Regan Smith

Blocking a key issue at Talladega for drivers

3 Comments

TALLADEGA, Ala. — The question isn’t who to race with at Talladega, manufacturers have dictated that, but it is where to race.

Run at the front and hope the wreck is behind? Run at the back and hope to avoid the carnage?

The package used at Talladega and Daytona this season punches such a big hole that drivers say the closing rate between cars is quicker than before. That gives cars trying to block less time to make their move. Be late and it can lead to a wreck.

As it has at Talladega and Daytona this year.

“There’s been many evolutions in racing and blocking is one for me that I’ve had to evolve with, but blocking is a part of our sport now on a weekly basis,” Kevin Harvick said. “It’s not just here. I mean, you see it at the mile-and-a-half race tracks. 

“You’re just going to have wrecks blocking. Sometimes you’re going to make a bad move. It’s just something that’s a little bit newer in the pace of the car that’s approaching you and the style of block and how you throw it, but we’re going to wreck from a block because it’s just become part of what we do.”

Three wrecks this year at Talladega and Daytona can be traced to blocking at the front of the field.

“When you have the smaller spoiler, you’re able to get in front of them, that lead car would get the push before that (trailing) car would actually get to the back bumper of the lead car,” Joey Logano said. “Now, it seems like the trailing car can get to the back bumper and then some (with the larger spoiler), so the blocks have to be quicker and have to be precise. Even once you block them it doesn’t mean it’s over because now they’re still on your bumper and they’re pushing you around. It’s more challenging from that standpoint.”

The late April race at Talladega debuted this package and saw a crash at the front of the field early in the event. Bubba Wallace was third when he and Ryan Blaney, running second, got out of shape and triggered a crash that damaged six cars. Wallace said the accident was a result of “the amount of runs and the force of it. All I was trying to do was just some wreck avoidance.”

The Daytona race in July saw two crashes that started at the front of the field because of blocking.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was leading when he was late on a block on Kurt Busch and they made contact, spinning Stenhouse.

Late in the race, Austin Dillon, in the lead, blocked as Clint Bowyer went low to try pass. They made contact, triggering an 18-car crash.

Dillon notes that blocking is a part of speedway racing.

“You’re going to do it,” he said. “Somebody has got a run at you at the end of the race. There’s not much else you can do. You can give up certain times of the race, but if it’s a last-lap situation you’re going to be held accountable for the actions you make and you’re going to feel bad if you go home not making the block that could win you the race … or you’re going to feel bad if you’re wrecked. I’ve been on both sides of it. It’s speedway racing. That’s all I have to say about it.”

Blocking, to Ryan Newman, is nothing new.

“What was it ’08 when (Tony) Stewart won blocking Regan Smith?” Newman said of the fall 2008 Talladega race where Smith crossed the finish line first but Stewart was given the win because Smith went below the yellow line. “Stewart got the win and blocked Regan and everything was fine. Here we are 11 years later still talking about the same thing. Does it do any good to talk about it?”

Harvick was encouraged how NASCAR reacted at the end of Saturday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race. NASCAR penalized leader Johnny Sauter for forcing Riley Herbst below the yellow line on the final lap. Spencer Boyd was declared the winner.

“I can’t stand blocking,” Harvick said. “We didn’t use to penalize the blockers  very much. It was always the guy that was trying to make the move. So, you know, the guy had a lane … Johnny was trying to win the race. You can’t blame for him for trying to block. I like when the blockers get called. I don’t like it for Johnny Sauter. You’ve got to have a lane to race.”

 

Spencer Boyd wins Talladega Truck Series race after Johnny Sauter penalized

Getty Images
1 Comment

NASCAR declared Spencer Boyd the winner of Saturday’s Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway after penalizing Johnny Sauter for going below the yellow line and forcing Riley Herbst to do so while racing for the lead on the final lap.

The win is the first of Boyd’s career and comes in his 23rd career start. The driver for Young’s Motorsports is 24 and hails from Creve Coeur, Missouri.

“I got out (of the truck) and they’re like, ‘Hey, it’s under review,'” Boyd told FS1. “You never know what’s going to happen here. The guys gave me a great truck. I’m sitting there, ‘Man, second is amazing for us. I’m happy.’ We finished fourth at Daytona in this truck. One of my crew guys was like ‘You just won!’ I can’t believe this. Two weeks ago I wasn’t running this race. We put this together late with Alabama Roofing Professionals … It’s been a tough season. It’s been a lot of fun. …

“I had no idea what to expect,” Boyd continued. “You dream of winning a NASCAR race. Four years ago I was selling cars with my dad at Hendrick Automotive Group. A lot of people have believed in me to get me to this point. … It’s Talladega. Man, I don’t drink beer, but it might happen tonight!”

The top five in the overtime finish was completed by Todd Gilliland, Herbst, Brett Moffitt and Stewart Friesen.

Sauter was dropped to 14th, the last car on the lead lap.

“It ain’t the first win NASCAR’s taken from me,” Sauter told FS1. “I went down to put a little block on (Herbst), but when I did I got hooked sideways. But that’s just plate racing. I didn’t block his advance or anything like that. If I remember I think Tony Stewart and Regan Smith had the same deal (in 2008). Just hate it for my guys. They deserve better than that. What are you gonna say?”

Scott Miller, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, explained the decision on the finish.

“It’s made very clear in the rule book, in the driver’s meeting video and all of the dialogue we have with the drivers what you can and can’t do when it comes to the yellow line,” Miller said. “It was clearly a violation of what we ask of the drivers when it relates to the yellow line. So there was no other call for us to make, except for what we did.”

The overtime finish was setup by a Gus Dean crash on the backstretch with two laps go in the scheduled distance.

The race was red flagged for a 10-truck wreck with seven laps to go. The wreck involved race leader Ross Chastain, Harrison Burton, Timothy Peters and Grant Enfinger.

The wreck started when Chastain, who is in the playoffs, attempted to block a pass from Sheldon Creed and made contact with him, turning Chastain.

“I turned left on him,” Chastain told FS1. “Sorry to everybody that got taken out. That was on me.
“That was poor execution on my part.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Stewart Friesen

MORE: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Brett Moffitt (fourth) and Stewart Friesen (fifth) were the top finishing playoff drivers after they bounced back from a penalty for locking bumpers mid-race … Rookie Tyler Ankrum placed seventh in his first career start on a superspeedway.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Tyler Dippel was eliminated in a crash in Stage 2. He finished 31st … John Hunter Nemechek was eliminated and finished 30th due to damage suffered when trucks in front of him stacked up and he rammed into the back of Sheldon Creed … Anthony Alfredo finished 15th after he spun in Turn 4 from a punctured tire with 13 laps to go in the scheduled distance. He was making his first superspeedway start.

WHAT’S NEXT: Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway at 1:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 26 on FS1

 

Updated entry lists for Xfinity, Truck Series this weekend

Getty Images
Leave a comment

While the NASCAR Cup Series will be off this weekend, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any racing.

On the contrary, the Xfinity Series will be racing Saturday at Road America and the Truck Series will compete Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Here are the entry lists for both series:

Xfinity – CTECH Manufacturing 180 (3 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 38 cars entered.

Regan Smith will be in the No. 8 J.R. Motorsports Chevrolet.

A.J. Allmendinger will drive the No. 10 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet.

Saturday’s Cup runner-up, Matt DiBenedetto, will drive the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

Ryan Vargas is entered in JD Motorsports’ No. 4 Chevrolet for his second start of the year.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Chevrolet Silverado 250 (2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on FS1)

There are only 29 Trucks listed for the entry list. A full field would be 32 trucks.

Alex Tagliani is entered in Kyle Busch Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota for his first start of the year.

Dylan Lupton is entered in Young’s Motorsports’ No. 20 Chevrolet.

Click here for the entry list.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Austin Cindric wins Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio

Leave a comment

Austin Cindric convincingly won Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Mid-Ohio, leading 46 of 75 laps to earn his second straight win a week after he claimed his first career Xfinity victory at Watkins Glen.

Cindric led the final 13 laps and beat Christopher Bell by 3.7 seconds for the win. A native of Columbus, Ohio, the win comes at his home track.

The Team Penske driver won from the pole and is the first Xfinity regular to win back-to-back races this season. He’s also the ninth driver to earn their first two career wins in back-to-back races.

“It feels so good,” Cindric told NBCSN. “Hell of a job to Christopher Bell, great job keeping me honest all day. Man, it feels good. Two in a row. … Going for three at Bristol. I’ll probably go crazy if I win there. We got a little work to do to figure that place out.”

The top five was completed by AJ Allmendinger, Tyler Reddick and Noah Gragson.

Team Penske has now won two races in a row after going winless in the previous 28 races.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

STAGE 2 WINNER: Jack Hawksworth claimed the stage win after passing Christopher Bell just before a caution came out on a restart with four laps to go.

More: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD  GOOD RACE: After earning a stage win, Jack Hawksworth went off track at least once in the final stage and finished 15th in his first career NASCAR race … Noah Gragson earned a top five after having his front and rear bumpers mangled in a Lap 36 crash … Christopher Bell earned his best career finish on a road course. He has finished second in the last three races and in the top three in the last six races.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: In his first NASCAR start, Chris Dyson was eliminated when he rammed into the back of Cole Custer’s car on a restart in Stage 2. Custer’s car was unharmed … Scott Heckert brought out a caution with 19 laps left when he plowed into a tire barrier … Regan Smith finished 21st in his first start of the year after an incident with Lawson Aschenbach with 11 laps left.

WHAT’S NEXT: Food City 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway at 7:30 p.m. ET on Aug. 16 on NBCSN

 

Austin Cindric wins Xfinity pole for Mid-Ohio

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Austin Cindric has won the pole for today’s Xfinity Series race at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Cindric claimed the pole, his second of the year, with a speed of 96.506 mph. The pole comes a week after he earned his first career Xfinity Series win at Watkins Glen International.

Cindric sat on the pole for this race last year. He led 59 laps and finished second.

Team Penske has won the pole for four of the last five Mid-Ohio races, including the last three.

Cindric will be joined on the front row by Jack Hawksworth (96.169 mph), the former IndyCar driver who is making his first NASCAR start driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota.

The top five is completed by Christopher Bell, Cole Custer and Chase Briscoe.

NASCAR on NBC analyst AJ Allmendinger will start sixth.

Regan Smith, who is making his first start of the year, advanced to the final round but was unable to complete a lap due to a brake issue.

Both Tyler Reddick and Justin Haley went off course during the first round but were able to continue.

Click here for the results.