Friday 5: Offseason not a time for rest for Tyler Reddick

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When an up-and-down season that saw Tyler Reddick not secure a playoff spot until a roller-coaster night in the regular season finale, only to be eliminated in the first round, came to an end, he was not ready for a break. 

“When I got to the first day after this past season and was that motivated to just roll into the next year without a break, I knew I was doing the right things last offseason and throughout this past year because I’m just as hungry – if not more hungry – than I was before,” Reddick told NBC Sports. 

“The effort, the time and the experience gained (the previous offseason) was clearly paying off, so the motivation was there to just, ‘Let’s turn it up a little more if we can. Let’s pick it up a notch and take it even further.’”

Last offseason’s effort helped Reddick improve on road courses and set the foundation for this offseason, preparing for the debut of the Next Gen car and the chance to score his first Cup victory.

His focus on road courses last offseason led to a pole at Circuit of the Americas and four top-10 finishes at such tracks, including a runner-up performance at the Charlotte Roval. His three stage wins last year all came at road courses. Top-10 finishes at Road America (eighth), COTA (ninth) and Watkins Glen (10th) played a key role in securing the final Cup playoff spot last season.

Offseason is a chance to improve for Reddick and not just take a break. 

“Whatever it is in life that you want or really desire … it doesn’t just come to you,” Reddick said. “You have to go out there, whether that is quite literally get out there and figure it out, or put something in place or position to gain experience. 

“The time I put into (improving on road courses last offseason) equaled the reward that I got out of it for getting better at something that I felt like I truly struggled with. Just lots and lots of time.”

This offseason presents a challenge because there are so many unknowns with the Next Gen car.

Reddick notes how reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson races so much beyond NASCAR, giving him chances to refine his skills and experience a variety of situations that could prove helpful in his Cup car. 

“When I think of somebody that spends as much time in a race car as possible, trying to learn and trying to get better, (Larson) has got everybody beat by a lot,” Reddick said. “You could probably add the amount of lap time or track time that he has and you could probably throw five or six other drivers together and you wouldn’t still get the amount he has. He’s just raced so much.”

Reddick said one way to match some of what Larson has done on track is through working hard in the offseason and that includes iRacing. Reddick says it can be helpful driving different types of cars on iRacing than he would normally race in preparing for the unknowns of the Next Gen car. 

“The learning process that you go through from your first lap on and how much can you speed that up is very important,” he said. “I think that is something Kyle (Larson) is really good at. He’s put himself in a lot of different race cars and been able to adapt to them really quickly. He’s done that a lot still to this day, and I think that allows him to be able to run so well in the Cup Series.”

NASCAR Next Gen Test
Tyler Reddick during the organizational test in December at Charlotte Motor Speedway. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Larson is among six Cup drivers with rides for 2022 scheduled to compete in next week’s Chili Bowl, joining Chase Elliott, Christopher Bell, Alex Bowman, Chase Briscoe and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

Elliott, who won the 2020 Cup title, began running midget cars in Dec. 2020. Elliott says he likes the challenge of learning a new discipline of racing. 

“I don’t mind getting embarrassed, I just want to get better,” Elliott said on MRN’s “NASCAR Live” this week.

Reddick doesn’t have the option for such racing, so his focus has been finding other ways to improve in the offseason.

“Not knowing what the car is going to drive like to the full extent, you don’t want to do too much of one thing and start to lead yourself down a false path,” Reddick said. “Because of that, the energy and focus that I had available that we were able to direct at a specific number of things, kind of had to widen that out (this offseason).”

Even with the new car, there are lessons that can carry over from last season. For the highs and lows that Reddick and his No. 8 Richard Childress Racing team went through to make the playoffs, one of the biggest lessons came in the playoff opener in the Southern 500. Reddick struggled with his car, finishing 18th. 

“All this extra effort in all these little areas to really go through the details is great, but if you break away from the fundamentals that are the foundation for all those little extra things that make it much more complete, you have nothing, you have no foundation to base on,” Reddick said. “That’s where we just faltered a little bit. We got so caught up in getting all the details on the car right, me paying attention to all the little details of the track changing and all these other things, that we just got away from the very simple stuff.”

Lesson learned and focus is on the Next Gen car. Reddick is scheduled to be back in the car next week during the second day of NASCAR’s organizational test (Jan. 11-12) at Daytona International Speedway.

“My approach is kind of going in with an open mind and just absorbing as much as I can,” Reddick said of that test. 

2. Busting at the seams

Kaulig Racing will field five teams this season and all of them are operating out of one shop with another building not expected to be ready until the end of the month.

“We are busting at the seams,” Chris Rice, president of Kaulig Racing told NBC Sports. 

It’s just been part of a busy offseason for Rice and the organization, which will field two full-time Cup cars this season and three Xfinity teams.

NASCAR Cup Series Verizon 200 at the Brickyard
Kaulig Racing President Chris Rice (left) celebrates with AJ Allmendinger and team owner Matt Kaulig after Allmendinger’s Cup win at the Indianapolis road course last season. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

“I’ve worked the entire time,” Rice said. “I do what I love, so I’m not working, honestly. I’m more concerned doing a good job for the fans with the new Cup car, with the Next Gen car.

“I’ve been very involved, probably more than most new teams with watching what goes on at the practices, speaking up in the meetings. I’ve been involved in that. 

“Our new shop, we renovated that, that’s been a little bit of a hassle because everybody is behind in everything. … My wife Tammy always tells me, ‘Hey, God has got it, so don’t stress it.’ It’s been definitely more stressful, not due to going Cup racing, not due to getting people, just the parts and pieces and the things that are out there that are hard to get.”

Rice said this week the organization had two Cup cars. He said they’ve tested the same car at each of the organizational tests and will use the same car at next week’s organizational test at Daytona. 

Justin Haley will drive the No. 31 for the full season in Cup. AJ Allmendinger, Daniel Hemric and Noah Gragson will split time in the No. 16 Cup car this season.

Hemric, the reigning Xfinity champ, Allmendinger and Landon Cassill will compete for the organization in the Xfinity Series. 

Even with all the work this offseason, Rice says it’s important to have a light mood.

“We try to have fun,” he said. “Our victory lane celebrations are genuine. It’s not something that we’re putting on. We know for a fact that we might not ever be in victory lane again. That might be the last time we step in victory lane. That’s not our plan, but we know for sure that it’s a privilege to win one of these NASCAR races.

“We let everyone know at Kaulig Racing that we’re going to do everything we can to keep the fun, no matter what is going on. We want to know everyone’s life. We want to be a part of their family. We want them to understand this is a family atmosphere but also it’s a competitive sport.

“When you walk into the Cup garage, the intensity steps up. It’s only because throughout so many years we’ve allowed that to happen. It’s still NASCAR racing. It’s still racing and it still should be fun.”

3. The development of the Next Gen car

It is less than a month before the Next Gen car makes its debut in a race in the Feb. 6 Busch Light Clash exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

It has been quite a journey for the car. It was scheduled to make its debut in 2021 before the COVID-19 pandemic halted development of the car in 2020 and pushed the vehicle’s debut to this season.

Here’s a look at the tests that have been done with the car since 2019:

Oct. 8-9, 2019: Austin Dillon at Richmond

Dec. 9-10, 2019: Joey Logano at Phoenix 

Jan. 15-16, 2020: Erik Jones at Homestead

March 2-3, 2020: William Byron at Auto Club Speedway

Aug. 24-25, 2020: Cole Custer at Dover

Nov. 16-17, 2020: Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. at Charlotte Motor Speedway (one day on Roval and one day on the oval)

Dec. 15-16, 2020: Chris Buescher at Daytona

Jan. 12, 2021: Kurt Busch at Charlotte oval

March 16-17, 2021: Bubba Wallace at Richmond

March 30-31, 2021: Alex Bowman (Chevrolet), Drew Herring (Toyota) and David Ragan (Ford) in a manufacturer test at Martinsville

April 6-7, 2021: Tyler Reddick at Darlington for a tire test

June 1-2, 2021: Kurt Busch (Chevrolet), David Ragan (Ford) and Drew Herring (Toyota) at manufacturer test at Charlotte oval.

June 29-30: Ross Chastain (Chevrolet), David Ragan (Ford) and Drew Herring (Toyota) at manufacturer test at Dover.

June 30, 2021: Crash test of Next Gen car at Talladega

July 27-28, 2021: Justin Allgaier (Chevrolet), David Ragan (Ford) and Drew Herring (Toyota) at manufacturer test at Texas.

Aug. 18, 2021: Christopher Bell at Bristol.

Sept. 7-8, 2021: Chris Buescher, William Byron, Ross Chastain, Cole Custer, Austin Dillon, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano at Daytona

Oct. 11-12, 2021: Organizational test at Charlotte Roval

Oct. 26, 2021: Tony Stewart does tire test at Bowman Gray in preparation for Busch Light Clash at the LA Memorial Coliseum. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Clint Bowyer also run laps in the car that day.

Nov. 17-18, 2021: Organizational test at Charlotte oval

Dec. 9, 2021: Stewart Friesen did a tire test at Lancaster (South Carolina) Motor Speedway in preparation for the dirt race at Bristol.

Dec. 15 and 17, 2021: Organizational test at Charlotte oval 

Jan. 5-6, 2022: Kurt Busch, Ross Chastain and Chris Buescher at Atlanta for a tire test on the repaved track

Jan. 11-12, 2022: Organizational test at Daytona

Jan. 25-26, 2022: Organizational test at Phoenix 

4. Top teams in the last three years

Winless in its first three seasons, Kaulig Racing has become one of the top teams in the past three seasons. The organization is tied for third in wins since the 2019 season in the Xfinity Series.

Here are the teams with the most wins in the Xfinity season since 2019

33 – Joe Gibbs Racing

16 – Stewart-Haas Racing

14 – Kaulig Racing

14 – JR Motorsports

13 – Team Penske

7 – Richard Childress Racing

In the Cup Series, Joe Gibbs Racing also has won the most races in that stretch. 

Here are the Cup teams with the most wins since 2019:

37 – Joe Gibbs Racing

28 – Hendrick Motorsports

19 – Team Penske

15 – Stewart-Haas Racing

4 – Chip Ganassi Racing

In the Camping World Truck Series, Kyle Busch Motorsports has the most wins. Here’s a look at the winningest Truck teams since 2019:

22 – Kyle Busch Motorsports

18 – GMS Racing

10 – ThorSport Racing

8 – Hattori Racing Enterprises

3 – Niece Motorsports

5. NASCAR competition changes

NASCAR announced this week that Brad Moran will be the Cup Series Managing Director and oversee the Cup garage. He replaces Jay Fabian, who stepped away from his duties in August after facing charges of animal cruelty.

Moran had been the series director in the Camping World Truck Series since July 2016.

“The entire competition team is incredibly strong at the NASCAR Cup Series level, and I look forward to helping them grow the series at this exciting time in our sport,” Moran said in a statement from NASCAR. “As we introduce the Next Gen car and continue to promote the outstanding talent and personalities at NASCAR’s top level, I’m honored to help shepherd the series alongside this experienced group of teammates.”

NASCAR also announced that Seth Kramlich will take over Moran’s role overseeing the Truck Series this season. Kramlich had been the assistant director in the Xfinity Series the past three seasons

Wayne Auton remains Xfinity Series Managing Director.

An upset for the ages: Jody Ridley’s 1981 victory at Dover

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NASCAR’s history is sprinkled with upsets, from unlikely winners riding the Talladega draft to short tracks that yielded unexpected wins when favored leaders crashed on the final lap.

Survey the list of surprise winners over the decades, and Jody Ridley’s name likely will stand out.

On May 17, 1981, two days shy of his 39th birthday, Ridley won a 500-mile race at Dover Motor Speedway in Delaware. It was the only victory of Ridley’s Cup career and the only win scored by Virginia team owner Junie Donlavey, who participated in the Cup Series for 45 years, with 863 starts.

Donlavey’s team was perpetually underfunded, and his drivers often raced with tired, overused engines and tires that had too many laps. He survived with a mostly volunteer crew and enough sponsorship to carry him from race to race. Rival drivers and team owners considered Donlavey one of the most popular residents of NASCAR garage areas across those many years, but he rarely had the chance to reach for victory lane.

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On that spring day at Dover, one of NASCAR’s toughest tracks, everything fell the right way. Many of the tour’s leading drivers parked with engine or overheating problems, and the day’s best car – the Wood Brothers entry driven by Neil Bonnett — was sidelined with an engine issue late in the race after leading 404 laps.

Ridley, running a steady race, benefited from an unusual day at Dover. The race had only two cautions, and the final 471 laps of 500 were run under green-flag conditions. A general lack of cautions prevented top teams from changing tires frequently, putting Ridley, who was used to running tires longer than normal, on better footing.

When Cale Yarborough left the race with engine trouble 20 laps from the finish, Ridley inherited the lead — he had been two laps down to Yarborough — and led the rest of the way. He won by 22 seconds over Bobby Allison, who was the only other driver on the lead lap. Dale Earnhardt finished third, a lap down. Illustrating the problems experienced by many in the field — not an unusual result in those days — was the fact that the fourth-place driver, D.K. Ulrich, was nine laps off the lead pace.

Ridley drove into Victory Lane for the first time, much to the delight of Donlavey’s crew.

“Junie took it all in stride,” Ridley, now 80, told NBC Sports. “He wasn’t as excited as the team guys were. Junie was the type of guy who didn’t want to cash in on other people’s bad luck. He kind of felt sorry for the guys who blew up. That’s just the way he was.

“For me, it was the highlight of my career. Once I got into Cup racing, I knew we probably wouldn’t do much winning because we didn’t have the equipment. It was icing on the cake to win that one.”

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Jody’s son Anthony, then 22 years old, was listening to the race via radio in Chatsworth, Georgia, where the family lived.

“I was upstairs at my girlfriend’s house, and I think I bounced all over the upstairs and then floated down to the first floor,” Anthony said. “It was all pretty cool. Dad called home. He’s the kind of guy who doesn’t get real excited about anything, but he was happy.”

The win paid $22,560. Ridley’s cut from the check (40 percent, generally standard in those days) was $9,024, a nice payday but not Ridley’s biggest in Cup. He would win more for finishing in the top 10 in the Daytona 500.

“We were having a good day,” Ridley said, “but I never thought about winning it. We just didn’t have the cars. But we stayed in the hunt, and the other teams couldn’t get too many new tires, and Junie had put a different gear in the car. Normally he would put in a taller gear and drop the RPMs down (to protect the engine), and you couldn’t keep up. For some reason that day, he didn’t. And it paid off.”

Before joining the Cup tour full time in 1980 at age 37, Ridley had established himself as one of the top short-track drivers in the country. Across the South, at top Eastern Seaboard tracks and into the Midwest, a visit by Ridley usually meant a tough night for the locals.

MORE: Five laps that impacted Cup season

Ridley’s older brother, Biddle, and Anthony kept the Ridley short-track cars running.

“We did all that together for 36 years,” said Anthony, who started changing tires during pit stops at the age of 14. “It was how we made a living, but trying to feed three families out of a race car is tough.”

Ridley still lives in Chatsworth, where his 1981 victory was a sports highlight for years.

“He can’t hear well, but he’s still tough as a pine knot,” Anthony said.

 

 

 

 

2023 NASCAR, ARCA schedules

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The start of the 2023 racing season moves closer with each passing day.

Here are the Cup, Xfinity and Truck schedules (playoff races in bold), along with the ARCA, ARCA East and ARCA West schedules for the upcoming season:

2023 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

Date Race / Track Network Start Time (ET) Radio
Sunday, February 5 Clash (L.A. Memorial Coliseum) FOX 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thursday, February 16 Duel at Daytona FS1 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, February 19 DAYTONA 500 FOX 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, February 26 Auto Club FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 5 Las Vegas FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 12 Phoenix FOX 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 19 Atlanta FOX 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, March 26 COTA FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 2 Richmond FS1 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 9 Bristol Dirt FOX 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 16 Martinsville FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 23 Talladega FOX 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, April 30 Dover FS1 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 7 Kansas FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 14 Darlington FS1 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 21 NASCAR All-Star Race (North Wilkesboro) FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, May 28 Charlotte FOX 6:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, June 4 World Wide Technology Raceway FS1 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, June 11 Sonoma FOX 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, June 25 Nashville Superspeedway NBC 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 2 Chicago Street Race NBC 5:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 9 Atlanta USA 7:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 16 New Hampshire USA 2:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 23 Pocono USA 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, July 30 Richmond USA 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 6 Michigan USA 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 13 Indianapolis Road Course NBC 2:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 20 Watkins Glen USA 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 26 Daytona NBC 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, September 3 Darlington USA 6:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, September 10 Kansas USA 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 16 Bristol USA 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, September 24 Texas USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 1 Talladega NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 8 Charlotte Roval NBC 2:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 15 Las Vegas NBC 2:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 22 Homestead-Miami NBC 2:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, October 29 Martinsville NBC 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, November 5 Phoenix NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Saturday, February 18 Daytona FS1 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, February 25 Auto Club FS1 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 4 Las Vegas FS1 4:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 11 Phoenix FS1 4:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 18 Atlanta FS1 5:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 25 COTA FS1 5:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 1 Richmond FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 15 Martinsville FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 22 Talladega FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 29 Dover FS1 1:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 13 Darlington FOX 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 27 Charlotte FS1 1:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 3 Portland FS1 4:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 10 Sonoma FS1 8:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 24 Nashville Superspeedway USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 1 Chicago Street Race USA 5:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 8 Atlanta USA 8:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 15 New Hampshire USA 3:00 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 22 Pocono USA 5:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 29 Road America NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 5 Michigan NBC 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 12 Indianapolis Road Course USA 5:30 p.m. IMS/SiriusXM
Saturday, August 19 Watkins Glen USA 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, August 25 Daytona USA 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 2 Darlington USA 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 9 Kansas NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, September 15 Bristol USA 7:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 23 Texas USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 7 Charlotte Roval USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 14 Las Vegas USA 3:30 p.m. PRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 21 Homestead-Miami NBC 3:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 28 Martinsville USA 3:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, November 4 Phoenix USA 7:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

 

2023 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Schedule

Date Location Network Start Time Radio
Friday, February 17 Daytona FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, March 3 Las Vegas FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 18 Atlanta FS1 2:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, March 25 COTA FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 1 Texas FS1 4:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, April 8 Bristol Dirt FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, April 14 Martinsville FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 6 Kansas FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, May 12 Darlington FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, May 20 North Wilkesboro FOX 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, May 26 Charlotte FS1 8:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, June 3 World Wide Technology Raceway FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, June 23 Nashville Superspeedway FS1 8:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 8 Mid-Ohio FS1 1:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 22 Pocono FS1 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, July 29 Richmond FS1 7:30 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, August 11 Lucas Oil Raceway at Indianapolis FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Sunday, August 27 Milwaukee FS1 4:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, September 8 Kansas FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Thursday, September 14 Bristol FS1 9:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, September 30 Talladega FS1 1:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Saturday, October 21 Homestead-Miami FS1 12:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM
Friday, November 3 Phoenix FS1 10:00 p.m. MRN/SiriusXM

2023 ARCA Menards Series Schedule

  • Broadcast schedule, including event start times, will be released at a later date.
Feb. 18 Daytona International Speedway Daytona Beach, FL
March 10 Phoenix Raceway Avondale, AZ
April 22 Talladega Superspeedway Talladega, AL
May 6 Kansas Speedway Kansas City, KS
May 26 Charlotte Motor Speedway Concord, NC
June 17 Berlin Raceway Marne, MI
June 24 Elko Speedway Elko, MN
July 7 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course Lexington, OH
July 15 Iowa Speedway Newton, IA
July 21 Pocono Raceway Long Pond, PA
Aug. 4 Michigan International Speedway Brooklyn, MI
Aug. 11 Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park Brownsburg, IN
Aug. 18 Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, NY
Aug. 20 Illinois State Fairgrounds Springfield, IL
Aug. 27 The Milwaukee Mile West Allis, WI
Sept. 3 DuQuoin State Fairgrounds DuQuoin, IL
Sept. 8 Kansas Speedway Kansas City, KS
Sept. 14 Bristol Motor Speedway Bristol, TN
Sept. 30 Salem Speedway Salem, IN
Oct. 7 Toledo Speedway Toledo, OH

 

2023 ARCA Menards Series East Schedule

March 25    Five Flags Speedway              Pensacola, Fla. 

April 28      Dover Motor Speedway           Dover, Del. 

May 13      Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway    Nashville, Tenn. 

May 20      Flat Rock Speedway              Flat Rock, Mich. 

July 15      Iowa Speedway                  Newton, Iowa 

Aug. 11     Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park  Brownsburg, Ind. 

Aug. 27     The Milwaukee Mile              West Allis, Wisc. 

Sept. 14    Bristol Motor Speedway           Bristol, Tenn. 

 

2023 ARCA Menards Series West Schedule

March 10    Phoenix Raceway                Avondale, Ariz. 

April 1     Irwindale Speedway               Irwindale, Calif. 

April 22    Kern County Raceway Park          Bakersfield, Calif. 

June 2      Portland International Raceway      Portland, Ore. 

June 9      Sonoma Raceway                Sonoma, Calif. 

July 1      Irwindale Speedway               Irwindale, Calif. 

July 29     Shasta Speedway                 Anderson, Calif. 

Aug. 19     Evergreen Speedway             Evergreen, Wash. 

Sept. 30    All-American Speedway            Roseville, Calif. 

Oct. 13     The Bullring at LVMS              Las Vegas, Nev. 

Oct. 21     Madera Speedway                Madera, Calif. 

Nov. 3      Phoenix Raceway                 Avondale, Ariz. 

Each ARCA Menards Series East and West stand-alone race will be streamed live on FloRacing and televised on a delayed basis on USA Network. Race start times, as well as broadcast details for combination races with the ARCA Menards Series will be announced at a later date. 

 

2022 spotlights: The Clash, the King and Martinsville Mania

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The 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season brought something new (a race inside Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum!) and something old (a win by the No. 43!) and a lot in-between.

In many ways, it was one of NASCAR’s best seasons. There were new winners, the Next Gen car kicked up competition a bit and there was a race finish (see the Ross Chastain file) like none other in the history of the sport.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: The name game

There were downsides, too: The safety of the new car came under fire (figuratively and literally, as wheel-well flames ended more than a few rides), drivers’ seasons were interrupted or ended because of hard wrecks and some races were less than stellar.

Looking back over the February-to-November marathon, some races stand out:

Rocking the City of Angels – Despite the naysayers, the Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum was a roaring success. A platter of questions, including whether the purpose-built track inside the stadium would hold up under heavy stock cars and generate good racing, awaited as teams rolled into LA. The racing wasn’t sensational, but it was good, and there were no problems with the track. A huge crowd showed up, and NASCAR left town with many ideas, having proven that it could run a race on a temporary track inside a large stadium. It has escaped no one’s notice that there are many other large stadiums in the country – and, by the way, outside it.

Wiggling at Watkins Glen – The venerable New York road course produced another hot finish as teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott battled for the win. Larson forced Elliott out of the main groove and took the lead for good with five laps remaining. “I’m not proud of it, but I knew it’s what I had to do to get the win,” Larson said. Elliott didn’t publicly criticize Larson, but it was clear he wasn’t pleased with Larson’s move.

MORE: Fighting knights and pie in the sky

Six hundred miles, and then some – The long history of Charlotte Motor Speedway’s 600-mile race has produced some great competition – and some races that prompted long naps. This year’s was one of the craziest and, by the way, the longest. The race went to two overtimes, finally ending after 413 laps and 619.5 miles, making it the longest race in NASCAR’s 75 years. The winner – perhaps most accurately described as the survivor – was Denny Hamlin, who outran teammate Kyle Busch over the final two laps.

The King is back…but where is he? – The Cup playoffs opened at Darlington Raceway with the storied Southern 500, but the playoffs took a back seat to other storylines. Erik Jones scored an upset win in Richard Petty’s No. 43, marking the iconic car’s first victory since 2014. Petty, however, missed the Victory Lane festivities. He and Dale Inman, the No. 43’s former crew chief, left the race early for the drive home to North Carolina. The long night held several incidents, including one involving Kevin Harvick, who criticized NASCAR after his car caught fire, uttering his now-infamous diatribe about what he called “crappy-ass parts.”

No watermelon, but a lotta juiceThe finish of the Oct. 29 playoff race at Martinsville Speedway generated international interest. Christopher Bell won in a must-win situation to advance in the playoffs, but the post-race spotlight was on Ross Chastain, who rode the outside wall through the final two turns at speeds rarely seen on the short track and finished fourth, good enough to stay in the championship hunt. Chastain’s remarkable move drew comment from observers outside NASCAR, including Formula 1 drivers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Friday 5: Memorable images from 2022 NASCAR season

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The end of the season provides a chance to look back and each year I go through the photos on my phone and find those that show the highs and lows of a sport that goes from February to November. 

Here are some of the photos that stood out for me:

1. Daytona 500 

Although the time spent in Daytona Beach, Florida, has shrunk in recent years with a more compact track schedule, the intensity remains. As do the emotions. 

Cup rookie Austin Cindric accomplished “a racer’s dream” in winning the Daytona 500, accomplishing something in his second attempt that took Darrell Waltrip 17 times and Dale Earnhardt 20 times to accomplish.

Cindric blocked teammate Ryan Blaney coming to the finish line and beat Bubba Wallace by half a car length. 

It was the second time Bubba Wallace had finished runner-up in this race. Unlike 2018, when Wallace was excited with finishing second, Wallace felt no such emotion this time. 

“2018 was awesome,” Wallace said of his runner-up result in the Daytona 500. “2022 was not awesome.

“I didn’t have a fighting chance the first time in 2018. This one being that close, it’s like a gut punch.”

The photos that stand out to me are of the picture of Cindric’s car covered in red, white and blue confetti before going through post-race inspection and the disappointment Wallace wore on pit road after the race.

Austin Cindric‘s car after winning the 2022 Daytona 500. (Photo: Dustin Long)

 

A dejected Bubba Wallace after finishing second in the 2022 Daytona 500. (Photo: Dustin Long)

2. Road America 

The Cup Series is not returning to the Wisconsin road course after two years there. Instead, this race will be replaced by the Chicago street course event in 2023.

This past season’s race was memorable. Tyler Reddick scored his first career Cup win on July 3. Nine days later came the announcement that he was leaving Richard Childress Racing for 23XI Racing in 2024 (That timetable moved up to 2023 after RCR signed Kyle Busch to replace Reddick in the No. 8.).

Among the special moments from the Road America race was Austin Cindric walking the length of pit road to victory lane to congratulate Reddick.

Austin Cindric hugs Tyler Reddick in victory lane at Road America on July 3, 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Walking with Cindric, I asked him why he was making the trip to see Reddick.

“I think of anyone in the field, he probably deserves that win more than anybody else,” Cindric told me. “I think he’s put himself in position. He’s a really likable guy, and I feel like you can see how hard he works. 

“I’ve seen him mature as a driver and a person and as a friend and a father. It’s cool to see somebody you’re close to go through that.”

When Cindric arrived in victory lane, he walked up to Reddick and gave his friend a bearhug, lifting Reddick well off the ground.

In all the excitement, Reddick’s son, Beau, was not impressed. He was sound asleep in victory lane.

Tyler Reddick’s son Beau sleeps in victory lane after his father’s first Cup win in July 2022 at Road America. (Photo: Dustin Long)

3. Special moments

One never knows what you’ll come across in a season that stretches so long through the calendar. 

These are a few such moments that proved special for one reason or the other.

As storm clouds gathered over Daytona International Speedway in February, the sun was settling, creating a sky both ominous and spectacular. The photo captures that scene as Cole Custer walks through the garage. After this season, Stewart-Haas Racing announced it was replacing Custer with Ryan Preece in the No. 41 Cup car and that Custer would run in the Xfinity Series for the team.

Cole Custer walks under an ominous sky at Daytona in February 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Another photo that stands out to me comes from the Clash at the Coliseum. There were so many questions about the exhibition race inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, such as if the specially built track would withstand the rigors of cars, what would the debut of the Next Gen car be like and would fans really be interested in such an event.

The track held up. So did most of the cars and the fans came. While not a sellout, more than 50,000 people attended the event and NASCAR noted that many had not purchased tickets to a NASCAR event before. The event was a success.

What stood out to me was the lines of people waiting to buy souvenirs the day of the race. In some places, lines stretched well away from the merchandise trailers. 

Fans stand in line for merchandise at the Clash at the Coliseum in Feb. 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Sometimes you never know what you’ll see at at event. At an event at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Dale Inman and Ray Evernham all stood together. That is 18 Cup championships (eight by Inman, seven by Petty and three by Evernham).

NASCAR Hall of Famers Ray Evernham, Richard Petty and Dale Inman at the NASCAR Hall in April 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

4. New winners 

This season saw five first-time Cup winners: Austin Cindric (Daytona 500 in February), Chase Briscoe (Phoenix in March), Ross Chastain (Circuit of the Americas in April), Daniel Suarez (Sonoma in June) and Tyler Reddick (Road America in July).

I caught this scene of Suarez alone in his thoughts in the garage at Nashville Superspeedway in his first race since that Sonoma victory.

Daniel Suarez at Nashville Superspeedway in June 2022. (Photo: Dustin Long)

5. Martinsville

Ross Chastain’s video game move on the last lap of the playoff race was stunning. Needing two positions to advance to the championship race, Chastain put his car into fifth gear, planted his car against the wall in Turn 3, took his hands off the wheel and let the wall guide his Chevrolet around the final two turns while he floored the throttle.

Amazingly, it worked. He passed five cars and earned a spot in the championship. Although he didn’t win the Cup title, Chastain provided one of the most memorable moments of the 2022 season.

As I was leaving the infield late that Sunday night. I stopped to take a picture of the wall and the marks Chastain’s car had left on its remarkable charge.

Turn 4 wall after Ross Chastain’s video game move on the last lap of the October 2022 race. (Photo: Dustin Long)