Can Next Gen car help return Cup to Indianapolis oval?

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MADISON, Ill. — The positive reviews for last weekend’s racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway marked another triumph for the Next Gen car on an intermediate track. That raises the question of if the car could help the Cup Series return to Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s oval.

This season marks the second year Cup cars will compete on Indy’s road course after running on the oval from 1994-2020. Even before the move to the road course, some drivers were outspoken about their desire to remain on the oval.

The track always has been difficult for Cup cars to run side-by-side because of the narrow groove in the corners. Attendance declined through the years, leading to the move to the road course, which incorporates a portion of the oval. 

With the Next Gen car this season, the racing at Auto Club Speedway (2-mile track) and Las Vegas and Charlotte (1.5-mile tracks) received rave reviews. 

But the car hasn’t worked well at all tracks. The racing in the All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway, a 1.5-mile track, was not viewed as positively. Reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson said Friday that Texas “isn’t very racy at all.”

But could things be different with Indianapolis?

“Indy is just a difficult track,” Larson said Friday at World Wide Technology Raceway. “You can look at even the IndyCar race this year – it wasn’t that exciting and those cars build really big runs. So, I still think it would be not very good racing for us. And it seems like with these cars and the way the air runs off the back, I think it could have the potential of being even worse than normal, just because it’s a flat track.

“As a driver, I would love to win on the oval there. But the road course is, to me, more exciting racing.”

Larson is not alone in his opinion.

“Honestly, I think Indy would be worse in these cars,” Ryan Blaney said. “With the prior car, with a little bit of skew in them you’d pray for like six inches or a foot that (the car ahead would) miss the bottom. If you could get your headlight out (in clean air), you’re in decent shape. 

“Now there is zero skew in them. You would need half a car down and at Indy that is not going to happen. I honestly think that it would be worse in this car. I love racing big Indy just for nostalgia purposes, (but) I think it would be a worse race than what we had.”

Christopher Bell noted that the racing has been good at the intermediate tracks with multiple lanes. That’s not as likely at Indianapolis. 

“Any of those tracks that you can move around and pick different lanes, we’ve had great races,” Bell said. “At Texas we could not move around. We had to follow each other and it was not a great race.

“If we went to Indy and ran on the oval, I think it would be very similar to Texas — if not worse.”

NASCAR Cup Series Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records
While the field was jumbled on a late restart in the 2020 Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the cars often get spread out around the 2.5-mile track. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Former Cup champion Kurt Busch sees opportunities at Indy — but some changes would need to be made.

To me the quickest answer is (after) watching the Indy 500 and racing in it a few years back, there are options for downforce that teams have in other forms of motorsport,” Busch said. 

“In NASCAR, we’re basically boxed into this very small box of adjustments. Let the teams have more downforce that they can take out of the front or put in the front, in the rear or out of the rear. 

“That would create a window for guys who have this package and guys having that package at the same style track. That might open things up to who has short run speed versus long run speed in a different way or a different opportunity.”

Whatever the solution, Kevin Harvickwho won the last Cup race on Indy’s oval in 2020 — is steadfast in saying that the series needs to run the same track that hosts the Indianapolis 500.

“It could be the greatest race on earth,” Harvick said. “What is the real ingredient that made Charlotte so much better than Texas? I don’t know. I don’t think anybody knows. You just have to do it. I think that would be the only way you would find out. 

“It is kind of a stumper to try to figure out exactly what the ingredients are that make a good race or a bad race and what tracks are good and what tracks are bad. I wish somebody could tell me because I would have bet a million dollars last week that Charlotte was going to be horrendous. Then all of a sudden we are running up on a part of the race track that we haven’t run in five or six years.”

Even if it wouldn’t happen at Indianapolis, Harvick said the series belongs on the oval.

“I hate driving into the Brickyard and driving backward down the straightaway and driving the road course,” Harvick said. “I think it is terrible for our sport and almost degrading to a certain degree that you take the best racing series in the country and take it to what most would consider one of the greatest race tracks in the world but race on the road course.”

Sponsor adds more races in 2023 with Josh Berry

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Jarrett Companies will increase the number of races it will sponsor Josh Berry‘s No. 8 JR Motorsports ride in 2023, the Xfinity Series team announced Monday.

Jarrett Companies will sponsor Berry in six races after serving as the primary sponsor in three races in 2022. Those six races will be Phoenix (March 11), Richmond (April 1), Dover (April 29), Atlanta (July 8), Indianapolis (Aug. 12) and Texas (Sept. 23).

The deal gives Berry at least 26 races with sponsorship for next season. Bass Pro Shops will serve as the primary sponsor of Berry’s car in 11 races in 2023. Tire Pros is back with JRM and will sponsor Berry in nine races in the upcoming season.

Berry, who reached the Xfinity title race and finished fourth in the points, will have a new crew chief in 2023. Taylor Moyer will take over that role with Mike Bumgarner serving as JRM’s director of competition.

The 2023 Xfinity season begins Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

Where are they now? Buddy Parrott enjoying down time

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Buddy Parrott played outsized roles in two of the most dramatic races in NASCAR history.

Now 83 years old and retired from the sport since 2001, Parrott looks back on those two days as highlights of a career that began in the early 1970s.

In the 1990 Daytona 500, champion driver Dale Earnhardt seemed on course to end his frustration in NASCAR’s biggest event. He held the lead roaring down the backstretch on the last lap. Suddenly, Earnhardt slowed with a blown tire.

The lead was inherited by Derrike Cope, who charged to the checkered flag to score one of racing’s biggest upsets.

Parrott was Cope’s crew chief.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

In 1984, Richard Petty edged Cale Yarborough to win the summer race at Daytona International Speedway. It was Petty’s 200th – and final – win.

Parrott was Petty’s crew chief.

Those victories were high marks in a long pit-road career that saw Parrott’s drivers win dozens of races. He worked with, among others, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Burton and Petty and for team owners Jack Roush and Roger Penske.

Parrott remains active at 83, although he admits to having moved to a slower gear.

“I haven’t been living on the edge,” Parrott told NBC Sports. “I’ve been taking it really easy. I told my sons when you get to be 80 you can do anything you want because basically you’ve already done it.”

MORE: NASCAR, ARCA 2023 schedules

His strongest current connection to NASCAR is as a voter in the annual Hall of Fame balloting.

After more than 20 years roaming pit roads as a crew chief, Parrott moved into a general manager role at Roush Racing in 1997. He retired four years later and didn’t look back.

“I finally told Jack one day, ‘I don’t have time to ride my motorcycle,’ ” Parrott said. “He looked at me and said, ‘What do you want to do about it?’ I said, ‘I’m ready to retire.’ He told me I could work whatever schedule I wanted, but I decided that was it. I didn’t have a going-away thing or whatever.”

Parrott spent much of the next 15 years traveling with his wife, Judy, who died in 2016, and playing with his grandchildren.

“I had a great time in retirement because Judy was ready and I was ready,” he said. “We had a lot of fun. We’d go to Florida for two and three months at a time. I’m so happy that I didn’t hang on and go to the shop every day and try to find something to do. I spent that time with Judy, and we had 16 years of good retirement.”

Parrott, a native of Gastonia, N.C., lives in Statesville, N.C. His sons, Todd and Brad, also were NASCAR crew chiefs.

MORE: Jody Ridley’s Dover win an upset for the ages

Parrott is perhaps best remembered as crew chief for Rusty Wallace, Team Penske and the No. 2 black cars sponsored by Miller Lite. From 1992-94, they won 19 races and were consistently competitive at the front.

“I still get a lot of cards sent to me to sign from those years,” Parrott said. “I can say that was some of the happiest times I had. Those years with Rusty – and then with Jack Roush – really stand out. And who in the hell could not have fun having a beer sponsor?”

 

 

NASCAR Awards to air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joey Logano didn’t need much time to answer the question.

Who would the two-time Cup champion want to introduce him at the NASCAR Awards?

Racing icon Mario Andretti, Logano immediately said. 

And there was Andretti on the stage at the Music City Center introducing Logano, the 2022 Cup champion. Watch that and the rest of the night’s festivities at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock. You can order Peacock here.

MORE: See the red carpet scene

MORE: Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

NBC Sports’ Marty Snider and Kim Coon co-hosted the show along with Fox Sports’ Kaitlyn Vincie. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck champions were honored. Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, whose father died hours after Gibbs won the Xfinity title last month, received a standing ovation and thanked the industry for its support.

The highlight of the night for Logano was having Andretti on stage to introduce him.

“He’s just been a great role model for me, not only as a racer, but as a person for so long,” Logano said afterward. “I had his picture on my wall. I looked at Mario Andretti before I went to sleep every night as a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing that he signed it to me.”

NASCAR Awards and Champion Celebration
Cup champion Joey Logano on stage with racing icon Mario Andretti during the NASCAR Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Logano and Andretti have gotten to know each other through the years. Logano ran a throwback car that honored Andretti at Darlington Raceway in 2015 and 2021.

But none of that compared to being on stage with Andretti.

“That’s still like a pinch-me moment,” Logano said. “It’s Mario Andretti. He’s the man. The fact that he knows my name I think is really, really cool.”

Catch the NASCAR Awards at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NASCAR community showed its support Thursday at the NASCAR Awards for the Gibbs family, grieving the death of Coy Gibbs on Nov. 6. 

During his interview on stage, car owner Joe Gibbs thanked the NASCAR industry for its support. (The NASCAR Awards show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock).

Coy Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs and father of Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, died hours after seeing Ty Gibbs win the series title last month at Phoenix Raceway. Coy Gibbs, 49, was the vice chairman and chief operating officer at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR chief operating officer, introduced Ty Gibbs at the NASCAR Awards and noted that “everyone gathered tonight is all a part of the NASCAR family, and I know I speak for everyone that the entire NASCAR family is 100% percent behind this young man.”

Ty Gibbs received a standing ovation.

“Thank you,” he told the crowd, “that means a lot.”

Ty Gibbs spoke for less than a minute, thanking his team, sponsors, fans and the NASCAR community.

He closed his speech by saying “And thanks to my family. I love you. I hope everybody has a great offseason. Enjoy it. Thank you for all the support. Thank you for all the claps. I really appreciate it.”

Ty Gibbs spoke to the media earlier Thursday. Asked how he was doing, he said: “I’ve been doing good. Thank you for asking and definitely appreciate you guys. We’ve been doing good, doing a lot of stuff this week. … It’s been fun to experience this stuff.”

Asked about Joe Gibbs addressing the organization after Coy’s death, Ty Gibbs politely said: “For right now, I’m not going to touch on any of that subject at all. I’m just going to stick with all the racing questions and go from there.”

Cup champion Joey Logano said he spent time with 20-year-old Ty Gibbs on Wednesday at the champion’s dinner.

Logano said he told Ty Gibbs that “we’re here for you. You need something reach out.”