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How Jordan Anderson discovered his race hauler is a ‘time capsule’

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If not for the COVID-19 pandemic that’s brought NASCAR and much of the country to a stop, it might have taken Jordan Anderson a while to discover his race team’s hauler was a “time capsule.”

When you’re not expecting to race until at least May, there’s not too much you can do around your race shop.

What you can do is clean your hauler, which would be a “bottom of the totem pole” chore for his Truck Series team in more normal times.

That’s what Anderson was doing today when he learned that the hauler his team has used since 2019 once pulled into the Cup Series garage … 18 years ago.

“Underneath the seat cushions it had ‘Hooters Racing / No. 11’ on it. …. handwritten in sharpie,” Anderson told NBC Sports.

The No. 11 and Hooters were a combo associated with Cup Series driver Brett Bodine from 2002-03 when Bodine owned his own team.

As for the inscribed cushion?

“Somebody pointed this out on Twitter that’s a common thing that Featherlite did when they manufactured these haulers,” Anderson said. “All the seats were made in a common area and the way they marked what hauler they were going in was somebody would just take a sharpie on the bottom board of the cushions and write what hauler it was going in.”

There were more relics from the early 2000s found underneath the hauler’s drawers.

“We found a couple of … setup sheets and stuff like that that had Brett Bodine, the 11 logo on it,” Anderson said. “Then we found one note that I think had practice times from like Phoenix in 2002 in there.”

Anderson, who finished second in the season-opening race at Daytona for his first career top five, purchased the hauler from Premium Motorsports at the end of the 2018 season. Before Premium, it was owned by Stewart Friesen when he began competing in the Truck Series in 2017. Before that, it hauled Tommy Baldwin Racing’s No. 7 Cup car driven by Alex Bowman in 2015.

Using equipment that’s survived through multiple racing generations is not a new experience for Anderson’s self-owned team.

“Honestly, it’s been my entire career,” said Jordan, who currently owns chassis once used by GMS Racing. “With us being a smaller team, we don’t actually manufacturer the chassis. We may do body work, things like that. Most chassis and parts that we buy come from smaller teams and there’s a lot of people that are here in Mooresville that sell used parts.”

Jordan said he has brake calipers that are engraved with “KHI,” the initials for Kevin Harvick Inc., the Truck and Xfinity Series team Harvick operated that closed in 2011.

“It’s pretty crazy to go back and find some of the parts and pieces that we got that have been recycled from bigger teams,” Anderson said. “The fact that stuff gets recycled and reused is how teams like myself stay alive. Because for us to go out and buy all brand new stuff, you’d run out of money pretty quickly.”

As for his hauler, Anderson views its journey through the auto racing community as having come “full circle.”

“That hauler started its life with Brett Bodine, but he owned his team back then and now (it’s) with me owning our team in the Truck Series,” Anderson said. “Most stuff in racing has got a pretty long story. You don’t often get too fortunate to find stuff like what we found today to be able to trace it all the way back.”

Long: A sigh of relief punctuates the end of Daytona Speedweeks

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — When it was over, when a Daytona Speedweeks that featured outrage and exhilaration saw its final checkered flag, there was little euphoria, many anxious moments and eventually a sigh of relief.

Confusion and concern reigned on pit road after Ryan Newman’s horrific crash at the end of Monday night’s Daytona 500. Racing for the win, Newman’s car slammed into the wall before the start/finish line, was struck while upside down by Corey LaJoie’s car and slid down the track, a shower of sparks trailing, before coming to rest beyond the exit of pit road.

A conversation on one team’s radio said Newman was out of the car, but others on pit road said he was not. With drivers and teams parked closer to pit entrance after the race, no one could tell what was happening at the other end of pit road.

Safety crews needed more than 10 minutes to roll Newman’s car over, attend to him and cut the crumpled roof off to extricate the 42-year-old father of two.

Moments earlier, Ryan Blaney pushed Newman past Denny Hamlin into the lead on the backstretch of the final lap. Blaney attempted to pass on the frontstretch, but Newman blocked. Blaney realized he was going to finish second and wanted to ensure a Ford won, so he pushed Newman. But one bump unsettled Newman’s car, triggering the incident.

Afterward, Blaney stood with his crew by his car on pit road for several minutes but little was said. They waited to hear about Newman’s condition. As many did.

When he talked to the media, Blaney’s face was ashen and his eyes blank as he recounted a last lap he’d like to forget but likely never will.

“I hope he’s alright,” Blaney said. “That looked really bad. Definitely unintentional. … Just waiting to see if he’s OK.”

As he spoke, an ambulance sped past, taking Newman to Halifax Health Medical Center.

Until the end of the Daytona 500, Speedweeks had provided its fill of drama, intrigue and bliss.

It started with the Busch Clash the week before where all 18 cars were involved in an at least one accident and winner Erik Jones was collected in three incidents. The main story that day, though, was Brad Keselowski’s  anger toward teammate Joey Logano for an accident that collected both and Kyle Busch.

A few days later the focus returned to racing. Logano won his qualifying race and William Byron won his qualifying race, his first Cup victory at Daytona. But Daniel Suarez suffered heartbreak when he was involved in a crash and failed to qualify for the 500.

The following night saw Jordan Anderson finish second by one-hundredth of a second, but he celebrated as if he won. The 28-year-old has raced in the Truck series most of the past five years but it hasn’t been easy. He has often pulled his truck in a dually and struggled to find funding. He sold equipment to help keep his team going in the offseason and purchase the truck he ran at Daytona.

After finishing second, Anderson couldn’t stop smiling.

“This finish tonight … is for every underdog in America, every kid that stays up late and works on his dirt late model or legends car and dreams of coming to Daytona,” Anderson said. “Hopefully, this finish tonight encourages them to never give up on their dreams.”

Less than 24 hours later, Noah Gragson was burning up the track. Literally.

Gragson celebrated his first Xfinity win with an extended burnout that had some rubber burning on the track.

“I caught the track on fire,” the 21-year-old driver for JR Motorsports said. “I thought that always would be really, really cool to catch the track on fire from doing a burnout, and I was able to do that.”

A Sunday filled with sunshine started with Air Force One delivering President Donald J. Trump. He spoke briefly to fans. They serenaded him with chants of “U-S-A!” He gave the command to start engines and his motorcade led the field on a pace lap, something never before done in a race. But rain delayed the start and the electricity that had built faded when the field only got 20 laps in before a second rain delay postponed the race to Monday.

Sunday’s energy grew through a late Monday afternoon under sunny and warm conditions. Crashes reduced the field but still left enough cars to create a dramatic win for Hamlin.

But that was overshadowed by Newman’s wreck.

And all the waiting.

Fans left the track without knowing Newman’s condition. Those at the track stood around. Nobody knew.

Informed of the severity of Newman’s crash, Hamlin and Joe Gibbs Racing muted their victory lane activities. A somber atmosphere hung over the track.

It was a stark reminder of how dangerous racing can be, something many have overlooked as they’ve applauded countless drivers who emerged with no serious injuries from high-flying cars that tumbled and rolled. It also showed how far safety has come in NASCAR since Dale Earnhardt’s fatal crash in 2001.

Two hours after Newman’s ambulance ride, the news came.

He was alive.

And a sigh of relief filled a silent racetrack.

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Results, point standings after Truck Series opener at Daytona

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Grant Enfinger won Friday’s Truck Series opener at Daytona in dramatic fashion, edging Jordan Anderson by .010 seconds and claiming his first win since 2018.

Anderson was followed by Codie Rohrbaugh, Derek Kraus and Natalie Decker. The four drivers all earned the best finishes of their Truck Series careers.

Enfinger’s win is the third of his career. His others were at Talladega and Las Vegas.

Enfinger was the regular-season champion last year despite not winning a race. The victory locks him into the playoffs.

Click here for the race results.

Points

After the race win and also claiming the Stage 2 win, Enfinger leads the standings by 11 points over Austin Hill.

The top five is completed by Johnny Sauter (-14 points), Anderson (-18) and Rohrbaugh (-19).

Click here for the standings.

Grant Enfinger wins Truck Series opener in overtime

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Grant Enfinger won Friday night’s NASCAR Truck Series season opener at Daytona in an overtime finish that saw him and Jordan Anderson slam doors coming to the checkered flag as Enfinger beat him by .010 seconds.

It is Enfinger’s third career win and comes after he went winless in 2019.

The top five was completed by Codie Rohrbaugh, Derek Kraus and Natalie Decker.

“The biggest thing is we had a really good Ford F-150 to do it with,” Enfinger told FS1. “I made a mistake there with about 20 (laps) to go, I got hung up in the sucker hole. I pulled up in front of (ThorSport Racing teammate) Ben (Rhodes) too late and he was going to wreck me or put me in the middle and that’s what happened …. I tried to bide my time on the bottom and then it got to four, five laps to go and it’s time to go and we were able to get up into the third groove make things happen.”

Anderson’s finish is his best in 102 Truck Series starts and his first top-five finish.

“There’s not too many opportunities that you get to go for your win,” Anderson told FS1. “I’m almost speechless … I came here in 2015 and emptied my bank account to come down here and run. To be in a position to even go for a win at Daytona, I’m just a kid that wanted to go racing from South Carolina.”

Rohrbaugh’s finish is his best in 12 career starts, Kraus earned his first top five in six career starts and Decker earned her first top five and first top-10 finish in 20 career starts.

Decker’s finish is the best by a female driver in the Truck Series. The previous record was held by Jennifer Jo Cobb (sixth) at Daytona in 2011.

“It just feels so good, we had such a good team effort and plan,” Decker told FS1. “We all stuck to it and that’s what got me that good finish.”

The overtime finish was setup by a massive wreck with three laps left in the scheduled distance. The wreck occurred in Turns 1 and 2 as the front half of the field was racing three-wide, multiple rows deep. Among the drivers collected were Ben Rhodes, Todd Gilliland, Christian Eckes, Johnny Sauter, Stewart Friesen, pole-sitter Riley Herbst, Tanner Gray, Tyler Ankrum and Jesse Little.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Riley Herbst narrowly won the stage over Tyler Ankrum in a one-lap shootout.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

MORE: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Ty Majeski was unhurt after his truck rolled onto its roof in a multi-truck wreck with five laps to go in Stage 1 that included Austin Way Self, Todd Gilliland and Tate Fogleman … A multi-truck wreck occurred with 35 laps to go that eliminated Fogleman, Bryan Dauzat, Angela Ruch and also included Zane Smith, Brett Moffitt, Sheldon Creed and Christian Eckes.

NOTABLE: Enfinger’s win is the 100th for Ford in the Truck Series … During the race broadcast on FS1, series sponsor Gander RV & Outdoors aired a tribute to the late John Andretti, who helped bring the company into NASCAR as a sponsor.

WHAT’S NEXT: Strat 250 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 9 p.m. ET on Feb. 21 on FS1.

 

Strategy is goal of pit road experiment in Xfinity, Trucks

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While Xfinity and Truck Series teams will save some money with the newly announced pit crew and strategy rules for seven standalone races, two NASCAR team officials cited a desire to increase “strategy” and “wit” with the move.

The financial angle is a “small aspect” of the format according to Ryan Pemberton, competition director for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, where the rules will be used in four races — at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (May 30), Iowa Speedway (June 13 and Aug. 1) and Road America (Aug. 8).

“I really think it’s about leveling the playing field a little bit and mixing it up, giving people opportunities to do something different on pit road that don’t normally have that opportunity,” Pemberton said after the announcement. “You take a 15th-place car and you can pick one of those guys back there that are having a good day, and it’s hard to have a real successful day due to the fact that maybe (it’s) their pit crew versus somebody else’s (more experienced) pit crew.

“I think from a strategic point, from a crew chief’s point of view, it puts more people in play, and it should be broadened ‑‑ the competition, how many guys could be in the top 10 on a regular basis and have more opportunities. And then from a logistics standpoint, it helps out, too, as far as the people and moving people across the country.

“But for the most part, it’s really about competition.”

Pemberton emphasized that teams that take two tires on a pit stop will start ahead of teams that took four.

“That mixes things up, makes for different opportunities for different people,” Pemberton said. “And then maybe one guy does it, maybe two guys do it, and the third guy wants to do it, next thing you know it really flips the field.”

David Pepper, the general manager of ThorSport Racing in the Truck Series, made small team owner Jordan Anderson the poster child for those who could benefit from these rules in his series, which will use them at Iowa Speedway (June 12) and the playoff races at World Wide Technology Raceway (Aug. 21) and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Sept. 6).

Anderson, a driver-owner on an underfunded team, has only two top-10 finishes in 101 Truck Series starts. Those top 10s came at Daytona and Talladega.

“Jordan Anderson, who has had many good runs, and then we come down pit road and he can’t compete on pit road with the pit crew,” Pepper said. “This will allow that to go away and a team like that to compete at a high level and have an opportunity to showcase their crew chief and driver talent and their team’s talent in building a fast race truck.

“So we’ve leveled the playing field, and I think you’re going to see a lot of really good stories from a lot of really good race car drivers that are out there that are going to have an opportunity to go run in the top five and go run in the top 10.”

Among the rules is when teams can take two or four tires.

  • On an oval track, teams may add fuel and change two tires per stop. A second stop must be made to change the other two tires.
  • On a road course, teams may add fuel or change four tires per stop.

Pemberton raised the risk/reward that a team that is leading a race will have to consider when the caution comes out.

“How many people are going to take two behind me versus taking four?” Pemberton said. “That’s going to make even the guys up front rethink what they’re doing. Maybe they get cold feet and they go like, ‘Man, I’m only going to get two because I don’t want to give up the lead, and next thing you know maybe the guys right behind them get four.

“So it’s going to really change how you go about these pit stops. And that’s where the strategy comes in play, and I think that’s where the excitement level comes in.”

Eric Peterson, the Xfinity Series technical manager, addressed how the rules impact the relationship between the haves and have nots in the NASCAR garage.

“One of the things we looked at was kind of the data of our current pit stops and all the teams that consistently run in the top 10,” Peterson said “Our current pit stop strategy really did not mix the field up very well.  The average position change was right around one position.

 “That’s the reason we kind of took this other approach, is that kind of the purpose of coming down pit road and doing pit stops is to hopefully mix the field up a little bit where you don’t have a ‘follow the leader’ race the entire race.”

The first Xfinity race at Iowa last year saw Christopher Bell lead 186 of 250 laps to win. There were two lead changes in the last 190 laps of that race. Last year’s Truck race at Iowa saw Ross Chastain lead the final 141 laps to take the checkered flag before his victory was taken away when his truck failed post-race inspection.

The perspective of one Truck Series crew chief was provided by Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Rudy Fugle Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive.”

Fugle said he’d be “open-minded” about the rules change, but said he’s “not 100% for” them.

“As the son of a mechanic, my first job as a young kid was working with someone disassembling cars at a salvage yard,” Fugle said. “I kind of grew up wanting to be a guy that changes tires on pit road. Taking that element out, or maybe leading to taking that element out is kind of … it’s not exciting to me. But I’ll be open-minded and we’ll attack and figure out how to make the system the best for KBM and figure out how to beat everybody, no matter what the rules are.”

Fugle also addressed how the new rules at the standalone races will impact the role of a spotter in pit strategy.

“Normally … the crew chief gets a lot of help on some of the ways the rules are and the way the pit road rules are from the spotter,” Fugle said. “Because the spotter can see what’s happening. So you want your spotter to know 100% what the rule is. … But now we go to the standalone races, you’re not going to have a normal spotter. You’re going to have a guy that only does three or four NASCAR races, so he’s not going to know those rules, let alone the new rules. We’re going to have to spread those delegations out a little bit through the team to make sure that we’re thinking of everything and not messing something up so we don’t make a mistake. I think that’s the biggest fear.”

While the financial savings of this limited pit format might be a “small aspect” for a team like JR Motorsports, it’s a different conversation for Tommy Joe Martins, who will race for his family-owned team in the Xfinity Series this year.