Cup teams head back to work with Next Gen test at Phoenix


Cup teams get their final time in the Next Gen car this week before they race it next month. 

NASCAR will hold an organizational test Tuesday and Wednesday at Phoenix Raceway. Teams are scheduled to test from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET each day. One car per organization is allowed at the test for one- or two-car teams; two cars per organization are allowed for three- or four-car teams. will live stream all of the action on its YouTube channel.

For reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson, this test will be significant because he’s had limited time in the Next Gen car.

“I haven’t been in it since they narrowed down the rules package,” Larson told NBC Sports. “For me at Phoenix, I’m just going to try to learn as much as possible in a short time. 

“Stuff that will stand out to me will be the steering, the brakes, just the comfort in the car. …  I’m sure we’ll do some longer runs, see how the car handles differently than it would have with the other car. There’s just a lot to learn in a day and a half.”

Kyle Busch also has had limited time in the car and will use this test to further familiarize himself with the vehicle.

“It’s all about trying to get laps and repetitions,” Busch told NBC Sports. “Continuing to give the information to the engineers and the guys who work on the car to get it comfortable and set up how you need it to be to go out there and have a fast car in the races.”

NASCAR has had organizational tests for the Next Gen car on the Charlotte Roval (October), Charlotte oval (November and December) and at Daytona (January). 

This marks the first organizational test with the Next Gen car at a track 1 mile or less in length. This also provides teams a chance to test the car on the track that will host the championship race in November. 

“It will be interesting to see if we’re shifting on the oval, how hard you can turn into Turn 3, a straight corner entry vs. Turn’s 1 rounded entry,” Kurt Busch told NBC Sports. “Excited to go to a short track just to see (the car’s) feel.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has spent time in a simulator preparing for this test with his JTG Daugherty Racing team. 

“For us, the old cars, you kind of floated it down into the corner in Turn 1 and then kind of carried your momentum,” he told NBC Sports. “Then you tried to back your corner up into Turn 3, so you could get to the gas sooner and get off Turn 4 with some good throttle and speed there.”  

“In the simulator, I was playing around … floating it into the corner. I played around with driving it really far into the corner and using a lot of brake because our brakes are so good compared to the car we ran previously. That’s something that I’m looking forward to getting to Phoenix and seeing what the difference is going to be like.”

Also at the test will be Bubba Wallace, who had offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn labrum. He has not been in the Next Gen car since the October test at the Charlotte Roval. He told NBC Sports last week that his shoulder is “100%” and he’s ready to go.

Cup teams compete Feb. 6 in the Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Teams will race Feb. 17 in the Daytona qualifying races in preparation for the Feb. 20 Daytona 500.

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.