Talladega Superspeedway

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Gray Gaulding ready to gamble for $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus at Dover

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Gray Gaulding is clear what Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Dover International Speedway represents to him.

Of the four drivers who will compete for the last of four $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prizes, Gaulding has more to win and lose.

“We’ve got a 1-in-4 chance to win $100,000,” Gaulding told NBC Sports. “For the Tyler Reddicks and the Chris Bells and Chase Briscoes, yeah, I’m not throwing any shade at them. If they win it, that’s great.

“But realistically, if they don’t win it, it’s not going to hurt the performance of their car. With us, if we win it, we’re putting that right back into our race team.”

Gaulding, who drives SS Green Light Racing’s No. 08 Chevrolet, is one of the unlikeliest drivers to get the chance to compete for the $100,00 prize.

Among the drivers to take part in the four Dash 4 Cash races this year, he’s the only one who doesn’t compete for Team Penske, Joe Gibbs Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, Richard Childress Racing or JR Motorsports.

The underdog shot at the prize is a result of Gaulding’s second-place finish last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

It was Gaulding’s first top five in 84 starts across NASCAR’s three national series. It was also the best finish for team owner Bobby Dotter in 172 Xfinity starts since 1995.

“We need that money to keep running the way we’ve been running to make it all work,” Gaulding said. “I feel like for us it’s more of a ‘must go win it’ than the other three guys.

“I think I kind of have an edge on them as far as doing whatever it takes to win the hundred grand. If I have to bump somebody out of the way to win the hundred grand for 20th place, I’m going to bump them out of the way. That’s just how hungry we are to make this happen. We have a lot on the line this weekend.”

While Gaulding’s late-race surge at Talladega to finish behind Reddick may have been surprising, Gaulding’s team has been consistent through 10 races. After a 34th-place finish at Daytona, Gaulding hasn’t finished worse than 21st and has three top 15s.

Before the season began, Gaulding made a promise to Dotter, who he has known since he first moved to North Carolina as a kid.

“I’m going to be your best salesman this year,” Gaulding said. “I’m going to show people with me driving and the crew members we have and how you own this race team, we can go out and not be a 25th-place team or a 30th-place team. We’re going do things with very little.

“Sure enough, that’s what we’ve done.”

They’ve done so with help from sponsors like Panini, a sports card collecting company. They sponsored Gaulding at Bristol after his father, Dwayne, made a cold call. After Gaulding finished 15th, he talked with Panini VP of Marketing Jason Howarth about keeping the party going.

“We said, ‘Hey, here’s the deal. If you can find a way to pull off a way to get me an engine for Talladega, we will go there and have a chance to win,'” Gaulding said. “If they didn’t do what they did for Talladega, we definitely wouldn’t have had the chance to win.”

Panini came to the 21-year-old’s rescue this week. When Gaulding’s original sponsor for Dover fell through, Panini returned as an associate sponsor. Gaulding’s primary sponsor will be World Wide Safety Consulting.

While Gaulding’s team will be able to afford a full set of tires, they won’t be able to lease an engine from ECR as it did for Talladega.

But Gaulding thinks the nature of Dover could be forgiving to the team despite its lack of a top-tier engine.

He also is hoping for an assist from Mother Nature.

“I feel Dover’s one of those tracks that if your car is handling well and your car is driving good on older tires you can make up for a little bit of a difference,” Gaulding said.

“If we were able to work some pit strategy and stay out and gamble on winning the race or just finishing in front of those other three guys to win the $100,000, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re gambling as much as we can on this race in trying to win that Dash 4 Cash.”

After being ‘beat down’ by superspeedways, Alan Gustafson gets first win

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Coming off the first off-week of the season, crew chief Alan Gustafson and his No. 9 team at Hendrick Motorsports had an interesting three-race stretch awaiting them.

The Cup Series would head to Talladega Superspeedway, Dover International Speedway and Kansas Speedway.

The last two tracks hold good memories for Gustafson and driver Chase Elliott. Two of their three wins last year came in the playoff races at Dover and Kansas. The 1-mile Dover is also the site of Elliott’s best average finish (4.3) through six starts.

“Probably of the three, I was most looking forward to Dover,” Gustafson said Sunday.  “I just love Dover, because when you win Dover, you’ve done something.  That’s a tough, fast track.  There’s no place to hide.  There’s no way you can get away with not being on the edge all day.”

But they had to go through Talladega to get there.

“I was looking forward to coming here,” Gustafson said. “I mean, you get a little beat down after doing it for so long, not getting the results, how fickle it can be.  Certainly don’t want to say I wasn’t looking forward to coming here.  You’re a bit cautious with your expectations because this place can bite you in a second.”

Elliott’s win Sunday at Talladega came in Gustafson’s 58th Cup points race on a superspeedway, with 29 each at Talladega and Daytona.

In those races, the first being the 2005 Daytona 500, Gustafson has worked with the likes of Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Casey Mears and Elliott.

Outside a win in a Daytona 500 qualifying race in 2018, Gustafson had come up one spot short of victory lane three times at superspeedways.

The closest he came was in the July 2007 race at Daytona, when Jamie McMurray edged Busch by .005 of a second to steal the win.

Nearly 12 years later, a day that saw an increased amount of coordination among Chevy teams, ended with Elliott leading 45 laps (his most on a superspeedway), including the final four, to score the win.

In addition to Gustafson and Elliott’s first Cup superspeedway wins, the victory ended a seven-race stretch of Ford wins at Talladega. It also was Chevy’s first Cup win of the season.

“We needed to win this,” Gustafson said. “We needed to consolidate our efforts.  We needed to break the streak that one of our rivals has here. … (Crew members at Hendrick have) worked really, really hard.  Really haven’t had the results to pay off their efforts.”

Chase Elliott celebrates his first Cup win of 2019. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

The win was also Hendrick Motorsports’ first on a superspeedway since Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the July 2015 race at Daytona.

“Just thinking back a year or so, we’ve been so close to winning one of these (superspeedway) races for so long, haven’t been able to do it,” Gustafson said. “Happy for them we were able to get that done today.”

Elliott noted that it was “pretty cool” to get Gustafson’s first superspeedway win, but he observed that “a sticker is a sticker, the Playoff points are what they are.  I think it’s important to rack them up as early as you can, as long as you can keep stacking on top of it.”

While the No. 9 has been to victory lane four times in the last 25 races, Elliott doesn’t think they’re “winning often enough.”

“I feel like we need to be contending more,” Elliott said. “I see some of our competitors being in contention more than we have been throughout the season.  I think we can certainly do a better job.

“To have a win this early in the year I think is nice. And just because we won at Dover and Kansas last year doesn’t mean we’re going to go run good there, too. You know that.

“It’s going to be hit‑or‑miss.”

NASCAR docks Austin Dillon 10 points, fines crew chief $25,000

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NASCAR fined crew chief Danny Stockman $25,000, suspended car chief Gregory Ebert one race and docked the team and driver Austin Dillon 10 points each for a violation this past weekend at Talladega Superspeedway.

A spokesperson said the Richard Childress Racing team does not plan to appeal the penalty.

NASCAR penalized the team for its deck lid, stating the deck lid must be used as supplied from the manufacturer and that body filler was added to the deck lid.

When the team checked its deck lid on Friday at Talladega with NASCAR’s devices, it found slight changes needed be made. The team made the changes and used bondo, leading to the penalty.

“We were just fixing a problem and it turned out we didn’t need to do that,” Dillon said after winning the pole last weekend at Talladega. “I’m sure Stockman was spun out about it, but speed-wise, I knew it wasn’t going to hurt us and moving forward, I hope that NASCAR takes into effect the entire story of it and whatever is dealt our way, we’ll handle it and go on from there.”

The penalty drops Dillon from 13th in the driver standings to 14th. Ryan Newman swaps places with Dillon, who now has 243 points. Jimmie Johnson is 16th, holding the final cutoff spot to the playoffs. Johnson has 238 points.

Also, NASCAR announced Tuesday that Jeremy Bullins, crew chief for Ryan Blaney, had been fined $10,000 because Blaney’s car had a lug nut not safe and secured after the race.

NASCAR America: Turning Point in Chase Elliott’s Talladega win

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Chase Elliott delivered big Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway for Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet by earning each its first Cup win of the year.

How that win came about is the subject of this week’s “Turning Point” segment on NASCAR America.

Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett analyzed the moment that resulted in Elliott’s first superspeedway win.

That moment began on the final restart with four laps to go as Joey Logano led the field down the backstretch.

An aggressive move by Kurt Busch moved Ricky Stenhouse Jr. into the middle lane and allowed him, Elliott and Alex Bowman to advance on Logano.

It was one Ford against a wave of Chevrolets.

It came to a head in Turns 3 and 4 when Busch moved up the track and Logano blocked, opening the door for Elliott to be pushed ahead of Logano by Bowman.

“Logano made an extremely aggressive block,” Burton said. “All you heard before the race was those kind of blocks would get you wrecked. … Really, I don’t think he had a choice. He had to block somebody and he had to make choice. He may have chosen the wrong line, but that was a difficult decision.”

Watch the full segment in the above video.

Bill Elliott adds to winning weekend for Elliott family

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You may have heard that a race car driver with the last name of Elliott won a stock car race over the weekend.

But which Elliott?

If your answer was either Bill or Chase Elliott you would have been right on both counts.

Chase Elliott got the headlines after he claimed his first Cup win of the year Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway, a track his father won at twice.

Source: Patrick Tremblay

But the elder Elliott wasn’t in attendance due to his own racing obligations.

The previous day, the 1988 Cup champion took part in the Historic Sportscar Racing Mitty at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia.

Driving a 2006 No. 9 Dodge Cup car, Bill Elliott led every lap of the Stock Car Feature Race, which had 21 entries.

While Chase Elliott’s father wasn’t in Talladega, his mother Cindy saw him win a Cup race in person for the first time.

“My mom missed all of the wins last year,” Chase Elliott said Sunday. “My dad was at two of the three. She got to one‑up him today, which was neat.”