Post-Race Reactions: Lucas Deep Clean 200
Johnny Sauter and others comment on their runs in the Music City.
Despite loss of Byron, Toyota pipeline deep , talented
RELATED: Byron inks deal with Hendrick. scores JRM XFINITY ride for '17 BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The only thing more stunning than William Byron's signing with Hendrick Motorsports was the swiftness with how competitive the youngster became after taking a ride with Kyle Busch Motorsports for 2016. Byron, 18, had only one career start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series prior to this season. Through this year's first 13 races, he leads the series in wins with five and sits atop the points standings. "He's taken that garage by storm," David Wilson, President and General Manager, Toyota Racing Development, USA, said Friday at Bristol Motor Speedway . "We thought he was talented; he won a K&N championship. But that's not the end-all. But what he's done the first half of the season has taken all of us kind of by surprise. I don't think we were anticipating the next step this soon; I don't think William was anticipating it this soon." That "next step" is a full-time ride with JR Motorsports, the XFINITY Series arm of Hendrick Motorsports co-owned by driver Dale Earnhardt Jr ., Kelley Earnhardt Miller and Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick. Hendrick officials announced the signing of Byron Thursday. JRM currently fields two full-time entries in the XFINITY Series with drivers Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler , as well as a third full-time entry driven by an assortment of competitors. KBM, owned by defending Sprint Cup Series champion Kyle Busch , fields full-time entries in the Camping World Truck Series for drivers Byron and Christopher Bell as well as a third that's featured Cody Coughlin , Erik Jones and Daniel Suarez behind the wheel. The organization is affiliated with Joe Gibbs Racing , for whom Busch and Suarez compete. There's no anger, only disappointment in the Byron move, Wilson said. "We feel so fortunate and grateful that we have such a deep bench … this sounds overly magnanimous but the sport still wins, right?" he said. "William is such a good kid, a nice young man. Hendrick and JRM are going to benefit from it and the sport is going to benefit from it. "I have to be gracious about it. One of the things that people don't perhaps realize and accept is that he’s been with Toyota for a few months. He's been in a Chevy, he’s been with JRM, his first full-bodied car was a JRM Late Model. "We knew that going into it." RELATED: Furniture Row expands to two cars for 2017 The Toyota driver pipeline is deep and talented. Furniture Row Racing officials recently announced the addition of a second Sprint Cup Series team that will feature Jones as its driver, joining current driver Martin Truex Jr . Bell and Suarez are also expected to continue to move up the ladder while others in lower series, such as K&N, are being groomed for possible advancement. "This isn't going to dissuade us," Wilson said. "We know that this won't be the last time we lose a driver from our 'stable.' But in the end the sport benefits and we will endeavor to try and do the best job we can with these young kids."
Last-lap pass leads Moffitt to victory at Michigan
RELATED: Full race results " Standings BROOKLYN, Mich. -- In five NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, Brett Moffitt had never led a lap. But in Saturday's Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway , Moffitt picked the perfect time to take the point for the first time. Powering around Red Horse Racing teammate Timothy Peters and five-time series winner William Byron off the second corner of the final lap at the two-mile track, Moffitt held off Peters by .098 seconds to win a NASCAR national series race for the first time. Moffitt's victory, however, left Shane Huffman, Peters' crew chief, slapping his seat on the pit box in frustration. Peters, who led a race-high 42 laps, could have locked himself into the inaugural Camping World Truck Series Chase with a victory. Running a limited schedule this season, Moffitt is ineligible for the championship this year. But Moffitt made no apologies for taking advantage of the opportunity that presented itself when Byron pushed Peters into Turn 3 on the white-flag lap, cut to the inside and slowed both trucks down. Moffitt cruised around the outside off Turn 2 on the final lap and kept Peters behind him. "I'm here to win," Moffitt said. "I said it earlier and I'll say it again. I'm not going to wreck him (Peters) for it. I'm going to race him clean because I know he needs to get in the Chase, but this team needs to win and these guys deserve to win. "That's what we come to do, and our partners at Toyota want to do the same, and we got it." Daniel Hemric passed Byron on the last lap to come home third, with Byron following in fourth and Cameron Hayley in fifth. The good news for both Peters and Hemric was the wide margin both drivers opened over their closest pursuers in the race to make the Chase. Though winless this year, Hemric and Peters lead Cameron Hayley by 55 and 47 points, respectively, in the battle for the last two Chase spots. If no new winner surfaces in the final two regular-season races, both Hemric and Peters are highly likely to qualify on points. "It's a good day for Red Horse Racing," Peters said. "Congrats to Brett Moffitt . One-two finish. I wish we were 'one,' but all in all, the company brings the trophy back. The 9 (Byron) locked onto our bumper there in Turn 2 and pushed us really hard down into Turn 3. "We had to do all we had to do to stay in front. ... Tough to swallow right there, but it felt good to run the way we did all day." Both Cole Custer and Tyler Reddick entered the race needing to win to make the Chase. Reddick's Ford bounced off the side of Johhny Sauter's Chevrolet on Lap 70 and sustained heavy damage during contact with the Turn 3 wall. Custer, however, had the lead for a restart on Lap 84, only to lose control and spin into the Turn 4 wall, grazing the left rear of Moffitt's No. 11 Toyota in the process. "We didn't have the raw speed of the guys up front, but it drove pretty well, and it was hard to keep those guys off of me," Custer said. "The 11 (Moffitt) stopped pushing me -- which it's his right to do that. "We were kind of losing the 17 (Peters) there. He (Moffitt) went to the outside and I started getting tight. Once he got on my door, I got loose and over-corrected it. I just hate it for my guys that brought a great truck." Like Hayley, Custer and Reddick will have two more chances to force their way into the Chase by winning one of the final two regular-season races.
Truex leads speedsters in first practice at Michigan
RELATED: Practice 1 results " Top 10 consecutive lap averages Martin Truex Jr . flew to the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series leaderboard Friday as soaring speeds dominated opening practice at Michigan International Speedway . Truex pushed the Furniture Row No. 78 Toyota to a best lap of 201.545 mph on the 2-mile track. He was the fastest of 10 drivers to break the 200 -mph barrier. The clocking was well above the 199.557 mph lap that clinched the Coors Light Pole Award for Joey Logano in Michigan qualifying in June. Jimmie Johnson was second-fastest in opening preparation for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM), recording a lap of 201.134 mph in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 Chevrolet. Logano ( 200 .966 mph), rookie Ryan Blaney ( 200 .775 mph) and Kyle Larson ( 200 .730 mph) completed the top five. This weekend marks what is expected to be the final audition for the premier series' 2017 aerodynamic rules package, which is intended to reduce the effects of downforce and sideforce. The series also used the package in Michigan's 400-miler in June. Race officials also took measures to try to widen the racing groove, using a tire-dragging vehicle to build rubber into the asphalt. The "Tire Dragon" truck was used in the days leading up to Friday's on-track activity. Jeffrey Earnhardt brought out the practice's only stoppage with just less than 10 minutes remaining, scraping the outside retaining wall in Turn 2 and causing significant damage to his Go FAS Racing No. 32 Ford. Earnhardt indicated to NBCSN that the team would unload a reserve car before qualifying. Defending Sprint Cup champion Kyle Busch was sixth-fastest in the Joe Gibbs Racing No. 18 Toyota. Defending race winner Matt Kenseth , his JGR teammate in the No. 20 Toyota, was 18th-fastest in the 85-minute session. Four drivers were docked 15 minutes of practice time for minor infractions. Those were Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards , Richard Childress Racing driver Paul Menard and BK Racing 's Matt DiBenedetto . Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. ET (NBCSN). Two additional Sprint Cup practices are set Saturday (8:30-9:25 a.m. ET, 11:30 a.m.-12:20 p.m. ET). Both Saturday practices will be televised on CNBC.
Elliott foiled on final restart, takes second at Michigan
RELATED: Race results " Standings " Chase Grid BROOKLYN, Mich. -- Unable to park his No. 24 in Victory Lane for the first time in his young career, Chase Elliott stood on pit road Sunday at Michigan International Speedway visibly disappointed as he was comforted by the man who won three premier series championships in the very same Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, Jeff Gordon . "We just talked about the race a little bit," the dejected Elliott said of his conversation with Gordon. "And some of the things we battled and just looking at the positives, I guess, and trying to get down the road." The Pure Michigan 400 was a familiar scene at the 2-mile track for the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Candidate, who walked away with a dominant car but earned a less-than-satisfying runner-up finish. During the June stop at MIS, Elliott led for 35 circuits but finished second, behind Joey Logano . Elliott battled 1-2 at the second Michigan stop with eventual race winner Kyle Larson , even leading 31 of 200 laps, but watched the No. 42 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet take the lead following a Lap 191 restart; Larson never let go. "Once that guy (Larson) got out front, it was really hard to pass," Elliott said of the restart. "My guys did such a good job today of making the most of pit road. That was the only place you could make a large sum of ground in a short period of time. They did exactly what I asked them to do. I said, 'You guys are going to have to bail me out here, I messed up.' (And) they did. They got us the lead just like I asked and I gave it away again." Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 24 team, saw other issues during the day's final restart. "(It's) just a huge factor getting into Turn 1," Gustafson explained while decompressing with the team, sans Elliott, in the garage area. "It's the push, obviously. The guys in (the) second row were pushing really hard and the 2 (of third-place finisher, Brad Keselowski ) and 42 (of Larson) did a little better than the 24 and the 21 (of Ryan Blaney , fourth)." The 20-year-old clocked in his seventh top-five finish and his first since the season's first race at the Irish Hills, breaking a stretch of nine consecutive results outside not only the top five, but the top 10. Elliott now sits 11th in standings -- six points ahead of Austin Dillon -- and 14th on 16-spot Chase Grid, the highest for anyone in the 2016 rookie class. The Sprint Cup Series field heads to Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and Elliott only wishes for one thing. "Hopefully another fast car (which) is all you can ask for," he said. "Just trying to hunker down and keep everybody's head up." And Gustaftson promises, "We're gonna do everything we can to do that."
'Humbled' Sadler puts team, sponsor limbo behind him
RELATED: OneMain extends pact with JRM, Sadler ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- In the span of less than two months, NASCAR XFINITY Series points leader Elliott Sadler had a secure ride and sponsor, lost a secure ride and sponsor then gained a secure ride and sponsor, all with the same team … and sponsor. Dizzy? Don't blame you. OneMain Financial had sponsored the NASCAR veteran for several years, following him from team to team, but informed Sadler and JR Motorsports earlier this summer that after an executive shakeup following a merger with Springleaf Holdings that they would be exiting the sport at the conclusion of the 2016 season. The news was shocking, given their status as the longest-running XFINITY Series primary sponsor and Sadler being on pace for his most successful campaign since he started racing in the series full-time in 2011. It was equally as stunning when JRM General Manager Kelley Earnhardt Miller announced a multiyear extension with OneMain and Sadler on Wednesday, a complete 180 from where things were headed. "We were ecstatic when we found out that they had come back and had started talking to Kelley and Dale (Earnhardt Jr., JRM owner) to maybe further this relationship," Sadler told NASCAR.com Friday at Road America , site of Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN/NBC Sports App). " … This all came together really quick and really late, like just here in the past couple days. It's neat how it's all come together pretty fast. " … I was proud when I found out that they were deciding to come back and they really wanted me to be their spokesperson and their head guy for racing. Man, I'm humbled by that. OneMain's a great sponsor. I've been with them over a decade. All that put together, I'm humbled that they still want me to be a part of their brand and still be a part of their company. I think definitely it's a no-brainer to be a part of JR Motorsports in this particular division." While Wednesday's announcement was a welcome sight for the industry -- nobody likes to see a sponsor leave the sport, let alone one with such a long-standing, visible relationship with a single driver -- it was certainly an unprecedented head-scratcher. What, exactly, had happened in the past month-plus to have OneMain change their minds? "One thing I've learned, and the most important thing I've learned, is in a merger, there's a lot going on, man," Sadler said. "There's only so many hours in a day and there's only so many things that you can look at; charts and stats and information. I think once they got all the merger stuff straight and they could really take a good, deep look into the racing program, into NASCAR, into the demographics between their customers and NASCAR, I think they really started to kind of see that 'Hey, this is maybe … this looks pretty good.' "NASCAR is a pretty wide sport. I think they learned they had customers in California that were race fans, they had customers in Michigan and Pennsylvania and Texas and Florida and everywhere in between and it's going to be, 'Wow, maybe this is a direct correlation between the two. We might need to look at this.' " Being the points leader, a favorite in the first-ever XFINITY Series Chase and an employee of NASCAR's most popular driver definitely wasn't a hindrance, either. RELATED: Series Chase Grid "I think it doesn't hurt the way we're running. I think that's a big part of it. It 100 percent doesn't hurt to be associated with JR Motorsports and Junior Nation. Kelley and Dale and (JRM Brand Director & Communications) Mike Davis and their staff; what they do in digital consumption and stuff off the track … there's no other team even close in the garage. I think once you throw all that together and seeing the response and the people you're reaching is why the reconsideration was done and why they decided to stay here for a couple more years." Had this all not come together, however, Sadler indicated that in terms of a backup plan, he "never really messed with (looking at) other options." In fact, retirement was starting to creep into the 41-year-old's thoughts, ever so slightly. "I just kind of was looking at … 'This might be it.' I didn't know, but I didn't want to take away from what we were doing here. It's the best chance I've had in a long time to make a great run to Homestead. We're leading in the points and we're running good and we've got a good string of finishes going and we've been fast every week. I didn't want to … you can only control what you can control. I've been a part of the sport long enough that I didn't want to go off and start fishing and doing other things and taking away from what my job is, and that's showing up prepared every week. I'm not going to tell you that it hasn't been hard. The last month and a half, I haven't slept much, I'll be honest with you. It's been tough and priorities have been shifted some and wondering what's going to happen.” Sleep should come a bit easier now for the veteran, at least until the Chase starts at Kentucky later this year. Gratitude does, as well. " … For all of that to come together and be able to be the lucky one to stand here and talk to you about it … " said Sadler, " … it's pretty humbling and I'm pretty thankful to have that opportunity."
Bowyer's Darlington scheme honors Benny Parsons
RELATED: All the 2016 throwback paint schemes " Buy tickets " Vote now HScott Motorsports unveiled the throwback paint schemes that Clint Bowyer (No. 15 Chevrolet) and Michael Annett (No. 46 Chevrolet) will sport at Darlington Raceway for next week's Bojangles' Southern 500 (Sept. 4, 6 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Bowyer's car honors 2017 NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Benny Parsons. The paint scheme sponsored by 5-hour Energy features Parsons' name just below the net opening and photos of the racer on the hood. The scheme itself is a tribute to the L.G. DeWitt deep -orange with blue wheels ride from Parsons' championship season of 1973. Parsons compiled 21 premier series wins over a 21-year career. Parsons was named one of NASCAR's 50 Greatest Drivers in 1998. Parsons also transitioned into television work following his NASCAR career, commentating for NBC and TNT until his passing in 2007, at the age of 65. Here it is! @ClintBowyer 's @5hourenergy throwback scheme for @TooToughToTame honoring Benny Parsons! #NASCAR pic.twitter.com/xDa9ugeiD9 — HScott Motorsports (@Team_HSM) August 27, 2016 Annett's car pays tribute to the logos of sponsor Pilot Flying J. Michael's No. 46 Chevrolet is throwing back to the 1970’s era @PilotFlyingJ logos and livery @TooToughToTame . pic.twitter.com/0wuBLJQVO8 — Michael Annett (@MichaelAnnett) August 26, 2016 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;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;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Irked Tagliani after Road America spin: 'Everything goes'
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. -- Alex Tagliani has made a handful of NASCAR starts across the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series over the past several years, remaining winless despite often, if not always, looking like the man to beat. Being the accomplished road course ace that he is -- along with the horsepower and backing from Team Penske / Brad Keselowski Racing that he's enjoyed since 2014 -- you can typically count on the 42-year-old to start up front, and stay there. A third career Coors Light Pole for Saturday's Road America 180 Fired Up by Johnsonville at Road America -- in just his eighth XFINITY start -- once again put Tagliani in prime position to compete for his first NASCAR national series victory, but once again he came up short. For the second consecutive year, his sole XFINITY start was foiled by contact from the eventual race winner. Last year it was Regan Smith at Mid-Ohio; Michael McDowell was Saturday's culprit. With 17 laps remaining in the 48-lap event (extended three laps by overtime), Tagliani -- who'd led a dominating 17 laps already at that point -- retook the lead from Erik Jones , only to be spun after left-rear contact from the No. 2 of McDowell in Turn 5. He was relegated to 30th place after the contact, having to battle back to salvage a seventh-place finish. "I could basically say what I want to say, but I don’t know if it's going to matter at the end," Tagliani told NASCAR.com on pit road following the race. "I think the 2 realized that we were the car to beat and it's unfortunate he presents himself to take us out, and he did it to take away some competition from him. In those instances, I'm a firm believer that you have to resist the temptation of doing it, but it seems in this world, in this series, in this sport, everything goes. "I think I should try to play smarter and drive him that way. At that time, instead of trying to fight clean with the 2 and give him a hard time and try to be creative and try to go around me, I should've let him go by and do what he did to me and take away the competition. It crossed my mind, but I said 'Walk, man.' Because other than the 2, there was nobody else that could touch us. After what I saw, I should've. Should've, could've, but it's not the way you win races." Looking at the replay, it's tough to tell whether or not McDowell should've lifted, or Tagliani shouldn't have dove into the corner, but it was evident neither driver was willing to budge. Particularly after some prior in-race contact between the two. Regardless, McDowell -- while implying in his post-race press conference that he was in a bit of a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't situation -- stands by his declaration that the spin was not intentional. "No, it wasn't intentional; I wasn't intentionally doing it, but at the same time I was clearly in there and I wasn't really sure what he was doing when he came across the nose … " the Richard Childress Racing driver said. "… I don't know. I didn't see the replay yet. The 22 and I had a little run-in earlier in the race and basically I kept putting my nose in and he kept slamming the door. He went wide in Turn 5 and I got underneath the 42 ( Justin Marks ) and 22 and I was alongside of him and he decided just to turn in. Once we made contact, I just came off the brake and pushed him out of the way. The reason I did that is because had I not, I would've been stuck there, too, and I would've gotten ran over. Once he committed to turn in and I was on the inside, we already made the contact. "But I haven't seen a replay. A lot of times, I watch the replay and I go, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, I was right.' And a lot of times I go, 'Oh, gosh … ' I hope it's not an 'Oh, gosh' moment. But by no means did I come out of Turn 5 and be like 'Here's my shot. I'm going to wipe him out.' That wasn't the case at all. I got a run and went underneath him and when he slammed his door, I wasn't expecting him to slam the door." McDowell now heads to Michigan International Speedway , where he will race in Sunday's Sprint Cup Series race.
Keselowski hits home with Careers for Veterans
RELATED: Reddick tops final practice at Michigan BROOKLYN, Mich. -- As the owner of a two-truck organization, Brad Keselowski has more than a passing interest in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. That interest increased exponentially this weekend as the series visits Michigan International Speedway . The 2-mile track hosts Saturday's Careers for Veterans 200 , a collaborative sponsorship effort between Cooper Standard and Keselowski's own Checkered Flag Foundation. Cooper Standard, which has been affiliated with Keselowski since 2011, is also the primary sponsor for the organization's No. 29 Ford driven by Tyler Reddick , one of two entries fielded by Brad Keselowski Racing. Teammate Daniel Hemric competes in the No. 19 Ford. The Careers for Veterans program, run by Cooper Standard, provides career opportunities for military veterans as well as those transitioning from active service. It's an endeavor embraced by Keselowski's Checkered Flag Foundation as well. "It started through my foundation, which has some similar efforts helping members of the community," Keselowski said of the sponsorship association. "Careers for Veterans is one of those examples. It kind of grew into this relationship -- 'Hey, we're both from Michigan, we both have the same goals and initiatives. What can we put together?' " Keselowski, the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, hails from Rochester Hills, Michigan. Cooper Standard, based in Novi, Michigan, specializes in the production and marketing of various automotive components and systems. Keselowski competes for Team Penske and is used to dealing with a variety of sponsors and understands their various goals. The connection between Cooper Standard and his foundation, "is not your typical pact," he said. "Usually there are B-to-B (business-to-business) plays, marketing plays, but usually it's not foundation-related," he said. "The way Cooper Standard allows me to give back to the sport is two-fold. One, it's with the race team, the people that are on it that have a spot to work and hopefully grow and prosper whether it be for their families or their future career which is something I enjoy immensely. "But also I get the chance to connect the foundation to what I do which is very difficult. I think it's very important to show to others that we have a commitment to looking out to others who are less fortunate or have had some tough times. "I think that's an important part of the sport, the ability to realize and acknowledge how well off we have it and to try to ... be an example of that realization and efforts to do something with it." The race sponsorship at MIS has been in place since 2014. Keselowski said 3,000 guests of Cooper Standard will be on hand this weekend for the event. Reddick, 10th in points, said everyone in the organization understands the added importance of this weekend's race. "This is my first year of driving (with Cooper Standard sponsorship), but I've been a part of this team long enough to know how important it is to everybody," he said. "It goes unsaid. "Everyone understands and knows what this race means to Brad and Cooper Standard, all the veterans that will be here and all the ones watching at home. "We all understand what we have to do and hopefully we can go do just that."
Weather delays Michigan Camping World Truck race
RELATED: Race leaderboard " Live weather, radar updates The start of Saturday's Careers for Veterans 200 Presented by Cooper Standard and Brad Keselowski 's Checkered Flag Foundation has been delayed by inclement weather in the area of Michigan International Speedway . The 100-lap race was originally scheduled to get underway at 1:13 p.m. ET on FS1, but that was before rain and thunderstorms moved across the 2-mile track. After about a two-and-a-half hour delay, the green flag for the race came at 3:47 p.m. ET. John Wes Townley won the pole position in his No. 05 Jive Communications/Zaxby's Chevrolet. Alongside Townley on the front row is two-time Camping World Truck Series champion Matt Crafton in the No. 88 Great Lakes Flooring/Menards Toyota for ThorSport Racing. Five-time Truck Series winner William Byron starts third in the No. 9 Liberty University Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports. Alongisde Byron in Row 2 is the No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota of Timothy Peters , who holds the eighth and final spot in the Chase Grid. The Michigan race is the 14th of the season and third-to-last before the Chase field is set after the Chicagoland race on Sept. 16