Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Justin Allgaier trying to bounce back after missing Talladega

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Last weekend’s topsy-turvy qualifying session at Talladega Superspeedway left full-time Sprint Cup drivers Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Justin Allgaier out of the race.

Obviously, they’re both looking to put that behind them this weekend at Martinsville Speedway. They had no issues in qualifying Friday; Stenhouse will start Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 in 18th, while Allgaier will roll off 22nd.

In a NASCAR.com piece, Stenhouse insisted that he and the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing team have learned from what occurred at Talladega.

“I learn real quick of things to do and not to do,” said Stenhouse, who adds that he ended up watching the race from his motorhome with some pizza and a Coke. “Sitting there watching races, especially long Cup races, makes you sit there and think about everything you need to do, whether it be get more focused and help the guys at the shop on our team more to figure out what we need to do to make our Fords fast again like they need to be.

“[I’ve] spent some time with my guys about already looking ahead to next year at the things we need to do differently so we’re not in the circumstances we are (in) right now in terms of being further back in points and not running as well.”

Stenhouse’s girlfriend and on-track rival, Danica Patrick, revealed yesterday that she was angry enough over the qualifying format used at Talladega to vent her frustrations in person at the NASCAR hauler – partly, according to her, because of her beau missing the show and partly because she felt it could have been her in that position.

In that same press conference, Patrick said that Stenhouse had initially wanted to go home after the DNQ.

“As much as a girlfriend [that] I wanted him to stay and be there, I was like ‘I get it, if you want to go home – go home. I get it,'” she said. “He wanted to ride the tractor all day and not even watch the race, which kind of for a second made me go, ‘Oh, then you won’t watch. I get it.’ I wouldn’t want to watch either if I was in that scenario, so I really understood where he was coming from.”

However, Stenhouse ultimately stayed to take care of sponsor commitments at the track.

Meanwhile, Allgaier was equally stunned to miss Talladega (according to USA Today’s Jeff Gluck, a reporter broke the news to him before he got official word from his HScott Motorsports team). But he’s hopeful that better times lie ahead at Martinsville.

“We had a tough weekend at Talladega, and the best cure for that is getting back in the car,” the Cup rookie said this week.

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

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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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.