Say what? Kyle Busch’s comments among intriguing statements at Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — A quarter of the way through the season, Kyle Busch is cryptic about his future, Kevin Harvick raises concerns about how NASCAR communicates, and Tyler Reddick faces questions about showing too much sportsmanship after losing last weekend’s race when he was spun on the last lap.

Yeah, everybody is feeling good with 28 Cup races left, including the All-Star Race, over the next 29 weekends. Get ready for more frustration and flippancy in the coming weeks.

Busch could have said Saturday at Talladega Superspeedway that talks continue with Joe Gibbs Racing. Instead, the two-time Cup champion, whose team seeks a sponsor because M&M’s will leave after this season, answered questions about his future in a different manner.

Here’s his give-and-take with the media:

Do you have any sort of timeframe for when you want your plans to be decided for next year?

Busch: “Yesterday.”

Are you getting antsy about it?

Busch: “I’m not getting antsy about it. If it happens, it happens. If it don’t, it don’t. Goodbye.”

So goodbye is an option?

Busch: “Ask Joe Gibbs.”

Have you been knocking on his door about it?

Busch: “Not my problem.”

It’s their problem, right?

Busch: “Got to sell it. If you don’t sell it, then nothing to have.”

So it’s all about the sponsor?

Busch: “Correct.”

That’s got to be frustrating, though, in this day and age.

Busch: “Yeah. Truck Series is probably 95% kids with money.”

Do you feel if you don’t get anything from Gibbs that there will be somebody else out there that you land at?

Busch: “Probably not.”

They’ll figure out something, won’t they?

Busch: “Ask Joe Gibbs.”

Would you retire rather than leave JGR?

Busch: “Really? … I would say I lose my ride.”

So what does this mean? Busch has people twisting in the wind about his future, whether it is a game he’s playing or a message he’s sending to JGR — or potential sponsors.

Busch’s comments came a week after Coy Gibbs, vice chairman and chief operating officer at JGR, said in a press conference — with Busch next to him — that “we’ve got a couple of people we’re talking to (in terms of sponsorship), so we’re excited about that, excited about the leads.”

Harvick’s message Saturday was clear. It was to NASCAR. While Harvick has stated he is not a fan of dirt at Bristol and blasted the track preparation last weekend, Harvick explained his feelings.

Asked if the viewership of 4 million that Fox reported for the Bristol event made racing on Easter worthwhile, Harvick said: “I think it’s almost the same as Richmond (3.95 million). I think it was in line with all the rest of the races. I think you could have put any race on Easter and probably been successful. 

“I don’t mind racing on Easter if beneficial and successful. … The thing I don’t like about the dirt race is the unorganization of not knowing the rules. We were told there was going to be a caution at Lap 10 for mud and we went 12 or 13 (laps) and our motor wouldn’t hardly go because it was plugged up and all the air comes from the grille. The motor was 340 degrees. It ruins the first part of the whole race because it didn’t happen like they told us it was going to happen.”

In information provided to the media before the race, there was no mention of a competition caution. 

Harvick raised questions about being informed about other changes, including the removal of curbs in the esses at Circuit of the Americas. He also expressed frustration that NASCAR didn’t examine removing the windshield for Bristol until shortly before the event in a single-car test. By then, it was too late to race without the windshield.

“Whether it was that or (curbs) missing and not knowing about them at COTA, the second place car going before the first place car in the restart zone, those are the things that frustrate me. It’s not where we race, when we race, those types of things. I want to do things that are beneficial. 

“It’s the inconsistency from all that standpoint. If it would have kept raining (after stage 2 at Bristol) and we didn’t know who won the race, it would have been mass hysteria.

“If we can’t run the race properly and know all the rules and not start working on taking windows and things out of it 10 days before the race, come up with a proper plan and be proactive, then we don’t need to do it.

Harvick was asked if he’s voiced such concerns.

“Which week? I can’t do it every week,” he said. “It just happened to fall that week that there were a lot of things that just didn’t go smooth. It’s not like we didn’t race there last year. 

“It has to go smoother from the way that it’s all run. Those are the things that frustrate me. I’m very organized and very to the point. It’s either right or wrong. There were a lot of things that were not consistent and right, and we have to understands our own rules.”

Some rules are less direct, as Tyler Reddick found out. Applauded by some for his sportsmanship after the race, not everyone seemed to approve that Reddick was not more upset with Briscoe for their last-lap incident.

Briscoe attempted a slide job to pass Reddick on the final lap. Briscoe couldn’t make it and his car drifted and hit Reddick’s car. They both spun, allowing Busch, who was running third, to pass both for the win.

After the race, Briscoe went to Reddick to apologize. Reddick took much of the blame for not doing enough to keep Briscoe further behind. They shook hands.

“Certainly, there’s people that I work with that have been doing this a lot longer than I have on the Cup level that haven’t won,” Reddick said Satrurday. “Everyone’s path to how they got here and what their story is, we’re all a little bit different. I guess I can understand why they were more outwardly frustrated than I was. … When you go back and look at it, it still hurts. In the moment when I got out of the car, I wasn’t fired up, wanting to go fight somebody. I wasn’t in that mindset.”

To those who wanted Reddick to fight Briscoe or be more upset, he said: “Just because I didn’t lose my mind, it doesn’t mean that I’m OK with what happened. It still sucked. I still wasn’t OK with it. I understand it wasn’t intentional. In my opinion, I don’t feel like he went in there and tried to wreck me on purpose. I think it’s pretty obvious he tried to do the opposite once he realized it wasn’t going to work.”

NBC will broadcast final six NASCAR Cup Series playoff races

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The final six races in the chase for the NASCAR Cup Series championship will be televised by NBC.

The races remaining on the schedule are at Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 2), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 9), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Oct. 16), Homestead-Miami Speedway (Oct. 23), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 30) and Phoenix Raceway (Nov. 6).

NBC’s broadcasting team will be on hand Sunday for what is typically a seasonal highlight — a 500-mile race at Talladega Superspeedway. The next week the playoffs move on to Charlotte for a cutoff race. The lowest four drivers in the playoff point standings will be eliminated from championship competition.

The Round of 8 is scheduled at Las Vegas, Homestead and Martinsville, with the tiny Martinsville track serving as the final cutoff race. The four drivers who advance from Martinsville will race for the title at Phoenix Nov. 6.

The high drama of the Phoenix race, in which the championship will go to the highest finisher of the four competing drivers, will be carried by both NBC and Peacock.

Post-race commentary and analysis for all six remaining Cup races will be carried on Peacock.

Kyle Larson is the series defending champion. Joey Logano carries the point lead into Sunday’s race at Talladega.

NASCAR viewer’s guide for Talladega Superspeedway

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After a messy Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs move on this weekend to another potentially messy spot — Talladega Superspeedway.

Home to the Big One — an almost certain multi-car crash, Talladega also occasionally produces unexpected winners, including Richard Brickhouse, James Hylton, Lennie Pond, Ron Bouchard and Brad Keselowski.

The mix of tight drafting, the Next Gen car and general playoff tension should make Sunday’s 500-mile run quite the adventure.

On Sunday at Texas, Tyler Reddick became the second driver (after Chase Elliott) to score three wins this season.

Joey Logano enters Talladega with the playoff point lead.

Playoff rookies roll on

The four drivers participating in the Cup playoffs for the first time remain factors approaching the second race in the second round.

Ross Chastain is second in the standings, 18 points above the cutline entering Talladega.

MORE: NBC NASCAR rankings put Denny Hamlin first

Daniel Suarez, Chastain’s Trackhouse Racing teammate, is seventh. He’s four points above the cutline.

Two other playoff rookies — Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric — will start Talladega below the cutline. Briscoe is four points below the cutline. Cindric is 11 points below the cutline.

Looking for wins

Only six of the remaining 12 playoff drivers have won races at the two remaining tracks in the second round (Talladega and Charlotte Roval).

Among the six, Joey Logano has the best win record at Talladega, having finished first there in 2015, 2016 and 2018.

Other Talladega winners in the group: Ryan Blaney (two), Denny Hamlin (two), Chase Elliott (one), Ross Chastain (one).

The Charlotte Roval is relatively new, of course, but Chase Elliott already owns two wins there. Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson also have won at the Roval.

An opening for Brad?

Few people who watched it will forget the first Cup Series victory scored by Brad Keselowski.

It occurred at this week’s tour stop — Talladega Superspeedway — in April 2009. Keselowski and Carl Edwards made contact approaching the finish line and notched the win, even as Edwards’ car flew into the frontstretch fence, spraying car parts into the grandstands.

Thirteen years later, Keselowski returns to NASCAR’s biggest track having recorded six Talladega wins. No other active drive has more than three.

Keselowski’s refurbished team — Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing — has new fire with Chris Buescher winning at Bristol and Keselowski winning the pole and finishing eighth at Texas.

RFK Racing has led 309 laps in the past two races, more than the team had led in the prior 105 races combined.

Although he hasn’t won a Cup race since scoring a victory in a Team Penske Ford in April 2021 at Talladega, Keselowski must be considered a threat Sunday.

Entry lists

Thirty-seven drivers, including Xfinity Series star Noah Gragson and reigning Xfinity champion Daniel Hemric, are entered for Sunday’s Cup race.

Talladega Cup entry list

The Xfinity entry list includes 41 drivers for 38 spots. Among those joining the series regulars are Trevor Bayne, Parker Kligerman, Timmy Hill and Jeffrey Earnhardt.

Talladega Xfinity entry list

Forty-one drivers are entered for Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. Included are Kaz Grala, Ryan Preece, Natalie Decker, Jennifer Jo Cobb and Parker Kligerman.

Talladega Truck entry list

This week’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, Sept. 30

Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 77. (Weather note: There is the possibility that Hurricane Ian could impact the race weekend, depending on its path).

  • 3:30 – 5 p.m. — Truck Series qualifying
  • 5:30 – 7 p.m. — Xfinity Series qualifying (USA Network)

Saturday, Oct. 1

Forecast: Overcast with showers at times. Potential for heavy rainfall. High of 73. 60% chance of rain.

  • 10:30 a.m. – Noon — Cup Series qualifying (NBC Sports app, Motor Racing Network, Sirius XM NASCAR Radio)
  • 12:30 p.m. — Truck Series race (94 laps, 250 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 4 p.m. — Xfinity Series race (113 laps, 300 miles; USA Network, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Oct. 2

Forecast: Sun in the morning, increasing clouds in the afternoon. Slight chance of a shower. High of 74.

  • 2 p.m. — Cup Series race (188 laps, 500 miles; NBC, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

 

 

 

 

NASCAR fines Ty Gibbs $75,000 for pit road incident at Texas

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NASCAR fined Ty Gibbs $75,000 and docked him 25 points for door-slamming Ty Dillon on pit road during last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Crew members from other teams were nearby when Gibbs hit Dillon’s car, causing it to swerve. No crew members or officials were hit.

NASCAR has made it a priority that drivers are not to cause contact that could injured crew members or officials on pit road. NASCAR also penalized Gibbs 25 Cup driver points and docked 23XI Racing 25 car owner points for the No. 23 Cup car that Gibbs drives.

NASCAR penalizes William Byron for spinning Denny Hamlin

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NASCAR has docked William Byron 25 points and fined him $50,000 for spinning Denny Hamlin under caution in last weekend’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Byron drops from third in the playoff standings to below the cutline heading into Sunday’s Cup race at Talladega Superspeedway (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

Chase Briscoe moves up to hold the final transfer spot with 3,041 points. Austin Cindric is the first driver outside a transfer spot with 3,034 points. Byron is next at 3,033 points.

Hendrick Motorsports was docked 25 owner points as well.

Hendrick Motorsports stated it would appeal the penalty.

The caution waved at Lap 269 for Martin Truex Jr.’s crash. As Hamlin slowed, Byron closed and hit him in the rear. 

Byron admitted after the race the contact was intentional, although he didn’t mean to wreck Hamlin. Byron was upset with how Hamlin raced him on Lap 262. Byron felt Hamlin forced him into the wall as they exited Turn 2 side-by-side. Byron expressed his displeasure during the caution.

“I felt like he ran me out of race track off of (Turn) 2 and had really hard contact with the wall,” Byron said. “Felt like the toe link was definitely bent, luckily not fully broken. We were able to continue.

“A lot of times that kind of damage is going to ruin your race, especially that hard. I totally understand running somebody close and making a little bit of contact, but that was pretty massive.”

On the retaliatory hit, Byron said: “I didn’t mean to spin him out. That definitely wasn’t what I intended to do. I meant to bump him a little bit and show my displeasure and unfortunately, it happened the way it did. Obviously, when he was spinning out, I was like ‘I didn’t mean to do this,’ but I was definitely frustrated.”

Hamlin and crew chief Chris Gabehart argued and questioned NASCAR for not putting Hamlin back in second place — where he was before Byron hit him — and also questioned Byron not being penalized.

“I guess we can just wreck each other under caution,” Hamlin said after the race.

Scott Miller, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, told reporters after the race that series officials did not penalize Byron because they did not see the incident. 

“When we were in the tower, we were paying more attention to the actual cause of the caution up there and dispatching our equipment,” Miller said. “The William Byron-Denny Hamlin thing, we had no eyes on. We saw Denny go through the grass.

“By the time we got a replay that showed the incident well enough to do anything to it, we had gone back to green.”