NASCAR will cut spoiler for Thursday’s Next Gen test at Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. – NASCAR will make a spoiler change for Thursday’s Next Gen organizational test, seeking to increase the speed of the cars.

NASCAR will cut the spoiler from 8 inches to 7 inches for Thursday’s session on the Charlotte Motor Speedway oval. The resulting speed change is expected to be the equivalent of adding 30 horsepower.

John Probst, NASCAR senior vice president of racing innovation, said the adjustment will be made to offset a previous change to the car. To counter the increased heat drivers had experienced in the cars, rear window vents were added to increase air circulation through the cockpit. While reducing the extreme heat in the car, the rear window adjustments add drag and slow the car.

“We’ll run that (Thursday) and see where that gets us,” Probst said of the 7-inch spoiler.

MORE: Next Gen test speeds Nov. 17

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. said Wednesday afternoon that the speed “feels pretty slow as far as … lap times go, but when you do have a moment it actually almost feels like you’re going to faster.”

Probst praised the car after Austin Dillon’s crash, which happened a few minutes after the session began at 9 a.m. ET Wednesday. Dillon’s car was in the lower groove when he lost control and the car shot up the track, hitting the SAFER barrier nearly head-on.  

Dillon was uninjured.

“It was a really good feeling knowing the car performed as designed,” Probst said. “Looking at the front bumper, it looked like it crushed the way it was designed to do. Talking with him, he felt like it wasn’t anything different than what he’s felt in the past.”

Probst categorized the impact as one “that’s on the more severe side but not what I would call a really severe (hit), probably on the high side to average for a weekend event for somebody that noses it in like that.”

The team sent the car to Richard Childress Racing for repairs. The car was back at the track about eight hours later.

Probst said that NASCAR did not see any steering box issues, which were prevalent when teams tested on the Charlotte Roval in October. Drivers complained then about vibrations with their steering wheel and raised concerns of what it might be like on the oval – with its higher speeds – if not rectified.

NASCAR had a test last week on the Roval to work though the issue.

Probst said NASCAR consulted with people beyond the series, including those in sports car racing, along with manufacturers.

“We used a lot of (manufacturer) resources to come up with several changes we wanted to make to the steering system to address the vibration,” Probst said.

“We weren’t overly successful replicating it on the dynos, so we felt like to make sure we actually fixed it we wanted to come back over to the Roval. … The first thing we did is we unloaded the cars and made sure that we had still had the problem, which we did, and then started to applying some of the fixes that we had been working on and ended up finding a solution.”

Drivers who spoke to the media Wednesday did not report any steering wheel issues,

Also, Probst said NASCAR will add an organizational test at Homestead-Miami Speedway during the season. NASCAR has organizational tests scheduled for Phoenix (Dec. 14-15), Daytona (Jan. 11-12), Las Vegas  (late January), Martinsville (some point after that race) and Homestead.

Probst said that NASCAR is not organizing a mock race in Thursday test session, but some teams have discussed running in a group to see how the car handles in traffic. NASCAR will have live pit stops from 4-5 p.m. ET  (the final hour of Thursday’s session).

Talladega Xfinity starting lineup: Austin Hill wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Austin Hill will lead the field to the green flag Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway after scoring his first career Xfinity Series pole.

Hill won the pole Friday with a lap of 182.036 mph. He will be joined on the front row by fellow playoff contender Ty Gibbs (181.981 mph).

MORE: Talladega Xfinity starting lineup

Playoff drivers will start in seven of the top eight spots. The exception is Sheldon Creed, who will start third after a lap of 181.870 mph. Hill and Creed give Richard Childress Racing the first and third starting spots.

Justin Allgaier (181.529) qualified fourth and Brandon Jones (181.305) completed the top five. Noah Gragson, who has won four races in a row, starts sixth after a lap of 181.134 mph and is followed by playoff drivers Josh Berry (181.052) and AJ Allmendinger (180.932).

The Xfinity Series race is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET Saturday on USA Network.

Talladega Truck starting lineup: John Hunter Nemechek wins pole

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — John Hunter Nemechek will start on the pole for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race.

Nemechek earned the pole with a lap of 178.767 mph.

Nemechek is one of four playoff drivers starting in the top six: Chandler Smith (second, 177.732 mph), Zane Smith (fourth, 177.061) and Ty Majeski (sixth, 176.744). Majeski clinched a spot in next month’s championship race at Phoenix with his Bristol win.

MORE: Talladega Truck starting lineup

Also qualifying in the top five were Carson Hocevar (177.068) in third and Matt Crafton (176.960) in fifth.

Failing to qualify are Tim Viens, Spencer Boyd, Jason White and Natalie Decker.

Saturday Talladega Xfinity race: Start time, TV info, weather

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The second race of the opening round of the Xfinity playoffs takes drivers to Talladega Superspeedway.

Noah Gragson secured his spot in the next round by winning last weekend at Texas. Ryan Sieg holds the final transfer spot. Riley Herbst is the first driver below the cutline, one point behind Sieg. Also below the cutline are reigning series champion Daniel Hemric (-8 points), Brandon Jones (-12) and Jeremy Clements (-28).

Details for Saturday’s Xfinity race at Talladega Superspeedway

(All times Eastern)

START: The command to start engines will be given at 4:09 p.m. … Green flag is scheduled to wave at 4:21 p.m.

PRERACE: Xfinity garage opens at 1 p.m. … Driver introductions are at 3:30 p.m. … The invocation will be given at 4 p.m. … The Brookwood High School choir will perform the anthem at 4:02 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 113 laps (300.58 miles) on the 2.66-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 25. Stage 2 ends at Lap 50.

TV/RADIO: USA Network will broadcast the race at 4 p.m. Countdown to Green begins at 3:30 p.m. on USA Network. … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 3:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

STREAMING: NBCsports.com

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Sunny with a high of 78 degrees and no chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Noah Gragson won and was followed by Jeffrey Earnhardt and AJ Allmendinger.

 

Could Talladega open door for a record 20th winner?

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Talladega Superspeedway is known for fast speeds, huge drafting packs, sensational wrecks and tight finishes.

On Sunday (2 p.m. ET on NBC), it could be the site of an unexpected record.

Nineteen different drivers have won Cup races this season, tying a record. If a new winner shows up in Talladega victory lane Sunday, it will mark the first time in the sport’s history that 20 drivers have won races in a single season.

One of the remarkable things about that possibility is that the driver who has far and away the best record at Talladega among active drivers is among the group still looking for a win in 2022. That’s Brad Keselowski, who has won six times at NASCAR’s biggest track. No other active driver has more than three. (Keselowski is tied for second on the all-time Talladega win list with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Dale Earnhardt tops that list with 10).

Talladega and Daytona tend to reject repeat winners. The past nine races at the two tracks have been won by nine different drivers.

Other seasonal non-winners who could break through at Talladega:

Ryan BlaneyBlaney’s only win this year is in the All-Star Race, so he’s still looking for his first points win while continuing to chase the championship. He won at Talladega in 2019 and 2020.

Martin Truex Jr. — Superspeedways have been a pox on Truex’s career. In 70 races at Talladega and Daytona, he has failed to win.

Aric Almirola — In what has been a disappointing season, Almirola’s best finish is a fifth — twice. He won at Talladega in 2018 but hasn’t had a top 10 in his last four runs there.

Michael McDowell — McDowell’s best finish at Talladega is a third, but he is usually very competitive in the Talladega and Daytona drafts, winning the 2021 Daytona 500.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Stenhouse won at Talladega in 2017 and usually is a factor in the draft.

Harrison Burton — Burton has had a tough rookie season, but the peculiarities of the Talladega draft should play in his favor. The No. 21 team’s next win will be its 100th.

Justin Haley — Haley has no top-10 runs in five Talladega starts, but he showed potential last week with a third-place finish at Texas.

Corey LaJoie — LaJoie has started nine Cup races at Talladega and has led exactly one lap. His best finish is a seventh.

Noah Gragson — Gragson, the star of this Xfinity season, is in the No. 48 for Hendrick Motorsports with Alex Bowman out because of concussion-like symptoms. In the Talladega draft he could be a threat.