Carl Edwards’ rear tire changer, Jon Moore, to miss up to 12 weeks

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With Carl Edwards having a leg up on making the Chase for the Sprint Cup this season after his win at Bristol, it was time for Jon Moore to put his shoulder to the grindstone.

Moore, a veteran rear tire changer on Edwards’ No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford, has played hurt for quite some time with a bum shoulder.

After Edwards won at Bristol, Moore decided to get the ongoing – and worsening pain in his shoulder – looked at when the team returned from the following week’s race at Fontana, Calif.

“I knew something was wrong but I didn’t know it was this bad,” Moore told PitTalks.com. “For the last year its been getting progressively worse and then on the way back from (California) it really started hurting. I talked to my doctor, Bill Heisel of Ortho Carolina, and he told me it wasn’t good.”

The diagnosis: a torn Labrum, one of the roughest injuries an athlete can sustain.

Added Moore, “(Dr. Heisel) called me back after they examined me and said, ‘Jon, it’s worse than we thought. It’s torn on the front, the back, and part of your bicep.’ I knew at that point that I needed to do something.”

It was Edwards’ win at Bristol that prompted Moore to get his shoulder examined. Had his driver not won, who knows how much longer Moore would have continued playing hurt.

While his injury didn’t impede his duties as rear tire changer, the pain Moore continued to experience was eventually going to force him to do something about it.

And better to do so now than later in the season, particularly during the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup.

So Moore was scheduled to undergo surgery Wednesday and will likely miss about 12 weeks, according to PitTalks.com – or roughly 10 races.

“The thought process behind it was this: Carl won at Bristol so it makes sense to do it now and get it done,” Moore said. “Hopefully, if everything goes well, then I’ll be ready for the Chase.”

Just like other sports leagues call up injury replacements from their respective minor leagues, RFR and the No. 99 team have done the same.

Moore will be replaced by Rapheal Diaz, rear tire changer on the No. 16 Nationwide Series RFR Ford of Ryan Reed.

“He’s pretty good so I feel good about the team and the next few weeks,” Moore said of Diaz.

While he’s an integral part of the No. 99, Moore’s teammates support his decision to have the surgery now, rather than risk further injury that could have resulted in additional tearing or complications.

“Man, I got the best teammates in the world,” Moore said. “Everyone on the team has either been by to see me or called me to wish me well for the surgery. It’s kind of cool knowing I got so much support from my guys.”

To show he was in great spirits and frame of mind going into the operating room, Moore laughed and added that he even had one additional supporter to have the surgery done now.

“Even my hard ass crew chief (veteran Jimmy Fennig) was cool about it!”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

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Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.