Danny Stockman

NASCAR penalty report after Mid-Ohio, Michigan

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Only one new penalty was assessed on this week’s NASCAR penalty report, released Tuesday.

Jeff Meendering, crew chief of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Brandon Jones in the Xfinity Series, has been fined $5,000 for an improperly installed lug nut(s) found in Saturday’s post-race inspection at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Two other penalties — $25,000 fines and the loss of 10 driver and 10 owner points in each instance — were assessed over the weekend at Michigan International Speedway to Danny Stockman, crew chief for the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, and Luke Lambert, crew chief for the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet in the Cup Series.

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NASCAR docks Austin Dillon 10 points, fines crew chief $25,000

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NASCAR fined crew chief Danny Stockman $25,000, suspended car chief Gregory Ebert one race and docked the team and driver Austin Dillon 10 points each for a violation this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

A spokesperson said the Richard Childress Racing team does not plan to appeal the penalty.

NASCAR penalized the team for its deck lid, stating the deck lid must be used as supplied from the manufacturer and that body filler was added to the deck lid.

When the team checked its deck lid on Friday at Talladega with NASCAR’s devices, it found slight changes needed be made. The team made the changes and used bondo, leading to the penalty.

“We were just fixing a problem and it turned out we didn’t need to do that,” Dillon said after winning the pole last weekend at Talladega. “I’m sure Stockman was spun out about it, but speed-wise, I knew it wasn’t going to hurt us and moving forward, I hope that NASCAR takes into effect the entire story of it and whatever is dealt our way, we’ll handle it and go on from there.”

The penalty drops Dillon from 13th in the driver standings to 14th. Ryan Newman swaps places with Dillon, who now has 243 points. Jimmie Johnson is 16th, holding the final cutoff spot to the playoffs. Johnson has 238 points.

Also, NASCAR announced Tuesday that Jeremy Bullins, crew chief for Ryan Blaney, had been fined $10,000 because Blaney’s car had a lug nut not safe and secured after the race.

Long: Let’s talk about 250 NASCAR wins for Kyle Busch, not 200

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As Kyle Busch approaches 200 NASCAR victories, the question that should be asked is how many more will he win in his career instead of how his victory total compares to Richard Petty’s 200 Cup wins.

Busch could reach 200 total NASCAR victories this weekend at Auto Club Speedway. He’s entered in the Xfinity race — he’s won both series races he’s entered this season — and the Cup race.

But why stop there? Busch doesn’t turn 34 until May 2, meaning he could have another decade of racing in NASCAR. That would put him at the age Jimmie Johnson is. Johnson turns 44 in September.

Could 250 wins be a possibility for Busch?

Without a doubt.

Provided NASCAR continues to limit Cup drivers to five Gander Outdoors Truck Series races a season, Busch could have another 50 races if he goes a decade longer. He has a 36.1 percent career winning percentage in that series. At that pace, he would win 18 times in 50 more starts.

The Xfinity Series is a bit tricky. Busch is limited to seven series races a year, but he has hinted that once he reaches 100 series victories, he would reduce his involvement in that series. He enters this weekend with 94 series victories. So one can figure on at least six more wins, but after that it remains uncertain. Still, if he got six wins and 18 in the Trucks that would put him at 224.

So what about Cup?

To figure this out, take a look at what Johnson has done. Johnson has won 36 races since the season he turned 34 (the season Busch is in now). If Busch won 36 more Cup races before his career ended, that would give him 88 total, putting him behind only Petty (200), David Pearson (105) and Jeff Gordon (93) in that category. Johnson is at 83 so he could finish with more than 88 career wins.

If you want to pencil Busch in for 36 Cup wins the rest of his career and add it to his projected total for Truck and Xfinity, that would put him at 260 total wins.

So, yes it is possible for him to top 250 career NASCAR wins. 

Get ready for some more bows.


With track position so critical, strategy and restarts proved key Sunday at ISM Raceway.

Kyle Larson again showed what makes him so special with restarts, making moves others couldn’t.

Larson finished a season-high sixth and it was because of his restart ability.

Twice in the final stage, Larson restarted on the outside and rode the high line to gain multiple positions on a day when Joey Logano said “it was really, really, really, really, really hard to pass.”

Larson was 12th when the final stage began on Lap 158. He went to the outside of Aric Almirola, starting the row ahead of him  and was up to ninth entering Turn 1. Larson stayed in the high line and was about to pass Logano for seventh off Turn 2 when Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson both bobbled, killing Larson’s momentum. He still managed to be ninth on the first lap after the restart.

Larson started on the outside in 14th after pit stops later in that stage. He took four tires while a few others in front of him took no tires or two tires. Johnson blocked the high line so Larson went underneath him but got boxed in. Larson still had gained two spots before the caution came back out.

Larson then restarted 12th on the outside and made his biggest move on the Lap 233 restart. This time, Larson got outside of Johnson and passed four cars by the exit of Turn 1. He gained two more spots — for a total of six positions — before another quick caution. That put him in position to finish sixth

“You had to take advantage of the restarts for sure,” Larson said after the race. “I felt like I did a good job of that today going to the very top when I was in the outside lane and passing four or five guys at times. Yeah, that was important and then just being able to pass some cars and get in line and just kind of try and maintain and not make any mistakes.”


Richard Childress Racing is not afraid to take chances, particularly at ISM Raceway.

Recall that Ryan Newman won there in March 2017 on a pit gamble by crew chief Luke Lambert to stay out late. Newman took the lead while others pitted just before the overtime restart. He led the final six laps to win.

Sunday, Danny Stockman, crew chief for Austin Dillon, called for a two-tire stop twice and no tires on what was to have been their final pit stop. That put Dillon in position for a fifth-place finish despite a speeding penalty on Lap 196 of the 312-lap race. The plan failed when Dillon had to come to the pits late for fuel and finished 21st.

“Danny made a good call during the final stage to take fuel only to put us back up front, but that cut us just a couple laps shy of making it,” Dillon said after the race. “I was doing everything I could to save through the remaining cautions and lift as much as I could once we got spread out. It was just a little short this time around.”

Also, Lambert, who is with rookie Daniel Hemric this season, had Hemric not pit when the field did on Lap 222. Those with fresher tires ate up Hemric but he went on to finish 18th, which is his best result of the season.

Keep an eye on this organization and the chances they take in the coming weeks.


Kyle Busch’s victory marked the fourth different winner in the season’s first four races.

That’s not a new trend.

Seven times in the last nine years, the season opened with different winners in each of the first four races.

What’s different this time is that Sunday marked the first time Busch had won in the first four races of the season since 2011. He won the season’s fourth race, which was at Bristol, that year.

The last time there were five different winners in the first five races was 2017. It also happened in 2011, ’13 and ’14 in the previous nine seasons.

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Friday 5: Key questions leading into 2019 Cup season

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Cup teams test in two weeks in Las Vegas. The Daytona 500 is a month away. The new rules package debuts in five weeks in Atlanta.

There are many questions to ponder with the Cup season nearing. Here are five key questions.

1. What will the racing be like?

NASCAR made the decision to go with a new rules package that should make the racing tighter.

Will it? Can this package lead to more side-by-side racing, more beating and banging and more drivers upset with one another?

If it does, this could be among the steps to attract more fans. If not, then what?

2. What’s next from NASCAR?

It could be argued that this year will be among the most pivotal for NASCAR.

Steve Phelps enters his first full season as President. Jim France remains interim Chairman, having taken over after Brian France went on an indefinite leave after his arrest Aug. 5 for aggravated driving while intoxicated and possession of a controlled substance in the 7th degree.

Phelps and Jim France will be among those who decide NASCAR’s direction. Phelps has twice said publicly since late September that “everything is in play” when looking at the Cup schedule for 2020 and beyond.

There has been talk of starting the season earlier and ending it sooner, midweek racing and doubleheaders.

How fans accept what NASCAR does — or doesn’t do — will be key.

3. Can Ford teams — particularly Stewart-Haas Racing and Team Penske — avoid the new-car blues that Toyota and Chevrolet teams experienced the past two years?

Both Toyota (2017) and Chevrolet (2018) struggled at times with their new cars in their debut seasons. If the same thing happens to Ford this year with the Mustang, it could allow Chevy and Toyota teams a chance to win races, qualify for the playoffs and build playoff points. That could be significant.

Toyota debuted the Camry in 2017 to mixed results. Although Martin Truex Jr. won three times in the first 18 races with the car at Furniture Row Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing could not get any of its Toyotas to Victory Lane until the 19th race of the season.

Things changed in the second half of the season. Toyota cars won 14 of the last 19 races and also the championship.

Chevrolet debuted the Camaro last year and also struggled in the first half of the season. Chevy teams won once — the Daytona 500 — in the first 21 races last year. Chevrolet won three times after that — all by Chase Elliott.

So can Ford teams be strong all season or will they need some time to become dominant or will they struggle much of the year?

4. Will new driver-crew chief pairings lead to wins?

The focus this season will be on Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus no longer working together on the No. 48 team — Johnson will be with rookie Cup crew chief Kevin Meendering and Knaus will be paired with sophomore Cup driver William Byron — but there are other pairings to watch.

After going winless last year, Denny Hamlin will be with crew chief Chris Gabehart, who has won in the Xfinity Series with Hamlin, Erik Jones and Ryan Preece.

Kurt Busch moves to Chip Ganassi Racing for what could be his final Cup season. He’ll look to crew chief Matt McCall to help make this year memorable.

Austin Dillon is reunited with crew chief Danny Stockman. They combined for championships in the Truck and Xfinity Series. While Dillon won last year’s Daytona 500, he wasn’t much of a threat at many other tracks. Can this pairing have success again?

Daniel Suarez lost his ride at Joe Gibbs Racing to make room for Martin Truex Jr. and Cole Pearn. Suarez moves to Stewart-Haas Racing and looks to crew chief Billy Scott to help him succeed.

Ryan Newman moves to Roush Fenway Racing and will have Scott Graves as his crew chief. Graves came from Joe Gibbs Racing. Can these two help raise Roush Fenway Racing’s profile?

5.  Who wins first?

It was shocking that Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson each went winless last year.

Don’t count on that happening this year. Don’t be surprised to see all three win this year. As for who will be the first to win? You don’t have much longer to find out. The season is approaching quickly.

Austin Dillon ‘lit and fired up’ for 2019 with changes at RCR

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A new crew chief and a new teammate means a new opportunity for Austin Dillon in 2019 at Richard Childress Racing.

After five years apart, Danny Stockman returns to be Dillon’s crew chief in 2019. The pair collaborated on a Camping World Truck Series title in 2011 and a Xfinity championship in 2013.

Dillon also will have a new teammate in rookie Daniel Hemric, who replaces Ryan Newman.

“I think we can change the culture in our shop, I really do,” Dillon said of he and Hemric on Wednesday in Las Vegas. “His passion and his ability to know the mechanics of the car, he’s worked on race cars his entire life. He does a really good job of explaining what he needs in the car. I think we can work with each other well.

“Danny Stockman coming up to the shop as my new crew chief, a guy I had a lot of success with in the past … it will be a great year next year.”

Dillon, who will serve as a reporter for NBCSN’s coverage from the red carpet (8-9 p.m. ET) before tonight’s NASCAR Cup Series Awards, referenced the culture of the shop when he talked more about Stockman.

“Having that familiar voice back on the radio for me is going to be huge,” Dillon said. “I know what kind of passion he has for the sport and the amount of effort that he’s going to put in next year. He’s going to set the bar high at RCR. That’s the culture that we have to have to become another champion in the Cup Series. That’s our ultimate goal is to win all three championships, and now we have the opportunity to do it together again. I’m lit and fired up to go after it.

“I’ve missed him from the moment we separated. He’s always been there for me, always believed in me. I think it was good to have the five years apart because we both got better having to work with other people and be more open about working with other people. I can’t wait to get back together and see what we’ve learned away from each other and then bring that chemistry that we already have.”

Dillon is coming off a season where he won the Daytona 500 to make the playoffs. He was eliminated in the first round and finished 13th in the points. Even so, the playoffs represented the best stretch of the season for Dillon. He had four top-10 finishes and placed 11th or better in seven of the 10 races.

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