What drivers said at Richmond Raceway

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Here is what drivers said after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway:

Denny Hamlin — Winner: Yeah, just great strategy there. Just drove as hard as I could. Just so proud of this whole FedEx Camry team, man, just never giving up. There was no doubt in my mind, maybe just a little, but they got this car right there towards the end. Wow, unbelievable. … We needed a data point, something, a good run to kind of balance ourselves on other tracks. Obviously I think we got it here.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 2nd: “Yeah, just proud of everyone on our Ford Mobil 1 Mustang for staying there and having a great strategy and doing everything they did all day. First clean day we’ve had all year. Cars have been fast. Had a shot there at the end. I wanted to be close enough with the white to just take a swipe at him. Yeah, the lap cars there kind of got in the way and I lost a little bit of ground. Still a great day for us. Just hopefully a little momentum in a positive direction.”

William Byron — Finished 3rd: “Thought we probably did the best job we could. It didn’t quite work out. I thought there at the end they told me I was just racing the 19 (Martin Truex Jr.). I’m like OK I got him, but then the 4 (Harvick) and the 11 (Hamlin) were on a totally different planet. That’s just part of it. There wasn’t anything I could do about them, so it was probably four or five to go and (spotter) Brandon (Lines) was coaching me on keeping the tires underneath it and having good exits and entries. Especially making those guys go around me on the top was definitely better. The times that guys would get underneath me was really, really hard to get back connected and get a good lap put together. The middle of the race we were terrible and we just couldn’t get in the corner at all and if you can’t get into the corner you can’t put consistent laps together. It’s nice to have a run like we had today.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 4th: “I mean, it’s frustrating. But that’s part of it here. It’s part of the whole day. Obviously, we did good there for awhile. (Crew chief) James (Small) did a great job all day with strategy, getting us up front, getting us the lead. Our Auto Owners Camry TRD was super fast out front, super fast in clean air. At the end I think we just tried to gamble, tried to gamble on beating the 24 (Byron). He ended up trying to do our strategy, which we both screwed up. Obviously heads up the other way, I think we had the best car. Doesn’t matter. Overall I’m really proud of our guys and really a step in the right direction from Phoenix, completely different mindset coming here, after today what we can do going forward. Excited about that.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 5th: “I assume we netted out good with our strategy or better than we were. I didn’t think those guys the 11 and the 4 were going to get to us, but then all of a sudden, our tires kind of fell off a cliff there and got really slick. We just kind of had to nurse it home. Glad we got a top five after three bad finishes in a row. We will move on to Martinsville and try to get a good run there.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 7th: “It’s tough. There were a handful of cars that could kind of run up and run in traffic pretty good and we just weren’t really good enough to run in traffic. Once we lost track position I struggled a little bit, but it’s nice to win a stage. It’s cool to get the pole and good stage points. We finished seventh, my best finish here. Overall, a fun day. It was kind of frustrating because we were running so good early. I wanted to run better, but I can’t complain about it too much. Overall, not a bad day. We just have to find a little bit more speed, but it was nice that we kind of put together some decent notes and have an OK run at Richmond.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 10th: “I’m so proud of this No. 3 team. We fought hard all day long and are leaving Richmond Raceway with a top-10 finish in the BREZTRI Inhalation Aerosol Camaro ZL1. We didn’t give up. We started the race plowing tight so I spent a lot of time trying to change my entry into the corners to try and help our handling conditions. We got better as we ran. We stretched Stage 2 into a single pit stop, which helped position us for Stage 3 with an extra set of tires. We battled hard and it feels good to leave here with a top-10 finish.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 11th: “We obviously had a really good starting position, but in the beginning, we fought a lot of balance issues and I think we fell all the way to 28th from fifth. It wasn’t looking the greatest, but we just continued to get our car better. That’s definitely the farthest off we’ve been all year and to still be able to finish 11th is a good day. We got lucky and got a quick caution and were able to get the lucky dog, and from there our car was actually driving pretty good and was able to drive up in the top five at one point. We just tried the gamble strategy with the win already and it didn’t work out. To finish 11th, we probably could’ve run a little bit better if our tires had held on a little bit more, but after being 25th at one point and a lap down with about 200 to go, we’ll definitely take it.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 12th: “What a weekend in Richmond, Virgina. Practice and qualifying were tough on our No. 8 Guaranteed Rate Chevrolet on Saturday, but I felt like we had some good motivation heading into today’s race. I started out really loose in every corner and had some brake issues throughout the whole race. My team spent a lot of time strategizing and coming up with different solutions to make our car fast — not only on the long run, but on the short run as well. We just didn’t have it today, but it’s another lesson we will take with us and learn from. We were able to salvage a 12th-place finish which speaks volumes about this team. These guys never gave up and we will look toward Martinsville Speedway.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 16th: “It was a tough day. I just feel like we missed it the entire weekend. We didn’t have the speed (Saturday). We didn’t have the speed in qualifying. Today was a battle. I feel like we were OK in the long runs at times, but overall, we just didn’t have a lot of speed. We just have to go back home and try to learn what we did right, what we did wrong and come back strong.”

Harrison Burton — Finished 18th: “It’s frustrating because I feel like we were better than 18th, but track position is really hard to get here now. We struggled with being aero tight behind guys, so it was really hard for me to kind of move forward throughout the run because of that. I felt like we had a pretty decent Motorcraft/Quick Lane Ford Mustang. If we keep going in this direction, I feel like we’re getting a little better every time.  It’s good to start running up with guys that we should be running with and building that direction.”

AJ Allmendinger — Finished 27th: “That was a tough day. The guys did all they could to try to make our No. 16 Action Industries Camaro ZL1 better. I just fought super loose in and burnt the rear tires off it. I wasn’t ever able to get a good balance. We made the best of what we could, it just wasn’t very pretty. Our pitstops were really good – our guys did a great job all day. I just need to be better, so we will keep trying.”

Justin Haley — Finished 29th: “We couldn’t catch a break today in our LeafFilter Gutter Protection Camaro ZL1. We bounced back early from our drive-through penalty but struggled with an ill-handling car for the majority of the day. We had a pit-road issue on our last green-flag stop, which really sealed our fate at the end. I’m looking forward to getting to Martinsville and putting today behind us.”

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.