Daniel Suarez, Scott Graves find their groove again
BUY TICKETS: See the races at Texas It was never any surprise to Daniel Suarez that making his way through the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ranks as a rookie would be tremendously challenging. He's finding out that is especially true when you have a crew chief change only five races into your first season. But Suarez said Friday before opening practice at Texas Motor Speedway that already he and new crew chief Scott Graves were feeling more comfortable together in this new situation. "Everything is just more , you know? More competition, more aggressive, more media, more questions, more answers," Suarez said just prior to Cup practice on the newly paved Texas 1.5-miler. "Everything is more, so it's just more going on." When you are driving for the race defending champion Joe Gibbs Racing team and have established yourself as an accomplished driver – as Suarez has -- expectations are naturally high. But there are also lofty goals for the two-time XFINITY Series champion crew chief Graves, too. RELATED: Suarez hopeful amid crew chief change For Suarez it's been a case of raising his game while also adapting to an unexpected and major change on his team. Graves replaced Dave Rogers as Suarez's crew chief just last week – the JGR team announcing Rogers was taking an indefinite leave of absence. Graves moves into the position after running Gibbs' highly successful No. 18 XFINITY Series team, where he helped Suarez to the 2016 XFINITY championship. And while the sudden change atop the box naturally felt a bit disconcerting initially last week at the challenging Martinsville Speedway, Suarez is hopeful things have settled and the two can begin re-establishing their relationship and setting course again. "Last week there was just a lot going on," Suarez said. "I wasn't very excited to get to the racetrack to talk to you guys, to be honest. There was just a lot going on and I just wanted to get to the racetrack and drive the car and do what I love to do. "But it was just a lot of stuff going on, a lot of adjustments, a lot of changes, and it was just going to be something different. When you change a key part of the team, it definitely changes something. Now for Texas, I feel like we have more time to adapt and to talk about things and to talk about the racetrack and to talk about the car, and just overall more confident of getting into Texas." The 25-year old Mexican native Suarez reeled off back-to-back season-best, seventh-place finishes at Phoenix Raceway and Auto Club Speedway in the No. 19 Arris Toyota before the crew chief change -- the first two top-10s of his young rookie season. MORE: JGR announces Dave Rogers taking personal leave But last week, in the days following his team's restructure, he crashed during practice at the Martinsville short track and finished 32nd in the race -- his worst showing of the year. Suarez looked and sounded optimistic Friday about his team's abilities going forward. He was happy to have the continuity this week with Graves and gently reminded that Graves guided him to the XFINITY Series title last year. In fact, Graves was also the crew chief for Chris Buescher when he won a title for Roush Racing in 2015. Graves' last Monster Energy Series job as crew chief was in 2013 with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. when they won a pole at Atlanta and posted a third-place finish in the fall Talladega race. "I'm still a rookie. I'm still learning a lot every weekend," Suarez said. "But now, you know, having Scott calling the shots, I feel like he's going to learn a lot, as well. Luckily we have very good teammates that we can lean on, and we can learn from these guys. "This is nothing new for him, but in the last four years, five years, he hasn't done anything in the Cup stuff, so he's kind of like a little bit -- he's just not very used to everything that is going on in the rules and all these kind of things and to get used to everything. "It takes time, and I have a lot of confidence that he's going to do well, and we just have to work as a team and support one to the other and to try to be competitive. We did it in the past, and I know we can do it again."
No. 48 appeal avoids repeat of 2006 pit pick
Nine years ago, team selected 42nd at Dover, had to share stall RELATED: Nos. 48, 51 and 1 penalized for Charlotte infractions MORE: Hendrick appeals P1 penalty " Johnson stands by appeal The importance of a team's pit stall location isn't lost on Jimmie Johnson and his Hendrick Motorsports No. 48 team. Especially when it comes to Dover International Speedway , a fast 1-mile concrete track that has been the site of nine of Johnson's 73 wins in NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series. The six-time series champion has earned 19 top-10s at Dover, 15 of which came from a starting spot inside the top 10. Overall, drivers starting on the front row there have won 28 of 90 Sprint Cup races and 71 winners have come from inside the top-10 on the starting grid. A better qualifying result, and pit stall location, doesn't guarantee success, but it is one less problem for a team to deal with on race day. The order for the selection of pit stalls is based on qualifying results, with the Coors Light Pole Award winner getting first choice, and the remainder (pos. 2-43) choosing in order of their position in the starting lineup. Unless you're hit with a NASCAR penalty, which was the case this week for Johnson and the HScott Motorsports team with driver Justin Allgaier . The two teams were penalized Wednesday for receiving consecutive warnings from NASCAR for minor infractions at Charlotte Motor Speedway during the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and Coca-Cola 600 weekends. The P1-level penalty was the loss of choice in pit selection, meaning the two teams would be left with whatever pit stall locations remained after the other 41 teams had made their selections. HMS notified NASCAR officials of its intent to file an appeal on Thursday, and as a result the penalty has been deferred. No date for the appeal hearing has been announced. Now, instead of having to choose one of the last available pit stalls for Sunday's FedEx 400 Benefitting Autism Speaks (1 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1, MRN, SiriusXM), the No. 48 team's pit selection will be determined by Johnson's qualifying position in the 43-car field. Qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is scheduled for Friday at the 1-mile track. Had they not appealed, it would not have been the first time Johnson and his team found themselves with a less-than-prime pit position at Dover. Before 2009, the track featured only 42 pit boxes along pit road, leaving two teams to share one pit stall. And when Johnson spun during qualifying for the spring race of 2006, his team was forced to share a pit stall with fellow driver Scott Wimmer and the Morgan-McClure Motorsports No. 4 team. Actually, they shared more than just the pit stall. Under an agreement between the two teams, Johnson's pit crew initially pitted both cars. And crew chiefs Chad Knaus (Johnson) and Chris Carrier ( Wimmer ) sat atop the same pit box. When pitting, whoever was higher in the running order at the time, Johnson or Wimmer , would pit first. Then the second driver would hit pit road to be serviced by the same crew. The moved ended up costing Wimmer track position when his car ran out of gas under the second caution of the race while waiting to pit. It wasn't until Hermie Sadler retired from the race after 136 laps that a pit stall opened up, allowing Wimmer and the Morgan-McClure team to move to the vacant pit box. In spite of starting at the back of the field, and going two laps down at one point in the race, Johnson was able to rebound and score a sixth-place finish. Wimmer finished 34th, four laps down. Dover added a 43rd pit stall in 2009, part of an upgrade to the facility that included widening pit road and increasing the length of each pit box by four feet. The concrete pit wall from Turn 4 to Turn 1, previously boilerplate, was also torn down and a new wall, 432 feet longer and protected by SAFER (Steel and Foam Energy Reduction) barrier, was installed in its place. No date has been set for the No. 48 team's appeal of the penalty for consecutive written warnings. Warnings, which are not appealable, are typically issued for minor, first-time infractions and the reason for the warnings isn't made public. Multiple warnings elevate the severity of the penalty to a P1 level and may result in one or more consequences besides the loss of choice in pit selection. Track time deduction in practice or qualifying, a delay in the order of inspection and selection for post-race inspection are among the other options NASCAR may impose. Johnson is a nine-time winner at the track and is the defending race winner. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Brian Scott to retire after 2016 season
RELATED: Driver moves and team changes for 2017 Richard Petty Motorsports announced Thursday that NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Brian Scott will retire from full-time auto racing competition at season's end. Scott , 28, began his NASCAR national series career in 2007. He is currently a Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate in his first year driving team owner Richard Petty's No. 44 Ford. In a release provided by the Petty team, Scott indicated that the decision was a personal one. "This was a difficult decision, but one that I made myself for my family," Scott said. "Racing and specifically NASCAR has been and will always be in my heart, but right now, I want to turn all my attention to my family and to be able to spend more time with them. Racing has blessed me with great opportunities, and I'm very grateful for everything that it has allowed me to do, but for me, it's time to move on. "I can't thank everyone enough who helped me in my career. I would not have made it to where I am at today without their trust and commitment." In a separate release provided by the team, Albertsons Companies announced Thursday that it would cease its sponsorship. The Boise, Idaho-based grocery retailer has been a featured sponsor for eight of the 34 Sprint Cup races this year. Scott , a Boise native, is the great-grandson of Albertsons' founders. WATCH: Scott gives a tour of his hometown of McCall, Idaho In 51 starts in NASCAR's premier series, Scott has one Coors Light Pole Award and one top-five finish -- both coming at Talladega Superspeedway . But this season has been marked by struggles, with five crash-related DNFs feeding a 32nd-place ranking in the Sprint Cup standings. After posting his career-best second-place effort last month in Talladega's Hellmann's 500, Scott acknowledged the adversity in a trying first season at the Sprint Cup level. "Just trying to get any bit of a bright spot in this year has been difficult," Scott said Oct. 23 at the Alabama track. "I think that this is by far the brightest spot that we've had in a really challenging 2016 for Richard Petty Motorsports . I don't know, I guess the results and what this does for us going forward is yet to be determined." The Petty-owned team indicated that it would field the No. 44 Ford in 2017 with "further announcements" at a later date. The organization underwent significant changes on Aug. 31, temporarily assigning Philippe Lopez and Scott McDougall oversight of the competition department in place of Sammy Johns. Scott ends his full-time driving days as a two-time winner in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He prevailed on the mile-long layouts of Dover (2009) and Phoenix (2012). Scott also competed in six full seasons in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series, spending two of those years with Joe Gibbs Racing and three with Richard Childress Racing . He netted 20 top-five finishes and five pole positions over 208 career starts. "Brian made it to and competed at a level that very few do in NASCAR," said Brian Moffitt, RPM's Chief Executive Officer said in the team release. "Brian became part of the Petty family this year, and he committed himself to making our organization better. We feel fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know Brian and wish him nothing but the best for him and his family." Thank you all. pic.twitter.com/oqqg3jW3Xn — Brian Scott (@bscottracing) November 10, 2016 &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Brian Scott announces retirement after 2016
Richard Petty Motorsports and Brian Scott announced that the driver of the No. 44 Ford will retire from full-time competition in NASCAR after the 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
Kyle Busch avoids a spinning Scott
Kyle Busch narrowly avoids a spinning Brian Scott during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas.
Stewart visits hauler after incident with Scott
RELATED: Full race results " Series standings " Chase Grid DARLINGTON, S.C. -- Tony Stewart 's final trip to Darlington Raceway as a Sprint Cup driver ended with a post-race visit with NASCAR officials, but the three-time series champion was smiling as he departed. "Got to come in and check in once in a while," Stewart said. "It was a happy visit." Officials had requested the presence of Stewart and crew chief Mike Bugarewicz following the race to discuss an on-track incident between the Stewart-Haas Racing co-owner and driver and fellow competitor Brian Scott (No. 44 Ford, Richard Petty Motorsports ). Contact between the two on Lap 204 of the Bojangles' Southern 500 brought out the caution flag for the third time in the 367-lap race. Scott , who was four laps down at the time, was on the outside of Stewart as the two came off the second turn of the 1.366-mile track. The two cars touched and Stewart's No. 14 Chevrolet shot briefly to the inside, then darted back up the track and caught the left rear of Scott's Ford. The RPM entry spun to the inside where it hit the wall. Unable to return to the race, Scott finished 39th in the 40-car field. RELATED: Examining the Chase bubble In the garage afterward, Scott said he was attempting to let drivers on fresher tires, including Stewart, go by. "I think he got inside of me and got loose there," Scott said of the initial contact. "I was pointing him to the inside to let him go. Apparently he got mad at me. … I have a lot of respect for Tony. He has always raced me really clean. … I am not sure if he thought I was trying to hold him up there; I wasn't. I was trying to let him go. I even pointed him to the inside. Maybe he thought I was giving him the finger or something. I will talk with him. We will figure it out." Stewart, who was running 13th at the time, eventually saw his night come to an end when the engine overheated in his No. 14 Chevrolet. Retiring from Sprint Cup competition at the end of the season, he ends his Darlington career winless in 24 career attempts. It is one of only two current tracks where he failed to score at least one Sprint Cup victory -- Kentucky Speedway is the final track on his winless list. Officially, he completed 317 laps and finished 35th. "Overheating was the first part of it, and it finally grenaded," Stewart said of the engine trouble. "It was 375 degrees on water temperature. "There's a screen in there that keeps all the trash from getting into the radiator and it got separated from its mount, so all the trash was getting underneath it and going up inside the radiator and it just kept blocking it until we finally lost the motor." The meeting with officials after the race was brief. "We wanted to hear from Tony, get his perspective on what he saw out there," Kurt Culbert, managing director of racing communications for NASCAR, said. "It was more about gaining information than anything else and to confirm that it will be over with once we leave here." Stewart has one victory this season, winning on the Sonoma Raceway road course, and is locked into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . Scott is in his first full season of Sprint Cup competition and is 33rd in points. &amp;amp;amp;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;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Patrick, Mears and Scott involved in wreck
Following a restart Casey Mears and Danica Patrick get together, collecting Brian Scott at Michigan International Speedway.
Brian Scott leads Sprint Cup practice at Daytona
RELATED: Full practice results Brian Scott topped the charts with a speed of 199.349 mph in his No. 44 Richard Petty Motorsports Ford in Friday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series practice, which also saw speeds for two cars in the top 10 disallowed. The session at Daytona International Speedway was rescheduled for Friday after rain washed out most of Thursday's action, and it represented the only Sprint Cup practice before Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola (7:45 p.m. ET, NBC, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). David Gilliland initially finished fifth in the session, and Josh Wise initially finished ninth. Both cars were too heavy in the rear on the post-practice scales, so their times were disallowed. Wise was scored 40th in the session, Gilliland 41st. During the 45-minute practice Kyle Busch cut a tire in his No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and made hard contact with the wall. Busch was released from the infield care center and will go to a backup car. Right behind Scott was Austin Dillon in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet at 199.344 mph. Rounding out the top five were Brad Keselowski , Ryan Blaney and David Gilliland . Sprint Cup Series Coors Light Pole Qualifying is scheduled for 4:10 p.m. ET on Friday (NBCSN, Live Extra).
Scott picks up heavy damage after contact with Stewart
Tony Stewart and Brian Scott make contact sending Scott into the wall and causing major damage to the No. 44 Ford at Darlington Raceway.
Scott Miller comments on Kentucky repave, lower downforce package
NASCAR Senior Vice President of Competition, Scott Miller, comments on the effectiveness of the lower downforce rules package used at Kentucky Speedway and how the track raced after the repave.
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