Time for Part II of the Xfinity Series doubleheader at Kentucky Speedway.
Xfinity teams return to the 1.5-mile speedway tonight for the Alsco 300.
The top-15 finishers from Thursday night’s race have been inverted, resulting in Myatt Snider starting on the pole for tonight’s race. Jesse Little will start second.
Here’s all the info you need for the race.
(All times are Eastern)
START: The command to start engines will be at 8:05 p.m by Tyler Reddick. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 8:14 p.m.
PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 10:30 a.m. (teams are assigned specific times). Engine prime and final adjustments are at 6 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 7:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7:57 p.m by Larry Campbell of Kentucky Raceway Ministries. The national anthem will be performed at 7:58 p.m. by Felita LaRock, former lead vocalist, United States Air Force Band of Flight.
DISTANCE: The race is 200 laps (300 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.
PACE LAPS: At the direction of race control, the entire field will go down pit road during a pace lap for pit road speed verification. If a driver stops in the pit box for any reason, pull over or slow down, they will start at the rear of the field.
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 45. Stage 2 ends on Lap 90.
COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 20
TV/RADIO: FS1 will televise the race. Its coverage begins at 7:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s coverage will begin at 7:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for mostly clear skies, a high of 81 degrees and a 2% of rain predicted at the start of the race.
When NASCAR announced the Xfinity Series would hold a doubleheader this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, crew chief Taylor Moyer’s reaction wasn’t necessarily an enthusiastic one.
The 32-year-old crew chief for JR Motorsports’ No. 8 Chevrolet wouldn’t only be preparing for a doubleheader. He would be preparing for a doubleheader with two different drivers.
The first would be the “Boss Man,” Moyer’s nickname for team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., set to make his lone start of the year Saturday. The driver for Sunday’s race is former Cup Series driver Daniel Hemric.
In his second year working on the No. 8 car, Moyer wasn’t even concerned about having to come up with two different setups for the No. 8 car.
He was worried about seats.
“I had nine drivers last year and I’ve got three this year (Earnhardt, Hemric and Jeb Burton) and the way we did the nine last year, other than the Boss Man, everybody ran the same seat shell,” Moyer told NBC Sports. “We run a (Hendrick Motorsports) carbon fiber seat shell, and it’s mounted in the same place in the car and everybody got poured for a custom insert. So interior swaps are very easy. We have a great interior guy at the shop, but even we could do it. You pull out one insert, you put in the other one, you adjust the steering wheel, the steering column … You swap out the steering wheel for whatever size wheel they want. And you put pedal extensions on. So we have that down to a science.”
Unfortunately, that science only applies under normal circumstances in a normal season. This year has been anything but that, with the doubleheader at Miami the latest NASCAR oddity in a COVID-19 world.
Saturday’s race is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET (Fox) and Sunday’s is scheduled for Noon ET (FS1).
While Moyer’s team can switch out car setups in roughly 15 minutes, switching from Earnhardt’s seat shell to Hemric’s isn’t so easy. With the inclusion of taking a brake assembly apart, it’s a process that will take roughly two hours.
“The Boss Man’s seat shell was custom built for him when he was at Hendrick back when I was there,” Moyer said. “He sits in a very a unique seat position. Sits real low, leans way back, like laying back in the car, kind of like his dad. He sits with his legs very wide open. His is a very, very different seat shell than all my other guys are on. And I know changing a seat shell, with all the componentry that goes with it, is probably out of the question for Homestead with the time they’re giving us to change, it has to be the same car.”
When the team had Hemric try out Earnhardt’s seat shell, Moyer said “his feet wouldn’t touch the pedals even though Dale’s not that much taller.”
The team poured Hemric a one-time insert for Earnhardt’s shell and then added pedal extensions and a new throttle pedal assembly and other “little Daniel idiosyncrasies.”
“Then luckily NASCAR’s letting us bring a couple additional crew members to the track and one of which is our interior guy from the shop, but that was the biggest concern,” Moyer said of the seat shell swap. “It wasn’t set up or anything like that, it was how do I physically in the time allotted let both drivers be safe and comfortable in the race car.”
Then Moyer can worry about the races. What difficulties are there in preparing two setups for two drivers who will be racing in different parts of the day?
“Maybe we over simplify it, but I don’t worry about stuff I can’t control,” Moyer said. “When we ended up racing Darlington a day later (due to rain), you can’t control the weather. Who knows when the races will actually fire off. So it all boils down to both guys. I was blessed to work with Dale a lot when he was at (Hendrick). I was the test engineer for that team. So I’ve tested a lot at Homestead with Dale. I feel like he loves to rip the wall. And I just want to put a car underneath him that’s very predictable out of the truck that he feels like he can put everywhere and is in complete control.
“Even if we don’t unload lightning fast, like he has to be a little tightened up so we don’t have it slip out from underneath him. I think confidence off the truck for him will be key. I’m using a little bit of what I know from last year working with him as his crew chief at Darlington. I know as the race goes, if he is passing cars and he is in a good mood it is lights out. It’s easy. I know if I miss it off the truck or I make the car too loose, and it’s slipping and sliding it’s gonna be much more of a chore than just freeing up a little bit if I’m too tight off the truck. With Daniel, we’re just gonna pick up where we left off at Atlanta.”
Saturday’s race will be Moyer’s second working with Earnhardt after he directed Earnhardt’s run last year at Darlington. But Moyer and Hemric have seven races together this season. They’ve finished sixth or better in the last four races, including a fourth-place finish at Atlanta.
“You have the differences of the pure little things of setup that one of us likes and one doesn’t,” Hemric said Thursday in a Zoom press conference. “I think Taylor and our engineers … they’ve done a great job of trying to get us to where we feel like our baseline is gonna suit both of us. Obviously, for me I get to be a part of the team and be very integrated into the process for the race on Saturday and as that happens, I think it will be enough for us to lean on.
“Dale’s a very practical race car driver and a guy when you look at what works and what doesn’t and I think he believes in the direction that we’ve chosen to go down for his race and hopefully it’s close enough where we can just fine tune it for myself.”
Moyer will have two goals this weekend: to get his boss and NASCAR’s 15-time most popular driver one more win and to get Hemric his first NASCAR national series victory.
Which provides the most pressure for the sophomore crew chief?
“That’s a tough one,” Moyer said. “I’m sure Junior Nation would carve my face into a tree somewhere, maybe as a monument if I get Dale another win. But I think Daniel is a good friend of mine now. We spend a lot of time together. And I want to see the kid win. Whether it’s me crew chiefing or not. He’s a super strong talent. And I don’t know, he’s got six seconds now and man, he’s right on the cusp.”
Dash 4 Cash in Miami won’t be just another day at the beach
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will have double vision of sorts with a rare doubleheader of races this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Included in the two races are several key storylines:
* NASCAR on NBC analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. climbs back behind the wheel to drive the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet in Saturday’s race. It will be his first start since the Xfinity race at Darlington last August (finished fifth).
* Sunday’s race will mark the second segment of the four-race Xfinity Dash 4 Cash program. Noah Gragson won the first $100,000 prize for having the highest finish of Dash contestants this past weekend at Atlanta, and returns for an encore bow in Sunday’s designated Dash race.
* Sunday’s race for the big money will boil down to a battle of JR Motorsports with Gragson and teammate Daniel Hemric, vs. Kaulig Racing with AJ Allmendinger, who won at Atlanta, which gave him an automatic berth in Sunday’s race, and Justin Haley.
* And like Atlanta, a cool $100k is on the line for the four Dash contestants.
“It’s a huge deal,” Hemric said in a teleconference. “First of all, it’s an incredible program that Xfinity and Comcast offers and spotlights the Xfinity Series drivers and gives an opportunity to race for something extra on the line.”
Because he’s a part-time driver in the Xfinity Series, slated for 21 of the season’s 33 races, Hemric will not take part in Saturday’s race, as his boss and teammate Earnhardt will be behind the wheel.
But then Hemric comes back in the same car (unless Junior wrecks on Saturday) on Sunday to go for the 100 grand.
“I’m very proud of JR Motorsports to put me in a situation where myself and my teammate, Noah Gragson, who won the Dash 4 Cash last week, can go down to Homestead and hopefully have a shot at winning again,” Hemric said. “For me personally, building my own cars and having to struggle with the finance stuff my entire career trying to get to the racetrack, it means so much to these race teams for that amount of cash as well.
“So I take a lot of pride in being one of the four guys with that incredible opportunity come Homestead. I’ve been fortunate to win one of them (a Dash bonus) in the past. So for that, hopefully I can try and do it again.”
This weekend’s twin bill is also in another unique position. Up to now, the Xfinity Series has raced at Homestead-Miami each year since 2002 in the fall, typically a week or two before Thanksgiving, in the annual Ford Championship Weekend.
But the season-ending and championship-deciding races have been moved to Phoenix Raceway this year, leaving Homestead in a totally different place on the schedule, five months earlier than its usual place on drivers’ dance cards.
“There’s a lot of challenges that place has to offer,” Hemric said. “I think back to myself personally and the Xfinity races I’ve ran there, most of them have started in the daytime and pretty warm, but it’s always been in the fall.
“And when the sun goes down, the temperature really goes down, the racetrack changes a lot and that’s when you see guys running a huge variance of lines all the way from the bottom to the top.
“That’s what’s going to be interesting about the dynamic and what we’re going to face this coming week. … And we all have to turn cars around. So everybody’s going to have to run that same car again (the following day).”
Because Earnhardt is driving in Saturday’s race, Hemric will have to start at the back of the pack in Sunday’s race, along with Allmendinger.
Speaking of Allmendinger, he originally was not scheduled to compete in either race this weekend. But his Atlanta win quickly changed that.
“Obviously getting that win at Atlanta was pretty big for everyone at Kaulig Racing and we finished third,” said Haley. “We’ve had a lot of speed the past few races, which is obviously really refreshing.
“We worked a lot of long, hard hours during quarantine, before NASCAR and the state really shut us down. So we kind of got ahead where I think other teams didn’t. So we kind of hit the ground running after we came out of (the COVID-19 pandemic hiatus) in the past few races.
“Obviously, having two cars from Kaulig Racing in the show to race for it is obviously big. And being able to go there and we had speed coming off a mile-and-a-half and we’re going to another mile-and-a-half is good. So we’ll see where it takes us.”
START: Paul Livrieri, executive vice president of operations for Cheddar’s Scratch Kitchen, will give the command to start engines at 7:13 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 7:23 p.m.
PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 11:30 a.m. (teams are assigned specific times). Engine prime and final adjustments are at 5 p.m. Drivers report to their cars at 6:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 7:05 p.m. by Billy Mauldin of Motor Racing Outreach. The national anthem will be performed at 7:06 p.m. by Allie Colleen.
DISTANCE: The race is 300 laps (159.9 miles) around the 0.533-mile oval.
PACE LAP: At the direction of race control, drivers will have the opportunity to run one pace lap down pit road before the green flag for a pit road speed check. If a driver stops in the pit box for any reason, pulls over or slow down, they will start at the rear of the field.
COMPETITION CAUTION: Lap 35
STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 85. Stage 2 ends on Lap 170.
TO THE REAR: No. 07 of Carson Ware (unapproved adjustments)
TV/RADIO: FS1 will televise the race. Its coverage begins at 6:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s coverage will begin at 6:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.
FORECAST: The wunderground.com forecast calls for sunny conditions with a high of 73 degrees and a zero percent chance of rain at the race’s start.
LAST RACE: Kyle Busch passed Austin Cindric on the last lap to win at Charlotte Motor Speedway last week. Daniel Hemric finished second. Cindric placed third.