Wednesday, Feb 08
Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Christopher Bell, Ty Gibbs and Denny Hamlin along with 23XI Racing drivers Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace were made available to media prior to practice for to the LA Clash event today: 

 

CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What has it been like to process the news that you may not be able to do a lot of outside racing moving forward, specifically dirt races?

“I feel like I need to clear the air a little bit. My comments definitely didn’t reflect my situation, my relationship with Joe Gibbs and you know, my standing with the team. Joe, himself, the entire Gibbs family has been nothing but helpful for me and inspiring for me. Joe has not mentioned any dislike for dirt track racing. The only thing was his wanting to keep me healthy whether that was racing or being out on the lake or anything. He just had my best interest in mind. I did a bad job of portraying that. I don’t know what the future holds for me dirt track racing, but my comments were not well put.”

 

How have your expectations for this season changed after your success of 2022?

“Last year was just such a learning curve and I keep harping on the fact that last year we didn’t have practice and qualifying in 2021 and then in 2022 it really allowed myself and Adam (Stevens, crew chief) to hone in on what I needed in the car to be successful. I hope that continues to get better and better. I think everyone will say that this weekend at the Clash, their car will be incredibly different than what they had here a year ago. I expect us to continue to gel and hopefully. Have more pace and more results. At the end of the year, our performance on track was matching our results a little bit better and hopefully we can continue that.”

 

TY GIBBS, No. 54 Monster Energy Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

How does it feel taking on this unique event and have you leaned on your teammates for advice?

“For sure, it’s really cool to be a part of that. I feel like most of my family grew up in Southern California so it’s cool to be out here. My cousins went to school right down the street. Pretty cool to be here and experience that. Definitely been leaning on these guys for advice and feel this will be a good weekend for our Toyotas.”

 

How did you feel you improved from your first start at Pocono through the rest of the season?

“Definitely a big jump there for sure and just getting more time in this car that’s so different. And the more times I was in it, I feel like I was learning and getting more used to how it handles and how it is. I think all the time was progression and just keep moving forward.”

 

DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 SportClips Haircuts Toyota Camry, Joe Gibbs Racing

What are your expectations for 23XI for this season and what gains have you seen from the first season to today?

“As far as expectations, both making the Playoffs is a reasonable goal. Bubba (Wallace) will have to take a little bit of a jump to do that, but certainly the performance he had at the end of last year kind of showed what his potential is so I think both making the Playoffs. Then if they can make it into the Round of 12 and keep going then that’s going to be a pretty successful year for us. The difference in year one to now is just more employees, and certainly in the growing and building stage. Just a lot more team chemistry. We did have a very small group in year one and year two. We’ve continued to build on that each year, but really it’s just continuing to get better. I know it’s a cliché thing, but want to continue to see us move up in the standings and our drivers win more races. We won one in year one, two in year two so want to keep seeing that growth.”

 

As a team owner, what is the benefit to an event like this?

“The value is the location is the biggest thing. A lot of team sponsors are probably headquartered somewhere near here so there’s a value in activation that comes with that and it’s also valuable to introduce new fans to the sport. I think that with roughly 40 percent of the audience members that show up this weekend will be new to our sport. Just helps grow the sport in general. Pretty positive thing from that standpoint.”

 

How did you see Ty Gibbs grow in the NASCAR Cup Series last season while he was filling in driving the No. 45 Camry TRD?

“It really was a great advantage for him (Ty Gibbs) to get some seat time before his rookie season. Some of these tracks, he’s going to get to see for the second time and Chris Gayle (crew chief) has the notebook from our team that he’s going to be able to lean on and that feedback to make his cars better right from the get-go. So for me, from my standpoint in what I saw from him it was just steady progression of getting better and it doesn’t necessarily have to come with finishes, but with competitiveness. These guys are going to be fast. Something that’s important to me is having teammates that are very good and competitive because that’s more information that my team can use and with the giant jump that Christopher (Bell) took last year, that’s really helped all of our teams be better. Ty (Gibbs) will take time and it will take some patience there, but these guys have some speed and that’s certainly something I’m going to lean on to try to find out how I can be better myself.”

 

How do you feel about the changes made to the rear clip of the race car for this season and do you feel the teams had to give something up to have that change implemented?

“You’re always going to sacrifice something. Nothing comes for free. When you soften something, something else takes more load. The load is what it is so if something takes away from that, then something else gets it. I don’t think we really know exactly yet. I know through the test at COTA (Circuit of the Americas), there were some things shook loose in the back of the car that we didn’t necessarily plan for, but at the same time, this car is still really early in its stages that we’re just going to have to learn as we go. I don’t really have the answer of what it is that’s going to cause and effect because there will be some effect.”

 

Have you spoken with Kurt Busch about his health and if there are events he plans to participate in moving forward?

“Honestly, I haven’t asked him (Kurt Busch). He’s been traveling all over the place. He’s here this weekend helping our drivers out, but obviously we’re doing a third car in Daytona simply because we want to be prepared and want to be competitive if the day comes where he says he wants to race again.”

 

Could this race go from being an exhibition race to a points race?

“Sure. I think NASCAR whatever deems is important to them. I’m sure having a race in this area is very important with the talk of the two-mile oval in Fontana, you would have no more and they may be taking a year off while it rebuilds. Certainly I think they’re going to be open to options and maybe this does fall in that slot or we go somewhere else.”

 

BUBBA WALLACE, No. 23 DoorDash Toyota Camry, 23XI Racing 

Where is your confidence after your performance at the end of 2022 and being in the battle for the owner’s championship?

“I would say this is the most excited I’ve been for a season to start just because of the momentum we have and all the changes we’ve made in the offseason. It’s shaping up to be hopefully our best year yet. We’ve been able to win the last two seasons, but at the wrong time. We didn’t win for the Playoffs and getting into the Playoffs, which our team is totally capable of doing now with people in the right place and mentalities now. The work efforts are there and I just need to go out and do my job and start this year off right. As much as this race is about bragging rights, the season starts today with practice and qualifying which shapes up everything. We can only hope now with the way that everything is structured with no practice or get practice, but it’s not like before where you could wholesale the car if you needed to. You hope to unload the car off the truck and it’s somewhat close so you can tinker with. It’s been fun working with Bootie and continue to grow with them and just push that leadership throughout our team.”

 

How big is it to have this race in Los Angeles and perform in front of a more diverse audience?

“I think it’s big and I think I said it at this time last year, but getting into a market where it’s so diverse and exposing our sport to eyeballs is important. We have to continue this trend whether it’s here in LA or we move it somewhere else, whatever it may be. I think this is a start of changing the face of NASCAR and it’s fun to be a part of. For me to just go out and compete and represent our sponsors and our team and we have MJ (Michael Jordan) watching and everybody knows who MJ is so have to do it right.”

 

Are you ready to get back to racing after the off-season?

“My wife and I had a great off-season, but there was no off-season because we were too busy getting married and then we went on our honeymoon. Then after we got back from our honeymoon, it was two weeks before this weekend. I felt like there was no time off and that Phoenix was just yesterday. I was busy for all the right reasons and we had a great time and now I’m a married man.”

 

TYLER REDDICK, No. 45 MoneyLion Toyota Camry, 23XI Racing 

What has this transition to 23XI Racing been like for you?

“It’s been a huge one, but for everyone on the team side, everyone at Toyota has been really welcoming and inviting and really has made it feel like home very early on. Certainly as it all is shaping out, this is earlier than we thought it was going to happen, but really glad the switch happened when it did. The team’s got a lot of exciting things and we’re growing at a great pace. The vision that the ownership group has, that Denny (Hamlin) has, from the driver’s point of view and everyone they have put into place around the team. I’m really excited about this year and what this year is going to mean for me and for Bubba (Wallace) and really everybody that’s a part of the organization.”

 

Are you ready to get back to racing after the off-season?
“Yeah, it’s been a really good off-season. I stayed really busy and Bubba (Wallace) had a lot going on too on the personal side of things that he had to take care of. A lot of preparation so time really flew by from my perspective and we got a lot of things done. The team really got to spend time the right way working on things. Certainly, all of us as we were coming in here were beyond ready and chomping at the bit to get back on the race track. Really excited about it and where the gains were made. Felt like what we had in the simulator was really, really close so we’ll see.”

TRD PR

KEVIN HARVICK, No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang – WOULD YOU BE IN FAVOR OF THIS EVENT BECOMING A POINTS RACE?  “I don’t think there’s a good way to answer that.  I think that, to me, as I look at this, there are a lot of possibilities of things that you could do with other venues.  I like it as something that could move around and go to different spots and I think when you look at the stadium aspect of things, it opens up possibilities to take this event to different countries and different parts of the world to expose our sport, or you could have a Stadium Series.  I don’t know.  I think there are a lot of options.  I think this has opened a lot of doors that probably in the past weren’t really expected to be opened because when I came here last year I really thought this was gonna be a joke, personally.  And it was probably one of the races that I had the most fun at last year.  You look at the atmosphere and everything that happened, it was a great event and I think coming back this year everybody is looking forward to it.”


BRAD KESELOWSKI, No. 6 Kings Hawaiian Ford Mustang – “I think it’s a great venue.  They did a heck of a job.  Similar to Kevin, I had some pretty big concerns coming into it last year and I was blown out of the water by what I saw here.  I thought they did an amazing job.  The potential is here to do so many different things – points races or carry the idea to other venues that I think it’s certainly in one year’s time earned a lot of respect within the industry that opens up numerous doors and opportunities.  How that plays forward, I know I’m pretty open-minded to it as both a driver and an owner and look forward to see it do just that – play out.”


KEVIN HARVICK CONTINUED – HOW HAS YOUR MINDSET CHANGED WITH THIS BEING YOUR FINAL YEAR?  “I think when you look at events now I think it allows you to look back at the things that you’ve been a part of and be in the moment at these particular events and really every event as you go to in different parts of the country.  You have your spots that you like to eat or things you like about the track or people that you know in that area, so I’m fortunate to have done this for a long time.  I feel like the timing of everything is really good.  I go into events and I feel like we’re prepared and we go to the event and we do what we’re supposed to do and we go home, so I’m definitely going to try to enjoy the moments that you have at the racetrack, but in the end I feel really good about the timing of stepping out of the car at the end of the year.  I am looking forward to going to all these places for the last time, but I think as you go through the moments and different things you’ll start to remember and celebrate things as we go along the way.”


YOU WERE THE FIRST TO DECLARE THIS A SUCCESS.  IN YEAR TWO DOES IT CHANGE?  “I think all of our races need to be great events and I think when you go and you watch a Super Bowl the event is great no matter what happens in the game because it’s the Super Bowl and everything it leads up to and builds up to, so I think that’s one thing that as we go along to all the races need to be.  We need more events.  When we go to Chicago this year it’s gonna be a great event before we even get there and who knows how the race will go.  I think as you look at the atmosphere and everything that has come with this particular event, it will probably be better than it was last year just because of the fact that everybody knows how it works and all the lead up and hype and anticipation is still there for everything as we’ve come in here this year.  So, I don’t think it’ll be worse.”


BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED – WHAT ARE YOUR TAKES ON KEVIN’S CAREER AND WHAT HE HAS MEANT TO THE SPORT?  “I look at Kevin and think of the opportunity that he had 23 years ago and I can’t imagine having to go through that set of circumstances and the weight that would come with that and trying to take that forward and to be able to do that and to overcome that weight and to win races at all three levels and championships as owner/driver at all three levels, I can’t think of anyone else that’s done that – at least not in this era to the regard that he’s done, so I think that’s a tremendous accomplishment.  It’s easy to lose sight of.  We get so focused on what have you done last week that I think sometimes we lose sight on what people have done over their career and certainly sometimes even over just a few years.  So to take over that and then have a new Cup team and an opportunity eight or nine years ago with Stewart-Haas and to build that into a winner, in itself those are incredible accomplishments, and then you think of all the different partners he’s brought into the sport.  You’ve got the business side and the competitive side and it’s kind of wins across both boards, which is really hard to do.  I think there are a lot of people in this sport who are successful in one piece of the environment, but to be successful in multiple pieces of the environment is that much more challenging, so to be able to have that legacy is one that I’m sure Kevin is proud of and as the industry reflects back over the course of the year, I hope it takes the time to remember as well.”


FROM AN OWNER’S VIEW, WHAT IS THE VALUE OF THIS EVENT?  “It’s an interesting event.  When you look at the revenues of the race teams, the majority of the revenues are coming from the sponsors, so it does OK for that.  But when you look at it for the value to the industry, it’s probably, in my opinion, the second-most valuable event that we have all year to the Daytona 500.  To be in Los Angeles, which is certainly a huge market, I read some graphic the other day from NASCAR that we have more fans in L.A. than any other area, which is hard to think of, but of all the regions we go to, there are more NASCAR fans than anywhere else, so I think we lose sight of that sometimes.  But to be able to be in their backyard and to engage them for a key event, I think that’s really important.  Of course, for our TV partners this is a tremendous event as well.  They’re the lifeblood of our sport in so many different ways as probably the primary revenue generator, so from the team perspective it’s probably more neutral, but from an industry perspective this is a significant event for us.”


KEVIN HARVICK CONTINUED – WITH THIS CAR HOW ARE YOU SEEING THE IMPACT THE DRIVER CAN HAVE?  “When you step into a car that the team has scienced out it’s particularly easy because of the fact that the driver can get in and they can tell them what to do.  Where it becomes difficult, and Brad can speak to this as well with what he stepped into, it’s incredibly important to be a part of the conversation and a part of the progression of the race team because the things that you say and the things that you do and how you communicate those things and how you follow through on those things.  The things you push for.  The things you give for are extremely important to the direction of the race team and the decisions that are made in the development of setups and really whatever else you’re trying to develop, whether it’s simulator, whether it’s setups, whether it’s at the track, you’re a piece of that puzzle and a piece of that puzzle that has the biggest feel of the car and the things that they’re changing and the things that are happening and whether they work or don’t work and whether that relates to simulation or the simulator and how all of those programs proceed forward whether it’s positive or negative can be detrimental to have to take 8, 10 steps backwards to try to unwind things as you make a wrong move in the development.  An experienced driver and learning how to test and develop is not a quality that a lot of our younger guys have because they’ve never had to run a test or be responsible for the decisions that are being made from the engineering staff and a lot of them are very agreeable to what people say and deep down they know that’s probably not what they felt, but they just don’t want to rock the boat.  So, you have to have that franchise leader to be able to make those decisions and the staff and everybody believe, ‘OK, what I said as a driver is what they’re going to do and we’re a blend of the engineering staff and the crew chiefs and the people making the decisions on what we’re gonna do with the car.’  There’s always something to develop.  They can keep simplifying everything and it’s just gonna make it harder to kick the crumbs out that are better to make the car go faster, so it’s a never ending progression and the driver is a key part of that to keep the organization on par from a competition standpoint to keep the cars progressing forward.”


BRAD KESELOWSKI CONTINUED WHAT DO YOU FEEL MOST OPTIMISTIC ABOUT THIS SEASON?  “To piggyback off of some of Kevin’s comments.  Your responsibility as a driver, in a lot of ways, is to kind of find the last 5-10 percent of a car and optimize the performance around that.  What’s really tough is when you start at 60 percent, even if you get 5 or 10 percent, you’re still at 70 percent.  We started the year last year so far behind that I didn’t feel like I could even really help, so getting halfway through the year it started to get to where I think my feedback and input was valuable and we started to make the right moves and then you kind of naturally run into this trap that the things you need to fix you either don’t have the time to fix or you’re contractually limited with people or tools and contracts and so forth, and you literally just have to endure the pain until you get to an offseason.  This was a really important offseason for us at RFK to really apply a lot of the super painful lessons of last year and I think we’ve done a lot of that.  We’ve said, ‘All right, we know what we don’t know and now we’ve got to fix it.’  And then we got through the offseason and we want to work and really dug down deep on a number of projects – some internal, some external, some people related and some resource related.  I can’t say that we’ve got all of them checked off, but we made a lot of progress this offseason, so I’m super optimistic to see that play out on the racetrack.”


YOU MISSED THE MAIN EVENT LAST YEAR, BUT DO YOU LIKE A FORMAT THAT SENDS PEOPLE HOME?  IS THAT A GOOD STORYLINE FOR NASCAR?  “I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing.  I mean, there’s only one winner at the end of the day, so whether you go home early or late, it’s kind of all the same in some regard.  There’s always the pressures of partners and getting them on the racetrack and the business model and the economics of that, but, in the end, we have to do what’s best for the fans and from that perspective I think to put on an event like this it’s difficult to put 36 cars on the track and make something that is the best product possible for the fans, so I would look at it always through the lens of what is best for the fans and in this event I think a few cars have to go home to make it the best it can be.”



JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – YOU POSTED ABOUT YOUR HAIR IN THE OFFSEASON.  WHAT DID YOU DO AND WHY?  “I’ve been battling with Alopecia for quite some time, where it just kind of comes and goes, along with pattern balding at the same time and Hairclub reached out and said, ‘We’ve got a great fix for you,’ and I said, ‘Great, let me hear about it.’  And they’ve got a lot of different avenues you can go, a lot of different things for people that are going through stuff.  It was a lot of really cool pieces along with it, ways that we can tie into the foundation as well moving forward, so they had a fix for me and probably have a fix for about everybody, so I went with that and now I look 10 years younger.  It’s like the old days.  I’m back.  It’s good.”


WHAT HAS THE REACTION BEEN?  ARE YOU FEELING MORE CONFIDENT?  “Yeah.  I look better than I feel, which is good, but, like I said, it was a good opportunity.  For one, I do a lot of things on TV and things I noticed and this isn’t really uncommon for people to do.  It’s probably uncommon for people to talk about it, for whatever reason.  People don’t really talk about this stuff or try to keep it secretive, but I’m pretty much an open book at this point and don’t mind talking about things like that.”


THE REACTION ON SOCIAL HAS BEEN MIXED.  HAVE YOU READ MUCH ABOUT IT AND WHAT IS YOUR REACTION?  “I’ve read through some of it.  Honestly, it only matters what I think about it and, honestly, the only person it really matters to is my wife.  You guys will probably understand that, but she likes it, so we’re good to go.”


ANY OF THE OTHER DRIVERS HIT YOU UP FOR YOUR CONTACT?  “Yes.  I got many text messages from a lot of people I know wondering what to do and who to call, so I’ve hooked up quite a few people already.”


ARE YOU READY TO GET BACK IN THE CAR AND THE OFFSEASON TO BE OVER WITH?  “Absolutely.  I know I’m not anywhere near the end of my career because I can’t wait to get back in a race car.  That’s kind of, to me, the telltale sign of where you’re at and I was very excited about just getting back out here and racing again.  Coming back to the L.A. Coliseum and seeing the track again.  The excitement is the same as it was last year.  Maybe you feel a little bit more comfortable this year because we know a little bit more about what we’re about to get into, but it’s definitely very exciting.”


RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Great Lakes Ford Mustang – YOU’LL BE BACK IN THE BOOTH AT DAYTONA.  WHAT KEEPS BRINGING YOU BACK?  “I’m doing a handful of races for them (FOX) this year.  It’s something I have been doing more and more, whether it’s the booth or the Hubs and I really just enjoy the booth.  I mean, it gives you a neat perspective on the race.  It’s different watching up there than watching from the bus or anywhere else, and I feel like the more current driver insight you can give to the fan watching at home is great.  The people they have working up in the booth are really talented, who work up there week to week, but I think if you can get some drivers in there like they have been doing, whether it’s FOX or NBC, it’s just really good.  You can kind of say, ‘Hey, I felt this today in practice today and maybe look for this and this in the race.’  Or can explain a situation maybe a little bit more just because you’re more experienced on that side.  It’s something I really enjoy doing.  A handful is enough for me.  I don’t want to be up there every single week, but I think some of the knowledge a current driver can give is helpful for the person watching at home.”


ANYTHING WEIRDER THAN DEALING WITH THE SNOW DELAY IN VEGAS?  “I was on a streak there for a while where it was raining or snowing in weird places.  It snowed in Vegas.  It rained in Phoenix and it was whenever I was in the booth, so I didn’t know what was going on, but the delays do stink.  You make the best of it, but hopefully we’re over that hump.”


HOW IS YOUR MINDSET COMING INTO THIS SEASON?  “Yeah, definitely after the year we had last year of kind of missed opportunities and not having the best of years and things like that, not winning, it feels like it makes you more motivated than ever.  Really, how our season ended I would say motivates me the most, even without the wins in the regular season or things like that, I messed up two of the races in the Round of 8 and it kept us from getting to Phoenix and we had a car that could contend at Phoenix, for sure.  That kind of stinks and you look back at that and you’re disappointed in yourself when you’re the one who kind of inflicts both of those mistakes.  I think everyone is motivated and I feel like, as a driver, as you get older you’re mindset is trying not to dwell on those things too hard and just learn from them and move on and realize you’re gonna have good years and bad years and try to figure out a way to come off the bad years and turn them into good years and take the positives out of it and apply it.  I think that’s kind of what fuels our team.  I’ve got a great group.  They’re very deserving to race at Phoenix and win races and I think what we’ve learned last year and hopefully be applied to this one.”


JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – HOW IMPORTANT IS IT WE’RE HERE FOR A SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR TO BUILD ON THE MOMENTUM FROM LAST YEAR?  “Last year, this was one of the biggest risks, if not the biggest risk, our sport has ever taken.  When you think of the track we’re racing at, brand new.  Brand new cars that had never been raced before in front of a lot of new fans that have never seen a race before, this could have been really bad.  I was very nervous.  This could be really bad for the sport and it was great.  You think about it.  The race was really good.  The heat races.  The last chance qualifiers.  Each race kind of had its own feel and personality and the feature was good.  There was good racing.  There was a concert in between.  It was a spectacular week, I thought, out here to pull this one off.  It seems crazy.  When they told us the first time it was like, ‘What?  Where?  How? With brand new cars?  OK.’  But it worked out great and obviously that’s why we’re back again and not really many things have changed and the things that have make it even better for the fan experience.  This is great.  I think it’s added something to the Clash in general.  It was special when it was in Daytona, to win at Daytona is special, but I think last year after going through the whole weekend and being able to win the race the excitement and the amount of eyeballs that were watching were far more than what it would have been at the Clash, to where I would almost look at winning the Clash last year as one of my biggest victories, and I don’t think there’s many non-points paying races that you’d ever say that about, but just the fact that it was an inaugural event at a place like this was just really cool.”


YOU TOOK HUDSON TO MILLBRIDGE.  HOW SPECIAL WAS THAT TO GET HIM ON THE TRACK?  “We had fun.  His crew chief, which is men, is lost as last year’s Easter egg.  I can tell you that much.  I have no idea what the heck we’re doing.  No idea what gear to put in the car.  How much air to put in the tires.  I need someone to help me unload the cart from the truck.  I just had a pickup truck and I was like, ‘What do I need for a go kart?’  But we had a lot of fun.  He’s decent on the speed.  We’re a little bit off on the race-ability stuff like restarts and passing cars, but we just want to have some fun together.  That’s kind of what it’s all about right now, so other times I take my Legend’s car and he takes his little outlaw kart and we go play around together.  It’s fun.”


ARE YOU ASSUMING THIS IS THE SAME TRACK AS LAST YEAR?  WHAT COULD THERE BE THAT MAKES A DIFFERENCE?  “We walked the track earlier.  It looks the same to me.  That being said, once you get out there and driver a race car on it you start to notice little differences and things like that.  There’s no two corners created the same at any racetrack you go to.  I doubt they can make it identical, but it doesn’t look much different.  It looks pretty similar.  In preparing for the race we went off of what we had last year, just because that’s kind of all you know.  Things we fought last year, most likely, are gonna be the same issues we fight this year.  The track being brand new.  Going through practices.  I assume the track is going to keep getting faster and picking up.  It’s gonna be hard to tune on your car for that reason and how the racing is and those things you go back on what happened last year because that’s all you’ve got.”


RYAN BLANEY CONTINUED – WILL TEMPERATURES PLAY A PART IN QUALIFYING AND THE RACE LIKE LAST YEAR?  “Last year in qualifying it was definitely pretty cold.  I don’t know if it will be as cold as what it was last year, but that was pretty big trying to get heat in your stuff.  I think as we get closer to qualifying here and similar to the start of the race time, I feel there are some things you can learn.  It seems like it’ll be a little bit colder tomorrow from what I see, but when you have such a short track like this, heat is imperative of getting going.  You have nowhere to build it, so it’s like Martinsville doubled.  I mean, we always talk about trying to get heat in your stuff at Martinsville and this is even harder to do that.  Qualifying, the start of the race, restarts, that’s huge to try and get heat in your stuff and you’re gonna see guys doing all they can – burnouts, locking tires up – just trying to get everything they can because it’s really important and it’s really hard to do.”


JOEY LOGANO CONTINUED – FROM A SPONSOR STANDPOINT IT WAS GOOD TO HAVE THEM PITCH THE OPPORTUNITY, RIGHT?  “For everyone there’s an avenue for everything.  There’s nothing wrong with trying to make yourself look good, right?  Why do you go to the gym?  Well, you want to be healthy and you want to look good.  It’s the same thing here.  I had the opportunity to do this and felt like it was the right move and it all kind of worked out great.”

Ford Performance PR

 

KYLE LARSON, NO. 5 HENDRICKCARS.COM CAMARO ZL1, and CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1, met with the media in advance of the NASCAR Cup Series practice and qualifying session at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Press Conference Transcript:

 

 

Q: With the backdrop here, looking as strong as it did last year and coming back a second year, how important is it for this event to be back a second consecutive, and with everything you’ve learned over the past year with this car?

 

Kyle Larson: “I think this is a great location for a race. It’s good to introduce our sport to [fans], and hopefully get some fans out of it. I thought last year’s event was amazing. I thought NASCAR and everybody did a great job pulling it off. The show aspect of it, too, was really good. Glad to have it back again for a second year. There’s a lot of things I’m sure NASCAR could learn from and apply to this year. I’m excited to get on track in a little bit and see a good show.”

 

Q: With stage breaks being eliminated, races will stay green at road courses, what are your reactions for later in the year?

 

Chase Elliott: “I would say I don’t have a problem with that. I feel like the strategy of the race is already pretty much done based on when the stage breaks were. We’ll have to kind of see. I haven’t really looked at what it’s kind of going to look like when you have to stop and things. I know that the stages really dictate a lot of the strategy. I don’t think it will be bad.”

 

Q: How important is it going into this season to have that strong start, build momentum, and start strong?

 

Larson: “I think it’s always important to start the year off strong. There’s been years where I’ve struggled the first year, and kind of like you’re digging yourself out of a hole from the very beginning. Although it’s a long season, it’s definitely important to get off to a good start and shape the scope of your season and how you prepare for each race, and how you call each race. The goal is to win every race, but early in the year, you want to finish to get off on the right foot.”

 

Q: At the Cup level, the concept of sending people home and having guys not make the show for a race like this is still kind of new. What do you guys think of that? Could that be something that sticks around in other races at some point? Not every week, but, you know, for, for certain occasions.”

 

Elliott: “I think it's a good thing. I don't see where it hurts anything at all. I'm fine with that, and I feel like, like Kyle {Larson] said, I thought the event last year was good and he ended up figuring it out itself out at the end, and I feel like most of the time it’s going to do that.”

 

Larson: “I come from the land of B-Mains and stuff where people will miss the show. It makes those consolation races really intense, and as we saw last year, I think it adds a storyline. Even though it’s not nearly as intense as at Daytona, you see it every year in the Duels, and that’s really the coolest part about the Duels.. seeing those guys race and follow their pit strategy and pits stops. And if they keep up with the draft, it makes the Daytona 500 for those teams, and any team really, mean more and much more special to make it. You had to earn your way in. When you’re getting rid of cars, you see your fields big. That shows the sport is healthy. I think it’s good. And if we introduce those car counts where we send someone home every week, I think it’s something exciting.”

 

Q: You won at Auto Club last year. What are your thoughts about the track being converted and also off the schedule for a year, maybe two years, before it returns after being converted to a short track?

 

Larson: “It’s definitely a long process for them to reconfigure not only the track but a lot of the facilities. It’s pretty intense. I know with California and all the codes that you have to go through, it’s probably hard to have everything stay on schedule. I don't know exactly the extent of what they're doing with the track and how big it's going be, the shape and banking and all that. I love the two-mile track. But I think the more shift tracks we can have, the better off our sports going to be. It’s neat that they're investing that money to try and grow the growth racing in California, but also help NASCAR.”

 

Q: For so many years, you've been around long enough. The debate is: how much is the driver? How much is the car for? You guys often say, probably like 80-90% of the car with this new car. How much more is does the driver have control of things? How much more is the driver playing a factor. Are you sensing or getting a feel of having more of input than when maybe when you first came in or early years with, with that crop?

 

Elliott: “That’s a really tough debate. I'm not sure you've ever heard me say those exact numbers, but, nonetheless, I think everyone has to have something good to drive no matter how good or bad of a race car driver you are. You can be in a really good car and not necessarily be putting yourself in positions to have as much success as you need to be doing too. I think you still have to have a horse to ride my opinion.”

 

Q: With both of you being really successful in road courses in the past, what were your thoughts on elimination of stage breaks and how much of the difference is it going to make when you go there?

 

Larson: “I think it's good. I always thought it was odd in a road course that you would pit early before a stage. That’s just not like racing to me. Being able to race from start to finish is good. I honestly haven't even followed along with the rules updates. I don't know the exact rules or whatnot, but I think that's been something teams and drivers have been trying to get NASCAR to do the last few years. It’s nice that they listen, and I think it's going to be better overall for the race.”

 

Q: Who is the G.O.A.T. [greatest of all time] in NASCAR?

 

Larson: “I think my goat would be Jimmie [Johnson]. I guess the way I look at it, and I'm probably biased because I got to compete with him, but just the quality of competition and car. His era was, in my opinion, much more difficult. That's why he would be. Anyone goes five in a row, that’s crazy.”

 

Elliott: “I would agree. And I was going to mention the five in a row. I know the seven he’s talked about a lot, but that five in a row thing doesn't get talked about enough, in my opinion. I know the format was different, but it makes it a little more possible to do. But still, that’s a tall order. That's pretty impressive.” 

 

GM PR

Motorsports Business Management (MBM Motorsports) announced today that Klutch Vodka will serve as the team’s primary marketing partner in a multi-race partnership during the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series season starting with the season opening Beef. Its What’s for Dinner 300 at the Daytona International Speedway February 18, 2023.

Klutch Vodka founded by Anthony S. Quattrochi & Fiancé Brandy Wong is distilled five times through an eight-column still and polished twelve times using our proprietary filtering system to create one of the finest gluten- free vodkas in the world. Klutch Vodka can be found in Total Wine & More locations throughout Florida.  “Drink Responsibly. Act Responsibly.”

Driving the #13 Klutch Vodka Toyota Supra will be veteran driver Timmy Hill from Port Tobacco, Md., who recorded a career-best finish for he and MBM Motorsports of 2nd in August 2022.

“I am excited to return to Daytona and capitalize on the 2nd place finish we achieved in August last year,” driver Timmy Hill said. “It is even more exciting to welcome a new partner like Klutch Vodka to the sport and provide an opportunity for them to grow their brand through the team!”

MBM Motorsports team owner Carl Long echoed those statements.MBM Motorsports Announces Multi-Race Sponsorship with Klutch Vodka

“Finishing 2nd at Daytona last year was a huge boost to our team and it has paid off with the excitement of a multi-race partnership with Klutch Vodka,” MBM Motorsports team owner said. “We are excited to have a Klutch performance and be in contention for the win!”

Returning to MBM Motorsports are long-time supporters Coble Enterprises and James Carter, Attorney at Law (CrashClaimsR.US).  Coble Enterprises based in Sarasota, Fla., is a real estate investment firm and  specializes in personalized property management for residential and commercial properties. James Carter, Attorney at Law, has over 35 years of legal experience helping clients recieve the maximum net recovery in various legal matters.

Also returning to the team in 2023 is  Wix Filters, Prime Hydration and O.C.R. Gaz Bar the innovator in filtration products. WIX designs, manufactures and distributes products for automotive, diesel, agricultural, industrial and specialty filter markets.  Prime Hydration made their debut with MBM Motorsports in Charlotte in 2022 and is the wildly popular hydration beverage formed by Logan Paul and KSI. O.C.R. Gaz Bar, a country side bar based in Kahnawake, Quebec, Canada is owned and operated by former MBM Motorsports driver Derek White.

The Klutch Vodka Toyota Supra will make its on-track debut on Saturday, February 18. Coverage of the Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner. 300 will be broadcast on FS1, the Fox Sports App, MRN, and Sirius XM NASCAR Ch. 90 at 5:00 PM ET.

MBM Motorsports PR

In a wild race to the checkered flag, Lucas Lee was declared the winner of Friday’s DIRTcar UMP Modified Winternationals Feature event at East Bay Raceway Park after track officials penalized Drake Troutman for jumping the final restart.

 

Lee, the 2019 Winternationals finale winner from Paris, TN, was the leader for the race’s final restart with two laps remaining. Troutman, the 17-year-old racer from Hyndman, PA, was sitting in the runner-up spot for the restart, and lined up Delaware double-file behind Lee on the outside lane.

 

The green flag dropped, and the field got on the throttle out of Turn 4. Troutman, who had been running nearly the entire race on the high side, got a big head of steam down the frontstretch and gave Lee a big challenge for the lead as they dove into Turn 1.

 

The two raced side-by-side for nearly the entire lap, but Troutman’s topside speed out of Turn 4 pushed him past Lee to take the lead as they crossed under the white flag. Troutman abruptly moved down to the low side of the track to defend the lead through Turns 1-2 and made it stick, slightly gapping Lee as they raced down the backstretch toward the checkered flag.

 

With Troutman cranking the RPMs on the high side and Lee steadily maneuvering the bottom, the two rounded Turn 4 nearly side-by-side and crossed the stripe – Troutman ahead of Lee at the line by .263 seconds.

 

After the checkered, Troutman began a victory lap around the 1/3-mile oval in celebration of what appeared to be his second win of the week, but was soon informed that he had been docked two positions for jumping the final restart. The penalty, in effect, moved Troutman back to third in the official Feature finish, handing the win over to Lee.

 

From his perspective, Lee was more concerned with Troutman’s maneuver in Turn 1 after taking the white flag.

 

“I’m sure he was hanging out there, but that’s what he’s gotta do,” Lee said. “I’m not saying it was right or wrong, but I wasn’t really worried about him doing that so much as I was him chopping the hell out of me in Turns 1 and 2 when he ran the top. Which, that’s racing also.”

 

Troutman did not share the officials’ view of the restart in question and instead pointed to a possible tire spin for Lee when the field got back on the throttle out of Turn 4.

 

“You start on the bottom at this place, and you’ll spin [your tires] from one end to the next on the frontstretch and the backstretch, too,” Troutman said. “I figured if I could fan-out and get a run… and [Lee] could probably tell you this, I felt like he probably spun.

 

“I got a really good run, but it’s one of them deals. [Lee] ran a good race, and congratulations to him. It just wasn’t our night.”

 

Leading up to the dramatic finish, Lee and Troutman put on another great battle in the final 10 laps.

 

Polesitter Lee led the first 22 of the 30-lapper before fifth-starting Troutman made up a 3.5-second advantage on him in eight laps, riding the high-side momentum as they worked through lapped traffic.

 

With several slower cars on the bottom in front of him, Lee managed to escape the bigger clusters, but got hung-up behind Shane Burrows on Lap 23 as Troutman sailed around him for the lead.

 

“I knew they’d be coming pretty hard,” Lee said. “I was just sticking down there and hoping [the flagman] would [show the move-over flag] and they would get out of the way, but they didn’t.”

 

“It was on the absolute ragged edge,” Troutman said. “[Lee] got caught up in lapped traffic, and I was just able to keep my momentum rolling up there.”

 

A caution was thrown later that same lap, restacking the field for the restart. Lee got strong speed as the green came back out and was able to retake the lead from Troutman in Turn 2.

 

“I knew I’d drive back by him because he picked me in lapped cars,” Lee said. “When my stick guy told me to stay on the bottom, I stayed.”

 

Lee maintained the top spot until the one final, fateful restart with two-to-go. Despite all that happened in the end, Troutman still found the positive in the situation.

 

“I love racing with Lucas,” Troutman said. “We always have good races, and we can usually race side-by-side all the time.

 

“He’ll get over it, I’ll get over it, we’ll move onto tomorrow, and I’m sure we’ll probably be racing side-by-side again tomorrow.”

 

Thursday night winner Tyler Nicely also benefitted from Troutman’s penalty and was moved from third up to second in the official Feature finish. Troutman was officially scored third, while Devin Dixon and Chris Wilson rounded out the top-five.

 

With all four preliminary nights now complete, the top-six in overall event points have been locked into Saturday’s 75-lap, $5,000-to-win main event. Those drivers currently sit as follows:

 

1. Drake Troutman (285)
2. Lucas Lee (260)
3. Tyler Nicely (241)
4. Buzzy Adams (233)
5. Devin Dixon (210)
6. Brian Skaggs (190)

 

UP NEXT

 

The final night of DIRTcar UMP Modified Winternationals hits the clay of East Bay Raceway Park Saturday, Feb. 4, featuring Heat Races for all non-qualified cars, Last Chance Showdowns and the 75-lap, $5,000-to-win Feature.

 

If you can’t be at the track, Follow DIRTcar Racing on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram for live updates throughout the program.

 

RESULTS

 

A Feature 1 (30 Laps): 1. 12-Lucas Lee[1]; 2. 25N-Tyler Nicely[7]; 3. 5-Drake Troutman[4]; 4. 2-Devin Dixon[15]; 5. 17-Chris Wilson[10]; 6. 33W-Rodney Wing[3]; 7. 25W-Allen Weisser[11]; 8. 22-Austen Becerra[19]; 9. 25-LJ Grimm[6]; 10. 205-Travis Varnadore[24]; 11. 20-Brian Skaggs[16]; 12. 3F-Rob Fuqua[23]; 13. 16C-John Clippinger[14]; 14. 90-Tim Gay[13]; 15. 40-Kevin Adams[2]; 16. 69B-Bryan Bernhardt[8]; 17. 70B-Shane Burrows[12]; 18. 56-Chris Wilson[18]; 19. 99-Blake Brown[9]; 20. 2J-Troy Johnson[5]; 21. 145-Kyle Hammer[17]; 22. 54J-Jason Jack[21]; 23. 54-Jason Kinney[22]; 24. 130-Chase Allen[20]

 

DIRTcar Series PR

After two successful days of testing on the 3.067-mile, 17-turn road course at The Thermal Club in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs, California, the 12 full-time Chevrolet powered teams and drivers leave with a notebook full of learnings as they prepare for the season-opening race on the Streets of St. Petersburg on March 5, 2023.

 

Six Team Chevy drivers hovered in the top-10 both days as teams improved setups and performance. In addition, the debut of the Shell 100% Renewable Race Fuel in a competitive environment produced positive reviews from drivers, teams and manufacturers.

 

Callum Ilott, No.77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet was the overall quickest of the Chevy drivers. In a field that was separated by a mere seven tenths of a second, Will Power, No. 12 Team Penske Chevrolet, Scott McLaughlin, No.3 Team Penske Chevrolet, Felix Rosenqvist, No. 6 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet, Josef Newgarden, No. 2 Team Penske Chevrolet and Alexander Rossi, No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet all fell within that very tight window.

 

Although there were 27 cars in attendance, there were a few off-track excursions during the test. And no driver damaged a car in their mishaps.

 

Another two-day test will be held at Sebring mid-February before the 17-race season kicks off on the Streets of St. Petersburg. 

 

Josef Newgarden

Press Conference Transcript

THE MODERATOR: Josef, I guess you go back to Content Day on Wednesday, you were curious about how it was going to play out, but not get overly excited about a good performance, too down on a bad performance. How do you leave here today?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, I think that rings true, for sure. Productive for us. A lot of new people on the 2 car. Nice to have this competitive environment.

Everyone looked like they were pushing. Looked like typical INDYCAR, right? A couple 10ths on the top split. It was really productive. I was happy with the second half of the day. We were getting the car in a good window. I made a mistake about an hour to go, kind of ruined our last hour there. That was unfortunate.

These are things that happen. It's good to have this type of environment to make that mistake and get ready for St. Pete. I leave here feeling really confident that we've got a team that can build together and try and push from the very beginning of the season.

 

THE MODERATOR: We'll begin with questions.

Q. Josef, you had Jeremy (Millss) as an engineer for a while. Any tips and hints for Kyle?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: He's a unique individual. I've never met anybody like Jeremy. He's crashed four plans. He's probably not telling people that nowadays, so maybe you only know two of them.

He's a very unique man. He's a very good engineer. I think you'll have a good time with him. He's great to work with.

Yeah, I don't need to give Kyle advice. I think he'll naturally probably get on a good page with Jeremy quickly. He's easy to get along with, a lot of fun, great engineer. I'm sure they'll have a good go.

 

Q. Nobody knew quite what to expect entering this test. What did you learn?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Well, about what?

 

Q. The track, what it can do, whether it's capable of ever putting on a race here, the facility, anything about the car.

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think it's a first-class facility, no doubt. I think the entire facility here at Thermal really rolled out the red carpet for us. They did a tremendous job.

It was a fairly flawless test, I would say, for two days. I think the great thing about this was we had a two-day test, which was fantastic. You got to have this warmup, this pre-season build. That was the biggest positive for me, is that we were here, we were running cars. It was a great facility to do it at.

I think the track was a lot more fun than we anticipated. It was challenging, definitely technical. I don't know how relevant it is. For us, it wasn't really relevant to anywhere we're going, but that's okay.

In a lot of ways it is relevant. For us it was relevant for building the team up, trying to work in a competitive environment, be competitive together. That's everything. So regardless of is the setup going to apply to a certain track or another, doesn't really matter.

For us, it was applying the principles of how we're going to work together. From that standpoint it was very productive for everybody. Race-ability-wise, it's hard to say. It was chewing tires up. Big dropoff from run one to two. I think from a race standpoint, that would be quite positive. You'd have big tire deg here.

You'd have to do more work on runoff areas if we wanted to race here, but it's possible. I don't think it would take much effort to do the things to run an actual race.

 

Q. How good a race would it put on?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: It's hard to say. I mean, no one really ran together like that. It's pre-season testing. Everyone is working on big gaps.

I couldn't give you a good answer from my side.

 

Q. Josef, two days of testing, do you have a sense if you feel like things are going better at this point of the year in terms of everyone gelling together than maybe they were at this point a year ago?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I think similar. In a lot of ways, the first race last year was an anomaly. We had another thing going on during that weekend that we just were struggling to overcome, which had nothing to do with the chemistry or the cohesiveness of the team.

Then you saw second, third race, we win two right in a row. It was really a dream start for that group. No real lag time to get up to speed.

I feel no differently about this new group, as well. I think they're very capable. I have the highest confidence in every individual that's there. Really excited for Luke Mason. I think he's an absolute star. I don't want to just single him out because I think it's everybody on the team. They're all fantastic.

I have a high level of confidence, but I'm also very aware of the increasing difficulty of this environment in INDYCAR. You can't get too ahead of yourself. It's one of the most competitive series out there and it gets harder every year. Every year takes shape differently.

I've said this before, but it's hard to compare seasons because they all take their own form. It's going to be interesting to see how this one shakes out, but I feel very good about my group specifically, then Team Penske overall. I think we got the best of the best.

 

Q. It seemed like over the two days we had someone off track, a red flag fairly frequently. Do you have any sense of why it seemed like things

JOSEF NEWGARDEN:

People were pushing. Everyone has been off for five months. You have everyone pushing like crazy. It's the time to test the limit, get back in the swing of things.

Yeah, it was a challenging track in some respects, high tire deg, unfriendly offline. If you got a bit wide, dust and marbling was pretty high. That's what happened to me. I pushed a bit hard in turn nine, I was basically asking to spin. I just let into it. I knew it was going to happen. I let it happen. Probably some others did the same.

Not surprising. This is the time to do it, to test the limits, try to get back into the rhythm and push things. I think a lot of people were doing that.

 

Q. Do you know whether you were running 2023 spec engines? The reason I ask is obviously there's a lot of first-gear corners around here. Was it indicative of anything worthwhile, Honda top of each session?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I mean, I believe so. I don't want to speak out of term. I'm pretty positive we're carrying the engine that we just ran into St. Pete. I'm pretty positive, yeah. These are race spec engines. Yeah. This should be fresh. Everyone is on their first engines.

I felt really good with our package. The progress we made in 2022 was very evident here, very useful because of what you just asked about, first-gear corners, very big premium on traction, traction capability. I thought our drivability was fantastic.

I thought the performance on the 100% renewable fuel was fantastic. It's a huge step that we're making as a series with Shell to run 100% renewable fuel. The first series in the United States to be able to do that.

I didn't notice any performance loss from the engine. I can't speak highly enough about that step. We should be shouting that from mountaintops. It's very cool what Shell has been able to provide us. I think the Chevrolet engine has adapted quite well to it. The drivability has been excellent.

 

Q. Did you notice anything about fuel mileage? Does it vary track to track, and you don't get an idea of that here?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: Yeah, probably a hard track for reference just because we have never been here so we don't have a reference point.

I didn't notice a big difference. I thought it was very comparable to years past.

 

Q. Josef, the drivers asked for it and Jay Frye delivered by eliminating the double points at Indianapolis. Now that the decision has been made, could you comment?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I mean, when I started at INDYCAR, this is what I looked like. It's back to the beginning for me.

 

Q. In a lot of ways wasn't it more of a deficit for anybody that finished below fifth than necessarily a bonus?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I know the implications of the double points, I can tell you that. If you look at the history the last five years, there would be some differences, for sure.

 

Q. From your veteran experience, watching some of the pre-season tests, do you feel like it's common that younger guys, if it's common to have some younger guys pushing all out, whereas veteran guys are honed in on trying to work through a checklist?

JOSEF NEWGARDEN: I wouldn't shortchange the younger guys. I think they're just excellent drivers. Kyle, he's a good shoe. There's some of that youthfulness where you're just ready to attack. I remember when I first started, it was like 10/10ths every session. That's not for everybody. I'm not trying to blanket everybody. But I think there's something to that, for sure, when you're young.

They're also very good. You're seeing them up at the top of the time sheets because they're good drivers. When they get in a good car, too, it only makes a bigger difference. That's more of it than anything, the fact that they're just really talented.

THE MODERATOR: Appreciate everything you've done for the series in the last couple days.

 

GM PR

Marcus Ericsson was the quickest of four Chip Ganassi Racing drivers in the top 10 Friday as the two-day NTT INDYCAR SERIES open test at The Thermal Club took the checkered flag.

Reigning Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge winner Ericsson produced a best lap of 1 minute, 38.4223 seconds in the No. 8 Honda, nearly a second quicker than the top Thursday time of 1:39.3721 turned by Colton Herta in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Honda.

SEE: Day 2 Test Results | End of Day News Conference Video

Christian Lundgaard of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing capped an impressive performance on the 17-turn, 3.067-mile layout by ending up second at 1:38.5682 in the No. 45 Honda. 2022 series Rookie of the Year Lundgaard also was second quickest Thursday and the only driver to finish in the top five on both days of the test at the private, world-class facility located just outside Palm Springs, California.

Kyle Kirkwood was third at 1:38.7885 in the No. 27 Andretti Autosport Honda. 2021 INDY NXT by Firestone champion Kirkwood joined Andretti after driving for AJ Foyt Racing as a rookie in 2022.

Ending up third on the time sheets continued an impressive, yet deceiving, performance for Kirkwood at this test. He ended up 15th on the time sheets Thursday, but he missed the afternoon session due to a clutch change after recording the second-quickest lap in the morning.

“It's a new team for me, new group of guys, kind of jelling with them to see how everyone operates,” Kirkwood said. “I wouldn't say that we found something here that is going to translate to anywhere, right? This is a very unique track, although it was a lot of fun to drive, and it kind of surprised me in the amount of grip that it actually produced.”

“Honestly, it felt pretty easy to get to the top in this car. It's not really needed to try and overextend anything.”

Another second-year driver, Callum Ilott, was fourth overall at 1:38.8404 in the No. 77 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet. Ilott was the quickest Chevrolet-powered driver and led the afternoon session with his best lap.

Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Marcus Armstrong rounded out the top five at 1:38.8409 in the No. 11 Honda. 2021 series champion Alex Palou was the third-quickest Ganassi driver, seventh at 1:38.8718 in the No. 10 Honda. Six-time series champion Scott Dixon was the other Ganassi driver in the top 10, 10th at 1:38.9762 in the No. 9 Honda.

Thursday leader Herta dropped to 15th Friday, with a best lap of 1:39.1047.

Up next for the NTT INDYCAR SERIES is the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg presented by RP Funding on Sunday, March 5 on the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida. NBC and Peacock will provide live coverage starting at noon ET.

NTT IndyCar Series PR

Governor Roy Cooper joined N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources Secretary Reid Wilson at the Rockingham Speedway Thursday to unveil North Carolina’s newest cultural trail that will link locations significant to North Carolina’s history of moonshine and motorsports.

Highlighting the state’s unique, intertwined history of distilling and stock car racing, the Moonshine and Motorsports Trail was designated in the 2021 state budget and created by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

“The Moonshine and Motorsports Trail celebrates both the history and the bright future of North Carolina’s distilling and racing industries,” said Governor Cooper. “Racetracks are important to our state's history, culture and economy, and these investments are helping to get the engines running again."

Distilling grew out of the state’s agriculture history—a rich, complicated history that stretches back centuries. Auto racing in North Carolina has grown from occasional competitions among speed-hungry moonshiners during the 1930s to a multibillion-dollar industry that attracts legions of devoted followers across the world.

The Moonshine and Motorsports Trail was created to instill a sense of pride and ownership and drive economic development, particularly in rural communities, and to be a resource for cultural and tourism institutions across the state.

“This trail will help preserve motorsports and distilling history and culture and enhance those industries’ economic strength going forward,” said DNCR Secretary Reid Wilson. “Without question, moonshine and motorsports are connected in North Carolina, and this trail project aims to instill a sense of pride and ownership in this unique aspect of North Carolina culture.”

The initial phase includes eight locations to be marked in 2023 as part of the North Carolina Year of the Trail. Additional locations will be added in future phases.

The first eight trail locations are:

  • The NASCAR Hall of Fame and Museum in Charlotte
  • The North Wilkesboro Speedway
  • The Charlotte Motor Speedway
  • The North Carolina Museum of History in Raleigh
  • Stone Mountain State Park in in Alleghany and Wilkes counties
  • The Occoneechee Speedway near Hillsborough
  • The Rockingham Speedway
  • Museum of the Albemarle in Elizabeth City

NC Governor's Office PR

Construction is complete, the painting is finished and the NASCAR Cup Series teams are parked outside the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

All that’s left is to put race cars on the track! That will happen on Saturday, when practice and qualifying occur for Sunday’s Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum.

On Friday, NASCAR Cup Series driver Corey LaJoie gave media pace car rides. The first ride went to legendary USC quarterback Matt Leinart, who’s now a college football analyst for FOX.

Now it’s time for the stars of the NASCAR Cup Series to compete. Action Saturday begins at 3 p.m. with NASCAR Cup Series practice, followed by Busch Light Pole Award qualifying at 5:30 p.m. Gates open for fans at Noon, which includes access to an expanded fan fest!

On Sunday, gates open at 10 a.m. and heat races begin at 2 p.m., followed by a performance by Cypress Hill. And then shortly after 5 p.m., Rob Lowe will give the command to start engines and Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams will wave the green flag for the main event. Wiz Khalifa will perform during the mid-race break, and DJ trio Cheat Codes will keep the party going during the caution breaks.

Fans are encouraged to secure their tickets now while they last at nascarclash.com.

Tickets for the 2023 Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum begin at $65, and kids 12-and-under are $10. Fans who want to take their race-day experience to the next level can upgrade to the Ally Pre-Race Party, which includes brunch, a drink ticket for Busch & Coca-Cola products, exclusive entertainment, a pre-race track walk and a special appearance from driver Alex Bowman.  Fans are encouraged to get their tickets now while supplies last by visiting www.nascarclash.com. It’s one of the many anticipated events taking place this year as a part of the venue’s centennial anniversary celebration – “Coliseum Forever.”

College students can experience the Busch Light Clash from The Coca-Cola Torch Party Porch for just $40. This standing-room-only general admission section, located on the Coliseum’s peristyle steps, provides college students with up-close access to all the musical entertainment, driver introductions and racing action. College students can take advantage of this exclusive offer by visiting www.nascarclash.com/student.

NASCAR PR

Pinnacle Racing Group (PRG), a new professional Motorsports team officially announced today its plans to compete in several grassroots racing series in 2023 beginning with the ARCA Menards Series East season-opener at Five Flags (Fla.) Speedway next month.

The Mooresville, N.C.-based team’s purpose is to provide productive and fulfilling careers for all Pinnacle Racing Group team members while being a leader in on-track performance and driver development.

The team will run Chevrolets in its ARCA Menards Series and Late Model platforms and has selected No. 28 for its primary entries.

Veteran crew chief and former NASCAR driver Shane Huffman will serve as the team’s general manager and crew chief.

“The great thing about a new start-up team or business is you have a clean slate to build the foundation and set the principles for PRG to operate,” offered Pinnacle Racing Group spokesperson Mark Webb.

“From our earliest discussions, our key focus points were on excellence, integrity, performance and sustainability for the long term. Acquiring Shane (Huffman) was the first important piece of the building block we needed.

“Shane has a vast knowledge of racing at many levels and has done a tremendous job in a short amount of time putting together an excellent group that is highly talented, motivated and most importantly team-oriented.

Huffman, who most recently led the crew chief efforts at Bret Holmes Racing in the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR CRAFTSMAN® Truck Series respectively is excited about the next chapter in his Motorsports career and believes the foundation that PRG is constructing will not only lead to success but to Victory Lane.

“We have been quietly working on building PRG and I am thrilled to have the formation of the team finally announced,” Huffman said. "PRG has given me the green light to build a team from the ground up.

“We have not rushed anything. We want to make sure when we unload at Five Flags Speedway in March, PRG sets a tone on what our drivers and members of our team can expect on a weekly basis. We realize that there likely will be some initial growing pains, but we feel we can emerge from those quickly and start producing results with our talented driver lineup.”

Webb concurred with Huffman’s assessment of not rushing to the team’s first green flag.

“We purposefully delayed our opening race until March 25 at Five Flags to be certain we were prepared and had everything in place to be our best,” he said.

The team did offer a clue about its first-named driver.

“We are really excited about our new driver,” sounded Huffman. “Lorin Rainer, Josh Wise and Chevrolet have been instrumental in fitting all the pieces of the puzzle together and we believe the driver can really create some attention under the PRG banner.”

Webb added, “Lorin Ranier has been an excellent voice and sounding board in providing insight into our decision-making processes.

“We look forward to Shane’s leadership and the dedicated work of our PRG team members for a successful inaugural season.

PRG will officially unveil its full 2023 driver lineup in the coming weeks.

For more on Pinnacle Racing Group, please like them on Facebook (Pinnacle Racing Group) and follow on Instagram (@RacePRG) and Twitter (@RacePRG).

PRG PR

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