jay fabian

FBI says no federal crime committed at Talladega

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The FBI and U.S. Attorney’s office stated Tuesday that no federal hate crime was committed with the noose found in the garage stall of Bubba Wallace‘s team on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway.

U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and FBI Special Agent in Charge Johnnie Sharp stated:

“On Monday, fifteen FBI special agents conducted numerous interviews regarding the situation at Talladega Superspeedway. After a thorough review of the facts and evidence surrounding this event, we have concluded that no federal crime was committed.

“The FBI learned that garage number 4, where the noose was found, was assigned to Bubba Wallace last week. The investigation also revealed evidence, including authentic video confirmed by NASCAR, that the noose found in garage number 4 was in that garage as early as October 2019. Although the noose is now known to have been in garage number 4 in 2019, nobody could have known Mr. Wallace would be assigned to garage number 4 last week.

“The decision not to pursue federal charges is proper after reviewing all available facts and all applicable federal laws. We offer our thanks to NASCAR, Mr. Wallace, and everyone who cooperated with this investigation.”

The announcement led to a backlash among some on social media and led some to question Wallace, who was not in the garage and was not aware of the matter until informed by NASCAR President Steve Phelps.

Asked Tuesday night on “CNN Tonight with Don Lemon” how he was doing, Wallace said: “I’m pissed. I’m mad because people are trying to test my character and the person that I am and my integrity. They’re not stealing that away from me, but they’re trying to test me. … To sit there and read (social medial) … I’m investing too much time into it.”

Wallace defended Phelps, noting how Phelps went to Wallace’s motorhome on Sunday to address the matter of a noose in his garage stall. Wallace said Phelps had tears as he talked to Wallace.

“It showed the testament to him and the character that he has and how he is representing the sport, how he wants to stand up for what’s right and he’s not going to tolerate any racist acts or anything,” Wallace said. “I stand behind NASCAR.”

Wallace said he will remain the same person he is and how “I’ll shoot it to you straight each and every time because that’s how I was brought up and that’s what I stand by.

“In my statement on Sunday night, this will not break me, none of the allegations of it being a hoax will break me or tear me down,” Wallace said. “Will it piss me off? Absolutely. That only fuels the competitive drive in me to shut everybody up, to get back out on the racetrack (this) weekend at Pocono and showcase what I can do behind the wheel under tremendous amounts of BS, whatever it is you want to say. It won’t break me. It won’t tear me down. Again, I will still stand proud of where I am at.”

NASCAR stated that every garage stall was checked and only one had a noose as part of the rope to pull down the garage door. NASCAR plans to check every garage stall before teams arrive at each event.

Phelps said in a brief teleconference with reporters Tuesday night that he was thankful that there was no crime but NASCAR would continue to investigate why the rope was fashioned into a noose.

“For us at NASCAR, this is the best result we could hope for,” he said. “This was disturbing to hear that it was thought that one of our own had committed this heinous act. It is fantastic to hear from the FBI definitively that there was not a hate crime. I do want to make sure that everyone understands that if given the evidence we had, was delivered to us (Sunday) night or late Sunday afternoon, we would have done the same investigation. It was important to do. There is no place in our sport for this type of racism or hatred. It’s not a part of who we are as a sport.

“I want to make sure everyone understands that our portion of this with the FBI, we were very cooperative as you would expect. We provided them with roster information, photographic and video evidence that aided them in their conclusions. Additionally, the industry was very supportive. Not just the members of (Wallace’s) team.

“I want to be clear about (Wallace’s) team. The 43 team had nothing to do with this. The evidence is very clear that the noose that was in that garage had been in the garage previously. The last race we had there in October (2019), that noose was present. The fact that it was not found until a member of the 43 team came there is something that is a fact. We had not been back to the garage. It was a quick one-day show. The crew member went back there. He saw the noose, brought it to the attention of his crew chief, who then went to the NASCAR (Cup) Series Director Jay Fabian and we launched this investigation.

“To be clear, we would do this again. Of the evidence we had, it was clear that we needed to look into this.”

Phelps went on to discuss Monday’s show of unity from drivers and crew members for Wallace before the race.

“I also want to talk about (Monday),” he said. “(Monday) to me as a sport was one of the most important days we’ve had. It’s one of the most kind of indelible print on my mind until the day I die, seeing the support that Bubba had from not just the drivers but all the crews, all the officials who were down in pit road, anyone who was part of that footprint. Everyone wanted to show their support for a family member of NASCAR. We are one big family. We are one large community. And everyone’s belief is that someone was attacking a member of our family.

“It turned out that that was not the case, but at the time that’s what our industry thought, so drivers, crews, our officials, everyone supported Bubba Wallace and the 43 team, and that was a very powerful image in not just the history of our sport but I think in all sports.”

Phelps took no questions from reporters.

Immediately after the statement from the FBI and U.S. Attorney, NASCAR issued a statement:

“The FBI has completed its investigation at Talladega Superspeedway and determined that Bubba Wallace was not the target of a hate crime. The FBI report concludes, and photographic evidence confirms, that the garage door pull rope fashioned like a noose had been positioned there since as early as last fall. This was obviously well before the 43 team’s arrival and garage assignment. We appreciate the FBI’s quick and thorough investigation and are thankful to learn that this was not an intentional, racist act against Bubba. We remain steadfast in our commitment to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for all who love racing.

The Wood Brothers issued a statement with regard to having that garage stall in 2019.

 

Corey LaJoie: Denny Hamlin feud ‘escalated to a point it shouldn’t have’

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Corey LaJoie issued an apology to Denny Hamlin regarding recent statements made during their Twitter feud and said “what started as a me standing up for myself escalated to a point it shouldn’t have reached.”

LaJoie’s statement was posted on social media and came the day after the driver said on his podcast that Hamlin texted him and Go Fas Racing officials last week threatening to wreck LaJoie’s No. 32 Ford. Hamlin denied LaJoie’s claim.

LaJoie said while “there have been no lies spoken … some things are better left unsaid.”

He said “I apologize for some of the things I’ve said towards Denny that were fueled by emotion and continue to recognize his exceptional ability to wheel a race car.”

 

In the newest episode of his Motor Racing Network podcast, “Sunday Money,” LaJoie detailed the timeline of his feud with Hamlin, which largely played out on social media before it escalated last week.

LaJoie’s recounting began during NASCAR’s shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic when Cup drivers competed in the Pro Invitational iRacing Series.

“(Hamlin) subtweets on my stuff, ‘We’ve been hearing about how much your cars suck, now’s your time to prove it on iRacing.’ I finished second at Talladega. I don’t like iRacing, but I jump on and do it just strictly because he called me out. Finished second. I respond to that tweet, pull it back up with the eyes little emoji. He says, ‘Well, Talladega is not really the real thing. Do a race where it really matters.’ Go to Dover, qualify fifth, messed up everybody’s Draft Kings lineup because I wanted to show him I’m capable of qualifying good. Started in the back because of the invert, wrecked.

“Go to North Wilkesboro. … Was going to finish in the top three there, my brake pedal broke. So that’s the end of the iRacing saga. No more Dennis Hamlin (LaJoie’s nickname for Hamlin) anywhere to be found. Race at Atlanta (on June 7). Drive around, finish 27th all day. I post my loop heart rate data and it’s fairly high … He subtweets on it, ‘this is why we couldn’t count on you in the fourth quarter,’ talking about his basketball league, with his heart rate, which was super not consistent … but it was lower than mine. So he’s making a joke about my competitive nature as well as my fitness level.”

“So then I say, ‘Hey, can we trade cars?'” LaJoie continued. “He assumed I’m just (expletive) on his driving abilities every time I respond to him. Goes back and forth and says I’m a (expletive) driver more or less and it dies. We go to Martinsville, which is a driver’s race track. The 32 car finishes (18th) six positions in front of (Hamlin). Now the floodgates open, right? Because all of a sudden three days ago Denny was talking about how the driver makes the difference, it’s not the car. We go to a track where the drivers make a difference and I finish in front of him, when his teammate (Martin Truex Jr.) wins the race. …

“We don’t even go back and forth (on Twitter). I did some passive aggressive stuff, right? Kermit the Frog drinking the tea and the fans are just piling it on, ‘Denny, you suck,’ this, that and the other, which I never said any of this. Not once. Turned around and I acknowledged, I only had three days left to live this up. We’re going to go to Homestead and I’m going to get my (expletive) kicked in. I already knew it, called it Wednesday night. …

“The only personal thing I’ve said to him in this whole ordeal was the one thing about ‘Yeah, he’s probably going to win at Homestead because there’s no pressure on the line.’ Probably a (expletive) thing to say, but look what happened, he ended up winning. … He texts me on Friday night, ‘Congrats on getting your car crashed.’ Talking about how he’s going to wreck me on Sunday. … It’s premeditated threat, right? … He proceeded, this is at like 11:30 at night, proceeded to text my car owner (Archie St. Hilaire), Mason (St. Hilaire), the general manager, as well as my crew chief (Ryan Sparks), and says ‘Congrats on getting your stuff crashed, your driver’s going to learn a hard lesson.’

“So my owner is like, ‘Hey, this is not how this is going to work, because this is a $300,000 race car, for something that was just a Twitter beef that he started.’ Sends the stuff to (NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer Steve) O’Donnell. O’Donnell is like, ‘Ok, if you’re going to wreck a guy don’t just pre-meditate it because we already suspended Matt Kenseth for two races (in 2015) for wrecking Joey Logano on purpose. Now something’s actually premeditated, so we’re going to have to hit it even harder, right? So do what you got to do.’

“So this thing’s gone from just a little Twitter beef to an actual, he’s like threatening me. Now my owner will be mad at me if (Hamlin) wrecks me, because at the end of the day I’m the one driving it. It’s his money getting burned up. … Jay Fabian, series director, texts us a pit location (to meet him at on Sunday). … It’s 2 o’clock. I’m there, it’s 10 minutes early. He gets there about 2:08, a little late. We go over to a motorhome and we sit down. There was some ‘F you’s’ back and forth, pretty tense at the beginning. … He just felt I was attacking his driving ability the whole time. … If I didn’t remind him seven times that he started this and kept subtweeting on my stuff, I didn’t do it once. He went from, ‘It wasn’t about you, you keep making it about your equipment.’ I said, ‘Dennis, you literally said you, the word y-o-u, nine times in the first six tweets to me, so of course it’s about me.’

“‘Don’t say it’s not about me. Don’t say that it’s about you having established the difference between an elite driver and another driver. That’s never what it was about. Then he wanted to kind of backtrack and say ‘It was only because I liked you was why I was messing with you, I don’t mess with guys I don’t like.’

“I was like, ‘You don’t say the (expletive) that you did, nor text everybody in my team that you were going to crash me if you like me.’ At the end of the day, they told him if you’re going to premeditate your decision on crashing this guy, we don’t have any choice, because we already have the evidence that you’re going to do it.’ He kind of softened his stance on that. We spoke through it like men, I told him what I was taking offense to and there was some things he took offense to, that weren’t even contextually accurate because if he goes back and reads what I said, I never made any sort of jabs at his ability, nor his character. He just assumed that I did. He thinks everything’s about him. I defused it enough to where he didn’t just completely trash my (expletive) on Sunday afternoon and he ended up winning the race.”

Hamlin refuted LaJoie’s story on Twitter Wednesday evening.

Hamlin was asked about his feud with LaJoie during his press conference on Sunday.

“I understand his stance and he understands mine,” Hamlin said. “Mine was to win the races I’ve won, I didn’t have the best car every time. I still have to go out and beat probably some of the best drivers in history that drive for Joe Gibbs Racing and Stewart‑Haas and Penske.

“No one gave me anything. My parents had nothing, like nothing nothing. I got here the old‑fashioned way. Any time you feel like anyone says, ‘Hey, if I had what you had, I could do that,’ it’s offensive. It’s a little offensive because you know personally how hard you worked to get there.

“I took offense to it. He took offense to the things that I said. I understand it was a miss ‑‑ just kind of two guys that were talking about some sensitive subjects. I think we’re okay now.”

NASCAR disqualifies Jimmie Johnson’s car after it fails inspection

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NASCAR announced that Jimmie Johnson‘s car failed inspection after his runner-up finish and he was disqualified.

Jay Fabian, Cup Series managing director, said Johnson’s car failed post-race alignment.

“The failure was rear alignment,” Fabian said. “It’s the same thing we check on at least a handful of cars … after every event.”

The team decided Monday not to appeal the penalty.

Asked about consideration of a broken part, Fabian said: “The allowance is built in for parts that move. There is an allowance for that. If parts break, the number is the number. There is no real parameter outside of that. There have been parts in the past that have been designed to fail or break. Certainly not suggesting that is the case here, but that’s what’s gotten us to this hard line and this is the post-race number and there is a fair tolerance from pre-race numbers to post.”

Johnson is now listed as finishing 40th. He’ll also start there for Wednesday’s race at Charlotte Motor Speedway with the results from the Coca-Cola 600 setting the starting lineup for that race.

Friday 5: New slogan spotlights Jimmie Johnson’s focus in 2020

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CONCORD, N.C. — Jimmie Johnson is not chasing history. He seeks to enjoy it.

Johnson’s revelation this week that he has ditched #chasing8 for #One FinalTime as the slogan for his final Cup season is not a sign of surrender, he insists.

Instead, he wants to be more focused on the moment and hope that leads to greater goals.

“I’m not chasing anything,” the seven-time Cup champion said Thursday at the Hendrick Motorsports complex.

Johnson used #6pack on his quest for a sixth title and #se7en in his bid for a seventh title. He had used #chasing8 while seeking an unprecedented eighth Cup title for a driver.

Jimmie Johnson on his final season: “I’ll lay it on the line and go.” (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Even without the slogan, Johnson says he remains focused on this coming season.

“I’m going to get in that car, I’m going to give it 100% as I always do … I’ll lay it on the line and go,” he said.

But Johnson’s go has been slow in recent years. He is winless in 95 races, dating back to June 2017 at Dover International Speedway.

Since that victory, Johnson has six top-five finishes, 29 top 10s and led 216 laps. He has not finished better than third in a points race in that span.

Such struggles make it easy to discount a driver for championship contention — even one of only three seven-time champions in series history.

It’s not been just one thing, though, that has held the 44-year-old back. His struggles coincided with a decline in performance for Hendrick Motorsports in 2017 and ’18. Chevrolet’s Camaro had its issues. Johnson and crew chief Chad Knaus split after the 2018 season. Johnson went on to change crew chiefs again in 2019 when performance soured.

“It was definitely frustrating,” Johnson said of missing the playoffs last year for the first time in his career. “I was angry, embarrassed.”

He cites last year as a learning experience in racing without Knaus on his pit box. Without Knaus’ leadership, there was a vacuum and Johnson had to understand how to help fill it. As his performance waned, the team struggled. A late-summer crew chief change failed to get Johnson into the playoffs.

Johnson, considered among NASCAR’s greatest drivers, said that “winning races, making the playoffs would be a good season (this year). A great season is going (multiple) rounds (in the playoffs). The ultimate season is being in that championship four.”

First Johnson must be able to run at the front. And win again.

Jimmie Johnson celebrates his 2016 title with wife Chandra and daughters Lydia (held by Johnson) and Genevieve.(Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images)

While his 83 career Cup victories are tied for sixth with Cale Yarborough on the all-time list, Johnson’s focus is to win again to show his daughters what he can do. Genevieve is 9 years old and Lydia is 6.

“I think deep down inside it would be very satisfying,” Johnson said of winning again. “In my heart of hearts I still now I’m doing my best work out there.

“I can also say from a family perspective, to have another moment or two this year with my family in that environment and winning at the top level would be very special for us.

“I guess, ultimately, my kids don’t remember going to victory lane. They don’t have any vivid memories of it. They have no filters. To come home and especially Lydia is like, ‘so Dad, we didn’t win, what happened?’ Evie is so polite about it: ‘Dad you tried hard, good job.’

“To have that moment with them and a moment they will hopefully remember … would be really special.”

2. Hope for Nashville for 2021?

NASCAR and Speedway Motorsports Inc. are not ready to publicly shut the door on a race at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville for 2021, even though no deal has been announced between Nashville and SMI. NASCAR is expected to release the 2021 Cup schedule in April.

“We’re having great discussions with leadership in Nashville,” Marcus Smith, president of Speedway Motorsports Inc., told NBC Sports this week. “We think it’s a great opportunity for the city and for NASCAR and for Speedway Motorsports. … Everything we’re working on seems to be moving forward in a reasonable pace.

Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville in July 2019. (Photo: Dustin Long)

“I don’t think I can really put a timeframe on it right now because it would just be speculation. I’m very optimistic about NASCAR in Nashville.

“The timing is one of those things that once we get the agreement done, then we’ll have some planning and … the actual construction will take place. It’s a big project and one that when it’s done, the city of Nashville will be really proud of.”

Speedway Motorsports Inc. seeks an agreement with the city to bring top-tier stock-car racing back to Nashville but has not been able to work through financing and other issues. SMI proposed a $60 million renovation plan in May for the historic .596-mile track that would increase seating capacity from 15,000 to 30,000, among other projects.

A previous plan for $54 million in bond payments was rejected by then-Mayor David Briley. John Cooper defeated Bailey to become the city’s mayor in September.

The Tennessean reported in December that the mayor’s spokesperson confirmed that the administration received a new proposal from SMI and it was being reviewed.

Cooper told the Nashville Rotary Club on Monday, according to The Tennessean, that “racing needs to be a success, not just soccer (at the Fairgrounds property). It has to be a workable overall site plan.”

However, The Tennessean notes that that Cooper has not said if he supports a deal to bring NASCAR’s top-tier series to the Fairgrounds.

The Tennessean reported Thursday that Cooper had met with auto racing advocates this week.

Asked if Nashville was still a consideration for the 2021 schedule, Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, said: “I would say Nashville as a market is a high priority for us in 2021.”

3. Changes for 2020

Along with the changes to stage lengths this season — and how a race will be official once it hits the halfway mark (unless the end of the second stage occurs first) — NASCAR also revealed a few other changes for the coming season.

Last year, NASCAR typically took no more than one car to the R&D Center after a race. That was primarily to study trends in the sport and if NASCAR needed to adjust any rules. The point was to get away from issuing penalties days after the race.

This year, series officials said they would look at taking multiple cars back to the R&D Center after Cup races.

“We tried to do the best we could in response to the teams and try to curb development,” said Jay Fabian, NASCAR Cup director. “Part of that there is that there’s been a new set of rules as far as a parts freeze. Teams have to submit a significant amount of parts and they have to run those parts throughout the year. They have options of each part, they can mix and match as long as they are on that list.

“We will bring more cars back this year because that’s, quite honestly, a lot of work postrace. So we’re going to bring that back and make sure everybody is on the up and up.”

Fabian said if NASCAR found “a major, significant issue, we’d react to it” by issuing a penalty that week.

Erik Jones drives the Next Gen car in a test at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Jan. 2020. (Photo: NASCAR)

In regards to the Next Gen car, NASCAR’s next test will be March 2-3 at Auto Club Speedway. That’s expected to have only one car but NASCAR anticipates having two cars test by April. That would give officials more information on how a Next Gen car reacts behind another car. Teams are expected to take delivery of their first Next Gen car by July. Tests will be set up for August and beyond.

Five tests are expected to be held for teams before next season. How those tests will be done — whether only one car per organization is allowed or one car per team — will be determined later.

Also, NASCAR officials were scheduled to meet Wednesday with manufacturers in the sport and those that could join the sport about a new engine for 2023, among other issues.

4. Stress of rule change on teams

There have been many reasons discussed for Team Penske’s decision to change its entire driver/crew chief lineup for this season after winning six Cup races and placing all three drivers in the top 10 in points.

As Brad Keselowski acknowledged this week, that type of season was good but not good enough.

“We want to be great,” he said. “We want to win championships. You’ve got to recognize that winning races is still a significant accomplishment in this sport. It’s great competition week in and week out, so winning is good but also emphasize that greatness is the championship. We didn’t win it. It means we’ve got work to do.”

Brad Keselowski with crew chief Paul Wolfe last season. As part of Team Penske’s moves, Wolfe will be Joey Logano‘s crew chief this season. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

Keselowski, who will be teamed with crew chief Jermey Bullins this season, also expressed his belief on why the change was made at Team Penske.

“I’ll be honest with you, I think the rules package is as much a factor as anything else,” Keselowski said. “The rules changed when we went to the high downforce and the really small horsepower. That’s really hard to accept. It’s hard to accept for the drivers. It’s really hard to accept for the teams with respect some of the things that we consider telltales of the past that are not necessarily the telltales of today.

“Used to get into this car and you were a good racecar driver if you could run every lap within half a tenth to a tenth (of a second). With these rules, the lap time variance is very significant. You might run one lap, let’s say around (Charlotte Motor Speedway), a 30 (second) flat and the next lap you catch the draft wrong in all the wrong places and you run a 31 flat and the team sees that and they say ‘What the hell? What is this guy out here doing? Is he drunk? Is he not focused? What’s going on?’

“I think it’s part of the package. When you’re not winning, when you’re having the bad days you’re going to have in this sport … it really has put a lot of stress on the team relationships, driver relationships, that dynamic. I think that dynamic has caused a fair amount of rift and ripples across the whole sport and the easiest way for Team Penske to fix it was this change because it forces everyone to think a little bit more thoroughly and different about it.

“That’s one of many examples, it’s not the only reason. I do think the rules change has had a drastic impact on the drivers’ and teams’ abilities to communicate with each other and value the right things.”

5. An unforgettable ride

One of John Andretti’s greatest gifts was what he could give others. Sometimes it was his wit that left one laughing. Sometimes it was his smile and positive nature even through a battle with colon cancer that ended Thursday with his death at age 56.

Other times it was his drive.

Andretti, the first driver to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day, won an IndyCar race, two Cup events, a Rolex 24 and even a USAC national midget race. He also competed in NHRA, reaching the semifinals once. 

Of all that, there was one drive that illustrates Andretti’s essence.

It came in his 1999 Cup win at Martinsville Speedway for Petty Enterprises. Andretti won the day after Petty Enterprises claimed the Martinsville Truck race, completing a weekend sweep for the famed organization that no longer exists.

But Andretti’s path was not easy that day. He fell a lap down less than 50 laps into the event after he was hit from behind by Ward Burton and spun. No Martinsville Cup winner in the previous decade had come back from a lap down to win.

MORE: Motorsports world mourns passing of John Andretti 

Andretti needed less than 100 laps to pass leader Jeff Gordon and get back on the lead lap. A two-tire pit stop with about 120 laps left played a key role and Andretti did the rest. He was third with 50 laps to go.

Andretti passed Gordon for second with about 12 laps to go as his car suffered a vibration.

“With 12 to go, I figure the heck with it,” Andretti said later that day. “Nobody is going to remember if you run third.”

Andretti challenged close friend Jeff Burton for the lead and drove past the Virginia driver with four laps to go as the crowd cheered.

After taking the checkered flag, Andretti took an extra victory lap. On his way to victory lane, he stopped to give car owner Richard Petty a ride.

The sight of Petty sitting on the driver’s window opening as Andretti drove the No. 43 to victory lane is a memory that won’t be forgotten.

Rules, format for Monster Energy All-Star Race

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It’s time to brush up on the rules and format for Monster Energy All-Star Race, which will be held Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The All-Star Race is 85 laps this year, an addition of five laps. It will be split up into stages of 30 laps, 20 laps, 20 laps and a 15-lap final segment. Only green flag laps will count in the final stage.

Each stage must end under green. Overtime procedures will be in place for each stage. If the race is restarted with two laps or less in the final stage, there will be unlimited attempts at a green, white, checkered finish.

There is no mandatory pit strategy.

Driver eligibility: Winners from last season and this season, previous all-star winners who are competing full-time in the series, Cup champions who are running full-time in the series, the three stage winners from the Monster Energy Open and the winner of the fan vote.

Fifteen drivers are already locked into the main event: Aric Almirola, Ryan Blaney, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Austin Dillon, Chase Elliott, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson, Erik Jones, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman and Martin Truex Jr.

Four more drivers will transfer into the All-Star Race from the 50-lap Monster Energy Open (divided into segments of 20 laps, 20 laps and 10 laps).

For the second straight year NASCAR is using the All-Star Race to try features on the cars that could be used in upcoming seasons. There will be two technical changes that could be used in the Gen 7 car.

Jay Fabian, the Cup Series competition director, discussed the changes to the cars Monday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “SiriusXM Speedway.”

# A single-piece carbon fiber splitter/pan that is expected to offer improvements in ride height sensitivity for drivers. This is expected to provide a more stable aero platform and create more consistent performance in traffic.

“The splitter … It’s about 48 inches wide and the center part is all carbon and it’s got an integrated pan that goes back about the same distance as the current pan does,” Fabian said. “It’s got the nose of the splitter turned up just a bit, and it’s still got the bull nose on the front and then out bore that is what you would see as the current splitter material that’s a little more high density. There’s a step between the bolt on ears to the center bit of about a quarter inch. So keeping that throat in the center should help cure some ride height sensitivity problems and it should help with some traffic. Once you get in traffic, that ride height sensitivity is important and keeping that throat open is important. So we’re optimistic that’s going to help in traffic.”

# The car will be configured with a radiator duct that exits through the hood as opposed to the current design, which exits into the engine component. This feature is expected to create improved aerodynamic parity and reduce engine temperatures.

“We had to work through some (manufacturer) styling on the hood to make sure they ended up where they needed to be,” Fabian said of the exit duct. “Also, we’ve kept them centered up enough so that the (air) stream stays over the greenhouse of the car cause those are all common elements. Keeping that flow across the windshield, roof, back glass, deck lid, spoiler, it’s important to keep it in that stream instead of letting it fall along the sides of the car.”