Sunday, Feb 05
Kaleb Vestal

Kaleb Vestal

Hey everyone! My name is Kaleb Vestal from Nevada, Mo., and I love motorsports. From B Mods to IndyCars, and from Late Models to the NASCAR Cup Series, I am always watching, learning, and loving racing. I am also the Head Sports Editor/Reporter for the Nevada Daily Mail newspaper in Nevada, Mo. For business inquires if you are needing a Social Media Manager, PR rep, or an ambitious Journalist to come up with new ideas, you can contact me at (417) 321-9392, my email kalebvesta[email protected], or shoot me a message on Twitter @kalebvestal1. Hope to see you at a track real soon!

The NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series teams make their final trip out west this weekend, in preparations for this weekend's activities at Phoenix Raceway in Phoenix, Ariz, after  just finishing up two trips in two weeks with both Series racing at Auto Club Speedway (Fontana, Calif.) and Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Las Vegas Nev.). But one thing for sure, it isn’t cheap. With gas prices soaring up to about $5 a gallon on the West Coast, it is putting a lot of pressure on smaller teams on making the trip just to try to make the race. 

Joey Gase, driver/owner of the #35 Toyota Supra for Emerling Gase Motorsports in the Xfinity Series was quoted  saying, “The West Coast Swing is probably the hardest part of the year. You have to have so many cars ready to go to make this long trip even before the season starts. The competition this year has been the strongest it has been in years I’ve been in the sport.” The NASCAR Xfinity Series only allows 38 cars to compete, and that means when 39 or more cars show up, somebody is going to be sent home. “There have been three cars going home every week, and this weekend there will be four cars going home with 42 cars being entered, so there is a chance we might not even make the field.”

Due to the new rule change NASCAR made, teams will have to bring cars with them for all three tracks, to prevent race teams from traveling back and forth from the West Coast all the way to Charlotte, N.C. “The back up car for Fontana and Vegas as the primary car for Phoenix,” said Gase. “We have to be ready for this and for the next week at the newly repaved Atlanta Motor Speedway as well as Circuit of the Americas as well. It is no easy task to say the least.”

When you travel from Charlotte, to Fontana, to Vegas, to Phoenix, and then back to Charlotte, that is almost 5,000 miles in three weeks. Gase even said gas was nearly $5.30 a gallon for diesel for the big rigs that carry the NASCAR Xfinity cars. I asked Gase if it was even worth heading out west just to spend all of this money. “It’s going to hurt a lot in the pocketbook, but this is the plan no matter what, especially if you are a full time race team like us. You have to be out here to keep the points for the point standings, sponsorship, provisionals, and all of that stuff.” 

This won’t be the last trip to the West Coast for the Xfinity Series by far. They will make a special trip in June for the inaugural Grand Prix of Portland at the Portland International Raceway in Portland, Ore., then it is back to Vegas in September, and then the Championship Race back in Phoenix in November. On what the teams would have to prepare for for the races out there later on in the year, Gase said, “That is way too far out for me to even think about as of right now. We do make some stops before those races that are still a drive away like Texas Motor Speedway (Fort Worth, Texas), and even Atlanta Motor Speedway (Atlanta, Ga.) that we have to prepare for before those races out west again.” 

The West Coast Swing really wasn’t a thing in NASCAR until 2015, when they decided to shake up the schedule. Before then you would have a track like Bristol Motor Speedway (Bristol, Tenn.) or Atlanta in the middle of those trips out west in the early spring time. I asked Gase about what he thought about getting the first three West Coast races out of the way early, or if he thought we should add an east coast race to the beginning of the schedule. “It has its perks and its downfalls the way it is now,” said Gase. “It’s great to not have to travel back and forth all the time, but at the same time it is a lot of work on every team to get everything ready in time for the races no matter which way you look at it with expenses. We sent most of our guys back to Charlotte after Fontana to get other cars ready for the next couple of races that are coming up. Flights are expensive as well as hotels and gas. It is probably for the best to get them out of the way as early as we can like we have been doing.” 

I also questioned if his perspective changed when we put on the fire suit on Saturdays as a driver? Gase replied back with “Maybe just a little bit, but not as big as you would think. Most of my career I have been on smaller race teams like Emerling Gase Motorsports, and if I destroyed the race car it is kinda the same deal as it is now as in we might not be able to race the next week if we completely destroy our car. It definitely changes my perspective a little bit, but my mentality driving these cars have been the same.” 

Joey Gase won’t be racing in Saturdays United Rentals 200 at Phoenix Raceway, as Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of the late Dale Earnhardt, will be wheeling the #35 Toyota Supra for Emerling Gase Motorsports. I asked Gase about what he mentioned earlier, which was the possibility of not making the big show. Would he consider it a waste of time and money to travel out to the West Coast? Or was it still worth it to try and make the race? “That is kind of a silly question,” quoted Gase. “We have no choice but to come to these races. We are in a great spot, and way better than most small owner driver race teams. We are sitting good in points and I believe we have a pretty great hot rod for Jeffrey (Earnhardt)  at Phoenix, but no matter what we have to try and come to these races. We don’t want to miss a race because obviously it can affect our whole season.”

The United Rentals 200 at Phoenix Raceway will be on FS1 for T.V. and radio coverage is on MRN.  Coverage will start at 4:30 p.m. Eastern and 3:30 p.m. Central. After Saturday the Cup Series  will race on the mile oval in the desert at 3:30 p.m. Eastern and 2:30 Central.  Next week will be the race everyone is anticipating, as the newly reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway will be races on next Saturday for the Xfinity Series, and next Sunday for the Cup Series will take its turn mid afternoon. 



Ty Gibbs shocks the world (can you sense the sarcasm reading this?) and wins his fifth career Xfinity Series win at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday night. But at least one driver also in the Xfinity Series isn’t glad he won yesterday, and that most likely is the driver of Ryan Sieg. Gibbs and Sieg were racing through turn four on the fourth lap, when Gibbs got underneath Sieg, got him loose, and into the wall causing the first of 11 cautions of the day. 

To make matters worse (or better if you are a fan), Sieg then tried to retaliate against Gibbs on lap 30 in turn four, but didn’t prevent Gibbs from winning the race. Instead of Gibbs wrecking out like Sieg would have wanted, he took out innocent bystanders who were racing in that area at the time, being the drivers of Sheldon Creed and Brett Moffitt. Creed and Moffitt’s days didn’t end there though, as both would end up finishing in the top 10. The race not only had that wild card in it, as there was also a snow/rain delay on lap 19 that red flagged the race for 41 minutes and 53 seconds. Rain out in the desert area in Las Vegas, NV is crazy enough to think about, let alone sleet and snow like some reported in the garage. 

Noah Gragson swept both stages in the race, and led for 52 laps of the 200 laps of the race, second highest and only behind Xfinity Series Veteran Justin Allgiaer who led the race high 62 laps. But with six laps to go, Gibbs passed Gragson for the lead and eventually won his fifth race of his young career, with only leading six laps of the race. 

“I want to apologize to the 39 car (Ryan Sieg),” said Gibbs as he was talking to Vince Welch of Fox Sports. “It wasn’t my best decision and they work so hard on that team.” When asked how much this win meant to him after all of the adversity they battled through the day, Gibbs replied, “It feels awesome. Hopefully we can keep this going throughout the year and get some more wins with this 54 crew.” 

Top ten finishers of the 2022 Alsco Uniforms 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway were Ty Gibbs, Noah Gragson, Daniel Hemric, Josh Berry, Justin Allgiaer, Landon Cassil, Sheldon Creed, Brett Moffitt, A.J. Allmendinger, and Brandon Jones. The race had 11 cautions for 65 of the 200 laps that were run and had 17 lead changes.  Time of the race was 2 hours, 56 minutes, and 15 seconds with the average speed being 102.128 mph. Next race for the Xfinity Series will be the LS Tractor 200 at the Phoenix Raceway next Saturday, The race will start at 3:30 p.m. eastern on FS1 and radio broadcast will be on the Motor Racing Network. 

Coming into this weekend's race at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA, there were a lot of questions on what this new Next Gen car will do and how it would race on the two mile race track with 14 degrees of banking in the turns. During Saturday’s Practice and Qualifying for the Cup Series, those questions only grew larger. Many of the Series regulars like Harvick, Elliott, Keselowski, Buescher, Wallace, and many others either spun during practice or on their qualifying lap. Ross Chastain took the hardest hit of them all during the first few minutes of practice. His car was destroyed and even knocked the wind out of Chastain, leaving him not wanting to do interviews afterwards. 

But like the title of this article says, the more things change, the more they stay the same. That was certainly the case for the Wise Power 400 that took place Sunday afternoon. A familiar face took a trip to victory lane this weekend being Kyle Larson. But this win wasn’t near as dominant as the other 10 victory’s he took in last year's season. This one came after putting his Hendrick teammate Chase Elliott into the wall with just a handful of laps left in the race. Then a caution came out just moments for Elliott spinning off of turn two. Then the crazy restart with just four laps to go happened, with Larson, Daniel Suarez, Austin Dillon, and Erik Jones within car lengths of each other trying to score the win. Suarez was the closest one stealing the win away from Larson, but ultimately got passed by Dillon to end up finishing third in the race. Dillon was close on the final lap on the front stretch, but couldn’t chase down the 2021 Cup Series champion at the end of the day. 

“It's always fun here to win at my home state,” said Larson. “We worked hard all weekend here, but didn't feel great in practice yesterday. Cliff (Larson’s Crew Chief) and everybody made some good adjustments overnight, and the car handled a lot better. There were definitely some guys that were quicker than us, but they had their misfortunes. We just kept our heads in it all day for this long race. Just restarts and the runs were crazy. Definitely wild, but cool to get a win here in California and hopefully get on a little streak.” 

Larson also addressed the contact with Elliott with just a couple of laps to go. ”I didn't get through turns 3 and 4 very well. Joey (Logano) did a good job on the bottom, and then we were side drafting each other, and I'm not even looking in my mirror at that point because all I'm worried about is Joey and I'm looking out of my A-post window. I had a run, so I went to peel off, and as soon as I peeled off, my spotter was yelling, ‘Outside! Outside! Outside!’ I had no clue he was even coming. I hate that I ended his day after they worked so hard to get back to the lead lap and back in contention to win, but it was just an honest mistake on probably both of our faults. I should have had more awareness in my mirror. My spotter could have told me he was coming with a big run, and we would have avoided that mess. I would have probably not been side drafting on Joey as hard as I was. I would have been more so protecting Chase than worrying about Joey. It happened, and I hate that it did. I know they're upset. But we'll talk, and hopefully we'll get on the same page. I would never run into my teammate or block him that aggressively and that late on purpose.”

Daniel Suarez talked about some of the emotions that were happening with the win slipping away from him with just three laps to go. “We're going to win a few races very soon here. I just can't thank everyone enough in my team. We had a fast car, but we went through a lot of adversity. We had a few issues. We hit the wall once and had an issue with a diffuser. My pit crew, those guys are legends; it's unbelievable. It's the best pit crew I've ever had, and it's a lot of fun to race like that. Freeway Insurance, Chevrolet, everyone that helps Trackhouse out, to be able to be here and perform this way. I'm happy and I'm horror at the same time. I can tell you that I'm going to work very, very hard to go to Victory Lane very, very soon here.” 

 

The 26th annual Wise Power 400 was three hours, three minutes, and seven seconds on Sunday. The race had 12 cautions for 59 of the 200 laps, which ties the record of cautions at the Auto Club Speedway (2008). The race had 32 lead changes and had an average speed of 114.222 mph. Kyle Larson won his 17th career race and his second at Auto Club Speedway. The top 10 finishers are 1st Kyle Larson, 2nd Austin Dillon, 3rd Erik Jones, 4th Daniel Suarez, 5th Joey Logano, 6th Aric Almirola, 7th Kevin Harvick, 8th Kurt Busch, 9th Daniel Hemric, and 10th Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The next Cup Series race will be at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas, NV. The race start at 3:30 p.m. Eastern time and will be broadcasted on FOX, and radio coverage will be on PRN. 

 

 

When you think of today's NASCAR Xfinity Series, a couple of names might pop up. Noah Gragson, Harrison Burton, Austin Cindric, Riley Herbst, Justin Allgaier, and many more talented drivers. But most of the time probably running 20th or so is a man by the name of Josh Williams. The one with the down to earth personality and the awesome mullet blowing in the air on race day. The one who pilots the 92  orange and blue Chevy Camaro for DGM Motorsports. This is Josh Williams: Xfinity Series favorite underdog. 

 

 Josh was born into a racing family. In the interview I had with him he said “ I was in victory lane in my mama’s belly. My dad was a racer growing up. Going to a race track has always been a thing for me. “ Williams said “I started racing at the age of 4, running road race karts down in south Florida and followed the steps from there. “ He also mentioned he went up the ladder to quarter midgets, bandolero series, legend cars, and pro trucks series.  

 

In 2010 Williams drove for his family's team driving the 02 car in the ARCA Series, as well as driving for series veteran Andy Belmont for a few races here and there. Williams continued on his ARCA journey all the way till 2016 when he got an opportunity to do a start and park at Michigan International Speedway for Jimmy Means in the Xfinity series. “ I was standing in a parts store in Mooresville, North Carolina and Jimmy came in looking for a driver to do a start and park at Michigan, and the guy behind the counter pointed at me and said ‘ that’s your guy right there.’ So me and Jimmy got together there and ended up doing that.” 

 

Williams finished 38th in that race in 2016. What he thought was a random start and park start actually led to who he drives for today. “I had my NASCAR License and soon after that start and park, Mario ( Mario Gosselin , Owner of DGM Motorsports ) contacted me after that to do some start and park stuff for him. We eventually found more sponsors and ran a few more races and then it finally developed to a full time deal so it's pretty cool. I love them guys to death and Mario has always been good to me and given me a lot of opportunities.” 

 

Josh has had over 120 starts with DGM Motorsports dating all the way back in 2016. In total, he has 8 top tens and 9 laps led. From 2019 (first full time year) to 2021, he has finished 17th, 15th, and 18th in the championship standings respectively . I asked Josh on a letter grading scale , A being the best and F being the worst, on what he thought he would grade himself on this year. 

“ I say we had some ups and downs and bad luck so it's kind of hard to grade these seasons. I say our 2020 season was a B and our 2021 season was a C just due to luck we had this year. We still had really good runs and had really good race cars and finishes but we had some bad luck that kind of hurt us in races, and that’s just part of racing and motorsports. “ 

 

On November 15th, 2021, DGM released a statement saying that Josh was not going to return to the team in 2022. Many fans wonder what his next step will be in NASCAR, so I asked what his 2022 plans were, as well as asking if he would like to stay in the Xfinity series or even make a move forward to Cup or a step back in the trucks? “ I definitely don’t think turning backwards is the way to go in the truck series even though a lot of drivers do that. It doesn’t really make sense to me honestly. We will definitely go full time Xfinity series racing next year and it’s all about sponsorships and partnerships. Hopefully we can put some stuff together and even try to make a couple of Cup starts next year.” 

 

From kart racing in south Florida to full-time Xfinity series driver, Josh has gone through the ranks as an underdog. Hopefully we see Josh in a competitive ride in the near future as he has the talent this sport needs. 



Ben Rhodes wins the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title after a battle with Zane Smith in the final laps. Chandler Smith who drives the 18 Safelite Toyota Tundra won the race despite not being in the playoffs. Zane Smith finished 2nd in the playoffs and was moved out of the way by Rhodes coming out of turn 4 with just a handful of laps to go. John Hunter Nemecheck and his number 4 Pye-Barker Fire & Safety  Toyota got damaged on the first lap causing him to be down several laps. But on Lap 102, the caution came out and Nemecheck was able to get back on the lead lap and wound up finishing 7th in the race and finsihed 3rd in the standings. Matt Crafton didn’t have the night he needed. Not necessarily a contender for the lead the whole race although he finished his number 88 Ideal Doors / Menards Toyota in the 12th place finish and 4th out of 4 in the final standings. The race had 4 cautions for 25 laps. It had 12 lead changes with 3 different leaders. The race lasted 1 hour, 30 minutes, and 34 second and had an average speed of 136.576 mph.  

 

Here are the top 12 finishers of the 2021 Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix Raceway

 

1: Chandler Smith #18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota Tundra

2: Stewart Freisen #52 Halmar International Toyota Tundra

3: Ben Rhodes #99 Bombardier Lear Jet 75 Toyota Tundra (Playoff)

4: Sheldon Creed #2 LiftKits4Less.com Chevrolet Silverado 

5: Zane Smith #21 MRC Construction Chevrolet Silverado ( Playoff) 

6: Christian Eckes #98 Curb Records Toyota Tundra

7: John Hunter Nemecheck #4 Pye-Barker Fire & Safety Toyota Tundra (Playoff) 

8: Todd Gilliland #38 Frontline Enterprises Ford F-150

9: Carson Hocevar #42 Premier Security / GM Parts Now Chevrolet Silverado

10: Austin Hill #16 United Rentals Toyota Tundra

11: Johnny Sauter #13 Tenda Toyota Tundra

12: Matt Crafton #88 Ideal Doors/ Menards Toyota Tundra (Playoff) 

 

Here are the championship 4 final standings for 2021

1: Ben Rhodes #99 Bombardier Lear Jet 75 Toyota Tundra

2: Zane Smith #21 MRC Construction Chevrolet Silverado

3: John Hunter Nemecheck #4 Pye-Barker Fire & Safety Toyota Tundra

4: Matt Crafton #88 Ideal Doors/ Menards Toyota Tundra

Here is the interview with Chad Finchuum after being sent back to the garage due to handling issues as well as not making minimum speed. 

 

Me: Kaleb Vestal with Speedway Digest i’m with Chad Finchum, driver of the 66 Toyota Camry.  Out of the race early today Chad what happened out there?

 

Chad: Well you know we had a good early start there and we were driving good and all of a sudden man we just started picking up an issue. We came down pit road a couple of times to address the problem but couldn’t really find out what it was. We unfortunately were not making minimum speed according to NASCAR so we came back in the garage and looked at the car. It's unfortunate but it's been a roller coaster of a year for me as I've only been part time this year. I was excited to come back to Kansas Speedway, a place where I initially set my best finish in the Xfinity series a couple of years ago. I love this place and love the atmosphere around here and it's an honor to drive a cup car but the mechanical gremlins got the best of us. 

 

Me: Will we see you at Martinsville next week? 

 

Chad: No plans as of yet even though I really want to be but nothing as of yet. 

 

Me Thank you Chad appreciate the time. 

Kyle Larson, driver of the number 5 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet scored his 9th victory of 2021 at Kansas Speedway. Larson led 130 out of 267 laps, but it didn’t look like his normal dominance from the past. Non playoff drivers like Alex Bowman, William Byron, Kurt Busch, Tyler Reddick, and Matt DiBenedetto all combined to lead 71 of the 267 laps. Byron, the strongest non playoff driver, looked like he was in contention for his 2nd win of the year but unfortunately lost out to his 2 playoff contention teammates Larson and Elliott.  A total of 7 cautions for 33 laps happened today at Kansas and the race was 3 hours 3 minutes and 49 seconds long. Average speed was 130.728 mph and margin of victory was 3.619 seconds. Only 4 cars failed to finish the race. Chad Finchum finished 40th due to handling issues, Justin Haley finished 39th due to engine troubles, and both Anthony Alfredo and Ryan Blaney (37th and 36th respectively) both out due to a crash. 

 

Here are the top 10 of today's race at the Kansas Speedway

 

1st: Kyle Larson #5 Chevy Camaro

2nd: Chase Elliott #9 Chevy Camaro

3rd: Kevin Harvick #4 Ford Mustang

4th: Kurt Busch #1 Chevy Camaro

5th: Denny Hamlin #11 Toyota Camry

6th: William Byron #24 Chevy Camaro 

7th: Martin Truex Jr #19 Toyota Camry

8th: Christopher Bell #20 Toyota Camry

9th: Joey Logano #22 Ford Mustang

10th: Austin Dillon #3 Chevy Camaro

 

Next week will be at Martinsville and will be the final race in the Round of 8. Coverage will be on NBC and MRN Radio.

Kyle Larson, driver of the number 5 HendrickCars.com Chevy Camaro, won the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Larson led a total of 256 out of 334 laps and was one of 8 different leaders. The race had 11 cautions and took about 3 hours, 42 minutes, and 54 seconds to complete. Here are your top 10 finishers from Texas. 

 

#1: Kyle Larson

 

#2: William Byron

 

#3: Christopher Bell

 

#4: Brad Keselowski

 

#5: Kevin Harvick

 

#6: Ryan Blaney

 

#7: Chase Elliott

 

#8: Kyle Busch

 

#9: Tyler Reddick

 

#10: Daniel Suarez

 

Only 3 out of the 8 playoff drivers did not finish in the top 10: Denny Hamlin finished 11th ( had 2 spins in the race), Martin Truex Jr finished 25th

( hit the outside wall in turn 4 after contact with Daniel Suarez on lap 321), and Joey Logano finished 30th ( blown engine on lap 298). Here are the playoff standings headed into Kansas Speedway. 

 

#1: Kyle Larson  ( Advanced into Round of 4) 

 

#2: Ryan Blaney + 17

 

#3: Denny Hamlin + 9

 

#4: Kyle Busch + 8 

 

#5: Chase Elliott - 8

 

#6: Brad Keselowki - 22

 

#7: Martin Truex Jr - 22

 

#8: Joey Logano - 43

 

Next week the NASCAR Cup Series takes on Kansas Speedway on Sunday October 24th on NBCSN and MRN Radio. 

 

After last weekend's trip to Talladega, 2 out of its 3 races were affected by both darkness and rain on the racetrack. That made all of us race fans ponder the question, “ Why don’t they put lights around the track?”. Well let's dive in on this topic and see what we can figure out.

 

Excluding road courses, there are only 5 race tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule that do not have lights: Talladega, Pocono, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Dover. Dover can not install lights due to an Air Force base located near the racetrack and New Hampshire isn’t allowed due to local government rules. The only one that is currently in the Playoffs is Talladega Superspeedway. With the report that NASCAR is wanting to shuffle the Playoffs in future seasons, I think we can all say that Talladega won't be leaving the playoffs anytime soon. And why should it? It is definitely a ticket seller with its chaotic style of racing. But 2 races out of 3 years have been pushed to Monday afternoon due to inclement weather. So is it time to add in lights? 

 

To me, yes, I think it's time we have lights put up at the 2.667 mile racetrack in Central Alabama. 

It's a crying shame that Talladega has to suffer if weather is in the area or if darkness is looming in. Now let's clear this up, I do not want Talladega to schedule a night race. If you've been following NASCAR since the mid 2000’s, you know that back then nearly one third of the schedule was run on a Saturday night. I wouldn’t want to take a good Sunday afternoon race from Talladega, however I would much rather run it late into Sunday night rather than half of the fans in NASCAR missing out due to work, school, and other commitments. 

 

I’ve heard contrasting opinions about the nightlife in Talladega and how it would be lost. Well let's say you were in the infield with a camper or RV. Would you rather lose one night of partying or have to leave on race day Monday morning because you can not take off work? Racetracks need to think about the fans' visit and prioritize on not letting the casual race fan walk out the gates. If they have spent all of their hard earned money on your sporting event and you have to tell them that they have to come back the next day, they may never come back. So yes, Talladega needs to do this. And I hope all other race tracks that can install a lighting system, will. 

Josh Berry, driver of the number 1 Pilot Chevrolet, won the ALSCO Uniforms 302 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Berry was filling in for Michael Annett who suffered a fractured leg in July. Berry and teammates Justin Allgaier and Noah Gragson finished 1-2-3 making it the first time JR Motorsports finished all in the top 3. Here are the results of the top 10 from last night. 

 

1: Josh Berry

2: Justin Allgaier

3: Noah Gragson

4: Austin Cindric

5: Daniel Hemric

6: Brandon Jones

7: A.J. Allmendinger

8: Ty Dillon 

9: Justin Haley

10: Harrison Burton

 

The race had a total of 6 caution flags with 2 being the end of the stage. Justin Allgaier led the most laps with 90 and it took 2 hours, 26 minutes, and 28 seconds to complete the race. 

 

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