danielmcfadin

NASCAR writer for NBCSports.com. Former Sporting News intern. Graduated from IUPUI in Indianapolis with a master in sports journalism in 2014 and from Arkansas State University in 2013 with a degree in Journalism. Originally from Lewisville, Texas, now in Fort Worth. Ask me if I like Star Wars. I dare you.
Getty Images

Starting lineup for the Daytona 500

2 Comments

The field for Sunday’s Daytona 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on Fox) has been set after Thursday’s qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway.

The front row, with pole-sitter William Byron and Alex Bowman, was set in pole qualifying last weekend.

They will be followed in the top five by Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Austin Dillon, who won the race last year, will start 20th.

Jamie McMurray, likely making his last Cup start, will roll off in 16th.

Jimmie Johnson, seven-time champion and winner of Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash, will start 17th.

Click here for the starting lineup.

What Drivers Said after Daytona Qualifying Duels

1 Comment

Duel No. 1

Kevin Harvick — winner: “It handled good when we were behind cars. Last week taught us that we needed to have track position. They did a good job on pit road and got on and off pit road and then we had a couple Ford Mustangs behind us as well. Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) and Paul (Menard) worked with us and we were able to keep the track position and our cars were fast enough together to keep everyone else back there. I am really proud of everybody on our Busch Beer Ford Mustang. It is a great way to get Mustang into victory lane. I think that low line is going to come into play on Sunday just because when you get all the cars out there we won’t have as big a discrepancy in the speed of the lines. Once we get all the cars out there you will have a lot tougher time guarding the bottom.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — finished 2nd: “That was a great start for the Mustang, finishing 1-2-3 there. I was just talking to Paul (Menard) and I spent the last 25 laps just trying to figure out how to time it right where I could get a run on Kevin (Harvick) and just couldn’t seem to time it. We didn’t have as many cars out here tonight as we will have come Sunday. All in all a really good strong night for us. We wanted to be in victory lane but we learned a lot and I think we can make our car better. It was handling a little bad there in the middle part of the race – a little loose. When I restarted on the bottom I felt I could be aggressive with it and that gives me confidence for Sunday.”

Paul Menard — finished: 3rd: “We really had a bunch of fast Fords up front, and the Motorcraft/Quick Lane Mustang was really good. Ricky [Stenhouse] and I had some fun at the end there. He came over after the race and we were trying to figure out if we should have gone earlier, later, whatever else might’ve worked. I was faster than him through the trioval, he had me by a bit down the back… at the end I had a little run and I’ll tell you what, I wouldn’t have been able to sleep tonight if I didn’t try at least something there.”

Matt DiBenedetto — finished 4th: “I learned a ton, so that was good for us and finished fourth. A good way to start the year. We just raced hard and didn’t make any crazy moves – just smart, decisive moves and that’s kind of what picked up spots at the end and got us to fourth.”

Martin Truex Jr. — finished 5th: “Just getting a feel for our Camry – you know what it does well, what it needs to do better. I feel like we have really good speed in it. I feel like we need to handle a little bit better, especially looking at Sunday, it’s going to be 80 degrees. Tonight, is a night race and we still could have handled better, so I think we learned plenty of things that we can work on the next two days and we’ll see what we can do with it. I’m thankful that we get to hopefully race this car Sunday. We really wanted to get through tonight unscathed and we did that. I feel like we probably should have finished third or fourth – a little bit undecisive on that last move when they got side-by-side going into (Turn) 3. I wasn’t sure which way to go and I probably picked the wrong lane, but like I said, we were just looking to get out of here clean and take this car on to Sunday.”

Bubba Wallace – finished 6th: “Got to do something. I hate riding around. I am not a fan of riding around the top. It’s like everybody knows if more cars go to the bottom we can race on the bottom, but it’s just where momentum takes us with the aero package we’ve got now. I was trying to just learn. Last year it was all just stay in line and ride and I’m not saying I’m over that, but I’ve got to learn at some point. I’ve got to have the guys, the veterans, behind me saying well he made that move in the duel so maybe he’s got a little bit more confidence. Just trying to build that. It’s always a learning game, it’s always a guessing game who is going to go, who is going to go where, but our AfterShokz Chevy was okay.”

Jimmie Johnson — finished 8th: “Yeah, I just got it wrong. Clearly. We got three wide and I just kind of misjudged that situation in being three wide and trying to tuck in behind Kyle. Unfortunately, just turned him around. Apologies to he and his team and I know that is not what they wanted with their 500 car, but I just got it wrong there.”

Ryan Newman — finished: 9th: “I thought we had a good Mustang. We need to work on it a little bit and get some more raw speed in it. Our Oscar Mayer Ford performed good strategy and executed well in the pits. We had a shot of maybe being in the top-five but I was conservative with it that last lap and didn’t feel the need to be crazy. It is a better start to the Daytona 500 than what we qualified with for the Duels. It is a good improvement and we will keep trying to improve on it.”

Ryan Preece — finished 10th: “I felt like I was patient the entire race. I just at the end… I could have been conservative. I wanted to win, but at the same time I just wanted to make a move. I was expecting… I kept trying to get that run and time it and going into (Turn) 1 I was kind of expecting and hoping that two or three more would have done it too and when I went no one went so I was the odd man out and that is what it is.”

Daniel Suarez — finished 11th: “I feel like our Mustang has good speed. It is a little different than our Clash car and we will work on it and try to tune up for Sunday. It was okay in traffic. I feel like we need to make a couple adjustments with the handling of the car to be able to be a little bit better. We just have to keep working on it. It was the very first time I have been in the draft with this race car, so we have to work on that a little bit.”

Parker Kligerman — finished 12th: “I mean, first of all I’ve got to thank Kyle Busch, a Toyota teammate. When he back out of the draft that is what it took. If we didn’t have him and all of that TRD power working together there’s no way I would’ve been able to pass Tyler Reddick. Ryan Truex, man I hate it for him. He put up a heck of a fight. It was so weird that we came out of pit lane together and we were drafting together, and I was like, ‘I mean, of all things.’ Us two just locked together. We have been our whole career. This is awesome. This is an amazing feeling for how hard everyone has worked to put this Toyota in the race, but its bittersweet knowing that he’s out. He’s a good friend of mine and I really think he’s one of the most underrated drivers in the sport so I really hope he can find a way in.”

Ryan Truex — finished 14th: “(Martin Truex Jr.)  just asked me what happened. He said when we came off pit road, he saw me and the No. 96 were with each other the entire race, me and Parker (Klingerman). Just yeah, we got on our own and when you are three cars riding around like that you can’t create a pass. The No. 96 was able to create a huge run by backing up to the No. 18 and that was that. There was not much I could do about it.”

William Byron — finished 16th: “We raced for a while there. I thought we learned a little something towards the beginning of the race with leading and how our car was going to be. And then we were able to make some moves that were pretty good. After that restart we got in a huge hornet’s nest and we were on the bottom of three- wide, so we just bailed on that. Overall, it was good. Pretty happy with it. It was mission accomplished for us so far.”

Brad Keselowski — finished 20th: “Looks like just a discrepancy over what the rules are and we got the bad end of it tonight. It is what it is. We will start the Daytona 500 from the back and have to go from there. The good news is that Daytona is a place where you can move up. It is just going to take us awhile to get there.”

Duel No. 2

Joey Logano — winner: “You have the whole race to think about making a move and we were all out there just waiting. Everyone behind me really wanted to go and I just knew that I had to wait. The later you can do it, the less the risk if it doesn’t work. I got a good run from the 12 (Ryan Blaney) behind me and went to the bottom and got a good run. Was able to side draft the 10 (Aric Almirola) and pull him back and just barely get enough to break that plane in front of the 14 (Clint Bowyer) and clear him up. From there I was just blocking to the finish like. My spotter TJ (Majors) did a great job feeding me all the information I needed to make a decision.”

Clint Bowyer – finished 2nd: “I guess I could have gone down there and blocked a little bit but when you are leading the train like you can’t see the runs that are coming behind you. All you can do is hear your spotter telling you that they are coming but I can’t tell if he pulls out how fast they are coming or anything else. They came with a big run and by the time he got to me, I could have gone down there and blocked it and gotten myself wrecked. It was just one of those things. I thought we would still be able to connect and get back up through ‘em. It is what it is. We will start up front for the 500 which is the goal and the car is still in one piece. The Mustangs are fast. That is two Mustangs winning both Duels and we did all the right things.

Denny Hamlin — finished 4th: “I mean guys just don’t want to race until the end. There’s just nothing rewarding until the end. Short of giving us points every 10 laps, this is going to be a lot of what you see on superspeedway races simply because guys just want to get to the end. Knowing it’s 500 miles, there is no reward for running the first 150 miles aggressively.”

Kurt Busch — finished 5th: “We need heat, we need daytime and we need handling to come into play. Right now, everybody is just doing fuel only and the cars are driving pretty easy. With the handling, the draft is still very unstable, so we will see how it plays out.””

Ryan Blaney — finished 6th: “We were all just kind of hanging out, riding around. I got passed by a couple of cars on that pit stop. Riding in fifth behind Joey [Logano] and we were just waiting to make our move, didn’t really know what anyone else was going to do and I didn’t want to dump him. We waited until last lap entry to Turn 1 and I was able to push him from fourth all the way to the lead… bad thing was just that I had no one behind me. I almost got to third but the 11 (Denny Hamlin) stopped me… just so easy to stop cars to the right, at the top. If I would’ve had a push I probably could’ve gotten it done. People don’t want to just watch that train up at the top, so now that we’re through the Duels I’m hoping for some side-by-side racing in the 500.”

Chase Elliott — finished 8th: “Yeah it was hard (to make moves). Certainly, was very doable. Really hard to do, but you could make your way forward, I think, with it like that. Luckily, Joey (Logano) was far enough up where he could time it to get all the way to the lead. He did a really good job of that and yeah, I just couldn’t get far enough up to the front.”

Ty Dillon — finished 10th: “My GEICO Camaro ZL1 was dialed in tonight. It handles incredibly well in the draft, and I was able to move around pretty easily when I wanted to try the bottom lane. I love that handling is a thing we can talk about at Daytona now with this new package. It really fits my aggressive driving style. After tonight, I am more than ready to get to Sunday to show everyone what this machine can do.”

Alex Bowman — finished 13th: “I mean I would have liked to have raced a little more, but just kind of got in a bad box there. When we were going around those lap cars, I got stuck on the bottom of three-wide and I was going to be at the back of the group running anyway. The blue oval gang (Ford) did a little better job on and off of pit road than we did. That was frustrating because I think we were on both sides of the strategy between the first and second Duel and they did a better job both times. That is frustrating. We’ve got to get that part of it together if we are going to go beat them, but it’s good to have the car in one piece and the No. 88 Nationwide Camaro was pretty good.”

Brendan Gaughan — finished 15th: “I always come off as a class clown, but I haven’t been that nervous in a long time getting behind the wheel of a race car. The Beard family put so much into this and we come here to run very well; not run like that. You’ve got to have discretion of valor, you’ve got to make do with what you have to make do with. I had to change strategies on the fly. Darren Shaw, my crew chief, and Ron Lewis, my spotter did a great job. Thank you, Corey LaJoie. He just kind of stuck right in there with us on that pit stop and that’s what got us in this position; so, thank you, guys. We’ll see you at the Daytona 500!”

Joey Logano wins second Daytona 500 qualifying race with last-lap pass

3 Comments

Joey Logano won Thursday’s second Daytona 500 qualifying duel after he passed three cars on the last lap.

Logano was fourth when the final lap began and passed leader Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola and Denny Hamlin on the inside entering Turn 1.

The top five was completed by Logano, Bowyer, Almirola, Hamlin and Kurt Busch.

“You have the whole race to think about a move when we’re all out there just waiting, waiting and waiting,” Logano told Fox Sports 1. “There’s a lot of anxiousness behind me, everyone was really wanting to go. I just thought, ‘Man, I just gotta wait, gotta wait.’ The later you do it the less the risk if it doesn’t work.”

Bowyer led 41 of 60 laps in the caution-free race that was mostly ran single file in the outside lane.

“At the end of the day when you’re leading that chain like that you can’t see the runs that are coming behind you,” Bowyer told FS1. “I can’t tell until he pulls out how fast they’re coming or anything else.”

Brendan Gaughan raced his way into the Daytona 500.

Kevin Harvick won the first qualifying duel.

Click here for result for Duel No. 2

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Aric Almirola (third) earned his best result in a Daytona 500 qualifying race in his ninth start.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Erik Jones finished 14th after he was penalized for speeding on pit road … Joey Gase failed to qualify for the Daytona 500.

QUOTE OF THE RACE No. 1: “I haven’t been this nervous since I was a rookie in the Winston West Series.” – Brendan Gaughan after he raced his way into the Daytona 500.

QUOTE OF THE RACE No. 2: “I was leading the race and I didn’t like that.” – Clint Bowyer on the single-file racing for most of the race.

WHAT’S NEXT: The Daytona 500 at 2:30 p.m. ET on Sunday on Fox.

Kevin Harvick wins first Daytona 500 qualifying race

4 Comments

Kevin Harvick won Thursday night’s first Daytona 500 qualifying race.

He led 44 of 60 laps and beat Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Paul Menard, Matt DiBenedetto and Martin Truex Jr.

“It handled good when we were behind cars,” Harvick said. “Last week taught us that we needed to have track position. They did a good job on pit road and got on and off pit road and then we had a couple Ford Mustangs behind us as well. Ricky and Paul worked with us and we were able to keep the track position and our cars were fast enough together to keep everyone else back there.”

NASCAR on NBC analyst Parker Kligerman finished 12th and qualified for the Daytona 500 after he placed ahead of Tyler Reddick and Ryan Truex. Truex failed to make the Daytona 500.

The only caution was on Lap 26 when Jimmie Johnson made contact with Kyle Busch on his left rear on the backstretch. Busch spun unharmed onto the apron. Busch finished 18th, one lap down.

The contact was similar to what happened between Johnson and Menard in Sunday’s Advance Auto Parts Clash.

Click here for the results.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Ryan Preece bounced back to finish 10th after he was caught speeding on pit road early in the race … Matt DiBenedetto (fourth) earned his best finish in a Daytona qualifying race in four starts … Daytona 500 pole-sitter William Byron led 16 laps but didn’t engage in competitive racing for the final run to save his car for Sunday.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Matt Tifft placed 19th after he was caught speeding twice on pit road … Brad Keselowski placed 20th after he was penalized for pitting outside his box and speeding on pit road while serving his first penalty.

NOTABLE: Kevin Harvick won his second Daytona 500 qualifying race (2013) and has finished in the top three in his last three starts.

QUOTE OF THE RACE No. 1: “He ran into me. Flat out. Watch the television.” – Kyle Busch to reporters on his incident with Jimmie Johnson

QUOTE OF THE RACE NO. 2: “I thought I knew where I was with my right front and I just had it wrong.” – Jimmie Johnson to reporters.

Kaz Grala joins Richard Childress Racing part-time in Xfinity Series

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kaz Grala will race part-time for Richard Childress Racing this season in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Thursday.

Grala, 20, will drive the No. 21 Chevrolet in select races, beginning with the March 30 race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It is scheduled to be Grala’s first start since the 2018 finale in Miami.

Grala made 22 starts last year, 10 with JGL Racing and then 12 with his family owned Fury Race Cars after he lost his ride with JGL due to a lack of financial support from team owner James Whitener, who was experiencing health problems. Grala earned two top fives and five top 10s.

“This is definitely the biggest opportunity I’ve had in my career,” Grala said in a press release. “Running for a powerhouse team like RCR is a dream come true, and one I plan on making the most of. With only a limited number of races to make an impression, I’m ready to get to work and lay it all on the line.”

Grala has one NASCAR win, in the 2017 Gander Outdoors Truck Series opener at Daytona.

The native of Boston, Massachusetts, will have Tyler Reddick as a teammate in the races he competes in.

“I’m looking forward to having Kaz Grala join RCR this year,” Richard Childress said in the press release. “Kaz is a talented young driver who has proven he can win in any type of racing. I think he’ll be up to speed and contending for multiple wins for us out on the track in no time.”

Grala’s sponsor and crew chief will be announced at a later date.