CHASE BRISCOE – 2020 NXS Indianapolis Race Report

Event:  Brickyard 150 (Round 13 of 33)
Series:  NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location:  Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.439-mile, 14-turn road course)
Format:  62 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/22 laps)
Start/Finish:  12th/1st (Running, completed 62 of 62 laps)
Point Standing:  1st (556 points, 21 ahead of second)

Race Winner:  Chase Briscoe of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:  Austin Cindric of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:  Chase Briscoe of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Overview:

Chase Briscoe went yard Saturday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, fulfilling a childhood dream by winning the Brickyard 150 NASCAR Xfinity Series race on the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course. The 25-year-old racer from Mitchell, Indiana, started 12th in the 38-car field and took the lead for the first time on lap 24, eventually leading five times for a race-high 30 laps. But leading the final two laps took considerable effort, as Briscoe had to battle road-course ace A.J. Allmendinger in the final seven tours around the track. Allmendinger took the lead from Briscoe on lap 59 and jettisoned him to third after the Stewart-Haas Racing pilot overdrove a corner. But Briscoe buckled down and set his sights on regaining the lead, reasserting his position at the front of the field with a powerful drive past second-place Austin Cindric and leader Allmendinger on the penultimate lap. Briscoe deftly wheeled his No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang around the serpentine layout inside the hallowed grounds of the Brickyard, pulling out a 1.717-second margin of victory over runner-up Justin Haley. It was Briscoe’s series-leading fifth win of the season and the first time he has scored back-to-back victories, as Briscoe won last weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. It also extended Briscoe’s lead in the championship standings to 21 points over his nearest pursuer, Noah Gragson.

Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:  

“We are really rolling right now. Today is a statement win. I don’t think anybody had us as a favorite today with Allmendinger and Cindric in the field, but we knew down deep we could run with those guys. I am so blessed to be driving this HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. I’m the lucky guy that gets to drive it and it is truly a blessing. I hate that there are no fans here. I get to see so many of my fans, friends and family here that I don’t get to see anywhere else. It’s kind of bittersweet, but I know they’re all watching on TV. I can’t believe we won at Indy.

“Everybody knows that my hero in racing was Tony Stewart. To get to drive for him and watch him win at the Brickyard, climbing the fence was always his signature thing and I just wanted to do it. Obviously, it’s not the same prestige as winning on the oval, but we still won at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It doesn’t matter if you’re racing on the oval, the road course, the dirt track or even the parking lot, it’s special when you win here. Growing up, coming here all the time, it’s unbelievable to think that I just won here. I am so happy to get HighPoint.com in victory lane again.”

Notes:               

● Briscoe earned his series-leading fifth win of the season and his seventh career Xfinity Series victory.
● This was Briscoe’s first win at Indianapolis and his second career road-course win. Briscoe won his first career Xfinity Series race at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval in 2018.
● Briscoe finished fourth in Stage 1 to earn seven bonus points. He won Stage 2 to earn 10 more bonus points and a valuable playoff point.
● There were five caution periods for a total of 15 laps.
● Twenty-seven of the 38 drivers in the Brickyard 150 finished on the lead lap.

Next Up:           

The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is a doubleheader July 9-10 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The first race starts at 8 p.m. EDT on Thursday, July 9. The second race begins at 8 p.m. EDT on Friday, June 10. FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will broadcast both races.

 

COLE CUSTER – 2020 Indianapolis Race Advance

Fourth of July weekend will look a little bit different for the NASCAR Cup Series as it heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 instead of the traditional 400-mile race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Prior to the 2020 season, Indy’s date was moved from September to the holiday weekend.

Cole Custer will make his first Cup Series start at Indianapolis in the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). Team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, Haas Tooling was launched last month as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas’ cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. Beginning July 1, HaasTooling.com products will be available nationally. The cutting tools available for purchase on HaasTooling.com are even more important during the current COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment.

Custer’s No. 41 Ford Mustang will share the HaasTooling.com livery with Autodesk Fusion 360. Autodesk is a leading designer and supplier of software for the architecture, engineering, construction, media and entertainment, and manufacturing industries. Autodesk’s Fusion 360cloud-based 3D CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software brings enterprise-grade capabilities, data services, and a support network to teams of any size, uniting people, products, and processes across the product development process. The company empowers customers, like Stewart-Haas Racing, to push their boundaries and shape a thriving future.

What makes the HaasTooling.com and Autodesk Fusion 360 relationship unique is that Autodesk recently integrated the ability to directly purchase Haas Tooling components from their software. “Autodesk’s Fusion 360 integration of Haas Tooling directly within Fusion’s cloud-based platform, gives engineers, CNC programmers and CNC operators direct access to Haas’ proven cutting tools, data and presets,” said Adam N. Smith, Manager, Strategic Partnerships, at Autodesk. “Haas Tooling’s integration continues to support Fusion 360’s commitment to delivering end-to-end workflows with industry-leading partners.”

The Ford driver heads into Indy coming off finishes of 16th and 17th-place during last weekend’s doubleheader at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Those two starts were his second and third Cup Series starts at the 2.5-mile triangle and resulted in his best finishes there. Custer was the highest finishing rookie in Sunday’s Pocono 350 after SHR teammate Kevin Harvick won Saturday’s Pocono Organics 325.

Even though Custer is making his first Cup Series start at Indy’s 2.5-mile oval, the young driver likes that style of track based on his experience there in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. “It’s a track where the tires wear out a lot,” Custer said. “When you’re able to wear the tires out and able to slip and slide around a bit, I always look forward to doing that. I think Indy can be a good track for my driving style.”

Custer’s first career Cup Series win would catapult him into the NASCAR All-Star Race rescheduled for Wednesday, July 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. However, the 22-year-old could earn the No. 41 Ford Mustang a spot in the race by winning the All-Star Fan Vote. Voting is open for one vote per person, per day.

Custer has three Xfinity Series starts at Indy with a best finish of fifth. With the exception of being involved in an accident in his second start in 2018, all of his results have been in the top-10.  Overall, he has an average starting position of 7.3 and an average finish of 13.7 in the series at the historic track.

SHR has 35 starts at Indy, with three pole awards and two wins earned by former SHR driver Ryan Newman in July 2013 and Harvick last September. Overall, the championship winning organization has nine top-fives and 17 top-10s, along with 340 laps led at Indy.

Haas Automation, founded by Haas in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

Even though Custer had a trio of starts in the Cup Series in 2018, 2020 officially marks his Rookie of the Year campaign in NASCAR’s most prestigious series. He’s competing for rookie honors with notables Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick. The three have battled against each other in the Xfinity Series and are making the full-time transition to the Cup Series together.

 

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

 

Indy is one of the marquee events each year because it’s the Brickyard 400. Is it a prestigious place to you?

“Indy is one of those places that when you walk or drive in, you’re in awe. You see the museum, the Yard of Bricks, the Pagoda, everything about it, there’s so much history there. It’s always an honor to race there with how historic the track is and all of the history that’s there. Everybody loves to go there because of that reason.”

You ran quite well at Indy in the Xfinity Series with the exception of an accident one year. Do you like racing at Indy? In the past, what has been the most challenging part for you?

“Indy is a difficult track with every corner being a little bit different. You have to hit your line right. It has extremely flat and fast corners, so it’s a track where you’re always slipping and sliding around with how hot it is in the summers. It’s a fun place to run around, but you have to hit your marks and be so perfect there.”

CHASE BRISCOE – 2020 NXS Indianapolis Race Advance

Event:  Indianapolis 150 at the Brickyard (Round 13 of 33)
Date:  July 4, 2020
Location:  Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Layout:  2.439-mile, 14-turn road course

 

Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest

 

•  Briscoe is an Indiana native, and the Hoosier returns to his home state fresh off a victory in the NASCAR Xfinity Series’ last race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The 25-year-old racer from Mitchell, Indiana, scored his series-leading fourth win of the season last Sunday at Pocono, but it was far from easy. Briscoe incurred a pit-road speeding penalty on lap 37, squeezed through a multicar accident on lap 54, and suffered late-race spin from the lead on lap 70 after cutting a left-rear tire. The driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang overcame all of that to lead twice for 24 laps around the 2.5-mile triangle, including the final nine laps, the last two of which came in a green-white-checkered overtime finish. It was Briscoe’s sixth career Xfinity Series victory, and he crossed the stripe with a 1.015-second advantage over runner-up Ross Chastain to retake the championship point lead.

•  Briscoe now leads the championship standings by three points over second-place Noah Gragson. In 12 starts this year, Briscoe has four wins, six top-fives and nine top-10s.

•  The Indianapolis 150 at the Brickyard marks the first time the Xfinity Series will run the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The road course at Indianapolis has hosted INDYCAR, Formula One, sports cars and even MotoGP, but never NASCAR.

•  As such, everyone will be making their first career start on the Indianapolis road course. Many, however, have turned laps on the track’s 2.5-mile oval. Briscoe has two top-10 Xfinity Series finishes on Indy’s oval, with a best result of eighth last year.

•  Road courses hold special appeal for Briscoe, as it’s where he scored his first career Xfinity Series victory. It was Sept. 29, 2018 when in just his 14th career Xfinity Series start, Briscoe won the inaugural race at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. Briscoe tapped into his dirt-track experience to wheel the No. 98 Ford Mustang to a strong 1.478-second margin of victory. “It drove like a dirt track instead of a road course, and it felt like I was in a sprint car,” said Briscoe after the race. “I just tried to make sure the rear tires never spun. I had to give up a little time coming off the corner, but I’d make it back up down the straightaway, and that’s why I was always better at the end of the run.”

•  In six career road-course starts in the Xfinity Series, Briscoe has finished in the top-10 all but once. And in his lone NASCAR Gander Outdoors & RV Truck Series start on a road course – 2017 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park – Briscoe finished seventh in a Ford F-150.

•  Greg Zipadelli returns for his fourth race as the interim crew chief for Briscoe and the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. Subbing for regular crew chief Richard Boswell three races ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Zipadelli earned his first Xfinity Series victory when Briscoe crossed the stripe .072 of a second ahead of runner-up Brandon Jones. Zipadelli earned his second Xfinity Series win last Sunday with Briscoe at Pocono. Zipadelli won two NASCAR Cup Series championships with driver Tony Stewart and a total of 34 races, including two Brickyard 400s (2005 and 2007).

•  Briscoe grew up idolizing Stewart and Zipadelli and, now at the age of 25, he drives for Stewart at Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with Zipadelli as his crew chief. Briscoe is a third-generation racer, and his path to NASCAR began on the dirt tracks of Indiana in 2001 when he sat behind the wheel of a quarter midget for the first time. He won his first heat race and later that evening earned his first feature win. From there he advanced to mini sprints and at the age of 13, Briscoe won his first race in a 410 sprint car to break a record previously held by NASCAR Hall of Famer and four-time champion Jeff Gordon as the youngest driver to win in 410 sprint car race.

•  By 2013, Briscoe was ready to follow in Stewart’s footsteps and transition from dirt to pavement. After moving to North Carolina where Briscoe slept on couches while volunteering in race shops, he was given the opportunity to run two ARCA Racing Series events for Cunningham Motorsports, the first being at Lucas Oil Raceway near Indianapolis. Those two starts were all that were needed to showcase Briscoe’s talent as he joined Cunningham fulltime in 2016. He won six ARCA races on his way to winning both rookie of the year honors and the season championship, where his margin over second place was a whopping 535 points.

•  Briscoe has thrived in his transition to NASCAR, which was boosted by that ARCA title. He advanced to the NASCAR Truck Series in 2017, earning four poles and winning the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead. His 10 top-five and 14 top-10s allowed Briscoe to make the playoffs, finish sixth in points and score the series’ rookie of the year and most popular driver awards.

•  Briscoe parlayed a limited Xfinity Series schedule in 2018 where he drove for both SHR and Roush-Fenway Racing into a full-time drive in 2019 for SHR. And in his first full season of Xfinity Series competition, Briscoe scored a berth in the NASCAR Playoffs by earning his second career Xfinity Series win in July at Iowa Speedway in Newton. He also scored two poles and 13 top-five and 26 top-10 results to finish fifth in the championship standings, all of which earned Briscoe the rookie of the year title.

 

CHASE BRISCOE, Driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang:

 

Do you have any idea what to expect on the road course at Indianapolis?
“I’ve been practicing on the simulator since February for the Indy race. It means the world to me to win there, but with it being new, nobody knows what to expect, so we’re trying to be the best we can be. I go to the simulator every Wednesday and I’ve been running at least an hour-and-a-half to two hours at Indy, just trying to get prepared for the racetrack. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good idea of where to make speed in our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. It’s hard to really say how much the simulator will correlate over to the real-life thing, but I feel like I have a really good idea of what to do and I’m not going to be lost for those first couple of laps. Coming from Indiana and for someone who was a diehard Tony Stewart fan growing up, to have Zippy on the box for a win at Indy would be one of the coolest things. We’ve definitely put a lot of significance on that race and, hopefully, we can get it done. There would be nothing cooler than kissing the bricks, but I want to climb the fence, like Tony did.”

You race for a team co-owned by Tony Stewart. As a fellow Hoosier, does that give you a certain sense of pride?

“I don’t know what it is about Indiana, but I feel like everybody from Indiana has a special pride about being from Indiana. I’m not sure if it’s like that for other states, but there is something about us Hoosiers where we want to see other Hoosiers do well. There’s just a lot of pride in being from Indiana and trying to win for Indiana and, obviously, it’s even bigger when we go to Indianapolis Motor Speedway. There is something about a Hoosier at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. You can even hear the crowd. They just get behind a fellow Hoosier. It’s nice for me and Tony to be from the same state, and it’s not like we’re from polar opposite ends of the state. We’re 45 minutes away from each other, so we grew up in the same area, going to the same places, and racing at the same places, so there’s definitely a pride in that.”

As a Hoosier, do you have the same reverence for Indianapolis Motor Speedway as drivers like Stewart?
“In any form of motorsports, Indianapolis is such an icon, and being from Indiana, there’s something special about that place. It’s hallowed ground. It’s a privilege to get to go there. That was the one place where my dad was literally almost in tears just because I got to race there and he got to see his son run laps there. I had been going up there for six or seven years as a spectator, as a kid, and just dreaming of going around that place, and to be able to race there for Tony Stewart, my hero, is pretty special.”

What would it be like to win at Indianapolis, especially this time around with no fans in attendance because of COVID-19?
“I hate that there’s not going to be fans at Indianapolis just because when I go there, there are so many people that come from my hometown and from my area that don’t get to see me race anywhere else. Just feeling the support every time I go there is so special. Last year in driver intros when we were riding around in the trucks, I literally had tears in my eyes from just the amount of people that were standing up and cheering for me. It would be bittersweet to win because none of my family would be there, and none of the fans that don’t get to watch me anywhere else. I’m not going to turn away a win at Indy just because there are no fans, but it is tough to go there and not have fans.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2020 Indianapolis Race Advance

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Patriotic Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), heads to a crown jewel of races this weekend, Sunday’s Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, in hopes of kissing the bricks for the first time in his career.

Almirola is on a string of four consecutive top-five finishes – earned at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he finished fifth, Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where he finished third, and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway last weekend, where he finished third and fifth, respectively, in the series’ first modern-era doubleheader weekend. It’s the first time in Almirola’s career that he has earned consecutive top-five finishes.

His four top-fives this season ties his season high earned in 2018, when he raced his way to the semifinal playoff round and finished fifth in the season standings.

The No. 10 Ford driver sits ninth in the playoff standings for his career best points position after 15 races. In his first two seasons at SHR in 2018 and 2019, Almirola was 11th in the standings after 15 races. It’s one of the best stretches of his career. The next comparable stretch was from October 2018 through March 2019, when he posted 11 top-10 finishes in 13 races, and his two finishes outside the top-10 were 11th at Martinsville and 32nd at Daytona.

This weekend, the 36-year-old native of Tampa, Florida, looks to continue the momentum with confidence at a track he feels he can continue his top-five streak. While Almirola has yet to earn a top-10 at Indianapolis, he sees this year as a completely blank slate.

“Indy is a place that is very similar to the tunnel turn at Pocono,” he said. “I felt like we were really good in that turn last weekend. As a driver, it always feels good to know you’re heading to a track that has a similar feel to the one you just earned a third- and fifth-place finish at. ‘Buga’ (crew chief Mike Bugarewicz) and all the guys back at the shop have been working their tails off to keep up with the new schedule and it’s really showing. We have showed up as a completely new team in the last four races. If we can continue to race as clean as we have been, with no hiccups or bad luck, we’re going to be serious contenders this year.”

Almirola has career totals of two wins, two poles, 22 top-five finishes, 68 top-10s and 627 laps led in 331 starts. In addition to his recent string of top-fives, he has seven top-10s and has led 90 laps after 15 races this season.

Almirola will run a special red, white, and blue patriotic paint scheme with Smithfield adorning the hood of his racecar at Indy. Smithfield Foods Inc., who will sponsor Almirola’s car this weekend and at the majority of races this season, is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 40,000 U.S. employees are dedicated to producing “Good food. Responsibly®,” and have made it one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies.

Almirola continues to provide fans with content from his documentary series Beyond the 10, where they can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

While Almirola is on a mission to win one of NASCAR’s crown jewel races this weekend, he’s also looking to conquer a personal goal of five top-five finishes in a row and the most for him in a single season. He is also the only current Ford driver to be racing for five consecutive top-five finishes this weekend.

 

ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Patriotic Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

What was your first memory of Indianapolis Motor Speedway? 

“I was 12 or 13 racing go karts at the time. My family decided to travel to Indiana for Race Week. We went from track to track watching all these different races. As a kid, I was in heaven. It was so much fun. We capped it all off with the Indy 500. It was incredible to see the amount of people there were. Just being in that big of a crowd was crazy. I was used to going to local short tracks with a few thousand people. Never in my wildest dreams had I ever thought I would see a couple hundred thousand people in one place.”

What was your first NASCAR memory at Indy?

“My first memory of racing at Indy was cool. My first Cup races, I remember getting permission to ride my bike around the track and, when I did, I was in awe. To think as a young boy from Tampa, Florida, with big dreams, to here I am about to race in the Brickyard 400 – it was a memory I’ll never forget.”

Why is Indy such a crown jewel race, and how tough is it to get around the track?

“Racing around Indy is interesting because, as a driver, it’s extremely cool racing around there knowing the history of the motor speedway. It has an aura about it like Augusta and Fenway Park. It’s a really special place for auto racing. To go there and race is really cool, but it is extremely difficult to race there. It gets single file and there is no banking, so we rely heavily on aerodynamics and downforce to handle when you don’t have good air pushing down on the car because of traffic. Indy is probably the most difficult track to drive your car in traffic.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2020 Indianapolis Race Advance

California has always been a hotbed of talent in all forms of automobile racing. And two of the most legendary competitors from the Golden State are from Bakersfield: Kevin Harvick and Rick Mears.

Both are championship-winning drivers and are winners of the biggest races in their respective NASCAR Cup Series and IndyCar Series arenas. And they have had so much success Indianapolis Motor Speedway, where they have a combined six wins and nine pole positons.

Harvick won the Brickyard 400 in 2003 and 2019 and now holds the record for most years between victories in any series at Indianapolis. He also is tied with Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon with three pole positions earned there as he won the pole in 2003, 2014 and 2019, and he earned his two victories from the No. 1 starting spot. Mears is one of only three drivers to win four Indianapolis 500s, doing so in 1979, 1984, 1988 and 1991. He holds the record for Indy 500 pole positons earned with six, having qualified No. 1 in 1979, 1982, 1986, 1988, 1989 and 1991.

Harvick and Mears are both drivers known for showing up when it matters the most – at the end of the race. Mears went a lap down early in the 1988 Indianapolis 500 and came back to win. And in 1991, he almost went a lap down and, at the end, passed Michael Andretti on the outside of turn one and stormed away for his fourth Indianapolis 500 victory.

“The Closer” is Harvick’s nickname because oftentimes, after the final pit stop, he will all of a sudden find himself battling for the win, as was the case last Saturday at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Thanks to great pit strategy by crew chief Rodney Childers, Harvick led the final 17 laps to score his first career Pocono victory. Of note, Mears, whose middle name is Ravon, unbeknownst to many, won three IndyCar races at Pocono in 1982, 1985 and 1987.

Harvick will be going for his third Brickyard 400 win this weekend as he will drive the No. 4 Busch Light Patriotic Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). In addition to his two wins and three poles, Harvick also has seven top-five finishes, 13 top-10s and has led a total of 321 laps in his 19 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Indianapolis. His average start is 12.1, his average finish is 8.9 and he has a lap-completion rate of 99.6 percent – 3,050 of the 3,062 laps available.

The combination of Harvick competing at Indianapolis in SHR equipment is impressive, as well. In his last six NASCAR Cup Series starts at Indianapolis, all of which have come with SHR, he has finished inside the top-10 in each, with the 2019 win, three top-fives and two Busch Poles.

Harvick and Mears have combined for 81 career wins in NASCAR Cup Series and IndyCar Series competition with 18,041 laps led. But it’s the Indianapolis victories, the town of Bakersfield and five decades of success that form the mutual respect. And friendship.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Patriotic Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

 

You grew up in Bakersfield and were a fan of Rick Mears. Can you talk about that?

“I think, for me growing up in Bakersfield, a Rick Mears fan and racing around Clint, his son, in go‑karts and seeing Rick and Roger (Mears, brother) and that whole Mears Gang at the racetrack, I mean, that was part of my childhood. And to see the success that he (Rick) had (at Indianapolis) and know the racing heritage that the Mears family has at this particular racetrack, and the history that they have is something for me that’s pretty special, just because of the fact that those are people I grew up around. They came from the same town that I come from in Bakersfield, and it’s just something you don’t really realize when you’re a young kid.”

You’re going to Indianapolis for a doubleheader with the IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Xfinity Series on Saturday and the Cup Series race on Sunday. Do you think even under these strange circumstances this race could still have a potential positive impact for the motorsports community?

I think our races have had a positive impact on the motorsports community every week. Our industry has just done a great job, really been the leader in trying to help other sports figure out how they’re going to get back on track.I think when you look at the Indy doubleheader, you hear guys from both sides. We had Tony Kanaan on my radio show talking about this particular weekend, and IndyCar and NASCAR running together.We’re all racers. We want racing to be successful. I know it’s kind of had that stigma for a number of years there’s the IndyCar guys and there’s the NASCAR guys.One thing I learned over the winter doing iRacing, racers are racers. If you race on a computer, in IndyCar, everybody wants to see a good race and be part of a cool event. I think it’s going to be a cool event.With Roger Penske owning the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, you’re going to see different things. I think this is the first step of many that will bring exciting shows to the racetrack”

 

RICK MEARS, 4-Time Indianapolis 500-Mile Race Winner: 

 

You and Harvick grew up in Bakersfield and you have both won at Indianapolis multiple times. Can you talk about that?

“It’s pretty cool. It doesn’t matter what car or whatever, it’s Indy. And I’ve followed (Harvick’s) career, especially because he’s from Bakersfield. I was living in and out of Bakersfield and I remember watching him run some short-track stuff out there and he was doing a good job then. I remember talking with him when he was old enough to drive and you could see a lot of the short-track styling and learning at work. The way he backs the corner up and the kind of stuff you have to do at places like the (Indianapolis Motor) Speedway.”

You never ran a NASCAR event, but did some IROC races. Did you ever think of crossing over to NASCAR racing?

“I had some opportunities early on. Back in the day, USAC had a stock-car program that was similar to NASCAR’s and I ran a couple of races for a couple of guys, just messing around. I think one was at Michigan and one was at Milwaukee. And then I ran a lot of the IROC Series. I loved the stock cars, they were a lot of fun. But there was only one way I was going to do it and that was to get totally out of IndyCar and get in with both feet and get with the right people and the right equipment. I would have really had to work at it, but there were some opportunities. I loved driving them, but I did like the Indy car better.”

Could Harvick have crossed over into IndyCar racing?

“He’d have done very well. He’s a racer. He would do very well because he’s a racer. He’s got a very good feel. The big thing for me, the difference between the stock cars and the Indy cars, is that the cars talk to you. You get in a different car and you take it out and you listen to it and do what it wants. The way I always explain it is, the stock cars yell at you, the Indy car whispers to you. It would just take time and laps in an Indy car, but he could do that because he’s a driver. He wouldn’t have any trouble. It’s just getting the laps and the experience.”

You and Harvick are similar in that you know the race is won at the end, not at the beginning. Can you talk about how you and Harvick are similar in that regard?

“To me, it was common sense, and I don’t like pain (laughs). You don’t take the risk until it’s time. You do what’s necessary when it’s necessary. But when do you and when do you not? It’s amazing how many guys don’t understand that. I only needed to lead one lap – and I didn’t even need to lead all of it. There’s only one way to win and that’s to finish. I’ve watched (Kevin) over the years, and he runs smart. That’s what I always called running smart. Plus, you don’t want to show your hand all the time. You keep a little in reserve until after the last stop so no one can make any changes and you say, ‘OK guys, he’s what we’ve got.’ If they think they’ve got you covered, they won’t take as many risks on that last stop.”

CHASE BRISCOE – 2020 NXS Pocono Race Report

Event:  Pocono Green 225 (Round 12 of 33)
Series:  NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location:  Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile triangle)
Format:  91 laps, broken into three stages (20 laps/20 laps/50 laps)
Start/Finish:  3rd/1st (Running, completed 91 of 91 laps)
Point Standing:  1st (499 points, three ahead of second place)
Note:  Race extended one lap past its scheduled 90-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.

Race Winner:  Chase Briscoe of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:  Austin Cindric of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:  Justin Allgaier of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Overview:

Chase Briscoe climbed mountains Sunday at Pocono Raceway to win the Pocono Green 225 NASCAR Xfinity Series race. Despite incurring a pit-road speeding penalty on lap 37, squeezing through a multicar accident on lap 54, and suffering late-race spin from the lead on lap 70 after cutting a left-rear tire, nothing could deny Briscoe his fourth Xfinity Series win of the season and the sixth of his career. The driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang overcame all of that to lead twice for 24 laps around the 2.5-mile triangle, including the final nine laps, to score the victory and retake the championship point lead. Briscoe held off Ross Chastain in a green-white-checkered finish, pulling out a margin of victory of 1.015 seconds when the checkered flag dropped. The triumph was extra sweet, as Pocono serves as the home track for primary sponsor HighPoint. The leading IT infrastructure and solutions company is based just 90 minutes east of Pocono in Sparta, New Jersey. The company was founded in 1996 and serves markets in the tri-state region and southeastern United States, with a presence in Charlotte, North Carolina, and overseas in London.

Chase Briscoe, driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:  

“We were really not that good at the beginning. We struggled and didn’t have the speed I really anticipated us to have here, and then Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and the guys just kept working on our HighPoint.com Ford Mustang and kept getting it better and better. No practice made it really tough and we did a really good job of getting our car to run well, at least to where I could drive it well at the end. When you’re side-by-side with a guy getting into turns one and two, you’re on pins and needles seeing who is going to lift first. I knew Ross (Chastain) was going to probably be the last guy to lift and, typically, I’m one of those guys too. I knew it was going to be tough, but it’s really cool to race those guys and do it clean. It’s just really great to get HighPoint.com here in victory lane. This is their home track. This is just another testament to (Richard) Boswell and all the guys that aren’t here at the racetrack right now. They’re the guys preparing the car back at the shop. Zippy is coming in and calling the race and doing a really good job, but Boswell is still the key aspect of this team and he’s done a really good job of getting the cars driving good and getting us up front.”

Notes:               

● Briscoe earned his fourth win of the season and his sixth win in 62 career Xfinity Series starts. It is his first Xfinity Series win at Pocono. His previous best finish was third in last year’s race.
● Briscoe finished sixth in Stage 1 to earn five bonus points.
● Briscoe is the championship leader after Pocono with a three-point advantage over second-place Noah Gragson.
● This was Briscoe’s second victory at Pocono. The Mitchell, Indiana-native won the ARCA Series race at Pocono on July 29, 2016 to cap a string of four straight victories. Briscoe led all but nine of the race’s 60 laps in a dominating performance that was emblematic of his season. Briscoe drove to two more victories that year to take the ARCA championship by an impressive 535 points.
● This was crew chief’s Greg Zipadelli’s second career Xfinity Series win and his third victory at Pocono. Before Zipadelli won at Pocono in the NASCAR Cup Series with Tony Stewart in June 2003, he won at Pocono in 1985 with Brett Bodine. Zipadelli was 18 years old and the crew chief for his family-owned Sherwood Racing Team, which fielded a car for Bodine on the NASCAR Modified Tour. The event was the Sunoco Race of Champions, which was one of the more prestigious races on the Modified Tour schedule, and it was run on a .75-mile oval within Pocono’s 2.5-mile triangular layout.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 39 laps.
● Twenty-one of the 36 drivers in the Pocono Green 225 finished on the lead lap.

Next Up:           

The next event on the Xfinity Series schedule is the Indianapolis 150 at the Brickyard July 4 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The race starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

COLE CUSTER – 2020 Pocono Race Advance

For the first time in its modern era, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to a racetrack for a scheduled weekend doubleheader, when Cole Custer and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) tackle Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for races Saturday and Sunday. It will be the second and third Cup Series starts for Custer at the 2.5-mile triangle.

“There is a lot of planning for the teams to accomplish two consecutive days of racing,” Custer said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how we manage all of that. Usually, when you end a race, you want to go back and run that race again right away. We’ll actually have that chance to do that this time.”

The 22-year-old’s No. 41 Mustang will be adorned with co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, HaasTooling.com, for both races this weekend. Haas Tooling was launched last month as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas’ cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users.

Custer’s only previous Cup Series start at Pocono was in June 2018 while piloting the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing entry. Custer qualified 28th and finished 26th in that 400-mile event. “I do have a one Cup start at Pocono and it was a long time ago,” Custer said. “I think I’ve learned a lot since then and the cars are extremely different now. So it’s hard to say I learned a ton from that, but it’s obviously still the same racetrack.”

In three NASCAR Xfinity Series outings at Pocono, Custer has an average starting position of 1.7, which includes two pole awards – June 2018 with a speed of 161.423 mph and June 2019 with a speed of 170.707 mph. His average Xfinity Series finishing position there is 4.3 with one victory earned last year by a .226-of-a-second margin of victory. “Pocono was always good for me in the Xfinity Series,” Custer said. “I think I had a good idea and understanding of the track and what I wanted the car to do. I had some great cars, too, which led to success. Hopefully, some of that success transfers over to the Cup Series and we can have some good runs this weekend.”

Custer most recently raced at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway Monday after Sunday’s scheduled event was postponed due to rain. From his starting position of 28th, the rookie driver ran inside the top-five and top-10 at the 2.66-mile track. A late-race caution resulted in NASCAR overtime and Custer was set to restart fifth for the first attempt at a green-white-checkered finish when he felt his Ford Mustang stumble. Custer dove onto pit road for a splash of fuel while the rest of the field took the green flag. The California native ended up finishing the day 22nd after a strong run at the superspeedway.

In the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series at Pocono, Custer has made one start, starting 16th and finishing fifth in July 2016.

SHR has 70 starts at Pocono, with five pole awards and two wins earned by team co-owner Tony Stewart in June 2009 and Kurt Busch in June 2016. In total at the “Tricky Triangle,” SHR has 23 top-fives and 36 top-10s, along with 448 laps led.

Haas Automation, founded by Haas in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.

Even though Custer had a trio of starts in the Cup Series in 2018, 2020 officially marks his Rookie of the Year campaign in NASCAR’s most prestigious series. He’s competing for rookie honors with notables Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick. The three have battled against each other in the Xfinity Series and are making the full-time transition to the Cup Series together.

 

COLE CUSTER, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

In theory, one nice thing about two consecutive races at the same track is you can immediately apply what you learned on Saturday to Sunday. Do you think that’s a positive thing? Or is it typically nicer to have a break between races to really have some time to sift through the information you just learned?

“I think it’s made it a little more relaxed going into this kind of weekend where, before, it was going to be a lot of unknowns where we’ve never raced two days in a row like this without much practice and everything like that. But we’ve been racing multiple times a week now that it’s not a huge curveball for us. It just feels like another week now. It’s definitely going to be a little bit tough, a little bit different, preparing the cars for two days in a row, and getting yourself ready for that. At the same time, we’ve been doing these races without any practice and I think we all have a good rhythm for it now.”

How do you feel about encountering this kind of schedule as a rookie?

“I think it will be nice, as a rookie, to rerun the race you just ran the next day. You’ll be able to improve on what you just did the day before and really be able to attack the next day, and have a good feel for the track and know what to expect. It’s going to be really nice for us to get a feel for it and the next day be able to really attack it.”

Pocono is really one of the more unique tracks you go to. Do you really like racing that style of track? Why or why not?

“It’s a tough track to get around. I think everybody loves it because it’s a challenge. It’s a place where no corner is the same, they’re all really difficult corners and one of those styles of tracks you haven’t seen a bunch before. It’s a triangle and you don’t ever race at other tracks shaped like that. There’s nothing like it.”

CHASE BRISCOE – 2020 NXS Pocono Race Advance

Event:  Pocono Green 225 (Round 12 of 33)
Date:  June 28, 2020
Location:  Pocono (Pa.) Raceway
Layout:  2.5-mile triangle

Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest

•  The Pocono Green 225 Sunday at Pocono Raceway is a hometown race for primary sponsor HighPoint. The leading IT infrastructure and solutions company is based just 90 minutes east of the 2.5-mile triangle in Sparta, New Jersey. The company was founded in 1996 and serves markets in the tri-state region and southeastern United States, with a presence in Charlotte, North Carolina, and overseas in London.
•  The Pocono Green 225 will mark Briscoe’s third NASCAR Xfinity Series start at Pocono and his 62nd career Xfinity Series start.
•  Briscoe looks to rebound at Pocono following an 18th-place finish last Saturday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, but that result wasn’t indicative of his performance. Briscoe finished third in the race’s first stage and then took the lead on lap 38 and held the top spot to win the second stage. He appeared poised to capture his fourth win of the season and his second straight, but when Riley Herbst spun his Toyota on lap 78, he collected Briscoe’s No. 98 Ford Mustang. The left-front fender was ripped away, forcing the Stewart-Haas Racing team to make several pit stops for repairs. Briscoe dropped all the way back to 32nd, but the team kept him on the lead lap, allowing the HighPoint.com driver to salvage 18th.
•  Briscoe’s best Xfinity Series result at Pocono came last year when he finished third behind Tyler Reddick and race-winner Cole Custer. With Reddick and Custer having graduated to the elite NASCAR Cup Series, Briscoe is the highest returning finisher for Sunday’s race.
•  Briscoe is a proven winner at Pocono. The driver from Mitchell, Indiana, won the ARCA Series race at Pocono on July 29, 2016 to cap a string of four straight victories. Briscoe led all but nine of the race’s 60 laps in a dominating performance that was emblematic of his season. Briscoe drove to two more victories that year to take the ARCA championship by an impressive 535 points.
•  In his three Pocono starts outside of the Xfinity Series, Briscoe finished among the top-10 every time. He finished 10th in the June 2016 ARCA race and ninth in the 2017 NASCAR Gander Outdoors & RV Truck Series race.
•  Briscoe enters Pocono second in the championship standings, 15 points behind series-leader Noah Gragson. Briscoe was the 2019 Xfinity Series rookie-of-the-year and has his sights set on an Xfinity Series championship in 2020. He finished fifth in the Xfinity Series championship standings last year, narrowly missing out on advancing to the Championship 4 and competing for the series title.
•  Greg Zipadelli returns for his third race as the interim crew chief for Briscoe and the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang. Subbing for regular crew chief Richard Boswell two races ago at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Zipadelli earned his first Xfinity Series victory when Briscoe crossed the stripe .072 of a second ahead of runner-up Brandon Jones. Zipadelli won two NASCAR Cup Series championships with driver Tony Stewart and a total of 34 races, one of which came at Pocono in June 2003 when Stewart won the Pocono 500.


CHASE BRISCOE, Driver of the No. 98 HighPoint.com Ford Mustang:


HighPoint.com returns as the primary partner on the No. 98 Ford Mustang this weekend at Pocono. The company is headquartered just 90 minutes away in Sparta, New Jersey, so it’s a hometown race for them. How special would it be to win in their backyard?
“It would be a huge to win at Pocono, not only for our team, but for HighPoint. Anytime you can go to a racetrack that’s close to a company’s headquarters that sponsors the car, it’s always a special weekend. It’ll be different with them not being able to be at the racetrack, but there’s still a lot of pride in winning at your home track and, for them, that’s Pocono. So, there’s definitely a lot of emphasis on getting it done. It’s nice that we race on Sunday and I’ve got a chance to go up Saturday afternoon to spend time with Mike Mendiburu (HighPoint President and CEO) and his family, so it’ll be a fun weekend and, hopefully, we can get the HighPoint.com Ford Mustang in victory lane at their home track.”
Pocono is a very unique track with only three corners, each one different than the other. How have you been able to find success at the aptly named “Tricky Triangle” in the ARCA Series, the Truck Series and Xfinity Series?
“It’s definitely a challenging track, but it seems like I’ve always had really good speed no matter what I’m in. That speed, along with the ability to adapt if the car isn’t driving well, and just being able to figure it out, is the biggest thing. I think no practice this weekend is going to be an even bigger factor than it’s been over the last month or so. I’ve always enjoyed the challenge of Pocono and trying to get the car to work as good as it can in all three corners. I’ve had success there, which certainly helps with confidence whenever you go to places that can be tough to figure out. We had a really good Ford Mustang there last year and were able to run third with it, so we’ll try to build on that. We should be way better. I feel like I’m a lot better than I was at that time last year, and the team is better too, so we should be able to go and compete for a win.”
You mentioned the third-place finish last year. You’ll be the highest returning finisher since the top-two finishers, Custer and Reddick, both moved up to the NASCAR Cup Series. Is that something you think about as you prepare for Sunday?
“You’re aware of it, but it doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Having the best car behind the two guys who are no longer going to be in the race is nice to know confidence-wise, but it doesn’t change the approach of how we go into the weekend.”
Because you have done so well at Pocono, is it easier to move on from the result at Talladega?
“Any time you leave Daytona or Talladega, you’re looking forward to the next race – unless, of course, you won. There are so many things that are out of your control when you’re at a superspeedway, and while there are still things that are out of your control at Pocono and other tracks, the race is more in the driver’s hands and you control your own destiny. The driver makes more of a difference and the car makes more of a difference. I’m definitely ready to move on from Talladega. It could’ve been a lot worse, but we were able to get some playoff points with a stage win. I’d like to go to Pocono and get another race win and get back to the next stretch of really good racetracks for our team.”
Nearly four years ago when you were in ARCA, you were headed to Pocono in July 2016 with three wins. You dominated the race for your fourth consecutive ARCA win, and then won two more races and the championship. It was major turning point in your career. Can you draw any comparisons to your ARCA championship season and what you’ve been able to accomplish so far this year? 
“There certainly are some similarities. We were going for four-in-a-row and, truthfully, winning that race at Pocono is what elevated me to the Truck Series. It was right after we won that race, the following week actually, when the conversations started about the following year and the potential of moving up. There’s pressure to win every race – mostly pressure that I put on myself – but I think Pocono is one of those tracks where if you can win there, it says a lot. I don’t know if it’s because every corner is different and shows your ability to adapt, or that it’s a fast racetrack that’s kind of on edge and you need to show that you can handle that level of racing. We could definitely go into this weekend comparing, but we’re trying to win every weekend regardless. With that being said, it would be pretty neat to get our fourth win of the year at Pocono and for it to come back full-circle to what it was like in 2016.”

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2020 Pocono Race Advance

Momentum has been a key word for Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) as the team heads to Pocono (Pa.) Raceway for the first doubleheader in the modern era of the NASCAR Cup Series.

Almirola is on a string of two consecutive top-five finishes – earned at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he finished fifth, and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway, where he finished third. It’s the first time in Almirola’s career that he has earned consecutive top-five finishes. The Talladega result enabled him to tie a record with Hall of Fame inductee Dale Earnhardt Jr., with his eighth consecutive top-10 at the Alabama track. In addition to his momentum, Almirola nearly clinched a playoff spot last weekend when he charged to the lead before he was clipped in the right-rear, ultimately taking the checkered flag by spinning across the finish line backwards.

“The last 50 feet, I was spinning toward the infield,” Almirola said with a laugh. “I saw that my momentum was coming next to Ryan Blaney and I saw I was about to be wheel-to-wheel with him. I honestly thought I was going to win the race. I was going about 3 or 4 mph faster at that point. I just had the smallest gap to get between the No. 47 and Blaney. It just wasn’t quite clear enough. The 47 just clipped my left-rear and spun me around. I still thought I had enough momentum that I might have actually won. While I was spinning, I was waiting for someone to tell me that we won, but unfortunately they told me third.”

This weekend, Almirola heads to the track coined “The Tricky Triangle,” where he looks to continue the momentum. The No. 10 Ford driver has an impressive resume of finishes at Pocono since joining SHR with two top-10 finishes. His best finish at the 2.5-mile triangle is seventh, earned June 3, 2018.

“I’m a big believer in momentum,” Almirola said. “Our team had a rough patch of finishes that came from a string of bad luck. We’ve always had fast cars, and now we’ve put it all together. We’ve had solid races recently and it’s put a lot of confidence in this Smithfield Ford team.”

While the No. 10 team builds on this success, they know it has a unique and challenging weekend ahead with back-to-back races at Pocono in as many days.

“From the driver’s side, I know mentally and physically it’s going to be a lot,” said Almirola, who has career totals of two wins, two poles, 20 top-five finishes, 66 top-10s and 562 laps led in 329 starts.

“Typically we have a full-length race and have a few days to recover and do it again, but now we’re going to race, try to get rehydrated, go to sleep and get up the next morning ready to go again. It’s going to be a lot more demanding, but it’s also going to be fun. As a competitor, I love to race and racing on consecutive days is a lot of fun. You always Monday-morning quarterback every race, and so you leave the race on Sunday, and in Monday’s competition meeting you say, ‘Man, if we could just do this race over again, this is what I would do.’ Now we get that opportunity. We’re going to race on Saturday and, if we have a good run, we have the opportunity to refine that performance and, if we have a bad run, you have the opportunity to change a lot of things on your car.”

His No. 10 Ford will again sport the iconic black, white and gold of partner Smithfield Foods Inc., at Pocono this weekend. Smithfield, which is sponsoring Almirola’s car at the majority of races this season, is an American food company with agricultural roots and a global reach. Its 40,000 U.S. employees are dedicated to producing “Good Food. Responsibly®,” and have made it one of the world’s leading vertically integrated protein companies.

Almirola continues to provide fans with content from his documentary series Beyond the 10, where they can get VIP, behind-the-scenes access by subscribing to his YouTube channel. Episodes showcase never-before-seen footage of Almirola at the racetrack, on family trips, and “A Day in the Life” during the week, as well as all that goes into a NASCAR Cup Series driver’s season. Click here to subscribe on YouTube and watch the latest episode.

Almirola arrives at Pocono 12th in the season standings with 337 points – 153 behind leader and SHR teammate Kevin Harvick.

 

ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

Will the doubleheader at Pocono be easier now that you have been forced to race just three days apart under the current circumstances? 

“Prior to the pandemic, the doubleheader was going to be something wildly different, but now everything is such a blur with these weekday races and it’s become the new norm for us. But running two races back to back is much different than Sunday and Wednesday. Now we have to bring the same car for these two races compared to having a setup for a Wednesday race and a new setup for a Sunday race.”

Is it tough now that you had to race on Monday at Talladega and just get four days to prepare for Pocono?

“It is a little bit of a shorter week. It’s mostly about recovery and making sure I’m hydrated. It’s going to be so warm. Being in the car for three hours at 130 degrees is going to be tough. It does hurt us to have one less day to recover and hydrate.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2020 Pocono Race Advance

When the 2020 NASCAR schedule came out last year, the race weekend everyone was looking at was the one at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway.

The triangular layout was designed by two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Rodger Ward, who modeled each of its three turns after a different track.

Turn one, which is banked at 14 degrees, is modeled after the legendary Trenton (N.J.) Speedway. Turn two, banked at eight degrees, is a nod to the turns at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. And turn three, banked at six degrees, is modeled after the corners at The Milwaukee Mile.

But those who work in NASCAR weren’t worried so much about the track’s unique layout, of which they were all too familiar. They were talking about the fact NASCAR was scheduling a doubleheader race weekend for the first time in its modern era. On Saturday, there is a 325-mile race and, on Sunday, a 350-mile race. The same car must be used for both, and the starting grid for Sunday’s race will be an inverted finishing order of the lead-lap cars from Saturday’s race, and the actual finishing order of the cars not ending up on the lead lap Saturday.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March, the NASCAR drivers have raced three times in eight days on three separate occasions. But this weekend’s doubleheader will be a new experience for everyone.

Kevin Harvick will drive the No. 4 Busch Beer Head for the Mountains Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

Busch, the beer brewed for the great outdoors, has extolled the beauty of America’s landscapes using music and song since its founding in 1955, developing iconic jingles for its ad campaigns such as “Head to the Mountains” in the 1980s.

Today, inspired by the creativity Americans across the country showed while staying indoors this spring, Busch is announcing a new campaign to bring that very song to the fore again, and is enlisting the support of ‘80s rock legend and two-time 2020 GRAMMY® winner Billy Ray Cyrus.

Head to @BuschBeer to learn more.

Pocono Raceway was built in the Pocono Mountains in 1968 and is also one of only two NASCAR Cup Series tracks where Harvick has not scored a victory, Kentucky Speedway in Sparta being the other.

He has one Busch Pole – July 2020 – to go with four second-place finishes, 12 top-fives, 18 top-10s, and he’s led a total of 249 laps in his 38 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Pocono. His average start there is 15.6, his average finish is 12.6 and he has a lap-completion rate of 95.3 percent – 6,452 of the 6,772 laps available.

He is hoping to score his first win at Pocono and number 52 for his career.

 

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Head for the Mountians Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

 

We have our first doubleheader with the Pocono races Saturday and Sunday. What are your thoughts on that?

“It’s very intriguing, I think, as you look at the weekend and you look at the shorter races, which means shorter stages, and you have the inversion. The car itself having to be raced twice and the things that you’ll need to try to do to the car. And there are a lot of things to digest in order to keep yourself competitive from one day to the next. So it will be interesting to see how we all manage that.”

From a driver’s perspective, there’s both mental and physical preparation.

“You kind of just have to adapt to where you are and how you feel and the things that are going on from your body from that standpoint. Mentally, it’s pretty easy because you break it in half. When one race is over, you wipe that slate clean, you analyze the things that you think were good, the things you think were bad, the things you need to do to your car, in order to make it handle better and make those adjustments and start fresh the next day. I like to have a routine, but my routine will basically be the same from one day to the next and it will just be a much shorter window of how you digest things and when you let them go.”

 

TIM FEDEWA, Spotter of the No. 4 Busch Beer Head for the Mountians Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

 

Pocono is much like Talladega, where it’s a large track. Where are the difficult spots to see at Pocono?  

“Getting into (turn) one is hard, just because you are at the start-finish line and the frontstretch is three-quarters of a mile long, so you are a ways away from it so the depth perception gets a little crazy when they start to fan out four-, five- and six-wide. I tend to use my high-powered binoculars there. Kevin been there enough to know and he’s got his side mirror and he uses that well. A lot of the drivers do. But it is tough to see it down there. It’s a tough place to spot at – we’re not as high as we’d like to be, but it’s still a cool racetrack. I like going there. ”

You drove in two ARCA races in 1992 at Pocono. How challenging is the Tunnel Turn?

“The Tunnel Turn has always been a challenge. It’s a momentum thing. I raced at a racetrack in Michigan (Tri-City Speedway near Auburn), it wasn’t as big as Pocono, but it had a similar turn. That helped prepare me once I got to Pocono. You’re going through there pretty much wide open through there, you just barley breathe it. It definitely gets your attention, especially if you miss your mark a little bit or if someone is below you and you are trapped on the top. Even when you’re handling well or alone, it gets your attention.”