NASCAR Cup Series

NASCAR Cup Series News Wire
  • Chris Buescher's crew members get 4-week suspensions
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 29, 2022

    NASCAR suspended three crew members of driver Chris Buescher's RFK Racing team for a detached wheel during Sunday's Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway.

    • With 46 laps left in the Ally 400, the right rear wheel of Buescher's No. 17 Ford came off following a final-stage pit stop, leading to a caution period.

      Buescher wound up finishing in 30th place, three laps down, in the race won by Chase Elliott.

      Crew chief Scott Graves and crew members Seth Gajdorus (rear tire changer) and Matthew Wilps (jack) received four-race bans on Tuesday for violating Section 10.5.2.6 of the NASCAR rule book.

      NASCAR officials also issued $5,000 fines to the crew chiefs of four Xfinity Series teams for lug-nut violations during Saturday's Tennessee Lottery 250.

      --Field Level Media

  • Justin Allgaier hits all right notes to win at Nashville
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, June 25, 2022

    On a blazing hot day at Nashville Superspeedway, Justin Allgaier fulfilled a dream in one of the best race cars he has ever had.

    • Leading five times for 134 laps and sweeping the first two stages of Saturday's Tennessee Lottery 250, Allgaier breezed to his first NASCAR Xfinity Series victory on the 1.33-mile concrete track at Lebanon, Tenn., his second win of the season and the 18th of his career.

      Allgaier's No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet crossed the finish line 4.513 seconds ahead of runner-up Trevor Bayne, who overcame an interference penalty on pit road. That was assessed when two of the tires from his No. 18 Toyota rolled behind the gas man into the pit stall of pole winner Riley Herbst.

      "This guitar (presented to the winner) has been on my bucket list for a long, long time," said Allgaier, who won in his eighth start at Nashville, dating to 2009.

      After a 10-year pause in racing at the track, Allgaier finished second last year.

      Asked whether he had ever driven a better race car, Allgaier was quick to answer.

      "I don't think ever," he said. "What a heck of a race, man. We've been coming here for a long time, and I love this race track. Been trying to get a win so bad and hadn't been able to do it.

      "Today was like a dirt race. It was slick, it was hot, we were sliding around. ... I've got a guitar to take home, and we're going to enjoy it, for sure."

      Chevrolet drivers have won the last seven Xfinity Series races, with JR Motorsports drivers winning five of those. Allgaier's two stage wins were the 11th and 12th straight on oval tracks for JRM.

      Herbst finished third, followed by Ty Gibbs and Sam Mayer, both of whom were involved in a late-race incident that turned Gibbs' No. 54 Toyota sideways-setting up a masterful save.

      Ryan Preece, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Austin Hill, Ryan Sieg and Brett Moffitt completed the top 10.

      AJ Allmendinger, who finished 16th, retained the series lead by 25 points over Gibbs in second place and 32 over Allgaier in third.

      Mistakes cost Bayne a chance to race for the win.

      "We drove to second twice, from the back," Bayne said. "The second stage, we came in with (Herbst) and hit a pit crew member, not intentionally, but it can happen. Then fell back to 15th and drove back to second.

      "Then we had a loose wheel and had to go to the very back and drove back and was catching Allgaier. He's my buddy, Gator, congrats to him. Happy for him, but, man, I wanted to win that guitar and win here at Nashville.

      "I feel like we did everything right on the car and feel like I did everything right behind the wheel. We have to clean up the mistakes and we're going to win because it takes every piece of this deal."

      Herbst conceded that he wasn't able to challenge Allgaier's dominance.

      "I don't think the whole field had anything for the 7," Herbst said. "I think he was on cruise control all day, but our Monster Energy Ford Mustang was really good. I'm just proud of us as a group. Way to execute.

      "I messed up on pit road a few times, myself and the team, so we've got to clean up a little stuff there, but all in all, it was a good day. We got a pole and good points. This is what we need to keep doing. Just knock on the door, and eventually it will open."

      NASCAR Xfinity Series Race - 2nd Annual Tennessee Lottery 250

      Nashville Superspeedway

      Nashville, Tennessee

      Saturday, June 25, 2022

      1. (5) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 188.

      2. (3) Trevor Bayne, Toyota, 188.

      3. (1) Riley Herbst, Ford, 188.

      4. (14) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 188.

      5. (21) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 188.

      6. (27) Ryan Preece(i), Ford, 188.

      7. (11) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 188.

      8. (4) Austin Hill #, Chevrolet, 188.

      9. (24) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 188.

      10. (15) Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 188.

      11. (17) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 188.

      12. (25) Parker Retzlaff, Ford, 188.

      13. (6) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 187.

      14. (8) Brandon Jones, Toyota, 187.

      15. (23) Stefan Parsons(i), Chevrolet, 187.

      16. (2) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 187.

      17. (10) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 187.

      18. (12) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, 187.

      19. (29) Ryan Vargas, Chevrolet, 187.

      20. (26) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 187.

      21. (18) Tyler Reddick(i), Chevrolet, 186.

      22. (22) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 186.

      23. (31) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 186.

      24. (20) Ryan Ellis, Chevrolet, 185.

      25. (28) Kyle Sieg #, Ford, 185.

      26. (38) Patrick Emerling, Chevrolet, 185.

      27. (35) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 185.

      28. (34) BJ McLeod, Ford, 185.

      29. (9) Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 184.

      30. (30) Dillon Bassett, Chevrolet, 182.

      31. (36) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 181.

      32. (37) Natalie Decker, Toyota, 181.

      33. (33) JJ Yeley, Toyota, 157.

      34. (32) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, Electrical, 136.

      35. (7) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, Accident, 126.

      36. (19) Sheldon Creed #, Chevrolet, Accident, 124.

      37. (13) Joe Graf Jr., Ford, Accident, 123.

      38. (16) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, Power Steering, 118.

      Average Speed of Race Winner: 119.319 mph.

      Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 5 Mins, 44 Secs. Margin of Victory: 4.513 Seconds.

      Caution Flags: 5 for 27 laps.

      Lead Changes: 13 among 5 drivers.

      Lap Leaders: R. Herbst 0;A. Allmendinger 1-18;J. Allgaier 19-47;A. Allmendinger 48;J. Allgaier 49-92;J. Berry 93;T. Gibbs 94-96;J. Allgaier 97-98;T. Gibbs 99;J. Allgaier 100-118;A. Allmendinger 119-133;B. Jones 134;A. Allmendinger 135-148;J. Allgaier 149-188.

      Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Justin Allgaier 5 times for 134 laps; AJ Allmendinger 4 times for 48 laps; Ty Gibbs 2 times for 4 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 1 lap; Josh Berry 1 time for 1 lap.

      Stage #1 Top Ten: 7,18,98,16,21,8,54,19,1,9

      Stage #2 Top Ten: 7,54,1,98,18,9,8,19,5,

      -- Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, Special to Field Level Media

  • Denny Hamlin earns pole position in Nashville
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, June 25, 2022

    LEBANON, Tenn. -- A great first lap and a sudden rainstorm were all Denny Hamlin needed to win the pole position for Sunday's Ally 400 NASCAR Cup Series race at Nashville Superspeedway.

    • With his 23XI Racing team co-owner Michael Jordan watching the action, Hamlin was fastest in the first round of qualifying with a lap in 29.848 seconds (160.413 mph), and when an unexpected downpour forced cancellation of the final round, the driver of the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota earned the first starting position for the 17th event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule (5 p.m. ET Sunday on USA, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

      With the final round rained out, starting positions were determined by Round 1 speeds.

      Hamlin edged Joey Logano (160.107 mph) for the pole by .057 seconds. Logano topped the chart in Group B after Hamlin was fastest in Group A.

      The Busch Pole Award was Hamlin's first at Nashville, his second of the season and the 35th of his career.

      Defending race winner and reigning Cup Series champion Kyle Larson qualified third at 159.963 mph, followed by Hendrick Motorsports teammate Chase Elliott at 159.931 mph. Daniel Suarez and Ryan Blaney qualified on Row 3.

      Bubba Wallace, who drives for Hamlin and Jordan at 23XI, was fast in practice but couldn't back up his speed in time trials. Wallace will start 30th on Sunday.

      "I told him (Jordan) he should have stayed in the bus," Hamlin said with a chuckle. "He agreed. It's pressure. There's a lot of pressure when he's out there.

      "Bubba was fast. He blew by us and left us by a straightaway (Friday) in the first round of practice. ... When I saw him driving into Turn 1 on TV (in qualifying), he carried a tremendous amount of speed, and obviously, it didn't stick."

      Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, didn't complete a qualifying lap. He spun in Turn 3 in Round 1 and backed his No. 18 Toyota into the outside wall. Busch will start last (36th) on Sunday.

      Competitive fire brings Truex back for another year at JGR

      After considerable soul-searching, Martin Truex Jr. decided to return to Joe Gibbs Racing for another season in the No. 19 Toyota.

      The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion told reporters of his decision Friday in a question-and-answer session in the Nashville Superspeedway media center.

      Joe Gibbs Racing subsequently released a statement featuring a typically terse comment from Truex: "I'm coming back."

      "The competitive side of me said, ‘I'm not done, and keep fighting,' so here we are," Truex told reporters. "I tried to just think about all of this myself and figure it out.

      "Friends and family helped as well. I just wanted to look and make sure I was doing the right thing. I wanted to make sure if I kept going, I was going to be happy with the decision."

      The affable driver from Mayetta, N.J., who will turn 42 on Wednesday, won his series title with Furniture Row Racing in 2017. Since joining JGR in 2019, Truex has accumulated 12 victories but none so far this year. He's currently sixth in the Cup standings.

      Asked whether he would find himself in the same position at this point next season, Truex said: "Probably. I'm the world's worst procrastinator."

      Ricky Stenhouse Jr. stays with JTG-Daughtery Racing in multiyear deal

      Martin Truex Jr. wasn't the only driver with contract news on Friday. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. revealed he had re-signed with JTG-Daugherty Racing in a multiyear deal. Terms were not disclosed.

      Stenhouse has two career victories, both recorded on superspeedways with Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing in 2017. Through 16 races this season, he has posted one top five (a runner-up finish at Dover) and is 24th in the series standings.

      Nevertheless, Stenhouse said he thinks he and JTG-Daugherty are a good fit, and he believes the Next Gen race car introduced this season will help elevate the team's performance.

      "I really have enjoyed my time at JTG-Daugherty Racing," said Stenhouse, who joined the organization in 2020. "I feel like we haven't had the end results, points-wise. But I feel like we've had so many bright spots throughout our first few seasons together.

      "I feel like with this new car -- we were hoping to have it last year (before the COVID-19 pandemic intervened) and continue to build on that. Obviously, this is the first year with it. So I know for me and the way this car has been, I feel like at certain race tracks we kind of have it figured out.

      "And then there are other race tracks where we're pretty out to lunch, and we're still looking for those parts and pieces to be in the right spot to be fast."

      Kyle Busch gets first look at North Wilkesboro during 'alien abduction'

      During the filming of a new commercial for the return of Toyota "Sponsafier" campaign, Kyle Busch got his first look inside North Wilkesboro Speedway, which will undergo a series of transformations later this year.

      In the new ad titled "Alien," Busch watches as his brother Kurt is beamed up into a spaceship and presumably carried away. (Spoiler alert: Kurt was back in time for practice and qualifying at Nashville Superspeedway.)

      During the filming, however, Kyle Busch saw the potential of North Wilkesboro, which will return to action in August with a month of late-model races, after which the pavement will be removed to accommodate a slate of dirt races in October.

      A repave will follow, with the hope of possible NASCAR racing in the future of the historic track.

      "It can be successful, and it can turn into something nice," Busch said. "So I'm looking forward to it, if they put something there. I think it would be sweet. I know, from my understanding anyways, I know Dale (Earnhardt Jr.) is looking forward to running a late model stock race if he can.

      "And so, you know, it'd be nice to see that place come back to life, and whether it's an All-Star Race or a Truck race or Xfinity, whatever, I think that we can make something happen there for sure."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media

  • Martin Truex Jr. to Joe Gibbs Racing: 'I'm coming back'
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, June 25, 2022

    Martin Truex Jr. was pretty succinct in addressing his future plans in NASCAR.

    • "I'm coming back," Truex said, per a release from Joe Gibbs Racing.

      Truex, who turns 42 on Wednesday, admitted he was pondering his future over the last six months. His contract with Joe Gibbs Racing concludes at the end of the year. He initially signed with JGR after Furniture Row Racing folded following the 2018 season.

      "I just wanted to look at everything and see what it looked like both ways," Truex said at Nashville Superspeedway on Friday. "The competitive side of me said I'm not done and I'm going to keep fighting, so here we are,"

      The 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion, Truex has 31 career wins and two Xfinity Series titles (2004-05) on his resume.

      --Field Level Media

  • AlphaTauri confirms Pierre Gasly's return for 2023
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, June 25, 2022

    Pierre Gasly will remain with AlphaTauri for the 2023 season, the Formula 1 team announced Friday.

    • The 26-year-old French driver returned to Red Bull's junior team following a disappointing and brief stint with Red Bull in 2018. Gasly went on to win the 2020 Italian Grand Prix and currently sits 11th in this year's driver standings with 16 points.

      Any hope of returning to the top team in the near future ended with Sergio Perez signing an extension through 2025. However, AlphaTauri did keep Gasly from entering the open driver market.

      "I have been with this team for five years now, "Gasly said. "I am proud of the journey we've been through together and the progress we have made.

      "This year's new regulations have created new challenges for us and being able to plan our development with the team for the next 18 months is a good working basis for the future."

      Gasly's highest finish this season was a fifth place at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, and Alpha Tauri team principal Franz Tost said at last week's Canadian Grand Prix that Gasly's return for 2023s was "100% confirmed."

      Friday's announcement made that official.

      "He is definitely in the group of the best and most competitive drivers in F1 and has proven his abilities during all the time he has spent with us," said Tost.

      "Undoubtedly, Pierre can play a major role in the team having a successful season next year and it will be down to us to provide him with a competitive car, so that he can continue to deliver excellent results."

      --Field Level Media

  • Report: F1, ESPN reach new 3-year deal
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, June 25, 2022

    The Formula 1 circuit and ESPN have agreed to a renewed three-year deal for United States rights through 2025, Sports Business Journal reported Friday.

    • Amazon and Comcast both were in negotiations, up against the Disney-owned ESPN.

      According to the report, the new deal is worth between $75 million and $90 million. The previous deal between the two entities was for three years and $15 million.

      There are 20 F1 drivers on 10 different teams that are competing in 22 races in 2022. The United States plays host to two races, the Miami Grand Prix and Circuit of the Americas in, Austin, Texas. A third U.S. race, contested on a course that includes the famed Las Vegas Strip, will debut in 2023.

      --Field Level Media

  • Clint Bowyer involved in car crash that killed woman, 47
    By Field Level Media / Friday, June 17, 2022

    Retired NASCAR driver Clint Bowyer struck and killed a pedestrian with his car earlier this month, police in Lake Ozark, Mo., said.

    • Multiple media outlets reported that, according to the crash report, Bowyer hit a 47-year-old woman as he drove onto a ramp off U.S. Route 54 on June 5.

      The woman, identified as Mary Jane Simmons of Camdenton, Mo., was pronounced dead at the scene.

      Bowyer immediately stopped his car when he realized what had happened, the police report said, and he was found to have no alcohol in his system.

      Bowyer currently works as a NASCAR analyst for Fox Sports. He won 10 Cup Series races in his 15-plus-year career on the circuit and retired in 2020.

      --Field Level Media

  • Reports: F1 nearing deal for return of South African Grand Prix
    By Field Level Media / Monday, June 13, 2022

    Formula One is nearing a deal to secure the return of the South African Grand Prix as early as next year, according to multiple reports.

    • F1 CEO Stefano Domenicali flew directly from Sunday's Azerbaijan Grand Prix in Baku to South Africa to continue discussions with local stakeholders. The race would be held at Kyalami Grand Prix circuit, which last hosted an F1 race in 1993.

      Africa is currently the only continent not to have a race on the F1 schedule.

      Kyalami has undergone upgrades to bring its facilities up to FIA standards for modern races. Whether the venue will return to the schedule next year or in 2024 remains to be determined as a formal agreement has yet to be reached.

      Adding a South African Grand Prix would bring the circuit to the max of 24 annual races outlined in the Conchord Agreement.

      The Las Vegas Grand Prix is set to debut in 2023 as well over Thanksgiving weekend, and a new 10-year agreement in Qatar begins next year after being dropped from the 2022 schedule due to the country hosting the soccer World Cup.

      The status of an event in Shanghai in 2023 remains uncertain due to COVID-19 restrictions in China, so the schedule could settle at 23 races for next year.

      "The place that I really feel is dear to my heart and most important to get a race back is in South Africa," seven-time world champion Lewis Hamilton said recently.

      "There is a great following out there and I think it would be great to be able to highlight just how beautiful the motherland is."

      --Field Level Media

  • NASCAR to return to L.A. Coliseum in 2023
    By Field Level Media / Sunday, June 12, 2022

    The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season will begin Feb. 5 on the short track inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with the Busch Light Clash.

    • It will be the second straight year NASCAR will hold the exhibition race at the tight quarter-mile asphalt oval, built inside the iconic venue that has played that hosted two Summer Olympics, as well as numerous college football and NFL games.

      Joey Logano won this year's race by holding off pole-winner Kyle Busch.

      "I can't believe it," Logano said after his victory. "We're here. The L.A. Coliseum. We got the victory with the old Shell/Pennzoil Mustang. This is an amazing event.

      "Congratulations, NASCAR. Such a huge step in our industry to be able to do this, put on an amazing race for everybody. I'm out of breath. I was so excited about this."

      NASCAR said it will announce the rest of the 2023 schedule at a later date.

      --Field Level Media

  • Kyle Larson takes fourth career NASCAR Cup Series pole at Sonoma Raceway
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, June 11, 2022

    Defending race winner Kyle Larson will start Sunday's Toyota/Save Mart 350 (4 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) from the same position he finished the race last summer -- leading the field.

    • Larson earned his fourth career NASCAR Cup Series pole position at the 1.99-mile Northern California road course on Saturday afternoon with a blistering lap of 91.935 mph in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. He was fastest in practice and both rounds of qualifying to definitively earn "favorite" status for tomorrow's race.

      And even after qualifying, Larson said, he hadn't even shown all the speed his car was capable of -- rough news for the field.

      "It was good, and I was a bit surprised, because I felt like I gave up a lot of time in Turns 4 and 7, so had I had those two corners back, I felt like I could have went quite a bit faster," said the Elk Grove, California, native, who has now won four pole positions at his "home track."

      "Thanks to everyone on our team," he said. "Excited about it."

      Joining Larson on the front row is NASCAR's reigning road course master and Larson's Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Chase Elliott, who among active drivers has a series-best seven road course wins but is still looking for his first victory at Sonoma Raceway.

      RFK Racing driver Chris Buescher and Front Row Motorsport's driver Michael McDowell turned in an inspired qualifying effort and will comprise the second row on the grid. It's the best start of the season for the 2021 Daytona 500 winner McDowell, who is an accomplished road racer.

      Richard Childress Racing driver Tyler Reddick and Stewart-Haas Racing's Cole Custer will start from the third row, followed by Trackhouse Racing teammates Ross Chastain and Daniel Suarez. Team Penske's Joey Logano and Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin -- driving the lone Toyota in the final round of qualifying -- will round out the top 10.

      Larson is the only driver among the top 10 with a previous win at the track.

      Three-time Sonoma winner Martin Truex Jr., the winningest active driver at the track, will roll off 28th in the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. His former championship-winning crew chief, Cole Pearn, is working as an engineer this week for the No. 19 team.

      His teammate, the only other active multi-time winner at Sonoma, two-time winner Kyle Busch just missed advancing to the final round of qualifying. He will start the No. 18 JGR Toyota in 11th place, right alongside his older brother Kurt Busch in the No. 45 23XI Racing Toyota. Kurt is a former winner at Sonoma as well.

      NASCAR's road course ace A.J. Allmendinger will start 16th in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Renowned sports car racer Joey Hand qualified the No. 15 Rick Ware Racing Ford in 17th in his second NASCAR Cup Series start of the season. Todd Gilliland was the fastest rookie and will start the No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford, 24th.

      CHASTAIN REACHES OUT TO COMPETITORS

      Trackhouse Racing's driver Ross Chastain, who won the NASCAR Cup Series' first road course race of the 2022 season at Austin, Texas, in March, said he spent time this week reaching out to a pair of drivers he had run-ins with last week at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. The driver of the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet had some contact with both Joe Gibbs Racing's Denny Hamlin and Hendrick Motorsport's Chase Elliott in the race.

      And in return, both those drivers -- whose cars were essentially rendered non-competitive after the Chastain incidents -- kept him on his toes in the closing laps thereafter. Their frustration was unmistakable, running Chastain's car up the track toward the wall and agitating him as he made his way forward in the race. Hamlin implied afterward that there may be "pay back" sometime down the road.

      After the checkered flag, Chastain apologized for the hard racing and insisted it wasn't his intention to wreck either driver. He promised to speak to both drivers this week.

      "We had a good conversation," Chastain said of his talk with Hamlin. "But whatever happens [this weekend], happens."

      Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing team later posted to social media a photo of a watermelon left at the No. 11 JGR team hauler on Saturday afternoon, suggesting it may have been a gift -- or peace offering -- from the famed watermelon farmer Chastain.

      Chastain revealed in qualifying however, "not me," saying the team must have been having some fun with it.

      NIECE MOTORSPORT'S CARSON HOCEVAR RACING ON

      Niece Motorsports driver Carson Hocevar, 19, broke a bone in his foot in an accident during last week's race at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and will have Daniel Suarez trackside at Sonoma Raceway for Saturday's DoorDash 250 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) ready to serve as a relief driver if needed.

      But the Californian, who used crutches to get around when not in his No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet, still went out and won the pole position by more than a half a second on Saturday afternoon. He turned in the best-in-class lap only to have an off-course excursion just beyond the timing line. The mishap caused enough damage to his truck that Hocevar will have to start the race from the rear of the field.

      His Niece Motorsports teammate this weekend, Ross Chastain -- one of five NASCAR Cup Series drivers who will compete in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Saturday -- will start from pole.

      With crutches leaning against his chair in the garage, Hocevar looked discouraged as his team worked on the truck.

      "It was dumb. I tried to too hard to get to the line," he said, adding, "I just wanted the pole and tried too hard, way too hard. ... Dumb mistake."

      Prior to the qualifying session, Hocevar reported that he was doing well physically, hoping he "exceeded" the team's expectations.

      "I feel happy, I'm enjoying it, I feel fine, there's no issue, no complaints," Hocevar said.

      The Michigan native is still racing for his first career victory in his second fulltime season in the series. He finished runner-up in back-to-back races this Spring - at Bristol, Tenn. and Darlington, S.C. He has five top-10 and three top-five finishes and is ranked eighth in the standings through the opening 11 races. His DNF last weekend was his first of the season.

      In other notable news from qualifying. ...The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship leader and reigning champion Ben Rhodes will start 17th in the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota. ...two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch earned a third-place start in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota. Busch, who has a record 61 Truck Series wins, is a two-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series at Sonoma. ...California-native Hailee Deegan, a former NASCAR ARCA Menards Series West pole-winner at Sonoma, turned in a ninth-place run in time trials (best by a female in the series on road courses) -- marking her second top-10 start of the 2022 season.

      LONE OFF-WEEKEND APPROACHES

      Richard Childress Racing driver Austin Dillon is among the handful of NASCAR Cup Series drivers also running in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Sonoma, eager to get some laps of competition in before his primary race on Sunday.

      It's a lot of work this weekend, however, Dillon is buoyed by the fact that immediately after Sonoma the NASCAR Cup Series will have its only "off-week" of the 2022 season.

      "I've got my vacation planned and my grandfather [team owner Richard Childress] is already on me about getting back to work," Dillon said. "I was like, 'Hey, I'm taking this one off-weekend.'"

      Dillon said his family is looking forward to spending the rare downtime at the beach, expecting it to allow him to "refocus" on the closing stretch of the regular season.

      The driver of the No. 3 RCR Chevrolet is currently winless in 2022 and ranked 16th in the standings, which would not qualify him for the Playoffs with three race winners -- Kurt Busch, Austin Cindric and Denny Hamlin -- right behind him the standings that jump over him into the top-16 based on their wins this season.

      "Mathematically, it's not hard at all for us to get into the Playoffs if there's no more winners," Dillon said. "I think we are in a place where we can point our way in. But I think there are going to be more [race] winners and we need to be one of them."

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Chase Briscoe nets pole position for NASCAR Cup race at Gateway
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, June 4, 2022

    MADISON, Ill.-- On a track similar to the one that gave him his first NASCAR Cup Series victory, Chase Briscoe achieved another career first -- a Cup Series pole position.

    • In the final round of time trials on Saturday, Briscoe sped around 1.25-mile World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in 32.544 seconds (138.274 mph) to earn the top starting position for Sunday's inaugural Enjoy Illinois 300 (3:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

      Even though he had a slight bobble on his money lap, Briscoe was fast enough to beat fellow Ford driver Austin Cindric (137.775 mph) by .118 seconds.

      "It's funny," said Briscoe, who won his first race earlier this season at Phoenix Raceway. "The first round, I felt I underdrove extremely bad, and the second round I overdrove... I got really loose getting into (Turn) 3, and I felt like I probably gave away what advantage I had through (Turns) 1 and 2...

      "We were obviously really good at Phoenix, and I have a really close package to that. We'll see if we can have the same result as Phoenix. Obviously, I've got the best starting spot for that, and looking forward to tomorrow, for sure."

      Briscoe is the fifth driver to earn a first career pole this season.

      Christopher Bell qualified third at 137.560 mph, followed by Tyler Reddick (137.514 mph) and Ryan Blaney (137.468 mph).

      Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Aric Almirola, Harrison Burton and Ross Chastain will start from positions six through 10, respectively, after advancing to the final round of qualifying.

      Quick-study Kyle Larson gets a handle on World Wide Technology Raceway

      Before practice on Friday afternoon, reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson had never turned a lap at World Wide Technology Raceway.

      Unlike most other competitors who were unfamiliar with the track, Larson hadn't had time to learn any of the nuances of the 1.25-mile speedway on the simulator.

      Instead, Larson is relying on his ability as a quick study.

      "Yeah, I haven't raced here," Larson said. "I've raced at Tri-City (Speedway), which is 15 minutes from here; Pevely (Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55), which is probably 35 minutes; and then at the Dome (in downtown St. Louis). So, I've raced all around it, but never here.

      "I'm excited. I haven't had too much time at all to prepare. I hadn't gotten to run any laps here to test or nothing on a simulator... I'm excited about the opportunity. I've always wanted to race here, so it's nice that we have Cup weekend here now."

      Sure enough, Larson posted the eighth fastest speed in Friday's final practice. On the flip side, he was 15thfastest in time trails on Saturday morning.

      But Larson will have 240 laps to learn the fine points of the track in Sunday's Enjoy Illinois 300. That should give him ample time.

      Kyle Busch puts out "Help Wanted" sign for son's racing effort

      Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch hasn't raced in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season, but that hasn't precluded him from other racing pursuits.

      Busch is thoroughly involved in the racing efforts of his 7-year-old son Brexton, and with those activities expanding, he needs more help.

      Kyle's brother Kurt noticed that Brexton was "understaffed" and volunteered to fill the void as Brexton raced on dirt Thursday night at Tri-City Speedway in Pontoon Beach, Ill., just a few miles from World Wide Technology Raceway.

      Asked whether Kurt could be helpful, Kyle Busch deadpanned, "No -- too many cooks in the kitchen."

      "Yes, I have one guy who does our program, and we race junior sprints, outlaw karts, quarter midgets, and now I'm adding a micro to that," Busch added. "We've got a lot going on... But my dad's there (Tom Busch). I really don't know what my dad does. I think he creates more chaos than he helps sometimes. He's a little difficult, as you can imagine.

      "Do I need another guy? Yes. I need another guy, so if anyone is out there that is looking, I do need another guy. Now this job does not pay great, right? It is Brexton Busch that is paying you, so he doesn't have a whole lot of income right now. He's working on it, but we're working hard. Kurt is coming, which is great. A little bit of help from the uncle. He can about set air pressures, so I've just got to tell him what I want."

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media

  • Driver Chris Buescher (COVID) to miss Gateway race
    By Field Level Media / Friday, June 3, 2022

    RFK Racing driver Chris Buescher will miss Sunday's NASCAR Cup Series race outside St. Louis after testing positive for COVID-19.

    • The team announced the news Thursday night and said Truck Series driver Zane Smith will fill in behind the wheel of the No. 17 Acronis Ford at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway.

      Buescher, 29, is 21st in the Cup Series standings through 14 regular season races. He has three top-10 finishes this season.

      Buescher is expected to be back in action next weekend at Sonoma Raceway, according to the team.

      Smith, 22, will make his first start in the Cup Series. He has three wins and eight top-10 finishes in 10 starts this season on the Camping World Truck Series.

      --Field Level Media

  • Indy 500 draws smallest TV audience on record on Memorial Day weekend
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, June 1, 2022

    The Indianapolis 500 drew its lowest viewership in the race's live broadcast history in its traditional Memorial Day weekend slot on Sunday.

    • The race, won by Swedish driver Marcus Ericsson, was watched by 4.8 million viewers on NBC's platforms, down 14 percent from an audience of 5.6 million viewers a year ago.

      It was the second-smallest TV audience ever for the race, larger only than the 3.7 million that watched in 2020 when the Indy 500 was moved to August and run without fans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

      Live coverage of this year's race was blacked out in the Indianapolis market and shown on tape later on Sunday. The race had been shown live in Indianapolis the past two years.

  • Denny Hamlin takes pole for Coca-Cola 600
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, May 28, 2022

    CONCORD, N.C. -- By the slimmest of margins, Denny Hamlin beat a car he owns for the Busch Light pole position in Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

    • In the final round of time trials on Saturday evening, Hamlin ran a lower line through Turns 3 and 4 than his competitors did, and it paid off with a blistering lap of 29.399 seconds (183.680 mph) --just .003 seconds faster than that of Kurt Busch (183.661 mph) -- who drives the No. 45 23XI Toyota co-owned by Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan.

      Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Christopher Bell, qualified third at 183.655 mph (just .001 seconds slower than Busch), and teammate Kyle Busch followed at 183.505 mph, as Toyota drivers swept the top four grid positions in NASCAR Cup Series qualifying for the first time since the 2017 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

      "I had reps down there, so I kind of knew what I needed for my car," Hamlin said of the line he ran. "I just thought -- forward thinking -- that this track was going to get a little better (in terms of grip), and certainly we would want to cut the most distance we could off, if the track continued to grip up."

      Hamlin has never won a Cup race at Charlotte. Doing so on Sunday would make him the second active driver to win all three of NASCAR's crown jewel races -- the Daytona 500 (which he has won three times), the Southern 500 and the Coca-Cola 600. Kevin Harvick is the only active driver to accomplish that feat.

      "I've had such fast cars here and such crazy luck that I've had here over the years," Hamlin said. "Mistakes that I've made that kept us from winning. I just really want to get this one, especially since I've been a Coke partner for all 18 years or whatever of my career."

      William Byron qualified fifth in the fastest Chevrolet, with Austin Cindric following in sixth in the quickest Ford. Kurt Busch's 23XI teammate, Bubba Wallace, claimed the seventh spot on the grid, followed by Tyler Reddick, Alex Bowman and Michael McDowell.

      Defending race winner Kyle Larson smacked the outside wall in Saturday's practice and did not make a qualifying run, as his team attempted to repair the No. 5 Chevrolet. Larson will start from the rear on Sunday.

      Brad Keselowski spun off Turn 4 in the first-round qualifying lap and likewise will take the green flag from the back of the pack.

      Chase Elliott thinks Jimmie Johnson has a shot to win Indy 500

      Before he turns his attention to a 600-mile marathon at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday evening, Chase Elliott's focus will be elsewhere.

      Elliott's former Hendrick Motorsports teammate, seven-time NASCAR Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, will take the green flag as a 46-year-old rookie in the Indianapolis 500 at 12:45 p.m. on Sunday.

      "I'm super intrigued and I'm excited for him," Elliott said before NASCAR Cup Series practice at Charlotte. "I think he has a legitimate shot at it, from what I've kind of kept up with. His performance at Texas (Motor Speedway, where Johnson finished sixth), I think impressed a lot of people. I wasn't super surprised by that, just with as good as he is on ovals and how much oval experience that he has. So I think that's really cool.

      "Like I said, I feel like he's got a shot at the win tomorrow. I'm going to try and keep up the best I can. I feel like our day is always getting kind of busy when that race is going on, or at least when it starts to wind down. It starts to get really good when we're starting to do sponsor stuff. I'll try to keep up with it. Hopefully he's in the running and, if so, I might be late to one or two obligations if Jimmie is leading that thing coming down to the end."

      Not to throw cold water on Elliott's expectations, but in 105 previous Indy 500s, only two drivers have won from 12th on the grid -- Johnson's starting spot.

      And only 10 rookies have won the most prestigious IndyCar race. Alexander Rossi was the last to do so in 2016.

      Ty Gibbs charges from the rear to take second on Saturday

      Josh Berry may have won Saturday's NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway by a wide margin, but then again, he had a massive head start on second-place finisher Ty Gibbs.

      Berry started fourth in the Alsco Uniforms 300 at the 1.5-mile track. Gibbs, on the other hand, started at the rear of the field in a repaired No. 54 Toyota after hitting the wall in Friday's practice and failing to make a qualifying run.

      By the end of Stage 2, Gibbs had worked his way up to seventh, and though he was no match for the race winner, his second-place run was a triumph of sorts, given the adversity he faced.

      "We were just a little slower than those guys, and I was too tight (in the) center (of the corners)," Gibbs said. "Our guys worked really hard overnight to get this thing ready, so I'm very thankful to my guys.

      "Just need to be able to rotate the center of the corner. That's where we were lacking the most and that's where we got beat. But we held onto a second-place finish. We'll take that -- solid day."

      Solid, yes, but not satisfying.

      "No, never satisfied unless you win, and you can make mistakes and win too, but you have to fix those," Gibbs said. "If not, then you shouldn't be here."

      NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying - 63rd Annual COCA-COLA 600

      Charlotte Motor Speedway

      Concord, North Carolina

      Saturday, May 28, 2022

      1. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 183.680 mph.

      2. (45) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 183.661 mph.

      3. (20) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 183.655 mph.

      4. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 183.505 mph.

      5. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 182.927 mph.

      6. (2) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 182.303 mph.

      7. (23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 182.291 mph.

      8. (8) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 182.199 mph.

      9. (48) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 182.168 mph.

      10. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 181.087 mph.

      11. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      12. (99) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      13. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      14. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 0.000 mph.

      15. (14) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      16. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      17. (21) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      18. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      19. (17) Chris Buescher, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      20. (31) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      21. (41) Cole Custer, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      22. (1) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      23. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      24. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      25. (43) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      26. (15) Ryan Preece(i), Ford, 0.000 mph.

      27. (16) Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      28. (42) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      29. (47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      30. (38) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      31. (78) BJ McLeod, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      32. (77) Josh Bilicki(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      33. (51) Cody Ware, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      34. (50) Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      35. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 0.000 mph.

      36. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      37. (7) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Colton Herta cleared for Indy 500 after Friday crash
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, May 28, 2022

    Colton Herta was cleared to race in Sunday's Indianapolis 500, one day after crashing during the final day of practice.

    • Andretti Autosport made the announcement Saturday on Twitter.

      "Colton Herta has been officially cleared by INDYCAR medical to participate in tomorrow's Indianapolis 500," the racing team said of its driver.

      The 22-year-old, who is the son of former open-wheel driver Bryan Herta, walked away from the crash uninjured on Friday.

      Herta's Honda wiggled in Turn 1 and then hit the wall, briefly went airborne and landed on its top late in the session on Carb Day.

      Herta said after the crash that he though he went "a little too fast for that corner."

      After the crash, Herta's team began preparing his backup car for the race.

      This will be Herta's fourth Indy 500 start. He finished in 16th place last year. His best finish was eighth in 2020.

      --Field Level Media

  • Colton Herta uninjured after practice crash at Indy 500
    By Field Level Media / Friday, May 27, 2022

    Colton Herta walked away from a crash uninjured on Friday during the final day of practice for Sunday's Indianapolis 500.

    • Herta's Honda wiggled in Turn 1 and then hit the wall, briefly went airborne and landed on its top late in the session on Carb Day.

      Herta, 22, said he thinks he went "a little too fast for that corner," but the Andretti Autosport driver said he was feeling fine.

      "Thankful for a lot of things," Herta said of the crash. "I guess the aeroscreen is part of that. More so the safety crew, and I guess just the durability of the side pods on the side structure of the cars. That was a big hit from the side. Yeah, the safety crews were there very fast flipping me back over."

      Herta's team immediately went to the garage to begin preparing his backup car for the race.

      Meanwhile, 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan turned in the top speed at 227.114 mph in a Honda. His Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson was second at 227.004, also in a Honda.

      "We've been happy with the car all week," Kanaan said. "That is no secret that the cars are good. We did a few pit stops there, run a couple things. But honestly, we didn't change anything."

      The 33 drivers in the field combined to run 1,590 laps on Friday.

      Scott Dixon of Ganassi is the polesitter for Sunday's race.

      --Field Level Media

  • Formula 1 not replacing Russian Grand Prix
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 18, 2022

    Formula 1 will not replace the Russian Grand Prix on its 2022 schedule.

    • The Sept. 25 race in Sochi was canceled in February following the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

      The F1 season will now consist of 22 races instead of the originally planned 23.

      There had been speculation that Singapore, host of the Oct. 2 race, might add an additional event to fill the gap on the calendar.

      The season ends with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Nov. 20 in the United Arab Emirates.

      Charles Leclerc leads the F1 standings with 104 points through five races, followed by Max Verstappen (85) and Sergio Perez (66).

      --Field Level Media

  • Christopher Bell claims NASCAR Cup pole in Kansas
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, May 14, 2022

    KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Christopher Bell became his own self-fulfilling prophecy in winning the pole position for Sunday's AdventHealth 400 at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

    • "I think it's a great track for me," Bell said in a question-and-answer session with reporters before NASCAR Cup Series qualifying. "I got my first Xfinity win here. Cup cars haven't been great to me here, but I've ran really well.

      "The top is going to be the place to be. I think everybody knows that. The thing is, as this track ages, it seems like the top gets more and more dominant, and it gets a little tough to pass. So keeping your track position, pit stops and qualifying effort is going to be really important."

      In the first round of qualifying, Bell ran higher on the track than any other driver in Group B and sped to a session-fast time of 30.079 seconds (179.527 mph). In the 10-driver final round, he ran .004 seconds faster, securing his third career pole -- all earned this season -- with a lap at 179.575 mph.

      Tyler Reddick qualified second after observing Bell's opening run and adjusting to a higher line. Reddick clocked in at 30.192 seconds (178.855 seconds) in the final round and felt he left a little bit of speed on the track.

      Kyle Larson (178.772 mph) will start third on Sunday, followed by Daytona 500 winner Austin Cindric (178.448 mph) and Kurt Busch (178.359 mph), who was fastest in Saturday's practice.

      Joey Logano, Chris Buescher and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. did not make qualifying attempts after crashing during practice.

      Defending race winner Kyle Busch, Aric Almirola, Alex Bowman, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Blaney will start Sunday's race from positions six through 10, respectively.

      Interestingly, the top three qualifiers on Saturday all come from dirt-track backgrounds, and they all will be fighting for position at the top of the track.

      --Issues with left rear tires plague NASCAR Cup final practice

      Lower-than-recommended tire pressures and aggressive camber combined to cause issues with left rear tires during both sessions of final NASCAR Cup Series practice on Saturday afternoon.

      Blaney, Denny Hamlin and Buescher all had flat left rears during the "A" group session at Kansas Speedway.

      Blaney and Hamlin were able to keep their cars away from the wall. Buescher wasn't as fortunate. His No. 17 Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford suffered extensive damage from a hard hit against the outside SAFER barrier at the 1.5-mile track.

      "I lost the left rear going down the frontstretch," said Buescher, whose team rolled out a backup car. "I guess, on corner entry, I started feeling a vibration, tried to slow down and didn't get it knocked down in time.

      "...It's going to be a long night."

      Both Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Joey Logano pounded the outside wall during the "B" group session. Stenhouse, who was running near the fence, backed into the outside wall. Logano spun and pancaked the driver's side of his No. 22 Ford.

      "As soon as I turned down off into the corner, I could feel the shaking, and I knew it was bad," said Logano, who will start from the rear in a backup car on Sunday. "We'll be all right. We'll fight through it. I think we were pretty decent in lap times before that, I believe, on long hauls, at least.

      "If we keep the tires on it, I guess we'll be all right."

      Tire maker Goodyear recommended 22 pounds of pressure in the left rears. Teams typically opt for lower pressures in an attempt to improve mechanical grip.

      --Reddick hopes to find speed near the wall at Kansas

      The consensus among NASCAR Cup Series drivers is that Kansas Speedway bears greatest similarity to Las Vegas when it comes to comparisons between 1.5-mile intermediate track.

      Reddick, on the other hand, sees a kinship between Kansas and Homestead-Miami Speedway, and that suits him just fine. After all, Reddick won both his NASCAR Xfinity Series championships (2018 and 2019) by winning the season finale at Homestead.

      And, like Homestead, Kansas affords Reddick the opportunity to run the line he prefers-up against the wall.

      "In a lot of ways, with how much grip that this place has throughout the run and the lack of fall-off, you need to be comfortable running the wall like you do at Homestead," Reddick said before Saturday's practice for the AdventHealth 400. "I feel like you don't have to be quite as close to the wall to still get some of the aero effects and be running a good lap and a good time.

      "It is a lot like Vegas in some ways, too. The temperatures (at Kansas) are going to kind of warmer than we had at Vegas. Who knows what happens Sunday, weather-wise and everything like that? As it cools off, maybe more lanes open up, and the bottom catches up and the middle catches up."

      But Reddick will be content if the top lane continues to be the dominant one on Sunday.

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Austin Dillon to star in reality series for USA Network
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, May 14, 2022

    A reality series featuring NASCAR driver Austin Dillon, his family and friends will debut in June on USA Network.

    • "Austin Dillon's Life In The Fast Lane" will give fans a look inside the life of Dillon, wife Whitney and their son, Ace. Best friends Paul and Mariel Swan also will be featured.

      "Fans will get a front-row seat to every high-stakes race, heartwarming family moment, and all the hilarious adventures that contribute to his prowess behind the wheel," the network said in a news release.

      The half-hour series premieres on June 23 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT.

      Dillon, 32, drives the No. 3 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Childress is his grandfather. He is a three-time winner in the NASCAR Cup Series, including the 2018 Daytona 500, and has qualified for the NASCAR Playoffs four times (2016-18 and 2020).

      He also has nine career wins in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and seven in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He won the 2013 Xfinity and 2011 Truck Series championships.

      --Field Level Media

  • Matt Kenseth tops NASCAR Hall of Fame 2023 class
    By Field Level Media / Wednesday, May 4, 2022

    Driver Matt Kenseth was selected on his first time on the ballot and highlights the NASCAR Hall of Fame 2023 class.

    • Also selected for induction were crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine and driver Hershel McGriff.

      The induction ceremony is Jan. 20 at Charlotte, N.C.

      The 50-year-old Kenseth won the Daytona 500 twice (2009, 2012) and totaled 39 Cup victories in 18 full-time seasons on the track. He retired in 2020.

      "It's obviously a huge honor just to be on a list or to be under consideration, but to be voted in really means a lot to me," Kenseth said. "It's kind of like the bookend of your career.

      "It's not for anything you did today, but what you did throughout your career. Kind of like the perfect bookend. To go into the Hall of Fame when everything is said and done and all over, to kind of look back at it, it's pretty neat."

      Kenseth, who won the Cup Series championship in 2003, received 69 percent of the Modern Era votes.

      Shelmerdine received 52 percent of the Modern Era votes in his third year on the ballot.

      The 64-year-old spent 16 years as a crew chief, and won four Cup Series championships (1986, 1987, 1990, 1991) with the late Dale Earnhardt. The championships came while working with car owner Richard Childress.

      "Racing at the level we were at, the things we were trying to do took everything you had and then some," Shelmerdine said. "That was pretty much all you did. But the longer away it gets to be, the tougher it is to express how much it meant to us at the time and nowadays. It feels really good to get some kind of fresh recognition for it, because it was pretty big for us back then and in our aging minds it still is."

      McGriff, 94, received 31 percent of the vote in the Pioneer Ballot, edging out A.J. Foyt. It was his seventh time on the ballot.

      McGriff started racing in 1950 and his final race was in the NASCAR Pro Series West at Tucson in 2018 at age 90. He had the longest driving career in the sport.

      "Racing has always been in me," McGriff said. "It was always been about the sport."

      --Field Level Media

  • Chris Buescher captures pole ahead of race in Dover
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, April 30, 2022

    Chris Buescher earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series pole position at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway Saturday and will lead the field to green in Sunday's DuraMAX Drydene 400 (3 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

    • The driver of the No. 17 Roush Fenway Keselowski Racing Ford turned a fast lap of 159.207 mph around the concrete Monster Mile - the second of the 10 final qualifiers to go in the final session. The 29-year old Texan's time was .057-second faster than Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota.

      This is Buescher's first pole position in 233 NASCAR Cup Series race starts.

      "That's just awesome right there,'' a smiling Buescher said after watching the final session on pit road.

      "That was a good effort during practice. (His teammate) Brad (Keselowski) went out there and put down some really great laps and came over and saw some things, relayed it and everyone did a good job working on this thing and got our Fastenal Mustang on the front row so that's a heckuva start.

      "Good to do that here in Dover. I love this place. It's a ride. We're flying around here.''

      Hendrick Motorsports drivers Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will start from the second row, followed by Team Penske's Ryan Blaney and defending race winner, Hendrick's Alex Bowman.

      Last week's Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway race winner Ross Chastain -- fastest in the opening round of time trails -- will start seventh alongside Daniel Suarez. Bubba Wallace and Kyle Busch will round out the Top-10 starters in a pair of Toyotas.

      Austin Cindric was fastest in practice but did not advance to the final qualifying round. He was the fastest rookie qualifier and will start the No. 2 Team Penske Ford from 12th position.

      Kevin Harvick, one of three three-time Dover race winners, was 11th fastest in qualifying just missing the final round. It will be his highest starting position in the last three races. The driver of the No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford is looking to score his first win since Sept. 19, 2020 (at Bristol, Tenn.) - 53 races ago. He won at Dover, Del. that same year.

      ACTION-PACKED PRACTICE

      Four drivers did not make NASCAR Cup Series qualifying laps on Saturday. William Byron, rookies Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton and Josh Bilicki all had incidents during practice and will go to back-up cars for the race.

      Byron, a two-race winner in 2022, had an incident in the opening minutes of his practice session and hit the wall hard enough that his No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team immediately knew it would need to prepare a back-up car. He will start 33rd among the 36 cars.

      "Just hate it for our guys more than anything,'' said Byron, who is ranked third in the championship standings.

      "Have to pull out a back-up car obviously. The primary was probably going to be really fast and I know our back-up car can be just as fast and we can still go and try to win on Sunday. But just a little bit over-confident on my end (in the accident).''

      Gilliland and Bilicki made contact with the wall early in the opening practice. Byron and Burton had their trouble in the second practice session. Tyler Reddick, spun twice in that session but did not need to go to a second car. He will start the No. 8 Richard Childress Racing 26th.

      BACK HOME AGAIN FOR TRUEX

      Dover Motor Speedway is a special place to Martin Truex Jr. It's the New Jersey native's "home track" and also the place where the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series champion fittingly earned his first premier series victory in 2007.

      Truex, driver of the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, joins teammate Kyle Busch and Stewart-Haas Racing's Harvick as three-time Dover race winners - most among active drivers in the series.

      "Having experience around this track brings confidence to know what you might want is important, but we only have 20 minutes (of practice) to figure that out -- figure out how to get that in the car and not have a lot of ability to change the big things,'' said Truex, who qualified 18th.

      BUSCH'S FUTURE

      Two-time former NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch was asked about comments he made last week saying he was unsure of his future with the Joe Gibbs Racing team. He is in the middle of negotiating a new contract with the team and last week deferred reporters' questions about his status to the team.

      Asked on Saturday if he's had any more talk with JGR in the last week, Busch said, "yeah, there were some discussions and such,'' adding, "There is nothing to elaborate on, it's all good.''

      Busch, a three-time Dover winner, will start the No. 18 JGR Toyota 10th.

      ROSS CHASTAIN OFF TO A GREAT START

      Ross Chastain has earned his first two NASCAR Cup Series race victories in just the past five weeks - a career first win at Austin's Circuit of the Americas' road course on March 27 and answered it with a win on the series' biggest track, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway last weekend.

      Both Chastain's wins in the No. 1 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet came on last lap passes. It's been quite a season debut for Chastain with the Trackhouse Racing team. And Chastain, who had a reputation for a more aggressive racing style earlier in this career, says he's learned from that and made an effort to race differently.

      "It's all about being there at the end,'' said Chastain, who is ninth in the championship. "There were opportunities in both of those races to take ourselves out and it didn't happen. Now there have been other races this year that small mistakes added up to us not winning and we had the same opportunity to.

      "I'm not perfect. I'm human. There's mistakes and we've had a great start to the season and stats look great, but there's mistakes in there that I've also learned from this year. Continue to evolve that is tough. I mean, this is the best group of race car drivers in the world, in my opinion. Any mistake and they exploit it.''

      INSPECTION UPDATE

      Only one car had issues during pre-qualifying inspection for Sunday's race. The No. 42 Petty GMS Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Ty Dillon failed inspection twice, costing the team pit selection. One crew member was also ejected for the race.

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Denny Hamlin ordered to undergo sensitivity training
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 26, 2022

    Denny Hamlin has been ordered by NASCAR to undergo sensitivity training after he put up a social-media post considered offensive.

    • Hamlin directed a post toward fellow driver Kyle Larson on Monday that featured a clip making fun of a female Asian driver. Hamlin superimposed Larson's name over the character.

      Larson was born in the United States but his mother is Japanese-American.

      Hamlin deleted the post Monday night after drawing criticism.

      "I took down a post I made earlier today after reading some of the comments. It was a poor choice of memes and I saw how it was offensive. It came across totally wrong. I apologize," Hamlin said.

      NASCAR said it informed Hamlin on Tuesday about the expectation that he immediately start a sensitivity course.

      Hamlin's post was related to Sunday's GEICO 500 at Talladega, Ala., when Hamlin took objection to Larson's late-race maneuvers.

      Larson's actions caused Kurt Busch to crash and also affected Bubba Wallace. Both Busch and Wallace drive for 23XI Racing, co-owned by Hamlin.

      Toyota, which has an affiliation with Hamlin, also issued a statement on Tuesday.

      "We have spoken with Denny Hamlin regarding his tweet from yesterday. Toyota supports NASCAR's decision to mandate sensitivity training for Denny and we will all move forward together."

      --Field Level Media

  • Christopher Bell captures pole at Talladega
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, April 23, 2022

    Joe Gibbs Racing driver Christopher Bell earned his second career NASCAR Cup Series pole position with a lap of 180.92 mph around the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Saturday morning - just edging his teammate Martin Truex Jr., by a scant .081-second.

    • The all-JGR Toyota front row marks the first time the team has swept top qualifying honors (in a qualifying session) at Talladega. The teammates will lead the field to green in Sunday's GEICO 500 (3 p.m. ET, FOX, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

      "I can't say I got anything (picking up speed) that was all my crew guys. I'm just very thankful to be in the position I am driving for Joe Gibbs Racing,'' said Bell, whose best Talladega finish in four starts is fifth in last fall's race.

      "We've got a great team and this one is a pretty big thank you to [executive] Andy Graves at TRD (Toyota Racing Development). We ride him pretty hard, but I'll give this engine a 10, Andy.''

      Asked if he thought the wind gusts at the track ultimately made a difference in his pole-winning speed, the 27-year-old smiled and said, "it didn't hurt.''

      "Even from the first round to the second round I could tell my RPMs picked up really big going down the back straightaway then they were pretty flat going down the front straightaway, so I don't' know if it was an advantage to me, but definitely didn't hurt,'' said Bell, whose previous pole position came in March at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

      The 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Daniel Hemric -- held the top qualifying position until the final two cars in the second round (Truex and Bell) and will start third in the No. 16 Kaulig Racing Chevrolet. Daniel Suarez was fourth fastest in the No. 99 Trackhouse Racing Chevrolet and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Larson was fifth fastest in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports. None of these top-five qualifiers has ever won a NASCAR Cup Series race at the track.

      Toyota drivers Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin, Chevrolet's William Byron, Toyota's Bubba Wallace and Chevrolet's Tyler Reddick rounded out the top-10 for Sunday's grid.

      Of note, the top qualifying Ford driver was Joey Logano, who will roll off 13th in the No. 22 Team Penske Mustang on Sunday. Defending race winner, Brad Keselowski will start his No. 6 Roush Fenway Keselowski Ford from 15th position on the grid.

      Keselowski is the winningest driver in the field with six victories.

      BUBBA WALLACE RETURNS TO TRACK OF FIRST CUP VICTORY

      Bubba Wallace earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory at Talladega Superspeedway last fall, yet the driver of the No. 23 23XI Toyota said he can't help but re-live the huge moment in his career. Often. And it is a huge motivation this week.

      "To be honest with you, I sit here and think about it a lot and people put so much emphasis on the win,'' said Wallace, who advanced to final round qualifying and will start ninth for Sunday's race.

      "We talk about it, talk about it, talk about it and it builds up. I just like to keep it low key under the radar. That's how I like to roll about life. Some people may disagree, but it is special to be here. I'm excited.

      "I know how good our speedway cars are and if (spotter) Freddie (Kraft) and I do what we can do at these speedway races like we've been doing then, I know we will have a shot to win. It's a team effort. ... As long as we stay in the race and maintain where we are at and just have a fighting chance, it will be a good day.

      "That's what I look forward to the most.''

      Wallace's only top-10 of 2022 is a runner-up finish in the season-opening DAYTONA 500 on the other "big track" on the schedule.

      NASCAR CUP SERIES QUALIFYING INSPECTION

      Three cars had problems in the pre-qualifying inspection for the NASCAR Cup Series. The No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Martin Truex Jr and the No. 47 JTG Daugherty Chevrolet driven by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. both failed inspection twice and will lose pit selection.

      A crew member from each team was also ejected.

      The No. 77 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Landon Cassill failed inspection three times and has lost pit selection, lost the chance to qualify for the race, been issued a drive-through penalty in the race and had a crew member ejected.

      EARNHARDT OUT FRONT ON XFINITY SERIES GRID

      Sentimental favorites will lead the field to green in Saturday afternoon's NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Talladega. Jeffrey Earnhardt, grandson of the track's all-time winningest driver, NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt, won the pole position for the Ag-Pro 300 and one of his late grandfather's former crew chiefs, Larry McReynolds, will be calling the race from the pit box.

      It's the first time the Alabama-native McReynolds has served as crew chief after a heralded career in the role in the 1980s and ‘90s. He has worked as an analyst for FOX Sports NASCAR broadcasts and hosted shows on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

      The pole-winning result for the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet is a career first for the 32-year old Earnhardt, who is running a part-time Xfinity Series schedule this year. His career best result is third place at Charlotte in 2019 driving for the Joe Gibbs Racing team.

      "I tell ya, this is unbelievable man,'' Earnhardt said after qualifying. "This is a dream of mine for years, to get this opportunity and everything else falling in place. The good Lord is taking care of us.''

      In nine previous Talladega Xfinity Series starts, his best finish is 12th in 2015.

      "I'm proud of him to get these opportunities and hope he makes the best of it today,'' Jeffrey's uncle, Dale Earnhardt Jr. said.

      NASCAR Cup Series Qualifying - 53rd Annual GEICO 500

      Talladega Superspeedway

      Talladega, Ala.

      Saturday, April 23, 2022

      1. (20) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 180.928 mph.

      2. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 180.652 mph.

      3. (16) Daniel Hemric(i), Chevrolet, 179.929 mph.

      4. (99) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 179.885 mph.

      5. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 179.817 mph.

      6. (45) Kurt Busch, Toyota, 179.814 mph.

      7. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 179.635 mph.

      8. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 179.608 mph.

      9. (23) Bubba Wallace, Toyota, 179.541 mph.

      10. (8) Tyler Reddick, Chevrolet, 179.329 mph.

      11. (31) Justin Haley, Chevrolet, 178.944 mph.

      12. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 178.940 mph.

      13. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 178.750 mph.

      14. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 178.650 mph.

      15. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 178.570 mph.

      16. (43) Erik Jones, Chevrolet, 178.563 mph.

      17. (14) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 178.540 mph.

      18. (2) Austin Cindric #, Ford, 178.480 mph.

      19. (1) Ross Chastain, Chevrolet, 178.467 mph.

      20. (42) Ty Dillon, Chevrolet, 178.361 mph.

      21. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 178.297 mph.

      22. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 178.181 mph.

      23. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 178.178 mph.

      24. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 178.155 mph.

      25. (21) Harrison Burton #, Ford, 178.112 mph.

      26. (47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 177.986 mph.

      27. (48) Alex Bowman, Chevrolet, 177.950 mph.

      28. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevrolet, 177.531 mph.

      29. (41) Cole Custer, Chevrolet, 177.521 mph.

      30. (17) Chris Buescher, Ford, 177.452 mph.

      31. (62) Noah Gragson(i), Chevrolet, 177.369 mph.

      32. (38) Todd Gilliland #, Ford, 176.751 mph.

      33. (7) Corey LaJoie, Chevrolet, 176.663 mph.

      34. (51) Cody Ware, Ford, 175.138 mph.

      35. (44) Greg Biffle, Chevrolet, 174.773 mph.

      36. (15) David Ragan, Ford, 173.736 mph.

      37. (78) BJ McLeod, Ford, 173.702 mph.

      38. (55) JJ Yeley(i), Ford, 172.038 mph.

      39. (77) Landon Cassill(i), Chevrolet, 0.000 mph.

      --By Holly Cain, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Charge from back nets Cole Custer first pole on Bristol Dirt
    By Field Level Media / Saturday, April 16, 2022

    BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Cole Custer charged from ninth to second in the first of four 15-lap qualifying heat races on Saturday to earn the pole position for Sunday night's Food City Dirt Race at the Bristol Motor Speedway Dirt track (7 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

    • Custer surged from fifth to second moments after a restart with six laps left in the qualifying race. He finished second to Tyler Reddick, who took the lead from Ross Chastain on Lap 5.

      Custer scored 16 points under a format that combines passing points with points scored based on finishing position. In earning his first career NASCAR Cup Series Busch Light pole, Custer scored nine points for his runner-up run and seven passing points for advancing from ninth to second.

      "The guys did a great job guessing right on the track," Custer said. "It's so much different than practice, and we hit on it. It's just awesome, first career pole, I never thought I'd get my first career pole at a dirt race."

      Dirt track ace Christopher Bell will start from the outside of the front row after winning the second heat from the fifth starting position. Bell worked the bottom of the track adroitly and passed Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for the lead on Lap 10.

      Bell earned 14 points for his effort to edge Reddick, who won the first heat from the fourth starting spot, worth 13 points. Reddick will start third with Chase Briscoe, Custer's Stewart-Haas Racing teammate to his outside.

      Briscoe started seventh and finished third in Qualifying Race No. 2 to earn 12 points. Kyle Larson, whose dirt track resume includes victories in the Chili Bowl Nationals, Knoxville Nationals and Kings Royal, among others, earned the fifth starting position in an owner points tiebreaker over Justin Haley (sixth) and Ty Dillon (seventh), who won the third and fourth heats, respectively, both from second on the grid.

      "I feel like we had the toughest heat race," said Larson, who started sixth and came home third in Heat 4. "I was happy to get to third. My car doesn't feel bad. The track will go through a lot of changes tomorrow, so just keep up with that and adjust your driving style accordingly."

      Alex Bowman, series leader Chase Elliott and defending race winner Joey Logano claimed the final three starting spots in the top 10.

      Difference in Bristol Dirt from 2021 to 2022? Like night and day

      To hear Ryan Blaney tell it, there's not a lot of continuity between the Food City Dirt Race from 2021 and the one scheduled this year on Easter Sunday (7 p.m. ET on FOX, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

      In the first place, this year's event will take place at night, rather than during daylight hours. And Sunday's race also will feature NASCAR's Next Gen Cup Series race car, which has features that weren't part of the Gen 6 version that raced in 2021 -- including a five-speed sequential transmission, rack-and-pinion steering and an independent rear suspension.

      Accordingly, the notebooks drivers and crew chiefs built last year won't have a great degree of relevance when it comes to racing on Sunday night.

      "The car is obviously different," Blaney said on Friday during a question-and-answer session in the Bristol Motor Speedway media center. "The tire is way different. The tire is way better this year, honestly. It's got way more grip, and you can actually drive it more, so I don't know if you can compare much like car-to-car, setup-to-setup.

      "But just knowing the trends of how the race went last year, maybe that applies to this year, so you try to look at the trends of the race track and all that. But the track is a lot smoother than what it was last year, so that's nice. There's not a lot you can compare."

      Blaney spun during the first qualifying heat on Saturday, finished sixth and will start 25th in Sunday's race.

      Short Strokes

      NASCAR announced Saturday that Pinty's Delicious Foods has extended its entitlement sponsorship of Canada's largest national motorsports series for five years, through 2026. Pinty's first took over the naming rights of the NASCAR Pinty's Series in 2016, after entering the sport as a contingency sponsor in 2012 ...

      Speedway Motorsports, Inc., president and chief operating officer Marcus Smith announced the revival of North Wilkesboro Speedway, which will host a series of events in August on the old .625-mile asphalt, followed by dirt-track racing in October after the asphalt has been removed. The plan is to repave the short track in 2023, with an eye toward hosting a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race there -- perhaps in 2024. NASCAR last raced at North Wilkesboro in 1996.

      --By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media.

  • Jimmie Johnson undergoes hand surgery, won't miss races
    By Field Level Media / Tuesday, April 12, 2022

    Jimmie Johnson said he doesn't plan to miss any races after undergoing surgery to repair a fractured right hand.

    • Johnson had the surgery Monday in Charlotte, N.C.

      Johnson, 46, fractured the hand Friday during a practice crash at the Grand Prix of Long Beach. He updated his situation on Twitter on Tuesday.

      "From Long Beach to the operating room. Good news is I plan to be ready for the @IMS test in 9 days and Barber on May 1st. Thank you to all the medical staff involved."

      Barber is a reference to the next IndyCar event on the schedule -- the Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park.

      IMS refers to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There will be testing on April 20-21 at the famed Brickyard track.

      Johnson, a seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion, continues to make the transition to IndyCar and has his eyes on racing in the Indianapolis 500 on May 29.

      Despite the hand injury, Johnson competed in the race on the streets of Long Beach and finished 20th. He completed 73 of 85 laps.

      --Field Level Media