Report: Kyle Busch going to Richard Childress Racing in 2023

0 Comments

KANSAS CITY, Kans. — Two-time Cup champion Kyle Busch will leave Joe Gibbs Racing for Richard Childress Racing after this season, according to a report Saturday by The Athletic.

The report came shortly after Busch was asked by the media at Kansas Speedway if he would be going to RCR next season. Busch said: “I do not have any new news to share. If I did, I guarantee there would be some sort of big announcement. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been one of those yet. We’re still working on it behind the scenes trying to put it all together. It’s not done.”

A move to RCR would end Busch’s 15 years with Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch acknowledged Saturday that he was closer to resolving his future.

There’s light at the end of the tunnel and it’s not a train,” he said. “It is sunshine, so that’s a positive thing and trying to keep the train on the tracks right now for a little bit longer.”

An announcement on Busch’s future is expected early next week.

Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. vice president of performance and motorsports, is in Laguna Seca for Sunday’s IndyCar finale and was asked if Busch will be a Chevy driver next season.

“When you’re involved in eight series around the world, there is a silly season on drivers, teams and teams switching manufacturers goes on all the time,” he told NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan and The Associated Press. “What we’re focused on right now is the championships for IndyCar, same thing for NASCAR. So what happens and where people land, it’ll work itself out.”

A pairing of Busch and Childress presents a unique tandem among former combatants. 

Upset with Busch’s actions toward his drivers in the Truck Series, Childress found Busch in the garage at Kansas in 2011, removed his watch and repeatedly punched Busch. NASCAR fined Childress $150,000 for instigating the altercation.

Busch said Saturday his relationship with Childress has improved, even joking about negotiations: “Who’s to say he hasn’t punched me again in any of these conversations?”

Busch went on to say Saturday: “Whenever you go into negotiations, it’s never fun, so you’re duking the whole time. I think you grow up and you work through things and you talk it over. Really it was fine the first time I sat down with him, and everything was okay. 

“The biggest thing about it was just having an opportunity to kind of put that behind us. It was no different than going on the Dale Jr. Download and talking about 2008 and crashing (Earnhardt) at Richmond. You get through it and you talk about it and life moves on.”

Busch has been headed on this path after a sponsor pulled out of negotiations with Joe Gibbs Racing earlier this year. The team needed a new sponsor after Mars, Inc. announced last year that it would not return to the team and the series. 

Joe Gibbs Racing was in talks with Oracle, a technology corporation based in Austin, Texas, to sponsor Busch’s No. 18 team, but that fell through when the technology market changed and Oracle began looking at cutting costs and issuing layoffs. 

Without a sponsor, it became more difficult for Gibbs to sign Busch. He talked with other teams. Those who emerged as the leaders were Kaulig Racing, RCR and 23XI Racing. 

Matt Kaulig, owner of Kaulig Racing, declined to answer questions from NBC Sports and Fox Sports last weekend at Darlington Raceway if he was out of the race for Busch. Kaulig only smiled and walked away. 

A key element with Busch is the status of Kyle Busch Motorsports, his Camping World Truck Series team, which won Friday’s truck race at Kansas with John Hunter Nemechek.

Asked Saturday if there is more clarity on that organization’s future, Busch said: “I’m definitely not comfortable with where that’s at yet. Trying to put all the right things in the right places simultaneously was the objective and the goal. It’s not going to happen that way, but we will certainly keep fighting for that to make sure that KBM is at the forefront and we have a place to go race trucks next year.”

Chevrolet’s Campbell acknowledged the benefit of a stronger NASCAR Truck program.

“We have a decent-sized Truck field,” Campbell said. “I think we need to bolster our Truck program. We’re strong in Cup. We’re strong in Xfinity. We have not been as strong in the Truck side.

“We’ve just got a couple of drivers that are going to vie for the championship, and we washed one of them out yesterday, so we’ll see where it goes.

Busch joined Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 after he was let go by Hendrick Motorsports to make way for Earnhardt.

Busch has scored 56 of his 60 career Cup wins with Joe Gibbs Racing. No driver has won as many Cup races since 2008. Busch gave Toyota its first Cup win at Atlanta in the fourth race of the 2008 season. 

He won Cup titles in 2015 and 2019 while at JGR. Busch is the only active series driver with multiple championships. 

Ty Gibbs is expected to replace Busch in the No. 18 Cup car next season at Joe Gibbs Racing. Gibbs, who is racing for the Xfinity championship this season, has been running Cup races in place of Kurt Busch since Busch has been out because of a head injury suffered in a crash at Pocono in July.

Tyler Reddick is under contract through next season at Richard Childress Racing before moving to 23XI Racing in 2024. 

Denny Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing, said Saturday that he didn’t think Reddick would join the team next season.

“I think Tyler would like to play out his contract at RCR and that’s what he’s always intended,” Hamlin said. “We’ve not planned for anything otherwise. Kurt’s going to drive the 45 as far as we understand and unless he says differently and if he does say differently, then we have a couple options that we’re looking at. But we never intended on getting Tyler before 2024.”

Said Reddick: “I’m just going to keep doing my job, the task at hand. That’s what we did today and got a pole, we were fast in practice in a lot of measures. So yeah, if if I was pretty bored during the week and didn’t have a lot going on, wasn’t spending a lot of time trying to prepare, it’d be easy to get distracted and give that some of your mind and some of your attention. Thankfully, I stay busy with my team.”

NASCAR will not race at Auto Club Speedway in 2024

0 Comments

LOS ANGELES — Auto Club Speedway will not host a NASCAR race next year because of plans to convert the 2-mile speedway into a short track.

It will mark only the second time the Cup Series has not raced at the Southern California track since first competing there in 1997. Cup did not race at the track in 2021 because of the pandemic.

Dave Allen, Auto Club Speedway president, also said Saturday that “it’s possible” that the track might not host a NASCAR race in 2025 because of how long it could take to make the conversion. 

MORE: Details for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum 

NASCAR came to the Fontana, California, track during the sport’s expansion in the late 1990s that also saw Cup debut at Texas (1997), Las Vegas (1998) and Homestead (1999).

Auto Club Speedway begins the West Coast swing this season, hosting the Cup Series on Feb. 26, a week after the Daytona 500. The series then goes to Las Vegas and Phoenix the following two weeks.

Auto Club Speedway has been among a favorite of drivers because of its aging pavement that put more of the car’s control in the hands of competitors. 

Allen said that officials continue to work on the track’s design. It is expected to be a half-mile track. With NASCAR already having a half-mile high-banked track (Bristol) and half-mile low-banked track (Martinsville), Allen said that a goal is to make Auto Club Speedway stand out.

“It has to make a statement, and making sure that we have a racetrack that is unique to itself here and different than any of the tracks they go to is very important,” Allen said. “Having said that, it’s equally important … to make sure that the fan experience part is unique.”

Kyle Larson, who won last year’s Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, said that he talked to Allen on Saturday was told the track project likely will take about 18 months. 

“I don’t know exactly the extent of what they’re doing with the track, how big it’s going to be, the shape or banking and all that, and I love the 2-mile track, but I think the more short tracks we can have, the better off our sport is going to be,” Larson said.

With Auto Club Speedway off the schedule in 2024, it would mean the only time Cup raced in the Los Angeles area would be at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. NASCAR has a three-year contract with the Coliseum to race there and holds the option to return.

Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum marks the second year of that agreement. Last year’s inaugural event at the Coliseum drew about 50,000 fans. NASCAR has not publicly stated if it will return to the Coliseum next year.

Sunday Clash at the Coliseum: Start time, TV info, race format

0 Comments

LOS ANGELES – NASCAR is back and back at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Nearly three months after Joey Logano won the Cup title at Phoenix, Cup drivers return to action this weekend to run the Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum exhibition race on Sunday night.

This marks the second consecutive year the series has raced inside the Coliseum, which has hosted the Super Bowl, World Series and Olympics.

Details for Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum 

(All times Eastern)

HEAT RACES: There will be four 25-lap heat races. Caution laps do not count. The top five from each race advance to the Busch Light Clash. The first heat race is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m.

LAST CHANCE QUALIFIERS: There will be two 50-lap qualifiers for drivers who did not advance to the Clash through their heat races. Caution laps do not count. The top three finishers in each of the qualifiers advance to the Clash. The 27-car Clash lineup will be finalized by adding one provisional spot for the driver highest in points last season not yet in the Clash field. The first of these two last chance qualifying races is scheduled to begin at 6:10 p.m.

CLASH STARTING LINEUP: To be set by heat races and the Last Chance Qualifiers. Winner of heat 1 will start on the pole for the Clash. Winner of heat 2 will start second. Winner of heat 3 will start third. Winner of heat 4 will start 4th. Runner-up in heat 1 will start fifth and so on.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 11 a.m. … Driver intros are at 7:50 p.m. … Invocation by Judah Smith, lead pastor of Churchome, at 8:07 p.m. … The USC Trojan Marching Band will perform the national anthem at 8:08 p.m. … Actor Rob Lowe will give the command to fire engines at 8:15 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to be waved by USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams at 8:20 p.m.

DISTANCE: The Clash is 150 laps (37.5 miles) on the 1/4-mile short track.

STAGES: There will be a stage break at Lap 75 (halfway in the Clash). Wiz Khalifa will perform during the break.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the event, beginning at 4 p.m. . … Motor Racing Network coverage begins at 4:30 p.m. and also will stream at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the MRN broadcast.

FORECAST: Weather Underground — Partly cloudy with a high of 63 degrees and a 1% chance of rain for the start of the heat races. Partly cloudy with a high of 61 degrees and a 1% chance of rain for the Clash..

LAST TIME: Joey Logano held off Kyle Busch to win the inaugural Clash at the Coliseum. Austin Dillon placed third. .

Catch up on NBC Sports coverage

New NASCAR season features several changes

Clash at the Coliseum provides a reset for RFK Racing 

Harrison Burton looks for progress in second year in Cup

Dr. Diandra: Muffling racecars won’t change fan experience

Drivers to watch at Clash in Coliseum

NASCAR announces rule changes for 2023

NASCAR outlaws Ross Chastain Martinsville move

NASCAR eliminates stage breaks for Cup road course events 

Looking back on 10 historic moments in the Clash

 

NASCAR Saturday schedule at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

0 Comments

NASCAR drivers are scheduled to hit the track today in competitive mode for the first time in 2023.

Practice is scheduled from 6-8 p.m. on the oval inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Single-car qualifying for Sunday’s Clash at the Coliseum is scheduled to begin at 8:35 p.m. (ET). The 36 drivers will be divided into three 12-driver groups for practice.

Cup practice groups

Cup qualfying order

Saturday’s qualifying will set the starting lineups for Sunday’s four 25-lap heat races. The top five finishers in each heat race will advance to the main event. Two 50-lap “last chance” races will follow, and the top three finishers in each of those events will join the feature field.

The 150-lap main event is scheduled at 8 p.m. (ET) Sunday.

For the second consecutive year, the Clash is being held on a purpose-built track inside the LA Coliseum, one of sport’s iconic venues. Joey Logano won last year’s race and last year’s series championship and will be among the favorites Sunday.

Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Weather

Saturday: Intervals of clouds and sun. High 71.

Saturday, Feb. 4

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 2 – 11:30 p.m. — Cup Series

Track activity

  • 6 – 8 p.m. — Cup practice (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 8:35 – 9:30 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

New NASCAR Cup season features several changes

0 Comments

While NASCAR looks back in celebrating its 75th season, there’s plenty new for the sport heading into the 2023 campaign.

Driver moves and schedule changes and are among some of the big changes this year. Here’s a look at some of the changes this season in Cup:

Drivers

— Two-time Cup champion Kyle Busch has a different look, as he moves from Joe Gibbs Racing to Richard Childress Racing, taking the ride formerly occupied by Tyler Reddick. 

— Tyler Reddick goes from Richard Childress Racing to 23XI Racing, taking the ride formerly occupied by Kurt Busch, who was injured in a crash last summer and has not returned to competition.

Ryan Preece goes from being a test driver and backup at Stewart-Haas Racing to taking over the No. 41 car formerly run by Cole Custer, who moves to the Xfinity Series. 

— Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson returns to Cup after running the past two seasons in the IndyCar Series. He’s now a part owner of Legacy Motor Club and will run select races for the Cup team. Johnson will seek to make the Daytona 500, driving the No. 84 car.

Ty Gibbs goes from Xfinity Series champion to Cup rookie for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Noah Gragson goes from Xfinity Series title contender to Cup rookie for Legacy Motor Club (and teammate to Jimmie Johnson).

Crew chiefs

— Keith Rodden, who last was a full-time Cup crew chief in 2017 with Kasey Kahne, is back in that role for Austin Dillon at Richard Childress Racing, as Dillon seeks to make back-to-back playoff appearances. Rodden comes to RCR after working with the Motorsports Competition NASCAR strategy group at General Motors.

— Chad Johnston, who has been a crew chief for Tony Stewart, Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth, will serve as crew chief for Ryan Preece at Stewart-Haas Racing.

— Blake Harris goes from being Michael McDowell’s crew chief at Front Row Motorsports to joining Hendrick Motorsports to be Alex Bowman’s crew chief. 

— Mike Kelley, who served as Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s crew chief when Stenhouse won Xfinity titles in 2011 and ’12, returns to the crew chief role with Stenhouse this season at JTG Daugherty Racing. 

Races

— What’s old is new. The All-Star Race moves to North Wilkesboro Speedway in May, marking the first Cup event at that historic track since 1996.

— July 2 marks debut of the street course race in Chicago, marking NASCAR’s first street race for its premier series.

— The spring Atlanta race and playoff Texas race have both been reduced from 500 miles to 400 miles.

Rules

Ross Chastain’s video-game move on the last lap at Martinsville will no longer be allowed, NASCAR announced this week. 

— Stage breaks are gone at the road course events for Cup races. Stage points will be awarded but there will be no caution for the end of the stage.  

— If a wheel comes off a car while on track, it is only a two-race suspension (last year it was four races) for two crew members. The crew chief is no longer suspended for the violation. 

— Cup cars have a new rear section that is intended to absorb more energy in a crash to prevent driver injuries after Kurt Busch and Alex Bowman each missed races last year because of concussion-related symptoms.

— Elton Sawyer is the new vice president of competition for NASCAR. Think of the former driver as the new sheriff in town for the sport.

Achievements 

— With a win this season, Kyle Busch will have at least one Cup victory in 19 consecutive seasons and become the all-time series leader in that category, breaking a tie with Richard Petty.

Denny Hamlin needs two wins to reach 50 career Cup victories. That would tie him with Hall of Famers Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson for 13th on the all-time list. 

Kevin Harvick, running his final Cup season, is 10 starts away from 800 career series starts. That would make him only the 10th driver in Cup history to reach that mark.