Larson, Johnson, Busch talk Bristol's updated racing groove
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Bristol MORE: Weekend schedule " Starting lineup " Bristol photos BRISTOL, Tenn. -- It's not that Kyle Larson isn't a fan of the sticky substance put down on the racing surface at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series points leader understands the reasoning behind the application of an adhesive product to the lower portion of the track. But the driver of the No. 42 Chevrolet for Chip Ganassi Racing said he believes the amount placed on the concrete could create a situation that lends itself to keeping drivers racing single-file around the steeply-banked .533-mile track for Monday's Food City 500 (1 p.m. ET, FOX, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Track officials applied the adhesive in the lower sections of the turns in an attempt to create an additional racing groove and promote passing on the often treacherous track. One of a handful of Monster Energy Cup drivers who also competed in Saturday's Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 XFINITY Series race, Larson said he "tried to work the top in" during Friday’s XFINITY Series practice at BMS. "I feel like it would still be really fast up there, it's just nobody is brave enough to go up there and work in the groove," said Larson, who won the pole for Saturday's XFINITY Series race. "The VHT (substance) is wider than the width of our race cars now too, which makes it extremely easy to run around the bottom and not a lot of fun. "I don't know, maybe some guys like it, but I think, yeah it looks like old Bristol because we are all running around the bottom, but I just don't see how that is fun." For years, Bristol was known as a one-groove track where drivers were forced to bump their way past competitors as they tried to advance through the field. That often led to ill tempers and altercations but tremendous fan turnout as well. The facility boasted a string of 55-consecutive sellouts between 1982 and 2010 during a time that seating capacity grew from approximately 30,000 to nearly 160,000. Officials added progressive banking in 2007 in an effort to move away from the single-file racing for which the facility, which opened in 1961, had become known. But the change created a reverse situation -- the upper groove became the preferred line around the track, and after several races that featured few lead changes and contact, officials went back to the drawing boards In 2012, the track was altered once again when officials milled the upper groove in an effort to create more side-by-side competition. The results have been mixed, and the application of the adhesive is the latest move. Officials first applied the product prior to last year's night race at BMS. "I think it was like three or four feet wide," Larson, one of six race winners through this season's first seven races, said of the initial application. "I thought that was a good width because you could get your left sides in it and you really had to be cautious of hitting your marks every corner. "Now it's like you just fire off from the corner and it doesn't really matter where you enter as long as your right sides are in the grip you are going to rip around the corner. (It) just makes it too easy for us and I don't think that is good for racing ." Kyle Busch, a winner of five Monster Energy NASCAR races and 17 overall at BMS, said the early indication Friday was that "there's a lot of bottom going on and not a whole lot of middle or top." "I'm sure Larson's thrilled and he'll have to rubber in the top himself while the rest of us are rooting and gouging for the bottom," he said. Seven-time series champion Jimmie Johnson commended Bristol officials for the effort, noting that it was something that had worked in the past. "And in the Driver's Council meeting after our fall race here, we were all eager to make sure it was back down," Johnson said, "and (we) thought that it did offer more options (for passing) than without it." &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Owner Standings
MORE: XFINITY owner standings " Camping World owner standings Pos. Owner Car No. Points Ldr Nxt Race Wins Stage Wins Playoff Pts Attempts 1 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 360 0 0 1 2 7 8 2 Hendrick Motorsports 24 333 -27 -27 0 2 2 8 3 Furniture Row Racing 78 323 -37 -10 1 5 10 8 4 Team Penske 22 291 -69 -32 0 1 1 8 5 Team Penske 2 277 -83 -14 2 0 10 8 6 Hendrick Motorsports 48 244 -116 -33 2 0 10 8 7 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 244 -116 0 0 0 0 8 8 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 239 -121 -5 0 0 0 8 9 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 239 -121 0 0 3 3 8 10 Wood Brothers Racing 21 228 -132 -11 0 2 2 8 11 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 214 -146 -14 0 1 1 8 12 Furniture Row Racing 77 192 -168 -22 0 0 0 8 13 Roush Fenway Racing 6 192 -168 0 0 0 0 8 14 Richard Childress Racing 31 186 -174 -6 1 0 5 8 15 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 184 -176 -2 0 0 0 8 16 Roush Fenway Racing 17 168 -192 -16 0 0 0 8 17 Hendrick Motorsports 5 164 -196 -4 0 0 0 8 18 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 163 -197 -1 1 0 5 8 19 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 161 -199 -2 0 0 0 8 20 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 159 -201 -2 0 0 0 8 21 Richard Childress Racing 3 154 -206 -5 0 0 0 8 22 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 144 -216 -10 0 0 0 8 23 Germain Racing 13 144 -216 0 0 0 0 8 24 Hendrick Motorsports 88 134 -226 -10 0 0 0 8 25 Richard Childress Racing 27 127 -233 -7 0 0 0 8 26 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 116 -244 -11 0 0 0 8 27 Leavine Family Racing 95 102 -258 -14 0 0 0 8 28 JTG Daugherty Racing 37 94 -266 -8 0 0 0 8 29 TriStar Motorsports 72 94 -266 0 0 0 0 8 30 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 91 -269 -3 0 0 0 8 31 GO FAS Racing 32 90 -270 -1 0 0 0 8 32 Front Row Motorsports 34 88 -272 -2 0 0 0 8 33 Front Row Motorsports 38 79 -281 -9 0 0 0 8 34 Premium Motorsports 15 68 -292 -11 0 0 0 8 35 BK Racing 83 52 -308 -16 0 0 0 8 36 BK Racing 23 39 -321 -13 0 0 0 8 37 Circle Sport / TMG 33 34 -326 -5 0 0 0 8 38 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 27 -333 -7 0 0 0 2 39 Beard Motorsports 175 26 -334 -1 0 0 0 1 40 Premium Motorsports 55 15 -345 -11 0 0 0 7 41 Rick Ware Racing 51 15 -345 0 0 0 0 8 42 Gaunt Brothers Racing 96 1 -359 -14 0 0 0 1
OK with delay: Six who could make Monday marks
RELATED: Race lineup " Monday schedule When the skies clear and the green flag drops today (1 p.m. ET, FOX), Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers will face a different type of Bristol. Pounded by rain over the past 24 hours, all of the rubber that accumulated onto the track, giving it grip, has been washed away. All of the resin-based VHT applied to the bottom of the track in an attempt to create a full-blown groove on the bottom? Who knows? What we do know: Some drivers and teams will adapt better than others. We studied the results of last year's four races that were delayed a day due to rain -- both Pocono races, the fall race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Bristol Night Race, which ran Sunday afternoon rather than the typical Saturday night. Some drivers excelled a day later more than others. With those results in mind, here are our six drivers to monitor today as you watch the race on FOX or as you make final tweaks to your Fantasy Live lineup. " Full fantasy preview here RELATED: Fantasy Live homepage 1. Kevin Harvick, Stewart-Haas Racing . He tops the list because of his win last year at Bristol in a rain-delayed race run the following day in overcast conditions … the exact forecast for Monday, as it turns out. Harvick also notched a fourth and a ninth at Pocono. He is one of just three drivers who finished in the top 10 in three of the four delayed races from 2016. 2. Brad Keselowski, Team Penske. Two top-five finishes at Pocono plus a seventh at Charlotte in the fall equal a team that understands how to adapt to ever-changing conditions. Crew chief Paul Wolfe is one of the sport's best strategists. 3. Kurt Busch, Stewart-Haas Racing . In addition to winning Pocono last year in the summer, Busch finished 10th at Pocono in August and eighth at Charlotte. Given his Bristol history and a veteran crew chief in Tony Gibson who's done this delayed race thing a time or two, this year's Daytona 500 champ makes the list. RELATED: Go deeper on driver stats 4. Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing . Busch finished in the top 10 in two of last year's four postponed races -- sixth at Charlotte and ninth at Pocono-2. We're giving him additional credit for his Bristol performance last year, though, where he led 256 of 500 laps but had to take his car to the garage with a broken suspension. 5. Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports. Kahne's top-10 performances in last year's delayed races came at the bigger tracks (Charlotte, Pocono), but they were strong finishes -- third and sixth, respectively. Plus, his 10-consecutive lap averages during Saturday's practices were among the best in the field. 6. Chris Buescher, JTG Daugherty Racing . Yes, a wild card. Buescher's Pocono-2 win was based off great strategy and intuition, but don't discount that he finished fifth at Bristol while driving for Front Row Motorsports. &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;gt;
Tire tweaks? Indianapolis test on tap this week
Four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series teams will travel to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this week for a two-day Goodyear tire test at the legendary 2.5-mile facility. Drivers scheduled to take part in the test, set for Tuesday and Wednesday, are Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Ford), Denny Hamlin (No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota), David Ragan (No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford) and Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet). The Brickyard 400 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race is scheduled for July 23 . "It seems like the last couple of years (Indy) has fairly well stabilized after the grinding that they did," Goodyear's Greg Stucker told NASCAR.com. "Kind of knocked the edges off the grooves in the surface. But the last couple of years we've felt like we were getting to the point that we could look at adding a little bit of grip. Particularly with the move from '16 to '17 with a little less downforce." NASCAR' s 2017 rules package created less overall downforce (from 2,100 to 1,600 pounds) on the cars through changes to the rear spoiler, front splitter and deck fin. Modifications to rear steer settings and a new tire rule (teams must start the race using the tires on which they qualified) were also made. While significant, the changes were an evolution of the initial package that debuted in '15 at select events when the sanctioning body began the move to take downforce away from the cars. Those changes were implemented for all races (excluding superspeedway events at Daytona and Talladega) in '16. Stucker, Goodyear's director of race tire sales, said an XFINITY Series test last October at Indy opened the door for a possible tire change in the Monster Energy Series. "When we tested with the XFINITY cars last year in preparation for their new configuration, we actually were running a little bit softer left side. It's the left side (tire) that we run at Pocono," he said. "So that gave us an indication, 'Hey, this might be something that we can standardize between Pocono and Indy, give the Cup cars a little more grip.' So that's one of the main goals, to look at that and see if that's a good move for Indianapolis this year and add a little bit more left-side grip." Stucker said the continued evolution of the rules package has not "significantly" impacted tire selection. The big bump, he said, came between '15 and '16 as the initial lower-downforce package was rolled out. "Because that was the plan," he said. "The big step from '15 to '16 (was) 'let's figure out where we land with tires and if we feel like we're in a good spot, even though we’re taking more downforce off as we go to '17, let's leave tires alone.'" But as the cars have evolved and tracks age and undergo repaves, Goodyear continues to monitor the situation and addresses the changing needs. "There are a couple of areas we wanted to work on," he said. "Kansas at the end of last year, obviously we're going to come with a little bit softer left side (tire), because we felt we were in that position even with the '16 package as we went to '17 and less downforce, that was a good move. Obviously Martinsville (was) a different focus, to rubber in the race track. Texas with the repave; Kentucky with a new top coat on now. Las Vegas, trying to generate a little more wear on a surface that generally doesn't create wear. "We had a few things to work on but it wasn't a significant move in grip like I would call the '15 to '16 move. Overall things are pretty stable and we're kind of fine-tuning specific race tracks that we feel like we can help a little bit." There currently are no plans to test at Texas, which was repaved and reconfigured prior to this month's race. Due to time constraints, there was no tire test at the 1.5-mile track. Stucker said officials were pleased with the Texas tire selection, which was the same left-side tire code used by teams at Kentucky in 2016 (Kentucky underwent a similar repave and Goodyear did conduct tire tests prior to that race). The right-side Texas tire featured the same tread compound as Kentucky but with a minor construction change. "You have to be cautious," he said. "With the (Texas) repave, we raced on it right after it was done. It's not going to change significantly as we get into the fall. I think the race track was very happy. … We certainly are. "Again, hat's off to the race track and to SMI for doing everything they could to put some rubber down with the Tire Dragon and trying to work the groove in. I think that was huge. And I think that was complimented with a pretty racy package from what we had."
Arris renews multi-year partnership with Joe Gibbs Racing
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! RELATED: Suarez's rise to NASCAR stardom SUWANEE, Ga. -- ARRIS International today announced that it has renewed its multi-year sponsorship agreement with Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR). Under the agreement, ARRIS will extend its primary sponsorship of Daniel Suárez to 22 races (up from 17 last year) in this season's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, following Carl Edwards ' decision to step away from racing in January. Following his momentous win as the first foreign-born driver to win a NASCAR championship, Suárez will move up as the driver of the No. 19 ARRIS Toyota Camry to compete in NASCAR's highest series. From the start, ARRIS Racing has shared a passion for developing young talent in racing , alongside Carlos "Slim" Domit and Escudería. Today, ARRIS also announced that it is continuing its support of young Latin American drivers -- renewing its sponsorship of Abraham Calderón, who last season won the Freightliner Truck Series in Mexico, and sponsoring 21-year-old Mexican driver Fabián Welter, who is currently Driver 1 in the Telmex Driver Development Program. "ARRIS is a strategic and dedicated partner on and off the track," said Joe Gibbs , founder and owner of JGR. "Their commitment to advancing the sport -- from a sponsorship and technology perspective -- makes them a genuine leader that our fans have recognized and embraced. We look forward to years of rewarding collaboration and to many more trips to Victory Lane." "Our partnership with JGR and our involvement with NASCAR has been instrumental in introducing the ARRIS brand to millions of NASCAR fans. We had a great run with the legendary Carl Edwards , and now we're proud to continue our work with JGR by extending our race-day sponsorship to 22 events in support of Daniel Suárez's history-making trajectory," said Ron Coppock, Executive Vice President, Global Marketing and Customer Operations at ARRIS. "Daniel represents the future of racing , and we're looking forward to joining him on the podium in his first Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. "ARRIS Racing is also proud to play an important role in the development of young Latin American racing talent," continued Coppock. "Fabián and Abraham are two drivers who, like a young Daniel Suárez, show great potential on the Mexican racing scene. We are excited to contribute to their growth as drivers and as the next generation of this sport." "It's a dream to be competing for the first time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series," said Daniel Suárez, JGR driver. "With the full support of ARRIS and JGR, I know the whole team will be able to make the most of this coming season and give us every chance of success." ARRIS joined the NASCAR family in 2014 with its primary sponsorship of JGR drivers Carl Edwards and Daniel Suárez. In 2016, the company installed the most comprehensive Wi-Fi deployment in NASCAR history at Daytona International Speedway , which serves tens of thousands of fans on race days. The company also powers the communications between NASCAR drivers and their teams through its SURFboard SB6183 modem, E6000 CER, and integration and support from its Global Services team.
No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing XFINITY Series team lands penalty for Las Vegas
BUY TICKETS: See the races in Las Vegas RELATED: Entry list for Las Vegas HAMPTON, Ga. -- NASCAR officials announced Saturday that the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota team in the XFINITY Series had been penalized for an infraction found in Friday night's pre-qualifying inspection at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Competition officials said the car, driven this weekend in the Rinnai 250 by Denny Hamlin, was found with an incorrectly mounted splitter structure. Under NASCAR's new deterrence system, which went into effect ahead of the 2017 season, the team will forfeit its pit stall selection for next weekend's event at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. New for this year for the XFINITY Series, teams make their pit-stall selections one week in advance based on the current weekend's qualifying results. In previous years, it would have taken four warnings before this particular penalty was levied. The JGR No. 20 Toyota is scheduled to be driven next weekend by Daniel Suarez, the 2016 series champion, in the Boyd Gaming 300 (March 11, 4 p.m. ET, FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
NASCAR Hall of Fame: Joe Gibbs
Joe Gibbs has won throughout his entire life. The three-time Super Bowl champion football coach started Joe Gibbs Racing in 1992 and has led the organization to four Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series titles.
Cain: Joe Gibbs Racing Chase strategy may change at Texas
FORT WORTH -- We get the concept. It's the embrace that feels a little tricky. After the race at Talladega Superspeedway two weeks ago, Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Carl Edwards , Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch emerged from their Toyotas feeling "good" about a mid-pack bumper-to-bumper-to-bumper finish that neither helped nor hurt their points standings to advance in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship. It was a well-executed survival gamble. Their JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin , however, was left on his own to race his heart out at NASCAR's biggest track in hopes of earning a spot into the Chase's Round of 8. He did, but only by virtue of besting a tiebreaker thanks to his third-place finish. Last week, the JGR train used a similar format, sticking together nose-to-tail at Martinsville Speedway -- NASCAR's smallest track -- and finishing third through fifth. In both instances, during post-race interviews on pit road -- depending on which JGR driver you were talking to -- they were up to code on praising team orders. But their facial expressions perhaps revealed a little something else. Granted, at Talladega, it's as nerve-wracking to run at the rear of the field as it is to get into the winner's mix. So it was as much a gamble to run together far away from the front as it was to navigate forward. At Martinsville, there appeared to be potential for a different scenario than the Gibbs freight train, but again it successfully took the checkered flag in title contention. The Gibbs team didn't win at either venue, however. So, now that strategy of playing it safe and bonding together has also fundamentally altered the title hopes of at least one member of the four-car JGR contingent, as three championship bids now remain open. Four drivers move forward to decide the trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway and Sunday's winner at Martinsville, six-time champ Jimmie Johnson , has earned one of those positions. RELATED: JGR denied in quest for Championship 4 sweep Three JGR cars -- Hamlin, Kenseth and Busch -- are ranked second to fourth in the standings. Edwards finished 36th at Martinsville, suffering from a tire problem, and will essentially need to win at Texas this week or at Phoenix next week to earn a championship chance. It will be an interesting subplot to see how JGR strategizes as the series heads to the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway this weekend. Will it continue to expect its four drivers to team up, or will this virtual team restrictor plate come off? Credit goes to the four for so obediently following team orders and thinking about the good of the whole versus the glory of the individual. But playing it safe only goes so far now. All the teammates enthusiastically praised the way they ran at Talladega, even Hamlin who was essentially left to fend for himself. However, Sunday at Martinsville, it appeared that the strategy was wearing a little thinner. Hamlin again led JGR's third-through-fifth place contingent, followed by Kenseth and Busch. And it didn't take a certified psychologist to dissect the post-race vibe. Certainly, reigning Cup champion Busch let on that the team's strategy was perhaps a bit troublesome at Martinsville -- even if he wouldn't just come right out and declare that it's time for every man to fend for himself. "You can't wreck each other and that's all there is to it I guess," Busch said. "We worked so good together that we gave the 48 ( Jimmie Johnson ) car the win today. "That's how good JGR is." There have been arguments made that the JGR pack racing "works" at Talladega because of the nature of restrictor plate pack racing . And obviously, it was effective -- even if if didn't result in a win -- at Martinsville last week. But the Texas high banks present different challenges. And as the opportunity to secure a championship bid diminishes with each race, the JGR drivers may understandably feel more selfish in their pursuit. "I don't think it changes a whole lot, honestly," Hamlin said. "I think that we each still have a shot, there's just one spot taken, so three of us would still be a good number to get in that final group and we'll do everything we can to get that done." It may well be the ultimate Texas Two-Step and it's just a question of who will dance.
Kenseth expands on Joe Gibbs Racing spotter shuffle
RELATED: Full NASCAR Media Tour schedule CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The surprising "retirement" of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Carl Edwards created more than just a driver opening for the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 19 team. It also resulted in the shuffling of spotters Chris "Crazy" Osborne and Jason Hedlesky. Osborne served as spotter for JGR driver Matt Kenseth from 2013-16. He also worked as the spotter for driver Daniel Suarez in the XFINITY Series this past season. Hedlesky has worked for more than a dozen years as Edwards' spotter. When JGR officials named Suarez to take over Edwards' spot, team officials thought it best to allow the XFINITY Series champion to continue working with Osborne for his rookie effort. That opened the door to pair Kenseth with Hedlesky. "With Carl's unexpected departure and putting Daniel in there, you know 'Crazy' has worked with Daniel the whole time through the XFINITY Series, the Truck Series," Kenseth said Tuesday during the first day of this year's NASCAR Media Tour hosted by Charlotte Motor Speedway . "He and 'Crazy' had that really good relationship and with Carl not being there and Jason being over (at the No. 19) I think everybody over there just decided to make the swap for the good of the company." Hedlesky has also spotted for ThorSport Racing driver Matt Crafton in the Camping World Truck Series for several years. "Jason has always done a great job," Kenseth said. "There's always some pause, I guess, because you kind of learn each other, and that takes a little bit (of time) to do that. But I think it will be fine." In addition to Kenseth and Suarez, JGR also fields entries in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series for defending Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin and 2015 series champion Kyle Busch . &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;gt;
Tune in: Joe Gibbs Racing press conference on Wednesday
RELATED: Click here to bookmark the live-stream link Joe Gibbs Racing will hold two separate news conferences starting at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, from its headquarters in Huntersville, North Carolina. Both press conferences will be live-streamed on NASCAR.com. Check back tomorrow to watch the events and for full coverage.
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