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Hybridization of NASCAR cars not expected by 2021, Toyota executive says

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NASCAR and manufacturers have discussed the hybridization of future cars but one manufacturer executive said it won’t happen soon.

Relative to hybridization and electrification, quite simply, it’s not a question of if, it’s a question of how and when,” David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development said Thursday morning on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “A hybrid type of strategy is absolutely something that we’re looking at.

“Candidly, it won’t be something that we see as early as ’21. That’s, realistically, a little further down the road.”

NASCAR Vice Chairman Mike Helton said May 20 on the Dale Jr. Download that a key to the Gen 7 car — expected to debut in 2021 — would be to “make room for what might happen next. Not in the short-term, but if the automobile industry and the racing industry go down the road with some type of electrification, the chassis should have room for that. In the motor component, whatever evolution we go to in the next generation of power plants for the cars … we have the opportunity with a clean sheet of paper to build a chassis that can accommodate that easily without having to tear a car apart.”

Brad Keselowski wrote an essay last May titled: It’s time: The NASCAR hybrid. Keselowski wrote: “Not only am I sure that hybrids are the future of NASCAR — I believe it’s essential to the success of the sport that we embrace hybrid technology as soon as possible.”

Hybrids have become more important for manufacturers, Wilson said on “The Morning Drive” on Thursday.

“You look across the motorsports landscape, you’re seeing hybridization and electrification everywhere you look,” he said. “That again is simply a reflection of the automotive culture on a global basis. Today, Toyota has eight different hybrid vehicles in their lineup.”

Jim Campbell, Chevrolet’s U.S. Vice President of Performance Vehicles and Motorsports, also was on “The Morning Drive” on Thursday and expressed the value of the Gen 7 car being able to incorporate hybrid elements in the future.

“I think Gen 7 gives an opportunity to bring more relevant elements of the car and the technology to what we’re selling in the showroom or what we’ll be selling more of in the future,” Campbell said. “Along with that is the ability of if we do that have an opportunity to attract more (manufacturers). So it all does really fit together. There’s still much work going on with the Gen 7.

“In terms of hybrid, I will tell you that every series we’re involved in, every single series Chevy is involved in … is looking at what is the opportunity to package protect or what are the options to include some element of hybridization. That’s really where it is right now. It’s in a discussion phrase. It hasn’t been locked down.”

In regards to hybridization coming to NASCAR, Wilson said on SiriusXM: “It is an inevitability from our perspective.”

Before the season, Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, said of hybrids: “As we change road cars, we’re not going directly from an internal combustion engine to electric. We’ll have hybrids along the way. I don’t know NASCAR needs to go full electric.

“Even if you continue racing the internal combustion engine, we get a ton of benefit from that and connection with the fans. The ability to put the hybrid in when the time is ready, that’ll continue to connect as fans’ cars and trucks go hybrid.”

NBC Sports Power Rankings heading into Pocono

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Martin Truex Jr. is in and Kyle Busch is out as No. 1 in this week’s NBC Sports Power Rankings.

Truex has been riding a hot hand of late. His Coca-Cola 600 victory was his third in the last five points races.

Truex makes the biggest jump from last week, going from ninth to No. 1 this week. Conversely, Kevin Harvick makes the biggest drop from last week, going from No. 2 to a tie for ninth this week.

Here’s how this week’s Power Rankings shape up:

1. Martin Truex Jr. (39 points): Was like a mail delivery man at Charlotte: Didn’t let heat, nor gloom of night nor a blown tire or contact with another car keep him from his appointed rounds and into victory lane. Three wins in the last five races makes you the sport’s top dog. Last week: 9th.

(tie) 2. Kyle Busch (33 points): Too little, too late in Sunday’s race. But he shouldn’t be too disappointed. He earned his seventh top five and 12th top-10 finish in the first 13 races of the season. Nobody else comes close. Still, with Truex’s success, Busch is no longer No. 1 within his own organization. Last week: 1st.

(tie) 2. Chase Elliott (33 points): Best Chevrolet driver of the bunch. Led a Hendrick Motorsports juggernaut that placed all four of its drivers in the top 10. Remains the only HMS (and Chevrolet) driver with a win this season. Has not finished outside the top five since winning at Talladega. That’s four top fives in a row. Last week: 5th.

4. Joey Logano (30 points): Maybe, just maybe, if the race would have gone into overtime, he might have had a chance of overtaking Truex for the win. Nonetheless, it was his third runner-up of the season and seventh top-five (including his win earlier in the year at Las Vegas). Things are looking very good for the defending series champion. Last week: 4th.

5. Alex Bowman (22 points): Failed to make it four runner-up finishes in a row in points races, but a seventh in the longest race of the season is nothing to be ashamed about. Last week: 6th.

6. Jimmie Johnson (14 points): The seven-time Cup champ is slowly getting back into his old form. We may sound like a broken record, but it’s just a matter of time before Johnson finally breaks the longest winless streak of his career (which has reached 72 races, dating back to spring 2017 at Dover). Last week: Not ranked.

7. Chris Buescher (14 points): Has earned back-to-back top-10 finishes in his last two points races. Still has a way to go – he’s 22nd in the standings this week, 55 points behind 16th-ranked Kyle Larson – but the little team that could is getting it done. Last week: Not ranked.

8. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (10 points): Earned his first top-five of the season and first since last fall’s playoff race at Talladega. If you’re looking for a dark horse pairing to make the playoffs this season, keep your eye on Stenhouse and Roush Fenway Racing teammate Ryan Newman. Last week: Not ranked.

(tie) 9. William Byron (7 points): Earned his second pole of the season and third top-10 finish of the season at Charlotte. Is starting to click with crew chief Chad Knaus. Last week: 8th.

(tie) 9. Kevin Harvick (7 points): Some drivers would take a 15-race winless streak but for Kevin Harvick such a streak seems long. Last week: 2nd.

Others receiving votes: Tyler Reddick (5 points), Brad Keselowski (5 points), Justin Allgaier (4 points).

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Kansas winners and losers

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WINNERS

Fans — Combined with the cool temperatures, the package used at Kansas Speedway led to wild restarts and some exciting action. Of course, a late caution that sent the race into overtime also gave fans something to talk about. The 23 lead changes were one short of the total number of lead changes in both Kansas Cup races combined last year.

Ross ChastainHis emotions in victory lane after his Truck win Friday showed the tough road it has been since last year. He was set to be in a full-time Xfinity ride with Chip Ganassi Racing before the FBI raided the offices of what was to be Chastain’s sponsor. Soon after, Ganassi cut its Xfinity program for lack of sponsorship, leaving Chastain searching for rides. He has started every Cup, Xfinity and Truck race this season — 29 after Saturday night’s Cup race — setting a record.

Brad Keselowski His team overcame struggles early to score its third victory of the season. Winners find ways to win.

Alex Bowman Some will say that the runner-up is the first loser but even though Bowman was hard on himself afterward, he’s scored three consecutive second-place finishes.

Chevrolet teams — Seven Chevys finished in the top 10 for the manufacturer’s best overall performance this season.

LOSERS

Getting the order right — A 10-lap caution for a wheel that crossed pit road is simply unacceptable. That the caution came in the middle of green flag pit stops complicated matters but that’s what all the technology series officials use is for — to get the order right. NASCAR twice called off the restart to get cars in line. There also was an issue late in the race at Bristol about getting the field properly aligned. This can’t continue.

Kevin HarvickHe seemed to have the car to beat — winning the first stage and being the runner-up in the second stage — but things changed when he thought he had a right front tire going down and pitted under green, losing a lap. Instead it was debris on the front of the car that changed the handling characteristics. While Harvick got back on the lead lap, he was never a factor again, finishing 13th.

Talladega winners and losers

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WINNERS

Chevrolet — Facing questions about its performance, car and cohesion among its organizations, Chevy officials told its drivers to work together at Talladega. Showing a commitment to each other that Chevy drivers had not shown, they scored a 1-2-3 finish with Chase Elliott leading the way and quieting the Chevy critics for now.

Hendrick Motorsports — A 1-2 finish with Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman was needed relief for an organization that had yet to win this season before Sunday. For Bowman, it was a career-high finish.

Rookies — Ryan Preece finished a career-high third, and Daniel Hemric placed a career-best fifth. Preece’s best Cup finish before Sunday was eighth in the Daytona 500. Hemric’s best Cup finish before Sunday was 18th.

Gray GauldingHe finished a career-high second in the Xfinity race to Tyler Reddick but was as excited as if he had won. Gaulding had not finished better than 12th in 16 previous series races. Gaulding said: “This is freaking awesome. This is what every driver wants to have is that last-lap chance to win a race and we did. Just came up a little short.”

LOSERS

Bubba Wallace His mistake triggered an early accident that ended his day and that of Kevin Harvick and others. Wallace finished 39th. He has finished 30th or worse in three of the first 10 races.

Toyota  With Chevrolet dictating its teams work together, that ended the alliance Toyota had with Hendrick Motorsports from the Daytona 500. Speedway racing is about how many cars you have. Toyota had seven cars, including two from part-time teams, in the 39-car field. Ford and Chevrolet each had more cars in the field. After going 1-2-3 in the Daytona 500, Toyota had only one car in the top 15.

Kyle Larson — His bad luck continues with a last-lap tumble. He’s finished no better than 18th in his last five Cup races.

Chevy, Ford to square off in ‘The Great Race for Charity’ at Michigan

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There will be competition both on and off the racetrack between Ford and Chevrolet when NASCAR visits Michigan International Speedway for its two annual Cup races this year.

Track officials announced Monday “The Great Race for Charity,” a contest that will pit fans, employees of both Ford and Chevy, as well as communities in the Wolverine State to raise the most money for two noted charities.

Ford supporters will be raising money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) of Michigan, while Chevy supporters will be raising funds for Operation Homefront, a national nonprofit serving America’s military families.

Funds will be raised through the sale of a specially-priced ticket package for both Cup races at the two-mile oval. The package will designate a $5 donation on behalf of MIS to each of the two nonprofits. In addition, another $5 per package will be donated to the nonprofit by the manufacturer who sells the most tickets for both races.

The manufacturer that raises the most money will present a check to the winning nonprofit prior to the Aug. 11 Consumers Energy 400 at MIS.

We are excited to work with Ford Performance, Chevrolet, JDRF and Operation Homefront to create a competition off the track that will benefit two great nonprofits,” MIS President Rick Brenner said in a media release. “With our speedway being so close to the auto capital of the world, the manufacturers place importance on the two races.

This is another unique way to create a friendly competition and support two great nonprofits in Michigan.”

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