SPARTA, Ky-- For Kyle Busch, 700 miles of racing will ensue on Saturday from Kentucky Speedway.
With the postponement of the NASCAR Xfintiy Series Also 300, Busch, Erik Jones, Ryan Blaney, Joey Logano, Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick, and Ty Dillon are also slated to run in the Alsco 300.
“It’s going to be challenging and especially during the day. We weren’t anticipating a day race so that’s going to make for a crazy event, that’s for sure,” said Busch.
Because teams were unable to get practice sessions in on Thursday, teams practiced at 8:30 p.m. EDT this morning.
“We practiced early this morning and I felt like it was a really good practice session for what we needed to do at night because the track was cool and it wasn’t hot and heated up like it was later on this afternoon,” said Busch. “Qualifying was a handful, it was way different than what we had all this morning in practice so that’s going to make it a handful tomorrow. Who’s going to be the best guy to adjust all that for having a fast car and making sure their car sticks well is going to win.”
For drivers pulling double-duty, preparation for afternoon and evening conditions begin tonight.
“It’s going to be tough for sure. I’m not exactly sure how to handle it yet, but it’s certainly not the circumstances I would have liked to have been in, but we got what we got and I’ll try to prepare as best as I can tonight and get as many fluids as I can tonight and then make sure you keep drinking and keep the fluids going for tomorrow,” said Ky. Busch. “It’s just a matter of making sure you don’t get yourself too dehydrated and start to cramp up and things like that. It’s going to make for a long day for sure if it’s going to be 95 degrees and hot and sunny during the first one and it will make the second one at night a little better. Still going to be a long, long day.”
Temperatures for the Also 300 are slated to be in the mid-70s, while the Quaker State 400 temperature is slated to be in the mid-to-upper 70s.
Green flag for the Alsco 300 is schedule to fly shortly after 12:00 p.m. EDT and the green flag for the Quaker State 400 is slated for 7:45 p.m. EDT.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— For the second year in a row, Germain Racing will honor the late Smokey Yunick at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend.
Germain Racing is throwing it back to 1963, the year when then rookie driver Johnny Rutherford made his first NASCAR start for Yunick. Currently, the only win for the No. 13 was in a Daytona qualifying race.
This year’s car for Ty Dillon will continue the tradition of black and gold, but will have a touch of red. The car will represent the 1963 qualifying race win. The car in ’63 featured the 427 “mystery motor”.
“My dad loved racing at Darlington, tire problems and gnats alike. It’s so special for us to have him remembered in this way. The Germain Racing car looks great. I am thrilled that Smokey’s legacy is getting a chance to be in front of the next generation of NASAR fans and hope it encourages renewed interest in his story,” said Trish Yunick.
“It was my first time in a stock car. I didn’t think much of the car number. It was Smokey’s car and that’s what made the difference. I had Fireball Roberts and Joe Weatherly tutoring me on racing at Daytona. Joe was very skeptical of the car number. A.J. Foyt came up to the car and put his hand on it and tried to touch Joe— he took off running. That car was strong and fun to drive. It will be great to see a recreation of the car have life again,” said Rutherford.
“There is so much history behind what the Yunick family has done in the sport. It’s quite the honor to represent them at Darlington in what has become one of the coolest events of the year with throwback schemes. It’s a really awesome car. Lots of people are a little superstitious of the No. 13, there is a lot of history that goes within the sport, but there is lot of history yet to be gained. The possibility of me becoming the first driver to win a points paying race gets me really excited,” said T. Dillon.
The Toyota Care 250 at Richmond International Raceway was calm and smooth until the final couple of restarts. The restarts that caused confusion amongst drivers, media, and fans.
The first incident happened on the lap 245 restart. Ty Dillon was the control car. Justin Allgaier line up second and Kyle Larson third. As the field was about to hit the restart zone, T. Dillon accelerated before the zone. NASCAR reviewed the restart and deemed that Dillon did in fact jump the start and was to start at the end of the field. When T. Dillon was relayed the message, he was hot.
Dillon started in the back of the field because shortly after the green flag waved again, the caution flag flew on lap 247 for an accident that involved six cars in the third turn. That caution also brought out the red flag for two minutes and 43 seconds.
Larson was deemed the leader after passing Allgaier on the first restart. The second caution would send the race in NASCAR Overtime. With NASCAR’s Overtime procedures, the race is deemed official when the leader crosses a pre-determined line on the first lap of overtime.
On the restart, Larson and Allgaier were battling for position and crossed the overtime line as three cars made contact towards the back of the field that would bring out the caution to end the race. Larson and Allgaier were in the third and fourth turn when the caution lights were illuminated.
However, as they were about to take the white flag, the caution flag was not waving. According to the NASCAR Rule Book, the race is deemed under caution when the lights are illuminated and/or the yellow flag is waving.
After the race, NASCAR would not allow anybody near T. Dillon to talk and Allgaier went up to a NASCAR Official to express his displeasure of how the race was handled in the end.
Once cooled down, Allgaier made comments to the media about the debacle in the closing laps.
“I wanted to punch and kick the side of the car once the race was over, but I felt like there were enough camera around that it might look goofy. I am frustrated, very frustrated actually. When you have these races, every scenario we could do something different and you could change the way you did it. You look back on it. It sucks. I just wish I could have done a few things differently. I wish other competitors would have done things differently. I think being that close to victory and having that dominant of a car with not really anything to show for it was probably the hardest part,” said Allgaier post-race.
While sitting under the red flag, Allgaier mentioned that his heart rate was 205 to 210 because of his frustration in the final laps.
Larson had a different approach and viewpoint to the final few laps in the race.
“I figured he (T. Dillon) would take off early. Ty got a little aggressive taking off too soon. This is kinda a tougher place to see where the zone starts because we are still turning when we get to the zone. It’s hard to see the zone start. He pushed early and definitely jumped a few feet and NASCAR made the right call,” said Larson of the restart that ultimately have him the victory.
After serving the penalty, T. Dillon ultimately finished in the 19th position.
Next up for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is the Sparks Energy 300 from Talladega Superspeedway.
As Brendan Gaughan’s career dwindles down, he admits that there are no regrets, even if he fails to win a NASCAR championship. In what could be his last season, this might be the best shot he’s had in a long time.
Gaughan is in his 20th season as a NASCAR driver, starting off in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as a crafty 21-year-old in 1997, when he ran one race for Walker Evans in the No. 20 machine at his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Since then, the Las Vegas native has raced his way up and down the top three national tours of NASCAR and has 10 career victories on his resume. But in 2016, as Gaughan puts it, he wants to lead Richard Childress Racing to the promise land.
Gaughan, now 40, is the “old guy” on the team that Richard Childress has assembled in the XFINITY Series. The other two members of RCR, Brandon Jones and Ty Dillon, have a combined average age of 22.5.
That’s not going to get in the way of Gaughan and want he wants to accomplish.
“The sport is all about the team you’ve got,” Gaughan told Speedway Digest. “You can definitely see that on the board. You see what teams have the best stuff. We’re not the best car right now, but that’s what is great about having this race team and I’m not concerned about it.”
Through 14 races in the 2016 season, the No. 62 car has a best finish of fifth at Talladega, with five other top-10 finishes. Currently, Gaughan sits sixth in the XFINITY Series points standings, 78 markers behind point’s leader Daniel Suarez.
The last time any of the three RCR drivers won a race in the XFINITY Series was 2014. However, Gaughan believes that the trio of full-time drivers for RCR will be among the championship favorites by the time the Chase rolls around. Being there for each other could separate RCR from other teams.
“Any time Brandon Jones or Ty Dillon need anything, I’m always more than happy to be there,” Gaughan said. “These kids nowadays race so much by the time they get here that it’s hard to say that they need much coaching.”
In his third year racing for RCR, Gaughan believes this is his best shot at the championship.
The tracks in the new Chase system are favorable to some drivers, Gaughan included. He runs well on the 1.5-mile racetracks, picking up one of his two-career wins at Kentucky Speedway. He has led 61 laps on the mile-and-a-half tracks, just under half of his 126 career laps led in the XFINITY Series.
Four of the seven races in the Chase are on 1.5-mile racetracks. Kentucky Speedway kicks off the Chase in late September, where Gaughan led a career-high 22 laps en route to his victory in 2014.
“I’m really happy with this new Chase format,” Gaughan said. “Even without it, we’re seventh in the points. We were only about two races out of a real striking distance in the old points system format. I really felt strongly coming into this year with the races that are in the Chase and with them adding the Chase format. It wasn’t just going to be strong for Richard Childress Racing, but myself.”
Since joining RCR, Gaughan has picked up the two solo victories of his XFINITY Series career. And though he wishes he had made the move earlier to the race team, he is in good company.
Determination is what has kept him going. Racing for Rusty Wallace Racing in 2009 and 2010 didn’t go as planned with a best championship finish of ninth. The move to RCR allowed him to instantly better that to eighth.
13 races have passed in 2016 and all three RCR cars are in the top six in points. The teams are said to be working closer than they ever had before and each driver can lean on each other for help. But for Gaughan personally, he knows what the No. 62 team needs to work on to get closer to winning races.
“We’ve got to hit these Happy Hour practices better,” Gaughan said. “We’re not good, but were not fine tuning that last little bit where we need to be. That’s what we are missing consistently from being top five and competing for wins. We’re consistently top 10, but were not consistently top five yet.”
Atop the No. 62 pit box sits veteran crew chief Shane Wilson. While compiling two victories in the Sprint Cup Series, the long-time RCR employee has 17 victories in the XFINITY Series, the last two coming with Gaughan.
This is the third season the duo has worked together and both years, they have finished in the top 10 in points. Winning those two races in 2014 and Gaughan having a career-high 14 top-10 finishes last year has the team confident going into the summer months.
Sitting comfortably in the points, 109 points above the Chase cutoff, the team can afford to take risks. In order to take that next step and win, the team needs to be near perfect, which started when they swapped rear tire changers with Austin Dillon’s Sprint Cup Series team. In order to be perfect, the driver and crew collectively need to put a full race together and not have a pit road penalty, loose tire, pit road speeding penalty, etc.
“We feel pretty strongly that we are going to make the Chase on points, but we want to win before we get there,” he continued. “Once we’re there, the races are very good for us. We’ve been doing a lot of engineering this year at racetracks. It’s been a lot of us practicing for the Chase and getting ready for it, trying to have our barrels loaded and our momentum swinging when that Chase hits.”
Gaughan prefers the Chase over other points systems. He likes the excitement that it has brought to the sport. The last two years the championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway has been among his favorites to watch, with all the drama unfolding.
“In this points system it is so difficult to make up points,” Gaughan said. “Now, with a Chase format all that goes out the window and really all you have to do is beat the guy for a couple weeks and anything can happen. I love this Chase format. It has actually prolonged my career.”
Joe Gibbs Racing has dominated the series this season, winning nine of the 13 races, including both XFINITY Series regulars Erik Jones and Suarez winning races this year.
With many questions regarding Gaughan’s future beyond this season, he has publicly said that RCR is the race team he is going to race for until he opts to retire. But he knows this is his best shot at a victory after a reset in points after every three races in the Chase.
Unlike the majority of XFIINTY Series regulars, excluding Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier, Gaughan has raced against drivers in the Chase. In 2004, he raced the full schedule for Team Penske in the Cup Series, the inaugural year of the playoffs. He finished 28th in the standings that year.
That was the only year that Gaughan had a full-time Cup Series deal. Since then, he’s competed in 14 events with RCR, The Racer’s Group, Phoenix Racing and Premium Motorsports.
As long as Gaughan is competitive, he wants to race for championships. Though this might be his best shot, he could have more opportunities in the future.
“If I can keep getting sponsors on the racecars and keep winning races and running up front and competing for championships, I want to be here,” Gaughan said of his future. “When I can’t, I don’t want to be here.”