DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— For the second year in a row, Germain Racing will honor the late Smokey Yunick at Darlington Raceway for the Bojangles Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend.
Germain Racing is throwing it back to 1963, the year when then rookie driver Johnny Rutherford made his first NASCAR start for Yunick. Currently, the only win for the No. 13 was in a Daytona qualifying race.
This year’s car for Ty Dillon will continue the tradition of black and gold, but will have a touch of red. The car will represent the 1963 qualifying race win. The car in ’63 featured the 427 “mystery motor”.
“My dad loved racing at Darlington, tire problems and gnats alike. It’s so special for us to have him remembered in this way. The Germain Racing car looks great. I am thrilled that Smokey’s legacy is getting a chance to be in front of the next generation of NASAR fans and hope it encourages renewed interest in his story,” said Trish Yunick.
“It was my first time in a stock car. I didn’t think much of the car number. It was Smokey’s car and that’s what made the difference. I had Fireball Roberts and Joe Weatherly tutoring me on racing at Daytona. Joe was very skeptical of the car number. A.J. Foyt came up to the car and put his hand on it and tried to touch Joe— he took off running. That car was strong and fun to drive. It will be great to see a recreation of the car have life again,” said Rutherford.
“There is so much history behind what the Yunick family has done in the sport. It’s quite the honor to represent them at Darlington in what has become one of the coolest events of the year with throwback schemes. It’s a really awesome car. Lots of people are a little superstitious of the No. 13, there is a lot of history that goes within the sport, but there is lot of history yet to be gained. The possibility of me becoming the first driver to win a points paying race gets me really excited,” said T. Dillon.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Having the most stage points of any driver does not phase Martin Truex, Jr.
Truex currently has 21 playoff points. He accumulated those points from his wins at Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Kansas Speedway. The other 11 playoff points have come from running consistently up front at the end of stages during the race.
“A guy like (Martin) Truex, he can almost lollygag all the way to Homestead with as many playoff points as he’s accumulated,” said Kurt Busch yesterday.
“Thats fine. They can say that. I don’t think we are. If we sit idle, don’t get those stage wins, let the points lead slip away, we will be at a disadvantage come playoff time. We want to continue to build on that. We obviously want to lead the regular season points. That’s going to be difficult to do. That’s a focus of ours. The bigger the lead we have at the start of the playoffs the better. We are not going to stop pushing,” said Truex Jr., in a rebuttal to that logic.
Truex accredited the teams ability to run up front and being competitive to why they have accumulated the stage and playoff points.
Truex currently sits second in points, only 13 points behind the points leader, Kyle Larson.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Returning back to Daytona International Speedway after winning the Daytona 500 earlier in the season is a special time for Kurt Busch.
Winning the Daytona 500 was a special moment for Busch and his No. 41 Stewart-Haas Racing team. After winning the Daytona 500, Busch felt that his team was little “hungover” from that excitement.
“I just seemed like a fog. The energy. I get sent on a media tour. Tony Gibson lives here in the shadows of Daytona International Speedway. All of us were so excited,” said Busch. “We’re ordering rings, flags. We’re taking the Harley J. Earl trophy to Ford’s headquarters, Monster’s headquarters, Haas’ headquarter...there was a lot going on.”
Once the team settled from the high of winning the Daytona 500, the team began to focus back on the transition to Ford and how things have changed. Busch believes the team has had a great season.
“In half the races this year we have a top-10 finish. Harvick won last week on a road course. For us to win at a superspeedway shows the versatility that Stewart-Haas has,” said Busch.
With the season at 10 different winners with the potential of more than 16 winners, Busch and his team are beginning to look at how to get to the championship using the playoff points accumulated during the regular season.
“We don’t need to be looking at what it takes to just get into the playoffs, we need to be accumulating those bonus points that stay with you through the playoffs,” said Busch. “We’ll see how it all plays out. We need to accumulate more bonus points to be more competitive to be one of those final four at Homestead.”
Returning to Daytona for Busch is a great feeling, but he still feels that he has more to learn about the draft.
“I just still need to continue to do my job to be better. You can’t be complacent even if you’ve won a race,” said Busch. “My statistics have been good, consistent. I’ve been lucky in a bunch of situations to avoid the ‘big one’ and it’s helped me develop those average finishes. We look forward coming to restrictor-plate races at Stewart-Haas. Tony Gibson is a good crew for the restrictor-plates and happy to have him on my side and I want to go there and deliver for him and the team.”
In his time at Stewart-Haas Racing, Busch has an average finish of 10.5. He currently sits 14th in the points standings.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— Signing a contract extension through 2022 with Hendrick Motorsports was a huge sign of a secured future for Chase Elliott.
With this being his second season in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, this extension with Hendrick Motorsports is what many assume this is the start of a “lifetime contract” like Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon have received from the organization.
“I owe so much to Mr. Hendrick and what he’s done for me and really just kind of believing in me from the time I met him, for some reason, and still does and has continued to do that as time has gone along. So, I owe an awful lot to him, not just for the opportunities he’s given me, but for the faith he’s had in me over the years,” said Elliott about Hendrick.
“Even when nobody else does, he does; and he’s made that very apparent for everybody else to see. That means a lot to me. You don’t see people like that in this world very often these days that are willing to go out of they way to help you. And he’s one of those guys. I’m very lucky to have him on my team to do that.”
Elliott believes that signing this extension does not change the way he approaches his job on the racetrack.
“I think if the length of a contract changes how you go about your job, then you’re in the wrong sport. I feel very passionate about that. I think you have to bring the same amount of intensity and drive each weekend, whether your contract is good for ten years or this is your last race,” said Elliott about his approach.
“I think that’s how you need to go about it or anything that you do. So, I’m not changing how I race or how well I want to do. We want to win and run well more than anybody else wants us to or thinks they want us to. We are certainly very driven to want to continue to do well, regardless.”
Elliott is content with his role and duties at Hendrick Motorsports. When asked if he looked at other options, Elliott was quick to say that he had no interest and desire in doing so.
Over the past two and a half years with Hendrick Motorsports in the Cup Series, Elliott has 15 top-fives, 27 top-10’s, and three poles with the organization.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.— The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series heads to Daytona International Speedway for the second time of 2017 for the Coke Zero 400. Stage lengths for the race will be 40, 40, and 80 on Saturday night.
40 drivers are schedule to arrive at Daytona International Speedway. No cars will be going home in single car qualifying on Friday afternoon. Names that are usually not on the entry list include Brendan Gaughan, Elliott Sadler, and Ryan Sieg.
Teams will have two sets of tires for practice, one set for qualifying, and six sets for the race. Goodyear is bringing a new tire set-up to Daytona. The setup is based on the tire test conducted in the spring. The tires will add grip to help increase stability of the car.
Returning to Daytona in July unofficially kicks off the second half of the 2017 season. Drivers are excited about the return to Daytona, as well as the second half of the season.
“I can’t believe we are already heading back to Daytona this weekend. The first half of the season has really flown by and I’m really looking forward to making my second cup start at Daytona on Saturday night,” said Daniel Suarez. “We’ve had two restrictor-plate races so far this season, and I’ve learned a lot in both of them that I think we can carry over to this weekend. We always have fast Camry’s when we unload at Daytona, so hopefully we can qualify well, start up front and be there at the end with a chance to win in our Subway Camry.”
"I'm really excited to get back into the No. 43 Smithfield Ford this weekend. The team was successful in both superspeedway races this year, so I hope we can build on that this weekend. Roush Yates Engines always bring a fast engine, and the RPM has shown they can bring a good car for the draft,” said Darrell Wallace, Jr. Superspeedway races are a bit of a crapshoot from there. We'll work to put ourselves in position to be there and fight for it at the end. It's Richard's 80th birthday this weekend, so hopefully we can get him a good finish for his birthday."
"Daytona is a good bit narrower. It seems like it usually gets tight off Turn 2 but it's super-fast and super smooth. You can go wide open, no problem. It's usually hot for the July race so it's super-hot inside the race cars and eventually the cars start sliding around a little bit. Daytona is simply Daytona,” said Ryan Newman.
Teams will have two practice sessions on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. EDT and 5:00 p.m. EDT. Teams will qualify on Friday at 4:00 p.m. EDT. Practice and qualifying will be broadcasted on NBCSN and Motor Racing Network. Coverage for the Coke Zero 400 kicks off at 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday on NBC and Motor Racing Network.