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.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”