Raphael Lessard

Truck starting lineup for Friday’s race at Dover

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Brett Moffit will lead the field to green in Friday’s NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway. NASCAR released the Truck starting lineup Wednesday morning.

Moffitt will be joined on the front row of the Truck starting lineup by Sheldon Creed, who won last weekend’s race at the Daytona road course. Austin Hill starts third and is followed by Matt Crafton and rookie Raphael Lessard.

Click here for Truck starting lineup

The Truck starting lineup is set by using a new formula based on three statistical categories: owner points position, the finish and fastest lap from the most recently completed race.

The three are weighted and averaged to determine the starting order with points position counting 35 percent, finishing position at 50 percent and fastest race lap at 15 percent.

Four races remain until the Truck playoffs begin Sept. 17 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The remaining regular-season races are Dover, Gateway (Aug. 30), Darlington (Sept. 6) and Richmond (Sept. 10).

NASCAR Truck Series at Dover 

Race Time: 5 p.m. ET Saturday

Track: Dover International Speedway; Dover, Delaware (1-mile speedway)

Length: 200 laps (200 miles)

Stages: Stage 1 ends Lap 45. Stage 2 ends Lap 90

TV coverage: FS1

Radio: Motor Racing Network (also SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Streaming: Fox Sports app (subscription required); mrn.com and SiriusXM for audio (subscription required)

Starting lineup: Click here for starting lineup

Next Cup race: Saturday at Dover (311 laps, 311 miles), 4 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Next Xfinity race: Saturday at Dover (200 laps, 200 miles) 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN

Sheldon Creed wins Truck race on Daytona road course in overtime

Sheldon Creed Daytona
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Sheldon Creed held off Brett Moffitt in an overtime finish to win Sunday’s inaugural Truck Series race on the Daytona road course.

The GMS Racing driver led 19 of 46 laps and scored his second win of the year.

“Going against Brett like that is really hard, he’s really good and has a lot of experience,” Creed said of his teammate. “I owe a lot to him. He’s helped me a lot in the last year-and-a-half and to be him straight up like that is really rewarding.”

The top five was completed by Raphael Lessard, Matt Crafton and Austin Hill.

The overtime finish was setup by a caution with two laps left in the scheduled distance for Carson Hocevar‘s truck stalling on the track after an incident.

With his victory, Creed also won the first $50,000 bonus of the Triple Truck Challenge.

More: Race results, point standings

More: Sunday Cup Series race start time info

STAGE 1 WINNER: Brett Moffitt won the stage under caution.

STAGE 2 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Raphael Lessard scored his best-career finish and his first career top-five finish … Matt Crafton earned his fifth top-five finish in the last six races … Parker Kligerman placed eighth for his second consecutive top-10 finish.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Zane Smith, who won at Michigan, started from the pole but overdrove the first turn on Lap 1 and fell back to 19th. He finished 13th … In her 200th Truck Series start, Jennifer Jo Cobb finished 31st after suffering brake problems on Lap 6 … Niece Motorsports driver Mark Smith brought out the caution at the end of the first stage when he spun off course and stalled. He finished 36th … Christian Eckes finished 12th after he wrecked from contact with Stewart Friesen coming to the checkered flag .. Alex Tagliani finished 22nd in his only start of the year after he was part of a wreck with Ben Rhodes and Parker Kligerman during the overtime finish.

NOTABLE: Ty Majeski was transported to a local hospital after the race for further evaluation.

WHAT’S NEXT: Truck Series race at Dover International Speedway at 5 p.m. ET Aug. 21 on FS1.

Friday 5: Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief makes a simple request

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A year into his role as Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief and facing another challenge to make the playoffs, Cliff Daniels has a simple request.

“I’m not even asking for things to exceptionally go our way,” he told NBC Sports. “I’m just asking for them to exceptionally stop going against us. When that happens, we’ll be OK.”

This has been a dizzying season of disappointment for Johnson and his team since the season resumed in May. The result is that the seven-time Cup champion is outside a playoff spot heading into this weekend’s doubleheader at Michigan International Speedway and in danger of missing the playoffs for a second year in a row.

Since May, there have been few highlights for Johnson and the No. 48 team.

# In NASCAR’s return May 17 at Darlington, Johnson was on his way to winning the first stage when he made contact with Chris Buescher and crashed on the final lap of the stage.

# Johnson finished second in the Coca-Cola 600 but his car failed inspection for what Daniels said was a part failure and was disqualified. The penalty cost Johnson 45 points.

# Clint Bowyer gained five spots in the last 11 laps at Atlanta to remain 12th in the owner standings and ahead of Johnson. That was critical because cars 1-12 in owner points are eligible to start in those spots via the random draw. Cars 13-24 in owner points, drew for those spots. Johnson’s luck in the random draw would prove to be terrible in the summer, costing him points in the first stage. Johnson has scored Stage 1 points in three of the 10 races since Atlanta.

Cliff Daniels has completed his first year as Jimmie Johnson’s crew chief. His first race in that role was Aug. 4, 2019. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

# Johnson missed the July 5 race at Indianapolis after testing positive for COVID-19.

# He returned the following week at Kentucky and was third on a late restart when contact with Brad Keselowski spun Johnson. Instead of a chance to win, Johnson finished 18th.

# Johnson started 20th at Texas and finished the opening stage seventh. He hit the wall in the second stage and that ruined his race, finishing 26th.

# While running 13th at Kansas, Johnson was collected in a multi-car crash and finished 32nd, again losing points.

# Last weekend at New Hampshire, contact with Clint Bowyer’s car spun Johnson as they raced for fifth place late in the opening stage. Johnson went on to finish 12th — his best finish in his last eight starts.

All this has put Johnson 25 points behind Hendrick Motorsports teammate William Byron for what would be the final playoff spot with six races left in the regular season.

The challenge is that with Johnson only eligible for starting spots 13-24, it is not easy to score points in the first stage of any race. It won’t be easy this weekend at Michigan. The first stage in both races is at Lap 40 — a quarter of the way through the 156-lap race. Last year, the first stage ended about a third of the way into the race. With fewer laps, it makes it more challenging to gain points early. NASCAR will change how the starting lineup is determined beginning next weekend and that could help Johnson.

Johnson will start 17th on Saturday. That also impacts how Daniels will set the car.

“We really have to slide our scale more toward the traffic balance potential, and you’ve got to be aggressive on the restarts, get all we can for positions there, and then make sure we’ve got a car that is able to pass,” Daniels said. “If you look at Kentucky, if you look at Texas, if you look at Kansas, that kind of paid off for us in making sure that we could pass and we did. We were able to pass and get up into the top 10 or better at all three of those tracks pretty quickly. … I do expect us to get our shot out front at some point during the day (at Michigan), at least that’s the plan.

“We’re going to keep marching forward in what we have built into the car in terms of being able to pass, have good pit stops and good restarts and a good strategy. The tough part is when we get up to the front we may not have quite the raw potential built into the car, so we’ll have to duke it out with them and that puts even more emphasis on executing those restarts and pit stops to keep our track position.”

2. Now what does Toyota do?

With the sale of Leavine Family Racing and expectation that the new team will not be aligned with Toyota, it leaves the question of what does Toyota Racing Development do?

If TRD can’t find another organization to align with, that would leave Joe Gibbs Racing’s four-car operation and Gaunt Brothers Racing’s new one-car effort in TRD’s fold.

PODCAST: How Toyota develops its young drivers 

With what Toyota invests in driver development, it will need more seats to avoid losing drivers as it will do with Erik Jones not returning to Joe Gibbs Racing after this season.

Erik Jones started the year winning the Busch Clash. He’ll end it headed for another team in 2021. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

The statement from Ed Laukes of Toyota Motor North America seemed clear that Toyota would not have a place for Jones in 2021.

“Unfortunately, the time has come that we have to part ways from a competitive standpoint,” Laukes said in his statement.

With Jones’ departure, it leaves Toyota with Christopher Bell and Daniel Suarez, who came up through its development program. Through the years, Toyota has lost Kyle Larson, William Byron, Noah Gragson and Hailie Deegan to other manufacturers.

Toyota’s pipeline remains stocked with Harrison Burton, Riley Herbst and Brandon Jones in the JGR Xfinity program. Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Truck team runs Chandler Smith, Christian Eckes and Raphael Lessard. Other Toyota drivers in the Truck Series include Derek Kraus with McAnally Hilgermann Racing and Austin Hill with Hattori Racing Enterprises.

David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development, explained in 2018 the manufacturer’s interest in developing talent:

“If you had asked me 10 years ago, I would have said that manufacturer’s don’t have any business developing drivers. You know you look at Kasey Kahne being brought up as a Ford driver and getting poached by Chevy or Jeff Gordon, kind of all of these examples – what we came to realize is one, why shouldn’t manufacturers have a role in driver development? From the competitive perspective you have two options, develop your own or steal them and you know Rick Hendrick and I have had a friendly you know jab about that because he’ll say ‘I’ll just steal them from you.’

“Arguably, he did already, but that’s okay because the second part of it is more altruistic I’d say and that’s that I think as a stakeholder in this sport, we have a responsibility to give back and we recognize – and the troubling part about it is Toyota doesn’t own racing teams. That’s not our role. The tough part about it is we’ll lose as many of these young kids as we’ll be able to keep just because you know the higher you climb the ladder, the fewer seats are available. That’s what keeps me up at night, frankly.”

3. A catwalk unlike any other

Among the many events postponed by the pandemic was the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation Catwalk for a Cause.  The charity event held in May has raised more than $600,000 each of the past two years and highlighted pediatric cancer patients and survivors — heroes as they are called — in the fashion show.

Martin Truex Jr. and Sherry Pollex. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Last year’s event raised money for the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation Children’s Emergency Department at Novant Health Huntersville Medical Center and the Sherry Strong Integrative Medicine Oncology Clinic at Novant Health Presbyterian Main.

Sherry Pollex, partner of Martin Truex Jr., told NBC Sports that COVID-19 and the economy are forcing foundations to examine how they raise funds.

“I think we’re going to have to come up with some ideas that are outside of the box, that we’ve probably never seen before because we need to honor these commitments to these hospitals and these children that we were going to fight for,” Pollex said.

An example is what the foundation looks to do with Catwalk for a Cause. 

“We’re hoping that we can still do something special,” Pollex said. “We’re trying to put all the pieces together right now. We’re not really sure what it’s going to look like. We want to obviously protect the kids and their health and their families and everybody that is going to come in, but we’re hoping it’s going to be kind of like a drive-in movie theater type atmosphere where you drive your car in and are tailgating from the back of it. We’ve got some great ideas for that and we’re hoping that goes off in September so we can get funding from that.”

Fundraising continues for the foundation, which has been selling a variety of T-shirts this summer. Truex said the key is to keep the “word out on what we’re doing. Simple things like selling T-shirts. Our fans and supporters have been excited about little things like that and that keeps the fire burning.”

Truex’s sponsor Auto-Owners Insurance combined with his foundation to sell 500 limited edition mini helmets signed by Truex and Pollex. The helmets sold out this week in less than three hours. Auto-Owners also matched employee donations to the Martin Truex Jr. Foundation. That and the sale of the helmets raised more than $80,000. To celebrate, the hood of Truex’s car this weekend at Michigan will have the names of 1,900-plus Auto-Owners associates who made donations to the MTJ Foundation.

4. Knows the feeling

Brad Keselowski, who got a one-year contract extension this week, can relate to the despair Bob Leavine felt in selling his Cup team. Keselowski shut down his Truck series team after the 2017 season. Keselowski said previously how his organization lost $1 million a season.

“Racing is tough,” Keselowski said in a media conference Thursday. “It’ll make you bitter. There ain’t no way around it. It’s competition in all forms. It’s competition from the driver level, the owner level, the crew chief level and it’s tough.There’s no way around it. 

Bob Leavine, center, at the 2018 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway. (Photo: Dustin Long)

“I’ve heard a lot of talk lately about the ownership model being broken. I’m not so sure I believe that. Sometimes I think it is. Sometimes I think it isn’t. There’s a lot to be said for the very pure and true competitive and capitalist model that NASCAR team ownership has, so it’s got its positives and its negatives. 

“I don’t enjoy seeing guys like Bob Leavine or anyone else for that matter leave the sport in ownership. I take no pleasure in their pain, but then on the other side I do recognize that in competition there must always be winners and losers, and maybe some people lose that don’t deserve to lose. That probably happens from time to time, but it’s part of the story of our sport is that there are winners and losers. 

“We don’t have to like who the winner is, and we certainly don’t have to wish for someone to lose. We might not like who it is that loses. I think in this case, Bob seemed like a really great gentleman who has brought a lot to this sport in a very short period of time, but it’s a tough sport. It really is, and this is part of that unfortunate cycle of life for our sport as well.”

5. Kyle Larson’s future

Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports, met with the media this week. One of the questions he was asked was if there had been any conversations about whether Kyle Larson could be in a Ford next year.

Larson is interested in returning to NASCAR. Chip Ganassi Racing fired him in April after he uttered a racial slug during an online race. He’s since returned to dirt track racing with tremendous success.

So, could Larson drive for Ford in NASCAR next year?

“We’re in the midst of silly season and what I can say is we’re looking at all of our options,” Rushbrook said. “A lot of our seats have long-term contracts and are solid. You saw the extension announced (Monday) for Brad (Keselowski). We certainly have some seats in play, so looking to see what the best options are. 

“We’re here to win races in the right way. We want to be competitive on track. We want to have our innovation and tech transfer, and we want the marketing out of it, so looking to see what we can do with any open seats for next year to fill them with the best driver.”

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Brandon Jones wins wreck-filled Truck race at Pocono

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Brandon Jones passed Sheldon Creed in the Tunnel Turn on the final lap to win Sunday’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck race at Pocono Raceway.

Creed took the lead on the next-to-last lap off a restart, going between Jones and Austin Hill. Jones and Creed battled side by side on the final lap through Turn 1 and entering the Tunnel Turn before Jones pulled ahead and went on to score his first series win in his 46th career start.

Hill finished second and was followed by Creed, Todd Gilliland and Ben Rhodes.

MORE: Race results, driver points report

The 60-lap race was slowed by a track record-tying nine cautions.

Christian Eckes, seeking his first series win, was among the victims in the race. He crashed while leading with 12 laps to go when a tire went down. He finished 33rd.

The race saw three cautions and two red flags in the first 13 laps. Reigning series champion Matt Crafton was collected in a crash on the first corner of the first lap. He finished last. Crafton entered the race one point out of what would be the final playoff spot.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

STAGE 2 WINNER: Sheldon Creed

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Austin Hill, who finished second, scored his seventh consecutive top-10 result but remains winless this season. … Sheldon Creed, who finished a season-best third, won both stages and scored his first top-10 finish in the past three races. … Todd Gilliland placed fourth for his best result of the year. … Ben Rhodes finished fifth for his best run of the season.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Matt Crafton finished last after he was collected in Codie Rohrbaugh‘s crash on the first corner of the first lap. Rohrbaugh finished 39th. … Raphael Lessard hit the grass in Turn 3 and shot up into the wall and in Austin Wayne Self‘s path on the sixth lap. Lessard finished 37th. Self finished 38th. … Ty Majeski, running third, blocked Grant Enfinger and wrecked on the 12th lap. Majeski placed 36th.

NOTABLE: Kyle Busch Motorsports scored its 78th career Truck win. Thirteen drivers have accounted for those victories.

NEXT: The series races at 6 p.m. ET July 11 at Kentucky Speedway on FS1.

Kyle Busch overcomes penalties to win Miami Truck race

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Kyle Busch came back from being assessed pre-race penalties to win Saturday night’s Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Busch shook off a pre-race inspection infraction that cost him 10 owner points and likely will result in additional penalties in the next few days, was forced to start from the back of the field (after he had been slated to start from the second position) and had to serve a pass-through penalty after the green flag fell.

The L1 violation assessed against Busch’s truck and team, per the NASCAR Rule Book, is: 20.3.2.3 Rear Sub-Frame Assembly I-4 Track Bar Supports a. A maximum of one track bar mount frame support and a maximum of one track bar mount lateral support must be used.

It took Busch just 39 laps to roar through the 38-truck field to take the lead and led 82 laps in the 134-lap race. He wrapped things up following the last caution and restart, sailing away from the field in the final seven laps to earn the 58th Truck Series win of his career.

“The deal with the infraction was a fluke deal,” Busch told FS1. “That’s how these trucks were allowed to run last time here at Homestead. This thing has just been sitting on the side waiting for me to get back behind the wheel. It didn’t go to the fab shop, so it didn’t get a bar cut out that was legal here last year but not legal here this year. So, not sure if there was a performance advantage to it, just something we’ve been running but not allowed to do it anymore.”

Tyler Ankrum finished second, followed by Ross Chastain, Chase Elliott and Johnny Sauter.

More: Results, standings after Miami Truck race

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ross Chastain

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

Who had a good race: Tyler Ankrum ran solid much of the night to earn his first top-10 finish of the season. … Christian Eckes (eighth) was the highest finishing rookie.

Who had a bad race: It was a rough night for GMS Racing. Shortly after a restart on Lap 20, three of its trucks – Chase Elliott, Brett Moffitt and Zane Smith – were involved in a wreck. Only Elliott was able to continue and finished fourth. Moffitt finished 36th and Smith finished 37th.

Notable: This was Busch’s second win and third top-10 finish in a Truck this season. He also said that he expects his final Truck Series start this year will be at Texas on July 18. … There was a red flag of almost 16 minutes late in the race when Sheldon Creed ran into sand barrels at the entrance to pit road.

What’s next: The series is off next weekend and returns to action on Saturday, June 27, at Pocono Raceway (12:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

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