How Parker Chase shifted from sports cars to NASCAR

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Forty-five minutes southwest of Circuit of the Americas, Parker Chase grew up watching racing from home in New Braunfels, Texas.

Whether it was NASCAR on his television or passing Hill Country Kart Club Raceway, the go-kart track 10 minutes from his house, Chase was mesmerized by the sense of speed.

In 2011, at age 10, Chase finally asked his parents if he could race at Hill Country and was swiftly met with a no. Shortly thereafter, Chase’s dad went to the NASCAR race at Texas Motor Speedway, which only frustrated Chase more.

“That (ticked) me off and I told him, ‘Well, this is what we’re doing when you get back,'” Chase said in an interview with NBC Sports.

So began his motorsports career, with a journey filled with go-karts and sports cars that included a stint as Kyle Busch‘s teammate in the 2020 edition of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

These days, Chase is pursuing the stock car route. And on Saturday, just short of 10 years after attending COTA’s debut for the Formula One United States Grand Prix in 2012, Chase will make his inaugural NASCAR Xfinity Series start at his home track, driving the No. 26 Toyota for Sam Hunt Racing.

“To make my Xfinity debut there is special …” Chase said. “Having everybody that supported me for the last 11 years that I’ve been racing to watch me make my Xfinity debut is special.”

While Friday’s practice session will mark his first laps in an Xfinity car, Chase has plenty of laps around Circuit of the Americas in other vehicles.

His stint in go-karts progressed into road racing, sending Chase into sports cars at a young age. His first laps at COTA came in 2016 during a test session. And at 15 years old, Chase was there to drive a Porsche for the Pirelli World Challenge Balance of Performance test “just to get some track time.

“I ended up hopping in a different car and went out and went pretty quick, and so my whole year’s plans changed,” Chase said. “We went and did a full season of Pirelli World Challenge in GT4 (with Performance Motorsport Group). And I think my first race there was about a month later, and we ended up third on the podium and fifth in another race.”

That season propelled Chase into the sports car world on a regular basis, notching multiple podiums across two seasons with PMG and making his 2017 debut in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship at COTA. The following year, Chase competed in two separate Pirelli World Challenge series, winning a combined six races and one championship.

Pirelli World Challenge
Parker Chase (L) and Ryan Dalziel after the Pirelli World Challenge race at Portland International Raceway on July 15, 2018. (Photo by Brian Cleary/Getty Images)

He made his first start in the 24 Hours of Daytona in 2019, competing for Starworks Motorsport as one of six races with the team. But it was his race at Road Atlanta in October that changed Chase’s eventual path.

Chase ran that event for AIM Vasser Sullivan Racing, and three-and-a-half months later, he was back with the team for the 2020 24 Hours of Daytona. Chase was driving the team’s No. 14 Lexus as a teammate to Jack Hawksworth, Michael De Quesada and some guy named Kyle Busch, who entered fresh off his second NASCAR Cup Series championship. The group finished ninth in the GTD class in Daytona.

Chase grew up watching NASCAR, but nothing prepared him for the heaps of attention Busch’s presence brought.

“It was cool just to see the amount of people that wanted to talk to Kyle Busch,” Chase said. “Everywhere you go, there’s always a swarm of people following him. And even the autograph session that we did, I think the line for our table was probably four times longer than anybody else’s. And there’s plenty of people there that have won Le Mans multiple times and everything you can imagine. But the Kyle Busch table was the longest.”

The outings with Lexus partnered the Texas native with Toyota Racing. With Chase recognizing the opportunities at his disposal, he made the decision to shift toward stock-car racing, leading him to race late models in 2020.

“As I got older, I realized that I felt that there was more opportunity in NASCAR to make a living,” Chase said. “Because if you ask anybody that’s not in motorsports, they say, ‘oh yeah, racecars.’ And when you’re racing in sports cars, they say, ‘oh, like NASCAR!’ So I think NASCAR in the United States is obviously the superior form of motorsport. So I just felt that you know, if I went that route, I have a strong opportunity of making it a full-time career.”

The wheels are in motion to help that goal become a reality. Chase made four ARCA starts for Venturini Motorsports in 2021 with a best finish of fourth at Charlotte and will make 10 starts this season. Already, he earned a runner-up finish at Daytona in the series’ opening race.

The Toyota connection also came full circle as Chase made two Truck Series starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports, partnering with his former IMSA teammate for the Daytona road course (23rd) and COTA (18th) last year.

Ahead of his Xfinity debut with Sam Hunt Racing, which led its first laps two weeks ago with John Hunter Nemechek behind the wheel at Phoenix, Chase expects to be competitive on Saturday afternoon.

“I think I want to at least finish in the top 10,” Chase said. “I think it’s gonna be quite hectic, so if we can stay out of trouble and not getting any serious contact or break anything and just keep it clean, we have an easy chance to finish on the top 10 I think. That’s my bare minimum goal, but obviously want to go out there and win as everybody does.”

Chase is taking each opportunity one race at a time. He remains hopeful for a full-time opportunity in any national stock car series for 2023.

“That’s obviously the goal,” he said. “I want to be able to go out and contend for a championship in whichever series it may be. So at the minimum, I want to be able to do that. And then maybe, say if we’re doing a full season of ARCA, I want to mix in some trucks or Xfinity stuff just to keep learning as much as I can.”

At COTA, Chase will have plenty of hometown support, including primary sponsor, Bahnbrëcker, a craft whiskey brewed in his hometown of New Braunfels.

“I’m gonna have, I don’t know, 100 people there at least, just friends and family and everybody there that wants to come see it,” Chase said. “That’s cool just to have be able to have everybody that I’m close to there at the track.”

Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

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Hailie Deegan announced Tuesday that she will make her Xfinity Series debut Oct. 15 Las Vegas Motor Speedway on NBC and Peacock.

The 21-year-old Deegan is in her second full-time season in the Camping World Truck Series. She finished a career-high sixth in that series last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

She will drive the No. 07 car for SS Green Light Racing with Jeff Lefcourt.

 

 

Alex Bowman to miss Charlotte Roval race

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Alex Bowman announced Tuesday night on social media that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup playoff race at the Charlotte Roval.

Bowman said on social media: “I am continuing to make strides in my recovery to make sure I can return to competition at 100%.”

This will be the second consecutive race he will have missed because of concussion-like symptoms after his crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

Noah Gragson will drive the No. 48 car this weekend for Bowman.

“Alex’s health is our first priority,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “We’re focused on supporting his recovery and seeing him back in his race car when the time is right. Alex has a long career ahead of him, so we will invest the necessary time and take our guidance from medical experts. We’re putting no pressure on him to return before he’s 100% ready.”

Bowman will be one of the four drivers eliminated from title contention Sunday.

Also Tuesday, Cody Ware announced that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup race at the Charlotte Roval, as he continues to recover from the ankle injury he suffered at Texas.

NASCAR Power Rankings: Chase Elliott leaps to the front

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A slick late-race move by Chase Elliott carried him to Victory Lane Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway — and back to the top of the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Elliott is the only driver with five victories this season. No one else in the playoffs has more than two (Tyler Reddick, eliminated from the championship hunt, has won three times).

Elliott, already qualified for the Round of 8 with his Talladega win, will be among the favorites in Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (2 p.m. ET, NBC).

Here’s how the rankings look approaching the end of the Round of 12:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Chase Elliott (No. 3 last week) — Elliott’s power move to win at Talladega was quite impressive and gave him four top-five finishes in the past 10 races. Clearly, he has re-established himself as the championship favorite.

2. Denny Hamlin (No. 1 last week) — Hamlin drops a spot despite a strong run (20 laps led and finishing fifth) at Talladega. Count him in the hunt for an elusive first championship.

3. Ryan Blaney (No. 8 last week) — Blaney simply will not go away despite continuing as the playoffs’ only winless driver (not including the Texas All-Star Race). He was victimized by Chase Elliott on Sunday at Talladega, finishing .046 seconds short of victory and a push into the next round.

4. Kyle Larson (No. 2 last week) — Superspeedway racing generally is not Larson’s strong point. He finished 18th Sunday despite leading eight laps and being in the front group much of the day.

5. Joey Logano (No. 4 last week) — Logano had an unusually poor performance at Talladega. He was involved in an early-race accident and struggled much of the rest of the day, finishing 27th.

MORE: Elliott celebrates, Logano laments

6. Ross Chastain (No. 7 last week) — Chastain tied Aric Almirola for most laps led (36) at Talladega and has been consistent as of late with three finishes of seventh or better in the past four races.

7. William Byron (No. 5 last week) — Byron’s worst news last week came off the track as he was penalized by NASCAR for dumping Denny Hamlin under caution at Texas. He finished 12th at Talladega.

8. Chase Briscoe (No. 9 last week) — Briscoe is quietly making the case that he could make the Round of 8 and challenge for the title.

MORE: Winners and losers at Talladega

9. Daniel Suarez (unranked last week) — Suarez maneuvered through the Talladega draft with style and came home eighth. He has three top 10s in the past seven races.

10. Christopher Bell (No. 6 last week) — Bell had a rough day at Talladega and will be looking to Sunday’s race at the Roval for redemption.

Dropped out: Tyler Reddick (No. 10 last week).

Talladega’s tale of two drivers: One celebrates, one laments

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — It’s dangerous to forecast what is going to happen next in these playoffs in a Cup season unlike any other. 

So keep that in mind, but Chase Elliott’s victory at Talladega moves him one step closer to returning to the championship race for a third consecutive season.

It’s easy to overlook that beyond earning a spot in the Round of 8 with his win Sunday, Elliott scored six playoff points. That gives him 46 playoff points. He has the opportunity to score seven more playoff points this weekend at the Charlotte Roval — an event he has won twice — before the next round begins.

Once the current round ends, the points will be reset to 4,000 for each of the remaining playoff drivers and they’ll have their playoff points added. 

At this point, Elliott would have a 21-point lead on his nearest competitor and a 31-point lead the first driver outside a transfer spot to the championship race.

The next round opens at Las Vegas, goes to Homestead and ends with Martinsville. 

A key for Elliott, though, is to avoid how he has started each of the first two rounds. A crash led to a 36th-place finish in the playoff opener at Darlington. He placed 32nd after a crash at Texas to begin this round.

The up-and-down nature of the playoffs, though, hasn’t taken a toll on the 2020 Cup champion.

“I feel like I’ve been doing this long enough now to understand the roller coaster that is racing,” said Elliott, who is advancing to the Round of 8 for the sixth consecutive season. “It’s going to roll on, right? You either learn to ride it during the good days, during the bad days, too, or you don’t. That’s just part of the deal.

“So, yeah, just try to ride the wave. Had a bad week last week, had a good week this week. Obviously great to move on into the next round, get six more bonus points. All those things are fantastic, we’re super proud of that.

“This deal can humble you. We can go to the Round of 8 and crash again like we did the first two rounds, or you can go in there and maybe have a really good first race. I don’t know. You show up prepared, do the best you can, figure it out from there.”

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Joey Logano has always been one who wants to race at the front in a superspeedway event instead of riding at the back.

When asked last month about the idea of Texas Motor Speedway being reconfigured to provide superspeedway-type racing — as Atlanta Motor Speedway was before this season — Logano questioned the value of that type of racing.

“Is that the type of racing fans want to see?” Logano said. “Because when you look at the way that people have finished up front in these superspeedways lately, (they) are the ones that are riding around in the back. 

“Do you believe that you should be rewarded for not working? Because that’s what they’re doing. They’re riding around in the back not working, not going up there to put a good race on. 

“They’re riding around in the back and capitalizing on other people’s misfortune for racing up front trying to win. I don’t think it’s right. That’s not racing. I can’t get behind that.”

Logano sought to race at the front as much as possible Sunday at Talladega, even after his car was damaged in an early incident, but he took a different tack on the final restart. He restarted 24th and dropped back, finishing 27th.

“We just wreck all the time, so we thought, ‘Boy, we’ve got a big points lead, let’s just be smart and don’t wreck and we’ll be able to get out of here with a top 10, assuming they would wreck because they always do,’” Logano said after the race. 

“That was the only time I’ve ever stayed in the back, ever, was today and they didn’t wreck. We gave up a bunch of our points lead. We’re still plus-18, which is a decent spot to be, but, the goal was to race for stage points and then drop to the back and wait for the crash. I hate racing that way. I’ve gotten beat many times from people that do that, then I tried it and it didn’t work.”

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Michael McDowell’s third-place finish continues his strong season. 

McDowell’s finish extended his career-high of top-10 finishes to 12. He has five finishes of 11th or better in the last seven races. 

“I’m proud of the season we’ve had and the run that we put together,” McDowell said. “Everyone did a great job on pit road executing and getting us track position when we needed it. It’s good to be there at the end and have a shot at it, just disappointed.”

Front Row Motorsports teammate Todd Gilliland finished seventh. 

“Race car drivers are greedy,” Gilliland said. “I wish I could have gotten a couple more there, but it was still a really good day. We ran up front most of the day and my car handled really well, so, overall, there are definitely a ton of positives to take out of this.”

Sunday marked the second time this season both Front Row Motorsports cars finished in the top 10. They also did it at the Indianapolis road course. 

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NASCAR confirms that the Hendrick Motorsports appeal of William Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas will take place Thursday.

Should Hendrick lose that appeal, the team could then have a hearing before the Final Appeals Officer. That session would need to take place before Sunday’s elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

“Twenty-five points in the playoffs is a ton,” car owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday of Byron’s penalty. “I mean, in the regular season if you got a bunch of races, you can make it back up.

“I’ve seen other cars under caution hit each other. In that situation, (Byron) wasn’t trying to spin him, but they got a tower full of people, they could have put him in the back, could have done something right then rather than wait till Monday or Tuesday, then make a decision.”

Byron is 11 points below the cutline after Talladega.