Seth Barbour

What drivers said after Las Vegas race

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Here is what drivers had to say after Sunday night’s Las Vegas race.

Kurt Busch — Winner: “This is what kids dream of when they grow up racing. You dream of winning at your hometown track. And for two decades it’s kicked my butt. And tonight, with this Monster Energy Chevy, I’m in awe. I knew the race would come to us. We needed to get to nightfall and one of those quirky Mac McCall (crew chief) pit sequences finally unfolded. We got lucky. You’ve got to be lucky. And you have to be lucky in any race, but we did it tonight with teamwork and pulling through and just not giving up. … Yeah, the No. 11 (Denny Hamlin) had a ton of speed. I was wide-open. And you just have to manipulate the draft. I pulled out some old drag racing skills on the restarts. I knew that was our strong suit. We just put ourselves in position and we held off. Chip Ganassi was up in the suite somewhere and I could feel him breathing over my neck, I want to win. And we did it.”

Matt DiBenedetto — Finished 2nd: “Two seconds at Vegas.  It’s tough to come that close, just wanted it so bad for this team. I love driving for the Wood Brothers.  I want that number 100 for them so bad and for Menards, the whole family and everything they do for us and the team, and having Duracell on the car this week, we’re keeping her charged up good. Our car was the best it had been at the end, just couldn’t get control on those restarts. The 1 car, Kurt, did a great job. We had completely different ratios for the restarts and once he gained control of the race, he played the right games on the restarts, knew what we had on our weakness there. Man, it’s tough to come that close. I just want it so bad, but I’m proud of the team. They did a great job. My pit crew did a great job tonight and really earned that one for us.”

DENNY HAMLIN — Finished 3rd: “We had a dominant car today and I’m proud of the whole FedEx team for giving me such a great car. By far the best car I’ve had in Las Vegas in a long time. It was really, really good. Happy with it and this new tire here. We’ll run that a few more times this year. Really encouraged by the way we ran, but very disappointed that we didn’t get a win. It’s just been the way that the playoffs have gone. Whoever stays out the longest puts themselves in a great spot to win. … I feel good about it. I certainly had a great day. It’s something I’m happy about, it’s about how we ran and how fast we were. We restarted 13th there with just a few laps and then the top got shuffled and we were able to make some ground on the bottom. If either one of the cautions don’t happen, we’re still in great shape, but it took them like seven laps to get a piece of debris off and then we had debris right in the fuel window.

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 4th: “We were right there in the hunt coming down after the last pit stop there under green. We were third and we were tracking them down just a little bit at a time. Felt like we were maybe going to have a three-way race for the win and then that caution came out and put us all the way to the back. To be able to battle through that and ended up pitting again for tires because we weren’t going anywhere and restarted like 24th there on not the last caution, but the one before that. To be able to drive back up to fourth is really something. The Bass Pro Toyota was really strong tonight. We needed just a little bit to be as good as the 11 (Denny Hamlin) and maybe the 88 (Alex Bowman), but we were a third-place car, no question. Just missed it a tiny little bit. Decent night. Just needed a little bit more, but happy with the team and the job they’re doing. See what we can do next week at Talladega.”

ALEX BOWMAN – Finished 5th: “I guess it is good to be disappointed in a fifth-place finish. We did not need that caution to come out in the middle of the pit cycle like that. I thought it was going to be ok for us, but we just couldn’t get through traffic as well as we needed to. Our program is continuing to improve and I just feel like this is another Vegas race that go away from us. At least it was a good points day, which is what we need.”

Kyle Busch — Finished 6th: “We weren’t great early on and didn’t quite have the long run speed. We worked on it and I thought we were making some gains on it and then we got that damage and got way back in traffic. Then there towards the end, was just able to get lucky on a couple of the last restarts in order to pick off a few spots with the M&M’s Camry and get ourselves in a better position for the finish. It was a pretty dismal day I guess. I looked like it was going to be about 12th or 14th if we didn’t have some good moves on that last restart there to get us a sixth-place finish.”

Ryan Blaney — Finished 7th: “Overall it was a decent night. We had to start mid pack and were able to drive up through there pretty quick. I thought our Mustang was good and we made good adjustments on it throughout the night. By the second stage I thought we were really strong, we just needed to kind of restart with the leaders and stay in touch with them. That caution that trapped a bunch of us a lap down was unfortunate. I think we were running fourth or fifth at the time. That stunk. We were able to rebound alright and we started third on that last restart and tried to push Matt (DiBenedetto) and get there but the top just kind of trained up on us. It was unfortunate to run seventh but we had a good car and really good adjustments all night. I thought we were right there, it just didn’t all work out. I thought our car was really fast though, so I am proud of that effort.”

Erik Jones — Finished 8th: “It was kind of an up-and-down day. We started off and I didn’t think that our Toyota Camry was really where it needed to be. We were struggling with rear grip in the heat and couldn’t really get the thing going in the right direction. Towards the end, got some track position and had some good restarts and got the car a lot better. We got caught a lap down with the pit cycle and had some contact there with another car trying to avoid (John Hunter Nemechek) and had to come in and pit and fix some damage. It put us behind there with six laps to go, but still good to come home eighth. Top 10, we will take that and move on.”

Kevin Harvick — Finished 10th: “We just missed everything tonight. The car just didn’t drive good. We were slow on pit road and that was pretty much it. We just got buried in the field there.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 12th: “I was more worried about this race than I am the next two. We didn’t get out of here as good as I wanted to. Obviously, the 1 car was not a car that we needed to win a race. It’s been a hell of a battle back there with cars that are kind of in the same wheelhouse as far as points-wise. Him winning changes that landscape quite a bit, but we’re only 20 points out. It wasn’t near as bad as it could have been. The car was nuclear meltdown and I was lucky to finish, so 20 points is pretty easy to overcome at a track like Talladega that’s for sure.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 13th: “It just wasn’t the night we wanted. It’s a good thing we had a little bit of a points cushion to lean on and we’ll run our best the next two weeks. It could have been a lot worse. It is frustrating but we are certainly not out of it. We still have a pretty good points cushion so we will try to get through these next two weeks and put up a good race and build ourselves a cushion.”

Joey Logano — Finished 14th: “Unfortunately, we got a little damage there and had to pit for the left-rear tire. You can’t afford to blow a left-rear tire in the playoffs and back the thing in the fence and shoot yourself in the foot. We had to pit and then just no cautions, and then the one time I had a shot at it the 48 just got me, so that was a little unfortunate. Eventually, we got the lucky dog and went around with our Pennzoil Mustang and drove back to 14th. I felt like that second stage, not scoring any stage points there hurts, but we’re still above the cutline and we’ll head on to Talladega and see how that one goes.”

Cole Custer — Finished 16th: “We just didn’t have the restarts we needed tonight. Obviously, the caution that came out in the middle of the green-flag pit stop cycle hurt us. The guys did a good job tonight and were good on pit road too.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 17th: “Our mile-and-a-half stuff has been really good lately. We ran really good at Kentucky, Texas and we’ve just been solid, so I came in here with a lot of confidence. I thought we would come here and run good. The guys have been working really hard on the cars back at the shop and we just missed it tonight. We were off in speed, off in handling, we were not very good at all on pit road. We didn’t do a lot of things right myself included, so it was just a bad night. Nothing went the way it was supposed to go. We’ve got to be better than that. You can’t transfer through these rounds running that poorly, so we’ll go to Talladega and see if we can’t pull one out of our hat.”

JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK — Finished 20th: “Man, that was a heartbreaker. Our No. 38 Speedy Cash Ford Mustang was on the free side to fire off and we were bouncing on the splitter pretty bad. Seth (Barbour) and the crew did a fantastic job on pit road getting the handling to where we were comfortable, and we fought our way up into the top five. Unfortunately, we had a tire go down towards the end of the final stage and then made contact a few laps later trying to avoid a wreck. Definitely not the finish my guys deserved today.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 21st: “That was definitely a tough finish to what was a much stronger performance by our No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops | Delo team all race long. We ran inside of the top 20 for basically the entire race, getting as high as fifth or sixth at one point; but unfortunately the handful of late-race cautions and multiple restarts just got us shuffled back to where there weren’t enough laps to drive back towards the front.”

William Byron — Finished 25th: “Just a bummer of a result tonight. We really had a good car. We needed to keep adjusting to keep up with the track but we were running inside the top 10 before that caution during green-flag pit stops. Then we could never rally back unfortunately. Being stuck back there, we then got caught up with two laps to go and couldn’t recover.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 26th: “Our GEICO Military team battled all night long. At the start of the race, the car didn’t have enough rear grip to charge and make speed, but Matt (Borland) kept chipping away at it. Our Chevrolet continued to get better throughout the race. The caution came at the wrong time after our green flag pit stop there at the end, which trapped us a lap down. You can’t control those things though. I’m looking forward to Talladega next week. It is important to our Germain Racing team to finish these final six races strong and we will keep working hard to do that.”

Bubba Wallace – Finished 28th: “Awful. Just missed it. On to Talladega.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 32nd: “We were doing what we needed to do. We were a solid, top-five car in Stage 1 and Stage 2 and were able to earn some points during the end of each of the first two stages. We weren’t so fortunate in Stage 3. We were issued a safety violation on pit road with less than 80 laps to go and had to restart at the tail end of the field. We shook it off because we knew that we work well under pressure. We made our way up to 20th and we were in pretty good shape because we were three cars behind the No. 1 car and we were going to run long, probably. But then I suddenly lost all steering and the water pressure gauge pegged at 400 degrees. We made quick repairs but lost nine laps on pit road and that pretty much did us in. I’m proud of this team for continuing to fight. We’ve got two races left in the Round of 12 and we’re not giving up. It’s on to Talladega Superspeedway where anything can happen, and our goal is to win.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 37th: “We just didn’t really have any luck on our side tonight. I was a little tight to fire off, but we had good overall speed in our car. Unfortunately after our first pit stop of the night, we had a loose right rear tire so we had to make a second stop to fix that and fell a lap down. It’s frustrating to have a car as fast as the one we had and be trapped a lap down, but as a team, we knew we still had a lot of time to get back on the lead lap and into the mix before the race was over. On the final lap of Stage 2, I got into the wall pretty hard and it ended our night early.”

What drivers said after Sunday Cup race at Dover

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Here is what drivers had to say after the Sunday Cup race at Dover:

Kevin Harvick — Winner: “I love the grit of our race team. I think that is what Gene Haas and Tony Stewart have built at Stewart-Haas Racing. A team with a lot of grit. Sometimes we don’t have the fastest car but we have guys willing to suck it up and when we have a weak link that day someone else will carry the team. I am really proud of that and that is what it is all about. You are only as good as the people around you and we have great people. With Denny (Hamlin) winning yesterday we needed to win today and we need all the points we can get. I think as you look at these playoffs you never know what to expect but I know that as we go week to week we will give it all we have and I am just really proud.”

Martin Truex Jr. — Finished 2nd: “Second or third, it seems like every week here. On one hand, it’s good obviously and you want to be running up front and having good finishes. On the other hand, we didn’t get any better than we were yesterday, it was actually a little bit worse. I was a little disappointed in that. These things are really, really tricky to figure out to get them right. We just had to battle hard all day long and it took us a long time to get up towards the front in our Bass Pro Shops Camry. We just battled hard with an ill-handling car all day long. Just tried to hang onto what we could and came out with a decent finish.”

Jimmie Johnson — Finished 3rd: “I was so excited and so happy to have the view I did sitting there up front (for the final restart) and have control of the restart.  I knew when we hit the gas and the 4 car was able to stay with me I was going to be in trouble.  I needed to clear him into 1 and quickly I realized that my left sides were pretty exhausted and just didn’t have the grip we needed in them.  We had a really good car and I really credit (crew chief) Cliff (Daniels) for making that brave call for two tires.  I think we were one of the fastest cars if not the fastest car over the last two runs, just unfortunately clawing our way back in from losing track position, and we didn’t have the best stop two from the end, so we really just had to gamble. I really appreciate his courage to do that.  It netted a better finish.  Certainly wish there was more there, but a great couple days here in Dover.”

William Byron — Finished 4th: “It was like a completely different race car and completely different race for us today compared to yesterday. We had the Axalta Chevy doing the things we wanted it to do on most runs. It just felt good out there. I knew at the beginning of the race that we were keeping pace with the No. 19 the No. 11. As soon as we got the track position, we were able to stay up there. I think we were a little bit behind though since we really didn’t have a notebook from yesterday. I think if we had another race at it, we would run a bit better. Overall, this is good for our Axalta team. Now we’re going to Daytona where it’s going to be insane. I don’t think you can really points race. It’s going to be a race to be as aggressive as you can and hope things fall your way.”

Alex Bowman — Finished 5th: “Man, I am so proud of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports. Three cars in the top five today. For us to pull out a back-up car, the No. 88 team did a great job getting everything together and regrouping after yesterday’s issues. Very appreciative to end up in the top-five and get Acronis a good run. We needed to get things turned around and this is a good step in the right direction. I felt like we were a second-place car on the short run and probably shouldn’t have picked the bottom on that last restart. So appreciative to have a great run and a huge shout out to everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet. This was great.”

Joey Logano — Finished 6th:  “I screwed up (in contact with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. early in the race). I don’t know any way better to put it. We raced each other hard and I was trying to make the bottom work and my car was tight. I got a little loose down into three which kind of sent me up the race track and there was a pocket of air that if your front is really close to someone’s left rear tire the nose really takes off. I am not making excuses for the mistake. it is on me. I got in that pocket and then got started really going up the race track and I barely tagged him. I am not sure if I actually tagged him or not but it was enough to spin him around and I needed to be further away to protect the damage to our car and countless others. Like I said, I apologize to him and his race team and the others involved. I got myself in a tight spot and I didn’t do a good job getting out of it.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 7th: “Great job from everyone on bouncing back today. I need to do better, we all need to do better, and we just need to keep grinding with the playoffs coming up. We didn’t have a clean race today again and still found ourselves leading laps and running in and around the top-five. Our goal when we started the season was to make Daytona not matter before the playoffs and we accomplished that goal by clinching our spot in the playoffs today. Looking forward to heading there with no pressure and racing one last time for that regular-season win.”

Brad Keselowski — Finished 8th: “Obviously if we knew what was going on there we would copy it the best we could. I agree that the 4 car (of Kevin Harvick) has been the best car for the last six years and some could argue that the 18 (of Kyle Busch) has been with them a couple years. They deserve credit for that success. They deserve credit for being fast and putting all those pieces of the puzzle together. When you have that kind of speed you try to keep the band together and keep them motivated and something you can do as a driver quite honestly it comes down to the team and management in the company that you drive for and the crew chief. Especially in these latest of times, shoot, I haven’t seen my team but for a few minutes here and there every weekend so there isn’t much I am going to do to lead them and guide them because of the environment. Fast cars go fast. When you have a fast car and you are experienced you show up and try not to mess it up. You try to execute your perfect day. Restarts, getting out of the box, trying to give the feedback to make the car better throughout the race, you know. You put a great car with a great driver and you will get dominance like that. Kevin is a great driver and that is a great car.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 9th: “We had a good day at Dover International Speedway in the Dow Coatings Chevrolet, and that shows just how hard we all work at RCR. It feels good to come out of the Monster Mile with two solid runs. We started the race too free. A pit stop for right-side tires definitely tightened me up, but it went back at the end of the run, and I was just sliding around out there to end Stage 1. Our Chevy definitely had speed today, it was just too loose to do anything with it during portions of the race. (Crew chief) Justin Alexander and all of the guys on the team did a good job at making adjustments. Towards the middle of the race we were knocking off some of the fastest lap times of the field. We went four-wide to make a pass and I got a little damage to my right-front, which made our No. 3 Dow Coatings Chevrolet really tight. It was still fast, though. I’m proud of a top-10 finish.”

Cole Custer — Finished 10th: “We had a solid day today at Dover. We made improvements on the car from yesterday. I think we have some good notes for whenever we come back here.”

KYLE BUSCH — Finished 11th: “It was a long day with our Interstate Batteries Camry. We worked on the car overnight and wanted to improve on yesterday’s finish. Got run into the back of near the beginning, and I’m not sure what exactly that did to our car. We just couldn’t quite get it handling like we wanted to or even like it did yesterday. We just kept fighting all day and did the best with what we had.”

Kurt Busch — Finished 13th: “We have been consistent in our hunt for the playoffs all season. With today‘s finish, not what we hoped for, but we locked-in! I’m proud of everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing. Teamwork is what it’s all about.”

Clint Bowyer — Finished 16th: “Overall a good weekend. Good day yesterday, had a decent day going today doing what we needed to and had a little hiccup with left front on the last stop. We’ll have to wait until next week to lock us in the playoffs.”

Matt DiBenedetto — Finished 17th: “Dover killed us. We were pretty horrendous both days. I just tried to make the most of it that we could and it just wasn’t much. It was the perfect storm of really losing a lot of points and having a rough weekend. Going to Daytona. I hate to be negative but if we were going somewhere else I would feel better about it because we have been pretty strong at most tracks aside from here. I have struggled here. Going to Daytona and the Ford’s are strong but I have ended up at the infield care center the last two years there. We keep getting caught up in everyones mess. I am going to sit and hope and pray all week that we can just come out of there clean and make the playoffs. We shouldn’t be this close to the bubble. It is frustrating. A couple weeks messed us up. Getting wiped out at Texas and Kansas and then really hurt us points wise and then we come here and really hurt ourselves here. It has been a tough go of circumstances and going to Daytona is going to make it quite an uncomfortable week.”

Tyler Reddick — Finished 18th: “We started off with our No. 8 Cat App Chevrolet a lot better than yesterday. I was able to roll through the turns a lot smoother and just needed a bit more rear security. I thought maybe that issue would be cleared up as the track began to rubber up, but it just never tightened up quite as much as I needed it to. The adjustments that my crew chief, Randall Burnett, and the team made through Stage 1 and 2 helped fight that looseness, but I still needed even more stability to really carry speed into the corner like I needed to. At the end of Stage 2, we took a big swing on our adjustments, which did help solve the rear security issue, but took it almost to the other extreme and made it too tight to turn. The day didn’t go how we wanted it to, but I’m proud of our team. No one gave up, and we worked hard all race long. This isn’t over for us yet. We still have one more chance to make the Playoffs at Daytona International Speedway, and I’m looking forward to the challenge.”

John Hunter Nemechek — Finished 20th: “We made some good improvements from yesterday in our No. 38 ACME Markets Ford Mustang. We started off pretty free today, but Seth (Barbour, crew chief) and the crew made some good adjustments on pit stops throughout the race. I have to say a big thanks to my crew for sticking with me all day. We were able to improve on yesterday’s finish and that’s something to be proud about.”

Bubba Wallace — Finished 21st: “Today was a little bit better day for our Richard Petty Motorsports No. 43 Columbia PFG Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. It was kind of the same balance as yesterday. Our Chevrolet handled the same, but we had a little bit more speed. Still not where we want to be – just could never get the rear-end underneath us. When we did, it was just way too much. We need to get some more adjustability in our car, but overall a good day for our Columbia PFG team. It was cool to see them on the race track and I’m excited for what’s next with them. We will keep everything going and continue the momentum into Daytona (International Speedway) next week.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 25th: “Well, it was a busy day for my guys on pit road. Our No. 34 Shield Cleansers, Digital Ally Inc. Ford Mustang started out on the loose side and just seemed to stay that way throughout the course of the race. We threw a lot of wedge and trackbar adjustments at the car to try and help find a bit more speed, but unfortunately we were also battling a changing race track as the sun started to set in Stage 3 and temperatures began to cool off, so it was tough to predict how the car was going to behave as the race went on.”

Daniel Suarez — Finished 28th: “It’s been a rollercoaster of a season, for sure, and after a weekend like we’ve had here with our CommScope Toyota, we know we just need to keep working hard and keep our eyes on the big picture. We struggled with our handling on corner entry and exit today and just had a difficult time trying to find a way to fix it. It’s definitely frustrating, but one thing we are doing for sure is to keep working hard and keep trying to make our racecars better. It may not always feel like it, but in the big picture we are continuing to make progress.”

Front Row Motorsports reaching new heights without practice

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For the last 12 Cup races, teams haven’t had the opportunity to practice as NASCAR navigates the hurdles of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the lack of practice sessions each race weekend has turned out to be a “tremendous” help for Front Row Motorsports, according to Drew Blickensderfer.

Blickensderfer is in his second year serving as crew chief on Michael McDowell‘s No. 34 Ford. Through 16 races, both McDowell and teammate John Hunter Nemechek each have two top-10 finishes, matching the team’s best total for a season.

McDowell’s two top 10s have come in the last three races – Pocono 1 and Brickyard 400 – and both of Nemechek’s have come since NASCAR returned on May 17 – Darlington 1 and Talladega.

“Where we lack compared to some of the other teams is when they unload on Friday they’ve got a team at the shop ready to look at the information from the racetrack and help the people at the racetrack get their car better,” Blickensderfer said in a Zoom press conference. “Guys like Kyle Busch, they are the best in the world at sitting in that seat and saying, ‘I need this to be better on Sunday.’ They know what the track is gonna do. They know what they feel.

“With us getting our race cars better Michael doesn’t always know. John Hunter is a rookie, he always doesn’t know what’s gonna happen on Sunday versus Saturday. They haven’t had great race cars for years and years like some of the veteran guys have had, so I think them not knowing that and not hurting us during practice has helped a ton. We don’t have the personnel back at the shop helping us work on the cars Friday and Saturday. We load up and go to the racetrack almost everybody in this shop goes to the racetrack.

“We don’t have guys sitting back here at the shop, at least an engineering staff that’s willing to help, so no qualifying hurt, no practice, I think, has been a huge benefit and I think our tools have shown that they’re as good as anybody’s because we’ve hit that first run really well since the pandemic.”

John Hunter Nemechek in last week’s Brickyard 400. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Since NASCAR’s return, FRM’s two cars have combined to finish in the top 15 10 times, with each driver claiming five.

Heading into Sunday’s race at Kentucky Speedway (2:30 p.m. ET on FS1), Nemechek and McDowell are 22nd and 23rd in the driver points. But in the owner points, which dictates where they start each race via random draw, Nemechek is 24th and McDowell is 25th.

In the random draw process, Nemechek can start anywhere from 13th to 24th and McDowell can start between 25th and 36th. On Sunday, Nemechek starts 22nd and McDowell rolls off 30th.

“Our cars have had more speed this year than we’ve ever had at Front Row, so that’s helped us, obviously, with performance and getting the results that we need to get,” said McDowell, who is in his third season with FRM. “But they’ve done an exceptional job unloading really close without any practice and having our cars very competitive, which is hard to do. But the downside … is we had a mechanical failure early on in the year and that hurt us in the points and then, for the most part we’ve been starting 26th, 27th, 30th, 32nd every weekend, so that’s tough.

“We’re only (six) points out of the top 24 in owner points, so it would be nice to get there. The unfortunate part is that my teammate is the next one in front of us, so we’d like to have both cars in the top 24 in owner points so that we can both start up front and I think we’re maybe 10 or 12 points back from that, so it’s not impossible but we’ve got some work to do. If we keep running how we’ve been running the last three or four weeks we should be able to get ourselves in there and not have to start so far back.”

McDowell said that Nemechek, in his rookie year, has done an “exceptional job” so far, but made sure to frame it through the lens of Nemechek benefitting from “three, four, five, six, seven years of a lot of people’s hard work, but he’s doing a good job making the most out of it and executing.”

“That’s not to take anything away from him, but John Hunter didn’t bring this speed to Front Row,” McDowell said. “Front Row was building that over years and he’s very fortunate that he’s got the opportunity this year while the cars are so good, just like I am.”

McDowell added: “Seth Barbour, his crew chief, has been with the organization for a long time and has done a great job of elevating it, alongside with Drew and Derrick Finley and a lot of people, so I think that this sport … it’s a lot about timing and his timing is really good right now to be in our cars and have them running as well as they are.”

McDowell said the two drivers have “been able to push each other … and that definitely helps, so having a teammate that’s fast and can push you is super-important, and he’s definitely done that, so it’s been good.”

Nemchek, who is making his first Cup start at Kentucky, said a lack of practice has been an “exclamation mark” on how much preparation is needed for a race.

“For myself, it’s just trying to be a sponge and soak up as much information as I can to have that experience and to be able to put everything into one basket and push forward.,” he said. “For myself, it’s been a little bit difficult. I feel like most weeks we’ve kind of shown speed right off the bat. We’ve continued to progress. Some weeks we’ve been on the struggle bus side, but, overall, from almost every week I’m kind of glad that we haven’t had practice.”

Nemechek said given the circumstances the team and sport is experiencing, “we’re still going into every weekend with no expectations. We want to run the best that we can every single week and we want to continue to push forward and run every lap. For myself, this year is about learning. It’s about taking in everything that I can and building that notebook on the experience side.”

John Hunter Nemechek joins Front Row Motorsports’ 2020 driver lineup

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John Hunter Nemechek will join Michael McDowell as a full-time driver at Front Row Motorsports for the 2020 Cup season, the team announced Thursday, confirming it will retract to two cars.

Nemechek will drive the No. 38 Ford, taking over the seat held by David Ragan before his retirement. He will work with crew chief Seth Barbour.

McDowell will continue to drive the No. 34 Ford.

Nemechek competed in the final three Cup races of 2019, substituting for Matt Tifft in the No. 36 Ford following his seizure at Martinsville Speedway in October. Tifft parted ways with the team in order to focus on his health.

Nemechek, the son of Joe Nemechek, joins a rookie class that includes Christopher Bell, Tyler Reddick, Cole Custer and Brennan Poole.

“I’m thrilled for the opportunity to drive for Bob Jenkins and Front Row Motorsports,” Nemechek said in a press release. “Having driven the last three races with this team in 2019, I feel like we already have a foundation to start the 2020 season. I’m looking forward to continuing to build FRM.”

Nemechek, 22, competed full-time in the Xfinity Series in 2019 driving for GMS Racing. He finished seventh in the standings after earning six top fives and 19 top-10 finishes. He has six Truck Series wins in 99 starts since 2013.

McDowell returns for his third full-time season with Front Row.

“As an organization, we have made a lot of strides with the help of all our partners of our program,” McDowell said in the press release. “I’m ready to build on that momentum with (crew chief) Drew (Blickensderfer). and the rest of our team. We’ve always had steady growth and I think we’re going to continue to see that next season.”

Said team owner Bob Jenkins: “We are looking to the future with a young talent like John Hunter Nemechek. John Hunter impressed us at the end of last season, he comes from a racing family, and he’s a winning driver. We believe that we can grow with him in the years to come.”

 

Richard Petty Motorsports, Front Row Motorsports announce crew chief changes

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Bubba Wallace will have a new crew chief in 2019 with Drew Blickensderfer leaving to take the same position with Front Row Motorsports.

Richard Petty Motorsports said in a statement it will announce a new crew chief “at the appropriate time.” Meanwhile competition director Philippe Lopez will lead the No. 43 team’s efforts to prepare for the season.

Wallace finished the 2018 season 28th in points. He earned three top 10s, including second place in the Daytona 500.

Blickensderfer, who was with RPM since 2012, heads to Front Row Motorsports, which announced its crew chief lineup Wednesday.

Blickensderfer will be paired with Michael McDowell on the No. 34 Ford. Blickensderfer replaces Derrick Finley, who will serve as FRM’s technical director.

Mike Kelley joins FRM to crew chief rookie Matt Tifft and the No. 36 Ford. Kelley was previously with Roush Fenway Racing where he was crew chief on the No. 60 Xfinity car. Kelley is a two-time Xfinity champion, winning with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011 and 2012.

Seth Barbour will return for his second full season as crew chief on David Ragan‘s No. 38 Ford. He joined the team in the middle of the 2017 season as a crew chief for Landon Cassill.

The crew chief moves come as the team recently announced it had moved shop locations.

 

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