What drivers said at New Hampshire

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Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire:

Christopher Bell — Winner: “Man, that one was much needed right there. I tell you what, that was a hell of a race from my viewpoint. It was so much fun racing with the 45 (Kurt Busch), the 22 (Joey Logano) and the 9 (Elliott). We were all running different lines. That was a blast. Just so happy to be here at Joe Gibbs Racing and so good to get that 20 car back in victory lane. Winning Cup races is hard. Just seems like we’ve been close then we had fallen off a little bit last week. I was talking to my best friend and I told him, ‘Earlier in the year I felt like we were right on the verge of winning. Then the last couple of weeks I felt like we were pretty far away.’ But here we are today.’’

Chase Elliott — Finished 2nd: “I just need to do a better job again. The same conversation as Road America, unfortunately. I feel like it was a poor run of execution on my end throughout that last run. I feel like it took me a while to get past Joey (Logano) and the No. 45 (Kurt Busch), and I had to run a little harder than I wanted to. I got in front of those guys, just made a couple of mistakes and couldn’t get much breathing room. … Obviously for us, we were in a position where guys at this level really should close out a race if you have the lead like that, so just poor effort on my part. When you’re in position like we’ve been in, you need to finish them off.”

MORE: New Hampshire Cup results, driver points

Bubba Wallace — Finished 3rd: “I’m just proud of the team, proud of myself, proud of everybody at the shop. … It didn’t handle that great but it had speed, so we knew that. Just the mental preparation, had to set yourself up for a long day, and we did. We had no idea what we were running there at the end. I knew it was inside the top five. But just tire management there at the end, and we were able to capitalize. Just proud of everybody. Happy. It’s been hell for me the last month, so good to come out with a top five. This sport humbles you, so there’s really no surprises. You’ve got to keep the task at hand and be mindful of your surroundings and just do your job. As long as you do that, you never know if you’re going to end up with a top three or 20th or whatever it may be. You just stick true to your path.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 4th: “Just put on two tires and got in a bad spot on the restart. I got put three-wide, and the 22 (Joey Logano) didn’t get going and I was on the inside behind him. I tried to shove him to get him going and get us going and (Kevin) Harvick made it three-wide and put us in a bad spot. And my car was terrible on two tires and couldn’t go anywhere. Just should have put four tires on I guess. We had the car to do it. We just screwed it up. It’s frustrating and disappointing, but congrats to the 20 (Christopher Bell). Obviously, they were smarter than we were at the end.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 5th: “We put two tires on there, which we all thought was the right thing to do, and it just would not get going. We were sliding up the race track, and it took seven or eight laps to get the car underneath you and then about 20 laps to get the pace back. Then at the end, everybody was just out of tires. … We passed a lot of the cars that were worse than us. It just depended on what your handling issues were.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 7th: “Hot in the cars and we all let our tempers get the best of us (on contact with Austin Dillon). We had a decent day here. The Kohler Generators Ford Mustang climbed really far that last run. I think we went from somewhere around the late teens and 20s up to seventh on that last run. I am proud of our team for the effort today. It was certainly an up and down day today and it was good to finish on an up note.” Austin said he does not like the way that you race him. Is the feeling mutual? “I will talk to him privately. I don’t need to be a jerk over the media.”

Ross Chastain — Finished 8th: “It was a grind today. We just hovered between seventh and 20th. We just never had the balance of the car great. We were tight all day; really tight on restarts. It was really tough to make ground. The two-tire to four-tire strategies, I was just usually way too tight to fight those guys.

Daniel Suarez — Finished 9th: “It was an OK day. Once again, we maximized what we had. I felt like our speed on the long run was probably one of the best out there; but on the short runs, it wasn’t. We were making adjustments and trying to help the short runs. We’ll just have to keep working.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 13th: “Definitely a double come from behind day on the 2 car. Drove my guts out today. I am proud of the adjustments we made overnight after such a bad qualifying effort. Had a probably top-five long run car and should have finished in the top 10. We just ran out of time there. I had fun working the lanes and trying to get better. I am proud of the team. We will keep moving forward.”

Chase Briscoe — Finished 15th: “That first run we were really good and able to drive up into the top 15. Then from there we just kind of struggled and the track was changing so much. I probably didn’t do the greatest job guiding them where we needed to go. Then we had that spin and tried to play strategy to get up there and we caught the caution wrong. I feel like if we had the long run and were running fourth or fifth versus catching the caution we probably would have been all right. It just didn’t work out. I feel like we had a better car than 15th but with everything we fought I guess it was all right.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 18th: “It was a rough day for our Menards/Libman Ford. We struggled with the balance and spun midway in the race. Certainly wasn’t the result we wanted, but we’ll look toward Pocono next week.”

Erik Jones — Finished 19th: “We were just off a bit today. We were plowing early, made adjustments throughout the race to try to make our Focus Factor Chevy better and then we were too loose at the end. We’re still learning with these cars. It’s hard to predict how it will react sometimes, and we just have to keep building our notebooks and build on each week. We’ll keep learning and refocus for next week at Pocono.”

Joey Logano — Finished 24th: “Live by the sword, die by the sword. We did it in the second stage to get track position and it worked. Then we did it again to get track position and the race ran long and it didn’t work. I thought we were pretty decent once we got up there and had a shot at taking the lead from Kurt (Busch), but then the 9 (Chase Elliott) missed the mark by a mile and knocked our toe out or camber or something in the left rear suspension. I don’t know why he had to do that, but I am pretty sure that was not a good move on his part. So, that is that.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 31st: “We were having a good day and we were slowly getting our Smithfield Ford faster. During a pit stop in stage two I lost second gear on pit road and couldn’t get it into fourth gear. All I had was third, so the guys worked hard to get us back out there and ride around. We were able to get it back into fifth (gear), so we just rode around out there about 20 laps down. It’s unfortunate. We know we had speed here and we really needed a good day to keep us in a good point standing. We know we’ll need a win to make it in the playoffs. We’ve got six more opportunities to make that happen.”

Corey LaJoie — Finished 32nd: “It just got hung in between fourth and third gear on the downshift there. I had it happen earlier in the day when I wasn’t around anybody. I just thought I wasn’t pushing it into gear hard enough or whatever the case may have been. We were racing hard on the restart there underneath the No. 21 (Harrison Burton). I tried pushing it down to third and it just got hung between fourth and third, and it just locked both rear tires up so they weren’t turning. I hate that other guys were involved. We’ll have to take a look at it and make sure it doesn’t happen again. It was a weird thing, the first thing we’ve had all year with the transaxle. It’s been a tough stretch. I feel bad for my No. 7 Spire Motorsports team. We were trying to pull off another good week from last weekend’s momentum. It wasn’t meant to be, but we’ll get them next week.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 35th: “We qualified bad. Unfortunately, they were just racing hard. It looked like the No. 42 (Ty Dillon) and the No. 31 (Justin Haley) got together. The No. 42 just overcorrected and stuffed us in the fence. Bummer. I hate it for everybody at Ally and Hendrick Motorsports. We’ll move on to the next one.”

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.”

Brennan Poole joins Bayley Currey at JD Motorsports for 2023

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Brennan Poole will join Bayley Currey at JD Motorsports for the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity season, the team announced Friday.

Poole will drive the No. 6 car for the full season. Currey returns to the team’s No. 4 car for the season. Currey scored five top-15 finishes last season for the organization.

JD Motorsports is planning to run the No. 0 car next season. No driver or sponsor has been announced for that ride.

“We’re full throttle here and getting ready to go,” Davis said in a statement from the team. “Bayley and Brennan are signed on and looking forward to chasing races and points next year. We’re actively moving along looking for sponsor commitments and for drivers and sponsors for the No. 0 car.”

“We’ve always taken the approach here that we want to go after the series with multiple cars, and that’s how we’re looking toward 2023. The new schedule is very interesting and provides new challenges to our drivers and team members.”

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

Friday 5: Will Kyle Busch become NASCAR’s Tom Brady, Peyton Manning?

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The weight of an unfulfilled season, deciding where he’d race in 2023 and the impact on his Truck Series team are off Kyle Busch.

It’s back to racing for the two-time Cup champion, who seeks to reignite his career at Richard Childress Racing this season.

Busch performed his final duty representing Joe Gibbs Racing at Thursday’s NASCAR Awards (show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock) and it’s now all about helping RCR win its first Cup championship since 1994.

MORE: NASCAR Awards red carpet scene

Busch will be with Richard Childress Racing this weekend at Circuit of the Americas for World Racing League endurance events. Busch said the team has turned an old Cup car into an endurance car for the event. Last year, RCR won an eight-hour endurance race there with Austin Dillon, Tyler Reddick and Kaz Grala.

Busch seeks better fortunes at RCR than what he’s had recently at Joe Gibbs Racing.

He has one Cup win in his last 53 starts — 14 drivers have won more races than Busch in that span, dating back to the July 2021 race at Road America.

His 17 top-10 finishes this past season were his fewest since scoring 16 top 10s in 2015. 

He was running at the finish in 29 of 36 points races — the first time he’s been running at the finish in fewer than 30 races since 2015. Two blown engines in the opening round of the playoffs led to failing to advance to the second round for the first time in his career. 

“It’s obviously been a challenging, not just this year, but the last little while,” Busch said Thursday at the Music City Center. “So, it’s kind of maybe a blessing in disguise, honestly, where it might just be time for a fresh start, time for something new, time for something different.”

He looks to future NFL Hall of Fame quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for inspiration.

Brady won six Super Bowls with the New England Patriots before  joining Tampa Bay and winning a Super Bowl in his first season with the Buccaneers.

Manning won a Super Bowl with the Indianapolis Colts before joining the Denver Broncos and winning a Super Bowl there in his final season in the NFL.

“I’m kind of looking at it as a Tom Brady, Peyton Manning aspect where they left great teams, great organizations where they won championships and they were able to win a championship somewhere else,” Busch said. “I’d like to think I still have that opportunity to be able to do that at RCR.

“I look at the opportunity with the new Next Gen race car as an easier move to make now with that vs. years past with previous generation cars.”

He says that because with the previous generation of cars, there was a greater separation between teams because NASCAR did not regulate as much of the car. With the the Next Gen car, teams have the same parts. Two-time Cup champion Joey Logano that his team still has much to learn about the car and maximizing setups. 

Even with his struggles at the end of his tenure at Joe Gibbs Racing, Busch says he doesn’t go to RCR with a chip on his shoulder. 

“I don’t think I have anything to prove or I need to have a chip on my shoulder,” Busch said. “I just want to go out there and run well again. … I felt like we had a lot of strong runs this year. There were like six races I can count that we could’ve, would’ve, should’ve won and we didn’t whip is very frustrating. 

“We were so good at giving them away that I need to get back to I’m so good at stealing them and earning them.”

2. Special delivery 

Among the perks with winning a Cup title is getting the Champion’s Journal. Jimmie Johnson started the tradition after his 2010 championship. The existence of the journal remained a secret until 2017 when Johnson posted a picture on social media of him handing the journal to Martin Truex Jr.

The journal passes from champion to champion with the current champion holding on to it for a year and adding an entry for the next champion before handing it to them. Logano will receive the journal from Kyle Larson. 

“I can’t wait to read it again,” Logano said before Thursday’s NASCAR Awards. “I’m telling you, it’s probably one of the coolest things. Jimmie deserves all of the credit for coming up with the idea. 

“I wish it started sooner. It’s so interesting. Some drivers are very detailed what they write to the next champion and some are kind of quick and simple. It’s very interesting to read it. It’s cool. It’s a real secret. It’s kind of like an unwritten rule, you can’t take pictures of it and post it. It’s a thing that only the championship drivers know and have read and seen.

“Every time I get it, I’m so nervous. I’m like don’t spill anything on this thing, don’t lose it. It would suck to be the guy that loses that. That would be bad. I’m putting it right in the safe.”

Logano won his first Cup title in 2018. He then gave the journal to Kyle Busch, the 2019 series champion.

“It’s something you put a lot of thought into, at least I did,” Logano said of what he penned. “I wrote a letter to Kyle. You put a lot of thought into it. It’s something that will be there as long as our sport is around. I hope so at least. It’s a really great tradition.”

3. Fun factor 

The day of last year’s NASCAR Awards, William Byron said he wanted compete in more races outside NASCAR in 2022. 

Byron, who seeks to make Sunday’s prestigious Snowball Derby Super Late Model race, has fulfilled his goal, winning, gaining confidence but also having fun.

“What I got out of it was immediate fun, sort of relief,” Byron said of racing various Super Late Model races this year. “It was not racing the Cup car. It was different. It was not as stressful working with the team and things like that because there’s not as much on the line. There’s still prize money and things, and honestly you’re there to have fun. I enjoyed that.

“As I got going in it, I realized how productive it really was for me to do it, how much I was learning. As I did it more often throughout the season, I learned little nuances that were helping me get back in the Cup car with a better skill set.”

That element of fun stood out to Byron. Cup racing is full of pressure with the multi-million dollar sponsors, expectations to win and all the people at the shop relying on the car’s performance. That’s significant pressure, on top of what any driver puts on themself.

“There’s a lot of guys that you are trying to provide for and do a good job for,” Byron said of Cup racing. “There is a weight to that. You want to perform for those guys that work non-stop at the shop. There’s just a much broader net that you are casting as a driver. Whenever you go to the short track level, it’s you and six to 10 guys working on the car. … There’s natural pressure with what we’re trying to do at the Cup level because it is the No. 1 motorsports in the U.S.”

4. Looking for a ride

Ross Chastain says he’s been “trying for years” to get a ride in the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway without success but that hasn’t deterred him.

“I’ve met with the president of IMSA,” said Chastain, who finished second to Joey Logano for the Cup title this season. “I’ve met with team owners. I’ve talked to drivers. I just can’t find my way in yet. I haven’t found the right person yet to either tell me how to do it or give me the opportunity. I could show up with sponsorship and get a ride, but how do I get in as a race car driver? I haven’t found that spot yet.”

Chastain said he’s reached out to some this offseason with no luck. 

He said the prestige of the season-opening IMSA event (Jan. 28-29, 2023) draws him but he also wants to gain more experience racing on a road course — even with his win at Circuit of the Americas this past season. And Chastain is not picky on the type of ride he’d like to have for that race.

“I’m not even looking to be in the top class. I want to find a mid-pack Xfinity team of the Rolex and go run there and experience it and then just to be around those road racers that do it year around. I know I could learn something. … I just want to race.”

5. Indy 500-Coke 600 double

It has been eight years since Kurt Busch competed in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 on the same day, the last time the feat has been accomplished. 

Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson are among those who have expressed interest in running both races in the same day but don’t appear to be in a position to do so in 2023 because of the limited IndyCar rides available. 

Roger Penske, owner of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway, said he could see Jimmie Johnson attempting it this year, and others as soon as next year. 

“It’s about having the car and the manufactures, whether it’s Chevy and or Honda,” Penske said, referring to the IndyCar manufacturers. “All would be interested to see somebody run the double. Maybe Jimmie is going to do it, which would be great. 

“He has the experience. He did very well on the ovals. … It’s my understanding that he’s going to run potentially the 600 as one of his races (with Petty GMS). We’ll see.”