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XFINITY

Chase Elliott Drives Away to First NASCAR Nationwide Series Win

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) FORT WORTH, Tex. — When Chase Elliott took the checkered flag in Friday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, cementing his first NASCAR Nationwide Series victory, spotter Earl Barban had a message for him.

“I want to see the best burnout ever,” Barban told the 18-year-old son of former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Bill Elliott.

Chase Elliott obliged, laying a thick could of smoke from the exit of the tri-oval back to the flag stand.

Elliott had reason to celebrate. He had just beaten the top talents in the stock car racing universe, whipping around Kevin Harvick to the outside in Turn 4 to take the lead on Lap 185 of 200.

Ultimately, Elliott would pull away for the victory, finishing 2.666 seconds ahead of Kyle Busch, who ran second. Kyle Larson came home third, followed by Harvick, who lost ground after the last restart on Lap 178 of 200.

Elliott’s team owner at JR Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt Jr., finished fifth. Both Busch and Larson started from the rear of the field after failing to clear inspection before the first round of Friday afternoon knockout qualifying concluded. Elliott took the series lead by two points over JR Motorsports teammate Regan Smith, who ran seventh.

Harvick won the pole in the qualifying session. He also gave Elliott some advice that may have come back to haunt him.

“I can’t it believe it, man,” Elliott said after climbing from his car in Victory Lane. “It’s crazy. I went to him (Harvick) for a lot of advice this week, and helped me out, gave me some tips. … To pass him for the lead is really crazy. I can’t believe it. It’s awesome, and I can’t thank everybody enough.”

The win also vindicated Bill Elliott’s assessment of his son’s talent.

“I’m about speechless,” Elliott said. “I can’t thank Rick Hendrick, all the guys at HMS (Hendrick Motorsports), JR Motorsports for pulling this deal together, and (sponsor) NAPA for putting together at the last minute. Everything was on the fence all the way till January.

“I keep saying it. Never to have been at some of these places like Vegas, California and now here at Texas, and to come out and beat the kind of guys he beat — I’ll tell you what, you’ve done a heck of a job.”

Harvick led the first 86 laps, but lost the top spot to Busch in an excellent three-way battle that featured the same three drivers — Harvick, Busch and Larson — who fought for the win in Fontana, Calif., two weeks earlier, with Larson getting his first NNS victory.

Busch remained out front before and after the first cycle of green-flag pit stops around the midpoint of the race, but after a caution on Lap 121 for Chad Boat’s wreck on the frontstretch, the entire complexion of the race changed.

Busch restarted with the lead after a round of pit stops under the yellow but lost the lead to Elliott on Lap 135. Complaining of a tight handling condition, Harvick dropped from second to seventh before his car started to cooperate.

On Lap 155, Earnhardt passed Elliott for the lead and quickly extended his advantage to more than two seconds before Jamie Dick’s wreck on the backstretch caused the fifth caution on Lap 169.

Harvick, who had regained the fourth position during the 43-lap run after the restart, took advantage of a 12.4-second pit stop to retake the lead on pit road under the yellow. Coming to the green flag for a restart on Lap 178, Harvick led Elliott, Earnhardt, Larson and Busch, in that order, but that changed in a flash, as Busch dived to the inside in Turn 1, outdueled Larson for third and charged after Harvick for the second spot.

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XFINITY

Going the Distance … with Dylan Kwasniewski

Each week, Popular Speed will ask a different NASCAR personality a handful of questions about their career, lifestyle or off-beat personality traits. Next up: One of the many talented rookies in the Nationwide Series — and a development driver for Chip Ganassi Racing –Dylan Kwasniewski

Popular Speed: You haven’t been around for that long — but do you still feel the novelty and aura of getting to the track or has it become a job?

Dylan Kwasniewski:  It’s a dream come true every time I get to step out here into one of these cars. All of these are new tracks and I still can’t believe that I’m racing in the Nationwide Series. (Huge grin) With a stage like this and the fans that show up to watch you race, I feel like it’s a huge opportunity and I’m living it up.

PS:  What first attracted you to motorsports?

DK: The first time that I ever stepped into a car at four years old, when you step into a kart at four or five, there is nothing that compares. I played every sport and competed in everything possible but there is nothing more fun, more assuring, more exciting than racing cars at such a young age. From the moment I first stepped into the car, I knew this is what I wanted to pursue.

DK MichaelPS: Who was your childhood hero?

DK: I’ve always loved Formula 1 and though Michael Schumacher was the man. I feel the same way about Ayrton Senna, especially after watching the biography. He had such a badass personality in that he didn’t give a damn about what anyone else thought. He did his own thing, just wanted to race and I really admire that he just went out there and did his thing.

On the NASCAR side, it’s always been Jeff Gordon — he’s the man. I grew up watching him, rooted for him and to get to know him on a personal basis has been awesome. I also met Michael Schumacher as well … so to meet my childhood heroes and to have them know my name is a surreal feeling and hopefully it will stay this way for years to come?

PS: Would you have rather started your career 20 years ago or 20 years from now?

DK: That’s tough because I’m not even 20-years-old yet but I completely respect those guys. They just went out and got it done without all the technology we have now. It was based purely on if they were a good driver and you could make it without having to worry about corporate sponsors, forming the right persona and now you do.

With that said, I like that part of it. It’s more of a business now than just racing. I love being able to take a hold of my own business, my own brand, reach out to sponsors and mix that into the world of NASCAR. And with Rockstar, they took a chance on me and made it easier for me to not have to worry about that aspect.

PS: Who do you want to race against from another discipline in NASCAR?

DK: There are a lot of choices but Michael Schumacher, especially given what he’s facing right now, but he’s a legend and one of the best race car drivers in the world.

PS: Do you have a bucket list track that rises above all the other venues that you haven’t gone too yet?

DK: Talladega is going to be crazy. It’s going to be fun. I guess … Bristol was on my bucket list and that was awesome. It really fit my driving style even though it’s nothing like any other short track in the country. It’s ridiculous how much speed you carry through there.

I’m also looking forward to the road courses. Vegas, home, was one of my bucket list tracks which was unfortunate because we absolutely sucked there and had horrible luck. That place was important to me because I grew up racing at The (Las Vegas) Bullring and saw the big track in the background and wanted to race there.

PS: Have you ever raced with a serious injury?

DK: I did a Legends race with a broken arm once. I broke it the race before, my hand slipped off the wheel, I got hit again and it snapped it. I don’t know – I’ve got hurt racing quite a bit. The hit that I had at Loudon in the K&N East Series sucked a lot. I was blindsided and that took its toll. But luckily these cars are pretty safe.

PS: What is your favorite all-time paint scheme?

DK: I’ll tell you what, I really like (Dale Jr.’s) paint scheme right now.  That gold number with the white and National Guard, it almost looks vintage. So I like that right now but I love my paint scheme too. My Rockstar Energy car looks awesome, especially on these Nationwide, especially with that badass Camaro nose.

PS:  What is one make-or-break moment that has defined your early career?

DK: Honestly, that first championship I had in the Pro Series … out west. That showed my sponsors that I could make it in the sport and then I backed it up with the East championship and that was the key to my success, showed that I could get it done two years in a row, had a great group of people around me both years and showed Chip Ganassi and Turner Scott that I was ready to move right up to the Nationwide Series and compete right away.

Previous Going the Distance Q&As

Daytona: Alex Bowman

Phoenix: Joey Logano

Las Vegas: Reed Sorenson

Bristol: Elliott Sadler

Auto Club: Marcos Ambrose

Martinsville: Ryan Newman

Texas: Dylan Kwasniewski

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XFINITY

Nationwide Series Rookie Crop: The Future Face of Sprint Cup

By Vito Pugliese – Every decade or so, there is a youth movement in NASCAR, particularly in the Nationwide Series. The Series was always billed as the start of tomorrow competing in the series against a sprinkling of veterans.

What had always been the stepping stone to the Cup Series had in recent years, become a test series for Cup drivers and teams in the mid-2000s. Think otherwise? From 2006-2010, the series championship was won by a full-time Cup driver. Not just the most races – the championship.  In 2006, Nationwide regulars combined to win a total of two races.

Yeah. Both of them.

Things weren’t always this way. In the early 1990s there was a slew of Nationwide regulars who would go on to become Cup contenders – and champions.  @JeffGordonWeb, Bobby Labonte, and Kenny Wallace were among the first wave of new young talent, competing with the established veterans of the day:  Tommy Ellis, Tommy Houston, and Jimmy Hensley. Johnny Benson earned the first of his two NASCAR championships here in 1995, prior to becoming Cup Series Rookie of The Year in 1996, and Truck Series champ in 2008 once he was done with the Cup Series grind.

Cup drivers competed in the events but not to the degree that they have in recent years. @MarkMartin, Harry Gant, and Dale Earnhardt would all lend their names and talents to the series, helping to teach the next generation of Cup drivers how things were done.  By the end of the decade, the next fleet of superstars were the face of Nationwide. @DaleJr, @KevinHarvick, @gbiffle, and @MartinTruex_Jr were winning races and championships, and have been the face of the sport for the better part of the past 10 years. Things however, have changed in recent years with Ricky @StenhouseJr and @austindillon3 making the transition to Nationwide champion to Cup contenders.

For 2014, the Nationwide Series has a new crop of fresh talent that promises to be the face of the sport for the next generation, as highlighted in the most recent commercial NASCAR has recently started running to help promote the series.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ARBRG4puGN0&list=UUuN9hYw2RpoAW8rZ3VK3isA

@chaseelliott – Second generation driver and son of Awesome Bill from Dawsonville, he certainly has the pedigree and most certainly has the chops to succeed at the Cup level. If anything, he’s already proven he’s not the quiet shy redhead like his dad was early in his career. He kicked in the door on his first Truck Series win – and that of Ty Dillon – at Mosport last summer, in one of the wildest finishes of the CWTS season. At the close of 2013, Elliott managed to do something that no other driver had done before: winning the four biggest short track series races in the country: The World Crown 300, Winchester 400, All American 400, and The Snowball Derby.

The later however was thrown out once it was discovered in post-race inspection that the car had tungsten used as ballast (Cup Series technology trickle down?), and was disqualified. No matter; as dominant as he was in the race, a piece of weight wasn’t going to make that much difference. Currently sitting fourth in NNS points, Elliott has four top 10s and a top five just five races into the season, driving for JR Motorsports.

@tydillon Speaking of Ty Dillon, he’s the other half of the Dillon brothers who also runs the black No. 3. The Dillon brothers are a bit of a dichotomy; Austin is more reserved, patient, and steady while Ty is a bit more brash, aggressive, and bullish on the track – appropriate given the steer skull insignia next to his name on the roof of his Camaro. To draw a brother parallel, he’s more Kyle than Kurt in the driving department.

While he hasn’t won the two championships his brother has, he’s sort of on the same path that Chase Elliott was, not spending a lot of time in each series before moving up. He won three truck races and finished runner up in the points for 2013; the jump to Nationwide with the defending championship team is certainly not a bad way to begin your rookie campaign. So far a pole and four top 10s have him third in points as he gets his legs under him learning a new feeling machine and series.

@JamesBuescher Another Truck Series alumni proving the value of that series for gaining experience, confidence, and preparing for the next level. Of these three drivers, Buescher is the only one who actually has a Nationwide Series win under his belt. He managed to escape the carnage of the 2012 Daytona 300 on the final lap, putting his name on the NASCAR map. It kicked off a watershed year for him as he went on to win four races and the Truck Series Championship. For 2013 he made the difficult decision to leave the confines of his father-in-law’s operation, moving to the Robby Benton No. 99 Toyota team. So far results have been mixed; this is a true Nationwide team with little Cup affiliation. He currently is ninth in the season standings, with a best finish of 12th at Phoenix.

The new talent doesn’t stop there however. 18-year old @DylanKRacing won the pole at Daytona, Chris_Buescher (cousin to James) may have failed to qualify at Daytona, but the first year Roush Fenway driver followed it up with a ninth place run at Las Vegas just two weeks later. @KyleLarsonRacin though a Cup competitor is but a rookie in that series, won his first Nationwide Series race two weeks ago at Fontana in his second season of NNS competition.

With each weekend a battle to see who can beat @KyleBusch or Brad @Keselowski, the current crop of Nationwide rookie competitors are well positioned to help challenge for their home turf. It’s early in the year, but it will be interesting to watch as they mature and progress throughout the year, and provide some competition for the Cup regulars who although are there to help teach – are also taking their prize money.

These guys will be the face of NASCAR over the next 10-15 years – so get to know them now.

Follow @VitoPugliese on Twitter

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XFINITY

Comfort is the Watchword for Elliott Sadler in 2014

By Matt Weaver — Elliott Sadler is feeling more relaxed these days, displaying a confidence and swagger that suggests the focus that is required to close out on the Nationwide Series championship that has eluded him over the past three seasons.

Despite a career that has spanned two decades, including three victories in the Sprint Cup Series and a berth in the Chase for the Championship, it has been fatherhood and the family life that has inspired the most self-assurance out of the 38-year-old.

“Having kids has really reenergized me,” Sadler told Popular Speed on Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway. “I truly believe that it has made me a better race car driver. I’m more focused on the big picture of what’s going on during a race and I don’t let the little things get to me like they use to.”

The rebirth of his career played a role in that confidence too as Sadler, facing an uncertain future in the Sprint Cup Series back in 2011, accepted an offer from Kevin and DeLana Harvick to lead their Nationwide Series effort. And while Sadler has bounced around from Kevin Harvick Inc., Richard Childress Racing and now Joe Gibbs Racing, the decision to return to Nationwide Series competition has put him back in the spotlight following several frustrating seasons at the end of his Sprint Cup tenure.Wyatt Sadelr

Sadler is living the dream as a competitive NASCAR driver again and considers himself fortunate that he’s able to share his life and times with his wife, Amanda (Prince), and children Wyatt and Austyn.

“It’s been a fun couple of years back in Nationwide and knowing that I have a chance to be competitive,” Sadler added. “And I feel younger right now than I did 10 years ago.”

Much has changed for Sadler during that time span, going from the driver that won races and made the Chase in 2004 with Yates Racing to struggling with Evernham Motorsports as it underwent several identity changes and dropped further from the front of the field before merging with Richard Petty Motorsports.

On the personal front, Sadler and Prince began dating in 2006 following their long-time friendship. They ultimately married in 2009 having their children in 2009 and 2010 just as Sadler made the decision to rejoin the Nationwide Series for the start of the 2011 season.

Sadler’s spotter and long-time friend, Brett Griffin, says he wasn’t sure how fatherhood would affect his performance due to media speculation that it would inspire him to redirect his focus away from motorsports.

“Elliott is the most competitive person I’ve ever been around,” Griffin said. “But I wasn’t sure which direction it would take his will to win when he settled down and started a family. I saw the various media folks explain how it could change a driver’s focus but I don’t think someone who would report that has competed in a professional sport after having a family.”

Sadler’s will to win has only increased in the past half-decade according to Griffin, the veteran spotter attributing that focus to his children and family life.

“He trains harder than he ever has before when he’s not behind the wheel,” Griffin said. “His children turn his toughest days into good ones and his perspective on life in general is the most positive that I’ve ever seen it.”

Sadler: Limiting Sprint Cup Drivers in Nationwide is Stupid

To completely diminish the notion that having a family would signal the end of his career, Sadler says that retirement hasn’t entered his mind once and that he wants to be in NASCAR as long as he’s competitive and able to do it.

Next up for Sadler veteran is deciphering the puzzle that is the Nationwide Series. Following consecutive runner-up finishes to Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in 2011 and 2012, Sadler dropped to fourth in the overall standings in his first year with Joe Gibbs Racing and new crew chief Chris Gayle.

“Chris was coming in as a first year crew chief and it took us a while to get on the same page as far as what I needed to tell him about the cars so we could make the right adjustments,” Sadler said. “It was a huge learning curve, more than any I’ve ever had in racing, and I’m sure Chris had one too. We felt like we made some gains at the end of the season and feel more comfortable with each other this season and know where we stand.”

With familiarity defining every aspect of his life and Joe Gibbs Racing emerging as the team to beat in the Nationwide Series, this could be the year that Sadler rises to the pinnacle of the sport and becomes a NASCAR champion.

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattWeaverSBN

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XFINITY

Kyle Busch remains peerless at Bristol in Nationwide Series

By Seth Livingstone (BRISTOL, Tenn.) — Kyle Larson had a plan in mind for the finish. But Kyle Busch has it all figured out at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Busch became the first driver in history to post 16 victories at a single track in NASCAR’s three national touring series, pulling away from the field after the final restart with nine laps remaining, to win Saturday’s Drive to Stop Diabetes 300 presented by Lilly Diabetes.

Busch, a five-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series winner at Bristol, won for the sixth time in his last eight NASCAR Nationwide Series starts on the .533-mile track.

Larson, who battled side-by-side with Busch in the final laps of last year’s Nationwide race at Bristol, took second place from Kevin Harvick with seven laps remaining but had no shot at catching Busch.

“I was not going to be as nice as I was last year,” said Larson envisioning a replay of his 2013 battle to the wire at Bristol in which he came up 0.023 seconds short.

But plans to thwart Busch never materialized. Larson slipped up the track, too high, and Busch pulled away to win by 1.441 seconds.

“It doesn’t matter if they’re cheering or booing,” said Busch, who has seven victories and 16 top-10 finishes in 20 career Nationwide starts at Bristol. “Hopefully we can sweep the weekend.”

Larson, who started on the pole, was the only driver besides Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth to lead a lap. Busch led the final 91 on his way to his celebratory burnout.

“When I got too high in (turns) 1 and 2 and Kevin (Harvick) got to my inside, I knew that was it for the race,” said Larson, who has top-10 finishes in each of his three Nationwide starts at Bristol. “I knew I had to hold on for second.”

Busch remains hard-pressed to come up with a definitive reason for his success at Bristol.

“My first time here in 2004 was a test with my Hendrick (Motorsports) Nationwide guys,” he recalled. “My throttle hung going into Turn 1 and I killed the car.

“(Since then) I’ve sort of figured it out, started running up front, leading laps, winning races. Why that all is, I don’t know. I just enjoy coming to banked race tracks. Bristol reminds me a bit of one of my favorite tracks where I ran late models, Winchester (Speedway) in Indiana.”

Busch had his hands full with Kenseth for much of Saturday’s race. Kenseth, driving his first Nationwide Series race at Bristol since 2009, led 178 of the first 209 laps but finished fifth behind Ryan Blaney.

“Kenseth was lightning fast much of the day and I was having a hard time catching him,” Busch said. “The biggest thing was that the track changed so much from practice. It was entirely different — not even close. Adam (Stevens, Busch’s crew chief) made some really good calls on the pit box trying to free me up.”

Kenseth’s struggles came in traffic and trying to make up ground when restarting on the bottom.

“We had a good car, early, and in the whole race but just kind of got picked in traffic,” Kenseth said. “Once (Busch) got the lead, it was hard to beat him.”

Rounding out the top 10 were Ty Dillon (the highest-finishing rookie), Brendan

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Gaughan, Trevor Bayne, Chase Elliott and Regan Smith, who continues to lead the series points standings, one point ahead of Bayne.

  1. Kyle Busch
  2. Kyle Larson
  3. Kevin Harvick
  4. Ryan Blaney
  5. Matt Kenseth
  6. Ty Dillon
  7. Brendan Gaughan
  8. Trevor Bayne
  9. Chase Elliott
  10. Regan Smith,
  11. Cale Conley
  12. Landon Cassill
  13. James Buescher
  14. Brian Scott
  15. Dylan Kwasniewski
  16. Chris Buescher
  17. Elliott Sadler
  18. Jeremy Clements
  19. Joe Nemechek
  20. Ryan Sieg
  21. Timmy Hill
  22. Will Kimmel
  23. Jamie Dick
  24. Dakoda Armstrong
  25. Mike Wallace
  26. Mike Bliss
  27. Eric McClure
  28. Derrike Cope
  29. Joey Gase
  30. Josh Wise
  31. Ryan Reed
  32. Jeffrey Earnhardt
  33. Ruben Garcia Jr.
  34. Kevin Lepage
  35. Kelly Admiraal
  36. Tanner Berryhill
  37. Matt Carter
  38. Carl Long
  39. Matt Dibenedetto
  40. Blake Koch
Categories
XFINITY

Elliott Sadler: Limiting Cup Drivers in Nationwide is Stupid

By Matt Weaver (BRISTOL, Tenn.) — NASCAR veteran Elliott Sadler has seemingly had it with the debate over what to do with Sprint Cup Series drivers entering and dominating Nationwide Series events.

Like most drivers on the tour, Sadler is appreciative of the bright spotlight that his Sprint Cup counterparts provide and also enjoys testing his mettle against the best in the business. On the other hand, fans are growing increasingly frustrated with the amount of success they enjoy on Saturdays, Cup drivers winning a majority of the races in dominating fashion and occupying most of the top spots.

For fans, this is a matter of brand identity for the Nationwide Series regulars but Sadler wishes the sport would just move on.

“I think that’s the stupidest debate in the history of any sport that I’ve ever been a part of,” Sadler told Popular Speed on Friday night. “We need Cup drivers in the Nationwide Series. We have to have them in the Nationwide Series.

“Anybody that says we don’t need them in our series does not know a single percent about racing … or anything about it.”

Exclusive: Q&A with Elliott Sadler

Sadler says that the Sprint Cup Series drivers bring an immeasurable amount of value to the Nationwide Series. The topic is en vogue right now with rumors circulating that NASCAR is looking at limiting the number of starts a Sprint Cup driver can make in a given season.

But Sadler believes that doing so would be the beginning of the end of the Nationwide Series, the lack of Sprint Cup drivers eliminating all the money and resources that pours into the division.

“Sprint Cup drivers put the fans in the seats… and keep the level of competition so high that it requires a better driver to compete against them.

“If (we get rid of them,) it won’t be long until we don’t have a Nationwide Series because the sponsors will leave, the car owners will jump out of it and the fans to the stands. So then purses will go down and teams will have to cut back and the competition will go down. That’s just my opinion.”

Read More: Could New Championship Format Bring Back Old Bristol?

The Nationwide Series has evolved over the past 15 years, going from a division that operated separately from the Sprint Cup Series into a companion tour for that series, now running many of the same tracks and on the same weekends as the premiere division.

Indianapolis Raceway Park has been replaced with Indianapolis Motor Speedway. South Boston and Memphis has been replaced with the likes of Kentucky and Texas — and Sadler is not in favor of going back to the standalone heavy circuit of yesteryear.

“No, I think that’s stupid,” Sadler said, adding that Sprint Cup drivers have always competed in the Nationwide Series, regardless of the schedule. He cited one race, at Richmond in 1999, which featured 59 entries, many of them from the Sprint Cup Series.

“I understand that it’s a topic but Cup drivers have been racing Nationwide since I can remember,” he concluded. “I remember watching guys race on Saturday at South Boston, like Brett Bodine, Dale Jarrett and Sterling Marlin and those guys turned around and raced Talladega the very next day.

“The guys have always done this and it keeps the sport healthy.”

EMAIL MATT AT matt.weaver@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MattWeaverSBN

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XFINITY

Going the Distance … with Elliott Sadler

Each week, Popular Speed will ask a different NASCAR personality 10 questions about their career, lifestyle or off-beat personality traits. Next up: Joe Gibbs Racing Nationwide Series veteran Elliott Sadler.

Popular Speed:  Do you still feel the novelty or aura of getting to a race track each week?

Elliott Sadler: Hell yeah, man. This is what I live to do and I can’t picture myself doing anything else. This is fun and I hope to be doing this for a long time to come too.

PS:  What first attracted you to motorsports?

Sadler: My mom and dad took me to the track when I was just a couple of months old. My uncles raced and my dad owned race cars while I grew up so it was in my family. We were fans long before I was involved in it so it’s cool to me to sit in the stands at a place like Bristol because I came here at six or seven years old and it’s neat to come back and see the changes.

I’ve always been a fan on the sport and being a part of it is so rewarding.

PS: Would you rather be a driver 20 years ago or 20 years from now.

Sadler: Both. (laughs) Can I do both?

PS: Please? (laughs)

Sadler: Racing is going to change and it has changed so much but hopefully it will be strong in the future and continue to have great fans that to show up every week. Hopefully the tracks are the same too.

PS: Have you ever raced with a serious injury?

Sadler: Knock on wood, I’ve never had any broken bones but I was very sore after the Pocono wreck (in 2010) after I hit the inside wall. The next week, all my muscles were sore so I’ve raced sore where you take a lot of Tylenol to help you get through the next week but I don’t think any major injuries, which when you think of it is fortunate because I’ve had a few really hard hits. NASCAR has done a great job of updated the safety features of the sport.

PS: Could NASCAR benefit from a tire war or do we need to learn our lessons from the early 90s?

Sadler: That was before my time. My brother had to go through that. I hope to God that we don’t have another tire war because drivers lives were at risk To run fast you have to make them softer and guys were blowing out their right front and things like that and the drivers were paying for it. Goodyear does a great job for us, it’s exciting and more importantly, it’s a safety first tire.

PS: Do you have any tracks remaining on your bucket list? You’ve been everywhere, man.

Sadler: I never got a chance to race North Wilkesboro. I would love to still race at Rockingham… man what a race track we had there in Rockingham. So that’s two that I wish we still raced at some.

PS: You watching anything on TV right now?

Sadler: College basketball, man… as I should. It’s March Madness. We should all be watching college basketball!

PS: What is your favorite all-time paint scheme.

Sadler: One of mine…any of the pink ones that I ran because my mom is a breast cancer survivor. I remember when Stanley Tools allowed me to run a completely pink race car seven years ago and that stood out to me. That was very special.

PS: Favorite race city… beyond the track.

Sadler: Las Vegas. Definitely Vegas.

PS:  What is one make-or-break moment that defined your career?

Sadler: The one thing that still haunts me is the 2009 Daytona 500 when I led the whole thing until the end and I made a wrong move and lost the lead. I moved up and they moved down, Matt Kenseth made a great move and the rain came out seconds later and ended the race. If I had just held on five seconds later I would have been the Daytona 500 champion. So that one really hurts still .

PS: So you think of what that could have done for your career, your legacy?

Sadler: It could have done so many more things for my career, definitely.

Previous Going the Distance Q&As

Daytona: Alex Bowman

Phoenix: Joey Logano

Las Vegas: Reed Sorenson

Bristol: Elliott Sadler

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XFINITY

NASCAR Penalizes Three Nationwide Series Teams

By Summer Bedgood — Three NASCAR Nationwide Series teams have been penalized as a result of rules infractions discovered over the weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

On opening day inspection, the No. 11 car driven by Elliott Sadler was discovered to have weight attached in an unapproved location. The penalty is P3-tier penalty—a rating system used with a new penalty structure announced by NASCAR at the beginning of the season. As such, crew chief Chris Gayle has been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation through December 31st. Car chief Todd Bower was also placed on probation through the end of the year. Sadler finished 13th in Saturday’s race.

Meanwhile, the fifth-place No. 9 car driven by Chase Elliott exceeded minimum front height rules in post-race inspection—a P2 penalty—and crew chief Greg Ives was placed on probation through December 31st.

Finally, the race winning No. 22 car failed post-race inspection because the shock absorber exceeded minimum gas pressure (a P2 penalty).   Crew chief Jeremy Bullins was fined $5,000 and placed on probation through the end of the year. Despite the penalty, the No. 22 car is still credited with winning Saturday’s race.

This was the first time NASCAR has used its new penalty structure this season. It is worth nothing that despite having the option to do so, NASCAR did not deduct points from any of the three teams. The teams have not said whether or not they will appeal.

Racing Network: NASCAR Announces Streaming Channel for IMSA, AMA and Home Tracks

The Nationwide Series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend for the Drive to Stop Diabetes 300. Both Sadler and Elliott will be in Saturday’s race while Keselowski will hand over his driving duties to Ryan Blaney.

Below is the infographic provided by NASCAR used to illustrate how penalties will be assessed during the 2014 season.

Deterrence-Chart-NSCS-main

 

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Ganassi Signs Dylan Kwasniewski to Development Deal

By Kelly Crandall – Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates announced Sunday morning that 18-year-old Dylan Kwasniewski has been signed as their newest development driver.

Following in the footsteps of Kyle Larson who is a rookie in the Sprint Cup Series for CGRFS but graduated from the Nationwide Series after one full season. Kwasniewski currently competes in the NNS for Turner Scott Motorsports in the No. 31 Rockstar Energy Chevrolet but is a teammate to Larson, who is running the majority of the NNS schedule this season. This is Kwasniewski’s rookie season.

“This young man has impressed us from the moment we saw him. His poise, skill and determination on the race track are remarkable for someone so young,” Ganassi said, as the announcement was made in Kwasniewski’s hometown of Las Vegas. “I am really looking forward to seeing him grow as a driver with each increase of competition. I think Dylan has a big future ahead of him in NASCAR.”

Ganassi currently runs two full NSCS teams with Larson and Jamie McMurray. But he made it clear on Sunday that Kwasniewski is not set to come to Cup yet and that McMurray’s job is secure. Yet he did acknowledge that depending on well things play out with Kwasniewski, the team could expand to three full-time teams in the future.

“This is by no means connected to Jamie or to put any pressure on him at all. I think (Dylan) is minimum two years away, maybe three so you never know,” Ganassi said. “Down the road we’ll have that conversation. I can assure you this is with Jamie’s full blessing and he’s happy to have him apart of the team.”

Kwasniewski won back-to-back championships in the NASCAR K&N Series’. First the West championship in 2012 and the East championship last season, becoming the first driver to win both. He also became the youngest NKNPSW champion at 17 years old in 2012.

At Daytona to open the NNS season, Kwasniewski became the youngest driver to win a pole. It was the first time that Kwasniewski had sat behind the wheel of a NNS car.

“We have a good report with Turner Scott and Kyle is over there also on Saturday’s. We have a good working relationship and this is probably going to make that relationship stronger,” Ganassi said about signing Kwasniewski while he drives for TSM.

“We’re starting to dabble technically a little with them to try and bolster them a little bit but they seem to be pretty stout. I consider them the number one Nationwide only team, they’re up racing against Cup teams. They’re always first in class so that’s pretty good I think.”

In his Las Vegas debut in the NNS on Saturday afternoon Kwasniewski finished 24th. He’s currently eighth in points heading into Bristol next weekend.

“I am extremely happy right now and thrilled to be getting this opportunity with Chip and the whole team. I have wanted to do nothing but race for as long as I can remember so this is a dream come true,” Kwasniewski said. “I look forward to being part of Chip’s organization and will hopefully be a key contributor to its future success.”

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Brad Keselowski Holds Off Kyle Busch for Nationwide Win in Las Vegas

By Reid Spencer (NASCAR Wire Service) LAS VEGAS – In the closing laps of Saturday’s Boyd Gaming 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kyle Busch was close enough to make Brad Keselowski uncomfortable.

It didn’t help that Keselowski’s engine sputtered when the voltage in his battery dropped dangerously low.

But Keselowski built a big enough lead after a restart on Lap 168 of 200 to ward off Busch’s charge in the closing stages of the race.

Keselowski’s first win of the season, his first at LVMS and the 28th of his career left Busch, a Las Vegas native, frustrated in his 11th futile attempt to win a Nationwide Series race on home turf. Busch was runner-up for the second straight year and third time overall.

“Kyle’s one of the best in the business, and he deserves a win here, and he’s been real close, just like we have,” said Keselowski, who was leading on the final lap in 2011 before a blown tire knocked him back to third.

“These races aren’t getting any easier to win. I drove as hard as I could every lap, knowing that Kyle was coming there, especially at the end. We were having some troubles with the engine there, and I knew it was just a matter of time before he caught me. I was just trying to get through as much traffic as I could and extend that time and was counting down the laps. It felt good that everything worked out at the end.”

Kyle Larson ran third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and rookie Chase Elliott. Matt Kenseth, Brian Scott, Trevor Bayne, Chris Buescher and Regan Smith completed the top 10, leaving Smith and Bayne tied

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for the series points lead.

Busch dropped to the rear for the start of the race, because his crew made an unapproved adjustment to the No. 54 Toyota after impound, replacing a frayed alternator belt. By Lap 12, however, Busch had cracked the top 10 and continued to advance through a 56-lap green-flag run to start the race.

When NASCAR slowed the field with a debris caution, Busch was third, having gained two positions during an exchange of pit stops under green.

But Keselowski was dominant during the middle third of the race, and after a restart on Lap 75 — a result of the second caution for Dylan Kwasniewski’s brush with the Turn 3 wall on Lap 70 — he drove away from Busch, who was running second.

A second cycle of green-flag stops put Busch in the lead on Lap 131. By then, there were seven cars on the lead lap.

Busch had a half-second lead when NASCAR called the third caution on Lap 148 because of debris in Turn 2. During pit stops under yellow, Keselowski overshot his pit stall, dropped three positions and restarted fifth on Lap 152, with Busch leading the field to green.

Seven laps later, after an intense battle for the lead, Kenseth spun in Turn 4 trying to keep pace with Busch but adroitly kept the No. 20 Toyota off the wall and saved the car from damage.

Keselowski rocketed into the lead moments after the subsequent restart on Lap 162 and held it the rest of the way. Busch picked the outside lane for that restart and immediately dropped positions to Keselowski and Elliott but didn’t consider that choice a decisive factor.

“I stepped on the gas, and it felt like I was holding a parachute, the way those guys went by me,” Busch said. “I was third before I even got to Turn 1. Junior was pushing me there for a little bit. I don’t know happened, if he fell off me or what, but… it just wouldn’t go.”