and BetMGM will return to sponsor the No. 8 team in 2023, Richard Childress Racing announced Friday morning.

Kyle Busch takes over the No. 8 in 2023 after spending the past 15 seasons at Joe Gibbs Racing.

“Our business relationships are paramount to our organization and we’re proud to confirm that our primary partners on the No. 8 team will be returning to RCR in 2023,” said Torrey Galida, president of RCR, in a statement. “Their commitment to our organization is a testament to our team’s collaborative approach and the value it has delivered to so many great brands.”

RCR did not detail which how many races each company will serve as primary sponsor in 2023.

3CHI was the primary sponsor on the car 14 times this past season with Tyler Reddick, including the Daytona 500 and the team’s wins at Road America and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Lenovo was the sponsor on four races this past season, including Reddick’s win at Texas. Cheddar’s was the primary sponsor for four races this past year, including the Coca-Cola 600 and the season finale at Phoenix. Alsco served as the team’s primary sponsor in two races this past season, including the Las Vegas playoff race.

RCR also announced Friday that its deal with Cheddar’s is a multi-year agreement with the company that made its debut in the sport three years ago.

“We’ve loved partnering with RCR and the No. 8 race team since our debut into the sport three years ago, and we’re just getting started,” said John Felton, Senior Director of Marketing for Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, in a statement. “We’re excited to welcome Kyle Busch and Rowdy Nation to the Cheddar’s family, and we look forward to celebrating many wins to come.”

The 2023 Cup season opens with the Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race Feb. 5 before the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.

Milestones in reach for NASCAR Cup drivers in 2023

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While the countdown to the start of the 2023 NASCAR season in February continues, here’s a look at some of the milestones Cup drivers could reach in the upcoming season:

AJ Allmendinger

Allmendinger returns to drive the No. 16 for Kaulig Racing in 2023. He’s scheduled to make his 400th career Cup start March 26 at Circuit of the Americas, a race he nearly won last year.

Aric Almirola

Almirola is 26 laps away from leading 1,000 laps in his Cup career.

Ryan Blaney 

Blaney is scheduled to make his 300th career Cup start Sept. 24 at Texas in the playoffs. Texas was the site of his last Cup win, which came in the All-Star Race in May.

Chase Briscoe

Briscoe is scheduled to make his 100th career Cup start Sept. 10 at Kansas in the playoffs.

Kyle Busch 

Busch needs one win to set the NASCAR record for most consecutive seasons with a win. He is tied with Richard Petty with 18 entering the 2023 season, which will see Busch drive for Richard Childress Racing.

Busch is 92 laps away from leading 19,000 laps in his Cup career.

He is 34 starts away from tying Dale Earnhardt Sr. for 23rd on the all-time list of most career starts at 676. Busch is scheduled to tie Earnhardt’s mark Oct. 22 at Homestead-Miami Speedway in the playoffs and surpass the mark the next weekend at Martinsville Speedway in the playoffs.

William Byron 

Byron is scheduled to make his 200th career Cup start July 16 at New Hampshire.

Chase Elliott

Elliott is a win from scoring a victory in six consecutive Cup seasons.

He is 100 laps away from leading 5,000 in his Cup career.

Justin Haley

Haley is scheduled to make his 100th career Cup start Sept. 10 at Kansas in the playoffs.

Denny Hamlin

Hamlin is two wins away from 50 career Cup wins. That would tie him with Junior Johnson and Ned Jarrett for 13th on the all-time victory list. 

Kevin Harvick

Harvick is scheduled to make his 800th career Cup start April 23 at Talladega.

He is 15 starts from tying Jeff Gordon for ninth on the all-time list for most career Cup starts at 805. Harvick is scheduled to tie Gordon’s mark June 4 at World Wide Technology Raceway and is scheduled to move ahead of Gordon on June 11 at Sonoma.

Harvick is 99 laps away from leading 16,000 laps in his Cup career.

He is five top fives away from having 250 in his Cup career.

Brad Keselowski

Keselowski is scheduled to make his 500th career Cup start June 4 at World Wide Technology Raceway.

He is 93 laps away from 9,000 career laps led in Cup.

Kyle Larson

Larson is scheduled to make his 300th career Cup start March 19 at Atlanta.

He is four top 10s away from 150 career top 10s.

Joey Logano

Logano is one win from having a Cup victory in 12 consecutive seasons, which would tie him for 13th on the all-time list with Denny Hamlin.

Logano is one top five away from 150 career top-five finishes.

He is nine starts away from tying Richard Petty for 19th on the all-time list of consecutive starts at 513. Logano is scheduled to reach that mark April 16 at Martinsville and surpass it April 23 at Talladega.

Tyler Reddick

Reddick is nine top 10s away from 50 career top 10s.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Stenhouse is scheduled to make his 400th career start in the season finale at Phoenix.

He is five top 10s away from 50 career Cup top 10s.

Daniel Suarez

Suarez is one top 10 away from 50 career top 10s in Cup.

Martin Truex Jr.

Truex is 16 starts from tying Jeff Burton for 10th on the all-time list of consecutive starts at 628. Truex is scheduled to reach that mark at June 11 at Sonoma and surpass it June 25 at Nashville.

Bubba Wallace

Wallace is scheduled to make his 200th Cup start June 25 at Nashville.

Sammy Smith to run full Xfinity season for Joe Gibbs Racing in 2023

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Sammy Smith will run the full Xfinity schedule in the No. 18 car, Joe Gibbs Racing announced Monday.

The 18-year-old Smith, a Toyota development driver, won the ARCA Menards Series East title for a second consecutive year in 2022 and also made nine Xfinity starts with JGR.

Pilot Flying J, TMC Transportation and Allstate Peterbilt will be sponsors on Smith’s car throughout the 2023 season. Jeff Meendering will be Smith’s crew chief.

“This is an opportunity I have been working towards,” Smith said in a statement from the team. “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel full-time and am looking forward to a great season. I learned a lot in 2022 that will really help me to be competitive and run up front in the Xfinity Series. Thank you to Pilot Flying J, TMC Transportation, Allstate Peterbilt Group, and Toyota Racing Development for supporting me in my racing career. I am excited for next year and appreciate the opportunity.”

Said Steve DeSouza, JGR executive vice president of Xfinity Series and driver development, in a statement: “Sammy is a fantastic addition to our 2023 Xfinity lineup. He proved to have the passion and the talent to necessary to compete for wins in the races he ran for us in 2022,” .“We are excited to get him in the No. 18 full time and know he will be competitive from the jump.”

NASCAR Power Rankings: Racing through the numbers

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Some drivers carry one car number throughout their racing careers. The most famous racers in NASCAR’s 75-year history typically are associated with one number, although some have raced under several.

Victories, championships and driver personalities give life to something as generally mundane as a number. And the most popular produce even bigger numbers, as in sales of T-shirts, caps and other souvenirs.

Here’s a look at 10 of the most iconic NASCAR numbers:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. 43 — Since Richard Petty’s emergence as a superstar in the 1960s, the number 43 has been NASCAR’s most iconic. Although Lee Petty, Richard’s father, usually drove No. 42, he actually scored the first win by the 43, in 1959. The Petty blue No. 43 carried Richard to a string of championships. He scored 192 of his 200 race wins with the number. It rolls on today with Erik Jones, who took the 43 to the Southern 500 victory lane this season.

2. 3 — The fiercely facing forward No. 3 became ultra-famous while driven by seven-time champion Dale Earnhardt (although Earnhardt won his first title driving the No. 2). Earnhardt’s black Chevrolet carried the number to new heights, but Fireball Roberts, David Pearson, Junior Johnson, Buck Baker, Buddy Baker and Ricky Rudd, among others, also won in the car.

MORE: Where are they now? Buddy Parrott

3. 21 — The list of drivers who have raced Wood Brothers Racing’s famous No. 21, with the familiar gold foil numbers, reads like a history of NASCAR. David Pearson brought the most fame to the number, but Tim Flock, Curtis Turner, team owner Glen Wood, Cale Yarborough, A.J. Foyt, Donnie Allison, Neil Bonnett and Dale Jarrett also have driven the 21.

4. 11 — This number is responsible for more race wins — 228 — than any other. It also has scored eight championships — three each by Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough and two by Ned Jarrett. Other stars in the 11 over the years: Junior Johnson, Bobby Allison, A.J. Foyt, Terry Labonte, Geoffrey Bodine, Bill Elliott and Denny Hamlin. And some guy named Mario Andretti.

5. 48 — This number was largely ignored until the arrival of Jimmie Johnson, who carried it to seven championships, including five in a row.

6. 24 — The number 24 was a lonely number until 1994 when a kid named Jeff Gordon drove it to its first win, in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The brightly colored 24 became a regular visitor to victory lane from that point forward, carrying Gordon to four championships and becoming one of NASCAR’s most decorated numbers.

MORE: Will Kyle Busch follow footsteps of Tom Brady, Peyton Manning?

7. 18 — Although Dale Jarrett and Bobby Labonte won in the 18, Kyle Busch, draped in the bright colors of sponsor M&Ms, took it into new territory.

8. 22 — NASCAR’s first Cup champion (Red Byron) and its most recent (Joey Logano) rode with the 22. The number has produced 87 wins over the years, including victories by Fireball Roberts, Bobby Allison, Ward Burton, Kurt Busch, Byron and Logano.

9. 2 — Although the 2 carried Dale Earnhardt (1980) and Brad Keselowski (2012) to Cup championships, it is perhaps most identified with Rusty Wallace, whose menacing black No. 2 was powerful at Team Penske. Also successful in the 2: Bill Blair, Kurt Busch and Austin Cindric, this year’s Daytona 500 winner.

10. 9 — The 9 was basically nondescript until Bill Elliott roared out of the north Georgia mountains to turn it into a big winner in the mid-1980s. His son, Chase, continues the trend.