The Racing Nuts action-packed show brings you NASCAR legend Kenny Wallace, as well as Al Garcia, President of Homestead-Miami Speedway
The Racing Nuts Radio Network returns for 2021 with the winning-est driver in the top-fuel class, Tony Schumacher!
The Racing Nuts show is here with all the latest on THE RETURN OF RACING! All your favorite racing series news covered here for the week, and a look at the coming week in NASCAR, NHRA, and our special guest from #HendryCountyMotorsportsPark, Jason Beckner with all the news from Hendry County Motorsports on the dirt track scene in South Florida
NASCAR Makes Debut on Iconic DAYTONA Road Course; Now has Won Five out of Six Races, Tying a NASCAR Record Held by Sam Ard
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 15, 2020) – History was made at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, as the first of three NASCAR national series made its debut on the iconic DAYTONA Road Course with the running of the NASCAR Xfinity Series UNOH 188.
It was only appropriate that the race winner – Austin Cindric – made history himself. In addition to claiming victory in the first Xfinity Series race on the 14-turn, 3.61-mile layout, he won for the fifth time in the last six races, joining Sam Ard (1983) as the only NASCAR Xfinity Series drivers to win five races over a six-race span.
The UNOH 188 was Cindric’s second win in-a-row, as the only time he has not recorded a victory of this six-race stretch was on July 25 at Kansas when he secured a second-place finish. He also continues to thrive in road course racing, on which he has accounted for four of his seven career wins. In fact, his 12 career Xfinity Series starts on road courses have resulted in nine top-10 finishes, all in the top-5.
While Cindric won Saturday’s race by more than seven seconds over second-place finisher Brandon Jones, it was far from an easy win for the driver of the No. 22 Money Lion Ford Mustang.
“I’m not sure anyone was really happy with their race car,” Cindric said. “Unfortunately, I have a tough perspective of driving really fast, high-grip race cars at this track, but great credit to my team and everyone that puts this together. That’s five wins on the year and back-to-back now. I’m really proud of that. I didn’t feel like I drove my best today, but we executed there at the end where it counts and that’s what makes these races so difficult to win.”
Cindric battled Chase Briscoe for a majority of the afternoon before Briscoe was forced to exit the race after suffering severe damage to the front left side of his car in a multi-car incident shortly following a restart with seven laps remaining. In fact, the pair combined to lead 42 of the first 44 laps of the race, including 26 by Briscoe. Cindric led a total of 21 laps on the day.
Cindric won Stage 1 of the race by leading all 15 laps. Briscoe then claimed Stage 2, as he led all but two of the 15 laps, and edged Cindric down the stretch as the two exchanged the top position on the final lap of the stage.
Cindric, who leads the overall points standings with 830, now has claimed eight stages on the year, tied with Noah Gragson for the most in the Xfinity Series. He also has accumulated 33 playoff points on the year. Briscoe, who is second with 782 points, has taken four stages on the year and amassed 29 playoff points. They both have accounted for a series-best five wins on the year.
Cindric was obviously pleased to join Sam Ard in select company, but he is even more excited about producing valuable playoff points today in addition to his team’s prospects for the remainder of 2020.
“It’s incredible and takes great race cars and executing races,” Cindric said. “I’m proud to be driving this 22 car and contending for wins week to week. There’s still a lot of work to do, but this is great for the points for sure.”
Jones challenged Cindric briefly and led the two laps prior to the final restart of the day, but he did not have enough to keep pace with a hard-charging Cindric, who led the pack for the final five laps.
“I had a flashback to Kansas (1st-place finish for Jones) there when they all pushed up into turn one,” Jones said. “I hate there was a caution because I know (Austin) Cindric was lights out fast, but I think we could have at least gotten pretty close there the end to possibly winning this thing. It’s been a good day here. I did not come here thinking I was going to have a shot to win the race. I stayed in the game, never locked the wheels up, stayed on track and it paid off.”
Noah Gragson (3rd), AJ Allmendinger (4th) and Andy Lally (5th) completed the top-five. Riley Herbst (7th) was the top finishing rookie.
Saturday’s race was originally scheduled to take place at Watkins Glen International but was realigned as a result of the pandemic and its impact on the state of New York.
The start of the race was delayed by nearly two hours due to lightning in the area, accompanied by some rain. As a result, NASCAR declared damp conditions for the start of the race, giving the teams its choice of tires.
The historic weekend of racing on the DAYTONA Road Course will conclude on Sunday, which will feature a doubleheader, consisting of the Sunoco 159 (12:00 p.m. ET, FS1) for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, as well as the NASCAR Cup Series’ Go Bowling 235 (3:00 p.m. ET, NBC). Like the UNOH 188, Sunday’s races will be inaugural events on the DAYTONA Road Course for both series.
A limited number of fans will get the opportunity to see the Go Bowling 235 and Sunoco 159. Fans can get tickets, which start at $49 (both races included) for adults and $10 for kids 12 years old and younger, by visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or calling 1-800-PIT-SHOP.
Cindric will get a chance to make history yet again in just two weeks as the Xfinity Series will return to the high banks of the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway. The Wawa 250 is set for Friday, Aug. 28, while the Coke Zero Sugar 400 takes the green flag on Saturday, Aug. 29. It will be the final race of the regular season to set the 2020 Cup Series Playoffs.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Aug. 11, 2020) – The winner of this Sunday’s (Aug. 16) historic first NASCAR Cup Series race on the world famous trioval/road course at Daytona International Speedway – the Go Bowling 235 At The DAYTONA Road Course – will win a special, one-of-a-kind trophy, produced by The Corning Museum of Glass.
Located just 20 minutes away from Watkins Glen International (NY), The Corning Museum of Glass has created the work of art especially for the anticipated inaugural premier series event on the heralded road course. While this will be the NASCAR Cup Series’ first visit on the trioval/road course, the iconic layout that has been the home of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, North America’s premier sports car race, since 1962.
Traditional glassmaking methods were used on the 18” tall/4.5” wide prize, incorporating a blown glass cup that plays on the history of NASCAR (began in 1948), “The World Center of Racing” Daytona International Speedway (opened in 1959), and Daytona Beach, the “Birthplace of Speed,” which dates back to 1903 when automotive competition began on the sands of the beach. Photos of production, as well as the finished trophy, are located here.
“Thinking about the history of the track and long-held traditions, I was reminded that historically, trophies used to be cups and have evolved into sculptural forms,” said Eric Meek, Sr. Manager of Hot Glass Programs at The Corning Museum of Glass, the foremost authority on the art, history, science and design of glass. “We took this trophy back to a more traditional shape. Daytona is the most historical track, and in thinking about a trophy design for a race held in this storied location, I was transported back to the golden age of speed. I wanted to design something that felt like a bit of a throwback – like it belonged in the era of streamline racers and the quest to go faster.”
The Corning Museum of Glass has partnered with Watkins Glen International to design a trophy for its NASCAR Cup Series races since 2012.
“Typically we have created a trophy that embodies Watkins Glen International and the celebrated region in which it resides,” added Meek. “It’s a design that The Corning Museum of Glass has perfected each year, made especially for the drivers who claim victory in Watkins Glen. It’s always exciting to be a part of something that so many people love, and we’re thrilled to continue the tradition this year at Daytona.”
A limited number of fans will get to see who takes home the glass piece in the Go Bowling 235 At The DAYTONA Road Course, which starts at 3 p.m. ET (NBC). The day will feature a doubleheader with the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, which gets the day started at 12 Noon (FS1). Fans can get tickets, which start at $49 (both races included) for adults and $10 for kids 12 years old and younger, by visiting www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or calling 1-800-PIT-SHOP.
The Go Bowling 235 At The DAYTONA Road Course is one of three events (along with NASCAR Xfinity Series race and ARCA Menards Series) to be held on the tri-oval/infield road course that are realigned races that were originally scheduled to be held at Watkins Glen International. The Gander Trucks event is realigned from Iowa Speedway.
The DAYTONA Road Course will have an added, unique twist – the addition of a new chicane near the exit of turn four (skid pad) that will provide the competitors with yet another passing zone on what will now be a 14-turn, 3.57-mile, high-banked tri-oval/infield road course.
The ARCA Menards Series kicks off the weekend on Friday at 5:00 p.m. ET (MAVTV), while the NASCAR Xfinity Series event is set for Saturday at 3:00 p.m. ET (NBCSN).
The limited number of fans for Sunday’s doubleheader of action is in accordance with public health officials and local, state and federal authorities on amended safety protocols and procedures that will provide a safe experience for all fans in attendance.
NASCAR will also return to DAYTONA at the end of August to the high banks of the 2.5-mile trioval with the Coke Zero Sugar 400 (Aug. 29). It will mark the final regular season race that will determine the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Playoff driver lineup. The Wawa 250 Powered by Coca-Cola for the NASCAR Xfinity Series takes to the track on Friday, Aug. 28 to ignite the weekend.
Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway’s mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season. To learn more about the “Go Bowling America” league program, visit www.gobowling.com.
The Racing Nuts return with a preview of next week’s live show @Dave & Busters in Orlando. Guests include Frank from GC Iron, Greg Colby of Dave & Buster’s Orlando, ~AND~ Chip Wile, President of Daytona International Speedway
ACTION ~ PACKED ~ SHOW!
The Racing Nuts return for another fun-and-fact-filled show with all your latest news from every series of racing you enjoy. This week, we welcome Neal Gulkis, Homestead-Miami Speedway’s Director of communications live from Kansas City Motor Speedway. NEXT, we welcome Rustoleum’s top fuel dragster legend, T.J. Zizzo with an interview on his latest (almost) race! as well as another breaking news segment “Schumacher’s Wally-World” with our 8-time World Champion Top Fuel dragster pilot, Tony Scumacher
NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records
The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway
The Date: Sunday, July 5
The Time: 4 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 3:30 p.m. ET
Radio: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 400 miles (160 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 50),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 100), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 160)
2019 Race Winner: Kevin Harvick
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard
The Place: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course
The Date: Saturday, July 4
The Time: 3 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 151.22 miles (62 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 20),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 40), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 62)
NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: Buckle Up In Your Truck 225
The Place: Kentucky Speedway
The Date: Saturday, July 11
The Time: 6 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 225 miles (150 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 35),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 70), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 150)
2019 Race Winner: Tyler Ankrum
NASCAR Cup Series
Independence Day weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway
For the first time in NASCAR Cup Series history, the series will compete at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Independence Day weekend, Sunday, July 5 ,at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio in the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 Powered by Big Machine Records.
This weekend’s race will be 400 miles (160 laps) and broken up into three stages. The first two stages will be 50 laps each and the final stage will be 60 laps.
This weekend will mark the 27th running of a NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway took place on August 6, 1994; Rick Mast won the pole with a speed of 172.414 mph and NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon took home the checkered flag.
The 26 NASCAR Cup Series races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway have produced 19 different pole winners and 15 different race winners. Jeff Gordon and Kevin Harvick lead the series in poles at Indianapolis with three each. Gordon also leads the series in wins at the Brickyard with five victories (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2014).
Five former Indianapolis race winners are entered this weekend, led by seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson with four wins (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012); followed by Kevin Harvick (2003, 2019), Kyle Busch (2015, 2016), Brad Keselowski (2018) and Ryan Newman (2013).
The pole position is the most proficient starting positions in the field, producing five wins. The most recent driver to accomplish the feat was Kevin Harvick last season. In 2016, Kyle Busch became the first driver in history to sweep both the NASCAR Xfinity Series race from the pole and the NASCAR Cup Series race from the pole in the same weekend at Indianapolis.
The deepest in the field that a race winner has started at Indianapolis is 27th, by Jeff Gordon in 2001. The deepest an active race winner has started is 16th by Jimmie Johnson in 2009.
NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola kicks off at IMS
Beginning this weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and running through July 31, the NASCAR industry will honor United States Armed Forces and frontline healthcare heroes as part of this year’s expanded NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola – an industry-wide opportunity to recognize and thank those who have gone above and beyond to keep society safe and healthy.
For the first time ever, NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola will kick off with the Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 at the Brickyard (Sunday, July 5 at 4 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), as the platform shifts to a mid-summer window due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We take pride in honoring all who work tirelessly to keep our nation safe, whether a frontline worker in the fight against COVID-19 or part of our U.S. Armed Forces protecting us around the world,” said Jill Gregory, executive vice president and chief marketing and content officer, NASCAR. “The NASCAR industry has always been passionate about saluting our nation’s heroes both past and present, and we once again look forward to recognizing those who serve.”
As part of the evolved campaign for 2020, NASCAR and Coca-Cola will create content opportunities to celebrate heroic work from our military and first responder community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In partnership with NBC, NASCAR and Coca-Cola will celebrate heroes in the military and medical community, and NASCAR and Coca-Cola’s dedicated actions to support our community. Through NASCAR digital and social channels, the industry will spotlight even more stories with a new “NASCAR Salutes Refreshing Moments” feature that will also be hosted on NASCAR.com/Salutes.
“While this crisis has impacted everyone’s daily lives, we are able to race because of the selfless acts by our military community and frontline workers,” said John Mount, vice president, sports marketing and region assets, Coca-Cola North America. “NASCAR Salutes offers an impactful opportunity to showcase our pride and appreciation for these heroes and their families.”
While NASCAR Salutes Refreshed by Coca-Cola shifted due to COVID-19, the industry continued its tradition honoring fallen service members during the annual Memorial Day Weekend 600 Miles of Remembrance at the Coca-Cola 600. All 40 NASCAR Cup Series cars featured the name of a fallen service member on the windshield during the race in honor of those who made the ultimate sacrifice.
Driver To Beat: Denny Hamlin keeps adding up victories
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin leads the NASCAR Cup Series in wins this season with four victories in 15 races – a winning percentage of 26.7%.
The Chesterfield, Virginia, native is on pace to tie or better his career-best season (2010); where he started the year with five wins in 15 races and finished the season runner-up in points and a career-high in wins (eight). In 2020, Hamlin has four wins, including his third-career Daytona 500, Darlington, Homestead and Pocono, nine top fives (series-most) and 10 top 10s. He has also spent the third-most time out front leading laps this season with 436 laps led (10.8%).
Of NASCAR’s four ‘crown jewel’ events on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule (Daytona 500, Coca-Cola 600, Southern 500 and the Brickyard 400) Hamlin has conquered two of them (Daytona, Darlington), but this weekend he could get his third. Hamlin has made 14 series starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway posting five top fives and eight top 10s; including three third-place finishes. He finished sixth in this race last season.
Kevin Harvick looks for back-to-back wins at Indianapolis
Only two drivers have been able to win back-to-back races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway – Jimmie Johnson (2008, 2009) and Kyle Busch (2015, 2016) – and this weekend Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick will look to add his name to the list and defend his 2019 NASCAR Cup Series Indianapolis Motor Speedway victory.
Year-in and year-out Kevin Harvick continues to be a force to reckon with in the NASCAR Cup Series and the 2020 season is no different. Harvick sits atop the series driver standings, 52 points up on second place Ryan Blaney following the double header last weekend at Pocono Raceway. Harvick snatched the top spot in the points following the race at Phoenix back on March 8 and has not relinquished it since.
In 15 starts this season Harvick has collected three wins (Darlington, Atlanta, Pocono), eight top fives and 12 top 10s (series-most). Historically, Indianapolis has been a great track for Harvick, in 19 starts he has put up three poles, two wins (2003, 2019), seven top fives and 13 top 10s. His average finish is a stout 8.9 (series-best).
Race to the Playoffs: Reddick stumbles and Jones jumps back on the bubble
After jumping up to the final postseason transfer spot (16th) in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings heading into Pocono last week, Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick stumbled during the double header weekend leaving the door open for a hard charging Erik Jones to take the coveted position. Now the Joe Gibbs Racing driver, Jones, is back in Playoff contention and is 14 points up on Austin Dillon the first driver below the cutline. Reddick dropped two spots to 18th, 26-points back from Jones.
With 15 races in the books, that leaves 11 to go in the regular season for drivers to sure up their spots in the Playoffs. Eight drivers have locked themselves into the postseason on wins, leaving eight spots still up for grabs.
|Rank||Driver||Points||Starts||Race Wins||Stage Wins||Playoff Pts||Pts From Cutoff|
|18||Tyler Reddick #||315||15||0||1||1||-26|
|19||Ricky Stenhouse Jr.||311||15||0||1||1||-30|
Expect the Playoff bubble to continue to shuffle drivers following this weekend as the competitors listed in the drivers standings from 13th to 20th have vastly different average finishes at Indianapolis – Clint Bowyer (18.5), Matt DiBenedetto (26.8), William Byron (11.5), Erik Jones (24.0), Austin Dillon (17.9), Tyler Reddick (series debut), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (28.0) and Chris Buescher (15.8).
Johnson’s last chance to tie Gordon in wins at Indianapolis
One team has risen above the rest when it comes to winning in the NASCAR Cup Series at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and that team is Hendrick Motorsports with their series-leading 10 victories among three drivers (Jeff Gordon’s five wins, Jimmie Johnson’s four wins and Kasey Kahne’s one win). Now as seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson embarks on his final season, this weekend will be the last time he has a shot a tying his long-time friend and teammate NASCAR Hall of Famer Jeff Gordon for the series-most wins at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with five (1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2014).
Johnson and crew chief Cliff Daniels have started finding some success this season, currently 12th in the driver standings 63 points up on postseason cutline. In 15 starts in 2020, Johnson has amassed two top fives and six top 10s.
Heading into this historic weekend, Johnson’s four Indianapolis wins (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012) lead all active drivers. In total, the Californian has made 18 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway posting four wins, six top fives and seven top 10s. But, he finished 35th in this event last season due to an incident.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway NASCAR Cup Series race is considered one of NASCAR’s “crown jewel” events, and Johnson is one of only four drivers in history to have won all four – the DAYTONA 500, the Charlotte 600, the Brickyard 400 and the Southern 500 – joining Kevin Harvick, as well as NASCAR Hall of Famers Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt.
Former Indianapolis winners who still need a win in 2020
Three former NASCAR Cup Series winners at Indianapolis Motor Speedway come into this weekend still looking for their first victory of the 2020 season – four-time Indianapolis winner Jimmie Johnson, two-time Indianapolis winner Kyle Busch and Ryan Newman with his single Brickyard win.
Johnson leads the former Indianapolis victors with four wins (2006, 2008, 2009, 2012), but he also has the second longest winless streak of the group as the Hendrick Motorsports driver hasn’t visited Victory Lane since 2017 – 110 races ago. Johnson can change all that this weekend though, he has made 18 starts at the Brickyard posting four wins, six top fives and seven top 10s. His average finish at Indianapolis is 16.5.
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch is currently ranked 11th in series driver standings following the doubleheader at Pocono, but the two-time series champion is still looking for his first win of the season. Busch has won in every fulltime Cup season he has competed in dating back to 2005 and he hasn’t posted less than four wins a season since 2015. But, Busch heads to Indianapolis this Sunday looking snap his winless streak that dates back to the 2019 season finale in Homestead, 15 races ago. This season, Busch has posted seven top fives and eight top 10s; including three runner-up finishes. Busch has made 15 starts at Indianapolis Motor Speedway putting up two wins (2015, 2016), five top fives and 11 top 10s. In 2016, Kyle Busch became the first driver in history to sweep both the NASCAR Xfinity Series race from the pole and the NASCAR Cup Series race from the pole in the same weekend at Indianapolis.
Of the three drivers looking to break their winless streak, Roush Fenway Racing’s Ryan Newman has been waiting the longest. The Indiana native (South Bend), Newman, last won in the NASCAR Cup Series at Phoenix Raceway back in 2017 when he was driving for Richard Childress Racing – 119 races ago. Due to his injury at the beginning of this season, he has competed in 113 of them, but this weekend he looks to get back to his winning ways and not only snap his winless streak but also that of Roush Fenway Racing’s that dates back to Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s last victory at Daytona – 106 races ago. Newman has made 19 series starts at Indianapolis posting one win (2013), three top fives and six top 10s. His average finish is 16.0.
Crew Chief Spotlight: Indiana’s Chris Gabehart readies for Indianapolis
Joe Gibbs Racing’s most successful duo this season is driver Denny Hamlin and his crew chief Chris Gabehart as they lead the NASCAR Cup Series in wins this year with four victories through the first 15 races. But who is the man calling the shots for Hamlin atop the pit box?
Chris Gabehart hails from Lafayette, Indiana ,and is currently working his second fulltime NASCAR Cup Series season, but began his crew chief career back in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2016 for Joe Gibbs Racing and driver Erik Jones.
Prior to becoming a crew chief, Gabehart attended Purdue University, getting his degree in mechanical engineering, but he also was a part-time driver winning the 2004 Sunoco Super Series Rookie of the Year Honors in late models during his 5th year of mechanical engineering at Purdue.
Following college, Gabehart jumped into NASCAR serving as a race engineer for Denny Hamlin after working several seasons for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The opportunities proved to be fortuitous as after working his way up in the Joe Gibbs Racing organization, he was named crew chief for Erik Jones in the Xfinity Series in 2016.
Then after a few years in the Xfinity Series working with drivers Erik Jones, Christopher Bell, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Benjamin, James Davison, Ryan Preece, Daniel Suarez and Brandon Jones, he made the leap to Cup and hasn’t looked back.
Over the past two NASCAR Cup Series seasons (2019-2020), Hamlin and Gabehart have put up 10 wins and have made the Championship 4, but despite the onslaught of success, this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway would be extra special for Indiana native to win.
“Turn two at Pocono is similar to Indy’s corners. That’s what teams tend to focus on leaving Pocono, trying to apply something to Indy. Although turn two at Pocono has gotten rougher over the years, so even that’s not a straight application.
“It’s (Indianapolis) one of the more compromising racetracks on the circuit actually in terms of how you’re going to approach it, what your strategy is going to be,” said Gabehart following his victory last weekend at Pocono. “Harvick and the 4 guys did a phenomenal job of executing the last time we were there from start to finish. That was from qualifying on. Once you get a fast car like that out front at Indy, it’s going to be impossible to beat them. They proved that to be the case last time there. Hopefully we can pull that off. Indy means a lot to me, as it does to a lot of members on my race team. We’re looking forward to it.”
Hamlin and Gabehart finished sixth at Indianapolis last season.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Xfinity Series goes road racing at Indianapolis
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will tackle the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the first time in series history this weekend in the Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard on Saturday, July 4 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. The inaugural road course event for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is part of a NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader that will also feature the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix – an event that was delayed from its originally scheduled date in May by the COVID-19 pandemic and is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET on Saturday.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course will provide a whole new set of challenges for drivers and teams as the series will hit the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course for the first time this weekend.
Also, for the first time since the break from the COVID-19 pandemic, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will be allowed to practice prior to race. They will get two practice sessions on Friday, July 3. The first will take place at 1:30 p.m. ET and the second will be at 3 p.m. ET.
Saturday’s race will be 62 laps for 151.22 miles with the first two stages being 20 laps each and the final stage is 22 laps.
Last weekend, the Xfinity Series took on Pocono Raceway, also known as The Tricky Triangle, where Chase Briscoe was victorious for the fourth time this season after overcoming a late-race tire incident.
Kaulig Racing’s Ross Chastain came up short but did get to take home the $100,000 for the second week in a row in the final Dash 4 Cash installment of the season.
Myatt Snider was the highest-finishing rookie at Pocono in fourth.
NASCAR Xfinity Series Practice Available on NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold
The NASCAR Xfinity Series will have its first two practices this weekend since March 6 at Phoenix Raceway. Fans can watch both first (1:30-2:25 p.m. ET) and final practice (3-3:55 p.m. ET) on the NBC Sports App and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. The occasion marks the first time TrackPass will feature national series action. TrackPass is scheduled to air all NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series practice and qualifying sessions during the NBC portion of the schedule.
Road course ace Austin Cindric
Austin Cindric is still on the hunt for his first win in the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season and what better place than the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
For Cindric, a win at Indy would mean a lot. Not only would it be his first win this season, but it would also lock him into the 2020 Playoffs. Plus, he would become the first ever winner in the Xfinity Series at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course. To top it off, he’d get the win for his team owner, Roger Penske, who is the newest owner of the speedway.
“Indianapolis means a lot to me personally and a lot to my family personally, so going to that place and being a driver instead of a spectator, I feel like is always weird, but I’m really looking forward to it and I wouldn’t want anything more than to be able to bring that first race win back home for Roger now at his racetrack,” Cindric said.
Both of Cindric’s career wins in the Xfinity Series came last year and were at road courses. The first was at Watkins Glen International and the second was at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford has six top fives and eight top 10s so far this season. He has an average start of 7.8 and an average finish of 11.3 and he has led 249 laps. Last weekend at Pocono didn’t go as planned for Cindric and the No. 22 team as he finished 29th after being involved in a wreck on Lap 52.
He’s sitting in fourth in the points standings for the series – the second highest-ranked driver without a win and he has run upfront – leading the third-most percentage of laps this season (12.24%) sitting behind a pair of JR Motorsports teammates Noah Gragson and Justin Allgaier.
This weekend’s Pennzoil 150 at the Brickyard (3 p.m. ET on NBC, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will be the first start for every driver at the newly added track.
NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Playoff Outlook following Pocono
|Rank||Driver||Points||Race Wins||Stage Wins||Playoff Pts.||Pts. from Cutoff|
|1||Chase Briscoe||499||4||2||22||IN ON WINS|
Chase Briscoe’s win last weekend at Pocono Raceway kept him at the top of the Playoff standings with his fourth win of the season. He now has seven more Playoff points (22) than his nearest competitor.
Ross Chastain jumped up a spot in the standings, taking sixth from Austin Cindric after his second-place finish at Pocono. He’s currently the highest-ranked driver without a win yet this season.
Harrison Burton is still sitting in the third spot in the Playoff standings and is the highest-ranked rookie. Riley Herbst, another Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, is sitting in 11th and Myatt Snider is claiming the final Playoff spot in 12th just four points up Brandon Brown in 13th. Snider’s fourth-place performance at Pocono put him ahead of Brandon Brown who was in that position last weekend.
JR Motorsports’ Noah Gragson currently has the best driver rating in the Xfinity Series at 112.1. Briscoe is right behind him in second at 106.6.
Race weekend: Friday, July 3 – Saturday, July 4
Track: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course (clockwise)
Race distance: 80 laps / 195.12 miles
Push-to-pass parameters: 200 seconds of total time, with a maximum time of 20 seconds per activation.
Firestone tire allotment: Seven sets primary, four sets alternate (Note: An eighth set of primary tires is available to any car fielding a rookie driver.)
Twitter: @IMS @IndyCar, #INDYGP, #IndyCar
INDYCAR website: www.IndyCar.com
2019 race winner: Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet)
2019 NTT P1 Award winner: Felix Rosenqvist (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda), 1:08.2785, 128.597 mph
Qualifying lap record: Will Power, 1:07.7044, 129.687 mph, May 12, 2017 (Set in Round 3 of knockout qualifying)
NBC Sports telecasts: Qualifying, 4:30 p.m. ET Friday, July 3, NBCSN (live); Race, noon ET Saturday, July 4, NBC (live). Leigh Diffey will be the play-by-play announcer for NBC’s telecast of the GMR Grand Prix alongside analysts Townsend Bell and Paul Tracy.
INDYCAR Radio Network broadcasts: Mark Jaynes is the chief announcer alongside analyst Davey Hamilton. The GMR Grand Prix race airs live on network affiliates, Sirius 211, XM 205, IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app powered by NTT DATA. All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practices and qualifying are available on IndyCar.com and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
NBC Sports Gold livestreaming: All NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice sessions and qualifying will stream live on INDYCAR Pass on NBC Sports Gold, NBC Sports’ direct-to-consumer live streaming product.
At-track schedule (all times local):
Friday, July 3
11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES practice, NBC Sports Gold
4:30 p.m. – Qualifying for the NTT P1 Award (three rounds of NTT INDYCAR SERIES knockout qualifications), NBCSN (Live)
Saturday, July 4
9-9:30 a.m. – NTT INDYCAR SERIES warmup, NBC Sports Gold
Noon – NBC on air
12:01 p.m. – “Drivers, start your engines”
12:08 p.m. – GMR Grand Prix (80 laps/195.12 miles), NBC (Live)
- The GMR Grand Prix will be the seventh NTT INDYCAR SERIES event conducted on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course. Simon Pagenaud and Will Power are the only drivers to win on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Pagenaud won the inaugural race in 2014, 2016 and 2019, Power won the race in 2015, 2017 and 2018.
- Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Felix Rosenqvist and Sebastian Saavedra are the only drivers to have won the pole position on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. Saavedra claimed the pole in 2014, Power in 2015, 2017 and 2018, Pagenaud in 2016 and Rosenqvist in 2019.
- Four NTT P1 Award winners have won the race from the pole: Will Power in 2015, 2017 and 2018 and Simon Pagenaud in 2016.
- Scott Dixon won the Genesys 300 on June 6 on the Texas Motor Speedway oval and is third on the all-time Indy car victory list with 47 wins. But Dixon has not won a race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He has finished second in the GMR Grand Prix in the last three seasons.
- Twelve drivers have competed in every NTT INDYCAR SERIES race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course – Marco Andretti, Sebastien Bourdais, Helio Castroneves, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Tony Kanaan, Josef Newgarden, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, Graham Rahal and Takuma Sato. All but Bourdais, Castroneves and Kanaan are entered this year.
- Tony Kanaan’s record streak of 318 consecutive race starts will end this weekend. The streak began in June 2001 at Portland. Scott Dixon has made 259 consecutive starts heading into the weekend, which is the second-longest streak and becomes tops among active streaks. Andretti Autosport’s Marco Andretti has made 235 consecutive starts, which is the third-longest streak all time and moves to second among active streaks.
- Rookies Oliver Askew, Dalton Kellett, Alex Palou and Rinus VeeKay, along with veteran Sage Karam, will race NTT INDYCAR SERIES cars on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course for the first time this weekend. Askew has two wins (in USF2000) and five total podiums in six races, including podiums in both races last year on his way to the Indy Lights title. VeeKay has four podiums in six races, including a victory last year in Indy Lights.
- Twenty-one of the drivers entered in the event have competed in INDYCAR races on the IMS road course. Ten entered drivers have led laps: Will Power 182, Simon Pagenaud 68, Scott Dixon 40, Josef Newgarden 21, Ryan Hunter-Reay 18, Graham Rahal 18, Felix Rosenqvist 15, James Hinchcliffe 4 and Alexander Rossi
INDYCAR GRAND PRIX PRE-EVENT QUOTES:
JOSEF NEWGARDEN (No. 1 XPEL Team Penske Chevrolet): “Indianapolis is such a special place. It’s like my second home, so racing there means a lot to me personally, especially even more so now that Roger (Penske) owns the track. It’s such an honor racing for him, but with this being our first race there since he purchased the track, it just makes it even more great. And not to mention this will be the first time ever INDYCAR and NASCAR have raced at the same track on the same weekend, and it’s the Fourth of July, so it’s just going to be a huge event. I know myself and my crew on the XPEL Chevrolet are really pumped for this race weekend. We really miss the fans at our races but know precautions are necessary and are glad they will be joining us back at the track soon. It’s going to be such a huge weekend for NBC, and we are so thrilled to be part of it.”
CHARLIE KIMBALL (No. 4 TRESIBA / AJ FOYT RACING Chevrolet): “While the GMR Grand Prix usually kicks off the Month of May, this year’s race is just as exciting as INDYCAR and NASCAR come together to celebrate the July 4th weekend with a historic doubleheader. I’ve had great results on the IMS road course in the past and can’t wait to get on track for my first road course in the No. 4 TRESIBA Chevrolet for AJ Foyt Racing! The opportunity to race for A.J. is always special – it means even more when it’s at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway!”
PATO O’WARD (No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “The next few weeks ahead of us are going to be intense and eventful. There is no better place to start it off than at the GMR Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Arrow McLaren SP and I have used this time off to prepare and be ready to tackle the challenges coming toward us at each track and event. I can’t wait to get going again this Friday and am really excited to be racing again on NBC. Hopefully, Oliver (Askew) and I can put on a show for all our fans and partners.”
OLIVER ASKEW (No. 7 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet): “I’ve always enjoyed racing on the Indianapolis road course, and I’ve had a lot of success there on the Road to Indy. I hope to take that experience into my first INDYCAR road course race. I think that everyone at Arrow McLaren SP has set the foundations for a very good month of racing, so I’m looking to take advantage of the cars we have been working hard to put together. It will feel weird to be racing in Indianapolis without fans, but hopefully everyone tunes in to NBC to watch the race at noon on Saturday.”
MARCUS ERICSSON (No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda ): “I’m very excited to go back racing again. It’s been a bit frustrating to wait it out after Texas. We’ve been wanting to go racing again right away. I think we have a lot of positives to bring as a team from Texas. We have amazing cars, and obviously with Scott (Dixon) winning the first race of the year, as well, that is bringing good momentum for the whole team. Personally, I think the Indy GP is a fun track. I had my best qualifying of the year there last year, so I have some good memories from there and I know the track well. I’m looking forward to building on that. Also, it’s the first road course race with the No. 8 Huski Chocolate Chip Ganassi Racing Honda car. It’ll be exciting, and I’m really looking forward to it. I think we can really mix it up in the front of the field and fight for a good result on Saturday.”
SCOTT DIXON (No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, NTT INDYCAR SERIES points leader): “I’ve been excited as soon as the NASCAR-INDYCAR doubleheader was announced! It’s fantastic. I was a bit saddened only because I think that would be something great for the fans to see. I hope it’s something that will progress to more in the future. Looking forward to the Indy GP, I think we’ll definitely keep pushing and keep snatching these wins if we can. I just feel very lucky and very privileged to say we are going racing this weekend in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.”
FELIX ROSENQVIST (No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda): “It’s good to be back at Indy GP and Indy, in general. I think, considering everything right now, it’s a good feeling to be racing in Indy. It’s easier for everyone involved, the team, the drivers, as most of us live here. I think there’s definitely some unfinished business from last year with having my first-ever pole in INDYCAR at the Indy GP, but I was not able to bring a great result to it. So, that’s what we’re aiming for. We’re hungry and ready to go in the No. 10 NTT DATA Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.”
WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet, three-time GMR Grand Prix winner): “Any time we race at Indianapolis is always just something else. There’s so much history at that track, and it means so much to our series. With Roger (Penske) owning the track now, it’s even more special knowing how much the series, the track and our team mean to him. The Verizon Chevy guys have prepared a really great car for this weekend. We have had some amazing success there as a team since Simon (Pagenaud) and I are still the only winners. This is such a fun road course and always is a place where the series really can put on a show. NBC has put a lot of time and effort into this race weekend and having NASCAR and INDYCAR at the same track during the same weekend will be really cool.”
DALTON KELLETT (No. 14 K-Line USA / A J Foyt Racing Chevrolet): “I’m excited to get my season underway at the GMR Grand Prix. I couldn’t be more grateful for the chance to make my debut in the No. 14 K-Line Insulators USA Chevrolet! With the long delay to the start of my season, it will be important to maximize all available track time – especially given the condensed schedule. As a rookie, I expect there to be obstacles to overcome and new challenges to face. I am confident in the team we have put together to take these on. The goal is to perform well and learn the most that I can in my rookie event.”
GRAHAM RAHAL (No. 15 Fifth Third Bank Honda): “There will be a lot of racing in the next three weeks, but we’re prepared. Physically I feel good, rested and ready. I think the team is ready, as well, and we’ve always seen that Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing rises up in the toughest of times, and I think that will continue. It’s very hard to apply anything we got from the COTA test since it was very limited due to conditions. We’re really relying on what we’ve learned in the sim and hoping it will translate nicely for us. The sim work was great. We found some huge improvements over our old setups, found a good lap time and really put ourselves in a better spot. Now the question remains, how will that translate to the track? We will find out shortly. We have worked really hard on resolving any prior issues that may have hurt us in Texas or in the past. I feel with the work on the sim and everywhere else that we’ve developed, our team has done a great job and prepared us for this weekend. It’s exciting to get back, and I’m thrilled to be getting going for the next few months. I imagine it will be a lot hotter now than it would have been in May. It will test the drivers with everything we’ve had going on, limited to no time on track in these cars with the Aeroscreen and everything else. It will be a challenge for us all, and the Fifth Third Bank team hopes to rise to the occasion.” (On racing with NASCAR): “It’s monumental. It’s a shame we will not have fans in attendance to see it all with us, but this is a great weekend for motorsports, and I’m excited to see what this can do for us in the future.”
SANTINO FERRUCCI (No. 18 MOUSER MOLEX Honda): “I’m very excited to get back to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and race the No. 18 MOUSER MOLEX Honda. This will be the first time INDYCAR and NASCAR run on the same track on the same weekend, so it’s going to be historic and really great for the fans watching on TV. This will also be the first time INDYCAR competes on a road course with the new Aeroscreen, so that will be fun. I think after last year’s result on the IMS road course, the Dale Coyne Vasser Sullivan team can bring the MOUSER MOLEX machine to the front in the GMR Grand Prix.”
CONOR DALY (No. 20 U.S Air Force Chevrolet): “After what seems like many months together as a team, we still have yet to race together. I’m very excited to get out there with Ed Carpenter Racing and complete our first race together. The car looks incredible. I can’t wait to get out there for the U.S. Air Force. ECR has done well at the GMR Grand Prix before, so it’s time to get out there and compete for a win. We’re looking to get some good points and start off this three-weekend stretch strong.”
RINUS VEEKAY (No. 21 Sonax Chevrolet):“I am really looking forward to the GMR Grand Prix, finally driving an Indy car at Indy! That’s something really special. I am excited to get to drive again and really get the season started now. We’ve got some really busy weeks coming up. I’m very confident and think we have a strong package for this weekend.”
SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 22 Menards Team Penske Chevrolet, three-time GMR Grand Prix winner): “I am thrilled to go back to Indianapolis. My whole life changed last May when my Menards Chevrolet team had that incredible month by winning both the Indianapolis 500 and the INDYCAR GP. Memories I will never forget. Now we finally have the opportunity to return and attempt to win again. We have been very fortunate at Team Penske with that particular road course race since my teammate Will Power and I are still the only winners of the event, which says a lot about how our team works together. I have been training pretty hard since our last race at Texas. Training is such an important part of my race prep. It’s great to feel in the best physical shape and mental space of my career right now. I wish fans could join us but know they will be back soon, and I know all of us in the series can’t wait to see them back starting back at Road America. So, until then, we will do our best to put on a great show for all of the fans tuned into NBC.”
SAGE KARAM (No. 24 DRR WIX Filters Chevrolet): “It’s been a long time for the Dreyer & Reinbold Racing team to run more than just the Indy 500. They have been trying hard to expand their INDYCAR program, and this year WIX Filters extended its partnership to run some road courses. We were all ready to go at St. Petersburg when the (COVID-19) pandemic lockout started. We had to pack up and take everything back to Indy. We had put in a lot of work with testing, simulation runs and purchasing some road course parts with Dallara. We were hoping to run more events in 2020. But some races were postponed or canceled. So, I’m very excited to run the IMS road circuit this weekend. The Indy GP was not originally on our 2020 schedule, and I really wanted to do it. Now we get that opportunity. I ran a sim test recently for the IMS road course. I believe we are ready to go. It is a big learning curve for myself and DRR since it’s over seven years since DRR has run an NTT INDYCAR SERIES road race. I raced there in 2014 in the IMSA race with the Ganassi sports car and finished second. It was a tough situation at St. Pete as we were very excited to run there. And it just wasn’t me. There were guys moving up from the Indy Lights and other guys who were looking for full-time rides with new opportunities. It has been tough for all of the drivers to sit. Many guys had been chasing their dreams of INDYCAR racing and had to wait. It’s good that we can show our sport in action again after so many sports have been halted. I think the drivers want to put on the best possible show for the fans because we all – teams, drivers, sponsors and fans – have missed the racing. The fans are what makes the racing world go round.”
ZACH VEACH (No. 26 Gainbridge Honda): “After the weeks off, I’m really excited to get back to a racetrack and jump into the thick of the season. We had a great run in our Gainbridge car at Texas and we’re looking forward to working as hard as we can to continue it here at the GMR Grand Prix. This weekend marks the first of five races in a 15-day span.”
ALEXANDER ROSSI (No. 27 Auto Nation / NAPA AUTO PARTS Honda): “After waiting for what seems like forever, we are kicking off a bit of a marathon stretch here with the GMR Grand Prix. This is quite a challenging track to get right, so our work will certainly be cut out for us with the expected heat, as well as the variable of the Aeroscreen. I am excited to be racing back in Indy, but we will certainly be missing our fans again this weekend.”
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “Time to go racing again and no better place to do it than at the Brickyard. Obviously, we wish our fans and partners could be in attendance with us and hopefully, that time will come soon enough. It was great to get back in the car at Texas and after a strong qualifying effort, we had some electrical issues on the grid that put us a lap down. The 28 DHL team feels like that was a huge opportunity that got away so we’re looking to capitalize on that form for this weekend’s GMR Grand Prix.”
JAMES HINCHCLIFFE (No. 29 Genesys Honda): “It’s funny, the time between Texas and now feels almost as long as between St. Pete and Texas, so I think everyone is super excited to get back to racing. I haven’t turned right since last September, but it’s a track I really enjoy driving, and any day at IMS is a good day! Hopefully we can get the Genesys car up there and be contenders, especially on such an historic weekend with the INDYCAR/NASCAR doubleheader.”
TAKUMA SATO (No. 30 Panasonic One / Cure Honda): “It’s very important to maximize the potential of five races in three weeks, but we need to do our best every weekend, no matter the circumstance. It will be hard for everyone at the team as its consecutive weekends, but hopefully we will be in great shape for every race. I think the biggest challenge of the GMR Grand Prix will be how we deal with just a single practice session before qualifying. It’s a 90-minute session, but we don’t have time for analyzing data between sessions, and if you need to change a suspension geometry or make some big change, then we lose a lot of time. It’s very limited on-track time. It’s challenging, for sure, not to have had on-track testing, as well as very limited access to the sim. Driver cooling on a road course is a little unknown for a hot day, but everyone seemed impressed with the cooling at the (Texas) oval so hopefully, we will have similar performance. The team is preparing everything they can, and we hope all the analysis we’ve done leads to a great performance on the track.”
SPENCER PIGOT (No. 45 RLL with Citrone/Buhl Autosport Honda): “The fact that the race was rescheduled will definitely help me a bit. Instead of the GMR Grand Prix being almost midseason, it’s the first road course race of the year so everyone will be trying to get comfortable again. Having said that, I think I’m the only driver that has no experience with the Aeroscreen, so that will be a big difference. I’ve talked to a lot of drivers, and they say it doesn’t take too long to get used to. Hopefully, that will be the case for me on Friday. It’s going to be a challenging weekend. The IMS road course is always pretty tricky. There are some technical sections with corners right on top of each other, so you have to be very accurate because one small mistake can affect three or four corners rather than just one. It will be great to work with Graham (Rahal) and Takuma (Sato) this weekend. They are two of the top drivers in INDYCAR, so being able to compare data and discuss car changes with them will be very helpful. With their only being one practice session, having three cars within one team will allow us to try more changes to make the best decisions before qualifying. I’ve been training a lot leading up to this weekend. I’ve been doing more workouts outside in the heat trying to prepare for the weather and the Aeroscreen. At Pit Fit Training, we’ve also been adding in some time in the sauna to our workouts to help get acclimated to the conditions we expect. I’ve also been going to the shop about three days a week, getting to know all the crew members better, get comfortable in the car, practicing pitstops, etc. I’ve been on the phone with my engineer on a regular basis, as well as going over some setup ideas and trying to plan out the weekend. We aren’t allowed inside the track until the morning of practice, so we are trying to prepare as much as possible before we get to the Speedway.
ALEX PALOU (No. 55 Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda ): “I’m really excited to get back to racing this weekend at the GMR Grand Prix at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Texas was my first official NTT INDYCAR SERIES race, but it was on an oval, after three months off and I had never raced on an oval before, so this weekend feels more like an unofficial first race for me! I’m very happy to be heading to a road course, which is the type of track that I’m used to racing on in Europe and Japan. It’s an environment that I’m much more comfortable with, so I’m looking forward to a good weekend in my Dale Coyne Racing with Team Goh Honda. The team had good cars there last season, and I’m confident we can be quick there this year. Hopefully, we can come out of the weekend with a good result.”
MAX CHILTON (No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet): “I couldn’t be more excited to get back behind the wheel of the No. 59 Gallagher Carlin Chevrolet this weekend on the road course at IMS after being out of the car for so long. It’s been a long time to be away from a racetrack, but I’ve been putting in a lot of time at my home gym and thankfully I was able to get some time on the sim last week as well as some testing in one of Carlin’s F3 cars at Silverstone to get back into the swing of things. I love being at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and really enjoy driving the road course layout there, so I’ve been anxious to get back over to the US for this one. Conor (Daly) and the team did a great job in Texas a few weeks ago and got us off to a great start, so I’m hoping I can keep us moving in that direction and come away with another solid result for Carlin and Gallagher.”
JACK HARVEY (No. 60 AutoNation/Sirius XM Honda): The GP was obviously the highlight of our year last season with our first INDYCAR podium, not only for me as a driver but for everyone at Meyer Shank Racing. Naturally, we’re hoping to replicate another great weekend and if we can really string it together, we’d really like to end up on the top step.”
MARCO ANDRETTI (No. 98 U.S. Concrete / Curb Honda): “This hasn’t been mine or the team’s strongest track, so I’m excited to try and turn that around this weekend. I always love coming to IMS. It’s a fun, challenging course that takes a different discipline of driving throughout the lap. It’ll be different without the fans this weekend but can’t wait to see them back here in August.”
This week is *ACTION-PACKED* as Steve, Lisa, & Big Al bring you “The Racing Nuts” with all the latest racing news from your favorite series!
This week, we welcome AJ Foyt’s driver, INDYCAR’s Charlie Kimball. ~ALSO~ Steve brings back one of our *STAR* players, as we welcome back 8 time world top fuel champion, Tony Scumacher with a ~BIG~ announcement for the NHRA fans
It’s the season ending BLOWOUT show live from #Homestead-Miami Speedway! This 2-hr show features interviews from the hottest stars on the track: Ross Chastain, Nick Sanchez, Neal Gulkis, Joe Nemechek, Tony Schumacher, Austin Theriault, and Mr. Chip While, President of Daytona International Speedway!
The Racing Nuts come at you LIVE from the season ender @ #Homestead Miami Speedway with an interview featuring Veteran Joe Nemechek, who set the all-time record for combined starts in the top three NASCAR national sets when he took the green flag in Friday night’s championship NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The Racing Nuts come at you LIVE from the season ender @ #Homestead Miami Speedway with an interview featuring the President of Daytona International Speedway, Mr. Chip While
The Racing Nuts come at you LIVE from the season ender @ #Homestead Miami Speedway with an interview featuring NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Austin Theriault
Homestead-Miami NGOTS Stats: Starts: 3, Best start: 2, Best finish: 4
2019 NGOTS Stats: Starts: 22, Best start: 1, Best finish: 1, Top 5s: 12, Top 10s: 16, Laps Led: 256, Poles : 1, Stage wins: 3, Wins: 2
Stewart Friesen has qualified for the Championship 4 for the first time in his career and enters the weekend as the number one seed.
– Friesen has two top-10 finishes in three starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Friesen has made 29 starts at 1.5-mile tracks and has earned 10 top-five and 14 top-10 finishes. He has two runner-up results and two third-place finishes already this season at 1.5-mile tracks.
– Friesen and the No. 52 team will utilize chassis No. 301 this weekend in Homestead. Friesen has two top-10 finishes and 88 laps led in six events with this chassis this season.
QUOTE: “In racing I feel like you’re only as good as your last race. We were able to overcome adversity last week in Phoenix and get another win and gain momentum that none of the other competitors had in this round of the playoffs, which was pretty cool. I feel like having that momentum puts us a step ahead of our competitors going into Homestead. I enjoy going to the mile-and-a-half tracks, we’ve had good speed there all year, our Chevy Silverados have always been fast but we haven’t been able to get a win on intermediate tracks yet. Going into a track like Homestead with the tire fall off we’re going to encounter, it’s going to be fun.”
– Tony George, Chairman, Hulman & Company; Roger Penske, Chairman and Founder, Penske Corporation; and Mark Miles, President & CEO, Hulman & Company pose for photo
– Hulman-George family members with Roger Penske on IMS frontstretch
– Roger Penske and Tony George shake hands
– Roger Penske poses in front of Corvette on front stretch
– 3-shot of presser featuring Mark Miles, Tony George and Roger Penske
– 1-shot of Roger Penske
– 1-shot of Mark Miles
– Tony George soundbyte from news conference
– Tony George interview
– Roger Penske interview
– Mark Miles interview
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Bluegreen Vacations 500
The Place: ISM Raceway
The Date: Sunday, November 10
The Time: 2:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 2 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 312 miles (312 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 75),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 150), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 312)
2018 Race Winner: Kyle Busch
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Next Race: Desert Diamond Casino West Valley 200
The Place: ISM Raceway
The Date: Saturday, November 9
The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 3 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 200 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)
2018 Race Winner: Christopher Bell
NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Next Race: Lucas Oil 150
The Place: ISM Raceway
The Date: Friday, November 8
The Time: 8:30 p.m. ET
TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET
Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 150 miles (150 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),
Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 150)
2018 Winner: Brett Moffitt
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Valley of the Sun could shine on Kyle Busch’s Playoff hopes
Kyle Busch must feel buoyed by his record at the ISM Raceway in Phoenix, where he is the only driver to win in the two races since the facility completed a major renovation and re-configuration last year.
A victory in Sunday’s Bluegreen Vacations 500 (2:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) would be a huge boost to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season champion – securing his position in the Championship 4 to compete for a season title and giving him all kinds of momentum to do so.
Busch has three career victories at Phoenix and is the only one of the current eight championship-eligible drivers with multiple wins at all three of the tracks – Martinsville, Va., Texas and Phoenix – that comprised this championship set-up Playoff round.
Only nine-time Phoenix winner Kevin Harvick has more top-10 finishes (22) at ISM Raceway than Busch (20) among the eight drivers still contending for a championship berth. And with both wins on the new-look facility, there’s plenty of reason for Busch to feel optimistic about his chances Sunday. He has hoisted four trophies this season but doing so Sunday would be the first time since a June 2 victory at Pocono.
Martin Truex Jr. and Harvick have secured two of the four positions for next weekend’s title chase. The 2015 series champion Busch is ranked third in the standings with a two-point advantage on defending series champion Joey Logano. He holds a 22-point edge on Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin in fifth place and a 25-point edge over Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson. Chase Elliott is 80 points behind Busch and 78 points out of fourth – mathematically, he can only get into the Championship 4 with a win at ISM Raceway.
Should a non-Playoff driver win on Sunday then both the third and fourth place positions in the points standings would earn a position in the Championship 4.
“We all know one guy is going to move through on points and we have to do whatever we have to do in order to be that guy,’’ said Busch, who drives the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.
“If we can obviously go to Phoenix and have a strong run and be able to go out there and win that will put us through, as well. We’re two points up on the 22 (Logano), so it’s going to be a race between the 18 and 22. Imagine that. We’ll look forward to the challenge and hope we have a strong run in order to make it through to Homestead.’’
Go time for Logano
Joey Logano nearly won the regular season championship, racing hard and keeping Kyle Busch honest for the first 26 races of the year. Busch ended up with the regular season title but Logano is still vying to become the first back-to-back champion since Jimmie Johnson won five consecutive Monster Energy Series titles from 2006-2010.
Logano is in fourth place in the standings heading to Phoenix’s ISM Raceway – two points behind third-place Busch and with a 20-point edge on fifth-place Denny Hamlin.
The driver of the No. 22 Team Penske Ford will need an improved outing this fall at the newly reconfigured Phoenix one-miler. Last year Logano finished 37th at Phoenix – but held a position in the Championship 4 because of a win at Martinsville earlier in the round.
Logano bounced back with a 10th-place run at Phoenix this March but it’s his only top 10 in the last five races at the track. His previous top 10 was his only victory there in 2016. Since then he’s had a pair of DNFs. In 21 starts, Logano has four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes at Phoenix.
“It’s going to be a good battle for sure,’’ Logano said. “We are racing for that last spot just in case someone behind us outside of the Top-4 wins. It will be a good time.
“Obviously, the No. 18 team is good and Kyle (Busch) is a good driver, but I think we are a great team and they are beatable just like everybody else.’’
“Happy Harvick” not content
Kevin Harvick secured his position in the Championship 4 for the fifth time in the six-year history of the format with a win at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday – his third consecutive Playoff victory on the Texas circuit.
And with the pressure off to qualify for championship eligibility, Harvick heads to his best track – ISM Raceway in Phoenix. The 2014 Monster Energy Series champ has a series-best nine victories there. His 16 top-five finishes are most all time as are his 1,595 laps led.
Between November 2012, and March 2016, Harvick won six races, including a record four consecutively from November 2013-March 2015. He is on a streak of 12 consecutive top-10 finishes – 10 of them top fives. In just six races between 2013-2016 he led 1,064 laps – 66.7 percent of his career total. Three times he’s led more than 200 laps en route to route a victory (2014 sweep, 2015 spring race).
A win this weekend at ISM Raceway would be Harvick’s 50th career Monster Energy Series win – breaking a tie he holds with his team owner, three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart, who will be inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2020.
“I’m surprised [by the Texas win] but I’m not because of the character of the team,’’ Harvick said. “I love the way it’s evolved and the battle we’ve had to get there and really tried to achieve something that wasn’t really achievable when we first started the season this year. We’ve grounded out all year.’’
Harvick, who now has four wins this season, acknowledged the gap before his first win of the year, which didn’t come until the 20th race of the season (at New Hampshire). He’s won three more times in the 14 races since. Last year he won three of the first four races and had five wins by the season’s midpoint. This year’s first win took the longest for him since 2012 when he didn’t win until the next to last race of the year – at Phoenix.
“It’s been a strange year, and here you are lingering around and end up in Victory Lane with two races to go and now you go race for a championship,’’ Harvick said.
Fighting to get in
Denny Hamlin is the only previous Phoenix winner among the four drivers who sit on the outside of the Championship 4 and must and earn a position in the Nov. 17 championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway. His win came back in the spring of 2012.
Ranked fifth heading into Sunday’s race, Hamlin is averaging a 13.6 finish in the five Cup Playoff races at ISM Raceway since 2014. His best fall finish is runner-up in 2012. He led a race-best 193 laps in the 2017 Playoff race only to fall out of the race – while leading – after contact from Chase Elliott.
Hamlin’s 678 career laps led at Phoenix is more than the combined career totals of Joey Logano (296), Kyle Larson (69), Ryan Blaney (108) and Elliott (156).
Larson’s best Playoff showing is third place in 2016 and 2018. He has an average finish of 16.0 in the last five Playoff events at the track. Ryan Blaney, who is tied with Larson, 23 points behind fourth-place Logano, is averaging a 19.7 finish in the three Playoff races he’s competed in at Phoenix – the lowest average Playoff finish among the four drivers needing to race their way into the Championship 4.
Eighth-place driver Elliott, who is 78 points behind fourth-place Logano, has an average finish of 11.3 in the three Playoff races he’s competed in. His best showing in seven career starts at ISM Raceway is runner-up in the 2017 Playoff race.
Kevin Harvick is the only driver in the “Playoff era” who went into the ISM Raceway race not already ranked among the top four in the standings and earned a position contending for the championship in the finale. He was ranked eighth going into the Phoenix race in 2014, earning a Championship 4 berth with his win and going on to earn his first Cup championship the following week with a victory at Homestead.
Any of the six drivers would advance with a victory (Truex Jr. and Harvick have already clinched). And the highest standing driver in the points standings earns the fourth and final Playoff position. If a driver other than the eight Championship-eligible wins, then the top two positions in points would advance. Should there be a tie in points, the advantage goes to the driver who scored the highest finish in this three-race round (at Martinsville, Texas and Phoenix).
Kyle Busch (4,113 points) – Would clinch with 53 points earned and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner (or a win by Joey Logano) he would clinch a position having earned 34 points.
Joey Logano (4,111 points) – Would clinch with 55 points earned and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner or a Kyle Busch victory, he would need to earn only 36 points.
Denny Hamlin (4,091 points) – Would clinch with a win. Could clinch on points, with help.
Ryan Blaney (4,088 points) – Would clinch with a win. Could clinch on points, with help.
Kyle Larson (4,088 points) – Would clinch with a win. Could clinch on points, with help.
Chase Elliott (4,033 points) – Must win to earn a Championship 4 position.
Four of the eight championship drivers have never won a Monster Energy Series race at Phoenix. And, technically, only Kyle Busch has won on the newly remodeled ISM Raceway – earning trophies in the first two races on the new configuration.
Current points leader Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott are still looking to celebrate in the desert. Among these four, 2017 series champion Truex is the only one who has previously advanced to the Homestead-Miami Speedway championship finale.
Truex scored his best-ever Phoenix finish just this March – finishing runner-up to Busch. He has three top-five finishes in the last four races at the one-mile track and was 14th in the 2018 Playoff race there.
Blaney won the pole position and finished third this March – just behind Busch and Truex – leading a personal best 94 laps. The driver of the No. 12 Team Penske Ford has two pole positions and three top-10 finishes in seven Phoenix starts. His worst outing (34th) came in last year’s Playoff race.
Larson and Elliott have both scored runner-up finishes. Larson finished second in 2017 spring race. He has three top-five and five top-10 finishes in 11 starts in the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, including third place showings in both the 2016 and 2018 Playoff races at Phoenix.
Elliott, who sits eighth – 78 points behind Joey Logano in fourth place – must win at Phoenix to advance to his first career Championship 4. The driver of the No. 9 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet has four top-10 finishes in seven Phoenix starts, earning his runner-up showing in the 2017 Playoff race there. He started on the outside pole this March but finished 14th.
Kevin Harvick’s win from the Busch Pole position last week at Texas Motor Speedway marked several competitive milestones. The pole gave Harvick a series-best six on the year. It was the second time this season (also at Indianapolis) that he’s won from pole. And the driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford is the first driver to win the same Playoff race for three consecutive years.
Hendrick Motorsports still maintains the overall edge in pole positions on the season with 10 – one more than Stewart-Haas Racing.
There have been 13 different race winners with the Joe Gibbs Racing organization owning a series best 17 wins in the opening 34 races. JGR’s Martin Truex Jr. leads all drivers with seven victories, his teammates Denny Hamlin (five) and Kyle Busch (four) are among four drivers with at least four wins. Harvick (four) is the other.
The average margin of victory through the opening 34 races this season is 1.549 seconds. In 18 of the 34 races (52.9 percent), the margin of victory was less than one second.
There have been 1,086 green flag passes for the lead – up 51 percent from last season. The number has increased in 23 of the 34 races including at all seven of the 1.5-mile tracks. Last week’s Texas race doubled that statistic from 2018 – with 57 green flag passes for the lead. Green flag passes across the board, are up 28 percent over 2018.
The Playoffs have seen a 33.4 percent increase in green flag passing as well.
Parade Laps: Insights ahead of this week’s driver media rotations
Six drivers from the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series –Front Row Motorsports’ John Hunter Nemechek, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kyle Larson, Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney, and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. will be participating in this week’s media rotations at ISM Raceway in advance of Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series’ Bluegreen Vacations 500 (2:30 p.m., ET on NBC, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
John Hunter Nemechek, 22, of Mooresville, N.C., is coming off his first career Monster Energy Series start – finishing 21st after starting 29th at Texas Motor Speedway in the No. 36 Front Row Motorsports Ford – filling in for Matt Tifft who is on medical leave. Nemechek has had good success in Phoenix, earning a pair of runner-up finishes in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2015 and 2017 and a pair of ninth place finishes in the Xfinity Series in 2018 and 2019. Nemechek and his father, Cup veteran Joe Nemechek are entered in all three national series races at Phoenix’s ISM Raceway this weekend. Last weekend at Texas, the duo became the first father-son pairing in a Cup race since the late Bobby Hamilton raced his son, Bobby Hamilton Jr., at Atlanta in 2005.
Kyle Busch, 34, of Las Vegas, is the defending ISM Raceway Playoff winner and won again there this March. He has three Cup wins all-time at the track and 11 Xfinity Series wins there – an all-time high mark. The driver of the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota enters the race ranked third in the points standings – two points up on reigning Monster Energy Series champion Joey Logano. His seventh-place effort at Texas last weekend included 18 laps led. Busch has four wins on the season, but the last came June 2 at Pocono, Pa. This week’s one-miler has been a bright spot on his resume, however, with 20 top-10 finishes in 28 career starts. He’s finished seventh or better in the last eight races – six of those top-five efforts. In the last three races he’s earned a pair of wins and a runner-up finish (Spring, 2018).
Kyle Larson, 27, of Elk Grove, Calif., arrives at ISM Raceway still fighting for a Championship 4 berth in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale next week. He is ranked seventh – 23 points behind fourth-place Joey Logano. Larson is coming off a 12th-place run at Texas and has four top-10 finishes in the eight Playoff races to date including a victory at Dover last month. The driver of the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet was sixth at Phoenix this March and third in the 2018 Phoenix Playoff race on the facility’s reconfigured track debut. His best finish at the one-mile track is runner-up in the 2017 spring race. He has three top-five and five top-10 finishes in 11 starts there and an average finish of 13.5.
Ryan Blaney, 25, of High Point, N.C., finished eighth last weekend in Texas – his third top-10 result in the last four races, including a Playoff victory at Talladega. Blaney has three top-10 finishes in seven ISM Raceway starts and posted his best effort result this March, starting on the pole position, leading 94 laps and finishing third in the No. 12 Team Penske Ford. He suffered his only DNF at the track in the 2018 Playoff race, finishing 34th with a radiator problem. He is sixth in the standings – 23 points behind Joey Logano in the fourth and final Championship transfer position.
Denny Hamlin, 38, of Chesterfield, Va., looked like a sure-bet to qualify for the Championship 4 during the opening Playoff races, but a tough-luck 28th-place finish at Texas on Sunday dropped him to fifth place in the standings, 20 points behind Joey Logano. Hamlin had four consecutive top-five finishes before Sunday’s Texas race and has five top-five finishes in six of the eight Playoff races, including a win at Kansas Speedway three weeks ago. The driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota was fifth at ISM Raceway in March and 13th in his 2018 Playoff run on the newly-reconfigured track. He scored his only Phoenix win in 2012 but has six top-10 finishes in the last eight races. He’s finished eighth or better in three of the last five Playoff races there.
Martin Truex Jr., 39, of Mayetta, N.J., is the year’s winningest driver with seven trophies – including three wins (at Las Vegas, Richmond, and Martinsville) in the first eight Playoff races. He was the first driver to secure a Championship 4 berth with his Martinsville victory two weeks ago. He is still looking for a first career win at ISM Raceway. The driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota has three top-five finishes in the last four Phoenix races, including a career best result of runner-up this March. He was 14th in the track’s reconfiguration-debut last November and has four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes in 27 career starts at the track.
NASCAR Xfinity Series
Locked In: Christopher Bell is the first to secure his Championship 4 spot
Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell became the first of the eight NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff drivers to secure his spot in the Championship 4 with his victory at Texas Motor Speedway last weekend. It was his eighth victory on the season and 16th of his Xfinity Series career. This is the second consecutive season Bell has made the Championship 4; he ultimately finished fourth in the final standings last season.
The Playoff standings leader heads to ISM Raceway to pad his stats. The Oklahoma native has made four series starts at the one-mile track posting one pole, one win (Playoff race, 2018), three top fives and an average finish of 9.8. He dominated this race last season, leading 94 of 200 laps and winning his way into the final round at Miami.
Cole Custer is looking for his second chance at title
He just barely missed it in his rookie season in 2017, but Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer made the Championship 4 Round last season by winning at Texas and ultimately finishing runner-up in the final standings. Now the California wheelman heads to ISM Raceway second in the Playoff standings, 52 points up on the cutline and a chance at making the Championship 4 for the second consecutive season.
Out in the desert, Custer has made five series starts at ISM Raceway, posting one top five and four top 10s. His average finish is 9.6 and he finished eighth in this race last season.
Defending champion Tyler Reddick is close to an opportunity to repeat
Tyler Reddick became just the third Sunoco rookie in NASCAR Xfinity Series history to win the title last season, joining Chase Elliott (2014) and William Byron (2017). Now the rising star from California is close to the opportunity to become the seventh driver in series history to win back-to-back championships joining Sam Ard (1983-84), Larry Pearson (1986-87), Randy Lajoie (1996-97), Dale Earnhardt Jr. (1998-99), Martin Truex Jr. (2004-05) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011-12). All he needs to do is secure his spot in the Championship 4 this weekend at ISM Raceway.
Currently third in the Playoff standings, Reddick is 36 points ahead of fifth-place Chase Briscoe – in the first spot outside the Championship 4. The RCR driver has made four series starts at Phoenix posting one top five, three top 10s and an average finish of 8.2.
Justin Allgaier looks to make Championship 4 Round for first time since 2017
After the heartbreak Justin Allgaier suffered last season, from winning a career-best five races and taking the regular season championship to ultimately falling short of making the Championship 4 in the Playoffs, the Illinois native and JR Motorsports driver returns to the “Valley of the Sun” for redemption.
Allgaier is currently fourth in the Playoff standings – the final transfer spot to the Championship 4 – 18 points ahead of fifth place Chase Briscoe.
“There is a lot on the line this weekend at Phoenix,” said Allgaier. “Right now, we’re in a good position sitting fourth in points, but I know there are a lot of guys behind us that are battling for that same spot. Hopefully at the end of it all, we’ll be one of the four heading to Homestead battling for the championship.”
Allgaier has made 18 series starts (most among Playoff drivers) at ISM Raceway, posting one pole, one win (Spring 2017), six top fives, 11 top 10s and an average finish of 9.1. In last season’s Playoff race he led 69 laps and won the first two stages but finished the race 24th one lap down. He finished 14th at ISM Raceway earlier this season.
Briscoe, Gragson on verge of joining elite list of rookies to make the Championship 4
Since the inception of the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs in 2016, just five Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders have made it to the Championship 4 Round and this weekend at ISM Raceway in Phoenix, Stewart-Haas Racing with Fred Biagi’s Chase Briscoe and JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson have an opportunity to add their names to the elite list of rookies to accomplish the feat.
Sunoco Rookies that made the Championship 4 and their finish in the final standings:
2016 – Erik Jones (fourth)
2017 – William Byron (champion), Daniel Hemric (fourth)
2018 – Tyler Reddick (champion), Christopher Bell (fourth)
Briscoe is fifth in the Playoff standings heading to ISM Raceway, 18 points behind Justin Allgaier in the final Championship 4 transfer spot. Briscoe made his series track debut at Phoenix earlier this season; he started 12th and raced his way up to a sixth-place finish.
Gragson is currently eighth in the Playoff standings, 47 points back from the Championship 4 cutoff. Much like Briscoe, Gragson made his series track debut at ISM Raceway earlier this season; he started sixth and finished 11th.
Veteran Michael Annett rides career-best season to chance at Championship 4
The whole season to this point comes down to this weekend at ISM Raceway and veteran Michael Annett is riding his best season statistically to a chance at the Championship 4. Annett resides in sixth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, 28 points behind his JR Motorsports teammate Justin Allgaier in the final transfer spot.
“We know what we have to do to make it to Homestead for the Championship 4,” said Michael Annett. “Travis (Mack, crew chief) has done a fantastic job on strategy to get us to this point, and it is up to us to get to Miami with a chance to race for the championship. We’re going to give it everything we have.”
Annett has made 14 series starts at ISM Raceway posting five top 10s. His average finish is 15.2. He finished 16th in this Playoff race last season and eighth in the spring race earlier this year.
Breakout season for Team Penske’s Austin Cindric has him in title hunt
His first full season with Team Penske (after splitting last season’s Playoff campaign between Team Penske and Roush Fenway Racing) has been a breakout one for North Carolina’s Austin Cindric, who is currently seventh in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff standings, 31 points back from the cutoff and still in the hunt for a title.
Heading to Phoenix this weekend, Cindric is looking forward to the challenge of making the Championship 4. In three starts on the one-mile track he has put up two top fives and an average finish of 8.3. He finished fourth in this Playoff race last season and fifth in the spring race earlier this year.
ISM Raceway: Xfinity’s stage for the penultimate race of 2019
Located just outside Phoenix, Arizona, ISM Raceway is a uniquely-shaped one-mile track that will play host to this weekend’s NASCAR Xfinity Series penultimate Playoff race, the Desert Diamond West Valley Casino 200 (Saturday, Nov. 9, at 3:30 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
ISM Raceway has been the sixth race in the seven-race NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoff since its inception in 2016. Interestingly, the mile circuit has produced three different winners in the three previous Xfinity Playoff races.
In 2016, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Busch played spoiler, winning the first Xfinity Playoff race at the facility. He controlled the event from start to finish, leading 190 of the scheduled 200 laps. Five of the eight Playoff drivers finished inside the top-10 that evening – Justin Allgaier (fourth), eventual champion Daniel Suarez (fifth), Ryan Reed (sixth), Blake Koch (eighth), Erik Jones (10th).
In 2017, JR Motorsports rookie William Byron took the lead with just 17 laps to go and grabbed the checkered flag at ISM Raceway to secure his spot in the Championship 4. Byron would go on to win the series title that season. Four Xfinity Playoff drivers finished inside the top-10 – Byron (first), Daniel Hemric (fifth), Cole Custer (seventh) and Justin Allgaier (10th).
In 2018, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Christopher Bell won his seventh race of the season at ISM Raceway, securing his spot in Championship 4 as a rookie. He put on an impressive show en route to his victory leading 94 of the scheduled 200 laps. But Bell would go on to finish fourth in the series’ final standings in Miami.
Texas Recap: Denny Hamlin finished 28th in Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, after a Turn 4 spin took the FedEx team out of contention in the race won by Kevin Harvick. Hamlin started the day from the third position and raced in the top 10 for most of Stage 1. While running eighth as the laps wore down in the stage, Hamlin lost the handle on the #11 FedEx Toyota exiting Turn 4 and spun through the grass, causing significant damage to the right front. The FedEx team made numerous pit stops to try and fix the damage, but the aerodynamics were ruined and the handling suffered as a result. A lack of cautions throughout the remainder of the race worked against the FedEx team and Hamlin dropped six laps down to the leaders by the time the race came to a conclusion after 334 laps.
Phoenix Preview: With only two races remaining in the 2018 season, the Series returns to Phoenix at the one-mile ISM Raceway. In 28 starts at Phoenix, Denny has secured 12 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, including a single victory in 2012. Denny will be looking to bounce back and secure a spot in the Championship 4 after a disappointing race at Texas.
Track: ISM Raceway (Phoenix)
Laps Led: 678
Avg. Start: 10.8
Avg. Finish: 11.3
Hamlin Conversation – Phoenix:
You’re coming off a tough race in Texas. What can we expect in the desert this weekend?
“Yeah, just got up in the slippery stuff before it was really broke in, lost control, that’s all there is to it. Proud of the whole FedEx team for putting their best effort forward so we could be there at the end. Did the best we could in Texas and we’re moving forward and focused on Phoenix and hope to lock down a win.”
FedEx Ground Along for the Ride at Phoenix: The #11 car features the letters “PLNS” on its B-post to recognize the FedEx Ground Plains district for having the best compliance metrics for the last 12 months.
FedEx Office – Closest to ISM Raceway: 9925 W McDowell Rd., Suite 105, Avondale, AZ 85392, (623) 643-9873
|2019 FedEx Racing Team Results|
|Feb. 17||Daytona 500||Daytona||10||1||207/207||Running||30||1st||▬|
|Feb. 24||Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500||Atlanta||4||11||325/325||Running||0||1st||▬|
|March 3||Pennzoil 400||Vegas||2||10||267/267||Running||0||3rd||▼|
|March 10||TicketGuardian 500||Phoenix||3||5||312/312||Running||7||4th||▼|
|March 17||Auto Club 400||Fontana||6||7||200/200||Running||8||4th||▬|
|March 24||STP 500||Martinsville||3||5||500/500||Running||0||2nd||▲|
|March 31||O’Reilly Auto Parts 500||Texas||6||1||334/334||Running||45||2nd||▬|
|April 7||Food City 500||Bristol||5||5||500/500||Running||7||2nd||▬|
|April 14||Toyota Owners 400||Richmond||30||5||400/400||Running||0||3rd||▼|
|April 28||GEICO 500||Talladega||23||36||80/188||DNF||0||3rd||▬|
|May 6||Gander RV 400||Dover||8||21||397/400||Running||0||4th||▼|
|May 12||Digital Ally 400||Kansas||11||16||270/271||Running||0||6th||▼|
|May 26||Coca-Cola 600||Charlotte||20||17||400/400|
SEBRING, Florida (November 5, 2019) – INDYCAR continued its Aeroscreen development program Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway with Arrow McLaren SP and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan participating in the fourth and final test session of the year.
The conditions for the one-day test could only be described as ideal for testing the safety innovation, with the weather unseasonably hot and humid like the NTT IndyCar Series teams will face through the summer stretch and the track was predictably bumpy in replicating a street course.
Amid all that, the Aeroscreen, scheduled for its race debut at the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 13-15 in St. Petersburg, Fla., performed as designed once again.
“And we checked boxes with drivers who had not previously experienced the Aeroscreen,” said Bill Pappas, INDYCAR’s vice president of competition and engineering.
Four-time Indy car champion Sebastien Bourdais of Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, Patricio O’Ward of Arrow McLaren SP and Santino Ferrucci of Dale Coyne Racing, who utilized Bourdais’ car in for the session, were the latest group of NTT IndyCar Series drivers to have the opportunity to test the Aeroscreen.
The steamy Florida weather allowed for trying various driver cooling options and further validate the anti-fogging mechanism. Bourdais, who wears glasses, had no visibility issues in his first experience with the Aeroscreen. O’Ward, in his first on-track experience with Arrow McLaren SP, similarly adapted quickly to his new cockpit surroundings. Ferrucci had no issues while driving Bourdais’ car.
Pappas said INDYCAR and its suppliers are on schedule to deliver Aeroscreens to all full-season teams next month as preparation builds for Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The Aeroscreen was announced in May and developed by Red Bull Advanced Technologies in conjunction with INDYCAR.
Arrow McLaren SP and Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan became the fourth and fifth teams to work with the Aeroscreen. Chip Ganassi Racing, Team Penske and Andretti Autosport participated in tests last month that were held at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Barber Motorsports Park and Richmond Raceway. Scott Dixon of Chip Ganassi Racing and Will Power of Team Penske took part in the test at IMS; Ryan Hunter-Reay of Andretti Autosport and Simon Pagenaud of Team Penske tested at Barber; and Josef Newgarden of Team Penske and Dixon handled Richmond.
These tests were designed to replicate the various conditions competitors will face during the 17-race season. IMS is the largest (2.5 miles) and fastest oval on the schedule while the .75-mile Richmond layout is the shortest of the five oval tracks. Barber Motorsports Park is a permanent road course like INDYCAR will use on seven occasions next year, and there will be five street-course races where Sebring-like bumps must be navigated.
In consultation with drivers, INDYCAR will offer standard cooling options at each venue in order to keep the playing field level.
“These will be areas with specific parts,” Pappas said. “Teams won’t be free to develop their own ductwork.”
Bourdais said the utilization of a helmet duct likely will be the best option for particularly hot days.
“It’s figuring out what’s the best (cooling) option,” he said. “But it’s nothing we can’t work through.
“In races, we drive through clouds of debris, particularly on speedways and superspeedways, so I think this is a massive step (in protection). It’s a much safer place for us IndyCar drivers – I think everyone is pleased with it.”
The drivers said it took very little time to get acclimated to it.
“You can barely tell the screen is there because it’s pretty clear,” O’Ward said. “Obviously, it’s a bit more enclosed, but you see everything you usually see. The eyes kind of look around the halo, so you don’t really notice it. Once you’re pushing, you don’t really see the Aeroscreen.”
HOMESTEAD-MIAMI SPEEDWAY UNVEILS NEW FAN VILLAGE, PARTNERSHIP WITH iHEARTMEDIA
New area to debut during Ford Championship Weekend
MIAMI— Just weeks after bringing South Beach to Homestead-Miami Speedway with NASCAR’s first ever infield beach party, the South Florida track is now adding some more Miami flavor to Ford Championship Weekend, November 15-17. The Speedway unveiled today its partnership with iHeartMedia to create the new iHeartMedia Fan Village, an area that will give fans a taste of some of Miami’s most iconic neighborhoods.
The reimagined area, located behind the east grandstands near the Gate 4 entrance, will include more than 30,000 square feet of fun and entertainment for all fans with a ticket to Ford Championship Weekend. The features of this new area include:
- Wynwood art-inspired entrance including live painting interpretation of the famous Wynwood Walls led by local artist, “Golden 305” and other commissioned world-renowned artists from around the globe.
- Live music and driver appearances on the new BIG 105.9 Entertainment Stage.
- Video game trailer featuring NASCAR Heat 4
- New 3,000 square foot sports bar
“Our partnership with iHeartMedia has been a tremendous one, and the fact that we can team up to bring different parts of Miami to the Speedway makes it even more special,” said Homestead-Miami Speedway President Al Garcia. “As the host of one of South Florida’s biggest annual events, we’re excited to enhance the at-track experience and give fans a taste of Miami’s flavor.”
“We’re thrilled to elevate the fan experience this year with our iHeartMedia Fan Village, which will give attendees a taste of South Florida culture and a stage full of incredible entertainment for the whole day,” said iHeartMedia’s South Florida Regional Senior Vice President Of Programming Rob Miller.
Tickets for 2019 Ford Championship Weekend, which consists of the Ford EcoBoost 200 (NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship race), Ford EcoBoost 300 (NASCAR XFINITY Series championship race) and Ford EcoBoost 400 (Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series championship race), are now available and can be purchased by calling (866) 409-RACE (7223) or visiting www.HomesteadMiamiSpeedway.com.
MELLO YELLO CHAMP DEFENDS TITLE IN DODGE NATIONALS
LAS VEGAS, Nevada – Despite first round losses in two of the first four races in the Countdown to the Championship, it would be difficult to find anyone willing to bet against Steve Torrence and his Capco Contractors Top Fuel dragster this week as the Mello Yello tour moves to The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the 19th annual Dodge NHRA Nationals.
After all, despite early exits at Reading, Pa., and Dallas, Texas, Torrence still leads the point standings entering this, the season’s next-to-last event.
Add the fact that he is the reigning series champion, that he has won this race two of the last three years and that he is the track record-holder at 333.33 miles per hour and it’s easy to see why so many people still consider him the odds-on favorite.
That said, the 36-year-old cancer survivor is well aware that he is in a battle this time around, unlike 2018 when he became the first driver in history, regardless of category, to sweep all six NHRA playoff races.
Among those still in the mix is the champ’s dad, Billy Torrence, who will send a second Capco dragster to the starting line for Friday’s first qualifying session trailing his son by only 71 points on the strength of victories at St. Louis and Dallas that have established him as one of the hottest drivers in the Countdown.
“It looks like it’s going to come down to the last race (the Auto Club Finals, Nov. 15-17, at Pomona, Calif.),” acknowledged the point leader, “but if we go out and execute our plan, we’re gonna be hard to beat. These Capco Boys are battle-hardened. We’ve been through the good and the bad in the Countdown. We know how quickly things can change and how important it is to keep your head in the game.
“Our plan is not to get ahead of ourselves,” said the 36-time tour winner, the only driver to have won NHRA championships in both the Alcohol and Fuel divisions. “One round at a time. Do whatever it takes to get the job done.”
Backed by the talented tuning tandem of Richard Hogan and Bobby Lagana Jr. and a crew of self-proclaimed “outlaws and misfits” that rarely makes mistakes, Torrence has become Top Fuel racing’s new Terminator. Over the last three seasons, he’s hoisted the “Wally” 28 times and won 80 percent of his matches (169-42) while claiming three consecutive regular season championships.
Nevertheless, despite that success and the inevitable comparison to the sport’s past stars, the Kilgore College graduate has managed to remain remarkably grounded.
- Third Career Start at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS)
- Best Career Start at Daytona International Speedway: 4th (Spring 2019)
- Best Career Finish at Daytona International Speedway: 17th (Spring 2019)
- Best Start at Daytona International Speedway: 4th (Summer 2017, Spring 2019)
- Best Finish at Daytona International Speedway: 7th (Spring 2018)
Daytona Firecracker 250 and Coke Zero Sugar 400 tickets can be won on The Racing Nuts Show Saturday’s 11am to Noon. Also at Dave and Buster’s Orlando 9 July 5th. 5pm to 8pm and at Dave and Busters July 6th from 11am to one pm. That’s 2 live broadcasts; and two chances to WIN! Listen to the Racing Nuts on iHeartRadio
Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear Race 1
DETROIT, Michigan – Results Saturday of the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear Race 1 NTT IndyCar Series event on the 2.35-mile Raceway at Belle Isle Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (2) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 43, Running
2. (1) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 43, Running
3. (9) Takuma Sato, Honda, 43, Running
4. (4) Felix Rosenqvist, Honda, 43, Running
5. (6) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 43, Running
6. (13) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 43, Running
7. (11) Graham Rahal, Honda, 43, Running
8. (8) Zach Veach, Honda, 43, Running
9. (10) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 43, Running
10. (17) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 43, Running
11. (16) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 43, Running
12. (5) Colton Herta, Honda, 43, Running
13. (15) Marcus Ericsson, Honda, 43, Running
14. (7) Patricio O’Ward, Chevrolet, 43, Running
15. (21) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 43, Running
16. (18) Marco Andretti, Honda, 43, Running
17. (19) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 43, Running
18. (12) Will Power, Chevrolet, 43, Running
19. (22) Santino Ferrucci, Honda, 43, Running
20. (14) Ed Jones, Chevrolet, 42, Running
21. (20) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 30, Contact
22. (3) Scott Dixon, Honda, 23, Contact
Winner’s average speed: 80.294 mph
Time of Race: 1:15:30.5932
Margin of victory: 0.8237 of a second
Cautions: 4 for 14 laps
Lead changes: 1 among 2 drivers
NTT IndyCar Series point standings:
Newgarden 303, Pagenaud 278, Rossi 270, Sato 238, Dixon 211, Power 196, Hunter-Reay 187, Hinchcliffe 167, Pigot 153, Rahal 149.
Tickets On Sale for Talladega Superspeedway’s Springtime Tripleheader Weekend, Featuring the GEICO 500, Ag-Pro 300 and General Tire 200
Talladega, Ala. (Oct. 8, 2021) – Tickets are officially on sale now for Talladega Superspeedway’s spring 2021 NASCAR weekend, consisting of the GEICO 500 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, April 24, and the Ag-Pro 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series and General Tire 200 for the ARCA Menards Series on Saturday, April 23.
The GEICO 500 will allow fans in attendance to see up close NASCAR’s anticipated ’Next Gen’ car battling three- and four-wide just inches apart, at 200 mph speeds on the biggest, baddest, most competitive track on the planet. The ’Next Gen’ car will make its debut in the season-opening 64th Annual DAYTONA 500.
Fans wishing to attend the GEICO 500 at ’Dega in 2022 can purchase tickets starting at $75 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and younger. For a limited time, account holders from 2021 can take advantage of even lower pricing when renewing their tickets & camping. Multi-day (Saturday & Sunday) grandstand seating packages start at just $60 for adults and $10 for kids 12 and younger. Fans are encouraged to act fast to secure their tickets! For information on the 2022 GEICO 500, fans can visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com or call 1-877-Go2-DEGA (1-877-462-3342).
- To download the Talladega Superspeedway, GEICO 500, Ag-Pro 300 and General Tire 200 logos, open here.
- To download video of NASCAR’s new ’Next Gen’ car, open here. Credit: NASCAR
The 53rd edition of the GEICO 500 will be the premier series’ 10th points race of the year, and the winner will secure a spot in the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Current Playoffs driver Brad Keselowski earned his way into the postseason by virtue of his victory in April’s GEICO 500 earlier this season. Bubba Wallace is the latest Cup Series winner at the 2.66-mile venue, winning last weekend’s YellaWood 500, to become the first African American driver to win in the Cup Series since December of 1963 when Wendell Scott took the checkers in Jacksonville, FL.
The ’Next Gen’ car that fans will see in the GEICO 500, is a collaboration of the brightest engineering minds in racing and the automotive industry. It is designed to give the drivers greater control and will put an emphasis back on race strategies, team personnel and vehicle setups while returning the ‘stock car’ look to NASCAR. The cars are set to put on great racing for fans, incorporate relevant technology and look more like street version vehicles.
The one-of-a-kind Talladega Garage Experience, which gives fans the chance to be immersed into the sport of NASCAR like never before, will, once again, be open to fans. Guests will be able to be up-close to the NASCAR’s top drivers and teams via a fan walkway under the same roof as the NASCAR Cup Series garage car bays. In addition, there’s the unique 35,000 square foot “Big Bill’s” covered Open Air Social Club, complete with ample seating, a bar and a 41-foot diagonal video screen, and the opportunity to be a part of Ruoff Victory Lane, plus lots more.
NASCAR Xfinity driver Jeb Burton qualified for the 2021 Xfinity Series Playoffs as a result of his Ag-Pro 300 victory this past April. Brandon Brown took the checkers last weekend in the Sparks 300. The NASCAR Xfinity Series has been a staple at the iconic track since 1992 when Ernie Irvan took the checkered flag.
TALLADEGA, Ala. (Oct. 3, 2021) – An opportune caution and a sudden rain shower helped make Bubba Wallace the second African-American driver ever to win a NASCAR Cup Series race in Sunday’s YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.
Wallace held the lead in Monday’s rain-delayed YellaWood 500 at when Ryan Preece turned into the outside wall off the bumper of Chris Buescher’s Ford to cause the fifth caution of the event.
As the cars circled under the yellow, rain drenched the 2.66-mile race track. NASCAR brought the cars to pit road on Lap 118 of a scheduled 188. After another shower thwarted track-drying attempts, NASCAR called the race and declared Wallace the winner.
Wallace is the first black driver to win a race in NASCAR’s premier series since Wendell Scott took the checkered flag at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Fla., on Dec. 1, 1963.
It was the first victory for 23XI Racing, a team that debuted this year with driver Denny Hamlin and Basketball Hall of Famer Michael Jordan as co-owners. Drivers outside the respective Playoffs won all three Talladega races in NASCAR’s top three divisions this week. Wallace completed the trifecta all being first-time winners.
Wallace’s victory came at the same track where the sport came together to support him after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis and after a noose—later found not to be directed at Wallace—was discovered in his garage stall. The victory was special in that Wallace is from Mobile, AL.
MONTEREY, Calif. (Sunday, Sept. 19, 2021) – Colton Herta continued his family’s success at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with a dominant victory Sunday in the Firestone Grand Prix of Monterey, while Alex Palou marched closer and closer to an even bigger win.
Herta earned his second victory this season and fifth career victory, beating Palou’s No. 10 NTT Data Honda to the finish by 1.9747 seconds. NTT P1 Award winner Herta led 91 of the 95 laps in the No. 26 Gainbridge Honda.
MEDIA LINKS: Official Results | Driver Video Quotes | Post-Race Transcripts: O’Ward | Palou & Grosjean | Herta
California native Herta also won this event from the pole the last time it took place, in 2019 in his only other start here. This race was canceled last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Herta’s father and race strategist, Bryan Herta, won this race as a driver from the pole in 1998 and 1999.
“I enjoy racing here so much,” Herta said. “It’s an amazing track for me and my family. It’s been so good to us. To go two-for-two so far (at Laguna Seca) is great. We were fast all weekend, and I’m glad we could pull it off in the race.”
Spaniard Palou pulled 35 points ahead of Pato O’Ward in the NTT INDYCAR SERIES standings with just one race remaining, the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach this Sunday at Long Beach, California. Palou must finish 11th or better at Long Beach to earn his first title in his second season in the series.
“We didn’t have it today for the win, but we did the most we could,” Palou said. “I was trying, but it was tough. It was Herta’s day today. I’m happy with P2.”
Palou, O’Ward and two-time series champion Josef Newgarden are the only drivers eligible to win the Astor Challenge Cup at the season finale. Newgarden is third in the standings, 48 points back. Six-time series champion Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson were eliminated from contention at this race after finishing 13th and sixth, respectively.
This will be the 16th consecutive season in which the NTT INDYCAR SERIES title race will be decided at the final race of the season.
Romain Grosjean finished third today in the No. 51 Nurtec ODT Honda after a stirring late-race charge past rivals and lapped traffic in which he sliced between one to two seconds per lap from Herta and Palou. Grosjean’s third podium finish of the season helped him stay alive in the race for Rookie of the Year honors, as he trails Scott McLaughlin by 20 points.
Grosjean was 10 seconds behind Herta with nine laps remaining but closed to within 3.7087 seconds at the finish after some deft driving, including a wheel-banging, side-by-side duel to lap Jimmie Johnson in the famous “Corkscrew” turn with seven laps remaining. Series rookie Johnson was hip-checked off the track by Grosjean but returned to the racing surface to finish a season-best 17th in the No. 48 Carvana Honda fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing.
“The last stint was very fun because we were on new tires and fresher than everyone else,” Grosjean said. “So, that was exciting. It’s been a great day. Sorry to Jimmie for the contact out there. He was trying to protect Alex (Palou, teammate), and I wanted to go chase Alex.
“P13 to P3 today, it’s a pretty good day. Laguna Seca, I love you. That’s all I can say.”
Graham Rahal finished fourth in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda, with O’Ward rounding out the top five in the No. 5 Arrow McLaren SP Chevrolet.
“All weekend we didn’t have it,” O’Ward said. “I truly feel like we used every single ounce of energy and pace that this car had. We pulled off a near-miracle in qualifying to start in the first three rows. In the race, honestly, that was as much as I had.
“All we can do at Long Beach is win, and then let everything else fall. I’ve got faith in myself. I know I’m pretty handy around a street course, so let’s see what we can pull off next week.”
Herta’s path to victory become much clearer on Lap 2 of the 95-lap race, ironically after he made a mistake. Herta went wide in Turn 4, opening the door for fellow front-row starter and Andretti Autosport teammate Alexander Rossi in Turn 5.
Rossi and Herta banged wheels while side-by-side in Turn 5, and Rossi’s No. 27 NAPA AUTO PARTS/AutoNation Honda then spun into the gravel and stalled. Rossi’s car was refired, but he finished 25th, two laps down.
After that incident, teams unfolded varying tire and fuel strategies trying to undercut or overcut Herta’s lead. None worked, as Herta’s speed and consistency were too much.
The only time Herta didn’t lead the race came when Grosjean was at the front on Lap 19 and from Laps 69-71 during pit cycles.
Palou kept the race close around the midway point, pulling to within one second of Herta as both drivers’ Firestone tires wore during a stint. But Herta had extended his lead to 5.4 seconds by Lap 75.
“There was always pressure there from Alex behind me,” Herta said. “Even at the beginning of the stints when I was a little bit better, he was still there. And he closed it back up at the end of the stints. I think he was a little better that time.
“I’m just happy to have done it. This place is so awesome – it’s my favorite track in North America by far. To win here means so much.”
About the only drama for Herta over the closing laps came with 14 laps remaining when he couldn’t avoid what appeared to be a rabbit or a squirrel running across the track. But the wildlife collision did no damage to his machine, and he marched home to victory.
Grosjean’s charge kept the race lively over the closing laps. It appeared with 10 laps to go the Frenchman may have been able to shave enough time per lap to pass Palou and possibly catch Herta for the win. But traffic and tire wear blunted that effort, and Grosjean ended up 1.734 seconds behind Palou.
While the Drivers’ Championship will go to the wire at Long Beach, Honda today clinched the Manufacturers Award for the fourth consecutive season.
CUTLINE: Bill France Sr. (second from right) and Dell Hill (right), along with Bill France Jr. (left), and Miss Talladega, Peggy Duke (second from left), look on as influential automobile designer Harley J. Earl breaks ground on Alabama International Motor Speedway on May 23, 1968. Today known as Talladega Superspeedway, the first racing weekend at the 2.66-mile venue took place on September 13-14, 1969. NASCAR’s biggest track hosts a NASCAR Playoffs Tripleheader Weekend, Oct. 2-3.
Talladega, Ala. (Sept. 16, 2021) – For 52 years, Talladega Superspeedway has provided some of the most incredible, memorable racing moments in history, and such will be the case on Oct. 2-3, when the track will host a NASCAR Playoffs tripleheader, featuring the YellaWood 500. But exactly how did we get to this point with the most competitive track in the world? Here’s the remarkable story.
Years ago, when the late William H. G. “Big Bill” France was asked why he decided to locate the world’s greatest motorsport facility near the northeastern Alabama community of Talladega at a ghostly abandoned Eastaboga Airfield, he said it was because the spot at the foothills of the Appalachians is centrally located to millions of people.
For the man who also built Daytona International Speedway, Alabama International Motor Speedway – today known as Talladega Superspeedway – would be bigger, faster, and more accessible.
“We could have built a major speedway almost anywhere in the country,” said France, who was both the founder of NASCAR as well as the president of the sanctioning body and International Speedway Corporation that controlled both the Daytona and Alabama facilities. “We considered numerous sites before we finally selected Talladega.”
Editor’s Note: For 1968-69 construction and Bill France, Sr. photos, along with track logos, click here. Photo Credit: Talladega Superspeedway.
NASCAR pioneered stock car racing and ushered in the superspeedway era when Darlington Raceway opened in Darlington, SC, in 1950. The new sport continued to flourish with more major facilities opening throughout the South in the late 1950s, including the 2.5-mile venue in Daytona that opened in 1959.
“We had a Talladega in the back of our minds for quite some time,” France said of the facility that opened in September of 1969 with a doubleheader weekend, featuring the Talladega 500, “but it wasn’t until Bill Ward, a businessman in Anniston, AL, entered the picture that the possibilities began to materialize.”
“You find me 1,000 acres of land close to an interstate, and I’ll come look at it,” Ward, who still sells insurance in nearby Anniston, said of his marching orders from France. Ward had a property in mind near his native Atalla, but it was a no-go. That’s when he remembered the Eastaboga Airfield, built to train pilots in World War II and eventually sold by the Air Force to the City of Talladega for $1.
Ward went to Talladega city leaders and proposed the race track, “and they told me I was crazy,” laughed Ward. But after France hosted those officials in Daytona, “They wouldn’t leave me alone,” Ward says. “They said ‘Get that man up here and let’s talk about that race track.’”
Through Ward’s efforts, France looked over the almost abandoned airport. France and Airport officials discussed by the possibility of building a major racing facility on the property, but the idea appeared doomed due to circumstances beyond the control of officials.
The late O.V. Hill Sr., a native of Talladega and a man possessed with as much determination as France, saw the potential that a major racing facility held for the area. Hill, an industrial specialist at Auburn University, organized an influential group of civic and government leaders and the group amended legislation that eventually led to the track construction and the building of necessary roads for handling the traffic.
France named O.V. “Dell” Hill Jr., Director of Finance, and appointed Roger Bear, Director of Promotion, and the “dream” began to come to life.
Dr. James L. Hardwick, Mayor of the city of Talladega, was influential in organizing community leaders in support of the project. The Talladega Airport Board members dedicated their efforts to obtaining FAA and Defense Department approval.
France gained the valuable assistance of Travis McCraig, Talladega real estate developer and motel owner, to overcome the final hurdle. McCraig introduced France to John and Bill Moss of the Moss-Thornton Construction Co. of Leeds, Alabama, and the officials of the huge engineering and construction firm, immediately joined in sharing the enthusiasm France held for the development.
Ground was broken for Alabama International Motor Speedway in May of 1968, and another “impossible dream” was destined to become a reality.
Where else but Talladega?
“Talladega is located within a 300-mile radius of a population of 20 million people,” France said, “and it’s stock car racing country. We wanted Talladega because we wanted to take the world’s best racing to the people. That’s why we built the world’s greatest speedway where we did.”
The result was a track that is a tri-oval layout at 2.66 miles in length and banked 33 degrees – both the biggest in NASCAR. Mr. France’s message to fans was simple during the track’s first NASCAR race weekend on Sept. 13-14, 1969 in which Richard Brickhouse was the winner.
“We tried to provide the fastest, safest, most complete racing facility in the sport,” France said at the time, “and we feel like we have anticipated every possible need for the competitors, their crews and the spectators.
“As visitors of Alabama International Motor Speedway and supporters of our great sport of stock car racing you are participating in the beginning of what I think will become the World’s No. 1 automotive showplace. We are happy to be opening the world’s fastest closed Speedway in the heart of Alabama. I think you will agree that this is a beautiful setting for a major sports facility. The people of this area join me in welcoming you.”
And, the same is true today. After 52 years of motorsports history, France’s vision will continue with the YellaWood 500 on Sunday, Oct. 3 (1 p.m. CDT start), the second race (of three) in the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Saturday’s Playoffs action will consist of a doubleheader with the Chevy Silverado 250 for the NASCAR Camping World Series (12 Noon CDT start) and the Sparks 300 for the NASCAR Xfinity Series at 3:30 p.m. CDT.
Admission to the traditional Saturday Night Infield Concert, headlined by platinum-selling Dustin Lunch, is FREE to all infield guests, who purchase a ticket to the YellaWood 500. To see all admission options, including the Talladega Garage Experience (includes access to Garage Viewing Walkways, Pre-Race Ceremonies on Sunday and Ruoff Mortgage Victory Lane), visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com
About Talladega Superspeedway
Talladega Superspeedway is the most competitive race track on the NASCAR schedule (record 88 lead changes in 188 laps), the highest-banked (33 degrees) and the longest (2.66 miles), as well as the most fun and fan-friendly. Three- and four-wide racing at 200 mph are a norm at Talladega Superspeedway, along with nail-biting, photo finishes. For information, visit www.talladegasuperspeedway.com