Speedway Digest Staff
Follow us on Twitter @SpeedwayDigest
Matt Hiirschman Races to Victory at Lancastermotorplex in Us Open the Finale for the 2022 Race of Champions Modified Series season
Matt Hirschman of Northampton, Pa., is the most prolific racer in the history of the Race of Champions Modified Series. On Saturday afternoon at Lancaster (N.Y.) Motorplex, Hirschman raced to yet another victory.
Hirschman slipped by his neighbor and defending Series champion, Austin Beers of Northampton, Pa., and went to score his second Series victory of 2022.
“We had a great car today,” began Hirschman in victory lane. “Things just really fell into place for us and it was an unusual race with the limited amount of cautions. We came within five laps of running the race green to checkered. I’m thankful for the effort my team put in and winning here is always great. This track has been good to us over the years.”
Patrick Emerling of Orchard Park, N.Y., raced from 14th to 2nd, slipping by polesitter Beers with just a handful of laps remaining. Beers hung on for 3rd. George Skora, III of Eden, N.Y., came home 4th and Zane Zeiner of Bath, Pa., rounded out the top-five.
Mike Leaty of Williamson, N.Y., concluded a fast and steady 2022 season by clinching his second Series championship. Leaty won two races early in the season at his home track in Williamson, Spencer Speedway and another at Lancaster. Leaty finished 7th on Sunday to earn the championship.
Full results from the US Open for the Race of Champions Modified Series can be found here; www.rocmodifiedseries.com/schedules/event/430215
On Friday night, Justin Sharp of St. Catherines, Ontario-Canada raced his way past Adam Leslie of Wainfleet, Ontario-Canada to earn his first-ever Race of Champions Dirt 602 Sportsman Modified Series victory in Port Colborne, Ontario at Humberstone Speedway. Leslie wound up finishing 2nd and clinched his first Race of Champions Series championship. Jordan Cosco of St. Catherines, Ontario finished 3rd.
Full results from “The Fall Classic” at Humberstone Speedway can be found here; www.rocmodifiedseries.com/schedules/event/400755
Stockton’s Nikko Panella completed a sweep of the 2022 Super 600 and Non-Wing championships during Saturday’s finale at Delta Speedway presented by Valley Strong Credit Union. The sweeps also complete a “cycle” of championships for Panella, winning each of the four division titles during his career on the 1/7th mile dirt oval in Stockton.
Panella kicked off the effort by earning quick-time in time trials for the winged Super 600 division at 9.343 seconds. Raio and Mattix Salmon split the ten-lap heat races. A four-car inversion placed Brentwood’s Isabel Barnes and Stockton’s Alex Panella on the front row for the 30-lap, $500-to-win affair.
Alex Panella led the first 24-laps of competition. Nikko Panella ran down a straightaway gap in lapped traffic to dive underneath Alex on multiple occasions. Nikko Panella cleared Alex in traffic on lap 25. Mattix Salmon passed Alex Panella for second on lap 29 as well. Nate Matherly and Barnes rounded out the top-five.
Cody Gray enjoyed a banner night of Non-Wing racing with the Auburn driver winning the $500-to-win, 30-lap feature and also taking time trials. Austin Wood of Sacramento and Koen Shaw of Fresno won the heat race competition.
Gray started on the pole and led wire-to-wire for the triumph. Nikko Panella started second, fell to third, then drove past Tracy’s Brandon Riveira for the second position on lap 27 to seal the championship. Riveira settled for third followed by Medford’s Ashton Torgerson, and Carsen Perkins.
Lucas Mauldin wrapped up the championship in the Restricted division on Saturday night but would be denied another trip to victory lane. He led qualifying while TK O’Brien of Manteca and Adrianna DeMartini of Brentwood were the heat race victors.
O’Brien started shotgun on the field for 25-laps of competition with a $300 prize awaiting the winner. O’Brien seized the opportunity for his first Restricted win at Delta Speedway. Castro Valley’s Andrew Smith finished second followed by Kellan Harper of Pleasanton, Peyton Whitehouse of Pleasanton, and DeMartini.
Briggs Davis of Manteca added his fourth Jr. Sprints win of the year to wrap up the 2022 championship. Maya Mauldin of Rancho Murieta and Alex Ranuio of Stockton won the eight-lap qualifying heat races.
Davis started third and took over the lead from Jackson Tardiff of Manteca on lap 11. Heston Stepps of Oakdale finished third followed by Maya Mauldin and Ranuio.
Delta Speedway closes its campaign on October 28 and 29 with Turkey Bowl XXIII.
Delta Speedway Stockton thanks Valley Strong Credit Union, Hoosier Tire, Scully’s Air, Kludt Oil and Propane, Interstate Truck Center, Papé Kenworth, Van De Pol Petroleum, Hostile Wheels, Genova Bakery, Winner’s Bingo, Stubborn Rods, Solari’s Backhoe Service, and PMP Chassis for their support of the 2022 racing season.
For more information on Delta Speedway presented by Valley Strong Credit Union, follow us online at http://www.
Delta Speedway Results – October 1, 2022 Championship Night
SUPER 600 (30 LAPS)
1. 73-Nikko Panella; 2. 5-Mattix Salmon; 3. 12-Alex Panella; 4. 19-Nate Matherly; 5. 30-Isabel Barnes; 6. 21-Raio Salmon; 7. 02-Ashton Torgerson; 8. 2-Austin Wood; 9. 19X-Tucker LaCaze; 10. 32A-Colton Huelsmann; 11. 10R-Rylee Whitehouse; 12. (DNF) 44X-Jeffery Pahule; 13. (DNF) 27-Ron Singh; 14. (DNF) 88-Austin Torgerson; 15. (DNS) F4-Koen Shaw
NON-WING (30 LAPS)
1. 04-Cody Gray; 2. 73-Nikko Panella; 3. 05R-Brandon Riveira; 4. 02-Ashton Torgerson; 5. 35-Carsen Perkins; 6. 2-Austin Wood; 7. 13D-Drew Laeber; 8. 88-Austin Torgerson; 9. 74-Adam Elbert; 10. 82-Brent Brooks; 11. 27-Isabel Barnes; 12. 88P-Koen Shaw; 13. 35W-Nate Wait; 14. 1J-James Edens; 15. 44X-Jeffery Pahule; 16. 44B-Steve Bettanini; 17. 15K-Kyle Carvotta; 18. (DNF) 4Q-Mike Graves; 19. (DNF) 5-Mattix Salmon; 20. (DNF) 22-Dan Mognaga
RESTRICTED (25 LAPS)
1. 76-TK OBrien; 2. 33-Andrew Smith; 3. 5-Kellan Harper; 4. 10P-Peyton Whitehouse; 5. 9-Adrianna DeMartini; 6. 55X-Lucas Mauldin; 7. 9J-Levi Osborne; 8. 29V-Vito Celli `; 9. 4K-Khloe Cotton; 10. 25R-Brody Rubio; 11. 27C-Cameron Carraway; 12. 77K-Kyle Fernandez; 13. 98-Hayden Stepps; 14. 58C-Clay Mibach; 15. 09N-AJ Neilson; 16. 10J-Aubri Huckleberry
JR SPRINTS (20 LAPS)
1. 96-Briggs Davis; 2. 38J-Jackson Tardiff; 3. 98-Heston Stepps; 4. 55X-Maya Mauldin; 5. 117-Alex Ranuio; 6. 12-Haven Sherman; 7. 26-Dylan Silva; 8. 55-Jayden Carey; 9. (DNS) 24N-Nathan Fernandez
Delta Speedway PR
Nathan High of Goodyear, Ariz. earned his second consecutive Western Midget Racing presented by Masters Design and Construction win at Adobe Mountain Speedway in Glendale, Ariz. on Saturday night.
Tyler High and Dustin Cormany of Peoria, Ariz. split the eight-lap heat races before the 20-lap feature. Cormany and his teammate Drake Edwards shared the front row for the main event over a 12-car field.
Cormany led the first ten laps with Edwards in hot pursuit. Edwards snookered the lead on lap 11. Both cars suffered issues that prevented them from finishing the feature, however, ending a tremendous duel.
High inherited the top spot and never looked back, accumulating a .539 second victory. Stevie Sussex finished second but was disqualified in post-race inspection, however. That thrust Peoria, Ariz.’s Cory Brown into second. Gary DeWitt of Mesa, Ariz. finished third in just his second-career start. Tyler and Chloe High rounded out the top-five.
Western Midget Racing competes next at the Petaluma Speedway on October 8 and will be joined by Winged 360 Sprint Cars, Hobby Stocks, and Mini Stocks.
For more information on Western Midget Racing, visit them at www.WesternMidgetRacing.com or follow them on Facebook!
Western Midget Racing is presented by: Masters Design and Construction, Rockwell Security, Rams Racing, Hoosier Racing Tire, Extreme Mufflers, FTK, Blud Lubricants, and West Evans Motorsports.
October 2, 2022 – Adobe Mountain Speedway (Glendale, Ariz.) Results
Heat 1 (8 Laps): 1. 33AZ-Tyler High; 2. 32-Cory Brown; 3. 22-Stevie Sussex III; 4. 21AZ-Chase Farris; 5. 48-Gary DeWitt; 6. 5S-Racin Silva
Heat 2 (8 Laps): 1. 82D-Dustin Cormany; 2. 86-Drake Edwards; 3. 01-Nathan High; 4. 20D-Shon Deskins; 5. 20-Kyle Hawse; 6. 3AZ-Chloe High
A Feature (20 Laps): 1. 01-Nathan High; 2. 32-Cory Brown; 3. 48-Gary DeWitt; 4. 33AZ-Tyler High; 5. 3AZ-Chloe High; 6. 21AZ-Chase Farris; 7. 20-Kyle Hawse; 8. 20D-Shon Deskins; 9. 22-Stevie Sussex III; 10. 86-Drake Edwards; 11. 82D-Dustin Cormany; DQ- 22 Stevie Sussex III
Usac & Nascar Announce New Partnership in Youth Racing; 9 Championship Races Slated in 2023 In Conjunction With Nascar Cup Event
The opening stage of the Yellawood 500 was a matter of a high-speed chess game being played at nearly 200 mph with Almirola, Chastain, Hamlin and others trading the top spot. But it wouldn’t be without its own set of chaos when an eight-car wreck going into turn one would break out when Stenhouse got a bad push on Burton to collect several other drivers including Gibbs which would also end his day.
“I know he hit me and as soon as he did I was crossed up and going side-to-side. I don’t know what to do different. I pulled up kind of conservatively to give him time to prepare and I’m not sure why. He gave me a pretty hard shot for sure, but I don’t know if it was off line, where he was when he hit me, or if I was moving while he was moving.” Said Burton
Gibbs who was further behind but still collected in the incident would echo the same comments as Burton. “I think the 21 (Harrison Burton) just got a bad push and wrecked. There was just nowhere for me to go. It definitely sucks, but it could be a blessing in disguise.”
Another one car wreck would slow the stage when Lajoie would blow a tire going into turn one and ride through the bottom of the track before coming to a rest on the back.
As the stage laps began to wind down it was Hamlin and Byron an unlikely pair after last week in Texas working together at the front of the field trading spots and blocking for the lead but with feet to the line Blaney would pull his No. 12 machine down and beat Hamlin to the line by a mere two feet to take the first stage win of the day.
Stage two would go wire to wire under green with Chase Elliott crossing the line first to take home the stage win over Haley, Larson, Suarez and Jones.
Bell would have a problem earlier in the stage when coming down for his green flag pit stop with other Toyota teammates would loop the car entering pit road causing Hamlin and Truex to split him avoiding contact.
Reddick who had led three times during the stage for 11 laps while leading would bail out on the back and head to pit road when his No. 8 machine would run out of fuel after the team wasn’t able to get the car full under his green flag fuel stop.
When the green flag went back in the air for the final stage would all but go caution free when just five laps remained Daniel Hemric would bring out the final caution of the day after stopping his No. 16 machine at the end of pit road forcing NASCAR to throw the caution to get him out of the way.
The final green flag of the day would go back in the air with just two laps remaining in the race. While there was an expectation of chaos ensuing even noted by Almirola and crew they were going to go back green and "we're all going to smash into each other and see what happens." remarked Almirola coming back to green.
But it never happened the final two laps were a masterclass in drafting and pushing with Erik Jones who had been at the front of the pack even leading many times throughout the day and the preferred pushing car by many of the drivers up front.
Jones would eventually pull into the tire track of Chase Elliott pushing Elliott to the victory in the Yellawood 500 over Blaney by just 0.046 seconds, McDowell, Chastain and Hamlin would round out the top-five.
“Yeah, it was a wild last couple laps. I wasn't super crazy about being on the bottom. Fortunately I got just clear enough off of two to slide up in front of Erik. He gave me some great shoves. Obviously a Team Chevy partner there.” Said Elliott
The final round of 12 returns next Sunday, October 9th at Charlotte Motor Speedway for the Bank of America ROVAL at 2 p.m. ET on NBC.
FORD FINISHING RESULTS
2nd – Ryan Blaney
3rd – Michael McDowell
7th – Todd Gilliland
9th – Austin Cindric
10th – Chase Briscoe
14th – Aric Almirola
21st – Cole Custer
24th – Brad Keselowski
25th – Chris Buescher
27th – Joey Logano
29th – Kevin Harvick
31st – JJ Yeley
32nd – Cody Ware
33rd – BJ McLeod
36th – Harrison Burton
RYAN BLANEY, No. 12 Menards/Dutch Boy Ford Mustang – CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE FINAL RESTART? “I was fine lining up bottom or top, honestly, working with Ross there for a while. I knew he pushed good and I knew obviously Michael could push really good, too. So, I didn’t really care where we were gonna be lining up. I got a good push there and was able to get too good of a push on the restart and got the 9 clear and then he was able to lead the top lane. I had a couple chances to move up to the top and cover it and I was just getting nervous about getting hung in the middle with the 9, the 43 and the 1 lined up. I just didn’t feel comfortable going up there and trusting, I trust Chase, but not that much to where he wouldn’t have hung me out for the greater good of his group, so just chose to stay on the bottom with Michael. We had a great chance at winning the thing, but we got disconnected in the middle of three and four. I don’t know if the 11 laid off of him, but we disconnected and let the 9 and 43 get a big run. Mine was just kind of a little bit too late. I’ll look at it probably pick at a few things I probably should have done different, wish I would have done different, but it’s easy to say that now. Overall, it was a decent day. It just stinks to be that close to our first win of the season.”
WHAT WOULD YOU HAVE DONE DIFFERENT? “I think the only thing I probably would have done different is, one, realize that the 11 was laying off the 34 in the middle of three and four and faded back with them. It just happened really quick and then I probably would have coming to the checkered – if we would have won or not, I don’t know – but got back to the bottom – kind of do the fake high, go low, but he was watching and I was kind of far back. I think it was gonna be too little too late anyway, but a couple things.”
WHAT WERE YOU ABLE TO DO AT THE END OF THE FIRST STAGE TO WIN IT? “The middle lane was pretty good and it worked out to where I had the 2 behind me and just got connected at the right spot. He pushed me all the way down the frontstretch and no one blocked it. I just got a really good pusher behind me at the time with good forward momentum to where we were able to carry it all the way to the start-finish line, so that was nice to win that stage. That was big, especially after not getting any stage points in the second one after I bailed thinking I was gonna get wrecked multiple times – not by anyone’s fault, but not a bad day.”
ANY CONCERN WHEN YOU BAILED THAT YOU WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO GET BACK UP FRONT? “I definitely knew it was gonna be hard to get back up front in that stage, especially they just get too wide and it’s hard to get track position anymore. I knew once we made our bed there and then we pitted and then got shuffled after the pit stop I was like, ‘OK, I’m bailing. I’m riding in the back,’ and never saw a wreck. There were no big wrecks all day, which was good to see, but we did a really good strategy to get us some track position there in the second stage of cycling us to the lead on the green flag stop, and then we were able to keep it. That was a really good job by those guys.”
THE RACE SEEMED INTENSE ALL DAY. WERE YOU SURPRISED THERE WASN’T A BIG WRECK? “Honestly, year, with how hard we were pushing each other and some big shots there. I mean, I was full cross arm locked a couple times. I think everyone’s gotten better at this speed of taking pushes and what to expect. I think everyone’s gotten more skilled and knowledgeable about it. You still have to be careful what you do, but it just shows that we can push real hard and not really cause any big wrecks, even though I thought we should have had some today. It’s good we didn’t. We had one early, but it was never a big one.”
WERE YOU THINKING ABOUT MAKING SURE YOU HAD A GOOD POINTS DAY? “I had that thought before the restart and then we got going green and you turn into race win mode. For a moment I was like, ‘It would be good to line up on the front row and see what we can get. I just don’t want to get turned.’ But, I forgot all about that. I just wanted to win the race.”
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 2 Discount Tire Ford Mustang – THE FIRST STAGE WAS A BIG PART OF YOUR DAY. “Absolutely. Stage points are a big deal. Obviously, helping the 12 car get a stage win was big and recovery from the wreck, damage control and driving back up through the field, I think when everybody kind of scatters to try and do what’s best for them, it’s very important to be decisive and I was able to make some good moves and be able to be in some lanes that moved. Call it 50/50 decisiveness and 50 percent luck, but, overall, it certainly puts us in a good spot to race for a spot in the Round of 8 at the Roval, so we’ll put our best foot forward and have some fun next week.”
WHAT DIDN’T GO RIGHT IN THE SECOND STAGE? “The leaders kept snaking back and forth and we had that damage on the front end. I was really slow, to be honest, and slower than I probably realized. I even pitted with the Chevy’s just to make sure I could stay in the middle of everybody and I still lost the draft, so I was pretty committed just issuing a warning to myself in the middle of the field. It was very important to do that to get a good result today and have a shot at the end. I don’t really know why the top stacked up as bad as it did. I thought we would have had a better shot to maybe have a clearer hole or at least be able to get into the top five, but, overall, a top 10 isn’t too bad.”
HOW BAD WAS THE CRASH DAMAGE? “Bad enough for us to lose the draft. We had crash damage the last time we were here that unsealed the air box and that was probably worse. Even in the pack I just lost the draft, so today I was just slow because the damage caved in on the front – enough to where I was plenty good behind three cars, but not leading anybody, that’s for sure.”
CHASE BRISCOE, No. 14 Mahindra Tractors Ford Mustang – IT SEEMED LIKE A TAME RACE BY TALLADEGA STANDARDS. “I mean, it was tame in the sense there was no wreck, but I think that was the most racy race from start to finish. We barely ever ran single-file and these cars it’s so hard to make up ground. It seems like track position is such a big deal and you’ve got guys pushing so hard, just trying to maintain the lane that they’re in. I guess from my side of things it was really racy because you’re never really riding around. You’ve got to go so hard all the time and shove the guy in front of you. We never really got single-file around the top, but I was surprised we didn’t see a wreck. I was figuring with how out of control these cars are when you get pushes from the back, especially the big ones we were having there towards the end I figured something was gonna happen. I’m glad there wasn’t anything happening, but it was kind of a surprise to me.”
ANY REASON WHY? “I think this place is a little bit easier than Daytona as far as being able to kind of keep it under control, but I the teams have done a really good job of getting the cars to drive way better. I think we all learned a lot at Daytona as far as what we need to do to our race car to be able to be pushed. They’re still out of control being pushed. I didn’t feel like I was as out of control as I have been the first three races, but they’re still a handful to drive when somebody is shoving you. I was definitely surprised we didn’t see a big wreck.”
JOEY LOGANO, No. 22 Shell/Pennzoil Ford Mustang – WHAT WERE YOU BATTLING DURING THE RACE? “Not a whole bunch. We just wreck all the time so we thought, ‘Boy, we’ve got a big points lead, let’s just be smart and don’t wreck and we’ll be able to get out of here with a top 10 assuming they would wreck because they always do. That was the only time I’ve ever stayed in the back, ever, was today and they didn’t wreck. We gave up a bunch of our points lead. We’re still plus-18, which is a decent spot to be, but, the goal was to race for stage points and then drop to the back and wait for the crash. I hate racing that way. I’ve gotten beat many times from people that do that then I tried it and it didn’t work.”
TODD GILLILAND, No. 38 Georgia Peanuts Ford Mustang – “It was great to have Georgia Peanuts on board today. They’re a smaller company out of Georgia and we’re kind of close to home here in Talladega, but I’m just really happy to come home with a top 10. Race car drivers are greedy. I wish I could have gotten a couple more there, but it was still a really good day. We ran up front most of the day and my car handled really well, so, overall, there are definitely a ton of positives to take out of this.”
THE RACE LOOKED COMFORTABLE FOR YOU RUNNING UP FRONT. WAS IT? “It really did. I feel like our superspeedway stuff is pretty good. It’s still scary when we qualified 34th, but to have that kind of speed in the draft is a good thing. It’s really nice to have Ford teammates out there. I worked a lot with Kevin Harvick and a lot of different Fords. I was really happy to work with a great manufacturer like that.”
MICHAEL MCDOWELL, No. 34 Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang – “It’s tough to be that close. I felt like I probaby should have backed off of the 12 a little bit sooner when the 11 got off of me, but I was trying to make sure a Ford was gonna get to Victory Lane and we kept that momentum up. I wish I could get a re-do, but I’m proud of everybody at Front Row Motorsports on this Love’s Travel Stops Ford Mustang. We’ve got Peak Performance on the car this weekend, so it’s a great day to get a top five finish, but when you’re only a car length away from winning the race, obviously, it’s disappointing. I’m proud of the season we’ve had and the run that we put together and everyone did a great job on pit road executing today and getting us track position when we needed it. It’s good to be there at the end and have a shot at it, just disappointed.”
HARRISON BURTON, No. 21 DEX Imaging Ford Mustang – WAS IT JUST A BAD PUSH? “I guess so. I haven’t seen it yet. I know he hit me and as soon as he did I was crossed up and going side-to-side. I don’t know what to do different. I pulled up kind of conservatively to give him time to prepare and I’m not sure why. He gave me a pretty hard shot for sure, but I don’t know if it was off line, where he was when he hit me, or if I was moving while he was moving. I haven’t seen anything yet. These things happen so fast and all of a sudden you’re sideways. You know you got hit and you don’t understand what really caused it. It’s unfortunate for us. I felt like we had a good DEX Imaging Ford Mustang. We were gonna go and try to make a move to get out front and try and control track position and all of a sudden you go sideways. It’s pretty sad. I hope it didn’t affect any of our Team Penske alliance playoff guys. I don’t think they got any damage or anything. We’ll just try and keep it going and get some momentum going in the right way.”
Ford Performance PR
Denny Hamlin (fifth) earned a top-five finish in Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Alabama’s Talladega Superspeedway. Hamlin and his No. 11 Camry TRD team entered the event with a goal of Playoff points and accomplished that to place themselves 21 points above the cutoff line heading into next week’s road course race at the Roval in Charlotte. Fellow Toyota Playoff driver, Christopher Bell (17th) spun coming to pit road at the end of stage one and was never able to recover to gain the points the team needed and will enter next week’s race below the cut line before the Round of 8 is set.
Toyota Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)
Race 30 of 36 – 500.08 miles, 188 laps
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, Chase Elliott*
2nd, Ryan Blaney *
3rd, Michael McDowell*
4th, Ross Chastain*
5th, DENNY HAMLIN
16th, BUBBA WALLACE
17th, CHRISTOPHER BELL
20th, KYLE BUSCH
26th, MARTIN TRUEX JR.
37th, TY GIBBS
DENNY HAMLIN, No. 11 FedEx Express Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 5th
What more did you need in stage three to contend for the victory?
“Not much really, it’s just so hard to pass and I know you’ve all heard that. It’s just a train of two lines. You really can’t run three-wide with this car so you just have to sit behind whoever is right there in front of you and hope you can push that line a little bit forward. Hopefully, they switch lanes and you can leap forward. That’s kind of what we’ve got right now so I feel like we executed a pretty good day. Our goal going into the day was five stage points and we got more than five the first stage and not in stage two and then tried to go and get a good finish and that’s what we did. Overall, a good day. I was able to give Chase (Elliott) a push right there and I thought about, should I go with him and force three wide. But I’m on the bottom and I know I’ve always got someone coming up behind me. Then I’d be in the middle and just the risk wasn’t worth going back to 15th and getting stuck in the middle. To me, this is a three-race season that we have and we’re points racing.”
How do you feel being 21 points above the cut line heading to the Roval next weekend?
“We accomplished what we were trying to do. What other guys did, we couldn’t change that. Would I like to have more, yes. We executed the day that we wanted to better than what we started the day. We’ll take it.”
What could you have done in those closing laps to get the win or was there anything?
“I didn’t need much more. It’s a lot more difficult to make maneuvers with this car. You can’t run three-wide. You’re stuck in two different lanes and I chose the bottom lane, I was committed to it. When I pushed Chase (Elliott) to the top lane there, I thought about going with him, but it would have put me middle with the 43 (Erik Jones) and I didn’t think the risk of going back to 15th or 20th was worth it. I just stuck bottom and rode it out and ended up with a top-five. We executed the day we wanted to honestly. We came in here trying to get 30 points and we executed that.”
What is your confidence level going into the Roval next weekend?
“Certainly, this week’s results didn’t give us any comfort for next week. The Roval is always crazy and obviously we need to get our program really good on road courses, but it gives us somewhat of a cushion there to survive the day and make sure we do the things we know how to do and don’t get in trouble. We should be fine, but you never know. You could have a winner from the bottom four and everything changes. We’re going to do everything we can to fight. Live to race another day.”
With all the talk about safety this week, why do you think the field didn’t race conservatively?
“Yeah, we tried to. We pushed as hard as we could. There were a few moments where I didn’t want any harder pushes than what I was giving. I typically don’t slam draft. I typically slow down and push. I think the track is pretty bumpy too down in turn three and it makes it really, really violent and you see a lot of cars getting out of shape. These cars are pretty stable as long as you’re square. You’re not going to get us to back down much, especially when checkered flags and points are on the line.”
Were you surprised that there was no wreck in the closing laps and in overtime?
“I’m not surprised. We went green here in the spring. This is the type of speedway racing that we have and this car will not run three wide. It’s only a two-lane car. You can’t put drag on two sides of it so you have to be on the inside lane or the outside lane and when you don’t have three wide or four wide, it’s just a less likelihood that you’re going to have wrecks. As a car owner, I love it because I had a $200,000 bill here in the spring. It may be less eventful watching, but there’s a lot going on that we’re all trying to fight. You saw with the pushing, we’re all trying to get as aggressive as you could, but it’s all about the line that you’re in at that point.”
CHRISTOPHER BELL, No. 20 SiriusXM Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 17th
How was your race overall? Not the result you wanted.
“Just a very disappointing finish. Needed to score a lot of points and unfortunately, we didn’t get enough today. So we’ll have to go to the Roval and do our best. I feel okay about our chances there. I think we’ll be competitive and just have to go there and try to win.”
TY GIBBS, No. 23 Monster Energy Toyota Camry TRD, Joe Gibbs Racing
Finishing Position: 37th
What was your vantage point of the accident that ended your day?
“Definitely just sucks to be a part of that. I was working with Bubba (Wallace) there and following him. I thought we had some good teamwork going there and I let him in. We were trying to get the top rolling. I think the 21 (Harrison Burton) just got a bad push and wrecked. There was just nowhere for me to go. It definitely sucks, but it could be a blessing in disguise. We’ll just move on to the Roval and go hammer down there.”
CHASE ELLIOTT, NO. 9 NAPA AUTO PARTS CAMARO ZL1, scores fifth NASCAR Cup Series win of 2022 season and propels himself to next round of playoffs with victory at Talladega Superspeedway:
Q. After the rough race at Texas, you guys kind of needed something like this. Walk me through those final two laps, the push from Erik Jones.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, first, how about these fans, man? That's unreal. Moments like that, you have to really cherish. You guys are what makes this special to me. So thank you sincerely. I really appreciate it.
Yeah, it was a wild last couple laps. I wasn't super crazy about being on the bottom. Fortunately I got just clear enough off of two to slide up in front of Erik. He gave me some great shoves. Obviously a Team Chevy partner there.
Yeah, just had a good enough run to get out front, then I was able to stay far enough in front of Ryan here at the line to get it done.
These things are so, so hard to win. You got to enjoy 'em. Just appreciate everybody's effort today. NAPA, Chevrolet, all of our partners that make this happen. Everybody at Hendrick Motorsports, the engine shop. The boss is here, so excited to celebrate with him. Get ready to go to the Roval and try to grab another one.
Thank you guys so much for coming out. Great crowd, great show.
Q. You have had a rough Playoff. Darlington, Texas last week. How will this change the momentum for the 9 team?
CHASE ELLIOTT: It gets you through the next one. That's all you can ask for, is to have more opportunities. That's really what this is about. We got six more Playoff points to go with that win today. That's a big deal.
We're excited for these final handful of events. Hopefully we can make it out to Phoenix and give them a run.
Q. You won in front hometown fans at Atlanta and now Talladega.
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, north Georgia is not far from here, so it definitely makes it feel like a home race. Again, always special. Never take that for granted. Thank you so much.
THE MODERATOR: We've now been joined by our race winner, Chase Elliott.
We will start with questions for Chase.
Q. A couple Playoff drivers, Hamlin, Blaney, said they had one eye on winning the race, but also the bigger picture in the points. What was your mindset in the final laps?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, I don't really know where we were. I thought we got some pretty decent stage points throughout the day. I don't know where we were.
I just felt like when we took the green for the restart, I thought my opportunity to win was to get up in the top lane. It was certainly a risky move. I felt like we had accumulated a decent number of stage points throughout the day, so it made me feel a little bit better about moving up there, trying to give myself a shot to win.
I just didn't think I was going to be able to win from the third lane, the bottom row, with that few laps left. I just thought that was my shot.
Fortunately moved up there, gave me the great shove for the lap and a half, was far enough ahead to hold Ryan off at the line.
Q. Your thoughts on tying your current teammate Kyle Larson but Kasey Kahne and Geoff Bodine on the all-time wins list at 18?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I didn't know that. That's really cool. Kind of hard to believe honestly, I mean, 18.
Yeah, I'm super proud of that honestly. Just knowing how hard one was, to have 18 now is really special. I would love to keep adding to that obviously as time goes on. Very grateful for the 18 that we have. Proud of our team.
It's been the same team for the most part, been some changes in there, but Alan and Tom, myself at the 9 team, Eddie, we've been there the whole way. That's a special thing. Proud that we've been able to grow together and give ourselves that many opportunities to grab checkered flags. Hopefully we can get some more.
Q. With Jones, were you having to drag the brake? How did you stay connected with him so well?
CHASE ELLIOTT: That was all on him. He was able to give me a really good shove. I didn't feel like I did anything special. I think just the timing of how he got connected, and the two guys on the bottom were also connected, so they weren't aggressively side drafting us, trying to pull us apart.
Yeah, it was just good time. He did a really good job. I think he deserves a ton of credit for that. Obviously I'm very thankful he was that committed to me for the last lap and a half.
I have a lot of respect for Erik. I've raced with him long enough to trust him in that situation to not turn me around. We certainly pushed right to the limit (smiling). It was a handful, but that's kind of what you have to do in those scenarios. I thought he balanced that well.
Q. You get a big shove out there, left out there on your own. Coming to the line, did you feel you had enough distance you were going to be able to cover them or you were out too far?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I was certainly concerned. I saw the 34 come unconnected with the 12 there in turn four. I thought that was my opportunity, so I tried to get down and pull Ryan back as hard as I could, get away, try to get clear. I thought that was my safest place to be.
Yeah, when they get side by side again, I was a little worried about getting out there too far. When they got side by side that brief period of time, I thought that was enough for me to make it. I knew it was probably going to be close. Ryan was going to have such a good run, I didn't really know how I was going to block it. Tried to waste as much time as I could and hope I got to the line first.
Q. Racing Ryan, good friends, does that help you at all when you're competing against him? Do you know what he may or may not do? What is the dynamic like?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I mean, obviously I know Ryan very well. I don't know what move he's going to make in that particular scenario. A lot of times I don't know that even as a driver you do until you kind of get faced with it and you have to make a quick choice as to what you think is the right decision at that time.
I'm not smart enough to put all that together, stay ahead of him, for sure. I just try to make the right decisions based on the information, the things that I see, as quickly as possible, hope for the best.
Q. There's no added benefit to you knowing him as well as you do?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, we're still friends. But we also want to win. I think we both get that. We've always had a really, really respectful friendship on the racetrack, but also a very good understanding of our jobs and what's at stake on Sundays.
Q. Have you talked with Alex at all, know if he's able to come to the Roval?
CHASE ELLIOTT: I talked to him after I heard about everything. Obviously I have no idea what his status is. Certainly not going to speculate on that.
Q. You raced with Noah Gragson. As a teammate for the first time, what was that experience like leading up to the start of the race?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, it was good. I know Noah just from his time at JRM, obviously my history there. Some of his Cup races, too. I thought he did a good job. I thought he was making good decisions.
Really as a whole, I thought everyone was pretty smart about the things they were doing today, kind of understood where the line was, what we could get away with, what we couldn't. That was nice.
I wish that would continue at these places, but I'm sure it won't. Yeah, I just thought it was a really good race. Everybody kind of understood where that boundary was, just lived within it. Put on a really good show to the finish line.
Q. You talk a race without many cautions, clean. What are your thoughts about the race in general, exciting for the fans to watch?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, like I said, I thought it was a good show. Another close finish right there at the start/finish line. Not much more you can ask for really.
Q. Have these Playoffs challenged you in any other way that others haven't? Is winning as much a relief because of the unknown of the ups and downs?
CHASE ELLIOTT: Yeah, I mean, I feel like I've been doing this long enough now to understand the roller coaster that is racing. It's going to roll on, right? You either learn to ride it during the good days, during the bad days, too, or you don't. That's just part of the deal.
So, yeah, just try to ride the wave. Had a bad week last week, had a good week this week. Obviously great to move on into the next round, get six more bonus points. All those things are fantastic, we're super proud of that.
This deal can humble you. We can go to the Round of 8 and crash again like we did the first two rounds, or you can go in there and maybe have a really good first race.
I don't know. You show up prepared, do the best you can, figure it out from there.
Q. Given that you've won half the races at the Roval, did that factor into rolling the dice at the end?
CHASE ELLIOTT: No. No. I was just trying to think in the moment as to what I felt like I could do, be smart, give myself a shot to win today, yeah.
No, I wish I could piece things together that far ahead. I just don't have it in me.
THE MODERATOR: Chase, thank you.