What drivers said at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

0 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS — Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday’s Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indiana:

Tyler Reddick — Winner: “I couldn’t believe he (Ross Chastain) got ahead of me. I was kind of waiting to see if he was going to have a penalty because I didn’t want to move him out of the way and make his race worse than what it was. Yeah, I was really surprised by that, but hey, we made it work. Hats off to Ross for trying to do that, but really glad it didn’t end up working out because I’d have been pretty pissed off. We just know what we’re capable of, and we did that at Road America. Certainly it was a little bump in the road, but we went out and won a race fair and square a couple weeks ago, and if we change nothing, we keep working really, really hard, we find a way back to Victory Lane. Just really glad to be able to do it here in Indianapolis. This is one really special place to race, and really excited to kiss the bricks here in a little bit and really excited we got 3CHI their win in their hometown.”

Austin Cindric — Finished 2nd: “It’s easy on paper, right? Oh, my gosh, I feel like we probably deserved 10th at best today. There were a few things I was good at, but I needed the whole track to do it and I kind of struggled a bit, probably a little lower than my expectations were today, but those restarts, survival, holy crap. All I can say is ‘wow.’ There’s no other sport, no other form of racing other than NASCAR that you’re going to get that.”

Harrison Burton — Finished 3rd: “Wouldn’t have picked this weekend to get my best career finish so far. Just a lot of aggression on the last restarts and putting myself in good positions. Honestly, we weren’t doing our job at the start of the race. We kind of didn’t execute well. I made a mistake, spun out, got into [Cole] Custer there. Was kind of pretty upset midway through the race, and then just got our heads down, came in, got tires and started picking guys off and restarted in a good spot to kind of go get some more. It’s just exciting. It’s just a step, right? We’re not going to go blast off a podium every weekend. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to try to. We have to step and get top 10s more often and top fives and build. In the beginning of the year that was our plan from the start.”

Todd Gilliland — Finished 4th: “It’s just really exciting. This rookie season has been really tough.  The Cup Series is hard. I’ve learned that. It’s easy to give up and that’s one thing, too. You have confidence when you come to the Cup Series, but you get beat down quick. Even just having a ninth-place qualifying effort and just to run up front in the first stage. We stayed out and got stage points and kind of had to come from the back again, but that’s what me and my crew chief were talking about. That’s really our best weekend start to finish by far, so hopefully that’s just something to build on. For me, that’s a lot of confidence. Road course racing is tough, too. I’ve always loved it, but it hasn’t really loved me so much this year, especially the first time here at Indianapolis. That’s really cool.”

Joey Logano — Finished 6th: “The restarts were wild, and you had to take driving down into Turn 1. If you weren’t aggressive, someone was going to be aggressive to you. On that last restart, everyone was just banging off each other, but things parted in front of me, and we were able to make it to the end. Then the car caught fire at the end, but luckily, we were all done by then.”

AJ Allmendinger — Finished 7th: “It was hot from the start of the race, and my cool shirt was faulty, which made for an even hotter day. Knowing that you have a shot to win it at the end, you suck it up. The way Turn 1 is here, when you are on the outside front row on one of those late race restarts, you are just going to get run into. I figured I was going to get shoved off the racetrack into (Turn) 1, but I tried to make the best of it, and I felt like we did. At the end of the day, we gave ourselves a shot to win two in-a-row, and that is pretty awesome.”

Cole Custer, Finished 9th: “You just hope for the best pretty much every time on a restart going through turn one. We were able to have it worked out pretty good the last couple times, but we just had a long run car. Honestly, we were one of the best cars on the track when it was a long run, but we just couldn’t fire off good. It’s good to come up with a solid run and hopefully get ourselves a little bit better points-wise and keep chipping away at it, but move on to the next one.”

Chris Buescher, Finished 10th: “I wasn’t giving up. This team gave me way too good of a race car today to let somebody’s stupidity take us out that early. I’m not going to make it a habit of staying inside cars that are on fire, but kudos to this team for bringing such a good race car.”

Erik Jones — Finished 15th: “Road courses have definitely been an area where we need to work and we thought we’d be a little better this weekend. Just didn’t qualify well, started at the back and fought the handling most of race. The guys stayed after it, we used the car up and salvaged a 15th-place finish. We’ll take it and move on to Michigan.”

Justin Haley — Finished 19th: “Not the best day for us at Indy. We had some damage after an incident in turn one and ultimately couldn’t get the speed back. Just too much damage to be able to compete for anything other than where we finished. We will move on to Michigan.”

Chase Briscoe, Finished 23rd: “It was a situation where we had to try to get that first stage win and just kind of buried us after that. We got back there and struggled to get back up there. A couple times we thought we were gonna be OK and then I just made a mistake. There at the end that restart was just chaos and tore us up.  Obviously, I wish we would have finished a lot better than where we ended up. I don’t think we had anything for the 8 car, but us and the 2 were pretty close and he ended up second. That was kind of the strategy we had to kind of play today and for our points and playoff situation. Obviously, the playoffs are more important than trying to win here. It’s unfortunate we had to be in that situation, but overall we were able to get a playoff point, which will be big come playoff time.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 26th: “It’s a case of just getting wrecked.  That’s all people do at the end of these things, just dive in there and wreck you.  I don’t know who shoved who and I don’t care, but tires didn’t matter at the end.  We restarted top three both times and tires don’t really matter.  It’s just a matter of getting through on the restart, but, apparently, that’s a hard thing to ask.  People just run over each other. I got up through the middle one time and the middle never really opened on one of the last couple restarts.  I was protecting right and I guess whoever it was behind me didn’t care.  I don’t know. They jump over the curb and just wipe you out. I just didn’t even have a shot at it. I didn’t have a shot to get to the 8 to try to put the bumper to him or anything like that, just get wiped out. I don’t know.  I’m pissed off about it and I have every damn right to be.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 30th: “It’s tough coming from behind at a road course because it’s so easy to get caught up in the messes. We worked really hard throughout the race to improve the handling of our BetMGM Chevy. We made an air pressure adjustment toward the end of the race, and our car came to life. We were running lap times as fast as the race leader, and we were in position to earn a top-10 finish, but it was mass chaos at the end of the race. We ended up in some messes there at the end. We’re looking forward to getting to Michigan to take home a win.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 34th: “All I saw was a blue flash and that’s about the hardest I’ve been hit by anything. First, I’m just grateful to God that I’m okay and these cars are safe enough to take a shot like that. … I was just blindsided, really. I’m all good. It’s been a tough year, but I’m never going to quit. We’re going to keep getting better. We’ve been running good, just things are happening. You’ll have days like that, you’ll have times like that. You just never give up and go onto the next one.”

Aric Almirola, Finished 38th: “We broke the left-front suspension. I got into Turn 1 and locked up the rear tires and it just kind of took off on me and I got into the 5. I hate it for those guys. I hate it for our guys. Man, this was just a frustrating weekend. I felt like the guys did a great job of bringing me a car that was pretty good and thought we were gonna have a good day. Just not the day we were hoping for. I made a mistake or I’m not sure what happened, but I locked up the tires getting into one and killed our day and tore up the 5 car at the same time.”

 

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

0 Comments

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

0 Comments

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

0 Comments

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?

0 Comments

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.”