In the Know – Charlotte ROVAL

“In the Know”
Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL

The NASCAR Cup Series Round of 12 wraps up this weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. The elimination round takes place at 2 PM ET this Sunday on NBC, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. Four driver’s title hopes will come to an end, as the field is cut to eight.

All four of the Stewart-Haas Racing Cup drivers will feature a pink window net on their car this week. The inspiration for “Window of Hope” came from one of Kurt Busch’s young fans to show support for breast cancer survivors and those continuing to battle breast cancer. Following the ROVAL, each driver will sign their window net. The nets will then go up for auction with all proceeds benefiting breast cancer research and treatment.

Charlotte Motor Speedway debuted its’ 2.28-mile, 17-turn ROVAL road course in 2018 in the Bank of America ROVAL™ 400. The unique circuit hosted the first road course race in the history of the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Featuring twisting, left-right turns, chicanes on the frontstretch and backstretch and a 45-foot elevation change, the ROVAL™ quickly gained a reputation as one of NASCAR’s most challenging tracks. It remains the only road course in NASCAR in which race fans can see every turn from the main grandstands.
Fun fact from Charlotte Motor Speedway: during a typical race weekend, fans consume more than 34,000 slices of pizza, 9,500 gallons of soda and water, 13,500 feet of hot dogs and 309,000 pounds of ice.

The Details

NASCAR Cup Series Overview
Event: Bank of America Roval 400 (Round 32 of 36)
Time/Date: 2 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Oct. 10
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval
Layout: 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course
Laps/Miles: 109 laps/252.88 miles
Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 25 laps / Stage 2: 25 laps / Final Stage: 59 laps
TV/Radio: NBC / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

NASCAR Xfinity Series Overview
Event: Drive for the Cure 250 presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina (Round 29 of 33)
Date: Saturday, Oct. 9
Location: Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval
Layout: 17-turn, 2.28-mile road course
Time/TV/Radio: 3 p.m. EDT on NBC/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

What Our Drivers are Saying:

Kevin Harvick, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

The Roval serves as a playoff cutoff race, with the field of 12 playoff drivers getting whittled down to eight. You’re still in the mix to advance to the Round of 8 – is that a testament to the work you and this Mobil 1 team have put in all season long?
“My team’s done a good job all year. We’ve had a lot of weeks where we’ve walked out of these tracks with a sixth-, seventh-, eighth-place finish. Our team itself has done a great job. We just needed to do a better job getting faster cars and sometimes that’s just not in the cards. You just have to plug away and take what you can get out of it and try to make the least amount of mistakes, and that’s the part our team has done well. We’ve gotten a lot of decent finishes throughout the year, and that just comes from experience. You dot the I’s and cross the T’s and, really, that’s what it all comes down to. We’ve lost a lot of races with fast cars and we’ve won some races with slow cars – you grind away and you just keep yourself in there and see where it all shakes out. Sometimes it’s in the car to win and sometimes it’s not, you just never know so you just grind away every lap.”

Aric Almirola, Driver of the No. 10 Ford Warriors in Pink Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Since you’re not racing for points in the NASCAR playoffs, how do you approach this race differently?
“It’s one last opportunity for us this year to have some success at a road course. I think we’ll be good. We had a good car at the Daytona road course earlier this year and I thought we made huge gains over the past few years. The Roval is still a playoff cutoff race next year, so you have to treat this weekend just like any other. We’re practicing this week on the Ford simulator and just trying to learn all that we can to have the best performance possible. The Roval is such a tricky course and the guys in the playoffs are going to give it their all and push their cars past the limit, so it may provide us opportunities to capitalize on and be there at the end.”

Chase Briscoe, Driver of the No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School/HighPoint.com Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

This will be your first Cup Series start at the Roval, but it’s one of your more successful tracks. Are you excited to try it out in this series?
“I’m super excited. The Roval is where I got my first Xfinity win and led a ton of laps there in the Xfinity car in the last two races where it felt like we were the car to beat but threw it away, so I’m excited to get there in the Cup car. The competition is going to be a lot tougher. The other Chase (Elliott) seems to be really good at the Roval, so we’ll see what we can do. I feel like we’ll have a pretty good shot. We’ll have to drive through a lot of cars but, not being in the playoffs, we can do some things strategy-wise to steal some track position. Then I think we’ll be fast enough to stay up there. The road courses have been our strongest all year long, so we’ll continue to build on that and hope to do really well this weekend.”

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing

You had a solid top-10 on the Roval in your first-ever Cup Series race there a year ago this weekend. What do you remember about that day, and do you feel it will have any carryover into this weekend?
“What I remember most is that we had a lot of ups and downs in that race, which is typical on road courses, in general, especially on the Roval and especially on restarts. There’s always a lot going on and the potential for mayhem is always there. The crew stuck with it all race long and we ended up with a top-10 that we could feel good about. And I think one of the bigger positives that came out of that day was that we learned some things with regard to road-course racing that definitely carried on over into this year with all the road-course races we had on the schedule. Coming off of a pretty solid race at Talladega, I can’t wait to get to the Roval, and the team feels the same way.”

Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang (Xfinity Series)

The No. 98 Monster Energy team has had some success on road courses this year and in the past. What would it mean to get your first win on the Roval at Charlotte?
“Your first win is special no matter what track, but to get it at Charlotte and lock in our spot to the Round of 8 would be awesome. The No. 98 Monster Energy team has worked hard this year, so our goal is to win one before season’s end. This team has been strong on the Roval in the past, and I’ve had some success in leading laps and running up front, so hopefully we can put it all together and end up in victory lane on Saturday.”

SHR Stats

In three career NASCAR Cup Series starts at the Roval, Kevin Harvick has never finished lower than 11th. His best result came in 2019 when he led twice for 34 laps on his way to a third-place finish. Harvick has made a total of 48 NASCAR Cup Series starts on road courses. He has 20 starts at Sonoma, 20 at Watkins Glen, three at the Roval, two on the Daytona road course and one apiece at COTA, Road America and the Indianapolis road course. He has scored two wins – Watkins Glen in 2006 and Sonoma in 2017 – along with 10 top-fives and 24 top-10s with 195 laps led. When Harvick scored his first road-course victory at Watkins Glen in 2006, he had to beat his current team owner to do it. Tony Stewart – the “Stewart” in Stewart-Haas Racing – had won the past two NASCAR Cup Series races at the seven-turn, 2.45-mile road course and was poised to capture a third straight win as he was leading Harvick with four laps to go in the 90-lap race. But Harvick, who had already led once for 24 laps, passed Stewart on lap 87 as the two drag-raced down the frontstretch and into turn one. Harvick held onto the lead despite Stewart in his rearview mirror, earning a margin of victory of .892 of a second.

Sunday’s 109-lap race will be Cole Custer’s 71st Cup Series start and his second on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn Roval. He finished ninth in his Cup Series debut at the track a year ago this weekend for his seventh top-10 of the season en route to capturing Rookie of the Year honors. The finish came in just his second career road-course race in the Cup Series. Custer had 11 road-course outings in the Xfinity Series from 2017 through 2019 that included a pair of outings on the Roval. He finished seventh in 2018 and eighth in 2019.

The first time the Cup Series raced on the Charlotte Roval was in 2018. Aric Almirola started 20th that day and finished 19th, which was good enough to advance him to the next round of the playoffs after a nail-biting final stretch. Last year, he was in a similar position on the Roval but needed to gain 12 positions at the end of that race to move on. The Smithfield Ford driver turned on the jets in the closing laps and came up just five spots and a few seconds short of the next playoff round. Almirola has 28 road-course starts in the NASCAR Cup Series. He has two top-10 finishes with a best of eighth at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, five top-20s at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International with a best finish of 12th, three top-20s on the Charlotte Roval with a best finish of 14th, and a top-12 finish in the non-points Busch Clash Feb. 9 on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course – his best road-course finish of the year.

The Drive for the Cure 250 on Saturday will mark Riley Herbst’s 72nd career Xfinity Series start and his second on the Roval. After starting 13th in a wet race there last year, Herbst led seven laps before finishing 12th.

Of Special Interest

Be sure to check out our merch hauler at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend! If you can’t attend in person, you can shop anytime at store.stewarthaasracing.com

SHR Post-Race Recap: Talladega

STEWART-HAAS RACING
YellaWood 500

Date: Oct. 4, 2021
Event: YellaWood 500 (Round 31 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Format: 188 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/68 laps)
Note: Race shortened 71 laps before its scheduled 188-lap distance due to rain.

Race Winner: Bubba Wallace of 23XI Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Chris Buescher of Roush Fenway Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Bubba Wallace of 23XI Racing (Toyota)

SHR Race Finish:
● Kevin Harvick (Started 9th, Finished 8th / Running, completed 117 of 117 laps)
● Cole Custer (Started 28th, Finished 13th / Running, completed 117 of 117 laps)
● Chase Briscoe (Started 17th, Finished 14th / Running, completed 117 of 117 laps)
● Aric Almirola (Started 20th, Finished 26th / Running, completed 117 of 117 laps)

SHR Points:
● Kevin Harvick (9th with 3,075 points, nine points below top-eight cutoff)
● Aric Almirola (15th with 2,104 points)
● Chase Briscoe (23rd with 575 points)
● Cole Custer (28th with 477 points)

Playoff Standings (with one race to go before Round of 8):
1. Denny Hamlin (3,116 points) 1 win
2. Kyle Larson (3,097 points) +22
3. Joey Logano (3,096 points) +21
4. Brad Keselowski (3,095 points) +20
5. Martin Truex Jr. (3,095 points) +20
6. Ryan Blaney (3,090 points) +15
7. Chase Elliott (3,084 points) +9
8. Kyle Busch (3,084 points) +9
9. Kevin Harvick (3,075 points) -9
10. Christopher Bell (3,056 points) -28
11. William Byron (3,040 points) -44
12. Alex Bowman (3,032 points) -52

SHR Notes:
● Harvick earned his 21st top-10 of the season and his 18th top-10 in 42 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega.
● Harvick’s 18 top-10s at Talladega are the second-most among active drivers.
● This was Harvick’s second straight top-10 at Talladega. He finished fourth in the series’ prior race at the track in April.
● This was Harvick’s fifth straight top-10. He finished fifth Sept. 4 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, eighth Sept. 11 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, second Sept. 18 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and ninth in the series’ prior race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
● This was Harvick’s 11th straight top-15, a streak that began July 11 with an 11th-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
● Harvick finished fourth in Stage 1 to earn seven bonus points and eighth in Stage 2 to score three more bonus points.
● Harvick led five times for a race-high 16 laps, increasing his laps led total at Talladega to 292.
● Harvick has now led 11,355 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 15,781 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career.
● Custer earned his seventh top-15 of the season and his second top-15 in four career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega.
● Custer led once for seven laps – his first laps led at Talladega.
● Briscoe earned his 10th top-15 of the season and his second top-15 in two career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Talladega.

Race Notes:
● Bubba Wallace won the YellaWood 500 to score his first career NASCAR Cup Series victory.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 27 laps.
● Thirty-one of the 40 drivers in the YellaWood 500 finished on the lead lap.

Talladega Quotes

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We had a fast Smithfield Ford. It handled really well and had a lot of good speed today. We stayed out of trouble all day. After the last pit stop we had a serious vibration, so I just hung at the back until the caution came out. Unfortunately, the rain hit at the same time and at the wrong time for us.”

Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Mobil Delvac 1 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“The damage early on really put us behind, but once we got back on the lead lap we were able to still draft really well. I wish we had more time to get a better finish out of it, but I’m happy with how it turned out, and I’m ready to move on to the Roval next week.”

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light #Hunt4Busch Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“I got shuffled out there too late for the rain storm, but our Ford Mustang was fast and we were able to make up some ground and get back up closer to where we needed to be. I hate that it started raining. Our car was fast.”

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We had a fast Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Mustang today. We were able to drive to the front, even after we took a pretty decent hit from behind during that first wreck. The guys did a great job making sure everything was buttoned up, and I think we could have ended up with a really good finish if the race went the distance. Congrats to Bubba (Wallace) on getting his first win.”

Next Up:
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bank of America Roval 400 on Sunday, Oct. 10 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. It is the sixth race of the 10-race playoffs and the final race in the Round of 12. It starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

-SHR-

Riley Herbst Talladega NXS Race Report

Herbst Finishes 27th at Talladega
Late-Race Accident Ends Top-10 Run for Monster Energy Ford Driver

Date: Oct. 2, 2021
Event: Sparks 300 at Talladega (Round 28 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway (2.66-mile oval)
Format: 113 laps, broken into three stages (25 laps/25 laps/63 laps)
Start/Finish: 13th / 27th (Accident, completed 101 of 107 laps)
Point Standing: 11th (2,030 points, 32 behind top-eight cutoff)
Note: Race shortened six laps prior to its scheduled 113-lap distance due to darkness.

Race Winner: Brandon Brown of Brandonbilt Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: John Hunter Nemechek of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Blaine Perkins of Our Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Overview:
Misfortune found Riley Herbst and the No. 98 Monster Energy team in Saturday’s Sparks 300 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway when an accident ended their day just six laps from the eventual finish after their strong run. The 22-year-old driver rolled off 13th when the green flag waved on the race scheduled for 113 laps. While he initially struggled with a loose Ford Mustang, Herbst was able to use the draft and work his way up to third by the end of Stage 1 to collect eight much-needed bonus points. During the break, Herbst got some help from his friends on the No. 98 Monster Energy pit crew after their fast two-tire pit stop gained him two spots and made him the first car off pit road. He restarted Stage 2 as the leader and stayed there for all but two of its 25 laps. These were Herbst’s first laps led at Talladega in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He lost the draft with his Ford teammate Austin Cindric in the No. 22 Ford Mustang, while coming to the green-and-white checkered flag and fell back to fourth at stage’s end. He still earned another seven bonus points to help with his bid to reach the Round of 8 of the playoffs. During the break, the No. 98 Monster Energy pit crew gained Herbst another three spots on pit road and put him back in the lead for the restart on lap 55. He was shuffled back in the opening laps of the stage and fell to 13th. Herbst quickly worked his way back up to third before coming down pit road on lap 70 for a quick, fuel-only stop. As pit stops cycled, Herbst inherited the lead after the lap-74 caution. The Las Vegas native got shuffled back shortly after the restart but was running seventh by lap 88. A spin at the front of the pack stacked the field, and the car behind Herbst ran into the back end of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang. Under the caution, crew chief Richard Boswell brought his driver down pit road to change all four tires and fix the right-rear damage. Herbst restarted 23rd but wasted no time in his drive up through the field. He was 12th by lap 100. As he continued his climb to the front, the Las Vegas native was caught up in an unavoidable, multicar accident on lap 101. He was credited with a 27th-place finish in a race that never went back to green due to darkness.

Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“We were doing everything to the plan and then, I think with 10 or 20 laps to go, the incident came and somebody from behind me didn’t use their brake pedal and knocked the back of our racecar off. We had to come down pit road and fix that, and then that obviously put us in the hornet’s nest in the top of three-wide. At that point, I knew we were going to be wrecked. It’s just a shame that they hit us from the back and we had to come back down pit road and fix it or else we could have restarted and stayed up front where we were all day. We led a lot of laps and got a lot of stage points. It just didn’t finish well. I think we’ve got to go win (next week at the Charlotte Motor Speedway) Roval, now.”

Notes:
● Herbst led three times for 26 laps, his first laps led at Talladega.
● Herbst finished third in Stage 1 to earn eight bonus points and fourth in Stage 2 to earn seven more bonus points.
● Brandon Brown won the Sparks 300 at Talladega under caution to score his first career Xfinity Series victory in 114 starts.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 21 laps.
● Twenty-two of the 40 drivers in the Sparks 300 at Talladega finished on the lead lap.
● Cindric remains the championship leader after Talladega with an 22-point advantage over second-place Allgaier.

Next Up:
The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the Drive For the Cure 250 Presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina on Saturday, Oct. 9 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

-SHR-