What drivers said at Road America

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Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s Cup Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisc.:

Tyler Reddick — Winner: “Well, I definitely knew he (Chase Elliott) was fast, but we could stay with him on the long run. That told me if we cycled through that last pit sequence, we’d be close or get around him, and we’d have a great shot. Didn’t quite get around him. We were within reach. Thankfully, we just waited for the right opportunity and was able to take advantage of it in Turn 6. I thought he was going to run me back down. I started to make some mistakes and started to take care of the brakes; apparently I didn’t need to. Yeah, very good shape there. What a day.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 2nd: “First off, congrats to him (Reddick). I know he’s been super close to that first win, and I’ve been down that road and it can be a rocky one. I’m happy for those guys. They deserve it. I didn’t do a very good job there. I just let him stay close enough to pressure me there while we had decent tires and never could get enough of a gap. Made a couple mistakes. I was gaining a gap there a couple times and made a couple mistakes and let him get back close enough to get me out of sync. After that, just started struggling.”

Kyle Larson — Finished 3rd: “Tyler and Chase were really good throughout the duration of a run. I seemed to be okay early and then would kind of just slowly fade away from them. You know, I don’t really know. I felt honestly pretty good, but they must have just had better grip. They were really good road racers. Honestly probably a little bit better than I am. Yeah, it was a good clean race for us, happy to get a top 3, and yeah, it was successful for my standards.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 4th: “Trackhouse still had two in the top five. Daniel (Suarez) and I were just talking, and there were little bits and pieces we were off today and we still had top-five speed. Absolutely nothing to be ashamed about. We were just lacking mainly rear grip on throttle and in the rights (turns) especially. Got really slick there at the end, and those guys didn’t slow down in the end as much as we did. A fourth-place car was where we ran most of the day.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 5th: “For the car that we had, I thought that we maximized everything that we got. Proud of my team and my pit crew today; everyone did a great job. I felt like we had a top-seven car and we finished in the top five, so I felt like we did a good job with that. With that being said, it’s not a win. We have to continue to work and continue to get better.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 6th: “I am proud of the effort of everybody through this week. We had a lot of speed off the truck again. We are just looking for a little bit more. It is a good thing to be running up front and be that close and try to find a squeak more of speed. It is tight up here. That is a good thing. I am proud of everybody. We are going to stay after it and we will be ready for the next one.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 7th: “I still love this race track. I wish we would have been a little bit better. It felt like we had a really solid day and were able to make our way through the field after staying out for stage points. I wish we could have gotten that stage win. I feel like I was probably a mistake away by myself in that first stage to get that win, so that one is on me. Otherwise, it was a really solid weekend by the team. I am happy with three top 10s in a row on three different styles of race tracks. I am proud of that. We will keep moving forward and figure out what we need to have race-winning speed in these places, but we were really solid and some days that is all you can ask for.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 8th: “It was a solid effort but not what we hoped for. We seemed to lose the rear tires a bit too much as the run went on and as we tried to dial rear grip into it we just lost a little bit of turn and then it kind of compounded. We didn’t quite have the speed we needed to run up in the top five and challenge and kind of slid back a little bit. All in all it was a solid day and we executed well. It is nice to be disappointed with an eighth-place finish, but our expectations have gone up and we want to challenge for wins. We just needed a bit more.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 11th: “I think we didn’t start off very good. I thought it would be a long day, and we just kept tightening our car up and got better and better. I was pretty happy with our speed at the end of the race. It was nice to win a stage and come from the back and end up how we did. It was something to be proud of.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 14th: “We really needed some more playoff points and those extra stage points as the regular season winds down, so staying out for the stage win helped with that. But once we were fighting back in traffic things really changed. It was super hard to pass, and we started to struggle. It was more difficult than I thought it would be to overcome that, but I’m proud of the guys for sticking with it and trying to get as much out of it as we could. I think we’ve got a really good setup for the next few road courses.”

Joey Logano — Finished 27th: “It was a tough day for the Shell-Pennzoil Mustang. We collected a couple stage points but fought some braking issues late. We’ll put it behind us and move on to Atlanta next week.”

 

Hailie Deegan to make Xfinity debut at Las Vegas

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Hailie Deegan announced Tuesday that she will make her Xfinity Series debut Oct. 15 Las Vegas Motor Speedway on NBC and Peacock.

The 21-year-old Deegan is in her second full-time season in the Camping World Truck Series. She finished a career-high sixth in that series last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

She will drive the No. 07 car for SS Green Light Racing with Jeff Lefcourt.

 

 

Alex Bowman to miss Charlotte Roval race

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Alex Bowman announced Tuesday night on social media that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup playoff race at the Charlotte Roval.

Bowman said on social media: “I am continuing to make strides in my recovery to make sure I can return to competition at 100%.”

This will be the second consecutive race he will have missed because of concussion-like symptoms after his crash at Texas Motor Speedway.

Noah Gragson will drive the No. 48 car this weekend for Bowman.

“Alex’s health is our first priority,” said Jeff Andrews, president and general manager of Hendrick Motorsports, in a statement. “We’re focused on supporting his recovery and seeing him back in his race car when the time is right. Alex has a long career ahead of him, so we will invest the necessary time and take our guidance from medical experts. We’re putting no pressure on him to return before he’s 100% ready.”

Bowman will be one of the four drivers eliminated from title contention Sunday.

Also Tuesday, Cody Ware announced that he will sit out this weekend’s Cup race at the Charlotte Roval, as he continues to recover from the ankle injury he suffered at Texas.

NASCAR Power Rankings: Chase Elliott leaps to the front

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A slick late-race move by Chase Elliott carried him to Victory Lane Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway — and back to the top of the NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings.

Elliott is the only driver with five victories this season. No one else in the playoffs has more than two (Tyler Reddick, eliminated from the championship hunt, has won three times).

Elliott, already qualified for the Round of 8 with his Talladega win, will be among the favorites in Sunday’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (2 p.m. ET, NBC).

Here’s how the rankings look approaching the end of the Round of 12:

NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings

1. Chase Elliott (No. 3 last week) — Elliott’s power move to win at Talladega was quite impressive and gave him four top-five finishes in the past 10 races. Clearly, he has re-established himself as the championship favorite.

2. Denny Hamlin (No. 1 last week) — Hamlin drops a spot despite a strong run (20 laps led and finishing fifth) at Talladega. Count him in the hunt for an elusive first championship.

3. Ryan Blaney (No. 8 last week) — Blaney simply will not go away despite continuing as the playoffs’ only winless driver (not including the Texas All-Star Race). He was victimized by Chase Elliott on Sunday at Talladega, finishing .046 seconds short of victory and a push into the next round.

4. Kyle Larson (No. 2 last week) — Superspeedway racing generally is not Larson’s strong point. He finished 18th Sunday despite leading eight laps and being in the front group much of the day.

5. Joey Logano (No. 4 last week) — Logano had an unusually poor performance at Talladega. He was involved in an early-race accident and struggled much of the rest of the day, finishing 27th.

MORE: Elliott celebrates, Logano laments

6. Ross Chastain (No. 7 last week) — Chastain tied Aric Almirola for most laps led (36) at Talladega and has been consistent as of late with three finishes of seventh or better in the past four races.

7. William Byron (No. 5 last week) — Byron’s worst news last week came off the track as he was penalized by NASCAR for dumping Denny Hamlin under caution at Texas. He finished 12th at Talladega.

8. Chase Briscoe (No. 9 last week) — Briscoe is quietly making the case that he could make the Round of 8 and challenge for the title.

MORE: Winners and losers at Talladega

9. Daniel Suarez (unranked last week) — Suarez maneuvered through the Talladega draft with style and came home eighth. He has three top 10s in the past seven races.

10. Christopher Bell (No. 6 last week) — Bell had a rough day at Talladega and will be looking to Sunday’s race at the Roval for redemption.

Dropped out: Tyler Reddick (No. 10 last week).

Talladega’s tale of two drivers: One celebrates, one laments

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — It’s dangerous to forecast what is going to happen next in these playoffs in a Cup season unlike any other. 

So keep that in mind, but Chase Elliott’s victory at Talladega moves him one step closer to returning to the championship race for a third consecutive season.

It’s easy to overlook that beyond earning a spot in the Round of 8 with his win Sunday, Elliott scored six playoff points. That gives him 46 playoff points. He has the opportunity to score seven more playoff points this weekend at the Charlotte Roval — an event he has won twice — before the next round begins.

Once the current round ends, the points will be reset to 4,000 for each of the remaining playoff drivers and they’ll have their playoff points added. 

At this point, Elliott would have a 21-point lead on his nearest competitor and a 31-point lead the first driver outside a transfer spot to the championship race.

The next round opens at Las Vegas, goes to Homestead and ends with Martinsville. 

A key for Elliott, though, is to avoid how he has started each of the first two rounds. A crash led to a 36th-place finish in the playoff opener at Darlington. He placed 32nd after a crash at Texas to begin this round.

The up-and-down nature of the playoffs, though, hasn’t taken a toll on the 2020 Cup champion.

“I feel like I’ve been doing this long enough now to understand the roller coaster that is racing,” said Elliott, who is advancing to the Round of 8 for the sixth consecutive season. “It’s going to roll on, right? You either learn to ride it during the good days, during the bad days, too, or you don’t. That’s just part of the deal.

“So, yeah, just try to ride the wave. Had a bad week last week, had a good week this week. Obviously great to move on into the next round, get six more bonus points. All those things are fantastic, we’re super proud of that.

“This deal can humble you. We can go to the Round of 8 and crash again like we did the first two rounds, or you can go in there and maybe have a really good first race. I don’t know. You show up prepared, do the best you can, figure it out from there.”

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Joey Logano has always been one who wants to race at the front in a superspeedway event instead of riding at the back.

When asked last month about the idea of Texas Motor Speedway being reconfigured to provide superspeedway-type racing — as Atlanta Motor Speedway was before this season — Logano questioned the value of that type of racing.

“Is that the type of racing fans want to see?” Logano said. “Because when you look at the way that people have finished up front in these superspeedways lately, (they) are the ones that are riding around in the back. 

“Do you believe that you should be rewarded for not working? Because that’s what they’re doing. They’re riding around in the back not working, not going up there to put a good race on. 

“They’re riding around in the back and capitalizing on other people’s misfortune for racing up front trying to win. I don’t think it’s right. That’s not racing. I can’t get behind that.”

Logano sought to race at the front as much as possible Sunday at Talladega, even after his car was damaged in an early incident, but he took a different tack on the final restart. He restarted 24th and dropped back, finishing 27th.

“We just wreck all the time, so we thought, ‘Boy, we’ve got a big points lead, let’s just be smart and don’t wreck and we’ll be able to get out of here with a top 10, assuming they would wreck because they always do,’” Logano said after the race. 

“That was the only time I’ve ever stayed in the back, ever, was today and they didn’t wreck. We gave up a bunch of our points lead. We’re still plus-18, which is a decent spot to be, but, the goal was to race for stage points and then drop to the back and wait for the crash. I hate racing that way. I’ve gotten beat many times from people that do that, then I tried it and it didn’t work.”

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Michael McDowell’s third-place finish continues his strong season. 

McDowell’s finish extended his career-high of top-10 finishes to 12. He has five finishes of 11th or better in the last seven races. 

“I’m proud of the season we’ve had and the run that we put together,” McDowell said. “Everyone did a great job on pit road executing and getting us track position when we needed it. It’s good to be there at the end and have a shot at it, just disappointed.”

Front Row Motorsports teammate Todd Gilliland finished seventh. 

“Race car drivers are greedy,” Gilliland said. “I wish I could have gotten a couple more there, but it was still a really good day. We ran up front most of the day and my car handled really well, so, overall, there are definitely a ton of positives to take out of this.”

Sunday marked the second time this season both Front Row Motorsports cars finished in the top 10. They also did it at the Indianapolis road course. 

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NASCAR confirms that the Hendrick Motorsports appeal of William Byron’s 25-point penalty from Texas will take place Thursday.

Should Hendrick lose that appeal, the team could then have a hearing before the Final Appeals Officer. That session would need to take place before Sunday’s elimination race at the Charlotte Roval (2 p.m. ET on NBC).

“Twenty-five points in the playoffs is a ton,” car owner Rick Hendrick said Sunday of Byron’s penalty. “I mean, in the regular season if you got a bunch of races, you can make it back up.

“I’ve seen other cars under caution hit each other. In that situation, (Byron) wasn’t trying to spin him, but they got a tower full of people, they could have put him in the back, could have done something right then rather than wait till Monday or Tuesday, then make a decision.”

Byron is 11 points below the cutline after Talladega.