Kurt Busch delivers 23XI Racing a Cup win at Kansas

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With team co-owner Michael Jordan’s brand on the No. 45 Toyota, Kurt Busch led a race-high 116 laps Sunday and scored the victory at Kansas Speedway.

Busch chased down Kyle Larson for the lead and retook the lead with eight laps to go. The two fought hard and Larson’s car was pinched into the wall in Turns 1 and 2. Busch escaped for his first win with 23XI Racing and first Kansas win in 33 career starts while Larson finished second.

Busch, who is driving for the seventh different organization in his 23-year career, was elated exiting his car as he soaked in his 34th career win.

MORE: Kansas Cup results, driver points

MORE: What drivers said

“It’s the most gratifying to work from the ground up with a brand new car number,” Busch told Fox Sports. “Yes, I have been with a lot of teams, a lot of manufacturers. Now, this is the check off the Toyota box, but it’s about family.

“I love my family at home. I love my KBI employees and everybody at 23XI. This is for us. This is what the hard work is all about no matter if you lose a couple of spots on pit road, no matter if our car was a basket of whatever to start. I’m going to go find Toto. I’m in Kansas. I’m loving it.”

23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin finished fourth, his first top-10 finish since winning at Richmond in April and just his second of the season. Hamlin, who saw his other driver Bubba Wallace win at Talladega in October 2021, was overwhelmed with emotion as he congratulated his newest driver on pit road.

“Just can’t thank Kurt enough,” Hamlin said. “Jordan Brand’s first race. So jealous he gets to drive that car and then to have that thing so fast there. I have never had, certainly, this kind of feeling even for a win for me much less when I did win, so it’s just different.”

The car was designed to replicate a “Black Cement” Air Jordan-3 shoe. That was fresh on Busch’s mind after the race.

“I felt like I had to play like the GOAT, race like the GOAT,” Busch said.

In second place, Larson was unfazed by the late-race wall contact and believed Busch raced him fair.

“We were racing for the win there,” Larson said. “Yeah, he never got into me, so I’m trying to squeeze throttle to get position on him and just got tight, so that was fun racing with Kurt the last half of the race.”

The strong performances of Busch and Hamlin highlighted a stellar day for Toyota, which saw all six of its cars finish inside the top 10. While Busch went to victory lane, his younger brother Kyle Busch finished third, Hamlin fourth, Christopher Bell fifth, Martin Truex Jr. sixth and Wallace 10th. Completing the top 10 were Ross Chastain in seventh, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in eighth and Alex Bowman in ninth.

The race featured eight cautions, five of which were for on-track incidents as left-rear tires continued to plague drivers after issues persisted in Saturday’s practice session.

BJ McLeod was the first driver to face a tire issue Sunday when he brought out the caution with a spin at Lap 35, the result of a flat left-rear tire. At Lap 62, Daniel Suarez suffered the same fate while running fourth, damaging the front of his No. 99 Chevrolet and losing numerous laps while safety crews worked to tow him back to pit road.

Under that caution, Bell had a flat tire while leading the race. Chase Elliott later spun at Lap 197 from another tire issue.

The final yellow flag flew at Lap 230 for fluid on the track following a slide by Kevin Harvick, his second of the day. That set up the 33-lap dash to the finish.

There were no issues in post-race technical inspection, confirming Busch as the winner. Six cars will be taken back to the wind tunnel and then the NASCAR R&D Center, two from each manufacturer: the Nos. 11 and 23 Toyotas of Hamlin and Wallace; the Nos. 47 and 48 Chevrolets of Stenhouse and Bowman; and the Nos. 6 and 12 Ford of Brad Keselowski and Ryan Blaney.

Stage 1 winner: Kyle Busch

Stage 2 winner: Kurt Busch

Who had a good race: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earned his third straight top-10 finish of the year, already besting his top-10 total from 2021 (two). Stenhouse cut a left-rear tire in practice Saturday and hit the wall with the right-rear corner of the car. JTG Daugherty Racing elected to repair it instead of going to a backup car. The decision paid off with an eighth-place finish. … In 11th place, Daytona 500 champion and rookie Austin Cindric was the highest finishing Ford driver. It’s his best finish since also coming home 11th at Martinsville in April.

Who had a bad race: Tyler Reddick had a miserable day after multiple vibrations and brushes with the wall. He finished 30th, four laps down. … Daniel Suarez and Chase Elliott were both vocal on their radios in their frustrations with safety crews. Both drivers wanted to be pushed rather than towed. Both cars lost considerable time. Elliott finished 29th, three laps down. Suarez finished 33rd, 11 laps down. … Erik Jones‘ right-rear tire was bolted on too tightly and the No. 43 team spent over 10 minutes trying to detach the lug nut. Eventually, the crew elected to saw the wheel off all together. Jones finished 32nd, six laps down.

Notable: The last time Toyota placed six cars inside the top 10 was at Watkins Glen in 2017. The last time the manufacturer saw four cars inside the top five was at Sonoma in 2019.

Next race: The series heads to Texas Motor Speedway for the NASCAR All-Star Race on May 22 (8 p.m. ET, FS1).

BJ McLeod, Live Fast team move to Chevrolet

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Driver/owner BJ McLeod and Live Fast Motorsports will race in Chevrolets beginning with the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Based in Mooresville, North Carolina, Live Fast has been a Ford team.

MORE: Where are they now? Scott Riggs races with son, Layne

Live Fast is owned by McLeod, Matt Tifft and Joe Falk. Jessica McLeod, BJ’s wife, is the team’s chief operating officer.

“Our team is excited to make this transition to Chevrolet,” BJ McLeod said in a statement released by the team. “Chevrolet Camaros have proven great success on the track, and Live Fast Motorsports is looking forward to becoming a part of this advance.”

MORE: Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

The team will use ECR engines.

McLeod had one top-10 finish in 29 starts in the Cup Series last season.

Dr Diandra: Delving deeper into 2022 NASCAR season statistics

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As I discovered earlier this year, cautions don’t capture everything. Sometimes drivers spin, crash, lose wheels or blow tires, but racing continues. Cautions are inaccurate proxies for counting these incidents.

Improving accuracy requires re-visiting each race in detail to find those incidents that didn’t produce cautions.

So that’s what I did.

Non-caution incidents

I use the same categories for non-caution incidents as for cautions. Only incidents significant enough to cost drivers spots count, regardless of where in the field they happen. I don’t claim to have found every incident, but I think I caught most of them.

The table below summarizes my counts for caution and non-caution incidents in the 2022 Cup Series.

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Non-caution incidents comprise 30.1% of total incidents. The percentages, however, vary widely within categories.

For example: While non-caution accidents are just 14% of all accidents, non-caution spins are almost 40% of the total spin count.

Non-caution incidents by race

The graph below shows total incidents — caution and non-caution. I show the races in chronological order from left to right. The totals do not include planned cautions.

The largest number of non-caution incidents happen at road courses. These tracks’ length and sprawling nature allow drivers to recover from a spin or accident without drawing a caution.

  • The Indy road course had the highest overall number of non-caution incidents — nine spins, six accidents and one car on fire. That comes to a total of 16 non-caution incidents and three natural cautions.
  • COTA had the second-highest total of non-caution incidents with 13 — two accidents, nine spins, one tire issue and one wheel issue. Seven natural cautions bring COTA’s incident total to 20.
  • Bristol’s asphalt race came in third in total incidents. Although all of the accidents, spins and stalls recorded there caused cautions, six tire issues and five wheel issues did not. Bristol wins the award for most non-caution incidents at an oval.

Road courses accounted for one-third of all spins in 2022. Capturing total spins is important because spins indicate how easy it is to lose control of the car.

The first third of the season tallied 34 spins. The number rose to 40 in the second third, but fell to 25 in the last 12 races of the year. The numbers from the first two-thirds of the season included 10 spins each at COTA and the Indy Road Course.

The strong dependence of spins on track type makes it hard to draw a conclusion about whether drivers improved their ability to manage the car during the year.

Tires blown

The Next Gen’s symmetry makes the car harder to turn, which demands more from the tires. Crew chiefs also gained the ability to adjust rear camber. Goodyear reported force spikes of 200 to 300 pounds in the tires. Force spikes load a tire quickly, which can lead to blowouts.

I only counted situations in which it was clear that the tire went flat before any other incident, like a spin or accident. If it was possible that another incident caused the tire to blow, I didn’t include it as a tire issue.

I counted a total of 59 blown tires in the 2022 season, which includes those that caused cautions and those that didn’t.

Teams used around 26,600 tires this season. The 59 tire failures represent about 0.2% of all tires run.

Christopher Bell and Austin Cindric had the most blown tires with five each. Bell’s teammate Martin Truex Jr. had four. Tyler Reddick, Ryan Blaney, Chase Briscoe and Daniel Suarez each had three.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s four cars totaled 13 blown tires or 22% of the total number. Hendrick Motorsports, with the same number of cars, had eight blown tires, while Stewart Haas Racing had only six.

The Bristol asphalt race had the most tire issues, with 13. Texas came in second with eight and Kansas third with five. Atlanta, which was repaved and reconfigured, had six tire issues across its two races.

The number of tire issues at Kansas decreased from five in the first race to two in the second. I expect the overall numbers to go down next year as crew chiefs use what they’ve learned this year to refine their setups.

Wheels lost

The Next Gen’s single-lug wheel challenged pit crews, despite built-in indicators that confirm when a wheel is properly tightened. I counted 13 times cars had to back up on pit road to deal with a loose wheel and 19 times cars pitted right after a tire change to re-tighten wheels.

The four-race suspension for crew chief and pit crew members makes teams extra cautious.

I counted 14 wheels coming off cars during the 2022 season. Seven merited cautions. The remaining seven either happened on pit road, or a car that lost a wheel on track was able to make it back to pit road.

Fourteen wheels is 0.05% of all tires used. Again, this number reflects human error more than any design flaw in the wheels. More concerning to me are the handful of stops where teams couldn’t get wheels off cars. For example, debris between the wheel and hub at Darlington ended up costing Ross Chastain four laps.

The good news is that fewer wheels left cars as the season went on.

  • Eight wheels came off cars in the first third of the season.
  • Four wheels were lost in the second third of the season.
  • Only two wheels failed to stay on in the final third of the season.

As is the case for most statistics in the first year of a new car, these numbers will become more meaningful next year, when they’ll serve as benchmarks.

Goodyear renews agreement to remain NASCAR tire supplier

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NASCAR and Goodyear have entered into a new multi-year agreement maintaining Goodyear’s role as the exclusive tire for NASCAR’s top three national series. 

Goodyear also will be the title sponsor for the Cup race at Darlington Raceway in May 2023. Goodyear and NASCAR’s relationship dates back nearly 70 years and is one of the longest-running affiliations in any sport.

“From our manufacturing plants to offices around the world, racing is ingrained in our culture, and the importance of our relationship with NASCAR is reflected in the quality, performance and engineering we put into every Goodyear Eagle race tire,” said Richard J. Kramer, chairman, chief executive officer and president at Goodyear, in a statement. “Our performance on the racetrack plays an active role in the success of the sport and inspires the development of our consumer tires, fueling our commitment to take performance and innovation to the next level.”

Goodyear produces more than 100,000 tires for NASCAR’s top three series each year at Goodyear’s global headquarters in Akron, Ohio.

“Goodyear has been a trusted partner to the NASCAR industry since 1954, playing a critical role in our shared pursuit to deliver the best racing in the world,” said Steve Phelps, president of NASCAR, in a statement. “For more than 25 years, Goodyear Eagle tires have been the only component that connects the stock car to the racetrack. Our continued partnership will allow us to push boundaries and innovate our racing product for generations to come.”  

Jes Ferreira selected as Comcast Community Champion of the Year

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Comcast announced Jes Ferreira as the 2022 Comcast Community Champion of the Year Award, the eighth to receive the annual award. Among all the turmoil of the pandemic, Ferreira looked for an opportunity to give back. Despite her heavy workload, she decided to take on an even heavier challenge, becoming a foster parent to two young girls. 

“I am overwhelmed, humbled, and blown away to be recognized as the Comcast Community Champion of the Year,” said Jes Ferreira, 2022 Comcast Community Champion, “the amount of support this will provide for the Charlotte foster families ensures the best services for these children. I hope this sheds light on the foster community and encourages everyone to support in many different ways.” 

Ferreira, originally earned a foster license to become a foster parent for one child, but a few months later, the child’s younger sibling needed a new foster home. Although Ferreira, Senior Director of Live Shows for CSM Production, already had a crazy work schedule which included traveling to the race track most weekends on top of fostering one child as a single parent, she knew without a doubt these two siblings deserved to be together while in foster care. Now two young siblings who are going through the most trying time in their lives have been reunited thanks to Ferreira. 

On any given day, there are nearly 424,000 children in foster care in the United States. In 2019, over 672,000 children spent time in U.S. foster care. On average, children remain in state care for over a year and a half, and five percent of children in foster care have languished there for five or more years.  

Ferreira’s affiliated charity is Foster Village Charlotte (FVC), an organization that allows foster parents to connect with and support each other. FVC collaborates with 16 private foster parent licensing agencies, local government, child welfare organizations and the community to serve families holistically and represent the foster family voice to Mecklenburg County Department of Social Services (DSS). 

To further honor Jes’ incredible dedication, Comcast will donate $60,000 to Foster Village Charlotte (FVC).

“Jes encompasses everything the Comcast Community Champion of the Year stands for. Anyone that is at the track knows how dedicated Jes is to the sport of NASCAR and, we are so glad we expanded the eligibility for this award so we can uncover and honor the compassion, selflessness and generosity Jes provides off the track, and that is what makes this honor so special, ” said Matt Lederer, Comcast’s Vice President, Brand Partnerships and Amplification.  

 Ferreira, was chosen by a panel comprised of Comcast and NASCAR executives, as well as Curtis Francois, the 2021 Comcast Community Champion, who received the award for his work with the Raceway Gives Foundation 

For the first time, Comcast opened the eligibility for anyone in the NASCAR community with a 2022 annual credential or NASCAR full season license, and with this expansion, Comcast is now able to share these exceptional stories.   

Josh Williams, driver of the #92 DGM Racing car for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Sherry Pollex, founder of Sherry Strong, were selected as finalists and will be awarded $30,000 each towards their respective selected charities – the Ryan Seacrest Foundation and Sherry Strong. 

Comcast has a long track record of community service, aiding in the advancement of local organizations, developing programs and partnerships, mobilizing resources to connect people and inspiring positive and substantive change. To learn more about these efforts, visit the Comcast Community Impact site. 

About Comcast Corporation’s Partnership with NASCAR 

Comcast’s Xfinity brand entered NASCAR as entitlement partner of the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2015 and is now Premier Partner of the NASCAR Cup Series. Since then, the company has donated $840,000 to more than 20 different NASCAR-affiliated organizations to honor their efforts and to help further the impact of their worthy causes. Fans can visit ComcastCommunityChampion.com to learn more about past and present finalists and their acts of selflessness.