Driver Reports : Previewing the Daytona race
Earnhardt Jr. eyes sweep; can winless driver jumble Chase field?
Chastain, Clements called to hauler after altercation
RELATED: Full race results BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Two NASCAR XFINITY Series drivers made a post-race visit to meet with officials following Saturday's Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway. Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements, along with crew chiefs Evan Snider and Tony Clements, were called to the NASCAR hauler after the two drivers had an altercation on pit road during a red-flag delay. The incident occurred after the two drivers made contact on the race track. According to reports , Clements approached Chastain shortly after drivers had exited their cars to wait out the rain delay. Clements told reporters he placed his hand "on his back and turned (Chastain) around" when Chastain struck him. "I had no intention of fighting the guy," Clements told NBC Sports. Driver confrontation between Ross Chastain and Jeremy Clements during rain delay of the Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 on Saturday @BMSupdates pic.twitter.com/CD3wpVPIiW — Earl Neikirk (@earlneikirk) April 22, 2017 "Hope he realizes now that he can talk, we can talk, but you can't grab someone by the shoulders," Chastain told FS1. "That happened before and I said right then I wouldn't let it happen again. What's done is done." Clements, who was struck in the eye, made a quick trip to the infield care center following the confrontation. Both drivers returned to their cars once the race, which had been halted due to rain, resumed. Clements finished 17th and Chastain 31st. According to Chastain, the two drivers talked out their differences after meeting with NASCAR officials and consider the matter closed. &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Young drivers prepare to step up as Dale Jr. readies for goodbye
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond RICHMOND, Va. -- The cyclical churn of talent in the NASCAR garage took another turn this week with Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s announcement that 2017 will be his final year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. His impending departure follows those of household names Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards -- all in short order since the end of the 2015 season. In outlining his decision to leave the cockpit, Earnhardt was asked about NASCAR's ability to reload with a new generational thrust in driver star power. He named Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott among the sport's several young aces in waiting, offering assurance that the NASCAR roster remained vibrant and strong. As for those young stars? Asked upon their Friday arrival at Richmond International Raceway about their readiness to assume the mantle, the newest and brightest of those newer drivers might not be waiting much longer. "Although it's sad that we have all our veterans and heroes retiring, I think NASCAR is in a great position with all the young talent that they have in the (Monster Energy) Series currently, and really in every feeder series below them, there's a lot of young guys with great equipment and good backing," said 24-year-old Kyle Larson, the series' current points leader. "So, I think the competition will be good. And, there's a lot of personalities, too, with people getting themselves out there on social media and stuff like that, showing their personalities. So, I feel like we're in a good spot to have some new stars step up." Larson and Elliott -- both 20-somethings -- have already begun to make that push on the track, sitting 1-2 in the series standings. They've been joined by 23-year-old Ryan Blaney, plus rookies Erik Jones, 20, and Daniel Suarez, 25, as just some of the newest faces in the garage. The current transition of the sport's paradigm isn't a new phenomenon. If the genealogy of NASCAR stardom read like the Book of Chronicles, it would include a traditional biblical list of "begats." The career of Lee Petty begat Richard Petty's, Fireball Roberts' and Ned Jarrett's careers begat David Pearson's, which begat Cale Yarborough's, Bobby Allison's and Darrell Waltrip's. Then came Earnhardt and Elliott and Wallace, then Gordon, then Stewart and then Jimmie Johnson -- all with a host of other dynamic personalities in between. Mere mention as a part of that incoming next wave, with the potential to join a list of stars with Hall of Fame clout ranks as heady territory. Being singled out by the series' 14-time Most Popular Driver as one of those candidates is too, something that Blaney -- Earnhardt's neighbor and friend -- accepts with a degree of pride and reverence. "He has a very big impact of what people think, whether it is fans or in the garage area," Blaney said. "Him talking up younger drivers or the sport in general is going to get his fans excited about the future of going forward even though he won't be driving next year. What he says will be very important. I know he has always said great things about the sport and drivers in it and been very positive, which makes him a great person and great ambassador for the sport. It means a lot to hear him say those things. "Like I said, I know he says that about a lot of young drivers and try to set everything up for the future, but it is nice to be a part of that conversation when he speaks." Gracefully making the transition to stardom is a multi-pronged challenge, requiring both on-track performance and a proficiency in engaging with fans new and old. The former requires both raw talent and a full team effort. As for the latter, Suarez said there's no secret code to making that connection. "I think it's very simple -- it's just being yourself," said Suarez, in his first year of replacing Edwards at Joe Gibbs Racing. "I think every single driver out there in the garage has different personalities: Dale has his personality; Kyle has his personality; Jimmie Johnson has his personality; I have my personality; and everyone is different. When every single driver can go out there to be himself, I think that's very cool, and the fans like that. "You know, so far it's what I've been doing and I think it's the right thing to do. But like I said, overall, Dale has been more than a role model for the sport and it's great what he has done." </p>
Best 10-lap consecutive averages at Richmond
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond PRACTICE 1: RESULTS Pos Car Driver From Lap To Lap Avg Speed 1 5 Kasey Kahne 1 10 119.324 2 95 Michael McDowell 2 11 119.207 3 17 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 3 12 119.082 4 4 Kevin Harvick 1 10 119.074 5 19 Daniel Suarez # 3 12 118.926 6 32 Matt DiBenedetto 2 11 118.229 7 3 Austin Dillon 9 18 117.340 8 24 Chase Elliott 16 25 116.227 * Car must run 10 consecutive laps on the track to be included in the above chart. *Required to qualify on time, # signifies the driver is a rookie, (i) Ineligible for driver points in this series
Zalenski survives Phoenix melee for first NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series win
RELATED: See the complete iRacing schedule Rookie NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series driver Bobby Zalenski scored his first victory at Phoenix International Raceway Tuesday night, holding off Ray Alfalla and Ryan Luza on two late-race restarts. Zalenski took the lead on a restart with ten laps to go when leader Andrew Fayash missed a shift. Logan Clampitt, who was restarting second, also moved alongside Fayash as the three raced door-to-door into Turn 1. Zalenski had such a sharp angle into the corner he could not keep his car on the bottom which led him to hit Clampitt, spinning the erstwhile series leader out of contention. Zalenski escaped with minimal damage and had the race lead, but he would need to execute on one more restart with the two strongest drivers in 2017 thus far right behind him. The green flew with five laps left but before Alfalla and Luza could challenge for the win, Michael Conti spun Fayash entering Turn One leading to a race-ending caution. Alfalla finished runner-up, right in front of Luza as both rebounded from their problems at Texas. Dylan Duval finished fourth and Zack Novak was fifth, the first time either driver has finished in the top five this season. Matt Bussa started on pole and led the race to the green flag, building a comfortable lead on Luza during the opening laps. Bussa led the entirety of the first run, only relinquishing the lead to pit for tires and fuel on Lap 53. However, Bussa would not return to the front after the stops as several sim racers short-pitted including Michael Conti, who assumed the lead. A caution on Lap 59 brought nearly all the lead lap cars back into the pits for tires with Conti leading the pack off pit road. Conti would restart third but only took one lap to pass Adam Gilliland and Marcus Richardson to retake the lead. Unlike the first run when Luza kept in touch with Bussa, nobody came close to matching Conti's speed on the long run as the No. 5 drove off and left the field. Like Bussa, Conti led until pitting for routine service on Lap 106 and just like the first round of stops, a caution interrupted the pit cycle before it was complete, costing Conti and other frontrunners some track position. The final 40 laps were quite the wreckfest as drivers tried to gain positions after restarts. Chris Overland held the lead briefly but Fayash got by shortly after the restart. Despite not showing speed early in the race, Fayash looked quite strong out front and led until his unfortunate missed shift and subsequent crash one restart later. Luza is back on top of the standings thanks to his third-place effort and Clampitt's troubles. He leads Zalenski by five points while Clampitt slips to third, seven points adrift. Alfalla sits fourth, but is within striking distance as he is only 13 points out of the lead. Darik Bourdeau rounds out the top five, 32 points back. Next up is a date with Richmond International Raceway, the second-consecutive short track on the schedule. Look for many of the same faces to be up front as Luza, Alfalla, Clampitt and Zalenski look to break away from the field. With 2017 looking like one of the most competitive NASCAR PEAK Antifreeze Series seasons ever, can anyone break away and become the favorite for the sim racing title? Find out in two weeks on iRacingLive!
Cowabunga! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to sponsor Chicagoland race
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Chicagoland Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello are back! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Nickelodeon return to Chicagoland Speedway this September as entitlement sponsor for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series playoff opener. This marks Nickelodeon's second consecutive year wearing the sponsor hat at the Illinois track. The pair made the Nickelodeon Tales of the Turtles 400 announcement Friday, coming off a wildly successful 2016 partnership and campaign. The news coincided nicely with National Superhero Day. "We're thrilled that Nickelodeon is coming back with their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle franchise as the entitlement partner of our playoff kickoff on Sunday, Sept. 17," Chicagoland track president Scott Paddock told NASCAR.com. Nickelodeon also joined NASCAR in 2015's SpongeBob SquarePants 400, which saw Jimmie Johnson collect his third win at Kansas Speedway. Last year's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 -- which Furniture Row Racing's Martin Truex Jr. won -- sparked cross-generational pizazz thanks to Nickelodeon's revamp and ownership of the franchise. "Brands like Nickelodeon attract a younger audience," Paddock furthered. "We saw impact last year with about a 12 percent increase on kids that came to the race. And what's really fascinating about the 'Turtles' franchise is it's got cross-generational appeal so it was hot back in the '90s and (now) you've got this whole generation that grew up with it and now their kids are following Nickelodeon." It appears that this is a two-way relationship built on a foundation of deep admiration and appreciation. "This is Year 2 of our partnership with Chicagoland. We're thrilled to be coming back," Anthony Di Cosmo, senior vice president of sports marketing and content development for Nickelodeon, told NASCAR.com. "I think when we carried out this partnership it was really to kind of build a platform of something long term that we can really engage kids and family in the sport in a way that felt very authentic to Nickelodeon." Building off 2016's successful weekend, Nickelodeon plans to have its characters prominently displayed at the speedway as well as driver and team involvement with special paint schemes paying tribute to the network's cartoon. Last year, Monster Energy Series drivers such as Danica Patrick, Michael McDowell and David Ragan rocked Turtle-related schemes for the 400-miler. Although it is, as of yet, uncertain who will partake in the themed paint jobs this year, some of the characters -- as well as Nickelodeon stars -- are scheduled to be prominent during the September weekend with many activities for the entire family. Cowabunga, indeed. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Speeding penalty foils Larson at Bristol -- but he still put on a show
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond BRISTOL, Tenn. – Kyle Larson's No. 42 Chevrolet was incredibly fast on the high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway during Monday's rain-delayed running of the Food City 500. Unfortunately, it was a bit too fast on pit road, too, and the misstep changed the team's pit strategy, and likely cost the Chip Ganassi Racing driver a shot a second victory through eight Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races this season. Sixth in the final rundown, the 24-year-old Larson put on quite a show right up until the end of the race. "Yeah, I knew I gave the race away there," Larson, who won earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway, said of the infraction which came on Lap 422 of the 500-lap race. "I was surprised that I was able to line up with an opportunity there at the end. We lucked out taking two (tires), and then the 78 (of Martin Truex Jr.) sped and it lined us up fourth (for the final restart)." Larson, the points leader and pole winner (the latter coming when rain forced officials to cancel qualifying on Friday), dominated the opening 125-lap Stage 1 Monday, leading every lap. He was nearly as invincible in the second stage, leading 77 circuits around the .533-mile oval before finally yielding the point to Truex. Larson ran in the top five for much of the final 250-lap stage and was second when he dropped onto pit road following the race's eighth caution period. The speeding penalty sent him to the rear, but he was 12th when a final caution flag flew for an incident involving Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports) and Paul Menard (Richard Childress Racing). Larson was one of a handful of drivers able to run both the high and low lines around Bristol seemingly picking his spots and picking off cars at will. Fifth on the final restart, he quickly made his way to second and was closing on leader Kevin Harvick (Stewart-Haas Racing), when Jimmie Johnson (Hendrick Motorsports) and Clint Bowyer (SHR) began running down the two. "I thought maybe if I could get the top going quick and get by Kevin, I could get the win," Larson said. "But I think even if I was able to get into the lead, I don't think I would have won because Jimmie and Clint were way faster than I was. They were a straightaway ahead of us, I think, at the checkered flag." Johnson took the win, his 82nd , with Bowyer earning runner-up honors. Harvick, Matt Kenseth (Joe Gibbs Racing) and Joey Logano (Team Penske) completed the top five. "I think I speed on pit road every time I come to Bristol," Larson said. "So I've got to clean that up." Larson has five top-five and six top-10 finishes this season. Chase Elliott (HMS) finished seventh and trails Larson by 27 points. </p>
'Honey-Do list Dale?' Letarte, Stewart offer personal messages
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Richmond RELATED: Dale Jr. to retire after '17 " Cain: How Junior endears himself to fans Plenty of reaction has poured in over the days since Dale Earnhardt Jr. announced his retirement from full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing at the end of the 2017 season. Drivers, fans, friends and everyone in between have taken time to thank Dale Jr. for everything he has done for the sport. In the video above, Kurt Busch expresses his thoughts on Dale Jr.'s retirement, saying "there's nobody that could ever replace Dale Jr." RELATED: NASCAR reacts to driver's announcement In the video below from JR Motorsports, an assortment of drivers from Kyle Larson and Danica Patrick to recently retired three-time champion Tony Stewart, spotter TJ Majors and a host of others wish Junior well. Former No. 88 crew-chief-turned-TV-analyst Steve Letarte warns of a "Honey-Do" list. Regan Smith also provided some humorous foreshadowing for what he think Dale’s post-retirement life will look like. Personal messages to @DaleJr , from #NASCAR drivers and friends. #JRM360 pic.twitter.com/IGXecGu9KF — JR Motorsports (@JRMotorsports) April 27, 2017 Will we see "Honey-Do list Dale" join "Water Cooler Dale" on a Nationwide commercial? Perhaps, but for now everyone is extending their gratitude toward the racing superstar. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Actor Morris Chestnut on Austin Dillon, how NASCAR, Hollywood relate
Actor and star of FOX's police crime drama "Rosewood" Morris Chestnut noticed that the cast seemed nervous while filming a portion of the Season 2 finale in March. For good reason, too. "There was a huge explosion and the explosion was so big that everyone on the set was nervous because it was on the second level of this parking structure," Chestnut recalled Monday to NASCAR.com via telephone. "And it was such a big explosion that everyone thought the second level was going to drop down to the first." But one guest star -- Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Austin Dillon -- seemed quite unnerved by the exploding car behind him, Chestnut noticed. It seemed his day job lent a hand to dealing with crashes, fires and loud noises on the set of a television show. "He was actually in the scene when this happened," Chestnut said of Dillon. "And to see his reaction -- he was just like a pro, didn't flinch. It was great, he did a great job." In the "Rosewood" season finale, Dillon portrays Wayne Cirito, a character that is associated with a crime gang that the show's protagonist Dr. Beaumont Rosewood (played by Chestnut) is trying to interrogate. As for Dillon's acting skills? Chestnut was impressed by the 27-year-old driver's versatility on-screen. "That's one thing that's great about Austin," Chestnut said. "It was a very tough scene because he goes from this hard, tough-as-nails guy, to relating to (character Captain Ira) Hornstock and talking about things he may not have been comfortable (talking about)." But as Chestnut learned after talking with Dillon off-screen, race car drivers have to be tough in a variety of facets in their own jobs -- as well as focused, sharp and able-bodied. It's a familiar area for the 48-year-old actor, as he just released a health and fitness book this month entitled "The Cut: Lose Up to 10 Pounds in 10 Days and Sculpt Your Best Body." "It was great to talk to him about some of the insight toward NASCAR," Chestnut said. "I didn't know some of the things that he goes through as (a driver ), that they go through in the cars and everything, so it was great to talk to him about that. "…One thing when I was talking to Austin is the endurance factor. Not only do you have to have a healthy body, but you have to have a healthy and sharp mind because a one-second lapse can not only cost you the race, but you can get into some very bad, brutal accidents. So, health and fitness is a huge part of being sharp and being ready when you're on the track. "These guys are athletes, these drivers are athletes," Chestnut continued. "I didn't realize that. They're not just sitting in the car Sunday driving like I do on the freeway. (They're hitting) 200 mph, going around these tracks and turns … you have to be in tip-top shape and (have) a razor-sharp mind." His conversations with Dillon on set gave Chestnut, who has never attended a NASCAR race, a greater appreciation for the sport of racing. "To be honest, I didn't get (NASCAR)," said Chestnut, who also plans to attend Dillon's 3-on-3 charity basketball tournament this year. "I didn't really get it. But he was breaking everything down to me about the whole entire experience. It's not just about the race -- it's even before the race, everyone coming, meeting the drivers, being right on the track. He was breaking so many little intricate things down to me just about the sport in general to where it really, really piqued my interest. So I'm looking forward to getting out to (a race) … (There were) so many interesting things that he was talking to me about, I was like, 'Man, I have to see one of these.' " The connections between NASCAR and Hollywood have grown deeper in recent years, as more drivers have briefly traded their fire suits and race cars for Hollywood scripts and bright lights for cameo appearances in movies and television shows. Kyle Busch, Ryan Blaney and Carl Edwards notably nabbed cameo roles in the upcoming Steven Soderbergh-directed, racing-themed film "Logan Lucky;" which stars Channing Tatum, Daniel Craig and Riley Keough among others. Likewise, several movie and television stars have flocked to the often-unfamiliar race tracks, particularly the Southern California-based Auto Club Speedway and Wine Country's Sonoma Raceway. RELATED: NASCAR meets Hollywood in 'Logan Lucky' movie While he is just starting to learn more about NASCAR, Chestnut already sees parallels between NASCAR and Hollywood, primarily the storytelling aspect of both. "I think they're both very entertaining," Chestnut said. "Like I said, I didn't understand the sport … but once he told me the intricacies of the storylines that are involved and how intimate the fans can be with the drivers, it's a whole other level of entertainment. Even the story within the story, the story within the races with some of the drivers and what happens before they even come to the race. "There's just so many interesting things, I think it's just a natural relationship the two can have. Hollywood has stories -- we tell stories with our show every week. The more you know about our show, the more interested you may be. The more I know about NASCAR drivers, the more interested I am in the sport. It's very similar. They're both very strong forms of entertainment." Catch Dillon and Chestnut on the season finale of "Rosewood" on Friday, April 28 at 8 p.m. ET on FOX. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
No. 78 crew chief fined for lug nut issue post-Bristol
NASCAR issued penalties to two national series teams following the races at Bristol Motor Speedway: The No. 78 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team of Furniture Row Racing and the No. 22 NASCAR XFINITY Series team of Team Penske. Martin Truex Jr. drove the No. 78 Toyota to an eighth-place finish at Bristol, but NASCAR officials found one of the car's 20 lug nuts was improperly installed in a post-race check. Crew chief Cole Pearn was fined $10,000 for the violation. Pearn is in his third season atop the box at Furniture Row Racing, having guided Truex to six wins during that span and the third position in the 2017 driver standings. The penalty is the lightest for post-race lug-nut violations, under the updated deterrence system that NASCAR competition officials released Feb. 16. The penalty for two improperly fastened lug nuts rises to a $20,000 fine and one-race crew chief suspension. Three or more unsecured lug nuts results in a L1-grade penalty with a three-race ban for the crew chief, a $65,000 fine and the loss of 35 championship points in both the drivers' and team owners' standings. In the XFINITY Series, the No. 22 team of Team Penske was found to have failed post-race technical inspection for measuring too low in the left front. Ryan Blaney drove the No. 22 Ford to a second-place finish but that result is encumbered. Any potential playoff benefits relating to owner standings (since Blaney is eligible for XFINITY Series driver points) from that position would essentially cease to exist as well. No. 22 crew chief Greg Erwin has been fined $10,000 and suspended from the next XFINITY Series points race. The team was also assessed with the loss of 10 XFINITY Series car owner points.
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