Joe Nemechek

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Truck Series practice report from Charlotte

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CONCORD, N.C. – Brennan Poole had the fastest lap in Friday’s final Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

He posted a lap of 180.313 mph. He was followed by Sheldon Creed (180.000), Todd Gilliland (179.904), Stewart Friesen (179.689) and Harrison Burton (178.944).

Creed ran the most laps at 37.

Click here for final practice report

There were no incidents in the session.

Truck qualifying is set for 4:35 p.m. ET. Green flag for the truck race is scheduled to wave at 8:46 p.m. ET.

 

FIRST SESSION

Sheldon Creed posted the fastest lap in Friday morning’s opening Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Creed, driving for GMS Racing, led the way with a lap of 181.561 mph. He was followed by Todd Gilliland (181.110 mph), Ben Rhodes (179.964), Kyle Busch (179.682) and Joe Nemechek (179.628).

Click here for practice report

Harrison Burton ran the most laps in the session at 37. He was 12th on the speed chart with a top lap of 178.311 mph.

There were no incidents in the session.

The final Truck practice is scheduled from 10:35 – 11:25 a.m. ET.

Furniture Row Racing to cease operations after 2018 season

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Furniture Row Racing, the reigning Cup championship team, announced Tuesday it will cease operations after this season, citing a lack of necessary funding.

“I’ve always felt that we could be a competitive team and run for a championship even when it seemed like a pipe dream to many racing insiders,” car owner Barney Visser said in a statement. “But to be successful in any business you need to assemble the right people and make a strong commitment to succeed. We achieved what we set out to do and feel like we climbed Mount Everest. To continue with anything less than a competitive team would not be acceptable. It’s been one incredible ride.”

The announcement comes less than a month after car Visser issued a statement that “not fielding a team in 2019 is not an option and we have every intention of continuing to build on our success for years to come.”

The move also comes after primary sponsor 5-hour Energy announced in July that it would no longer remain in NASCAR after this season. 5-hour Energy is serving as co-primary sponsor of the team with Bass Pro Shops for 30 races this year. Furniture Row Racing was unable to find any income to replace what it would be losing.

“This is not good for anybody,” Visser said in a statement about closing the team down after this season. “The numbers just don’t add up. I would have to borrow money to continue as a competitive team and I’m not going to do that. This was obviously a painful decision to arrive at knowing how it will affect a number of quality and talented people.

“We’ve been aggressively seeking sponsorship to replace 5-hour ENERGY and to offset the rising costs of continuing a team alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing but haven’t had any success. I feel that it’s only proper to make the decision at this time to allow all team members to start seeking employment for next year. I strongly believe that all of our people have enhanced their careers by working at Furniture Row Racing.”

This announcement comes as Martin Truex Jr. is third in the points after winning his first series title last season.

Truex, who joined Furniture Row Racing in 2014 as the driver of the No. 78 car, said: “While I am saddened by today’s announcement, I totally understand the decision. Barney Visser, Joe Garone and the entire Furniture Row Racing team took me in while my career was in a bad place, and together we reached the pinnacle of the sport. I will forever be grateful to each and every one of them, and also to Furniture Row, Denver Mattress and the Visser family.

“But make no mistake this is not the immediate end. We still have unfinished business to attend to and that’s to give everything we have to successfully defend our Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship. Right now that is foremost on my mind as it is with the entire team.”

With Furniture Row Racing leaving after this season, it will have a charter to sell. That will be among the more valuable charters. Cup charters guarantee a starting spot in each race but also a set amount of money per race. One portion of the team payments is based on performance in the past three years. Furniture Row Racing has made the playoffs each of the past two years and will again make the playoff this season.

Furniture Row Racing, based in Denver, Colorado, started its NASCAR program in 2005 as an Xfinity team before moving to Cup. The team made its Cup debut in Nov. 13, 2005 at Phoenix with Jerry Robertson. He started 43rd and finished 41st, completing 51 laps.

The team’s first Cup victory was by Regan Smith in the 2011 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. The team has since scored 17 more wins with Truex, including victories this season at Auto Club Speedway, Pocono Raceway, Sonoma Raceway and Kentucky Speedway. Furniture Row Racing has won 12 of the last 59 Cup races (16.9 percent).

Others who drove for Furniture Row Racing included Erik Jones, Kurt Busch, Kenny Wallace, Joe Nemechek and Jimmy Spencer.

“There are so many people I want to thank because without them winning a championship and being competitive would never have happened: Joe Gibbs Racing for our technical alliance, Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development), Bass Pro Shops, 5-hour ENERGY, Auto-Owners Insurance, Furniture Row and Denver Mattress,” Visser said in a statement from the team.

“A heartfelt thank you to Joe Garone, Martin Truex Jr, Cole Pearn and all of our team members for their talent, dedication and sacrifices they made along the way. To the Furniture Row and Denver Mattress employees I want to express a special thank you for always having my back from the early years of our race team to our championship run.

“I also want to thank the fans, the Denver community, NASCAR, International Speedway Corporation (ISC), Speedway Motorsports Inc. (SMI) and independent track owners for providing and maintaining the venues that we compete at. A special tip of the hat to the media and to NASCAR’s broadcast partners – FOX, NBC, Motor Racing Network (MRN), Performance Racing Network (PRN) and SiriusXM Radio. We’ve always been treated fairly by members of the media and I appreciate their hard work in one of the most demanding schedules in major league sports.”

NASCAR issued a statement Tuesday: “NASCAR wishes the very best to Barney Visser and his family. Barney has been a successful owner and an amazing champion, and his presence will certainly be missed. We look forward to seeing Martin Truex Jr., Cole Pearn and the entire No. 78 team finish the 2018 season strong and competing for another championship. NASCAR will continue to work on growing the sport and working with the race teams on competitive and operational excellence. Much of those efforts have already been put in place, and will continue to be a focus.”

Car owner Joe Gibbs, whose team is aligned with Furniture Row Racing, said in a statement: “We have a great partnership with Barney and everyone at Furniture Row Racing. It’s unfortunate that they will not be continuing after this season and I know it was a difficult decision for them. They have accomplished so much and I know they would like nothing more than to win another championship this season.”

In a statement, Laura Pierce, General Manager for Motorsports, Toyota Motor North America (TMNA) said: “We want to thank Barney Visser, Joe Garone, Martin, Cole and everyone at Furniture Row Racing for a successful partnership over the past few years. The team’s dedication and hard work in the sport was instrumental to our racing family as they helped us win our first NASCAR Cup Series manufacturer’s championships as well as reach the pinnacle of the sport with last year’s championship. We look forward to continuing to work with the Furniture Row Racing team as they defend their championship in the upcoming playoffs.”

NASCAR America: Hendrick Motorsports still has ground to make up

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Hendrick Motorsports may have turned a corner with top-10 runs at Pocono Raceway last week from Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott, but they still have some ground to make up according to NASCAR America analysts Parker Kligerman and Landon Cassill.

Kligerman puts some of the blame for the lack of performance during the first half of the regular season on the Optical Scanning Station.

“Some of these teams, especially Hendrick Motorsports going to the new Chevy body, were maybe caught a little off guard with it and how they were able to maximize the things they need do in that inspection system to make sure their cars are producing the most downforce, to therefore create the most speed,” Kligerman said.

Cassill believes their biggest handicap could be a lack of experience among the current crop of drivers.

“We’ve talked about Hendrick’s struggles as a team at the beginning of the season,” Cassill said. “Well, is it driver or cars because the average age of drivers at Hendrick Motorsports this year is lower than we’ve ever seen in that organization, so they definitely have less experience, with the exception of Jimmie Johnson, than the company has ever had.”

Johnson is 42 years old, Alex Bowman is 25, Elliott is 22 and William Byron is 20, making the average age at the start of the 2018 season 27.0.

At the beginning of the 2003 season, the average age of Hendrick Motorsports drivers was 35.8 with Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Joe Nemechek and Terry Labonte behind the wheel.

In 2008, Johnson and Gordon were joined by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Casey Mears and the average age was 31.3.

Five years later in 2013, Mears was replaced with Kasey Kahne and the average age rose to 37.0.

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12 Cup cars to be docked practice Friday at Talladega

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TALLADEGA, Ala. — Twelve cars, including those of Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch will be docked 15 minutes of practice in Friday’s opening session for inspection issues.

The opening session is from 12:35 – 1:25 p.m. ET.

The cars of Johnson, Michael McDowell and Gray Gaulding will  miss 15 minutes for failing inspection twice last weekend at Richmond.

The cars of Trevor Bayne, Ty Dillon and Erik Jones will miss 15 minutes for failing pre-qualifying inspection twice at Richmond.

The cars of Truex and Busch will miss 15 minutes of practice for being late to inspection before the race at Richmond.

The cars of David Ragan, Daniel Suarez, Ross Chastain and Timmy Hill will miss 15 minutes because they were late to qualifying inspection last week at Richmond.

Eleven cars will be held 15 minutes in the opening practice Friday in the Xfinity Series.

Cars penalized for being late to inspection at Richmond are those of Tyler Reddick, Joe Nemechek, Noah Gragson, Spencer Gallagher, JJ Yeley, Chad Finchum, John Hunter Nemechek, Jeremy Clements and Chase Briscoe.

Cars being penalized for failing inspection twice at Richmond are those of Ryan Truex and Kaz Grala.

Clements also will be penalized 15 minutes in the final practice session for failing inspection twice at Richmond.

Opening Xfinity practice is from 11:35 a.m. to 12:25 p.m. ET

Final Xfinity practice is from 1:35 – 2:25  p.m. ET.

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Four Cup teams to miss 15 minutes of Friday practice

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BRISTOL, Tenn. — Four cars, including both Chip Ganassi Racing cars, will miss the final 15 minutes of Cup practice Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Those docked practice time will be the teams of Jamie McMurray, Kyle Larson, Paul Menard and Reed Sorenson. All are being penalized for failing inspection before last weekend’s race at Texas. Cup practice is from noon to 12:55 p.m. ET.

Several Xfinity cars will be docked practice time Friday for various violations.

The cars of Cole Custer, Joe Nemechek, Daniel Hemric, Kaz Grala, Tony Mrakovich, Josh Bilicki and Stephen Leicht will be held 15 minutes during the first practice for being out of the garage late for inspection last week at Texas.

The cars of Elliott Sadler, Matt Tifft and Chase Briscoe will miss 15 minutes in the opening practice for failing inspection twice last week at Texas.

The car of Josh Williams will serve a 30-minute penalty for failing inspection three times at Texas.

Opening Xfinity practice is from 1:05 – 1:55 p.m. ET.

One Xfinity car will be docked 15 minutes in the final practice session. Nemechek is being docked the time for failing inspection twice at Texas. Final Xfinity practice is from 3:05 – 3:55 p.m. ET

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