Xfinity Series News (7652)
NASCAR Xfinity Series News
HighPoint, a leading customer service and technology solutions company, has partnered with Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) to become the team’s official IT solutions provider and a primary sponsor of its No. 98 NASCAR Xfinity Series entry with driver Chase Briscoe.
The Sparta, New Jersey-based IT company will make its debut in the season-opening NASCAR Racing Experience 300 Feb. 15 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, with Briscoe driving the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. It will be the first of 10 races where HighPoint serves as the team’s primary sponsor. For all other races, HighPoint will be an associate sponsor.
“HighPoint is guided by 33 fundamentals, all of which are based on the principles of honesty, integrity and trust,” said Mike Mendiburu, president and CEO, HighPoint. “We’ve found a like-minded organization in Stewart-Haas Racing and a similarly focused driver in Chase Briscoe. When you combine our service culture with our long-term industry expertise, we’re able to create purpose that aligns in meeting our business objectives.”
Briscoe won the 2019 rookie-of-the-year title in the Xfinity Series and will race for a championship in 2020. The 25-year-old from Mitchell, Indiana, is a two-time winner in the Xfinity Series and the 2016 ARCA Racing Series champion.
“Even though we race stock cars, there’s nothing stock about what we do,” Briscoe said. “The science of our cars is impressive, but the technology that goes into building our Ford Mustangs and then making them perform is even more advanced. Our IT needs are pretty complex, and we demand a lot from our technology every day, whether it’s at the shop or at the track. HighPoint is more than just a sponsor – they’re a partner that helps us perform.”
HighPoint’s partnership with SHR also brings a strong business-to-business component to NASCAR, with the award-winning firm able to service any and all technology needs in a sport where approximately 140 Fortune 500 companies are invested.
“Walk around our race shop during the week and the garage area on a race weekend and you’ll see how our racecars and our entire industry relies on technology,” said Mike Verlander, vice president of sales and marketing, SHR. “From engine diagnostics to fuel-mileage calculations, our business is dependent on service and technology solutions. Every company needs what HighPoint provides, and we’ll work diligently to facilitate those introductions.”
“HighPoint’s objective is to serve our customers as a trusted advisor on how they acquire, consume and adopt technology,” Mendiburu added. “We’re able to highlight this methodology by partnering with Stewart-Haas Racing – a championship-winning race team that has achieved success by working together and leveraging all of its available resources.”
Just as the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) season is set to kick off, Kaulig Racing is excited to announce its 2020 crew chief line-up. With two, full-time entries for the 2020 season, Kaulig Racing is looking to compete for the NXS Championship with drivers Ross Chastain and Justin Haley in its stable.
Bruce Schlicker, former race engineer for Stewart-Haas racing, will head up the No. 10 Chevrolet entry with driver, Ross Chastain. Schlicker boasts a stout resume including race engineer at Richard Childress Racing from 2012-2016, and most recently, Stewart-Haas Racing.
“I’m excited for the opportunity at Kaulig Racing,” said Schlicker. “It’s a great team with great resources and even better drivers. We’ve got some great support from Nutrien Ag Solutions, who will be on the No. 10 car for the majority of the races in 2020. I’m looking forward to running a full season in the Xfinity Series with Ross Chastain, winning races and chasing after the championship.”
Alex Yontz will continue in his role of crew chief for Justin Haley and the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevy in 2020. Yontz transitioned from shock specialist to interim crew chief in July of the 2019 NXS season.
“I’m excited to be back with Justin Haley this season full time,” said Yontz. “We have a few races under our belts together from the end of last season, and we built a really good relationship. I’m looking forward to winning races with him in 2020.”
In 2019, Kaulig Racing secured 29 Top-10 finishes and nine Top-5 finishes, including two wins with Ross Chastain and AJ Allmendinger, securing its best season to-date.
“We are really excited to have Alex Yontz and Bruce Schlicker as crew chiefs,” said team President, Chris Rice. “As we continue to grow, we are stepping up our game immensely. I have confidence that we have the right people in the right positions, and we will have success this season.”
The season opener for the NXS will take place on Saturday, February 15 at 2:30pm EST on FS1 at Daytona International Speedway, where Kaulig Racing is the defending NXS race winner.
Kaulig Racing PR
New York University (NYU) sophomore Joe Graf Jr. has joined SS Greenlight Racing as their fulltime driver for the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series season.
Their first race will begin at the prestigious Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 on Sat., Feb. 15, 2020.
Graf Jr. will drive the No. 08 Chevrolet Camaro and campaign for Rookie of the Year honors during the 33-race schedule this season with industry veteran Patrick Donahue serving as crew chief.
“To be racing fulltime in the NASCAR Xfinity Series is super cool. My boys at EAT SLEEP RACE are really pumped and I am looking forward to having them back on the car,” said Graf Jr.
“Bobby (Dotter, team owner) and Patrick (Donahue) prepare solid cars. To have the chance to get into a competitive race car for a full season is exactly what I need to continue developing at this level.
"My goal is to learn as much as possible, contend for strong finishes and maybe even earn a berth into the Xfinity Series Playoffs. I know I have a lot to learn, but I’m eager for the challenge and am ready to get to Daytona and getting the season underway.”
“I’ve been watching Joe for a little while now, especially when he ran a few NASCAR Xfinity Series races last season and I’ve seen he’s eager to learn and perform,” explained Dotter. “This is a big step for him, but he is determined to put the effort in and have a good rookie season.
“With Patrick’s leadership and the strength that our team has shown in recent seasons, there’s no reason that we can’t go out there and do the same with Joe in 2020. I’m looking forward to getting the year started.”
Graf Jr., 21, graduates to the NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time after spending the last two seasons in the ARCA Menards Series for Chad Bryant Racing. In 39 races, Graf earned seven top-five and 21 top-10 finishes including his first career series victory at Berlin (Mich.) Raceway.
He finished a career-high fifth in the championship standings in 2019.
Additionally, last season, Graf made three Xfinity Series starts for Richard Childress Racing as well as serving as marketing and communications intern through New York University, a role that he will continue in 2020.
“I learned a lot as an intern at Richard Childress Racing last season,” said Graf. “The opportunity to work with a lot of talented people on so many levels not only from an internship perspective but as well as a driver was such an eye-opening experience. I’m grateful to continue my internship in 2020 with Richard Childress Racing and continue developing as a driver.”
Graf’s longtime spotter Brian Crammer will also make the move to SS Greenlight Racing.
For more on Joe Graf Jr visit JoeGrafJr.com. , like him on Facebook (Joe Graf Jr.), follow him on Twitter (@JoeGrafJr) and Instagram (@joegrafjr).
For more on EAT SLEEP RACE visit eatsleeprace.com like them on Facebook (@eatsleeprace), follow them on Twitter (@eatsleeprace) and Instagram (@eatsleeprace)
SS Green Light Racing PR
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway announced Wednesday that the summer NASCAR Xfinity Series race there will be held for first the time on the facility’s infield road course, a day prior to the annual Brickyard 400 which will continue to be contested on the historic 2.5-mile oval.
NASCAR executive Ben Kennedy sat alongside track owner Roger Penske – whose acquisition of the historic speedway was made official earlier this month – in announcing the new-look Indianapolis NASCAR Weekend.
“I can’t think of a race in NASCAR history when a track ran a road course and oval back-to-back,’’ Kennedy said of the Indy plans.
According to IMS President Doug Boles, the Xfinity Series race will be held on Saturday afternoon, July 4, then there will be a 90-minute break so track workers can reconfigure the facility back to a racing oval for a pair of NASCAR Cup Series practices Saturday afternoon. Cup Series qualifying will be Sunday - race morning - followed by the Big Machine Vodka Brickyard 400 race Sunday afternoon.
Boles shared that the impetus behind the change was to make the NASCAR Fourth of July race weekend as special and celebratory as the national holiday timing it shares. The Indy weekend will also include concerts, a fireworks show and for the first time, there will be infield camping inside the famed course.
“It’s something we want our fans to look at this and see if it’s something they want, so we can grow this in the future and certainly it can put on some good racing,’’ Penske said, making what is his first major announcement since officially acquiring the historic Speedway on January 6.
“Guess what? The 500 was the 500 for I don’t’ know how many decades and once the decision was made to bring NASCAR in, we felt we wanted to take it to the next level,’’ Penske continued. “We’ve had some great racing here on the Brickyard weekend but we think with the concerts, the road course racing on Saturday and the oval on Sunday will make a big difference for our fans and certainly for our TV partners.’’
Kennedy said the sanctioning body had been contemplating running the Indianapolis road course for “a while.’’
“It’s an exciting announcement for us in NASCAR,’’ Kennedy said acknowledging that road course racing “is some of our best racing.”
It has historically been a fan favorite as well, Kennedy said, especially in the Xfinity Series which will have five road course events on its 2020 schedule – at Mid-Ohio, Road America, Watkins Glen, the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL and now Indianapolis.
NASCAR driver Matt DiBenedetto will test the road course configurations at Indianapolis next week.
Earnhardt Jr. Makes 2020 NXS Return in Familiar Hellmann’s Colors with Unilever Partnership Extension14 Jan 2020 Written by Speedway Digest Staff
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hellmann’s have a long history together, one dating back to 2009 and one that will continue in 2020, JR Motorsports confirmed today. The 15-time NASCAR Most Popular Driver and owner of JRM will add another chapter to the partnership when the 43-year-old star will compete in the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway (March 21) in the No. 8 Hellmann’s Chevrolet.
The confirmation comes as part of an extension between parent company Unilever and JRM that carries the partnership into a 12th season, distinguishing Unilever as JRM’s longest-tenured partner and one of the longest-running active sponsors in the NXS. For 2020, JRM will also carry Unilever sponsorship in five races with its No. 7 team and driver Justin Allgaier.
“In our sport, partnerships are everything,” said Kelley Earnhardt Miller, JRM general manager. “We don’t throw the words ‘cornerstone partner’ around a lot, but when we do, Unilever exemplifies its meaning.”
The history between Unilever and JRM began in 2009, when Earnhardt Jr. raced a Hellmann’s-sponsored Chevrolet in the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway. Earnhardt Jr. finished seventh that day, but it was the first of more than 110 races in which Unilever’s huge collection of brands would grace the hood and quarterpanels of JRM’s racing cars.
A number of current or former Unilever brands have been aboard a JRM machine since 2009, and three of them—Hellmann’s, Ragu and Dove Men+Care—have gone to Victory Lane with the team. Regan Smith won at Daytona in February 2014 driving a Ragu-backed Camaro, while Kasey Kahne nailed down the sweep at Daytona in July with Hellmann’s and Justin Allgaier claimed a thrilling win at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2018. Perhaps the most celebrated Unilever/JRM triumph came in 2016, when Earnhardt Jr. dominated the fall race at Richmond Raceway in a Hellmann’s Camaro. That victory truly exemplified the nature of the partnership between JRM, Earnhardt Jr. and Hellmann’s, as it was the well-known “Banana-Mayo Sandwich” race, which leveraged Earnhardt Jr.’s affinity for Hellmann’s and sliced banana on white bread into more than $153,000 for Blessings in a Backpack, a leader in the movement to end childhood hunger by making sure as many at-risk children as possible do not go hungry over the weekends while away from school.
That’s what partnerships, like the one between Unilever and JR Motorsports, have done and will continue to do as the company moves toward its goal of making sustainable living commonplace.
RSS Racing is pleased to have Jeff Green back in the #38 teaming up with C2 Freight as a primary sponsor at Daytona and Talladega. Green had top 10 finishes at both Daytona races last year driving for RSS Racing.
C2 Freight, founded in 1998 and headquarter in Houston, Alabama, is a proven leader in providing custom solutions and technology to fit any businesses budget. C2 Freight provides businesses with simple, cost-effective and dependable transportation solutions that provides businesses with a competitive advantage.
“I am excited to get the season going and represent C2 Freight at Daytona and Talladega. Any chance you get to run these races is special especially when you are able to do it with partners like C2 Freight,” says Green. Highly respected industry veteran Clifford Turner will crew chief the #38. “We are looking forward to another great year with Jeff Green. C2 Freight Resources, Inc. is proud to be his sponsor at two special tracks. We are all looking forward to getting this race season started!” said CEO of C2 Freight John Cunningham said
RSS Racing PR
Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) is proud to announce today that Menards home improvement stores, along with several of their vendor partners, will return as the primary sponsor for Brandon Jones for 15 races in the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2020. The No. 19 Menards Toyota Supra will display one partner-specific brand on the hood of their racecar for each of the Menards races.
Additional sponsorship for Brandon Jones and JGR’s No. 19 Xfinity Series Toyota Supra will be announced later.
“We are very excited about sponsoring Brandon Jones again in the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” stated Jeff Abbott, Menards, Spokesperson. “Brandon is a sharp young man and has been a great representative for Menards. We can’t wait to see him back in the No. 19 Menards Toyota challenging for the championship this year.”
Menards has been involved with NASCAR since 2001 and has supported a wide variety of racing ventures for several years. Currently, Menards is the title sponsor of the ARCA Menards Racing Series as well as sponsoring entries in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck, Xfinity and Monster Energy Cup Series and in the Verizon Indy Car Series. Menards is a family-owned company that started in 1958 in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, which remains Menards headquarters today. Menards has grown to be a highly innovative home improvement industry leader totally dedicated to delivering superior customer service in sparkling, modern, well-stocked stores.
“Menards has been a vital part of our Xfinity Series program the past two years and we are excited to have them back for the 2020 season,” stated Steve deSouza, Executive Vice President of Xfinity and Development for Joe Gibbs Racing. “They are a great American family success story and they will be back with Brandon Jones as he competes with the top contenders in the series for the 2020 championship.”
“I am proud and very excited to be a partner again with a great sponsor like Menards,” states Brandon Jones. “Our No. 19 team is focused on the 2020 Xfinity Series Championship and having Menards as part of our team makes us even stronger in our run for the championship.”
JD Motorsports with Gary Keller (JDM) is proud to announce that Simpsonville, SC’s Colby Howard will be joining the team for the majority of the 2020 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) season, starting at the fourth race of the year at Phoenix Raceway.
Howard, 18, made his NASCAR Touring Series debut in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS) race at Phoenix Raceway at the end of the 2019 season and also made a secondary start at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In the two starts, Colby recorded a best start of 16th and a best finish of 21st. Following the guidelines of the NASCAR approval process, Colby earned his NXS license eligibility after the race at Homestead-Miami.
In addition to the NGOTS races, Colby has also made four career ARCA Menards Series starts spanning two years. The teenager was able to earn Top 10 finishes in all four ARCA starts, with a best-career finish of 8th coming at Salem Speedway.
When asked about his upcoming season, Howard remarked “I am really looking forward to starting this season with JDM. It’s going to be a steep learning curve for sure with all the new tracks on my schedule, but I’m sure we can handle it. My goal is to go out there and learn as much as I possibly can, all while aiming for solid Top 20 runs. This is a big step in my career, and I am excited to show what I am capable of.”
Colby Howard has enlisted the services of PMG, an industry leader in career path management, to help facilitate this new relationship with JD Motorsports with Gary Keller. PMG’s partnership with JDM has helped numerous young short track racers make their NASCAR National Series debut, most recently including Ryan Repko during the 2019 season.
Supporting Colby’s efforts in the 2020 season will be the Project Hope Foundation, which aims to help children cope with autism difficulties in daily life activities. More partners will be announced at a later date, along with Colby’s car number.
Though the NASCAR Xfinity Series kicks off its’ 2020 season at Daytona International Speedway in February, Colby Howard will begin his season at Phoenix Raceway on March 7th. To keep up with Colby, follow his social media pages @ColbyHoward16, or visit his official website at www.Colby-Howard.com. For all things JDM, follow along on our social media pages @JDMotorsports01 and visit www.TeamJDMotorsports.com. #TeamJDM
BJ McLeod Motorsports (BJMM) announced today that the team has resigned Matt Mills for the full 2020 NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) Schedule. Mills, will pilot the No. 5 entry for the team with primary sponsorship from J.F. Electric, Utilitra, and Thompson Electric.
Mills scored the team's best finish last season, a 10th in the Circle K Firecracker 250 powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
“We’re so pleased to have Matt back.” said team owner BJ McLeod. “He showed an impressive amount of speed last season and took a big step forward both on and off the track. I am really looking forward to Daytona in a few weeks.”
Mills, a New Philadelphia, Ohio native, grew up racing on the short tracks of Ohio, before making his NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series debut in 2016 with SS Green Light Racing at Bristol Motor Speedway. In 2017, he made his NXS debut with BJMM at ISM Raceway in Glendale, Arizona followed by a stop at JD Motorsports where he ran a handful of races in 2017 and 2018.
“It certainly has been a journey and I’m thrilled to be back in the No. 5 J.F. Electric, Utilitra, Thompson Electric entry for BJ McLeod Motorsports again this season, “said Mills. “We had a super solid season last year, and even scored a top-10 finish at Daytona in July. This season our expectations are increased but the goal remains the same; complete laps, learn, and improve each and every week. I can’t thank J.F. Electric and Thompson Electric enough for their continued support and I’m also super excited to welcome Utilitra to the team this year, we’re going to have a lot of fun!”
Mills will begin his sophomore campaign on Saturday, February 15, 2020 when the NXS hits the track for the NASCAR Racing Experience 300 at Daytona International Raceway at 2:30 p.m. ET on FS1 and MRN.
NASCAR announced new competition rules for pit stops in select NASCAR Xfinity and NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series races designed to enhance competition and create intrigue.
The change affects the two Xfinity Series races at Iowa Speedway plus the Road America and Mid-Ohio road courses as well as Truck Series events at Iowa Speedway, World Wide Technology Raceway and the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park road course.
During stage breaks, per the new rules package, the race field will be frozen when cautions come out at all these venues. Teams will then decide to pit for fuel and change two tires on a single stop. On the road courses, teams may either add fuel or pit for four tires per stop.
Two pit stops for a full service – four tires and fuel – will now be required at these select events. The pit stop must be completed with a “designated time period” and the team roster for both series will include eight crew members, including the crew that goes over the wall.
After pit stops occurring under caution, restarts will be established based on the order of the cars at the time of the caution and the pit strategy used. Vehicles that did not pit would be at the front of the field, followed by vehicles that pitted once, followed by those that pitted twice and the free pass wave-around and penalty cars.
“I think it’s great to be a part of something that is essentially moving the sport forward and really emphasizing the strategy and allowing some different scenarios to play out that haven’t necessarily been playing out like it has been over the last few years," said Ryan Pemberton, director of competition at JR Motorsports.
“So we’ve got a lot of good crew chiefs, not only here at JR Motorsports but in the industry and I’m excited to see these guys. It’s a good time for them to be able to use their strategy, their wit, and really be able to mix up the field and play a little bit different than it’s been played before."
Eric Peterson, NASCAR’s technical manager of the NASCAR Xfinity Series said using the smaller race samples this year in the Xfinity and Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will be a good way to gauge if these rules are something that could be implemented on a grander scale. The series has pondered the idea and received input from various teams over the last five months.
And stand-alone events for both series were specifically chosen for logistics sake as the sanctioning body evaluates the new format.
“It’s somewhat of a departure from what we do today, so we wanted to dip our toe in the water and do a deliberate, strategic approach to implementing it and getting a look at it," Peterson said.
He acknowledged the new rules bolster strategy and said he is encouraged by the competitive possibilities.
“The reason for limiting what they can do on each pit stop is so that we have the opportunity to have differing tire strategies," Peterson said. “So if we had it where they can do whatever they want on each pit stop, then that would not allow us the opportunity to get different restart scenarios based on what you elected to do between two tires and four tires at an oval or four tires on the road courses.
“That decision was basically purely based off incentivizing the teams to make different strategy plays."
David Pepper, the general manager of the ThorSport Racing team that just won a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship with driver Matt Crafton echoed the same positive sentiment as Pemberton, confident the new rules will create another element of competitive zeal. And, perhaps help bring up the competition level across the grid.
“We’ve leveled the playing field and I think you’re going to see a lot of really good stories from a lot of really good race car drivers that are out there and that are going to have an opportunity to go run in the top five and go run in the top 10," Pepper said. “And it’s going to create stories and names that maybe aren’t household names that you see every single week and it’s just going to make the competition better."
And, he added, “We want to go to the racetrack and have 15, 20 teams that have an opportunity to get a top-five finish or compete for a win or a solid finish. That’s just going to make it more exciting for the fans, both at the track and watching on TV.
“At the end goal, if Monday it’s a buzz on social media and all of you folks that we had a great event and what a fantastic race it was the day before, then we’ve all done our jobs and we’ve put out a great product and had a great race."
The 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series begins at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, Feb. 14 followed by the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday, Feb. 15 and the season’s NASCAR Cup Series opener, the Daytona 500 on Feb. 16.
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's NASCAR teleconference, and thank you for joining us on short notice here. We're joined by Eric Peterson, the technical manager of the NASCAR Xfinity Series; Ryan Pemberton, the director of competition for JR Motorsports; and David Pepper, the general manager of ThorSport Racing.
Today, as you hopefully have seen already by now, we announced a procedural change to a select number of races in both the Xfinity and Gander Truck Series, and in advance I'd like to thank Eric, Ryan, and David for joining us to help tell that story of what we announced today.
I'll open up with Eric. He led the charge from a NASCAR perspective on this procedural change. Eric, can you start off by going through the procedure and then giving some perspective on why we are moving to this model for some of the standalone events.
ERIC PETERSON: Sure. Thanks, and good afternoon, everyone. Obviously, like Mike said, we just announced the implementation of a new pit stop procedure for a limited number of events in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the Gander Truck Series. It'll be for 2020. It'll be four events in Xfinity and three in Gander trucks.
The basic procedure is the field will be frozen when the caution is displayed, and for teams that elect to pit on ovals, they'll be allowed to add fuel and change two tires per pit stop, and on road courses they'll be allowed to add fuel or change four tires per pit stop. That will require two pit stops for a full service, four tires and fuel, at all of those events.
The pit stop must be completed within a designated time period, and the team roster for each team in both Xfinity and the Gander trucks will consist of eight crew members, and the group that goes over the wall to change the tires must come from those eight members.
After a pit stop under caution, restarts will be in order at the time of caution based on pit stop strategy in the following order. So vehicles that did not pit would be at the front of the field, followed by vehicles that pitted once, then those that pitted twice, and then the free pass wave‑around and penalty vehicles just like we have today.
As far as a little background on the why, we believe this procedure will increase competition on track, incentivize different strategy plays to bring interesting story lines for the fans, and bring efficiencies to teams that will help strengthen the garage now and into the future. So that's our basic overview of the new procedure.
THE MODERATOR: And, Ryan, from a team side, you helped bring us to this point, so thank you for all the work you have done for helping NASCAR in this endeavor. What does this mean for you, your team, JR Motorsports, and the Xfinity Series as a whole from your perspective?
RYAN PEMBERTON: Well, again, I mean, I think it's great to be a part of something that is essentially moving the sport forward and really emphasizing the strategy and allowing some different scenarios to play out that haven't necessarily been playing out like it has been over the last few years.
So we've got a lot of good crew chiefs, not only here at JR Motorsports but in the industry, and I'm excited to see these guys. It's a good time for them to be able to use their strategy, their wit, and really be able to mix up the field and play a little bit different than it's been played before.
THE MODERATOR: And, David, first, once again, congratulations on the championship last year with Matt Crafton. Outstanding job yet again. From your perspective, can you speak to this change from a Truck Series standpoint?
DAVID PEPPER: Yeah, again, kind of the same sentiment. You know, NASCAR has been working really hard on this program, and they included a lot of the teams to give input, and I think we've come up with a really great scenario for these handful of races to test out, to put it back on our crew chiefs and our drivers to make these strategic decisions that sometimes were taken out of the races over the last few years.
And I'd like to echo that same sentiment that Ryan said. We've got some great crew chiefs here and great driver lineup, and there's some great guys in the Truck Series sitting on these pit boxes that now we're going to allow them to use their strategy and wit and go to work and create scenarios to make the racing even better.
I mean, at the end of the day, we're trying to put out a product that is the very best race that we can put on for the fans each week in both these series, and I think this is just going to help us do that.
- Eric, is there a concern that for fans these new procedures may be confusing because the rules are going to change on a week‑to‑week basis and what you see one week may not be what you see the next week, and amid a time when things seem to be changing on a consistent basis, there's not a consistency in what they're going to be seeing on the racetrack?
ERIC PETERSON: Good question. We don't feel like there is going to be that confusing of a difference. It's only at seven events total ‑‑ four in Xfinity and three in Gander trucks ‑‑ out of a total of 56 total races, and the procedure will be the normal procedure we have all the other weeks. And just for those select events it'll be this way, which we're trying to use as an avenue to test and try this out and kind of bring it in on a deliberate approach.
- Eric, first off, why isn't this being used for the trucks at Texas in June?
ERIC PETERSON: Well, so Texas, with the size of that racetrack, presents some problems from a fuel mileage standpoint. And since we were using this solely as a test item and a way to get a look at it, we did not feel like we needed to complicate the situation by adding additional rules and, to Jordan's point, making additional areas of complication, to try and keep it as simple as we could. We feel like we can get what we need out of the other events without including Texas.
- And what would be ‑‑ how would this be evaluated to see if you want to use this at more tracks going forward? What would you consider a success?
ERIC PETERSON: A primary driver, that would be fan interest and engagement and feedback we get from the fans, along with how we see the races play out, and utilize the metrics we have here for passing and that sort of thing to mix the field up hopefully.
- Eric, I just want to check, I know you're talking about this is kind of testing and so forth and trying to see what you can get. What's the purpose in doing it in both series as opposed to doing it in one series? Why wasn't it maybe just solely in the Truck Series for the entire season or for more races or something like that?
ERIC PETERSON: As opposed to the whole season, as I said, it is somewhat of a departure from what we do today, so we wanted to dip our toe in the water and do a deliberate, strategic approach to implementing it and getting a look at it.
The reason why we selected the events we did is they're all standalone events. The standalone events, any events for the Truck Series, Gander Truck Series and the Xfinity Series that are not with Cup present some challenges from a logistical end on doing a pit stop, and this is a way to alleviate the burden the teams have with performing pit stops at the races that are not companion events to the Cup Series.
And both the Gander trucks and the Xfinity Series share the same issues at those events, so that's why it included certain events for both series instead of just doing it in one of the series.
- What is the purpose of limiting what teams can do on a pit stop based on whether it's oval track or road course, when you're going to have a designated time period to complete the work, and you've already mandated the pit crew must come from an eight‑man team roster, eight‑person team roster? What is the purpose of limiting what teams can do if you're going to have a time limit and you're telling them that it's going to be crew members already on their team, it's not going to be essentially dedicated pit crew guys?
ERIC PETERSON: Well, the reason for limiting what they can do on each pit stop is so that we have the opportunity to have differing tire strategies. So if we had it where they can do whatever they want on each pit stop, then that would not allow us the opportunity to get different restart scenarios based on what you elected to do between two tires and four tires at an oval or four tires and fuel on the road courses. That decision was basically purely based off incentivizing the teams to make differing strategy plays.
- Typically with the races, the last stage is more than a fuel run, and with this procedure you're trying to, I guess, reduce maybe in one sense the role the pit crew per se ‑‑ not necessarily the strategy, but will this mean that you'll have to change the structure of the stage breaks, then, for the last stage; that you'll have to change it to where the last stage is shorter or add another stage so you can just basically have caution stops and this taken care of, especially with the limits on what you can or can't do under a green flag stop?
ERIC PETERSON: So, yeah, all of these events will still be three stages to stay consistent with all the other events throughout the season. But compared to 2019, the stage lengths will be adjusted for 2020 to prevent the need for a green flag fuel stop; you are correct.
- For Ryan and David, I'm just wondering, is there any way to sort of quantify how much of a savings this is to your teams by not having to bring in those pit crews for those events? I don't know if it's the same as a tire bill or ‑‑ what does this help you out with, I guess, as far as cost savings?
RYAN PEMBERTON: You know, that is a small part of it, but I really think it's about leveling the playing field a little bit and mixing up, giving people opportunities to do something different on pit road that don't normally have that opportunity. You take a 15th place car and you can pick one of those guys back there that are having a good day, and it's hard if you have a real successful day due to the fact that maybe their pit crew versus somebody else's pit crew.
I think from a strategic point, from a crew chief's point of view, it puts more people in play, and it should be broadened ‑‑ the competition, how many guys could be in the top 10 on a regular basis and have more opportunities. And then from a logistics standpoint, it helps out, too, as far as the people and moving people across the country.
But for the most part, it's really about competition. If you're a 10th place car and if you want to get two tires, you get an opportunity to go in front of the field with two tires, and that mixes things up, makes for different opportunities for different people. And then maybe one guy does it, maybe two guys do it, and the third guy wants to do it, next thing you know it really flips the field.
It's going to be different at every racetrack, depending on tire wear and what the strategies will allow for, but it's definitely going to mix things up more than it has in the past.
DAVID PEPPER: Very similar answer. Obviously, yes, by traveling less folks across the country, is it going to save each team money? Yes, at the end of the day, we're going to save a little bit of money.
But that wasn't the primary goal of this. Exactly what Ryan said, the goal is to allow ‑‑ like in the Truck Series, Jordan Anderson, who has had many good runs, and then we come down pit road and he can't compete on pit road with the pit crew. This will allow that to go away and a team like that to compete at a high level and have an opportunity to showcase their crew chief and driver talent and their team's talent in building a fast race truck.
So we've leveled the playing field, and I think you're going to see a lot of really good stories from a lot of really good race car drivers that are out there that are going to have an opportunity to go run in the top 5 and go run in the top 10. And it's going to create stories and names that maybe aren't household names that you see every single week, and it's just going to make the competition better.
Now, does that make it harder on a team like ourselves? We're going to have to obviously work harder and race harder. Yes. But we've always been a proponent of that. We want to race the very best people in the very best trucks, and we feel like we've put together a driver lineup and a crew chief lineup and a team lineup that can compete at that level.
We want to go to the racetrack and have 15, 20 teams that have an opportunity to get a Top 5 finish or compete for a win or a solid finish. That's just going to make it more exciting for the fans, both at the track, watching on TV. And at the end goal, if Monday it's a buzz on social media and all of you folks that we had a great event and what a fantastic race it was the day before, then we've all done our jobs and we've put out a great product and had a great race.
- Both Ryan and David, you've sort of answered my initial question here by what you guys just talked about as far as leveling the playing field. Do you think that these races turn into now a little bit more of a wild card, not necessarily like a restrictor plate race, but in a sense where it does really open things up for a Jordan Anderson, just like you talked about? Or is the fact that you guys still have ‑‑ the top teams have the best drivers, the most experienced crew chiefs, so on and so forth, that cream will still rise to the top, or do you really feel it will turn into a wild card situation?
RYAN PEMBERTON: Well, I hope for JR Motorsports that it's not necessarily a wild card situation. I think we have great teams and great crew chiefs, and I think they're going to capitalize on it. The crew chiefs that are the best and the quickest on their feet, they'll have an advantage over others. But there are certainly other great crew chiefs out there with experience further down in the field, and they'll have ‑‑ they will be able to have opportunities.
It's quite risk and reward. So we'll use this as an example. If you're running 10th at any place and the caution comes out and you want tires, if you take two tires, you might only come out 5th or 6th at best if you're running in the 10th position. Maybe not even that far up.
So if you take two tires and you're 5th, you're like: That's not a very good reward for my risk. But if you can line up first on two tires, that's a different return on your dollar. So that's going to make that call a little more popular. So that automatically mixes things up a little bit.
So I think that the risk and rewards there, I think that's where the excitement, that's where you'll see people that are ‑‑ I use the term flipping the field. That's the time when people can reposition themselves in the field, maybe at a little bit of a deficit, but they're up front. Just like any other place, up front, clean air, cars always seem to be faster. That might give some people an opportunity to take advantage of something that they wouldn't normally have had a chance to do.
And then if you're up front leading a race, that's something else you've got to consider, how many people are going to take two behind me versus taking four. That's going to make even the guys up front rethink what they're doing. Maybe they get cold feet and they go like, man, I'm only going to get two because I don't want to give up the lead, and next thing you know maybe the guys right behind them get four.
So it's going to really change how you go about these pit stops. And that's where the strategy comes in play, and I think that's where the excitement level comes in.
DAVID PEPPER: Yeah, very similar answer. I mean, yeah, it's a risk‑reward. From one standpoint you look at it and say, man, I want to put the very best program and we need all the ThorSport trucks to win these races. But if one team wins all the races and there's no real strategy or show and there's no good racing, then the product is bad, and people are not going to tune in. And ultimately it hurts the sport or the series, and ultimately it hurts our team.
So, yes, I hope that we put together the very best team we can to rise to the top, but I'll also tell you that if it's a tremendous show and they come down to the line at Iowa four wide battling for the win and you can throw a blanket over the top 5 because of the different strategies, I certainly want to come out on top of that as a competitor. I'm going to work very hard to do that. But when you're in a great race and you win a competitive show like that against some of the very best drivers, it's even more rewarding.
It's kind of the risk‑reward comment. You want to have a good show and you want to race the very best, but the victory and winning a championship, a race, winning whatever, the value in that is all of the quality people that you either outsmarted or out‑raced or were able to compete against and beat.
That's what gives you the value in the win if you're a competitive person. You want to have the opportunity to beat as many quality people as you possibly can, and I think this scenario will do that.
- The graphic shows a two‑lap penalty for taking four tires. Can you explain that?
ERIC PETERSON: Sure. So for an oval track, you're only allowed to do two tires and fuel on one pit stop. So if a team were to take four tires on one pit stop that was not approved for damage or flat tires or something like that, that would be a two‑lap penalty.
- Forgive me on this, but it sounds kind of like you're taking away from the haves and giving to the have‑nots. If I were a top team like JRM or ThorSport, I would be kind of a little upset that we're, quote, evening the playing field, but really what you're doing is bringing you guys down to a level that you're not truly at. You're better than those other teams for a reason, and it seems like this is kind of helping the have‑nots by taking from the haves.
ERIC PETERSON: I'll take that one, too. It is a team sport strategy, and the biggest thing, one of the things we looked at was kind of data of our current pit stops and all the teams that consistently run in the top 10. Our current pit stop strategy really did not mix the field up very well. The average position change was right around one position.
That's the reason we kind of took this other approach, is that kind of the purpose of coming down pit road and doing pit stops is to hopefully mix the field up a little bit where you don't have a "follow the leader" race the entire race. And what we currently had ‑‑ or currently have at all the other events does that mix that up very well, so that was one of the reasons we are going this route with these standalone races.
- Does it seem like if it's successful and we have the five‑wide at Iowa or whatever, will this be forwarded into both series on a more common basis overall or also brought up to the Cup Series? Is there any talk about that?
ERIC PETERSON: Right now there is no plans for the Cup Series. We're focusing on the Gander trucks and Xfinity Series, and our plan right now is just to focus on these seven races and try to put out the best production we can and then go back and analyze and evaluate what we did versus the other races and the way we've done it to this point and analyze and go from there.
But no set plans to do anything beyond these seven races. That's our focus right now.
- Ryan and David, can you kind of share, when did this discussion about this whole process start from your end? And how did it evolve until we got to the point to where it was announced today?
RYAN PEMBERTON: Well, yeah, it was probably ‑‑ if I had to look at my calendar, probably seven or so months ago that the topic came up, along with a lot of other things that we talk about continuously to try to improve efficiencies or to improve the competition.
But it was probably about seven months ago, and it was one of those things that kept getting brought up. I think with NASCAR and Eric, it was sort of getting more legs and started talking about it, putting more thoughts and ideas to it, and after a while it became something that was more of a reality than just a thought, and we're here today.
But it's been the bigger part of a half a year anyway.
DAVID PEPPER: Yeah, and we joined in about five months ago as it grew legs in the NASCAR conferences and different calls that we all have. Like I said, through the meetings it started gaining importance. There was a lot of positive things that could come of it. We had a significant amount of meetings amongst a group of folks and kind of came up with this as the final let's give this a try, and really looking forward to see just what we put on the racetrack.
- Eric, you kind of touched on it a little bit, but how will you quantify success, that this is working the way you designed it and that this is something you want to explore increasing for 2021?
ERIC PETERSON: Yeah, well, we'll obviously look at a visual and how the races play out and solicit fan feedback and response from the fans on each of the races as well as the metrics we use on a weekly basis to verify how good the races went now, from the amount of passing and things like that.
It'll be a combination of metrics and fan interaction and fan feedback to get us to that point.
- If, for example, the fans don't like it but the teams do, where do you lean then?
ERIC PETERSON: I mean, that's something we'll have to weigh out once we get to that point. Like I said, we have a lot of different metrics that we can use and feedback we can solicit to help us arrive at a decision.
- Eric, are the cars going to stop like they do in the K&N races, or will they all still be going? Can you kind of explain what happens when the caution comes out?
ERIC PETERSON: Sure, no, it'll all look ‑‑ aside from the number of times that are pitting on an oval track, there's going to be your two opportunities to pit, where you do that all in one right now.
But aside from that, it'll all look pretty continuous with what we do right now. The cars will keep moving. They'll come in the box, we'll do a pit stop just the way we do it now. We will have a time limit that you have to get the pit stop done in, so it will look a little slower than probably what we do today, but it'll all look very similar to the pit stop you see today on pit road.
- So obviously the time limit for the pit stop has to be less than the time it takes for a lap under caution.
ERIC PETERSON: Correct, yes. And again, our plan is over the coming months here to collaborate with the teams and work with them on developing what that time actually will be. But we still have that work to do yet.
- And so I guess the question is why is it better to do it this way than maybe the way you would do it on a K&N race?
ERIC PETERSON: The biggest reason is to kind of keep the show moving and keep it esthetically pleasing and keep the pit stop looking at these seven events as close as possible as we can to all the other events during the season.
- Eric, these changes are in place for the first two races of the Truck Series playoffs, at both Gateway and Canada. Was there any debate over implementing these changes to Xfinity playoff races, as well?
ERIC PETERSON: No, the sole decision on which events really surrounded them being standalone races and not playoffs or non‑playoff events. It definitely centered around standalone events.
- And what will the procedure be if a driver has a flat tire on a green flag run or is forced to pit under green flag reasons?
ERIC PETERSON: So under green, if you have a tire issue, you will be allowed to come in and pit under green and change tires. NASCAR will just verify the fact that you did have a tire issue. But if any sort of tire issues or damage or loose wheel, you will be allowed to change tires under green for any of those scenarios.