chip ganassi racing

Silly Season Scorecard: Post-Miami edition

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NASCAR’s championship weekend in Miami has come and gone and with it came a flurry of driver announcements from teams about the 2020 racing season.

Among them was the news that Cole Custer is being promoted by Stewart-Haas Racing to the Cup Series, where he will take over the No. 41 Ford driven by Daniel Suarez this year.

Here’s a look at all the official driver announcements made so far for next season.

OPEN RIDES ANNOUNCED FOR 2020

No. 38: Front Row Motorsports must replace David Ragan, who stated Aug. 14 that 2019 would be his final season running a full schedule.

No. 36: Front Row Motorsports announced Nov. 13 it was parting ways with Matt Tifft so he could focus on his health following his seizure at Martinsville in March. Tifft said he could not commit to racing in 2020.

ANNOUNCED CUP RIDES FOR 2020

No. 1: Chip Ganassi Racing announced on Nov. 1 a multi-year extension with Kurt Busch.

No. 6: Roush Fenway Racing announced Oct. 30 that Ryan Newman would return to the car as part of the news that Oscar Mayer would sponsor the No. 6 through 2021.

No. 8: Richard Childress Racing made it official Oct. 2 that Tyler Reddick will move to Cup in 2020 and drive the No. 8 car.

No. 10: Aric Almirola confirmed Oct. 11 he signed an extension to race for Stewart-Haas Racing.

No. 13: Ty Dillon posted a video Sept. 6 on Instagram refuting rumors that he would retire after this season. He has a contract with Germain Racing through 2020.

No. 14: Clint Bowyer was announced Oct. 17 as returning to Stewart-Haas Racing for a fourth season.

No. 17: Chris Buescher will take over the Roush Fenway Racing No. 17 ride in 2020 after the team announced Sept. 25 that it would part ways with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. after this season.

No. 20: Joe Gibbs Racing announced Sept. 6 that it had signed Erik Jones to an extension. It is a one-year extension for the 2020 season.

No. 21: Matt DiBenedetto replaces Paul Menard at Wood Brothers Racing (announcement made Sept. 10). DiBenedetto’s deal is for 2020 only.

No. 41: Stewart-Haas Racing announced Nov. 15 Cole Custer will replace Daniel Suarez.

No. 95: Christopher Bell moves to Cup in 2020 and will drive for Leavine Family Racing (announcement made Sept. 24).

JTG Daugherty Racing: It was announced Oct. 16 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will join Ryan Preece at the two-car team, essentially swapping seats with Chris Buescher. The team said that an announcement on car number and sponsor would come later.

Rick Ware Racing: JJ Yeley will drive one of the team’s three full-time rides.

AMONG THOSE YET TO ANNOUNCE DEALS FOR 2020

Daniel Suarez — The driver revealed Nov. 14  he would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2020 after one season driving the No. 41.

Corey LaJoie – The driver hasn’t announced his plans for 2020, but he said in October he and Go Fas Racing were “working toward” him returning to the No. 32 Ford. The team announced on Nov. 1 it would enter a technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing next year and that “2020 driver negotiations are still ongoing.”

Xfinity Series 

Ross Chastain – Kaulig Racing announced Oct. 15 he would compete full-time for the team in 2020 driving the No. 10 Chevrolet, joining Justin Haley.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Announced Oct. 17 Harrison Burton will drive its No. 20 Toyota full-time in 2020. Announced Oct. 31 Brandon Jones would return for a third year in the No. 19. Revealed Nov. 5 it would field a third full-time entry with Riley Herbst in the No. 18.

JR MotorsportsJustin Allgaier will return to the team for a fifth year in the No. 7 Chevrolet. The No. 8 car will be driven by Daniel Hemric for 21 races, Jeb Burton 11 races and Dale Earnhardt Jr. for one race. Noah Gragson will also return for a second season in the No. 9 car, while Michael Annett returns for a fourth year with the team in the No. 1 car.

Richard Childress Racing — Has not announced its driver plans for 2020, but Richard Childress said after Tyler Reddick claimed the Xfinity title that it would field a full-time entry.

Stewart-Haas Racing – The team has not announced plans for the No. 00 Ford with Cole Custer moving to Cup or whether Chase Briscoe will return to the No. 98.

JD MotorsportsJesse Little will compete full-time for the team.

Truck Series

GMS RacingDriver lineup will include Brett Moffitt, Sam Mayer, Sheldon Creed and Tyler Ankrum

Kyle Busch MotorsportsRaphael Lessard will drive the No. 4 full-time while Christian Eckes will drive the No. 18 full-time.

Hattori Racing EnterprisesAustin Hill will return to the No. 16 Toyota for a second year.

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Kyle Larson demands penalties for intentional spins after ‘B.S.’ caution

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FORT WORTH, Texas – After a questionable caution put a serious crimp in his championship chances, Kyle Larson called on NASCAR officials to step in after a spate of possibly intentional yellows.

“It’s B.S.,” Larson said after a 12th Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway. “I’ve done it. We’ve all done it in those positions, but until NASCAR steps in, and whether it’s a fine or a penalty with points or something, people are still going to do it.

“It just sucks.”

After pitting from fourth under green for a four-tire pit stop on Lap 238, Larson was trapped a lap down when a spin five laps later by Bubba Wallace brought out a yellow.

Wallace’s No. 43 had a left-rear tire going down, but he appeared to have saved it after an initial slide. He then looped the car in a half-spin on the apron in a manner reminiscent of Joey Logano’s spin last week at Martinsville Speedway, which also raised eyebrows for potentially being intentional. According to ground rules provided to Cup crew chiefs, NASCAR officials can penalize at their discretion if they determine a driver intentionally caused a caution.

Unlike Logano’s spin, which NASCAR said wasn’t reviewed by the scoring tower, a NASCAR spokesman said Wallace’s spin was reviewed, and officials determined it didn’t warrant a penalty.

Larson believes that was the wrong call.

“That was very obvious (Wallace) was spinning on purpose,” Larson said. “He turned right and left to spin out. So when it’s blatant and that obvious, I think it’s pretty easy for them to notice it and make a call on it.

“I think Helen Keller could have seen that.”

Larson’s crew chief, Chad Johnston, also said Wallace’s spin was intentional on the No. 42 team radio and said “at some point, maybe (NASCAR will) start doing something about guys bringing out the caution on purpose.”

Larson conceded he has been guilty of intentionally causing yellows, noting he did it by intentionally stopping on track during the 2016 truck race at Eldora Speedway (he was penalized a lap but still rebounded for the victory).

“We’re all guilty of doing it,” he said. “But until NASCAR does something else about it, or does anything or something, we’re going to continue to do it.”

The caution also hurt the cars of Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Clint Bowyer and William Byron – all of whom had pitted just ahead of the yellow and had to take a wavearound to get back on the lead lap.

Wallace was able to pit without losing as much time under green but still finished three laps down in 24th.

“I wasn’t the only one it affected,” Larson said. “It affected a few other guys that had a good shot to win. So yeah, it benefited (Wallace) and really killed our day.”

After restarting in 19th, Larson’s No. 42 Chevrolet wasn’t the same mired in traffic over the final 86 laps of the 500-mile race when he felt he was headed for at least a top-three finish Sunday.

“The nose of the car felt like it was vibrating, and I lost a lot of speed, too, even with me running as much throttle as I was before we pitted,” he said. “I got really loose after we pitted. So something happened, I’m not really sure what. Hopefully, they can figure it out.

“I felt I was the best car to that point. Maybe we had issues with the car at the end, but I felt I was the best car to that point. I was able to pass people pretty easily. We were doing good, looking really good and had great stage points and were going to get a good finish, and it was going to be a totally different race until (the yellow for Wallace).”

With Kevin Harvick locking into the championship round with a victory, Larson heads to ISM Raceway near Phoenix in a virtual must-win situation.

He is 23 points behind fourth-ranked Joey Logano, who currently is in the final transfer spot to the Nov. 17 finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Unless (third-ranked Kyle Busch) or Logano has major issues, we for sure have to go there and win,” Larson said. “Phoenix, we’ve run decent there. Had a shot to win once before. See if we can get it done next week.”

Kurt Busch signs multi-year deal to remain at Chip Ganassi Racing

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FORT WORTH, Texas — Kurt Busch and sponsor Monster Energy will remain at Chip Ganassi Racing. The team announced that Busch and Monster Energy have each signed multi-year deals with CGR. 

Busch left Stewart-Haas Racing after last season and signed with Chip Ganassi Racing for this season, inking a one-year contact.

“I think he and Kyle (Larson) have had a great time being teammates,” car owner Chip Ganassi said Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway. “I think it has made Kyle a better driver having Kurt as a teammate. He brings a lot off the track. He brought a lot of guys on that 1 team their first Cup win. I’m very proud to keep him a part of this team for the foreseeable future.

“It means the world for this to come together,” Busch said Saturday. “There are still special moments ahead. There’s plenty of gas still in this tank.”

Busch, the 2004 Cup champion, made the playoffs with his win at Kentucky in July. It was his 31st career Cup victory. He enters Sunday’s Cup race at Texas Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) 13th in the points. He has six top-five and 17 top-10 finishes this season. 

“We’re racing people at Monster Energy and we knew immediately that we had found fantastic racing partners in Chip Ganassi, Kurt Busch and all involved at Chip Ganassi Racing,” said Mitch Covington, vice president of sports marketing for Monster Energy, in a statement. “NASCAR is a major part of who we are at Monster Energy and to be able to compete at a championship level with Kurt Busch and Chip Ganassi Racing truly reflects who we are and fires-up our desire to not only win races, but to make a serious all-in run at the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series title.”

Ganassi lauded Busch’s connection to the No. 1 crew.

“We’ve all been in these situations where you bring one person in and it changes the entire complexion of the team and that’s exactly what happened here,” Ganassi said. “We brought one person in and it changes the complete complexion. … It was (Busch). It’s hard for a team owner in sports to tell you how hard teams work to get to this position. People in sports will tell you that you’re always looking for that right combination, that right mix of people.

“All of us in management were just kind of standing around early in the season going, ‘Man I can’t believe this guy. We sign him one day and the next day at 8 o’clock in the morning doing pit stop practice.’ … That’s the kind of spark the guy brings to the team. He’s in there working hard at it. A lot of what you get with Kurt Busch is not advertised within the media and it’s a lot of things that team owners like and crew guys like.”

Friday 5: Kyle Larson focused on Texas and ‘best chance to get a win’

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Kyle Larson hinted in September at what was to come in the Cup playoffs, but it was easy to overlook with the focus on Joe Gibbs Racing’s stable and if anyone could keep all four JGR drivers from advancing to the title race in Miami.

Even though Larson had yet to win at that time, he said in Las Vegas that he felt his cars were better than what he had in 2017 when he entered that postseason second in points and with four wins.

“I think this is as good of a shot, minus I don’t have as many playoffs points as that year,” Larson said a few days before this year’s playoff opener.

Larson was eliminated in the second round in 2017 but is among the eight remaining playoff drivers this year.

Although he goes into Sunday’s race at Texas Motors Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN) outside a transfer spot to the championship race in Miami, this could be the weekend he earns a spot in that race with a win. If so, it would be his first career Cup victory on a 1.5-mile track.

No remaining playoff driver has a better average finish than Larson’s 7.0 in the past four races on 1.5-mile tracks (Chicagoland, Kentucky, Las Vegas and Kansas). Chase Elliott, who is essentially in a must-win situation after his mechanical woes last weekend at Martinsville, is next among remaining playoff drivers with an 8.0 average over those four races.

While Denny Hamlin won two weeks ago at Kansas, the most recent 1.5-mile track before this weekend, Larson led 60 laps before some sloppiness on pit road by him and his team and contact with a lapped car led to a 14th-place finish.

Even after that finish, Larson remained upbeat.

Crew chief Chad Johnston and Kyle Larson. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

“Texas will be our best chance to get a win,” he said of the Round of 8 races at Martinsville, Texas and ISM Raceway near Phoenix.

Larson survived Martinsville, notable as one of his worst tracks. He finished ninth but scored the sixth-most points in that race thanks to crew chief Chad Johnston’s call not to pit shortly before the end of stage 2. That move gave Larson the lead and he finished the stage in second, collecting nine points.

After finishing the race, Larson said on the radio to his team: “Survived. It’s what we needed to do.”

Larson is 24 points behind Joey Logano, who holds the final transfer spot to the championship round but these playoffs have already have had moments of upheaval from Ryan Blaney’s Talladega win to Elliott racing his way to the Round of 8 at Kansas while Brad Keselowski failed to advance.

A key for Larson will be have a clean race. He overcame a pit road penalty to finish eighth at Las Vegas. He was penalized one lap for pitting outside the box at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval and placed 13th. A penalty for an uncontrolled tire at Kansas played a role in him finishing 14th.

While Larson acknowledged after Kansas that he had a points deficit to overcome, he noted “a win could fix all that.”

It could this weekend for him and his Chip Ganassi Racing team.

2. Gaining traction

Eddie Gossage, president of Texas Motor Speedway, admits he was hesitant to use the PJ1 traction compound on his track in March because “I’m more of a traditionalist than people would guess I am.”

The track again will have the traction compound this weekend.

MORE: Texas Motor Speedway makes its case for IndyCar/NASCAR doubleheader 

Gossage explained to NBC Sports’ Nate Ryan his hesitation with the traction compound previously:

“I was like, look, the asphalt will come in in time. You just got to stomach out the first couple of years. That kind of thing. I don’t know. I just didn’t see the need to do it. Others did and wanted to do it, and you’ve got to trust your people and listen to what they say. I’m talking from experience and pure gut instinct. They’re talking to me about all these friction coefficients and these devices they use to measure it. And so there’s a difference there.

“Most of the time they’re right when they use those devices. Sometimes they’re wrong. The key is to know when science is right and when your gut is right.”

Asked if the traction compound seems like a crutch that detracts from more important things, Gossage told Ryan:

I look at it like there’s so much noise from a few people, the vocal minority, about so many things related to the sport, that it’s hard to know when to stick your fingers in your ear and ignore it. Because you want to listen to fans. It’s another one of those judgment things you’ve got to make. Yeah, I hear all the time from the detractors, and I thought Kansas was a watershed moment in NASCAR, but you hear these detractors, and you want to say, ‘Look, we’re not running a stock car off the showroom floor with an 8-inch bias-ply treaded tire anymore.’

“That’s not what we do. That’s not what this sport is. It’s evolved. It’s changed. The forward path is not a bad thing. It’s a tough line to straddle to stay in the old days where certain things were great because the way they were, and you also have to advance or die. So what do you listen to and who? The good old days for me are different from the good old days for you and somebody else. If I listen to most detractors, the good old days … the first Cup race I saw in person, Darrell Waltrip beat Bobby Allison by a lap. I thought it was the greatest thing I’d ever seen. Well if you did that today, they’d tear the place down. So you got to grow.”

As for Kansas being a “watershed moment,” Gossage said: “I thought Kansas was the first time where all the things that the playoffs bring about in every sport: Intrigue. Intensity. Mayhem. Nerves. Who’s in, who’s out. On and on. Great things. That was the story. That is what each playoff race needs to be like.”

3. Right tracks at the right time

Kevin Harvick enters this weekend at Texas having finished in the top 10 each of the past 10 races there, tying Greg Biffle for the longest steak of consecutive top 10s at that track.

No other drivers have had more than six consecutive top 10s at Texas. Since the track was repaved and reconfigured in 2017, Harvick has a 3.2 average finish in five races. He won two of those races. 

But this is just the beginning for Harvick with some of his best tracks.

After Texas, the series heads to ISM Raceway. Harvick has 12 consecutive top-10 finishes going into that race.

The season finale is in Miami and Harvick has scored 11 consecutive top 10s there.

4. Moving closer to record

Martin Truex Jr.’s win last weekend at Martinsville gave Joe Gibbs Racing its 17th victory of the season.

The record for wins in a season by one organization in the modern era (since 1972) is held by Hendrick Motorsports, which won 18 of 36 races in 2007.

JGR has three races left to tie or surpass Hendrick Motorsports’ accomplishment.

5. F1 announces cost cap for 2021

Formula 1 announced several changes this week for the 2021 season, including a cost cap. That’s something that could be in place in NASCAR by 2021.

The F1 cost cap will limit teams to $175 million for the calendar year and is based on 21 races. The cap will not include wages for drivers, the team’s three highest paid personnel, marketing costs and travel costs. A NASCAR team cap is not expected to include driver salaries.

Auditors will be appointed to provide independent oversight of the F1 teams. Penalties for exceeding the cap could be a financial penalty, loss of constructors and/or driver points, ban for a certain number of races, limitations on testing and/or reduction of the team’s cost cap. In the most serious cases, penalties also could include exclusion from the World Championship.

This has been something team owners have been working on with NASCAR and will be interesting to see in what ways a NASCAR cap might mirror the F1 cap and other ways it might not.

 

Race Team Alliance purchases Speed51.com site

Race Team Alliance
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Speed51.com confirmed Sunday night that it has been purchased by the Race Team Alliance, the organization of a majority of the NASCAR Cup teams.

Chris Knight first reported the deal on Twitter.

Speed51.com streams a variety of short track races from across the country.

Speed51.com’s statement read:

“Speed51 confirms that it has been purchased by the Race Team Alliance. Post-acquisition, Speed51 will continue to operate in the manner as it always has and remains committed to providing the best in live, short-track racing to the racing fan base. The RTA, with its mission to promote North American stock car racing, is ideally suited to provide Speed51 with access to an overall larger racing fan base over time.  Founder,  Bob Dillner, will continue is his role as the President of Speed51.”

Cup teams in the Race Team Alliance are: Stewart-Haas Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Richard Childress Racing, Team Penske, Hendrick Motorsports, Roush Fenway Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Richard Petty Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, Germain Racing, Leavine Family Racing, Go Fas Racing and Wood Brothers Racing.

The Race Team Alliance issued a statement to NBC Sports on the purchase of Speed51.com:

“Race Team Alliance confirms the purchase of Speed51, a leading live, short-track racing distribution company based in Concord, NC.  The RTA, which represents the common interests of its 13 NASCAR Cup Team members, looks for strategic opportunities which both compliment the RTA’s core principles of promoting and growing the sport and advancing the common interests of the member Race Teams. The RTA identified Speed51 as a growing company with strong synergies to RTA’s commitment to the racing community and aligns with our fan bases’ enthusiasm for grass roots racing. The Speed51/RTA combination will explore ways to create and distribute to race fans exciting new Team related content, and allow the Teams to better connect directly with their fans.

“Speed51, which first started operating as a short-track news and information site in early 2000’s, has become a prominent player in the live, short-track world, streaming over 400 races each year to a dedicated fan base.  Founded by racing and sports broadcasting personality, Bob Dillner, Speed51 has consistently grown throughout the years and the RTA identified the company as one with great potential.  Post-acquisition, Bob will continue in his role as the President of Speed51 and report to RTA’s Executive Director, Jonathan Marshall.”

Rob Kauffman, chairman of the RTA said in a statement: “On behalf of our Member Race Teams, we are very excited about  our new initiative with Speed51. Bob Dillner and his team have created a great platform to cover grass roots racing , which touches the core fanbase of our sport – as well as many of our past, current and future racers and team members. We are looking forward helping him grow the business and plan to work together to create even more interesting content for our fans.”

Bob Dillner, founder and president of Speed51 stated: “Speed51 has always had an intense passion for short track racing and the RTA shares the same desire to bring more attention to this style of racing.  The RTA member teams are undoubtedly some of the most influential race teams in the world and at the same time understand grassroots racing because it’s where they came from.  I am thrilled to be partnered with this group of owners and with their help, not only will Speed51 be able to grow, but so will the industry surrounding short track racing, from track owners and promoters, to series organizers and the racers themselves.  This initiative will create better access for fans to witness the rise to stardom of some of the sport’s future prospects.”