Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

PREVIEW: The Championship 4 – Busch, Truex, Harvick and Hamlin

AVONDALE, Arizona — Heading into ISM Raceway, Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick had already locked themselves into a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway with their Round of 8 wins at Martinsville Speedway and Texas Motor Speedway.

After 312 laps in the Bluegreen Vacations 500, Denny Hamlin ensured that his storybook season would live to see another chapter after delivering a championship-caliber performance in the Arizona desert, en route to an emotional victory. Kyle Busch will occupy the final spot in Miami after out-pointing reigning Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion, Joey Logano.

With the field now set, race fans will be treated to two David and Goliath-esque battles in the Sunshine State. In the first, Harvick is the lone-Ford driver set to take on three Joe Gibbs Racing Toyotas. The next comes in the form of Hamlin going up again all prior series champions in Busch, Truex and Harvick.

Following the duel in the desert, the past series champions participated in a press conference in the media center at ISM Raceway. It was evident these three drivers had been in this position before. While they were somewhat complaint with the media’s questions, they all went about it in a very tight-lipped-manner with their best pokerface.

Take Kyle Busch, who has not had the strongest playoff run in series history. Some would wonder if horrid post-season results thus far have affected his confidence.

“I never questioned our ability or our opportunity to be able to go out there and continue to get ourselves to the Final 4,” the 2015 title-holder said. “We just had a rough road, others teams had rough roads, but we’re here and that’s the good part.”

Rough is a bit of an understatement. Out of the four competitors that advanced to Homestead, Busch is the only driver without a win in the Playoffs. In fact, you’ll have to look all the way back to June at Pocono Raceway to find the driver  of the No. 18’s last victory this season. Although winless, the past series champion has not been awful. He finished runner-up twice in the last nine races, including this past weekend in Arizona, but certainly that’s far from the dominance shown previously.

Looking ahead to the series finale, Truex and Busch shared the same sentiments in a sense that all three Joe Gibbs Racing teams would be working together the week of the championship.

“I feel like we’re all here because we work together,” the driver of the No. 19 said. “Our teams work together really well, we’ve got a great group at Joe Gibbs Racing and I would assume all the way up to Sunday morning we’ll all be working together.”

Busch went on to elaborate that he worked with Carl Edwards back in 2016 and even with Truex last year as future-teammates for the 2019 season.

Harvick chose not to reveal much about his intentions for his 2019 championship plans (and for good reason, sitting wedged between two Gibbs teammates), but he had mentioned that he went into this race weekend at ISM Raceway to prepare for the series finale in 2020.

“I think we’re pretty confident that we’re like a fifth-place car, the winningest driver in ISM Raceway history said. “That’s about what we thought coming in here and that’s about where we were in the first race.”

The trio of drivers were asked about the lack of ability to pass at the 1.5-mile speedway this weekend and all appeared visibly agitated. Truex chimed in muttering “it’s always been that way,” while Busch offered up a classic-Kyle comment saying, “whoever gets the lead… bye-bye!”

The stone-faced past champions didn’t reveal much else. As they vacated the media center, Hamlin entered and was much more generous with his insight and outlook moving forward.

“This is very similar to 2010, in the sense of the cars and the speed that we’ve had this season,” the driver of the No. 11 said. “There’s similarities for sure, but it’s very different. This is a tighter-knit group of guys. I think Chris [Gabehart] takes a lot of pride in assembling these guys from top to bottom. He worked hard to make sure he had the best people possible working on that car.”

Hamlin had nothing but praise to give for his new crew chief for 2019, Chris Gabehart. From weekend one at Daytona International Speedway, Gabehart called a team meeting with a plan in place for the season. After an emotional Daytona 500 win and one of the most dominant seasons in Hamlin’s 15-year career, it seems the driver/crew chief pairing were able to execute these plans with ease.

While the past-series champions are all working with crew chiefs they’ve been coupled together with for many years, Hamlin feels that “having a fresh set of eyes” puts him and Gabehart at an advantage as he makes a bid of his first series title.

The driver of the FedEx Camry is making his first attempt at a championship since the inaugural season of the new Playoff format in 2014. Hamlin recounts his mindset from 2010 when he essentially thought he had the championship locked up against Jimmie Johnson heading into Phoenix and Homestead. The Virginia-native will be going about this a lot different this time around.

“I didn’t prepare for the ‘what if it doesn’t work out,’ I was only going there thinking ‘I’m going to come here, handle business and go to Homestead and get the trophy,'” Hamlin said. “I think over the years – we’re almost 10 years later – I’m just more content with what I’ve accomplished in the series and I don’t need validation of a championship. There’s many more opportunities ahead of me, this is not my last opportunity to win a championship – especially with the relationship that I built with Chris. I see this going a long way. I’m going to enjoy the moment, because all you can ask for when you started the year was an opportunity for a chance to complete for a championship and we have a chance to compete. It’s goal accomplished, now we just got to go out there and do it.”

Hamlin is the only championship contender without and title to his name. Truex, Harvick and Busch enter Homestead with a chance to be the only active driver aside from Johnson with multiple championships at the Cup level.

With the endless amount of storylines heading into the Ford EcoBoost 400, you won’t want to miss the series finale in the final championship race at Homestead-Miami Speedway this Sunday at 3 p.m. Eastern Time on NBC.

EMAIL COLE AT: colecusumano88@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Cole_Cusumano_

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Keselowski and Logano Speak Out on Comments Made by Bubba Wallace

AVONDALE, Arizona — Throughout the weekend of the Bluegreen Vacations 500 at ISM Raceway, Bubba Wallace was hounded by the media after accusations of an apparent intentional spin that occurred in the AAA Texas 500 from Texas Motor Speedway.

In a video taken by NASCAR NBC Sports writer, Dustin Long, the driver of the No. 43 – visibly agitated – admitted to intentionally committing the act, but credited his actions to things he learned from Team Penske drivers, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski.

The drivers of the No.2 and No. 22 Ford Mustangs witnessed the the footage of Wallace’s comments, but we’re puzzled to what incidents he was referring to.

The only incident that came to mind for Logano occurred in the first race in the Round of 8 at Martinsville Speedway, just two weeks prior.

The 2018 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion was driven up the track by Denny Hamlin and sandwiched between the right side of the No. 11 and the outside wall down the front stretch. This led to a flat tire and an untimely spin from Logano, which ultimately resulted in the infamous altercation between the driver of the FedEx Camry and the driver of the Shell/Pennzoil Ford at the conclusion of the First Data 500.

“At Martinsville, I got a flat tire,” Logano told POPULAR SPEED. “I’m trying not to crash, trying not to hit anything or get the quarter panels torn up – trying to live to race another day, basically. That’s kind of the thought at that moment, ‘How do I continue my race?'”

The Connecticut-native didn’t have much to say about the comments made by Wallace, although he seemed to have inferred that he may have aided with the on-track spin to prevent further damage.

While Logano opted a more tight-lipped approach to the situation, Keselowski did not shy away from speaking his mind on the accusations and the state of NASCAR, in certain regards.

” I wish he [Wallace] had given more context, because I’m not exactly sure what he’s talking about.,” Keselowski shared with POPULAR SPEED. “I’m guessing he’s talking about Michigan (International Speedway) when I had a flat tire and somehow kept it off the wall – but, that one was savable, it wasn’t by me. I don’t really have a lot of thoughts on it without understanding what he meant.”

The driver of the Miller Lite Ford seemed to defend Wallace and went on to reference NASCAR’s early lineage in a sense that the sport was literally founded off of criminals – bootleggers running moonshine through the Appalachian foothills during the prohibition-era. Keselowski finds it ironic that the sport has transitioned from hard-nosed competitiveness to a  “squeaky-clean perfect” approach.

“It makes you wonder about the days of Dale [Earnhardt] and all the other guys and what they were able to get away with,” the Michigan-native pondered. “Everyone obviously misses Dale, but then I wonder sometimes – if a guy like Dale was around would he even be accepted today?”

Keselowski admitted that this is not all due in part to NASCAR wanting clean and fair racing. He is fully aware that a vast majority of the sport’s revenue is acquired through sponsorships and naturally, partners prefer more ethical and cleaner methods upon representation.

After Long’s video of Wallace went viral on Twitter, the sport’s sanctioning body swiftly took action and slapped the 25-year old driver with a $50,000 fine and a deduction of 50 points from the No. 43 team.

Although NASCAR’s intent was to send a message, don’t expect these penalties to prevent further incidents like this from occurring in the future. Teams are always fighting tooth and nail to get best finish they can attain and that all begins with preserving the car.

While attempts to save the car won’t be as blatant as Wallace’s actions at Texas (See the video below) – we can almost guarantee that drivers will think twice about admitting to guilt. Sometimes the truth does not set you free.

EMAIL COLE AT: colecusumano88@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Cole_Cusumano_

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

Categories
Feature

Jimmie Johnson is Feeling Optimistic in Return to the Desert

[tps_title][/tps_title]

AVONDALE, Arizona — Seven-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion Jimmie Johnson is currently wrapping up one of the statistically worst seasons of his career. The driver of the famed No. 48 is looking to rebound at ISM Raceway – a place that has been very kind to him in his 19-year career.

While the lifetime Hendrick Motorsports driver will start the Bluegreen Vacations 500 in the 22nd position, he feels optimistic about his car – even with the limited time he feels the premier series had on the Arizona-based track.

“The guys did a really good job getting speed in the car,” Johnson told POPULAR SPEED. “We only got two laps in, so it’s tough to tell. It’s was tough to understand what was going on in practice as well. It was cut short for us because we didn’t pass tech last week and the track is just now rubbering in, so the first practice was kind of a wash.

“The second one went by so fast. We knew we were off, but we knew where to attack. The guys did a great job putting more speed in the car and I’m optimistic, but I won’t know until we get in there and lay down those first few laps.”

The 43-year old enters ISM Raceway off a tough weekend that saw him slip in the traction compound at Texas Motor Speedway, getting into the wall. The PJ1 returns this weekend in the higher groove at the 1.5-mile speedway.

“It wasn’t part of my issue last week – I will say that at Michigan (International Speedway), it got me – but it is what it is,” said the seven-time champion. “The harder that stuff is, the more grip it has. After cautions or certainly at the start of the race, we know this stuff isn’t going to have grip going into turns one and two. It’s always been the same, but I feel a lot of drivers didn’t realize it until they were riding around on the pickup trucks before the race, waving at the fans.”

Johnson has the second-most wins at ISM Raceway among active drivers, including three consecutive wins spanning from 2007-08 and one addition victory in the Fall of 2009. The track formerly known as Phoenix International Raceway has not been too kind to the Team Chevy driver since the reconfiguration in 2018, as he only has one top-10 finish. This will by no means be an easy event for Johnson to overcome, but it’s hard to go against a confident driver who has 15 top-fives, 21 top-10s and an average finish of 10.2  at a venue where he also has four wins.

EMAIL COLE AT: colecusumano88@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Cole_Cusumano_

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

 

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series

Daniel Suarez Looks to Carry Momentum from Texas into Phoenix

AVONDALE, Arizona — Daniel Suarez is in the midst of a contract-year at Stewart-Haas Racing, as his agreement expires at the conclusion of the Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend. After matching a season-high best finish of third last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, the driver from Monterrey, Mexico is looking to build off some momentum as the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series gets set to do battle at ISM Raceway.

Suarez, who considers the 1.5-mile oval a sort of home track, was in good spirits when talking about his chances this Sunday.

“Texas was a lot of fun and we’re looking to carry that here to Phoenix,” Suarez told POPULAR SPEED. “This is kind of like a home track for me. There are a lot of good people here, lots of fans and it’s always fun to come back.”

The NASCAR Drive for Diversity driver has had a rollercoaster ride of a career when coming to the Valley of the Sun. He notched his career-best finish at Zoomtown U.S.A. in his rookie season in the Spring of 2017 with a seventh. His best effort since then came the in the following Spring, where he finished eighth. Since then, the 27-year old has not fared better than 23rd.

“I think we have a good car – I don’t think we have the best car, but I think I think we have a car that can get a top-five or a top-10,” said Suarez. “Hopefully we can make the right calls and get a top-five.”

When asked about the pressures of performing without a contract for the 2020 season set in stone, the driver of the No. 41 offered up a humorous reply.

“What’s the worst thing that can happen? I go back to Mexico and work on old cars?,” Suarez joked. “We have some work to do. I feel like the team is doing their part, I’m doing my part, we just have to put all the pieces together – that’s the way it works. Sometimes it takes one week, sometimes it takes three months – we’ll keep working. I feel like life is tough, learn your lessons. I just have to find different ways to make things happen off the racetrack. I’m learning a lot so hopefully we can get a win.”

Team-owner Tony Stewart revealed that they are in the process of getting a deal done to extend Suarez’s tenure at Stewart-Haas Racing. The three-time Cup Series champion also assured the media that he is big fan of the driver from Mexico and would like to keep him around for an extended period of time.

EMAIL COLE AT: colecusumano88@gmail.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/Cole_Cusumano_

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management to other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered and endorsement.

Categories
Commentary

Texas, Not Las Vegas, Should Be Considered for NASCAR Championship Race

State legislators in Texas would like to see the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Championship decided at the Texas Motor Speedway, and it might not be a bad move.

Last week, the Texas State Legislature passed a bill that makes a proverbial championship race at Texas Motor Speedway, or the Monster Energy All-Star Race eligible for the state’s Major Events Reimbursement Program.  The program is used to help lure big events to the Lonestar state, such as the Super Bowl or the NCAA Final Four.

“They want to be able to go after those races, just like we try to court a Super Bowl or any other major sporting event,” Rep. Tan Parker, a Republican who represents the district Texas Motor Speedway is in, said in an Associated Press report. “They will immediately go after them as best they can, and this gives them a tool in their tool box to be aggressive when competing with other venues.”

The Cup Series championship race has been held at Homestead-Miami Speedway every year since 2002, but once in awhile, rumors circulate about the finale being moved.  Recently, there has been speculation about the event moving to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but it will remain in Homestead at least through the 2018 season.

However, if NASCAR does have intentions to move the finale elsewhere, Texas should be considered.  While the 1.5-mile oval might not produce the most exciting racing, the old saying “everything is bigger in Texas” might be right for a championship race in the Lone Star State.

The main reason I would like to see the finale in Texas is due to speedway promoter Eddie Gossage.

Gossage, who worked under Humpy Wheeler before assuming his role at Texas Motor Speedway when it opened in 1997, is known for bold advertising campaigns, spectacular pre-race shows and generating buzz.  And I, for one, would love to see what Gossage could do if he was gifted the opportunity to promote the championship race.

The racing may be procedural at Texas Motor Speedway, but the track is not much different to Atlanta Motor Speedway, which held the finale through 2001, and it is the same length as Homestead-Miami Speedway.  Despite being derided as “cookie cutters” by fans, holding the finale at an intermediate track makes logical sense since much of the schedule consists of those circuits.

Having the finale at a short track, road course or restrictor plate track would create a more entertaining race, but it would also be like holding the Stanley Cup Finals on a basketball court or the NBA Finals on a hockey rink.  The championship event, whether it remains at one venue or alternates like the Super Bowl, should be held at a track that resembles what is raced on throughout the majority of the season.

The Dallas-Ft. Worth (DFW) market has become one of America’s great sports towns and NASCAR racing has been a part of that.  They have hosted the Super Bowl, the NCAA Final Four and the College Football championship game.  NASCAR should be next.

Why not?

Let Eddie Gossage have his fun, because it might be entertaining for all of us.

E-MAIL ANDY AT  andymarquis@gmail.com

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
NASCAR Cup Series Power Rankings

POWER RANKINGS: O’Reilly Auto Parts 500

Power_Rankings_logo1

1. Brad Keselowski (—)

Keselowski remains at the top after scoring points in both stages and finishing sixth on Sunday.

2. Kyle Larson (+1)

Larson, back at it again with the second-place finishes. After coming home 17th at Martinsville, he rebounded at Texas and earned his fourth runner-up of the season.

3. Chase Elliott (-1)

The No. 24 driver did not have a stellar day, but he made up a lot of ground in the 500-mile event. He finished fifth in Stage 2 and ended up ninth on the day after starting 33rd.

4. Joey Logano (+1)

Logano started and finished in the top-five leading 38 laps. It feels like I write this every week about him — he’s consistent but has not visited Victory Lane in 2017, yet.

5. Martin Truex Jr. (+1)

Truex continues to shine on the 1.5-mile tracks. He led 49 laps and finished eighth.

6. Kyle Busch (-2)

It was an uncharacteristically quiet day for Busch. He started 34th and ran top-15 most of the race. He earned one point in Stage 1 and ended up 15th-place.

7. Kevin Harvick (+2)

After a mediocre STP 500, Harvick bounced back at Texas by qualifying on the pole, leading 77 laps, and finishing fourth.

8. Ryan Blaney (+2)

Sunday’s race was a career best for Blaney the fastest the No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford has looked since returning to full-time competition. Blaney won Stages 1 and 2, but a pit stop miscue cost him the potential victory and he ended up 12th.

9. Clint Bowyer (-2)

Bowyer had his best qualifying effort of the year. He started third and earned his sixth consecutive top-15 by finishing 11th.

10. Jimmie Johnson (+5)

The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion is also now a seven-time Texas winner. After rumblings about the No. 48 team not running up to par, he quieted the naysayers with his first win of 2017.

11. Jamie McMurray (+1)

McMurray has started every race from inside the top-10. He finished fourth in both stages and seventh when the checkered flag waved.

12. Erik Jones (-4)

Jones started deep in the field and wasn’t particularly strong on Sunday. The No. 77 Toyota finished 22nd — his worst result since the Daytona 500, where he crashed out at halfway.

13. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (Not ranked last week)

Jr. Nation and its driver were happy to finish with a top-five for the first time since Pocono in June 2016. It signaled the No. 88 team’s progress since getting Earnhardt back in the car after his concussion, and probably served as a confidence boost.

14. Ryan Newman (-3)

Since winning at Phoenix International Raceway last month, it’s been easy to forget Newman is even in the field. He’s earned zero stage points the last three races and has one top-10 — eighth at Martinsville.

15. Matt Kenseth (-2)

After seven races, Kenseth is 22nd in the standings. Come again? Since running full-time, he has never finished outside the top-15 in points. There’s no concern yet with the playoffs still 19 races away, but this hasn’t been the Matt Kenseth we’re used to seeing.

16. Trevor Bayne (Not ranked last week)

Bayne has finished in the top-20 in all but one race (Auto Club 400, finished 23rd) and is currently 12th in points. It’s still early, but that is a major improvement from his first two years in the Cup Series.

Dropping out of the top-16 rankings this week: Denny Hamlin (was 14th) and Austin Dillon (was 16th).

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Commentary

THREE TAKEAWAYS: My Bariatric Solutions 300

Erik Jones won Saturday’s My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, marking the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series rookie’s first victory of 2017.     

Slippery Slope for Texas Repave

The biggest story entering the weekend was the newly configured track surface. The XFINITY Series event was the first race on the new pavement, and a few drivers experienced trouble on the less-banked and wider Turns 1 and 2.

On Lap 12, Daniel Hemric spun in Turn 2 and backed his No. 21 Chevrolet into the outside wall while running second. The Richard Childress Racing rookie suffered damage, which relegated him to finish 32nd.

Darrell Wallace Jr. and Chip Ganassi Racing teammates Tyler Reddick and Brennan Poole wrecked in the same vicinity. Wallace was lucky enough to overcome his spin, but both CGR racers finished outside the top-30.

With seven to go in Stage 2, Garrett Smithley spun on the exit of Turn 2 but avoided contact with the wall. The second-year JD Motorsports wheelman finished 30th.

Sixth Again for No. 6

Wallace’s streak of sixth-place finishes lives on.

After being clipped by Reddick on Lap 66, Wallace spun and it looked like the streak would end. But he rebounded to finish sixth for a fifth consecutive race. He’s now fourth in the standings, still searching for his first XFINITY win.

Stewart-Haas strong

Stewart-Haas Racing entered 2017 as the newest Cup-affiliate team running in NASCAR’s second-tier level. So far, so good as both entries finished in the top-five at the 1.5-mile track.

Rookie Cole Custer finished fifth, giving the No. 00 driver his first top-five of the season and second of his career. SHR teammate Kevin Harvick finished third after qualifying 14th in the part-time No. 41. Having race laps logged on the new surface could be advantageous to the 2014 Cup champion. He starts Sunday’s 500-mile event from the pole.

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
XFINITY

Allgaier, Koch in Precarious Position after Texas

Justin Allgaier and Blake Koch collected solid finishes at Texas Motor Speedway – finishing 10th and 14th, respectively – but their Chase situations are anything but stable.

Koch’s weekend got off to a rocky start when he wrecked during practice, but his backup car didn’t disappoint in qualifying. The Kaulig Racing Chevrolet started 12th Saturday afternoon and hung around the top 15 until he feared tire issues. After pitting for a fresh set and going a lap down, Koch worked his way back up into the top 20 before a speeding penalty halted his progress. He used the last 50 laps to climb through the field and bring the No. 11 home in 14th.

Koch praised his team for overcoming the rough start to the weekend, saying, “I’m so proud of my team for rebounding off of that and getting out the backup car. They had it out before I even got my car back into the garage.”

The Texas result places him fourth on the Chase Grid, one point above the cut line. Koch knows his championship position isn’t ideal, yet he is grateful for the finish and some momentum for next week’s cutoff race at Phoenix International Raceway

“To come out of here with a top 15 and still in the Chase, I couldn’t be any more pumped and proud. We have a great Phoenix car, and we have a great Phoenix backup,” he said. “We’re ready, and it’s one of my best racetracks … I feel like I’ve gotten so much better as a driver. We’ve gotten so much better as a team at that point. I can’t wait to see what we look like at Phoenix.”

Allgaier’s day went a lot smoother than Koch’s; the JR Motorsports Chevrolet started sixth and stayed in the top 10 throughout the afternoon. The No. 7 team executed consistent stops and avoided trouble, finishing 10th.  Although he gave a stout performance, Allgaier sits one point below the cutoff line – meaning he and Koch will go against each other next weekend.

The JRM driver is confident in his team after this weekend and hopes to leave Phoenix with a trophy.

“We executed and came away with a top 10 finish. I’m very proud to drive this car,” he said, adding,” Phoenix was one of the tracks that I had circled in the Chase as I’ve always done well there.”

There is a lot of positivity surrounding their respective situations, and both feel their teams are prepared for whatever comes their way. Winning would be the best Chase scenario for Allgaier and Koch.

However, the JRM driver is hoping for another outcome – one that would benefit both him and Koch.

“I get to race my buddy Blake Koch for the final spot. I’m looking forward to that,” he said. “Hopefully, something happens, and we both get in.”

EMAIL KRISTEN AT kristen.schneider@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @KristenS_Writes

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Trucks

Pit Road Mishap Dooms Gallagher at Texas

After starting from the pole at Texas Motor Speedway, it looked like Spencer Gallagher was on the verge of his first career NASCAR victory.

Gallagher, son of GMS Racing owner Maury Gallagher, led 88 laps in the Striping Technology 350 but ended up with a seventh-place result.

He had a dominating performance at the mile-and-a-half track, but GMS teammate Johnny Sauter, who clinched a Championship 4 berth with a victory at Martinsville last week, won his second consecutive race.

GMS has won the last three Truck races. Before Sauter’s win, ARCA Series veteran Grant Enfinger spoiled the Chase party with his first NASCAR victory at Talladega Superspeedway.

During the final round of pit stops under caution, Gallagher entered pit road as the leader, but his crew had trouble changing the right rear tire, and it cost the No. 23 team the lead and ultimately, the race.

Gallagher restarted seventh, and Sauter took the lead off pit road.

Said Gallagher, “It’s been nothing but amazing since we unloaded it off the truck. I got to hand it to this GMS Racing team as they’re strong. We lost this as a team, but if we pull one of these off, it’ll be as a team. But hey, that’s three [consecutive wins] for GMS Racing. I don’t think any other team is going to win a race this year. There’s a championship run coming out of this team.”

Although he’ll have to continue his wait for the elusive first victory, the 26-year-old was in good spirits after the race.

While Sauter did his post-race interview with FOX Sports from Victory Lane, Gallagher crept into the camera shot and briefly danced behind his teammate.

https://twitter.com/NASCAR_Trucks/status/794733195656888320

Seemed like he was happy for Sauter, who will be one of the final four Chasers standing at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

EMAIL JOHN AT john.haverlin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @The5thJohnHav

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Trucks

Shane Lee to Join GMS in Texas

On Monday, GMS Racing announced 23-year-old late model veteran Shane Lee will join their Camping World Truck Series stable of Chevrolets at Texas Motor Speedway in the Longhorn 350 on Friday, Nov. 4.

The Newton, N.C. native will wheel the No. 24 Silverado, marking his third career Truck start. His previous two starts came this season at Gateway Motorsports Park and Martinsville Speedway driving for Kevin Cywinski.

“I’ve been working on getting back in a truck for a while now, and I’m thankful for the opportunity to do that with GMS Racing,” Lee said. “Mike Beam and his team have really shown this year and to think that I get a shot at competing in their equipment is something I would have never guessed would happen.”

Lee has found success running late models on short tracks in the Southeast, winning two late model titles. In 2013, he was named Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series. This year, he has run a partial schedule in the ARCA Racing Series, with a season-best eighth-place finish coming at Kansas Speedway.

Jeff Stankiewicz has been named the crew chief for Lee and led Kyle Larson to victory at Eldora Speedway in July, which has instilled a sense of confidence in his driver.

“Jeff Stankiewicz is a proven winner, and after seeing what he’s done with Grant Enfinger, Kaz Grala, and Kyle Larson, I have no doubt that we will unload strong and ready to compete,” Lee said.

The team will announce sponsorship details at a later date.

The Longhorn 350 from Texas Motor Speedway can be seen on FOX Sports 1, Friday, Nov. 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

Shane Carlson is a POPULAR SPEED Development Journalist

EMAIL SHANE AT shane.carlson@popularspeed.com
TWITTER: @ShaneCarlson4

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or staff. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.