Friday 5: Rick Hendrick relishes ‘heartwarming stories’ of his son


Even now, more than 17 years after Ricky Hendrick died in a plane crash, his father, Rick Hendrick, says “it’s just hard to believe that it has been that long ago.

“You think about it, in a way it was like yesterday. Sometimes, I even think I’m going to see him come around the corner in his Tahoe. But, then you think, gosh, it’s been that long ago, almost 20 years.”

Ricky Hendrick was among 10 people killed in October 2004 when a team plane crashed on the way to a Cup race at Martinsville Speedway. He was 24 years old. Rick Hendrick also lost his brother and two nieces in the accident.

Ricky Hendrick’s legacy will be honored in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Road America. For the first time since 2009, Hendrick Motorsports will field a car in the Xfinity Series. 

The team will use the No. 17 — the number Ricky Hendrick had when he competed in the Camping World Truck Series in 2000-01 — and a paint scheme based on his truck’s scheme. Kyle Larson will drive the car in Saturday’s Xfinity race (2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network). 

Alex Bowman will run the car in the July 30 race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. William Byron will pilot the car Aug. 20 at Watkins Glen International. 

“It’s been something that I think our family and our organization can still celebrate with that paint scheme, that number and what Ricky meant to us,” Rick Hendrick told NBC Sports a few days after Father’s Day. “It’s very special. 

“It’s hard to even put into words, especially right here with Father’s Day. You’re thinking about not having him around, but having pieces (and) memories, you keep all of that alive.”

Ricky Hendrick on the way to winning the 2001 NASCAR Truck race at Kansas Speedway. (Photo: Hendrick Motorsports)

And he has many stories, which provide uplifting moments for Rick Hendrick and his family.

“As time goes on, you have people tell funny stories and some of his friends, a lot of them come by, and they tell stories and we laugh,” Rick Hendrick said. “That’s the bright spot. He didn’t live all that many years, but, boy, he enjoyed himself, and he had so many friends. 

“There are a lot of heartwarming stories. We talked about it (on Father’s Day) and we do all the time. I smile when somebody says, ‘You remember when Ricky did this or did that?’ “

One special memory happened July 7, 2001, when Ricky scored his lone Truck Series win. Rick Hendrick and his wife, Linda, were at Kansas Speedway and celebrated with their son. 

Ricky Hendrick celebrating his win at Kansas in 2001. (Photo: Hendrick Motorsports)

“There’s nothing in the world that makes you any happier than to see a child, yours, achieve something that they want,” Rick Hendrick said. “I stood in the back of the press conference after the race and listened to him. 

“I still had tears in my eyes because I remembered when he was in the second grade. He said racing ran though his blood like water through a stream. 

“To see him sitting up there, where I’ve seen a lot of my guys sit, and watched press conferences, but to stand in the back of the room and seeing something like an inaugural Truck (win), him achieving what he did. …

“It was just … if you’re not a parent you can’t understand, but if you are, you understand.”

And some parents know the pain Rick Hendrick has felt.

“I have this fraternity that you don’t want to be in,” he said, alluding to fathers in NASCAR who have lost a child. “(Fox Sports’) Chris Myers and Kyle Petty. Chris Myers texted me (on Father’s Day) and we texted back and forth. … In my case and my wife’s case, we think we’re going to see (Ricky) again soon. It won’t be that far off for us.

“But you always think about what could be. You think about how things would be different today, what would it be like. That’s something that we talked about (on Father’s Day), what would it be like if he was with his daughter and we were all together. 

“It’s one of those things you never want to forget. You think about  it all the time, and you think about how short his life was. Until you go through it, you don’t understand. I used to tell people how bad I felt when they lost a child. Then all of a sudden, I wanted to call every one of them back and say, ‘Look, I really didn’t understand. I said I’m sorry, but I really didn’t understand.’

“Good news is that we’ve got such a tight group, automotive family and racing family, and everybody wants to celebrate his life. When the drivers called me and said, ‘Man, I’m so excited I get to drive the 17,’ that makes me feel good.”

The weekend got off to a good start. Kyle Larson won the pole for Saturday’s Xfinity race in that race. Although

“Having children myself makes running this car much more important because I can’t imagine losing one of my children and what that would to do me,” Larson said.

To this day, Ricky Hendrick continues to make an impact on his father’s life.

“I think of my grandchildren, I want to spend more time with them,” Rick Hendrick said. “I love doing things with them. I’ve got a 15-year-old grandson that is a car nut. … My granddaughter, Ricky’s little girl, she is in the auto business. She wants to be in the business.

“I think back to him growing up and watching him start working in the stores, start going into motorsports, loving motorsports and see the grandkids doing it. I see him in them.

“I want to make sure that I spend time with them and don’t miss out on that, this stage of their life. You can’t take it for granted that they’ll be here all the time.”

2. How an appeal impacted the finish at Nashville  

The end of last weekend’s Cup race at Nashville proved puzzling, as three Joe Gibbs Racing cars, running second through fourth, all pitted when leader Chase Elliott stayed out before the final restart.

Denny Hamlin was third at the time of the final caution. When Kyle Busch, who was second, pitted, Hamlin could have stayed out and restarted on the front row.

That he pitted was confusing because only the day before Hamlin told reporters: “We have changed our … strategy to just we either want to win a stage or win the race.”

The change is because Hamlin, who is 20th in points, is too far back to climb into the top 10 in the standings before the regular season ends. He won’t get any of the bonus playoff points awarded to those who finish the regular season in the top 10 in points.

The only way Hamlin can earn playoff points is by winning a stage (worth one playoff point) or a race (five playoff points).

That’s what made what happened at Nashville a head scratcher. After Hamlin pitted, 10 cars did not. Hamlin restarted 14th. He finished sixth, while Elliott won.

Crew chief Chris Gabehart told NBC Sports on Thursday that the call was for Hamlin to stay out if he could get the front row, but a miscommunication led to Hamlin pitting.

Nashville was the final race for Gabehart’s four-race suspension because a wheel came off Hamlin’s car at Dover. Joe Gibbs Racing appealed the penalty and lost. The appeals panel amended the penalty, making the suspension four points races instead of four races. 

That proved to be a significant change. 

Had the penalty not been altered, Gabehart would have been at Nashville. With the change to the penalty, Gabehart could not have the All-Star Race, a non-points race, count as one of the four races he had to miss. So, he missed the Coca-Cola 600, which Hamlin won, Gateway, Sonoma and Nashville.

Engineer Sam McAulay served as the crew chief with Gabehart out. A decision to pit before the first overtime restart put Hamlin in position to win the Coca-Cola 600 last month. This time, things didn’t go as smoothly.

“The bottom line is some words got jumbled (on the radio) and it ended up being if you can get the lead, stay,” Gabehart said. “Denny did exactly what he’s supposed to do. He took the directive, and he wasn’t going to be able to get the lead, so he pitted.

“The reality is what we needed and should have done was if you get the front row, stay, and it just didn’t get articulated correctly.”

That’s one of the challenges when a crew chief is suspended. He can’t be on the pit box. He must relay information to the interim crew chief and have that message passed along to the driver. 

“It happens,” Gabehart told NBC Sports of the miscommunication on the radio. “It’s part of it. Many crew chiefs have done it before. 

“I’ve been through a lot more of those situations, and it’s a lot less confusing than when you’re having to channel the directive through a different voice and you’re able to instead consume it and produce it. I feel our instance, honestly, will get cleaned up when all our roles get put back to where they’re supposed to be.”

Gabehart is back at Road America for Sunday’s Cup race (3 p.m. ET on USA Network). 

The last time Cup competed on a road course was three weeks ago at Sonoma. No Toyota finished in the top 15, which Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson called an “embarrassment.” 

Questions remain for the Toyotas of Joe Gibbs Racing and 23XI Racing entering Road America.

“I can say we’ve put in a tremendous amount of work into it as a team and an organization over the last two weeks, knowing that road racing has been a weakness for us,” Gabehart said. “I look forward to getting to Road America and seeing if we’ve made gains.

“I think realistically, it’s a lot to ask to expect a Toyota to run the way it has at Sonoma and even kind of like at COTA and make a huge leap to be a winning race car at Road America. I think that would be a lot. 

“I think more realistically, if we can be a top five or fringe top-five, top-10 car or organization, then I will deem Road America a success … and try to get better going to Indy.”

3. Ross Chastain’s quest for more

Trackhouse Racing enters Road America as the early favorite after Ross Chastain won at Circuit of the Americas and teammate Daniel Suarez won at Sonoma in the only two road course races this year. 

Chastain noted how the victory at Circuit of the Americas changed him, particularly when the series raced at Sonoma last month.

I got out after practice, and I think we were like fourth or fifth quick,” Chastain said. “I was complaining how the car wouldn’t turn. It wouldn’t drive off the corner. It wouldn’t stop. It wouldn’t do anything good, and we were terrible. 

“I was on the radio complaining about a lot. My car chief looked at me when I got out of the car (and said) ‘Now you complain when we’re top five in practice? Two months ago you were just happy to be here in the field and now we’re (saying) it’s the end of the world when we’re fifth quick.’ It hit me, OK, I’m never going to be satisfied.”

Chastain heads into Sunday’s race second in the standings. He trails Chase Elliott by 30 points with nine races left in the regular season. Elliott, Chastain and William Byron each has a series-high 13 playoff points. 

In a season of inconsistency for many teams as they learn the Next Gen car, Trackhouse has been one of the few teams that has been fast at many tracks. Chastain has two wins and a series-high eight top-five finishes in 17 starts. 

“This isn’t just a moment,” Chastain said, “but this an arrival of Trackhouse.”

4. Fun learning the new car

While the new car has challenged many teams and drivers, Kaulig Racing’s AJ Allmendinger says he’s enjoyed the new car.

The Xfinity points leader will again run the Cup race this weekend for Kaulig. He nearly won at Circuit of the Americas before contact from Ross Chastain knocked him out of the lead on the last lap.

This will be Allmendinger’s ninth Cup start this season, as he shares the No. 16 car with Noah Gragson and Daniel Hemric this season. 

Allmendinger said the new car has given teams like Kaulig a better chance of competing.

“Let’s be completely honest here – like in the past, especially with the old car when we were with the No. 47 car, we knew that with these types of races we could go run well,” Allmendinger said of road course racing with JTG Daugherty Racing.

“But you knew half of the time at a 1.5-mile race track – no matter what you did, you could be perfect that weekend and you’d probably run 20th just because those cars had been massaged so much, aero-wise. And the big teams knew so many tricks of what they could get through tech. … So it was tough sometimes going to those race weekends and going ‘I hope at best we can run 18th.’

“With this Next Gen car now, your eyes are kind of wide open. Yeah there are some weekends that I’ve gotten in the car and you’re just terrible all weekend and it’s a struggle. But also, when we went to St. Louis – I had no practice, had never seen the place before. We got the car dialed in mid-race and we drove up through the field. I actually thought we had a top-five car by the end of the race. Even last week, we got the car right and we were getting to the edge of the top 10.

That makes it fun because you know if you hit the setup right – the two road courses are the perfect example of that. COTA, I started at the back and we were a top-two car all day, between me and Ross (Chastain). Sonoma, I was at best 11th or 12th. So it does make it fun because you know if your team executes and you get the setup right, you can go have a shot to win races or run upfront.”

5. Confidence growing 

Michael McDowell finished third at Sonoma in the most recent road course race, and the Front Row Motorsports driver is looking for a better result this weekend at Road America. McDowell heads into Sunday’s race having already scored a career-high six top-10 finishes this season.

“Sonoma, I felt like finally I had an opportunity to do what I always believed that I could do at a road course and just have a good day – qualify in the top five, race in the top five, be there throughout the entirety of the race,” he said. 

“So that one was an important momentum shift for us because I’ve always felt good on the road courses. That’s my background, but I’ve never felt like we’ve been actual contenders and at Sonoma we were actual contenders.

“Taking that and moving to Road America, we should be contenders there. There’s no reason why we won’t. COTA, we missed the setup and weren’t great and we ran 13th there.  Sonoma, we hit it and were pretty good. Sonoma should help us build toward Road America.”

Ross Chastain after COTA race: ‘Are you not entertained?’

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One driver evoked the movie “Gladiator” after Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas. Another could be penalized for his actions after the checkered flag. Others expressed dismay at what the end of the event became.

A race that had been a thrilling duel devolved into a demolition derby over the final laps, leaving feelings as bruised as some of the cars.

While Tyler Reddick celebrated his first win of the season, other drivers stewed at what the racing became. Three overtimes were needed to finish the event due to incidents in the Turn 1 hairpin. Then again, it should not have been surprising, coming a week after Kyle Busch said: “We have completely lost any sense of respect in the garage between the drivers”.

“Are you not entertained?” Ross Chastain exclaimed, evoking Russell Crowe’s famous movie line. “This is what we love. I don’t love doing it, but … as a sport we’re not boring.”

Chastain is correct, the sport is not boring. But it’s fair to ask if the sport has crossed a line. Is it OK for races to end this way? If not, how to change it is a more difficult notion.

The action has been getting more aggressive this season. It was evident in the Clash at the Coliseum when drivers charged into the corners and slammed into the back of cars as a way to slow down to make the tight turns.

Sunday marked the third time in the last four road course races that the event went to overtime. In the previous 28 road course races — dating back to 2012 — only three went to overtime.

It makes one wonder what could happen this weekend when the Cup series races at Richmond Raceway, beginning a three-week stretch at short tracks that includes the Bristol dirt race and Martinsville.

“These cars are so tough,” Chastain said. “We can run into each other. There are just lines of cars all pushing each other (on the restarts) on the brakes. Nobody is going in there saying, ‘I’m going to hit somebody,’ but it’s just the leader has to check up and it just magnifies itself.”

Chastain’s teammate, Daniel Suarez, was not happy after the race. He ran into the back of Chastain’s car, knocking him out of the way as they entered pit road and then hit the back of Bowman’s car on pit road.

Section 4.4.B of the Cup Rule Book states that drivers can be penalized for “Intentionally damaging another vehicle on pit road.” Such a penalty could result in the loss of 25-50 driver and/or team owner points and/or $50,000-$100,000 fine. Violations may also result in a suspension.

Suarez restarted fifth in the second overtime restart but left the inside lane open. Alex Bowman, with Ross Chastain and Chase Briscoe aligned behind, charged and got beside Suarez as they approached Turn 1.

As Bowman slowed to make the tight turn, he was hit from behind and that sent him into Suarez, who clipped the left rear of Martin Truex Jr.’s car. Truex spun in front of Suarez and blocked his path, allowing the rest of the field to drive by and costing Suarez a top-five finish. Suarez finished 27th.

Suarez spoke briefly with Bowman before having a discussion with Chastain.

“The problem is if you don’t peek out and bomb the guy in front of you, the guy behind you does it to you,” Bowman said. “So what do you do there? It’s not right. The way we race is embarrassing, and if 12-year-olds were doing it, we’d be yelling at them, but here we are saying it’s the best thing in the world on TV.”

Chris Buescher simply called Sunday’s race “our first bumper car race of the year.”

Austin Dillon said: “The end of the race became a typical NASCAR road course race. It was just a mess. We drove up into the hill on a restart and everyone just pile drove into each other.”

Jordan Taylor, making his first Cup start as he filled in for an injured Chase Elliott, was struck by what the restarts were like.

“Every restart, you just get smashed in the front, rear, side,” he said. “So yeah, it was pretty much just survival.”


Sunday’s race was scheduled to go 68 laps but was extended to 75 laps by the late cautions.

Here is a look at the drivers who gained the most and lost the most positions from where they were running on Lap 68 to where they were running on Lap 75:

Most positions gained

18 – Kyle Larson (finished 14th)

17 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (finished 7th)

16 – Kevin Harvick (finished 13th)

12 – Todd Gilliland (finished 10th)

9 – Ryan Blaney (finished 21st)

8 – Noah Gragson (finished 20th)

7 – Austin Cindric (finished 6th)

6 – Corey LaJoie (finished 11th)

Most positions lost

23 – Daniel Suarez (finished 27th)

20 – Joey Logano (finished 28th)

15 – Kimi Raikkonen (finished 29th)

12 – Christopher Bell (finished 31st)

12 – Martin Truex Jr. (finished 17th)

10 – Aric Almirola (finished 30th)

9 – Jordan Taylor (finished 24th)

6 – Michael McDowell (finished 12th)


Tyler Reddick and Kyle Busch, who switched rides before this season, have both won in the first six races.

This marks the third year in a row that two drivers with new Cup rides have won so early in the year.

Last year, Austin Cindric and Ross Chastain each won in the first six races of the year. Cindric had driven a few Cup races previously for Team Penske but last year was his first year in the No. 2 car. Chastain did have the same crew chief and other crew members at Trackhouse Racing after it purchased Chip Ganassi Racing.

In 2021, Kyle Larson, in his first season at Hendrick Motorsports, and Christopher Bell, in his rookie Cup season with Joe Gibbs Racing, each won within the first four races of that year.

Winners and losers at Circuit of the Americas


A look at winners and losers from Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas:


Tyler Reddick — Reddick needed patience and perseverance to stay in front through three overtimes to win Sunday’s race. Considering the supreme strength of his Toyota and his nearly flawless performance, losing first place in that calamity near the end would have been heartbreaking. Instead, he gives Toyota its first win of the year.

Kyle Busch — Busch never led, but he pushed through the field in the final stage, worked his way through the restarts and finished second.

William Byron — Byron appeared to have the only answer to Reddick’s power. He led 28 laps but was shuffled to fifth at the finish.

Todd Gilliland — Gilliland was in the top-15 mix through the three overtimes and worked his way to a 10th-place finish, the third of his Cup career.

Jenson Button — Former F1 champion finished 18th in his Cup debut, highest among the road course ringers. He told his team after the race on the radio that Cup drivers “are on it every second of the race” and also said that the race was a “roller coaster … a whole F1 season in one race.”


AJ Allmendinger — Always expected to be a threat at road courses, Allmendinger left the race after 60 laps with damage from an accident, finishing 34th.

Brad Keselowski — Spins limited Keselowski’s effectiveness Sunday, and he parked after 56 laps with a driveshaft issue, finishing 35th and dropping four spots in the points standings.

Bubba Wallace — The year has not started well for Wallace, who finished 37th Sunday and now has four finishes of 20th or worse in six races. He fell three spots in points.

What drivers said at Circuit of the Americas


What drivers had to say during and after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas:

Tyler Reddick — Winner: “It means the world. This whole 23XI team has been working so hard all winter long to make the road course program better. Was extremely motivated to come in here and prove that performance, too. Just so proud of this Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD. Toyota, everybody, all the resources they’ve been putting into this to help turn around the road course program means a lot. I’m out of gas. But I feel a little bit better with Monster Energy. I really had to dial it up there at the end to get an advantage. I was making mistakes on every single restart. I was able to make it a little better there in the end. … Obviously, there was a lot of cautions at the end. I mean, the way that things kind of have progressed, the front and rear bumpers of this car are really resilient. You can really hit someone pretty hard without knocking the nose of your car out. The rear bumpers are really tough, too. We saw that at the Clash, people being able to lean on each other front to rear. It kind of brings that to light at the end of these races. But seriously, though, you look at Turn 1 here, Turn 1 at Indy road course, they’re very inviting corners with a lot of room. It’s just a product of restarts and the nature of NASCAR racing and how aggressive all the drivers are. Someone’s going to be on the short end.”

MORE: COTA Cup results, driver points

Kyle Busch — Finished 2nd: “I don’t know if we could have (beaten Tyler Reddick). Even if we were on equal tires, when we tested here, they were lights out. Had us beat on the frontside of the runs. We needed longer runs. Even today we didn’t have great long-run speed. We had great middle-run speed. Overall, for as much effort and everything that we’ve put into coming here and focusing on this place, all the testing and everything we’ve been able to do during the off-season, come out here with a really good finish. Tyler obviously is a really good road racer. He proved it driving this car here last year. I was able to get in it and run right back to him. I’ve been trying to emulate the things he did in order to make this car fast last year, but not quite all the way there. They had a whale of a car.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 3rd: “It probably wouldn’t have been that bad if my interior stuff worked. When this Coolshirt doesn’t work, it just heat soaks, kind of cooks you. I’m hot. It stopped working pretty early. I don’t have issues with stuff from Hendrick Motorsports very often. Shout-out to all the guys back at the shop. This road crew, I’m not the greatest road course racer, so to come here and run top five again means a lot. It was a hot day. Proud of the 45 (Tyler Reddick). A heck of a road course racer. Fastest car definitely won today. Wish our Ally Camaro was a couple spots better. All in all, a good day for us. (On post-race talk with Daniel Suarez): He just thought I drove in and tried to drive through him. I had the corner made. Only reason I was inside of the 99 was to protect from the 1. Then the 1 just hammered me in the corner, dumped me, then I ran into the 99, kind of cleaned him out. Daniel and I, we’ve been teammates in the past, raced together a long time. I respect the hell out of him. I’m sure he’s still not super happy. Just tried to explain that I wouldn’t race him like that, that I was shoved in there. You see that a lot at these road courses. Indy last year, Harvick was super mad at me and crashed me. Then he watched the video, and he was like, ‘Man, I crashed the wrong guy.’ Sometimes just it’s a chain reaction. Fortunately, it worked out for us, ended up with a top five.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 4th: “When we got spun, I think we restarted down at Niece Equipment south of town. To come back to a top five was a top effort for our Worldwide Express team. I thought we were a top-five car all day. Thought the 45 (Tyler Reddick) had us covered. There was a line of Chevys second through sixth. It was about positioning each other while we were saving fuel, then racing each other, whoever was in front was going to be pretty good. Another top five here. I love this place. I love road course racing. But the fight to get better never stops. I know there’s things I can be doing better.”

William Byron — Finished 5th: “It was all right. I probably could have done better on those restarts. I gotta look. I just kept getting pushed wide, and it seemed like the last one didn’t happen for some reason. I just gave up too much track position. It was really my only option. Good to get a top five. We had a good racecar; I think a top-two racecar really, with the 45. He was a lot better than everybody, but I thought we were a close second. It was really fun. Tyler is great, and they were great all weekend. Tyler’s been great on the road courses. We made it a battle for sure every time with crossovers, out-braking each other — that was a lot of fun. I hate that it kind of got down to restarts there at the end. I got shoved off one time in second. We needed a top five and probably could have done some things different.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 6th: “Great to lay some laps. Good to be able to show some speed in our Discount Tire Ford Mustang. It’s one of those days where you win or lose as a team. There were quite a few miscues on pit road that probably kept us from having the track position. Then, it’s a fight. Fair recovery to finish sixth. A lot of things had to go our way for those restarts. But for a long, hot day, we never gave up.”

Chris Buescher — Finisned 8th: “It was our first bumper car race of the year. Our Fifth Third Ford Mustang ended up pretty solid there toward the end. We got a solid top 10 out of it. That’s a big testament to this team and its ‘never give up’ attitude. I started into the 30s for the day, 32nd. I had to really power through, and we had some issues there that probably came from getting run into… backward a couple times. But I’m proud of everybody. That was a good finish for a really hard-fought day.”

Ty Gibbs — Finished 9th: “I’m sure it was entertaining. We had a really great first half of the race and then we had an issue with our lugnut – lost a lot of time and I got two penalties. I just have to minimize mistakes. We will take it.”

Todd Gilliland — Finished 10th: “The restarts were really good for us, even in the very beginning of the race. We were able to fire off and gain a lot of spots right off the bat. So, after that, we had fallen off a little worse than everyone else, but our fire-off speed was probably top-five to 10 every time. It was really nice to have some speed there, and to be really aggressive on the restarts. Most of them worked out really well. I got spun once, but we were able to rebound up to 10th or so. That’s good —  15th and 10th the last two races. That’s something to build on.”

Jenson Button — Finished 18th:  “It was an emotional rollercoaster. First, it was terrible. I mean, I must’ve been last by the end of it. And I was just like, ‘Everyone: Go. I just need to drive and find a rhythm.’ I’ve never gone through a corner too wide so often. And trying to place my car in the right place — I just got it wrong every time. Normally, if you’re a little bit slow through a corner, nobody tries to overtake you from the outside. Because they’re not going to make it all the way on the next one. But here they do, because they get a wheel inside for the next one, and if you turn in, you turn around. The first stint was really bad — it was embarrassing for me. I was like, ‘All right guys, we need to pit, freshen the tires and I need some air – I need some fresh air.’ I got that. The pace was good, consistency was good. I was really happy — and passed a few cars, which was nice. We got a little bit unlucky with the safety car because it was just two laps before our window. Pitted, then the next stint was mayhem. We also made a couple of changes that just didn’t work. Big oversteer —  went from the car feeling great to really difficult to drive. I also had a massive whack from Kimi (Räikkönen), and it fell off after that. The car wasn’t quite right. Every time I turned in, the rear tires would chatter, then immediately to oversteer. It was really difficult, but toward the end, we made some good calls stopping and putting on fresh tires. I enjoyed the last three restarts — got good placement and good overtaking moves from the outside. Finished 18th after almost stopping because I had heat exhaustion. It was so hot, I don’t have a fan in my seat which really didn’t help me too much. It was so hot, I thought I was going to faint in the car. So, I stopped twice for a minute. They put ice on me, gave me loads of water, and I went back out. I was so close to getting out of the car because I thought I was going to faint. I must’ve drunk eight or nine bottles of water during the race. The team kept me calm, and it’s the reason why we got a good result in the end. So, I was happy.”

Noah Gragson — Finished 20th: “Had a solid day in our Black Rifle Coffee Camaro. We ran inside the top 10 and top 15 for a large part of the day with good speed. We kept working on the car. Luke Lambert and the rest of the guys called a great strategy. The pit crew did an awesome job. We put ourselves in position during the green-white-checkers to be in the top 10. I ended up getting spun and rallied back. We never quit.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 21st: “Certainly, wasn’t the day we were looking for. Starting in the back we managed to gain quite a few spots early but got hit really hard in the left rear and had to make repairs. Glad we had a shot late for a decent finish, but those overtime restarts are crazy and sometimes it works out and other times it doesn’t.”

Erik Jones — Finished 23rd: “Frustrating day here in at COTA. I felt like we had a pretty fast Allegiant Chevy, but it seemed like we kept getting hit. There were a couple times there on restarts that we just flat got ran over. Wrong place wrong time for sure, and it stinks that we weren’t really able to have anything to show for the speed we had. I’m thankful that we were able to show as much promise as we did early on with a good run in qualifying, and I can tell we are moving in the right direction at Legacy Motor Club. On to Richmond.”

Jordan Taylor — Finished 24th: “Yeah, it was definitely wild. I wouldn’t say I survived; I feel like I’m beat up pretty much. Every restart, you just get smashed in the front, rear, side. So, yeah, it was pretty much just survival. The guys knew I’d be a little bit more hesitant, so they would take advantage of it. At the end, I got more aggressive and made our way almost back to the top 10. On the last restart, I don’t know who went down on the inside, but they were never going to make the corner and used us to stop themselves. I’d say it was a disappointing day. I made a couple big mistakes early on that probably put us back there, but the No. 9 UniFirst Chevy was fast. I need to thank UniFirst and Hendrick Motorsports for giving me the opportunity. We had good pace, but we just got shuffled back every restart. Tough day.”

Joey Logano — Finished 28th: “We had a decent day going with the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang. Paul (Wolfe) made some good strategy calls to gain track position. Felt like we had a top-10 car, but depending on how the end played out maybe a top-five. The restarts at the end normally play out that way and we ended up spun out. We’ll move on to Richmond.”

Kimi Raikkonen — Finished 29th: “I think it wasn’t too bad. We got unlucky with the incidents that happened. It was one of those things, unfortunately. Then there were no tires left. They kept coming, getting more restarts and more restarts, so I think after the spin I had, the tires were just done. It’s a shame because when we were there, but then we restart, and just wrong place, wrong time. It was a case of trying to stay out of the issues in the first corner and every time. It looked like you’d be very good, then three corners later, somebody’s going the wrong direction. There’s a bit of mess and luck involved.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 33rd: “We had a really solid run going in our Get Bioethanol Chevrolet today, so it’s disappointing that we ended up in the garage early. We didn’t qualify where we needed to, but we worked our way into the top 15 by the end of Stage 1 and earned stage points at the end of Stage 2. The end of the race became a typical NASCAR road course race. It was just a mess. We drove up into the hill on a restart, and everyone just pile-drove into each other. I had nowhere to go. I don’t know if it would have worked out better for us if we chose the bottom or not. I hate it for all of the guys on this RCR team. We had a lot of good things going today, but nothing to show for it. There’s still a lot of racing to go. We’ll regroup and head to Richmond Raceway.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 38th: “What a disappointing finish. Unfortunately, we got off to a slow start yesterday and qualified poorly. We all know what happens when you start in the back and, unfortunately, we were caught up in that. Just a wild and crazy first lap that was taking place. I thought I had the wreck missed, but I just saw a flash of red out of nowhere. I guess there was more going on the outside of the No. 6 car (Brad Keselowski) as it was spinning, and I saw him and just got collected.”

COTA Cup Series results: Tyler Reddick wins


Wrecks led to a series of restarts over the closing miles in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Circuit of the Americas, but Tyler Reddick, who had the day’s fastest car, held on through all of the calamity to score his first win of the year.

Kyle Busch was second, Alex Bowman third and Ross Chastain fourth. William Byron, who challenged Reddick for supremacy most of the day, was fifth.

MORE: COTA Cup results

MORE: COTA Cup driver points

MORE: What drivers said at COTA

Reddick led 41 laps on the way to his fourth Cup win (three on road courses).

Jenson Button finished 18th in his first Cup race, and Jordan Taylor was 24th in his Cup debut.