What drivers said at Richmond Raceway

0 Comments

What drivers said after Kevin Harvick won Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway (click here for full results, points):

Kevin Harvick — Winner: “It’s like I said last week, the cars have been running good week in and week out, and you see that we have a lot better understanding of what’s going on with how we adjusted on the car after the first run and were able to get our car handling a lot better. I think as it got dark, the racetrack really came to our Mobil 1 Ford Mustang. I knew (Christopher Bell) was coming, but I forgot to shift down the front straightaway the last time. I was not paying attention and he got closer than he should have. I made a mistake there a couple of laps doing the same thing. I wasn’t shifting on the back and I was shifting in the front. There was a lot going on, and made a couple of mistakes, let him get too close. … We’re just going to keep doing the things that we’re doing. I think we just have to keep an open mind about things and keep progressing and keep understanding the car, understanding what we could have done better today, understanding what we could have done better in qualifying yesterday and do the same thing over and over.”

Christopher Bell — Finished second: “I got held up pretty bad at the beginning of the run by a couple slower cars and that was ultimately the difference when you get beat by a couple car lengths. Just really fun and really fun race when you have different strategies and you have guys coming and going. I love whenever the races stay green and you’re able to play your cards a little bit different. Really proud of everyone on this 20 crew to be able to come back from how we started. Very tough weekend for us. We didn’t practice very well and we didn’t qualify very well. And the guys did a really good job getting this Rheem Camry up front and where we needed to be at the end.”

Chris Buescher — Finished third: “Really close. Everyone on our Fastenal Mustang did such a tremendous job overnight because we didn’t know we were in this position yesterday. I didn’t qualify real well, and everyone worked hard and had a fantastic race car today. I think it’s a little easy with this format to feel like third place doesn’t matter, but it’s nice to be close and to keep progressing and getting better as we’ve gotten through the summer. Really neat to finish here. Really proud of everybody. Just burned the rear tires up. Ultimately that’s on me. Lapped traffic didn’t do us any favors, either, but ultimately just got to keep the rears under us a little bit better so we can have a little bit better shot there to get after him for the win.”

Denny Hamlin — Finished fourth: “We had the winning strategy. I think we played it great. The fall-off was nearly as great those last couple of runs, really for the last 100 when the track was shaded over. So I thought that going long was actually the right play, and the team did a great job with that call for sure and just had a slow stop on that last one. We ended up three-and-a-half seconds behind. It was the perfect time. I knew that when we pitted there, the gap that we had to the cars that were on fresh tires, I knew that we were going to come out on the same straightaway with them on much fresher tires. It was the race call and the winning call, just didn’t execute on stuff and just a little hiccup.”

Chase Elliott — Finished fifth: “The track was very similar there early and late, if anything, I feel like it got a little faster.  It wasn’t a huge deal, just needed to be a little more forward there to have a shot.  It was really odd, I didn’t think it was driving any better, but in comparison to people around us, we were going forward.  So, just normal Richmond.  Just more confusing I feel like.  I have been here and had cars like that where you are not driving good, but you are moving forward.  Then you will have days where you feel like your car is driving good and you are not going anywhere or vice versa.   This place is really strange and the track had gained a lot of grip there at the end too.  There were obviously a lot of different strategies going on, and it was nice to get a top five out of a tough day yesterday. Yeah, obviously we want to be better and Michigan was a big time struggle for us.  This weekend was too all the way up until the last few runs.  We will go to work and try to finish these last two weeks strong and get ready for Darlington.”

Joey Logano — Finished sixth: “I think just as the sun went down and the track cooled off and lost some turn on our car. Kevin (Harvick) and some others got a lot better the last couple of runs in the race. When it was hot and slick that was probably our strength with the Shell Pennzoil Mustang. We had good turn and then once it cooled off we lost the turn but still weren’t real good on the exits. Then you start playing defenst and running too hard. It was a downhill slope from there. I was hoping for a late race caution, that was our only prayer at the end there. Overall we got a stage win and playoff points and that is something to be proud of. It stinks when you say we led 222 laps but not the right one. … When you have days like today when you have a fast enough car, you want to capitalize. We did as far as playoff points and a stage win but not enough at the end of the race. We need these ones to be race wins instead of just stage wins but I feel like we are starting to come into our own here and getting a little more solid and situated more in the top five than we have been. I am proud of that. We just have to keep that going.”

Aric Almirola — Finished eighth: “When the clouds came and the track cooled we kind of lost it. The first couple runs of the race we were so fast. We drove from 32nd up to the top-five. Our Smithfield Ford Mustang was really good on the long run. We took care of the tires really well and it did everything I needed it to do. As the pace picked up and the track cooled off I just couldn’t get the car to rotate like I needed it to and just couldn’t quite carry the speed those other cars could. It was a good day. We have had a rough month, so to come here and rebound and have a good run — we need a win, but to have a good run is a confidence booster.”

Kyle Busch — Finished ninth: “We were looking okay, and in a good spot just coming up through there working our way methodically through the field with our M&M’s Toyota Camry, and we got ‘Chastained’ this week. We were his victim this week. And then that didn’t hurt us too bad. We restarted back in a decent spot. But then the next spin I think, was Christopher (Bell). That allowed the guys that were around us that we were kind of racing some of our team guys to come get tires and then they had 10 fresher laps on tires the whole rest of the day. So that kind of hurt us if we would have been on that strategy we would have run out of tires, but we also probably would have been in the top five. So just wrong side of the strategy there. At the end, nothing, nothing to do really to flip that but good fight all day long. You know, the top 10 is about what we had anyway, I figured the best we were it was about a seventh you know, but barring a strategy call, we could have probably been top-five. So that’s all we had anyway.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 16th: “I had fun at Richmond Raceway today and everyone on the No. 3 Huk Performance Fishing Chevrolet team did a great job. We started off the race loose. We came to pit road during the stage break and my crew chief, Justin Alexander, made a good call to get my car tightened up during the second stage. On lap 243 we caught a lucky break by catching a caution, saving us a lap. We struggled most of the day with the handling of our Chevrolet, but towards the end of the race we hit on a setup that really worked well with the track. We were posting solid lap times in Stage 3, even on old tires. I wish we could’ve had that at the beginning of the race. We would’ve been jamming. All-in-all, we’ll take this 16th-place finish and head to Watkins Glen International.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 22nd: “Certainly happy with our speed today in our Allegiant Camaro. That was a major step in the right direction and overall competitiveness. We had some messy things that we need to clean up, but it’s good to be disappointed with 17th after the penalty and having a messy day. I think our momentum is heading in the right direction and we are hitting our stride here. We have 11 races to go to really perform well.”

Noah Gragson — Finished 24th: “We battled all day with our Chevy Accessories Camaro.  We could never just get it fine-tuned.  The guys worked really hard, and we had great pit stops.  We just kind of missed it overall, but I’m still proud of the effort. We will keep working hard and try to be better next time.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 31st: “We had a tough day in the No. 8 3CHI Chevrolet at Richmond Raceway, but we’ll put it behind us. After we lost track position early, crew chief Randall Burnett and the guys on the 3CHI team made adjustments and it improved the balance on the car. Unfortunately, I got into the wall and then we pitted a couple of times under green because of a vibration. Next week at Watkins Glen International, we need to run well and get every playoff point we can, and I’m sure we can do just that.”

Erik Jones — Finished 35th: “We were just in the wrong spot and got caught in someone else’s mess. We made contact and killed the right front. We struggled all day with our FOCUSfactor Chevy, just couldn’t find the balance we needed to run up front. Not our day. We’ll load up and get ready for Watkins Glen next weekend.”

Helio Castroneves rules out Daytona 500

Helio Castroneves Daytona 500
Robert Scheer/Indy Star/USA TODAY NETWORK
0 Comments

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Helio Castroneves might be at the 2023 Daytona 500, but the four-time Indy 500 winner won’t be in a race car.

During a news conference Thursday at Daytona International Speedway, Castroneves confirmed in response to a question from NBC Sports that he essentially has ruled out attempting to make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in the Feb. 19 season opener.

As recently as last Thursday at Rolex 24 Media Day, Castroneves, 47, said he still was working on trying to piece together a deal.

The Brazilian had been negotiating with the Cup team co-owned by boxer Floyd Mayweather and would have been in an “open” entry that lacked guaranteed entry to the Great American Race. That potentially would leave him in the precarious position of needing to make the race on qualifying speed or a qualifying race finish (as action sports star Travis Pastrana likely might need in his Cup debut).

DETAILS FOR THE 61ST ROLEX 24How to watch, entry lists, schedules for the IMSA season opener

HELIO’S ‘DAYS OF THUNDER’ MOMENT: Recalling a memorable 2022 victory drive through the smoke

“Unfortunately for me, lack of experience, no testing,” Castroneves said. “A lot of things. I believe it would be a little bit tough throwing myself in such a short notice, and to go in a place that you’ve got to race yourself into it. So as of right now, yes, it’s not going to happen.

“But we did have an opportunity. We just got to elaborate a little bit more to give me a little more experience on that. So there is more things to come ahead of us, but as of right now, I want to focus on the IndyCar program as well and (the Rolex 24 at Daytona).”

Castroneves, who has a residence in Key Biscayne, said he still might attend the Daytona 500

“I might just come and see and watch it and continue to take a look and see what’s going to be in the future,” he said.

Castroneves enters Saturday’s Rolex 24 at Daytona having won the event the past two years. He made his signature fence-climb after winning last year with Meyer Shank Racing, which he will be driving for full time in the NTT IndyCar Series this year. He became the fourth four-time Indy 500 winner in history in his 2021 debut with Meyer Shank Racing.

The 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar champion also has indicated an interest in Trackhouse Racing’s Project 91 car that aims to place international drivers in a Cup ride (such as Kimi Raikkonen at Watkins Glen International last year). Team co-owner Justin Marks recently tweeted Trackhouse wouldn’t field the Project 91 car at the Daytona 500.

After winning the 2022 Superstar Racing Experience opener, SRX CEO Don Hawk had promised he would help secure a Daytona 500 ride for Castroneves.

Castroneves has been angling for a NASCAR ride for years, dating to when he drove for Team Penske from 2000-20. After winning the Rolex 24 last year, he said he had been lobbying Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart for help with getting in a Cup car.

Though Castroneves is out, Sports Business Journal’s Adam Stern reported that Mayweather’s The Money Team Racing still is considering IndyCar driver Conor Daly for its seat.

Fire at Reaume Brothers Racing shop injures three

0 Comments

A Thursday fire at the Reaume Brothers Racing shop in Mooresville, North Carolina, injured three individuals, according to Mooresville (North Carolina) Fire-Rescue.

Firefighters were dispatched to the shop, which is scheduled to field entries for driver Mason Massey in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series this season, at about 11:30 a.m. Thursday.

The fire department extinguished the blaze quickly. The department stated on its Facebook page that one individual was transported to Lake Norman Regional hospital for smoke inhalation, and another was transported to Baptist Hospital in Winston-Salem, N.C. with burn injuries. A third was treated and released.

The team stated Thursday night on social media that Taylor Collier and Devin Fokin had been treated and released. The team stated that Taylor was treated for smoke inhalation and Fokin was treated “for serious burns.”

The Mooresville Fire Marshall’s office is investigating the cause of the fire. The fire department said the shop sustained “significant fire damage.”

In a tweet, the team said it is determining the extent of damage to the building. “More importantly,” it said, “a few of our team members did sustain injuries during the fire and are being transported for medical treatment.”

 

Trackhouse, RFK Racing, Front Row Motorsports sign sponsorship deals

0 Comments

Trackhouse Racing, RFK Racing and Front Row Motorsports announced sponsorship deals Thursday morning.

Trackhouse said WWEX, a Dallas-based global logistics group, will increase its sponsorship presence with the team this year, serving as the primary sponsor in 21 races for drivers Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez.

WWEX will appear on Chastain’s Chevrolets in 19 races and will sponsor Suarez twice. The organization was a Trackhouse sponsor in 11 events in 2022, which was a breakout season for both Chastain and Suarez.

RFK announced that Solomon Plumbing, which joined the team last season, will expand its presence this season and in future years. The Michigan-based company will serve as the primary sponsor for several races on driver Brad Keselowski‘s No. 6 Ford.

MORE: Chase Briscoe signs contract extension with Stewart-Haas

Solomon specializes in plumbing and fire services for new development and construction. It initially sponsored Keselowski last season in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Front Row Motorsports has signed Quincy Compressor, a Bay Minette, Ala.-based compressor manufacturer, as a sponsor for four races.

Quincy will sponsor Todd Gilliland‘s No. 38 team in three events and Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 team in one race.

 

 

Stewart-Haas Racing signs Chase Briscoe to contract extension

0 Comments

Chase Briscoe has signed a multiyear contract extension to remain at Stewart-Haas Racing, the team announced Thursday.

The length of the deal was not announced.

MORE: A better way to determine the Cup champion?

Briscoe is entering his third Cup season with the team. He won his first series race last year, taking the checkered flag at Phoenix last March. That victory put him in the playoffs. He finished the season ninth in the standings. 

“It’s huge to have stability, with my team and my partner,” Briscoe said in a statement from the team. “It just gives you more confidence. Stewart-Haas Racing is where I want to be for a long time. It’s the place I’ve known longer than anywhere else in my NASCAR career.

“I remember getting signed by Ford in 2017 and I told people, ‘You know, if I could pick one place to be, it would be Stewart- Haas Racing. And if I could drive one car, it would be the 14 car. That would be the ultimate dream.’ And now, here I am.

“SHR has such a great group of people, from the Xfinity Series to the Cup Series, and they’ve all just guided me in the right direction. From drivers to crew chiefs to crew members, they’ve always had my back, and that’s been a huge help – just having people believe in you.”

The 28-year-old Briscoe has been with SHR since 2018. He split a limited Xfinity schedule that season between what is now RFK Racing and SHR. He ran full time with SHR in the Xfinity Series in 2019 and ’20 before moving to Cup in 2021.

“Chase has made the most of every opportunity and the proof is in the results. Keeping him at SHR was a priority and we’re proud to have him in our racecars for many more years to come,” said Tony Stewart, who co-owns SHR with Haas Automation founder Gene Haas, in a statement from the team. 

Briscoe’s signing comes two weeks after teammate Kevin Harvick announced that this will be his final season in Cup. 

The Cup season begins Feb. 5 with the Busch Clash at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum before going to Daytona for the Feb. 19 Daytona 500.