The NASCAR Hall of Fame welcomes three new members


Kyle Bush and Tyler Reddick – one of the main storylines of this season – have spent their first few days on track with their new teams this week.Â

Busch, Reddick et al Austin Cinderic took part in a tire test at the Circuit of the Americas on Monday and Tuesday. The session marked Busch’s first official laps with his team, Richard Childress Racing. It was also Reddick’s first laps with his 23XI Racing Team.

Busch, a two-time Cup Champion, comes to RCR having spent the last 15 seasons with Joe Gibbs Racing. Lack of sponsorship led to his move.Â

He takes over the #8 Chevrolet that Reddick drove last year. However, Reddick had signed a deal to join 23XI Racing in 2024 allowed to leave a year early when Busch took his place at RCR.

Busch enters this season having won at least one Cup race in each of the last 18 seasons, tying him with Richard Petty for the all-time Cup record.

Busch, who estimated he ran 200 laps over the two days of the 3.41-mile street course in Austin, Texas, was pleased with the session.

“It was a lot of fun,” he told NBC Sports. „Could work with the guys and have really good communication, give good feedback and had the opportunity to have a dialogue â€کLet’s do this. Let’s do this. Let’s try this. What do you think about that?’Â

“(Was) able to talk about the car in a way that I’m used to and to hear them as I describe things in certain ways so that they better understand where you go less.” Words can say and they get what you say.â€‌

Reddick said the session was helpful in settling into the #45 Toyota.

The session also proved valuable for Toyota as they look to improve their performance on street circuits. reddick won at Road America and the Indianapolis street course last year and was able to provide important feedback for Toyota.

The manufacturer struggled at the top five street courses last season – twice failing to finish with a driver’s top 12 finish. At the final street course event of the season, Toyota won the Charlotte Roval Playoff Race with Christopher Bell.Â

Reddick told NBC Sports that one goal of the session was “to try and close the gap that Toyota had with the Chevys and some other competitors on the street circuits last year. I think we have made some progress but we will certainly work hard on it.â€‌

2. Further tests in January

An important organizational test takes place on Tuesday and Wednesday at the Phoenix Raceway.

Cars to be checked are those of Ross Chastain, Brad Keselowski, Christopher Bell, Joey Logano, Eric Jones and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.Â

Elton Sawyer, was recently promoted to senior vice president of competition for NASCARsaid Thursday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the sanctioning body will be looking at several things, including changes that could help short-track racing.

While last year’s races on medium-difficulty courses were positively received, drivers criticized the short-course races and how difficult it was to overtake.Â

Sawyer said the sanctions agency will look at some changes to the car’s underbody.

Scott Graves, crew chief for Chris Buescher at RFK Racing, NBC Sports said NASCAR will test some changes to the car’s underbody. These changes came as a result of Garage 56’s efforts.Â

This is the specially modified Camaro that will be used in this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. This marks the return of NASCAR to this event for the first time in nearly 50 years. Hendrick Motorsports is preparing the car in cooperation with Chevrolet, Goodyear and NASCAR.

“Some of the things that they (have) learned started seeping into our site,” Graves said of the Garage 56 car. “They did some things on the underbody.Â

“As NASCAR tries to do a little bit better, especially short circuits, we’re trying to be less dependent on the outer body with aero and get more of that with the underbody – with the theory that it will be less affected by traffic. â€‌

A look at the underside of a 2022 NASCAR Cup car. (Photo: Dustin Long)

Graves said the rear spoiler is intended to be smaller in the Phoenix test, with the car’s underbody intended to generate more of the car’s downforce. NASCAR is also trying to better channel the air under the car with the diffuser.Â

Graves explained how having more downforce generated under a car could impact racing:

“If you look at the lap times, the guys up front have a huge advantage, but when they get to the back they go at the same speed.

“Everybody in the pack does that the whole race, running at the same speed and having a hard time getting past each other. Hopefully this will help with some of those where it’s not as dependent on the external body. You get into turbulent air, dirty air (in traffic), the (aero on the) outer shell really goes away. The theory is that the underbody will still have that air under the car, so it’ll stay a little bit better.”

3. Two Kyles running the double?

Kyle Larson will attempt to compete at the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 on the same day in 2024drives for Arrow McLaren in Indianapolis.Â

Could Kyle Busch join him? Busch has expressed interest in doing the double as well – something his brother Kurt did in 2014.Â

“I think it’s great that Kyle (Larson) was able to button that up so early and do it for himself to headline the Indy 500 in 2024,” Busch told NBC Sports.Â

“I haven’t been so lucky (in the past). We had a couple of deals pretty much right there, almost to the signing stage, I guess you’d say. It just didn’t really happen. Teams got other deals that were more important to them that didn’t want to give me the chance, or they didn’t want to go from three cars to four cars, whatever it was.

“There was a lot of discussion going on behind the scenes, but nothing materialized. I would say that our industry, both NASCAR and IndyCar, is just understaffed because it has the right amount of people and good people to do these ventures. Yes, you could do it and run circles and do laps, but whether it would be a success was the question. That’s just why it never happened.â€‌

When asked if he felt the door to the Indy 500 was closed for him, Busch said, “Yes, I would say 2023, the door is closed. I’d say 2024, with the announcement of Kyle (Larson), the door shut because that’s probably the only team that could make it. Given the way he rides with but only with other teams trying to stretch too thin and not have enough people. Again it depends on the part of the people. So you never know. See what happens.â€‌

4. Looking to the future

As NASCAR celebrates its 75th anniversary season, this is an opportunity to look back on many of the memorable moments on and off the track.

One of the recent memorable events was Ross Chastain’s video game movement in the final round of the playoff race in Martinsville last fall. Chastain hit his car into the wall and sped past five cars to gain enough places for the championship race.Â

As NASCAR celebrates its 100th season and more to come, Chastain’s move will likely be one of those memorable moments.

“I’m proud to have been able to create a wave that will last well into 2022 or just beyond me,” Chastain told NBC Sports. “There will probably be people who will find out about me through this. I’m fine with that. I’m proud of that.

“I don’t think it will ever happen again. I don’t think it will ever pay the reward it did for us. I hope I’ll still be around in 35 years to answer someone’s question about this and I probably still won’t have a good answer as to why it worked or why I did it.”

5. A celebration

NASCAR takes time tonight to honor its past by inducting three people into the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Former cup winner Matt Kenseth, Herschel McGriff and former world champion Crew chief Kirk Shelmerdine is inducted into the Hall of Fame as the 13th year. NASCAR Manager Mike Helton will be the recipient of the Landmark Award for Outstanding Contribution. Photographer T. Taylor Warren is honored with the Squier-Hall Award for NASCAR Media Excellence.

The ceremony will air on Peacock at 8 p.m. ET.





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