Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Daniel Suarez is 50/1 to win at Dover this Sunday

Looking for Dover Domination

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (April 30, 2019) – Daniel Suárez and the No. 41 Haas Automation team head to Dover (Del.) International Speedway this Sunday for the 11th Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race of the season. Suárez will return to the traditional red-and-black Haas Automation livery for his fifth career Cup Series start at the high-banked, concrete mile oval.
Before heading to Dover this weekend, Suárez managed a 12th-place finish in last week’s event at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Early in the race, Suárez’s teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer were involved in an accident, but Suárez was able to avoid the accidents, some narrowly, to earn his second-best finish at the 2.66-mile superspeedway with a solid day in the Orange Vanilla Coca-Cola Mustang.
 
Dover is one of only two tracks on the Cup Series schedule where Suárez has earned top-10 finishes in each of his starts there – the other being Watkins Glen, where he has a pair of top-fives in two outings. In four starts at Dover, Suárez has one top-five finish and four top-10s with an average finishing position of 6.8. He has three top-10 starting spots there with an average starting position to 8.5.
 
In addition to his Cup Series starts at Dover, he has six Xfinity Series starts with one win in October 2016, two top-fives and five top-10s, along with 144 laps led. The Mexico native also has two Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts, both resulting in second-place finishes. Finally, he has two starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, one in 2013 when he finished sixth, and one in 2014, when he finished 22nd after an accident ended his day prematurely.
 
“Dover is probably my favorite track and it’s probably my best track, too,” Suárez said. “I’m not really sure why it’s so good for me, but it’s a lot of fun. With the new package, it should be crazy fast, so it’s going to be a lot of fun, I hope. I always have it marked on my list of tracks that I think we have a really good shot to win at. Kevin and Clint were both so good there last year and my crew chief Billy Scott and the 41 team were really good there last year, too.”
 
Going to Dover with SHR should bode well for Suárez’s success. Behind Aric Almirola, Bowyer and Harvick, SHR led 592 of the 804 laps raced there last year. Harvick captured the win and Bowyer the runner-up finish in the May race.
 
At tracks a mile in length or less this season, Suárez has accumulated top-10 finishes at each, with the exception of Phoenix, where he had a mechanical issue, and Richmond, where a pit-road speeding penalty led to an 18th-place finish.
 
This time last year, Suárez was 21st in the point standings, but he’s 12th with 266 points heading into this weekend’s event. All four SHR entries are in the top-12 in the championship, from where the top 16 drivers after the 26 regular-season races will earn a spot in the Cup Series playoffs.
 
Haas Automation, founded in 1983 by SHR co-owner Gene Haas, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets. This weekend marks the seventh time Suárez has piloted the Haas Automation scheme.
 
Ford has 26 all-time Cup Series victories at Dover. The manufacturer has captured three victories so far this year and the solid start to the season has earned Ford five spots in the top-10 in points. SHR has three wins as an organization at the Delaware track with Harvick earning two and co-owner Tony Stewart one.

Daniel Suárez: Driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

How do you feel things have progressed in your first year at SHR?
 
“It’s going better than I expected, honestly. Everything has been really smooth and we have really good people and the results are coming, and I’m very happy with that. I feel like we are moving in the right direction and I have really great teammates. We are seeing a different team now than what we were seeing a month and a half ago, and I feel like a month and a half from now we’ll be even better. We have strong cars wherever we go now and it’s only getting better.”
 
You're still looking for your first playoff appearance and, if you had your preference, would you like a win early in the season so you’re locked in and good to go? Or, if you're running up front and you have the points to get in, you’re able to qualify for the playoffs that way?
 
“I would say to be competitive and run up front all the time. The win will come. I know that. We just have to be competitive and up front. I don't want to get a lucky win and be lucky in the playoffs and then just put my arms down a little bit. I want to be competitive, up front and be racing hard, and if we can do that, the win will come.”

Kyle Busch is the 3/1 favorite to win at Dover

Winning PEDIGREE

Kyle Busch has three wins at Dover.
HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (April 30, 2019) – One thing Kyle Busch has proven in his 15th season as a full-time driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series is that he’s got the PEDIGREE® of a winner in NASCAR’s top series, having scored 54 victories and sitting tied for 10th on the all-time wins list with NASCAR Hall of Famer Lee Petty.

Busch, driver of the No. 18 PEDIGREE® Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has been nothing short of impressive during the first 10 races of 2019, with a series high three wins, six top-five finishes, and the first driver since 1990 to score top-10 finishes in each of the first 10 races of a season.

The 2015 Cup Series champion enters Sunday’s Gander RV 400 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway carrying the banner for the PEDIGREE® brand, which operates under the belief that dogs and humans benefit each other and its passion to help dogs in need find a forever home. For Busch, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call victory lanes on the NASCAR tour his forever home as he’s amassed more than 200 overall wins among NASCAR’s top three series.

At Dover’s high-banked, concrete oval affectionately known as the “Monster Mile,” Busch and his PEDIGREE® team have a strong resume with his third career and most recent Cup Series win there coming in October 2017 on a dramatic, late-race pass of Chase Elliott.

In addition to his three career wins at Dover, Busch and his PEDIGREE® team have some impressive stats there to bolster their confidence this weekend. Along with the wins in NASCAR’s top series, Busch has scored five NASCAR Xfinity Series wins and four NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series wins. He’s led 1,209 laps in his previous 28 Cup Series starts there, an average of almost 43.1 per race. Busch has also scored 12 top-five finishes and 16 top-10s at the track.

So, as Busch and his PEDIGREE® team prepare for battle, it’s with the confidence he knows how to get the job done at Dover. Besides, his winning PEDIGREE® could be just what he needs to make yet another trip to victory lane on the Delmarva Peninsula, along with extending his impressive top-10 streak to start the season.
KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 PEDIGREE Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 

What are the team’s goals this weekend at Dover?

“We just need to keep executing as a team like we’ve been doing pretty much every week. Dover has been a good place for me. We ran up front all day there last fall and have won some races there in the past but, in the spring races recently, we’ve had some bad luck get us. I know Adam (Stevens, crew chief) and all the PEDIGREE® guys are working hard to have a good car off the truck and get us off to a strong start this weekend. And, hopefully, we can finish off a strong run there this time and keep our early season momentum going.”

What does it take to be successful at Dover?

“Dover, being a concrete track, is challenging. They’re all a challenge, but Dover is especially so just because of the way you have to run around that place. The way tires sometimes wear out. The way the rubber gets put down there. You’ve got to be fast through the corner. Two-thirds of your lap time is through the turns rather than down the straightaway, so you definitely have to make sure you have a good-handling racecar – one that’s good in the beginning of the run on low air pressures and one that’s good at the end of the run on high air pressures, and even through traffic, too. Some of the most challenging times are when you’re trying to get through traffic with guys.”

Do you enjoy racing at Dover?

“It’s definitely a fast racetrack. It’s a fun racetrack, too. It makes it interesting when you get to traffic, when you have to pass guys, when you’re kind of falling down into the hole and jumping back up out of the hole to the straightaways. It’s a good place to race. It’s a competitive racetrack and, when the rubber gets laid down, it definitely changes the whole atmosphere and the whole way you run around that place.”

Can you describe the differences between Dover and Bristol? While they are both concrete surfaces, how are they different?

“Definitely Dover is an interesting track, it’s definitely fun and challenging. You should ask Jimmie Johnson about how to get around there. He’s pretty good there, I heard. We’ve won there a couple of times, so it’s nice to have a little collection of monster trophies going. Between Bristol and Dover, there are no similarities between the racetracks. It’s so hard – you’d think with Charlotte, Atlanta and Texas looking the same from up above, they’re nothing close. Bristol and Dover being concrete, they’re both fast around the bottom of the racetrack. When Bristol got the grind, it then became fast around the top and it kind of changed things. Dover, it’s still always been around the bottom and it kind of changes throughout the race, too, as the rubber goes down there. And the way that place has worn over the years, it’s definitely got a lot bumpier. You can feel Bristol getting to that fashion, too. A lot of guys comment on just how bumpy it was this last time at Bristol and how the cars and the tires were really bouncing on the racetrack. You get that at Dover, for sure. I think Dover is maybe worse or feels worse because the amount of speed you’re carrying there makes you feel all that stuff a lot more.”

You have three Cup Series wins and a competitive history at Dover. What is your outlook with your history there?

“I love that place. It’s fun to race there and it’s a place I’m looking forward to going to with our PEDIGREE® Camry. I went there when I was 18 to race in the Xfinity Series for my first time. It will scare you the first time you race there. You carry so much speed at that racetrack and, for it to be a mile in length and for it to be concrete – concrete surfaces that we race on, anyway – are a little bit slick. It’s definitely a rollercoaster ride and you need to treat it like it’s fun and not to be scared of the place, I think, because you can get so much out of that place. There are two ways about it – you can probably be really, really good there, or really, really bad there. Some days are going to be better than others, obviously, with how you can get your car set up compared to the competition.”
PEDIGREE Racing

Monday, April 29, 2019

Clint Bowyer calls Dover "a driver's track, you've got man up"

No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang Ready To Tackle Monster Mile

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (April 29, 2019) – Clint Bowyer feels like the Dover (Del.) International Speedway’s Monster Mile got the better of him in last year’s two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races.

The No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang driver led 40 laps and came so close to victory in May before finishing second to Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Kevin Harvick. He looked ready to again battle for victory in September before late-race bad luck ended his day just a few laps short of the checkered flag.

While those races might have been the cause for frustration last year, they created optimism this week as Bowyer and the rest of the Cup Series competes at Dover on Sunday in the 11th race of the 2019 season. Bowyer owns three top-five finishes and 14 top-10s in 26 starts at Dover and hopes for that first win this weekend.

“Ever since I’ve been at SHR, we’ve seemed to have some really good cars at Dover,” Bowyer said. “We’ve been so close to taking home that Miles The Monster (a replica of the track’s 46-foot mascot) trophy. I hope we are just as good this weekend. If we are, then we have as good of chance as anyone. You’ve got to fight this ‘monster’ every lap. I won a couple of Xfinity races there — haven’t won a Cup race — but love this racetrack.”

Bowyer owns two NASCAR Xfinity Series victories at Dover. He led 70 laps and beat Matt Kenseth by .547 of a second on Sept. 23, 2006 to win his third of what would be eight Xfinity Series victories in his career. His most recent Xfinity Series victory also came at Dover, in Sept. 26, 2009, when he led 83 laps and beat Mike Bliss to the checkered flag by 1.319 seconds.

After what he considers a slow start to the 2019 season that saw him drop outside the top-15 in the standings, Bowyer has rallied over the last several races to return to the front of the field. In the four races that preceded last Sunday’s 500-mile race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, only Kyle Busch scored more points than Bowyer. An accident on lap 11 at Talladega relegated Bowyer to a 29th-place finish and dropped him from eighth to 10th in the standings.

“We won’t let what happened at Talladega slow us down,” said Bowyer, who went on to also explain why there was a slow start to the 2018 season. “We’ve run well recently, but we’ve got to start closing these things out.  

“Everybody works hard in the offseason and puts in the due diligence and works hard to make sure we hit the ground running, and sometimes that doesn't work. Last year with the Stewart-Haas cars, we rolled through the West-Coast swing and came out with confidence and didn’t really need to work on much. We had a lot of strengths and a few weaknesses we needed to polish up but we really were strong early and got that points base established early, and we rode that wave on through the summer months.

“This year, we missed. We weren’t exactly where we wanted to be or where we thought we would be or where the plan was through the West-Coast swing. Once you get back with a group like we have, a group of racers in the trenches at Stewart-Haas Racing, you knew it wouldn’t take long to get to the punch and get our cars right. Meeting after meeting and talk after talk, the people, it all comes back to the people working tirelessly to get our cars turned around and I think the results the last month really proved it. We knocked on the door pretty hard and Kevin has been running well and Aric (Almirola) and Daniel (Suarez) have been running well. Our cars are good. It is exciting times right now. That first group of tracks is behind us and we have learned what we need to learn and put it to good use.”

Bowyer and all of SHR continue to bring the Mobil 1 advantage to the track each weekend and Bowyer will carry the longtime SHR partner’s colors Sunday at Dover. Mobil 1 isn’t just the world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, it also provides the entire SHR organization with leading lubricant technology, ensuring that all SHR Mustangs have a competitive edge over the competition on the track.

In its 17th consecutive season as the “Official Motor Oil of NASCAR,” Mobil 1 is used by more than 50 percent of teams throughout NASCAR’s top three series.

“They are more than just a partner,” Bowyer said. “They are every bit a part of our success as anything else on the competition side. Mobil 1 gives SHR a competition advantage with its technology and lubricants.”

He hopes to show that Sunday at the Monster Mile.

Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

What are your thoughts on Dover?
“Dover is always a cool track that I think every driver looks forward to because it’s a driver’s track. You’ve got to man up, get on top of that wheel and make things happen. There are just so many things going on there on that concrete surface and high banks. It’s a lot of fun. If you win there, you’ve earned it.”

Does attitude matter at Dover?
“This is a challenging racetrack, a very competitive racetrack, one of the most competitive and challenging tracks I think we go to. The balance of your car is just so important, balancing those front tires to the rear. You’ve got to enjoy places like this. If you don’t, it’s a long day.”


No. 14 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang Team Report
Round 11 of 36 – Gander RV 400 – Dover

Odds to win 2019 Gander RV 400 at Dover

Kevin Harvick won his fourth race of 2018 at Dover last spring.
WESTGATE LAS VEGAS SUPERBOOK
ODDS TO WIN 2019 GANDER RV 400
DOVER INTERNATIONAL SPEEDWAY
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2019 - 2:15 PM ET


Kyle BUSCH 3/1
Kevin HARVICK 4/1
Brad KESELOWSKI 8/1
Martin TRUEX JR 8/1
Joey LOGANO 8/1
Clint BOWYER 12/1
Kurt BUSCH 14/1
Chase ELLIOTT 12/1
Denny HAMLIN 14/1
Aric ALMIROLA 18/1
Ryan BLANEY 20/1
Kyle LARSON 20/1
Erik JONES 25/1
Jimmie JOHNSON 20/1
Daniel SUAREZ 50/1
Austin DILLON 80/1
Ricky STENHOUSE JR 100/1
Ryan NEWMAN 100/1
Alex BOWMAN 100/1
Paul MENARD 100/1
William BYRON 200/1
Matt DIBENEDETTO 200/1
Chris BUESCHER 300/1
Darrell WALLACE JR 300/1
Daniel HEMRIC 300/1
Ryan PREECE 500/1
Ty DILLON 1000/1
Michael McDOWELL 2000/1
David RAGAN 2000/1
FIELD (all others) 1000/1

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Chase Elliott's Talladega win gives Chevrolet first 2019 win

Chase Elliott was 12/1 to win at Talladega. 

GEICO 500 Results

Kyle Busch gets 10th at Talladega; 10-for-10 top-10s in 2019

Race Recap for the GEICO 500
Kyle Busch battled all day between partisan drivers.

Date: April 28, 2019
Event: GEICO 500 (Round 10 of 36)
Series: Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Format: 188 laps, broken into three stages (55 laps/55 laps/78 laps)
Start/Finish: 22nd/10th (Running, completed 188 of 188 laps)
Point Standing: 1st (430 points, 15 ahead of second)

Race Winner:    Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Ty Dillon of Germain Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-55):
● Kyle Buschstarted 22nd and finished the stage ninth.
● Before the race went green, Busch had to go to the rear of the field due to an adjustment made to the car after qualifying.
● However, Busch didn’t keep the M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry at the back for long. He moved up to 17th by lap 10, but he radioed to crew chief Adam Stevens that he lacked some rear grip.
● With the caution waving after a lap-10 accident that did not involve Busch, he was called to pit road for fuel only, but he was assessed a pit road penalty for speeding, which again sent him to the rear of the field.
● Busch made quick work of the field ahead of him, and in just four laps he moved up to seventh place. He moved into the top-five until the closing laps of the first stage but had dropped to ninth as the stage concluded.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 56-110):
● Busch started 15th and finished 10th.
● Busch was forced to pit before pit road opened because the No. 18 was running out of fuel, so again he was assessed a penalty and sent to the rear of the field for the third time. Several other cars were in the same position, and the M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry restarted 15th.
● The 2015 NASCAR Cup Series champion again moved right back up through the field, making it to 10th by lap 62.
● Busch had the lead briefly and sat within the top-five until about 10 laps to go in the stage, when he dropped back just outside the top-10.
 The Las Vegas native managed to move up a few positions on the final lap of the stage and finished in the 10th spot.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 111-188):
● Busch started fourth and finished 10th.
● Busch came to pit road to the attention of the M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry team, where they changed four tires and added fuel. He managed to gain an impressive six spots on pit road, Busch restarting fourth for the third and final stage of Sunday’s 500-mile race.
 Busch restarted fourth, but Brad Keselowski’s position at the right rear of Busch’s Toyota made the No. 18 loose. Busch fell all the way back to 27th, but still he battled back, moving up to 17th by lap 121 and 14th by lap 124.
● He kept battling and maneuvered his way into the top-five and then the second spot as the laps wound down.
 With six laps remaining, the caution waved for a multicar wreck behind Busch as he sat in the second spot behind race leader Joey Logano.
● After a lengthy red flag for cleanup, Busch restarted second, but staying there was a tall order with no other Toyota teammates in the top-20. Busch quickly was shuffled out of pack, as other manufacturers worked together and Busch ran on his own with many of his Toyota teammates involved in accidents. All he could do was bring home his M&M’S Chocolate Bar Toyota with another top-10 finish.

Notes:
● Busch led three times for a total of four laps.
● Busch recorded his 10th top-10 finish of the season and his eighth top-10 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in 28 starts.
● The M&M’S Chocolate Bar driver continued his top-10 streak for the season. His top-10s for 2019’s first 10 races now rank one behind Morgan Shepherd, who finished in the top-10 for the first 11 races of the 1990 season, which is the record for NASCAR’s modern era.

Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Chocolate Bar Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing:

What happened on the final restart that shuffled you from second back to the 10th position?

“We restarted outside the front row and I thought the 1 (Kurt Busch) behind me would want to race for the win and not just fall in line behind Fords and in front of Chevrolets and he would go with us a little bit there. Team order prevailed, I guess. That kind of sucked. We weren’t able to have the run. As soon as he bailed off from behind me, then two others behind me got doublewide and then it just sucked me six rows back. I had to try to recover after that, and all I could get was whatever I got. We had a good M&M’S Chocolate Bar Camry, but the caution hurt us with no numbers with us up front.”

Was there more blocking than expected in the race?
“When you got older on tires and cars started to ill-handle a little bit, it was interesting. We got more downforce, and yet the cars are driving worse. I don’t know how that’s possible. It was just interesting how you could be all over the place and not just be stuck. Guys were moving a little bit, you could make some moves a little bit. There was a section of the race where the bottom lane didn’t move anywhere and the top lane didn’t move anywhere – we were stuck where we were at for like eight laps. That was about all I really saw.”

Next Up: The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Gander RV 400 on Sunday, May 5 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 beginning with a prerace show at 12:30 p.m. and by SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Austin Dillon wins Talladega pole on birthday

Austin Dillon grabs his fifth career pole.
Austin Dillon has won the Cup pole for Sunday’s GEICO 500 at Talladega Superspeedway.

Dillon claimed the top spot with a speed of 192.544 mph a day after his decklid was confiscated by NASCAR.

It’s Dillon’s fifth career Cup pole and his second this year (Auto Club Speedway).

The top five is completed by Aric Almirola, Clint Bowyer, Brad Keselowski and Daniel Hemric, Dillon’s Richard Childress Racing teammate.

“It feels great,” Dillon told Fox Sports 1. “It’s RCR’s 50th anniversary, it’s Talladega’s 50th anniversary, my grandfather takes a lot of pride in these speedway races. To come here and get a pole we felt like we had a car capable of doing that. We knew that didn’t hurt us so we just wanted to go out there and what we did.”

Read More Here.....NBC Sports

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Talladega Betting Preview: 2019 Geico 500

New package for cars this week at Talladega.
The restrictor-plate is dead after over 30 years of using it in Cup races at Talladega Superspeedway as NASCAR ushers in a new era in hopes of making the races more competitive and safer. The season-opening Daytona 500 was the last race to use the plates and the new package has never been tested at Talladega so there's a lot of uncertainty and anticipation by all the teams heading into Friday's practice in preparation for Sunday's Geico 500.

“I have no idea," Kevin Harvick said about what's in store for his team this weekend. "You just show up and see how it develops. All you can do is show up for a weekend at Talladega and see how it develops and go from there.”

Talladega's high-banked 2.66-mile layout is the biggest and fastest on the circuit, and while NASCAR has created more drag with the new cars, which includes a 9 inch tall spoiler, aero ducts, and raising the rear an extra inch, the engine with 550 horsepower offers more throttle response compared to the plates engines that produced only 410 horsepower. On paper, it looks like the cars will go much faster.

“There are a lot of unknowns going into this weekend with the new package," said Ricky Stenhouse Jr., winner of the 2017 spring Talladega race. "We expect that the speeds will be higher than normal. I know we are all looking forward to getting on track Friday to see how the new rules package will affect the handling of the car. Talladega always put on a great race because we are all racing so close together. We’ve had some issues the past couple of weeks so we are looking to turn that around this weekend.”

Stenhouse only has two wins and they both came in 2017 on plate races. The Westgate Las Vegas Superbook lists him at 18-to-1 odds to win in part because of his past wins, but also because he's the active leader at Talladega with a 10.6 average finish.

Still, we don't know how the cars will run. Do the teams that have had success with the new package have an edge this weekend? This week's package with the tapered spacer limits horsepower to 550 horsepower just like at Atlanta, Las Vegas, Fontana, and Texas and there were two winners from Team Penske and two winners from Joe Gibbs Racing in those races. The other package with 750 horsepower on the shorter tracks, JGR has three wins and Penske has the other. The season scoreboard reads JGR 6 wins, Penske 3 wins.

Why should Sunday be any different, especially considering Ford has won the past seven races at Talladega, five coming from the Penske stables. Brad Keselowski leads all active drivers with five wins at Talladega and Joey Logano is next with three, which is why the SuperBook has them both listed as 8/1 co-favorites to win.

I want to know more, though. The cars will likely be faster -- Kurt Busch won the pole at Talladega last fall at 195 mph -- and we'll probably see more tandem racing and drivers figuring out the aero push of the new body bringing lots of side drafting to slow the other cars down briefly. The best explanation I've heard from how things might look this weekend came from Matt DiBenedetto's crew chief Mike Wheeler.

“Talladega might be the most interesting track we go to this year with the new aero package compared to what people expect heading into this weekend," said Wheeler, who won the 2016 Daytona 500 as Denny Hamlin's crew chief. "Ultimately, Daytona notes from the start of the season are thrown out the window because that package is completely different than what we’re running this weekend. We’re hoping to keep a decent notebook from Texas and some of the other tracks that had the same 550 spec NASCAR package, but with the new spoiler height and rear tail extension, the car is a whole new animal in itself."

What Wheeler said about Texas is interesting and worth taking note of (Hamlin won at Texas). While the spoiler is supposed to create more drag, it looks like it will also create more downforce which will have all the tires sticking with no slips while drivers keep the gas pedal mashed to the floor all the way around.

"It wouldn’t surprise us if there is a bigger pack this weekend and that the runs on guys in traffic are quicker and harder to block in the big pack," Wheeler continued. "It may be similar to what we saw maybe 10 to 15 years ago, but ultimately in regard to handling, I think that cars are going to be stuck more into the track compared to where they’ve been in the past. The cars for this weekend are going to be quite a bit front-heavy with the big splitter so handling in traffic might be a concern compared to clean air traffic. We’re just not entirely sure what’s going to happen this weekend because handling might come into play because of the off-balance of the aero-balance."

Wheeler was the race engineer for Hamlin when they won at Talladega in 2014. He knows his stuff setting up cars at Talladega and Daytona, which is part of the reason DiBenedetto led twice for 49 laps in the Daytona 500 before being collected in the "Big One." The other part that Leavine Family Racing has a technical alliance with JGR. The SuperBook respects the volatile nature of Talladega, the randomness of finishers, and DiBenedetto's car so much he's only 30/1 to win Sunday.

The only certainty this week is that we will eventually see the "Big One" due to all the drivers being bunched up -- bumper-to-bumper, side-by-side three and four wide -- at 200 mph. I also don't foresee drivers and crews foregoing the final practices this week like they used to in plate races for fear of wrecking the car because they have so much to learn about the new package before Sunday.

Jimmie Johnson is 18/1 to win 2019 Geico 500 at Talladega

Jimmie Johnson led 60 laps at Texas, finished fifth.
Jimmie Johnson on racing at Talladega:"Lots of unknowns as far as the package goes this weekend at Talladega. It should make for some interesting racing for sure. Personally, I've enjoyed a great vacation with my family after competing in the Boston Marathon and I'm looking forward to this weekend."


Jimmie Johnson, driver of the No. 48 Ally Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, will be available to the media on Friday, April 26, at 2 p.m. local time in the drivers meeting room at Talladega Superspeedway.
BOSTON IN THE REAR VIEW: The highly anticipated Boston Marathon is finally behind Jimmie Johnson and his performance was impressive. The driver crossed the finish line just nine minutes short of his personal goal of three hours. The 43-year old, seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion completed the storied 26.2 mile course in 3:09:07, which now qualifies him for the 2020 Boston Marathon.

COMPARATIVELY SPEAKING: Johnson’s average pace for the Boston Marathon was a 7:13 minute per mile, or 8.57 mph. His average time per lap at Richmond was 36.1 seconds per mile, or 99.852 mph. His estimated caloric burn during the Boston Marathon was 2,990 calories and during the Richmond race was 1,431. Johnson’s average heart rate during the marathon was 154 beats per minute and 114 for Richmond’s 300-mile race. The Richmond event took 3:00:16 to complete and the marathon was 3:09:07. Once Johnson crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon, he had officially logged 819 miles on foot in 2019 in addition to his 3,461 miles raced in a car this season.

FINAL EPISODE: Johnson had a team documenting his journey to Boston along with partner Gatorade Endurance. The final episode of “Jimmie Johnson: Formulated for Boston” was released on April 16 – click here to watch it.

FRESH OFF A BYE WEEK: Johnson has 12 wins in his career after an off week, most among active drivers. Six of those have come in the last 10 years, which is tied for the most in that span. He has two career wins at Talladega Superspeedway, the last of which came on April 17, 2011.

AGE IS JUST A NUMBER: April 28 marks the 17-year anniversary of Johnson’s first Cup Series win. The win came in his 13th career start on April 28, 2002, at Auto Club Speedway in California. Johnson was a mere 26 years old at the time, the fifth-youngest driver in the field. Speaking of age, Johnson is expected to be the oldest driver competing at Talladega this weekend at age 43.

 

2019 Season

  • 13th in standings
  • 9 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 4 top-10 finishes
  • 64 laps led
 
 

Career

  • 624 starts
  • 83 wins
  • 36 pole positions
  • 225 top-five finishes
  • 356 top-10 finishes
  • 18,767 laps led
 
 

Track Career 

  • 34 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 7 top-five finishes
  • 13 top-10 finishes
  • 470 laps led
 

Ryan Newman 40/1 to win 2019 Geico 500 at Talladega

Ryan Newman has 13 top-10 finishes at Talladega.
Team: No. 6 Acorns Ford Mustang
Crew Chief: Scott Graves
Twitter: @Roush6Team, @RoushFenway and @RyanJNewman

GEICO 500 – Sunday, April 28 at 2 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN, SiriusXM Channel 90

ADVANCE NOTES

Newman at Talladega Superspeedway


· Newman will make his 35th Cup start at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. In 34 prior starts, Newman has 13 top-10s and six top-fives with an average finish of 19.6.

· His best Cup finish at the track all-time came just two seasons ago where he finished runner-up in the 2017 fall race. He also finished ninth last spring after starting 18th.

· Newman’s average starting spot at the 2.66-mile track is 14.7. He has two career qualifying efforts of third or better, including third in 2005 and second in 2012.

· Newman also has one Xfinity Series start at Talladega back in 2009, where he qualified on the pole and finished second.

Scott Graves at Talladega Superspeedway

· Graves will call his sixth MENCS event at Talladega on Sunday. In five previous races atop the pit box, Graves has a best finish of third with Ricky Stenhouse Jr., back in 2013. He most recently finished 10th with Daniel Suarez last spring and overall has an average of finish of 12th.

· Graves also called three Xfinity Series events at Talladega, all of which were top-10s. He led Chris Buescher to a runner-up result in 2014 and followed that with a sixth-place finish a year later, before finishing seventh with Suarez in 2016.

QUOTE WORTHY

Newman on racing at Talladega:


“We’re feeling refreshed after the off weekend and ready to get to Talladega in our Acorns Ford. Talladega is a place where your average finishing position and other numbers are usually thrown out the window because you just never know what can happen, especially with a new rules package. In the last couple weeks we’ve shown we’re here to contend and our main priority is to continue that this weekend and be there at the end.”

On the Car

Acorns makes its third appearance of the season on board Newman’s No. 6 Ford Mustang.

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Chase Elliott is 14/1 to win 2019 Geico 500 at Talladega

Chase Elliott with Pizza Pizza on the hood.
Chase Elliott on racing at Talladega:
“Talladega is Talladega. Obviously, the package is going to be different for there, too. Daytona was what we have had in the past. I don’t know what we are going to see. I’m sure we will still see a bunch of wrecks and whatnot. Hopefully, we are not involved.”

Elliott on how the Talladega race weekend will unfold:
“I’m sure you’ll see what we’ve seen the past handful of times, guys going out with their manufacturers and running with them. So, we’ll definitely do that, I’m sure. And we’ll get as big a group as we can to go practice with. We’ve always been wanting to go run when there is a group. There’s just never a big enough group to really learn what you see in the race.”


PIZZA! PIZZA!: The No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 will get a fresh orange, white and black look for this weekend’s race at Talladega Superspeedway. Chase Elliott’s Talladega ride was revealed via Little Caesars' social media last week. Hendrick Motorsports later showcased Elliott’s Mountain Dew/Little Caesars uniform on Instagram.
TALLADEGA STATS: This weekend, Elliott is set to make his seventh start at Talladega Superspeedway. In his previous six starts, the Dawsonville, Georgia, native has never started outside the top 10, including earning the pole award in his first start at the track in May 2016. He currently holds the second-best all-time average start at Talladega (4.17) with a minimum of two starts. Elliott has garnered two top-five finishes and led 53 laps in his Cup Series starts at the Alabama track. Elliott also has three starts at Talladega in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, collecting one top-10 finish.

GUSTAFSON AT TALLADEGA: No. 9 team crew chief Alan Gustafson will call his 29th Talladega Cup Series race from atop the pit box this weekend. In his previous 28 races calling the shots for five different drivers (Elliott, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears, Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon) at the superspeedway, he collected six top-five finishes – one of which was a runner-up result – seven top-10s, 165 laps led and five pole awards.

LOOKING AHEAD: Elliott looks to repeat the success and career-best finishes that he has at the four upcoming tracks on the schedule – Talladega, Dover, Kansas and Charlotte. In April 2018, Elliott collected a third-place finish at Talladega – currently a career best at the 2.66-mile oval . During the most recent visits to Dover and Kansas, the driver of the No. 9 captured wins that secured his spot in the Round of 8 for the 2018 playoffs. Elliott has also garnered a runner-up finish (career best at track) at Charlotte back in October 2017 after leading 12 laps.

THIS ONE’S ON CHASE: Elliott and Mountain Dew have partnered with Little Caesars for a delicious deal. For a limited time only, order any pizza on the Little Caesars app and receive a FREE 2-liter Pepsi-Cola product. Offer is only available while supplies last. For more information, head over to LittleCaesars.com.

 

2019 Season

  • 10th in standings
  • 9 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 1 pole position
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 122 laps led
 
 

Career

  • 122 starts
  • 3 wins
  • 5 pole positions
  • 34 top-five finishes
  • 61 top-10 finishes
  • 1,365 laps led
 
 

Track Career 

  • 6 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 2 top-five finishes
  • 2 top-10 finishes
  • 62 laps led
 

Kevin Harvick is 10/1 to win 2019 Geico 500 at Talladega

It’s Back! Flannel Returns to Busch Beer Ford Mustang

Kevin Harvick has one win at Talladega.
KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (April 24, 2019) – In April 2018, Kevin Harvick and the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) came to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway with a fresh, new outdoors-inspired look completely covered in flannel – the unofficial uniform of the true outdoor enthusiast.

It was such a hit, especially with fans, that the flannel will return for Sunday’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Geico 500 at Talladega.

Busch Beer has embodied the spirit of the Great Outdoors since its inception in 1955. Again this weekend at Talladega, Busch will continue to honor its deep roots and celebrate those who are passionate about outdoor pursuits. The “Busch Guy” will return sporting his red-plaid flannel shirt and blue jeans – the inspiration for the livery of the No. 4 Busch Beer Flannel Ford Mustang.

When Harvick and the No. 4 Busch Beer Flannel team roll into Talladega for Sunday’s race, the team will be draped in the red-checkered fabric. Harvick’s Busch Beer firesuit, the crew’s shirts, the fan display and even the paint scheme of the No. 4 Busch Beer Ford will all feature flannel.

The Busch Guy, decked out in flannel, will be on hand throughout the weekend to cheer on the Busch Flannel team to victory. Fans can support Harvick by shopping athttps://store.stewarthaasracing.com/ where a wide variety of flannel merchandise is available.

And Harvick is hoping to put the Busch Beer Flannel Ford Mustang in victory lane.

He will make his 37th NASCAR Cup Series start Sunday at the 2.66-mile oval where he has one win, two poles, seven top-five finishes, 15 top-10s and has led 260 laps.

Harvick scored his lone Talladega win in April 2010, when he started fourth, led two of 200 laps and beat runner-up Jamie McMurray by .011 of a second. He earned his first Cup Series pole at Talladega in May 2005 with a speed of 189.804 mph. He won his second Cup Series pole in April 2018, when he recorded a lap of 49.247 seconds at 194.448 mph.

Harvick has three career Cup Series runner-up finishes at Talladega, most recently in October 2010, when he started 14th, led 12 laps and finished runner-up to his now-SHR teammate Clint Bowyer.

Harvick is hoping flannel will be the magic touch that will lead him to his first victory of 2019.
KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Flannel Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 
Thoughts on Talladega?  

“I have no idea. You just show up and see how it develops. All you can do is show up for a weekend at Talladega and see how it develops and go from there.”  

Talladega vs. Daytona – what’s the difference for the spotter?

“Talladega is a lot bigger. It’s a lot wider. The track itself is bigger. The shape of Talladega is different than Daytona because of the track being wider and the way the tri-oval is shaped. The start-finish line is almost all the way down into turn one, which seems to change some of the outcomes of the finishes, because you have to go all the way down the front straightaway before you get to the finish line. Talladega’s tri-oval is a little bit different than Daytona’s. That bottom groove has a little less banking than the rest of the racetrack, so it’s almost like you’re dipping down into a hole. Sometimes you see guys get loose down into the tri-oval and spin out, so it ends up being where some of the wrecks are caused. It’s really hard to push through that tri-oval, especially as you are heading down into that bottom lane. It’s tough to know exactly where you need to be at the end of the race but, for me, I’ve only won one of them there. In that particular race, we were tandem racing and I was second coming into the tri-oval and was able to get past Jamie McMurray. But I would still rather be leading and in control. If I’ve made it to the white flag, then I’ve made it a lot farther than I’ve made it lately, so it’s a chess match all day. You have to have a little bit of luck on your side, but you can also put yourself in a good position by making the right moves, having a good day on pit road and not making any mistakes.”