Subsequent Gen criticized for lack of sturdiness, passing at Bristol

Subsequent Gen criticized for lack of sturdiness, passing at Bristol

After the burnout and victory lane celebration final weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway, the main target for Noah Gragson and his Xfinity Collection group was which Waffle Home they have been going to on the way in which house. 

There was one about 5 miles from the observe and one other about 7 miles away. One particular person was tasked with selecting the placement and ensuring everybody knew.

Gragson, his group and the JR Motorsports hauler all made it, persevering with what has change into part of Gragson’s victory celebration.

Most instances, drivers who win a Cup or Xfinity Collection race go from the observe to a airplane and fly house. For races nearer to the game’s Charlotte, North Carolina base, opponents will drive, permitting them the possibility to cease at a restaurant on the way in which house.

Such experiences hark again to the early days of a driver’s profession —after they raced at native brief tracks, didn’t end till late at night time and sought a spot to eat, calm down and relive that night’s occasion. Go to any brief observe, significantly within the Southeast, and it’s not unusual to listen to the successful group say that they’re taking the trophy to a Waffle Home or another restaurant that’s open all hours.

Gragson’s first Waffle Home celebration got here in 2015, when he gained the Okay&N Professional Collection West race in Tucson, Arizona, main his group to a 1-2-3 end.

When Gragson gained the Xfinity race at Phoenix in March, he went to a Waffle Home upon touchdown in North Carolina. After his Darlington victory earlier this month — the primary of three in a row — the group’s hauler additionally stopped on the Waffle Home, becoming a member of Gragson and the group.

“Received all of the cooks and (everyone) on the market taking photos and simply loving it,” Gragson mentioned. “It’s a very good time. We performed music on the jukebox and informed them to show all of it the way in which up.”

“He’ll look again on that when he’s 60 or 70 years previous,” teammate Justin Allgaier mentioned of Noah Gragson, “and people are going to be the moments he’ll bear in mind without end.”

Gragson introduced the sword and trophy he collected after his Bristol victory to the Waffle Home final weekend. He used the sword to chop his waffle and positioned half of the waffle on the sword’s tip earlier than taking a chunk. 

“That was actually cool to have the ability to celebration with the followers and have some waffles,” Gragson mentioned. 

The Waffle Home was filled with a number of Gragson followers, together with these carrying his T-shirt. 

“It’s humorous that they go to Waffle Home,’’ teammate Justin Allgaier mentioned, “however he’ll look again on that when he’s 60 or 70 years previous and people are going to be the moments he’ll bear in mind without end.”

Jeremy Clements, who’s 37 and within the Xfinity playoffs for the third time, already seems to be again on such instances fondly. His early days of racing have been full of Waffle Home stops. 

“We have been within the Waffle Home on a regular basis,” Clements mentioned. “The races have been all the time late. We needed to eat. It didn’t matter if we gained or not most instances. We had sufficient within the price range to eat at Waffle Home.”

Like many, Clements mentioned that when he gained, he introduced the trophy into the Waffle Home. 

“Why not present it off and have some enjoyable?” he mentioned.

To reigning Xfinity Collection champion Daniel Hemric, Waffle Home represents particular recollections. 

“I’d say 90{7e44665ad31c7163a3225b5cdeca12ae8e1ba5a9651d05b2285576263eb8f3ac} of my childhood weekends have been spent within the Waffle Home on Friday and Saturday nights,” Hemric mentioned of the start of his racing profession. “

Even now, he nonetheless goes to a Waffle Home often. His daughter Rhen, born in Might 2020, insists.

“She loves Waffle Home,” Hemric mentioned. “It’s form of considered one of our little Sunday traditions each week or two weeks. We go as a household on Sunday, simply me, (spouse) Kenzie and Rhen.”

Waffle Home isn’t the one particular place for Hemric. After he gained  $250,000 in a Legends automotive race at Charlotte Motor Speedway in 2010, he and about 20 household and buddies went to a Steak ’n Shake about 4 miles from the observe to have a good time. 

Hemric introduced the trophy with him, however his celebration was muted. He had helped put together a few dozen different automobiles for that occasion and was exhausted at that time of the night time.

“All people was ordering meals and I laid my head down and took a nap,” he mentioned. 

Steak ’n Shake is a well-liked vacation spot, significantly for Daytona 500 winners. The restaurant is situated 2 miles from Daytona Worldwide Speedway.

Automobile proprietor Joe Gibbs took his household and the trophy in after successful the 1993 Daytona 500. Gibbs revived the custom in 2019 after the second of Denny Hamlin’s three wins in that occasion. The Wooden Brothers went there after Trevor Bayne’s 2011 Daytona 500 victory.

Cup rookie Austin Cindric celebrated his Daytona 500 win this 12 months with household and his group.

“Actually particular to have each my mother and my dad there with my complete group,” Cindric mentioned. “We had pit crew guys. We had everyone, and it’s a type of moments in life that you simply form of have to understand whereas it’s occurring … as a result of it doesn’t occur every single day.”

Cindric additionally introduced the trophy into the restaurant. 

“Positively cool to close the place down with the largest trophy,” he mentioned.

2. NASCAR on Subsequent Gen components course of, shifting and Martinsville

Former Cup champion Kevin Harvick has been important of the Subsequent Gen automotive within the playoffs, complaining in regards to the automobile’s “crappy-ass components.”

Harvick was upset after a hearth ended his race within the playoff opener at Darlington earlier this month. Two days after he was eradicated from title rivalry at Bristol, partially as a result of a difficulty with the left entrance wheel, Harvick posted a hyperlink to a T-shirt he was promoting that performed off his remark. 

John Probst, NASCAR senior vp of Racing Innovation, defined to NBC Sports activities the method that NASCAR went by way of — with the groups and producers — in figuring out the distributors that may provide components for the Subsequent Gen automotive.

This marks the primary time distributors provide the primary components as a substitute of groups making their very own. 

As NASCAR developed the automotive, Probst mentioned the sanctioning physique, groups and producers set the specs for components earlier than sending a Request for Proposal to distributors. This came about in 2019.

NASCAR despatched RFPs to as few as 5 distributors and as many as 30 distributors for some components. For these firms , NASCAR held a name to reply questions not lined within the 30-50 pages of paperwork the sanctioning physique despatched. 

Distributors had two weeks to organize for in-person conferences that included representatives from NASCAR, groups and producers, Probst mentioned. 

About 5 days after the conferences completed, group and producer representatives gave NASCAR their rating of the highest three candidates to provide a selected half. Probst mentioned the groups and producers typically supplied suggestions on all those that offered. 

“We’d have individuals sitting (within the conferences) that just about spanned the gamut from giant to small groups,” Probst mentioned, “as a result of we needed to get a fairly good cross-section of suggestions from our business from the group facet.”

The group representatives usually have been senior engineers or technical administrators, Probst mentioned. In instances the place a group was bidding to provide any specific components, their consultant was not part of the conferences with different distributors to keep away from any battle. 

After the suggestions, NASCAR, groups and producers made their choices.

“Greater than not, we had fairly good alignment with us within the business,” Probst mentioned. “On components choices, I wouldn’t say each half choice was unanimous. I may also say that we didn’t choose, as a matter of any rule, the most affordable half. 

“We selected the half that we felt served the operate that we wanted to have performed. It wasn’t a case of simply going with the low-cost provider. It was going with the provider, with the precise value with the precise product that met our wants on the time.”

Probst mentioned he’s happy with how the automotive has been an element within the collection seeing 19 totally different winners this 12 months, tying for probably the most all-time in a season. With perennial winners Ryan Blaney, Martin Truex Jr. and Brad Keselowski nonetheless looking for their first factors victory of the season, that quantity may transcend 20 earlier than the season ends Nov. 6 at Phoenix.

Probst mentioned he feels one misunderstanding with the automotive is the collaboration between NASCAR, groups and producers.

“I believe that generally once you learn the driving force quotes and the group suggestions, crew chiefs are posting issues on Twitter, it creates the sense of NASCAR vs. them vs. the world,” Probst informed NBC Sports activities. 

“Actually, it isn’t like that. I want individuals may see how properly we truly do work with the engineers on these groups, sorting by way of the issues. 

“I really feel like we work hand-in-hand with them, however numerous instances when it will get to the general public eye, for no matter motive, or if it’s within the warmth of the second, it comes throughout as if ‘NASCAR is making us do that,’ or ‘That is the dumbest factor ever,’ however I believe, in actuality, that’s so removed from the reality. We have now a very good working relationship with all the groups, and I simply suppose that will get misplaced.”

The Subsequent Gen automotive has supplied higher racing at intermediate tracks, whereas the racing at brief tracks has been disappointing. The spring race at Martinsville confronted criticism from drivers. With subsequent month’s Martinsville race the ultimate likelihood for drivers to make the championship occasion, what occurs there can be important. 

Probst mentioned there can be a gear change for Martinsville, “however so far as huge adjustments, there are not any giant adjustments that we’re making going again there. We’ve had one information level at Martinsville to this point this 12 months, the coldest race of the 12 months. We put down no rubber. It’s actually onerous to make wholesale adjustments to the automotive based mostly on that.”

Probst later mentioned of constructing adjustments: “We’ll proceed to make adjustments as we have to, however … I really feel like we have to make these adjustments based mostly on information and what we’re seeing from our metrics and simply make the very best selections we will.”

One other key matter this 12 months has been shifting, which has been blamed by some for making it onerous to go, but additionally been used on the intermediate tracks, which has seen a renaissance within the racing in comparison with latest years. 

“I’d say the talk continues,” Probst informed NBC Sports activities on whether or not to permit shifting or scale back the dependency of it. “I’d say that we actually have a few of our drivers who’re very insistent that shifting is unhealthy, the race could be higher if we didn’t have shifting.

“We additionally produce other drivers, who haven’t been as vocal publicly (for it), however under no circumstances is there any mass settlement throughout the drivers that shifting is sweet or unhealthy.”

Probst raised questions on one suggestion of giving drivers 1,000 horsepower for brief tracks.

“The 1,000 horsepower would suggest that I’ve acquired torque on demand, and I can get again to the fuel and ‘Man, that’s going to make actually good racing,’” Probst mentioned. “In my thoughts, shifting is sort of the identical factor. 

“So like, if I would like torque in the course of the nook, I can downshift and increase, I acquired the torque to drive up off like I acquired a monster engine and all gears. So, I personally don’t really feel like we’ve got the info that claims shifting is sweet or unhealthy.”

3. Contained in the thoughts of a Cup playoff driver 

As Ross Chastain spoke in regards to the Oct. 2 playoff race at Talladega Superspeedway, he famous: “What’s so nice about this sport and this collection at this stage is we’re allowed to simply go and crash. 

“That’s on restarts, on a mile-and-a-half, or a brief observe, or racing all day at a superspeedway. I really feel prefer it’s acceptable to simply crash these costly race automobiles. It’s a wild spot for me to be in, simply mentally making that call that I’m going to go put myself in that spot that I may very well be crashed or I may trigger a crash.”

Subsequent Gen criticized for lack of sturdiness, passing at Bristol
Ross Chastain is third within the Cup playoff standings.  (Picture by Jeffrey Vest/Icon Sportswire through Getty Photographs)

Chastain, who enters Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway third within the factors, spent a couple of years within the Xfinity Collection in underfunded tools with JD Motorsports that he couldn’t afford to wreck. Requested how he discovered to make the adjustment from overly defending the automotive to racing extra freely, Chastain famous a state of affairs in final weekend’s Xfinity Collection race at Bristol that hit house for him.

“I simply watched Bayley Currey go and take the No. 4 automotive (for JD Motorsports) and run high three with it at Bristol and was tremendous,” he mentioned. “Then it got here all the way down to the tip and a few late restarts and I may inform he was defending his automotive and he completed eleventh. I do know he needed a tenth. Not that I ever ran high three in Johnny’s automotive, however there was instances the place you go and also you’re quick sufficient after which it comes all the way down to the tip and it’s like ‘Man, weighing out that threat versus reward.’

“I believe Bayley did rather a lot higher job than I ever did in that situation. I nonetheless are likely to tear them up. Now, simply other than not crashing and being out of the race for factors, simply the considered these automobiles coming again torn up is simply extra accepted.”

Chastain recollects that his mindset modified after his first Xfinity apply session within the No. 42 automotive for Chip Ganassi Racing at Darlington.

“I simply was complaining about how free the automotive was and was going to crash. So, I used to be fairly gradual. Mike Shiplett, my crew chief, walks over and opens the highest door to crawl up into the upstairs of the hauler and the backup automotive is sitting there.

He says, ‘You see this?’

‘Sure sir.’

‘It’s constructed precisely the identical because the automotive on the market, the first, so go drive the automotive. For those who crash it, we are going to unload this one and you’ll really feel it drives precisely the identical. So, I don’t need to hear about it being free anymore. I need you to go drive it.’”

Chastain gained the pole in qualifying. 

“Excessive threat, sure, however that was the primary time that was ever mentioned to me. I simply by no means checked out a backup that method.”

4. Chase Elliott’s focus 

The second spherical of the Cup playoffs may very well be probably the most treacherous for groups. 

After Sunday’s race at Texas (3:30 p.m. ET on USA Community), the collection races at Talladega after which ends the spherical with the Charlotte Roval.

Something can occur at Talladega, and the Charlotte Roval may create some points. Add rain there and it may very well be wilder. 

Texas schedule
Chase Elliott leads the factors going into Sunday’s Cup playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway. (Picture by Logan Riely/Getty Photographs)

That’s why some drivers view the Texas race as pivotal. Win Sunday to advance to the third spherical and it doesn’t matter what occurs the following two weeks.

Whereas it is perhaps straightforward for some to look forward on the potential pitfalls, Chase Elliott, who  enters this spherical atop the playoff standings, doesn’t try this.

“I take it per week at a time generally,” he mentioned. “Half the time I don’t know the place we’re going the following week. 

“The article is to win each single weekend. I don’t present as much as a racetrack with the mindset of ‘Yeah, let’s exit right here and make silly selections and end final. That’s simply not ever the mindset. I don’t see the place it adjustments an entire lot. 

“You all the time need to have a very good run. It simply so occurs a recent spherical is beginning this weekend and fortuitously we’re nonetheless part of the deal. We’ll go on the market and attempt to have a very good run at Texas.

“Attempt to have a very good Saturday, attempt to have a very good apply, attempt to qualify properly, hopefully get you a very good pit decide and a few good observe place to begin Sunday. … Wherever we come out of that, we’ll reevaluate what the state of affairs is and the place we have to go from there. You’re all the time attempting to have good weekends, and I believe taking it per week at a time, a day at a time is is fairly necessary.”

5. Double obligation will proceed for Ty Gibbs 

Two of the Xfinity Collection title contenders will proceed to do double obligation even with the playoffs starting for that collection this weekend.

Each Noah Gragson and Ty Gibbs are additionally entered in Sunday’s Cup race at Texas. 

Gragson has famous that he is a little more cautious within the Cup automotive due to the impacts drivers are feeling with the Subsequent Gen automotive. He doesn’t need an damage in a Cup automotive to harm his championship possibilities.

Gibbs has been driving rather than Kurt Busch, who has been out since late July due to a head damage.

David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Growth, informed NBC Sports activities this week that the plan is for Gibbs to proceed to drive the Cup automotive all through the playoffs until Busch is able to return.

“We’re comfy with Ty operating each for the foreseeable future,” Wilson mentioned. “We nonetheless don’t know what Kurt goes to do. To be truthful, he left the door open to doubtlessly get again into the automotive earlier than the tip of the season. (Ty) is studying rather a lot.

“I don’t suppose any of us have the mentality that we’re placing him in hurt’s method wheeling a Cup automotive. … We all know, clearly that hits will be tougher with this automotive, and we all know that the groups and NASCAR are engaged on that. We’re not going to place any of our drivers in a automotive that we consider is inherently unsafe. 

“On the entire, we predict Ty operating on Saturday and Sunday for the following handful of races goes to profit Ty and isn’t going to compromise his capacity to compete for an Xfinity championship.”