Jerry Bonkowski

Social media salutes NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020

Leave a comment

Social media quickly rose to congratulate the five men named Wednesday to the NASCAR Hall of Fame Class of 2020: Tony Stewart, Buddy Baker, Joe Gibbs, Bobby Labonte and Waddell Wilson.

Here are some of the more noteworthy posts from Twitter:

 

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Kyle Larson needs ‘timing’ to be right for Indy 500 attempt

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s not a stretch to say that when he thinks of the Indianapolis 500, Kyle Larson keeps looking at his watch.

“I think someday I’ll end up doing it, I just want to make sure the timing is right,” Larson said Wednesday on Happy Hours on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Larson would welcome the chance to follow Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Kurt Busch, who finished sixth in the 2014 Indy 500, in doing double-duty at both Indianapolis and in NASCAR’s Coca-Cola 600 later the same day. But he admits there’s a caveat.

“I would love to run (the 500),” Larson said. “The thing is the way we are (running) in Cup, I’m on the borderline of making the playoffs right now.

“And for me to go and run the Indy 500, which is something totally different than what I’ve ever grown up racing, I feel like I would have to dedicate so much of my time to learning how to be a good IndyCar driver. I don’t want to go there and just say I started in the field. I want to go there and do what Kurt (Busch) did, if not better.”

Larson admits to some other hesitation as well, including this story from 2017 where he said he was worried about some of the heavy crashes at Indy.

“I think that would take a lot away from my Cup stuff,” he said. “I know I race sprint cars and stuff and people might say that takes away from it but that’s something I’m comfortable with and I feel like that makes me a better driver in NASCAR.

“I don’t know if I would be hurting myself if I went and ran Indy. If I was able to get a win in the first  … couple races of the Cup season, then I think I could go to Chip and be like, ‘Alright, I’m locked in the playoffs. Let’s go do it and give it a good effort, too.’

“It’s the biggest race in the world. I would love to a part of it, but I also want to be able to do good at it and also feel like I’m not taking anything away from my day job.”

Larson might be tempted to drive an IndyCar first at a place like Pocono Raceway and see if he could be competitive. Tony Stewart gave him some advice about that.

“I’ve heard Tony talk about it, running like Pocono or something the year before,” Larson said. “That would be a good deal I think.

“You look at their restarts, their restart procedures are way different. The pit stops are way different. Just everything is so different. You’ve got all sorts of knobs on your steering wheel. Different boosts and weight jacker settings that you do throughout a lap. There’s so much that I would have to learn.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR America at 5 p.m. ET: 2020 NASCAR Hall class revealed, followed by IndyCar Live

NBC Sports
Leave a comment

On today’s edition of NASCAR America presents MotorMouths (5 to 6 p.m. ET) on NBCSN, we’ll bring you all the latest news from the revelation of the NASCAR Hall of Fame’s Class of 2020 inductees.

NASCAR on NBC analysts Kyle Petty and Hall of Famer Dale Jarrett will be joined on MotorMouths by SiriusXM NASCAR Radio morning team Mike Bagley and Pete Pistone.

Right after the show, make sure to stay tuned for IndyCar Live from 6 to 6:30 p.m. ET with Kevin Lee from Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

If you can’t catch either of today’s shows on TV, watch 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.

Daniel Suarez looks to go from very good to great starting with Coca-Cola 600

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Daniel Suarez has a ‘G’ at the end of his Twitter handle – @Daniel_SuarezG – which stands for his other surname of Garza.

But ‘G’ also stands for what Suarez aspires for the remainder of this season – to go from very good to great – as he hopes to take things to the next level beginning with Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600.

This season has been very good so far but I’m looking to turn it into a great season,” Suarez said in a media release. “We are moving in the right direction and I’m looking forward to doing even better.

We’ve had strong cars over the last month and a half and hopefully I can do my part as the driver and make it a great race this weekend. The one thing I’ve been dreaming about from this race is the amazing vintage Coca-Cola vending machine you get if you win. I really want to bring that thing to my house.”

In addition to his pursuit of the vintage Coca-Cola vending machine, Suarez will carry a special Coca-Cola paint scheme on his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang this weekend, as he makes his third appearance in the 600.

He finished 11th in his first run in NASCAR’s longest race of the season in 2017, and was 15th in last year’s race. He also was sixth in the fall 2017 playoff race.

From an overall success standpoint so far in 2019, Suarez has one top-five and four top-10s in the first 12 races, with a best showing of third at Texas. He also has seven top-15 finishes in his last eight starts, and comes into this weekend ranked 13th in the Cup standings.

Suarez is still looking to earn his first Cup win. Sunday will mark his 85th career Cup start. He knows what is at stake in the 600, an event that is scheduled for 400 laps around the 1.5-mile Charlotte Motor Speedway.

As a human being you try and perform at 100% the entire time, but when you’re running a marathon you’re not going to be as strong in the last 30 minutes, that’s normal,” Suarez said. “Fatigue is setting in, your muscles are tired, you’re running out of fluid, and you’re hungry.

Racing is the same way, especially in the Coca-Cola 600. We start running out of energy and you’re mind gets tired after four hours of racing. But I look to this race as a marathon and you have to be on top of your game for the last part of this race. So I always try to keep that in my mind when I’m in the car. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon.

It’s a combination of things. Your neck is tired, your lower back is tired, legs are tired and you’re just fatigued. You definitely feel it the next morning after a 600-mile race. You feel like you worked out a lot the day before, and you did inside the car.

One way Suarez will get through Sunday’s four-wheel marathon is to maintain a rather unique mindset.

Two-and-a-half of these 600-mile races and I could be home in Monterrey, Mexico,” he said. “It’s crazy to think of it that way.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

NASCAR America: Dale Jr. Download with Mike Helton, 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Getty Images
Leave a comment

On today’s Dale Jr. Download, which runs from 5 to 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN, Dale Earnhardt Jr. welcomes NASCAR vice chairman Mike Helton.

Earnhardt has known Helton his whole life, and while the two consider each other good friends, Junior told one story where that friendship was tested a bit. 

Here’s a brief segment of what Junior had to say about Helton:

You can be an incredible friend, but the funny thing is when you need to chew somebody’s ass, you can get that done, too. There was one time you had to get after me pretty hard at Bristol Motor Speedway. … We had a car explode a brake rotor on the race track and threw brake parts all over the place.

There was about 15 laps to go and we were running under caution. Typically, NASCAR red flags the race and I was wanting them to do that, but they didn’t. I don’t see the brake stuff, everything’s great, I’m raising hell. This was in the Bud days. Tony (Eury) Sr. was on the radio and I think he was encouraging me a little bit. Our spotter came over and said they want you and Tony Sr. to come to the truck after the race. I stopped talking immediately.

That’s when I learned that Mike Helton and the guys in the booth listen to the drivers and I was thinking, ‘Oh, man, they heard me.’ … We go up in the hauler and me and Tony Sr. still feel like we’re in the right and that we’re going to tell ‘em this and tell ‘em that, and that we’re going in there thinking we’re going to tell Helton and he’s going to say ‘you’re right, we should have red-flagged the race.’

As soon as Helton’s head comes into the door jamb, Tony Sr. and I both started pleading our case. And Mike Helton said, ‘Both of y’all hush. Y’all aren’t going to talk, I’m going to talk.’ You were so mad, so angry, and when I realized how mad you were, I was so disappointed in myself for disappointing and angering him. … I realized now what I had done.’”

Tune in to hear the rest of the story on the Dale Jr. Download (the above portion starts around 51:00).

And then stick around for the following show, IndyCar Live, from Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 6-6:30 pm ET with Kevin Lee.

If you can’t catch either of today’s shows on TV, watch 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.