No. 48 team’s winning call harks back to Dale Jr.
Prior to teaming with Alex Bowman in 2018, Greg Ives invested the very first 3 years of his profession as a NASCAR Cup Series team chief working with Dale Earnhardt Jr.
It was a lesson about Richmond with Earnhardt that Ives utilized to assist guide Bowman to Sunday’s win.
“Going back to something I learned with Dale here, I think we were running top five, top eight, something like that,” Ives remembered. “We had an adjustment late. It worked okay, but didn’t work quite exactly how we wanted.
“He didn’t yell at me, but he advised me on some of the things that this track did in the last 50 laps.”
Early on Sunday, Ives chose to “trial” those guidelines throughout the the very first changes to Bowman’s vehicle following a Lap 30 competitors care.
“I didn’t think it was anything magical,” Ives stated about those changes. “I just thought it was the right direction. Put that in our memory bank and go from there. Know that we did make adjustments based on (Bowman’s) comments and what he thought on the short run.”
Bowman’s long run speed had actually been far better than his brief run speed Sunday. The previous allowed him to get to 3rd location when Kevin Harvick crashed to draw out a care with 19 laps to go.
It was time for Ives to put what he found out at the start of the race to utilize.
“I would say, majority of the time, these races come down to restarts at the end of the race with a handful of laps to go,” Ives stated. “… You have that adjustment in your mind that you’re going to use. Until it happens, you never know it’s going to work.
“That’s probably where the guys think the gamble comes from, especially when we have such a good car. But we didn’t have a good car in the circumstance that we needed to make adjustments to it. Otherwise, we were just going to struggle on the restart, probably finish third or fourth.
“If we’re sitting sixth maybe, but we’re sitting there third, have the ability to make an adjustment, allow us to take advantage of – shift our strength of our car towards the front of the run versus the end of the run.”
Bowman maintained 3rd coming out of the last rest stop and got the chosen inside lane pertaining to the reboot with 12 laps to go.
Having actually been bad on brief runs, Bowman concentrated on conserving a top-five surface. Rather, he soared previous Joey Logano and after that Denny Hamlin for the winning pass with 10 laps to go.
On what precisely Ives did to his vehicle to make that take place, Bowman responded: “I don’t have a clue.”
“I didn’t see a wedge wrench go in it, so I would say air pressure stuff,” he went on to think. “Which is typically your go-to for short run versus long run stuff. It sure woke it up, that’s for sure.”
It wasn’t a tidy race for Bowman, Ives and the No. 48 group, which needed to get rid of those brief run troubles and a pit roadway charge for an unchecked tire throughout the Phase 2 break.
However for Ives, it made the result even more fulfilling.
“If we just cruised, lapped the field, cruised to a huge victory, I probably wouldn’t be as satisfied as I am right now for us to have fast cars, to battle through some adversity that we’ve been fighting, to go out there and continuously be a team, a team that doesn’t point fingers, but locks arms and go out there and get a win,” he stated.
“Not once did Alex come on the radio with any other thing other than, ‘Hey, we’re going to go pass some more cars.’ That’s what I’m most proud of. That’s what real teams are made of.”
Vote of self-confidence for Chase
Bowman’s win on Sunday implies that ruling Cup Series champion Chase Elliott will be the last Hendrick Motorsports chauffeur to get a triumph this season.
William Byron was the very first to strike at Miami. He was followed by Kyle Larson the following week at Las Vegas.
However simply as Elliott himself wasn’t worried with his efficiency getting in Richmond, neither was HMS basic supervisor Jeff Andrews coming out.
“As far as the (No.) 9 team, (crew chief) Alan (Gustafson), Chase, we have the utmost confidence in those two guys, in that team,” Andrews stated. “Really, all the same players that were on that team last year. You go through these spells where they’ve had good runs. Look at last week, they had a really good car last week. Came up a little bit short.
“It’s not been that the performance hasn’t been there. I think more we’re looking for a little bit of the consistency. Nobody is going to work harder at it than Alan Gustafson and that team.”
On Sunday, tight handling triggered Elliott to fade to 17th at the end of the very first phase. He had rather much better efficiency in the 2nd phase, however might just get to 12th by that phase’s conclusion.
That would be where Elliott ended up the race. It’s his 5th outcome outside the leading 10 in 9 races this season.
However Andrews senses a possible turn-around for Elliott and the No. 9 group. The next 4 weeks of the Cup schedule consists of Talladega (2.66-mile superspeedway), Kansas (1.5-mile oval), Darlington (1.366-mile egg-shaped oval) and Dover (1-mile concrete oval).
Amongst those 4 tracks, Darlington is the just one where Elliott doesn’t have a Cup win.
“We still have a lot of racing to do here, a lot of good tracks coming up,” Andrews stated. “Excited to go to Talladega next week. It’s been a good track for them. Then back to some of the mile-and-a-half stuff. We’re looking forward to that, as well.”
Charges cost MTJ, Kyle Busch
Pit roadway gaffes rushed chance ats a win on Sunday for both Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch.
For a while, it appeared Truex would once again fight Hamlin for a win after besting him the previous week at Martinsville. Truex led over 100 laps throughout the very first half of the race and was running 2nd previous to his green flag rest stop at Lap 294.
However Truex was punished for speeding and required to go through on pit roadway. He handled to remain on the lead lap, however with approximately 100 laps to go and Hamlin and Logano as stout as they were, the charge was a killer.
“Driver screwed up our chances there for sure,” stated Truex, who rallied to complete 5th for his 4th leading 5 of the season.
With Truex out of contention, Busch looked for to put himself in position to pursue Hamlin and Logano. After beginning the last in 5th, Busch reached 3rd when he made his last green flag stop with 58 laps to go.
However as he dove towards pit entryway, Busch stopped working to get all 4 tires on his No. 18 Toyota listed below the dedication box and drew his own pass-through charge that knocked him off the lead lap.
Busch declared the totally free pass off the Harvick care, however was not able to get greater than 8th at the surface.
“The car didn’t start off well, but (crew chief) Ben (Beshore) and the guys kept adjusting on it, and we got it a lot better,” Busch stated. “There at the end, you try to get all you can on and off pit road to have a shot at the win, and I just came in there too hard and got the commitment box.”
Almirola, DiBenedetto get required increase
Aric Almirola and Matt DiBenedetto lastly notched their very first top-10 surfaces of the season Sunday. Almirola ended up 6th to lead Stewart-Haas Racing, while DiBenedetto ended up ninth for the Wood Brothers.
The outcome was particularly required for Almirola, who’s been emblematic of SHR’s battles. The 2020 playoff chauffeur suffered 3 DNFs and 6 surfaces of 20th or even worse in the very first 8 races prior to Sunday.
Ending Up 12th in the very first phase and 10th in the 2nd phase, Almirola continued his stable drive to 5th when colleague Kevin Harvick suffered a tire failure and crashed with 20 laps to go.
Almirola maintained that position following rest stop and went up to 4th off the reboot with 12 laps to go. However attempting to remain in the leading 5 took a toll.
“I really battled for fifth there at the end, but burned up my tires on the outside in the process,” he said. “Finally, a solid day for our Smithfield team. Everyone did their part, and we were mistake-free today. We showed what this team is capable of today. Let’s fire it up and keep it rolling.”
As for DiBenedetto, he and the No. 21 team began the season poorly but had stabilized recently with four consecutive leading-15 finishes entering Richmond.
He was 18th at the end of Sunday’s first stage. But during the first round of green flag stops in the second stage, he caught a break. He was one of six drivers who had not yet pitted when Ryan Newman spun on Lap 141 to bring out the caution.
That effectively put DiBenedetto in and around the top 10 for the rest of the race.
He finished sixth in the second stage. Later, he just missed out on the free pass position prior to Harvick’s caution but got to return to the lead lap with a wave-around. He retained ninth place throughout the 12-lap run to the finish.
DiBenedetto was glad to finally have his team’s growing consistency pay off with a top 10.
“We couldn’t even look at (the bad finishes) and say they were self-inflicted – it was just kind of bad circumstances,” he stated. “So, something that was out of our control – not as bad a luck as Aric Almirola, but it just goes to show between him and I and kind of the rough starts to the season that sometimes things have to go your way.
“And as easily as that momentum can be pretty bad, it can flip around and we haven’t even really had smooth races until today, but we’ve still been climbing up in the points. It just shows the strength of our team … digging out of that hole and doing what I’ve known all along that we’re more than capable of as a team.”
Twenty-six full-time Cup drivers have scored at least one top-10 finish this season. A 27th driver, Jamie McMurray, finished eighth in a one-off at the season-opening Daytona 500.
Full-timers still looking for their first top 10 of the season include Bubba Wallace, Cole Custer, Chase Briscoe (rookie), Anthony Alfredo (rookie), Quin Houff and Josh Bilicki.
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Richmond takeaways: No. 48 group’s winning call returns Dale Jr. initially appeared on NBCSports.com
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.