Cup, Xfinity regulars set to take on Knoxville in Trucks


Knoxville Raceway, the “sprint car capital of the world,” will host its inaugural NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday night.

For Xfinity Series regular Michael Annett, it’s a meaningful moment.

MORE: Atlanta and Knoxville entry lists

MORE: Results from Thursday’s practice session 

Before he races his JR Motorsports Xfinity entry at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN), Annett will compete in the Knoxville Truck race for Young’s Motorsports in its No. 02 entry.

The Annett family has a long, successful history at Knoxville. Michael’s late father, Harrold Annett, owned the No. 12 Mickow sprint car that raced at Knoxville weekly during the 1970s and 1980s.

Harrold Annett, who passed away this past March, earned a Knoxville track championship in 1980 as team owner for driver Mike Brooks.

Later on in the 1980s and into the 1990s, Harrold had more success with driver Sammy Swindell, who took the No. 1 sprint car – bearing the colors of Harrold’s trucking company, TMC Transportation – to numerous wins at Knoxville.

Now, Michael Annett gets to add to that legacy, starting with the Trucks’ opening practice on Thursday night.

“I’m really excited,” Annett said Thursday morning in a media teleconference. “I’ve dreamt about running a race at Knoxville pretty much forever. I was there when I was three days old, so the fact that tonight, I get to make my first laps there is just really exciting.”

“It’s awesome that NASCAR decided to go there. When it popped up on the schedule, I called my people right away and said ‘I need to be in that race.’ The fact that (Young’s Motorsports owner) Tyler Young was accommodating to me – he’s a good buddy of mine – and the fact I get to do that with his organization is pretty special.”

Annett is not the only Xfinity driver in the field at Knoxville. Josh Berry (No. 25 Rackley W.A.R. Chevrolet) and Brett Moffitt (No. 37 AM Racing Chevrolet) are also among those entered.

There’s also a Cup regular competing at Knoxville. Chase Briscoe is back with Roper Racing for his third Truck start of the season.

One of them was on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway back in March, where he finished fifth.

Briscoe said in his own media teleconference on Wednesday that being able to race as often as he can, no matter the car or the surface, makes him “sharper.”

“Even though the cars are totally different and the discipline is different, you’re always learning as a race car driver, so, for me, just being able to race as much as I can, especially with how we don’t have practice anymore — just getting any seat time is better than sitting at home in my opinion,” Briscoe said.

He also believes that having the Trucks race at Knoxville, one of dirt racing’s most hallowed venues, is important to help continue a growing crossover between the dirt world and the NASCAR world.

That crossover has been fueled by events such as the first Cup race on dirt in 50 years at Bristol, as well as the exploits of Kyle Larson, whose success in both worlds this season has made headlines.

“I feel like you’ve seen more sprint car people that in the past wouldn’t really watch NASCAR, but now they do because they have people to cheer for or root for on the NASCAR side,” Briscoe noted. “And the same with NASCAR people that probably would have never watched a sprint car race.

“Now they can watch guys that they watch on Sunday go race sprint cars at the local track or whatever and it gives them a reason to go that they probably wouldn’t have gone if it wasn’t for that. So, I think it’s just a really good crossover for our sport and sprint car racing or dirt track racing in general.

“The more fans that we can get, the better, I think, for all involved.”

The Trucks will practice Thursday night from 7:05-8:25 p.m. ET. On Friday, four qualifying heat races (15 laps each; 7, 7:15, 7:30 and 7:45 p.m. ET) will set the field for the Corn Belt 150 later that night at 9 p.m. ET. All sessions will air on FS1.

Charlotte Cup race postponed to Monday by weather


CONCORD, N.C. — All-day rain Sunday forced the postponement of the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race to Monday.

The postponement means that Charlotte Motor Speedway is scheduled to host 900 miles of stock car racing Monday. A 300-mile Xfinity Series race, originally scheduled Saturday and first postponed to noon Monday, has been rescheduled for 11 a.m. ET Monday (FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). The Cup race is scheduled to start at 3 p.m. (Fox, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

Sunday’s Cup race was scheduled to start at 6:21 p.m. ET, but light rain was still falling at that time in the speedway area near Charlotte. Rain intensified a few minutes later and, despite an evening forecast that showed slight improvement, officials decided at 6:30 p.m. to postpone the race.

Monday’s forecast calls for a 34% chance of rain at the start of the Xfinity race and a 30% chance at the start of the Cup race.

William Byron will start the race from the pole after qualifying was washed out Saturday night.

RFK Racing gains sponsorship from submarine recruiting group


CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR racing and submarines? Yes.

RFK Racing announced Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway that it has entered a partnership with BlueForge Alliance, which is involved in securing workers for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Industrial Base (SIB) program. will be a primary sponsor for RFK drivers Brad Keselowski and Chris Buescher in 10 Cup Series races this year and in 18 races per season beginning in 2024.

The sponsorship will showcase the careers related to the submarine-building program across the nation.

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“I’m proud to support a cause of such vital significance to our country with this new partnership,” Keselowski said. “The synergies between a NASCAR team and our military’s needs to stay on track fast are countless. We hope to inspire the workforce of the next generation across the country when they see RFK race and hear our message.”

The sponsorship will support the mission to recruit, hire, train, develop and retain the SIB workforce that will build the Navy’s next generation of submarines, the team said.

“We are excited and grateful to be teaming with RFK Racing to drive awareness of the thousands of steady, well-paying manufacturing jobs available across the nation. Innovation, working with purpose and service to others are hallmarks of both of our organizations,” said Kiley Wren, BlueForge chief executive. “Together, we aim to inspire NASCAR fans and all Americans to pursue career opportunities that will support our national defense.”

Kyle Larson visits Indianapolis Motor Speedway to survey the scene


Former NASCAR champion Kyle Larson, who is scheduled to run the Indianapolis 500 in 2024 as part of an Indy-Charlotte “double,” visited the Indianapolis Motor Speedway garage area Sunday on Indianapolis 500 race day.

Larson said he wanted to familiarize himself with the Indy race-day landscape before he becomes immersed in the process next year.

MORE: Jimmie Johnson is building a team and pointing to Le Mans

Larson later returned to Charlotte, where was scheduled to drive in the Coca-Cola 600 Sunday night. Next year, he’s scheduled to run both races.

“I love racing,” Larson told NBC Sports. “I love competing in the biggest races. In my opinion, this is the biggest race in the world. I wanted to be a part of it for a long time, and I finally feel like the timing is right. It’s pretty cool to have a dream come true.

“I wanted to come here and kind of experience it again and get to experience how crazy it is again before I’m in the middle of it next year. I kind of want as little surprise as possible next year.”

In the 2024 500, Larson will be one of four drivers with the Arrow McLaren team.

Earlier this month, Larson and Hendrick Motorsports vice chairman Jeff Gordon attended an Indy 500 practice day.

Larson said Sunday he hasn’t tested an Indy car.

“I don’t know exactly when I’ll get in the car,” he said. “I’ve had no sim (simulator) time yet. I’ve kind of stayed back. I didn’t want to ask too many questions and take any focus on what they have going on for these couple of weeks. I’m sure that will pick up after today.

“I look forward to the challenge. No matter how this experience goes, I’m going to come out of it a better race car driver.”




Jimmie Johnson: Building a team and pointing toward Le Mans


CONCORD, N.C. — These are busy days in the life of former NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

Johnson is a co-owner of Legacy Motor Club, the Cup Series team that has struggled through a difficult first half of the season while it also is preparing for a switch from Chevrolet to Toyota next year.

Johnson is driving a very limited schedule for Legacy as he seeks to not only satisfy his passion for racing but also to gain knowledge as he tries to lift Legacy to another level. As part of that endeavor, he’ll race in the Coca-Cola 600 in Legacy’s No. 84 car, making his third appearance of the season.

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And, perhaps the biggest immediate to-do item on Johnson’s list: He’ll race June 10-11 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the world’s biggest endurance race and another of the bucket list races the 47-year-old Johnson will check off his list.

“I’m excited, invigorated, exhausted — all of it,” Johnson said. “It has been a really exciting adventure that I’ve embarked on here — to learn from (Legacy co-owner) Maury Gallagher, to be a part of this great team and learn from everyone that I’m surrounded by. I’m in a whole new element here and it’s very exciting to be in a new element.

“At the same time, there are some foundational pieces coming together, decisions that we’re making, that will really help the team grow in the future. And then we have our job at hand – the situation and environment that we have at hand to deal with in the 2023 season. Depends on the hat that I’m wearing, in some respects. There’s been a lot of work, but a lot of excitement and a lot of fun. I truly feel like I’m a part of something that’s really going to be a force in the future of NASCAR.”

Johnson is scheduled to fly to Paris Monday or Tuesday to continue preparations for the Le Mans race. He, Jenson Button and Mike Rockenfeller will be driving a Hendrick Motorsports-prepared Chevrolet as part of Le Mans’ Garage 56 program, which is designed to offer a Le Mans starting spot for a team testing new technologies.

“For me, it’s really been about identifying marquee races around the world and trying to figure out how to run in them,” Johnson said. “Le Mans is a great example of that. Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600 — these are the marquee events.”

He said his biggest concerns approaching the 24-hour race are being overtaken by faster prototypes in corners and racing at night  while dealing with the very bright lights of cars approaching in his rear view mirrors.

At Legacy, Johnson has work to do. Erik Jones has a top finish of sixth (and one other top 10) this season, and Noah Gragson is still looking for his first top-10 run. He has a best finish of 12th – at Atlanta.

“I think Erik (Jones) continues to show me just how good he is,” Johnson said. “He’s been in some challenging circumstances this year and keeps his head on — focuses, executes and gets the job done. I’ve really been impressed with his ability to stay calm and execute and just how good he is.

“With Noah, from watching him before, I wasn’t sure how serious he took his job in the sport. I knew that he was fast, and I knew that he liked to have fun. I can say in the short time that I’ve really worked with him closely, he still has those two elements, but his desire to be as good as he can in this sport has really impressed me. So I guess ultimately, his commitment to his craft is what’s impressed me the most.”