What is proper etiquette between NASCAR playoff, non-playoff drivers?
As Daniel Suarez discussed his very first top-10 surface in almost 4 months, Jeff Gordon strolled by and stated, “Nice job today.” Suarez thanked Gordon prior to the four-time Cup champ headed towards Triumph Lane to commemorate Kyle Larson’s win last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway.
The subject then altered. Suarez was inquired about his event with playoff chauffeur Martin Truex Jr. that sent out Truex’s cars and truck into the wall.
Such is life for a non-playoff chauffeur. A skirmish with a champion competitor can eclipse whatever.
While yellow spoilers and yellow windscreen banners designate those qualified for the title, it’s as if non-playoff chauffeurs bring a scarlet letter. There is an expectation that Cup playoff chauffeurs be provided more latitude by those not racing for a champion, however how far should that go?
Chauffeurs who do not make the playoffs likewise have something at stake. It might be to keep their job, show to sponsors they’re an excellent financial investment or make agreement bonus offers, to name a few things.
When Suarez and Truex were racing together last weekend, it was for an area inside the leading 10. Suarez’s last top-10 surface came at Nashville in June.
“Let me tell you,” Suarez informed NBC Sports, “I feel so bad for (Truex). I feel really, really sorry for him. He just can’t be doing that. I’m racing as well here.
“I have a lot of respect for the guys in the playoffs, but one thing is respect and (another) is taking advantage of the situation. He was not even close to be clear. I don’t know why he did that.
“We’re in the last (15 laps) of the race. I have (fresher) tires. He doesn’t have tires. I don’t know. I think he has to be a little more smart.”
Truex informed NBC Sports after the event: “I was definitely running tight trying to get all we could and maybe I squeezed (Suarez).”
Truex ended up 25th. The previous series champ gets in Sunday’s race at Kansas Speedway (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN) 22 mention of the last transfer area to next month’s title race.
NBC Sports expert Dale Jarrett stated today on NASCAR America Motormouths that situational awareness is essential for playoff chauffeurs throughout these occasions.
“I actually think the drivers that are in the playoffs still need to consider who they are racing at this point in time and what the consequences might be,” he stated. “Do the guys they are racing need this spot a little bit more?
“I said this on a radio show the other day … Martin Truex Jr. and his race team shouldn’t have been back there battling for 10th anyway. They’re a better team than that, and he’s, obviously, a championship driver. He should have been further up.
“I’m all for these guys racing hard. You try not to have that contact, but sometimes it’s going to happen because things happen on a racetrack.”
NBC Sports expert Kyle Petty praised Jarrett’s remarks and stated of playoff chauffeurs: “You have to take some responsibility. You can’t complain about non-playoff cars all the time.”
Asked last weekend if there is a disrespect in between non-playoff chauffeurs and playoff chauffeurs, Kyle Busch revealed his aggravation.
“There’s a complete lack of respect everywhere, all over the place, so it doesn’t matter if it’s a playoff driver or a non-playoff driver,” Busch stated. “The way all this has gone on the last four or five years with the newer generation coming in has completely ruined it from what it used to be.
“It might be exciting for the fans, but all you get is more torn up stuff. Next year, these car owners are not going to enjoy paying the bills on that new car, I guarantee you.”
Chase Briscoe, who is not in the playoffs, bounced off the wall while racing title competitor Denny Hamlin for seventh with 62 laps to go last weekend. The contact led to a tire rub for Briscoe. The tire didn’t last, causing a yellow flag.
Throughout that care, Hamlin stated on his group’s radio of Briscoe: “That’s what he gets for being a … idiot.”
A video of the event and Hamlin’s radio remarks were published on the NASCAR on NBC Instagram account. Briscoe published a remark that checked out: “If only I had 10,000 races worth of experience under my belt …”
Hamlin saw Briscoe’s remark and responded: “@chasebriscoe_14 not sure you’ll get there. There’s cars racing for a championship. In case you forgot about taking out the leader and costing him 1 championship already this season. Perhaps when you learn give and take you will start to finish better.”
Briscoe reacted: “@dennyhamlin I get paid to race, just because you guys are racing in the playoffs doesn’t mean I’m just gonna wave you by. One of the best cars we’ve had all year and I was trying to take advantage of it. I understand you guys are racing for a championship which is awesome for you guys but I’m racing for a job and results let me keep that job.”
Hamlin countered: “@chasebriscoe_14 well if your car is better and you are better on that day, you will get the spot back eventually. Risk management is how you optimize your finish each week. Maybe putting yourself in others shoes for 1 min would help. You had 25 races to get a chance to race for the post season. Respect is a underrated trait in today’s world it appears.”
The interaction revealed the perspective of a playoff chauffeur and non-playoff chauffeur. For as interesting as that was, such a discussion might have happened independently. So, why did Hamlin engage Briscoe on social networks?
“A lot of it, to me, is the mentality that the younger guys have is they can’t pick up the phone and call you,” Hamlin stated. “They just make immature statements on social media, so I thought I would just go down to that level for a minute.”
Last weekend significant William Byron’s very first race out of title contention after he stopped working to advance to the Round of 8. While he stated he wasn’t raced in a different way by any of the playoff chauffeurs, he understood his brand-new scenario compared to them.
“I was thinking about that throughout the race and some of the cautions,” Byron stated. “As a race car driver, you’ve got a certain mindset and a certain way that you think as you go throughout the race, and it’s very hard to just kind of change that on the fly. So, you don’t really alter your whole strategy.”
Byron stated he doesn’t wish to have an event with a playoff chauffeur.
“I think that’s kind of the biggest thing for me is kind of trying not to wreck one,” he stated. “But I didn’t feel like anyone raced me different, or that I raced them differently. You see the yellow spoilers. You kind of know who you’re around and things like that. I think you’re just kind of aware of those guys and what they’re trying to do.”
2. Wild West of restarts
It’s not constantly what a motorist does that figures out how well they reboot at Kansas Speedway, however what the chauffeur behind them does.
“I think the biggest thing with the 550 (horsepower) races is getting linked up to your push if you’re the leader,” William Byron stated. “So, you’ve got to do things, whether you drag the brake or you roll into the throttle slow.
“You’ve got to make sure that that guy is linked up to your bumper to push you because if not, there’s not enough horsepower for you to just drive away, unless you’re in first gear or you have different ratios or something. So, that’s watching the mirror. That’s listening to my spotter and him count down when that guy is getting to my bumper.”
The last 2 restarts in the May race at Kansas demonstrated how much the chauffeur in the 2nd row of a reboot can determine matters.
On the next-to-last reboot, Kyle Larson was the leader and was on the outdoors line. Brad Keselowski lagged him. Kyle Busch led the bottom lane and had Ryan Blaney behind.
When the green flag waved, Blaney went to the back of Busch’s rear bumper and pressed him. Keselowski had a space to Larson’s rear bumper, leaving Larson without a push.
Blaney pressed Busch into the lead and likewise managed Larson, who led 132 laps in that occasion. A mishap took place on that lap, establishing the last reboot.
Busch rebooted on the bottom and had Blaney to his exterior. Larson rebooted behind Blaney.
After the race resumed, Larson’s cars and truck connected to the back of Blaney’s rear bumper.
“I thought I got a pretty good restart and so did (Larson) behind me,” Blaney stated.
However difficulty showed up in Turn 1.
“The push at Kansas that Larson gave me, you gotta realize when to get off somebody and you’re to the left side,” Blaney stated. “That shouldn’t have happened. …That’s just a product of somebody being a little too aggressive at that point and kind of being in the wrong position on the bumper.”
Larson’s push turned Blaney sideways in Turn 1 and sent out Larson into the wall. They both lost speed and rather of racing for the win, fell under the pack. Larson ended up 19th after leading almost half the race. Blaney put 21st. Busch won the race.
“I learned from it,” Larson stated. “So far, I haven’t made that mistake again.”
Byron comprehends such troubles with Kansas restarts.
“A lot of times, you can’t always win the restart at Kansas,” he stated. “You have to just minimize the loss. Especially if you’re on the front row.”
3. Points race
Denny Hamlin is 3rd in the standings, one point above colleague Kyle Busch and 9 points above the cutline, however that’s not how he sees it.
Hamlin views himself as being on the cutline.
“We have to assume, based on past results, that one of those guys at the bottom – whether it be Joey (Logano) or Martin (Truex Jr.) are going to go out and win these next two races,” Hamlin stated today. “If they do that, then that cutline moves right to me, and I’m actually plus one, not plus nine or eight or whatever it is. That’s the number that I’m racing to – is plus one to even right now.”
The very first chauffeur outside a transfer area is ruling Cup champ Chase Elliott. He won the 2018 playoff race at Kansas, ended up second in the 2019 playoff race and was 6th in in 2015’s playoff race.
Elliott’s focus, however, isn’t on points.
“I don’t think there’s ever really a safe place with points unless you have a win,” he stated.
While Elliott has 2 success this season, neither began an oval. He won on the roadway courses at Circuit of the Americas and Roadway America.
Elliott doesn’t stress that his last oval win was available in in 2015’s title race at Phoenix.
“The results are what they are,” he stated. “Whatever the reason may be doesn’t matter. You either do or you don’t, and we haven’t checked that box yet this year. I don’t feel like it’s been a lack of performance. On certain ovals, I feel we like we’ve been really solid. I feel like we’re just as capable as a year ago or the year before that.”
Elliott has 5 successive top-10 surfaces on 1.5-mile tracks heading into Sunday’s race at the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway. He ended up second in the Coca-Cola 600 and in the Las Vegas playoff race.
4. Another remarkable minute?
Although Joey Logano has actually won a champion, a Daytona 500 and 2 Bristol night races, Kansas Speedway has actually been the website of some considerable minutes in his profession.
“Lot of good memories there,” Logano stated.
He might require another such minute to advance to the champion race.
Logano gets in Kansas 43 mention of the last transfer area for the champion race. Reasonably, he requires to win either at Kansas or next week at Martinsville to advance.
3 times he’s scored considerable success at Kansas.
The very first was available in 2009. His success in the Kansas Xfinity race came a week after his toppling crash in the Cup race at Dover.
In 2015, he won at Kansas when it was the middle race in the 2nd round. Logano went on to sweep all 3 races because playoff round, however his Kansas success came at a rate. He spun Kenseth as they raced for the lead. Kenseth paid Logano back at Martinsville, damaging him as Logano led and injuring his title hopes.
In 2015, Logano held back Harvick over the last 40 laps to win and advance to the title race.
“To me, it was like holding off the pack at a superspeedway,” Logano stated of in 2015’s Kansas surface. “You’re up front. The guy behind you is building runs. He’s going to different lanes … and you’ve got to be able to move around. As your car changes, the preferred lane was moving. His car was a lot stronger than mine down the straightaways. We were just not as trimmed out a car.
“Just having all of that was mentally exhausting for 40 laps. You’re on it for a long time. Knowing that one mistake would cost you a win, and knowing what that win was going to mean on top of that, you’re willing to throw it all on the line for that. He (was) going to have to spin me out to get around me.
“That’s what playoff racing is. There’s so much on the line. It’s so important, especially in this round, to win. Drivers are willing to do about anything to win.”
5. Best on the 550 horse power tracks in 2021
Kansas marks the last race with the 550-horsepower plan this season. The last 2 races (Martinsville and Phoenix) include the 750-horsepower plan.
Here are the chauffeurs who have won the races with the 550-horsepower plan this season:
3 – Kyle Larson (Las Vegas I, Coke 600, Texas)
2 – Ryan Blaney (Atlanta I, Michigan)
2 – Kyle Busch (Kansas I, Pocono II)
1 – William Byron (Homestead)
1 – Alex Bowman (Pocono I)
1 – Kurt Busch (Atlanta II)
1 – Denny Hamlin (Las Vegas II)
Learn More about NASCAR
Ridiculous season scorecard: Forming Analysis: 550-horsepower tracks the structure of Kyle Busch restore NASCAR suspends Carson Ware after arrest
Friday 5: What appertains rules in between NASCAR playoff, non-playoff chauffeurs? initially appeared on NBCSports.com
Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.