BK facing turmoil?

Will BK Racing be around when it comes to the 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season? In recent weeks, the future of the organization is up in the air. Ryan Sieg was in the car at Michigan that was driven by Gray Gaulding. Alon Day, the first Israeli driver to compete in Cup, will replace Gaulding at Sonoma this weekend. Gaulding and Sieg went to social media last week before Michigan to discuss what is going on. At Dover, Sieg was in the car for Corey LaJoie

Over the past couple of weeks, the organization has also reorganized their crew chiefs. Randy Cox moved from the No. 83 team and take over duties as the No. 23 crew chief. Doug George has been named as crew chief for the No. 83 Toyota. Patrick Donahue was relieved from his duties as crew chief for Gaulding after Pocono.

BK Racing has been the joke of many fans and drivers alike because the organization tends to bring out a caution each week.

Ron Devine told "The Pit Stop" on the Speedway Digest Radio Network earlier in the year that they would remain consistent with two drivers throughout the season no matter what and use a third car, if needed, for a rotisserie of drivers.

BK Racing only has one charter in 2017. In 2016, they had two, but over the offseason sold the charter to Front Row Motorsports then leased out to TriStar Motorsports. Because of the charter setup, Front Row will either have to start a third team or sell the charter they acquired.

On the preliminary entry list, BK Racing only has the entry for Alon Day at Sonoma.

Truck count at Gateway

Only 30 trucks in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series made their way to Gateway Motorsports Park this past weekend. At Texas Motor Speedway, the truck count was 28.

When the Truck field is paired with the Cup Series, the field is at capacity or teams are being sent home from the event.

Many fans and media were worried about the truck count. However, it is going to be ok. Many standalone events do not have a high enough purse for many teams to even consider showing up. It would usually be cheaper for a team to sit out of an event that doesn't pay well, than to show up and wrecking the vehicle. 

GMS Moves to Cup?

News broke early Saturday evening that GMS Racing could potentially field a team in the Cup Series. According to a report by Motorsport.com, that decision couple come within the next month.

This move would be welcomes as the Cup field has struggled to have 40 or more cars arrive at every single race. Although NASCAR deems a full field as 36, it is concerning that only a couple of "open" teams show up on a given weekend.

Last week, GMS Racing hired on Mike Ford to help run the Xfinity Series program. Ford was a Cup crew chief for Denny Hamlin and Bill Elliott resulting in 21 Cup wins.

With the lose of Stewart-Haas Racing, Chevrolet and Hendrick Motorsports lost a key player in the Cup series. The addition of GMS Racing would allow more information to be shared among teams at Chevrolet.

Because sponsorship and charters are crucial in Cup today, GMS and Maurice Gallagher are looking at running one car. However, if the move to Cup happens, the organization will use Spencer Gallagher for a test run.

It is also interesting to note that just a few short years ago, GMS Racing was a team that would be sent home for failing to qualify in Truck competition. Now, they are a power house in that series as well as a strong dark horse in the Xfinity series.

Standalones

It is a love hate relationship when it comes to standalone events in NASCAR’s top-three national divisions. In 2017, the Truck series will have a stand alone event at Texas, Gateway, Eldora, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, and Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The NASCAR Xfinity Series has standalone events at Kentucky, Iowa, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, and Road America.

In 2018, the Las Vegas Motor Speedway standalone for Trucks and the Xfinity standalone at Kentucky will be no more.

Standalone events have become more cost consuming for many teams. The Xfintiy Series has been called “Cup Lite” because of how many races they run with Cup. The viability of these series is contingent on the performance and presence of drivers in the Cup series.

The slogan for the Xfinity Series is “Names are Made Here”. That slogan is true in the fact that when an Xfinity regular is able to run alongside and compete against a Cup regular it shows that they can beat and compete against the “best of the best”.

The crowd at Gateway was one of the best that has been seen at a standalone event in quiet some time. However, not many Trucks arrived at Gateway.

NASCAR should look at potentially moving the Trucks away from contingent weekends with Cup and Xfinity, but look at ways to help promote the K&N Series at some of their own tracks. This could help NASCAR get reconnected with the grassroots of the sport, something that has been lost as NASCAR has become more corporate.

Debris cautions. 

Debris cautions have been a hot topic after the FireKeepers Casino 400 from Michigan International Speedway. The third to last caution was thrown for debris within the final 20 laps of the event. After that caution, the caution flag flew a total of two more times to do incidents on the restartL Tony Stewart went to Twitter to explain his frustrations:

NASCAR threw the caution for a trash bag on the racing surface, but did not throw the caution for debris due to a straw hat on the racing surface.

Scott Miller, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Racing Competition, went on SiriusXM’s “The Morning Drive” to discuss this situation.

"We use all the resources that we have to try to identity what it is that is out there - that being camera, turn spotters and the communication that we've got around the race track to different people who may be able to see it," Miller said.

"If we are actually able to identify what it is and feel like it's something that is OK to leave out there, then we'll do so. But if we can't identify what it is exactly and it could pose something dangerous, then we'll usually, or almost always, error on the side of caution and safety and put the caution out in those circumstances. Sometimes it's untimely and a little bit unfortunate, but we do have to do our job and make sure that everybody is safe."

NASCAR needs to work with its TV partners to show why the caution was flown for debris. This will help clear the air of the black helicopters that encompass debris cautions.

Since instituting the “crash damaged vehicle” policy in 2017, the number of cautions for debris is at 12, while the number of debris cautions in 2016 were at 21.

 

With varying strategies on pit road it was Johnny Sauter who was able to go to victory lane in the  Bar Harbor 200 from Dover International Speedway

“There’s just some days when you wake up and you don’t feel like it’s going to be your day and things don’t feel like they’re clicking,” said Sauter. “And I just felt like we were off a little all weekend. … It’s just a great day, an unbelievable effort.”

This is Sauter’s 14th career win, but his first ever victory from the Monster Mile. This is also his first win of the 2017 season. This was also Sauter’s first time leading laps at the track.

Sauter and his crew chief, Joe Sear Jr., stayed out 50 laps longer on older tires as many drivers went down pit road for tires and fuel. The GMS Racing team’s strategy played in their favor as they were able to grab the lead and stay there in the closing laps of the race.Although his tires were older than the drivers behind him, clean air still remained king.

Kaz Grala finished second after trying to chase down Sauter in the closing laps. Grala had fresher tires, but was unable to catch Sauter. Grala was close to battling for the lead, but came up short at the end.

Grant Enfinger finished third, Ben Rhodes finished fourth, Austin Cindric finished fifth, Brandon Jones finished sixth, Regan Smith finished seventh, Justin Hayley finished eighth, Noah Gragson finished ninth, and Ryan Truex rounded out the top-10.

Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is a trip to Texas Motor Speedway for the winstaronlinegaming.com 400. The race will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network on June 9th beginning at 8:00 p.m. EDT.

NCWTS Dover Preview

Thursday, Jun 01

After a weekend off, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series heads to Dover International Speedway for the 18th annual Bar Harbor 200 Presented by Sea Watch International. The race will have two 45 lap stages and a 110 lap final stage.

32 drivers arrived at Dover International Speedway to compete. There are no major Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers scheduled to compete on Friday afternoon.

There will be two names missing from the field. Timothy Peters and Brett Moffitt will not be in Dover following Red Horse Racing’s announcement that it would be suspending operations until sponsorship is found last week.

There have been 13 different pole winners. 14 different drivers have four their way into victory lane at Dover. Only three races have been won from the pole with Kyle Busch being the last driver to do so in 2014. In 2015, Ryan Blaney set the qualifying record at 158.465 mph. In 2006, Mark Martin set the race record at 120.200 mph.

In the only two practice session for teams, Noah Gragson was at the top of the board during both sessions.

Drivers are excited about returning to the “Monster Mile”.

"There is no other track we go to that you get the sensation, as a driver, that you get at Dover. It's definitely one of my favorite race tracks because you have a lot of tire fall off, and multiple grooves. As a race car driver you always want that ability to move around, and find more grip. Under green, the longer a run goes, the more you see it getting blacker and blacker, where we're laying down the rubber. Then you start moving around - getting out of the rubber, to find more grip,” said Matt Crafton. “When we get a caution, we're driving around on hot tires, picking up all the rubber. Then you take off on fresh tires - everyone is really fast on the bottom, then it starts getting black and slippery again, so you are searching for whiter concrete, for more grip. You are constantly chasing the race track."

“I am very excited to get behind the wheel and start my first NASCAR Camping World Series truck race at Dover. Anytime you can go to the racetrack with Kyle Busch Motorsports, you know you’re going to have a competitive truck. It gives me a lot of confidence going into the race and I can’t wait to get the weekend started,” said Todd Gilliland.

“I enjoy running Dover and I’m looking forward to getting in a truck there. I’ve raced there a few times in K&N and done well, so I’m comfortable with the track itself. The team has done a great job preparing me for what to expect each week and I’ve really used my teammates and their experience to try to get ahead before we ever get on track. We’ve learned a lot with each race, so we’ll look at this weekend as an opportunity to do the same and hope that we get a good finish out of it,” said Justin Haley.

Teams will qualify for the race at 2:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 2 and race at 5:30 p.m. EST. The race will be broadcasted on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.

CONCORD, N.C— With the announcement of the suspended operations of Red Horse Racing, Kyle Busch was adamant on Friday that things need to change in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) for it to be viable.

According to Busch, Kyle mentioned the it takes $3.2 million per season to run a fully competitive team in NCWTS, while advocating for reducing the costs.

“Our cost is 3.2. That's how much it takes to run a full operation of a truck team, and that number should be around 2, and how to get it lower, there's some engine talks I know and some body talks I know, but we're hitting it, but we're only hitting it about a half a million by doing that,” said Busch.

What is the biggest cost for teams? It is the people.

“Your biggest expense is your people, and that's where it all comes from. But as far as our model goes, it does work right now thanks to the support of Toyota, thanks to the support of the (Noah) Gragson with Switch, and the Myatt Snider’s and the Bubba Wallace's sponsors and Erik Jones' sponsors and the people like that that we've had over the course of the years that were able to make it all work.”

As Cup guys own teams in NCWTS, it is not about the money. There are many challenges for people like Busch and Brad Keselowski, who fields two teams in NCWTS.

“To really make it work and to drive your costs down, you have to have three teams, and even four teams makes it even better, but we're not to the point yet where we're ready to grow because we still need to develop our third team and make it a strong force to be reckoned with each and every week,” said Busch. “But once we get to four teams, people are mad at us because then we're too good, people can't beat us, whatever you want to say, so people are mad that we're overtaking the sport, which all we're trying to do is continue to help and build it, but there's a double‑edged sword in anything that I do anyways, so we just keep working on it, keep trying, and make it work as best we can for us."

With the 2018 schedule being released this week, people like Kevin Harvick have advocated that the NCWTS moves more to a “grassroots” schedule, something that the series was built on in its early inception.

"I would definitely enjoy that model of going back to those race tracks. Now again, how you accomplish that and how you get that done, that's for people a hell of a lot smarter than me to figure out, but I would certainly enjoy seeing the Truck Series go back to Tucson, or even around here, go to Motor Mile, go to some of these short tracks that you can put 10, 15, 20,000 people in the stands for an exciting truck race because in all honesty, that's the crowd count that you're getting at a mile‑and‑a‑half anyways, so pack the place, make it look good, and put on a good show for the fans and go back to some of the roots of short track racing that these drivers are coming up from, that the trucks came from, and Friday night shows, Saturday night shows, whatever it might be at some of these cool short tracks, and I think you'll put on a great show, you'll have the fans come out and support that. It's just how to make the model work. There's TV money involved, there's sanctioning agreements involved, there's all kind of too much behind‑the‑scenes BS that I'm not smart enough to figure out, but hopefully somebody can be smart enough to figure it out. Maybe this guy can figure that out,” said Busch.

The question was raised about if going to these smaller tracks would be a challenge and how would it work.

"Well, you just said it right there. If we make less money you're digging our grave, so the sanctioning agreements can't be for any less money, that's for sure. We actually need them to be for more. In order to cut our costs, we need to be able to make more money or compete for more money to race for more winnings. If you cut our winnings out, you might as well just say goodbye. You know, there's a problem in that fact right there, too. You know, it's just ‑‑ it's about trying to get the butts in the seats,” said Busch. “That's what matters most. If South Boston packed the place every single time and made money and NASCAR made money, the teams made money and all of us would still be going there, so there's obviously something that was missing, and I don't know what that was. But to figure that out and to be able to pack some of these short tracks and to put the trucks back on some of those standalone events, it's all about exciting moments, exciting racing, having some rooting and gouging, and it's probably worth having fights in the pits. That's what it all comes down to, and you know, we'll see if any of that happens."

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also chimed in about the importance of the truck series and XFINITY series.

“Yeah, we moved our Truck team up to the Xfinity Series to make another team there. When I was in the series we went to South Boston and places like that and I miss watching those races. They were great races. I don’t know if the business model works to be able to go back and undo everything we’ve done, but I’d rather tune-in and watch them run the beach or the fairgrounds. Man!  I’d love to go run a Xfinity race at the fairgrounds, in our cars. That would be at the top of my list if it was on the schedule,” said Earnhardt Jr. “I run Richmond and Bristol. That’s the only ones I’m running this year because that’s the only short track action you can find. But, the 1.5-miles just aren’t that fun. We run too many of them for it to be fun. We rarely run the short tracks. So, you try to get as much of that as you can. Not everybody is the same. This is just me talking. I don’t know if all the drivers like short tracks that much. But, I would certainly tune-in.”

Busch believes that the interest and sponsorship are just not there for the Trucks.

"I don't know what Brad's (Keselowski) scenario is. You'll have to ask him. I do believe that I have heard that he puts money in himself. I know that I put money in myself. You know, I wouldn't say that the model is working for us. I just think that we're content with the amount of money that we are spending,” said Busch. “That makes it worth our while. There just aren't any big sponsors. There aren't any Fortune 500 companies I think besides M&M's, Mars, with Pedigree now that's joining us with Todd Gilliland with Pedigree to be on our truck, and it's just not ‑‑ there's not enough people on TV, there's not enough people in the stands. The sponsorship just doesn't come. They just don't care, and that's the most frustrating part of it.”

After qualifying on Thursday night, Harvick expounded even more on the initial comments he made on his radio show "Happy Hours" on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

“I can’t walk anywhere and not have somebody talk to me about the Truck Series schedule.  I think it’s something that a lot of people want to say and haven’t said, but I think it’s definitely time to look at the grassroots sides of things and I think the Truck Series is a grassroots division.  If you could just for example take it somewhere like Nashville Speedway and pair it up with the All-American 400 and put the All-American 400 in Nashville back on the map with a Truck Series race with some SAFER barriers, get the city of Nashville involved and that’s just one race.  I think it would be very interesting and I feel like that regionally is a big touring race.  You go up to Oxford, Maine, but getting the TV to these cars and these local racers and these people and the enthusiasm that it brings to a local market, that’s what the Truck Series does," said Harvick. "When you look at Eldora and you look at the road race in Canada, you look at these one-off events and every one of them are well attended, every one of them are exciting and well attended.  We need events and I think it’s a great way to reinvest from the bottom up in different facilities and you could sit here and name a bunch of them, and what better way to show them you care than by putting soft walls up at the race track somehow and some way to get the cities involved and the race track and work on getting those sanctioning fees down and get them to places where they can knock the fenders off of each other and put on a great show, much like they do at Eldora.  I mean, it’s got 20-some thousand people there every time we show up and everybody loves watching on a Wednesday night.”

When asked how it works, Harvick quickly went on how TV funds most everything in today's world. 

TV money is still how everyone survives.  That’s the reason a lot of these race tracks take these Truck races now because the TV money went up, so there’s a reason that they want to keep them.  But there are ways to make all of this work.  Everybody doesn’t need to have their hand out, they need to be thinking from the bottom up and how do we make this better?," said Harvick. "You look at some of these historic, just really great short tracks across the country.  I’m not saying we need to take them from Daytona or Phoenix or some of these other places, but there are some places that they don’t need to be going and I think it would be interesting to revive the Copper Classic and start the season with the Trucks out there and see the sprint cars show back up and TV is gonna be there to cover it, so now you can film all these races and put these guys on TV.  All of a sudden there’s TV there and they can get better sponsorship, so there’s a lot of things that you could do and, like you say, it has to be something that everybody buys into that is worried about making money.”

What can be done? That is something NASCAR and teams are looking to fix.

CONCORD, N.C. — Surviving a late race restart with three laps to go, Kyle Busch was able to dominate the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 from Charlotte Motor Speedway to score his second victory of 2017. Busch swept all three stages during the event to score his seventh career victory in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition. Busch led 90 laps, the most among any drivers. This is his 48th career victory in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition.

 

“These guys pour their hearts and souls into these trucks and what we do (at KBM). It’s awesome to get back-to-back wins and get back to Victory Lane again,” Busch said in Victory Lane. “This is a true testament to everybody at Kyle Busch Motorsports. We’re all working as a cohesive group and the guys are doing a great job. It was challenging there in the middle section of the race – I didn’t know what was going on half the time. I’m proud of the whole team effort.”

 

After leading 22 laps, Johnny Sauter stayed towards the front of the field for majority of the race to score a second place finish, his best career finish at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

 

“It was a good night for us. This has been a place that I have typically struggled with in the past. We brought a different truck back. This is ‘Old Faithful’, a truck we had success last fall and this year. Our Chevy was phenomenal in that second stage. I called for an adjustment and I should’ve got more on that final pit stop. I felt like the track was going to go free like it always does, but it really didn’t do that for me. I needed more front grip. We executed the last restart pretty well to get a second place finish out of it,” said Sauter post-race.

 

After starting on the pole, Bell had a tire going down just three laps into the event. Bell went one lap down after hitting pit road, but was able to rally to finish third at Charlotte.

 

“I think we had a flat right rear – or left rear when we fired off. It was really really loose the first couple laps and then finally went down off of (turn) four there. All these guys on this SiriusXM Tundra did a great job of getting me back out there. I had a second-place truck. Ran third with it. That’s what’s frustrating. Glad my boss won, that’s cool. We’ll be back and stronger than ever at Dover,” said Bell post race.

 

Ryan Truex, Timothy Peters, Matt Crafton, Grant Enfinger, Ben Rhodes, Noah Gragson, and Parker Kligerman rounded out the top-10 in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200.

 

There were 10 different lead changes among eight different drivers. The caution flew nine times for 38 laps. The time of race was one hour, 49 minutes, and 32 seconds. Average speed for the race was 110.103 mph.

 

At track inspection is clear. The No. 24 truck of Justin Hayley failed heights in post-race inspection. Five trucks will be taken to the R&D Center including the 19, 45, 4, 24, and 16. Any penalties will be announced next week.

 

Sauter still holds the point lead over Bell by 15 points. Crafton is third only 51 points behind Sauter, Chase Briscoe is fourth only 71 points behind, and Rhodes rounds out the top-five only 72 points away from the leader.

 

Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the Bar Harbor 200 Presented by Sea Watch International from Dover International Speedway on June Second at 5:30 p.m. EST on Fox Sports 1 and Motor Racing Network.