Photo: Dustin Long

Driver lineup set for Charlotte road course tests in July

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Charlotte Motor Speedway announced the driver lineup for the two days of testing that will take place in July on the track’s road course.

NASCAR created two separate test days. Tests will be July 10 and July 17. Both sessions will go from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET with a lunch break from noon to 1 p.m. ET.

The tests are open to the public.

The Cup series races on Charlotte’s road course Sept. 30 in the playoffs.

Scheduled to test on July 10

Martin Truex Jr.

Jimmie Johnson

Chase Elliott

Kevin Harvick

Clint Bowyer

Denny Hamlin

Daniel Suarez

Brad Keselowski

Paul Menard

Trevor Bayne

Jamie McMurray

Austin Dillon

Chris Buescher

Kasey Kahne

Michael McDowell

Gray Gaulding

Landon Cassill

B.J. McLeod

Scheduled to test on July 17

Kyle Busch

Erik Jones

Ryan Blaney

Joey Logano

Kyle Larson

Aric Almirola

Kurt Busch

Alex Bowman

William Byron

Bubba Wallace

Ryan Newman

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

AJ Allmendinger

Ty Dillon

Matt DiBenedetto

Corey LaJoie

David Ragan

Reed Sorenson

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NASCAR America Scan All: Cautions make scanners come to life

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The first two stages of the Pocono 400 at Pocono Raceway were free of incidents, but the scanners came to life in the final segment and the chatter was caught in the week’s edition of Scan All.

On lap 126 of 160, Kyle Larson got into the back of Derrike Cope and sent him into a harmless spin. It triggered the first caution for an incident and the old adage of “cautions breed cautions” was once more reaffirmed.

“My nose should be fine,” Larson said after the contact. “I barely got him.”

“I probably should have given him the outside,” Cope responded to his spotter. “That’s why I said I was going to go down low.”

Other highlights from Scan All include:

    • “32’s leaking oil bad. Tell him to pull off.” – Michael McDowell
    • “Whoa. My brake pedal went straight to the floor into the tunnel for some reason.” – Matt DiBenedetto
    • “Shut it off, shut it off. We’re done.” – Mike Wheeler, crew chief for Denny Hamlin.
    • “Tell (Erik Jones) I’m sorry. He went to the bottom and then went to the top and I caught him. It’s my fault.” –Joey Logano

For more, watch the video above.

What drivers said after Pocono race

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Martin Truex Jr. — Winner: “Getting a good restart overall was good. Once we could get clear in Turn 1 (on the final restart), we had a fast enough car in clean air that we could hold them off. Those restarts are always nerve-wracking. You never know who can get a push from behind and get a run on you. We were close to (Kyle) Larson on that last one and that could have made it a lot more difficult. Luckily, had great horsepower from TRD and I was able to get out front and make it happen.”

Kyle Larson – Finished 2nd: “Yeah, I actually liked that the (Martin Truex Jr.) tried to pull down and block me a little bit because it messed his angle up to the corner (on the final restart). I knew he would have to slow down a little more on entry, and I was hoping I could get close enough to him to get him loose. Which I did, but I also got kind of loose behind him. So I just had to tuck back in line on exit and then had to try and fight off (Kyle Busch) and (Kevin Harvick) behind me. I was just trying to stay lower than them on exit to get them tight. I am happy we finished second because we were probably a sixth- or seventh-place car today and to finish better than where you run is always a good thing.”

KYLE BUSCH — Finished 3rd: “Just real unfortunate there that once we all thought we had that caution that brought us all down pit road for what we thought was the final stop of the day, we got tires, we beat everybody off pit road and was in control of the restart and then in control of the race when we were leading there, and all of a sudden about 10, 11 laps into that run, there was a caution in Turn 1 for what looked to me to be a shoe booty.  Somebody took their booty off, I guess, and chucked it out their window. That was kind of weird that we saw a caution for that, but safety comes first, so that just kind of derailed our strategy, if you will, and we lost this race last year on not pitting in that situation and getting beat by tires, and so we pitted this year for tires and got beat by those that didn’t pit.”

 KEVIN HARVICK — Finished 4th: “We had a good car all day, just came down to really losing control of the race on the last pit stop. Really not pitting or pitting didn’t really seem to matter. We lost control to the 18 (Kyle Busch) and wound up losing a couple more spots on the restart starting on the inside, and that was the end of the day. Car was fast and everybody did a great job, it just didn’t work out.

Ryan Blaney — Finished 6th: “It was a really hard day. We didn’t start out very good and worked on it really hard. I thought we were about a fourth- or fifth-place car and we were running fifth there when the caution came out. That jumbled everyone up and we came in and put two on it and my car didn’t really drive that good on two tires. We ended up sixth. I thought we were better than a couple cars that finished in front of us. We worked on it pretty hard all day and to make gains like we did through the day is a positive.”

Aric Almirola — Finished 7th: “Man, this is a really challenging place, and I have run so bad here for six years. I just came here with an open mind and told myself I was going to study up and pay attention to what all three of my teammates did and try to learn and try to improve every practice. Qualifying we had whatever snafu we had with that set of tires and it got us set way behind starting 34th, but the guys brought me an incredible race car. I finally figured this place out I feel like.’’

Jimmie Johnson – Finished 8th: “My guys kept fighting all day long. That was a hard-fought eighth place finish. We just need to keep improving, but we’re slowly chipping away at it.”

Joey Logano — Finished 9th: “We just didn’t get the gas tank full on the first stop and ended up running out of gas and then we had to pit while the pits were closed and went down a lap and then there just weren’t any cautions to get the lap back. Once we did it was just too late. We finished ninth and at least we got back up there some but I feel like we should have finished top five with the car we had. We just shot ourselves in the foot a little bit today.”

Chase Elliott – Finished 10th: “We had a good car, I felt like it was much better than where we finished. I didn’t do a very good job on that last restart. With old tires we fell back and had to put on tires and I had too much ground to make up.”

Austin Dillon — Finished 12th: “Considering the handling issues we fought throughout the weekend, leaving here with a 12th-place finish in the Dow Camaro ZL1 isn’t too bad. Turn 3 was a challenge for us during practice, and continued to be during the race. We decided to use pit strategy to make up track position, which I felt like we needed more than handling adjustments. We stayed out longer in Stage 2 than anyone else and took two tires when we finally came in for our stop. Our Camaro ZL1 handled the best when we took two tires at a time. For the rest of the race, we tried to use that to our advantage, which got us into the top 10 during the final couple of restarts. We just couldn’t hold that spot long enough to make it to the checkered flag.”  

Matt Kenseth — Finished 13th: “It was a struggle all day for us. I felt like we got fortunate at the end with some pit strategy by Matt (Puccia) and some cautions that got us back in position to finish 13th but we didn’t run that well. I feel like we made a small amount of headway today but we still have a bunch of work to do.”

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — Finished 14th: “Overall it was a tough weekend. We couldn’t really get a balance on our car. We were loose throughout all the practices and then really tight in the race. We managed to finish a lot better than we ran, which is good, but we have to get the balance better and we struggled with speed all weekend. Never had speed and never had a handle on it, so we have a lot of work to do before we come back.”

David Ragan — Finished 16th: “I felt like we ran really good the first stage and got off a little on adjustments, but the team got the car driving better and a few timely cautions got us back on the lead lap. It was fun to race at the end and we probably finished a few spots higher than we should have finished but it was nice to finish on the lead lap and be close to a top-15.”

William Byron – Finished 18th: “We seemed to have a pretty good day. We just took off a little bit tight on the last restart and got stuck in some bad aero spots, but overall not bad. It was good to get a solid finish and have executed pretty well to put ourselves in a good position. We just needed probably a 15-lap run just to get spread out a little bit. But, it was not bad, and we’ll go on to Michigan.”

Michael McDowell — Finished 21st: “That was a long day. I don’t think anything worked, track bar motor, cool box, fire under the dash, got spun out on pit road and pitted the car backwards. A top 20 would have been nice. We got passed at the line there by (Clint Bowyer) but we will just keep plugging away.”

Ty Dillon – Finished 23rd: “Our GEICO Racing team played the strategy game today. We didn’t have the speed that the leaders did, but my crew chief Matt Borland made strategy calls that kept us ahead of the other cars on our lap. We took the wave-around during each stage break to get back on the lead lap, and we were able to maintain our position in the final stage. The first caution of the last stage fell perfectly into our pit strategy, and we really had the balance of our Camaro ZL1 in a better place than it had been all day. I would have loved to break into the top 20 there at the end, but we didn’t give up and kept fighting back. We had good execution today, and that is what is going to make us better.”

Ryan Newman — Finished 25th: “Overall, we made gains in qualifying again, but handling-wise we weren’t all that good. We pushed in Turn 3, which was our weakest point on the track, and were loose in Turn 2. We took advantage of the stage cautions to make major adjustments to help climb into the top 12, but we ended up being an innocent bystander at the end. I said right before that restart with 10 to go that we’d have another caution and we did. Unfortunately, we were involved, when (Erik Jones) hit the Kalahari Camaro ZL1 in the left rear. We were running 12th at the time and were hoping to gain some spots, but we had to pit for repairs and that cost us all our track position.”

BUBBA WALLACE — Finished 38th: “I made a mistake on pit road speeding again here at Pocono. We took the wave around and we were on older stuff.  (Kasey Kahne) was a little bit better than us, well, for sure better.  I just tucked in behind him so we didn’t waste too much time and kind of did like a long shift and give up a little bit of time. I did it earlier in the race around some cars and had no trouble with it. I just had too much weight and pulled to the left and went from third to second. I really hate and I have never done it before.  It’s a bummer. She screamed pretty loud for a second and that was it.”

NASCAR America: Parker Kligerman highlights other ‘winners’ from Coke 600

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The actual winner of the Coca-Cola 600 was Kyle Busch, who claimed his first Cup points win at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

But on NASCAR America, Parker Kligerman highlighted other drivers in the race whose performances could be considered wins.

Kligerman looked at Alex Bowman, Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell and Premium Motorsports’ Ross Chastain.

Chastain made his first start in the 600, qualifying 25th and finishing 24th. It was his second-best finish of the year.

“It was an incredible qualifying lap, he actually beat out Alex Bowman, who qualified 27th,” Kligerman said. “That’s outdoing his budget level by a long margin. But then he ran up there the entire race. … That was a really impressive day for Ross Chastain. He beat some far more highly funded cars.”

Watch the above video for more.

New rules for All-Star Race make this anyone’s event to win

Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
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How will Saturday night’s All-Star Race unfold at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a new rules package virtually untested in the real world?

“We will just have to wait and see,” Hendrick Motorsports driver Alex Bowman said, succinctly summarized the thoughts of many.

“The rules package NASCAR is planning to use for the All-Star Race is definitely going to be interesting and something different,” Bowman said in a release this week. “It’s cool that NASCAR is trying to constantly make the racing better.”

This week’s prerace releases have been filled with uncertainty. Martin Truex Jr. hopes to use that to his advantage because the rules won’t carry over to the Coca-Cola 600. He isn’t the only one experiencing a change in attitude this year.

Locked into the All-Star Race because of his 2008 victory in the event, Kasey Kahne has the opportunity to deliver Leavine Family Racing one of its biggest successes. Much like racing on the restrictor-plate superspeedways, conventional wisdom will not apply, and this likely will be a wild-card race.

“With us not having run this rules package, we go into this weekend not exactly sure how the cars are going to feel in general, how they’ll work around other cars, or what the speeds will be like,” Kahne said. “It’s tough to say how it will all work out, but we won’t be learning much from this weekend to carry over into the 600 like we may have in years past. Teams will try to go out and win the All-Star Race with this package, and then next weekend, we’ll go back to racing what we’ve been racing all season long.”

“This package is going to be different, there’s no question about it,” David Ragan said. “Charlotte Motor Speedway is a place where the field tends to get strung out really fast, but these rules will slow everybody down a little, and I think we might see more side-by-side racing. And maybe it can spark some new conversation in the industry on a direction we need to go.”

The teams aren’t exactly working in a vacuum. NASCAR used a version of this rules package at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the Xfinity race last year, and the general consensus was that it did, in fact, create more side-by-side racing.

“I think we have to try this new aero package and see where it goes,” Chris Buescher said. “I know the (Xfinity cars) were able to use it at Indy, and I think as far as statistics go, there was a lot of movement in the field and green-flag passing, and I know that’s what NASCAR is after to try and create something different for the All-Star Race.”

Because no one really knows what to expect, a new rules package levels the playing field and may just well give a less experienced driver a chance to shine.

“Hopefully, what I learned with that aero package last year at Indy (in Xfinity) will apply,” William Byron said. “I feel like maybe I’ll have a little bit of the upper hand just knowing what my car needs to do because I think a lot of guys may be up in the air on what to do with their cars (with the new package).”

What will actually happen in the race is anyone’s guess – much the same as on plate tracks.

Without points on the line, there is an incentive to take risks one might not otherwise. This race is already prone to high-risk moves. If the rules package slows the cars arbitrarily and the entirety of the race is run in a pack or multiple packs, the proximity of these enthusiastic drivers to one another could be a recipe for excitement – or disaster.

What other drivers said:

  • “This year’s race in particular will be interesting with the new rules package. I can’t really give any opinion one way or the other until we get on the racetrack around other cars to see what it will be like.” – Jamie McMurray
  • “I’m excited to get on track with the new package we’ll run and see how it feels and how it races.” – Kyle Larson
  • “You never know what is going to happen, especially with the new aero package that we will run. Anyone can win the race.” – Ty Dillon
  • “Obviously, speeds are going to be slower, a lot more downforce, a lot more drag. But it’s still a big question mark. Nobody knows how it’s really going to play out.” – Michael McDowell