Thursday, July 28, 2022

NASCAR returns to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course

For the second consecutive season, the NASCAR Cup Series will return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course for the Verizon 200 at the Brickyard on Sunday, July 31 at 2:30 p.m. ET (NBC, IMS Radio and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) as part of an action-packed tripleheader weekend with the NTT IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series (on Saturday, July 30).

Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) has existed since 1909, and is considered the original "Speedway", the first racing facility to incorporate the word into its name. With a permanent seating capacity for more than 250,000-plus people and infield seating that raises capacity to an approximate 400,000, it is the largest and highest-capacity sporting facility in history. The Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course was completed in 2000 and it incorporates part of the famous four-turn oval. The original length upon completion of the road course measured 2.605-miles. In 2008, and again in 2014, the road course layout was modified to improve competition. This weekend’s event will compete on the 14-turn, 2.439-mile paved version of the road course.

The first NASCAR Cup Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (oval) was August 6, 1994. Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Jeff Gordon (Chevrolet) won the inaugural event at the 2.5-mile speedway. The NASCAR Cup Series made its historical debut on the 14-Turn, 2.439-mile asphalt paved road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway last season with 40 competitors battling it out for 200 miles (82 laps). It was Kaulig Racing’s road course ace, A.J. Allmendinger, who knabbed the checkered flag in the event, by passing Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin and leading just the final two laps en route to the victory.

The inaugural NASCAR Cup Series race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Road Course was filled with competitive excitement, producing 13 lead changes among 11 different leaders. But it was Hendrick Motorsport’s driver Kyle Larson (28 laps led) and Joe Gibbs Racing’s Denny Hamlin (27 laps led) who commanded the lion’s share of the laps led in the event.

This weekend’s Verizon 200 at the Brickyard is scheduled for 82 total laps and will be broken up into three stages. The first stage will be 15 laps, the second will be 20 laps and the final stage will be 47 laps. All the on-track NASCAR Cup Series activity will begin with practice on Saturday from 9:35 a.m. – 10:35 a.m. ET, directly followed by Busch Light Pole Qualifying at 10:35 a.m. ET. Both events will be televised on the USA Network at 9:30 a.m. ET.


Chase Briscoe is 16/1 to win at Indy Road Course



Indianapolis Road Course Advance

No. 14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing




Event Overview


● Event: Verizon 200 at the Brickyard (Round 22 of 36)

● Time/Date: 2:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 31

● Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

● Layout: 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course

● Laps/Miles: 82 laps / 200 miles

● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 15 laps / Stage 2: 20 laps / Final Stage: 47 laps

● TV/Radio: NBC / IMS Radio Network / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio


Notes of Interest


● Just 85 miles south of Indianapolis sits the town of Mitchell, Indiana. The old railroad town spans 3.6 square miles with a population of less than 4,000. But it was in the center of town at a family shop on 14th Street that a young boy watched his father and grandfather prepare cars for the local dirt tracks while dreaming of his shot of carrying on the family legacy and someday returning back home again to Indiana to race at the most famous venue in motorsports – the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. This weekend, Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), will have two shots to once again kiss the bricks and climb the fence in victory at the Brickyard – first in Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series race driving the No. 07 Ford Mustang for SS Greenlight Racing, and then on Sunday in the Verizon 200 NASCAR Cup Series race.


● The son of Kevin, an accomplished dirt racer, and grandson of Richard, a renowned car owner and builder, Briscoe aspired to follow in the footsteps of his favorite driver and fellow Hoosier Tony Stewart. Stewart, at the time a Cup Series champion, would return home to race at the local short tracks when not behind the wheel of the No. 14 SHR entry, often competing against Kevin as the youngest Briscoe looked on. He practiced his victory celebration dressed in a replica of Stewart’s uniform and helmet until he was old enough to start racing himself. At the age of 14, Briscoe earned his first sprint car win at Paragon Speedway, marking the end of NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon’s reign as the youngest driver to win in a 410 sprint car. From there, Briscoe blazed a path of his own in the stock car world, dominating his first season in the ARCA Menards Series to become the 2016 champion, then earning his first NASCAR Truck Series win in 2017 in his 23rd start.


● But it was after a breakthrough 2020 season in the Xfinity Series that saw Briscoe visit victory lane nine times that he finally felt like he was overcoming the odds that always seemed to be stacked against him. Just six years after leaving home to pursue a dream, he found himself back in Indiana, sitting next to his idol as he and his family were told he’d be the next driver of the famed No. 14 Ford Mustang for SHR in the Cup Series. Last year, when the series returned to Indianapolis to compete on the road course for the first time, Briscoe was introduced as the pilot of the No. 14 in front of hundreds of friends, family members and residents of Mitchell who had turned up to see him race at his home track, and he made sure to put on a show for the hometown crowd.


● Twenty-four races into his rookie season and determined to earn his first Cup Series win at Indianapolis a year ago, Briscoe qualified second, missing the pole by just .426 of a second, and took the lead on lap two of the race. He finished the first stage in ninth, but from there struggled with a series of flat-spotted tires and green-flag pit stops until a caution on lap 79 set up Briscoe to restart third for the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish on lap 88. That run was halted by the second multicar incident in a 12-lap span, and Briscoe once again restarted third, behind leader Denny Hamlin, for the second attempt at a green-white-checkered finish. As Hamlin drove wide into turn one and cars bunched up on the restart, Briscoe slid off into the grass. He returned to the track right behind Hamlin and was vying for the lead when contact sent Hamlin’s No. 11 into a spin. Briscoe was subsequently served a penalty for his venture through the grass and making contact with the leader and was parked for the final lap of the race, resulting in a 26th-place finish.


● Briscoe’s move for the lead might have ruffled feathers, but his composure when confronted by Hamlin following the race made many take notice of his commitment to carrying on the legacy of the No. 14. Stewart stood by, observing his driver’s tenacity with pride, a moment that Briscoe has noted as a turning point in his career. “Personally, I felt like I was doing my job,” he said. “I’m there to win. But, to have Tony tell me he was proud of me for standing up for myself, that made me realize I’m doing the right thing. He’s the guy I looked up to as a kid and the driver I always wanted to be. He knew who he was and didn’t let anyone push him around, and it’s time for me to do the same.”


● Briscoe has been a standout on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn Indianapolis road course layout since his first outing there in 2020 during the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ inaugural race on the circuit. He started 12th in the 38-car field and took the lead for the first time on lap 24, eventually leading five times for a race-high 30 laps. Over the final two laps, the Hoosier had to battle road-course ace AJ Allmendinger, who took the lead from Briscoe on lap 59 and sent him to third after the SHR pilot overdrove a corner. But Briscoe set his sights on regaining the lead and repositioned himself at the front of the field with a powerful drive past second-place Austin Cindric and leader Allmendinger on the penultimate lap. Briscoe wheeled his Ford Mustang throughout the hallowed grounds of the Brickyard en route to victory, beating runner-up Justin Haley to the finish line by a 1.717-second margin. It was Briscoe’s fifth of nine wins in 2020.


● It was three months later that Briscoe was announced as the next driver of the No. 14, and he completed the 2021 season having earned Cup Series Rookie of the Year honors. He once again drew attention when he began the 2022 season with a third-place finish in the Daytona 500, then scored his first Cup Series win in the fourth race of the season at Phoenix Raceway.


● With 21 of 36 races complete this season, Briscoe has three top-fives and four top-10 finishes, a career-best for the 27-year-old who earned three top-10s in his rookie season. Briscoe is currently 16th in points and holds a spot in the 16-driver playoff field with five races remaining in the regular season.


Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:


How are you feeling about returning to Indianapolis this weekend and running double duty?

“I’m excited. There’s a lot of pressure that I put on myself during Indy weekend. I want to go there and win both practice sessions, both qualifying sessions and both races and that’s kind of the mentality I start with weeks out because I know it’s something that is definitely attainable. When you go to Indy being an Indiana guy, you have pressure coming from everywhere. There are a lot of people, friends and just fans, that don’t get to see me race anywhere else that are from that area. So, I’m definitely excited to get there and pull double duty. It looks like the Xfinity race is going to have a lot of Cup guys, so it’ll be a good test for Sunday. I’m really looking forward to getting there and spending a week at home.”


Indy was a great place for you last year even though it didn’t end the way you had hoped. What are your thoughts on the Cup Series race knowing you were strong there last year but are now in the position of having to relearn some things there with the NextGen car?

“Well, it’s for sure going to be different. It’s going to be like learning a whole new racetrack because how this car drives on the road courses is different. Everything, from what you look for in the long run, how you brake, when you start to brake, things like that are going to be different from what we did last year or what we’ve done on some other road courses (this year). Then, you throw in the double duty aspect of it. It’ll be a challenge to go back and forth because your brake markers could be almost 200 feet different and the H-pattern shifter versus the sequential shifter is a big change. So that’s something I am a little nervous about, I guess. But I know it’s going to be the same for everybody. This is the race every year I circle on my schedule knowing it’s one that we can win and, with everything that we’re trying to do right now to make sure we’re in the playoffs, if we can win, it would be huge. There’s always pressure when racing in Indiana, but probably more so this year.”


As the playoff picture unfolds and there’s some uncertainty around who will actually be competing for a title, how do you prepare?

“First, we’ve got to make sure we make the playoffs. With how the winner situation is, we need to try to points race the next couple of weeks. If we can win the race, we need to do that, but with the road courses coming up and Daytona, there’s a lot of opportunities to go for stage points versus track position. It’s tough because of the situation we’re in. But we’re going to focus on getting points and trying to leapfrog some guys in the standings so we aren’t the lowest one-win driver if it comes down to more than 16 winners when we get to Daytona. I want to start getting focused for the playoffs, but we have to make sure we’re in before we get too far ahead on planning for the future.”


Do you feel like you’re on the bubble?

“If guys keep winning, then yes, absolutely. You know, it’s definitely a hairy situation to be in, but I don’t feel like we should be in this situation in the first place. If I would have won Charlotte or won Bristol, then we wouldn’t be talking about this. There are a lot of times where I’ve left a lot of points on the table over the last two or three months. So really, we probably shouldn’t be in this spot, but I’ve kind of put us here so I’ve got to try to get us out of it now. We’ve had speed, we just haven’t done a very good job of capitalizing on that speed throughout the races. There have been a few times where guys a lot worse than us all day long have finished 10 or 15 spots ahead of us, and it’s just because I’ve done something wrong at the end of the race. So I’ve got to clean that up because, come playoff time, you can’t be doing that.”

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Kevin Harvick is 10/1 to win at Pocono



Pocono Advance

No. 4 Busch Light Apple #BuschTrickyTrivia Ford Mustang



Event Overview


●  Event:  M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 (Round 21 of 36)

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

●  Location:  Pocono (Pa.) Raceway

●  Layout:  2.5-mile triangle

●  Laps/Miles:  160 laps/400 miles

●  Stage Lengths:  Stage 1: 30 laps / Stage 2: 65 laps / Final Stage: 65 laps

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


Notes of Interest


●  Pocono (Pa.) Raceway is known as the “Tricky Triangle” for its three distinct corners connected by three straightaways, including an enormously long 3,740-foot frontstretch. And with the NASCAR Cup Series competing at Pocono this Sunday, Busch Light decided it’s time to rock a rhyme that’s right on time with trivia that’s tricky, tricky, tricky. Kevin Harvick’s No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang is rocking a #BuschTrickyTrivia hashtag on its quarterpanels as Busch Light tees up some in-race trivia during USA’s broadcast of the M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 at 3 p.m. EDT on Sunday. During each stage of the 160-lap race around the 2.5-mile triangle, Busch Light will tweet out three trivia questions – one at the beginning, middle and end of each stage – and fans will have only three minutes to answer each question. To enter, fans just need to follow @BuschBeer, turn on their notifications, and tweet #BuschTrickyTrivia and #Sweepstakes, along with their answer, to win tricked-out prizes. Each stage will have a theme, with Stage 1 relating to NASCAR’s history at Pocono, Stage 2 being about Harvick, and the third and final stage highlighting Busch Beer’s NASCAR affiliation. So with this speech as our recital, we think it’s very vital, to tweet #BuschTrickyTrivia because tricky is a part of the title. Here we go!


●  What makes Pocono so tricky? It is the only triangular-shaped track on the NASCAR Cup Series calendar, and its layout was designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rodger Ward, who modeled each of its three turns after a different track. Turn one, which is banked at 14 degrees, is from the legendary Trenton (N.J.) Speedway. Turn two, banked at eight degrees, is a nod to the turns at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And turn three, banked at six degrees, is based on the corners at The Milwaukee Mile. The first race on the 2.5-mile triangle came in 1971, but it wasn’t until Aug. 4, 1974 that NASCAR visited, with the inaugural race won by NASCAR Hall of Famer Richard Petty.


●  Harvick comes into Pocono riding a wave of front-running consistency. The Bakersfield, California-native hasn’t finished worse than 12th in his last five races, including a strong fifth-place result last Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.


●  Sunday’s M&M’s Fan Appreciation 400 will mark Harvick’s 43rd NASCAR Cup Series start at Pocono. The 22-year Cup Series veteran has finished among the top-10 in half of those starts, and among active drivers, Harvick leads the series in top-fives (15), top-10s (22) and laps led (6,992).


●  Harvick has a five-race streak of top-10 finishes at Pocono. If you take out a lone 22nd-place finish in June 2019, Harvick’s run of top-10s at the 2.5-mile triangle would extend back to June 2016 when he finished ninth, a span of 11 races.


●  On June 27, 2020 in his 39th NASCAR Cup Series start at Pocono, Harvick finally nabbed a coveted victory at the “Tricky Triangle”. After starting ninth and methodically working his way toward the front, Harvick led the final 17 laps to take the checkered flag by .761 of a second over runner-up Denny Hamlin in the first race of a doubleheader weekend at Pocono. Harvick then followed up his win with a strong second-place finish on Sunday.


●  Harvick has five second-place finishes at Pocono, and all of them have come since joining Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2014. And in Harvick’s last 16 races at Pocono – all of which have come with SHR – the driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang has only three finishes outside the top-10.


●  Harvick has also enjoyed success at Pocono outside of the NASCAR Cup Series. He has made two career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at the track, winning from the pole in 2011 and finishing second in 2015.


●  All of these statistics and anecdotes make Harvick the apple of one’s eye at Pocono, which is fitting since the 2014 NASCAR Cup Series champion will race the No. 4 Busch Light Apple Ford Mustang at the “Tricky Triangle”. Busch Light Apple is a crisp, refreshing, apple-flavored lager with a touch of sweet on the front end and a clear, beer finish on the back end. It is available for a limited time only NATIONWIDE for its LAST YEAR EVER in 12-, 24- and 30-packs at a store near you.


Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Apple #BuschTrickyTrivia Ford Mustang 


For the past two seasons, we did doubleheaders at Pocono. Now that we’re back to just a single race at the track, do you prefer the doubleheader or do you like the standalone event?

“Any time we can get two races in one weekend, I’m in. I think it added a unique element to the weekend just because of the invert and everything that happened from the first day to the second day. I always thought that was a cool weekend and I hated to see it go.”


Did the first part of the doubleheader on Saturday help you for the second part of the doubleheader on Sunday?

“Usually. Sometimes you can screw it up, too. Luckily for us, we seem to run pretty good in the doubleheader situations.”


Pocono seems to have a road-course element to it – some flat, fast corners, some bumps, plenty of shifting – does that make it a track that amplifies the NextGen car’s road-course attributes?

“With the NextGen car’s characteristics, you’re going to be able to push and shove and bump draft and all of the things that you can do. And then you’re going to have options on gears, so add that in with sometimes being difficult to pass, I think it’s going to be interesting to see the restarts. I think the restarts are going to get more intense than they’ve been before.”


Drivers have been shifting at seemingly all the tracks this year, due in large part to the sequential shifter in the NextGen car. But shifting on an oval really seemed to first come into vogue at Pocono. Can you talk about the element of shifting at Pocono – when you started doing it and why you started doing it?

“When I started, that was just what you did at Pocono. You downshifted and it was just part of the process of Pocono. But that kind of went away as the teams kind of decided it was too expensive. So we went to spec transmissions and couldn’t shift, and then it went back to, ‘OK, you can shift,’ and now we’re going to shift in every corner. So, it’s definitely just kind of a piece of the puzzle that’s come with this new car, and at Pocono, I think we’re going to shift in every corner.”


With the NextGen car’s sequential shifter, how different is it from the standard H-pattern shifter?

“It’s basically just up and down. When you push up on the shifter, it’s a downshift. When you pull down on the shifter, it’s an upshift. It’s really easy to use. Once you put it into gear, there’s no need to use the clutch or anything on the upshifts or the downshifts. It’s made it a little easier to shift, but there’s a lot more shifting going on, so that adds a new element to it that you really didn’t have before.”


How do you know what gear you’re in, and have you been using the sequential shifter long enough to where you’ve ridded yourself of the habit of shifting in an H-pattern?

“There’s three gear stacks that they put in the transaxle and you run those at different places. So, some places, we’ve actually not run fifth gear. Like Martinsville, we shifted between third and fourth. At some places, you run fifth gear and you go between fourth and fifth, so I would imagine that’s what we’re going to do at Pocono. You still have to think about what you’re doing just because the gear that you’re in is on the dash screen. I found myself a few times, at Darlington even, I’d come off turn two, and I had been downshifting a little bit while I was in traffic or on restarts, and there were a couple of times that I went to grab another gear and I was already in fifth gear. You do that a lot at different places because you’re in between some of those gears, and sometimes you get jammed up and you downshift, and sometimes you do it on a restart. So you have to kind of think, but for the most part, if you’re just making laps you kind of get into a rhythm of knowing which gear you’re in.”


What makes a lap at Pocono so challenging?

“When you look at Pocono, you know that you’re going to have a challenge of getting your car to handle in all three corners. That’s the biggest challenge when it comes to Pocono. You have to make sure you can get all you can coming to turn three because the straightaway after that is really, really long. You can kind of give up the tunnel turn, but you still need to be very good in all three corners. It’s just a different style of racetrack than what we go to on a week-to-week basis.”


You mentioned the tunnel turn – what makes it so difficult?

“The tunnel turn is difficult just because you try to carry so much speed through there. It’s not an extremely hard corner, but it’s an extremely hard corner to carry speed through there without having the front end push or the back slide out. It’s not an extremely hard corner until you try to go through there as fast as you can lap after lap. It’s an easy corner to make a mistake. You can give up a lot of time there, but you can also make a lot of time.”

Kyle Busch is 6/1 favorite to win at Pocono



Appreciating Pocono


HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (July 19, 2022) – Mars Wrigley’s involvement with the sport of NASCAR goes all the way back to 1990, when the SNICKERS brand first fielded a car for Bobby Hillin Jr., at Stavola Brothers Racing. The partnership continued the next couple of seasons with Rick Wilson behind the wheel in 1991 and Dick Trickle in 1992.


The Mars brands dabbled as an associate sponsor at Hendrick Motorsports for several seasons before signing on with MB2 Motorsports in 1998 as a fulltime sponsor of driver Ernie Irvan, whose paint schemes most of the season featured SKITTLES brand. It was during that same season that Irvan drove a special scheme featuring Mars’ trademark brand M&M’S® to celebrate the opening of the M&M’S World® store in Las Vegas.


The response to the colorful M&M’S® paint scheme was one of excitement from motorsports and chocolate fans alike. For the 1999 season, Mars unveiled M&M’S® as its on-track focal point. At that year’s season opener at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, M&M’S® began a decades-long tenure as a primary sponsor in the NASCAR Cup Series.


Fast forward to 2022 as Kyle Busch and the M&M’S brand finish off a successful 15-year run together. Since the partnership began in 2008, Busch has scored 56 victories in NASCAR’s top series, including 34 while sporting the colors of M&M’S. This weekend, Mars continues to thank the fans for all their support during its time in NASCAR with its first-ever race entitlement – Sunday’s M&M’S Fan Appreciation 400 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.  


Pocono is important to M&M’S and to Busch for several reasons. Firstly, Mars Wrigley’s offices and its plant in Hackettstown, New Jersey,  are less than an hour’s drive east of the 2.5-mile “Tricky Triangle,” making it a home track of sorts for those two facilities, as well as the company’s plant another 30 minutes to the east in Newark, New Jersey. In addition to its first-ever race entitlement, M&M’S is maximizing its opportunity to thank the fans for their support of the brand with special events throughout the weekend, including a Q&A session in the fan midway on race day featuring former M&M’S drivers Irvan, Ken Schrader and David Gilliland, as well as Busch, of course.


As for Busch, for years he dreaded making the trip to Pocono. But things changed dramatically for the Las Vegas native during the 2017 season, when he and the No. 18 team seemed to turn the corner there. Busch led 100 laps in the June race before coming back in late July and winning his first Pocono Cup Series race. Those two performances sparked a run of 10 Pocono races during which Busch scored four wins, seven top-five finishes and nine top-10s. And his 436 laps led in the last 10 Pocono races is almost 30 percent of all 1,507 laps possible. That’s quite the turnaround from his previous 10 starts there that netted zero wins or top-fives and just four top-10s. In his most recent visit to Pocono during a doubleheader race weekend in June 2021, Busch finished second in the Saturday race and went one better on Sunday by driving to his second victory of the season.


So as Busch and the M&M’S brand head to the Poconos together for a final time, not only will M&M’S be showing its appreciation for its more than three decades in the sport of NASCAR, it hopes to be celebrating with Busch with another Pocono victory in Sunday’s M&M’S Fan Appreciation 400.


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


Pocono was a place you didn’t take to right away, but you seemed to turn the corner there over the last 10 races. What are you expecting this weekend?


“I get asked a lot what my favorite track is and my answer is usually Bristol, but Pocono is one of those places that has really moved up much higher on that list. It’s always, ‘What have you done for me lately,’ so Pocono has been a really good place for us and a place we started running well starting in 2013, 2014, but really didn’t see the actual results from that until the 2017 season. We were able to make the pit strategy work last year and had enough fuel to get to the finish line first even though we had transmission issues, so it would be great to be able to go back there with this new car and get back to victory lane with our M&M’S Camry. For all that M&M’s has done for the fans over the years, and the cool schemes I’ve been able to drive, it’s also cool to see them sponsor a race and certainly would be pretty cool for them to have the opportunity to hand over the M&M’S Fan Appreciation 400 trophy to me this weekend.”


You make Pocono look easy, but what is still tough about Pocono even for you?


“Every time you go there, it’s a bit different. The bumps change, the characteristics change, where the bumps are. Are they getting bigger? Are they getting worse? Are there more? That turn-two tunnel turn is always a culprit for the bumps, and the harsh winters up there really change the racetrack. Then, what happens in turn three, where the wind is blowing and stuff like that, is always kind of a convoluted piece to Pocono, and how you get through turn three versus turn one versus two. There are three distinctly different corners, there’s definitely going to be compromise.”


How do you learn to get better at a track, like you have at Pocono?


“There are so many different ways you can do it. You can look at data, you can look at the driving technique. Talking is kind of the best resource, just being able to ask a guy, ‘Hey, when you do this, why do you do this, or what do you expect when you get into a run and you’re going this far, and tire wear, and how do you get around turn two,’ whatever it might be. Lots of different things there, being teammates with Denny (Hamlin) for this long, it’s lended itself to myself improving at Pocono and Martinsville, places like that, and him improving at places like Bristol and Charlotte from myself.”


Is missing it as an organization at one track and hitting it at others just a function of this new NextGen racecar?


“A little bit. I would argue to that the Penske guys weren’t great at Kansas. But they’ve been super strong at the flatter tracks. They’re really fast at Martinsville, Phoenix. They’ve been good. They were good at Gateway, as well. They qualified really strong, so as far as their packages there, it seems that these teams or organizations kind of have what it takes to be good at these particular tracks. And so I think as we all continue to learn and grow, it feels like the good teams will be the good teams everywhere. But you know, it is kind of patchy right now with just getting an understanding built around this car. We’ve struggled on the road courses, but we ran well at Gateway, and pretty well New Hampshire, so hopefully that will translate over to Pocono, as well, with all of them being flatter tracks.”



Event Overview:

● Event: M&M’S Fan Appreciation 400 (Round 21 of 36)

● Time/Date: 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 24

● Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway

● Layout:  2.5-mile triangle

● Laps/Miles: 160 laps/400 miles

● Stage Lengths:  Stage 1: 30 laps / Stage 2: 65 laps / Final Stage: 65 laps

● TV/Radio: USA Network / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Thursday, July 14, 2022

New Hampshire NASCAR Betting Preview: 2022 Ambetter 301

The NextGen car makes its first visit to New Hampshire Motor Speedway this weekend in Sunday’s Ambetter 301, but we’ve got lots of data from similar tracks that should help us find a winner. 

New Hampshire's flat 1-mile paperclip layout requires a similar set-up as the flat tracks at Phoenix, Richmond, Martinsville, and St. Louis so those that did well on those four should have an edge this weekend which begins with Saturday afternoon practice and qualifying. 

Past New Hampshire results help show what drivers like the layout, who excels, and who doesn’t, but this darn new car has thrown a monkey wrench into past successful handicapping strategies. But the results from the four similar tracks tell us who has what and the Saturday practice session would confirm it or also reveal a couple of drivers to also consider.

This race will be the 20th of 36 on the season with 13 different winners so far. Chase Elliott leads the series with three wins after winning at his home track in Atlanta last week and four others have two wins. To show how great the parity is and what the new car has done, consider that eight winners from last season are still looking for their first 2022 win.

New Hampshire’s Magic Mile made its NASCAR Cup debut in 1993 with Rusty Wallace winning and was given two dates a season in 1997 and then had one of its dates removed after the 2017 season. The last four seasons have been one race a season and all four have been won by a Ford driver.  


Caesars opened Kyle Busch +700 and he was the first driver bet substantially and now he’s the favorite, and for good reason. He has six Xfinity Series wins at NHMS, three Truck Series wins, and three Cup Series win while also leading all active drivers with 1,134 laps led.

“Loudon is a Martinsville-like short track, but it’s just over a mile,” Busch said. “It’s a little more spread out, but there’s some rooting and gouging going on because it’s a one-lane track and everybody fights for that particular groove. We struggled at Phoenix and Martinsville earlier in the year and those tracks are in the same family as Loudon. But another similar track is Gateway, and I felt like we were really good there and made a lot of gains, so hoping we can continue that this weekend at Loudon with our DEWALT Camry TRD. Hope we can run similar to Gateway and get us one spot better than we did there.” 

Gateway or St. Louis (nobody wants to call it by its real name) is the track I like to compare the most for this race because it’s the last race used funneling all the learned new car data from Phoenix, Richmond, and Martinsville. Busch led a race-high 66 laps at St. Louis and was runner-up. He also has top-10s on the four similar tracks this season. He’s the driver to beat. 

Ryan Blaney (6/1) finished seventh or better on the four similar tracks, twice leading the most laps, and three times finishing fourth. But he has no wins on the season. Sure he’s knocking on the door to a win but sometimes I think he’s too nice. He doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers and races clean, but to win, you have to make choices. He's leading too many laps not to win. The funniest thing is Caesars making him such a big favorite and tightening the odds as if Blaney is a risky bet each week and everyone is betting him. They’re not betting him because we all know he won’t do anything for a win.   


  • Date: Sunday, July 17, 2022
  • Venue: New Hampshire Motor Speedway
  • Location: Loudon, New Hampshire
  • Distance: 310 miles
  • Laps: 301
  • Network-Time: USA - 3:00 p.m. ET
  • Defending Champion: Aric Almirola

Chase Elliott (7/1) has starts at NHMS, one top-five, and a 16th-place average finish. More importantly, this season his best on the four similar tracks was 10th at Martinsville where he also led 185 laps. Three wins on the season, but his team hasn’t got the flat tracks figured out yet.

Joey Logano (7/1) won his first career Cup race at NHMS and won again in 2014, but I like him here because of his St, Louis win and he also was runner-up at Martinsville. He’ll be racing for the win late in the race.

Denny Hamlin's (9/1) 9.6 average finish at NHMS is the best among active drivers. He has three wins and 11 top-fives, but that was the past. His Richmond win should carry some weight as a candidate to win but he led only five laps and won on pit strategy. Blaney led 128 laps in that race. At St. Louis, Martinsville, and Phoenix, Hamlin was terrible and he doesn’t sound too confident about his team fixing the issue.

“New Hampshire is a great track overall. I expect that we’ll be shifting quite a bit this weekend, so I’m not sure what that will entail for the race,” Hamlin said. “I have always felt like oval racing was momentum based and that’s how it should be. But we’ll play within the rules we’re dealt and make the most of this weekend. Our FedEx team has been working very hard to make gains on tracks like this, so it will be good to see where we’re at now that we’re halfway through the season.”

Martin Truex, Jr. (9/1) is still searching for his first win of the season. Memo to Ceasars: drivers that have not won a race after 19 races should not be offered at single-digit odds. He’s led 744 laps at NHMS and won a couple of lower level races there, but no Cup wins. I like how he ran at St. Louis finishing sixth after leading 42 laps and the trend should follow here.

“I feel like you can take something from Phoenix and also from St. Louis as far as learning this new car and figuring out what it takes to get around these flatter, shorter tracks,” Truex said. “It feels like we are getting closer. Loudon is obviously different, but generally if you have a good short-track package, you can kind of find the setup on all three of those tracks. We’re looking forward to big things in Loudon with our Interstate Batteries Camry.”


#20 Christopher Bell (15/1) - I like this guy this week and his best performance on the four similar tracks was finished sixth at Richmond after leading 63 laps and a ninth at St. Louis.

“With the Playoff picture being as tight as it is, every point matters,” Bell said. “Loudon is a great track for us and we need a good showing.  I’m ready to see what we can do this weekend.”


The JGR cars collectively haven’t been good on the flat tracks, but Bell was runner-up at NHMS last season and also won the last three Xfinity Series races there, so I’m buying.

#8 Tyler Reddick (20/1) - He’s all set with the Jordan/Hamlin team in 2024 and he’s got a spot in the playoffs by winning at Road America so he can relax and win just for fun now. He’s got no pressure and he was third at Phoenix in March.

#45 Kurt Busch (25/1) - Yes, I like this price by Caesars. Busch has always been good at NHMS beginning with a 2000 Truck Series win. He has three Cup wins there, but I bet him entirely for the car that his team produced at similar tracks. He was fifth at Phoenix, sixth at Martinsville, and third at St. Louis. 

#10 Aric Almirola (25/1) - He won this race last season and we saw a nice fifth-place finish at St. Louis last month and that track is very relatable to this week as he explains.

“Turns three and four at Gateway are very similar to the turns at Loudon,” Almirola said. “There are some aspects unique to Loudon, but it’s still a short track. I think there are some things from a confidence level and comfortability because I enjoy that style of racetrack. It fits my driving style. I’ve always run well at Loudon. I remember the first time I got in Jimmie Johnson’s Cup car when I was there on baby watch. I got in his car on Saturday morning for practice and actually went faster than he did, and that was a big boost of confidence for me. That practice session really changed the course of my career. It opened the eyes to a lot of general managers and team owners. I think it changed everyone’s mind. It happened quickly after that. Dale Jr. called and asked if I would drive the No. 88 in the (NASCAR Xfinity Series) and that led to an opportunity at Richard Petty Motorsports.”

#99 Daniel Suarez (25/1) - He’s priced as if this is a road course. He was ninth at Phoenix and then had no top-15s in any of the other three similar tracks. I want to be an Amigo in his posse, but I need much better odds to bet him, like twice as much to bait me.


Wednesday, July 6, 2022

Kyle Busch is 10/1 to win 2022 Quaker State 400



More than Meets the Eye


HUNTERSVILLE, North Carolina (July 5, 2022) – There are six 1.5-mile ovals on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule in 2022. While Atlanta Motor Speedway is one of those six 1.5-mile ovals – 1.54-miles to be exact – the racing there is now much different than at its five counterparts.  


During the last offseason, Atlanta underwent a facelift with new pavement to replace the worn-out surface and increased banking in the turns from 24 to 28 degrees, with the track width varying from 55 feet to 40 feet. The frontstretch width is now 52 feet while the backstretch and turns at each end of the track are set at 42 and 40 feet wide, respectively.


The first race on the newly configured layout in March showed fans a completely different type of racing than they were used to seeing at Atlanta, and unlike any of the other 1.5-mile ovals on the schedule. While Atlanta is a mile or more shorter in length than Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway’s 2.5-mile oval and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway’s 2.66-mile oval, the changes made the racing Atlanta look more like it does at those two superspeedways.


Never one to back down from a challenge, Kyle Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M’S Crunchy Cookie Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), will head back to the new-look facility south of Atlanta to take on the still new track surface and configuration, and the kind of racing it brings. While it’s designed to facilitate more pack-style racing, there are still countless other unknowns thanks to the layout and the fact it’s just the second time the NextGen car has raced on the new configuration.


Long before the track underwent major changes, Atlanta was where the winning for Busch began with JGR in 2008. That was his first year with JGR, and he headed to Atlanta for the fourth Cup Series race of the season aiming to bring home the maiden victory for the team’s two new partners – Mars Wrigley with its SNICKERS brand, and Toyota. After leading a race-high 173 laps, Busch broke through for the first time in NASCAR’s top series for Toyota, which was in its second year of Cup Series competition and its first with JGR. Busch added an Atlanta Cup Series win in 2013 to go with eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10s over his career there.


So, as the Cup Series heads back to new-look Atlanta this weekend, Busch and the M&M’S Crunchy Cookie team know that while the track is listed as a 1.5-mile oval, there’s much more to it than meets the eye. He hopes to be able to figure out how to get up front and stay there in order to bring home his third Cup Series victory at Atlanta and first on the new configuration.  

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


Was Atlanta a lot like you expected before the first race after the new pavement and changes there?


“It was just as crazy as I expected. It literally got a facelift with a whole new track surface and layout and everything. Old Atlanta, you had the old asphalt and really had fast lap times to fire off, and then you had a lot of (tire) fall-off where lap times go down throughout the run. That led to having some guys come up through the field and others drop through the field, whether or not they were fast early in the run or slow late in the run, or vice versa. Back in the spring, it was more like what we expected it to be, like a Daytona or Talladega speedway race. We saw a lot of pack racing with some guys two-wide and maybe three-wide, and saw how wide the track got in the time we had on it. We’ll take what we can from the spring race there, what we did well and especially what not to do. Hoping we can figure out how to run up front and contend for the win with our M&M’S Crunchy Cookie Camry TRD.”


What are your memories of racing at Atlanta?

“I’ve won a few Truck Series races there. That was fun. I won for the first time in an Xfinity race there a few years ago, so that was very cool. I finished second three or four times, so it had been an Achilles heel for me, I guess. The Cup races there, I was really good or really bad, it seemed. Obviously, it’s a whole new ballgame there. We threw out our notes from the past during the spring race this year and we’ll just keep building on what we learned starting this weekend.”


You gave Toyota its first Cup Series win by scoring a victory at Atlanta in March 2008. What do you remember about that?


“Running in Atlanta and being able to put Toyota in victory lane for the first time, that was special for me and for Joe Gibbs Racing and everybody. Certainly, that was neat. We’ve been fortunate to be able to put Toyota and Mars in victory lane a lot more times over the years. With it being the last year for Mars in NASCAR, it’s fun to look back at that win and see all that we’ve accomplished since then. It was really neat to get SNICKERS and Toyota to victory lane, but also having been able to sustain that with a lot more wins since then with M&M’S, Skittles, Doublemint and all the Mars Wrigley brands being able to go out there and win with them over the years.”



Event Overview:

● Event: Quaker State 400 (Round 19 of 36)

● Time/Date: 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, July 10

● Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway

● Layout: 1.54-mile oval

● Laps/Miles: 260 laps/400 miles

● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 60 laps / Stage 2: 100 laps / Final Stage: 100 laps

● TV/Radio: USA Network / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

Denny Hamlin is 10/1 to win at Atlanta

Denny Hamlin / No. 11 Coca-Cola Toyota Camry TRD Preview

Quaker State 400 at Atlanta Motor Speedway


No. 11 Coca-Cola Toyota Camry TRD News and Notes

  • HAMLIN AT ATLANTA: Denny Hamlin owns one NASCAR Cup Series victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway (2012). Overall, the Chesterfield, Virginia native has recorded six top-five finishes, nine top-10s, one pole award and 421 laps led at the 1.54-mile track. Earlier this season, Hamlin was running solidly inside the top five late in stage two before being involved in an accident that ultimately ended his day prematurely.
  • ROAD AMERICA RECAP: Hamlin started 14th and finished 17th in last Sunday’s race at Road America. He was hovering just outside the top 10 during stage one before a penalty for driving through too many pit boxes sent him to the rear of the field to begin stage two. After running as low as 32nd, Hamlin rallied his way back up to 17th by the time the checkered flag waved.
  • COCA-COLA: For the first time in his career, Hamlin’s Toyota Camry TRD will feature the Coca-Cola colors in Sunday’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The 2022 Coca-Cola 600 winner has been a member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family of drivers since his rookie season in 2006.
  • JGR AT ATLANTA: Joe Gibbs Racing owns 11 NASCAR Cup Series victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway. In 123 combined starts at the track, the organization has tallied 41 top-five finishes, 59 top-10s, four pole awards, and 2,836 laps led. Kyle Busch, Bobby Labonte, and Tony Stewart join Hamlin on the list of drivers who have driven JGR entries to victory lane at the 1.54-mile speedway.
  • TUNE IN: Coverage of this weekend’s race at Atlanta Motor Speedway begins Sunday, July 10, at 3 p.m. ET on USA, PRN Radio, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.


Denny Hamlin, Driver of the No. 11 Coca-Cola Toyota Camry TRD

What do you expect going back to Atlanta for a second time with this car?

“I think you’re going to see a lot of what you saw the first time. But it’s not as simple as just bringing a superspeedway car like you’d take to Daytona or Talladega. You’ve got to handle good, especially with how hot it is going to be Sunday. I feel good about how strong our car was in the spring. We didn’t get the result we would have liked, but I was able to make moves on the top and bottom, so that gives me a lot of confidence that we can be a real contender on Sunday.”


Hamlin NASCAR Cup Series Stats at Atlanta Motor Speedway



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Hamlin 2022 NASCAR Cup Series Season Stats



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Hamlin NASCAR Cup Series Career Stats



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