What drivers said at Darlington

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Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s Cup race at Darlington Raceway:

Joey Logano — Winner: “Just an incredible race there at the end with William (Byron). I don’t know if he meant to get into me and fence me, but he did and at that point I felt like it was game on and was able to get back to him there the last few laps, pushing really hard, and just knew that was my shot to win the thing and I had to take it. Man, I’m so proud of this team. It’s so cool to win in this car. This is my first quarter midget. This is the beginning and to see it in Victory Lane, I’m just so proud. My family is here. My mom, my dad. Happy Mother’s Day. My sister is here. Everybody is here. My wife is not here, unfortunately, and my kids, but this is a very special day to be able to get this one in Victory Lane and celebrate with a few of us here.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 2nd: “William (Byron) did a really good job on the restart to get by Joey (Logano). There was a little bit of contact there, so I don’t know if that’s why Joey got back to William. It also kind of looked like Joey was going under and William kind of faded down. I was hoping they were going to blow their momentum a little bit more than they did, but it didn’t turn out that way. All-in-all, it was a good rebound for our No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet team. We pitted for a vibration pretty early in the race that could have derailed our whole day, but we were able to bounce back from it.”

Justin Haley — Finished 3rd: “This isn’t the best car we’ve brought to the racetrack unloading after practice. But we just kept after it all day. Some great strategy from this No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy team. We had a good restart there at the end and we just kind of hung on. We didn’t have a (third)-place car, but it’s a great finish. This was my best Cup finish besides that win. To do it here at Darlington (Raceway), to get a (third), it’s pretty special. It was a good run. We’ll take this to next week and see what we can do at Kansas (Speedway).”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 4th: “I felt like we finished probably better than we should have, but I think the guys did a good job on pit road with our Rheem Ford Mustang and just kind of one side or the other. The last run was probably the best that we were, just being able to hold on. We just couldn’t hold on once it started getting cooler, but we wound up with a good call there and got the caution and wound up in the right spot and then were able to capitalize on it.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 5th: “We just kind of survived, really. It wasn’t anything spectacular by any means. I thought we had our No. 9 NAPA Chevy in a pretty good spot there on a couple occasions. It was just kind of a matter of how you restarted; whether you had a fortunate set of circumstances that your lane went forward and you were able to get a couple of spots here and a couple spots there. And then you ride around pretty much the rest of the time, unless it gets messed up and then you might be able to pass somebody in the last five laps or so in a run. And then you hope your pit stops are really fast and then hope you do a good job on the next restart.”

Christopher Bell — Finished 6th: “This SiriusXM Camry was excellent as these No. 20 cars are every time we go to the race track. Last week at Dover, it felt like we had a car capable of winning and had unfortunate circumstances take us out of it. And then you know kind of the same thing today. That yellow was the big unfortunate moment whenever the yellow came out and kind of flipped the strategy. Overall, really proud to be at Joe Gibbs Racing and proud for all of our partners on this 20 car. Maybe one of these days we’ll be up there.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 8th: “It was a battle. We weren’t very good to start. I think the track conditions got a little better for us as it cooled off. But we battled all day. My No. 47 Kroger/Nature Valley Chevrolet team made good adjustments and the cautions fell the right way. I felt like we had really good strategy on that last long run, which put us in the top-five when the caution came out. I felt like we were in a really good spot to run top five; and then the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) got us in the fence there and I was really tight after that. Two top 10s in a row is nothing to be too bummed about. That was a battle. We weren’t very good, but we made something out of it.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 9th: “What an unbelievable day at Darlington Raceway. We faced so much as a team so it feels really good to get a ninth-place finish in the Huk Chevrolet. We had to make a green-flag stop in Stage 1 but fought back to take the wave-around and get back on the lead lap. Our Chevy was really good on the long run, but we struggled on the short run, especially in dirty air. I was starting to wonder how many times I could hit the wall without having issues. We overcame two speeding penalties today, so it says a lot about our team to be able to overcome those and finish in the top 10.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 10th: “It was a good day for our No. 99 Coca-Cola Chevrolet team. I feel like we did a good job making adjustments. Track position was huge and the pit crew did an amazing job all day. We only had one issue there, but there’s nothing we can do about that. It’s not 100% under our control. We have to keep working and keep building. I feel like we can be better and come back stronger.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 11th: “We had a top-10 car all day. It’s a really good sign to see that from week to week, especially at two difficult tracks like Dover last weekend and Darlington today. Drew (Blickensderfer, crew chief) and the team worked hard all day to give me what I needed. The pit crew really showed up today, too. Fortunately, we missed that wreck there toward the end that got us our track position back. It was such an honor to run my grandfather’s sprint car paint scheme that I grew up watching. That meant a lot to me and a lot to him. I wish we could’ve brought it to victory lane one last time, but 11th wasn’t a bad way to finish my final Darlington Throwback Weekend.”

William Byron — Finished 13th: “No, I mean, we were really close off of (turn) two and I think it spooked him and got him tight; and he was right against the wall and I got the lead. He does this stuff all the time. I’ve seen it with other guys. He drove in there 10 mph too fast, and with these Next Gen cars, he slammed me so hard it knocked the whole right side off the car and there was no way to make the corner. He can’t win a race, so it does it that way. I don’t know. It was close racing on the restart. We were faster than him. Obviously at the end, the right rear started to go away; and yeah, he didn’t even make it a contest.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 17th: “Frustrating day for our Advance Auto Parts Mustang. Not the day we were looking for at all. We finally worked back forward and then the incident and damage kind of sealed our fate for the day.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 18th: “We had an up and down day and kind of felt like it was a missed opportunity for our Menards/Libman Ford Mustang. We got way too loose in the middle of the race. We got the car driving really well and then about halfway we started having some engine problems and were really down on power that really prevented us from moving our way back forward through the field once we got back on the lead lap. It definitely was not meant to be. Every single caution that would have hurt our strategy came out exactly when it didn’t need to so just not ideal, but we certainly learned a lot as a team today and got our car driving well again in stage three, which I think there’s a lot to learn from that.”

Erik Jones — Finished 25th: “A tough end to our day. Our FOCUSFactor Chevrolet Camaro was a little on the tight side, but we stayed after it and I thought we had a shot at another top-10 finish. We’ll go back to the shop and refocus on next week at Kansas.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished 27th: “Just checked up in front of me and didn’t have enough time. You’re in the wood off of (turn) two there. Just trying to figure out what I did to piss off the racing gods. Another great car and another great finish that was going to be there and a disappointing result. Just frustrating. Thanks to MoneyLion. For sure, was going to have a top-10 car. That’s what we’ll put on the debrief, but the results don’t show that.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 28th: “I saw smoke and a car sideways. I thought I was through on the top side and got hit from behind. Everybody’s just ripping and gouging. It’s almost the last set of tires. We just had no luck today. No luck on pit road. The short run speed wasn’t there, but we were good on the long run, but just didn’t make it happen with the McDonald’s Toyota.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 29th: “I don’t know. Obviously, a pretty miserable day for our Ally Camaro. Greg (Ives) and the guys were working hard on it. I was just really out of the racetrack; didn’t make any grip and we could be super tight or super loose. Either way, we were really slow. And then something broke and it just went straight. We hit the wall and then whatever is on fire now. Bummed for the guys. It was a pretty miserable day.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 30th: “We had a super strong day for our No. 1 Coca-Cola Chevy Camaro. We were fighting the balance all day. We were racing with those guys for the lead. I just thought I could run the bottom there off of turn two and the exit of the patch. I just got loose on the transition and spun out. Aside from that, it was a perfect day on the track and on pit road. I’m proud of the effort; proud of the grip that our car had. We’ll come back here in the fall and give ourselves another shot.”

Daniel Hemric — Finished 31st: “The Lady in Black was not kind to us this weekend. We got some damage early and lost quite a few laps trying to fix it. I appreciate all the hard work on pit road to get us back out there. I thought we’d be OK, but we had some engine issues that ended our day early. We haven’t had the best luck, but we are building and learning every week.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 33rd: “Just the 6 (Brad Keselowski) blew a right-front tire coming off of turn two. I had nowhere to go and just got collected up in something not of our doing. It’s frustrating. We had a good M&M’s Camry and it was nice to be able to run in the top-five and lead some laps there. Just felt like we were trying to debate on the setup there between the short run versus the long run and where we wanted to be good and what all was going to pay dividends at the end of the day.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 34th: “I just blew a tire. I’m pretty sure I ran over debris off of two. There had been debris there for about 25 laps and I think I finally got it. I just blew a tire and went straight. That’s part of it. … I mean, it doesn’t feel good, but it could be a lot worse.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 36th: “With these cars, you don’t want to lock the tires up because you’ll get a flat and it really tears your car up. I definitely rolled backwards some. That was my concern with why we blew up, but they said that probably didn’t have anything to do with it. Bummer. Our No. 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet was super good today, so that’s promising. I feel like maybe we hit on something here this weekend. I hate that we’re not going to get the finish that we deserve, but I’m proud of my team for the car they brought today.”

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.