Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval

Bubba Wallace on if things are over with Alex Bowman: ‘We’ll see’

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DOVER, Del. — Bubba Wallace says he regrets that others were splashed by liquid he sprayed at Alex Bowman but did not regret doing it to Bowman.

Wallace said Saturday at Dover International Speedway that he apologized to Jeff Gordon and Dr. Angela Fiege, medical director of the AMR NASCAR Safety team and reached out to Hendrick Motorsports executive Jeff Andrews, who also was splashed.

Asked if things are over with Bowman, Wallace said: “We’ll see. He’s already on six strikes.”

Wallace expressed frustration with Bowman for incidents the past two weekends at Richmond and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval.

“It’s the same thing as Richmond,” Wallace said of Bowman. “He ran over me as soon as he got to me at Richmond and got underneath me, this is the next time, he got underneath me and ran me up the race track, so I was ‘OK, he’s getting wrecked here, if he ever gets by me, he’s getting wrecked. In the fence.  Done.’

“We ended up beating him. I was, ‘Alright, that’s the higher road.’ It was over with. It was done.”

Until the opening lap of the race at the Roval the next week.

“(Then) Lap 1 of the new configuration of the Roval, after we had all sat there and watched the Xfinity race and watched a car come through from 15 cars back and wad up about six of them, it’s like ‘Alright, we’re the Cup level, let’s take it easy this first lap and just get through there,’ ” Wallace said. “What do you know? (Bowman) runs over (Austin Dillon) and me. Shoves me through the chicane, gives me a penalty. NASCAR and I talked about that. We’re on clear terms on why we got the penalty.

“It’s Lap 1. Come on. It’s a new configuration. Everybody knows how treacherous it is and he runs over us. So there’s no excuse for that. I believe he was the only car to run over somebody there on Lap 1. All of us except for one car had the mentality of let’s take it easy, let’s figure out how this chicane is going to work on the initial start.”

Later in the race, Bowman wrecked Wallace. Bowman said after the race that he tired of seeing Wallace flip him off multiple laps, saying last week: “Probably wouldn’t have gotten wrecked if he had his finger back in the car.”

That’s not the first time Wallace’s middle finger got him in trouble this season. Daniel Suarez had a post-race disagreement with Wallace at Pocono in July after he was flipped off by Wallace. So will Wallace alter his middle-finger policy toward competitors?

“It’s still going to be the same,” Wallace said. “You know what car gets it the most is (Martin Truex Jr.). Me and him have a joke about it. We laugh about it every time. It’s one of those, like I need to stop doing it because there’s a lot of eyes on me.

“At first it was just like a joke but it’s become obviously a thing and people are getting really sensitive over a finger and wanting to retaliate and right rear somebody on the race track, which is grounds for taking your gloves off and fight.”

Truex said that the middle finger is a joke between them after a discussion they had earlier this season.

“I got close to him coming off (Turn 4) and he got sideways,” Truex said of an incident at ISM Raceway in March. “I guess he thought I hit him and flipped me off for a whole lap. I talked to him a week or two later, and said, ‘Listen man, somebody is going to get out of the car one of these days and shove that finger straight up your ass.’ ”

Even after his issues with Bowman at the Roval, Wallace said he raced Bowman clean the rest of the event.

“We got that restart and they put us up there and we started next to (Bowman), close to (Bowman) and my spotter made sure I was well aware of who was on the outside of me and I was like, let’s just get away from him here and we drove away. But after the race I had had enough of him.”

After finishing second at the Roval, Bowman climbed from his car, sat down on the ground and leaned against his car. He was being treated for dehydration and overheating when Wallace approached. After a brief conversation, Wallace splashed Bowman and those around Bowman with his drink.

Asked if Bowman said something that led to Wallace splashing him, Wallace said: “He couldn’t have said anything, I was still going to throw water on him.”

Bowman sought to defuse the situation Friday. He told the media “I don’t think we need to talk before Sunday. I think it is what it is.”

They won’t be around each other at the start of Sunday’s Cup race at Dover (2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN). Bowman qualified 12th. Wallace qualified 26th.

Daniel Suarez on contract status with SHR: ‘We are getting close’

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DOVER, Del. — Daniel Suarez said Friday that meetings in the next couple of weeks could determine his status for 2020 and also discussed his incident with Ryan Newman at the end of last weekend’s race.

Suarez says he and Stewart-Haas Racing are “not there yet” on his contract status for next year, but “we are getting close. … We’re still working. There are a lot of things moving the right direction.”

Suarez, who is in his first season at Stewart-Haas Racing, says sponsorship is a key.

“Everything is of the sponsor,” Suarez said Friday at Dover International Speedway. “If you have a sponsor, you can drive tomorrow, that’s how it works. We have some important meetings in the next couple of weeks that will give us a good direction of where we’re at. We have to be working at that. I know where I want to be. They know where they want me to be. We have to make sure we have the funds to do it.”

Suarez has said that Stewart-Haas Racing has an option on his contract for next year. He also has said he has an option.

Suarez missed the playoffs this season. He enters Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway (2:30 pm. ET on NBCSN) 17th in the points, the highest a non-playoff driver can finish in the points.

He leads Jimmie Johnson by six points for 17th. Suarez saw his lead on Johnson dwindle after finishing 34th at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval. Suarez crashed at the end after an incident with Newman. They talked on pit road afterward.

Suarez explained what led to that incident:

“We were running towards the top the entire race and one of the pit stops we decided to stay out with no tires and everyone behind me took tires so we put ourselves in a bad situation. That is racing. Sometimes you make good decisions and sometimes you make bad ones. Unfortunately for us, that was a bad one and I put myself in the mess with all those guys that were fighting like dogs out there. It was a tough situation.”

Suarez hit the wall when Newman moved up the track to go to an area designated to serve a stop-and-go penalty for missing the backstretch chicane.

“I was very disappointed and I went to talk to Ryan after the race and he swears that he didn’t do it on purpose,” Suarez said. “Who knows if that is true or not but that is what he said and that is what I have to believe.

“If he was saying otherwise, I was going to go after him. He said he didn’t do it on purpose. He gave me his explanation of how things happened but as a driver it wasn’t a little contact. It was pretty hard contact.

“He missed the chicane and had to do a pass through, which is why I was passing him on the outside and all of a sudden he turned right. He told me he was going to do a stop and go. Who knows? Who cares at this point anymore? We just have to move on. I am here in Dover, one of my favorite places to race and I want to take advantage of that.”

Alex Bowman on Bubba Wallace: ‘I don’t really think he did anything wrong’ after Roval

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Alex Bowman said Friday that he didn’t have an issue with Bubba Wallace confronting him and splashing him in liquid after last weekend’s Cup race while Bowman sat next to his car being tended to by a medical worker.

Bowman was asked by SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On-Track” whether Wallace had apologized to him in private this week after not making any public statements about the incident.

“He hasn’t (apologized), but I feel he said what he had to say and got that out after the race,” Bowman said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “I don’t think that was the end of the world. I don’t really think he did anything wrong there.

“We all have emotions inside and outside of the race cars and that stuff happens.”

Wallace approached Bowman after Sunday’s race, briefly said something to the Hendrick Motorsports driver before splashing him with liquid from the bottle he was carrying and walking away.

After leaving the medical center, Bowman didn’t repeat what Wallace said to him, but added it was “nothing classy by any means.”

On Monday, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer Steve O’Donnell said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio he would meet with Wallace during the week to discuss the incident.

“I think that was really not classy whatsoever,” O’Donnell said. “I understand that drivers have issues with each other during a race, we totally get that, but when a driver is on the ground being attended to by medical personnel, you need to be smarter than that.”

Wallace, who is not a playoff driver, had been intentionally spun by Bowman on Lap 43. Bowman was mad at Wallace for him flipping off Bowman multiple times during the race, something Wallace also had done the previous weekend at Richmond.

Wallace’s one-finger salute at the Roval was apparently in reaction to being hit by Bowman on the first lap of the race.

“That was just a mistake,” Bowman said after last weekend’s race. “I got flipped off for every single straightaway on the entire race track for three laps. I got flipped off by him for like three or four laps in a row at Richmond, so I’m just over it.”

“I’ve got to stand up for myself at some point,” Bowman said after finishing second at the Roval. “Probably wouldn’t have gotten wrecked if he had his finger back in the car.

“I’d be mad too, but he put himself in that spot.”

Later on Friday Bowman was asked about mending fences with Wallace and other drivers he has run-ins with.

“I don’t really talk to those guys anyways,” Bowman said. “I kind of bring my friends with me to the race track. I’m not here to be driver’s friend. I’ve said that since I started here. I’m not here to be friends with the people that I’m paid to beat every weekend. There are some guys that get along really well in the garage, but I just kind of stick to myself. It’s not anything against anyone. I’m just kind of quiet and keep to myself.”

Corey LaJoie’s Ninja Turtle-themed Operation ‘Kowabunga’ a ‘major success’

Corey LaJoie
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Corey LaJoie left his mark on the Charlotte Roval over the weekend and we’re not talking about the tire marks from when he spun his No. 32 Ford.

No, the Go Fas Racing driver left an artistic mark on the Roval and he did so in the dead of night on the eve of Sunday’s Cup race.

Inspired by the “turtle” nickname given to the track’s rumble strips located in numerous turns, LaJoie had a creative itch.

It was an itch that could only be scratched via a “covert mission” with LaJoie armed with two cans of spray paint and two rolls of tape.

When the sun rose Sunday, one of the “turtles” in the frontstretch chicane bore a face. And not just any face. It was the smiling, green face of one of the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Raphael to be specific.

“No I did not have permission,” LaJoie tweeted. “Hopefully forgiveness (shrug emoji).”

Raphael survived the race unscathed.

Come Monday afternoon, LaJoie revealed that Raphael had a new home in the main lobby at Charlotte Motor Speedway and that operation “Kowabunga” – named after the Ninja Turtles’ catchphrase – was a “major success.”

Seems like LaJoie was forgiven.

But LaJoie does have one wish for the fate of Raphael. He’d like to see it used to raise money for a good cause.

Chase Briscoe explains why he’s ‘racing for my life’

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CONCORD, N.C. — Hours after he failed to defend his 2018 Xfinity Series win on the Charlotte Roval, Chase Briscoe posted a tweet saying he’s “racing for my life and trying to prove I deserve to be here.”

That sentiment comes even though the 24-year-old racer has two to three years left on his contract with Ford, which began in 2017.

“It’s still performance based,” Briscoe told NBC Sports Sunday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway, a day after his ninth-place finish on the Roval. “I have to go win races and run up front. (Saturday) was a perfect opportunity to win a race. That was one of the best cars we’ve had all year-long. So (we) were in contention all day long, so trying to take advantage of that, that’s what I was trying to do is win a race.

“Last year winning this race is what catapulted me to being full-time at Stewart-Haas. So if I could do that this year, I feel like it would just up my odds for next year going racing.”

Added Briscoe: “I want to show Ford they made the right decision on taking a risk with me.”

On Friday, Briscoe told NBC Sports that Ford has “assured me I’m going to be in something” after this year.

“That’s kind of the unique thing with being a Ford driver. Even if you look at last year, I drove for two different teams (Stewart-Haas and Roush Fenway) under the Ford umbrella. I can go to Stewart-Haas again, I can go to Roush, I can go to Penske, I can go to any of those race teams just because I am a Ford driver. It’s good for a thing like that, but at the same time if I had my choice I want to be at Stewart-Haas. My hero growing up was Tony (Stewart). This is a place I feel comfortable.

“A lot of guys over there are dirt guys and just people I get along with. … I feel confident that’s where we’re working towards.”

The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was in a good position to earn his second win of the year Saturday until a run-in with Christopher Bell with less than 11 laps to go in the race.

The two were racing for second when Briscoe pulled out to pass Bell on his right in the final two turns. Right as he was about to complete the pass, Bell ran out of room, made contact with Briscoe’s left rear and overshot the chicane, which is illegal.

As they went through Turn 2 on the ensuing lap, Bell made contact with Briscoe’s left side, sending him into a spin and causing a caution. Bell had to restart from the rear of the field for missing the chicane and not stopping along the frontstretch before the start/finish line, as required by NASCAR. He went on to finish 12th while Briscoe placed ninth and A.J. Allmendinger won.

“I know Christopher well enough and raced with him long enough I feel like to know that he doesn’t just get loose like that,” Briscoe told NBC Sports on Sunday. “I can see why he was mad after over (in the final turn), but I don’t know that it necessarily … it wasn’t worth ruining our day over here.”

Briscoe, whose one win this year came at Iowa over Bell, speculated the site of this year’s championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway may have influenced the incident with Bell.

“I know in the trucks I remember him talking to me how they knew we were going to be good at Homestead,” Briscoe said. “He was at our test at Homestead this year. I feel like for sure if a non-playoff guy can win a race that just helps their situation as well. I don’t know what’s going on his mind. I’m not too worried about it. I just hate we didn’t win the race yesterday.”