Monday, March 23, 2020

Expect NASCAR iRacing odds to be posted in Nevada for race at virtual Texas Motor Speedway

Denny Hamlin was posted at 15/1 odds to win.
Circa Sports in Las Vegas posted odds to win Sunday's Dixie Vodka 150 at the virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway with mobile wagering through an app only available because the book itself is closed along with every other brick and mortar casino. It's the first time iRacing has had odds posted on it in Nevada so after 2 hours of the odds being open, Nevada Gaming Control wanted more information and told Circa to take the odds down. But they have submitted for approval again and should have Sunday's race at virtual Texas Motor Speedway up and ready for action by Friday.

Update: Tuesday, March 24, 2020

The Nevada Gaming Control Board told at least two Nevada sportsbook operators that their request to book NASCAR iRacing was denied, again. When I called to question the reasoning NGCB's quote was "The Nevada Gaming Control Board has no comment." That's it? So final, and no answers.

Denny Hamlin passes Dale Jr. for victory in eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series opener

Denny Hamlin was 15/1 to win.
March 22, 2020
By Holly Cain 
Denny Hamlin edged Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a door-banging final push to the checkered flag in Sunday’s eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series debut event, the Dixie Vodka 150, at iRacing’s virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Hamlin, who also won the NASCAR Cup Series season-opening Daytona 500, admitted Sunday’s iRacing event was certainly a different experience. He noted that he received a shaken Coca-Cola from his at-home pit crew (young daughter) during a caution period and actually competed barefoot. 
"I like feeling the pedals, with shoes I just can’t do it, so I always go barefoot," Hamlin said with a laugh. Ultimately, he certainly provided a thrilling last-lap pass indicative of NASCAR’s best brand of tight racing – real or virtual. Shoes or not.
"I just ran my line, he gave me the proper space and we were able to race to the line,’’ Hamlin said, noting that he had an advantage of newer tires.
Earnhardt also noted the tight finish.
"I’ve raced him on here [iRacing] for two decades, I thought he’d be hard to beat,’’ Earnhardt said.
"I was trying to get a good finish, trying to win the race and trying not to wreck anybody. So I think I probably gave Denny a little more room than I really wanted to, but I had to keep from crashing him or anybody else. We got together off of [Turn] 4. I thought I might have been able to get a photo finish at the line, but we got together in [Turn] 4 and I about wrecked there.
"But it was a fun race. Denny had better tires and he was just really, really fast, but it was a good race.’’
Timmy Hill, Chase Briscoe and pole-winner Garrett Smithley rounded out the top five in an event that had nine caution periods and certainly tested the iRacing skills of NASCAR’s top names.
The 100-lap virtual race had all the crowd-pleasing, competitive elements to provide an afternoon escape from the worries about the COVID-19 virus that has paused all live action in the sports world. Hamlin pledged prior to the race to donate $100 per lap led plus $5,000 for winning the race – for a total of $6,400 this afternoon –  to The NASCAR Foundation to assist Miami-area families affected by the virus, while others matched and added on to his donation.
Both longtime race fans and - judging by social media - lots of new eyeballs checked out the FS1 broadcast called by FOX Sports’ regulars, Mike Joy, Jeff Gordon and Larry McReynolds. And the race included a broad spectrum of NASCAR regulars representing all three national series – from the NASCAR Cup Series, NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series.
The list of competitors included highly accomplished drivers like past NASCAR Cup Series champions Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano along with NASCAR Hall of Famer Bobby Labonte. Also racing were the sport’s decades-long Most Popular Driver Earnhardt and Chase Elliott, who assumed that crown when Earnhardt retired from fulltime competition two years ago.
And all these longtime NASCAR champs were dutifully challenged by a group of competitors with lots of iRacing experience such as Hill and Smithley.
The virtual race provided all the exciting, lap-by-lap intrigue as what fans would have seen in a regular points race.
Hamlin, who drove a replica of his No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series, was among the pre-race favorites, along with Smithley and Hill, who has accumulated 673 iRacing wins but his best NASCAR Cup Series finish is 14th. Smithley’s best NASCAR Cup Seires finish is 28th.
While Hamlin’s iRacing set-up cost nearly $40,000 (by his own estimate) and featured all the modern accoutrements, Hill was racing on a basic steering wheel he attached to a desk at home. It all shows how this form of competition evens the playing field, making it more about experience than equipment.
"Wow what a day!,’’ Smithley said on Twitter following the race. "Pole, led laps, came home 5th. Awesome race! Really good way for all of us to have some fun.’’
Hill was equally as energized by the afternoon and his showing.

"DANG! Should’ve put tires on there at the end!,’’ he said on Twitter. "Fun race all around!"
Rounding out the top 10 were Cup Series regulars Alex Bowman,  Bubba Wallace and Ryan Preece. Gander Trucks driver Ty Majeski - who led all 20 laps in winning the qualifying race to advance to Sunday’s 100-lapper -  finished ninth. And Hamlin’s JGR Cup Series teammate Erik Jones was 10th.
William Byron, a pre-race favorite who started on the outside pole position, led laps early but was collected in an accident late in the race. He finished 34th. His Hendrick Motorsports teammate, seven-time champ Johnson, finished 31st after also being involved in a couple incidents.
Johnson smilingly said of his racing experience on Sunday, "It’s quite different to say the least.’’
Following the race, Johnson posted on social media. "Awesome to see our industry come together for the #ProInvitationalSeries today. Appreciate all the fans who tuned in and everyone who made this possible.’’
That was certainly the overall feeling from the drivers who participated.
"It’s always fun when you win, but regardless, I mean, it’s just – it was a great event,’’ Hamlin said. "For the community, the racing community, the NASCAR drivers to come together and put 20-something drivers on the racetrack with such short notice, everyone is buying up simulation rigs this week and last week getting ready for the event, and for it all to come together and have a great finish, I think it was definitely a success.’’
And, Hamlin added, "If we got five new fans that were just sitting at home watching TV today that thought it was exciting and is willing to tune in next week or willing to tune into a NASCAR race or go to a NASCAR race because they got introduced to racing today by iRacing, it’s a success.
"There’s no number that makes it a success. If you made positive gains in your audience, whether it be one person or 1,000, it’s a good thing.’’
eNASCAR iRacing Pro Invitational Series Race
Dixie Vodka 150
Virtual Homestead-Miami Speedway
Sunday, March 20, 2020
1. (9) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Toyota, 100.
2. (5) Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 8 Chevrolet, 100.
3. (7) Timmy Hill, No. 66 Toyota, 100.
4. (6) Chase Briscoe, No. 98 Ford, 100.
5. (1) Garrett Smithley, No. 51 Chevrolet, 100.
6. (12) Alex Bowman, No. 88 Chevrolet, 100.
7. (18) Bubba Wallace, No. 43 Chevrolet, 100.
8. (13) Ryan Preece, No. 37 Chevrolet, 100.
9. (3) Ty Majeski, No. 45 Chevrolet, 100.
10. (25) Erik Jones, No. 20 Toyota, 100.
11. (16) Matt DiBenedetto, No. 21 Ford, 100.
12. (10) Landon Cassill, No. 89 Chevrolet, 100.
13. (8) Parker Kligerman, No. 77 Toyota, 100.
14. (4) Ross Chastain, No. 6 Ford, 100.
15. (19) Joey Logano, No. 22 Ford, 100.
16. (11) Clint Bowyer, No. 14 Ford, 100.
17. (23) Ryan Truex, No. 40 Chevrolet, 100.
18. (29) Bobby Labonte, No. 19 Toyota, 100.
19. (28) Ty Dillon, No. 13 Chevrolet, 100.
20. (26) Justin Allgaier, No. 7 Chevrolet, 100.
21. (33) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 47 Chevrolet, 100.
22. (15) Austin Cindric, No. 12 Ford, 100.
23. (32) Michael McDowell, No. 34 Ford, 100.
24. (20) Chase Elliott, No. 9 Chevrolet, 100.
25. (30) Brad Keselowski, No. 2 Ford, 100.
26. (27) Christopher Bell, No. 95 Toyota, 100.
27. (24) Austin Dillon, No. 3 Chevrolet, 100.
28. (21) Chris Buescher, No. 17 Ford, 99.
29. (34) Kyle Busch, No. 18 Toyota, 94.
30. (22) John Hunter Nemechek, No. 38 Ford, 93.
31. (35) Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 Chevrolet, 93.
32. (17) Anthony Alfredo, No. 33 Chevrolet, 86.
33. (14) Kyle Larson, No. 42 Chevrolet, 86.
34. (2) William Byron, No. 24 Chevrolet, 79.
35. (31) Kurt Busch, No. 1 Chevrolet, 46.
Race statistics
Margin of victory: 0.153 seconds.
Caution periods: 9 for 42 laps.
Lead changes: 11 among 6 drivers.
Lap leaders: Byron (28), Smithley (24), Hamlin (14), Earnhardt (14), Hill (13), Briscoe (7)

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

NASCAR futures have some value now with Cup Series in hiatus

Chevrolet looks to have 2020 figured out best.
After Rudy Gobert tested positive for the coronavirus that triggered most of the sports leagues to suspend play to where it was only NASCAR and the PGA Tour among the top leagues that were going on as scheduled for the weekend without fans in attendance.

I thought with not much to bet on that NASCAR would find random action from people who just thrive on the thrill of betting anything. But it wasn’t to be. On Friday morning NASCAR said qualifying and the race would be run on Saturday instead with no practices and no fans, and then about 30 minutes later they scrapped the idea altogether and sent out a press release that the Atlanta and Homestead races would be postponed for the safety and well being of their fans, competitors, and officials. The PGA did the same thing after completing the first round of The Players Championship at TPC Sawgrass.

But for all of you out there that may have bet on NASCAR for the first time and were denied the opportunity last weekend, might I suggest whenever the season resumes to give it another shot.

And for your best value on betting odds to win, may I suggest the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, William Hill and Circa Sports who offer the lowest theoretic hold percentage in the state. The SuperBook shoots for 25 percent each week, William Hill’s is always around 27 percent, and Circa blew the doors off Las Vegas history with a 20 percent hold last week.

What I noticed with Circa's Atlanta odds last week was that they had the best prices in town on the favorites, and favorites are favorites for a reason because they usually win. But if you can get 12-1 instead of 10-1 on Alex Bowman or +545 on the favored Kevin Harvick who was 9-2 everywhere else, you play it every time with a better price.

In this downtime before the sports leagues get back to work do yourself a favor and go downtown, sign-up for the Circa app, and get the best prices for each race. They offer the best value for all futures and it’s by design to give them a competitive edge.

What separates one sportsbook from another? They all offer lines on games, they all show the games live, most have in-progress wagering, most are clean and offer great guest service with comps available. But it’s in the price splits and future odds offered by Circa that gives them an edge.

When will racing resume? Monday, NASCAR issued the following statement regarding its schedule:

“The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority, so in accordance with recent CDC guidance, NASCAR is currently postponing all race events through May 3rd, with plans to return racing in Martinsville.

"We appreciate the patience of our fans and we look forward to returning to the racetrack. We intend to hold all 36 races this season, with future rescheduling soon to be determined as we continue to monitor this situation closely with public health officials and medical experts.”

If that's the case, we certainly have plenty of time on our hands to study and chart out a plan to bet. The future book remains open and let's discuss a few decent bets to win the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series Championship with odds offered by the SuperBook.

Only four races have passed, but I got enough of a preview in those four races to justify commentary because the teams used three different race packages. I’ve got enough data to feel comfortable throwing out a few names you could invest in.

Alex Bowman (16-1): He opened at 40-1 odds and the price reduction is warranted and maybe still generous. He won at Fontana and had the best car late a week earlier in Las Vegas. Those two races using the race package will be raced the most this season, including five races during the playoffs. He had a top-2 car in both races, and he probably would have won at Atlanta.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

NASCAR looking at May 3 Martinsville date for return

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 16, 2020) – “The health and safety of our fans, industry and the communities in which we race is our most important priority, so in accordance with recent CDC guidance, NASCAR is currently postponing all race events through May 3rd, with plans to return racing in Martinsville. We appreciate the patience of our fans and we look forward to returning to the racetrack. We intend to hold all 36 races this season, with future rescheduling soon to be determined as we continue to monitor this situation closely with public health officials and medical experts. What is important now transcends the world of sports and our focus is on everyone’s safety and well-being as we navigate this challenging time together.”

Friday, March 13, 2020

NASCAR Cancels Atlanta and Homestead Races

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (March 13, 2020) – “NASCAR has decided to postpone the race events at Atlanta Motor Speedway this weekend and Homestead-Miami Speedway next weekend. We believe this decision is in the best interest of the safety and well-being of our fans, competitors, officials and everyone associated with our sport. We will continue to monitor this dynamic situation as we assess future race events.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

NASCAR Cup Series Returns South to Atlanta

Kevin Harvick has been a beast at Atlanta for the past six races.
The first four races of the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season have shown three different races packages featuring competitive racing giving signs of parity not seen in recent years. Only three drivers have a series-high two top-fives so far while 17 drivers have at least one top-five. Only Kevin Harvick has finished in the top-10 of all four races.

So when the series heads back east to Atlanta Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile high-banked layout for Sunday’s Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, picking a winner is not as simple as it was in 2019. However, we do have the advantage of seeing this week’s race package with engines producing 550 horsepower twice this season at Las Vegas and Fontana. The data gained from those two races should be put to the forefront of handicapping or creating odds more than Atlanta’s history.

The biggest takeaway I had with both Las Vegas and Fontana combined was that Hendrick Motorsports and the new Chevy body design had made huge strides from 2019. All four Hendrick drivers looked to have cars capable of winning with Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman looking the best among the team. All three Mustangs at Team Penske are capable of winning. Harvick is ready to win and the four Joe Gibbs Toyotas don’t have the edge they had last season winning nine of 14 races using this race package.

Let’s take a look at the top candidates to win at Atlanta using the Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook’s odds to win which were released Monday afternoon:

Alex Bowman (10-1): His first career win in the Cup Series came last season on the 1.5-mile layout at Chicagoland, and so far this season using this race package he probably should have won in both races. He dominated at Fontana with a win after leading a race-high 110 laps and the week before he was the fastest down the stretch at Las Vegas before a late pit sequence stopped him from passing for the lead. There’s no reason to believe he won’t be just as good Sunday.

Brad Keselowski (6-1):
The past three seasons at Atlanta while using two different race packages, he’s been the best with two wins and a runner-up and he’s led with most laps in six of his last seven starts there. Based on what I’ve seen in two races at Las Vegas (7th) and Fontana (5th), he should again be battling for the win late in the race. Penske already has things figured out in all 2020 race packages and there is little difference between all three Mustangs.

Chase Elliott (6-1): He’s Atlanta’s active leader with a 10.5 average finish between four Cup starts, which doesn’t surprise considering he hails from Georgia. He’ll have the loudest cheers during the race and he’ll likely lead a bunch of laps as he did at Las Vegas (70) when he won the first two stages. He followed that dominant performance up with a fourth-place finish at Fontana. The stars and stats aligned nicely for him to get his first Cup win at his hometown track.

Kyle Busch (8-1): He was the first Toyota driver ever to win at Atlanta in 2008 and won there again in 2013. He was sixth last season and was seventh the season before starting from the pole. It’s not often you get 8-1 odds on Busch in a non-Superspeedway race and his runner-up finish at Fontana two weeks ago suggests he’s ready for his first 2020 win. And believe me, he has sleepless nights being angry that he’s winless through the first four Cup races.


Alex Bowman has attractive 10/1 odds to win Atlanta

Alex Bowman looking good for Atlanta.
Alex Bowman's thoughts on going into Atlanta with Hendrick Motorsports' strong intermediate program:
“We should be good. Atlanta is a lot of fun. I’m excited about the new Camaro ZL1 1LE and what we’ve seen with it so far. I think we can be really strong there. It’s another place where you can move around a lot. Tire management is really key. You can move to the top and pass a lot of cars and five laps later, you’re going backwards. So, managing that is a lot of fun. It should be a good race for us.”

AXALTA ON BOARD: This weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway marks the second event of the 2020 season in which the Axalta colors will adorn Alex Bowman's No. 88 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE. The leading global supplier of liquid and powder coatings and Hendrick Motorsports announced an extension last month that will take their partnership through the 2027 season. Read more here.

ATL BOUND: The driver of the No. 88 machine has four previous starts in the NASCAR Cup Series at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Bowman’s best finish of 15th came in last year’s event at the 1.5-mile facility. He has one start in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2013, where he qualified 18th. In 2017, Bowman ran in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, where he finished sixth after qualifying fifth.

1.5-MILE STATS: In 2019, Bowman had 11 starts on tracks measuring 1.5 miles in length. The 26-year-old driver had an average start of 13.7 and an average finish of 9.3 on these tracks last season. Bowman captured three top-five finishes and six top 10s at intermediate tracks, including the win at Chicagoland Speedway. In the last nine events on tracks of this length, Bowman’s average finish of 7.9 is the second best of all drivers and his six top-10 finishes over the last nine are tied for the second most. Earlier this year, the team finished 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after battling inside the top 10 for most of the event.

NEW KICKS: During this weekend’s event at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Bowman will be sporting some new shoes. The Chase Elliott Foundation is supporting the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta through the "DESI9N TO DRIVE" shoe program. The shoes, designed by 14-year-old Justin Mingo, will be autographed by Bowman and auctioned off by the Chase Elliott Foundation for nine days (March 13–22). Proceeds will go to the foundation to benefit Children's summer camp program. Visit the auction page here.

IVES IN ATLANTA: Crew chief Greg Ives will call the shots for the sixth time on Sunday with the No. 88 team at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The Michigan native has two top-five finishes at the track, which includes a runner-up finish with Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2016. Ives has two career starts as a crew chief in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at the 1.5-mile facility. In 2014, Ives’ driver sat on the pole for the 195-lap event and led 36 laps en route to a fifth-place finish. From 2006-12, Ives was a race engineer for the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team. During that time, he was a part of two wins and one pole award.


2020 Season

  • 4th in standings
  • 4 starts
  • 1 win
  • 0 pole positions
  • 1 top-five finish
  • 1 top-10 finish
  • 113 laps led 


  • 157 starts
  • 2 wins
  • 2 pole positions
  • 11 top-five finishes
  • 27 top-10 finishes
  • 587 laps led

Track Career 

  • 4 starts
  • 0 wins
  • 0 pole positions
  • 0 top-five finishes
  • 0 top-10 finishes
  • 0 laps led

Kevin Harvick is 9/2 favorite to win at Atlanta

Longtime Partners

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (March 11, 2020) – Kevin Harivck will have a new look for Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The No. 4 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will be sponsored by Hunt Brothers Pizza and FIELDS, two longtime supporters of Harvick.

Hunt Brothers Pizza has sponsored Harvick in NASCAR for 11 years and last visited victory lane with him when he won the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Atlanta.

Harvick has also won two NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series races with Hunt Brothers as a sponsor at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, both in 2011. The company also sponsored him in the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race in 2014 and 2015, which were conducted at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Harvick finished second in both races.

For 2019, Hunt Brothers moved up to the Cup Series for three races and, in 2020, will be on Harvick’s car five times.

With more than 7,800 locations in 30 states, Hunt Brothers Pizza is the nation’s largest brand of made-to-order pizza in the convenience store industry. Hunt Brothers Pizza offers original and thin crust pizzas available as a grab-and-go “Hunk” perfect for today’s on-the-go lifestyle, or as a customizable whole pizza that is an exceptional value with “All Toppings No Extra Charge®.” Headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, Hunt Brothers Pizza is family owned and operated with more than 25 years of experience serving great pizza to convenience store shoppers through its store partners. To find a Hunt Brothers Pizza location, download the Hunt Brothers Pizza app by visiting

FIELDS has sponsored Harvick in Xfinity Series races in 2017 at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, where he finished sixth, and in June 2018 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, where he scored an eighth-place result. Harvick took FIELDS to victory lane in 2017 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway in a NASCAR K&N Pro Series West race.

FIELDS, one of the Sports Fields Inc., companies, is the preeminent builder of fields and sports parks in the country. FIELDS is committed to “Building Sports Parks of Distinction.” The fields produced facilitate peak team performance and are constructed using the industry’s best resources and embody the essence of durability, precision, technological innovation, service and quality.

By combining the premium quality of the fields with the best in customer care, FEILDS creates sports parks of distinction that wow teams, coaches and guests.

As both Hunt Brothers and FIELDS have won with Harvick, they’re now teaming up in hopes the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza/FIELDS Ford Mustang will find victory lane at Atlanta.

Harvick has only two Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series wins at Atlanta, but has been strong there since 2008 with 12 top-10 finishes in 15 races. He’s led a series-high 1,197 laps and has led 100 laps in six of the last eight races. He’s also won four of his last six NASCAR Xfinity Series races at the 1.54-mile oval.

Atlanta has always been a special place for Harvick as he scored his first career Cup Series victory there in 2001. Following Dale Earnhardt’s death on the final lap of that year’s Daytona 500, Harvick was named the driver of the No. 29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing and made his series debut the following weekend at Rockingham (N.C.) Speedway, where he finished 14th. On March 11, less than one month since his debut in
NASCAR’s top series and in just his third start, Harvick won his first Cup Series race at Atlanta.

Harvick is hoping that he can take two longtime partners to victory lane in Atlanta. And, as a bonus, it would be the site of his first and 50th NASCAR Cup Series wins.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza/FIELDS Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

You’ve had a solid start to the year so far. What are your thoughts going to Atlanta?
“I don’t know. As you go there, Atlanta is a place where you expect to run well. As you look at all the differences in cars and changes in tires and the differences we’ve had to face this year, you’ve got to go run the race and wrap your arms around where everything is.”

What do you like about the Atlanta Motor Speedway layout?
“I just love the abrasiveness of the racetrack. It still has a lot of speed for the first three or four laps, but then it has a lot of fall-off and a lot of bumps that give it character. As a driver, you just love the challenge that comes with racing at Atlanta. This is always one that I circle on my calendar as a favorite and I look forward to racing in Atlanta this weekend.” 

You were a rookie in 2001 and won your first race at Atlanta. What do you remember about your rookie year?
“Well, it wasn't supposed to be my rookie year. We didn't run the Daytona 500, obviously. And then, you know, Dale Earnhardt died, (I) got in the car the next week, I got married. I think 70 or 71 races between the Cup Series and the Busch Series that year. Raced for both championships. Won my first Cup race, we won a Busch Series championship, we won the Cup rookie of the year. But I was so sheltered from everything that was going on. The only real taste I got of the magnitude of the Earnhardt situation, really, I can think back to and say, ‘You know, that was a massive situation.’ Obviously, I know it was, now. But when I think back to that first press conference that we had in Rockingham and the magnitude and the reach of what was in that tent that day, that was really the only thing I was exposed to that year was, ‘Um, wow, this is a huge moment.’ Even winning that first race and I’m not one to go back and just watch the videos and listen to the chatter of the media and the things that are happening. And we were testing either the Busch car or the Cup car or we were racing. We built our first truck that year. I ran that at Richmond. So there were so many things that were moving around that I honestly don’t remember really anything from that year. Other than, you know, I remember building that truck in Ed Berrier’s garage with my Busch team – with Todd Berrier and those guys. After we would get done at work, they’d come over and help me build the truck. But really, everything else is kind of a blur because there was so much happening. And it wound up being a good thing to be sheltered from what was going on and all the talk and all the hype and everything.”

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Clint Bowyer is 80/1 to win at Atlanta

No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang Ready for Atlanta

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (March 10, 2020) – Compared to last year, Clint Bowyer hopes for a little less drama Friday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, but he wouldn’t mind the same result.

Five days after the 2019 season-opening Daytona 500, the NASCAR Cup Series took to the track for Friday qualifying at Atlanta. Instead of flying Thursday night, Bowyer, hoping to spend a few more hours with the family, decided to fly down from his Charlotte, North Carolina-area residence Friday morning in time for the first practice session at 11:35 a.m.

Only problem was the plane he planned to use had a problem and couldn’t fly.  

That sent Bowyer into a flurry of travel arrangements that would make actors John Candy and Dan Ackroyd of the movie “Planes, Trains and Automobiles” proud. Bowyer happened to catch a ride with a pilot who was flying to Atlanta for business and the drama ended with Bowyer landing at a downtown Atlanta airport, then driving nearly an hour to the Hampton, Georgia racetrack and arriving just minutes before practice was to begin.

“That was way closer than I ever want to cut it,” Bowyer said with a laugh. “We were all pretty nervous.”

The episode didn’t serve as a distraction.

Hours later, Bowyer put the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Ford Mustang third on the grid by qualifying less than two-tenths of a second behind SHR teammate Aric Almirola, who won the pole. Bowyer went on to finish fifth in Sunday’s 500-mile race. It was his second consecutive top-five and seventh top-10 in 19 career Cup Series starts at Atlanta.

“Our run wasn’t pretty last year but we got a good finish,” Bowyer said. “I knew our car had great speed, obviously, from practice and qualifying. Racing is a different beast, especially at Atlanta. You have to take care of those Goodyear tires. The way I had it, it felt like I was on top of the track skating around too much. We made good air-pressure adjustments and got the grip level back in my racecar to where I could compete. It is just weird. You see cars that are kind of up, cars that are down, cars that are dragging, cars that aren’t. There is no track that we go to anymore that is as slick as this and as hard on tires.”

Bowyer said the rules and tire compound changes over the years at the 1.54-mile oval have changed the way drivers try to preserve their tires. 

“Your tire management used to come from your throttle pedal,” Bowyer said. “Now, your speed and everything else are all wide open, so your tire management comes through the way you and your team get the balance on your racecar instead of you and your car doing the managing with the throttle pedal. You don’t lean on the wheel unless you have to and, if you have to, you better not have to for very long. The game has changed. When they took the horsepower away, the tire management and Goodyear changing the tire has drastically changed that aspect.”

This weekend’s race marks the first in the eastern half of the country since the rain-delayed, season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 17, where Bowyer finished sixth. Since then, the Cup Series held events in Las Vegas, Southern California and Phoenix. Bowyer arrives at Atlanta 13th in points. Last weekend at Phoenix Raceway, he qualified 18th, then charged to the front on race day, running as high as second in the closing stages before finishing a season-best fifth.

Bowyer goes to battle at Atlanta carrying the black-and-red paint scheme of Haas Automation, Inc. Haas Automation is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. Founded by Gene Haas in 1983, Haas Automation manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are built in the company’s 1.1 million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

Clint Bowyer, Driver of the No. 14 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Are drivers taking precautions with the coronavirus in terms of autographs and things like that?
“I think everybody sees the headlines and reads the news just like anybody else. From what I can tell, there are a lot of unknowns and mixed feelings. Some people say it is bad and the next person says it is nothing but a cold. I treat my fans no differently than the next guy. I am going to shake his hand and appreciate him being here.”

What are your thoughts on Atlanta?
 “I love Atlanta. I think everybody likes Atlanta. If you are a racecar driver, you get up on the wheel and are slipping and sliding around. You work your rear end off there. That is what you look for in a racetrack. Vegas, I really struggled there. The hardest thing to do was to not overdrive it. Coming from a dirt background, the harder you drive her, the faster she goes. The harder you work, the faster it goes. With that thing and the speed you are going and the aero platform you have, it is very easy to overdrive the car and blow through the grip in the tires.”

This year, it seems if a car is fast in qualifying, it won’t be fast in the race. Are you experiencing that?
Really, your aero platform and all that stuff has to jive. Your aero has to communicate and work well with your chassis balance, and vice versa. It’s the total package. It’s not just that you missed it with 100 pounds too much right-rear spring, or 50 too much of left-rear wedge, or a track bar adjustment. It’s all tied together from the aero side of things and the chassis side of things. They really have to work well together. If not, you are spinning your wheels.”

Matt DiBenedetto is 80/1 to win 2020 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

DiBenedetto was runner-up at last 1.5-mile layout.
Matt DiBenedetto and the No. 21 Menards/Knauf Insulation team head into the fifth race of the 2020 Cup season ninth in the points standings and hungry for more.

In the first four races of the year, the No. 21 team has posted a best finish of second, at Las Vegas, and an average finish of 11.8. They also have earned 17 Stage points, including four for a seventh-place finish in the 150-mile qualifying races at Daytona International Speedway.

Now the team heads to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Folds of Honor/Quik Trip 500. Atlanta’s aging track surface is a maintenance nightmare for track officials responsible for keeping it in racing condition but a dream come true for drivers like DiBenedetto.

“I compare it to Fontana,” DiBenedetto said. “The surface is old, and that allows the cars to spread around more. It makes it more racey, more fun.”

Worn pavement also puts a premium on tire management, and that’s OK with DiBenedetto.

“It’s more my style,” he said. “It’s a fun track. Hopefully we can qualify decent, race well and stay up front the whole time.”

While it’s inevitable that Atlanta, which hasn’t been paved since a reconfiguration from a true oval to a quad-oval in 1997, will eventually have to be repaved, DiBenedetto hopes that can be put off as long as possible.

“New repaves are never fun,” he said. “It takes years to get the asphalt aged so that it races well.

“That asphalt at Atlanta gives the track character and makes for multiple lanes.

“We all love it.”

Qualifying for the Folds of Honor/Quik Trip 500 is set for 12:05 p.m. on Saturday, and the race is scheduled to start just after 2 p.m. on Sunday with TV coverage on FOX.


A family owned company started in 1958, Menards is headquartered in Eau Claire, WI. Menards has more than 300 retail stores located throughout the Midwest in the states of IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, MI, MN, MO, NE, ND, OH, SD, WI and WY. Menards is known throughout the home improvement industry as the low price leader. It’s famous slogan “Save Big Money at Menards” is widely known and easy to remember. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest.

Wood Brothers Racing

Wood Brothers Racing was formed in 1950 in Stuart, Va., by Hall of Famer Glen Wood. Wood Brothers Racing is the oldest active team and one of the winningest teams in NASCAR history. Since its founding, the team won 99 races (including at least one race in every decade for the last seven decades) and 120 poles in NASCAR’s top-tier series. Fielding only Ford products for its entire history, the Wood Brothers own the longest association of any motorsports team with a single manufacturer. Glen’s brother, Leonard, is known for inventing the modern pit stop. The team currently runs the Ford Mustang driven by Matt DiBenedetto in the famous No. 21 racer.

Denny Hamlin is 20/1 to win at Atlanta

Denny Hamlin has one Atlanta win.
Denny Hamlin
#11 FedEx Express Toyota
Joe Gibbs Racing

Race Info:

Race: Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500
Date/Time: March 15/2 p.m. ET
Distance: 325 laps/500.5 miles
Track Length: 1.5 miles
Track Shape: Quad Oval
Banking: 24 degrees
2019 Winner: Brad Keselowski

Express Notes:

Phoenix Recap:
Denny Hamlin finished 20th in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway, following an on-track incident that caused significant damage to the #11 FedEx Freight Toyota in the event won by Joey Logano. After starting third, Hamlin settled into fourth during the opening laps and was poised to stay up front with a car that was handling to his liking. However, as a three-wide battle continued, the aerodynamics became unsettled entering Turn 3 and Hamlin tangled with Brad Keselowski. The contact turned the #11 and Hamlin tagged the wall with the right side of the car. Hamlin was forced to make numerous pit stops in an effort to repair the bodywork, but the rear spoiler was too far out of position to be effective, severely affecting the handling, and Hamlin eventually fell back to 29th, two laps down. Throughout the race, the team made every effort to try to get back on the lead lap, but the cautions didn’t fall their way. But as the laps clicked down, crew chief Chris Gabehart used a flurry of cautions to strategically advance the #11 back on the lead lap, salvaging the 20th-place finish.

Atlanta Preview: The series heads back east to Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s 500-mile event on the 1.5-mile asphalt Georgia oval. Hamlin is a one-time winner at the track, taking the checkered flag in 2012. Hamlin owns four top-five and seven top-10 finishes in 19 career races at Atlanta, leading a total of 391 laps and will be looking for that elusive second win of the 2020 season.

Hamlin Statistics:
Track: Fan Shield 500
Races: 20
Wins: 1
Poles: 1
Top-5: 4
Top-10: 7
Laps Led: 391
Avg. Start: 11.8
Avg. Finish: 17.9

Hamlin Conversation – Atlanta:

Looking ahead to Atlanta this weekend, what will you do differently to position yourself for a win?

“We just need to continue what we’ve done all season. We had a great car in Phoenix, just got tangled up and got some damage that kept us in the back all day. The team and I are confident in the work we’ve put in and will continue to push ourselves to hopefully end up in Victory Lane on Sunday.”

Do you feel like Atlanta is a track where you can turn things around?

“Absolutely. We have a win there. Of course, we’d like to add another. We just have to put Phoenix behind us and get back to work. We are surrounded by all the right people, putting in all the work to give us the best result we can possibly get.”

FedEx Express Along for the Ride at Atlanta: FedEx Express is pleased to recognize the team members at the HHHA station in Hilton Head Island, S.C., for their exceptional performance by featuring the letters HHHA on the B-post of the FedEx #11 at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. HHHA ranks among the top 10 stations in the Southeast Region year-to-date and has been the top-ranking station three separate months since June, most recently in December during the busy Peak season. The dedicated team of employees consistently achieve the Money Back Guarantee service delivery goal, as well as safety goals, as evidenced by a year-over-year reduction in vehicle accidents and worker injuries.

Aric Almirola is 80/1 to win 2020 Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500

Chasing Consistency at Atlanta 

KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (March 10, 2020) – Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Eckrich Ford team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) hit the first of three consecutive 1.5-mile tracks when they arrive at Atlanta Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Folds of Honor 500 NASCAR Cup Series race. It will prove to be a crucial test for the rest of the season with nine mile-and-a-half tracks on the schedule that follow. 

Almirola and the No. 10 team earned their first pole award together last year at Atlanta. On race day, he led 36 laps and finished eighth.

Between last year’s pole and this year’s new crew chief Mike Bugarewicz, who has a best finish of third at Atlanta, the No. 10 team is expecting significant speed and results this weekend to kick off the three-race, intermediate-track stretch. 

“Drivers love to race at tracks that are old and worn out because it gives us options,” Almirola said. “It seems like the times we go to repaves, it gets very narrow and we can only run right in a single groove. When we go to Atlanta, it’s got a lot of character. It’s rough. It’s bouncy. It’s worn out and you slip and slide. We like having that control of cars sliding around and driving it. We really enjoy tracks like Atlanta.”

Almirola and the team have earned two consecutive top-10s and ran inside the top-five last weekend at Phoenix Raceway. He earned eight bonus points and made gains in the point standings. 

The Eckrich driver, who will turn 36 on Saturday, has already outpaced his 2018 success in the first four races. He went on to finish fifth in the championship standings after securing his spot in the semifinal playoff round. 

Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 18 top-five finishes, 63 top-10s and 543 laps led in 320 starts. His last win came in October 2018 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. 

The racing action won’t be the only entertainment this weekend at Atlanta. On Sunday morning, Almirola and SHR co-owner and NASCAR Hall of Famer Tony Stewart will visit the campgrounds at the track to surprise and delight the best tailgaters who are grilling up Eckrich meats in preparation for the race. 

Founded in 1894, Eckrich, owned by Smithfield Foods, will adorn the No. 10 Ford Mustang this weekend at Atlanta. Eckrich was founded as a local meat market in Fort Wayne, Indiana, by Peter Eckrich, an immigrant from Waldsee, Germany. Eckrich sells high quality smoked sausages, cold cuts, hot dogs, corn dogs, Vienna sausages, breakfast sausages, and bacon. 

Almirola continues to provide fans with content from his documentary series Beyond the 10, where fans can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click hereto subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode. 

Almirola looks to build upon the momentum he’s gained over the last two race weekends and bring home a third consecutive top-10. He currently sits eighth in the driver standings, 43 points behind leader and teammate Kevin Harvick.

Aric Almirola: Driver of the No. 10 Eckrich Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Are you pleased with the progression of the season so far?

“We have found our stride recently as a team and it’s starting to show. We have had a top-10 car in every race this season. Last weekend, we had a fourth- to eighth-place car and raced there all day. We just have to gradually build upon these top-10s and move to top-fives, then move to wins. I know we’re capable of it as a team. 

You earned the pole at Atlanta last year and led some laps. Are you confident heading there? 

“We’re definitely confident after running well the last few weekends. We got a pole there last year and ran really well, so there’s nothing but positivity from me. A few more solid runs and we’ll know we’re in it this season as serious competitors.”