Ryan Preece says he feels fine two days after he T-boned Kyle Larson’s car at Talladega Superspeedway, but he plans to make some adjustments to his safety equipment.
Preece’s car slammed into the right side of Larson’s car as it shot up the track in overtime. He’s called it the hardest impact he’s had in racing. An in-car camera pointed at Preece showed his body moving and his visor flying open in the crash.
Both Preece and Larson were released from Talladega’s infield care center shortly after the accident. Preece said he was sore Monday but still did his workout.
NASCAR is inspecting both cars from that accident at its R&D Center in Concord, North Carolina. Preece said he is scheduled to meet with series officials Wednesday to discuss the incident.
Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick talked to Preece on Monday about the accident and Preece’s safety equipment.
“One of the things (Harvick) said was, ‘You moved a lot,’ ” Preece said. “I said, ‘Yeah, I guess I’ve got a lot of mass that those seat belts have to hold in.’
“Kevin made a great point. I kind of had the opinion that everything did its job. I feel great, so why change anything?
“But he brought up the point of you can always make it better. You can look at this as, ‘OK, how do you feel here? What can you do different with your belts or your HANS (device)?’ … Kevin’s really good at helping you raise questions to yourself and to continue pushing, whether that is safety, performance or whatever.
“There’s a few things I’m going to go back and look at and say, ‘Hey, can we look at maybe changing this or this?’ I’m still really happy with everybody at SHR that mounts my seat (and) the way we put the seat belts (in) and the devices that we use for safety. I’m proud of the job they do because at the end of the day, I was able to do everything I wanted to do (Monday).”
One adjustment Preece plans to make is with his helmet visor. He said he doesn’t lock his visor out of habit. He will look to change that moving forward to prevent it from opening in an accident.
He’s not the only one making changes after a crash this past weekend.
Riley Herbst, who competes in the Xfinity Series for Stewart-Haas Racing, had a similar accident as Preece at Talladega last weekend. Daniel Hemric came up the track in the Xfinity race, and Herbst T-boned Hermic’s car.
Herbst was uninjured in the crash. He competed in the Cup race the next day. He said Tuesday that he talked with Preece on the team plane home after last weekend’s Cup race and said “we were complaining about the same things, a little bit of stiffness in the neck and things like that.”
Herbst said he had adjustments made to his seat belts this weekend because of what his body went through in his accident.
“Other than that,” Herbst said, “I feel like I’m good and ready to strap in the car (this weekend) at Dover.”
TALLADEGA, Ala. — Jeb Burton scored his second career Xfinity Series race, taking the checkered flag in a race that went to double overtime, saw one car roll six times and another car end up upside down.
This the first Xfinity victory for Jordan Anderson Racing Bommarito Autosport, which began competing in the series in 2021.
The race featured 10 cautions. There were 48 caution laps out of the 121 laps run.
Blaine Perkins was taken to a local hospital for further evaluation after his car rolled six times down the backstretch at the end of the second stage. Perkins climbed from his car after it was involved in a multi-car crash that also saw Dexter Stacey slam the inside wall. Stacey was uninjured.
Daniel Hemric‘s car rolled halfway over and stopped upside down after a crash two laps from the scheduled finish. He was leading when he went down the track to the bottom lane to block and had contact with Sheldon Creed. Hemric’s car came up the track and was struck by other cars and got on its roof.
“I didn’t honestly think I was as far as out as I was and I tried to (come) back,” Hemric said after exiting the infield care center. “I feel like the move I made was late with the run (Sheldon Creed) had. Trying to find a way to win a speedway race.”
Who had a good race: Any driver who finished. Half of the 38-car field failed to finish. … Sheldon Creed matched his career-best finish of second. … Parker Kligerman matched his career-best finish of third. … Caesar Bacarella finished a career-high sixth. … Ryan Ellis finished a career-high 11th.
Who had a bad race: The 19 drivers who failed to finish, including Daniel Hemric (21st), Chandler Smith (25th), Justin Allgaier (28th), Sam Mayer (29th), Josh Berry (30th) and John Hunter Nemechek (32nd).
Next: The series races April 29 at Dover (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1)
Allgaier, Smith, Mayer and Hemric are eligible for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus Saturday.
Austin Hill, who has won a series-high three races this year, will start 18th. Josh Williams will start 26th in his first race back since NASCAR suspended him one race for parking his car at the start/finish line at Atlanta when he was ordered to take his car to the garage during the race.
The green flag for the Xfinity race is scheduled to wave at 1:15 p.m. ET
The NASCAR on NBC analyst also sees how the dirt racing backgrounds of Reddick and Bell go well with the Next Gen car and could influence car owners to look there for future drivers.
“I think they’re that good, that talented,” Jarrett said of Reddick and Bell. “The background that they come from, I think, means a lot with the way they can handle these cars and what they can get out of them that others have a more difficult time getting.
“These are the two names, in my opinion, that as long as they stay with their current teams right now, they’re in the best position (to succeed). It’s going to be hard to dominate in a respect, but they’re going to win more often than a lot of others out there.”
Since the start of last year’s playoffs at Darlington Raceway, Bell has two wins, tied with Reddick and William Byron and trailing only reigning champion Joey Logano’s three wins. Bell’s 10 top 10s in that 16-race stretch are more than any driver in the series in that time except Denny Hamlin, who has 11 top 10s.
“I think what we’ve seen from them already,” Jarrett said of Reddick and Bell, “they’re just getting to the point now that they have the experience to know what to expect in these races at all different types of tracks.”
Both drivers have nearly the same number of starts. Reddick has 116 Cup starts, Bell has 114. Both have four Cup wins. Among current full-time Cup drivers, only Brad Keselowski scored more wins (eight) in his first 116 Cup starts than Reddick and Bell.
The next three races set up well for Bell, starting this weekend at Richmond Raceway. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver has finished sixth or better in the last four Richmond races, including a runner-up result there last August.
Then comes the dirt race at Bristol. The 28-year-old will be among the favorites due to his extensive dirt racing background. Following Bristol is Martinsville. While Ross Chastain is remembered for his video game move the last time the series raced there, it was Bell who won the race. It marked the second time in the playoffs that Bell had to win to advance and did.
“The sky is definitely the limit,” crew chief Adam Stevens said of Bell after they won the Charlotte Roval playoff race last October. “He’s young. He’s getting better at a tremendous rate. He’s already extremely good. You can’t hide the talent that he has.”
The 27-year-old Reddick is making an impact with his new team. Toyotas struggled last year on road courses — even with Bell winning at the Charlotte Roval. Reddick had the dominant car at COTA, giving Toyota its first victory of the season.
“It’s why I went after him as early as I did,” said Hamlin, co-owner of 23XI Racing, after Reddick’s victory last weekend. “I wanted to get the jump on all the other teams because I knew he was going to be the most coveted free agent in a very, very long time. That’s why I got the jump on it. It cost me a lot of money to do it, but it pays dividends.
“You have to have that driver that you feel like can carry you to championships and wins for decades. I think we have that guy. It’s not going to stop at road courses. Dirt racing, short tracks, speedways, he’s got what it takes on every racetrack we go to.”
After making his series debut in 2013, Reddick ran a majority of the 2014 Truck schedule for Brad Keselowski’s team. He finished second in points in 2015 and won three races with Keselowski’s team before moving to Chip Ganassi Racing’s Xfinity team in 2017.
Reddick went to JR Motorsports in 2018 and won the Xfinity championship. He repeated in 2019 but won the crown with Richard Childress Racing. He moved to RCR’s Cup program in 2020, breaking out with victories at Road America, the Indianapolis road course and Texas.
Bell’s path was groomed by Toyota Racing Development, taking him from the dirt tracks all the way to Cup. He claimed the 2017 Truck title and won 15 of 66 Xfinity starts (22.7%) in 2018-19, his two full-time seasons in that series.
Eventually, Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota decided to replace Erik Jones with Bell in 2021. Bell had his breakout season last year, winning at New Hampshire, the Charlotte Roval and Martinsville.
Jarrett sees that talent in both Reddick and Bell, in part, from their dirt backgrounds.
“I really just believe it’s their car control is what I like the best,” Jarrett said. “You see someone like Reddick and what he did at COTA and what we saw him do a couple of times on road courses last year and the fact that he can make his car go that fast but yet not have to give up. That’s a talent that you’re able to do that.
“Christopher Bell does a lot of the same things. We see this come out on the short tracks and the difficult tracks where tire conservation means a little bit. It’s not that they’re trying to conserve the tire, it’s just their driving experience and driving abilities allow them not to abuse the tires on these cars as much as others are having to to try to match that speed that they have.”
The Appeals Panel rescinded the 100-point penalty to Hendrick drivers Alex Bowman, William Byron and Kyle Larson, as well as the 10-point playoff penalty to each.
“A points penalty is a strong deterrent that is necessary to govern the garage following rule book violations, and we believe that it was an important part of the penalty in this case and moving forward,” NASCAR stated.
The Appeals Panel agreed with NASCAR that Hendrick Motorsports violated the rules by modifying the hood louvers of each of its cars. NASCAR discovered the issue before practice March 10 at Phoenix and took the hood louvers after that practice session.
The Appeals Panel kept the the $100,000 fines and four-race suspension to each of the four Hendrick crew chiefs for the infraction.
The Appeals Panel did not explain its reasoning for altering NASCAR’s penalty.
Hendrick Motorsports stated three key elements when it announced that it would appeal the penalties. Those three factors were:
“Louvers provided to teams through NASCAR’s mandated single-source supplier do not match the design submitted by the manufacturer and approved by NASCAR
“Documented inconsistent and unclear communication by the sanctioning body specifically related to louvers
“Recent comparable penalties issued by NASCAR have been related to issues discovered during a post-race inspection.”
NASCAR removed one word — or — so there was no option between a point penalty or fine but that such an infraction would constitute a point penalty and fine.
The question is if NASCAR will make any changes to the Rule Book this time to prevent the Appeals Panel from altering a similar penalty as the Hendrick infraction in such a way again — maybe something that more clearly states that an infraction found before a race is a point penalty.
This was only the second time in the Next Gen era that a team was penalized points for an infraction found before the race. The other case was when Cody Ware’s car failed pre-qualifying inspection four times. At the time, the Cup Rule Book stated that such an infraction was an L1 penalty. Such a penalty could result in a 20-point penalty, which Cody Ware and team owner Rick Ware received.
Another key question is what, if anything, will NASCAR do to improve quality control of parts that teams get from vendors.
“We as a company, we in the garage, every one of these teams here are being held accountable to put their car out there to go through inspection and perform at the level they need to,” he said March 17 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. “The teams are being held accountable for doing that.
“Nobody is holding the single-source providers accountable at the level that they need to be to give us the parts we need. That goes through NASCAR’s distribution center and NASCAR’s approval process to get those parts, and we’re not getting the right parts.”
3. Single-file restarts
The overtime restarts last weekend at Circuit of the Americas have led to talk about if NASCAR should consider single-file restarts for all or some of its road courses.
Joey Logano discussed the notion on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio this week, saying: “There’s a lot of different opinions floating around. Probably the best I’ve heard is single-file restarts on road courses.”
The key issue is that at COTA and the Indianapolis road course both have a long straightaway for drivers to build speed before barreling into a sharp turn — at COTA it’s a hairpin left-hand turn, at Indy it’s a sharp right-hand turn.
Last year at Indy, Ryan Blaney was fourth on the last restart and got spun. While a single-file restart likely would have lessened the chances of such an incident, it also would have lowered Blaney’s chances to win because he would have been further away from the leader.
“The single-file restart is something I’ve been hearing around, and at some tracks I could see it working,” Blaney said, noting COTA and Indy.
He admits, that’s not the only idea.
“Do you move the restart zone?” Blaney said. “Do you give the leader more of an opening window of when to go? At COTA … do you give the leader the choice where he can go anytime between (Turn) 19 and the restart zone? So you kind of have like a short stint, slow down, turn, and then you have your long straightaway to where it kind of gaps everybody.
“You’re still doing double-file, but it kind of gaps (the cars) a little bit to where it’s not everyone nose-to-tail 15 rows deep diving in there. There’s a lot of differing opinions and ideas that are floating around, and we’ll see what we come up with, but, personally, from a driver’s standpoint it just gets messy.”
There’s time for NASCAR to decide if anything needs to be done. The next Xfinity race is June 3 at Portland. The next Cup road course race is June 11 at Sonoma.
“I don’t think you need to do anything for Sonoma,” Blaney said. “The way the restart zone is there it’s slow and you’re going up the hill right away. You don’t get the four-wide kind of thing there, so I don’t think Sonoma is anything we need to be working on.”
After that will be the inaugural Xfinity and Cup races at the Chicago street course on July 1-2. That course has a sharp left-hand turn shortly after the start/finish line that could replicate the chaos seen in restarts at COTA and Indy.
“I think Chicago is gonna be wild no matter what you do,” Blaney said.
4. Another new short track winner?
Sunday presents the opportunity for a ninth consecutive different winner of a short track race on pavement.
Smith, Allgaier, Daniel Hemric, who placed sixth, and Sam Mayer, who finished seventh, will be eligible for the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash next weeked at Richmond after being the top four full-time Xfinity finishers Saturday.