NASCAR will review Kyle Larson’s airborne crash on last lap

Leave a comment

NASCAR will investigate Kyle Larson’s last-lap crash Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway after the No. 42 Chevrolet went airborne after a spin and rolled over several times.

After being hit on the right side by William Byron’s No. 24 Chevy, Larson’s car slid sideways toward the inside SAFER barrier on the backstretch.

About 50 feet from the wall, his right-rear tire began lifting off the pavement. Larson’s car was virtually perpendicular to the pavement when it impacted the barrier head on and then flipped multiple times.

NASCAR often has reacted with safety enhancement after cars have gotten airborne by spinning. After multiple cars went airborne in the May 1, 2016 race, NASCAR also launched an investigation. Larson’s incident was similar to Matt Kenseth’s in the race three years ago as their cars seemed to lift off without contact in both instances.

“Initially I thought I was going to hit the inside wall and right before I got there, it started to lift,” said the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who finished 24th. “That was probably the longest flip I’ve ever had. I just didn’t know if it would ever stop.

“I knew I was flipping and was just hoping I wouldn’t get any closer to the catchfence. It was a little bit scary, but I’m all right. Thanks to the fab shop at Chip Ganassi Racing for building safe race cars. Like I said, it was scary, but I’m just thankful I’m OK.”

NASCAR spokesman Tom Bryant told NBCSports.com’s Dustin Long that the crash would be analyzed to “determine all the factors that led to it.”

The four-car wreck began when David Ragan (who said the wreck “was my fault”) bumped Byron, starting the chain reaction that collected Jeffrey Earnhardt and Larson.

It was the second incident on the final lap. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. had crashed hard into the outside wall shortly after winner Chase Elliott took the white flag, but NASCAR (which was monitoring Stenhouse’s wreck) held the yellow until just as the final wreck began.

NASCAR said the last yellow was because of debris from Stenhouse’s No. 17 Ford. The race report initially listed the reason for the last caution as “17, 24, 42, 38, 81, incident backstretch” (even though Stenhouse’s crash happened on the frontstretch) but was updated as of Monday morning to show the final caution was for “Debris.”

There were three multicar crashes in the race, but Larson’s Camaro was the only car to get airborne after concerns about escalating speeds with a new rules package.

Ryan Newman told Long after practice Friday that NASCAR had prepared poorly for the spike in increased closing rates.

“I think we kept most of the race cars on the race track which was probably a lot of luck,” Newman said Sunday after finishing seventh. “I don’t know that (the racing) was much different. You got bigger runs, but the end result was basically the same. We are still at the mercy of other people’s mistakes which will always be a part of racing here. In the end I am glad all the race cars stayed on the racetrack.”

NASCAR Avengers: Endgame edition

Getty Images
Leave a comment

It’s April, so that means it’s time for another Marvel’s Avengers save the world yet again in movie theaters around the globe.

Avengers: Endgame will be released tonight and it’s expected to make an impressive amount of money despite being three hours long. Yes, three hours.

We decided to exploit the series’ attention for the second year in a row by making our own Avengers lineup of NASCAR drivers.

Just like in the comics/movies, the roster has changed some, but not due to a contract dispute/scheduling conflict/being snapped out of existence.

Send your Avengers/NASCAR recommendations to Daniel McFadin.

Stan Lee – Since our first Avengers posts last year, Jim France has assumed the position of NASCAR Chairman and CEO. He’s the perfect person to make a cameo in our NASCAR Avengers movie like the late comic book creator.

Nick Fury – Steve Phelps took over as NASCAR’s president last year. Now give that man an eyepatch.

Iron Man – Austin Dillon has that outlandish Tony Stark style and he parties like the billionaire playboy philanthropist would if he owned a barn and some fancy cars.

Rocket RaccoonTony Stewart isn’t a talking animal. But the talking raccoon is a weapons expert who likes to make things go boom and isn’t afraid to speak his mind. If you’re ever in a tight spot that requires the use of a flame thrower, Stewart is your man.

Star Lord AKA Peter Quill – Nothing changed here. Clint Bowyer is still from the Midwest and he’s still the driver most likely to call someone a “turd blossom.”

Captain America/Falcon/Winter Soldier – Captain America and Falcon bring to mind the Ryan Blaney/Bubba Wallace duo and NASCAR’s best bromance. Chase Elliott gets the nod as the Winter Soldier anti-hero because he doesn’t get invited to their hangouts. Also, Blaney has to shave his facial hair every year like Steve Rogers in Endgame.

Spider-Man – The 18-year-old Harrison Burton takes Spidey’s web-shooters from William Byron. Somebody born after Y2K should get in on the action here.

The Incredible Hulk – Don’t make Daniel Suarez angry, especially in qualifying.

Thor – Since the “God of Thunder” got a hair cut and trimmed his beard recently, Jeffrey Earnhardt is replaced in the role by Kyle Busch and his beard.

Doctor Strange – Last year, Brad Keselowski was the pick here, but Ryan Preece gets the nod in 2019. Magic is the only reasonable explanation for how he’s avoided some wrecks this season.

Drax the Destroyer – Just like this Guardian of the Galaxy, it takes a lot to make Paul Menard smile.

Captain Marvel – The newest Avenger on the scene must be played by two-time K&N Pro  Series West winner Hailie Deegan.

 

Entry lists for NASCAR at Talladega

Getty Images
Leave a comment

This weekend will mark the first time Talladega Superspeedway will hold a NASCAR Cup race without restrictor plates in more than 30 years.

Instead of restrictor plates, NASCAR requires Cup teams to use tapered spacers to limit the engine’s horsepower. 

Both the Cup and Xfinity Series will be in action this weekend at the 2.66-mile track. The Truck Series does not race again until May 3 at Dover International Speedway.

Here are the preliminary entry lists for each race:

Cup – GEICO 500 (2 p.m. ET Sunday on Fox)

There will be a full 40-car field in Sunday’s main event.

Cody Ware will once again be back in the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet.

Stanton Barrett will make only his second Cup start since 2008 in the No. 52 Rick Ware Racing Chevrolet. He finished last in the 2018 Cup playoff race on the road course at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Justin Haley will make his NASCAR Cup debut in the No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet.

Jeffrey Earnhardt will be in the No. 81 Xtreme Concepts Inc. (XCI) Racing Toyota. It will be the first Cup race for XCI.

NASCAR on NBC analyst Parker Kligerman will be in the No. 96 Gaunt Brothers Racing Toyota.

Joey Logano won this race last year, leading 70 of 188 laps and beating Kurt Busch and Chase Elliott. Aric Almirola won last fall’s playoff race at Talladega, beating Clint Bowyer and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

Xfinity – Money Lion 300 (1 p.m. ET Saturday on Fox Sports 1)

There are 37 cars entered.

B.J. McLeod will be in the No. 15 Chevrolet for JD Motorsports.

Brett Moffitt will make his third career Xfinity start – and first since 2017. He’ll be in the No. 8 JR Motorsports Chevrolet.

Chris Cockrum will make his second Xfinity start of the season in the No. 17 Chevrolet for Rick Ware Racing.

Jeffrey Earnhardt will make his fourth Xfinity start of the season – and his third for Joe Gibbs Racing – in the No. 18 Toyota.

Max Tullman will make his fifth career Xfinity start – and second of the season – in the No. 42 Motorsports Business Management Toyota.

Brandon Brown returns to the No. 86 Brandonbilt Motorsports after competing for RSS Racing at Richmond.

Canadian driver Alex Labbe will make his third start of the Xfinity season in the No. 90 DGM Racing Chevrolet.

There is no driver listed yet in the No. 99 B.J. McLeod Racing Toyota.

Spencer Gallagher won this race last year, leading just one lap. Brandon Jones was second and Justin Allgaier was third.

Click here for the preliminary entry list.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Xfinity Series practice report from Texas Motor Speedway

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Kyle Busch was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice session Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, posting a top speed of 187.813 mph.

He was followed by Brad Keselowski (186.884 mph).

The top five was completed by Tyler Reddick (186.884), Justin Allgaier (186.683) and Noah Gragson (186.239).

Kaz Grala, who is making his first start of the season this weekend, recorded the most laps with 51. He was eighth on the speed chart.

Reddick had the best 10-lap average at 185.244 mph.

Click here for the practice report.

First practice

Reddick was fastest in the first practice session.

Reddick posted a top speed of 187.357 mph to best Busch (187.045 mph).

In third was Reddick’s Richard Childress Racing teammate Grala (186.831).

The top five was completed by Christopher Bell (186.361) and Michael Annett (186.220).

Jeffrey Earnhardt spun early in the session in Turns 1-2 and barely avoided contact with the outside wall. He was 16th on the speed chart.

Click here for the practice report.

NBC Sports Power Rankings heading to Las Vegas

Getty Images
1 Comment

Denny Hamlin is out, and Kyle Busch is in – in first place for this week’s NBC Sports NASCAR Power Rankings, that is – heading into Sunday’s race at Busch’s home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Busch was unanimously selected by NBC Sports’ NASCAR Talk writers for the top spot, while Daytona 500 winner Hamlin dropped to fifth.

Brad Keselowski, who didn’t receive any votes in last week’s Power Rankings, vaults to the No. 2 spot after winning the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway — and while battling flu-like symptoms, no less.

Other notable jumps: Kevin Harvick (from ninth to third this week), Kyle Larson (zero votes last week to fourth) and Martin Truex Jr. (zero votes to sixth this week).

Dropping out of this week’s Power Rankings: Jimmie Johnson, Matt DiBenedetto, Ryan Preece, Ross Chastain and William Byron.

Here are this week’s Power Rankings:

1. Kyle Busch (40 points): One of two drivers to finish in the top 10 in this season’s first two races. At Atlanta, he overcame a cut tire and had to navigate through the field in the new rules package to finish sixth.

2. Brad Keselowski (33 points): Racing while sick is one thing; winning while sick – particularly with having to race 500 miles – is a major accomplishment.

3. Kevin Harvick (26 points): Take away a wreck that wasn’t his fault at Daytona, and the Stewart-Haas Racing driver would be in the top two.

4. Kyle Larson (25 points): Having the strongest car at Atlanta could bode well for the future, but Las Vegas will be a better indicator of his speed.

5. Denny Hamlin (21 points): With a win at Daytona and 11th at Atlanta, he’s off to a strong start for 2019. Can he continue his success during the three-race West Coast swing?

6. Martin Truex Jr. (19 points): In his second race with Joe Gibbs Racing, Truex and crew chief Cole Pearn showed they haven’t lost a step, at least when it comes to 1.5-mile tracks, placing second to Keselowski. Without lapped cars, maybe Truex is higher on this list.

7. Erik Jones (17 points): One of only two drivers (Kyle Busch is the other) to finish in the top 10 in each of the first two races: third at Daytona and seventh at Atlanta.

(tie) 8. Christopher Bell (10 points): With Daytona behind him, Bell picked up where he left off in 2018, leading all but 21 laps in the Xfinity race and sweeping every stage on his way to the win.

(tie) 8. Joey Logano (10 points): Mistakes and miscalculations held this team back at Atlanta.

10. Aric Almirola (8 points): Earned his first pole since 2012 and led 36 laps in the first stage before a speeding penalty dropped him deep into the field. Unlike Kyle Larson, he was able to get back into the top 10 before the end of the race, placing eighth.

Others receiving votes: Clint Bowyer (6 points), Chris Buescher (3 points), Kurt Busch (2 points) and Chase Elliott (1 point).