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Some NASCAR teams close shops because of COVID-19

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Some NASCAR teams have closed shops or limited staffs to a skeleton crew this week as the sport idles because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

NASCAR continues to work through scenarios in light of Sunday’s announcement by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it recommended that for the next eight weeks that organizers cancel or postpone events that consist of 50 people or more in the United States. NASCAR officials are scheduled to have another call with teams Monday night.

Many teams announced last week that they were closing their shops to visitors to prevent the potential spread of COVID-19.

NBC Sports reached out to Cup, Xfinity and Truck teams to see what their plans were for Monday and beyond:

Front Row Motorsports — Business as usual for the smaller team. Organization notes that all employees are taking the necessary precautions/recommendations of washing hands and keeping distance as much as possible.

Hendrick Motorsports — Its campus is closed for business for the rest of the week. Those who can work from home are doing so. There is some essential work being done on site with very limited staffing.

Joe Gibbs Racing — Closed shop on Monday and decisions would be made about what to do about the upcoming days.

Richard Childress Racing Measures have been put in place to protect employees and keep them safe, including social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing work stations. Team continues to assess the situation and will adjust as needed.

Richard Petty Motorsports — Shop is closed this week with only a limited number of essential people working in the building.

Spire Motorsports — Operating with essential personnel only.

StarCom Racing — Sent every employee home Monday.

Stewart-Haas Racing — Has closed its shop until March 22 and will reevaluate facility access and processes then.

Team Penske — Has closed its shop.

JD Motorsports — Xfinity team is business as usual as the team finalizes plans moving forward.

Kaulig Racing — General Manager Chris Rice said on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the team is limiting staff in the shop and going with a staggered system so work continues but with limited staff.

ThorSport Racing — The Truck organization is operating under normal business hours with a full staff on site preparing for the Texas race weekend in less than two weeks.

AM Racing – Temporarily closing its facility.

Myatt Snider wins pole for Xfinity Series opener at Daytona

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Myatt Snider claimed the pole for today’s Xfinity Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

The son of NBC Sports reporter Marty Snider, the 25-year-old Richard Childress Racing driver earned the pole in his first career Xfinity start. He posted a top speed of 188.430 mph.

Snider is the 12th driver to win the pole in their Xfinity debut.

It is the third consecutive pole for RCR in the season-opening race at Daytona, following Tyler Reddick in 2019 and Daniel Hemric in 20018. It is RCR’s 10th Xfinity pole at Daytona, which leads all teams.

Snider, the 2018 Truck Series rookie of the year, is driving RCR’s No. 21 car part-time this year.

“The last couple of days have been interesting,” Snider told FS1. “I’ve about gone to school basically. This is completely different from the truck series and how the truck series races. But I’m just blessed with the opportunity to race at Richard Childress Racing. … But we’ve got an insanely fast race car, obviously. I’m so stoked to be with these guys. … I can’t put it into words. First career start, first career pole.”

More: Myatt Snider’s European racing adventure

Snider will be joined on the front row by defending race winner Michael Annett.

The top five is completed by Justin Haley, Jeb Burton and SS Greenlight Racing’s Joe Graf Jr.

The Kaulig Racing cars driven by Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger each suffered similar mechanical issues in the left front during their qualifying runs, according to team general manager Chris Rice. It resulted in them posting the two of the slowest speeds in qualifying. With a lack of owner points, Allmendinger and Chastain failed to make the race.

Chastain will still get to race with Ryan Sieg‘s team allowing him to drive Jeff Green‘s 38 car.

The other DNQ drivers were Tommy Joe Martins, Chad Finchum and Colin Garrett.

Prior to qualifying NASCAR announced a L2 level penalty against MBM Motorsports and its No. 66 team for an improper body modification on the nose.

Crew chief Sebastian LaForge has been suspended for six Xfinity races effective immediately and fined $50,000.

The team has also been docked 75 owner points.

The No. 66 car, driven by Timmy Hill, qualified 26th for today’s race.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. wins Daytona 500 pole, Alex Bowman qualifies second

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will start from the pole in the 62nd Daytona 500 while Alex Bowman will start second.

Stenhouse qualified first Sunday with a speed of 194.582 mph and ended Hendrick Motorsports’ streak of five consecutive Daytona 500 poles. It is Stenhouse’s third Cup Series pole

Next Sunday’s Daytona 500 will be Stenhouse’s first start with JTG Daugherty Racing.

“It’s cool,” Stenhouse told Fox. “Tad (Geschickter, team owner) and (wife) Jodi are back at the shop with everybody. So. I’m just thankful for the opportunity to be here and to bring guys with me like Brian (Pattie, crew chief). They’ve been working really hard. They’re in my corner. They’ve been behind me throughout all my career. Ernie (Cope, competition director) runs a great organization and a great shop.

“The Hendrick horsepower was amazing. Obviously we’ve got quite a few Hendrick cars right there behind us lined up. Our Camaro ZL1 1LE was really strong. And the winds started picking up there, down the back straightaway; a little headwind for the other guys, so I’m really proud to put our Kroger Chevy on the pole on Kroger pole day for the Daytona 500. That was our goal coming down here. Pattie was working really hard all off-season for that goal. And everybody chipped in, the whole shop. We cut bodies off. We put them back on. So this goes out to the whole shop and I’ve got to thank our other partners as well. I’m looking forward to hopefully continuing this momentum on Thursday.”

2020 is Stenhouse’s first season driving the No. 47 Chevrolet for JTG Daugherty Racing after a decade with Roush Fenway Racing. This is the team’s third Cup pole. The first two were earned by AJ Allmendinger on road courses.

Bowman posted a speed of 194.363 mph. It is the third straight year Bowman has started on the front row of the Daytona 500. Bowman led a Hendrick effort that saw Chase Elliott post the third best speed and Jimmie Johnson post the fourth.

“There’s a flag at the end of the back straightaway that you can see and kind of see where the wind is at and what it’s doing, and the car kind of fell on its face off of Turn 2,” Bowman said. “You could see the flag was pointed straight at me, so I knew we had a really big headwind.  I wasn’t really aware of where the winds were for all the other guys, so I was a little worried about that, but obviously didn’t hurt us too bad.  Would have liked to have been a little better, but still pretty good.”

The rest of the field will be set through Thursday’s 150-mile qualifying races. Three cars will fail to make the 40-car field.

Justin Haley and Kaulig Racing locked their No. 16 Chevrolet into the 500 with the 31st best speed, which was the best among the seven “open” cars that don’t have charters, which guarantees a starting spot. It will be the first Cup Series start for the team that competes full-time in the Xfinity Series.

Brendan Gaughan also locked Beard Motorsports’ No. 62 Chevrolet into the 500 with the 33rd best speed, the second best speed among “open” cars.

Daniel Suarez, who is entering his first season with Gaunt Bros Racing, will have to race his way into the Daytona 500 after he posted the 36th best speed. Gaunt Bros Racing is one of the teams without a charter.

“We have to race hard,” Suarez said. “We knew that we would have a lot of challenges and that we didn’t also have the raw speed, but I know what I can do.  I just have to go out there … Thursday and get it done.”

Click here for the qualifying results.

43 cars entered for Daytona 500

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Forty-three cars are entered for this year’s Daytona 500, meaning three cars will fail to make the race.

The 36 chartered teams are guaranteed starting spots.

Click here for Daytona 500 Entry List

Cars and drivers not guaranteed starting spots and vying for the four spots for non-chartered teams are:

No. 16: Justin Haley (Kaulig Racing)

No. 27: Reed Sorenson (Premium Motorsports)

No. 49: Chad Finchum (Motorsports Business Management)

No. 54: JJ Yeley (Rick Ware Racing)

No. 62: Brendan Gaughan (Beard Motorsports)

No. 66: Timmy Hill (Motorsports Business Management)

No. 96: Daniel Suarez (Gaunt Brothers Racing)

Daytona 500 qualifying takes place Sunday. The qualifying races will be Feb. 13. The Daytona 500 is Feb. 16.

 

 

AJ Allmendinger set for 8 Xfinity races for Kaulig Racing in 2020

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In addition to his work as a NASCAR on NBC analyst, A.J. Allmendinger will increase his on-track presence in 2020, competing in eight Xfinity Series races for Kaulig Racing.

That’s an increase from the five races Allmendinger drove for Kaulig last season, including a win on the Charlotte ROVAL and a third-place finish at Mid-Ohio.

“I’m looking forward to returning to the Kaulig Racing organization,” Allmendinger said in a media release. “I had so much fun working with everyone on the team last season and being teammates with Justin (Haley) and Ross (Chastain).

“Hopefully, I can help the team in any way possible so that we can build on the success we had last year and go for more wins. More than anything, Kaulig Racing is just a great team to compete for, especially with Matt Kaulig as the owner and Chris Rice as the President of the team.”

Allmendinger’s eight races will be the Xfinity season opener at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 15 as well as the Aug. 28 race there, Talladega (April 25), Mid-Ohio (May 30), Indianapolis (July 4), Road America (Aug. 8), Watkins Glen (Aug. 15), and the ROVAL at Charlotte Motor Speedway (Oct. 10).

This will be Kaulig Racing’s fifth season of operation and its first with two full-time entries.

“AJ has played an instrumental role in competition for Kaulig Racing,” Rice said in the press release. “He has helped guide our road course program and has been a great resource for our other drivers, crew chiefs and engineers to lean on. I look forward to what he can do in more races for us this season.”

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