Kyle Larson feeling comfortable in Next Gen car at Phoenix test


Reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson said the Next Gen car felt similar Tuesday to the previous car, just that “everything was a little more exaggerated with (the Next Gen) car.”

Larson spoke after the first day of a two-day organizational test at Phoenix Raceway — the final test before the season begins with the Feb. 6 Busch Light Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Larson said he’ll be in the car for part of today’s session before William Byron takes over. Testing is scheduled from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m. ET today. will have a livestream of the session.

Tuesday’s session was the first time Larson has been in the car since the 670 horsepower package was settled on in December. He had limited time in the car beforehand. Larson did not participate in the Daytona test earlier this month because he was at the Chili Bowl Nationals.

“I was surprised it didn’t seem too much different than the previous car,” Larson said of the Next Gen car during a press conference after Tuesday’s session. “The steering was maybe a little quicker. Just the little things happened a little quicker. Moments, when you get loose, it just happens a little quicker, stuff like that. Other than that, it felt fairly normal, which I was happy about.”

Larson also got to experience how the car reacted around another car on track Tuesday.

NASCAR Test - Phoenix
After testing all day Tuesday, Kyle Larson will be back in the Next Gen car for part of Wednesday’s organizational test before Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron gets in the seat. (Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images)

“The dirty air is definitely a lot different than the other car,” Larson said, echoing comments made by drivers who took part in the Daytona test this month. “That’s good to learn that. Everything was a little more exaggerated with this car.”

He did like how the car handled in the center of the corner. 

“I’m sure everybody maybe felt better,” he said in his first time back at Phoenix since winning the Cup championship in November. “The tires are bigger and wider and probably have more grip. The independent suspension, I’m sure, helps as well. I’m sure it all kind of helps the center of the corner. It still feels like short track stock cars. They’re heavy and slow.”

Larson said he adjusted to the new car easily. 

“I feel like I adjust to new cars and new situations pretty quickly, just from my experience in all different types of cars,” he said. “I don’t really know if I have a habit because I’m always trying to learn new things every week.”

He said learning the car will continue as the season progresses.

“You’re just going to have to learn every week,” Larson said. “It’s the same, even with the Gen 6 car that we spent years racing. You’re always changing little things and fine-tuning, so nothing is different. Just restarting.”

He’s ready to do some racing.

“I feel like we’re ready to race,” Larson said. “I was happy with the balance of my race car when we unloaded today. I’m confident that we can go out there and race and be competitive right off the bat. I think it will be fine. I’m not too concerned with anything.”

NASCAR Cup playoff standings after Coca-Cola 600


The severe penalty to Chase Briscoe and his Stewart-Haas Racing team Wednesday for a counterfeit part dropped Briscoe from 17th to 31st in the season standings. Briscoe now must win a race to have a chance at the playoffs.

The penalty came a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for his retaliation in wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600. Elliott is 28th in the points. The 2020 Cup champion also needs to win to have a chance to make the playoffs.

Ten drivers have won races, including Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney. That leaves six playoff spots to be determined by points at this time. With 12 races left in the regular season, including unpredictable superspeedway races at Atlanta (July 9) and Daytona (Aug. 26), the playoff standings will change during the summer.

Among those without a win this season are points leader Ross Chastain and former champions Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski and Elliott.

Here’s a look at the Cup playoff standings heading into Sunday’s Cup race at World Wide Technology Raceway in Madison, Illinois. Drivers in yellow have won a race and are in a playoff position. Those below the red line after 16th place are outside a playoff spot in the graphic below.

NASCAR issues major penalties to Chase Briscoe team for Charlotte infraction


NASCAR fined crew chief John Klausmeier $250,000 and suspended him six races, along with penalizing Chase Briscoe and the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing team 120 points and 25 playoff points each for a counterfeit part on the car.

The issue was a counterfeit engine NACA duct, said Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, on Wednesday. That is a single-source part.

MORE: Updated Cup playoff standings

The team stated that it accepts the L3 penalty.

“We had a quality control lapse and a part that never should’ve been on a car going to the racetrack ended up on the No. 14 car at Charlotte,” said Greg Zipadelli in a statement from the team. “We accept NASCAR’s decision and will not appeal.”

Asked how then piece could have aided performance, Sawyer said Wednesday: “Knowing the race team mentality, they don’t do things that would not be a benefit to them in some way, shape or form from a performance advantage.”

The penalty drops Briscoe from 17th in the season standings to 31st in the standings. Briscoe goes from having 292 points to having 172 points. He’ll have to win to make the playoffs. Briscoe has no playoff points at this time, so the penalty puts him at -25 playoff points should he make it.

Briscoe’s car was one of two taken to the R&D Center after Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 for additional tear down by series officials.

The penalty comes a day after NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in last weekend’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.