Friday 5: NASCAR’s moves increasing chance of conflict on, off track for drivers


NASCAR’s recent changes to the schedule, rules that tighten the competition, and a new car designed to close the gap between teams have put drivers in an ever-tightening vise that could lead to more contact on the track and conflict off it.

Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum is the latest example of NASCAR’s push in this direction. The exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum marks the first time Cup cars will race on a quarter-mile track since 1971. Some drivers believe mayhem will result.

For fans, this could be entertaining. For drivers, it challenges their personal code of what’s acceptable and what’s not while racing in close quarters. It’s an issue drivers have faced more often in recent years. 

“NASCAR has put us all in a position to make challenging decisions on what is right,” former champion Joey Logano said. “I’ll be 100 percent honest with you, a lot of times you don’t know what’s right.”

That leads to disputes. 

Denny Hamlin interrupted Alex Bowman’s victory celebration at Martinsville and expressed his displeasure with how Bowman drove late in last year’s playoff race. 

Chase Elliott and Kevin Harvick confronted each other after the Bristol playoff race last season. Their feud carried on to the Charlotte Roval — where Harvick wrecked Elliott. 

Conflicts gain attention. Such is part of the allure of short-track racing. The Clash at the Coliseum has been compared to Bowman Gray Stadium, a quarter-mile track inside a football stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Bowman Gray Stadium has hosted races since 1949.

Of course, the track is better known as the “Madhouse” for its racing and disagreements. 

“We’re racing, wrestling and religion all kind of combined together,” Gray Garrison, promoter at Bowman Gray Stadium, told NBC Sports. “We race. They have some discussions like they do in wrestling. We have such a loyal fan base, that they all kind of sit in the same seats like they do in church every Sunday.”

It’s a formula that works for that track, which often fills many of its 17,000 seats, if not all of them, on Saturday nights throughout the summer. 

NASCAR seeks to give fans more of that Saturday night feel.

Since 2019, NASCAR has added three road course races, put dirt on Bristol for its spring race, moved the Clash from Daytona to the LA Coliseum and taken five races from tracks 1.5 miles or longer — where cars can get spread out. The motive is to put cars on tracks where they are more likely to run closer together. That creates more chances for contact, leading to more drama and entertainment. 

More changes are coming.

It seems only a matter of time before Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, a 0.596-mile track, is added to the Cup schedule, giving the series another short track. If the Clash proves successful, it could continue at the Coliseum or move to different venues.

“The one gauge that we have as a sport, and it never fails, is our fans,” Clay Campbell, president of Martinsville Speedway, told NBC Sports. “The fans have spoken loud and clear the last few years that they want short tracks and they want road courses. … “You really don’t know just want to expect (at those tracks). It may not be white-knuckle exciting all the time, but you’re anticipating something, and I think that’s what you can get at places like that.”

2. Moving closer to the edge?

No one knows what the racing will be like this weekend at the Coliseum, although many drivers predict plenty of beating and banging. 

“You’ve just got to do what you’ve got to do,” Logano said. “It is something that I think all of us drivers will think about a lot, and the Clash is no different.

“You look at the way they’ve designed this racetrack, not just the fact that it’s small, but the way they put the curbing on the bottom. It just seems like it opens the door for more contact and sliding it down in there, so we will have to wait and see.”

But is it worth it to upset fellow competitors to win an exhibition race with the whole season ahead? It depends on the driver. For some, the answer could be yes.

“We want to put our best foot forward and try to win on Sunday because that sets the tone for the rest of the year, so that is important to us,” William Byron said. “But it is a little different event because it is a non-points race.”

Martin Truex Jr. is not known as a rough racer. His duel with Logano in the 2018 playoff race at Martinsville is an example of how Truex seeks not to make contact while racing for the lead. Of course, Truex lost that race on a bump-and-run from Logano. Such a move has become an accepted way of winning. It’s simply called short-track racing.

Even so, Truex admits every decision a driver makes has its risks, especially Sunday.

You definitely don’t want to start off the year in an exhibition race with a bunch of people mad at you,” he said.

These are the types of things drivers have to ponder with the potential for more contact throughout the season. With six short tracks (less than 1 mile) and six road courses on the schedule, a third of the 36-race season features those types of venues. That’s where beating and banging is most likely. 

“For me, the (altercations) are something that I don’t really like being involved in at this point anymore,” Kevin Harvick told NBC Sports. “I’d rather just go out and race and do my job with my team and try to get the most out of it, but sometimes that just happens when you’re on the racetrack. … You just kind of take it as it comes and deal with it as it goes.”

The feud between Harvick and Elliott spiced last year’s playoffs. Elliott was upset at Harvick for contact that led to a cut tire and cost Elliott a chance to win at Bristol. Harvick was upset with Elliott for impeding him in the final laps there, allowing Elliott’s teammate, Kyle Larson to pass for the win. 

The issue lingered for a few weeks before the series raced at the Roval. Harvick knocked Elliott into the wall. Elliott overcame it to advance in the playoffs and made it to the championship race. Harvick was eliminated from title contention at the Roval.

Afterward, Elliott provided arguably the quote of the season, saying: “As far as Kevin goes, just want to wish them a merry offseason and a happy Christmas.”

3. The new car

While much has been made about the larger diameter wheels, the new steering package, the bigger brakes and even the rearview camera for drivers with the Next Gen car, a key element of this vehicle is its composite body. 

“I think the composite body brings opportunity to maybe take a little bit more risk,” Cup rookie Harrison Burton told NBC Sports. 

Previously, Cup cars had sheet metal bodies and drivers complained that it didn’t take much contact from another car or the wall to damage a fender and cut a tire.

The Xfinity Series began using composite bodies for all its races in 2018. It allowed drivers to run closer together and not worry as much about modest contact with another vehicle or the wall. 

Cup drivers hope the same will occur with this car, so they aren’t penalized by a cut tire as often in tight racing.

NASCAR Production Days
Kyle Busch notes that drivers still have much to learn about the Next Gen car. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“I feel this body, hopefully, will have a chance to compress and then come back … so that will alleviate some of the tire rubs and that will allow for a little bit of side-by-side contact here and there, some fender banging,” Kyle Busch told NBC Sports. 

That’s just one of many areas in which drivers will be seeking to learn more about the car at the Clash and in coming weekends. With learning come mistakes. 

“When I was kid, everybody looked at me like, ‘All he does is crash too much,’” Busch said. “True. Sometimes you’ve got to overstep that line to figure out where that line is at. 

“With this car, me being an older age, I’ll probably work my way up to the line, and hopefully, not cross over too much. But, obviously, you’ve got to find out how hard to you can push these things and put them in situations in order to fine tune that perfect spot.”

Another key element to the car is that its parts come from vendors instead of being built by teams. With organizations having the same pieces, NASCAR looks to close the gap between teams. That gives smaller teams hope that they can run well at more tracks instead of just Daytona, Talladega and some short tracks.

The effect already is felt in the sport. Corey LaJoie, who finished 29th in points for Spire Motorsports last season, said this week that he looks to Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum as an event he could do well in. 

“I’m not going in with just the hopes of making it,” LaJoie said of the Clash. “I think if we don’t finish in the top seven, I feel like I would be pretty disappointed in myself and our abilities.

“This is only the first event where me running to our maximum ambition gives us a chance that we know we might see some fruit on the backend, because we are going to have a lot better relative speed than we probably had last year or years previous.”

If the competition for each position is more intense, then the chances for more issues on and off track increase. 

4. Tight racing quarters 

Daniel Suarez smiles as he thinks about the three times he ran at Bowman Gray Stadium in what was then the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.

“You knew you were going to have contact,” Suarez told NBC Sports. “You knew you were going to have a little fight with someone, at least, and you knew you were going to have some drama.”

Suarez saw nearly all sides of it, finishing last in a 22-car field there in 2012 after crashing and placing second to Ben Rhodes in the 2014 race there. 

Tim Brown, who won his record 11th modified championship last season at Bowman Gray Stadium, has witnessed much of the drama at that track and been in the center of it at times. 

He’s faced the challenges of racing on a tight track lap after lap after lap and often with contact. 

While he’d rather win the pole, lead every lap and easily win the race, he knows that’s not what will draw fans. It’s why Bowman Gray has drivers who qualify for the race then do a blind draw to pick their starting spot. It’s why the track had a choose cone, as many short tracks did, well before NASCAR instituted it. 

Such rules are meant to keep the competition close and the fans interested. The result is that drivers must fight each other harder on the track for position. 

“We’re entertainers,” Brown told NBC Sports. “We entertain. If people don’t come and get entertained, they won’t come back.  … With the road courses and short track races, I think NASCAR is starting to see that that type of racing is way more entertaining than all these cookie-cutter racetracks of the same shape just in different states.”

LaJoie knows the feeling of winning on such a track, taking the checkered flag in the 2012 K&N Pro Series East race at Bowman Gray — a race that saw Bubba Wallace place second, Kyle Larson fifth and Chase Elliott sixth. 

A decade later, LaJoie sees how the sport has evolved and how demanding the racing is for each position. 

“If you don’t want conflict, you chose the wrong career path,” LaJoie told NBC Sports. “It’s inevitable. You’re racing against somebody week in and week out. You’re going to rub fenders and be at odds with somebody. 

“At the smaller racetracks you race at, Martinsville you’re going to run into everybody, Richmond, LA Coliseum, Bristol, you’re going to rub fenders and be pissed off at somebody.”

It’s often when drivers are angriest that the crowd is loudest.

5. What’s next?

If all goes well, the Clash could find a home at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The three-year agreement includes options for 2023 and 2024. NASCAR has 90 days from Sunday’s race to decide if to return to the Coliseum in 2023. 

A successful Clash also could turn the event into one that moves to different locations. 

“We’ll all sit down as a group and talk about what went well,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer, about how the sanctioning body will decide its course of action after the Clash.

“What we could possibly tweak. If we want to go ahead there for an additional year, or there’s other areas we may want to explore, domestic or even outside of the U.S., as well.”

NASCAR Production Days
Corey LaJoie thinks the home of the Dallas Cowboys could be a venue for NASCAR to consider running at in the future. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

LaJoie suggests AT&T Stadium, the home of the Dallas Cowboys as a possible venue. Or even the Superdome in New Orleans if the dimensions worked to put a track inside that facility.

Such venues are enticing to NASCAR because it makes it easier to draw fans instead of asking them to venture far from downtown to a track. Auto Club Speedway is 47 miles from downtown Los Angeles (and 51 miles from the LA Memorial Coliseum). Homestead-Miami Speedway is 32 miles from downtown Miami. Phoenix Raceway is 20 miles from downtown Phoenix.

“As much as I love our racetracks and they’re great, they need a lot of space – not just for the racetrack itself, but for camping and for everything that goes along with it,” Logano said. 

“It’s a different environment than if it’s in the middle of a city, like a football game or a baseball game. If (the Clash at the Coliseum) works, this gives us the ability to go downtown anywhere, and that’s a whole different fanbase that I don’t think we’ve reached our full potential in yet, so if this works it’s great for our sport.”

O’Donnell also hinted NASCAR could go in a different direction with the event.

“We’ve got a lot of old school tracks around the U.S. that you could take some things to,” he said. “If we can pull this off, there are some other markets that we could go to that definitely aren’t LA but go back to the roots of our sport as well.”

Could that mean a Hickory Motor Speedway in North Carolina? South Boston Speedway in Virginia? Or Bowman Gray Stadium?

Gray Garrison would be interested in hosting a Cup event at Bowman Gray. The facility recently underwent $9 million in renovations, which included repaving the track and upgrading concessions and restrooms.

“I think it would be great,” Garrison said. “All these guys come from short tracks somewhere. … They’re all professionals. They’ve done pretty much everything. I think you could turn them loose in a Wal-Mart parking lot and they could put on a good show.”

NASCAR Xfinity Series results: Justin Allgaier wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier finally broke through for his first win of the NASCAR Xfinity Series season Monday night.

Allgaier stretched his last fuel load over the final laps to finish in front of John Hunter Nemechek. Cole Custer was third, Austin Hill fourth and Ty Gibbs fifth. Gibbs ran both races Monday, completing 900 miles.

The win also was the first of the season for JR Motorsports.

Charlotte Xfinity results

Justin Allgaier wins NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — Justin Allgaier won a fuel-mileage gamble to win Monday night’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Allgaier stretched his fuel to outlast second-place John Hunter Nemechek. Following in the top five were Cole Custer, Austin Hill and Ty Gibbs.

The victory was Allgaier’s first of the year and the first of the season for JR Motorsports. He has 20 career wins.

MORE: Charlotte Xfinity results

After a long day at CMS, the race ended at 11:25 p.m. The race started Monday morning but was stopped twice because of weather before it was halted with 48 of 200 laps completed so that the Coca-Cola 600 Cup Series race could be run.

When the race was stopped, Gibbs, Nemechek and Allgaier were in the top three positions.

Gibbs won the first two stages.

Stage 1 winner: Ty Gibbs

Stage 2 winner: Ty Gibbs

Who had a good race: Justin Allgaier has had good cars in previous races but finally cashed in with a win Monday. He led 83 laps. … John Hunter Nemechek, in second, scored his fifth top-two run of the season. … Cole Custer scored his sixth straight top-10 finish. … Ty Gibbs lasted 900 miles for the day and led 52 laps in the Xfinity race.

Who had a bad race: Sam Mayer was running 10th when he spun off Turn 2. He finished 35th. … Sheldon Creed finished three laps down in 28th.

Next: The series moves on to Portland International Raceway in Oregon for a 4:30 p.m. ET race June 3.

What drivers said at Charlotte Motor Speedway


CONCORD, N.C. — What drivers had to say during and after Monday’s 600-mile race at Charlotte Motor Speedway:

Ryan Blaney (Winner) — “I might shed a tear. This has been a cool weekend. Obviously, Memorial Day weekend means a lot, growing up here watching Dad run this race for a long time. It’s so cool just to be a part of it, let alone win it. I just was able to get the lead, and that car was so good that I could kind of bide my time a little bit and then we were able to drive off. I was hoping no caution just because you never know. I know we had the car to do it, but restarts can be crazy. … You start to get to feel like you can’t win anymore when you don’t win in a while. It kind of gets hard. So just super thankful to the 12 guys for believing in me. It’s just so cool. What a weekend with (Josef) Newgarden and Roger (Penske) winning at Indy and us winning the 600. I mean that’s just so cool. That kind of snaps our winless streak right there and that’s even better. We just kept working on it all night, and I think the track took a change. I didn’t feel great at the end of Stage 3. I was kind of getting pressured by a couple guys and we had to work on our car, and it was getting cooler outside.”

MORE: Denny Hamlin, Chase Elliott crash and disagree

MORE: Charlotte Cup results, driver points

William Byron (Finished 2nd) — “We just needed a little bit. Really happy for Ryan. He really deserves it. He’s a good dude. Cool to see him get a win. We just needed a little bit. I felt like there were enough restarts for him to get back to the front. He had that one pit road where he lost a few spots, and it was kind of between us and the 5 (Kyle Larson). I knew the 12 (Ryan Blaney) and 45 (Tyler Reddick) were a little bit stronger than we were. Thanks to this Liberty University Chevrolet team. The car was great tonight. Just not quite good enough. Really proud of the effort. Pit crew was phenomenal on pit road. Those guys are just high energy, and that pit stall helps.”

Martin Truex Jr. (Finished 3rd) — “It was a handful. We just battled really hard and never gave up on the car. We had some stumbles on pit road – had some issues there. We had some issues getting a flat tire with some contact leaving pit road, which wasn’t our fault, either. Just battled a lot of adversity today, but our Bass Pro Shops Tracker Boats Camry was really fast. At the end of Stage 3, I thought that we had a shot to win this thing and then we got some damage out of nowhere on the splitter, and then I got too tight. We made some adjustments to try to get us balanced back out, but it just wasn’t as fast then, and we still ran third. Just proud of everybody for the effort. We definitely had a shot at this one tonight, just didn’t get enough things to go our way and we didn’t do a good enough job on pit road. It was a fun day overall. We had just too many hiccups, too many issues on pit road with a couple of bad stops and the damage that sent us to the rear and had to come back. I thought through Stage 3 we were going to have a shot at this thing, and out of the blue at the start of the final stage, we got some damage on the splitter from debris and the car was never quite as good. … It means a lot to have all of the soldiers on our cars this weekend. I got to meet an amazing family this weekend. Really wish I could have taken them to victory lane, so it’s a little bittersweet, but overall, it’s a solid day for us.”

Bubba Wallace (Finished 4th) — “It started on Friday. We didn’t get through tech. We are trying to push all we can get, and didn’t happen, so bad pit selection really set us back all day. I knew it would be a grind. I need my pit crew to know that as well – they made a couple mistakes – but they rebounded. We were playing the cards that we were dealt. I’m super proud of this Dr. Pepper Toyota team. Just continuing to make strides and continuing to show up and be a part of the factor. Just makes you think – if you were that close on the final restart, or closer, what could have happened. It looked like the 12 (Ryan Blaney) was lights out all day. About time he got him one. I thought he was done washed up (laughter).” (On confrontation with Aric Almirola) Yeah, we were just frustrated on how we raced each other. We were in Stage 2 of the Coke 600. I finished fourth and that’s a good day for our team.”

Tyler Reddick (Finished 5th) — “We had a great car. We were really, really strong there. Just made a lot of mistakes – we kind of went to the bad side of it on that one strategy in the second stage. We had a million cautions because we just kept crashing. We got behind there and we had to fight to get our track position back after that and we did. We got to the 12 (Ryan Blaney), and just being too aggressive, got sideways and hit the wall, and front there, hit the wall about 10 more times and pretty much took all of the life out of the race car. We had a fantastic car. We just couldn’t get around the 12 (Ryan Blaney). We were way faster than he was for most of the day. I tried to take our time, because it’s obviously a 400-lap race, but yeah, made a few mistakes along the way and then I knocked the fence down and then every time we did, we lost a little speed in our Jordan Brand 23XI Toyota. So yeah, fifth.”

Kyle Busch (Finished 6th) — “Coca-Cola 600s are normally up-and-down, so we definitely had an up-and-down day. But the guys fought hard all race long and made some good repairs. We made a lot of good adjustments. There were a couple that we had to go back on, and then go back on again. But all-in-all, just proud of everyone on the No. 8 Alsco Chevy team. Our car wasn’t as fast as we wanted on the fire-offs there – we wanted the long run to finish. Even though we hadn’t been good on the long runs all night, we adjusted for that, but we just didn’t get it. We’ll take a good solid effort and top-10 finish.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (Finished 7th) — “I feel great. I got up and did the ‘Murph’ workout this morning. My trainer wasn’t too thrilled about that, but went ahead and did that, and then came out here and ran 600 miles. Our No. 47 Kroger/Coca-Cola Chevy was so good all night. We just fought some track position every now and then, and then the No. 8 (Kyle Busch) fenced us there. I felt like we would have had a top-five if it wasn’t for that. But all-in-all, it was a great Coca-Cola 600 for us. It was what we needed after last week at the All-Star Race. We kind of got beat up there a little bit. But it’s cool to get another top 10. This team is doing a lot of good things.”

Chris Buescher (Finished 8th) — “It was a really strong day. Our Fastenal Mustang was really good. We got hit on pit road and definitely took a decent amount out of us, so I’m upset about that, but at the end of the day it was a good recovery. We kept digging back and it’s cool to have this camo paint scheme up front for a lot of the day, but I want to do more.”

Austin Dillon (Finished 9th) — “We never gave up all night, and it feels like we passed more cars than anyone else all race long in our Bass Pro Shops/Tracker Off Road Chevrolet. It was a hard-earned top-10 finish. We started this year’s Coca-Cola 600 deep in the field – 33rd — after practice and qualifying were canceled due to weather, but I knew that we would have a chance to be in contention at the end because this is the longest race of the year and there are plenty of laps to work our way forward. It was challenging, though. Pit road was tight for us today, and it felt like every time we gained positions we would pit and get trapped in our box and lose everything we worked so hard for. We never gave up and to finish in the top-10 is a testament to the tenacity that this No. 3 team has. We were just too tight at the end to advance any further, but I think we showed how hard we are willing to work. Today is about our heroes who served and made the ultimate sacrifice. I’m thankful that I can do what I love, which is race, because of them. Thank you to the families of Navy Seal Mark Crampton and Army soldier Rusten Smith for allowing us to recognize them.”

Zane Smith (Finished 10th) – “I am so happy, as happy as could be, really. I was worried when we didn’t take tires there and were running really good and had a really good day. It just worked out, so just a great job by this whole 38 Boot Barn FRM team. We got our Mustang better and better every single stop and that’s so cool. We run on half the budget, if that, than a lot of these guys, so to finish top 10 in our sixth start at the Coke 600 is really cool. It’s been a rough three weeks for me. The Cup Series is a different level and obviously I’m trying to prove I belong here and it’s just an outstanding run. Ryan does an outstanding job and it’s so cool to finish this race, but better yet with a top 10.”

Alex Bowman (Finished 12th)“It doesn’t feel very good at the moment, but about what I was expecting. There was no pain in the car really, but now that I’m out, I feel it a little bit. Just proud of my No. 48 Ally Chevy team. We had a really fast long run car. Obviously the short runs were what we needed, but we were just too tight for that. We got stuck on pit road – every stop, we came in like 10th, but lost spots coming out. But that wasn’t on my guys, it was just pit stall selection. We’ll move onto Gateway. Hopefully we’ll get to qualify there, have a good pit box and just go have a normal day.”

Ryan Preece (Finished 13th) — “What a night. We battled all night long. Some of those cautions just did not work in our favor at all, but we had a good car and just needed track position and clean air. We made strong adjustments throughout the night, and my crew was on it. I think we had a top-10 car. We’ll take 13th after a day like that, and it’s definitely the momentum our team needed. Those top 10s and top fives are coming, and I’m looking forward to St. Louis.”

Justin Haley (Finished 15th) — “We fired off tight today, but the No. 31 team made some great adjustments and had good pit stops. We made it as high as eighth and thought we would get a top 10 there but just got shuffled at the end. A top 15 is not a bad day, but our car was by far the best car we’ve had all year. We made some major gains today as a team.”

Joey Logano (Finished 21st) — “Tough night for the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang team. We struggled with the balance and unfortunately couldn’t miss the late accident and got damage. So happy for Team Penske, Josef and Ryan on a weekend sweep.”

Aric Almirola (Finished 25th) — (On confrontation with Bubba Wallace) “It was early in the race, and I felt like he ran me all over the racetrack and then when he got by me he shot me the bird, so I just went by and asked him why you shot me the bird. I felt like I gave him a lot of room and a lot of respect and he started mouthing off and saying a lot of bad things and cussing at me after he shot me the bird, so I just wasn’t gonna take that. I think it’s squashed. I got my point across. I let him know it’s not acceptable. He’s not gonna cuss at me and shoot me the bird. It was a good night, honestly, for our Smithfield Ford Mustang. It’s Memorial Day and such an honor and privilege to race on Memorial Day. We were running 10th there with 20-something to go and got caught up in that restart wreck in the middle of one and two and got a lot of heavy damage that really killed the race car after that. I hate we didn’t get out of here with a top 10. I felt we certainly had a top 10 race car, got loose on a restart early and hit the right-rear toe link, we fixed it, got two laps down, got all of our laps back and drove from the back to the top 10. I’m really proud of the effort and the fight, not the result, but we certainly fought hard. We’ll go get ready for Gateway. That was a really good racetrack for us last year.”

Austin Cindric (Finished 31st) – “You’re patient for 550 miles; why be patient for the last 40? I probably could have helped myself there by not drifting up the racetrack and knowing my own strength and weaknesses. It’s just unfortunate to get so close to the end of this race and not being able to finish it last year and the same with this year. I felt we had a lot of positives from today – some really good pit stops. We had good speed at times, but just having to put the whole race together as a team. I definitely made some mistakes today and unfortunate not to be able to finish it off.”

Erik Jones (Finished 32nd) — “We had a fast No. 43 U.S. Air Force Chevy, but nothing to really show for it. Appreciate the U.S. Air Force and their support. Just hate that we had the radiator issue, but hopefully we’ll go to Gateway with the same speed and have a good day.”

Chase Elliott (Finished 34th) — “The 11 (Denny Hamlin) ran us up into the fence there. Once you tear the right-side off these things, it’s kind of over. I hate it. I thought our No. 9 NAPA Chevy was getting better. It was nice to be making some gains there throughout the race. Our pit stops were really good. We had some pretty good fortune to get up towards the front there. I was just trying to get to mile 600 and have a shot, so unfortunately failed to do that again.”

Denny Hamlin (Finished 35th) — “I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightaway (referring to his collision with Chase Elliott). It’s a tantrum, and he shouldn’t be racing next week. Right rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. I don’t care. It is the same thing that Bubba Wallace did with Kyle Larson. Exact same. He shouldn’t be racing. It’s a tantrum.”

Noah Gragson (Finished 36th) — “Bummer day for the No. 42 Black Rifle Coffee Company Chevy team. We made it through the first stage clean. Something went through the radiator. We replaced the radiator and the motor blew up. Just frustrating. Thank you to Black Rifle Coffee Company and the Menusa family for coming out here. Wish we could have had a better run for them, but it was an honor to have Sgt. Menusa on the windshield. It makes this weekend all worth it. Wish we could have given him and his family a better run, but we’ll try again at Gateway.”

Jimmie Johnson (Finished 37th) — “I just didn’t know we were put in that three-wide situation. There were a bunch of us cars that were wrecked and just trying to limp it home. Unfortunately, I ended up in a situation I wasn’t aware of and got turned around. It’s a bummer for the No. 84 Club Wyndham Chevy team.”

NASCAR Cup Series results: Ryan Blaney wins at Charlotte


CONCORD, N.C. — Ryan Blaney outran William Byron over the final miles and through several restarts to win Monday’s 600-mile NASCAR Cup Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Blaney thus ended a 59-race winless streak and qualified for the Cup playoffs.

Following in the top five were Byron, Martin Truex Jr., Bubba Wallace and Tyler Reddick.

Charlotte Cup results

Charlotte Cup driver points