Thirty-eight cars are on the NASCAR Cup entry list for Sunday’s race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
The race airs at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
The entry list has JJ Yeley in the No. 27 for Rick Ware Racing. Joey Gase is in the No. 51 for RWR. James Davison will make his third start of the season but first for RWR. Garrett Smithley will drive the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports.
Truck Series (7 p.m. ET Friday on FS1 and 1 p.m. ET Saturday on FS1)
Thirty-nine trucks are entered in both races. The are two differences in drivers for the doubleheader. For Hill Motorsports’ No. 56 Chevrolet, Timmy Hill is entered in Friday’s race and Tyler Hill is entered in Saturday’s race.
Kevin Donahue is listed for Reaume Brothers Racing’s No. 33 Toyota for Friday and Ryan Huff is entered in it for Saturday.
Brad Keselowski says that NASCAR should consider a system where drivers are removed from Cup when they have repeated on-track issues.
Keselowski made his comments after Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway when he was asked about rookie Quin Houff causing a caution on Lap 307 of the 334-lap race. Houff cut down from the middle lane in Turn 4 to head to pit road. He made contact with Christopher Bell and Matt DiBenedetto to bring out the caution.
Asked about how a random incident such as Houff’s changed the race’s outcome, Keselowski said “there are two ways to look at it.”
Keselowski acknowledged the incident helped create “a more entertaining finish, so if you like chaos, then that was good.”
But Keselowski had another view of the matter.
“I think on the other side of that there’s the, ‘Hey, I’m a professional race car driver that’s worked my entire career to get here,’ ” he said. “Had to jump through a lot of hoops to make it and would like to think that those efforts have created a spot for me in this series to be joined with peers of similar talent levels.’
“I have nothing personal against anyone that has an issue like that because they do happen from time to time, but there are certainly a handful of drivers that kindly I wonder exactly how they got to this level. Part of it plays into all the rules. When you’ve got this rules package with cars that are super easy to drive by themselves, it’s very hard for NASCAR, I think, to be able to tell who’s got it and who doesn’t.
“So it kind of puts them in a box until you actually get in a race, but one thing I would like to see, and I think I’ve been pretty consistent with this, is I would like to see drivers be able to graduate into this level and equally I’d like to see them be able to be removed from this level when they have repeated issues.
“I can’t speak enough to the gentleman that had that issue today, but I have seen in the past where drivers that have had this issue multiple times somehow are still here, where I think they should effectively be placed in a lower series or asked to go back to a more minor league level to prove their salt. But that’s ultimately not my decision to make. It’s what I would like to see, but it’s not my decision to make and until it is, I guess I should probably just shut up, but I certainly think there’s some merit to it.”
Houff posted a video on social media taking blame for the incident with Bell and DiBenedetto.
“We were trying to get to pit road and I didn’t get called off in time and the guys that were committed underneath me were already there and that’s my fault,” Houff said. “I had a spotter mirror that we use in the window on the left side of the car and it had fallen off, so I couldn’t see out of that. Rookie mistake. It’s one of those really tough learning instances. It’s unfortunate because it was a new car for us. … Only way to go is up.”
The 22-year-old Houff has 35 career Cup starts. He ran 17 races last season and has run all 18 races this year for StarCom Racing. He had 10 Xfinity starts, no Truck starts and five ARCA starts before he moved to Cup in 2019.
The winners of each segment advance to the All-Star Race, along with the fan vote winner. Last year, Kyle Larson won a segment in the Open to advance to the All-Star Race and then won that event. Other segment winners last year were William Byron and Bubba Wallace. Alex Bowman advanced through the fan vote a year ago. Bowman has already qualified for this year’s All-Star Race.
NASCAR Open at Bristol
Race Time: 7 p.m. ET Wednesday
Track: Bristol Motor Speedway; Bristol, Tennessee (0.533-mile speedway)
Length: 85 laps over three segments, 45.3 miles
Segments: Segment 1 is 35 laps. Segment 2 is 35 laps. Segment 3 is 15 laps.
Teams also are mindful that the regular season finale will be at Daytona International Speedway, which could lead to a surprise winner. Three of the last five Cup points races at Daytona saw a driver score either their first or second career Cup win: Dillon, Erik Jones and Justin Haley.
Teams already are trying different strategies to get away from 16th in the standings or climb into a potential playoff spot.
Matt DiBenedetto entered the Pocono doubleheader weekend 15th in the standings. Focusing on stage results, he scored 17 stage points in the two races that weekend and added 11 stage points last weekend at Indy.
“Stage points can just make such a huge difference, especially this point in the year when the point stuff is really starting to settle out a little bit,” DiBenedetto said after the Pocono weekend. “People are settling in place, so you’ve got to take everything you can get because that makes a big difference as far as securing a solid spot in the playoffs.”
Those 28 stage points he’s earned the past three races helped DiBenedetto climb to 12th in the standings heading to Kentucky. He’s scored 26 more stage points than Clint Bowyer the past three races. That 26-point advantage helped put DiBenedetto three points ahead of Bowyer in standings.
William Byron won the first stage last weekend at Indy and collected 10 stage points (and one playoff point) after crew chief Chad Knaus had Byron stay on track under caution when most of the leaders did pit with eight laps left in the stage. Byron restarted in the lead and held that position for the final four laps of the stage under green.
Another driver who has benefitted from a strategy focused on stage points is Dillon. He’s scored 18 stage points the past three races to nine stage points by Jones. Dillon holds what would be the final playoff spot by six points on Jones.
The reigning series champion has one win in the last 38 races but heads to a Kentucky Speedway that has been good to him, even though Kurt Busch nipped his younger brother for the win in last year’s race.
Kyle Busch has two wins in nine starts at Kentucky and leads all drivers in top-five finishes (seven), top-10 finishes (eight) and laps led (621) at the track.
Busch’s lone victory in the last 38 races came in last year’s championship race in Miami. In that same span, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates have combined to win 14 races.
Also during that 38-race stretch, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick have combined to win 16 races (42.1%). Each has eight wins in that time.
3. Speeding on pit road
Here’s a look at the number of pit road speeding penalties drivers have had in the first 16 races of the Cup season:
With Jimmie Johnson missing last weekend’s race at Indianapolis after testing positive for COVID-19, his consecutive starts streak ended at 663, ranking fifth on the all-time list. Johnson has since been cleared to race this weekend at Kentucky Speedway.
Kevin Harvick ranks sixth on the list of longest consecutive starts streak with 656 consecutive starts heading into Sunday’s race at Kentucky Speedway.
Chevrolet teams are winless in their last eight Cup races and the manufacturer has one win in nine races at Kentucky. That victory came last year with Kurt Busch beating Kyle Busch at the finish.
Since Chase Elliott won the second Charlotte race in late May, Chevy drivers have not won. Elliott finished second in Miami, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was second at Talladega and Matt Kenseth was second at Indianapolis.