Long: A championship five seasons in the making for Joey Logano’s pit crew

Leave a comment

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — When the champagne bottles were passed out to Joey Logano’s team after he won the Cup championship Sunday night, Ray Gallahan found a place to sit at the back of the stage to watch his teammates spray each other.

“I’m not a heavy drinker, and I don’t like being too sticky,” Gallahan told NBC Sports. “I usually bow out for the champagne part.’’

Ray Gallahan (seated) watches his teammates spray each other with champagne after Joey Logano won the Cup title. (Photo: Dustin Long)

The celebration was poignant for Gallahan, who served his final race as Logano’s fueler Sunday. The 35-year-old Gallahan will move into a role as an assistant pit coach for Team Penske.

But this victory had extra meaning for Gallahan. He was Logano’s jackman in 2014 when the car fell off the jack with less than 20 laps to go in that championship race, all but ending Logano’s title hopes.

“That crumbled me up pretty hard because I was supposed to be the guy that didn’t mess up,” Gallahan said.

The team returned to the championship race in 2016. Logano’s title hopes faded when he went to pass Carl Edwards on a late restart and Edwards blocked, leading to contact that eliminated Edwards and damaged Logano’s car.

Sunday, Logano’s pit crew gained him two spots on the final pit stop, allowing him to restart third and charge to the win. It was pretty much the same unit that had been there in 2014 and ’16.

Front tire changer Thomas Hatcher, rear tire changer Zachary Price and tire carrier Dylan Dowell had been on the team since 2014. The only new member was jackman Graham Stoddard, who had been teammate Ryan Blaney’s jackman but moved to Logano’s team after Blaney was eliminated in the playoffs at Kansas.

That four of the five pit crew members remained since 2014 is a remarkable achievement in an era where changes to pit crews can be common. This unit excelled late in the playoffs, playing a key role in helping Logano win at Martinsville, and having a strong performance in the championship race.

“I think the longer you are together, the more you learn what to expect from the other guy, so it actually makes you faster,” Dowell told NBC Sports.

Having experienced the lows of the title race — and missing the playoffs last year — it allowed the team to appreciate its accomplishment.

“It definitely made it sweeter,” Hatcher told NBC Sports. “It definitely made it sweeter.”


Morgan Shepherd had Landon Cassill drive his Xfinity car for him last weekend in Miami, but Shepherd says he plans to be back.

“This is 51 years for us,” the 77-year-old Shepherd told NBC Sports at Homestead-Miami Speedway, “and I’ve started on my next. If I can get it in, I’ll only be 127 (years old). We’ll see where we land.”

Morgan Shepherd (Photo Getty Images)

Isn’t it time for retirement?

“Nah,” Shepherd said as he sat on the pit wall. “I’m just a servant. I might not be able to help myself but I can help other people with what we’re doing. Our charity is 32 years old. … We’ll go as long as the Lord wants me to go.”

Shepherd understands that change will come at some point.

“We definitely would be better with a younger driver and build it around him,” Shepherd said. “We’ll see where it goes. We haven’t quit yet.”


Crew chief Luke Lambert told NBC Sports he’s signed a new deal with Richard Childress Racing and will serve as rookie Daniel Hemric’s crew chief on the No. 31 car next season.

It will make the first time Lambert has worked with a young driver. He’s previously worked with veteran drivers Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman. Lambert had been with Newman the past five seasons. Newman moves to Roush Fenway Racing for 2019.

“It will be different in ways,” Lambert said of working with a rookie. “I’ve been around situations with young drivers a lot so I’m very familiar with what sort of things need to be done differently. Ultimately, it’s going to be about learning each other and what he needs different to be successful and for me to help figure out ways to provide that for him.”

Martin Truex Jr. to start at rear at Martinsville

Photo: Dustin Long
1 Comment

MARTINSVILLE, Va. – Martin Truex Jr. will start at the rear of the 40-car field for today’s playoff race (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN) at Martinsville Speedway after his car failed inspection.

His car was one of seven that failed inspection Sunday morning.

MORE: CLICK HERE FOR UPDATED STARTING LINEUP

Cars were impounded after Saturday’s qualifying and inspected Sunday morning. Any car that failed inspection the first time had its qualifying time disallowed and lost its spot in picking pit stalls.

Truex was to have started sixth. He is one of the eight playoff drivers competing for a spot in the championship race next month at Miami. Today’s race is the opener of the third round. Truex is winless in 77 career short-track Cup races.

Jimmie Johnson, who has won nine Cup races at Martinsville, also will start from the rear after his car failed inspection for mechanical measurements. He qualified 23rd. Johnson is winless this season. He has scored at least one victory in each of the past 16 seasons.

David Ragan also will start at the rear after his car failed inspection. He was to have started 14th. Ragan’s car failed a second time. The penalty for that is the loss of one crew member.

Brad Keselowski and Landon Cassill will start from the rear for unapproved adjustments.

Bubba Wallace’s backup car also failed. He already was starting at the rear for going to a backup car.

Also failing inspection were the cars of JJ Yeley, Jeb Burton and Timmy Hill.

Paul Menard also will start at the rear for an engine change the team made after qualifying.

The car chiefs on Ragan and Timmy Hill’s cars were ejected for failing inspection twice.

 

 

Today’s Cup race at Martinsville: Start time, lineup and more

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The Round of 8 begins today in the Cup playoffs with a trip to NASCAR’s oldest track in Martinsville, Virginia.

The last short track race of the season could throw the playoff field into chaos.

Here’s all the info you need for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START:  First Data CEO and Chairman Frank Bisignano will give the command to start engines at 2:32 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 2:38 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is scheduled for 500 laps (263 miles) around the .526-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 130. Stage 2 ends on Lap 260.

PRE-RACE SCHEDULE: The garage opens at 7:30 a.m. The driver/crew chief meeting is at 12:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 1:50 p.m.

NATIONAL ANTHEM: 380th Army Band will perform the anthem at 2:25 p.m.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will broadcast the race beginning at 2:30 p.m. Coverage begins with NASCAR America at 1 p.m. on NBCSN. Countdown to Green airs at 2 p.m. on NBCSN. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 1:30 p.m. and also can be heard at mrn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will have MRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for mostly sunny skies with a high of 61 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Clint Bowyer won the March race, finishing ahead of Kyle Busch and Ryan Blaney.  Last fall, Busch won over Martin Truex Jr.

TO THE REAR: Paul Menard (engine change), Bubba Wallace (backup and failed inspection), David Ragan (failed inspection, qualifying time disallowed), Martin Truex Jr. (failed inspection, qualifying time disallowed), Jimmie Johnson (failed inspection, qualifying time disallowed), JJ Yeley (failed inspection, qualifying time disallowed) and Jeb Burton (failed inspection, qualifying time disallowed), Brad Keselowski (unapproved adjustments), Landon Cassill (unapproved adjustments)

STARTING LINEUP: CLICK HERE FOR UPDATED STARTING LINEUP

Six Cup teams to be penalized practice time Saturday at Kansas

Getty Images
Leave a comment

KANSAS CITY, Kansas – Chase Elliott‘s team is among six that will be docked practice time Saturday at Kansas Speedway, NASCAR announced.

Four cars will be penalized 15 minutes of Saturday’s first practice session for being late to qualifying inspection. Docked practice time will be the teams of Landon Cassill, JJ Yeley, Timmy Hill and Kyle Weatherman.

Two cars will be penalized 15 minutes of Saturday’s final practice session for failing qualifying inspection twice Friday. Docked practice time will be the teams of Elliott and Matt DiBenedetto.

First Cup practice Saturday is from 10:30 – 11:20 a.m. ET on CNBC.

Final Cup practice Saturday is from 1:05 – 1:55 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: Kansas preview, Kevin Meendering interview

NBCSN
Leave a comment

Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5-6 p.m. ET on NBCSN and continues to preview this weekend’s races at Kansas Speedway.

Marty Snider hosts with Steve Letarte and Landon Cassill from Charlotte.

On today’s show:

  • We’ll react to the penalty handed down to Kyle Larson that makes advancing to the Round of 8 even more challenging.
  • As cut-down day approaches in the Round of 12 for the Cup Series, we’ll look back at drivers who kept their title hopes alive with victories in elimination races.
  • Dillon Welch talks to crew chief Kevin Meendering, who is set to become Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief in 2019.
  • Joey Logano may be racing for a championship, but one of his other main goals is a far more important one: helping the lives of others, especially children. We’ll look at the story behind the Joey Logano Foundation.

If you can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.