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NASCAR teams impacted by North Carolina stay at home order

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North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper announced a stay at home order for the entire state of North Carolina, beginning at 5 p.m. ET Monday because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The order is for 30 days.

The move impacts all NASCAR teams based in North Carolina.

“These are tough directives, but I need you to take them seriously,” Gov. Cooper said in afternoon news briefing.

MORE: N.C. Governor enlists Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson for COVID-19 PSA

MORE: North Carolina stay at home order

The order bans gatherings of more than 10 people and directs everyone to stay at least six feet away from each other. The order requires all residents to stay at home except for essential activities. The order states: “non-essential business and operations must cease.”

The order also states that among the definitions for an essential business and operation is “Businesses that meet Social Distancing Requirements. Businesses, not-for-profit organizations or educational institutions that conduct operations while maintaining Social Distancing Requirements:

a. Between and among its employees; and

b. Between and among employees and customers except at the point of sale or purchase.”

Mecklenburg County and Cabarrus County, which are home to such race teams as Joe Gibbs Racing, Hendrick Motorsports, Chip Ganassi Racing, Roush Fenway Racing and JTG Daugherty Racing, were already under a stay at home order through April 16.

By the end of the week, more than 20 states will have issued stay at home orders, including California, Illinois, New York, New Jersey and Ohio.

More NASCAR teams under stay at home order

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Cabarrus County in North Carolina became the second county that is home to NASCAR teams to issue an order for residents to stay at home because of COVID-19.

The order was issued Wednesday after two individuals in the county died of coronavirus. The order takes effect at 5 p.m. ET on Thursday. The order, which restricts non-essential travel and bans gatherings of more than 10 pepole, goes through April 16.

The order impacts those also in the cities of Kannapolis, Concord and Harrisburg. Cup race shops in those locations – and subject to the order – include Stewart-Haas Racing (Kannapolis), Chip Ganassi Racing (Concord), Roush Fenway Racing (Concord), Leavine Family Racing (Concord) and JTG Daugherty Racing (Harrisburg).

Previously, Mecklenburg County issued a stay at home order that begins at 8 a.m. ET Thursday and goes through April 16. Joe Gibbs Racing, based in Huntersville, is in that county. Hendrick Motorsports has a Charlotte address in Mecklenburg County.

Race shops in other counties are not under such orders at this time.

Here is the Cabarrus County order.



Brandon Jones has a Georgia win on his mind

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Ever since he won the Xfinity Series race at Phoenix last Saturday, Brandon Jones – to borrow a line from a Ray Charles song – has had Georgia on his mind.

The Atlanta native is eager to return to his home track for Saturday’s Xfinity race at the 1.5-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway in suburban Hampton, Georgia.

Jones, driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota Supra, has had a strong start to the season. He finished fourth at Daytona, sixth at Las Vegas, won the pole at Fontana (but finished 30th) and then passed Kyle Busch for the lead and held on for the final 20 laps to win at Phoenix, giving Toyota its 500th win in NASCAR competition.

“We are coming off a huge win at Phoenix Raceway and our 19 team is really excited about our 2020 season,” Jones said in a media release. “We have a lot of momentum.”

Jones returns to his home turf ranked fourth in the Xfinity point standings, 28 points behind series leader Harrison Burton. More importantly, Jones’ Phoenix win locks the 23-year-old into the Xfinity playoffs.

Jones hopes the momentum from Phoenix carries over to Atlanta. He’s made four Xfinity starts there, with a career-best fourth-place finish in last year’s race.

“Atlanta has not always been one of my strongest tracks, but neither was Phoenix,” Jones said. “Our team is up to the challenge that the track brings with the old surface which makes saving tires part of the strategy.”

That’s why Jones is approaching this weekend’s race in much the same way he approached Phoenix. With all the hard work he and his team have done in preparation for Atlanta, Jones is hoping to make it back-to-back wins.

“(Our) team has spent a lot of time over the offseason preparing for Atlanta; we probably put in 200-laps around the track using Toyota’s simulator,” Jones said. “It’s a fun race and the Atlanta fans are great.

“I think if we get our Supra dialed in to run the bottom of the track, we will be the team in victory lane.”

NOTES: Kyle Busch Motorsports announced today that Jones will return to the organization for four races in the No. 51 Tundra during the 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season: June 12 at Iowa Speedway, at Pocono on June 27, at Kentcky Speedway on July 9 and Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 30.

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Bump and Run: West Coast swing takeaways

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What are your takeaways from the West Coast swing?

Nate Ryan: Hendrick Motorsports is back. Paul Wolfe and Joey Logano are a winning combination. Joe Gibbs Racing needs to regroup but isn’t out of the ballgame by any stretch.

Dustin Long: How Goodyear’s ability to bring a tire that wears more is changing the game. Hendrick Motorsports’ performance. The speed of Martin Truex Jr.’s car and how he’ll be a factor once he avoids the various issues that plagued him. Harrison Burton’s performance in Xfinity, which included a win and three top fives during this swing.

Daniel McFadin: Despite Ford and Joey Logano winning two of the three races, it doesn’t feel like any team or manufacturer has an outright advantage over everyone else. The races at Phoenix and Auto Club had a distinct energy to them that they’ve lacked in general over the years. The season has a some momentum behind it, let’s hope it stays on track in Atlanta.

Jerry Bonkowski: First, we’re seeing Chevrolet teams starting to shake off the struggles of the new Camaro at Daytona and Las Vegas and are coming back to prominence quickly if Fontana and Phoenix are any indication. Second, Ford continues to show its mastery over Toyota and Chevy. This could be a huge season for Fords if the current trend continues. Lastly, Toyota is uncharacteristically struggling with little consistency between teams (other than perhaps Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin). 


Who scores their first career Cup win next: Matt DiBenedetto, William Byron, Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Cole Custer or someone else?

Nate Ryan: William Byron.

Dustin Long: Matt DiBenedetto. He will give the Wood Brothers their 100th Cup victory.

Daniel McFadin: William Byron. While DiBenedetto is the most experienced in Cup of the group, Byron has more time in quality equipment, from the Truck Series up through Cup. DiBenedetto hasn’t shown us a complete race in the No. 21 yet as he re-calibrates his talent and knowledge to what he has to work with.

Jerry Bonkowski: This is a tough question because all of the drivers listed have the ability, they just need some luck. But if I had to pick one, it would probably be Tyler Reddick. Even though he had a disappointing outing at Phoenix, he still has been the best-performing rookie in Cup this season and has even outshined his veteran teammate, Austin Dillon, at times. 

Do you think anyone will beat Kyle Busch to collect any of the bounties in the Truck Series this weekend at Atlanta?

Nate Ryan: No. Kyle Busch knows best when he says Kyle Larson is his main threat at Homestead-Miami Speedway a week later.

Dustin Long: No. Kyle Busch wins this weekend.

Daniel McFadin: My heart says yes, but my gut says no. Chase Elliott will be the primary challenger, but this will be his first Truck Series start since 2017. Meanwhile, Busch has won in five of his 11 Truck Series starts at Atlanta since 2005. Regardless, this is the most excited I’ve been for a Truck Series race not held on dirt or a road course since … let me get back to you on that.

Jerry Bonkowski: Unless Busch wrecks or suffers mechanical problems, I don’t believe anyone takes the bounty in Atlanta. Rather, I believe Kyle Larson has the best chance to do so the following week in Miami.

Martin Truex Jr. seeks to put Auto Club frustrations behind him

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AVONDALE, Ariz. — Martin Truex Jr. and Denny Hamlin both say they’ve reached an understanding after Truex expressed frustration with how his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate raced him last weekend at Auto Club Speedway.

Truex’s 14th-place day was filled with colorful language on the radio. He expressed frustration with multiple drivers, including Hamlin.

“I was more frustrated about him pinching me into the wall … and all but cut a right front tire down there and barely finished the race,” Truex said Saturday at Phoenix Raceway. “I was frustrated mostly about that, but we had a really good conversation about the package and what we expect of each other. I feel very comfortable racing with Denny. I always have. We talked some things over. I think there are some things we can do to help each other out a little bit more.”

Said Hamlin: “I think we both understand that 550 (horsepower) racing makes it extremely difficult to have teammates. A lot of times because it’s so cut throat in the way that you have to race out there. You’re trying to – you don’t want to give up any runs that you’ve got. It’s a lot like superspeedway racing in my eyes. When you get runs, you have to take them. You have to put yourself in the best line possible. I think we both understand that for sure. I definitely see his point of view and understand his frustrations that he had. I think it was a great conversation and I think we have a better understanding of kind of where each other are mentally in those situations moving forward.”

Truex also complained on the radio about teammate Erik Jones in last week’s race but said his frustration wasn’t as much with Jones.

“It’s just one of those things where I was frustrated about passing him once and coming out of the pits behind (him),” said Truex, who had not talked to Jones about last weekend. “It’s 550 (horsepower) racing. It’s very frustrating at times especially on the big tracks. You run a guy down and you pass him and you’re in the wrong lane on the straightaway and they push somebody by you. It’s just frustrating. I was more venting about the pit crew than anything Erik has ever done. He’s been a great teammate and a great guy to race with over the year.”

Truex also expressed displeasure on the radio with Joey Logano last weekend. Truex said Saturday that the Auto Club race was just one of those days for him.

“I think everybody gets aggravated from time to time and we all lose our cool,” he said. “I’d say I’m probably one of the most low key and even-keeled guys on the racetrack and I guess that’s maybe why when I lose my mind and flip out and get mad and have a bad day — we all have bad days — I get scrutinized for it I would say more than most.

“There are other guys that sound like that every weekend but you never hear about it. It’s one of those things. I feel stupid after a race like that when I lose my marbles and just get mad and aggravated and let the competition get under my skin.”

Looking to Sunday’s race, Truex knows he will face a challenge. He will start at the rear because of an engine change. It’s the second consecutive weekend he’s had to start at the rear. Three inspection failures forced him to start at the back last weekend.

“Hopefully, we can come out of here with a strong day (Sunday),” Truex said. “I wasn’t really happy with the car (Friday in practice)) but we made a lot of changes overnight and it felt much better (in qualifying Saturday).”