Brett Winningham

Brett Winningham

Brett has been following the sport of NASCAR since the beginning of the 2006 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Since Brett was 13, he has had a passion of chasing a job in sports that not many get the opportunity of doing. He has been in the NASCAR media since the middle of the 2010 season. Since then, he has been a part of many racing podcast shows to improve his talents. You can find him on twitter @NASCAR_Brett.

David Ragan will have no worries racing his way into the Daytona 500 on Sunday. The Georgia native is one of two drivers that secured a starting spot in Sunday’s “Great American Race” via qualifying position on Wednesday.

Making his 15th Daytona 500 start on Sunday, Ragan captured his best career Daytona 500 finish last season by placing fourth on the leaderboard. That finish earned him his second top-five and third top 10 finish in the 500.

Ragan, driving the No. 36 Select Blinds Ford, posted the 13th fastest time in qualifying and will start sixth in Duel race No. 2. He, like Ryan Preece, can improve their starting position but also fall back on qualifying, if needed.

“There was some really good teams to come down to Daytona and like I was talking about earlier a lot of times I’ve taken practice, qualifying into the Duels a little bit for granted because my thoughts have always been on Sunday afternoon and what am I gonna do to be in position to try to win the Daytona 500, so it was a different feeling to come to Daytona and not be locked in and knowing that I had a lot of pressure,” said Ragan after locking into the Daytona 500. “I mean, I had a sponsor and employees that our car owner Bob Jenkins invests a lot of money and I didn’t want to let those guys down.  I really thought it could happen either way.  I knew we had a good chance to qualify in and race in.  They built this car new over the offseason.  Doug Yates has great horsepower, but we’re going against some pretty fast race cars, so I  knew that regardless of what happened I was gonna give God the glory and it was gonna be meant to be whatever happened, so I’m grateful that the car ran well, we got through tech and I’m glad to be locked in before Thursday.”

Ragan, a former full-time driver in the NASCAR Cup Series, has taken a step back from racing. Only competing in the Daytona 500 last year and a pair of truck races, the 35-year-old has been working for Ford Performance in the simulator for NASCAR teams as they continue to develop the current and NEXT Gen cars. The Daytona 500 on Sunday is the only race scheduled for Ragan so far in 2021.

“The only race I have scheduled at the moment is here at the Daytona 500.  I love racing,” Ragan continued. “I’d love to run a few truck races this year if the schedule works out, but my main priority is working with Ford Performance and the development of the NEXT Gen Ford Mustang.”

Working at Ford Performance also involves working with some of the young drivers coming through the NASCAR ranks.

“I’ve been working with some of the young Ford drivers and getting them up to speed at some of the new racetracks that they’re going to be seeing, letting them know what kind of technology that Ford has that can help them and their teams with the limited practice that all the series have.”

Working with the young up and comers at Ford Performance and doing analyst work with FOX Sports, Ragan has found a busy and balanced life away from the car.

“Still working with Fox Sports and doing some analyst work on the Race Hub show, so between all of that I find myself pretty busy, which is great because I feel like I’ve got the best of both worlds.  I can still be involved in the sport that I love, but I can also pick my kids up from school on occasion and be home with them on the weekends and eat dinner with them most every night, so I’m pretty happy with the schedule so far.”

Knocking off the rust, Ragan is fortunate that having all the drivers out of the seat for a while will help. He’ll also be able to dial in the car on Thursday in the second Duel 150 race and in a pair of Cup Series practice sessions on Saturday.

“I’m fortunate that my first race is Daytona, so most of the drivers have been out of the seat for a few months,” Ragan said. “I have the Duels on Thursday night to kind of get a warm-up, generally some additional practice, so I feel like I’m on a pretty even slate.  I’ve probably run more laps on the simulator than any of the drivers over the past four or five months, so from that aspect I still feel like I’m pretty engaged with what the cars are doing, the handling.  Obviously, there’s no substitute for being at the racetrack and being behind the wheel, but I’m still listening in on race weekends.  I read over some of the notes from the Ford teams and on the simulator a lot, so I feel like I’m pretty engaged, but I’m fortunate that the Daytona 500 is a pretty unique schedule, so I can ease into it a little bit more and it would definitely be more of a challenge if I popped in during the regular season with no practice and qualifying, so we’ll see if that’s ever the case, but I’m grateful to have a few laps under my belt this weekend.”

Ragan enters the season opener at Daytona with 471 Cup Series starts. He has two victories, 16 top fives, and 41 top 10s along with two career poles.

It’ll be an all Hendrick Motorsports front row when the field goes green for the 63rd annual Daytona 500 on Sunday. Alex Bowman scored the pole by posting a 47.056 / 191.261 mph. while his Hendrick Motorsports counterpart William Byron trailed by 0.258 seconds. 

“It doesn’t really have a lot to do with me; it’s a testament to these guys and everybody back at the shop at Hendrick Motorsports,” said Bowman. “They work so hard on these superspeedway cars. They’re beautiful when they get to the race track. Our Ally Camaro has been really fast since we unloaded and they focused a lot on trying to get the pole for the Daytona 500. It means a lot to us and we were able to achieve that.”

“For the Daytona 500 for us it’s a marquee race that you want to get the pole,” said Bowman’s crew chief Greg Ives. “There’s obviously a special reason why first and second are locked into the race and don’t have to — I wouldn’t say necessarily worry about the 150s, but you have your starting spot, you understand where your pit stall is going to be, you can kind of perfect and get a calm and understanding of where you have to get in the box, get out, and maybe that tenth of a mile per hour better down pit road is going to help you come out first.

Ives attributed former crew chief Chad Kanus in his post-qualifying media availability, saying he's the crew chief he is today because of his mentorship.

“Chad has made me the crew chief I am today, so I owe a lot — I wouldn’t be sitting here without — I don’t know what else to say. I wouldn’t be sitting here without his mentorship.”

Bowman, who scored the Daytona 500 pole back in 2018, will make his fourth front-row start in the race. As for his teammate William Byron, winner of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona last August, it’ll mark his second front row start in the event.

“I feel like it's always -- Hendrick always gives us great cars to come down here and qualify well and also race well, so you never know which guys are going to have the speed out of the four of us,” said Byron. “To see how we approached the weeks leading up to this race and how we were really determined to go out there and start off strong with obviously the Clash last night, finishing fifth was great for us, good solid start, but our goal today was to go out there and try to qualify on the front row. It's nice to be able to kind of check that off. And great to see both Alex and I - the 48 team and the 24 team - both up there.”

Drivers Ryan Preece and David Ragan locked into the race by being the two fastest open cars in the session. Preece slotted in eighth while Ragan sat 13th on the scoring pylon. The two drivers can improve their starting position depending on where they finish in the Duel 150s on Thursday night.

“I knew we would have speed in our No. 37 Cottonelle Chevrolet, but I am really proud of the effort that everyone at JTG Daugherty Racing organization put in to get our car as fast as it is and qualify on speed into the DAYTONA 500,” said Preece. “We ran some solid laps in practice today and I think that prepared me for tonight and to put down one solid lap to qualify us in to the race on Sunday. We’re also racing in the same duel as our teammate, and it’ll be good to practice drafting with them tomorrow night.”

“It’s always fun to come to Daytona.  For a majority of my career I’ve always been locked in and I have really taken qualifying for granted," said Ragan. "I’ve wanted to qualify well and perform well on Thursdays, but I was always thinking about Sunday.  For I guess the second time in my career here at Daytona trying to race our way in with some pretty tough competition, I’ve really thought a lot about this qualifying tonight, the Duels on Thursday night, and I’m certainly not taking it for granted to be here in a Cup car at Daytona, the birthplace of NASCAR and something my family has been part of for a long time.  I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to come here and I hope that we can make it into the Daytona 500.  That would be outstanding.”

Remaining open cars that did not lock in:

QUAL POSITION:

DRIVER:

19

Austin Cindric

20

Kaz Grala

33

Ty Dillon

37

Garrett Smithley

39

Timmy Hill

44

Noah Gragson (NO TIME)


Aric Almirola, Wednesday’s practice leader Bubba Wallace, and Ricky Stenhouse rounded out the top five. Kevin Harvick, Christopher Bell, Ryan Preece, Austin Dillon, and Daniel Suarez sat top 10.

Other Hendrick Motorsports drivers of Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson sat 11th and 15th in the session, respectively. 

Noah Gragson’s No. 62 failed pre-qualifying inspection three times and wasn’t allowed to post a lap. The Las Vegas driver will lose a crew member as a result and start their respective Duel 150 race at the rear of the field.

The No. 15 Jacob Companies Chevrolet of Derrike Cope wouldn’t fire and was placed on the five-minute clock. They ultimately weren’t able to fire the engine in the time given.

Odd-numbered qualifying positions will race in Duel No. 1 while the even-numbered positions will start in Duel No. 2. 

The first of two Duel 150 races will begin at 7:00 p.m. ET. live on FS1 and MRN Radio. Live in Canada? You can catch both Duel 150’s live on TSN.

There will be a familiar face in Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series field at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

That familiar face will be James Buescher.

Buescher will join Niece Motorsports for the opener at Daytona piloting the No. 44 Chevrolet Silverado with sponsorship from FHE/GR Energy Services. Buescher, a former champion in the series in 2012, last competed in the truck series at Texas Motor Speedway with Niece Motorsports in 2020. 

“I’m very thankful for another great opportunity for me to get behind the wheel of a Niece Motorsports Silverado, especially at Daytona,” said Buescher.  “Being away from the sport for over five years heading to Texas last fall, I went in with realistic expectations.  I was able to knock the rust off and accomplish my goals.”

For now, Friday’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 will be the only scheduled race for Buescher. The 30-year old enters the evening with 120 career Truck Series starts and six victories.

“I am looking forward to kicking the season off with a great team like Niece Motorsports and if all goes well, we’ll find ourselves fighting for the checkered flag with our FHE, GR Energy Services Chevy Silverado,” said Buescher.

In the NASCAR XFINITY Series opener at Daytona in 2012, racing for Turner Motorsports in the No. 30 Chevrolet, Buescher led only one lap to score his lone victory in NASCAR’s second-tier series.

Max Gutierrez entered the ARCA Menards Series East opener on Monday with no wins.

Gutierrez, 18, from Mexico City, left the season opener with his first career East victory in a thrilling three-wide finish at the stripe in ARCA Overtime. 

“I can’t believe it,” said a happy Gutiérrez in Victory Lane. “To qualify second was a surprise for me, but the last green-white-checkered, I was thinking OK (running third), this is good for the championship.”

Gutierrez, riding inside the top 10 for the majority of the race at New Smyrna, led only the most important lap of the night in his No. 30 Tough Built Ford with owner Mark Rette. The young driver rebounded from a hiccup at the initial start of the race that sent cars left and right around Gutierrez.

“But on the last corner there were battling for first and I saw an opportunity and I took it,” Gutierrez described the last lap. “I’m very happy and proud of the team and my sponsors TOUGHBUILT, Telcel, TekNekk and Avaya, I can’t thank them enough for everything. This is a great, great start toward the championship.”

The young driver will leave the 0.480-mile oval with his first top five and top 10 finish across the East and West divisions.

Along with rain, controversy filled the air at New Smyrna Speedway involving three drivers...

ARCA sent out a team information bulletin Dec. 21st outlining pit stop rules for the upcoming 2021 season. For events in which modified live pit stops occur, teams can only change two tires at a time. Teams are allowed to pit and change the other two tires if they choose … so long as they do so in two separate pit stops.

Mason Diaz and Sammy Smith came to pit road a lap earlier than they should have under the scheduled competition caution at halfway. Taylor Gray followed the procedure correctly and restarted third … while Diaz and Smith restarted upfront. 

Rain hit as the field worked under a caution flag for debris … resulting in a lengthy red flag period with six circuits remaining. ARCA race control reviewed the situation during the red flag and decided to penalize Sammy Smith on the restart with three to go. Mason Diaz, who don’t forget pitted early along with Smith, was scored as the leader on the restart with three to go without receiving a penalty. This placed Gray second on the leaderboard for the restart.

Then, coming off turn four on the white-flag lap, Gutierrez managed to pull ahead by a fender over second-place finisher Sammy Smith; while Gray battled both drivers on the outside to finish third. 

“Basically, I mean, just last lap deal. He tried to move me and … didn’t do it right. Whatever. I’m not gonna say too much more before I get in trouble,” said a frustrated Taylor Gray after the race.

Mason Diaz and Joey Iest rounded out the top five.

Daniel Dye, Colt Hensley, Brandon Oakley, Parker Retzlaff and Willie Mullins rounded out the top 10 finishers.

The Jeep Beach 175 will air on NBCSN on February 15th at 10:30 p.m. ET.

The next race on the ARCA Menards Series East calendar will be at Five-Flags Speedway on February 27th. The event will air live on NBC Sports Gold TrackPass.

Taylor Gray won the pole for Monday’s Jeep Beach 175 at New Smyrna Speedway, piloting the No. 17 Ford Performance Ford with owner David Gilliland. Gray, from North Carolina, secured his second career front row start across the East and West division at the 0.480-mile oval with a time of 18.768s / 92.072 mph.

 

Earlier in the day in final practice, Gray sat third quickest on the leaderboard behind practice leader Sammy Smith. Smith, piloting the No. 18 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, will start ninth while second quickest Parker Retzlaff will start sixth.

 

Max Gutierrez will start beside Gray in the No. 30 Tough Built Ford. The Mexico City native will make his fourth career start across the East and West divisions. The 18-year old sat sixth fastest in the one and only practice.

 

Joey Iest will round out the top three starters in Monday’s East season opener. Iest enters the night making his first career appearance in the ARCA Menards Series East with four starts in the West division in 2020. Iest sat fourth fastest in final practice.

 

Jack Wood and Mason Diaz will round out the top five starters.

 

Chuck Buchanan crashed hard into turn one after completing his first of two laps. 

 

The Jeep Beach 175 will air live on TrackPass NBC Sports Gold at 7:30 p.m. ET.

NASCAR announced stage lengths for the upcoming season for all three of their national series on Monday. The sanctioning body also announced technical rules ahead of the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 28. 

Despite today’s announcement, NASCAR has yet to determine stage lengths for the inaugural event at Circuit of The Americas - a 3.426-mile road course in Austin, TX. They have also not determined stage lengths for the annual NCS All-Star Race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Other inaugural events on the Cup Series schedule include Road America, Nashville Superspeedway, Bristol race on dirt, and IMS road course. 

Such as the Cup Series schedule, NASCAR has yet to announce stage lengths for the inaugural NXS and NCWTS events at Circuit of The Americas. Some other new tracks on the truck series schedule in 2021 include Knoxville and Watkins Glen Int’l. 

The NXS and NCWTS series will return to Nashville Superspeedway after a 10-year hiatus.

Joe Gibbs Racing overhauled its NASCAR XFINITY and NASCAR Cup Series crew chief lineups ahead of the 2021 season, the team announced Tuesday. 

Chris Gabehart will stay with Denny Hamlin while James Small will remain with Martin Truex Jr. in cup. Ben Beshore will lead the No. 18 Toyota with Kyle Busch while Adam Stevens will now lead the No. 20 Toyota with Christopher Bell.

CUP:

CAR

DRIVER

CREW CHIEF

11

DENNY HAMLIN

CHRIS GABEHART (NO CHANGE)

18

KYLE BUSCH

BEN BESHORE

19

MARTIN TRUEX JR.

JAMES SMALL (NO CHANGE)

20

CHRISTOPHER BELL

ADAM STEVENS

Jason Ratcliff will return to Joe Gibbs Racing to lead the No. 20 Toyota with Harrison Burton in the NASCAR XFINITY Series. Dave Rogers will lead the No. 18 Toyota with driver Daniel Hemric while Jeff Meendering will continue leading the No. 19 team with driver Brandon Jones.

Joe Gibbs Racing will field a fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series entry in 2021 with multiple drivers. Chris Gayle will lead this team from the pit box.

NXS

CAR

DRIVER

CREW CHIEF

18

DANIEL HEMRIC

DAVE ROGERS (NO CHANGE)

19

BRANDON JONES

JEFF MEENDERING (NO CHANGE)

20

HARRISON BURTON

JASON RATCLIFF

54

MULTIPLE DRIVERS

CHRIS GAYLE

“We go through a process at the conclusion of every season that includes evaluating each of our teams,” said Joe Gibbs, Owner of Joe Gibbs Racing. “We believe our crew chief lineup for 2021 will best position each team and driver for success across both series. We take a lot of pride in our depth of talent across our entire organization. All of our crew chiefs are proven winners.  We are also looking forward to bringing the No. 54 Toyota Supra back to the track in 2021 with an exciting team of drivers.”

The 2021 driver lineup for the fourth NASCAR XFINITY Series entry will be announced at a later date.

John Hunter Nemechek informed Front Row Motorsports that he will not return in 2021. The move is just one of several dominoes to fall surrounding NASCAR Silly Season on Monday.

Bob Jenkins, the owner of Front Row Motorsports, issued the following statement:

“We want to thank John Hunter for being a part of Front Row Motorsports and beginning his NASCAR Cup Series career with us. He certainly helped elevate our performance this past season and brought added value to our No. 38 team. We wish him the best in the next phase in his career and he will always be a friend of ours.” 

The team says it will announce plans to fill the vacancy at a future date. 

It is unknown where John Hunter Nemechek will go.

Statement from Nemechek:

“I’m so thankful for the chance that Bob Jenkins, Jerry Freeze and all our partners took on myself this past season. I would like to thank every employee for the opportunity and the hard work that they put into myself and the No. 38 team at Front Row Motorsports. I am grateful for my time, relationships, and all the knowledge I have gained. I appreciate the patience of our fans, with future plans to be announced at a later date.”

Nemechek made three starts for the team in 2019 before joining Front Row Motorsports full time in 2020. The son of veteran racer Joe Nemechek scored three top 10 finishes for the two-car Cup Series operation. 

Our Motorsports unveiled Thursday that Brett Moffitt will pilot the No. 02 Chevrolet full-time in the NASCAR XFINITY Series in 2021. The Iowa native made 29 starts with the team in 2020, earning one top-five and seven top 10s. 

Moffitt finished his third consecutive full-time season in the NASCAR Gander & RV Outdoors Truck Series with GMS Racing. There, Moffitt posted a victory along with 10 top-five and 16 top 10 finishes and contested for a championship in the season finale at Phoenix. Ultimately, Moffitt finished the season third out of the four Playoff drivers.

“We all believe in winning. We are all competitors and we want to win,” Moffitt told SiriusXMNASCAR on Thursday. “We don’t have the backing that a Joe Gibbs Racing or a Hendrick Motorsports or JRM has, but I believe in the people and I think we’re making the right steps to move forward as competitive as ever.”

Moffit is not a new name in NASCAR. 

The 27-year-old has 45 career starts in the NASCAR Cup Series spanning from 2014 through 2017 with several teams. The driver from Grimes, Iowa, captured the Truck Series championship in 2018 with Hattori Racing Enterprises. Moffitt was asked about how coming up through the sport has worked out for him schedule-wise.

“Yeah. 100%,” said Moffitt. “A crap show is the best way I would describe it. That’s part of the sport. You gotta take the opportunities that are given to you and you gotta weigh those opportunities and see what matters most. I’m not behind schedule by any means if you asked the 16-year-old Brett Moffitt. I’m doing everything I can to serve and be in competitive equipment. I just wanna go out there and race at the end of the day.”

Mike Beam, President of GMS Racing, issued the following statement regarding today’s news:

“Brett Moffitt will not be returning to GMS Racing for the 2021 season. We can't thank Moffitt enough for his commitment to GMS over the past two years. We wish him the best of luck at Our Motorsports next year.”

“I look forward to it,” Moffitt said when asked about building Our Motorsports up. “I look forward to seeing what our potential is with this team. I feel like we’re doing all the right steps, but it is gonna be a challenge, and I look forward to that challenge.” 

Crew chief Joe Williams led the No. 02 Our Motorsports Chevrolet from the pit box in 2020. The single-car entry owned by Chris Our featured three other drivers throughout their inaugural season.

NASCAR announced Wednesday that the sanctioning body will host a two-day Next-Gen test at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Monday, November 16 and Wednesday, November 18. The first day will feature laps on the road course while the second day will feature laps on the oval. 

The test will resume preparation for the Next-Gen car set to debut in 2022. NASCAR was going to debut the car in 2021, but with the COVID-19 pandemic and lack of on-track testing, it forced NASCAR to postpone its debut.

Drivers Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. will take part in the two-day test.

Media will be allowed to attend the first day of testing from 2-7 p.m. on Monday.

Testing will run from 1:00 p.m. ET. to 9:00 p.m. ET.