NASCAR set for Homestead, while Wallace watches from afar; Byron takes pole | Sports
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — Bubba Wallace misses Sunday’s NASCAR race, and that’s obviously not his only penalty after losing his temper in Las Vegas last weekend.
Denny Hamlin – who, along with Michael Jordan, co-owns the 23XI racing team for which Wallace drives – said on Saturday the team handled the issues in a way that went “beyond” the penalties imposed by NASCAR .
Hamlin hasn’t said what that means, opting to keep those matters internal.
“He understands where I fit in, where the team fits in, the values we want to present on the tour, and he just didn’t represent that well last week,” Hamlin said. “But, you know, in the grand scheme of things, we’re very happy with his progress. And he knows he still has things to work on when he gets out of the race car.
It’s not just Wallace in the spotlight right now.
Two weeks ago, NASCAR issued fines of $200,000 after finding that Stewart-Haas Racing driver Cole Custer slowed on the final lap of a race in Charlotte and helped teammate Chase Briscoe to progress enough to reach the next round of the playoffs. Custer and his crew chief, Mike Shiplett, were both fined $100,000 after NASCAR determined Custer’s slowing was deliberate.
And last week, Wallace intentionally destroyed defending Cup champion Kyle Larson in Las Vegas in a dangerous act of retaliation. Wallace was suspended for this week at Homestead-Miami, and playoff contender Christopher Bell got caught up in that wreckage – wrecking his car and slashing his chances of becoming a NASCAR champion. Bell remains in the playoffs, but must rally.
“NASCAR often looks like your parents,” said playoff leader and title contender Joey Logano. “There’s a line of, you know, sometimes you have to let the boys figure it out, and they’ll figure it out together and move on – or mom and dad have to step in a bit and control the situation because it’s gotten out of hand. . So I think NASCAR kind of decided it was getting out of hand.
Drivers tended to agree with NASCAR on these calls.
“In my opinion, those moves were extremely, extremely stupid – both,” pilot Daniel Suarez said of the decisions Custer and Wallace made. “And with both, I was going to be extremely surprised if there were no penalties. … You have to be smarter. I don’t know what those guys were thinking.
This question – “what was he thinking?” — has been a storyline for much of this NASCAR season, with no shortage of temper-flaring incidents.
Ross Chastain, who had a great first season for Trackhouse Racing, featured prominently in a few of them. He faced Hamlin, played a starring role in a wreck that put a good dent in Kevin Harvick’s title chances, and his name was converted into a verb by Kyle Busch. Getting destroyed by Chastain is now, in NASCAR parlance, getting “Chastain”.
“Look, some of the things I did throughout the summer just weren’t… looking back, I would do them differently,” Chastain said. “Part of it would just be my position after the race. I wish it were different. But a lot of stuff on the trail I could definitely clean up.
Wallace isn’t at Homestead this weekend, even to watch. He’ll be in the team garage and Logano said he doesn’t think Wallace owes his fellow drivers an explanation.
“It’s a bit of everything in front of us. We all see,” Logano said. ” I’m not looking for anything. He didn’t do it to me. If he did it to me, yes, we would be in big trouble.
William Byron’s playoff push will start from the sweet spot on Sunday. He took pole in Saturday’s qualifying rounds at Homestead-Miami, lapping in 32.454 seconds.
That was 0.049 seconds ahead of fellow playoff contender Bell. Another driver still in the playoffs, Chase Elliott, will start third.
“Anywhere in this top 10 is a good place to start here,” said Byron, who earned his first pole of his season and eighth of his career.
Among the other drivers still in the playoffs: Ryan Blaney will start 13th, Hamlin 14th, Logano 17th, Briscoe 19th and Chastain 20th.
Most drivers don’t expect to see much correlation between qualifying and what will happen over 267 laps on Sunday.
“The car drives extremely differently and the lines are also different around the circuit,” Bell said. “They are completely two different animals.”
THE COMFORT OF HOME
Suarez is from Mexico, not Miami, but he’s feeling the comforts of home this weekend in a place where most people speak at least some Spanish and the Latin flavor is pretty much everywhere.
“It all starts, I would say, driving to the racetrack,” Suarez said. “If you turn on the radio and start changing stations, everything is in Spanish. Then we arrive at the racecourse and most of the security guards speak Spanish. So the energy is just different, and they make me feel like home. And it’s really amazing.
It’s not uncommon for Suarez to go to tracks and hear a lot of Spanish – he cited Texas and “all the West Coast races” as such.
“I really feel more at home coming to places like this,” Suarez said. “And I know there will be a lot of fans talking to me in Spanish and bringing Mexican flags. We have a lot of support and that’s something I really appreciate a lot.
SUNDAY RACE SCHEDULE
Dixie Vodka 400
At Homestead-Miami Speedway
Tour length: 1.50 miles
(Car number in brackets)
1. (24) William Byron, Chevrolet, 166.389 mph.
2. (20) Christopher Bell, Toyota, 166.139.
3. (9) Chase Elliott, Chevy, 166.133.
4. (45) John H. Nemechek, Toyota, 165.980.
5. (5) Kyle Larson, Chevrolet, 165.894.
6. (23) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 165.868.
7. (8) Tyler Reddick, Chevy, 165.573.
8. (17) Chris Buescher, Ford, 165.507.
9. (6) Brad Keselowski, Ford, 165.330.
10. (16) AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 164.880.
11. (18) Kyle Busch, Toyota, 166.662.
12. (19) Martin Truex Jr., Toyota, 166.641.
13. (12) Ryan Blaney, Ford, 166.543.
14. (11) Denny Hamlin, Toyota, 166.420.
15. (31) Justin Haley, Chevy, 166.420.
16. (4) Kevin Harvick, Ford, 166.277.
17. (22) Joey Logano, Ford, 166.246.
18. (34) Michael McDowell, Ford, 166.164.
19. (14) Chase Briscoe, Ford, 165.996.
20. (1) Ross Chastain, Chevy, 165,980.
21. (21) Harrison Burton, Ford, 165.888.
22. (43) Erik Jones, Chevy, 165.619.
23. (99) Daniel Suarez, Chevrolet, 165.598.
24. (48) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 165.558.
25. (41) Cole Custer, Ford, 165.294.
26. (2) Austin Cindric, Ford, 164.996.
27. (47) Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Chevrolet, 164.966.
28. (10) Aric Almirola, Ford, 164.830.
29. (38) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 164.755.
30. (42) Ty Dillon, Chevy, 164.654.
31. (7) Corey Lajoie, Chevy, 164.364.
32. (3) Austin Dillon, Chevrolet, 163.770.
33. (77) Landon Cassill, Chevy, 163.024.
34. (15) JJ Yeley, Ford, 163.009.
35. (78) BJ McLeod, Ford, 161.774.
36. (51) Cody Ware, Ford, 160.643.