NASCAR Cup Series

Clint Bowyer
Getty Images

Clint Bowyer wants to provide ‘bang’ for fan’s ‘buck’ when racing returns

Leave a comment

As it stands, the NASCAR Cup Series won’t be seen in action in real life for 45 days.

With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing the postponement of seven NASCAR race weekends, the next scheduled Cup race is May 9 at Martinsville Speedway.

If that race is able to be held as scheduled, it would mean race teams and fans would be in for a fast and furious remainder of the season, as NASCAR intends to hold all 36 of its Cup points races and the All-Star Race.

But what would that look like and what do drivers think of the possible layout of the rest of the season?

Stewart-Haas Racing asked its four Cup drivers how they’re preparing for a potential resumption of the season and what they’d like to see in a condensed schedule with doubleheaders and mid-week races likely in the mix.

“If you’ve followed me, you know I’ve been pretty vocal about changing things up when it comes to the schedule,” Kevin Harvick said in a media release from SHR. “When it comes to the 2021 schedule, NASCAR was already looking outside the box of things we can do differently. Out of necessity, how we configure race weekends and when we race will have to be figured out for when we get back to racing this year.”

Harvick observed that “change is different, but it can be good.”

“We’ll have to think differently and be open-minded to what the rest of this year’s schedule ends up looking like,” said Harvick.

Aric Almirola believes the introduction of mid-week races for NASCAR’s premier series would “resonate really well.”

“Fans who worked all day can come home, eat dinner and then relax on the couch while we put on a show,” Almirola said in the media release.

The prospect of same-day doubleheaders between Cup and NASCAR’s other national series was a real prospect at Atlanta two weeks ago before the race weekend was postponed just hours before cars took to the track for practice. An initial plan had Cup and Xfinity both competing on Saturday.

“I think as soon as everyone got to Atlanta and saw the schedule change, it raised an eyebrow,” Clint Bowyer said in the release. “We said, ‘Hey, we can do these races in a day.’ I was fine with it. You know we need to do whatever we can do to put on a show for all these fans across the country. If all we have time for is a one-day show, then so be it. I think we can provide enough bang for their buck.”

A one-day show could also mean little or no practice for teams. But that sits well for Almirola.

“Teams have a lot of data simulation to predict how their car is going to drive and handle at a particular track, but it’s not always perfect,” Almirola said. “Practice is always helpful, even if it’s just a little bit. It would present a challenge to not practice, but it would at least be the same for everybody.”

However, a lack of practice would take away some valuable track time for a driver like Cole Custer, who had his rookie campaign paused after just four races.

“It would be a little harder just getting one or two qualifying laps in and then going racing,” Custer said in the media release. “Any time on the racetrack as a rookie is huge – the more, the better. If all we did was qualify, like we were set to do at Atlanta, it would put a lot of emphasis on our preparation going into the weekend. For me, practice is just really important so we can work on the car and get used to the track.”

In the meantime, with a little under two months to the next potential Cup race, Almirola is doing his best to prepare himself for the physical toll of what could be awaiting him and other drivers if and when the season resumes.

“During the offseason, I’m very relaxed, but this is so different,” Almirola said. “My mind is still so focused on racing. I’m continuing to work out and I go through the week with a schedule and stay in shape because, quite honestly, I think it’s going to be even more important to be in tip-top shape when we’re ready to go and the season does start back up because we’re going to be racing a lot.

“We’re talking about running races on the weekend, then midweek, then another the following weekend. If we do that, running three races in a week is going to be a lot. Recovering after the race and getting your body and mind prepped for the next race in a short period of time will be important. I’m focused on eating right, getting plenty of protein, and staying in shape to be as ready as possible for whatever this season has in store for us.”

Top 5 moments at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Leave a comment

Today the NASCAR Cup Series was supposed to run a race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

But like six other Cup races, it has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To get you by today and the remaining Sunday’s without a Cup racing, each weekend we’re going to bring you a look at five memorable moments from each track.

So let’s get started with a look at some memorable moments at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 1. Smoke clinches third Cup title (2011)

When the 2011 postseason began, two-time champion Tony Stewart had no wins and wasn’t expecting to contribute much to the 10-race spectacle.

Then he became the spectacle.

Stewart reeled off five wins in 10 races, including the season finale in Miami, where he beat Carl Edwards and clinched the title in a tiebreaker over Edwards.

Stewart remains the only Cup driver to earn their first win of the season in the playoffs and go on to win the championship.

 2. Jimmie Johnson earns seventh championship (2016)

Jimmie Johnson’s record-tying seventh Cup Series title did not come easily.

After starting the season finale from the rear of the field due to a pre-race inspection failure, the Hendrick Motorsports driver did not lead until an overtime restart to finish the race.

He led the final three laps and solidified his name as one of the greatest to drive a stock car, alongside Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt Sr. Johnson’s seven titles are spread out over 11 years and multiple playoff formats.

3) Joey Logano wins the “damn war” (2018)

Three weeks before the season finale, last-lap contact between Martin Truex Jr. and Joey Logano resulted in a win for Logano at Martinsville Speedway.

A displeased Truex declared afterward that Logano “may have won the battle but he ain’t winning the damn war”

When the sun set on the season in Miami, Logano proved Truex wrong. Logano passed him for the lead with 12 laps to go, navigating around Truex’s No. 78 Toyota on the outside in commanding fashion.

Logano cruised to the win and his first Cup title.

4) Kevin Harvick kicks off the elimination era with championship (2014)

The 2014 Cup title came down to a three-lap shootout, with Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman leading the way.

Newman entered the race having not won any of the previous 35 races. But he wouldn’t get to break NASCAR’s brand new elimination format designed to emphasize wins (Matt Crafton would do that in 2019).

Instead, Harvick held off Newman in the shootout to win the race and his first Cup title.

5) Kurt Busch loses tire mid-race, bounces back to win championship (2004)

The playoff era of NASCAR got off to an interesting start thanks to Kurt Busch.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver entered the season finale with an 18-pointy advantage over Jimmie Johnson, who had won four times in the previous five races.

Busch’s championship hopes almost came apart on Lap 250. As Busch attempted to enter pit road, the right-front tire came off his No. 97 Ford and Busch barely avoided hitting the pit wall.  Busch made it to pit road and the tire rolled down the track, creating a caution.

Luckily, he was able to stay on the lead lap. While teammate Greg Biffle won the race and Johnson finished second, Busch placed fifth and clinched his first championship with an eight-point advantage over Johnson.

Preliminary entry lists for NASCAR at Atlanta

Getty Images
Leave a comment

After three weekends on the West Coast, NASCAR returns to the Southeast this weekend to race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

All three national series will be in action, with the Gander RV & Outdoors Series racing for the first time since Las Vegas.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for all three series.

Cup – Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox)

Thirty-eight cars are entered in the race.

Ross Chastain is entered in his fourth race in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford as Ryan Newman continues to recover from a head injury.

Brad Keselowski won this race last year over Martin Truex Jr. and Kurt Busch.

Click here for the entry list.

Xfinity – EchoPark 250 (4 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

Thirty-six cars are entered for the race.

Myatt Snider is entered in Richard Childress Racing’s No. 21 Chevrolet.

Jeffrey Earnhardt is entered in JD Motorsports’ No. 15 Chevrolet for his first start of the year.

Christopher Bell won this race last year over Cole Custer and Justin Allgaier.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Vet Tix Camping World 200 (1:30 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)

It’s officially bounty week in Truck Series.

Among the 38 trucks entered into the event (only 32 will qualify for it) are three full-time Cup Series drivers who will attempt to earn the $100,000 bounty placed against Kyle Busch by Kevin Harvick and Marcus Lemonis, the CEO of the series sponsor.

The trio of bounty hunters include:

Chase Elliott, who is entered in GMS Racing’s No. 24 Chevrolet.

John Hunter Nemechek, entered in NEMCO Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet

Brennan Poole, entered in On Point Motorsports’ No. 29 Toyota.

If any of the drivers are able to finish ahead of Busch in the race, he will claim the bounty. If none of them do, Kyle Larson and Erik Jones will get a shot a Busch and the $100,000 next weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Also entered in the race is Ryan Truex in Niece Motorsports’ No. 40 Chevrolet.

Busch won this race last year over Johnny Sauter and Grant Enfinger.

Click here for the entry list.

Joey Logano wins Phoenix Cup race in overtime

2 Comments

Joey Logano won Sunday’s Cup Series race at Phoenix Raceway in an overtime finish, beating Kevin Harvick to score his second win of 2020.

Logano is the first repeat winner of the season.

Logano held on to win over Harvick, Kyle Busch, Kyle Larson and Clint Bowyer.

The Team Penske driver bounced back from an uncontrolled tire penalty in Stage 2, as well as a slow pit stop due to a broken jack. Logano led 60 of the race’s 316 laps. It is his second Cup win at Phoenix.

“Boy, we had more things go wrong today, unfortunate situation with the jack breaking, nobody’s fault,” Logano told Fox. “Had some good restarts to get ourselves back up there, being aggressive and having some tires there towards the end. I knew racing Kevin was going to be hard.  I was figuring I was going to get hit, so I throttled up in the corner so much, I thought he was going to give me the bump‑n‑run, which I expected, wouldn’t blame him for.  I’m out of breath.

“That was a pretty intense last 30 minutes or hour of the race.  A lot going on.  Couldn’t be more proud of this team.  Two wins already in the books.  We’ve got to keep this thing rocking.”

The overtime finish was set up by an incident involving Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and John Hunter Nemechek with three laps left in the original 312-lap distance.

Harvick’s second-place finish comes after he led 67 laps. Harvick remains the only driver to finish in the top 10 in all four races this year. Harvick also earned his 14th consecutive top-10 finish at Phoenix, a track record.

“(Logano) got by and got control of the race,” Harvick told Fox. “He got to restart where he wanted to. “Our Jimmy John’s Ford was better, especially when we could put it in front of his.  We just didn’t get the control of the race back there, and he was able to get by us on that restart where I got hung up.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Kevin Harvick

STAGE 2 WINNER: Brad Keselowski

More: race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Kyle Larson and Clint Bowyer each earned their first top-five finish of the season. Bowyer snapped a string of 23 straight race at Phoenix without a top five.  … Chase Elliott bounced back from an unscheduled pit stop for a loose tire to finish seventh. He also led a race-high 93 laps … Cole Custer placed ninth for his first Cup Series top 10 in his seventh start.

WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished 22nd after he wrecked in Turn 2 on Lap 58, in addition to the incident that created overtime … Points leader Ryan Blaney was eliminated in a three-car incident with Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski on a Lap 64 restartAustin Dillon finished 36th after he hit the wall on Lap 131, not long after an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel. … Erik Jones placed 28th after he wrecked in Turn 1 with 60 laps to go … After running in the top 10 most of the day, Tyler Reddick placed 33rd after he was eliminated in a wreck with 48 laps to go … Martin Truex Jr. was eliminated when he wrecked on a restart with 30 laps to go. It was the culmination of a long weekend for Truex, who had to start from the rear after an engine change.

NOTABLE: Seventeen different drivers have finished in the top five through four races in 2020, tied with 2001 for the most ever through four races in a season.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “This was huge. It is a huge boost in our step to have a really solid day and fast Mustang. We overcame obstacles all weekend and hopefully we can continue to carry that all through the year. I think we get better every single race, so it is just a matter of continuing that and doing that every single weekend.” – Cole Custer after placing ninth for his first career Cup top 10.

WHAT’S NEXT: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 2 p.m. ET on March 15 on Fox

 

NASCAR’s Saturday schedule for Phoenix Raceway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NASCAR race weekend at Phoenix Raceway continues today.

Cup and Xfinity Series teams will each qualify for their races before the Xfinity race at 4 p.m. ET.

Here’s the day’s schedule with TV and radio info:

(All times are Eastern)

10 a.m. – 4 p.m. – Cup garage open

11:30 a.m. – Xfinity garage opens

1:05 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (FS1)

2:20 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

2:35 p.m. – Cup qualifying (single vehicle/two laps all positions) (FS1, MRN)

3:30 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

4 p.m. – LS Tractor 200 Xfinity race (Stages 45/90/200 laps = 200 miles) (FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)