Getty Images

NBC Sports Power Rankings rate Cup organizations

Leave a comment

With NASCAR off this weekend for Easter, we’re altering our weekly Power Rankings to focus on the best performing organizations in Cup through the first nine races of the season.

Here’s our picks:

1. Joe Gibbs Racing (40 points): Has won six of the first nine races, including the Daytona 500. Plus, they have the series-leading driver (Kyle Busch, three wins). If JGR continues to have the same success in the next nine races, it could make for a very, very long season for many other organizations.

2. Team Penske (36 points): The only other Cup organization to win a race (two by Brad Keselowski and one by Joey Logano). Organization has been competitive in almost every other race it hasn’t won. The only driver lacking is Ryan Blaney, who has yet to reach victory lane, but whose performance has also picked up in recent races.

3. Stewart-Haas Racing (32 points): Team that is best of the rest behind JGR and Penske. All four drivers have had strong performances at times, but inconsistency and pit road incidents have kept SHR from breaking through with its first win of the season. Could that winless streak finally end at Talladega?

4. Chip Ganassi Racing (26 points): The top Chevrolet team but still well behind the top organizations. If it wasn’t for Kurt Busch and his strong performance (three top fives and six top 10s) in his first season at CGR, this organization would be ranked significantly lower. And what has happened to Kyle Larson? He’s off to one of the worst starts of his career.

5. Hendrick Motorsports (23 points): What’s happened to the once titans of NASCAR? It almost seems like the same struggle virus that has infected Jimmie Johnson has spread to his teammates. Has shown signs of progress but plenty of work still remains.

6. Roush Fenway Racing (22 points): Ryan Newman is starting to hit his stride with his new team, including a pair of season-best ninth-place finishes at Bristol and Richmond, plus four other top-15 showings. But what about teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr.? He’s shown promise at times, but with just one top 10, how does the second quarter of the season bode for him?

7. Richard Childress Racing (17 points): Has shown speed at times but results haven’t always followed. Austin Dillon has the team’s only two top-10 finishes. Daniel Hemric has struggled in his rookie season, with a best finish so far of 18th.

8. JTG Daugherty Racing (9 points): Has shown improvement from last year. Chris Buescher has made some positive gains and Ryan Preece has looked good at times in his first season with the organization. But inconsistency continues to be a problem. What’s the answer?

(tie) 9. Wood Brothers Racing (6 points): Things are starting to come into their own for the single-car team (with an affiliation with Team Penske). Paul Menard has back-to-back top 10 finishes in his two most recent races (Bristol and Richmond) and is up to 16th in the Cup standings. If playoffs started today, Menard would be in.

(tie) 9. Germain Racing (6 points): Ty Dillon has had some solid performances for this one-car team, including a sixth-place finish at Daytona and three other top-15 finishes. But like JTG Daugherty, inconsistency remains an issue that needs to be addressed.

Other organizations receiving votes: Front Row Motorsports (5 points), Richard Petty Motorsports (2 points), Leavine Family Racing (1 point).

What Drivers Said after Bristol

3 Comments

Here’s what drivers had to say after Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway:

Kyle Busch – winner: We’re crazy. We just do what we do, try to win. It’s pretty awesome to be able to snooker those guys, get our win today here at Bristol. Love this place. It was fun to battle out the brother there at the end. I know we didn’t quite get side-by-side racing it out. I saw him working the top. I’m like, I better go. I got up there, was able to make some ground. Man, just awesome to be here in front of this crowd, here at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Skittles Camry wasn’t the best today, but we made the most of not having the best and got everything we needed here at the end. … (On having won eight times now at Bristol; Darrell Waltrip has 12 wins) It ain’t 12, that’s for sure. So I got more to go. We’re getting there and it’s fun. It’s the most (among) active driver(s), I guess. I think I heard that. But, you know, there’s a lot more years left hopefully. … I felt like we had to overcome a lot especially there just on the short runs. We just didn’t have the burst-off speed that we needed for the first 30-40 laps. It kind of seemed after that we could maintain with a bunch of those guys and then we could kind of run those guys back down just a little bit. It was hit or miss a little for us today and this weekend. We thought we had a pretty good car in second practice yesterday and going into the race. We just didn’t quite have the speed. We just didn’t show exactly what we needed there. … I love winning at Bristol. You love winning everywhere. It’s nice to continue to bounty up some of those bonus points for the playoffs.”

Kurt Buschfinished second: It was tough battling our No. 1 Chevy. The Monster Energy team is doing a good job. But that one was tough. I really wanted to beat him. I was going to wreck him (laughter). I was wanting to stay close enough so that when we took the white, I was just going to drive straight into (Turns) 3 and 4; I mean he’s already won. I figured he could give a little love to his brother, but no. I wanted that one bad. I feel like him right now. I’m like ugh, I’m mad because I didn’t win. But, this car, we’re struggling on qualifying and we struggle on taking off. And, I just can’t get the right rear to grip until it gets heat in it. And, it’s hard to be patient when you’re running for the win on old tires. So, I’m happy that we were in position to do it, this group of guys. We’re not quite ready to win yet, but that was close. And I was going to wreck my little brother to win today. But with three laps to go, I just stepped out in Turn 1 and I wasn’t close enough after that. But, thanks to (crew chief) Matt McCall and everybody at Ganassi. This No. 1 Monster Chevy is fast. We’ve just got to fine-tune it all.”

Joey Loganofinished third: “Right at the end there, I thought when we got by the 2 (teammate Brad Keselowski), I said, ‘If I can just hold him off, that’s the pass for the win.’ I was pretty confident we were gonna be able to do that for 15 laps or so and then the caution came out and what do you do? Do you pit? Do you stay out? You know a few of them are gonna stay out. It’s really hard to pass and by the time I got to third those cars were so far ahead of me I was stuck and was not going to get to them. It stinks when you have the fastest car and don’t win, but it’s a team sport and it takes every piece to make it work. We had the car part figured out today, we just missed it on some other ends and just have to keep fighting hard. We got a stage win and that was nice, and led a lot of laps, but you want to win at Bristol so bad. Bristol is the coolest track. You see the start-finish line and think you’re gonna get it, but things happen quick here.”

Ryan Blaneyfinished fourth: “I need to get better as the track kind of rubbers out. Joey is really good at it. I thought he had the best car, probably. The track rubbers in and I just need to do something different there. Overall, not a bad day. We were up there all race and just tried to keep up with the track. The track was really racy today from bottom to top. I thought it put on a really good show.”

Denny Hamlin – finished fifth: “We struggled today. We just didn’t really have the car that we needed to go out there and compete. It was just a little bit off. We kind of hung around that 10th to 13th place all day and then we just got it closer there at the end and that’s when we kind of made a charge towards the front – that and some good strategy. I screwed up our strategy on pit lane. We’ll get it cleaned up. Just got to work through all the kinks and clean stuff up. We didn’t have a race-winning car. Top-five finish with a car that probably shouldn’t have been there is a good day.”

Paul Menardfinished sixth: “We qualified really well and had good track position from the start. I messed up our first pit stop and got us behind. I went to neutral to stop and it popped into third, so I killed the car. I put us behind doing that and track position is so important. Greg (crew chief Greg Erwin) made a good call to stay out and came home with a top 10.”

Clint Bowyerfinished seventh: “We had a good car, it’s just horribly disappointing. You get that close. Long runs were my strong suit. I couldn’t take off all day long. Some of those things made sense. We were down a little bit on air and it took a little bit of time for them to come in. The problem is when you balance around that and you just pump the air-pressure up, then it doesn’t work either and you don’t handle there. It’s just disappointing.”

Daniel Suarezfinished eighth: “Today was difficult. We made a lot of mistakes that we were lucky to overcome and finish in the top 10. I’m proud of that. We have to keep better, but it’s kind of good that we’re making these mistakes now so we can clean them up and be stronger in the second part of the season. We have a very good team. We have great race cars and it’s always good to perform well. Today, we had a lot of speed. I felt like we had top five speed at times and when we’re not very good we have top 10 speed and that’s where we ended up, so after all of those mistakes it was still a decent day.”

Ryan Newmanfinished ninth: “It was a good run for us. We had a car better than what we finished. I’m not sure what the call was on pit road there with the penalty, but then I don’t know why we ended up having to start fifth when we were actually sixth. It was a penalty to be moved up a spot, but a good run for our Wyndham Rewards Ford. The guys did a good job today, we just don’t have the total result to show for it, but it’s definitely and improvement and I’m proud of them.”

Jimmie Johnsonfinished 10th: “We did make a jump in our performance so I hope we can find another chunk that quickly that will put us in that top-five mix consistently. I think we are going to right way and I am very optimistic about that, so I am very thankful and grateful for that. We will celebrate these small victories and get ready for the big one.”

Chase Elliott – finished 11th: “Definitely not what we started out hoping for. We got turned late in the race, that was about it. We fell behind from there. Had a great car, even without the power steering.”

Austin Dillonfinished 14th: “We had a struggle with our Camaro all day. It wasn’t ever really good but somehow we maintained, stayed on the lead lap. More attrition, working hard to stay up there. At one point we got the car pretty decent. The car was pretty tight, but it was decent. There at the end I hit the wall because we had the rear to free. It damaged it. So through all that, 14th is 14th. But I’ll take it.”

Ty Dillonfinished 15th: (On his stage win) “That was huge for our team, to go head-to-head with the top teams is huge for GEICO and Germain Racing. That was a really cool moment, something we are really proud of. We are proud of the direction we are going with our race team. We are going to keep getting better for Chevrolet, GEICO and Germain Racing. I’m really proud of how we are doing with our Camaro.”

BRAD KESELOWSKIfinished 18th: (On restart controversy where he was penalized) “Nobody could figure out the lineup. There wasn’t enough communication and it was just a tough deal.”

Kyle Larsonfinished 19th: “Not much up to it. We had a loose wheel and we had to come down pit road and lost two laps. Then we had an uncontrolled tire. Had a penalty for that and lost a lap. We fought back to get on the lead lap and then had a right front tire going down, so we lost a lap and finished a lap down. Not much to show for how quick our Camaro was today.”

Daniel Hemric — finished 30th: “Man, what a day. We knew going into today’s race we had a tall task ahead of us, but a few things in the opening stage made it an even tougher day. When the first caution of the race happened, I had slowed down but got hit from behind and received damage to the nose of the No. 8 Caterpillar/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet Camaro ZL1. The pit crew did a good job making the necessary repairs, and we were logging some laps in the top 20 when we just got hit from behind by the No. 15, spun and backed into the wall. That hurt the handling of the car pretty bad, and it was all I could do to hang on for the rest of the day. This was definitely a frustrating race, but the crew never gave up all weekend and made the most of the situation. Here’s hoping we find some good luck soon. We just need a clean race, and that is the goal next weekend in Richmond.”

Aric Almirola — finished 37th: “The 24 (William Byron) just got loose under me. He struggled to get going on the initial start. He spun his tires and then was just loose and out of control that whole first lap. When we went down in turn one he lost it under me and wiped us out. I’m pretty frustrated. You work all weekend, all week getting ready for the event and to make it one lap is kind of uncalled for, so I’m disappointed, frustrated, but life goes on. We’ll go to Richmond. Honestly, I think some of it is inexperience on William’s part. I think he started to panic because he started to lose spots on the start because he spun his tires on the start, and probably a little bit over his head with the tire pressures and everything not coming up and he just lost it. He got loose underneath me, lost it and ran right into the side of us and wrecked us. Part of that comes with experience, I guess, but, either way, it doesn’t change the outcome for us today.””

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Busch brothers put on a show: Kyle wins Bristol, Kurt finishes second

16 Comments

It was the Busch brothers show Sunday at Bristol Motor Speedway as younger brother Kyle won the Food City 500, while older sibling Kurt finished second.

It was Kyle Busch’s eighth career Cup win at the .533-mile short track, depriving Kurt of his seventh win there. The younger Busch also recorded a series-leading third win in the first eight races of 2019, as well as capturing the 54th win of his Cup career, tying him for 10th on the NASCAR all-time wins list with Hall of Famer Lee Petty.

It looked like it might not be Kyle Busch’s day after being rear-ended by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on Lap 2. But Busch was able to work his way through the field. The biggest key came during the race’s final caution when Busch stayed out with 20 laps to go and held on to take the checkered flag.

Kyle Busch wins the Food City 500 at Bristol. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

“We’re crazy, we just do what we do to try to win,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “It’s awesome that we were able to snooker those guys to be able to get our win. I love this place. It was fun to battle my brother there at the end. We didn’t quite get side-by-side racing, but I saw him working the top and I’m like, ‘I better go’ and I was able to make up some ground.

This is the second time the brothers have finished 1-2 in a Cup race (the other time was at Sonoma in 2015).

What’s more, the Busch brothers have combined to win the last four races at BMS, dating back to August 2017.

“That one’s tough, I really wanted to beat (Kyle), I was going to wreck him,” Kurt Busch laughed to FS1. “I was wanting to stay close enough so that when we took the white, I was just going to drive into him in (Turns) 3 and 4. He already won (twice this season) and figured he could give a little love to his brother. Nah.”

It was Kurt Busch’s best finish of the season.

Joey Logano finished third, followed by Ryan Blaney and Denny Hamlin.

MORE: Race Results

STAGE 1 WINNER: Ty Dillon (first stage victory of his Cup career).

STAGE 2 WINNER: Joey Logano.

WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD RACE: Jimmie Johnson finished 10th, earning his second consecutive top-10 finish. … Paul Menard and Ryan Newman both earned their respective first top-10 finishes of the season. … Daniel Suarez earned his third straight top 10 and fourth of the season. … Ryan Blaney led a race-high 158 laps.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Things got off to a rough start with a Lap 2 wreck that included Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola (who was knocked out of the race after the impact), Ryan Preece and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

NOTABLE: Kevin Harvick had a rough start to the day but rallied late to finish 13th. Before the race, his engineer was ejected fafter Harvick’s car failed to pass pre-race inspection three times. Harvick had to start from the back of the field and do a pass through penalty at the start. Then Harvick had to make an unscheduled pit stop due to a loose wheel .

WHAT’S NEXT: Toyota Owners 400 this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. ET at Richmond Raceway.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Today’s Cup race at Bristol: Start time, lineup, more

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
5 Comments

Seven races into the season, Joe Gibbs Racing and Team Penske are the only organizations to win in Cup. Will the streak continue today at Bristol Motor Speedway?

Here’s all the pertinent information for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Allison will give the command to start engines at 1:54 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 2 p.m.

PRERACE: The crew chief and drivers meeting is at noon. Driver introductions will begin at 1:20 p.m. The invocation will be given by Mike Rife, Vansant Church of Christ, at 1:46 p.m. Karen Waldrup will perform the National Anthem at 1:47 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 500 laps (266.5 miles) around the .533-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 125. Stage 2 ends on Lap 250.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will broadcast the race with coverage beginning at 12:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network will broadcast the race. PRN’s coverage begins at 1 p.m. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast, which is also available at goprn.com.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for a high of 69 degrees and a 15% percent chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kurt Busch won the August night race. Kyle Larson was second. Chase Elliott finished third. Kyle Busch won this race a year ago. Larson finished second. Jimmie Johnson placed third.

TO THE REAR: Kevin Harvick (failed inspection before the race multiple times), Ryan Preece (backup).

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Cup starting lineup

Today’s Xfinity race at Bristol: Start time, lineup and more

Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Today’s Dash 4 Cash event at Bristol Motor Speedway puts up an extra $100,000 for Christopher Bell, Michael Annett, Chase Briscoe or Tyler Reddick to collect.

With this being a Dash 4 Cash race, any driver who collects Cup points is prohibited from competing in this event.

Here’s all the info you need for today’s race.

(All times are Eastern)

START: Chad George, Rooms Division Manager, The Greenbrier, will give the command to start engines at 1:08 p.m. The green flag is scheduled for 1:14 p.m.

PRERACE: Qualifying is at 9:40 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 10:45 a.m. Driver introductions begin at 12:30 p.m. The invocation will be given at 1 p.m. Emi Sunshine will perform the National Anthem at 1:01 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 300 laps (159.9 miles) around the .533-mile track.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 85. Stage 2 ends on Lap 170.

TV/RADIO: Fox Sports 1 will televise the race. Coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s radio broadcast begins at 12:30 p.m. and also can be heard at goprn.com. SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: wunderground.com calls for mostly cloudy skies with a high of 65 degrees and a 7% chance of rain for the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Kyle Larson won the August race. Christopher Bell was second. Justin Allgaier placed third. Ryan Preece won this event a year ago. Allgaier was second. Daniel Hemric finished third. 

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.