Ahead of this weekend’s NASCAR race at Kansas Speedway, here’s a roundup of notable news and notes from around the sport.
Petty GMS Gets ‘Moral Victory’
Neither of Petty GMS Motorsports’ two cars went to victory lane Sunday in the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington Raceway, but the first-year team left South Carolina with what team president Mike Beam called a “moral victory.”
Erik Jones and the No. 43, the team’s flagship car, finished in the top 10 in the first two stages before a pit penalty relegated him to the back of the field, where he was then caught up in the nine-car crash in the final stage.
That prevented Jones from securing a third consecutive top-10 finish. Meanwhile, Ty Dillon and the No. 42 team had one of their best races since the Daytona 500, finishing 12th in a day filled with attrition. With four top-15 finishes, Dillon’s average finish of 20.7 this season is just off of his career-best 20.6 from 2019.
With Jones already two top 10s shy of his matching his 2021 mark, Beam sees a lot of positives for a team that, while having plenty of experience under its roof, didn’t exist until December 2021.
“I keep reminding our guys we didn’t really start this deal until bout Dec. 10,” Beam said Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “In all the work that’s going on, I’m really proud of everyone. It’s definitely a good, moral victory you can hang your hat on and just keep building off of. We’re competing with teams that’s been doing this for a long time.”
With two crew chiefs, Dave Elenz and Jerame Donley, who are new to their roles in the Cup Series, Beam said the team has “so much to prove.”
“Everybody’s just working hard, and we just want to get there pretty quick,” Beam said. “We know we’re gonna have some bumps in the road. But we just keep working off of that. I mean, we don’t know we’re a small team. You’re talking 40 employees. … We just keep using all the tools we have and just keep going.”
Beam said having people like Elenz, who came from the Hendrick Motorsports pipeline via JR Motorsports, brought a “winning culture” to Petty GMS.
“Dave just brought a new level of competition and professionalism to the part,” Beam said.
Asked if Petty GMS could be doing what they are now had they made to move to Cup with the previous generation of car, Beam’s answer was emphatic.
“No way. No, no, no, no, that’s just being honest,” Beam said. “There’s no way. I mean, just to develop, I worked at Roush and I know how much work went in (there). … There’s no way we could have done that.”
Earlier this week, a new trailer was dropped for a documentary chronicling the career of two-time Cup Series champion Kyle Busch, specifically his comeback from injury to win the 2015 NASCAR Cup title.
Like the 2019 Michael Waltrip documentary, “Blink of an Eye,” the film will released in theaters for one night only on June 29.
In addition to interviews with Busch himself, the documentary provides commentary from some of NASCAR’s most legendary personalities, including but not limited to NASCAR superstars Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon, team owners Rick Hendrick and Joe Gibbs, brother Kurt Busch and wife Samantha Busch.
RCR Rebound Continues
Richard Childress Racing’s rebuilding efforts in the Next Gen era continue to bear fruit.
Tyler Reddick’s second-place finish at Darlington gives RCR seven top-five finishes this season through 12 races.
That matches their total from the 2020 season. In 2021, Reddick and Austin Dillon combined to earn four top fives.
Whenever the next top-five result comes, it will give RCR its most since the 2017 season when a three-car operation produced 12. That year Ryan Newman had seven, Dillon had three and Paul Menard scored two.
Whether it was a combination of the race airing on Fox Sports 1 instead of Fox, going head-to-head with a new, high profile Formula One race that aired on ABC and the fact that it was Mother’s Day, NASCAR’s Cup race at Darlington only barely beat out TV rating for F-1’s inaugural Miami Grand Prix.
The broadcast for the Goodyear 400 drew an average of 2.61 million. The Miami GP had an average of 2.58 million.
Sunday’s Cup race at Kansas Speedway is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on FS1.
Kurt Busch Gets Air Jordan Scheme
Earlier this year, 23XI Racing’s Kurt Busch was announced as a new “Jordan Brand” athlete, further tying hm to team co-owner Michael Jordan.
Now, Busch’s No. 45 Toyota will have its first paint scheme inspired by Nike Air Jordan show.
The scheme, inspired by the Air Jordan III “Black Cement” shoe, will debut this weekend at Kansas Speedway.