According to told Fox Carolina, the North Carolina Highway Patrol said the hauler was traveling westbound on I-40 in McDowell County when it went off the right side of the road near mile marker 93. It went through a guard rail and down an embankment before stopping in the woods.
Rice said the team still planned to field two cars in Saturday’s race.
Kaulig also will field the No. 11 Chevy of Justin Haley in Saturday’s race.
UPDATE: Kaulig Racing announced Thursday morning its hauler drivers had been released from the hospital and were recovering at home. It said the team had been “working diligently through the night to prepare an additional primary for Kansas, with help from our technical alliance partners at (Richard Childress Racing).”
Thursday afternoon the team confirmed that RCR’s No. 21 Xfinity Series hauler is transporting Chastain’s new primary and backup cars to Kansas, where it is expected to arrive around 8 a.m. Friday.
Both hauler drivers have been released and are recovering at home. Thank you to all for your comments, prayers and concern. Our guys have been working diligently through the night to prepare an additional primary for Kansas, with help from our technical alliance partners at RCR.
Kurt Busch — His contract expires after this season. Car owner Chip Ganassi has suggested in media reports that a deal will be done. Busch declined to discuss much about his contract status before the Sept. 29 race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, stating: “We haven’t really started talks. I felt like it was good to get the playoffs underway and go as far as we could comfortably. Man, there’s a lot going on and we’ll see how things play out. Again, it’s all about all the stars lining up with Chevrolet, Monster Energy, myself, Chip. For me, I feel like things haven’t progressed because of the focus on the playoffs.”
Daniel Suarez — He has said that both he and the team have an option on his contract for next year. He has remained confident that he will return to Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 41 car and noted upcoming meeting should solidify his situation.
It’s the bedrock upon which superspeedway racing happily has rested for three decades in the interest of entertainment (and, ostensibly, safety in ensuring speeds are manageable enough to prevent cars from sailing over catchfences with disturbing regularity at Daytona and Talladega).
After an off-year in 2018, NASCAR found its sweet spot in Sweet Home Alabama this season.
The most arbitrary form of racing delivered by NASCAR’s premier series again felt as predictably unpredictable as it ever had since the restrictor-plate era began in 1988. There were colossal crashes, double-crossing duplicity and razor-tight finishes.
That was great for fans. It wasn’t necessarily good for Cup drivers.
Of course, it rarely is in the finicky and violent environs of Dega, which was unusually tame last year with only two wrecks of at least a half-dozen cars across 1,013 miles (this year, there were three times as many).
The knock on plate racing in 2018 was the lack of driveability. It’s hard to make passes when cars aren’t stable at 200 mph-plus in the draft.
NASCAR addressed this by raising spoilers to 9 inches with the advent of the spacers. That didn’t do much for handling, but it did punch a bigger hole in the air that caused massive acceleration in the draft and eradicated the “aero bubble” barrier that drivers said made it difficult for trailing cars to pass last year.
So the ability to catch the leader improved … even though handling didn’t nearly as much (look no further than Joey Logano’s in-car camera, which was a furious blur of hands manhandling the steering wheel on every shot).
That was a recipe for the return of the huge wrecks that felt like Dega of yesteryear. Holes in the draft vanished much more quickly, and blocking became futile as drivers scrambled (and often failed) to adapt to the higher closing rates.
As analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. noted in the NBC broadcast, though the bumpers don’t line up as well with the Gen 6 as in the previous iteration (which spawned the nefarious tandem drafting), the bump-drafting has become even more aggressive in the era of stage points and playoff berths tied to wins.
With bigger runs coming from every direction, an increased susceptibility to being passed and cars just as unstable when in a pack, the lead no longer was the place to be at Talladega.
There were more lead changes Sunday-Monday (46, up from 38 in the April 28 race) than the combined total (40) for both 2018 races. There were 22,214 green-flag passes (59 per lap) at Talladega in 2019, up from 13,294 last year (35 per lap).
A NASCAR without restrictor plates?
Talladega still served up the action for fans — on a silver platter strewn with twisted sheet metal, of course.
The situations weren’t entirely analogous, but NASCAR’s non-call on the final lap Monday was reminiscent of its controversial non-call on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s winning pass of Matt Kenseth in the April 6, 2003 race at Talladega. In both instances, officials claimed the spirit of the yellow-line rule wasn’t violated even though the letter clearly was.
Here’s how the rule was presented in the drivers meeting at Talladega: “Drivers, this is your warning. Race above the double-yellow line. If in NASCAR’s judgment, you go below the double-yellow line to improve your position, you will be black-flagged. If in NASCAR’s judgment, you force someone below the double-yellow line in an effort to stop someone from passing you, you may be black-flagged.”
It’s indisputable that, just like Earnhardt did in passing Kenseth 16 years ago, Ryan Blaney went below the yellow line before taking the lead for good Monday from Ryan Newman. It’s possible that contact with Newman caused Blaney to dip below the boundary, and that seems to be NASCAR’s explanation in why no call was made.
But it also seems like the rule demands that (as it did in 2003) a penalty should have been called on either Blaney or Newman. NASCAR can rule that “in its judgment,” Blaney didn’t intentionally go below the yellow-line to improve his position … but if that’s the case, it means he had to have been forced there, right?
As many have noted, manufacturer alliances at Daytona and Talladega were invented long before the 21st century. In the 1990s, Chevrolet and Ford drivers regularly worked together – when possible — to try to ensure their makes won the race.
Chevrolet’s decision to call an in-race meeting at Garage Suite 3 in full public view was ill-advised, at best. The references afterward to shilling Corvettes and watching PowerPoints were too clever by a factor of maybe 100, and they also were indicative of why the optics were problematic.
Chevy’s extremely disciplined approach felt too corporate, and it seemed micromanaged to the point of making Michael Scott blush. Chastising drivers for racing three wide instead of single file while still in Stage 1 is hardly palatable to anyone in NASCAR, which has an appealing undercurrent of cutthroat intensity (especially at Daytona and Talladega).
The focus on manufacturer alliances wasn’t all bad, though.
It forced some good discussions on awkward topics into the open, and it raised important issues about how much influence manufacturers and teams should have in effectively determining race winners. If younger drivers for midpack teams essentially are told to subjugate themselves for the greater good (or risk being stripped of perks), is that a just sacrifice at a track that might offer their best opportunity at winning all year?
That conversation got shoved to the forefront by the weekend’s manufacturer debate. And it was nice that none of it actually mattered at the conclusion of a race that featured a passel of unheralded underdogs vying for the checkered flag.
It also could be indirectly good for NASCAR while continuing to court new manufacturers to enter with its next generation engine (which probably won’t happen until 2023). With the overall decline in the corporate sponsorship spend over the past decade, there are few entities investing as much in stock-car racing as the automakers.
At least they got good bang for their bucks at Talladega, particularly if you ascribe to the idea that there is no such thing as bad publicity.
Ryan Blaney still isn’t a favorite to reach the Championship 4 this season, but Monday might be remembered as a turning point if the No. 12 driver eventually wins a Cup title.
There is enormous pressure on the 25-year-old to perform at Team Penske, which has been enjoying a worldwide results bonanza well beyond NASCAR that is impressive even for this storied organization. Never mind championship teammates Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano, Blaney also is competing against winners of the Indianapolis 500, Bathurst 1000 and Rolex 24. If he makes the playoffs but still goes winless this year, it gets noticed more than it would at a less successful team.
The confidence-booster of making every right move over the final two laps (including the bold decision to choose the outside for the lead on the final restart) should go a long way toward making Blaney feel his place is secure at one of racing’s greatest teams.
Ross Chastain to race full-time for Kaulig Racing next season
Kaulig Racing announced Tuesday that Ross Chastain will return to the team to run a full-time Xfinity Series schedule in 2020.
Chastain, 26, will drive the No. 10 Chevrolet. He will be sponsored by Nutrien Ag Solutions for 23 races. Joining Justin Haley in the No. 11 Chevrolet, it will mark the first season Kaulig Racing has fielded two full-time cars.
The crew chief for Chastain’s team and the 23 selected Nutrien Ag Solutions events will be announced at a later date.
“Two of the most important things in my life are agriculture and racing,” Chastain said in a press release. “Nutrien Ag Solutions is the best sponsor I could have ever asked for as it pertains to my family’s long history of farming. (Team owner_ Matt (Kaulig), (president) Chris (Rice) and all of Kaulig Racing gave me the opportunity to race this year when I really wasn’t sure I would ever get another winning opportunity in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. And, we won. Now, next year, we get to try to win more races and also compete for the championship.”
Said Matt Kaulig: “Ross Chastain has it all – he’s competitive, he’s marketable, he’s all-around a great, blue-collar guy. As a team, we couldn’t be more honored to land a driver like Ross. In just four races already this season, he’s not only helped advance our program, but he brought home this team’s very first win. Having him at Kaulig Racing next season, driving full-time, is a great gain for our organization.”
Kaulig Racing made the Xfinity playoffs this year with Justin Haley, who was eliminated after the first round.
Chastain’s news comes a little over 11 months after the last time he had a full-time Xfinity Series ride announced. After he made three Xfinity starts and earned one win for Chip Ganassi Racing last year, Chastain was tapped in November to take over its No. 42 car full-time in 2019.
As a result, this year has seen Chastain make 67 starts across all three national series, including all 20 Truck Series races with Niece Motorsports. After a wreck in Saturday’s Talladega Truck race, Chastain is last in the playoff standings with two races left in the Round of 6. He is two points back from the cutoff spot held by Matt Crafton.
As for NASCAR national series races outside of Xfinity next year, Chastain said in a Tuesday teleconference he plans to compete in “as many as I can” but didn’t provide any details.
“I want to race anything and everything,” Chastain said. “There’s an Xfinity off-week next year and I’m talking about going to run a front-wheel drive four-cylinder race with some buddies. I don’t know. … Anybody that drives a race car, works in racing, none of us have to do this. We all are in racing and motorsports because we love it for one reason or another. That’s truly my reasoning. It’s not just what I tell people. That’s the real reason. It’s not for the glamorous lights or the paycheck, because I’m not there still. I will race anything that I can get my hands on.”
But with the points switch, Chastain started from zero points and had eight races to qualify for the playoffs. To do so he had to win again and then be in the top 20 in points by the end of the regular season. He won two of those eight races (had a third stripped due to an inspection failure) and finished in the top 10 five times, ensuring a playoff spot.
NASCAR declared Spencer Boyd the winner of Saturday’s Truck Series race at Talladega Superspeedway after penalizing Johnny Sauter for going below the yellow line and forcing Riley Herbst to do so while racing for the lead on the final lap.
The win is the first of Boyd’s career and comes in his 23rd career start. The driver for Young’s Motorsports is 24 and hails from Creve Coeur, Missouri.
“I got out (of the truck) and they’re like, ‘Hey, it’s under review,'” Boyd told FS1. “You never know what’s going to happen here. The guys gave me a great truck. I’m sitting there, ‘Man, second is amazing for us. I’m happy.’ We finished fourth at Daytona in this truck. One of my crew guys was like ‘You just won!’ I can’t believe this. Two weeks ago I wasn’t running this race. We put this together late with Alabama Roofing Professionals … It’s been a tough season. It’s been a lot of fun. …
“I had no idea what to expect,” Boyd continued. “You dream of winning a NASCAR race. Four years ago I was selling cars with my dad at Hendrick Automotive Group. A lot of people have believed in me to get me to this point. … It’s Talladega. Man, I don’t drink beer, but it might happen tonight!”
Sauter was dropped to 14th, the last car on the lead lap.
“It ain’t the first win NASCAR’s taken from me,” Sauter told FS1. “I went down to put a little block on (Herbst), but when I did I got hooked sideways. But that’s just plate racing. I didn’t block his advance or anything like that. If I remember I think Tony Stewart and Regan Smith had the same deal (in 2008). Just hate it for my guys. They deserve better than that. What are you gonna say?”
Johnny Sauter goes below the yellow line and SPENCER BOYD WINS AT TALLADEGA!
Scott Miller, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, explained the decision on the finish.
“It’s made very clear in the rule book, in the driver’s meeting video and all of the dialogue we have with the drivers what you can and can’t do when it comes to the yellow line,” Miller said. “It was clearly a violation of what we ask of the drivers when it relates to the yellow line. So there was no other call for us to make, except for what we did.”
WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Brett Moffitt (fourth) and Stewart Friesen (fifth) were the top finishing playoff drivers after they bounced back from a penalty for locking bumpers mid-race … Rookie Tyler Ankrum placed seventh in his first career start on a superspeedway.
WHO HAD A BAD RACE:Tyler Dippel was eliminated in a crash in Stage 2. He finished 31st … John Hunter Nemechek was eliminated and finished 30th due to damage suffered when trucks in front of him stacked up and he rammed into the back of Sheldon Creed … Anthony Alfredo finished 15th after he spun in Turn 4 from a punctured tire with 13 laps to go in the scheduled distance. He was making his first superspeedway start.
WHAT’S NEXT: Texas Roadhouse 200 at Martinsville Speedway at 1:30 p.m. ET on Oct. 26 on FS1