Kurt Busch — His contract expires after this season. Car owner Chip Ganassi has suggested in media reports that a deal will be done. Busch declined to discuss much about his contract status before the Sept. 29 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, stating: “We haven’t really started talks. I felt like it was good to get the playoffs underway and go as far as we could comfortably. Man, there’s a lot going on and we’ll see how things play out. Again, it’s all about all the stars lining up with Chevrolet, Monster Energy, myself, Chip. For me, I feel like things haven’t progressed because of the focus on the playoffs.”
Daniel Suarez — He has said that both he and the team have an option on his contract for next year. He has remained confident that he will return to Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 41 car and noted upcoming meeting should solidify his situation.
Sponsorship for Stenhouse and his car number will be announced at a later date.
“I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to join JTG Daugherty Racing next season,” Stenhouse said in a press release. “To be able to see what (team owner) Tad (Geschickter), Jodi (Geschickter) and Brad (Daugherty) have built over the years says a lot about the team and the organization both on and off the track. JTG has grown from a small team in a barn to a two-car team with more than 100 employees, and I’m looking forward to joining the family. I’m grateful for the opportunity, and ready to go win races with the ultimate goal of making the Playoffs and competing for a championship.”
Stenhouse joins JTG Daugherty Racing after a decade of racing with Roush Fenway. He earned two Xfinity Series titles for the team before moving up to the Cup Series full-time in 2013.
In 251 Cup starts, Stenhouse has two wins. Those came at Daytona and Talladega. He failed to make the playoffs the last two seasons.
Tad Geschickter shared some insight into why he went with Stenhouse on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “SiriusXM Speedway” Wednesday afternoon.
“We looked at the whole field of people that were available and accomplished enough to run at the Cup level,” Geschickter said. “Really narrowed it down to two. At the end it’s Ricky’s resume and experience and to see it alongside Ryan, whose still learning his craft at the Cup level, we just thought it made sense to have that veteran experience that’s won races be part of the program as Ryan continues to develop into that winning presence.”
On Monday, Stenhouse led 32 laps in the race at Talladega, his most laps led this season.
“(The deal was) definitely pretty much done at that point, but it sure made me feel good about the decision if there were any worries,” Geschickter said. “Ricky’s just fast everywhere. He’s a tremendous talent. I think we’re blessed to get him. We’re going to miss Chris. I don’t think we’ll miss a step here.”
Geschickter was asked by SiriusXM if Stenhouse’s reputation for being involved in wrecks as a result of aggressive racing was discussed during the negotiation process.
“I did not know him well until I met him a couple of weeks ago and talked a lot obviously over the last couple of weeks,” Geschickter said. “He’s breath of fresh air. You can talk pretty frankly with him, he talks frankly back to you. We certainly had that discussion. But as we discussed it, I’d rather go to the bit than go to the whip. He wants it badly. We’re kind of excited to have that dynamic in here. Ryan’s the same way, by the way. he want’s it badly.”
Scott Miller, NASCAR’s senior vice president of competition, said the instances of vehicles going below the yellow line on the last lap of the Truck and Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway “were very, very different from one another,” with one being “a lot more blatant” than the other.
Miller made his comments on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”
“First of all, one guy won the race or appeared to have won the race by making that move and the other didn’t,” Miller said. “When you’re talking about Johnny’s situation, he drove all four of his wheels under the yellow line to force (Herbst) down there. It was obviously a lot more blatant in our opinion than what transpired on (Monday). Blaney was down there, Ryan (Newman) wasn’t down there, but certainly in our opinion drove him down there.
“We reserve the right to call a car that forces another down below the yellow line. We can kind of use our judgement to assess the situation.
“No two ones of those situations are the same. There’s some subjectivity in it, which isn’t the greatest thing for us. But I think we’re very happy with the calls that we made and feel like both of them were right.”
Miller was asked by SiriusXM NASCAR Radio whether the yellow line rule is one that will be addressed going forward.
“The language of the rule is fine,” Miller said. “There’s always going to be judgment unless we put a wall down there or grass there or something like that. Those things would have their own set of large problems associated with them. We’ve looked at the language many times and have landed on where we are to let us make the calls we feel like are necessary for certain situations.
“If we didn’t have the yellow line rule, there’s no telling what might ensue with all the skid paths and everything leading into the back straight being so wide. We would find guys getting to the other end having no place to go but the apron. We have to enforce the yellow line rule and we are where we are. We look at everything every time when we have to make a call, all of our rules, not only race procedures, but technical rules as well.
“We’re constantly trying to get better. … I mean the yellow line rule is not something that we enjoy by any stretch of the imagination. But we have to have it. If we didn’t, there’d be even more mayhem more than likely.”
Miller also addressed why no caution was thrown on the last lap when Parker Kligerman and Chris Buescher wrecked on the frontstretch as the field approached the start-finish line. Both drivers were turned nose-first into the outside wall in the tri-oval.
“When it feels like that it’s not hampering us from dispatching the safety equipment we’ll let things play out,” Miller said. “That’s kind of our criteria for judging that. Everybody wants to see a checkered flag finish and not a field freeze. We’ll do everything that we can safely to make that happen.”
“That’s always going to be subjective, right?” Miller said. “You’re going to have a race and there’s going to be teammates working together and there’s going to be cars from different camps working together on the situation out there in the race. … I don’t know why it got publicized this weekend as much as it did. I think all of the manufacturers and all of the teams internally meet and try to come up with a little bit of strategy to stick with one another in the draft.
“It’s not something that we can really officiate effectively. We can ask them not to talk about it I would assume, but it’s not something we can really officiate. If something becomes extremely blatant and you have people stopping or doing crazy things, then obviously we have to look at that. But as far as going out there and working together in the draft, that’s something that’s going to change every single lap depending on who you’re around. So there’s really no way to officiate that.”
Ryan Blaney won Monday’s rain-delayed Cup Series race at Talladega in a two-lap shootout, beating Ryan Newman in a photo finish by 0.007 seconds, the sixth-closest finish all-time.
It is Blaney’s third career Cup win and his first win of the year. It locks him into third round of the playoffs after he entered the race below the cutoff line.
Newman took the lead on the last lap going into Turn 3 thanks to a push from Denny Hamlin. Blaney then made contact with Newman’s left rear in the middle of the tri-oval. The two rubbed doors as they approached the checkered flag as Blaney barely edged him out.
“There was no blocking (Newman) and (Hamlin),” Blaney told NBCSN. “They were coming so fast and I figured if I’d give up the bottom they were just going to leave me in the middle. So I just decided to stay with Aric (Almirola). Great pusher all day and I kind of went up and pulled (Hamlin) off (Newman) and then he was so far out in front. … (Newman) kind of pushed me below the yellow line and I wasn’t going to go there after what happened in the Truck race. Kind of got forced down and it just worked out.”
NASCAR reviewed the finish multiple times and determined Blaney was forced below the yellow line and therefore it is not a penalty.
Blaney’s win is the second race in a row where a playoff driver has earned their first win of the year after Kyle Larson won at Dover.
For Newman it ties his career-best finish at Talladega.
“They spent $50 million redeveloping this place, I should have thrown in fifty bucks to have them move the start-finish line,” Newman said to NBCSN. “Repainted it or something. It was a great run … We just came up that little bit short. I don’t know what else to say. I could have pinched him some more … you can go back and bench race that three weeks from now. It was good racing to the end.”
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE:Corey LaJoie finished seventh for his second career top-10 finish … Michael McDowell earned his third career top-five finish. All have been on superspeedways … Chase Elliott finished eighth after being involved in a wreck in the middle of the race.