What drivers said after Clash at the Coliseum

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Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s Busch Light Clash exhibition race at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum:

Joey Logano – WINNER: Of all the Clashes, this is probably the biggest Clash win you can imagine. First time coming to this historic venue, like I said, being able to do that together as a team. Also some of the adversity we fought through, what Paul (Wolfe) was saying earlier. We were 26th on the board. That was me trying really hard to go as fast as I could go. To see everybody come together, not just the 22 team, but Team Penske in general, to be able to all lean on each other, what we learned in practice, ultimately put together a really good package to where it qualified well, we were able to win our heat race, keep track position, be good on the long run, which was a bit surprising to me. I don’t know about you, Paul. For me I thought it would be better on the short haul. Find our strengths, be able to play to them, win it. Really cool. Last couple wins have been on some weird racetracks, so I don’t know. Bring ’em on. Bring on the more weird stuff.

Kyle Busch – Finished 2nd: “I was being perfect doing everything I needed to do – keep the tires underneath me. When I got close, I was like, okay I’ve got to try more and pounce at an opportunity and just overheated the tires and smoked them in three laps and that was it. Disappointing, obviously, come out here and win the pole, and lead laps, run up front. The finish goes green and it’s not chaotic and we can’t win, so it sucks. Congratulations to my son (Brexton Busch) – he won yesterday. That’s cool. I was trying to match him. He’s winning more than me these days, so somebody better send him a contract.”

Austin Dillon – Finished 3rd: “From where we were last night, it took a lot of crazy fate and a little prayer last night. Talked to myself. We got it together today. The True Velocity Chevrolet was really fast in practice, I just struggled a little bit in qualifying and knew we would get in the race and be fine. The long run speed was there. Disappointed I couldn’t get those next two cars. I really wanted to get there. But all-in-all, a great race from where we were last night and everyone back home at RCR, good job. It was a good showing for us.”

Erik Jones – Finished 4th: “It was a good weekend to come home fourth for us. It’s not a race that means a lot, as far as setting us up for the rest of the season. But nobody came out here not trying. It feels good to run good and we’ll hopefully we’ll carry that momentum to Daytona.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 5th: “It was an awesome experience all around. First race with the new car. This event was really neat. It seemed like a great atmosphere. I’m not able to ever sit in the stands and watch other races. I got to watch a Heat Race and the Last Chance Qualifiers. It seemed like a blast and I hope we can do more of this.”

William Byron – Finished 6th: “It was a fun event and I think the fans got a good show. It was all about track position though, similar to Martinsville. We tried a couple times on restarts to pick up an extra position here and there but we were just too tight the first half of the race to keep it. The guys worked hard, not just today, but all weekend to improve the Valvoline Chevy. We learned a lot with these new cars.”

AJ Allmendinger – Finished 9th: “Definitely happy to make the main. It was cool to be in the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, be a part of this event and have both Kaulig Racing cars make the main. I’m fairly happy with how the race went. To start at the back like that and kind of drive our way to the edge of the top-10, inside the top-10 and finish ninth. I would have liked to have gotten a little bit better. But overall for the weekend, it’s something to build on. Just a great event to be a part of.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 11th: “Our race started out pretty decent and we were making progress after starting a little deeper in the field. I kept locking up the right front and unfortunately just got too loose and the car got around. Once I got that little bit of damage our NAPA AUTO PARTS Chevrolet just didn’t drive the same. Congrats to everyone that had a hand in putting this event together though. The fans certainly got an entertaining race.”

Daniel Suarez: Finished 14th: “Overall, it’s hard to be upset, but it’s hard to be happy too. My team did a really good job. They worked very hard and we brought a fast race car. The race track changed a lot. It gained a lot of rubber and unfortunately it didn’t work in our favor. The car that won the race, I was faster than him in practice. But they made it through the race and the race track changed to their advantage. That’s part of racing. We have to learn from it.”

Ryan Blaney – Finished 17th: “Disappointing end for our Menards/Great Lakes Mustang team. Still a major win for the sport. Big event at an iconic venue, we proved we can go have a race about anywhere.”

Justin Haley – Finished 19th: “We had a fast Chevrolet. The whole race, we were just kind of pacing ourselves. And then obviously towards the end of the race, the cautions started falling and we just got put in a bad situation. But I’m glad we had speed with our LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet. Any other day of the week, the cards could turn our way and we could have a good run. Happy to be in contention of a win and we’ll see what Daytona brings.”

Tyler Reddick – Finished 21st: “The Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum exceeded expectations. The fans, the atmosphere, and the intensity of the race itself. Just the intensity of the field and the drivers – it was an incredible experience. Certainly, the obvious big bummer is breaking our transaxle doing something I probably didn’t even need to do. I had done a good job putting heat in the tires all weekend, but maybe I got too aggressive with it. I don’t know for sure. We’ll have to go back and look at it in the shop this week. We had one of the fastest cars on the race track. We were just riding and managing the gap back to Kyle Busch and trying to lap as many cars as we could so we wouldn’t have to worry about them later. But we never made it that far. It’s a tough lesson, but it’s a lesson we can learn from.”

Chase Briscoe – Finished 22nd: “We had such a fast Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang and I think we had a shot at starting the season with a win. Yesterday during practice and today in the heat race it just handled so well. Once we got through those first 15 to 20 laps, it had plenty of grip and then that first caution was when it went downhill. There are always things to work out with new cars and it’s unfortunate that it happened when we were up front, but the great thing about this race is we get a chance to get on track and figure it all out before we get to Daytona. This is still a great way to start the season. We’ve proven that we can show up and be competitive, and I’m excited to get to the next one in a few weeks.”

Denny Hamlin – Finished 23rd: “Mechanical. It looks like the power steering belt evidently came off and took the hose with it. We didn’t have any steering ability. This is something you will probably see a lot of this year. It’s just fixing all of the bugs that are going to happen. Unfortunately, had a power standing issue.”

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

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“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Though Castroneves is out, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported that Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing still is considering IndyCar driver Conor Daly for its seat.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

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A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The team stated Thursday night on social media that Taylor Collier and Devin Fokin had been treated and released. The team stated that Taylor was treated for smoke inhalation and Fokin was treated “for serious burns.”

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”

 

Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals

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Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

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Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension

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Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

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Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.