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THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Adam Stevens, crew chief of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota with driver Christopher Bell.
Adam, why don't you take us quickly through your session out there.
ADAM STEVENS: Okay. Yeah, we unloaded pretty close this time. That was good. Had decent short-run speed, decent long-run speed. We made a couple of changes and they both seemed to improve the car.
It was a good practice for us.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Your driver has never led a lap here in a Cup race. Was it more important for you to have a good practice session and be atop the chart than for others?
ADAM STEVENS: I mean, it was very important. I don't know if it was more important because we've never led a lap. I don't think we're going to win this thing if we don't lead laps.
We just started so far off last time that we had a lot of ground to cover to even get in the mix. Starting closer just puts you in a lot better position. We don't have to make big changes, we think, to be balanced, fast on Sunday. Starting a lot closer this time.
Q. Last year was so terrible, the morning of. You guys still went out and raced. How much different will it be this year?
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, it will be a lot different. I don't remember the time of day that we were (loss of audio).
I mean, that went all the way up until the drivers were riding around the racetrack in the trucks. It was awful. Not just for me and my team, obviously. So that will be a big relief to kind of have a calendar year in between that and this weekend, have a little bit of healing for the Gibbs family. Hopefully we can bring the trophy home.
Q. (No microphone.)
ADAM STEVENS: That's a good question for Christopher. I know that it did. I would assume that it did, as it did me prior to the race. But once we got racing, I wasn't thinking about it. There's not a lot of space between my two little ears to cram much more in there.
I know once he gets his helmet on that he's super focused on the task at hand. I don't know how it couldn't weigh on you when somebody you're so close to passes so suddenly like that.
Q. Before that, you were the first guy to come in here with a smile, so...
ADAM STEVENS: Really?
Q. It's probably all the years that you've come and run the Championship 4. This isn't your first rodeo. You come in here with confidence. Bell yesterday was probably the most animated of the four drivers, appearing confident. All of that plays into this. What is your level of confidence? How cathartic would it be to win a championship after such a dark year last year?
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, confidence level is just super high. I mean, I know the equipment that we have. I know the progress we've made through the year. I know the potential that Bell has and my team in general.
I know if we do what we're capable of doing that it's right there in front of us. I don't know how you couldn't feel ecstatic about that, and I do.
I think we've gotten off on a good foot here this weekend. I feel wonderful. I just can't wait to get back out there and cut some more laps, to be honest with you.
Yeah, cathartic question, that would be amazing. I remember the 11 winning the Daytona 500, racing us actually, the 18. What year was that? A few years ago. After J.D. passed. That was just a huge deal. Huge for coach, huge for the Gibbs family, huge for us.
For myself to have a part in that, 'cause we were racing them, we worked on some restarts to make sure we didn't lose track position because the Fords were really fast that day. That was big for the company.
I would absolutely love, love, love to be a part of that for coach.
Q. This is old hat for you; you've been here many times. A lot of people in this situation, it's a lot to deal with first time. For you it's no big deal, you've been here, done that. Do you know how to handle everything that's thrown at you certainly this weekend?
ADAM STEVENS: There's some comfort level that comes with doing it. Whether we know how to handle everything, well, I don't know what's going to be thrown at me quite yet (smiling).
As far as what I expect to be thrown at me, yeah. It's a different weekend. There's a whole different level of distraction, enormity, gravity on the situation. You also have to think, too, every day of every year we work to put ourselves to be in this position that we're in right here today. That's true on races that we're winning, and that's true when we're getting our asses kicked. We're trying to make it to race for a championship.
How could you not enjoy yourself when you get here is the question I would ask.
Q. Christopher has been here, second time. He's still young, learning this. Does it help that you just have this wisdom and the veteran presence to guide him through it?
ADAM STEVENS: I mean, I hope it helps. I'm sure it helps a lot of the guys on the team that haven't maybe been in a situation like this.
Yeah, at the end of the day, 2015, my rookie year, we won the championship. I didn't have any of that experience, right? I felt more prepared the next year and we got our asses kicked.
Does it help? I'm sure it helps. But it could probably be overstated a little bit, too.
Q. Christopher said that you guys have made gains every time you have come here with this Next Gen car. What is it about the work that has gone into prepping this car for this weekend, and where do you feel this 20 team is at?
ADAM STEVENS: I think we're right in the mix. This is a tough place to get around. It's not exactly like any of the other short tracks. We've had good runs at all of 'em. Had a good run here in the spring. We didn't have the best finish, but we were certainly in the mix late in the race before that final caution.
It's just about the feedback, quite honestly. What also helps is having teammates that are fast. You are learning from them. You're learning from things that work for them. You're learning from things that don't work. Sprinkle a little bit of that into your car every time you come back, and figuring out what Christopher needs.
The biggest part about figuring out what Christopher needs is him figuring out what he needs and communicating that to us so we can give it to him.
That's maybe where we've made strides this year. Maybe it hasn't shown completely in the results, but it's shown a lot in the speed, I think. When we do our jobs, we keep him up front.
Q. Two things that Bell said yesterday is he feels more relaxed this time, and he feels more prepared. Does that play into why you feel like you maybe unloaded today better than last year? Do you feel more prepared instead of the last-minute walk-off at Martinsville? Bell said you didn't mention Phoenix till that night.
ADAM STEVENS: Yeah, for sure. The earlier you know you're going to be there, the more you can put a little bit more focus on it. We certainly did Martinsville week. We went through all the same motions we would go through to prepare for Martinsville, but we just condensed it down big-time.
We didn't reiterate, we didn't go back, we didn't stew over any decisions. We just kind of let it rip. We could have been better at Martinsville had we spent more time it. It probably would have cost us being prepared here.
Late last week, our sim sessions were going really well. I just felt really at peace with what we had going on as late as probably Thursday last week. We refined on it, got better through the weekend, into early this week. I mean, honestly, we were ready to load quite early in the week because we felt like we knew where we wanted to be.
Q. Jason Ratcliff, how big has he been in your development as a crew chief?
ADAM STEVENS: Really big. Yeah, I mean, Jason has been a part of Joe Gibbs Racing for a long time. Extremely successful. What he does, how he operates to be successful immensely affected how I prepare and approach a weekend and prepare the race car.
When they asked me to come crew chief in the Xfinity shop, I guess that would have been 2011 with Joey, I came from race engineering on the Cup side. It's a lot different job. There's a lot more to it. He was always there to guide and help. Just the level of detail that he pours into his program was not something I was prepared for.
I'll tell you a little story here. I remember when Joey and I were racing in 2011, and we weren't going that well. My car, we had a lot of drivers in my car, Ryan Truex, Drew Herring, some others. Joey and I probably weren't having the success that maybe we thought we should be having.
He actually ran some races with Jason and his car. They were good. Just watching him communicate with Joey and the questions he asked him, how he pulled information out of him, had a big effect on me just watching him take my driver and cars that I know how they're prepared and do a better job than what I was doing.
Jason's door was always open. He always would answer a question. Extremely thankful for his influence.
THE MODERATOR: Adam, thanks for joining us today. Good luck on Sunday.
ADAM STEVENS: Thank you.
Jordan Anderson Racing Bommarito Autosport
NASCAR Xfinity Series Race Overview-
Phoenix Raceway; November 4, 2023
Track; Phoenix Raceway – Oval (1.0-Mile)
Race: NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship; 200 Laps –45/45/110; 200 Miles
Date/Broadcast: November 4, 2023 4:00 PM/PT (7:00 PM ET)
TV: USA Network and the NBC Sports App
Radio: Motor Racing Network (MRN)- Check Local Listings for affiliate, and SiriusXM NASCAR Channel 90
Social Media: Jordan Anderson Racing Bommarito AutoSport; Facebook, Instagram
Jeb Burton – No. 27 Bommarito.com / EasyCare
Chevrolet Camaro SS Preview- Phoenix Raceway
News and Notes:
- Practice; After the completion of safety and engine inspection on Friday afternoon teams would take to the Phoenix Raceway for a 50-minute practice session. Running 36 laps during his practice session, Jeb Burton would record a fast lap of 27.937 at 128.861 mph on Lap-4 placing the No. 27 Bommarito.com / EasyCare Chevrolet 6th fastest of the 41 cars entered for the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) Championship Race.
– Starting Position; Bright and early Saturday morning at 7:30 AM PT teams will need to pass NASCAR technical inspection prior to lining up for NXS qualifying at 12:30 PM PT (3:30 PM ET) to determine the starting order for Saturday afternoon’s NXS Championship Race. In 2023, intermediate-track qualifying would consist of a single round of single car qualifying for one lap. Burton is scheduled to be the 31st car on track to make his qualification run. Qualifying will be shown in its entirety on USA Network and the NBC Sports App.
– Phoenix Raceway Stats; Making his seventh NXS start at Phoenix Raceway, Burton holds an average finish of 16.0 in six previous starts. Capturing a career best 6th place finish in March of 2021. Burton holds a 99.8% lap completion rate with 1202 laps completed of the attempted 1204. In March’s United Rentals 200 Burton would qualify in the 16th position and would come away with a 22nd place finish. Last season’s (2022) NXS Championship Race would see Burton qualify in the 21st position and make small gains throughout the race to come away with a 16th place finish. In six starts Burton has three Top-20 finishes at Phoenix Raceway.
- Bommarito Automotive Group; A primary supporter of Jordan Anderson Racing, Bommarito Automotive Group is celebrating over 50 years in the St. Louis marketplace, the Bommarito Automotive Group currently operates 20 automotive franchises throughout every St. Louis neighborhood led by president John Bommarito and the over 900 dedicated team members. Bommarito is recognized by the St. Louis Business Journal as Missouri’s No. 1 selling automotive group and is currently ranked 52nd in the nation. What once started as a vision to have one Bommarito vehicle in every driveway, is today a reality thanks to the ‘Where Price Sells Cars” mission.
For more information on the Bommarito Automotive Group, visit them online at Bommarito.com, and follow their social channels on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
- EasyCare/ APCO Holdings; Since 1984, EasyCare has been helping some of the most successful dealerships in the nation drive results in their stores with a full suite of F&I products, forward-thinking training, dealership development, consultative participation programs, and a best-in-class claims experience. EasyCare has the only F&I products named a “MotorTrend Recommended Best Buy” for franchised dealers and has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. EasyCare is part of the APCO Holdings, LLC, a family of brands, which has protected over 11 million customers and paid over $3.5 billion in claims.
For more information about what EasyCare has to offer, visit EasyCare.com for information about the APCO Holdings family of brands, visit APCOHoldings.com.
Parker Retzlaff – No. 31 FUNKAWAY
Chevrolet Camaro SS Preview- Phoenix Raceway
- Practice; After passing safety and engine inspection on Friday afternoon teams would first take to the Phoenix Raceway for a 50-minute practice session. Running 43 laps during his practice session, Parker Retzlaff would record a fast lap of 28.015 at 128.503 mph on Lap-2 placing the No. 31 FUNKAWAY / PRCA Chevrolet 11th fastest of the 41 cars entered for the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) Championship Race.
– Starting Position; Bright and early Saturday morning at 7:30 AM PT (10:30 AM ET) teams will need to pass NASCAR technical inspection prior to lining up for NXS qualifying at 12:30 PM PT (3:30 PM ET) to determine the starting order for Saturday afternoon’s NXS Championship Race. In 2023, intermediate-track qualifying would consist of a single round of single car qualifying for one lap. Retzlaff is scheduled to be the 29th car on track to make his qualification run. Qualifying will be shown in its entirety on USA Network and the NBC Sports App.
- Phoenix Raceway Stats; Making his fourth NXS start at Phoenix Raceway, Retzlaff holds an average finish of 25.0 in three previous starts. Capturing a career best 18th place finish in his last visit in March (2023). Retzlaff holds a 93% lap completion rate with 558 laps completed of the attempted 600. In March’s United Rentals 200 Retzlaff would qualify in the 15th position and would come away with a 18th place finish after making contact with the wall late in the race. Last season’s (2022) NXS Championship Race would see Retzlaff qualify in the 17th position and loose a couple positions late in the race to finish in 21st. In Retzlaff’s NASCAR debut at Phoenix Raceway in March of 2022 the young Wisconsin racer would lay down an eye turning qualifying lap in the 6th spot. Unfortunately, a mechanical issue would take him out of contention on Lap-158. Retzlaff In six starts Burton has three Top-20 finishes at Phoenix Raceway.
- FUNKAWAY; Headquartered in Waukegan, Illinois, FUNKAWAY is a line of odor elimination products that removes the horrible effects of bad smells. Guaranteed to work on clothing, shoes, gear, pet products, car interiors and more, FUNKAWAY allows customers to renew and refresh, rather than throw away. To learn more about FUNKAWAY, visit FUNKAWAY.com and connect on Instagram and Facebook. #FUNKINFAST31
- PCRA; The Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association (PRCA), headquartered in Colorado Springs, Colo., is the oldest and largest professional rodeo-sanctioning body in the world. The recognized leader in professional rodeo, the PRCA is committed to maintaining the highest standards in the industry in every area, from improving working conditions for contestants and monitoring livestock welfare, to boosting entertainment value and promoting sponsors. The PRCA also proudly supports youth rodeo with our educational Youth Camps program and financial assistance to young standouts preparing to enter the professional ranks. The PRCA supports allied organizations such as Tough Enough to Wear Pink, Miss Rodeo America, the American Quarter Horse Association, the Justin Cowboy Crisis Fund and the ProRodeo Hall of Fame.
Annually, the PRCA sanctions more than 650 top-of-the-line, multiple-event rodeos in 44 states and four Canadian provinces. These rodeos represent the cream of the crop among thousands of rodeo-related events that take place each year across North America. As a membership-driven organization, the PRCA works to ensure that every event it sanctions is managed with fairness and competence and that the livestock used are healthy and cared for to the highest standards. More information on the PCRA can be found online at ProRodeo.com
THE MODERATOR: We're joined Cliff Daniels with the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Kyle Larson.
Cliff, if you could take us through quickly how you felt after today's session.
CLIFF DANIELS: We had to work on our car a little bit. Hard to tell being in practice. I don't know exactly what happened. I want to say from probably hitting the apron our diffuser fell down the first run, so the car was super unhooked the first run. Kind of spooked us, so we had to sit there and look things over and check it all out.
Then for the second run and beyond, we kind of had a normal race car. From what I could tell, everybody's fighting. Rear grip on entry really both ends. Heard a lot of guys talking about that. Same is the case for us.
Certainly the track conditions are a bit different today than what we'll see on Sunday. It's going to be really hard for any of us to predict exactly how to pinpoint what that needs to be for our cars. We'll keep working on it and give it our best shot for Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. Did Kyle actually touch the wall, or did he just get close on that one run?
CLIFF DANIELS: We have a small paint mark, which I think happened on the straightaway. Didn't even happen like going off a corner. That's no big deal, thankfully.
Q. (No microphone.)
CLIFF DANIELS: I want to say there's maybe been 10 times this year we've revinyled a right rear quarter panel. This is perfect. We will be revinyling our right rear quarter panel tomorrow morning. Right in line where we need to be (smiling).
Q. When you have a driver like Kyle who routinely pushing those limits and tries to find whatever those edges are, when he has the time to do so in a practice like this, are you okay with him finding that edge, or would you rather see him at 99%, not risk having to revinyl the car?
CLIFF DANIELS: I've got no problem with him pushing hard again. I genuinely think this happened on the straightaway. This isn't exactly an overstepping the edge type of situation.
Yeah, he always pushes the car really hard, especially in practice, which is great for us, right? It lets us know what kind of speed he can extract out of it, what kind of adjustments we need to make. Today was certainly the case.
THE MODERATOR: I can also introduce Jonathan Hassler who is here with the No. 12 Penske Ford driven by Ryan Blaney.
Q. It will likely come down to pit stops Sunday. How confident are you both in your crews?
CLIFF DANIELS: Yeah, when you look at the yearly statistics of the Cup field of pit crews, A, it's incredibly tight, and B, all of our teams right up there. It's exactly what you want in a championship race, four great teams going for it. I'm sure it will be really, really tight if it does boil down did that.
JONATHAN HASSLER: I have a ton of confidence in our pit crew. Certainly a weakness of ours a year and a half ago. We've made some changes and continue to make changes through our company and continue to improve. We got a great crew.
Q. Jonathan, do you see parallels between your performance and what's going on with the 12 car this year and the 22 last year?
JONATHAN HASSLER: There's certainly some parallels, for sure. Certainly a lot of differences, as well. If you look at the season on a whole, as a company last year we had a lot more speed. Maybe not the wins, but we had a lot more speed throughout the year. We certainly had to work tooth and nail and grind it out to find speed here late in the year. Some similarities and some differences, as well.
Q. We were watching the times earlier. Ryan kind of dropped back a little bit early on, then went to the front. Where y'all working on a few things? Did you find something out there that would help you in the race?
JONATHAN HASSLER: Yeah, the conditions tonight were quite a bit different than what we're going to have on Sunday. We really just wanted to focus on making a couple different changes, getting some longer runs in and learning some things about our car. The exact setup that we need tonight isn't what we're going to need for Sunday.
Just wanted to take the opportunity to continue to learn about our car.
Q. Can you take any stock in the fact that Ryan ran top two lap averages from lap five all the way to lap 25?
JONATHAN HASSLER: Yeah, I think the stock I'll take into that is Ryan Blaney gets around Phoenix really, really well. There's never been a time here that we haven't had speed, at least short-run speed in our car. I think the challenge for us as a team is to put a car under him that will hang on through a long run.
Q. Jonathan, Ryan said yesterday that Phoenix is a type of track that suits what Team Penske does well, tracks that have different sized or shaped corners. How does that benefit what you guys do? He used Gateway as an example.
JONATHAN HASSLER: Yeah, I think we try to really focus a lot on compromises and trying to find something that works really well in a variety of different kind of conditions. So, like he said, that kind of suits the tracks that have some differences. This is one of them.
It's really hard in these cars anymore to find pure, raw speed, raw performance. You really have to kind of get down and make the best consolations, I guess.
Q. (No microphone.)
JONATHAN HASSLER: Yeah, I think Ryan just gives us feedback on each and every thing we do. Certainly we take his feedback and try to learn from it and adjust our models and tools to reflect kind of what he's saying and what we see.
Q. Now that we're at the end of the season, we have a practice, is practice a good thing? Would you like to see that every weekend or no practice, or it doesn't really matter?
JONATHAN HASSLER: Yeah, I think for me it doesn't really matter a whole lot. We're going to go race on Sunday regardless of the format and the rules. It certainly gives us some opportunities to get some data points. Certainly to have three different sets of tires for a session is something that, like I said, gives us a lot more data points to learn about our car.
At the end of the day, it's even for everybody, and we'll play by whatever rules we have.
THE MODERATOR: Jonathan, thanks for joining us. Good luck on Sunday.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by one of our Championship 4 crew chiefs, Rudy Fugle.
Rudy, why don't you go over quickly how you feel after today's session.
RUDY FUGLE: It went solid. I think we fought some problems -- actually, I hope to find things that I think are fixable for Sunday. Excited about that. I thought we got better by the end of practice compared to where we started, which is always a good thing. We have a good spot to go work on it. I think we got a shot.
THE MODERATOR: Questions, please.
Q. When you look at the practice speeds, we see where everybody is at. Is there anything as a crew chief you take away from that? You're looking at bigger picture stuff?
RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, you're always looking at the sheet. That's how we get evaluated. Really looking at averages. Then you're trying to find a way -- today's practice was a lot of people in practice. You get some skewed results probably on some of your runs. That's for everybody.
Your five-lap average might look bad because you had traffic in the first five, and somebody's 15-lap average because they got tail end. We always try to evaluate that from SMT later on and the video.
Worrying mostly about our car this weekend and trying to make the best of it.
Q. (No microphone.)
RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, no, with this package and this place, I think the more we can have a balance for the long run, and the short run, is the key.
Q. Yesterday William said you guys put the helmet fans a little higher in the car. Was there any thought of saying we're going to keep them low and suck it up for a championship race?
RUDY FUGLE: No. I mean, his health is number one. If he has 5% more in the tank at the end of the race, it's going to pay way more off than that little bit of weight up high.
That's the only place we haven't put them all year long, trying to find the best place to get the fumes and temperature right to his helmet. It's definitely worth a try.
Q. (No microphone.)
RUDY FUGLE: No, this week. This week, yeah, this weekend is the first time we've gone there. One of our teammates has run it there. We're always trying to search to make it better on the drivers.
Q. There was four or five laps where William caught the 12 and was trying to get around him. I don't know if they were on the same tires at that point. Ryan was able to defend that. What are you looking for in those moments? How much can you gauge from that session?
RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, I think he had four lap older tires, so he had a little bit of a disadvantage.
I mean, you're really giving William a shot to see the strengths and weaknesses of his car. You don't know, that could be a bad run. They could have made a change that was bad and they're still making laps.
Anyways, the characteristics of the car are generally transferring over throughout the weekend. I think that part's good.
Q. For a guy who flew in the middle seat for four hours out here on Wednesday, William seemed in a good place yesterday. How quickly did he, or you and him and the team, put behind Martinsville? Selective memory works here that he's past it already.
RUDY FUGLE: For sure. It helps that we made it. We have an ultrafocus for this week.
Yeah, you can't carry that stuff. We race way too much to carry that with you. We'll probably talk about Martinsville again in probably 10 days. We talked about it real quick Monday morning, and we were done and over with.
Q. (No microphone.)
RUDY FUGLE: That's what he does. He's cheap like me, so I understand that (smiling).
Q. (No microphone.)
RUDY FUGLE: No, I was on the team plane. He had to get here earlier to talk to y'all.
Q. The new tires, notice anything different as far as tire wear?
RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, nothing yet. I think the characteristic of those will come out in the sun. Today's practice was mostly in the shade. Once we get a 50-lap run, you'll see more characteristic of that. Even last week in Martinsville, we really didn't see a difference until the race started.
Q. Is there a big difference if you were to run practice during racing conditions as opposed to during the sunset?
RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, for sure, there's a couple things we're talking about. The way the car builds over the long run, air pressure builds. We're going to have to anticipate the right things.
I don't know, when you're a truck racer, that's usually where you get stuck, wherever they let you practice, wherever they let you race. We're used to a lot of those changes, especially here, so I feel good about that.
Q. Coming over from Europe, it's warm here compared to Europe right now. How big is the influence of these relatively hot temperatures to the aero package?
RUDY FUGLE: Yeah, for sure, it's going to heat the tires up. Without the downforce, as much downforce on the car when the tires get hot, you're going to lose control and the cars are going to lose handling a whole lot quicker into the run.
Tires get overheated, say lap 40, more downforce, it's going to be lap 25. It just speeds up the ill handling and how the cars change over the run.
It will be pretty big as warm as it is. It's probably seven, eight degrees ambient warmer than it normally is this time of year. We'll definitely be dealing with that.
Q. (No microphone.)
RUDY FUGLE: We'll try. It will help a little bit. It's something we'll have to deal with. Everybody will have the same thing. You try to build it in the setups.
THE MODERATOR: Rudy, thanks for joining us.
A long season that began in February in Florida will begin to wind down for Eddie Tafoya Jr. when he contests this weekend’s annual Western World Championships at the Cocopah Speedway. After Saturday, he will head to Perris Auto Speedway for the USAC/CRA Series finale on November 11th and the sprint car portion of the 82nd Annual Turkey Night Grand Prix at the Ventura Raceway on Thanksgiving weekend.
Tafoya’s 2023 barnstorming tour saw him spend the majority of his time competing in the USAC National Sprint Car Series. He raced in eight different states and battled the rain in five of them. Since the Chino Hills, California racer returned to his home base in early September, he has made two appearances with the USAC/CRA Sprint Cars. A challenger for the win in both, fate intervened each time and robbed him of having a chance to score victories.
Tafoya headed back to the friendly confines of So Cal after a race in Arkansas on September 9th. Two weeks later he made the short 30-minute trek from his home to Perris Auto Speedway. On his first night back he earned the second Woodland Auto Display Fast Qualifier award of his career with a lap of 16.831 on the famous half-mile clay oval. The well-spoken driver followed that up with a fourth-place finish in his heat race. In the main, he was up to second place and closing on the leader when a flat tire knocked him out of the race.
On October 14th, Tafoya and the crew headed west for his second 2023 appearance at the Meyer’s family Mohave Valley Raceway. He qualified 10th fastest on the banked 1/3 mile track, won his heat, and was once again headed to the front after starting 10th in the 30-lapper. Clearly one of the fastest cars on the track, he was battling for second when his engine laid down and knocked him from the competition with a frustrating 13th-place finish.
This weekend will mark Tafoya’s first appearance on the fast Somerton, Arizona oval since last season’s Western World Championships. In 2022, he made five appearances at the track beginning with the first three USAC/CRA races of the season. After placing seventh and ninth on the first two nights, he scored his series-best finish with a hard-fought second on night three. At last season’s Western World, the affable racer made the main event each night placing 19th and 16th. Two seasons ago when he contested the Wester Worlds at the now defunct Arizona Speedway, he had 12th and 21st place finishes.
For fans who want to see this Friday and Saturday’s Western World Championships in person, gates at the Cocopah Speedway will open at 4:00 p.m. with racing at 6:00. Reserved seats are $35.00 and general admission is $25.00. Students 13-17 are $15.00. Kids 12 and under get in for free. The track is located at 3450 W County 15th Streets in Somerton, Arizona (85360). The track website is racecocopahspeedway.com and the office phone number is (602) 292-7607. For those who cannot make it to the Arizona speed plant, the race will be shown live on Speed Sport TV. Ordering or more information is available at https://speedsport.tv/videos/30446.
If you would like to hear the friendly driver on the Dirt Tracks and Rib Racks Podcast, please visit the following link https://open.spotify.com/episode/1Hox9dg0iRGXo0szabeqDy
Tafoya’s great-looking shirts and hoodies are available online at www.specialty-fasteners.com.
Tafoya has a great YouTube channel at the following link https://www.youtube.com/shorts/1hrmC5L80EU.
Fans can follow Tafoya on Instagram @eddietafoya51.
Tafoya and the #51T team would like to thank Specialty Fasteners, DRC Chassis, Ryder Racing Engines, Simpson Safety Products, Bell, Benic Enterprises, BR Motorsports, PSC Powder Coating, Magik Graphics, Gasper Transportation, Owen’s Insurance Services, and Weld Wheels for supporting its racing program.
Eddie Tafoya PR
RSS Racing PR
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, will be making the final start of his NASCAR Cup Series career in Sunday’s Championship race. Harvick, who ranks 10th on the all-time Ford win list with 25 victories in seven seasons, addressed members of the media before today’s practice session to talk about this weekend.
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Harvick Ford Mustang – IS THERE ANYTHING YOU WANT TO SAY BEFORE WE GO TO QUESTIONS? “Obviously, it’s been a great ride and I think for me it’s something that I love to do and I think as you look back on it and realize all the things that you’ve been able to be a part of and be fortunate to be somewhat successful at, it's been fun. Obviously, I’m not going far. I guess I’ll just be sitting on the other side of the table asking the questions, but it’s been a great ride and appreciate everything you guys have done for me, whether they’re good questions or bad questions. I guess doesn’t really matter, but it’s been fun. I appreciate what you guys do.”
DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU CAN GO OUT WITH A WIN ON SUNDAY? “We did run good and I think as you look back at just the history of everything that we’ve done here, it’s been OK. We’ve been rather hit or miss this year, but I think this is a place, no matter how your season has gone, you come to with the expectations of running at the front of the pack, so hopefully that’s what we can do.”
HAS ALL OF THIS KIND OF HIT YOU THIS WEEK? DOES IT FEEL ANY DIFFERENT? “I think, for me, all the weeks leading up to this particular one were really not that hard. I think this week was a little more difficult just because it is the last week with your guys and the people and everything that you do is actually coming to an end. I don’t think up until this point, I don’t think anybody really thought it was real and this week it’s pretty real. I think this week has been definitely different than everything leading up to this just because of the fact that there isn’t a next week. There’s been a next week up until this week. Look, it’s very different – the things that we have to do going forward, but it’s all planned out and I think as I talked to Dale Jr., he was in a very similar situation where the TV piece of it was planned out. The race team piece of it is planned out. We have a management company. We have golf cart stores. All of those things are already functioning. I think it would be much different if you weren’t closing the book. I think, for me, I feel very fortunate to be able to open the book and obviously our first chapter was a little bit different than most people’s, but it’s the time that we chose to be able to say, ‘OK, this is it.’ And this is gonna be the last week coming to Phoenix and racing here for the last time. When you used to come here and race just for a hobby and you looked forward to coming to this particular racetrack on Cup weekend and in February for the Copper Classic every year. As a west coast racer that’s what you did. It is a lot different than the week’s past because there isn’t a next one.”
DO THE KIDS REALIZE THAT THIS IS THE END? “Yeah. For weeks Piper has been like, ‘Dad, why do you have to go to the next one? You’re already retiring.’ So, she’s pretty much over it. Keelan is terrified just because of the fact that he knows I’m gonna be at way more races than what I was before and he knows that I’m gonna be all over him a lot more than I am right now. Right now, he can go off and do his thing and race and dad’s not there to critique every single move that he makes, so that party is over, but I think it’s fun. Piper told Cheddar earlier. He asked her, ‘What are you looking forward to the most?’ She said, ‘Well, dad is gonna come watch me race, so that’ll be fun.”
WHEN YOU CAME IN THE WEEKENDS WERE LONGER AND YOU HAD TESTING, BUT YOU DIDN’T HAVE A LOT OF MIDWEEK STUFF YOU HAVE NOW. PLUS, THE SPONSOR SITUATION HAS CHANGED. DO YOU FEEL DRIVERS HAD MORE ON THEIR PLATE WHEN YOU STARTED OR NOW? “It’s just different and I say that not trying to be a smart aleck. The demands on the time are not as much as they used to be because I really think since 2009 when everything crashed and COVID, the demands on your time from an appearance standpoint and testing standpoint and days at the racetrack are much, much less than what they used to be. I think it’s the tedious work that comes with the details that go into the video and the data and everything that comes with that and, really, from the driver’s standpoint you’re part of an equation and you have to be pretty involved in everything that’s going on to be able to understand the ins and outs of the equation to be able to make a difference. Otherwise, you’re really a hindrance to really the whole system and you never really get anywhere. If they hit on something, then you have a little bit of success, but it’s never gonna be consistent, unless you really understand how to be a part of that equation. So, to me, it’s a lot easier than it used to be, just because you don’t have to go to do so many sponsor appearances. Even though you have more sponsors, there’s still not a huge demand on your time like there used to be from an appearance standpoint, just because of the way that companies utilize your time is just much different because of the way that they do events and things compared to how they used to do it with free-for-all marketing accounts, budgets that you just had dinners and different things all the time. But I still believe that one of the biggest challenges that many of our young drivers have is really time management and trying to get that circle of life and balance to make yourself realize that it’s really not that busy, and figure out how to do a lot more things in a short amount of time and still be able to function. A lot of it just comes with structure and organization and I think that’s one thing we stress a lot to our young guys is, ‘Hey, how do we get your circle of life in balance so you can do more because you’re really not doing that much. It’s not that hard.’”
YOUR CAREER IS THE END OF AN ERA WITH SIX CHAMPIONS BEING BORN IN THE 1970s AND YOU’RE THE LAST ONE FROM THAT GROUP RETIRING. HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT THAT AT ALL AND WHAT YOU AND YOUR PEERS HAVE ACCOMPLISHED? “I think when you name that list it’s a group of guys that came in at a great time because you got to race against the guys that were just ending their careers in the early 2000s or late nineties, and then you got to go through a new generation of guys that you came up with. I don’t know how many there are, but there’s a number of us that went through almost 20 years of it together and you really blocked out a whole generation in between for the most part just because you had so many guys that were so good, and able to be successful. But we also came through at a time when the sport was just out of control with money from a sponsorship standpoint, and all the team owners were looking for the next great driver. So they started their Busch Series teams and everybody had a Busch Series team. We were at this fortunate time when the Cup Series team owners were just looking for anybody that might have a chance and you could find funding to fund that program. All you had to do was say you were starting a program and you’d have two or three opportunities for sponsorship, and that’s how it was as you went through. For me, when we decided that we were gonna go Cup racing, we had three sponsors and we had to decide which one we wanted and that was at a very unique time in this sport and I think I’m very fortunate to have raced in the previous generation to come through with the guys that I did and now, really for me, I’m at a fortunate spot to be able to see the whole next generation starting. You have some really young guys that are in their early thirties, late twenties, mid-twenties and now I get to take that and have raced against most all those guys that are gonna be here for a long time and go up in the TV booth and I already know them all and have raced against them and have a relationship with them. My generation of racers came through at a very unique time that was just really fortunate to get to race against the previous generation, my generation and the future generation. To see all those changes in cars and tires and racers and styles of racing and we went from trial and error to simulators and simulation and iRacing and everything that comes with the sport now. When we did that before, you’d just go to the racetrack and you’d cut the cross member out and you’d drill holes in the frame and you just tested and tested and tested and tested at the track and now you don’t do it that way at all. But that’s one thing, whether it was my race teams or the race team that I have now, it’s evolve or die because this is an evolution process that is never gonna end because there are engineers and smart people and you always have to keep your head up and your eyes open or you’re gonna miss something and get left behind. I think with some of the generation of guys that were going out when we were coming in, they were very stuck on, ‘these are the springs that we need to run in the car. You can’t do this and you can’t do that.’ And they quickly got left behind and then, to me, I remember that like it was yesterday and you look back at those guys and you’re like, ‘Man, if they would have just followed the evolution of the sport and let it come to them, they would have still driven it fine.’ They just wouldn’t have known what springs were in the car and what shocks were on the car and where it was gonna go next and whether it was high or low it still went around the racetrack, it just went around the racetrack faster, but that’s what we do. The days of knowing everything that’s in your car and knowing how it works, you almost need to forget that because you’re just interrupting the process of all the smart people that work on the car to make it go faster and find something new and make a better part or piece, so there’s just a lot of things that have changed and I love that part of it. I love the evolution of watching it change and that’s always been something that I’ve taken pride in, in being able to be a part of that change and still be successful at what we did.”
IS THE NEXT GENERATION IN GOOD HANDS? “I think it is. I think guys like Joey Logano are gonna be great leaders. They already are. You see some of the younger guys start to speak up in the meetings and I can’t wait to continue to be a part of those meetings as we go forward and listen to it evolve and grow and change and see who the new leaders become because that’s the process and that’s how it works. There’s a lot of really good racers and now I think you’ll see guys evolve into leaders that you might not have expected, so that will be fun for everybody to watch and learn, but you’ve also got some guys that have been here a while that will do a good job.”
EVERYTHIING YOU HAVE LEARNED AND EXPERIENCED, WHAT DO YOU NOT WANT KEELAN AND PIPER TO DO? “The one thing that I tell Keelan is, I always tell him I’m like, we’ll get into some sort of disagreement of why you should do something or why you shouldn’t do something. He’ll say, ‘Well, you did this or you did that.’ And I’ll tell him, ‘That’s exactly why I’m sitting here telling you not to do that. If you’ll just shut up and listen, I’ll make you better.’ It’s not very hard. I’ve already been down this road and I’ve already made this mistake and, really, that’s one of the great advantages that we have from the management side is if you’ll just listen. I’m not telling you this is how you have to do it, but just listen to me and then you take it and you evolve from there, but don’t make the simple mistakes. I think from Piper’s standpoint, she’s still trying to figure it all out, but Keelan is pretty easy because he’s a lot like me. He’s a lot like me in the way that he acts and the things that he does and the things that he says, but he, for me, is very coachable because of the fact that I know his next move. It’s really simple, so I think for him if he’ll just listen and not make some of the same mistakes and just have a better starting point, then he can take it and evolve from there. And if we can make his sister just be in charge of everything, she will definitely take charge. That seems pretty easy. If it were me, before I had kids I would say, ‘Don’t ever get involved in racing. You don’t want to do it. It’s not the lifestyle you want to live.’ And then you have kids and you look around and you realize, ‘Man, this is really what my life is all about. I love racing’ And that really came from watching Keelan race and watching him grow to love this sport and watching the other parents and the other kids and everything that they did was all about racing because they loved going to the racetrack and it brought them together. That’s what I’ve done my whole life. You get in this mode where you walk in the racetrack, you’ve got your head down, you walk to your hauler, you put your suit on, you walk from the hauler to the car and from the car to the hauler and from the hauler home. And I can’t wait to walk in the racetrack with my head up and just look around because I have really never done that. I think for them probably the best advice I can give them is to try to have fun because it’s not always going to be fun. There’s always gonna be something that’s hard and in order to be good at this it’s not gonna be fun most of the time, so I don’t know if that answers your question.”
WHO DOES KEELAN LIKE TO LISTEN TO? “He likes to listen to anybody but me, but he listens. I think he listens but doesn’t want you to think he’s listening, which I’m the same way. It’s fine, but I think, for me, I’ve learned that I don’t need to be the coach. I need to coach through the coach. Put him around the people that I can trust with what I think is the right way to teach the right methods because you’re gonna get a lot further. That, to me, is a better strategy thanks to Jeff Burton.”
Ford Performance PR
"I'm feeling good going into this weekend," said Bearden. "It's nice that we have a little momentum from Winchester, and hopefully, we can ramp up on that momentum with a top-five finish on Sunday afternoon."
Known as one of the most historic short tracks in the Midwest, Bearden believes his Bearden Motorsports team can work diligently through practice and qualifying on his No. 66 Bearden Automotive | Parker Electric Ford Mustang and find a good baseline setup to enable them to capitalize on their speed when it counts most on November 5.
"The race track has quite a bit of character to it," explained Bearden. "That can be a good thing for everyone. Rhythm is super important, and also, the track is super abrasive, so tire management will be one of the main keys to focus on for the race on Sunday afternoon."
Much like the Winchester 400, Sunday's All American 400 offers 300 laps of intense side-by-side short-track action. Bearden, a part-time NASCAR CRAFTSMAN® Truck Series driver, plans to utilize the same race-day mentality to aid him in his season finale.
"Sunday's race is 100 laps shorter than Winchester, so there's a little bit of go-time pressure," Bearden explained. "Still, a lot of our same objectives remain the same. Staying out of trouble is a top priority and keeping the fenders on the car and staying on the lead lap no matter what.
"If we can do that – much like we did at Winchester, it should put us in a good position to execute towards the end of the race."
With a stacked field on deck for Sunday's Curb Records | Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers All American 400 Presented by US Tank and Cryogenic Equipment, Bearden is prepared for the lap times to be within thousands of a second. Still, once practice and qualifying are complete – the focus turns towards 1,200 turns in downtown Nashville.
"The field is super stacked with a lot of drivers from many different disciplines," sounded Bearden. "That will make for a good show, but it also brings a sense of intensity and commitment to race the competition on how you want to be raced.
"I plan to race my competitors with respect, but if we are in contention to win the race – then I am going to do everything I can to put myself and my partners and team in Victory Lane. No matter what series I race, I continue to learn from the competition, but I also feel like I have worked incredibly hard to earn their respect and hope that it can be showcased on Sunday.
"I'd love to leave Nashville on Sunday with a top-five finish if we can't win. That would be a great boost for our team and an exclamation point for our hard work all year long."
With the checkered flag set to wave in 2023, Bearden is eagerly awaiting 2024, where he plans to have a healthier presence in NASCAR while also piling up more Super Late Model races.
"2023 was an up and down year for us," offered Bearden. "We had speed in many of the races we ran; it just seemed like we were plagued with mechanical issues. Hopefully, Sunday will be a different outcome, and we can carry some momentum into the offseason.
"I am, however, looking forward to 2024 and what it has in store for us."
In addition to Bearden Automotive and Parker Electric, All In Designs, Marc Metz Racing and AIRBOX Air Purifier will serve as associate marketing partners for Bearden's final Super Late Model race of the season.
Sunday's Curb Records | Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers All American 400 presented by US Tank and Cryogenic Equipment is part of a full weekend of action featuring Super and Pro Late Model practice and 1/4-mile racing action on Friday night.
All American 400 qualifying and races for the Vore's Compact Touring Series, CRA Street Stocks, and JEGS/CRA All Stars Tour on the 5/8-mile Saturday; and culminating with the season-ending ASA STARS National Tour All American 400 on Sunday afternoon.
The ASA STARS National Tour heads to Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway on Sunday, November 5 for the season finale, the All American 400. Special discounted three-day tickets are available here.
The Curb Records | Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers All American 400
Logan Bearden PR
Two-time Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway champion and Nashville-area native Michael House set the fastest time of the afternoon in Friday ASA STARS National Tour practice. His time of 18.568 put him on top of the charts in the final session over Wilson Motorsports teammates Cole Butcher and Gio Ruggiero, who ran nearly identical lap times of 18.646 and 18.647.
The ASA STARS National Tour received two one-hour practice sessions alongside the JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour from 12:00-4:00 ahead of Curb Records/Big Machine Vodka SPIKED Coolers All American 400 Presented by US Tank and Cryogenic Equipment. Bubba Pollard was fastest in the first practice session with an 18.797, followed by Derek Thorn and Stephen Nasse.
Other notes from Friday:
- William Sawalich, Ty Majeski and Jake Garcia were not on hand due to other ARCA and NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series obligations at Phoenix Raceway. Donnie Wilson filled in for Sawalich while Justin Mondeik shook down the No.91 for Majeski; Garcia’s No.35 did not hit the track at all on Friday.
- Sawalich kicked off the busy weekend with a win in the ARCA Menards Series West race at Phoenix. The 2023 East series champion makes the cross-country flight to Nashville for the All American 400.
- Ten drivers are set to make their ASA STARS National Tour debuts this weekend, including the likes of House, NASCAR Xfinity Series team owner Tommy Joe Martins, Ty Fredrickson and Hunter Wright.
Sunday’s Curb Records/Big Machine Vodka Spiked Coolers All American 400 presented by US Tank and Cryogenic Equipment is part of a full weekend of action featuring Super and Pro Late Model practice and 1/4-mile racing action on Friday night; All American 400 qualifying and races for the Vore’s Compact Touring Series, CRA Street Stocks, and JEGS/CRA All Stars Tour on the 5/8-mile Saturday; and culminating with the season-ending ASA STARS National Tour All American 400 on Sunday afternoon. Special discounted three-day tickets are available here.
The ASA STARS National Tour opened the ten race, six-state schedule at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, FL on March 11. Gio Ruggiero is the most recent winner, claiming the victory in the Winchester 400 on October 15.
For the full ASA STARS National Tour schedule, plus Super Late Model rules and other information, please visit the series website at starsnationaltour.com, or be sure to follow the series on social media (Facebook: STARS National Series | Twitter: @racewithstars | IG: @starsnational).
ASA STARS PR