Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Georgia native Jeff Foxworthy is bringing his popular comedy act to Atlanta Motor Speedway with a pre-race performance on Sunday, March 21.

Fans in attendance for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 will enjoy Foxworthy’s observations about the humor found in everyday life during his performance on the pre-race stage.

Admission to Foxworthy’s show is included with every grandstand ticket for the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500. Socially-distanced seats for Foxworthy’s performance and the race start at just $39.

Foxworthy, who is well known for his famous “You might be a redneck if” jokes, is one of the most respected and successful comedians in the country. He is the largest selling comedy-recording artist in history, a multiple Grammy Award nominee and best-selling author of more than 26 books.

For more information on the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 weekend and to purchase tickets, go to AtlantaMotorSpeedway.com.

AMS PR

ESI Equipment Inc. and Holmatro Rescue Tools have joined the South Boston Speedway family, with ESI Equipment Inc. being named The Official Rescue Tool Supplier of South Boston Speedway and Holmatro Rescue Tools being named The Official Rescue Tool of South Boston Speedway.

ESI Equipment Inc. is the new safety services provider for South Boston Speedway and will supply Holmatro Rescue Tools to South Boston Speedway.

ESI Equipment Inc. will be supplying South Boston Speedway with a Holmatro Rescue Tool System for on-track response to incidents. The Holmatro Rescue Tool System consists of a hydraulic Duo Power Unit running two tools at the same time, a 32-inch spreader, a five-inch cutter and hoses to operate both. These tools will be capable of handling the demands of the speedway’s safety crew in times of an emergency.

ESI President John Evans is delighted that South Boston Speedway accepted these products.

“ESI RaceTrack Safety Services is extremely glad to be able to partner with South Boston Speedway to provide much needed safety equipment,” Evans said.

“We are fortunate to be able to place a repurposed Holmatro Rescue Tool system that once protected the public at the speedway. These hydraulic rescue tools will now have a new purpose and new home on the track.”

The RaceTrack Safety Services branch of ESI Equipment Inc. works with many grassroots short tracks, both asphalt and dirt, large NASCAR tracks, and road courses where sportscar races are held. ESI Equipment Inc. supplies Holmatro Rescue Tools to Pocono Raceway, South Boston Speedway’s sister track.

“We are thrilled to welcome ESI Equipment Inc. to the South Boston Speedway family,” said South Boston Speedway Assistant General Manager Chase Brashears.

“Holmatro Rescue Equipment is an internationally reknowned brand in the rescue tools sector and they have a lot of experience in racetrack safety services. ESI has built a stellar motorsports program and our partnership with them, along with Holmatro, will elevate South Boston Speedway’s track services team to a new level.”

ESI Equipment Inc. was started by first responders that understand the challenges in fire, EMS, rescue, law enforcement and other entities. Made up of multiple divisions, ESI Equipment Inc. has served as a proven and reliable industry resource for 30 years. The company’s innovation and dedication make it the ultimate industry resource for specialized first responder products and services.

Holmatro Incorporated has a rich history of product development and innovation. The company is a known leader in manufacturing high-performance rescue tools and has over 40 years of experience manufacturing high-pressure hydraulic equipment.

Since 1990, Holmatro Incorporated has been the official rescue tool of America’s top open-wheel racing series. With the constant innovation and improvements in the construction of racecars throughout the country’s various racing series it is vital that track safety crews have rescue tools that can be used with the latest technology evolving in motorsports. Holmatro Incorporated’s involvement in motorsports helps keep it focused on the mission of improving its current products as well as developing new products and new solutions to the world of rescue.

South Boston Speedway will hold its annual Open Practice Day on Saturday, March 13. Practice begins at 10 a.m. and will conclude at 4 p.m.

“America’s Hometown Track” will kick off its 64th season of racing on Saturday, March 20 with the 2 p.m. running of the NASCAR Late Model Twin 75s racing program. Twin 75-lap races for the NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series Late Model Stock Car Division highlight the afternoon’s six-race card.

The latest news and updates about South Boston Speedway and its racing events can be found on the new South Boston Speedway website at www.southbostonspeedway.com and on the speedway’s social media channels. Fans can also subscribe for e-mail updates on the speedway’s website.

SBS PR

Furthering its innovative move to feature active NASCAR drivers as guest analysts in the FOX NASCAR broadcast booth, FOX Sports again has assembled an all-star cast of competitors for its 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race telecasts.

For Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (4:30 PM ET on FS1), Joey Logano and Kurt Busch have the call alongside play-by-play announcer Adam Alexander, with pit reporting by Jamie Little and Regan Smith. Austin Dillon calls Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas (9:00 PM ET on FS1) with Vince Welch and Michael Waltrip.

Beginning with the inaugural “Drivers Only” NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Pocono Raceway in 2017, FOX NASCAR has continued to pair active drivers with Alexander on a weekly basis. FOX Sports has furthered that effort with the addition of NASCAR drivers as guest analysts in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series booth with Welch and Waltrip. In all, FOX Sports features well more than a dozen NASCAR Cup Series drivers, former drivers or crew chiefs throughout the 2021 Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series seasons, with Tony Stewart, Drew Blickensderfer, Tyler Reddick and Daniel Suarez making their first analyst appearance. Additionally, FOX Sports’ “Drivers Only” telecast returns this season at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 29 (1:00 PM ET on FS1), with an on-air driver team to be announced in the near future.

FOX NASCAR driver analyst schedule for 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series:

 

Race Date

Race

Play-by-Play

Analyst or Driver Analyst*

Driver Analyst*

Network/Start Time (ET)

2/12

Daytona NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

Jamie McMurray

FS1/7:30 PM

2/13

Daytona NXS

Adam Alexander

Clint Bowyer

Tony Stewart

FS1/5:00 PM

2/19

Daytona RC NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

N/A

FS1/7:30 PM

2/20

Daytona RC NXS

Adam Alexander

Drew Blickensderfer

Joey Logano

FS1/5:00 PM

2/27

Miami NXS

Adam Alexander

Kurt Busch

Aric Almirola

FS1/4:30 PM

3/5

Las Vegas NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

Austin Dillon

FS1/9:00 PM

3/6

Las Vegas NXS

Adam Alexander

Joey Logano

Kurt Busch

FS1/4:30 PM

3/13

Phoenix NXS

Adam Alexander

Joey Logano

Daniel Suarez

FS1/5:30 PM

3/20

Atlanta NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

Ryan Blaney

FS1/2:30 PM

3/20

Atlanta NXS

Adam Alexander

Ryan Blaney

Tyler Reddick

FS1/5:00 PM

3/27

Bristol NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

Joey Logano

FS1/8:00 PM

4/9

Martinsville NXS

Adam Alexander

Ryan Blaney

Austin Dillon

FS1/8:00 PM

4/17

Richmond NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

TBD

FS1/1:30 PM

4/24

Talladega NXS

Adam Alexander

Joey Logano

TBD

FOX/4:00 PM

5/1

Kansas NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

TBD

FS1/7:30 PM

5/7

Darlington NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

TBD

FS1/7:30 PM

5/8

Darlington NXS

Adam Alexander

Kevin Harvick

Bubba Wallace

FS1/1:00 PM

5/15

Dover NXS

Adam Alexander

Brad Keselowski

TBD

FS1/1:30 PM

5/22

COTA NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

TBD

FS1/1:00 PM

5/22

COTA NXS

Adam Alexander

Bubba Wallace

TBD

FS1/4:00 PM

5/28

Charlotte NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

TBD

FS1/8:30 PM

5/29

Charlotte NXS “Drivers Only”

TBA

TBA

TBA

FS1/1:00 PM

6/5

Mid-Ohio NXS

Adam Alexander

Michael Waltrip

Jamie McMurray

FS1/1:00 PM

6/12

Texas NCWTS

Vince Welch

Michael Waltrip

Joey Logano

FS1/1:00 PM

6/12

Texas NXS

Adam Alexander

Joey Logano

Brad Keselowski

FS1/4:00 PM

*subject to change

 

Fox Sports PR

Darlington Raceway and Cook Out announce a multi-year extension on the entitlement for the famed Southern 500®. Cook Out, one of the fastest growing family-owned restaurant chains in the nation, will continue as the Official Quick Service Restaurant of Darlington Raceway. The official name of the first race of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs will remain the Cook Out Southern 500®.

“Cook Out is a brand that can match the fierce competition of the NASCAR Playoffs at the track Too Tough To Tame, and we are proud to welcome the Official Quick Service Restaurant of Darlington Raceway back for the 72nd running of the Cook Out Southern 500,” said Darlington President Kerry Tharp. “Cook Out has been serving their quality burgers and shakes across the south for over 30 years, so we look forward to continuing to grow our partnership at The Lady in Black.”

Cook Out will have a substantial presence with at-track signage this race season at Darlington Raceway.  As part of the partnership, Cook Out will have additional sponsorship rights with Darlington for point-of-sale, advertising collateral, in-market promotions, consumer sweepstakes and integrated digital campaigns. The brand will also become an official partner with NASCAR legacy track, Richmond Raceway.

“We are thankful and honored to renew our partnership with NASCAR and Darlington Raceway for the famed Cook Out Southern 500,” said Jeremy Reaves, CEO, Cook Out. “Our fans responded when we partnered with Darlington Raceway for last year’s Cook Out Southern 500, so we look forward to returning for another thrilling fun race in South Carolina!”

Since opening its first restaurant in Greensboro, N.C., Cook Out has been known for its fresh burgers, barbecue, hot dogs and shakes and Coca-Cola as part of the “best combos in town.” The restaurant chain has since grown to over 300 locations across 10 states (Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia).

To learn more about Cook Out and find the nearest location, visit cookout.com.

Darlington Raceway PR

Phoenix Raceway today announced that Instacart will serve as the title sponsor for the track’s NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday, March 14. The Instacart 500 will be the fifth Cup Series race in the 2021 season and a precursor to the series’ return to the Valley of the Sun for the NASCAR Championship Weekend, November 5-7.

“We’re proud to partner with Instacart for the first time with the upcoming Instacart 500 NASCAR Cup Series weekend,” said Phoenix Raceway President Julie Giese. “Instacart has provided a very important service to our communities over the last year and we’re honored to partner with them as we kick off the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series events at Phoenix Raceway.”

Instacart is the leading online grocery platform in North America, offering same-day delivery and pickup of groceries and household essentials to consumers in as fast as two hours. Featuring partnerships with nearly 600 beloved national, regional and local retailers, and delivering to consumers from 40,000 stores in more than 5,500 cities in the US and Canada, Instacart has become a lifeline for millions of customers, shoppers and partners across North America.

For more information about the Instacart 500 NASCAR Cup Series race weekend at Phoenix Raceway, please visit PhoenixRaceway.com.

Phoenix Raceway PR

Team Penske has announced an extension of its partnership with Carquest Auto Parts, the automotive parts retailer owned by Advance Auto Parts. Carquest will be featured this season as a partner on Team Penske’s NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) Ford Mustang driven by reigning series champion Austin Cindric.

Beginning this weekend, Carquest will serve as the primary sponsor of the No. 22 Ford for three NXS races in 2021. Cindric will race the Carquest Ford Mustang at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday and the No. 22 will proudly carry the Carquest colors at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 29 and at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 2 as well. Carquest will also race as an associate sponsor with Cindric and the No. 22 Ford throughout the 2021 Xfinity Series season.

“This is a spectacular opportunity for Carquest to partner with Team Penske and Austin Cindric, who is one of the brightest stars in racing,” said Junior Word, division president, Carquest North America. “Our Carquest independent owners closely identify with Team Penske’s long-standing commitment to excellence. Austin is already off to a great start this season, and we are excited to follow along as Austin and his team defend the championship.”

As they look to defend their title this season, Cindric and the No. 22 team are off to a strong start in 2021. Cindric won the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway last month and the No. 22 Ford Mustang currently leads the NXS point standings behind three top-five finishes to open the season.

“Carquest has such a rich history in NASCAR, and I’m proud to represent the brand and its independent owners this season,” said Cindric. “We look forward to having the Carquest red, white and blue on our Ford Mustang at three exciting tracks this year. Our team is more motivated than ever to get Carquest to victory lane in 2021.”

Cindric will race the No. 22 Carquest Ford Mustang in the Alsco Uniforms 300 at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 6 (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Team Penske PR

Seven-time Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher and longtime Indianapolis 500 broadcaster Paul Page comprise the 2021 class of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame.
 
Schumacher and Page were elected to the IMS Hall of Fame by the distinguished voting panel of 150 motorsports journalists, officials and living Hall of Fame members, chosen from a total of 14 nominees representing the Speedway’s diverse history as host to the Indianapolis 500, Brickyard 400 and, from 2000-2007, F1’s United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis.
 
Schumacher and Page will be honored and officially inducted at the 2021 IMS Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and Indianapolis 500 Oldtimers Dinner presented by Firestone on Thursday, May 27 at the Downtown Indianapolis Marriott.
 
Due to the cancellation of the 2020 induction ceremony, the 2020 IMS Hall of Fame inductees – legendary drivers Janet Guthrie and Dale Earnhardt – will be honored at the 2021 event.
 
Schumacher ranks as one of the world’s all-time greatest driving talents, having earned a record-seven F1 World Championships and holding F1 records in nearly every driver-related category during his career. 
 
Schumacher became the first German to win the F1 title in 1994, capturing eight wins with the Benetton team throughout the 16-race World Championship season. He repeated as World Champion in 1995 with Benetton, then moved to Ferrari for the start of 1996 and an era that would produce one of the most dominant driver-team combinations in motorsports.
 
After battling for the championship to the season finale in 1996, 1997 and 1998, Schumacher and Ferrari finished fifth in points in 1999 and then won five consecutive titles from 2000-04. The only other driver in F1 history to earn seven Driver Championships is Sir Lewis Hamilton, who accomplished the milestone in 2020 driving for Mercedes.
 
It was also during the 2000s that Schumacher won five of the eight United States Grands Prix contested at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, including the inaugural race in 2000 and four in a row from 2003-06. Schumacher finished second at the USGP in 2001-02 and earned a total of four pole positions at Indianapolis. 
 
Schumacher retired at the end of the 2006 season but announced a return with the Mercedes team for 2010. He drove three seasons for Mercedes, earning his 155th and final career podium at the 2012 Grand Prix of Europe at Valencia, Spain, and a total of 91 F1 victories.
 
Sadly, in December 2013 the champion driver sustained head injuries while skiing with his family in the French Alps. Schumacher fell and, despite wearing a helmet, suffered severe head injuries. He continues to recover from the accident at his home in Switzerland.
 
In May 2020, Formula One announced that Schumacher was named the most influential person in the sport’s 70-year history, based on fan voting.
 
Page’s voice is known to motorsports enthusiasts around the world. The Evansville, Indiana, native served as “The Voice of the 500,” or chief announcer, on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Radio Network for 13 years, and as television host and play-by-play voice for Indianapolis 500 coverage on ABC Sports an additional 16 years.
 
Page started his career in Indianapolis radio and joined WIBC-AM, the flagship station for the IMS Radio Network, in 1968. Page found a mentor in the legendary Sid Collins, “Voice of the 500” from 1952-76. Page joined the network’s Indianapolis 500 coverage team in 1974, and in the wake of Collins’ death in early May 1977, Page took over the chief announcer position and held it until 1987.
 
After a one-year stint as play-by-play announcer for NBC Sports’ coverage of the CART series, plus NASCAR, Formula 1 and NHRA drag racing, Page moved to ABC Sports’ Indianapolis 500 broadcast team in 1988.
 
He anchored what was one of the most entertaining booths in motorsports broadcast history, sharing it with former drivers Bobby Unser and Sam Posey.
 
Page covered a variety of events for ABC and ESPN until 2012, including INDYCAR racing, CART and NHRA drag racing coverage – even the annual Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest.
 
He returned to the IMS Radio Network as “Voice of the 500” in 2014-15 and co-hosted the broadcast of the 100th Indianapolis 500 in 2016 with Mark Jaynes, who took over as the “voice” in 2017 and remains the chief announcer.
 
The Schumacher Collection: The Schumacher family invites fans to take a journey through Michael’s incredible career by visiting the Michael Schumacher Private Collection online: https://www.privatecollection.ms/.
 
IMS Museum PR

 The newly formed joint-venture between Federico Monti’s Academy Motorsport and Alex Caffi Motorsport with technical support from Race Art Technology found its top driver. Former Formula 1 World Champion and Indy 500 champion Jacques Villeneuve will pilot the #5 EuroNASCAR FJ and chase the 2021 NASCAR Whelen Euro Series title. 

Having come very close to winning his first NASCAR race several times in the last two seasons, Villeneuve is poised to finally break through and contend for the EuroNASCAR title. The Canadian boasts four podium finishes, six top-5s and nine top-10s in 15 starts in EuroNASCAR PRO. 

“I am super excited to enter this season with a brand new team and the great enthusiasm everyone is showing. Federico and Alex bring the perfect mix of positive attitude, experience and knowledge we need to hit the ground running with this new project,” said Villeneuve. “I’m confident we have what it takes to go for the win in every race of the 2021 NWES season.”

For team co-owner Federico Monti, who took his first steps in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series by finishing second in the 2020 Club Challenge, having Villeneuve in the team is simply a dream come true. 

“It’s a matter of heart and passion. I was a great fan of Jacques’ father Gilles. When he passed I was 10 years old and I wrote a letter to Jacques’ mother telling her I was dreaming of a Villeneuve being World Champion one day. Jacques not only became World Champion but he also became a very special and unique driver to me, because of the way he drove and his attitude outside the car,” said Monti. “He’s the only non-Ferrari driver I ever rooted for and giving him the opportunity to chase a NASCAR title is just incredible. I really think that together with Alex Caffi and with the support of Race Art Technology, we can do something special and I want to thank everyone involved. We are putting all our efforts into this new adventure.”

The Villeneuve signing will also mark a new milestone for the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series. For the first time in the series history, two former Formula 1 competitors will team up in EuroNASCAR: Alex Caffi as team owner and Jacques Villeneuve as a driver. 

“I’m extremely happy. It’s fantastic to have a Formula 1 World Champion with us. As I said in previous occasions, this partnership with Federico Monti and Academy Motorsport is really taking our project to the next level. Thanks to this joint-venture, we will finally challenge for the EuroNASCAR PRO title with Jacques, but we can also have our say in all NWES championships, from the EuroNASCAR 2 with Vladimiros to the Club Challenge with Federico himself. I can’t wait to get started, the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series reached a very high level of competitiveness in the last few years and it’s fantastic to take this further step forward.”

The partnership between Academy Motorsport and Alex Caffi Motorsport is working on fielding up to three full-time cars this year and pre-season tests will start in the upcoming weeks to prepare the May 15-16 season opener at Valencia, Spain.

NWES PR

After three consecutive weekends in Florida to begin the season, the NASCAR Cup and Camping World Truck Series are off to Nevada and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
 
It will be the first of two consecutive weekends on the west coast for Front Row Motorsports (FRM). The goal is simple and clear- continue the momentum that Michael McDowell and the No. 34 Ford team has built while trying to lock Todd Gilliland into the Truck Series Playoffs. For Anthony Alfredo, it is to record his best finish of the season.
 
Gilliland and his No. 38 Speedco Ford F-150 team will begin the weekend Friday with a 134-lap battle televised live on FS1 at 9:00 p.m. ET.
 
McDowell and Alfredo will hit the track on Sunday afternoon for a 267-lap main event. The Cup race will be televised on FOX at 3:30 p.m. ET.
 
 
It's hard to find a driver with more success on the west coast race scene than Todd Gilliland- especially just a few short years ago. Gilliland found his footing and plenty of checkered flags while competing in the former NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Series. The same series that his father and grandfather also had wins in.
 
Winning the 2016 and 2017 championships in the development series, Gilliland has been to Victory Lane 14 times in states Iowa and west. The young, 20-year-old driver, who now lives in Mooresville, N.C., knows that he'll never lose the memories where his family grew up.
 
"For me, Las Vegas, Phoenix and most of California, that is where my family lived and started racing," said Gilliland. "I may not live on the west coast, but most of the time it feels like my home. And when we go there, I'm just comfortable. I've spent much of my life racing there and seeing my family, it's just a good place for me. I really love it."
 
Nothing will make the trip better for Gilliland than taking a win Friday night at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Gilliland has five previous starts at the mile-and-a-half oval with three top-10 and one top-five finish.
 
"I've finished fifth at Las Vegas, but I know we can win Friday," continued Gilliland. "I like the track and I just think we have a good plan going into the weekend. Having no practice, the team spends a lot of time at the shop in prep. I know the guys spent a lot of time working late to get it right. That gives me a lot of confidence."
 
Gilliland also wants to lock himself into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs with a win racing the Speedco Ford F-150.
 
"Speedco and Love's Travel Stops already have a big win this year with Michael (McDowell) and that team is in the playoffs," continued Gilliland. "I really want to put the Speedco Ford F-150 into the playoffs, too. The people at Speedco and Love's Travel Stops have been great to myself and FRM. I want to give back and get them another win."
 
 
For the second time this season, Alfredo brings the colors of Speedy Cash to the track. The No. 38 Speedy Cash Ford Mustang had a little makeover since Daytona. The black, green and red scheme now features larger flames and an enhanced logo placement on the upper and lower rear quarter panels for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate.
 
"It's funny," said Alfredo. "Fans are so into the sponsor schemes and when you make a small change, they notice. They get excited and love it. Personally, I think our Speedy Cash colors really stand out on the track. If you're sitting in the stands, like sometimes my family does, they can't miss where we are running. So, for me, that's cool."
 
Alfredo brings the Speedy Cash Ford Mustang to the Las Vegas Motor Speedway looking for his best Cup finish to date. With back-to-back Top-25 finishes, Alfredo is building his confidence.
 
"I think so," added Alfredo. "We really can't count the Daytona 500 because we were caught in that wreck so early. But, the Daytona Road Course and last week at Homestead, I felt that I got better. We use the first Stage of the race to feel it out. Then, we just want to pick off spots. Our goal is pretty clear this weekend. Let's get our new best finish. I'm feeling good heading into Sunday that we can do that."
 
 
Earlier this week, Michael McDowell joined the Ford Performance media teleconference. Below is the transcript from Ford Performance.
 
Michael McDowell, driver of the No. 34 Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang in the NASCAR Cup Series, goes into this weekend’s race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway fourth in the point standings. The Daytona 500 winner is also on a season-opening streak that has seen him post a top-10 finish in all three events, one of only two drivers to do that. McDowell was this week’s guest on the Ford Zoom call and talked about a variety of topics.
 
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Love’s Travel Stop Ford Mustang -- DO YOU HAVE BETTER CARS, BETTER ENGINES OR BETTER CONFIDENCE? “None of the above. I think that it’s a combination of different things and one of those things is that we ran fairly well last year at Homestead. We kind of had a top-15 car and were able to come back with something very similar with a few adjustments. I think the competition has actually come back towards us. My guys have done a great job. We’ve made our cars a little bit lighter, a little bit more downforce and we’ve made some small gains, but I don’t feel like we’ve done anything different or special as far as engines and chassis and all those things. We’re still getting the same equipment that we got last year. I feel like we’re executing better and I feel like starting up front helps a tremendous amount. When you start 25th or 30th it’s just hard to dig yourself out of that hole, so I think that the track position helped us early on. Obviously, we had a car capable of it, but I think there’s a lot of factors to it. We didn’t go out and buy new chassis and buy new cars and have a bunch of new parts and pieces. We’re running the same stuff we ran last year, it’s just our guys have done a good job of making it a little bit faster, a little bit better and feel like cracking down on some of the shenanigans going on has helped close the gap for us.”
 
DO YOU FEEL BRINGING BACK THE WHEEL WELL TEMPLATE HELPED YOU GUYS? “Yeah, there are a few other things too that definitely contributed I think to bringing the field closer together, not just the wheel openings, but just how you go through inspection and how you’re blocked up in the left-rear and how you’re not now, I think, has eliminated some other opportunities too.”
 
THE FIRST THREE RACES HAVE BEEN ALL DIFFERENT TRACKS. DOES THAT GIVE YOU CONFIDENCE COMING TO PHOENIX, A FLAT ONE-MILE OVAL?  “Yes and no. So, this year has been going well and we sort of hit the setup at all three places, in particular the Daytona road course and Homestead with no practice, but Phoenix is a track that is one that we have circled that we really struggled at last year, not just our Front Row cars but Roush cars in general. We haven’t had what needed at that particular track and not just Phoenix but probably Loudon and Richmond as well. Hopefully, we’ve made gains. We’re definitely going back to those racetracks with a completely different approach from a setup standpoint, just because they were such a struggle, where Miami we sort of had something to build on from last year and Daytona road course we had something to build on from last year. Those races have been a struggle, in particular the shorter flat tracks, so we definitely need to improve and hopefully we did, but you just don’t know until you get out on the racetrack and see what you’ve got.”
 
GENERALLY SPEAKING, DO YOU HAVE A DEFAULT PREFERENCE WITH THE CHOOSE RULE OR ARE YOU LITERALLY MAKING THE DECISION ON A CASE-BY-CASE BASIS? “It is very case-by-case. There’s a lot of data and information to go through to look at history and what lane kind of is preferred and not preferred, but it is an ongoing process and it’s different at every track. It’s not super cut-and-dried. I hate having the option, to be honest with you. I just hate choosing and having to make that decision because you’re just like, ‘Oh, man. Did I make the right move? Did I not make the right move?’ So, it’s added a variable and another level of thinking that I don’t want.”
 
WHAT DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO RUN UP FRONT? “It feels great. It’s very rewarding, in particular last week at Homestead. It was, overall, an awesome team performance, not just on-track, but even our pit stops were good. We came in in the top 10 and left in the top 10 and even gained a couple spots, so there’s so much to having good on-track performance and it was just nice to have one of those days where it was all there. We had a fast car. We executed well. The strategy was good. The pit stops were good. Not that it was easy, but it was a pretty smooth day altogether and it was a special day for me. I know coming off the 500 it’s hard to compare to that, but to run how we ran at Homestead it was a very rewarding race for us.”
 
IS THE RACING ANY DIFFERENT UP THERE? “No, not for me yet. I think that there’s a couple different elements to it, but guys aren’t used to necessarily me being up there all the time, and so that made it a little bit different racing a lot of the guys that typically don’t race the 34 and I don’t typically race. There was some getting used to each other, let’s just say that, but, for me, the race was kind of the same. You’re trying to get every spot that you can, whether it’s the 2 that you’re trying to pass or the 43. It doesn’t matter which car it is, you’re just trying to get around them and next car, next car, next car, you just keep pushing.”
 
HOW DO YOUR KIDS VIEW DAD NOW THAT HE’S A DAYTONA 500 CHAMPION? “I don’t think they view dad any different. I don’t think so. You’d have to ask them, but they were excited for the win, but kids, not that they don’t care, but it’s not gonna change their lives immediately and for them it’s a fun moment but you’re still back to school work and chores and everything else the very next minute.”
 
WHAT DO YOU DO NOW THAT A LOT OF YOUR GOALS HAVE ALREADY BEEN MET? “I’m processing all of that too, trying to figure out what that is. I haven’t been in this spot before, so you’re trying to process that. You always want to have goals and you always want to have something that you’re trying to achieve and we have. We have achieved that already, so what does it look like next? I’m not exactly sure what the expectation looks like, but I think the approach and the mentality stays the same, and our approach has always just been to fight hard, give it everything you have and if that’s 20th, then you fight as hard as you can to make sure you get a 20th or better. And if you’ve got a 15th-place car, you fight as hard as you can to run 15th or better, so I don’t know how we’ll be at Vegas and I don’t know how we’ll be at Phoenix. I would love to be the guy that comes on here that I think sort of everybody wants to be like, ‘Yeah, we’re legit. We’re gonna win five races this year and we’re gonna contend for the championship.’ I don’t know that to be true, but I do know we’re gonna fight our guts out and we’ll see where we end up because I don’t know. We don’t know what it looks like going to Vegas. We don’t know whether we’ll have the speed that we did at Homestead or if we’re gonna run 20th, but we’re gonna fight hard and we’re gonna keep pushing at the shop, at the track and keep trying to move in a good direction, and I think that will pay off, but I really can’t tell you where I think we’re at or what the expectations are.”
 
ARE THE GUYS RACING YOU DIFFERENTLY. MAYBE WITH MORE RESPECT OR MAYBE HARDER BECAUSE YOU ARE NOW A THREAT? “I’m not really sure. I think that at Homestead I felt like I was there racing pretty hard. What I can just tell you, I won’t throw out names because I don’t want to turn it into that, but I literally saw a driver wave another driver by and then race me for the next seven laps like it was the last lap, so there are two things that I think about with that. One is there are top guys that don’t want to be passed by the 34 and I get it, I understand that because they think that they’re having a really bad day of the 34 is going around them. On the flip side, I somewhat deserve it because I race the guts out of everybody and always have. Even when I was in bad cars I never made it easy on anybody, so I don’t expect them to make it easy on me, if that makes sense. There are guys out there that race each other really well and they’re always up front. I think of Martin Truex. He is a fair racer. He races hard. He knows when to push it. He knows when not to push it, and I think that out of everybody out there he’s one of the guys that will cut you a break and he expects you to cut him a break, and he does. He has that mutual respect. I’ve raced everybody so hard that I don’t think that I’m gonna get cut breaks, and honestly I don’t expect it (laughing). So, my feelings are not hurt when they guys are racing me really hard.”
 
HAS THE RECENT SUCCESS INCREASED THE AMOUNT OF FIGHT FOR YOUR TEAM? “Yeah, definitely. And I think momentum is a big part of our sport. Momentum and confidence is hard to fabricate. You can’t just make it up. You either have it or you don’t and you only have it with results and performance, so I do think that. I do think that we have more confidence and, like I said, it affects every area from the shop to the pit stops to myself. All of those things are definitely important, but I feel like at the same time we’ve taken a very similar approach that we have in the last few years and we’ve been making steady gains and I think that’s why we’re at where we’re at, so we don’t want to change too much because you don’t want to overthink it and you don’t want to get outside of what’s been working for you, but definitely everybody has confidence and a little pep in their step and it affects every area.”
 
HOW HAS YOUR LIFE CHANGED OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF WEEKS? “That’s such a tough question to answer. I’ve had it several times. You think that I would have done a better job of being prepared for it. I hate to say it like this, but my life hasn’t changed a whole lot since winning the 500. I mean, it’s been very exciting and it’s been busy and very thankful to win the race and to have all the things that come with it, but as far as your actual life it doesn’t change. I think that’s the thing that is hard to describe. I’m still taking my kids to school and I’m still doing all the things I do and still going to the Ford simulator every week and still working out -- still doing all the things you normally do it’s just that you’ve got a win sticker on your car, you’re locked into the playoffs and you’ve got an awesome trophy at the house. Those things are great and I don’t want to downplay it, but as far as changing my life I feel like we just keep pushing away like we’ve always done.”
 
A FEW DRIVERS HAVE SIGNED UP FOR THE BRISTOL DIRT NATIONALS. ARE YOU PLANNING TO RACE IN THAT THE WEEK BEFORE THE CUP EVENT AND WILL IT BE AN ADVANTAGE? “I agree with everybody. I agree with Kurt that the cars are so different and the style is so different that it’s not gonna be a huge learning experience from the driving style and how you need to approach it, but I think that any track time in any race is good to do. I think that anytime that you can be in a race car and you’re working all those sensors and learning new things that it’s always gonna help. It doesn’t matter what you do, so I agree with both. Yes, I do have a couple tests lined up and I am working on being in that race as well. We’re trying to hammer out the details. We’re getting pretty close, but trying to put it all together. Like I said, I do agree with Kurt, it’s not the same. I was fortunate to run the ARCA race at Springfield and DuQuoin and in big, heavy stock cars like ours with a lot of power you are not slinging them in there sideways and running on the right-rear, yaw it out all the way up against the cushion. Our cars just don’t do that as well, so I think that you can learn some bad habits as well as gain some track knowledge.”
 
IS THIS RACE BIG IN THE SENSE THAT IT’S ALSO A PLAYOFF TRACK LATER IN THE YEAR? “I think that it’s important because you go there twice, and I think any racetrack that we go to twice is important because of that reason. Every race counts and every point counts, but the playoff situation makes it even maybe an asterisk mark next to it. As far as us trying a lot of crazy, wild things this weekend to get prepared for it, we’re not. We felt like we had a pretty decent car there the last couple times, so we just want to keep improving upon that and see if what happened at Homestead will happen again at Vegas, where we make a little bit of a gain and the competition kind of comes back our direction and, all of a sudden, we’re in the fight. Nothing out of the ordinary, but we do know it’s important with it having two races, for sure.”
 
HOW HAS YOUR FAITH GOTTEN YOU TO THIS POINT AND WHAT ROLE HAS IT PLAYED IN YOUR SUCCESS? “For me, my faith is the foundation of who I am, so it affects every aspect of my life every single day, and it’s what’s most important to me. As far as my career goes, I could see very easily how God has provided opportunities for me to stay in this sport and, honestly, I think you all could probably see it too. There are a lot of great drivers right now that are no longer in our sport that are more marketable, more talented, younger and better-looking and could attract sponsors and all those things, so I’ve seen God continue to provide opportunities and it’s also been a struggle, too. The struggle, I think, is where your faith really comes into play. Mountain top experiences are great, but it’s in the ditches and it’s in the trenches is where God is really shaping and molding you and so I feel, for me, as far as my faith and the win, I’m not a prosperity, gospel kind of guy. I was serving Jesus before the win and I didn’t need the win for me to know that He’s good and that I was gonna do that the rest of my life. The fact that I got to experience the win, I feel like is incredible and I never had that feeling that I did it. I never crossed the line and I was like, ‘I did it. I finally won. I did all this hard work.’ I literally felt like God allowed me to experience this and be a part of something way bigger and cooler than I could dream up.”
 
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE R&D AND MANUFACTURING FREEZE THAT’S BEEN GOING ON. WHY THAT’S HAPPENING AND WHAT DIFFERENCE IT HAS MADE? “I’m probably not the best versed on it, but I’ll do my best job, just don’t take these as facts but as how I understand them is when the new car was on schedule to get rolled out there was sort of a development freeze in certain areas and certain parts couldn’t be re-designed and there’s the submittal process and all that. And then obviously with that being delayed a year and with COVID there were even more freezes put in place as far as development goes, on what you could submit, parts you’ve already submitted. Like I said, I’m not as versed as some of our competition guys here, but what I’ve seen is that a few years ago every week or every month you have all new suspension, all new chassis-designs for one little gain. One little aero gain underneath the car required all-new spindles, all-new brake ducts, all-new suspensions. I mean, we’re talking about $50,000, $60, 000, $70,000 a week in updates, and so when you had to submit what you had, and there’s some wiggle room in there and you can still make things better and stronger, but you’re not completely redesigning components and chassis and everything that goes along with it, I believe, has allowed us to catch up in the sense that we’ve always had quality people that knew that they were doing, we just were always so far behind that we were scrambling. Well, now that we have the same bits and pieces week after week, month after month and now year after year, we’ve just been able to make everything a little bit better, a little bit faster, a little bit stronger and be more efficient with what he have and not have to be so far behind chasing our tails trying to figure out what’s the next big chunk and what’s the next big spend we have to do to try to keep up.”
 
WHAT IS THE ATMOSPHERE AT THE 34 SHOP? “It’s been fun. Everybody is excited and got pep in their step, just enjoying it. We know that these things don’t always last forever. We would love for them to, but we’ve been enjoying these weeks that we’ve had and running well, and I think too that there’s a level of intensity right now to keep it going and to keep it rolling, so it’s fun. It’s a fun time to be at Front Row Motorsports. We’re all enjoying it and it’s a tremendous team effort, and everybody has worked really hard here in all the departments in all the areas to get us to where we’re at.”
 
CAN YOU TALK ABOUT YOUR CELEBRATION WHEN YOU ARRIVED AT THE AIRPORT AND BACK AT THE SHOP? “It’s obviously been very enjoyable and fun, but it’s also different. It’s different than your normal Daytona 500 victory and tour and flying all around and all the different things that come with it because of COVID and just trying to do everything we can to be socially responsible and safe as we can. At the shop, it looks very different. The celebration is different. The celebration with your friends and family looks a little bit different, but I’m not complaining. I’m thankful that my family is healthy and happy and everyone is doing well, but it definitely is a challenge to try to fully embrace and enjoy it all, but it’s been fun. That lasts about four or five days and it was right back to the racetrack and back to work, and I like that. I like the rhythm of our sport. I like every week is a new week and a new opportunity, but I’m still enjoying the victory and still enjoying the win and just trying to take it all in.”
 
IS IT TRUE YOU DRIVE YOUR OWN BUS? “I did, and I do. There’s been years where I haven’t, but a majority of my career I’ve been on the road with my family and we did that for about eight years and then it got to a point where I couldn’t do it anymore. I wasn’t doing anything well. I wasn’t doing my job as a race car driver well. I wasn’t doing my job as a motorcoach driver well, or trying to get my kids back to school on Monday after racing all day on Sunday and I was just wore out. So, thankfully, my in-laws came and drove the bus for a couple years and it was great to have family with us and for my kids to have their grandparents there, and that took a big burden off of me because it was very challenging to keep up with everything, especially when I went back full-time. This year I’ve been driving it, but with the one-day shows and the restrictions and protocols it’s not as necessary to bring it to every race, so I’m not really sure what the future holds with that, but I enjoy windshield time. I enjoy spending time on the road and it just lets you think and it kind of helps me decompress a little bit.”

FRM PR

NASCAR Cup Series

Next Race: Pennzoil 400 Presented by Jiffy Lube

The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The Date: Sunday, March 7

The Time: 3:30 p.m. ET

TV: FOX, 3 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 400.5 miles (267 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 80),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 160), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 267)

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

Next Race: Alsco Uniforms 300

The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The Date: Saturday, March 6

The Time: 4:30 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 4 p.m. ET

Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 300 miles (200 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 45),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 90), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 200)

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

Next Race: Bucked Up 200

The Place: Las Vegas Motor Speedway

The Date: Friday, March 5

The Time: 9 p.m. ET

TV: FS1, 8 p.m. ET

Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Distance: 201 miles (134 Laps); Stage 1 (Ends on Lap 30),

Stage 2 (Ends on Lap 60), Final Stage (Ends on Lap 134)

 

 

Special Spotlight: Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award Nominations Are Open

Nominations opened this week for The NASCAR Foundation’s 11th annual Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award, a recognition that honors the philanthropic ideals and vision of Betty Jane France, The NASCAR Foundation’s late founder and chairperson.

 

The NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award is presented annually to a NASCAR fan who is a dedicated volunteer working on behalf of children’s causes. Since its inception, the award has given $1.8 million in donations to charities representing 40 finalists, impacting the lives of 354,647 children in need.

 

The nomination process includes an independent selection committee of NASCAR industry leaders who help identify the nominees to be voted on by The NASCAR Foundation’s Board of Directors. The four finalists are ultimately selected by the Board and set forth to an online fan vote in the fall. Each finalist will be guaranteed a $25,000 donation to the children’s charity they represent, with the overall winner receiving a $100,000 donation.

 

Nominations will close on Friday, March 19, at midnight. The nomination form and award rules can be accessed online at NASCARfoundation.org/Award. Completed forms can be submitted via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or via mail.

 

 

NASCAR Cup Series

 

Different Winners Aplenty To Start The Season

The NASCAR Cup Series 2021 season has started off with three different winners in as many races with Michael McDowell (Daytona 500), Christopher Bell (Daytona Road Course) and William Byron (Homestead-Miami) all celebrating in Victory Lane. Now the chances for the premier series to see its fourth different winner are pretty good as it heads out to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube on Sunday, March 7 at 3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

Of the 50 seasons in the Modern Era (1972-2021), the NASCAR Cup Series has started the schedule with three different winners in the first three races 33 different times (66%); including 2021. If the series were to produce a fourth different winner this weekend it would be the 23rd different season in the Modern Era to start with four different winners through the first four races. 

 

There are 13 different NASCAR national series Las Vegas Motor Speedway winners entered this weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series race. None of which have won yet this season.

 

Sunday’s event, the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube, will be the 27th NASCAR Cup Series race held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The previous 26 series races have produced 14 different winners all-time, led by recently retired Jimmie Johnson with four victories (2005, 2006, 2007 and 2010). Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers in wins at Las Vegas with three victories (2014, 2016, 2018). Keselowski also won at Vegas in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2010.

 

Of the 14 all-time Cup Las Vegas winners, six are entered this weekend and four of the six have multiple wins; including defending race winner and Brad Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano, who has grabbed the checkered flag the last two Spring visits to Sin City (2019, 2020). Logano also won in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas in 2017.

 

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick make up the rest of the quartet of Cup Vegas multiple winners entered this weekend. Truex earned his Victory Lane hardware at Las Vegas in the Spring race of 2017 and the Playoff race of 2019. While Harvick secured his two wins at Las Vegas in the Spring of 2015 and the Playoff race of 2018. Harvick also collected a pair of NASCAR Xfinity Series victories at Las Vegas in 2004 and 2010.

 

Las Vegas native and Joe Gibbs Racing’s driver, Kyle Busch, is the only former Cup Las Vegas winner to grab victories in all three NASCAR national series. Busch scored his Cup win in the 2009 race; the only driver to win from the pole at Las Vegas in the series. He also has two victories in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2016, 2019). Plus, he has won the last three consecutive spring NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at the 1.5-mile track (2018, 2019, 2020).

 

Kyle Busch’s brother, Kurt, also a fellow Las Vegas native, is the most recent NASCAR Cup Series winner at Las Vegas Motor Speedway driving his Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet to Victory Lane in last season’s Playoff race. It was his first and only victory at his home track.

 

Richard Childress Racing teammates, Austin Dillon and Tyler Reddick, have each won at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in both the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Dillon posted his Xfinity win in 2015 and his Camping World Truck win in 2010. Reddick captured his Xfinity win in 2019 and his Truck Series win in 2016.

 

Four more drivers have won in just the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas including Stewart-Haas Racing’s rookie, Chase Briscoe, who swept both Las Vegas NASCAR Xfinity Series races last season becoming the first driver to win consecutive races at the 1.5-mile track in the series. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ross Chastain collected his first career NASCAR national series victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the Playoff race of 2018. Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson also won in the Xfinity Series at Las Vegas in the Spring race of 2018. And JTG Daugherty Racing’s Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won at Las Vegas in 2012 en route to his second consecutive Xfinity Series title (2011-2012).

 

Finally, Richard Petty Motorsport’s Erik Jones won in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series at Las Vegas in 2014.

 

Points Leader Denny Hamlin looking to achieve a couple of firsts at Las Vegas

Heading to Las Vegas this weekend, Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin sits atop the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings looking to get his first win of 2021 and his first career win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

 

Hamlin has yet to win this season, but has been in contention almost every week, and now holds a 20-point lead over Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick in second in the driver standings. In three starts this year, Hamlin has put up two top fives and an average finish of 6.3.

 

Hamlin will look to keep the momentum going this Sunday at Las Vegas, a track he has made 18 series starts at posting three top fives and eight top 10s; including a best finish of third twice, most recently last September. 

 

McDowell takes hot streak to Vegas

Front Row Motorsport’s driver and 2021 Daytona 500 champion, Michael McDowell, is having the best start to a season in his career. And now the 36-year-old, Glendale, Arizona native is taking his hot streak Las Vegas to try his luck. McDowell and Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick are the only two drivers this season to finish in the top-10 in all three of the opening races of the year.

 

McDowell is currently fourth in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings, just 33 points back from Denny Hamlin in the standings lead. This season McDowell has leveled-up and it is showing, in the first three starts of the year he has finished first (Daytona 500), eighth (Daytona RC) and sixth (Homestead-Miami).

 

Now the 2021 standout is looking to keep the success going at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. McDowell has made 14 series starts at Las Vegas posting a best finish 18th back in 2017. He finished 36th in last season’s Las Vegas spring race and 21st in the Playoff event.

 

Byron adds his name to the postseason list

Last weekend Hendrick Motorsport’s driver William Byron grabbed his second NASCAR Cup Series career win (Daytona, Homestead) and as a result added his name to the list of drivers locked into the Playoffs for 2021; joining Michael McDowell and Christopher Bell.

 

Byron is currently 13th in the NASCAR Cup Series driver standings through three races. The North Carolina native has posted an average finish of 20.0 so far this season, making the win last weekend that much more important to his title hopes.

 

Looking ahead to this weekend, Byron has made six series starts at Las Vegas posting one top-10 finish (seventh) in 2019. 

 

NASCAR Tests the Circuit of The Americas

For the first time at the Circuit of The Americas, three former NASCAR Cup Series champions – Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski and Martin Truex Jr. - shook down the 20-turn, 3.41-mile-long course in stock cars as part of a Goodyear tire test in preparation for the inaugural EchoPark Texas Grand Prix on May 23.

 

“The track’s fun,” said Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Chase Elliott. “It has a lot of character to it, I feel like. I’ve never been here, never seen it in person before today and really haven’t watched a ton of races here, so it’s really been a pretty steep learning curve for me, trying to piece together all the different parts of the track and understand where you need to be good and how to make it flow. I’m trying to learn, but it’s been fun. I hope people (fans) will come out and give it a chance. It’s a different type of racing.”

 

Elliott currently leads all active drivers in road course wins in the NASCAR Cup Series with five victories.

 

“One of the things about this track here in Austin, it’s got a couple of key action spots,” said Team Penske’s Brad Keselowski. “Turn 1 is designed as though a fan said, ‘how can I have the most calamity in that corner on the start?’ So, there’s a couple of things – first off, it’s up hill, which helps the car stop, so it encourages the driver to try to out-brake another driver, which is big on a restart or a start because all of the cars are already so close together. Second thing is, it’s really wide on entry, so it’s almost impossible to block because there’s just a lot more racetrack. And then, of course, the third part is it’s a super slow corner meaning you have to use a lot of brakes to get through there. So, like I said, almost like it was intentional – I’m sure it was intentional – to create some epic starts. I think you’ll see that here.”

 

Keselowski has yet to win on a road course in the series but has put up seven top-five finishes including finishing fifth at the Daytona Road Course just two weeks ago.

 

“I feel like this is kind of part Sonoma, part Watkins Glen,” said Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. “There’s some fast sections, some slow sections. It’s got the older asphalt, wearing tires out more like Sonoma, but it’s got the really high-speed straights and the really hard braking zone like Watkins Glen going down the backstretch. It’s a mix of both. It’s got a little bit of a blind corner, up-and-down elevation change like Sonoma. It’s a pretty unique place … It’s all about markers and points on the track and when you turn in and what gear you’re in and how much speed you’re carrying and finding the brake points and all those things. It takes over two minutes to get around here, so if you make a mistake, you’ve got to wait two minutes to correct it, and you can’t forget it when you come back around. It was interesting to do that and a lot of fun to do that.”

 

Truex is tied with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for the second-most road course victories in the NASCAR Cup Series among active drivers with four each.

 

NASCAR Cup Series Etc.

Sunoco Rookie Update – Through first three races the NASCAR Cup Series season, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Chase Briscoe has held the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings lead and following his 18th-place finish at Homestead-Miami he has extended his lead to nine points over Front Row Motorsport’s Anthony Alfredo in second.

 

Looking to this weekend, expect Briscoe to keep building on his early success. The 26-year-old will be making his series track debut at Las Vegas this weekend, but he has won the last two consecutive NASCAR Xfinity Series races at the track sweeping the races last season – the first driver in Xfinity history to win consecutive races at Las Vegas. While Alfredo has not garnered the same amount of success Briscoe has at the 1.5-mile track, he did make his Xfinity Series debut there last season and finished in the top-10 (eighth).  

 

Las Vegas Raiders QB David Carr headlines Grand Marshals at Vegas - There will be quite the professional sports flair when the commands to start engines are given at Las Vegas Motor Speedway this weekend. Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr headlines the trio as he will deliver the most famous words in motorsports just moments prior to the start of the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube. Carr’s command will top off a weekend that will see Buffalo Bills running back Antonio Williams announce engines for Friday’s Bucked Up 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and Utah Jazz star forward Joe Ingles deliver the message for Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race.

 

“This will be such a thrill to have the chance to bring the NASCAR Cup Series cars to life,” Carr said. “I know there have been a long list on luminaries who have served in this role, and it’s pretty cool to join them. I’m sure it’s going to be exhilarating once those cars fire up.”

 

Carr joins rap star Pit Bull, TV star and comedian Kevin James and Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa as grand marshals for Cup races so far this season.

 

Spectators welcome but tickets going fast - The March 7 Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is sold out. Due to a limited-capacity requirement imposed by the Southern Nevada Health District, the speedway has reached its allowable threshold and no longer can sell tickets to the NASCAR Cup Series event.

 

Tickets do remain for both the Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series races on Saturday, March 6 as well as the Bucked Up 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Friday, March 5.

 

“This is the first time I can ever remember being disappointed to announce a sellout,” said LVMS President Chris Powell. “While we appreciate that Gov. Sisolak has provided sports and entertainment venues an opportunity to get fans back in the stands, we’re disappointed that the local health district has not allowed us to reach the 20-percent capacity recommended by the governor. Nonetheless, we know it will be three great days of racing for those who are able to attend, and we hope to welcome a full house in September for the South Point 400.”

 

The speedway estimates 12,500 fans will be in attendance for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube. That number represents grandstand seating as well as suites and clubs.

 

Race fans still can get their speed fix on Friday and Saturday as good seats remain for both races. Saturday tickets are $29 and Friday tickets are $19. Kids 12 and under are free on both Friday and Saturday with a ticketed adult. Visit lvms.com for tickets, RV camping and race weekend information.

 

Thunderbirds to perform flyover at Las Vegas - The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will perform the flyover for the Pennzoil 400 presented by Jiffy Lube at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 7.

The "America’s Ambassadors in Blue" – officially known as the U.S. Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron – will electrify the crowd with their signature "Delta" formation over the speedway at the end of the national anthem for the NASCAR Cup Series race.

 

"We’re honored to have the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds take to the sky during the Pennzoil 400 pre-race ceremonies," LVMS President Chris Powell said. "For both our fans in the stands as well as those tuning in from home, the sight of the Thunderbirds flying above the speedway will get us ready for the excitement of NASCAR racing.”

 

The Thunderbirds, stationed at Nellis Air Force Base located adjacent to the speedway, feature six F-16 Fighting Falcons, the Air Force’s premier multi-role fighter aircraft. Created 68 years ago in 1953, the USAF Thunderbirds are the third-oldest formal flying aerobatic team in the world. The Thunderbirds have performed at over 4,000 airshows worldwide, including more than a dozen times at LVMS, accumulating millions of miles in hundreds of different airframes over the course of their more than 54 years of service.

 

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series

 

Another One: Myatt Snider gets first win at Homestead-Miami Speedway

Richard Childress Racing’s Myatt Snider got his first career victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, while JR Motorsport’s Noah Gragson was left with another heartbreak at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

Snider held off a hard-charging Tyler Reddick to win Saturday’s race during the second NASCAR overtime to become the second first-time winner of the 2021 season joining Ty Gibbs (Daytona RC).

 

For the third-straight race at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, Noah Gragson was so close to victory until there were only two laps to go and he was involved in an incident. Once the dust settled, Gragson finished 33rd.

 

Reddick’s No. 23 Chevrolet that crossed the finish line in second was disqualified for failing post-race inspection and a height requirement. The result was a 40th-place finish. With Reddick disqualified, Brandon Jones ended up finishing second, Daniel Hemric took third, Jeb Burton finished fourth and Austin Cindric rounded out the top five.

 

Looking ahead to all the great action lined up this weekend, the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Alsco Uniforms 300 (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Snider will start from the pole with Cindric next to him on the front row. Saturday’s race will be 300 miles and 200 laps with Stage 1 ending on Lap 45 and Stage 2 ending on Lap 90.

 

Viva Las Vegas Fast Facts
There have been 27 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and 17 different pole winners and 19 different race winners. Only six races in history have been won from the pole.

 

The inaugural race was on March 16, 1997 and won by Jeff Green from the pole position. Most recently, Chase Briscoe won at Las Vegas on September 26, 2020 from the first starting spot.

 

Cole Custer holds the record for the youngest pole winner in 2018 at 20 years, seven months, 23 days. Mark Martin holds the record for the oldest pole winner in 1999 at 40 years, one month, 25 days.

 

Tyler Reddick became the youngest winner in 2019 at 23 years, eight months, three days and Martin also holds the record for the oldest race winner in 2011 at 52 years, one month, 24 days.

 

Kyle Busch holds the race record at 145.415 mph in 2016. He also holds the qualifying record from 2017 at 185.58 mph.

 

Joe Nemechek has run the most Xfinity Series races at Las Vegas (17). Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Martin and Cole Custer are all tied with two pole awards. Martin has the most wins at the track (four).

 

Justin Allgaier, Kevin Harvick and Martin are all tied for the most top fives (six) and Allgaier holds the record for the most top 10s (11).

 

Eleven races were won by drivers who started on the front row. Chevrolet has the most wins at the track with 13 but Ford is the most recent winner, sweeping both races in 2020 with Chase Briscoe.

 

Gragson heads to home track looking to rebound

Las Vegas native and JR Motorsport’s driver, Noah Gragson, is heading back to his roots this weekend looking to rebound after another heartbreak ending to last Saturday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

 

It was the third consecutive race at the 1.5-mile oval that Gragson could have won. But, with two laps remaining and a big lead, Gragson got into the back of the No. 13 MBM Motorsports Toyota when the driver experienced a tire issue that sent him up the track. As a result, Gragson was relegated to a 33rd-place finish.

 

Now the 22-year-old has to regroup and no better place to find his focus than home. Gragson has never finished worse than sixth in the Xfinity Series at his home track, Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

 

In two starts in 2020, Gragson finished fourth and second. In all, at race tracks that are between one and two miles in length, he holds an average finish of 9.9 and has led 75 percent of his career total laps at those tracks.

 

Gragson has an average finish of 3.8 at Las Vegas and that number is the second-best of his Xfinity Series career so far at tracks that he’s been to more than once. The only track that he has a better average finish at is the Charlotte ROVAL (3.5).

 

All in on Allgaier

The numbers that Justin Allgaier has accumulated in his 13 starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway are extremely impressive.

 

Although he hasn’t been able to close the deal and get the win, the driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet is consistently a favorite when the series heads to the Nevada track.

 

Allgaier’s first start at the track was in 2009 and he started 11th and finished eighth. In his 13 starts, he finished in the top five six times and has 11 top-10 finishes.

 

He’s completed 2,527 of 2,622 laps attempted, which is 96.4 percent of the laps and has led 111 total.

 

He has an average start of 8.3 and an average finish of 8.2. There was only one race in Allgaier’s history at Las Vegas that he did not finish and that was in 2019 due to an engine problem.

 

In 2011 and 2018, Allgaier finished runner-up and most recently, he finished fourth at the 1.5-mile track.

 

The start of Allgaier’s 2021 season has not been ideal and the veteran JR Motorsport’s driver is hoping that changes this weekend. He was involved in two incidents in the first three races of the season and only finished on the lead lap at the Daytona Road Course. He hasn’t finished better than 26th so far this season but if there’s a place for him to redeem himself, it could certainly be Las Vegas.

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series Driver Playoff Outlook Following Homestead-Miami Speedway:

 

Rank

Driver

Points

Wins

Stage Wins

Playoff Pts

Pts From Cutoff

1

Austin Cindric

147

1

2

7

In On Wins

2

Myatt Snider

118

1

0

5

In On Wins

3

Daniel Hemric

117

0

0

0

59

4

Jeb Burton

106

0

0

0

48

5

Brandon Jones

93

0

1

1

35

6

Justin Haley

90

0

0

0

32

7

Harrison Burton

89

0

0

0

31

8

Jeremy Clements

87

0

0

0

29

9

Brandon Brown

75

0

0

0

17

10

AJ Allmendinger

70

0

1

1

12

11

Riley Herbst

62

0

0

0

4

12

Landon Cassill

58

0

0

0

0

 

The NASCAR Xfinity Series 2021 season has started out with three different winners and two of them were first-timers and maybe a little bit unexpected to kick off the season. Austin Cindric continued his winning ways as the reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion, winning the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway and securing his spot in the Playoffs.

 

Ty Gibbs went on to win at the Daytona Road Course in his first ever Xfinity Series start, adding his name to the history books. Gibbs’ win doesn’t guarantee his spot in the postseason however due to him only running a partial schedule this year.

 

Next, Myatt Snider won last weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, securing his spot in the Playoffs and grabbing his first career win.

 

With the start of the season bringing new winners, the Playoff outlook has shuffled the driver standings. Although it’s only three races in, there are already a couple new faces in the top 12.

 

Jeremy Clements is sitting eighth right now in driver points. He has two top-10 finishes so far this season. Landon Cassill is sitting in 12th in the standings currently. Cassill hasn’t even run a full season in the Xfinity Series since 2014 and is already showing good potential in his No. 4 JD Motorsports Chevrolet.

 

Daniel Hemric is in third in the standings, the highest ranked driver without a win. He’s kicked off 2021 on a new team, Joe Gibbs Racing, with really impressive numbers. He finished ninth in the opener and third in the last two races.

 

All three of Kaulig Racing’s drivers are in the top 12 in points right now. Their newest driver in the lineup, Jeb Burton, is in fourth with Justin Haley in sixth and AJ Allmendinger in 10th.

 

NASCAR Xfinity Series, Etc.

Rookie update: Ty Gibbs is still in the lead for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors with 50 points. Josh Berry has worked his way up to second in the standings with 41 points. Ryan Vargas has two awards to his name and is in third with 33 points.

 

Manufacturer update: Each OEM has a victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series so far this season. Toyota is leading the manufacturer championship standings with 109 points while Chevrolet and Ford are tied with 107.

 

Dogecoin returning to NASCAR in Vegas: Stefan Parsons and BJ McLeod Motorsports announced that Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency company, will be the primary sponsor along with Springrates for Parsons on Saturday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The hood of Parson’s No. 99 Chevrolet will have the Dogecoin dog with the word “wow” on it.

 

Brandon Brown finds Vegas sponsor: Brandon Brown took to Twitter last week saying how much he dislikes blank cars on the racetrack and hoping a company would come through with sponsorship. On Tuesday, he announced that GreenTech Energy will be the primary sponsor for his No. 68 in Vegas.

 

Mike Harmon Racing partners with PORAC: Mike Harmon Racing is known for their support of law enforcement and that will continue this weekend at Las Vegas. The Peace Officers Research Association of California (PORAC) is California’s largest law enforcement associated and the largest statewide law enforcement association in the country. They are teaming up with Wolfpack Racing to sponsor the No. 47 of Kyle Weatherman.

 

 

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series

 

Camping World steps up to fill sponsorship void in Vegas

With a single tweet Monday night, Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis sent NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series teams’ graphics departments into high gear.

 

He simply said, “Which @NASCAR_Trucks are unsponsored this weekend? Respond here if you are and if you know of someone get their attention quick." 

 

And respond they did.

 

So far, more than five entries in Friday night’s Bucked Up 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (9 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) will sport the familiar blue and yellow of Camping World including No. 2 Sheldon CreedNo. 3 Jordan AndersonNo. 9 Grant EnfingerNo. 24 Raphael LessardNo. 33 Jesse Iwuji; and the No. 41 of Dawson Cram

 

The Camping World sponsorship offers teams a sliding scale based on performance. If the truck wins with the Camping World paint scheme, it would increase the sponsorship payout.

 

This week’s sponsorship bonanza comes on the heels of an announcement made by Lemonis prior to the start of the season in Daytona that added $500,000 in bonus money and prizes for the Camping World Truck Series participants this year. That included a total of $50,000 ($25,000 driver bonus and $25,000 road crew bonus) that went to the No. 99 ThorSport Racing team of Ben Rhodes after taking the checkered flag in the season opener.

 

Where they will start

Series points leader, and 2017 Las Vegas race winner, Ben Rhodes will start on the pole for Friday night’s Bucked Up 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (9 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) by virtue of Metric Qualifying to determine starting order while we race under COVID-19 protocols.

 

Another former Vegas race winner, Grant Enfinger (2018 fall race), will start 18th. And multi-time Las Vegas race winners Kyle Busch (2018, 2019 and 2020 spring races) and Austin Hill (2019, 2020 fall races) will start much further back. Busch will be 29th while Hill starts 31st.

 

Sheldon Creed, who was the runner-up to Rhodes on the Daytona Road Course two weeks ago, will start alongside him on the front row. John Hunter Nemechek, Matt Crafton and Christian Eckes will make up the remainder of the top five. 

 

Rowdy returns to race at home

Las Vegas native Kyle Busch returns to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this weekend, making his season debut at his home track in his own No. 54 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.

 

Busch has raced four times in a truck at Vegas – the first was in 2001, driving for Jack Roush. He finished ninth.

 

After a long hiatus, he returned in 2018 for this spring race…and won it. He then won the spring race in 2019 and again last year. He started on the pole in 2018 and 2019, and all the way from third in his other two races in the trucks.

 

This year, he will be starting in 29th due to the lineup matrix used to determine starting position while we race without qualifying due to COVID-19 protocols.

 

Busch has also found success in other series at Las Vegas. He has a win in the NASCAR Cup Series at the track (2009) and a pair of wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (2016, 2019).

 

Ben Rhodes opens season with sweep

After thrice tallying one win in a season (2017, 2018, 2020), Ben Rhodes has come out of the chute on fire this season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – sweeping the opening two races of the year on the pair of Daytona International Speedway configurations.

 

He narrowly edged out Cory Roper in the tri-oval during overtime on the superspeedway’s oval configuration in the season-opener, then took a triple-overtime victory over reigning series champion Sheldon Creed on the road course two weeks ago.

 

Rhodes’ first NASCAR national series win came on the 1.5-mile desert circuit (Las Vegas) in 2017, and he followed that up in 2018 with a win on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway.

 

Overall at Las Vegas, Rhodes has a win, three top fives and five top 10s in his eight starts – meaning he’ll surely be a threat to continue his winning ways this season.

 

Austin Hill looks to rebound at Las Vegas

The start of the 2021 season hasn’t been exceptionally generous to Austin Hill, who finished 22nd on the oval and 33rd on the road course at Daytona International Speedway over the past two weeks. So, he’s definitely one driver that took the off-weekend to regroup before heading out west to Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

 

But he should be very happy that’s the next stop on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series schedule, as he won the most recent race there last September, and also won the same race a year prior.

 

In fact, four of Hill’s six career wins in the series have come at 1.5-mile tracks (Las Vegas – 2019, 2020; Homestead-Miami – 2019; Kansas – 2020). And in six races at Las Vegas, he has recorded a pair of wins as part of three top-five and four top-10 finishes.

 

Chandler Smith maintains early Sunoco Rookie of the Year lead

Chandler Smith holds an early lead in the Sunoco Rookie of the year standings following a pair of races in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.

 

Smith was the highest-finishing Sunoco Rookie contender in the Daytona Road Course race and now sits 15 points ahead of Carson Hocevar in second.

 

Sunoco Rookie of the Year

Rookies

Points

Awards

Chandler Smith

70

1

Carson Hocevar

55

1

Hailie Deegan

26

0

Kris Wright

25

0

Chase Purdy

25

0

Tim Viens

0

0

 

Smith finished 12th on the road course, while Hocevar was 14th. Chase Purdy was 22nd and Hailie Deegan placed 28th.

NASCAR PR

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