Circuit of the Americas winners and losers

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A look at the winners and losers from Sunday’s race at Circuit of the Americas

WINNERS

Ross ChastainChastain has been in the hunt for his first win in the Cup Series all season long. He needed a last-gasp shove to AJ Allmendinger to get it done, but Chastain finally got that checkered flag Sunday in Austin. It’s Chastain’s fourth straight top-three finish and sends Trackhouse Racing to Victory Lane for the first time in the team’s young history. Chastain led a race-high 31 of 68 laps and now sits second in laps led this season (156) to Ryan Blaney (206).

Alex BowmanAll eyes were on Chastain and Allmendinger in the closing moments, but Bowman nearly snuck his way into another victory on Sunday afternoon. While the two leaders fought it out, Bowman lurked into the picture and became a true threat to win in the final half lap. He became a victim of Chastain’s shot to Allmendinger, but Bowman kept his car straight enough after contact from Allmendinger to escape the melee with a second-place finish. Bowman’s only finishes better than 10th this season are first (Las Vegas) and second (COTA).

Christopher BellAt one point in Sunday’s race, Bell’s No. 20 Toyota sat on pit road and fell one lap behind with its hood open as the team worked to diagnose a steering issue. Thanks to a free pass, multiple cautions and an incredible drive, Bell muscled his way back to finish third, his first top-five finish of 2022. Bell was in the mix for the win at Atlanta one week ago and actually crossed the finish line second. But his last-lap pass on Chastain was deemed illegal because he went beneath the boundary line, relegating him to 23rd place. This week, Bell gets to keep the top five.

Austin CindricCindric has needed a good run for a few weeks. Since opening the season with a Daytona 500 victory and a pole at Auto Club, things had gone downhill for the rookie with no top 10s in the past four races. He fixed that Sunday with an eighth-place effort, rebounding from a mid-race spin in Turn 10. The No. 2 car never felt like a legitimate contender for the win, but that’s was OK. What the team needed was a good result and an issue-free race. Spin cycle aside, Cindric came away with a good day.

Erik Jones: While running in 11th place at Lap 40, Jones’ car lost power and stalled on the backstretch, bringing out a caution flag. Twenty-nine laps later, Jones completed his rally with a ninth-place finish, his second top 10 of the year. The last three weeks hadn’t treated the No. 43 team particularly well. Since finishing second at Auto Club, Jones had finishes of 31st (DNF, Vegas), 25th (crash, Phoenix) and 14th (Atlanta). Yet despite the adversity at COTA, Jones and crew chief Dave Elenz managed to battle back and capitalize on their speed.

LOSERS

AJ Allmendinger: Allmendinger wasn’t the day’s dominant driver, but he put the No. 16 Chevrolet in position to win when it mattered most. A nudge to Chastain in Turn 15 on the final lap moved Allmendinger into the lead with just five corners to go. But Chastain returned the favor with a significant shove into Turn 19, sending Allmendinger first into Bowman and then into the gravel. Two corners shy of the win, Allmendinger finished 33rd.

Bubba WallaceWallace’s weekend got off to a bad start when he fell off his longboard during Friday’s track walk. It only got worse Sunday when the No. 23 car lost a left rear wheel, nearly ensuring a four-week suspension for crew chief Bootie Barker and two pit-crew members when NASCAR announces its penalties later this week. Wallace was later forced to retire from the race due to mechanical problems, continuing a tough stretch for the 23XI Racing driver that includes finishes of 25th (Las Vegas), 22nd (Phoenix) and 13th (crash, Atlanta).

Chase BriscoeBriscoe was in contention for the win late until a series of unfortunate events sent the No. 14 Ford to a 30th-place finish. The good run began to unravel on a Lap 57 restart, when Briscoe flat-spotted his left-front tire while braking for Turn 1. Shortly thereafter, Briscoe was sent wide through the esses and nearly had to serve a pass-through penalty for cutting the course before NASCAR rescinded its call. A caution for fluid came out moments later and Briscoe was forced to pit to replace his tire, only to suffer another flat tire on the final lap of the race. What was shaping up to be a great day went sour in a hurry.

Daniel SuarezSuarez looked unstoppable early, leading all 15 laps of the first stage after qualifying second. But the No. 99 Chevrolet was sent for a Turn 1 spin on the following restart, sending Suarez to the rear of the field. To make matters worse, Suarez lost power steering with 28 laps to go. While his Trackhouse teammate Chastain went on to win, Suarez finished 24th, just his second finish outside the top 20 this season.

Joey LoganoLogano’s day started with a run through the gravel and largely came to an end in the gravel. The No. 22 Ford went around at the exit of Turn 1 as he, Kyle Larson and Kurt Busch all went wide at Lap 67. The resulting contact severely damaged the suspension of Logano’s car, relegating the 2018 champion to a season-worst 31st-place finish.

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.

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 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.

MORE: Chase Briscoe signs contract extension with Stewart-Haas

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.