Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Beard Motorsports Back with Gragson for Daytona 500


Twenty-Three-Year-Old Las Vegas Native Ready to

Earn Spot in 64th Running of The Great American Race

MT. PLEASANT, Mich. (Nov. 16, 2021) – Beard Motorsports has selected Noah Gragson to drive its No. 62 Chevrolet Camaro in the 64th running of the Daytona 500 Feb. 20 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.


It marks Gragson’s return to Beard Motorsports, as the generational race team founded by the late Mark Beard Sr., and now run by his wife, Linda Beard, tabbed Gragson for last year’s Daytona 500. Unfortunately, Gragson was collected in a multicar accident just four laps short of the finish in his 150-mile qualifying race, which prevented him from advancing to the Daytona 500.


As a non-chartered team, Beard Motorsports has no guaranteed starting spot in the Daytona 500, meaning it has to race its way into The Great American Race.


“To say that we can’t wait to get back to Daytona is a massive understatement,” said Amie Beard, executive vice president, Beard Motorsports. “From the moment my father founded this race team, we all took a tremendous amount of pride in showing up and performing right alongside the established teams in the sport. Last year didn’t go the way we wanted, but that’s just made us more motivated to return.”


That motivation is echoed by Mark Beard Jr., who helps his sister, Amie, manage the race team.


“We have a NextGen car, we have Noah, and we still have our alliance with Richard Childress Racing,” he said. “Some folks might be ready for the offseason, but we’re definitely on for Daytona.”


Gragson has a similar mindset. With qualifying unavailable at the other superspeedway races in 2021, Beard Motorsports didn’t have the chance to race again. The 2022 Daytona 500 provides that long-sought opportunity for Beard Motorsports to get back to the track and Gragson to get that first career NASCAR Cup Series start.


“I’m so happy to have this opportunity to return to Daytona with Beard Motorsports,” said the 23-year-old Gragson. “It was good to get a taste of Cup racing in last year’s Duel, but it left us all wanting more. We’ve got some unfinished business down there.”


Helping take care of that unfinished business is Brendan Gaughan. The former NASCAR Cup Series driver who finished his racing career with Beard Motorsports is now its vice president of racing operations.


“All of us look forward to having Brendan up on the pit box with us,” said Linda Beard. “He has been with us since the beginning and become a part of our family. His personality and his relationships in this sport are essential to our race team. In a season where seemingly everything is new, his presence provides stability. It’s great to have him next to me as we continue this journey.”


Beard Motorsports has proven to be the little team that could, a modern-day David competing against the Goliaths of the NASCAR Cup Series. The team employs just one fulltime person – crew chief Darren Shaw – and has since its debut in the 2017 Daytona 500 when Gaughan finished 11th.


Beard Motorsports makes it all work by taking a strategic approach to its racing endeavors. Its alliance with Richard Childress Racing and singular focus on the superspeedway races at Daytona and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway have yielded solid results, most recently a pair of top-10 finishes at Daytona in 2020 – seventh in the Daytona 500 and eighth in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 – both at the hands of Gaughan.


“Beard Motorsports has proven that it can run with the big teams there at Daytona, and I’m just really looking forward to getting another crack at it,” Gragson said. “We know we have to race our way into the Daytona 500, and I’m very appreciative of the faith the Beard Family has in me.”


Gragson is a five-time winner in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, the first of which came in the 2020 season opener at Daytona. His recently completed 2021 season netted three wins and a spot in the Championship 4, where the Las Vegas-native ultimately finished a career-high third in points. The 2022 season will be Gragson’s fourth full year in the Xfinity Series and he returns to the familiar No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports.



Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Hendrick Motorsports driver quotes heading into Phoenix

Kyle Larson, driver of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on his mindset heading to Phoenix Raceway: “It’s definitely the most important race ever in my career. I’m fortunate that it’s at Phoenix. It’s a track I haven’t won at before, but I’ve had some really good runs there, and earlier this year we had a really, really good race car. I just made two mistakes and sped on pit road two different times. If I can clean up those mistakes, I think we’ll have a great shot to win as well as the other three guys who I’m sure I’ll be going up against. It’ll be tough, but I’m looking forward to a chance to race for a championship.”

Cliff Daniels, crew chief of the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on using notes from the spring Phoenix race: “The best experience that we have to go off of is the spring race that we had there. Our car was really fast. We had a couple of mistakes of Kyle speeding on pit road, and some of that was on us too just for getting the timing marks down. But we've learned from that and we have good notes from that race. Of course, great notes from Alan (Gustafson) and Chase (Elliott) winning the championship and winning the race there last year. So, those two recent data points of ourselves and our teammates are just great to have and great to go off of and build from.”

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on if there are lessons from last year’s championship run that he will carry with him this season: “I think a little bit of everything. We will look at obviously our car side of things from how we raced the last few years, not just that particular race last year. Then, obviously, the spring race in Phoenix – we have some things to look back at. So, I think we will definitely dive through every bit of that information that we have. I think from the mental side, having that experience of going and experiencing the emotions of the week and leading up to it and all those things, it is kind of nice to have been through that before. It didn't really seem to matter last year so I don't know that it really matters; I don’t know whether it really affects your performance or not, but there were things and experiences that I learned last year that I'll try to carry forward to better myself and to better our team and that's all you can do with that information.”

Elliott on being locked into the Championship 4: “Getting in that final four is really the goal every year. The goal is to go win the championship, so it’s just nice to have another shot. It wasn't the exciting transfer walk-off type like it was last year but nonetheless, to have a shot to go race for to the championship is really all that matters to us right now. I would love to have won at Martinsville, but I feel like our teams in a good place, performing well over the last couple weeks so I am excited for the opportunity. That's all I can ask for this time of year.”

Elliott on the No. 9 team dynamic: “I feel like we have a great team. I feel like our approach is very similar; I let him do his job and he lets me do my job. We don't question it and I feel like it ends up being a really nice working relationship. Our team has grown and has changed a little bit over the course of my six years. I think that as you go, you evolve and you get to know people better, you start doing better. You start finding that little bit in each person that helps performance each week and it all adds up. So, we have a great group people. I am proud to have them and I am excited go to work this weekend.”

Alan Gustafson, crew chief of the No. 9 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on competing for a championship against No. 5 team: “It makes it a lot of fun. It’s certainly more enjoyable for me and it gives you a little bit of comfort knowing that you have teammates who are going to be pushing the front and pushing forward to prove their cars, their pit crews, all of the above. It’s a fun time here and we are proud of everyone at Hendrick Motorsports and what they have been able to do in all phases of this organization. They are operating at a super high level. It’s a fun time and we certainly enjoy it.”

Gustafson on looking back at the 2020 championship nearly one year later: “To me, it’s much more about 2021 than 2020. I’ve just been focused on trying to get in a position where we can do that again. I really haven’t had a chance to reflect on last year much or really even think about it. We are just focused on this season and trying to get ourselves and our team in the best position we can for this weekend. Certainly, there’s some things we learned going through last year and this season so far that we can apply, but as far as anything else, it’s just been keeping our eyes forward. We are looking forward to getting to Phoenix.”

William Byron, driver of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on what to expect returning to Phoenix Raceway this season: “When we went to Phoenix earlier this season, it was a good experimental race for us. It was still early on in the year, and we were still getting Rudy (Fugle) up to speed in the Cup Series. I think we learned a lot that race, but unfortunately not a ton will apply when we go back this weekend. With everything we’ve learned throughout the year, the car will be set up completely different and the track will handle differently, as well. The good thing is we will have practice this time around. With this being the final race, you know everyone will bring their best equipment, but we will have the time to really dial it in before the race. You just don’t want to cross the fine line of dialing yourself in or dialing yourself out.”

Rudy Fugle, crew chief of the No. 24 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on what the team has accomplished this season: “It’s crazy to think that this is the last race of the season and that my ‘rookie’ year is coming to a close. I couldn’t be more proud of what we have accomplished as a team this year. I had a lot to learn coming in and everyone helped to get me up to speed. We won a race so early on and showed consistency throughout the rest of the year. This team as a whole, William included, has grown so much in just a short time to have a career-best year. There will be more to come; our chance will come. We would love to be heading to Phoenix in the hunt for a championship but we’re glad to have two teammates in the hunt representing Hendrick Motorsports, as well. We’ll all four be strong Sunday.”

Alex Bowman, driver of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on if he’s satisfied with his breakout season: “Yes and no. It's so frustrating to have this playoff run go how it has gone. Last year, we had a great playoff run. We didn't go into it with a lot of playoff points, but we were extremely consist - finished pretty well in the points and had a good playoffs. This year, we've just had everything go wrong that could possibly go wrong. So, it was really special to at least get pointed in the right direction to try to end the season on a high note and get a win after how the last couple of months have gone. Obviously, we'd rather be in the final four. I think it's pretty obvious; that's what everybody wants. We just haven't had the consistency that we needed to make that happen. It's unfortunate, but that's just the way it went. So, we will work hard at trying to understand why that is. We've been trying to understand why that is for quite a while, so if we can get that dialed in, we've proven we can win races. Anytime we have a shot at it, we tend to finish the job. So, (we will) just keep trying to continue to put ourselves in positions to win races.”

Greg Ives, crew chief of the No. 48 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE, on the approach to Sunday’s race in Phoenix: “Really similar. Obviously, they always talk about racing the playoff guys with respect and I don't think we race anybody with disrespect. So, whether you're in playoffs or not, I don't think it should matter. Obviously, you know, things happen on the racetrack and intentional or not intentional, we will be truthful about it. There was a time in the last few years Alex made a move and it was intentional and he owned up to it, so track record should speak for that. Phoenix, we have two teammates in in there, we have a guy we just had some controversy with, so I don't expect us to race Denny any differently, as well as our teammates any differently, than we have all year. For a position to win the race, it really comes down to whoever wants to go for second, right? In the end, we're never going to put ourselves in a situation to ruin those guys’ opportunity to win a championship because we know at some point we’ll be in that same scenario and (will) want to get raced exactly how they would. So, in in the end, we're just going to go out there have a nice, calm, clean race, hopefully a fast car, and let the driving and the speed dictate itself.”

Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Denny Hamlin is 6/1 to win at Martinsville

Denny Hamlin

11 FedEx Ground Toyota
Joe Gibbs Racing

Sunday Race Info:
Race: Xfinity 500
Date/Time: Sunday, Oct. 31/2:00 p.m. ET
Distance: 500 laps/263 miles
Track Length: .526 miles

Express Notes:

Kansas Recap: Hamlin started sixth in the FedEx Freight Toyota and asked for help tightening up the car’s handling throughout the first two stages. Extremely windy conditions also made the car a white-knuckled handful, with gusts frequently pushing drivers up the track and sometimes into the wall. The FedEx Racing driver was able to keep the car out of the fence despite the challenging weather and finished the first two stages in fifth and eighth, respectively. The #11 team made some headway on the car’s handling in Stage 3, allowing Hamlin to circle the mile-and-a-half oval a little faster. Track position was difficult to make up, but he was able to climb multiple spots to cross the finish line in fifth. The result put him 32 points above the cut line to make the Championship 4 – the final four drivers who will compete for the NASCAR Cup Series trophy in the last race of the season at Phoenix Raceway.

Martinsville Preview: The Cup Series moves on next to Martinsville Speedway on Sunday for the final race in the Playoffs’ Round of 8. Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team will look to claim their spot in the Championship 4 either with a win or a solid points day. In his 31 career races at the half-mile, paperclip-shaped oval, Hamlin has notched five wins and 16 top-5 finishes.

Hamlin Statistics:

Track: Martinsville Speedway

Races: 31

Wins: 5

Poles: 4

Top-5: 16

Top-10: 22

Laps Led: 1,884

Avg. Start: 8.5

Avg. Finish: 9.7

Hamlin Conversation – Martinsville:

How do you feel about your chances at Martinsville and the short track package?

“I’m confident in our chances at Martinsville. We’ve been very strong at these types of racetracks, and I’ll think we’ll have a really good FedEx Toyota when we go there. We want to battle for a win. Because if we’re in the battle for a win, we’ll be fine no matter where we finish.”

Will you have a particular strategy, given your points position and what you need to advance?

“I think we should be OK. But, of course, you just never know what can happen. I just need to make sure I get some stage points and don’t give it away early, and I think we’ll be alright to advance.”

FedEx “Drop Off, Win Big” Sweepstakes on the #11: The TV panel of the #11 car will carry a special message at Martinsville, encouraging FedEx small business customers to participate in the “Drop Off, Win Big” sweepstakes going on now through January. Small business owners can register online to have a chance to win up to $10,000, just for dropping off their packages at any of the 60,000-plus locations across the U.S. The TV panel message points fans to the URL where they can learn more and enter: fedex.com/dropoffsweeps.

FedEx Ground Along for the Ride at Martinsville: With the national observance of Corporate Compliance Week (Nov. 7-13) approaching, the alpha code “DELV” on Hamlin’s car recognizes the extraordinary focus on processes and compliance by the FedEx Ground’s Delaware Valley District.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Aric Almirola is 100/1 to win 2021 Kansas Lottery 400


Aric Almirola

Kansas II Advance

No. 10 Farmland/Hy-Vee Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing



Event Overview

● Event:  Hollywood Casino 400 (Round 33 of 36)

● Time/Date:  3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 24

● Location:  Kansas Speedway  

● Layout:  1.5-mile oval  

● Laps/Miles:  267 laps/400.5 miles

● Stage Lengths:  Stage 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 80 laps / Final Stage: 107 laps

● TV/Radio:  NBCSN / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Notes of Interest


●  History at Kansas: In 19 starts, Almirola has seven top-10 finishes and has led 69 laps. 


●  2021: Almirola locked himself into the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs with his July 18 victory at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in LoudonHe led 46 laps around the flat, 1.058-mile oval en route to his third career NASCAR Cup Series win. After a year full of adversity and bad luck, the victory put the No. 10 team, which was 27th in the standings and facing a must-win situation if it was going to compete for this year’s championship, in prime position to earn one of the 16 coveted berths in the 10-race playoffs. Almirola’s award-winning YouTube series “Beyond the 10” captured his entire race day here.


●  This year marked Almirola’s fifth career playoff appearance and fourth in a row since joining SHR. While he didn’t advance beyond the Round of 16, he has set his sights on a top-10 points position after the checkered flag drops at the season finale Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway. Fans and media can watch the “Beyond the 10” episode of his playoff run on YouTube here.


●  Farmland, which has been bringing great tastes to tables since 1959, will adorn the No. 10 Ford Mustang with a special blue, white and green paint scheme. As part of the paint scheme, Farmland launched a huge prize package valued at $4,750. The prize package includes two tickets to the Kansas Cup Series race May 15, 2022, airfare and hotel accommodations, a rental car, BBQ catering for a tailgate, and an extra $400 after the race if Almirola wins. To enter, follow @FarmlandFoods and comment #Sweepstakesentry. 


●  Hy-Vee returns to the rear quarterpanels, decklid and bumper of the No. 10 Ford this weekend. Hy-Vee is synonymous with quality, variety, convenience, healthy lifestyles, culinary expertise and superior customer service. Its slogan, “A Helpful Smile in Every Aisle,” expresses the foundation of the supermarket chain’s operating philosophy.


●  Career Stats: Almirola has career totals of three wins, two poles, 26 top-five finishes, 82 top-10s and 893 laps led in 385 NASCAR Cup Series starts.


●  Beyond the 10 YouTube Series: In 2021, Almirola continues to share his life beyond the No. 10 Ford with season three of his award-winning YouTube series. Fans and media can subscribe on YouTube to see Almirola’s personality on and off the track. Episodes have already featured life as a dad, a husband and an athlete, and it gives fans a unique perspective on what goes on in the life of a professional NASCAR driver. Fans can also follow Almirola’s social media channels: @Aric_Almirola on Twitter and Instagram, and @AricAlmirola on Facebook. Almirola’s latest Beyond the 10 episode gives a driver's perspective of the NASCAR Next Gen car.


●  Point standings: Almirola is currently 14th in the driver standings with 2,136 points. 


Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Farmland/Hy-Vee Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing


What goals do you have for the remaining three races of the season?


“We’re sitting 14th in the standings right now, so finishing here or a spot better would be better than last year and the year before. Overall, our goal is to have a few more clean races without any issues or bad luck. Last weekend at Texas, we didn’t really get to see what kind of speed we had after all the damage in the first stage. We were lucky to make it through the way we did, but we’re usually really good at Texas and didn’t get to show that. Kansas will provide some good redemption if we can run a clean race.”


What are your thoughts when you head to Kansas?


“I’ve always enjoyed Kansas. I know that I did have a really bad accident there, but in my mind I just view that as a bad accident. It just happened at a place. It just so happened to be at Kansas. It could have happened anywhere. I don’t really put that on Kansas and so, every time I’ve been back since then, it’s never really been a thought that’s crossed my mind. I actually enjoy going to Kansas. I have friends in Kansas City who I enjoy spending time with that makes it even more enjoyable to be there and, on top of that, I love the racetrack. The racetrack is a really fun racetrack to run at for me and I’ve had a lot of success there and had a lot of really good runs there.”


What do you think of this weekend’s Farmland/Hy-Vee paint scheme? 


“Everything about it just looks fresh. Love the colors. It should be bright on TV. I’m liking the red Hy-Vee on there, too. Let’s see if we can keep it as clean at the end of the race.” 


No. 10 Farmland/Hy-Vee Ford Mustang Team Roster

Primary Team Members


Driver: Aric Almirola 

Hometown: Tampa, Florida


Crew Chief: Mike Bugarewicz

Hometown: Lehighton, Pennsylvania


Car Chief: Jerry Cook

Hometown: Toledo, Ohio


Engineer: Lee Deese

Hometown: Rockingham, North Carolina


Engineer: James Kimbrough

Hometown: Pensacola, Florida


Spotter: Joel Edmonds

Hometown: Dobson, North Carolina

Over-The-Wall Members


Front Tire Changer: Ryan Mulder

Hometown: Sioux Center, Iowa


Rear Tire Changer: Michael Johnson

Hometown: Andover, New York


Tire Carrier: Tyler Bullard  

Hometown: King, North Carolina 


Jack Man: Sean Cotton

Hometown: Mooresville, North Carolina


Fuel Man: James “Ace” Keener

Hometown: Fortuna, California

Road Crew Members


Mechanic: Tony Silvestri

Hometown: Sylvania, Ohio


Mechanic: Robbie Fairweather

Hometown: Westbrookville, New York


Engine Tuner: Matt Moeller

Hometown: Monroe, New York


Tire Specialist: Russel Simpson

Hometown: Medford, New York


Transporter Co-Driver: Dale Lackey

Hometown: Taylorsville, North Carolina


Transporter Co-Driver: Wayne Smith

Hometown: Melbourne, Australia 

Monday, October 18, 2021

NASCAR odds to win 2021 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas

SUNDAY, OCTOBER 24, 2021 - 3:15 PM ET

BJ McLEOD 10000/1
JOEY GASE 10000/1
QUIN HOUFF 10000/1
CODY WARE 10000/1
RYAN ELLIS 10000/1

Friday, October 15, 2021

Texas NASCAR Betting Preview: 2021 Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500


Oct. 17, 2021


You can never satisfy me, NASCAR. I’m going to complain about the smallest things that grind my gears in the sport and sometimes I’ll even flip flop on a topic. It’s a love-hate-love relationship, the same way I might criticize my brothers.

This brings us to Sunday’s Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway’s high-banked 1.5-mile layout. Long race title sponsorship is a tolerable nuisance, but how about this week’s race is only the second race on a 1.5-mile track after July 11. I’ve complained regularly about all the cookie cutters since 2000, but now I miss them in this new era of the road course.

Sunday’s race will be only the eighth race on a 1.5-mile track and next week’s race at Kansas will be the ninth and last of the season. Las Vegas started the Round of 12 and Texas will start the Round of 8 and Kansas next week will make it only three races on 1.5-mile tracks, the same as last season, but a reduction on the season from 11 races on 1.5s to only nine.

It feels like it’s been a while since watching Denny Hamlin win his first career race at Las Vegas last month. And it’s been ages since Kurt Busch dominated at Atlanta on July 11. Since Atlanta, three road courses, and just two 1.5-mile tracks.

It used to be that organizations focused on mastering the 1.5-mile tracks because that was the Gateway to a championship with the title race at Homestead-Miami Speedway’s 1.5-mile paperclip. Now the title race is at Phoenix Raceway using the low downforce package with engines producing 750 horsepower that has already raced 18 times this season. That is the new gateway.

The 1.5-mile track isn’t going away even though Texas lost a points-paying spring race and instead was given the non-points All-Star Race. This is the 41st Cup race at Texas and the first year since 2004 that Texas hasn’t had two points-paying races on the schedule.

But I can’t help to remember NASCAR at its pinnacle of popularity in the mid-1990s with the young California kid Jeff Gordon and the wiley veteran Dale Earnhardt clashing and then cashing together all the way to the bank with merchandise sales. The new cookie-cutter tracks had massive seating which made the old standards like Rockingham and North Wilkesboro Speedway expendable. The new tracks also took away a Darlington date and caused the stoppage of the Southern 500 on Labor Day.

NASCAR is trying to rebrand itself again with all the road courses (favors Chase Elliott), so I’m flipping on my stance on the cookie cutters after experiencing a full season of road racing so I am back now missing the 1.5s. I may again feel different in two decades.

I hope that all made some kind of sense as I went full circle.


Now let’s make some money. The winner of the race gets a free pass into the Championship 4 race at Phoenix in four weeks. Only a handful of drivers have a chance to win this week with the high downforce race package with engines producing 550 horsepower.

Caesars sportsbooks list season point-leader, Kyle Larson, as the +275 favorite and he’s certainly deserving of being such a short favorite. But more on Larson in a bit. Let’s talk about Kyle Busch who Caesars has posted at 7-to-1 odds to win at Texas.

His only two wins of the season came using this week’s race package at Kansas and the second Pocono race. He also won this race last season. I’ll bet he wants to start off the Round of 8 with a win to ease the pressure the next two weeks.

“For sure,” Busch said. “Both the first two tracks to start the Round of 8 are places we’ve won at within the last calendar year, so I look forward to getting to Texas and starting the next round. All the tracks are good places for us, so hoping we can get some solid finishes and maybe even a win, hopefully the sooner the better, and can get us to the Championship 4 at Phoenix with a win.”

Busch is a two-time Cup Champion and is a nice look to win the Championship which Circa Sports is offering at 6-to-1 odds to win it. The only negative is Phoenix using the 750 HP which hasn’t been far from his best package this season. But let’s stick with Texas here where Busch has been dominant in all three NASCAR national series. Why is he so good there?

“It’s always been a really good place for me, whether that was before the repave or after the repave,” Busch said.” A lot of credit goes to Joe Gibbs Racing and the cars they bring there for me. We’ve had a lot of success at Texas over the years, whether that is in the Xfinity Series, winning five in a row as we did there, winning in the Trucks, and now we have four Cup wins there, too, after the win last fall. It’s just been a really good place for me, and our team has been better with the 550 (horsepower) package this year, and hoping we can get into victory lane there this weekend with our Interstate Batteries Camry and punch our ticket to Phoenix early.”

Kyle Larson was able to extend his lead in the Championship Series with a win in Charlotte last week. (AP)

Interstate Batteries is a Texas-based company that is celebrating a 30-year relationship with Joe Gibbs Racing who won the 1993 Daytona 500 with Dale Jarrett at the start of their second season.

Kyle Busch has four Cup wins at Texas, as well as 10 Xfinity wins, and five Truck Series wins. In only 30 Cup starts there, Busch has 14 top-fives and led 1,049 laps which are both the most among active drivers, as are his four wins.

In his last three races using this week’s race package, he was runner-up to his brother Kurt at Atlanta leading 91 laps. Next, he was at Michigan with a seventh-place and leading 13 laps, and then it was a home race at Las Vegas where he finished third.

I’ve got five car numbers swirling around in my head and Busch’s No. 18 keeps coming up aces for me even though Kyle Larson is a beast and will be again Sunday.


  • Date: Sunday, October 17, 2021
  • TV-Time: NBC, 2:00 p.m. ET
  • Venue: Texas Motor Speedway
  • Location: Fort Worth, Texas
  • Distance: 501 miles, 334 laps
  • Defending Champion: Kyle Busch

The Texas layout was modeled after SMI sister tracks at Charlotte and Atlanta. All three have their own wrinkles that make them unique to themselves but looking at all three side-by-side they look like twins or triplets. Larson was the best collectively between the three races and also won the All-Star Race at Texas.

In March, Larson led a race-high 259 laps at Atlanta but couldn’t close out the win and finished second. Ryan Blaney scooped the win like he has done late in all three of his wins. This happened two weeks after Larson won his first Las Vegas race and led a race-high 103 laps.

In May, Larson led a race-high 327 of 400 laps in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. Chase Elliott was second, and Kyle Busch was third. But Larson hasn’t won a race with this week’s package since the Texas All-Star Race on June 13. It’s in this small gap of semi-failure for the great Larson that I see a window of hope and opportunity for Busch winning.


Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Kyle Busch is 7/1 to win at Texas



Capping Off a 30th Anniversary Celebration


HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (Oct. 12, 2021) – Interstate Batteries – the founding sponsor of Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) – has been in a celebratory mood all season during the company’s impressive 30-year partnership with JGR. And nothing would be more perfect for the Dallas-based company than to cap off the 30-year celebration in victory lane after Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500, just up the road from the company’s headquarters, at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.


Likewise, it’s no surprise that Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota for JGR, would like nothing more than to bring home his fifth Texas Cup Series win this weekend, not only for another chance to celebrate with his longtime partner, but to automatically lock himself into the Championship 4 Nov. 7 at Phoenix Raceway. Needless to say, there’s a lot on the line as Busch and his fellow Cup Series competitors head to the 1.5-mile Texas oval.


Sunday’s race at Texas serves as the first race of the Round of 8 of this year’s Cup Series playoffs. Busch advanced with his fourth-place run in the Round of 12 finale last Sunday on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. The two-time Cup Series champion is the defending Texas race winner.


Busch brings plenty of optimism, along with 23 important playoff points, to the Round of 8. With the unknowns of Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway and the Charlotte Roval now in the rearview mirror, Busch can focus on the next three tracks ahead of him in the Round of 8 – Texas, Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, and Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Busch has a combined eight wins at those three tracks, including victories at both Texas and Kansas within the last calendar year.


With Interstate Batteries finishing off its six primary sponsorships of Busch’s No. 18 Toyota in 2021, JGR’s founding partner hopes to put an exclamation mark on an important milestone as the team celebrates its 30th anniversary of Interstate Batteries being along for the ride every step of the way. Busch has brought home nine victories sporting the colors of Interstate Batteries. Add Bobby Labonte’s 21 wins and Dale Jarrett’s two, and Interstate has made a combined 32 visits to victory lane in the Cup Series over the years. Labonte scored his last win for Interstate Batteries at the 2003 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and five years later it was Busch who brought Interstate back to victory lane during his first season at JGR, when he bested Carl Edwards to win the July 2008 race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.


As fall is in full swing and winter is quickly approaching, Busch is encouraging race fans to stop by a local Interstate dealer to get their vehicle batteries checked, as cold weather of winter can adversely affect a car’s battery.


So as NASCAR’s top series heads to Texas for the start of the Round of 8 on Sunday, Busch and the Interstate Batteries team are charging toward back-to-back fall wins in the Lone Star State. As Busch sports the colors of the official battery and founding sponsor of JGR for the final time this season, he hopes there’s one more celebration for its 30th anniversary season, back in a familiar spot – Texas victory lane.

KYLE BUSCH, Driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing: 


Given your success at Texas, including being the defending fall winner, is this an ideal track for you to get off to a good start and gain momentum in the round?


“For sure. Both the first two tracks to start the Round of 8 are places we’ve won at within the last calendar year, so I look forward to getting to Texas and starting the next round. All the tracks are good places for us, so hoping we can get some solid finishes and maybe even a win, hopefully the sooner the better, and can get us to the Championship 4 at Phoenix with a win in our Interstate Batteries Camry.”


You are the defending fall race winner at Texas. Does that mean something as you head there this weekend?


“Yes and no. You look at last year, we did what we needed to do to save fuel and win the race, so not sure it really translates from that one race. But, we’ve won at Texas four times and feel like it’s a really good place for us. The biggest part of a lot of Texas races is having Interstate Batteries on board for a least one race a year there, and we’ve gotten them a few wins at their home track over the years. Would be a really big deal to get them a win as we celebrate 30 years with them and JGR, and then also advance us to Phoenix, as well.”


Is there anything about Texas that particularly suits your style (or JGR), outside of being a 1.5-mile layout given your dominance there in all three NASCAR national series divisions? 


“It’s always been a really good place for me, whether that was before the repave or after the repave. A lot of credit goes to Joe Gibbs Racing and the cars they bring there for me. We’ve had a lot of success at Texas over the years, whether that is in the Xfinity Series, winning five in a row as we did there, winning in the Trucks, and now we have four Cup wins there, too, after the win last fall. It’s just been a really good place for me, and our team has been better with the 550 (horsepower) package this year, and hoping we can get into victory lane there this weekend with our Interstate Batteries Camry and punch our ticket to Phoenix early.”


How do you think the round lays out for you, given your success at all three tracks – four wins at Texas and two each at Kansas and Martinsville, along with a lot of top-five efforts?

“This round lays out very well for us. We have three tracks where we have had a lot of success over the years. Like I said earlier, we won at both Texas and Kansas within the last year, so I feel like that’s a good omen for us. The mile-and-a-half program has been really strong for us. We did not run so well at Texas in the All-Star Race, but that was different, just everything with the package tweaks they had for that race. We should have a pretty good starting spot for us and we need to stay up front and hopefully keep our track position. Looking forward to this weekend.”


Event Overview:

● Event: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500

● Time/Date: 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 17

● Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth

● Layout: 1.5-mile oval

● Laps/Miles: 334 laps, 501 miles

● Format: Stage 1: 105 laps / Stage 2: 105 laps / Final Stage: 124 laps

● TV/Radio: NBC/ PRN/ SiriusXM NASCAR Radio



Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Kevin Harvick is nice look at 16/1 to win at Talladega



Talladega Advance

No. 4 Busch Light #Hunt4Busch Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing



Event Overview


● Event:  YellaWood 500 (Round 31 of 36)

● Time/Date:  2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 3

● Location:  Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway

● Layout:  2.66-mile oval

● Laps/Miles:  188 laps/500 miles

● Stage Lengths:  Stage 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 60 laps / Final Stage: 68 laps

● TV/Radio:  NBC / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Notes of Interest


●  With summer in the rearview mirror and fall now upon us, hunting season has commenced. Busch Light has geared up accordingly to create a hunt of its own this Sunday during the YellaWood 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway with Kevin Harvick leading the way. The 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion and winner of 58 Cup Series races is, of course, dressed appropriately. Harvick’s No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang rolls into Talladega carrying a sportsman theme, with blaze orange signifying Busch Light’s #Hunt4Busch challenge. Fans can win up to $1,000 in beer money in each stage of the race by logging onto their Twitter feed, following @BuschBeer, and turning on their notifications. At the beginning of each stage, Busch Light will provide different targets for fans to hunt while watching the race live on NBC, and all fans have to do is tweet #Hunt4Busch and #Sweepstakes when they spot one of the targets. It’s the only way to bag some bucks from the comfort of your couch.


●  Harvick comes into Talladega on a four-race top-10 streak, a run punctuated by a strong second-place drive Sept. 18 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway where he led three times for 71 laps. Before finishing second at Bristol, Harvick finished eighth Sept. 11 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway and fifth Sept. 4 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. In his most recent outing last Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Harvick came home ninth. He has finished among the top-15 in the last 10 races, a streak that began July 11 with an 11th-place result at Atlanta Motor Speedway.


●  Harvick has scored 20 top-10s in the 30 races run this season, third-most among NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Only Kyle Larson (22 top-10s) and Denny Hamlin (21 top-10s) are ahead of Harvick in this category.


●  Harvick is currently 10th in the NASCAR Playoff standings, seven points below the cutline with only two races remaining before the current 12-driver playoff field is whittled down to eight. Harvick is in the midst of his 12th consecutive playoff appearance and his 15th overall. He has advanced into the Round of 12 in all eight editions of the current playoff format. Coming into this season, he had advanced all the way to the Round of 8 since 2014, and five times he’s competed in the Championship 4, winning the title in 2014.


●  The driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #Hunt4Busch Ford Mustang finished fourth in his last outing at Talladega in April. Harvick led three times for 12 laps to increase his laps-led total at the 2.66-mile oval to 276. It was his eighth top-five and 17th top-10 in 41 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega.


●  Harvick’s eight top-fives at Talladega tie him with Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano for the second-most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Hamlin stands at the top of this category with nine top-fives at Talladega.


●  Harvick’s 17 top-10s at Talladega are the second-most among active NASCAR Cup Series drivers. Only Busch has more (21 top-10s).


●  Among those stats is a lone win at Talladega. Harvick came out the victor in a dogfight of a NASCAR Cup Series race at Talladega on April 25, 2010. There were an incredible 88 lead changes in the 200-lap race around the 2.66-mile oval and three massive accidents that collected a total of 24 cars. Harvick kept his car intact throughout each bout of calamity and despite leading only two laps, the second lap led was the one that counted most. Harvick got underneath race-leader Jamie McMurray in the track’s tri-oval to sweep past McMurray and take the win by just .011 of a second. It was just the 12th of Harvick’s 58 career Cup Series wins.


●  In addition to his 41 NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega, Harvick has eight NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, with a best result of second in April 2006.


●  At Talladega in October 2008, Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) enjoyed one of its most dominant days ever. The team qualified 1-2-3-4 for the first time in its history. SHR drivers then led 155 of the race’s 193 laps (80.3 percent), including the last lap by Aric Almirola, who delivered SHR’s milestone 50th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory and the organization’s 11th win of 2018.


Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #Hunt4Busch Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing


Describe the intensity of racing at Talladega.

“You have to be aggressive just for the fact that if you’re not aggressive, it always seems like you’re not going to be where you need to be. Nine times out of 10, the aggressor is going to be the guy who comes out on the good side of things just for the fact that you’re making things happen and you’re not waiting for something else to happen. When you wait for something else to happen, that’s usually when you get in trouble because it’s usually someone else’s mess. You can still get in trouble if you’re aggressive, but with this rules package and the way things are, it’s best to stay aggressive and try to stay up front.”


Blocking seems to be a necessary evil at Talladega. What’s your take?

“I don’t like blocking, but it’s a necessity. Blocking is something that has evolved over the years as people have figured out trying to time the runs, and people have figured out when you can block and when you can’t. It’s just a matter of putting yourself in a position where you think you’re making the right move, and sometimes you make the wrong move. It’s just a game of inches. It just really is a high-speed chess match that you have at 200 mph – and this week will be absolutely no different. There will be a big crash. There will be mistakes made. There will be pit errors made. There will be strategy played. But I can promise you we’re all going to race in a pack – and that’s the way Talladega should be.”


What are your expectations for Talladega?

“For me, it’s been a destruction derby over the last couple of years. We’ve run really well at Talladega, but that’s just kind of the phases you go through when you go to Talladega. I’m doing worse than 50-50 on whether you crash or finish the last few years, but it’s one of those places where you want to race up front and race hard all day because you have to try to win stages. I believe you have better odds at the front of the pack when it comes to staying out of a wreck if you can keep that track position all day. You’re going to race in a pack – three-wide at times – and you’re going to get pushed and have to push at times. You just never know what’s going to happen because Talladega is its own animal. It’s hard to finish a race there. As we’ve seen over the past however many years, you try to put yourself in the right position and hope you have a little bit of luck on your side that particular day. I know our Busch Light Ford Mustang will be fast enough to contend for the win, but you just have to get to the finish.”


Talladega and its sister track, Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, are often mentioned in the same breath, but there are differences between the two venues. What are they?

“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’re heading down into that bottom lane. It’s tough to know exactly where you need to be at the end of the race. 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. 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.”

Denny Hamlin is 11/1 to win YellaWood 500 at Talladega

Denny Hamlin

11 FedEx Express Toyota
Joe Gibbs Racing

Sunday Race Info:

Race: YellaWood 500
Date/Time: Sunday, Oct. 3/2:00 p.m. ET
Distance: 188 laps/500.08 miles
Track Shape: Tri-Oval
Track Length: 2.66 Miles
Banking: 33 degrees

Express Notes:

Press Kit: Download the 2021 FedEx Racing press materials at www.fedexracing.com/presskit, including bios for Denny Hamlin, Chris Gabehart and Joe Gibbs Racing leadership, program highlights and statistics.

Las Vegas Recap: Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team scored their second win of the Playoffs and claimed their spot in the Round of 8 with a dominant win Sunday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Hamlin led more than half of the race and claimed the Stage 2 win before pulling away in Stage 3 to lead the race’s final 39 laps. Crew chief Chris Gabehart and the #11 team got the FedEx Office Toyota handling better and better as the race wore on, and the pit crew gained Hamlin positions on pit road with fast stops as well. The win is Hamlin’s first at the 1.5-mile Nevada oval and his second of the 2021 season.

Talladega Preview: Denny Hamlin and the FedEx Racing team now head into the more precarious Round of 12 races at Talladega Superspeedway and the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval knowing they’ve already advanced to the next round. First up is the 2.66-mile superspeedway at Talladega on Sunday. In 31 career starts at the tri-oval track, Hamlin has recorded two wins and nine top-5 finishes, including a win at the fall race one year ago.

Hamlin Statistics:

Track: Talladega Superspeedway

Races: 31
Wins: 2
Poles: 0
Top-5: 9
Top-10: 13
Laps Led: 389
Avg. Start: 16.4
Avg. Finish: 17.2

Hamlin Conversation – Talladega:

Do you feel a sense of relief to know you’re already moving into the Round of 8?

“Definitely. Especially with the rest of this crazy round coming up. Talladega and the Roval are places where you don’t always have control over your own result, so it’s good to know we don’t have to worry about what might happen these next two weeks.”

Do you consider Kyle Larson your biggest competition in winning a title?

“We are our own competition. As long as we don’t make mistakes, we’re going to be OK. When we have clean races and don’t make any mistakes, we’re contending for race wins. We can’t really focus on one guy. I have to focus on the process that gives me a chance to race for a win. I just want an opportunity to go to Phoenix and have a chance.”

FedEx Express Along for the Ride at Talladega: Two Category 4 hurricanes just five weeks apart in September/October 2020 decimated Lake Charles, La., including the LCHA station. Despite catastrophic losses, station employees rallied as a team to provide humanitarian relief to the community while operating out of a makeshift trailer with limited connectivity. Fast forward to 2021, Lake Charles and surrounding communities once again were hit with two hurricanes just weeks apart, including another Category 4. Once again, the LCHA team responded by providing support and relief to the communities of Lafayette and Baton Rouge. Supporting the communities where they live and work epitomizes the FedEx culture value of CARING and is why FedEx Express is proud to honor its Lake Charles employees by featuring the letters LCHA on the B-post of the FedEx #11 at Talladega Superspeedway’s YellaWood 500.