Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Big Week at Talladega: Ford has won nine of last 10

A Ford driver has won nine of the last races at Talladega Superspeedway’s massive 2.66-mile high-banked layout where running four-wide at 200 mph is normal.

Ryan Blaney has won the last two races there and Sunday’s YellaWood 500 will be the fourth and final race using the superspeedway race package. It will also be the 31st race of the season and second race during the Round of 12 in NASCAR’s Playoffs.

NASCAR threw a monkey wrench into this round by having a tough final two races starting at a place like Talladega where anyone can win as well as anyone can wreck at any given moment. It gives the drivers an option to lay back to try and stay out of trouble until the final 10 laps, or they can be aggressive in an approach to move up to the front as soon as possible and let all the mess happen behind them when ‘The Big One’ eventually happens.

If one of the Playoff eligible drivers happens to come out of Talladega with his car in one piece to advance into the Round of 8, next up is the road course at Charlotte’s Roval which less than half the field are accomplished road racers. That’s a brutal two-race gauntlet for drivers currently outside the Top-8 in points like Kyle Busch (9 points behind the transfer slot), Clint Bowyer (-18), Aric Almirola (-27), and Austin Dillon (-27).

For those four on the chopping block, they all know winning at Talladega is their best shot to advance and they all have superspeedway wins in their career.

Using Talladega and the Roval to end the Round of 12 may have been an aggressive overreach for madness. But putting that aside, the system worked as it should where drivers are rewarded for gaining as many points as possible during the 26-race regular season. So it may look stupid that Kyle Busch finished sixth in the Las Vegas race last week and already be down 9 points behind the cut. The bottom line is that he should have won a few stages or races in the regular season to protect him, like is the case for Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin atop the standings, or win just a race like Kurt Busch did at Las Vegas to advance.

Of the two superspeedway tracks between Daytona and Talladega, it’s Talladega that has proven to be more volatile and at the same time more entertaining. I’m not a fan of the wrecks, but the width of the track is almost twice what Daytona has so there is more room to maneuver and create another racing line. With the cars being more equal on superspeedways, they’re capped at what speeds they can reach, but they can get up to 15 mph faster in a draft with other cars than by themselves. It’s bumper-to-bumper, side-by-side, for 188 crazy laps.

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Five Decades In The Making: NASCAR Introduces Three New Tracks

Two New Layouts to 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Schedule

Historic Slate Includes Three New Road Courses and First Dirt Race in Half A Century

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 30, 2020) – NASCAR today announced the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule, a historic slate that includes the introduction of three new racetracks – and new layouts at two iconic venues – to the sport’s top level.

Not since 1969 has NASCAR added this many new venues to its premier series schedule.

The 36-race slate includes races at three new road course layouts, and the first Cup Series dirt race in more than 50 years.

The road course at Circuit of the Americas (May 23) joins the schedule for the first time, Road America (July 4) returns for the first time since 1956 and, after a thrilling debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2020, the Cup stars will race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course in 2021 (Aug. 15).

The high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway will transform into a dirt track for a NASCAR Cup Series race on March 28, the first premier series race on dirt since Sept. 30, 1970 (North Carolina State Fairgrounds in Raleigh, N.C.).

And as previously announced, NASCAR returns to the Music City with a race at Nashville Superspeedway on June 20, which will kick off the NBC Sports portion of the season.

“We developed the 2021 schedule with one primary goal: Continue to take steps to create the most dynamic schedule possible for our fans,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR executive vice president and chief racing development officer. “Extensive collaboration between NASCAR, the racetracks, race teams and our broadcast partners allowed NASCAR to create what promises to be an exciting 2021 schedule of races.”

In addition, NASCAR announced the NASCAR Cup Series All-Star Race’s return to a high-speed 1.5-mile track in 2021, as the annual star-studded event moves to Texas Motor Speedway on June 13 for the first time in its 36-year history.

NASCAR will open its Cup Series season with two consecutive races in Florida. As is tradition, the season will kick off with the running of The Great American Race – the DAYTONA 500 – at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 14 live on FOX before heading south to Homestead-Miami Speedway on Sunday, Feb. 21.

The series will also double down on a pair of familiar venues in markets threaded deep with historical NASCAR ties and passionate fanbases. Cars will hit the track at Darlington Raceway for the first time on Sunday, May 9 and again to kick off the Playoffs on Sunday, Sept. 5 while Atlanta Motor Speedway will host NASCAR’s premier series on Sunday, Mar. 21 and Sunday, July 11.

After an overhaul for the 2020 season, the only change in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs will be a swap of dates between Texas and Kansas in the Round of 8. Wholly unpredictable venues – Bristol Motor Speedway (Sept. 18), the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval (Oct. 10) and Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 31) – will once again serve as the cutoff races in 2021.

Phoenix Raceway culminates the 10-race Playoffs slate as host of the NASCAR Cup Series Championship Race for the second consecutive year.

NASCAR Cup Series races in 2021 will once again air on the FOX and NBC family of networks. Start times and specific networks will be announced at a later date. Schedules for the 2021 NASCAR Xfinity Series and NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will also be announced at a later date.

Below is the full 2021 NASCAR Cup Series schedule (Playoff races in bold font):




Race / Track

Tuesday, February 9

Clash (Daytona Road Course)

Thursday, February 11

Duel at Daytona

Sunday, February 14


Sunday, February 21


Sunday, February 28

Auto Club

Sunday, March 7

Las Vegas

Sunday, March 14


Sunday, March 21


Sunday, March 28

Bristol Dirt

Saturday, April 10


Sunday, April 18


Sunday, April 25


Sunday, May 2


Sunday, May 9


Sunday, May 16


Sunday, May 23


Sunday, May 30


Sunday, June 6


Sunday, June 13

All-Star (Texas)

Sunday, June 20

Nashville Superspeedway

Saturday & Sunday, June 26-27

Pocono Doubleheader

Sunday, July 4

Road America

Sunday, July 11


Sunday, July 18

New Hampshire

Sunday, August 8

Watkins Glen

Sunday, August 15

Indianapolis Road Course

Sunday, August 22


Saturday, August 28


Sunday, September 5


Saturday, September 11


Saturday, September 18


Sunday, September 26

Las Vegas

Sunday, October 3


Sunday, October 10

Charlotte Roval

Sunday, October 17


Sunday, October 24


Sunday, October 31


Sunday, November 7



Aric Almirola is 18/1 to win 2020 YellaWood 500 at Talladega



Racing for Record-Breaking Talladega Consistency


KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 29, 2020) – Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Power Bites Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the NASCAR Cup Series, is confident heading to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for Sunday’s YellaWood 500 due to his record breaking consistency at the 2.66-mile oval. Most drivers say Talladega’s high-speed and closer-quarter racing make it a “wild-card” event due to the seemingly inevitable multicar accident called “The Big One.” But Almirola is a different breed of superspeedway racers.


He holds the Cup Series’ best average finish of 5.1 in the last eight races at Talladega. His consistency showed when the series last raced there in June. Almirola earned a third-place finish in which he crossed the finish line backward after spinning while vying for the lead. That third-place result tied the record of eight consecutive Talladega top-10s set by Dale Earnhardt Jr., between April 2001 and October 2004. 


“Talladega has always been good to me,” Almirola said. “Superspeedways have typically been good to me. We seem to find ourselves in the position to win there more than any track on the circuit, so we feel really good about our chances heading there this weekend.”


Almirola has been there before. Flash back to 2018, Almirola’s first year with SHR, when he was in a similar position at Talladega. On the last lap of that fall 2018 Cup Series race, he held off his teammates Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch to score what turned out to be the most important win of his career. It secured his spot in the Round of 8 of the NASCAR playoffs, and he went on to finish fifth in the season-ending standings – best of his career.


“That was such an incredible day,” he said, “our first year at SHR and we win at Talladega to advance to the Round of 8. We finished fifth in the overall standings that year, and I think we have an even better team this year. If we can get it done this weekend, or give ourselves the chance to race our way in at Charlotte next weekend, we’ll be serious competitors for the championship.”


Almirola won’t be the only one racing for a win this weekend at Talladega. Smithfield Power Bites, which will adorn the No. 10 Ford this weekend for the first time this year, is hosting a sweepstakes to “power up” race fans as they cheer on Almirola.


Smithfield will be giving away a variety of race-used items and tailgate supplies through the #PowerBitesHere sweepstakes this weekend at Talladega. To be eligible to win, fans will need to follow @SmithfieldBrand on Twitter. Every 10 laps, fans will have the duration of that lap plus one minute to tweet the hashtags #PowerBitesHere and #Sweepstakes to be entered to win the item for that lap of the race. Prizes include a complimentary single-day class at the Ford Performance Racing School in Charlotte, North Carolina, a smoker, Almirola’s Smithfield Power Bites driver uniform from the race, a 2021 VIP race weekend experience, and autographed team gear and tailgate items. Winners will be chosen at the end of the event. Fans will be allowed one entry during every 10-lap increment.


Smithfield’s new Power Bites are fully cooked, heat-and-eat snacking or on-the-go meal solutions consisting of eight tasty bites of sausage, egg, and cheese, offered in a four-ounce portable container. The protein-packed product is a perfect way for meat lovers to enjoy all of their favorite ingredients in one bite to satisfy cravings and curb hunger. 


The No. 10 Ford driver’s six top-five finishes this year surpass his previous best of four in a season in 2018. In addition, his 288 laps led is a career-high for a season, and his 17 top-10 finishes has tied his season-best.


In his 21 career Cup Series starts at Talladega, an accident ended his day prematurely just once. In the typically accident-marred event, he’s led a total of 46 laps. Almirola’s first career Cup Series victory was captured in 2014 at Talladega’s sister track Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.


Almirola and the No. 10 Power Bites Ford team visit Talladega 11th in the playoff standings, 27 points below the cutoff to advance to the Round of 8. 

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


You have found the most success in your career at superspeedways. Why is that? 


“I always had to go to these races and be aggressive because, back in the day, they were our only realistic options to win races. It was the only way I could make it into the playoffs and we were able to do that in 2014. They’ve been good to me. I’ve always gone into those races with that mindset.” 


What did it mean to finally win a race in 2018 after nearly winning multiple races but just coming up short?


“The win at Talladega that year was clutch. Going through the season and really being consistent from summer to the playoffs was great. We didn’t really have any devastating races throughout those months and never were a threat to really win races. Then, all of the sudden when the playoffs started, our performance really ramped up. We went into the first few races with chances to win, leading laps and running up front. Even right before that, you look at races like New Hampshire, where we led a lot of laps and felt like we had the potential to win. We kind of pointed our way into the playoffs.”

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Kevin Harvick is 14/1 to win 2020 YellaWood 500 at Talladega



Here We Go


KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 29​, 2020) – Every year, the fall NASCAR Cup Series playoff race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway is circled on the calendar. Of the 10 playoff races, it is a wild card.


This year’s Round of 12 cutoff race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway was circled, as is next week’s Round of 8 cutoff race on the “roval” at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, and the Nov. 1 Championship Four cutoff race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.


But even though Talladega is not a cutoff race, cue the playoff music anyway because it is simply a wild card race that anyone can win.


The good news for Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), is that he has 3,104 points with a 61-marker lead over the Round of 8 cutoff position.


The bad news is that if he gets involved in an early accident at Talladega, most of that big lead could disappear.


The truth is, Talladega and its sister track Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway are different animals when it comes to stock car racing because they are races that, literally, anyone can win. Drivers must draft together, side-by-side, at speeds approaching 200 mph, and a lot of the race is spent getting into the best position on the final lap to try and win the race.


Harvick has started 78 races in his career at Talladega and Daytona with three total victories in point-paying races. He will make his 40th Talladega start in the NASCAR Cup Series Sunday, where he has one win, two poles, seven top-five finishes, 16 top-10s and has led 262 laps there.


He scored his lone win at the 2.66-mile superspeedway in April 2010, when he started fourth, led two of 200 laps and beat runner-up Jamie McMurray by .011 of a second.


Harvick earned his first Talladega Cup Series pole in May 2005 with a speed of 189.804 mph. He won his second Cup Series pole there 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 was beaten by now-SHR teammate Clint Bowyer.


And while his superspeedway win percentage isn’t his best, Harvick did win the biggest race of them all when he led just four laps to take the 2007 Daytona 500 victory.


KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John's Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 


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.”


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.” 

Kyle Busch is 14/1 to win 2020 YellaWood 500 at Talladega



Wild Card Weekend



Kyle Busch has a 2008 Talladega win.

HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Sept. 29, 2020) – Each January, the National Football League opens its playoffs with what is called “Wild Card Weekend” as four teams that did not win their division but still earned playoff berths get the chance to advance toward their ultimate goal – a Super Bowl championship.


This weekend, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for what has come to be known as its annual playoff “Wild Card Weekend,” but for a vastly different reason than its football counterpart. It’s the racetrack – Talladega’s mammoth, 2.66-mile high-banked oval where Sunday’s YellaWood 500 will be contested – upon which the racing outcome is more of an unknown than any of the others on the schedule.


Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), has found fortune both good and bad during NASCAR’s version of wild card weekend. With lessons learned from his now 16-season career, the two-time and defending Cup Series champion knows anything can happen at Talladega.


With Busch’s sixth-place finish at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway last weekend, he and his M&M’S team know that every point matters in the NASCAR playoff format, as he sits just nine points below the eighth-place cutline, and nothing is a given at a place like Talladega. So far, only his older brother Kurt Busch, by virtue of his win at Las Vegas, is guaranteed a spot in the playoffs’ Round of 8. At Talladega, one lap, or even one corner, could change a driver’s fortunes one way or another and quite quickly.


Busch has conquered Talladega just once in his career, his lone win coming in April 2008. In his 30 starts at the track, he has 13 other top-15 finishes, and five outings that ended in an accident. So, the Las Vegas native knows the winner of Sunday’s 500-mile race will need to have a strong car and some good fortune at NASCAR’s longest track. If Busch could bring home a solid finish, it could bolster his chances of making it to the next round of the playoffs following next weekend’s race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway “roval.”


So, as NASCAR prepares for its version of “Wild Card Weekend” at Talladega, Busch hopes to stay in front of the chaos with his M&M’S Camry, then head to Charlotte the following week with a shot at advancing in the tightly contested Cup Series playoffs.


KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 M&M'S Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 

How will you and the team approach this weekend at Talladega?


“I’m just going to do what I’m told to do. I’ve been in front and been a part of a wreck and I’ve been riding in the back and been taken out, too. There’s really no place that’s safe. With this race being the second race of the round, you have to try and run up front and hope that you don’t have some bad luck and just bring home a solid finish. We’ll do the best we can this weekend with our M&M’S Camry and see where the points fall for us afterward, then focus on what we need to do at the roval.”


Do you try and duplicate what worked at Talladega before?


“Yeah, I think so. I mean, there are obviously times when you feel like you want to push hard and go get a win or go get a better finish than where you’re currently running. But, you know you’ve just got to do what you can in order to let these races kind of fall into place, and sometimes it’s just worth taking the finish that’s coming to you and moving on and going to the next one. It doesn’t always help to push too hard, either, at times. There’s a balance there, for sure. It can also help to just sit back, relax and finish where you can, so we’ll see how it plays out for us. In the June race there, we had a strong car and ran up front, but just didn’t have enough Toyotas running up front at the end to get any help. That’s what it comes down to a lot at Talladega, getting the help from your teammates, since it’s hard to do that on your own.”


Do you change how you view Talladega from the first race to the second race because it is in the playoffs?


“Not really. For us and where we’re at, we don’t have anything to lose. We have to go race. We can’t just sit there and ride and protect a cushion like we have been able to do in the past. We’re going to be on the outside looking in, so we have to go for broke and do all we can do to get those stage wins and points and try to get a race win to automatically punch your ticket to the next round. We have been good at the superspeedway races so far this year, but none of them have turned out to be great finishes. Really feel like we had a shot at all three of those races at Daytona and Talladega earlier this year and hope we can have another shot again this weekend with our M&M’S Camry.”


Do you prefer being an underdog, or the guy with a target on his back?


“I don’t know. Certainly I guess I look back to 2015 and we were kind of the underdog because people just didn’t think we should be there and didn’t think we should be eligible because I had to miss 11 weeks because of my injuries. But then we were able to win our way into the playoffs and be in the top-30 in points and all that, so we met all the requirements. We went into that last race with the underdog mentality like, ‘Hey, however we come out of this, it’s great. We were here, we were in the final four, that’s cool.’ Then last year, kind of the same thing. We weren’t on a winning streak or anything and we kind of flew under the radar. We were an underdog, if you will, at the final race and we won again. If that’s what it takes to win these things, then sure, sign me up. Put me in that underdog spot and let’s go get it done.”


What is the key to pulling off a victory at Talladega?


“The key there is to somehow stay out of trouble. At Talladega, you pretty much stay around the bottom since there is a lot of grip there, and you can pretty much run wide open every single lap. Everyone can run up on top of each other. When you get single-file at the bottom, sometimes it’s hard to get a lane on the outside with enough good cars to get something going. It can be frustrating at times because of that. It also seems to still put on a good race each time we go there. If you can be a contender and stay in line on the bottom, you can make it a pretty easy and safe race. Normally, guys are not content doing that, so that’s when it starts to get crazy.”

Monday, September 28, 2020

Clint Bowyer is 30/1 to win 2020 YellaWood 500 at Talladega



Talladega Wild Card


KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 28, 2020) – Combine the tension of four- and five-wide racing at 200 mph on a NASCAR superspeedway with the importance of the Cup Series’ 2020 playoffs and the ingredients are in place for a memorable 500-mile race Sunday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.


Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), says he welcomes having a “wild-card” race like Talladega in the middle of the most important stretch of the season.


“This is an opportunity,” he said. “When you have a track that you say is a wild-card race, that’s an opportunity. And, in the situation we’re in, you’ve got to be able to look forward to those opportunities at hand because we need one.”


Bowyer arrives for the second of three Round of 12 playoff races 10th in points. He is just 20 markers behind the eighth and final transfer spot to the Round of 8 with only Talladega and the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway “roval” remaining in the round.


After earning three bonus points and finishing 12th in Sunday’s opening Round of 12 race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Bowyer knows more bonus points and a good finish are mandatory at Talladega this weekend and on the Charlotte roval next week.


“Honestly, with the situation you’re in with those guys having such a (points) pad on you anyway, you’ve got to go there and race and try to get stage points and try to do it all,” he said. “I like the next two races. You can’t go out there and feel like you have to, it ain’t Hail Mary time. Twenty points can fall in your lap pretty easily at a track like Talladega and the roval. You’ve got to go out there and be smart and we’ll do that, do the best we can, and that just might be enough.”


Part of the reason Bowyer welcomes Talladega this weekend is his past success on the high-banked, 2.66-mile track. In 30 career Cup Series starts there, he’s won twice, posted seven top-five finishes and 13 top-10s.


“Talladega – it’s been good to us, but I know you have to respect the track and you’ve got to get to the end of them,” said Bowyer, whose Talladega wins came in 2010 and 2011. “Obviously, you’ve got to have a little bit of luck not to get caught up in things and, more importantly, be careful not to cause them yourself.”


Bowyer’s race at Talladega in June might best illustrate the fine line between success and failure on its high banks. After starting 10th, he ran at the back of the pack through the first two stages while showing the ability to get to the front of the field when needed. As the laps wound down, he moved himself into position to battle for the victory, but an accident on the final lap left him with a 25th-place finish.


He’ll be riding at the front on Sunday hoping to collect bonus points in the first two stages. Bowyer said while a Talladega race might look chaotic on television and from the grandstands, the action is just as frenetic driving the car.


“There’s so much going on inside the car, whether you’re listening to the spotter, or you’re looking at – as you’re listening to him, you’re following along to – that story in the mirror, right?” he said. “You’re living it through the windshield. I mean, there are so many things that are going on, you just – you flat out – don’t take it all in. I mean, your brain is registering so many things that, at the end of the race, you don’t even remember half of it.”


Bowyer’s No. 14 Ford Mustang will carry the colors of Rush Truck Centers and BlueDEF Platinum Sunday at Talladega.


Rush Truck Centers has been the primary partner for the No. 14 team since Bowyer arrived at SHR in 2017 and has been with the organization since 2010. With Bowyer’s background working in his dad’s towing service in Emporia, Kansas, Bowyer understands the importance of keeping trucks up and running. That is why Rush is proud to partner with Bowyer and support the trucks that haul the racecars, as well as customers across the country with its total service management package, RushCare Complete. This all-inclusive solution provides dedicated concierge service, vehicle telematics, mobile service, express routine maintenance, real-time service updates and a comprehensive source for all-makes parts. 


BlueDEF Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF) is one of the key elements in the process used by diesel engine builders to meet environmental regulations. DEF is not a fuel or fuel additive. Instead, when injected into the exhaust stream and passed over a catalyst, DEF helps convert harmful gasses into nitrogen gas and water vapor – two harmless and natural components of the air we breathe. Platinum is a new DEF product that addresses the problem of deposit buildup, which has plagued vehicle owners since the inception of selective catalytic reduction emissions-reduction systems that require DEF.


Who knows what will happen Sunday in Talladega, but those final laps are sure to be some of the best racing of the season. Bowyer hopes he’ll be at the front of the field at the time, and another step closer to advancing in the 2020 playoffs.



CLINT BOWYER, Driver of the No. 14 RushTruck Centers/BlueDEF Platinum Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:


The Round of 12 is pretty unpredictable with Talladega and the roval. How do you feel the round shapes up for your team?

I like it. I’m ready. Talladega is a crapshoot. The roval is a lot of fun. But again, things can happen. At the end of the day, I’ve had a different approach to the whole thing this year. This whole damned year has been chaotic and everything else and you’ve just got to go out there and do the best you can do and not worry about or panic about anything else. That’s all you can do, anyway, just taking it race by race, and I’m looking forward to this round, too. These are some of my best finishes, coming at these tracks right here.”


Is it difficult to hold back at Talladega?

“You get a little bit excited and antsy to get up into the pack and, even with 50, 60 laps to go, you’re like, ‘How am I going to get up there?’ They get three-wide and there’s just literally no place to go. At Talladega, you can go four-wide, and I’ve seen when it goes five-wide you get into a wreck. We see that quite a bit there – somebody attempting it – and that’s when it gets this place exciting. Looking forward to hopefully getting to the end and, more importantly, getting a win.”


What is the key to success?

“Attitude is a big part of this, but it goes toward being a student while you’re out there, learning as much as you can. That’s the tricky thing about these situations at these racetracks.”

Odds to win 2020 YellaWood 500 at Talladega Superspeedway

Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney have won the last three at Talladega
Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney have won last 3 at Dega 
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 4, 2020 2:20 PM ET

Denny HAMLIN 10/1
Joey LOGANO 10/1
Ryan BLANEY 10/1
Chase ELLIOTT 10/1
Kevin HARVICK 14/1
Aric ALMIROLA 16/1
Kyle BUSCH 14/1
Alex BOWMAN 14/1
William BYRON 14/1
Kurt BUSCH 20/1
Jimmie JOHNSON 25/1
Martin TRUEX JR 25/1
Darrell WALLACE JR 30/1
Chris BUESCHER 30/1
Christopher BELL 30/1
Austin DILLON 30/1
Cole CUSTER 30/1
Clint BOWYER 30/1
Tyler REDDICK 40/1
Erik JONES 40/1
Ryan NEWMAN 50/1
Michael McDOWELL 50/1
Matt KENSETH 50/1
Corey LAJOIE 100/1
Ty DILLON 100/1
Brendan GAUGHAN 100/1
Ryan PREECE 100/1
Brennan POOLE 200/1
Daniel SUAREZ 200/1
Quin HOUFF 500/1
Timmy HILL 500/1
Joey GASE 500/1
JJ YELEY 500/1
Reed SORENSON 500/1
James DAVISON 1000/1

Kurt Busch wins 2020 South Point 400 at Las Vegas, ends long winless streak at home

THE MODERATOR: We are now joined by tonight's race winner of the South Point 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 1 Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet. We'll kick it over to media for questions.

Q. I know how bad you've wanted to win this race; has it sunk in at all? The celebration out there, that was memorable, but after getting the Daytona 500, I knew this was absolutely tops on your list.

KURT BUSCH: This is 20 years of agony and defeat and now today with triumph, I don't know if I have any more gas left or if I just filled my tank up to go win every race that I'm going to go race next. This feeling of growing up here and watching the track get built from the desert gravel pit that it was by Richie Clyne and his group and then when Speedway Motorsports came in and bought it, I'm like, man, there's going to be a Cup race there, I hope I can make my way up through Legend cars. And just all the memories, all the memories of everybody, my mom and dad, every Saturday night, all the commitment they gave me and my little brother to make it in racing.

For me it was a hobby. I never knew I'd get this far. A guy named Craig Keough here locally here in Las Vegas, the owner of the Star Nurseries here in Las Vegas took a chance on me and let me run his late model a few times and we won a couple races and started working our way up.

It takes a village to make somebody cut through and make it, and this is my hometown and I have so many people to thank, and I couldn't be more proud and I know that they're very proud right now watching on TV, watching on NBC Sports Network and seeing their hometown boy win at the hometown track.

Q. I knew on normal weekends you would have your friends from Star Nursery, you would have the high school people you grew up with. Is it somewhat bittersweet under the pandemic that that it just wasn't -- I mean, I don't know, it just seems like it would have been a little bit different had there been your hometown crowd there to cheer you on.

KURT BUSCH: They've pierced my heart right now. My memory of everybody, I know they're thinking of me and I know they're celebrating. They're enjoying this just as much as I am. And yes, with empty grandstands, that's tough. The governor couldn't quite help make the right call to get fans in the grandstands, but everything aside, yes, it's a bit empty, but my heart is full. I won at my hometown track after 20-some odd tries.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

NASCAR Las Vegas Betting Preview: 2020 South Point 400

Let the quarterfinals begin!

The opening round has been completed and four drivers have been chopped to start NASCAR’s Playoffs.

Now it’s off to the Round of 12 which begins Sunday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile high banked tri-oval. It’s the third straight season the South Point 400 has been run in the fall as the second Cup Series date on the LVMS schedule.

Date: Sunday, September 27, 2020
TV-Time: NBCSN, 7:00 p.m. ET
Venue: Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

The first Vegas race this season was the second points-paying race on the schedule and was won by Joey Logano, his second win in the last three Vegas races.

Here’s a quick reboot of what happened on that day in late February. Logano only won because of a tire compound that didn’t wear as much. He didn’t pit with five laps to go as everyone else did upfront, including leader Ryan Blaney. Staying out with Logano was Matt DiBenedetto finishing second, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. third, Austin Dillon fourth, Jimmie Johnson fifth, and Bubba Wallace sixth.

Almost all of them had their tires hold up. The drivers who pitted underestimated the need for new tires. Logano, who pretended he didn’t hear his crew chief tell him to pit, couldn’t be passed.

The old tires stuck to the asphalt. And those same tires also produced back-to-back triple-digit payouts with Cole Custer (300/1) winning at Kentucky Speedway and Austin Dillon (100/1) winning the following week at Texas Motor Speedway.

The left-side Goodyear tires will be the same as the Vegas race from February, but the right sides will be a different code to give the drivers more grip.

"Key to making the optimum tire recommendation is the review of all the data that is generated, whether it be from practices throughout a weekend, testing, or as is the only opportunity right now, from the actual races," said Greg Stucker, Goodyear’s director of racing.

"What we’ve seen and heard at several of the low-wear tracks, is the Cup cars could stand to have a little more grip, so we have made a step in that direction for Las Vegas, as well as Kansas and Texas. Vegas and Texas shared the same tire set-up at their earlier races, and we brought that same right-side to Kansas as well, so they have been basically aligned all season. They remain so with this new right-side as we enhance the grip level at all three."

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Aric Almirola is 25/1 to win 2020 South Point at LVMS



Racing Toward a Career ‘HighPoint’


KANNAPOLIS, North Carolina (Sept. 23, 2020) – Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in the NASCAR Cup Series, continued his career-best season last weekend when he secured his sixth top-five finish of 2020 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and advanced in the NASCAR Playoffs to the Round of 12 for the second time in his career. 


His six top-five finishes surpass his previous best of four in a season in 2018. In addition, his 288 laps led is a career-high for a season, and his 17 top-10 finishes tied his season-best. While a win in 2020 still has eluded the No. 10 Ford team, the goal for Almirola is to race for a championship – the ultimate high point of any Cup Series driver’s career.


“This year has been like no other,” Almirola said. “The chemistry of this team is unmatched and the results are showing it. To have the best year of my career with a brand new crew chief says a lot. The first time we visited Las Vegas (site of Sunday’s South Point 400) we were still working through our communication. It was the second race of the year with a new crew chief and driver combination and we’re coming back 28 races later with a solid championship-caliber team.”  


Almirola is not only optimistic due to the season stats he’s racked up, but applauds NASCAR for giving the drivers and fans a playoff schedule that crowns a champion utilizing all track configurations. 


“You can’t just be good at your short-track program or your 1.5-mile program or superspeedway program,” he said. “It all has to be good. I think that is really, when you crown a champion, what you want to identify. You want to crown somebody who has been successful at every different type of racetrack throughout the year. Incorporating that into the playoffs is awesome.”


Almirola has run toward the front of the field this year at every kind of track. At intermediate-style tracks like Las Vegas, Almirola has six top-10s. And when the series races next week at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, it marks a return to Almirola’s first top-three of the season – a third-place drive in June where he crossed the finish line backward upon spinning while vying for the lead. That result tied the record of eight consecutive Talladega top-10s set by Dale Earnhardt Jr., between April 2001 and October 2004. If that front-running consistency can be repeated, it should set Almirola up well for the next cutoff race Oct. 11 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval – where a solid points cushion can mitigate the adversity that seems omnipresent on the Roval’s tight and circuitous layout.


While Almirola and the team continue their journey to reach their career high point,, a leading customer service and technology solutions company, will sponsor Almirola’s No. 10 car at Las Vegas with a slick blue, black and white paint scheme for the first time this year.


It’s a proper partnership, as Almirola is one of the more tech-savvy drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series. Even before COVID-19 led to remote competition meetings via Microsoft Teams and countless media availabilities by way of Zoom, Almirola managed life via his phone and laptop.


“It’s amazing how much we rely on technology to help manage our lives,” he said. “You kind of take it for granted until you step back and realize the complexity of it all. And when it comes to what we do at Stewart-Haas Racing, the mechanical parts and pieces we use out on the racetrack don’t work as well if the IT isn’t there to support our efforts. Everything we do is engineering-based and measured in thousandths. Tape measures are long gone. It’s all about IT.”


Technology has played an increased role in 2020, with no practice or qualifying in advance of races during this COVID-19 era. Almirola and the No. 10 have embraced this brave new world and thrived, with a win being the next item on their to-do list. Las Vegas loves winners, so Almirola and the No. 10 team are in the right place. 

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


How much confidence has your crew chief given you this year?  


“Mike (Bugarewicz) has been great to work with. He is a very passionate and intense crew chief and I enjoy that about him. He works really hard on the racecars and pays attention to all the details on the car and the simulation side of things. That is kind of where he came from. He had been an engineer for most of his career and then graduated to being a crew chief, and a good one at that. He has been a lot of fun to work with. He is certainly fiery and competitive and I appreciate that about him. He certainly expects the most out of me as the driver and he expects the most out of our team. All the guys rally around that and we do our best to make sure we give our best – and we do that anyway, but Mike expects that out of us.”


Looking at this round with Las Vegas, Talladega, and the Charlotte Roval, what are your feelings with some wild-card races in that group?


“I like it. I really enjoy the excitement that this schedule has put into our playoffs. Our playoffs are already intense and exciting and, from a fans perspective, I just think the way they have set this schedule for the playoffs is incredible. You go from the 1.5-mile track at Las Vegas, a downforce track, to Talladega, which is certainly exciting and a little bit of a wild card, and then to the Roval. It is three distinctly different racetracks. I think it is just really awesome for the fans. From the driver standpoint, I like it, too. It really sets up for that versatility and makes sure you have to be good everywhere.”