What drivers said at Watkins Glen


An aggressive move by Kyle Larson on the race’s final restart opened the door to a victory  Sunday in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Watkins Glen International.

Larson forced Chase Elliott, his Hendrick Motorsports teammate, to the outside and took the lead with five laps to go.

Following Larson were AJ Allmendinger, Joey Logano, Elliott and Daniel Suarez.

Here’s what drivers said at Watkins Glen Sunday:

Kyle Larson — Winner: “I had the restart before, I kind of got put in a bad spot because he (Chase Elliott) had the dominant position on me with the nose ahead. Every time I was in the right lane yesterday in Xfinity, I was in the same spot, I would always get pinched into the curb. A lot of times I got passed by the time we got to turn two. I figured it was probably going to be the last restart of the weekend. I told myself if I had a nose ahead of him before we got to the braking zone, I was going to have to try my best to maintain that, not let him get a nose ahead of me, pinch my corner off, end my chance of winning. I had a good restart. I got in there hot. Did what I had to do to win. Again, I’m not necessarily proud of it, especially with a teammate, but I feel like I had to execute that way to get the win.”

MORE: Watkins Glen Cup results

MORE: Watkins Glen driver points

AJ Allmendinger — Finished 2nd: “Obviously, Kyle (Larson) drove it in quite deep to get the lead there on Chase (Elliott), and I was getting shoved in the corner. Maybe if I could have gotten the car squared off a little bit earlier in the corner, but obviously I was getting run into so hard that I was happy just to keep it on the race track and not have anybody next to me off the corner. Just proud of everybody at Kaulig Racing. This is absolutely one of the most fun cars I have ever driven in my life. I was hustling it and it was fast.”

Joey Logano — Finished 3rd: “It was crazy and I am ecstatic about what we did. We got the (second) stage win, and usually, if you get a stage win here you bury yourself, which we did. We were 27th at the start of the third stage. We passed a bunch of cars and got to 17th and then we got stuck around 15th or so. I have to give it to Paul (Wolfe), he put two tires on it and gave us some track position and then we had a couple of more good restarts and it ended up as a top-three. Pretty good.”

Chase Elliott — Finished 4th: “Just a huge congratulations to Kyle and everybody on the 5 team. Congratulations to everybody at Hendrick Motorsports for getting another win. He (Kyle Larson) did a great job. Seriously, they deserve it. Looking forward to going to Bristol next week and trying to get one for our team.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 5th: “It was a little bit tight, a little bit loose. I felt like we had to play with the balance of the car quite a bit. But overall, I felt like our car was good. Probably not a winning car, but a solid top-five car. With the right circumstances, we probably could have won the race, but we just spent too much time trying to gain track position.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 6th: “It is disappointing. I don’t think we quite had enough for the 9 or the 5. I tried to hold them off as long as I could. They just had a bit of pace on me. They were pushing me hard enough that I was getting wide and making mistakes. I tried to make a move on that second-to-last restart there and got a pretty good run on the 5 and went to the inside and it just didn’t work out. We got jammed up on the bottom, and everyone was smashing into each other and we lost a couple of spots. That was pretty much it at that point. It is just disappointing. We’ve got to win to get into these playoffs. But I am proud of everybody at Front Row. We had a fast car and we were in the hunt. It just wasn’t quite enough.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 7th: “We lost a lot of track positions when I spun in the bus stop, but we fought our way back and we were in contention for a top five at the end of the race. We started off the day in wet conditions and once the track dried our KCMG Chevrolet got really tight. We made the car better by the end of the race. We finished seventh, but I was hoping for a top five.”

Chris Buescher — Finished 9th: “We had a really good Fastenal Ford. I am so proud of everybody. Just didn’t need that caution at the end. We needed a green flag run. We were running down the next several ahead of us and we had (newer) tires. That was working for speed. I don’t know if I could have gotten to the lead with green flag runs, but it definitely would have been better than we finished. It didn’t play out the way we needed it to, but still a really solid day.”

Erik Jones — Finished 10th: “Best road course car we’ve had all year. Thanks to the 43 guys, the hard work is paying off. We need to qualify a little better, but a good day and finish for our FOCUSfactor Chevy. Honestly, I was kind of hoping for more rain. I was having fun when the track was wet. Watkins Glen is one of my favorite road courses, so I’m glad to leave with a top 10 and head to Daytona next weekend.”

Ty Dillon — Finished 16th: “I’m really proud of our result today with our Allegiant Camaro ZL1. We’re just building momentum, man, and it takes time in this sport to build relationships with a lot of new people, but it feels like Jerame (crew chief) and I are starting to click. The last three weeks, we’ve been running really strong and doing what we want to do. We cashed in a lot of stage points today, but were also able to turn it around and finish 16th. That’s really hard to do on these road courses, and we did it. Really proud of our effort; we’re building momentum at a good time.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 17th: “We started our day maintaining speed and position in the No. 3 Bass Pro Shops Tracker Off Road Chevy, and then we had to make a decision with pit strategy. We went with the strategy of keeping strong track position because it was really difficult to pass. During the final stage, we got spun and ended up having to go to pit road earlier than planned, and it put us way back on the restart. We fought back all day long and after our final pit stop, a few cautions came out so we were able to gain some spots. Pretty up and down day for our team, but I’m proud of how hard we worked all day. We’re looking forward to Daytona.”

Kimi Raikkonen — Finished 37th: “I wasn’t really involved with it. I had a good line there, but everybody seemed to be coming on the left of me, and unfortunately I had no time to react. The first impact, somebody hit the tires or the wheels directly, the wheels spun and something was wrong with the race car, but that how it goes. It was good fun. I felt more confidence all of the time. We had some good laps. It’s a shame. The car felt like it had a lot of speed, but that’s how it goes sometimes.”

NASCAR Championship Weekend returns to Phoenix in 2024


Phoenix Raceway will host the championship races for the Cup, Xfinity, Craftsman Truck and ARCA Menards Series in 2024, NASCAR announced Wednesday.

The races will be held Nov. 1-3, 2024. The Cup season finale will be Nov. 3, 2024. The only other Cup race for 2024 that has been announced is the Daytona 500. It will be held Feb. 18, 2024.

Phoenix Raceway has hosted the championship finale for Cup, Xfinity and Trucks since 2020. Chase Elliott won the Cup title there in 2020. Kyle Larson followed in 2021. Joey Logano won the crown there in 2022.

This year’s Cup finale at Phoenix will be Nov. 5 and air on NBC.



Drivers to watch at World Wide Technology Raceway


After the fireworks from the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR heads to World Wide Technology Raceway, a 1.25-mile speedway just outside of St. Louis. Sunday’s race (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1) marks the second time the Cup Series has raced at this track.

Much is at stake. The race to win the regular season championship has intensified. Tempers are high. The pressure to make the playoffs builds. Ten drivers have wins this season. Twelve races remain in the regular season.


Kyle Larson

  • Points position: 11th
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Richmond, Martinsville)
  • Past at WWTR: 12th last year

While a driver coming off back-to-back finishes of 20th or worse might not seem like a frontrunner, it actually does make Larson one. His topsy-turvy season has seen him place outside the top 10 in back-to-back races four times. In the three previous times he had consecutive finishes outside the top 10, he came back to finish second, first and second. Can he keep that streak going this weekend?

Bubba Wallace

  • Points position: 15th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Las Vegas I, Kansas I, Coca-Cola 600)
  • Past at WWTR: 26th last year

Wallace has scored three consecutive top-five finishes, his best streak in his Cup career. He has climbed from 21st to 15th in the standings during this run.

William Byron

  • Points position: 3rd
  • Best finish this season: 1st (Las Vegas I, Phoenix I, Darlington I)
  • Past at WWTR: 19th last year

Byron has finished no worse than seventh in the last five races. He’s led nearly 20% of the laps run during that time. Byron has averaged nearly 47 points a race during that streak.


Corey LaJoie

  • Points position: 20th
  • Best finish this season: 4th (Atlanta I)
  • Past at WWTR: 36th last season

NASCAR’s one-race suspension to Chase Elliott gives LaJoie the chance to drive a Hendrick Motorsports car for the first time. This will be the best car LaJoie has driven in his career. Many eyes will be on him to see how he does.

Ross Chastain

Chastain has finished 29th and 22nd in the last two points races. He’s not gone more than three races without a top-10 finish this season. After his struggles last weekend at Charlotte, Chastain saw his lead cut to one point over Coca-Cola 600 winner Ryan Blaney in the standings. Five drivers are within 17 points of Chastain in the season standings.

Aric Almirola

  • Points position: 26th
  • Best finish this season: 6th (Martinsville I)
  • Past at WWTR: 5th last year

Almirola has finished 13th or worse in all but one race this season for Stewart-Haas Racing. In the five races since placing sixth at Martinsville, Almirola has finished an average of 21.0.

NASCAR suspends Chase Elliott one race for incident with Denny Hamlin


NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one Cup race for wrecking Denny Hamlin in Monday’s Coca-Cola 600, the sanctioning body announced Tuesday.

“We take this very seriously,” Elton Sawyer, senior vice president of competition, said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “The incident that happened off Turn 4, again after looking at all the available resources — in-car camera, data, SMT, which basically gives us (a car’s) steering, throttle, gives us braking — it was an intentional act by Chase in our opinion.”

Hendrick Motorsports stated that it would not appeal the penalty. Corey LaJoie will drive the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports this weekend at World Wide Technology Raceway. Carson Hocevar will drive LaJoie’s car this weekend.

Hendrick Motorsports also stated that it would submit a waiver request for Elliott to remain eligible for the playoffs. Sawyer said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “I don’t see any reason at this point in time why wouldn’t (grant the waiver) when that request comes across our desk.”

This weekend will mark the seventh race in the first 15 that Elliott will have missed. He missed six races after breaking his leg in a snowboarding accident in early March. Elliott, who is winless this season, is 29th in points.

Elliott and Hamlin got together shortly before the halfway mark in Monday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As they ran together, Hamlin forced Elliott toward the wall. Elliott’s car slapped the wall. Elliott then made contact with the right rear of Hamlin’s car, sending Hamlin into the wall.

“I got right-rear hooked in the middle of the straightway,” Hamlin said after the incident. “Yes, it was a tantrum. He shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”

Said Sawyer on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio: “In the heat of the battle, things happen, but they have to learn to react in a different way. … Our drivers need to understand that you have to handle that in a completely different way than hooking someone in the right rear and putting them in harm’s way, not only with just a major head-on collision like Denny had, but also other competitors.”

Sawyer also said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that “nothing gave us the indication that on that particular contact with the fourth-turn wall … that anything was broke” on Elliott’s car and could have caused him to come down and hit Hamlin’s car in the right rear.

NASCAR also announced that Scott Brzozowski and Adam Lewis, crew members on Michael McDowell‘s team, had each been suspended two races after McDowell’s car lost a tire in Monday’s race.

Winners and losers at Charlotte Motor Speedway


A look at winners and losers from Monday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway:


Ryan Blaney — Blaney stopped his winless streak at 59 races and gave team owner Roger Penske his second major race victory in two days. Blaney had the best car but had to fight through restarts late in the race to win.

William Byron — Byron, the winningest driver this season, barely missed getting victory No. 4. He finished second and scored his fifth straight top 10.

Martin Truex Jr. — Truex logged his third top five of the season.

23XI RacingBubba Wallace was fourth and Tyler Reddick fifth, giving 23XI Racing a pair of top-five finishes for the first time in a points race.


Jimmie Johnson — The seven-time champion admitted having problems adjusting to the Next Gen car on a 1.5-mile track. He crashed early and finished last.

Legacy Motor Club — It was a bad night for Jimmie Johnson and his team’s drivers. Johnson finished last in the 37-car field. Noah Gragson was 36th. Erik Jones placed 32nd.

Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin — Two drivers who had strong cars didn’t make it to the finish after crashing near the halfway point. Hamlin said Elliott “shouldn’t be racing next week. Right-rear hooks are absolutely unacceptable. He shouldn’t be racing.”