Tuesday, Dec 05
Kaleb Vestal

Kaleb Vestal

He may have missed the Playoffs, but there was no raining on Riley Herbst parade Saturday afternoon, as he was able to pick up his first career win in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in his 139th start, and was able to do it at his home track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“We just beat everybody in the playoffs trying to go to Phoenix,” stated Herbst in the Media Center after his win. “They all brought their best stuff, and we were able to run past them by 10 seconds. Everybody said, I can't do it, couldn't do it, won't win, not good enough. But I just beat them. So I'm pretty happy with myself andStewart Haas Racing for sticking behind me. This is a huge weight off my shoulders.”

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will head to Homestead Miami Speedway next Saturday, with eight drivers still fighting for four open spots to compete for a championship at the end of the season at Phoenix. 

 

When it comes to a retirement tour in any form of sports, most athletes are focused on soaking in the moment and to enjoy the final few events of their career. 

That's not how Kevin Harvick is looking at things. 

“It really doesn't matter to me. I think for me, we've been so set on how this year was going to go. We started planning in November, and I've had my arm trapped around what this whole year was. I think for me, even if it's a regular season race or playoffs, it really doesn't matter for me as far as how I approach it or what I feel.” 

Harvick, who is still very competitive in his final year racing in the NASCAR Cup Series, sits 11th in the NASCAR Playoffs, +7 points from the cut line entering the Round of 16 cutoff race at Bristol, after an 11th place finish at Kansas Speedway this past Sunday. 

“The feeling is that every week is another piece of closure as to what we're heading towards wrapping up as far as my driving career. I think a lot of that just comes with the planning of everything that we have. So there's really no new emotions for me going from one racetrack to the other.”

As most know, Harvick entered the sport under unusual circumstances at Rockingham in 2001, replacing the late Dale Earnhardt after his death just one week prior. Harvick piloted the No. 29 for Richard Childress Racing until 2014, where he joined Stewart Haas Racing in the No. 4, where he won his only championship so far that same year. Since 2001, Harvick has had his fair share of up and down moments, but has had a major part of where NASCAR is today. 

“It's been a lot of fun just to be able to hear the fans tell stories and the different moments of the racetracks and be able to to celebrate all those moments and things that have happened through the years.” 

Stewart Haas teammate Aric Almirola was originally going to hang up the helmet at the end of last year, but announced at Daytona in August ‘22 that he would be back at SHR for at least one more season in the No. 10. Naturally, some wondered if Harvick would do the same, but Harvick assures that he is content. 

“For me, I'm very content with the decisions that have been made in the path that is going forward. It is so far into play that this whole process seems like old news to me, just because of the fact that it's been happening for so long throughout the year.

“It’s not that I'm not going to enjoy the last eight weeks, or people or sponsors or whatever it is, but that's just how I am. We make a plan; We lay things out; and we organize it. Obviously we could always do some things better, but it's been just a well executed plan.”

Even though Harvick is focused on the Playoffs and not embellishing his retirement season, he still appreciates everyone who’s helped him throughout his career. 

"It's been a lot of fun to have the fans, friends, the people/sponsors, and all the things that have been a part of everything done weekend and week out. It has been pretty cool to see it all executed. So, for me, it's a plan. There are a lot of things that go into it, but it's not a new emotion for me going to Bristol next week. There's just not gonna be anything new that pops up for me, because I'm so far into knowing what to expect."

 

The more that changes throughout the year, the more it stays the same. That could be said about 23XI’s performance over the past two seasons at Kansas Speedway, with the No. 45 visiting victory lane in three of the last four races here in the Heartland, including today with Tyler Reddick and his fast Toyota Camry.  The only time the No. 45 didn’t win at Kansas Speedway was this past May, when 23XI team owner Denny Hamlin earned his first win of the season in the No. 11 Toyota Camry.

Reddick spoke about his day at Kansas by saying, “It’s a stress reliever to get this win and lock ourselves into the Round of 12. Last year was the heartbreaker where we got a flat tire while leading and was just in a bad spot where we got caught in a wreck. I’m sure if we didn’t win today, we would have had a lot of points to lean on, which was the goal. I want to win races, but we don’t need to take the risks in the first round.”

Here are some of the key moments throughout the 2023 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas.

Lap 3: Truex Jr. in the wall in turns 3-4. Right rear tire issue. Was supposed to go to the pit stall but the tow truck messed up and took him to the garage. Team is not happy at all.

Lap 64: Austin Dillon tire issue and Byron spins on the backstretch.

Lap 80: Larson wins stage 1. Larson-Wallace-Bell-Chastain-Blaney-Reddick-Hamlin-Keselowski-Elliott-Harvick the top 10

Lap 109: Bubba Wallace gets a flat right rear tire and gets into the wall in turn 2. Tow link could be broken and could be done for the day. He was one of the favorites coming into this weekend. He comes back on track 3 laps down.

Lap 116: Austin Cindric spins in turn two with a potential right rear tire problem. Bubba will get one of his three laps down.

Lap 129: Caution comes out for Briscoe. He made contact with LaJoie in turn 2. As soon as the caution comes out briscoe comes back to life.

Lap 167: Caution is out for stage 2. Keselowski picked up his fifth stage win of 2023. Keselowski-HamlinElliott-Harvick-Reddick-Jones-Blaney-Logano-Buescher-Bell the top 10.

Lap 175: Hocevar and Burton make contact and bring out the yellow.

Lap 180: Erik Jones battles Denny Hamlin for the second position.

Lap 262: Chris Buscher had a right rear tire go down on the back stretch bringing out the ninth and final caution of the race.

Lap 268: Tyler Reddick picked up his second win of the 2023 season after battling Erik Jones and Denny Hamlin on the final lap.

Here are the point standings heading into Bristol Motor Speedway for the final race in the Round of 16:

Larson - Win 

Reddick - Win

Hamlin + 49

Byron + 41

Keselowski + 33

Blaney + 25

Busch + 24

Chastain + 18

Buescher + 13

Bell + 13

Logano + 12

Harvick + 7

Truex - 7

Wallace - 19

Stenhouse - 22

McDowell - 40

Saturday night, the NASCAR Cup Series will see who moves on to the Round of 12 at the Bristol Motor Speedway, where they will race the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race. That event will be carried live on USA, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

It was a big win for John Hunter Nemechek, as he picked up his sixth win in 2023, and Toyota’s 200th in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. Nemechek also earned Toyota’s 200th victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series.

“Just super proud of this whole No. 20 team for Joe Gibbs Racing. Man. It's been a week. It's been an exciting week. But I’m super pumped to go back to victory lane. This thing was as fast as Xfinity 10G Internet today. Ben Beshore and all the guys made the right adjustments all day. They brought a really fast hot rod.”

The Kansas Lottery 300 was also the final race in the NASCAR Xfinity Series regular season, and was the final race to make the NASCAR Playoffs. Parker Kligerman was able to beat out Riley Herbst and Brandon Jones’ back luck throughout the 200 laps to clinch the 12th and final spot.

“As we showed this race, we executed at a high level,” stated Kligerman to NBC Sports. “That's what I've seen us do for the last twelve weeks. I felt like if we could just get in the playoffs, we would bring this going forward. We're gonna race for a championship. But thank you to Scott Borchetta, Sandy Borchetta, and everybody who makes this possible. What an honor to get the first playoff berth for this race team. Overall, just a really solid day.”

The NASCAR Xfinity Series will open up their Playoffs next Friday night at Bristol Motor Speedway for the Food City 300. That race will air on USA, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

 

With the Round of 10 thinning out to be the Round of 8 in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Playoffs, things were bound to become interesting when the checkered flag flew Friday night at the Kansas Speedway.

Boy were they right…

With 11 different leaders changing 18 times throughout the 134 lap event, the fans who came out were witnessing one heck of a race. But at the end of the day, Christian Eckes backed up his third place finish at IRP in early August and his second place finish two weeks ago at Milwaukee to score his third win of the 2023 season.

“That was wild,” stated Eckes to FOX Sports. “I didn't know if I was going to win it or not. We had like, a six place truck all day, but that caution coming out - I knew we had a shot. And here we are. We haven't won in a really long time. So I want to kind of set the tone. What a hell of a Round of 10 with a second, third, and first. Can't beat that. I’m proud of all these guys.”

While eight drivers are happy they get to contend for a championship, Matt DiBenedetto and Matt Crafton were eliminated from the Playoffs, ending their championship hopes for the 2023 season.

The 134 laps around Kansas Speedway were slowed down five times due to cautions that took 34 laps, with the overall race taking just north of an hour and a half to complete.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will race next Thursday night at Bristol Motor Speedway under the lights for 200 laps, starting at 9 p.m. Eastern. That race will be carried live on the air from FS1, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

 

When NASCAR made the decision back in 2019 that Daytona’s summer race would decide who makes NASCAR’s 16 car playoff field, most were skeptical of NASCAR’s decision. But now, just four years later, we finally see why Daytona is the perfect race to host the regular season finally.

Drivers like Chase Elliott, Alex Bowman, Daniel Suarez, Ty Gibbs, Austin Cindric, Austin Dillon, and many others were trying to secure the 16th and final spot in the Playoffs, but only one driver was able to survive the flips and mass chaos to lock himself in. Bubba Wallace did just that with a 12th place finish, and will make his first appearance in the NASCAR Playoffs in his sixth full time season.

“That was the most stressed but also the most locked in I’ve ever been. Knowing that this place is mostly out of your control, I just tried to focus on doing the things that I could do. Missing that wreck was massive. Appreciate Freddy. He’s one of the best up on the roof. Gets us through that a lot. That’s what helps our resume here with the speedway stuff.

“Proud to be locked into the Playoffs. 23XI, third year in, getting both cars in the Playoffs. We’ve gone through a lot of trials and tribulations. So proud of the effort we put in. No matter how much we set ourselves back, we know that we have a kick-ass group and can bounce back from everything.”

On the opposite side of things, NASCAR’s most popular driver Chase Elliott missed the Playoffs for the first time in his eight year career.

“It’s a bummer, for sure. Hate the season has worked out like it has. The good news is the car got in at the owner’s points. That’s a big deal. Credit to Alan and everybody for continuing to work and scratch and claw while I was out to keep our team alive and to give ourselves a chance. That’s a big deal, probably much bigger than a lot of people realize to our team. Looking forward to these next 10. Try to make a little noise on that side of things and just try to get ready and prepared for next year.”

Here are the drivers who made the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs: 

1st: No. 24 William Byron 

2nd: No. 19 Martin Truex Jr.

3rd: No. 11 Denny Hamlin

4th: No. 17 Chris Buescher

5th: No. 8 Kyle Busch

6th: No. 5 Kyle Larson

7th: No. 20 Christopher Bell 

8th: No. 1 Ross Chastain

9th: No. 6 Brad Keselowski 

10th: No. 45 Tyler Reddick

11th: No. 22 Joey Logano

12th: No. 12 Ryan Blaney

13th: No. 34 Michael McDowell 

14th: No. 47 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 

15th: No. 4 Kevin Harvick 

16th: No. 23 Bubba Wallace

 

Here are the drivers who had a shot to either point their way in the playoffs or could have stole a win away: 

17th: No. 99 Daniel Suarez

18th: No. 54 Ty Gibbs

19th: No. 48 Alex Bowman 

20th: No. 9 Chase Elliott

21th: No. 16 AJ Allmendinger  

22nd: No. 2 Austin Cindric 

23rd: No. 10 Aric Almirola 

24th: No. 31 Justin Haley 

25th: No. 7 Corey LaJoie 

26th: No. 41 Ryan Preece 

27th: No. 38 Todd Gilliland

28th: No. 43 Erik Jones 

29th: No. 3 Austin Dillon 

30th: No. 21 Harrison Burton

 

Next week, the NASCAR Cup Series will kick off its Playoffs at Darlington Raceway for the 74th annual CookOut Southern 500. That race will start at 6 p.m. Eastern and will air on USA, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Justin Algaier had an eventful weekend to say the least. On Thursday, he along with four other Xfinity Series cars were penalized after failing pre race inspection, which led to him having to serve a pass through penalty on the first lap of Friday night’s Wawa 250. Despite all that, he survived a calm stage one and a chaotic stage two and three to pick up his first superspeedway race in his career. 

“To come here to Daytona, to be here so many times and to be close to winning so many times - I even go back to the spring race. Depending on where the caution comes out, we might win or we might not. To be able to do it tonight with a photo finish like we did, such a great race car, such a great, great race, really, honestly, for us.”

Austin Hill and his RCR teammate Sheldon Creed were among the favorites to pick up the win at Daytona, but lady luck dealt them a bad hand as Hill would be involved in a late race crash, and Creed finished in second after losing to the No. 7 by 0.005 seconds. 

There were six cautions for 32 laps in an event that ran 10 laps of overtime due to two late race yellows. The race took 2 hours, 21 minutes, and 9 minutes to complete with the green flag waving around 7:45 p.m. Eastern, and also saw 13 cars fall out of the race early due to either crashes or mechanical issues. 

Next Saturday, the NASCAR Xfinity Series will race the Diamond Hill Plywood 200 at the Darlington Raceway, with the race airing at 3:30 p.m. Eastern on USA, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

 

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevy Camaro for Hendrick Motorsports, not only scored his fifth win of the 2023 season this past Sunday at Watkins Glen, but also showed that he will be a serious threat for the championship when the Playoffs begin at Darlington Raceway come Labor Day weekend. 

“I think we knew that we could do that,” stated Byron to the Media Center. “We knew we were capable. It’s just last year was tough with the new car.

“We hit the ground running, and we had some good results early. Even back to testing, we were really fast in testing.

Then it seemed like the car evolved, and we struggled to kind of adapt and evolve with it a little bit through the summer and in the fall we showed up with a lot of speed again.

“I think in the fall last year saw a lot of potential. It was really us and the 11 throughout the Playoffs in terms of average finish and running position. I think the start of this year, started to roll really smooth, and then we just kind of got into a rhythm.”

Byron lead a race high of 66 of 90 laps, with a record race time of 1:58:45 from green flag to checkered flag, after only one caution for four laps flew during Sunday’s race. 

Saturday night, the NASCAR Cup Series will head back to Daytona for the second time this year, to race the regular season finale and will see who will make the final spot in the NASCAR Playoffs. The Coke Zero Sugar 400 will run at 7 p.m. Eastern Saturday night, and will air live on NBC, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

William Byron (No. 24) came into this weekend's race with three wins and a locked in spot to the NASCAR Playoffs this upcoming September. So what did he do entering the so called ‘last wildcard race’ before the playoffs begin? He came to win big. 

Talking about his night, which included a spin in the middle of the Atlanta Motor Speedway infield during the race, Byron told NBC Sports, “Just teamwork. Honestly I don’t completely understand this one. It’s a really good feeling. I’ve never had a rain victory like this. But just thanks to AXALTA Chevrolet. It’s cool. We went through so much throughout the night, spinning through the infield, destroyed the bottom of the car, dragging it around the apron trying to stay on the lead lap. At that point you just don’t have the grip, so I was real edgy back in traffic.” 

Although the Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway was shortened by 75 laps due to rain showers that were threatening all through Sunday evening, it showcased some of the best racing on the new surface since its first race back in March of 2022. The 185 lap event had an average speed of 118.475 mph that had a total race time of 2:24:17 hours, with seven cautions during the event that lasted for 43 laps, and 18 lead changes. 

Next week, the NASCAR Cup Series will tackle the New Hampshire Motor Speedway for the Crayon 301. That race will begin at 2:30 p.m. Eastern on USA, PRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. 

 

It’s no secret that it’s that time of year where the temperatures are high this time of year, and that was certainly the case for Nashville Superspeedway this weekend. But with only four cautions and 12 different leaders throughout the three hour long Ally 400, is the night time the right time for racing in Nashville? Some drivers gave their thoughts. 

“The track is slicker in the day time and you’ll probably have a bit more passing,” stated Denny Hamlin after finishing third and leading 81 of 300 laps Sunday afternoon, “but we’re stuck with the package right now with the shifting. That makes it really really tough to pass, between that and the tires. There’s no way the fans would have survived sitting through a day race today, soi I think night racing is the way to go.” 

Busch, who had an interesting weekend after spinning out in Friday’s practice and a flat tire early in the first stage, stated his opinion in a laughing matter by saying, “Were you outside today? You want to race in that? You can have my seat. Hell no - night race for sure.” He continued on by saying, “I wasn’t actually hot today. I got out of the car and it was hotter when I was outside. It wasn’t bad out there inside the car today. There was a lot of green flag racing today.” 

The inaugural running of the Ally 400 in 2021 was run during the day time, and ‘22’s race was supposed to until rain pushed majority of the race to run during the evening hours. This year was the first year that the race has been scheduled to run in the Sunday night slot on NBC, and it saw Ross Chastain pick up his first win of the ‘23 season. 

Ross Chastain’s crew chief Phil Surgen said there were a good amount of notes that they were able to use from last year's race to get them into victory lane Sunday night. “The Next Gen car is developing really quickly at this point. Last year, we saw the biggest jump of that development probably in the springtime. By Nashville, we had settled on a package that was reasonably similar to what we continue to run throughout the rest of the season. Those notes did apply for us and particularly day to night. Regardless of the package, that stays pretty common.” 

Regardless of only four cautions (two being for stage breaks) and maybe not the best racing possible, the fans; drivers; and race teams all are fans of beating the heat and running at night.

 

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