Luke Lambert

Penalty report from Texas Motor Speedway

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NASCAR has issued $10,000 fines to three Cup Series crew chiefs for having one unsecured lug nut on their cars after Sunday’s playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

The crew chief include: Chris Gabehart, crew chief on Denny Hamlin‘s No. 11 Toyota; Mark Hillman, crew chief on Parker Kligerman‘s No. 96 Toyota; and Luke Lambert, crew chief on Daniel Hemric‘s No. 8 Chevrolet.

NASCAR also issued an indefinite suspension to Michael Barraclough for violating its substance abuse policy.

There were no other penalties.

 

Crew chiefs for Chris Buescher, Tyler Reddick named for 2020 Cup season

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Luke Lambert has been tapped by Roush Fenway Racing to serve as crew chief for Chris Buescher and his No. 17 Ford in 2020, the team announced Tuesday.

Lambert will join the team after working with Daniel Hemric on Richard Childress Racing’s No. 8 Chevrolet this season.

“We are certainly excited to have Luke Lambert joining our organization and taking over the reins of the No. 17 program,” team owner Jack Roush said in a press release. “Luke has a strong engineering background and also the ability to energize and lead a team. We look forward to pairing him with Chris next season and seeing what they can do on the track.”

With two races left in the season, Lambert and rookie Hemric have two top 10s, including a fifth-place finish at Talladega.

Lambert has 258 races as a Cup crew chief since 2011 with one win in 2017 with Ryan Newman.

He also served as Elliott Sadler‘s crew chief in the Xfinity Series in 2012 where they won four races together.

Taking over for Lambert on RCR’s No. 8 Chevy next year will be Randall Burnett, who will be paired with Tyler Reddick. They work together in the Xfinity Series.

Reddick and Burnett have five wins together this season. Reddick is third in the standings ahead of Saturday’s Xfinity elimination race at ISM Raceway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBC).

Burnett has been with RCR since 2017.

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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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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Long: A championship five seasons in the making for Joey Logano’s pit crew

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. — When the champagne bottles were passed out to Joey Logano’s team after he won the Cup championship Sunday night, Ray Gallahan found a place to sit at the back of the stage to watch his teammates spray each other.

“I’m not a heavy drinker, and I don’t like being too sticky,” Gallahan told NBC Sports. “I usually bow out for the champagne part.’’

Ray Gallahan (seated) watches his teammates spray each other with champagne after Joey Logano won the Cup title. (Photo: Dustin Long)

The celebration was poignant for Gallahan, who served his final race as Logano’s fueler Sunday. The 35-year-old Gallahan will move into a role as an assistant pit coach for Team Penske.

But this victory had extra meaning for Gallahan. He was Logano’s jackman in 2014 when the car fell off the jack with less than 20 laps to go in that championship race, all but ending Logano’s title hopes.

“That crumbled me up pretty hard because I was supposed to be the guy that didn’t mess up,” Gallahan said.

The team returned to the championship race in 2016. Logano’s title hopes faded when he went to pass Carl Edwards on a late restart and Edwards blocked, leading to contact that eliminated Edwards and damaged Logano’s car.

Sunday, Logano’s pit crew gained him two spots on the final pit stop, allowing him to restart third and charge to the win. It was pretty much the same unit that had been there in 2014 and ’16.

Front tire changer Thomas Hatcher, rear tire changer Zachary Price and tire carrier Dylan Dowell had been on the team since 2014. The only new member was jackman Graham Stoddard, who had been teammate Ryan Blaney’s jackman but moved to Logano’s team after Blaney was eliminated in the playoffs at Kansas.

That four of the five pit crew members remained since 2014 is a remarkable achievement in an era where changes to pit crews can be common. This unit excelled late in the playoffs, playing a key role in helping Logano win at Martinsville, and having a strong performance in the championship race.

“I think the longer you are together, the more you learn what to expect from the other guy, so it actually makes you faster,” Dowell told NBC Sports.

Having experienced the lows of the title race — and missing the playoffs last year — it allowed the team to appreciate its accomplishment.

“It definitely made it sweeter,” Hatcher told NBC Sports. “It definitely made it sweeter.”


Morgan Shepherd had Landon Cassill drive his Xfinity car for him last weekend in Miami, but Shepherd says he plans to be back.

“This is 51 years for us,” the 77-year-old Shepherd told NBC Sports at Homestead-Miami Speedway, “and I’ve started on my next. If I can get it in, I’ll only be 127 (years old). We’ll see where we land.”

Morgan Shepherd (Photo Getty Images)

Isn’t it time for retirement?

“Nah,” Shepherd said as he sat on the pit wall. “I’m just a servant. I might not be able to help myself but I can help other people with what we’re doing. Our charity is 32 years old. … We’ll go as long as the Lord wants me to go.”

Shepherd understands that change will come at some point.

“We definitely would be better with a younger driver and build it around him,” Shepherd said. “We’ll see where it goes. We haven’t quit yet.”


Crew chief Luke Lambert told NBC Sports he’s signed a new deal with Richard Childress Racing and will serve as rookie Daniel Hemric’s crew chief on the No. 31 car next season.

It will make the first time Lambert has worked with a young driver. He’s previously worked with veteran drivers Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman. Lambert had been with Newman the past five seasons. Newman moves to Roush Fenway Racing for 2019.

“It will be different in ways,” Lambert said of working with a rookie. “I’ve been around situations with young drivers a lot so I’m very familiar with what sort of things need to be done differently. Ultimately, it’s going to be about learning each other and what he needs different to be successful and for me to help figure out ways to provide that for him.”