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Cup Series helmet designs for 2019

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Here’s a look at the helmets – or “brain buckets” as Bubba Wallace likes to call them – that Cup Series drivers will be wearing this season.

There were no available pictures of helmets for Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Ty Dillon or Matt Tifft.

Kurt Busch

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Brad Keselowski

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Austin Dillon

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kevin Harvick

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ryan Newman

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Daniel Hemric

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Chase Elliott

Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Aric Almirola

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Denny Hamlin

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Clint Bowyer

 

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Busch

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Martin Truex Jr.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Erik Jones

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Paul Menard

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

William Byron

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Corey LaJoie

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Michael McDowell

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Chris Buescher

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

David Ragan

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Daniel Suarez

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Kyle Larson

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Bubba Wallace

Ryan Preece

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Jimmie Johnson

Alex Bowman

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Matt DiBenedetto

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Updated: 2019 Cup Series paint schemes

Richard Childress Racing
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We’re less than a month away from the Daytona 500 on Feb. 17.

That means teams are slowly starting to reveal the cars Cup Series drivers will race throughout the season.

This collection has been updated with schemes from Stewart-Haas Racing, Richard Childress Racing, JTG Daugherty Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing and Leavine Family Racing.

Here’s a look at paint schemes that have been confirmed so far. This post will continue to be updated.

No. 00 – Landon Cassill

Cassill’s Daytona 500 car

Star Com Racing

No. 1 – Kurt Busch

Gear Wrench Instagram

No. 2 – Brad Keselowski

Team Penske

No. 3 – Austin Dillon

Dillon’s Daytona 500 car celebrating Richard Childress Racing’s 50th anniversary.

(Richard Childress Racing/HHP/Harold Hinson)
(Richard Childress Racing/HHP/Harold Hinson)
(Richard Childress Racing/HHP/Harold Hinson)
(Richard Childress Racing/HHP/Harold Hinson)

No. 4 – Kevin Harvick

 

Stewart-Haas Racing

Hunt Brothers Pizza Twitter

No. 6 – Ryan Newman

Roush Fenway Racing
Roush Fenway Racing
Performance Plus Oil
Roush Fenway Racing

No. 8 – Daniel Hemric

The car Hemric will race in the Daytona 500 honoring Richard Childress Racing’s 50th anniversary.

RCR
RCR
RCR

No. 9 – Chase Elliott

Hendrick Motorsports

 

Hooters
Kelley Blue Book

No. 10 – Aric Almirola

No. 11 – Denny Hamlin

No. 12 – Ryan Blaney

Ryan Blaney Twitter account

 

No. 14 – Clint Bowyer

Stewart-Haas Racing
Stewart Haas Racing
Stewart-Haas Racing

 

No. 17 – Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

 

Roush Fenway Racing

 

Sunny D Racing

No. 18 – Kyle Busch

Joe Gibbs Racing

No. 19 – Martin Truex Jr. 

Martin Truex Jr. Twitter
Joe Gibbs Racing

No. 24 – William Byron

Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports

No. 32 – Corey LaJoie

Go Fas Racing

No. 34 – Michael McDowell

Front Row Motorsports

No. 37 – Chris Buescher

Buescher’s Daytona 500 car

Photo: Dustin Long

Buescher’s car will feature seven different monthly themes throughout the season to spotlight different brands sold at Kroger

March

April

May

June and July

Back-to-School

Fall

No. 38 – David Ragan

No. 40 – Jamie McMurray

McMurray is scheduled to make one start so far in 2019 as part of a partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing and Spire Motorsports.

No. 41 Daniel Suarez

No. 42 – Kyle Larson

Chip Ganassi Racing

No. 43 – Bubba Wallace

Wallace’s car for the Daytona 500

Plan B Sales

 

No. 47 – Ryan Preece

JTG DAUGHERTY RACING

No. 48 – Jimmie Johnson

Hendrick Motorsports

No. 88 – Alex Bowman

Hendrick Motorsports

 

Hendrick Motorsports
Hendrick Motorsports

No. 95 – Matt DiBenedetto

 

Leavine Family Racing
Matt DiBenedetto Twitter

No. 97 – Tanner Berryhill

Berryhill’s Daytona 500 car

NASCAR Hall of Fame

Friday 5: Crew chief marvels at Chase Elliott’s progression

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It wasn’t until Chase Elliott scored his first Cup victory last season that crew chief Alan Gustafson saw the toll that not winning took on his driver.

With high expectations and a large fan following, pressure built on Elliott as his winless drought stretched beyond his rookie year in 2016, then 2017 and past the halfway mark of 2018.

Ryan Blaney won his first Cup race before Elliott. So did Austin Dillon, Chris Buescher and Erik Jones.

Elliott’s winless drought reached 98 Cup races before his Watkins Glen triumph.

“I think I underestimated how it was wearing on him and how personally he was taking it not winning races,” Gustafson said this week. “Once he won, I realized, ‘Wow, it was something that he was taking very personal and something that was weighing on him.’ ”

Elliott scored eight career runner-up finishes before that first victory in August. He went on to win twice more last year (Dover and Kansas in the playoffs).

Those performances showed the growth Elliott has made since his rookie Cup campaign in 2016.

“I guess the best way to describe it,” Gustafson said, “is I can remember when I first worked with him, he was so good at such a young age. ‘Where is his ceiling?’ He seems to be awfully close to it to me. Then kind of a pleasant surprise to me, he’s been able to push that ceiling, he’s made some significant growth and improvement.

“I think it stems from going to these races … knowing what line works. What line is good for this or how did this guy win the race … all these little nuances that you get from experience.”

The result was that Elliott was one of three drivers to win twice in the playoffs last year — champion Joey Logano and Kyle Busch also won twice in the playoffs.

“I am 100 percent confident if we give Chase a car that he wants, he will win the race with it,” Gustafson said. “He can adapt really well and there hasn’t been anything that he has not been able to overcome.”

2. Will IndyCar knowledge help Chevy thrive in Cup in ’19?

There are so many questions entering this season with what the racing will be like under the new rules package. Some questions will start to be answered at next week’s organizational test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but even then there will be much uncertainty.

For Chevrolet, this could be daunting after its struggles last  year. The car manufacturer won four races a year ago — its lowest total since 1982 — and last had a car race for the Cup title in Miami in 2016.

Pat Suhy, Chevrolet’s NASCAR Group Manager, notes how the manufacturer’s IndyCar program could help its NASCAR teams with this rules package that has tapered spacers reducing horsepower and downforce added to the cars.

“We’ve been able to take a lot of what we’ve learned in IndyCar, where you are power limited,” Suhy told NBC Sports. “If you look at last year and really years past, we just piled on as much downforce as we could and you would always go faster, but when you’re power limited with the tapered (spacer) 550 (horsepower) engine, when you’re power limited, you have to start making decisions about how much drag you’re willing to accept for a downforce gain. It’s really more about trading off straightaway speed for cornering speed.

“We’re in a really good position to help answer that question with some of the tools that we have developed and used week in and week out in the IndyCar Series. We’ve been able to bring that to our NASCAR teams.”

3. JTG Daugherty Racing making changes

JTG Daugherty Racing will be more closely aligned with Hendrick Motorsports this season, according to Ernie Cope, JTG Daugherty Racing’s director of competition. JTG Daugherty Racing will receive Hendrick engines, use Hendrick simulation and have Hendrick pit crews service the cars of Chris Buescher and rookie Ryan Preece.

JTG Daugherty Racing also has purchased five chassis for Daytona from Hendrick Motorsports. The rest of JTG Daugherty Racing’s fleet will be built in-house. Cope told NBC Sports that Car No. 10 was on a surface plate this week. 

Car No. 1 will be used for wind tunnel testing. Car Nos. 2-3 will debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Cope said the organization plans to have new cars for all the races through Texas, which is the seventh race of the season.

Why build their own chassis?

“Part of it is you control your own innovation and destiny and when parts are coming,” Cope said. “We control our own production schedule. I think it’s going to work out fine.”

4. Chatting with the new guy

Clint Bowyer admits he didn’t know Daniel Suarez well before Suarez signed to drive the No. 41 Ford at Stewart-Haas Racing starting this season. A recent sponsor appearance together in Texas gave them the chance to talk on the flight.

“Man, it’s fun to be around kids like that are full of talent, full of piss and vinegar,” Bowyer said. “He’s set on kill. He’s excited about his opportunity, as he should be. He’s in good equipment. I know the equipment he’s going to be sitting in, the team that he’s going to be with. They were on fire last year with Billy Scott and all those guys. He’s got a good future ahead of him for this year. I’m excited for him.”

5. Fans in the Cup garage

Details are being finalized, but look for the Cup garage to be open to fans at a select time on some race weekends. This has been done in the Xfinity and Truck Series and will expand to Cup this season.

How tracks offer this to fans, how many fans will be allowed in, what time and what day this will take place on a race weekend will be set by tracks and NASCAR.

The tentative Daytona Speedweeks schedule lists an open Cup garage for fans from 9:30 – 11:30 a.m. ET on Feb. 10 — the day of the Clash and Daytona 500 qualifying. The Cup garage also is listed as being open to fans from 4-6 pm ET at Daytona on Feb. 14, the day of the Duel qualifying races.

A spokesperson for Daytona International Speedway told NBC Sports that track officials are developing their plans for this and don’t have anything to announce at this time.

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JTG Daugherty Racing enters new era with veteran Chris Buescher, rookie Ryan Preece

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Chris Buescher had an amusing observation about the nature of his existence Wednesday at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

“I turn 26 and now I feel old,” Buescher said, addressing his new status as JTG Daugherty Racing’s veteran driver after a sponsor announcement by the team.

“(Team owner) Tad (Geschickter) made sure of it when he told all of y’all I was the veteran this season, so that is nice,” Buescher continued. “But I guess from that standpoint it is really nice to be able to have that relationship and be able to say that I’ve been in the same place and same car without a bunch of moving pieces for now the third year.”

Buescher ended the 2018 season as JTG’s youngest driver, trailing former teammate AJ Allmendinger by 10 years.

Two months later he’s still the youngest driver on team. But now he trails rookie teammate Ryan Preece by two years.

“It’s so funny, Chris is a veteran, he has been doing this for quite a while,” Preece said. “It’s taken me a little longer to get here, but Chris and I get along really well. He is a racer just like I am. He has had a different road than I have and I respect him coming to race with him.”

Buescher, the 2015 Xfinity champion, enters his fourth full-time Cup season. Before his time driving the No. 37 Chevrolet, he spent his rookie year competing for Front Row Motorsports where he won his first Cup race at Pocono Raceway.

Preece, 28, arrives in Cup after a successful gamble on himself in 2017 that delivered an expanded part-time Xfinity ride at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 and his second Xfinity win. Next month’s Daytona 500 will mark Preece’s first Cup start since 2015.

MORE: Ryan Preece is ready to ‘Turn the Page’

Preece, a Connecticut native who made a name for himself racing modifieds in the Northeast, said he would “absolutely not” trade his path to Cup for an easier one.

“I think I’m pretty biased when it comes to things like this, but I think the way I came up was the way … I mean it prepares you,” Preece said. “I’ve been working and learning race cars and then winning. Learning to be a winner. I wouldn’t want to come up any other way.”

Buescher, a Texas native and former Roush Fenway Racing development driver, expects “a good fit” with his new teammate.

Together, they’ll try to deliver JTG its second Cup win. The first came in 2014 when Allmendinger won at Watkins Glen.

They’ll also try to improve on 2018 season results of 22nd (Allmendinger) and 24th (Buescher).

“I don’t know if I’m a veteran to the point where I can sit there and try and give someone a whole lot of advice because I’m learning at the same time,” Buescher said. “But I feel like it will be good for us to be able to go through our debrief meetings or at the race track after practice, be able to get together and compare notes and be able to figure out how to get better. I think that is something that communication should be good and we have been able to start talking about the season beforehand and I feel like it’s going to be really good.”

Preece, who is known for working on and building his own modifieds, will have to get used to letting someone else work on his car most of the time.

“One of the guys told me the other day ‘You better get used to standing around’ because I was fidgeting next to him,'” Preece said. “I was like ‘Hey, do you want me to help you?’ and he is like ‘No man, I want you to get used to standing there.’ I told him I didn’t think I could do that. … I need to be hands-on.”

Preece will get to kick off JTG’s season when he takes part in the organizational test at Las Vegas Motor Speedway next week.

“I’m very excited to get in the seat, but I’m a racer, I want to win, I want to be at that point where we are making gains,” Preece said. “Right now, that is our plan.”

JTG Daugherty Racing unveils new sponsor strategy

Dustin Long
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JTG Daugherty Racing announced a new sponsor strategy Wednesday with Kroger that covers both of its Cup Series entries with rookie Ryan Preece and Chris Buescher.

Preece’s No. 47 Chevrolet will spotlight Kroger’s “Pickup, Delivery, Ship” features.

Kroger’s expanded services allow shoppers to order groceries online for curbside pickup, delivery from a nearby Kroger store to homes, and a ship to home service accessible from anywhere in the country.

Buescher’s No. 37 Chevrolet will feature seven monthly themes throughout the season in an effort to highlight different brands sold at Kroger more consistently.

The themes are:

  • Flavor Fill Up: the month of March focuses on when sporting events such as the NCAA Basketball tournament encourages a snacking occasion, and when Kroger is highlighting National Frozen Foods Month. Corporate partners include Unilever, Kraft-Heinz, Conagra, General Mills, and Kellogg’s.

 

  • Speedup Your Cleanup: the month of April will highlight the spring-cleaning season where shoppers are focused on buying from corporate partners such as such as Clorox, Procter & Gamble and Kimberly-Clark Corporation.

  • Personal Pit Stop: personal healthcare brands take center stage on the hood in May with corporate partners Procter & Gamble and Unilever.

  • Thrill of the Grill: June and July highlights everyone’s love for summer grilling with relevant brands from Clorox, Unilever, Kraft-Heinz, General Mills, BUSH’S Beans, and Southeastern Mills.

  • Fast Start: theme will occur during back-to-school timing when families are stocking up on partner product for their change of schedule and the new school year.

  • Fast Lane to Flavor: focuses on healthy meal solutions for families on the go with brands from General Mills, BUSH’S Beans, Clorox and Conagra.

  • Simmer Like a Winner:  as the weather turns cooler, fans will enjoy shopping for their crock pot recipes with brands from BUSH’S Beans, Kraft, Conagra and General Mills.

“I’m really excited about it because it actually simplifies it for me from where we have been,” Buescher said at the announcement at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. “The last two years we have had a different sponsor from week to week. Our paint scheme has changed completely week to week. It’s been hard for the spotter to keep up. For this to be able to go through stretches and for a month or a month-and-a-half, two months, have the same paint scheme with the same brands and be able to try and focus on getting them better coverage in their key times of the year, I think it’s brilliant.”

MORE: See the confirmed 2019 Cup paint schemes

JTG Daugherty Racing will also be going mobile with its advertising.

All JTG Daugherty Racing ads during each month throughout the season will encourage shoppers to text a key word that directs the fans to tips, sweepstakes and Kroger savings for the brands highlighted by the shopper themes.

“We are fortunate to work every day with innovators in the retail industry,” Tad Geschickter, JTG Daugherty Racing team owner, said a press release. “I’m excited about the new marketing plan we have developed together. I know that this new approach will deliver great engagement with our NASCAR fans and will create positive sales results for Kroger and our brand partners. I can’t wait to see the whole thing come to life on the racetrack. It’s time to win races and sell cases in 2019.”

The team showed off Buescher’s paint scheme for the Daytona 500 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Photo: Dustin Long