Post-Race Reactions: Kentucky 201
Championship contenders Kligerman, Coulter, Dillon, and Peters comment on their Kentucky runs along with Brian Scott.
Kyle Busch wins at Kentucky in overtime finish
RELATED: Results " Standings SPARTA, Ky. – It was a race Kyle Busch won with a dramatic run around the outside lane at Kentucky Speedway. It was a race Erik Jones lost when he hit the wrong switch on his dashboard, killed the engine and slowed under caution late in the race. But, interestingly, it was a race where Jones showed Busch, the pole winner, the key to victory, demonstrating to his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate that the outside line was viable when racing side-by-side with an opponent. Clearing Austin Dillon off Turn 4 in the first lap in overtime in Friday night’s Alsco 300 NASCAR XFINITY Series race, after caution slowed the race for the fifth time, Busch pulled away to beat the Richard Childress Racing scion to the finish line by .455 seconds. Daniel Suarez finished third after chasing Busch to the final yellow flag, then losing the runner-up spot to Dillon on the last restart. Jones came home a disappointing fourth after outdueling Busch for the lead on Lap 175, only to give it up when his car wouldn’t refire under caution and failed to keep up with the pace car, costing Jones two positions. Busch led 185 of the 201 laps in winning for the fifth time in nine starts this season, the second time at Kentucky and the 81st time in his career, extending his own series record. But it was the run around the outside lane, after Dillon pulled even on the backstretch on lap 200, that proved decisive. And that’s exactly how Jones had passed Busch for the lead on Lap 175. “I didn’t think he’d be able to hold it through (Turns) 3 and 4 like that,” said Dillon, who thought he had the preferred position on the inside. “But he did a great job of holding me down. I wish we could have got it done for (sponsor) Rheem, but it was a really close race.” Busch was roughly a half-second ahead of Suarez and appeared to have the race in hand when caution flew on Lap 195 with smoke billowing from Mike Harmon ’s car. “We always get the Kyle Busch cautions,” Busch said. “Apparently this time it was true. There was some problems with another car smoking. You always have to make your money’s worth, I guess. Always have to give the show to the fans and their money’s worth. “Certainly means a lot to us to win here and bring our Camry home to Victory Lane again at Kentucky Speedway.” Jones said he hit the wrong button when he was rolling under caution and fell behind the pace car, allowing Busch to pass him. NASCAR rules require a driver to maintain pace car speed in order to keep his or her running position. “I think we had the fastest car here once we got out front,” Jones lamented. “It’s just hard to get back up to the front when you get back in traffic.” But before he fell back, Jones had already given Busch the road map to victory. “When Erik drove into Turn 3 with me, I started to roll out just a little bit, because I knew I needed to in order to run the bottom,” Busch said. “And he drove right on past me, and I was like, ‘Well, all righty then.’ “I was waiting for him to slip and to not be able to control his car in the black, in the rubber. And it stuck for him and he made it work. I definitely learned that there was a little bit of speed up there, at least for one lap, for one corner.” And that one corner made all the difference on Friday night.
Erik Jones left frustrated by late mistake at Kentucky
RELATED: Results " Standings SPARTA, Ky. -- Erik Jones had the best view from his office Friday night at Kentucky Speedway, leading in the closing stages, with only the pace car in front of him during a late caution period and with another NASCAR XFINITY Series win in sight. But the equivalent of knocking over a pencil holder or a box of paper clips spoiled both the office feng shui inside his car and his shot at a victory in the Alsco 300. While making adjustments inside the cockpit during the fourth of the race's five yellow flags, Jones accidentally hit the ignition kill switch, causing his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 Toyota to stall. NASCAR competition officials ruled that Jones failed to keep pace during his flight fade, forcing him to line up third on the next-to-last restart on Lap 180 of 201 laps. "I don't know. I fell back 20 feet from the pace car, no different than if you're saving fuel and they put me to third place, so I guess I gave it away," Jones said after finishing fourth in the 40-car field. "It's unfortunate. Good Reser's Camry and nothing to show for it." Jones, who led three laps, explained that his late-race gaffe wasn't a matter of purposely turning the car off and on to save fuel. "There's a lot of things obviously these drivers do in these car that the general fan doesn't realize," said Chris Gabehart, crew chief for Jones' JGR No. 20. "They're just as busy or busier under caution trying to manage a lot of things, and that's what Erik was doing. Moving from one switch to the other, he just accidentally hit the ignition switch and turned it off, and it only takes a few seconds before you can't maintain speed and that's all." Jones' frustration as he emerged from the car was evident late Friday night, but Gabehart said the miscue wasn't solely the responsibility of the driver, who is still in his first full season of XFINITY Series competition. "No one puts more pressure on him than he does on himself, like any great athlete or performer would," Gabehart said. "It's no different with him. But he's just 20. He's still making mistakes every day for the first time like we all are, but when you're younger, you make a lot more of them in a day and you've got to learn from them. "Just a simple mistake, but we made the mistake. That's what I want to stress is, it's not Erik we're talking about. Just like it wasn't my team we were talking about last week at Daytona or at Iowa, it's us as a race team no matter what, and that's the biggest lesson I want him to take from this. And he will. He's a smart kid." Jones said he was able to salvage some consolation from his ninth top-five effort of the year, the most of any full-time XFINITY Series driver so far this season. The Michigan native sits fourth in the standings heading to the series' next race, scheduled next weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. "I mean, we had some good moments, we had a good race car, and it was a good team-building day for us," Jones said. "A lot of good changes, a lot of good gains and it's a pretty good run for a repave. Just unfortunate it didn't work out. I felt like we did have the fastest car here once we got out front, but it's just hard to get back up there once you get back in traffic, so not our night."
Victory Lane: James Buescher
Buescher thanks his team and sponsors after celebrating his Kentucky 201 win.
Junior happy to see Cassill, Martin literally sits on pole
Editor's note: Every Friday during the season, "Tweets You Might Have Missed" presents eight of the best NASCAR-related tweets from the week. Follow @NASCAR 1. Hey @DaleJr is that a banana and mayonnaise sandwich in your spandex or are you just happy to see me — landon cassill (@landoncassill) March 13, 2017 2. #OnThisDay in 1992 @markmartin sat on the pole (literally) for the Motorcraft 500 @amsupdates . #RFRDriven pic.twitter.com/NrY4ufpMBu — Roush Fenway Racing (@roushfenway) March 15, 2017 3. Epic day with the @Cubs . Thank you to all the staff and players...unbelievable experience. Even met Mr. Tom Ricketts! #KB41 #NASCAR #MLB ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/JzXzmzbi1g — Kurt Busch (@KurtBusch) March 15, 2017 4. Go to a #NASCAR race. #FreeAdviceIn5Words pic.twitter.com/7qkCZA9pIn — Monster Mile (@MonsterMile) March 16, 2017 5. Hold my beer I got this pic.twitter.com/yFOsstPKKZ — Alex Bowman (@AlexBRacing) March 13, 2017 6. #blameJJ https://t.co/ssXkWZLPOE — Amy Earnhardt (@AmyEarnhardt) March 5, 2017 . @DaleJr was too fast on pit road. #NW88JR — Nationwide 88 (@nationwide88) March 5, 2017 7. Dune life This is as good of a family pic as we could get, toddler on the move! cred @deszastrow pic.twitter.com/qi1bofdVsY — Samantha Busch (@SamanthaBusch) March 14, 2017 8. @KySpeedway Teams from Texas and not teams from Kentucky . — Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) March 16, 2017 @MartinsvilleSwy @KySpeedway Gonna be like that huh?! pic.twitter.com/MaskDYD2wt — Texas Motor Speedway (@TXMotorSpeedway) March 16, 2017
Kentucky Speedway to add layer of asphalt
RELATED: Tire dragon goes to work at Kentucky Kentucky Speedway announced Monday that it will add another surface layer of asphalt to the 1.5-mile track this month. The Bluegrass State circuit underwent a full reconfiguration earlier this year that included a increased banking in Turns 1 and 2, improved drainage, additional energy-absorbing SAFER barrier and a total repave. The work was completed ahead of a tripleheader NASCAR weekend for all three national series July 7-9. "When our team examined the race track, portions of the paving performed earlier this year did not meet the construction specifications," Kentucky Speedway general manager Mark Simendinger said in a release provided by the track. "These deficiencies had no impact on this year's racing and would affect only the long-term viability of the surface if left uncorrected. In order to remedy these issues, an additional surface course of asphalt will be applied. The track will cure over the winter and be fully in use in the spring." The speedway indicated that all work would be complete in October. The track hosts two NASCAR weekends on the 2017 schedule, the first for all three national series July 6-8 and a return trip for the XFINITY Series in September.
My Chase - Kentucky
Get an inside look at the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase with the newest video in the XFINITY My Chase video series, coming to you from Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky .
Kentucky : The missing track for Chevrolet drivers
Of the 23 tracks that currently host one or more NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events, Kentucky Speedway remains the only venue that hasn't seen a Chevrolet driver celebrating in Victory Lane. The 1.5-mile track, which will host Saturday night's Quaker State 400 Presented (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) held its first Sprint Cup race in 2011. This weekend's race will be just the sixth premier series event at the facility, which is owned by Speedway Motorsports Inc. Kyle Busch (Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota) has a pair of victories there, as does Brad Keselowski (Team Penske No. 2 Ford). Matt Kenseth (JGR No. 20 Toyota) is also a former Kentucky winner. Keselowski, last week's Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola winner at Daytona International Speedway, won at Kentucky in a Dodge (in 2012) as well as a Ford (2014). The lack of success at the track isn't something Chevrolet officials and teams take lightly. "Our teams are very aware that we haven't won at this race track," said Alba Colon, program manager for Chevrolet in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. "It's a big deal." Chevrolet drivers have finished second twice, Kasey Kahne (Hendrick Motorsports) in 2012 and Jamie McMurray (Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates) the following year. But perhaps the automaker's most difficult loss to swallow was the '13 race, one that saw Jimmie Johnson dominate only to lose the lead, and the race, following a late caution. Johnson (HMS) led 182 of 267 laps before a fuel-only stop by Kenseth put the JGR driver out front on a restart; Johnson's chances faded when the No. 48 entry spun moments later. There are tracks where Chevrolet teams have been dominant. They have won six straight at Phoenix International Raceway, for example, and 12 of the past 13 events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Thus far, Kentucky has been a tougher nut to crack. “We have had only five races so far (at Kentucky )," Colon said, noting runnerup finishes by McMurray and Kahne. "We've won the pole three times. Top-five and top-10 finishes. We haven't been able to close it." That could change this weekend. For just the second, and final, time this season teams will be competing with a lower downforce aerodynamic package. The track has been repaved and Turns 1 and 2 have been reconfigured with the banking increased three degrees. "I really believe that with the new rules and everything being so equal right now … this is a great chance for us to do it," Colon said. Fourteen teams tested at Kentucky June 13-14. Fastest through the two days of practice was the Chevrolet entry of 2014 series champion Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team. Harvick has yet to lead a lap at the track, but has finished 10th or higher in his last three starts there. It's one of only four tracks, along with Pocono, Sonoma and Texas, where he has yet to win. Ditto for Johnson, who counts Kentucky , Watkins Glen, Homestead and Chicagoland as tracks where he has yet to visit Victory Lane. And three-time champ Tony Stewart is winless at only two current tracks – Kentucky and Darlington. The three-times series champion will close the book on his Sprint Cup Series career at season's end. Going out with a win at each track, he said, would make his departure all the more memorable. Chevrolet teams have 758 wins in NASCAR through the years, most of any automaker. "But it's a goal," Colon said, "to have a win at every track. "We have been very successful. And we still have one more track to win."
Kentucky's revamp, asymmetry provide racing unknowns
SPARTA, Ky. -- Considering its brief term as a host to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races, Kentucky Speedway is still making modest gains at establishing a sense of heritage. Before last season, the 1.5-mile track's most momentous occasion was the crowd-choking traffic jam that snarled a large swath of nearby Interstate 71 for its premier-series debut in 2011. That changed last year, with Kentucky's most competitive race -- a 400-mile festival of passing that signaled a major shift in the sport's approach to aerodynamics. This year, the Bluegrass State track aims to enrich that sense of tradition in Saturday's Quaker State 400 (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM) with a new chapter in its story -- a repaved surface that seems to have retained the venue's character, a reconfigured layout with mismatched banking at its opposite ends, and another big swing at aerodynamic nuances that likely will shape the 2017 rules package. "This is the big unknown with the new surface, the tire, the package -- all that stuff," said Carl Edwards , echoing words that his crew chief, Dave Rogers, shared with him before the race weekend. "And that's the kind of racing that's fun to go do. We don't know what to expect." RELATED: Ty's team gives his tires an ice bath NASCAR competition officials tinkered with aero setups at four tracks last season, deploying a reduced-downforce package first at Kentucky then Darlington, and then trying an ill-fated high-drag package at Michigan and Indianapolis. The Kentucky rollout delivered on its raised expectations, producing a track-record 22 green-flag passes for the lead and a total of 2,665 green-flag passes overall. The array of side-by-side racing served not only as a launching pad for further aero changes this season, but as the fulcrum for a closer working relationship between the series' drivers and its officials. "I would say this race a year ago was a huge landmark for our sport that maybe goes a little bit unnoticed, in terms of we had a collaborative effort for a rules package and we saw a significant increase, in my opinion, of the on-track product that we saw," said Brad Keselowski , a two-time Kentucky winner and last weekend's victor at Daytona International Speedway. "And I think that showcased a lot of hope for our abilities to work together as a sport that has kind of created a wave of momentum that we're carrying today." Edwards finished fourth at Kentucky last season as Joe Gibbs Racing placed its four cars among the top five. But instead of feeling dejection for a Victory Lane near-miss, Edwards was among a chorus of drivers finishing behind race winner Kyle Busch who reveled in the racing produced by downforce reduction. "I think it was a really big deal," Edwards said. "If you go back and watch the race, just watch the interviews, you know everyone's demeanor. Even guys that weren't in it for the win, everybody got out and said, 'Man, that was fun.' NASCAR did a really great job responding to that, implementing a lot of that stuff for this season. After some of these races, it's got a whole different feel to it. It really has been a good time. There's been some great races." The series makes its Kentucky return with even further restrictions on the effects of downforce and sideforce. Foremost among the changes is a smaller rear spoiler -- a 2.5-inch tall version that was also used at Michigan -- and the elimination of rear-axle offset or "skew" for a more neutral setup. That configuration -- the likely forerunner to the 2017 package -- was tested here June 13-14, immediately after it was used for the series' first Michigan stop of the season. The only change from then to now was a different right-side tire, designed to better adapt to the fresh surface. And what a surface it is. The track's trademark teeth-rattling bumps have been smoothed in certain places, but retained in others -- something drivers commonly refer to as "character." But in repaving, track officials traded one character trait for another by going asymmetrical with its banking -- Turns 1 and 2 were increased from 14 to 17 degrees with a narrowing of the racing groove; Turns 3 and 4 remain at their original 14 degrees. "I think anytime you have a track like that it lends itself to compromises with race car drivers, techniques and car setups, and all those things that tend to open up the box to allow for better racing because whenever there are those (banking) discrepancies, I think that’s when you see mistakes and when you see strengths and weaknesses that vary from car to car and driver to driver," said Keselowski, who plans double duty in Sprint Cup and the NASCAR XFINITY Series to become more familiar with the new layout. "I think that's a really good thing for our sport, so I'm interested to see how that is gonna play out this weekend."
New-look Kentucky should still result in same-old success for Logano
MORE: NASCAR tweaks rules package for Kentucky As a teenager thrown into NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series with the options of sink or swim, Joey Logano had few places of refuge. Taking over the No. 20 Toyota of then two-time series champion Tony Stewart at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2009, Logano struggled under the weight of high expectations and a new series against much tougher competition. But while his Sprint Cup education got off to a somewhat rocky start, it was success in NASCAR’s XFINITY Series that helped keep his confidence up and his progression steadily moving ahead. And nowhere was that progression more evident than Kentucky Speedway , site of this weekend's NASCAR triple-header featuring the Camping World Truck , XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series. Logano, who currently has 25 career victories in the XFINITY Series, earned consecutive wins in 2008, '09 and '10 at the 1.5-mile track located in Sparta, Kentucky . His victory in the Meijer 300 in '08, was his first in a NASCAR national series event. "I tested here so much growing up," said Logano, now 26 and competing fulltime for Team Penske in the Sprint Cup and on a partial schedule in the XFINITY Series. "At Gibbs, this is where we came and tested six or seven times a year; it was a lot. So when I came here in an XFINITY Series car, it was like BOOM! I know this race track. I know what it takes to go fast and we won." NASCAR eliminated private team testing prior to the start of the 2015 season. Today, the only on-track time allowed other than race weekends are Goodyear tire tests and a handful of organizational tests. The additional track time provided a wealth of benefits for Logano. No less important, though, was the overall competitiveness of the Joe Gibbs Racing XFINITY Series program at that time. JGR entries won 49 of 105 XFINITY Series races during the three-year span of ’08-10. "The cars over there then, like they are now, were dominant," Logano said. "They were so fast. You just jump in them and win. "So as a rookie, we would go to race tracks and know exactly what I needed at this track to be able to go out there and win." Logano made the move to Team Penske in 2013 and immediately earned his first top-10 championship points finish in the Sprint Cup Series. He has three top-10 results in three outings at Kentucky with Penske, including a runner-up finish last season. Fourth in points, Logano has finished fifth or higher in his last four Sprint Cup Series starts, including a fourth-place result in Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway . Teams will be attempting to solve the riddle of not only an entirely new racing surface at Kentucky when Saturday’s Quaker State 400 Presented by Advance Auto Parts (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) gets underway, but a new track configuration as well. In addition to the repave, workers also re-configured Turns 1 and 2 of the track, increasing the banking from 14 to 17 degrees during an extensive off-season upgrade. The pit exit lane has also been widened from 14 feet to 30 feet and the width of the racing surface in Turns 1 and 2 has shrunk from 74 feet to 56 feet. RELATED: Teams come to new-look Kentucky for test Fourteen Sprint Cup teams tested on the new configuration June 13-14. Logano’s No. 22 Ford team, headed up by crew chief Todd Gordon, was among those logging laps and gathering data. "It’s a different place now," Logano noted. "But it's still Kentucky ; it still has the same trends."
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