NASCAR: Kurt Busch to join 23XI Racing in 2022

PRESS RELEASE:

Mooresville, NC (August 27, 2021) – Today 23XI Racing announced that 2017 Daytona 500 winner Kurt Busch has signed with the organization to pilot the No. 45 Monster Energy TRD Camry beginning with the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season.

Busch joins 23XI Racing for his 23rd season in the NASCAR Cup Series following a three year stint with Chip Ganassi Racing where he drove the No. 1 car. The 2004 Cup Series champion comes to 23XI Racing with 33 Cup Series wins and 326 top-10 finishes throughout his career.

“I cannot begin to express my gratitude for this opportunity,” said Busch. “Racing to win is what I live for. Helping to continue developing a new team, alongside Michael Jordan, Denny Hamlin, and Toyota is exactly what I want to be part of. Winning is important to 23XI, it’s important to Monster Energy, and it’s important to me. That is our goal.”

“When we started this team, our vision was to grow to a multi-car organization. To be able to expand in just our second year is a huge step for us,” said 23XI Racing co-owner Denny Hamlin. “Kurt brings a wealth of knowledge and a championship mindset to our team, and will be able to help us grow stronger and more competitive each and every week.”

Monster Energy will join Busch at 23XI Racing and serve as the primary partner of the No. 45 TRD Camry.

“Joining up with 23XI Racing is a perfect fit for our core values at Monster Energy,” said Monster Energy CMO Dan McHugh. “The formation of the team marks a new chapter in motorsports and will unlock a wealth of opportunities to create exciting initiatives for fans. We are also very happy to continue our sponsorship with Kurt Busch who has been a member of the Monster family for many years.”

Additional partners and team personnel for the No. 45 TRD Camry team will be announced at a later date.

-23XI Racing-

 

NASCAR: Ryan Blaney holds off powers of Hendrick to win at Michigan

With his win at Michigan, Ryan Blaney has now won multiple NASCAR Cup Series races in a single season for the first time in his career.

Faced with a challenge from Hendrick Motorsports’ finest, Ryan Blaney made sure that Sunday’s Firekeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway was, instead, Penske material.

Blaney’s No. 12 Team Penske Ford took advantage of a late restart, taking his first lead of the day at lap 193 of 200. He then held off a furious rally from the HMS duo of William Byron and Kyle Larson long enough to earn his second win of the season and first since Atlanta in March. Blaney held off Byron by 0.077 seconds to secure the win and his first multi-victory season at the Cup level. Larson, leader of a race-high 70 laps, finished third while Kurt Busch and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Blaney started the afternoon in the third spot but quickly fell out of the top 15. His descent allowed HMS Chevrolets to take over. Chase Elliott won the first 60-lap stage in his No. 9 Chevrolet. Kyle Busch won the second stage for Joe Gibbs Racing but Elliott (8th), Byron, and Larson united to lead 136 of 200 laps. After Elliott faded after the second stage (pitting twice within 13 laps for tires), Byron and Larson appeared to do battle for the final victory.

Two late caution flags, however, set up late dramatics. A brief stop for rain set up a 16-lap shootout which was interrupted by a multi-car get-together that took out Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Christopher Bell, and Josh Berry (who was subbing for Corey LaJoie in the No. 7 Spire Motorsports Chevrolet due to COVID-19 protocols). Blaney was situated in the fourth spot when the race went green again with eight to go after the chaos.

Using a strong push from Kyle Busch (7th), Blaney managed to clear the front row of Byron and Kurt Busch to secure the lead. He then held off Hendrick’s finest, denying them their 12th victory of the season. Blaney also allowed the Ford Motor Company to keep a dominant streak at MIS alive. Those repping the blue oval have now won seven straight races in Brooklyn.

Sunday’s race at Michigan was the penultimate race of the NASCAR Cup Series’ regular season. All but one spot in the 16-seed playoff field has been clinched as Kevin Harvick (14th) secured his spot on points. One final spot is up for grabs at the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at the famed Daytona International Speedway on Saturday (7 p.m. ET, NBC).

Tyler Reddick (29th) missed an opportunity to expand his hold on the final seed after his teammate Austin Dillon (36th) was involved in a wreck after stage two ended, as contact with Brad Keselowski put him into the wall. Reddick leads Dillon by 22 points for the final spot, though he would lose it if a winless driver inside the top 30 in points managed to win at Daytona.

For full results, click HERE

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NASCAR Cup Series at Michigan: Everything you need to know for Sunday’s FireKeepers Casino 400

After back-to-back road course races, the NASCAR Cup Series will return to oval racing on Sunday with the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway.

Sunday’s race will last 200 laps around the 2-mile speedway with stage breaks at laps 60 and 120. Michigan International Speedway is one of the fastest tracks on the NASCAR circuit with speeds near 200mph going into the corners. Both turns have 18 degrees of banking.

NASCAR has applied resin to the racing surface in both turns in an attempt to create more racing. The sanctioning body last applied resin at Nashville Superspeedway, a concrete racing surface. Sunday’s race will be the first time resin is placed on an asphalt track instead of PJ1.

Teams will have seven sets of tires available with the Sunoco fuel window estimated around 46-51 laps.

Hendrick Motorsports teammates Kyle Larson and Chase Elliott will make up the front row to start the race. This is based on the qualifying metric, which is weighed between finishing position last week at Indianapolis (50%), points position (35%), and fastest lap from Indianapolis (15%).

Sunday’s Green flag is scheduled for 3:16 pm ET on NBCSN. Sunset is at 8:26 pm ET, but daylight shouldn’t be a factor unless unexpected weather hits the area. The Weather Channel predicts just a 15% chance of rain for the race.

The full FireKeepers Casino 400 starting lineup is below.

 

Position Driver Car Number Team
1 Kyle Larson 5 Hendrick
2 Chase Elliott 9 Hendrick
3 Ryan Blaney 12 Penske
4 Matt DiBenedetto 21 Wood Brothers
5 Martin Truex Jr. 19 Gibbs
6 Kurt Busch 1 Chip Ganassi
7 Kyle Busch 18 Gibbs
8 Kevin Harvick 4 Stewart-Haas
9 Denny Hamlin 11 Gibbs
10 Alex Bowman 48 Hendrick
11 Chris Bueshcer 17 Roush Fenway
12 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. 47 JTG Daugherty
13 Erik Jones 43 Richard Petty
14 Tyler Reddick 8 Richard Childress
15 Bubba Wallace 23 23XI
16 Ryan Newman 6 Roush Fenway
17 Justin Haley 77 Spire
18 William Byron 24 Hendrick
19 Joey Logano 22 Penske
20 Brad Keselowski 2 Penske
21 Chase Briscoe 14 Stewart-Haas
22 Ross Chastain 42 Chip Ganassi
23 Aric Almirola 10 Stewart-Haas
24 Josh Berry 7 Spire
25 Michael McDowell 34 Front Row
26 Austin Dillon 3 Richard Childress
27 Cole Custer 41 Stewart-Haas
28 Christopher Bell 20 Gibbs
29 Josh Bilicki 52 Rick Ware
30 Daniel Suarez 99 TrackHouse
31 Quin Houff 0 StarCom
32 Ryan Preece 37 JTG Daugherty
33 Garrett Smithley 53 Rick Ware
34 James Davison 15 Rick Ware
35 Anthony Alfredo 38 Front Row
36 BJ McLeod 78 Live Fast
37 Cody Ware 51 Rick Ware

NASCAR: A.J. Allmendinger wins wild debut on Indianapolis road course

The NASCAR Cup Series’ first race on Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course featured an upset win mired by late calamities.

Late carnage yielded an unlikely winner at the NASCAR Cup Series’ maiden voyage at Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s road course.

After the first 70-plus laps of Sunday’s Verizon 200 ran without major incident, a curb of calamity in the sixth turn took out numerous contenders in violent wrecks. In the end, it was A.J. Allmendinger, a NASCAR Xfinity Series regular running a part-time schedule that stole the victory in Kaulig Racing’s No. 16 Chevrolet. It’s the first win for Kaulig, an Xfinity team that is set to make the leap to the premier Cup Series next year, and Allmendinger’s first Cup win since August 2014 at Watkins Glen.

Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Chase Elliott, and Matt DiBenedetto rounded out the top five.

Sunday marked the Cup Series’ first road course endeavor at the legendary IMS, having run on its famous oval annually since 1994. Rumble strip curbs, made to prevent drivers from going into the trackside infield, in Turn 6 caused some trouble in yesterday’s Xfinity Series race. NASCAR removed one such rumble strip after that race but kept the rest of the curbing, including a relative “launchpad” that sent Kris Wright’s Xfinity car airborne.

The Turn 6 curbing was adjusted several times through the course of the race to clean up debris, but caused its biggest accident at lap 78. A 19-minute red flag period followed, during which a majority of the curbing was removed, though the launchpad stayed. Another wreck immediately ensued, setting up a second overtime session.

Rookie Chase Briscoe and Denny Hamlin led the field into the narrow first turn, during which Briscoe’s No. 14 Ford was sent through the nearby infield and back on the track. Briscoe was penalized for shortcutting the track but briefly continued to race Hamlin for the lead. In the ensuing battle, Hamin was spun out, giving third-place runner Allmendinger the opening he needed to steal the win. Briscoe and Hamlin shared a tense but ultimately peaceful confrontation on pit road.

The win was an emotional event for Allmendinger, who previously ran 11 years as a full-time Cup Series driver (2008-18). Allmendinger, made a name for himself as a professional racer on the open-wheel circuit, earning five wins on the Champ Car circuit. The 39-year-old is set to represent Kaulig Racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs this fall.

After consecutive weeks at road course, the NASCAR Cup Series returns to an oval next week at Michigan International Speedway’s FireKeepers Casino 400 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN). Two races remain in the Cup Series’ regular season, which will end on August 28 at Daytona.

For full results, click here

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags

NASCAR Cup: William Byron wins the Busch Pole for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard

With a time of 87.765, William Byron was fastest in Busch Pole qualifying for Sunday’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard in the NASCAR Cup Series. He’ll start next to Indiana native Chase Briscoe on the front row. Below is the entire starting lineup for the 82-lap dash (15/35/82 stages) at Indianapolis Motor Speedway this afternoon:

Starting Position:

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

13.

14.

15.

16.

17.

18.

19.

20.

21.

22.

23.

24.

25.

26.

27.

28.

29.

30.

31.

32.

33.

34.

35.

36.

37.

38.

39.

40.

 

Driver:

William Byron

Chase Briscoe

Chase Elliott

Kyle Larson

Daniel Suarez

Martin Truex Jr.

Joey Logano

AJ Allmendinger

Ross Chastain

Cole Custer

Tyler Reddick

Michael McDowell

Austin Cindric

Denny Hamlin

Matt DiBenedetto

Ryan Blaney

Christopher Bell

Aric Almirola

Chris Buescher

Kurt Busch

Kyle Busch

Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Austin Dillon

Alex Bowman

Kevin Harvick

Corey LaJoie

Bubba Wallace

Erik Jones

Justin Haley

Ryan Preece

Brad Keselowski

Ryan Newman

Anthony Alfredo

James Davison

Andy Lally

Josh Bilicki

Cody Ware

Quin Houff

Garrett Smithley

Timmy Hill

Car Number:

24

14

9

5

99

19

22

16

42

41

8

34

33

11

21

12

20

10

17

1

18

47

3

48

4

7

23

43

77

37

2

6

38

15

78

52

51

00

53

66

NASCAR: Team Penske, Ford continue 2021 misfortunes at Watkins Glen

Although the manufacturer picked up a victory in Loudon a few weeks ago, Ford returned to their struggles last weekend in the NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen, especially on the Team Penske front. Kevin Harvick was the highest finisher for Ford in 8th, while Penske’s highest finisher was Ryan Blaney in a modest 14th place.

Ford and Team Penske haven’t performed well on road courses this season, but both parties have struggled everywhere season. All three Team Penske drivers picked up victories before May, while the other two victories for Ford in 2021 came with Michael McDowell in the Daytona 500 and with Aric Almirola recently in Loudon. Ford went nearly three months without a victory, dating back to the end of April.

All four Stewart-Haas drivers were decent at Watkins Glen on Sunday as Cole Custer was the worst finisher on the team in 18th. However, all three Team Penske drivers really struggled. Brad Keselowski dealt with brake problems all afternoon, as wheel-hops sent him spinning multiple times. One of Keselowski’s spins took out teammate Joey Logano in turn one, forcing both drivers to pit with damage.

Logano won stage one of the race before pit stops shuffled him towards the middle of the field on the impending restart. The 31-year-old started to struggle in dirty air before being taken out by Keselowski, resulting in a 22nd place finish. Keselowski finished in 35th place, three laps down.

Blaney was the highest finisher of the three Team Penske cars but had issues of his own. He went for a spin in the bus stop on lap 25 and lost a lot of time, but rebounded to improve his finish.

Although Joey Logano has three top-5s on road courses this year, his teammates haven’t had nearly as much success as him. Blaney and Keselowski have one combined top-5 at road courses in 2021, and their finishes are trending downward.

“Our best road course this year was The Clash, but after that, we haven’t been great,” Blaney said prerace on Sunday. “Road America was a struggle for us, and we had our certain issues that we worked really hard to try and get better for this week (Watkins Glen). Hopefully they apply for this week, and we can make them even better for Indy next week, and then you hope you’re good for the ROVAL”.

While Blaney and the No. 12 team feel they could be headed in the right direction on road courses, Keselowski feels otherwise about his No. 2 team.

“There’s not a lot we can do with the rules freeze,” Keselowski said. “We’re kind of stuck where we are”.

With their wins earlier in the season, all three drivers are locked into the 2021 playoffs. However, with Ford and Team Penske struggling in the summer months, could the trio be headed for early playoff exits?

NASCAR Cup: Kyle Larson ties Denny Hamlin in points standings after win at Watkins Glen

After finishing 19th at Kansas in early May, Kyle Larson sat 9th in the NASCAR Cup Series standings with just one win and a 150 point deficit to leader Denny Hamlin. Twelve races and four more wins later, Larson has tied Hamlin for the points lead at 917 with three races to go in the regular season.

This may not seem significant; however, a scenario exists where Hamlin could miss out on the playoffs if Larson were to win the regular-season points title. If three new points-earning drivers were to score victories in the final three races of the regular season, Hamlin would miss the playoffs unless he beat Larson for the regular-season championship.

“It’s making me keep my form,” Hamlin said after his 5th place finish at Watkins Glen. “It’s really pushing me to treat every race like it’s a playoff race”.

Hamiln entered Sunday’s Go Bowling at the Glen with a 13-point advantage over Larson. However, despite the 5th place finish, Larson took five more stage points than Hamlin and scored the victory to tie his good friend for the Cup Series lead.

“It’d be nice to have a couple of good weeks and get that points lead,” Larson said on his battle with Hamlin coming down to the regular-season finale at Daytona. “I know he’s going to go [to Daytona], he’s going to get stage points, and challenge for the win.

Although Daytona is circled on Hamlin’s calendar as a great opportunity to score a win, Larson has Michigan International Speedway circled on his. He’s won three times in 12 starts at the fast 2.0-mile oval with all three wins coming consecutively between 2016 and 2017.

However, despite being winless this season, Hamlin isn’t letting that bother him as the playoffs near closer.

“It doesn’t worry me,” Hamlin said prerace on Sunday. “It’s just the battle with Larson that I’m focused on……[we’ve] been good. We’ve had crazy stuff happen to us. [We] had a lugnut flying in the air at Loudon, taking us out of contention where I thought we had the best car. We’re still consistent, we’re up front every week, we’re top-3-to-4 every week [and] it doesn’t matter what kind of race track”.

Hamlin and Larson’s battle for the regular-season points championship continues on Sunday at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

NASCAR Cup: Chase Elliott falls short in heroic effort at Watkins Glen

The fastest car in racing doesn’t always win.

That, unfortunately, was the case for Chase Elliott on Sunday, who finished second in the NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen after a whirlwind race. Elliott was expected to start the race in 11th place; however, a failure in prerace inspection sent him to the rear to start the race. Additionally, Alan Gustafson, Elliott’s crew chief, was ejected for the race and the team was docked 10 driver and owner points.

Elliott wasted no time making up ground, driving his No. 9 car all the way up to 8th place in 20 green flag laps for three stage points. He made a pit stop on lap 12 during the competition caution as well as another pit stop during the stage break.

However, Elliott was forced to make an unscheduled stop midway through the second stage. He flat-spotted his tires and was forced to make a trip down pit road, losing all of the time that he made up.

“[I need to] make less mistakes,” Elliott said. “[I can’t] flat spot the tires. That was ultimately the straw that broke it. It was my bad, completely my fault”.

Elliott fell many seconds behind the leader until the stage two caution allowed him to catch up. He was forced to start stage three towards the back of the field and race through traffic once again to catch the leaders.

With 15 laps to go, Elliott was within striking distance of leader Kyle Larson and second place car Martin Truex Jr. Elliott shaved nearly four seconds off Truex Jr. with eight laps to go, but lapped traffic gave Larson enough of a cushion to hold off Elliott.

“He was really fast,” Larson said. “[I was] just trying to judge the gap in my head and manage it and not make as many mistakes, and hopefully he wouldn’t be on my back bumper”.

Elliott’s second place finish at Watkins Glen is his third consecutive podium finish at the track, winning in both 2018 and 2019. He also scored his 13th top-10 finish of the 2021 season.

The NASCAR Cup Series returns to action next weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course.

NASCAR returns in familar fashion, as Kyle Larson takes Watkins Glen

Larson ended Chase Elliott’s monopoly on Schuyler County, leading the last 27 laps in the return of the NASCAR Cup Series.

We now return to our regularly scheduled NASCAR programming.

The NASCAR Cup Series ended two different pauses on Sunday at Watkins Glen International: Sunday’s Go Bowling at The Glen event not only ended a two-week hiatus for the circuit due to the Tokyo Olympics but also its return to Schuyler County. A Cup Series staple since 1986, WGI’s date was canceled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic last season. Sunday’s return produced a familiar result.

Kyle Larson led the final 26 laps of Sunday’s race, earning his series-best fifth victory of the year and his first at The Glen. Larson’s No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet denied teammate and defending Cup Series champion Chase Elliott a chance to become the first driver since Jeff Gordon to win three consecutive Cup races at The Glen (1997-99). Elliott did finish in the runner-up spot, marking the fourth time he and Larson have swept the top two positions this season.

Joe Gibbs Toyotas driven by Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch, and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.

Larson ran started the race in fourth behind the Team Penske Fords of Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano, and Ryan Blaney. Keselowski, the pole sitter, led the first nine laps before spinning, as his day was marred by brake issues. Logano’s No. 22 Ford would win the first of two 20-lap stages before giving way to Gibbs Toyotas. Over the second segment, Larson battled Truex and Christopher Bell for the lead, getting into trouble when contact spun the latter’s No. 20. Larson apologized to Bell, who recovered to finish seventh, during his postrace interview with NBC Sports.

Truex, winner of The Glen’s 2017 event, won the second stage and occupied the two spots with Larson when each of them made their final pit stop of the day with 33 laps to go. A strong service from the No. 5 crew allowed Larson to get off first, giving him the inside edge for the lead when pit stops cycled around. The resulting big interval, peaking at over 12 seconds, allowed him to hold off the charging No. 9 of Elliott, who sliced Larson’s lead down to 2.4 seconds after getting around Truex for the runner-up slot.

Elliott’s second-place run capped off a roller-coaster day for the No. 9 team. They were forced to start from the rear of the field after failing prerace inspection due to a faulty rear-window air deflector. Multiple failures led to the ejection of Elliott’s crew chief Alan Gustafson and the loss of 10 points in the championship standings (Bell dealt with the same issues, losing his crew chief Adam Stevens).

Larson has now earned five wins this season, breaking his previous career-best of four set during the 2017 season. Two of those wins have come at road courses, having previously won at Sonoma in June. This latest win also ties Larson for the Cup Series’ regular season points lead with Hamlin, who has yet to visit victory lane this season. Elliott’s seven wins on road courses, including the most recent at Road America, are good for third-best in Cup Series history, behind only fellow champions Gordon (9) and Tony Stewart (8).

Another road course lingers next week. The Cup Series will make its maiden voyage on the road course at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (1 p.m. ET, NBC).

For full results, click here

Geoff Magliocchetti is on Twitter @GeoffJMags 

NASCAR Cup Series at Watkins Glen: Starting lineup and race information

The NASCAR Cup Series travels to Watkins Glen International Speedway in Upstate New York for the Go Bowling at the Glen. Chase Elliott will look to win his third consecutive race at Watkins Glen, dating back to 2018 (NASCAR skipped the event last season because of COVID-19 protocals).

Sunday’s race is expected to go green at around 3:00pm ET on NBCSN with coverage beginning at 2:30pm. FS1 will air a special pre-race show beginning at 12:30pm. The race is expected to conclude around 5:30pm in time for IndyCar racing in Nashville.

Like most years, drivers will complete 90 laps around the 2.45-mile, 7-turn road course with hundreds of feet of elevation changes. Stage breaks will be at laps 20 and 40.

Below is Sunday’s starting lineup: (Position number, driver, car number)

  1. Brad Keselowski (2)
  2. Joey Logano (22)
  3. Ryan Blaney (12)
  4. Kyle Larson (5)
  5. Kevin Harvick (4)
  6. Denny Hamlin (11)
  7. Christopher Bell (20)
  8. Aric Almirola (10)
  9. Martin Truex Jr. (19)
  10. Alex Bowman (48)
  11. Chase Elliott (24)
  12. Ross Chastain (42)
  13. Tyler Reddick (8)
  14. Matt DiBenedetto (21)
  15. William Byron (24)
  16. Austin Dillon (3)
  17. Kurt Busch (1)
  18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (47)
  19. Cole Custer (41)
  20. Kyle Busch (18)
  21. Daniel Suarez (99)
  22. Erik Jones (43)
  23. Ryan Preece (37)
  24. Chris Buescher (17)
  25. Michael McDowell (34)
  26. Bubba Wallace (23)
  27. Chase Briscoe (14)
  28. Ryan Newman (6)
  29. Corey LaJoie (7)
  30. Justin Haley (77)
  31. Anthony Alfredo (38)
  32. Garrett Smithley (53)
  33. Kyle Tilley (78)
  34. Josh Bilicki (52)
  35. Quin Houff (00)
  36. James Davison (51)
  37. RC Enerson (15)