Truex looks to go back to back to back at Kentucky Speedway Saturday night

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart

Martin Truex Jr., driver of the #78 Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Quaker State 400 presented by Walmart at Kentucky Speedway on July 14, 2018 in Sparta, Kentucky. Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images

By Eric Young

SPARTA, Ky. — The past couple years, Speedway Motorsports Inc. could have named Kentucky Speedway Martin Truex Jr. Speedway. 

Truex has led 326 of 541 laps of the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Quaker State 400 en route to the victory in both races. He had the fourth-best average finish of 10.1 of active drivers at the track, having competed in all eight races at the speedway. 

And while Truex is certainly a favorite Saturday night at Kentucky, this isn’t the same Kentucky Speedway that we’ve seen in recent years. Combined with a new aero package this season and reduced horsepower, NASCAR has also applied traction compound to the outer grooves in the turns in an attempt to widen out the racing area. 

Truex qualified eighth for Saturday’s race. He said the changes have definitely made the team have to change directions a bit. 

“Definitely a lot on our mind coming here just because of this year and what it’s been all about,” Truex said. “It’s so different. I think back to the last couple of years and we’ve really been able to kind of come in here with the same strategy, mindset, setup and look for the same things throughout the weekend. Now, with the new cars this year and PJ1 on the track, all those things, different tires, it’s quite a bit different. We didn’t have a great day of practice. Hopefully we’ll make some good changes for the race. It’s tough these days when you come with a new package you don’t get a lot of practice, so we were off quite a bit to start and playing a little bit of catchup now.”

But Truex said he always welcomes new challenges. 

“I think that’s one of the most unique parts about our sport and what we do as drivers and teams,” he said. “This stuff is always changing. You could win four or five races in a row or whatever, and you go to a different race track and you’ve got a new challenge. They change the tires all the time. The rules of the cars are changing all the time. I would say that all the top drivers are consistently working on how they drive the cars and how do they do better? How can you be better because everybody is doing that? It’s a huge challenge to try to stay near the top of this sport and that’s part of what makes it fun.”

He said Friday that the verdict was still out on what the traction compound would do for tonight’s race. NASCAR threw another loop to teams early Saturday by reapplying the compound to the turns. 

“Based on watching the truck race, it looked like in three and four there were some options,” Truex said. “One and two, I think it’s just you’ve got so much banking and so much more speed that running higher is just the longer way around and we’re already using so much throttle through the corners that you just lose time. It kind of felt that way again today for us.”

“It’ll be interesting to see how much it changes at nighttime,” Truex said. “Is it going to grip up a lot or what’s going to happen there Is the bottom going to be better than it was today? Still a lot of questions. I would say in general, I didn’t think the PJ1 felt as sticky as I expected it to be. I expected it would be really no chance at all in running the bottom and everybody would be in the sticky stuff. But it seemed like there was a mixed bag, so that’s always a good thing I think.”

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Custer, Bell dominate Xfinity race at Kentucky, Custer comes out on top

NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300

Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Haas Automation Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on July 12, 2019 in Sparta, Kentucky. Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

By Eric Young

SPARTA, Ky. — Friday night’s race at Kentucky Speedway was mostly a three-car race, with Cole Custer earning his fifth win of the 2019 season, leading 88 of the 200 laps and holding off Christopher Bell after green flag pit stops in the final stage. 

“This one just goes out to my team,” Custer said in victory lane. “The car was unbelievable at the end. They knew exactly what to do with it when the track changed, and I was just lucky to drive it there at the end.”

Custer said with the application of the traction compound this year, it presented a new challenge and made it almost like a new track. 

“I think the track was a lot different this year, so I kind of almost had to relearn it a bit,” Custer said. “So I think I got better and better as the race went on, got more comfortable with it, and I think the track changed a lot also, and I think Mike (Shiplett, crew chief) did a good job just keeping up with that, knowing what was going to happen.”

Custer said he is becoming more comfortable as one of the top contenders. 

“I think so for sure,” he said. “It just comes with experience, doing it more and more. You build that experience obviously and that confidence. It’s just something that comes with time, I guess. Obviously you have to have the car to do it, and we had a great car tonight. I just can’t thank all my guys enough. 

Bell dominated the early part of the race, leading 72 laps and winning the first two stages of the race. But despite closing the gap during green flag pit stops, Bell was unable to catch Custer to race him for the win during the final stage. 

“We were really good early and my car felt really good late, we just got beat,” Bell said. “Probably just got a little bit too comfortable there, a little bit too tight. We just have to work on a couple things and we’ll come back and get this Ruud Supra in victory lane.”

Bell told his crew before the pit stop at the stage break that his car was tight, but he didn’t want to adjust it and go too far. In the end, that might have been what cost him the race. 

“I’m not going to say we got worse,” he said. “My car was really good. Probably just got a little too comfortable there, a little bit too tight. We just have to work on a coupel things and we’ll come back and get this Ruud Supra in victory lane.”

The two also contended with challenges from Brandon Jones, fresh off a strong performance the night before in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race before being involved in an accident. Jones likely would have been part of the battle at the end, but engine trouble forced him out of the race. 

“A lot of smoke in the cab,” Jones said. “I couldn’t really get the motor over 7,000 RPMs, so kind of a telltale sign for me that the motor was letting go there at the end. That’s twice this weekend that we’ve been leading the race and something has taken us out — whether it’s been mechanical or an incident on the track. What are you going to do? We’ve been running first both races this week and that’s what we’ve got to do, at least on my behalf.”

“I hate it,” Jones said. “We had Menards and we had Swiffer on the car this weekend. It was going great for us. I think we had the car to win the race tonight. But all in all, these guys worked really hard and I think they’re all behind me and we’re going to get this thing figured out.”

The entire final stage ran caution free, and with the fast pace set by Custer, only five cars remained on the lead lap at the conclusion. Tyler Reddick came home third, Michael Annett had another strong performance finishing fourth, and Chase Briscoe finished fifth after leading 14 laps. 

There were 13 lead changes among eight drivers and five cautions for 24 laps. The Xfinity Series next heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway July 20 for the Roxor 200.

Christopher Bell hopes Kentucky can translate to another victory

NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300

Christopher Bell, driver of the #20 Rheem Toyota, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning during the NASCAR Xfinity Series Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on July 13, 2018 in Sparta, Kentucky. Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images

By Eric Young

SPARTA, Ky. — Christopher Bell has a victory in each of his last two starts at Kentucky Speedway, but those each came in a different series. Bell won last year’s Alsco 300 in the Xfinity Series and won the Gander Outdoors Truck Series race the year prior. He hopes his success at the 1.5-mile track will allow him to earn his fifth victory of the 2019 season in the Alsco 300 Friday night. 

“For whatever reason, Kentucky Speedway has been really good to me,” Bell told media Thursday. “I’ve been able to win my last two starts here in the truck series and the Xfinity series. We’re off to a good start this weekend. We were fastest in first practice. Hopefully we can keep it up.”

Bell was second fastest in final practice Thursday, trailing Cole Custer. He said the team’s mile-and-a-half program hasn’t been the greatest this season. 

“I think we’re close,” he said. “We definitely need to work on our mile-and-a-half program. I say that, but Kentucky was really strong for us last year. This will be a good test to see how we stack up against our competitors right now. We know our short track programs’ really good. So mile-and-a-half stuff is where we need to work on.”

Bell said he was surprised at how much Kentucky Speedway has weathered since last season. 

“Man, I have been shocked,” he said. “Obviously last year I think they did the tire dragon, so it added a lot of color to the racetrack. But man, this thing is white. Like outside of the PJ1 where they sprayed the racetrack is really white. So that’s good.”

Bell said he was studying last year’s race, and he feels the traction compound will make it tougher to widen out like the Cup Series did last year. 

“Last year in the Cup race, it spread out pretty good and guys got to where they could run mid-track,” he said. “And now, I think the preferred groove is going to be right on the edge of the PJ1, and i mean out there right now, the bottom is close, but the PJ1 is still a little faster. I think the PJ1 is going to be the dominant groove.”

Qualifying for the NASCAR Xfinity Series is scheduled for 4:15 p.m. Friday, with the Alsco 300 scheduled to roll off at 7:30 p.m.

Ankrum outlasts Moffitt on fuel to win first truck series race

2018kentucky_ncwts_july

By Eric Young

SPARTA, Ky. — Tyler Ankrum won his first Nascar Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway Thursday night after Ben Rhodes had trouble and Brett Moffitt was forced to pit for fuel with one lap to go. 

“It’s pretty awesome,” Ankrum said after the race. “My vocabulary isn’t on right now. I just honestly don’t know what to say.”

“At the beginning of the year, I honestly didn’t think this was going to be possible,” Ankrum said. “I didn’t think I could do it. I didn’t think we could do it. But with the support I’ve had, and kind of the pressure too. Man, I had the pressure to get a sponsor. I’m just so thankful for everyone around me and what they do.”

Ankrum said he was worried at the end of the race as he tried to chase down Moffitt, and was happy when he saw Moffitt’s truck sputter, forcing him to pit road. 

“A smile cracked on my face,” Ankrum said. “I was so worried. I couldn’t see the 24 out front. I knew the laps were winding down. I couldn’t see him. And I saw him all the way at the opposite end of the straightaway. And I was just, I honestly think I forgot to breath the last 30 laps. I just don’t know what to say. I’m just so thankful for what we’ve done here.”

Despite missing a couple of races this season because of age requirements, with a waiver from NASCAR, the win presumably earns Ankrum a spot in the playoffs, though he could still be knocked out depending on where he is in points and how many more winners there are before the regular season wraps up at Michigan in August. But sponsorship will also be necessary for Ankrum, who has struggled to find sponsorship this season. 

“We made the Chase,” he said. “Well, hopefully. Hopefully we find some sponsorship for the races the rest of the season and hopefully this is many more to come.”

Team owner David Gilliland said he is committed to racing for the championship and fielding the car the rest of the season. He noted that winning will help in the sponsorship hunt. 

For a while it looked as if Brett Moffitt would take his third win of the season and first at Kentucky, but Moffitt ran out of gas with two to go and had to take the white flag on pit road. 

“You see a lot of money fly out the window, and a win,” Moffitt said on pit road after the race. “I watched the gauge for about a lap. It started flickering around and of course the next lap it just shut off completely. So it’s unfortunate but we all tried and you’ve got to push in those situations. It’s tough to pass. You’ve got to try to get out in clean air and we did that. We were just a little too aggressive.”

Moffitt said he has never been in a fuel mileage race before, so he was learning as he went. 

“I was backing it up off of what (his crew) said and I was trying to draft off other trucks, but we knew the 17 was coming fast, so I don’t think I could have saved a whole other lap’s worth with how much I was already saving. I was basically riding down the straightaway 30 to 50 percent throttle and that’s about all she had.”

Moffitt finished seventh. 

Stewart Friesen was able to overcome having to go to a backup truck when his truck was confiscated by NASCAR prior to the first practice Thursday morning, by finishing in second place. Friesen commented on the issue at the end of the race, saying the truck is provided by GMS Racing. 

“We don’t get to pick the truck we run, we just get to run them,” he said. 

With a potential penalty coming later this week, Friesen said he just has one option left to make the playoffs. 

“We’ve got to win,” Friesen said. “That’s all it is. Seconds aren’t good enough.”

One track on Friesen’s target will be Eldora Speedway, the series’ only dirt race and the second-to-last regular season race. Friesen has a history on dirt, and has run well at Eldora over the years. 

“I’m excited to get there,” he said. “I’ve got some helpers coming to straighten us out in the dirt. The guys kind of left it up to me to call the shots last year and, we got close, but it wasn’t the right idea. I’m no crew chief, so I’m calling on some help from friends so I hope that helps us out.”

Another driver who had a positive day was Ross Chastain, who moved into the top 20 in points, meaning he is now eligible for the playoffs with his two official wins this season, one while he was declared for points in the truck series. 

“Another box checked on a crazy scenario that we had laid out for us that didn’t seem crazy to accomplish,” Chastain said. “Just pretty cool to be disappointed with fourth. We definitely want more. We were way too free all night, after we were way too tight in practice all day. First time this group has come to Kentucky together and all these places we come for the first time is really tough on us. So we’ll keep building a notebook and keep building the rest of the year.”

Harrison Burton finished third on the day and Dylan Lupton rounded out the top five. 

There were 10 lead changes among seven drivers and five cautions for 33 laps.

Defending Kentucky winner says being aggressive but cautious is key to making playoffs

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Buckle Up in Your Truck 225

Ben Rhodes, driver of the #41 The Carolina Nut Co. Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Series Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway on July 12, 2018 in Sparta, Kentucky. Photo by: Michael Reaves/Getty Images

By Eric Young

SPARTA, Ky. — The last time Gander Outdoors Truck Series driver Ben Rhodes was in victory lane was one year ago at Kentucky Speedway, where he scored his second-career truck series victory and secured a spot in the 2018 playoffs. 

And as Rhodes returns to his home track in Kentucky for the 2019 Buckle Up In Your Truck 225, he finds himself sitting on the playoff bubble, just 13 points ahead of Harrison Burton for the final spot. An outside winner could put Rhodes out, as could another tough weekend like he had at Chicagoland Speedway the last time the trucks competed, where he suffered motor problems before the race even began. 

But Rhodes said he is still confident his team can do what it needs to do to get into the playoffs. 

“I would say (Kentucky isn’t) our best chance, but the stage has certainly been set,” Rhodes told media Thursday. “The last few races on mile and a halves, I think we’ve had the truck to beat, and something happened. Transmission failure in Texas. Didn’t even start the race in Chicago.”

“But if you go back and look at practice, we had the times that never fell off,” Rhodes continued. “And I had the confidence. You have a feeling as a driver when it’s it, it’s it. And I knew at Chicago, that was the truck. And I hadn’t had that feeling very much this year. We’ve been close, but that was the truck. And the stage has been set now. Our best races, things have happened. The same thing happened last year, and we came here and got that win and made it to the playoffs. Similar season. I wish we were already in it.”

Rhodes said the team is balancing the strategy and taking things race by race, racing for points first and wins second.

“We’re not going to short pit,” he said. “We’re not going to come in and try to give up points to get the race win, because that’s a gamble that we can’t afford now being on the bubble. But we’re just going to be aggressive.”

“I honestly don’t even know when the cutoff is,” Rhodes said. “Haven’t looked. Don’t care to know. We’re going to go and approach every race the same. We’re there to win and we’re going to make max points no matter what. We can’t have any issues on pit road or we can’t start far back and give up points in the first stage. We definitely can’t short pit for the second stage and give up any more points either. So we’re just trying to play it smart and the wins will come if we be smart, because there’s a lot of guys who make some questionable moves, very questionable moves, on the racetrack. We don’t want to be one of them.”

The regular season for the trucks wraps up with the Corrigan Oil 200 Aug. 10 at Michigan International Speedway. Counting Thursday’s race at Kentucky Speedway, there are only four races left before the playoffs begin. Rhodes has two sixth-place finishes and one 11th-place finish in his three starts at MIS, and he said he thinks he can get it done there if need be. 

“I do,” he said. “And I want to do well there. There’s tracks that set themselves apart in the schedule that you want to do the best at. Kentucky’s number one. Michigan is probably number two, just because that’s Ford Performance’s headquarters. Everybody from Ford is there. I mean all the bigwigs. And you want to be the guy in victory lane celebrating with them, right? You want that little bit of extra support from them throughout the season. You want to become their favorite. Yeah, Michigan’s probably the second most important race on the schedule for me.”

The Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 starts at 7:30 p.m. from Kentucky Speedway.

Podcast #116 — SPECIAL EDITION — An interview with the creator of Behrend Speedway

Show notes:

Visit Behrend Speedway at http://www.instagram.com/BehrendSpeedway

View this post on Instagram

Hello everyone, hope you all had a great Easter. I want to give a big thank you to everyone who has followed this page so far. Your kind words are very appreciated and make me feel very excited to continue providing content on this page! I started #BehrendSpeedway with the purpose of sharing my work to give others ideas and encourage them to build one of their own. I figured 20 people maybe would follow and that was just fine, but 300+!!?!?! Never imagined it happening. Some of you have already, but if you’re interested or have any questions at all about the track, I’d be happy to answer them. Also, if you have some suggestions I’d be very open to those! You guys are awesome, have a great week, and stay tuned to more updates on Behrend Speedway!!

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Podcast #115 — Justin Haley is a Cup Series winner! WHAT?

Show notes:

Recap: Coke Zero Sugar 400

  • Justin Haley wins

News Items: 

  • Xxxx

Preview: Xxxx

  • Picks
    • Eric: Martin Truex Jr. 
    • James: Kyle Busch 

Dark Horse

    • James: Chris Buescher
    • Eric: Paul Menard
  • Shoutouts if any

Fantasy League Update

Close show 

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Eric @TSuperspeedway on Twitter
  • Facebook: Facebook.com/TheSuperSpeedway

 For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well. 
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

Become a Patron at www.patreon.com/thesuperspeedway

Podcast #114 — Alex Bowman is a NASCAR Cup Series winner

Do we care?: For the first time in history (as far as we can tell), the pole speed for the premiere series was slower than the pole speed for the Xfinity and Truck series this weekend at Chicagoland Speedway.

  • Cup: 176.263
  • Xfinity: 177.256
  • Truck: 176.632

Recap: Camping World 400 from Chicagoland Speedway

    • Bowman outduels Larson for his first career win
      • Bowman is locked into the playoffs. He and Crew Chief Greg Ives both said it will change the way they approach the rest of the season. 

 

  • Audio (1:28) Bowman and Ives Press Conference

 

    • Hendrick Motorsports had a great weekend, especially Jimmie Johnson, who finished fourth after leading 10 laps and running in the top 10 all day. He called it a victory

 

  • Audio (0:18) Jimmie answers how to keep up the momentum. 

 

  • Winners and losers?
  • Cole Custer advancing to cup?
  • Eric’s Xfinity, Trucks and ARCA recap/thoughts and overall track experience

News Items: 

 

  • Audio (1:48) Ty Dillon

 

 

  • Audio (0:29) Ross Chastain

 

Preview: Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway

 

  • Audio (0:53): Ricky Stenhouse
  • Audio (2:13): Chris Buescher

 

Picks:

    • James: Joey Logano
    • Eric: Jimmie Johnson
    • Dark Horse
    • Eric: Ryan Preece
    • James: Daniel Hemric
  • Shoutouts if any
    • Happy 82nd Birthday to the King, Richard Petty!
  • Upcoming Special Editions of the SuperSpeedway Podcast
  • Steve from Behrend Speedway. Will have a short special podcast either this week or next with an interview with him. 
  • Brandon Croud from the Lapped Traffic Podcast. 

 

Fantasy League Update

 

Close show 

  • Where can we be found on social media?
  • James @jameskuch on Twitter
  • Eric @TSuperspeedway on Twitter
  • Facebook: Facebook.com/TheSuperSpeedway

 

 For more of the podcast:

  • Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.com
  • Podcasts will be found on there as well. 
  • Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

Become a Patron at www.patreon.com/thesuperspeedway

Alex Bowman gets first Cup Series victory at Chicagoland

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 400

Alex Bowman, driver of the #88 Axalta Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Camping World 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on June 30, 2019 in Joliet, Illinois. Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

By Eric Young

JOLIET, Ill. — After several second-place finishes, Alex Bowman is now a Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series winner. 

Bowman held off a late-race charge by Kyle Larson to earn his first-career Cup Series victory in the Camping World 400 June 30 at Chicagoland Speedway. 

“I’m pretty speechless,” Bowman said. “I feel like I just want to get home and enjoy it with my friends. It’s all I’ve wanted my whole life and now that we’ve went and won a race, I don’t really know what to do with myself a little bit.”

“I don’t come from a racing family,” Bowman said. “I don’t have a big resume. I kind of went from running in the back every week to doing this. Still, not quite sure how that all happened, but it’s been a heck of a ride. Just very thankful for the opportunity. Thankful for getting to work with people like Greg Ives and this 88 team.”

Bowman, ironically, led 88 laps — the same number as his car — on the way to the victory. Most importantly, after Kyle Larson passed Bowman at lap 160, Bowman was able to battle back and regain the lead on lap 262 and hold off Larson for the final five laps. 

“I’m just kind of tired of running second,” Bowman said. “I felt like we had a car capable of winning and we got help up there for a while. I got super frustrated with some lapped cars, just because, not helping us. Which they don’t have to help us, but that’s just part of it.”

“We lost a big lead there,” Bowman continued. “I got pretty frustrated, burnt the right rear tire off trying to get around some lapped cars and when Kyle got around me, I was going to tear the right side off it trying to run the fence or get back around him. Glad we kept it out of the fence, and I was kind of surprised that he left the top open like he did and left clean air up there and surprised it worked.”

For the second year in a row, Larson earned a second-place finish in a late-race battle with the eventual winner. 

“We had a good battle there,” Larson said after the race. “Me and Alex battled it seemed like most of the race there. I was surprised I was able to get to him. When we left the green flag stops, my balance was kind of free and I figured he was just going to take off and I was really focused on Joey in my mirror and trying to hold him off and all of the sudden I was like, oh wow, we’re catching him.”

“Caught him pretty quickly too, and was able to get by him pretty quickly too, and thought I could pull away, but he was able to get some big runs on me and get to my inside and then side-draft me down the backstretch and get by and then do a good job of hitting his marks and getting the balance back underneath him to hold me off,” Larson said. 

Larson said he expected it to be tougher to pass Bowman for the lead. 

“He’s really aggressive and we always race each other really hard,” Larson said. “But I was able to get by him and like I said, when I got out in front of him — when I was behind him, I could see he was struggling. He was really loose off of four, a little bit off of two. I felt like my balance was really good at that point. You’d have through if I could stretch out to a four- or five-car-length gap I could win. But he got a big enough run off of four to get a good tow off the front stretch and get to my inside.”

For a while it looked like Logano might be the one to have a chance at Bowman, as he and Larson battled for second. But Logano ended up with a third-place finish. 

“I was hoping to make a run at him there after that last green flag cycle,” Logano said. “We had a great pit stop and caught the 42 and were racing with him and the car just got tight there at the end and they drove away.”

Logano said he wasn’t surprised to see the Hendrick cars run as good as they did at Chicagoland. 

“They’ve been slowly but surely picking up speed the last six weeks,” he said. “You knew it was just a matter of time before one of them was going to win. It seemed like certain things were happening, execution issues, things like that, but their speed has been close. I think today it showed.”

Jimmie Johnson led a chunk of laps at the beginning of the race on the way to a fourth-place finish. He said he hopes to use that to propel the team further as the season continues. 

“Take a deep breath, enjoy it,” Johnson said. “Celebrate it some and then Monday, we get back to work and try to get better. It gives us a nice direction. Helps us build confidence in the areas that we’ve been working and hopefully we can continue to build on this.”

The race was stopped after 11 laps for rain and resumed almost three-and-a-half hours later. The race had 23 lead changes among 13 drivers. Kevin Harvick led the most laps with 132, but hit the wall in the middle of the race and was only able to rally to a 14th-place finish. 

There were five cautions for 25 laps.

Ty Dillon proposes caution with 15 to go to encourage younger fans to tune in

NASCAR Production Photo Days - Day 1

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Dillon poses for a portrait during the NASCAR Production Photo Days at Charlotte Convention Center on January 29, 2019 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images

By Eric Young

JOLIET, Ill. — Ty Dillon has some ideas to make NASCAR appeal to the younger fan, and while many of those ideas might be met with resistance from long-time, diehard NASCAR fans, Dillon said no good ideas will come without criticism. 

Dillon met with members of the media Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway where he was asked about recent ideas. He suggested there that he thinks NASCAR should consider throwing a caution each week with 15 laps to go to bunch up the field and give fans one more restart to enjoy. 

“I think this package has done one of two things,” Dillon said. “Restarts are amazing. They’re great to watch and when we provide them in the race, we’re having some of the best races that NASCAR’s seen. But on the other hand, we’re having less cautions. People aren’t spinning these cars out. So maybe we need to have talks of having a third stage implemented — or we have three stages (now) — maybe a fourth stage would be the correct way. Or every weekend, 15 to go, we have a caution. And maybe you pay extra points to win the third stage, but look at something as far as adding a fourth stage where you know there’s going to be a 15-lap shootout, or 20-lap shootout.”

He said the points could be set up so that there wouldn’t be a driver dominating all day and then falling victim to the late shootout and losing a ton of points. 

“There’s something there that we can do,” Dillon said. “We need another caution at the end of these races at least 15 to go, to get us where every single week we’re going to have that action.”

Dillon has been throwing out ideas for ways to get younger people to the track each week, saying NASCAR has these huge stadiums every week and could do more to utilize them. He said he has gotten some response from NASCAR as a result of his comments. 

“I haven’t gotten the ‘come work for us’ response yet, but maybe one day,” he said. “NASCAR has definitely reached out since some of my comments and they seem somewhat interested. I haven’t heard anything from them recently, but before we went to Sonoma, we talked about some things and it led to us running a live 360 cam inside the car to get some of these things in motion.” 

“I think there are a lot of things that they just need to stay open minded and honest about in regards to where we are at as a sport and focus on what we can do to keep it rolling,” Dillon continued. “I know it takes a lot of people pulling in the same direction, but there are some clear obvious things that we can do that I feel like we can enhance our sport to take it to the next level. Sometimes it just needs to be said to get the ball rolling.”

Dillon said he would like to see each car have a live stream camera in it during each race. 

“We can afford that in this sport, and whoever wants to do it can do it,” he said. “THat way, we can maybe live stream from each driver’s personal account, team’s account or it can vary week to week. This is to drive fan engagement to certain sponsors, teams and add value that way.” 

“Drivers, owners, race teams, TV providers all have to understand the importance that we have to open our minds to the fact that between these stages is just as important to the future of the sport to communicate to our fans as it is to get in the right call of information,” Dillon said. “Yes, you have to get the right information into our crew chief first, but we can maybe take an extra pace lap under caution for a social media lap. Maybe that is something NASCAR can take a look at. Maybe have a PR representative, a third person in the pit box, or a second radio that only they can contact you on to answer questions from fans really quick. The driver then could interact with our fans live during the race.”

Dillon said it won’t take much to get a person hooked on the sport. 

“Once people get here to our sport, all it takes is watching one lap and they find a driver that did something cool or they walk by a driver or a driver’s at a concert that’s going on at the track, or they interact one time, then they might turn the TV on the next week and follow that driver,” Dillon said. “Then they might buy their gear, then they’re definitely coming back, whether they’re coming back for the race or the thing that got them there in the first place, the entertainment level. There’s so much more that we can do and be multiple facet. We have huge stadiums at these racetracks. We have so much land and we have so much opportunity to provide multiple facets of entertainment, and if we’re going to grow the sport, we need to do that. We need to use everything we have.”

Dillon said he’s OK with people who might think his ideas won’t work. 

“Every great thing that’s happened in this world has had a lot of naysayers,” he said.