Friday, Jul 01
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Michael McDowell and the Love's Travel Stops team have proved they are a winning threat at road course events. McDowell finished 13th at the event at the Circuit of the Americas and came back to qualify fourth and finish third at the most recent road course race at the Sonoma Raceway.

They have now raised the bar to getting to Victory Lane this weekend in Road America.

“At the beginning of the season, we didn’t know what to expect with this new car,” said McDowell. “At COTA, when we went into practice and qualifying, I was disappointed. We had missed it. But we can back in the race and learned a ton and finished OK. It gave us that base that really propelled us at Sonoma where we had an awesome weekend. We know the next two months are important and an opportunity to capitalize on these road courses. We do have an expectation to compete for wins, especially at a place like Road America.”

McDowell, coming off a thirteenth place finish in Nashville, is ready to return to a track where he has won before in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. With only six races left in the regular season, the team knows the time to capitalize is now.

"I don’t think we can pinpoint any specific race where we can for sure say that it is our race to win or lose, but we all know the time to make it happen is now,” commented McDowell. “We expect to run well and be in contention at all the remaining races. But based on history and performance, and my personal history, this weekend is our weekend to show off again.”

McDowell and his Love's Travel Stops Ford Mustang will race at Road America this Sunday, July 3 at 3:00 p.m. ET on the USA Network.

FRM PR

Marc-Antoine Camirand offered team Paillé Course//Racing its second straight victory, on Sunday, as the NASCAR Pinty’s series was at Eastbound International Speedway for its inaugural race in Newfoundland. Camirand dominated most of the Pro-Line 225, while his teammate Andrew Ranger showed great speed early in the race but suffered engine failure.

Both Paillé Course//Racing cars were very fast this weekend on the banked oval track in Avondale, NL. Although it was a new track for everybody, both cars were very fast from the beginning of the weekend. Due to inclement weather forecast, qualifying was canceled, and practice times were used to set the starting line-up for the Pro-Line 225. Andrew Ranger was third on the grid as Marc-Antoine Camirand scored the fifth place. The race was postponed to Sunday morning because of the rain.

Early in the race, both Paillé Course//Racing cars showed great speed, with both GM Paillé/Chevrolet Canada n°96 and n°27 Camaros running in the top three. Marc-Antoine Camirand took the lead at lap 87 and never looked back afterwards.

“We have shown that we can run up front since the beginning of the season, we came close a couple of times, but this time was our turn. I’m so happy for my team at Camirand Performance that has been working so hard. I couldn’t be prouder of them. I also couldn’t be thankful enough of GM Paillé who made that all possible,” said the driver of the GM Paillé/Chevrolet Canada n° 96 Camaro.

Camirand led 138 laps in the race, held off pressure from behind and finally won his first victory in 2022, his third in the NASCAR Pinty’s series. “I was careful at the beginning of the race, and I was saving my mechanic. I knew that my car was very fast on the long run, and it paid off,” explained Camirand, who sits at the top of the NASCAR Pinty’s point standings after four races.

His Paillé Course//Racing teammate Andrew Ranger was also very fast early in the race, battling for the lead after taking the start from third place. Unfortunately, he suffered an engine failure after 42 laps.

“I’m disappointed that we traveled from so far and that we were not able to show what the car was capable of, but it’s also part of racing. I’m primed to return strong to the Toronto Indy. I’m sure that we can come back really strong with my GM Paillé/Chevrolet Canada n° 27 Camaro.

Paillé Course//Racing, Marc-Antoine Camirand and Andrew Ranger will be back in action on July 15th, as the NASCAR Pinty’s series returns to the streets of Toronto as part of the Honda Indy event, after a 2-year hiatus due to COVID-19.

Marc-Antoine Camirand PR

Through a hot afternoon and a cool night, sunshine and starry skies, as well as intense action and long idle periods, one element remained constant on Sunday at Nashville Superspeedway: Chase Elliott is NASCAR's concrete-track master in 2022.

 

NASCAR's most popular driver survived a late restart to win the Ally 400 NASCAR Cup Series race, bringing a close to a thrilling weekend at Middle Tennessee's home for racing and entertainment.

 

Elliott, driving the No. 9 Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports, led 42 of the race's 300 laps, stayed on the track with nine other drivers during the final caution period with less than 10 laps left, and remained on top during the final four green-flag laps.

 

"So proud of our team," Elliott said. "It was a long, fun day. It's nice to get going in the right direction. I'm looking forward to that guitar [trophy]."

 

It is Elliott's second victory of the season, with the first coming at Dover Motor Speedway, another concrete track, in May.

 

Elliott, 26, who has 15 career Cup Series victories, topped Kurt Busch to the checkered flag by 0.551 seconds. Ryan Blaney placed third, defending race champion Kyle Larson was fourth and Ross Chastain was fifth.

 

Busch, Blaney and Larson were three of the nine drivers aside from Elliott to stay on the track after a late caution flag on Lap 293 led to a decision for every team on whether to maintain track position or come in for fresh tires and adjustments.

 

"We were going to stay out no matter what, and I needed to start throwing fenders to move people around," Busch said. "I didn’t get after it, and I made too many mistakes."

 

Elliott's crew chief, Alan Gustafson, credited the buffer those nine cars built between his driver and those with new tires as a key for Elliott's win.

 

Elliott was eighth after the first stage and fourth after the second but didn't come close to the lead until the latter laps of the final segment.

 

Martin Truex Jr. nabbed the two early stage wins and his five stage victories top the Cup Series but he was one of several drivers to visit pit road in the final caution period and ended up 22nd after leading 82 laps.

 

Kyle Busch, who was running second to Elliott when the final caution waved also came in but finished 21st after leading 54 laps.

 

Both early segments included lengthy red-flag conditions for lightning (Stage 1 and 2) and heavy rain (Stage 2) which totaled more than three hours of delays. The first red flag came after 41 laps were registered and the second came after 139 circuits were in the books.

 

Denny Hamlin, the pole winner, was second in both stages, led a race-high 114 laps and finished sixth.

 

"We didn't want to see that late caution come out," Elliott said. "We were able to hold them off. This is big to win here at Nashville. It's pretty special. I always try to enjoy these moments because you never know when you're going to get another one."

 

In other notable finishes, Cup Series rookie Austin Cindric was seventh, Joey Logano led four laps and finished ninth and Cole Custer was the final driver on the lead lap in 26th.

 

Elliott, who leads the series standings by 30 points over Chastain, averaged 111.22 mph in completing the 400-mile event in 3 hours, 35 minutes and 15 seconds (not counting red-flag time). Seven leaders exchanged the lead 18 times and 10 caution periods took up 57 laps.

 

FOLLOW US:

Keep track of all of Nashville Superspeedway’s events by following on Twitter and Instagram or become a Facebook fan.

 

NSS PR

Fr8Auctions is expanding its partnership with Atlanta Motor Speedway to sponsor the inaugural Revs & Riffs Music Festival Presented by Fr8Auctions.com July 8-10.

The music festival will run concurrently with the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart NASCAR weekend and include concerts by Flo Rida, Candlebox, and Georgia’s own Blackberry Smoke along with a variety of supporting acts around the speedway.

Fr8Auctions has been a partner of Atlanta Motor Speedway since 2021 when it became the entitlement partner of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at the speedway. Its sponsorship of Revs & Riffs comes as part of an expanded presence for Fr8Auctions during Atlanta’s summer NASCAR weekend, including sponsorship of Friday night’s Laps for Charity benefiting Speedway Children’s Charities Atlanta and a robust presence in the AMS Fan Zone.

“Marcus Barela and the Fr8Auctions team are incredible partners and stewards of the race weekend experience at Atlanta Motor Speedway,” said AMS Executive Vice President and General Manager Brandon Hutchison. “They continue to up the ante helping us maximize the entertainment value for race fans. We can’t wait to get our summer NASCAR weekend started so our fans can enjoy everything we have in store.”

“Fr8Auctions is thrilled to be part of the second action-packed weekend of racing and entertainment at the newly revamped Atlanta Motor Speedway,” said Fr8Auctions founder Marcus Barela. “Whether you’re driving your own car on the track during Laps For Charity, checking out the attractions in the Fan Zone, or singing along to the concerts around the track, there’s a ton of fun to be had for the whole family and Fr8Auctions will be there to enhance the experience!”

The Atlanta-based firm helps sell excess, discontinued, or damaged inventory outside traditional distribution channels. During the race weekend Fr8Auctions will be educating guests who visit its display in the Fan Zone on how they can get involved and gain independence by starting their own business.

“Our incredible merchandise and selection is the standard of the asset recovery industry,” said Barela. “Our new buyer orientation and buyer mentorship process will give interested individuals the tools they need to get started or take their business to the next level.”

To get more information on Revs & Riffs or purchase tickets and camping accommodations for the Quaker State 400 Presented by Walmart NASCAR weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway July 8-10, visit AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com or call 877-9-AMS-TIX.

AMS PR

Another six-race-week is on the docket for the third week of competition in the 37th DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour.

 

Loaded with annual staple venues and the return of some old favorites, the Late Models and DIRTcar Summit Racing Equipment Modified Nationals competitors will be tested with a variety of track sizes and rigorous travel schedule over the next six days.

 

Multi-State Week schedule

Tuesday, June 28 – Red Hill Raceway (Sumner, IL)
Wednesday, June 29 – Benton Speedway (Benton, MO)
Thursday, June 30 – Fayette County Speedway (Brownstown, IL)
Friday, July 1 – Paducah International Raceway (Paducah, KY)
Saturday, July 2 – Clarksville Speedway (Clarksville, TN)
Sunday, July 3 – Lincoln Speedway (Lincoln, IL)

 

Tickets for each event will be available at the gates on race day. If you can’t make it to your favorite track, watch all the action live on DIRTVision – online at DIRTVision.com or with the DIRTVision mobile app.

 

Here are the drivers to watch for and the storylines to follow this week:

 

POINTS TAKE SHAPE – After eleven-straight races through the first two weeks, four-time and reigning Summer Nationals Late Model champion Bobby Pierce maintains a 90-point lead in the standings over Jason Feger. Pierce, of Oakwood, IL, skipped the World of Outlaws CASE Construction Equipment Late Model Series’ appearance Sunday night at Jacksonville Speedway to prepare for the upcoming Multi-Sate Week, indicating a potential run for his fifth tour championship.

 

Jason Feger, of Bloomington, IL, has taken over second in points after posting one of his best finishes of the season Saturday against the Outlaws at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55, chasing winner Dennis Erb Jr. for most of the 55-lap finale before Pierce passed him late. Ryan Unzicker, of El Paso, IL, has dropped to third in points, most recently passing 14 cars in his drive from 23rd to ninth against the World of Outlaws Saturday night in Pevely. Both drivers are projected to be on the roster during Multi-State Week.

 

Fellow four-time Summer Nationals champion Brian Shirley boosted himself to fourth in points after notching back-to-back victories, starting with the Illinois-Iowa Week closer at Sycamore Speedway on June 19 and winning again two nights later at Missouri’s Springfield Raceway. Shirley, of Chatham, IL, and the Bob Cullen Racing team are expected to be in attendance throughout Multi-State Week.

 

COOLING OFF – For the first time since September 2020, Nick Hoffman has finished second or worse in two consecutive Summit Modified Features.

 

The four-time and defending champion from Mooresville, NC, was bested by winner Rick Conoyer and runner-up Will Krup in Friday’s portion of the St. Louis Firecracker Faceoff at I-55 and broke a camshaft in the engine while coming to the checkered on Saturday, leaving him with a DNF in 16th-place.

 

However, he still holds a giant lead in the standings, 131 points ahead of second-place Kyle Steffens. With seven wins in nine starts, he’s now only five wins away from maxing-out his win total for the fourth-straight year, as only a driver’s best 12 finishes are taken into account in championship points.

 

GUESS WHO’S BACK – He’s been out of action for the past three seasons, but this week, National Dirt Late Model Hall-of-Famer Terry English returns to the seat of a DIRTcar Late Model this Friday and Saturday night.

 

Terry, the 2002 DIRTcar Late Model national champion and father to 2021 Hell Tour regular Tanner English, will pilot a 2016 Rocket XR1 Chassis in the Summer Nationals shows at the newly reopened Paducah International Raceway (July 1) and Clarksville Speedway (July 2). The car has sat in their Benton, KY, shop since Tanner competed with it in the 2019 Gateway Dirt Nationals but has since been revitalized and adorned with Terry’s famed No. 96 decal on the door panels.

 

Terry has five Summer Nationals victories to his credit – his most recent coming at Illinois’ Highland Speedway on June 17, 2008.

 

OLD FRIEND – This week, the Summer Nationals will see a familiar face return to the Late Model roster.

 

2021 DIRTcar Late Model Rookie of the Year Ashton Winger, of Hampton, GA, is expected to start his week with the Summer Nationals Tuesday at Red Hill Raceway and follow it up with a visit to Benton Speedway in Missouri on Wednesday.

 

Winger completed the entire 2021 Hell Tour schedule with his own equipment but will bring the G.R. Smith-owned Gambler Transport Motorsports Rocket XR1 #89 to the track this week – a car he’s been at the controls of since the racing season began in January.

 

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW – Three of the six tracks on the docket this week have not hosted a Summer Nationals race in at least nine years.

 

Red Hill Raceway’s grand re-opening takes place this Tuesday, June 28, with the Summer Nationals and Summit Modified stars in attendance at the revived facility in Sumner, IL. No race car of any type has graced the dirt of the 3/8-mile oval since the last time it hosted competition in 2004 (officially closed in 2005), but Midwest racing promoter Jeremy Sneed has since purchased the property and put life back in it, now ready for its first Summer Nationals show since 2000.

 

Benton Speedway in Benton, MO, sat dormant from 2014 until last fall, when owner Rob Russell reopened the property for racing once again. The Late Models are scheduled to make their first appearance at 3/8-mile oval for the first time since 1997 on Wednesday, June 29, while the Modifieds will make their debut.

 

Paducah International Raceway in Paducah, KY, hosted a Summer Nationals event every year from 1996-2013. The half-mile oval was later closed in 2016 and again in 2018 but has since reopened under new owners Adam and Brittany Elliot, who have breathed new life and a weekly racing program back into the track. The track is set to host its 19th Summer Nationals event and fourth Summit Modified event this Friday, July 1.

 

DIRTcar Series PR

Each summer, the quarter-mile of Charlotte Motor Speedway is flooded with the very best Legend Cars and Bandolero for the Cook Out Summer Shootout, where drivers from all over the country and around the world test their mettle against the toughest grassroots racing competition. One of those drivers, 18-year-old Boston Reid & Co. Legends Pro division’s Justice Calabro, is a shootout regular, but the California native’s path to America’s Home for Racing has been anything but normal.

His route to the track began with the movie, Herbie Fully Loaded. Calabro quickly fell in love with the idea of driving and being behind the wheel of a car.

He first got a taste of racing at an indoor go-kart track. At the age of 14, Calabro got behind the wheel of his first Legend Car when he participated in a driving school near the speedway. Like something out of the movies, his raw, unpolished skill impressed the Stillwell Racing team, earning him a spot to race against some of the sport’s best drivers. But in order to chase racing glory, he first had to make the move to North Carolina.

Calabro and his family made the decision to pursue his dream of racing and moved from California to Charlotte.

“My mom, dad, grandma, grandpa and myself all packed up and moved away from California,” Calabro said. “My parents left their jobs and their whole lives behind so that I could come out here and pursue racing.”

Calabro got his first victory in the Legend’s Young Lions division of the 2019 Winter Heat at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

So far this Cook Out Summer Shootout season, the No. 25 Legends car for the Boston Reid & Company Pro division has seen success in each round, improving his finishing position each round, including a sixth-place finish last week.

“I would say it has been a fruitful journey so far,” said Calabro.

This is Calabro’s fourth summer racing the Cook Out Summer Shootout. The excitement continues this Tuesday, with “Awful Night.” It will be a night of great racing, a “celebrity” autograph session, silly shenanigans, a forgettable t-shirt toss making it an all-around “awful” night.

TICKETS:

Cook Out Summer Shootout continues Tuesday, June 28. Entry is $10 for adults; $5 entry for anyone named Karen; kids 12 and under are FREE. Tickets can be purchased at the gate or online at www.charlottemotorspeedway.com/tickets.

KEEP TRACK:

Follow all the thrilling CookOut Summer Shootout action using the hashtag #WeCreateLegends. Connect with Charlotte Motor Speedway on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

CMS PR

Ally 400

 

AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Gold Fish Casino Slots Camaro ZL1

Start: 14th

Stage 1 Finish: 15th

Stage 2 Finish: 12th

Finish: 19th

“Nashville was a challenge. Our No. 16 Gold Fish Casino Slots Camaro showed some good speed, and we drove up to the top 10. Unfortunately, we struggled with some of the same issues we had all weekend. We had a list of things to try on pit road to make it better, but we couldn’t quite get a grasp on it. We will take everything we learned and build on our notebook for next time. Road America should hopefully be a good place for our team to keep moving in a positive direction.”

 

- AJ Allmendinger

 

Justin Haley, No. 31 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Camaro ZL1

Start: 21st

Stage 1 Finish: 26th

Stage 2 Finish: 15th

Finish: 23rd

 

"We fought a tight car all day. We made some gains on pit road, but it was not the best day for us collectively. We have some work to do as a team, but we will move on to Road America."

 

- Justin Haley

Tennessee Lottery 250

 

AJ Allmendinger, No. 16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevrolet

Start: 2nd

Stage 1 finish: 4th

Stage 2 finish: 11th

Finish: 16th

“We had a promising day with a fast No. 16 Nutrien Ag Solutions Chevy. We overcame a speeding penalty, made gains on pit road and were on track for a solid finish. Unfortunately our tire strategy just didn’t work out in our favor. We took a gamble but didn’t get the finish we were hoping for.”

- AJ Allmendinger

 

Daniel Hemric, No. 11 Cirkul Chevrolet

Start: 10th

Stage 1 finish: 12th

Stage 2 finish: 16th

Finish: 17th

 

 

"Kaulig Racing has been working hard trying to find the right direction to advance our program forward, and we took some pretty big swings this weekend. We fought the same subtle things we’ve fought all year. Obviously, we still have some work to do. Our strategy didn’t pan out, and we didn’t get the finish we deserve. We will carry on to next week.”

 

 

- Daniel Hemric

 

Landon Cassill, No. 10 Voyager Chevrolet

Start: 12th

Stage 1 finish: 13th

Stage 2 finish: 18th

Finish: 18th

"I really liked our strategy, but it just didn’t work out. I felt like the way last run was going, there was potential for cautions with 15 or 20 laps to go. With new tires we would have had a really good advantage, and undoubtedly, would have had a top-five finish. It just didn’t work out our favor.”

 

 

- Landon Cassill

Kaulig Racing PR

The long-awaited revival of North Wilkesboro Speedway later this year will include the Solid Rock Carriers CARS Tour.

Wrapping up a busy August at the historic track will be a Late Model Stock Car race sanctioned by the CARS Tour, in which the series regulars and a few other notable names will battle it out for the opportunity to add a North Wilkesboro victory to their resume.

Planning out a race at North Wilkesboro has been a long, meticulous process for CARS Tour owner Jack McNelly and director of operations Keeley Dubensky. Now that all the details have been sorted with XR Events CEO Barry Braun, Dubensky is eager to see drivers on track for what she believes will be one of the most storied events in the history of Late Model Stock Car competition.

“We are overwhelmed with the amount of support from our competitors and fans,” Dubensky said. “The nostalgia and excitement surrounding this event speaks for itself. I’m excited to introduce Barry and his team to our Late Model Stock program and put our heads together to create something special for everyone to enjoy and remember for years to come.”

The inaugural visit to North Wilkesboro for the CARS LMSC Tour will count towards the championship.

A full entry list of 30 cars has already been established for the feature, but the actual race structure has yet to be determined. Dubensky added that the starting grid could be expanded to include 38 cars but doing so would reduce the number of laps from 125 to 75 to conserve tires.

The CARS LMSC Tour drivers automatically locked into North Wilkesboro include every Touring 12 member as well as those who have competed in all six races so far. Positions in the field have also been secured by a handful of outsiders, whose inclusion will be announced within the next couple of months.

On-track activities for the CARS LMSC Tour are going to take place over the course of two days. Details on the schedule are still being finalized, but Dubensky would prefer to have practice and qualifying during the day on Aug. 30 prior to holding the feature on Aug. 31.

Simply making plans for a race at North Wilkesboro was something that McNelly thought to be impossible just a couple of years ago. He is grateful for all the strenuous effort put in by XR Events to make the event happen and is ready to see how the track races after a decade of being dormant.

“We’re looking forward to being an integral part of this event,” McNelly said. “We’re eager to work with XR Events and all of us are excited to showcase our series and its competitors on a big stage.”

Dubensky and McNelly intend to iron out a full plan for the CARS LMSC Tour race with Braun, who is excited to have the series on an itinerary that includes races for Touring Modifieds, the CRA Super Series and the Super Cup Stock Car Series.

With the old pavement at North Wilkesboro set to be removed in September, Braun said that ending the month with a CARS LMSC Tour race is an appropriate way to honor the history of the facility while simultaneously ushering in a new era for racing.

“The CARS Tour at North Wilkesboro will be the perfect fit to wrap up the pavement racing month,” Braun said. “It is a perfect mix of grassroots racing and legends to cap the revitalization of this historic track.”

Anticipation will only build for the CARS LMSC Tour’s first visit to North Wilkesboro ahead of the green flag, which will fly on a talented field of drivers on Aug. 31 at approximately 7 p.m..

For more information on the CARS Late Model Stock Tour and the CARS Pro Late Model Tour, visit www.carsracingtour.com. Be sure to stay active and social with the tour by liking “CARS Tour” on Facebook, following @CARSTour on Twitter and scrolling through photos on Instagram cars_tour.

Additional series information can be obtained by calling the CARS Tour series office, located in Mooresville, NC, at 704.662.9212.

CARS Tour PR

Race Notes:

- Daniel Dye returned to Elko Speedway on Saturday for the ARCA Menards Series, Menards 250.

- Dye started the 250-lap event in fourth and ran inside the top four almost the entire event.

- Daniel brought the Martech Services Company No. 43 Chevrolet home in the fifth position.

DD Quote:

"Elko was another challenge for me tonight with our Martech Services Chevy. We had a fast car but just struggled to find the balance we needed from early to late in the runs. I can't thank everyone at GMS enough for their hard work today and to the Martech group for coming to the track and showing so much support."

Next:

Florida Sunbelt Series Race 3
Clyde Hart Memorial 100
Saturday, July 2, 2022
New Symrna Speedway
New Symrna Beach, FL
(No live coverage)

Daniel Dye PR

THE MODERATOR: We're now going to roll into our post-race press conference here at Nashville Superspeedway, and we've been joined by today's winning crew chief Alan Gustafson for today's Ally 400. Alan, before we roll straight into questions, it has been a long day. From a crew chief standpoint you guys had a lot of things to navigate, from lightning holds to actual rain and red flags and then just the racing part of it. Just from your seat today, tell us a little bit about what that looked like before having the opportunity to celebrate with your team in Victory Lane.

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I think for us we were super optimistic coming in. We had a pretty good car on Friday practice and qualified decent and had some track position. I felt good about it and didn't start the race very good, and the car wasn't driving great.

I had a lot of work to do and started to work on the car, then had a pit stop issue which kind of got us behind but ultimately helped because we had an opportunity to work on the car a little bit more and from then on I think the car was in a good position and driving really well so we were able to make up ground.

The rain delays and lightning delays, certainly there's nothing we can do about that. We just had to work through it and stay focused and use that to our advantage to have a plan to move forward and execute.

Yeah, once we got back through that rain, our car was really good and competitive, and we executed well.

I think from then on, it was kind of the tale of two races for us. We were the Bad News Bears at the start and then at the end we got it right and were really good.

Q. My question is with the tire wear, how did it wear comparing the day part of the race to the night part of the race, and how much did that influence your call to stay out for Elliott?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, the tire wear wasn't really an issue for us. Our tire wear was good. The falloff was less certainly at night. You could see the lap time falloff was less, and that played into the end.

I think regardless in that circumstance, we were probably going to stay out, but certainly the fact that the falloff was less as the track cooled down contributed some.

Q. What was the penalty for?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Did we get a penalty?

Q. That's what Chase keeps saying.

ALAN GUSTAFSON: No, I think we just went to the back on our own accord.

Q. You had a long -- made some changes on pit road?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Well, we had the potential loose wheel so we backed him up in the stall, tightened the wheel to make sure it was okay and obviously we were going to be at the back at that point in time so we came in and worked on the car a little bit more handling-wise, chassis-wise.

Q. He said you guys were able to make a lot of changes during the rain --

ALAN GUSTAFSON: We had changed -- I can't remember if -- I thought that pit stop issue was before the rain. It was before the rain. No, we had made all of our changes to that point, and then ultimately never got too much chance to show it. We went to the back and we were like 16th at the rain delay.

Q. So he's completely confused --

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, a little bit but we won't call him out too bad.

Q. So you guys stay out, all the guys racing for the win come in. Did the nine other guys staying out put the separation --

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Absolutely, yeah, that was the difference. I think the 18 for sure -- the 19 was really good. The 18 was really good. The 18 was really fast on the short runs, so if he lines up anywhere near us on new tires it's game over.

Yeah, he just -- my expectation was he wasn't going to get that close and I felt like there was going to be tough -- there typically is, there's enough chaos in front of you that you just can't go anyway, so that's what we were hoping for.

Ultimately there was -- I guess you said nine or whatever, ten, there were -- when I saw, there was four or five legit good cars, guys that weren't going to be easy to pass. When I saw that, I felt better.

You never know.

But then you can't just say, oh, Kyle. You've got to switch your focus to Kurt. He's no slouch; the guy is a great race car driver. He just won at Kansas, and that team has been doing really well. So you've got Kurt and you've got Kyle Larson and Ryan, all those guys super good drivers and good teams. Had to execute regardless.

Q. You get points in both stages, you get some more playoff points with the win. You're still in position of course to get the 15 for the regular season championship. What does this win do in moving towards that goal, other than not getting the stage wins you kind of got everything tonight.

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, that's the position we're in right now. I think most of the guys, whatever, the 12 certainly that have won are focusing on that. That's kind of the key now is to get as many playoff points as you can so you position yourself as best as possible when it reracks because anything can happen. There's still a lot of time between now and then.

We're obviously working to win every race, but when you're there, yeah, the points are -- points and playoff points are the focus.

Q. Is that a goal to the point where that's part of your strategy planning every week, or do you just stay on offense and just hope for the best?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I wish it was a bit more glamorous, but that's kind of what I try to do every week. If you're leading the points or wherever you're at, you're trying to win, and you're trying to win stages and you're trying to lead laps and have the best car possible.

Yeah, are we in a position to maybe take a few more gambles now than we would have if we were somebody else? Certainly, but I don't think it's significantly different.

Q. Alan, I don't mean to drudge up bad memories when you're kind of riding the high of a victory --

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Of course you don't. So let's not do it. Next. Are you going to ask me about Charlotte?

Q. Yes. So you know what the scenario was. Was that in the back of your mind when that caution came out and you had to make the decision whether to stay out and hope everyone else behind you -- hope enough other drivers stayed out and be able to stay out front or come in and risk everyone else staying out?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I mean, it's how you -- anything you do in life is based on your experiences, right, everything you do. So certainly that factors into the decisions I make. Unfortunately the bad ones are the ones that always get brought up, but all the good ones factor into my decision making process, too.

I don't know, did I think about Charlotte? Do I think about Charlotte? Do I get reminded about Charlotte? Yes, I do, unfortunately. Was it a huge influence on what we had to do here? Not really.

Q. Were there any other times in the past where you elected to stay out and it worked out? Just so we don't keep drudging up bad memories.

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, a lot of them. I can't think off the top of my head. Probably the coolest one was with Mark Martin at Loudon, whenever that was.

Q. 1832?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: I don't know, there's certainly ones that I've stayed out and won. I won a race with Kyle at Phoenix staying out, so yeah. I could go through the Rolodex here, but there's quite a few that's happened. I won Dover with Chase staying out. How about that one? We've got a few.

Q. There was a restart where Chase passed like five cars in half a lap. Can you give us your perspective on that?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I felt like that was kind of the moment in the race I was like, all right, we should win this race. Ultimately I didn't feel like we were going to pass the 19 -- sorry, 18 and 19 at the time on equal ground, so I wanted to get off sequence with them there, and when I did, not as many people pitted as I had hoped so we were a little bit further back, and he got back to what you're referencing, fourth or fifth, in no time. I was like, this gives us a huge advantage.

I think it's a testament to how good the 19 was. It really took us a long time to pass him, but then certainly we got past him, were able to track Kyle down in pretty quick order there. Yeah, that was a big deal. Restarts typically aren't our forte and our strength, and Chase did an amazing job of that, and that was really kind of the first indication -- I knew we were getting better, you just don't know how good you are because we weren't really in the best track position, and that was the first indication, I was like, all right, this thing is pretty good.

Q. Chase isn't really known for that kind of aggression. Did that take your breath away a little bit?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: As far as, yeah, you're like, here we go. Like you said, he's not conservative at all, but he's just a guy, he's a very calculated driver and doesn't put himself in bad positions. When I knew he had that much confidence in the car, then I knew it was that good.

Q. I know you've talked about points, but this gives you 13 playoff points and you're tied with Byron and Chastain now for first, which I know is -- you've still got nine races to go in the regular season, but where does that position you? Does it give you some confidence for the championship hunt?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I just think it's too early. Look, it's good. You want to be the best at everything. You want to be the first in all the metrics that matter, and certainly that's what we strive to do. But it's just early. It's just a long way to go. I don't know that the landscape is right now how it's going to be. We've just got to keep winning, accumulating points and put ourselves in the position to score as many points as possible and try to win the regular season and just stack them up. You don't know. Certainly the Gibbs cars have been running a lot better, and who knows where it's going to go in the future. We've just got to do everything we can to stay on top.

Q. I know it was in comparison to the fairgrounds when you had fears of a snoozefest here. What kind of racing do you feel like this track has given you guys, and was tonight exciting in that way?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: I like boring races that we lead every lap, so I'm probably the wrong guy to ask. That's up to you guys to decide. I want to make it as boring as I possibly can.

Q. There's been so much talk about this car can go to widely variant types of tracks compared to what you guys used to do. Obviously you won at Dover, you win here at concrete. Was this the same car? Were things able to carry over or was this a car that was run on the Bristol dirt or something?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: I have no idea to be honest with you. I don't know. They're all -- we don't look at them the way we used to and categorize them for certain types of tracks. It very well could have raced anywhere. I have no idea.

Q. Do you feel you are -- where do you feel you are in understanding this car and able to calculate what to do in terms of adjustments or look ahead as opposed to just trying to react?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Yeah, I mean, it's still early. We're still learning things. I feel like we came here with a little bit different philosophy from what we've been running. We had the off weekend to kind of work through it, so this isn't our typical package. It's slightly different. It's fairly different from Dover. I don't know if it was better or worse, but it ran well.

Yeah, I think everybody -- my fear is everybody, there's not a ton of adjustment in the car, so everybody is going to kind of drive down into the bottom right corner. It's just eventually everybody is going to get to a very, very similar place through experience and guys that are good at what they do.

I don't know that we've tapped everything, all the opportunity to get the car to drive good or get an advantage, so we'll keep working on it, but I hope that we can keep opening up new ways to get performance out of the car, because if not I think everybody is going to get pretty close pretty quickly.

Q. Is it too early to see trends, or is everything just bouncing from week to week and nothing makes sense yet?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: Well, I think everybody can draw their own trend line they want to. To me it's not -- just like there was tonight, there's probably a legit pick your number, eight or so cars that can win the race, and the team that executes that the best and puts themselves in position at the end wins. I don't feel like there's really been a dominant car in a race all season really that I can think of.

Q. With the two long delays, how do you keep the team motivated and focused and the driver, as well?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: So the team, we just kind of came off a rough start, so everybody was pretty honed in. You just feel like you had just taken a beating so you were pretty much ready to avenge that.

For Chase, I felt like I needed to instill a little confidence in him that the car was improving and we were getting where we wanted to be. It didn't take much, but I talked to him a little bit and just said, hey, with the way the car is driving, the way the lap times are and as ground as we made, even the restart when we went to the back before the rain delay, we had made some pretty good ground. I was like, look, we've got a really good shot here. We've got to stay focused. He's pretty easy. It's not hard.

But yeah, I didn't want him to -- I know he's in the car and driving hard and things happen and it's super easy to get frustrated and super easy to think things are going to go bad, and where he's at obviously based on what he's talking about he doesn't know the whole story all the time.

I just wanted to make sure that he knew that hey, I was pretty confident we were going the right direction, we were going to be in position to do what we needed to do.

Q. He said on Friday he was saying how (indiscernible) uses his positive thinking --

ALAN GUSTAFSON: I love that. We talked about that a little bit today.

Q. He does not think he's a positive thinker, so how is it not hard for you to rebuild his confidence?

ALAN GUSTAFSON: I don't feel like I was rebuilding his confidence. I was just basically trying to say, hey, we're not going to screw it up anymore, go do your job. That was kind of it. So my philosophy as a crew chief has always been the same. My goal is to always make the driver the weak link. If he's the weak link, then I've done my job, the team has done their job.

With him it's not an easy thing to do because he's a pretty strong link and obviously other guys that I've worked with. So that's what I try to do. That was a little bit more of what I was describing is I was trying to say to him, hey -- the word I was going to use I'm not going to use. We're done messing up and we're going to get after it, so stick with us, bring your A game, all will be good.

THE MODERATOR: Alan, thank you for spending some time with us. We appreciate it. You are free to go.

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