Allmendinger’s car owner explains why team will skip Sprint Unlimited

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AJ Allmendinger will not compete in next weekend’s Sprint Unlimited because his team was unable to find sponsorship for the exhibition event.

JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Tad Geschickter told MotorsportsTalk that NASCAR’s late decision to include all 16 Chase drivers in the Sprint Unlimited left his organization with little time to find a sponsor.

NASCAR announced Dec. 15 it was expanding the field for the Feb. 14 non-points race.

“It was nowhere on our radar until they changed the rules on it,’’ Geschickter said Monday of competing in the Sprint Unlimited. “If we had won a pole during the season and knew we were in it, I’m sure we would have been well prepared for it. We appreciate being grandfathered in, but, obviously, have to manage our resources to deliver the best year-end points finish we can for our sponsors.’’

Allmendinger finished 13th in the points for the team last year, earning a Chase bid with his win at Watkins Glen.

Geschickter said he’s not worried about missing additional track time at Daytona International Speedway by skipping the race. JTG Daugherty enters its second year as part of an alliance with Richard Childress Racing and will be able to get information and notes from other RCR alliance cars in that race.

Geschickter says the team has three superspeedway cars ready for the season.

“Obviously, if you go tear one up before the season starts, that’s a big hit to a budget,’’ Geschickter said.

As for sponsorship this season, Geschickter says the team has only three races to sell. Those races are in the second half of the year.

Also, a Richard Childress Racing spokesperson confirmed that Brian Scott will not compete in the 75-lap Sprint Unlimited. Scott was eligible by winning the pole at Talladega last spring.

Brian Vickers also was eligible but will not compete in the exhibition race. He will miss the first two races of the season as he completes his recovery from offseason corrective heart surgery.

NASCAR stated in December that the Sprint Unlimited would have a minimum 25 cars. The event is open to all Chase drivers from last season, pole winners from last year, former Sprint Unlimited winners, and former Daytona 500 pole winners who competed full time in 2014. If any of the 25 spots remain, then those highest in the points not yet eligible would qualify.

NASCAR confirmed that the top four drivers not automatically in the Sprint Unlimited but who would be eligible if others fell out: Clint Bowyer (19th in points last year), Paul Menard (21st), Casey Mears (26th) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (27th).

A spokesperson for Michael Waltrip Racing confirmed that Bowyer would compete in the event. A spokesperson for RCR confirmed that Menard would race in the Sprint Unlimited.

 

‘One and Only’ Kyle Larson wins Outlaws opener at Knoxville Raceway

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Paul Arch/World of Outlaws
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The magic of dirt racing wins for Kyle Larson continued Thursday night at Knoxville Raceway, where he scored his third consecutive World of Outlaws victory at the famed half-mile track to open “The One and Only.”

After starting 10th, Larson sliced through the field and passed pole-sitter Logan Schuchart to lead the final eight laps in the No. 57 of car owner Paul Silva.

“Just an awesome race,” Larson said after earning $10,000 for his second consecutive NOS Energy Drink Sprint Car Series victory (after winning at Pevely, Missouri, last Saturday), his sixth Outlaws victory this season and 14th of his career.

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“I was able to track Logan down and hit the bottom really well in (turns) 1 and 2 and got a run on him.  It felt like I needed to take advantage of that before we got to heavier traffic and slid him and felt some contact. So, glad to see him not in the wall or anything like that. Just, hard work there. Heartbeat is up again.”

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson scored his sixth World of Outlaws victory Thursday (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).

It was the fourth Knoxville victory this year for Larson, who swept a World of Outlaws doubleheader weekend June 12-13 at the Sprint Car Captial of the World. He has more than 30 victories this year in sprint cars and midgets.

The One and Only continues Friday night with another $10,000 feature race that will set the starting lineup for Saturday’s Brownells Capitani Classic, which pays $50,000 to win.

The event is the Outlaws’ richest purse of 2020 and subs in for the annual Knoxville Nationals, which was canceled for COVID-19 concerns. Larson, a two-time Knoxville Nationals runner-up, has said winning The One and Only would be on the same as Knoxville’s signature event because of its tough three-day format.

Through the first of three nights, Schuchart and Larson are tied for second in The One and Only points standings, which factor in qualifying, heats, dash and feature races. Aaron Reutzel, an All Star Circuit of Champions stalwart who finished third Thursday, leads with 430 points.

A crash in Thursday’s 25-lap feature eliminated past Outlaws champions Brad Sweet and Donny Schatz after Cory Eliason spun in front of Sweet in Turn 1 to start the wreck, which also collected Sweet’s teammate, James McFadden. Sweet and Schatz finished outside the top 20, which moved Schuchart into the points lead for the 2020 season.

Schuchart still seemed slightly miffed after finishing second to Larson.

“As the race went on, I felt like I wasn’t hitting my marks as good,” he said. “I would have liked to of had a little bit better of a race with Kyle there. I wish his slide job was a little better there, but he’s got a reputation to live up to. That’s where you let other people make the rules and maybe we’ll get him next time.”


RESULTS

NOS Energy Drink Feature (25 Laps) – 1. 57-Kyle Larson [10]; 2. 1S-Logan Schuchart [1]; 3. 87-Aaron Reutzel [2]; 4. 2-Carson Macedo [24]; 5. 41-David Gravel [6]; 6. 21-Brian Brown [7]; 7. 71-Spencer Bayston [3]; 8. 18-Gio Scelzi [15]; 9. 12N-Joey Saldana [5]; 10. 5-Ian Madsen [19]; 11. 17A-Austin McCarl [21]; 12. 1A-Jacob Allen [11]; 13. 7BC-Tyler Courtney [16]; 14. 7S-Jason Sides [20]; 15. 24-Rico Abreu [22]; 16. 4-Terry McCarl [13]; 17. 2KS-Brooke Tatnell [18]; 18. O9-Matt Juhl [23]; 19. 17-Sheldon Haudenschild [25]; 20. 83-Daryn Pittman [9]; 21. 11K-Kraig Kinser [17]; 22. 15-Donny Schatz [8]; 23. 26-Cory Eliason [4]; 24. 49-Brad Sweet [12]; 25. 9-James McFadden [14]; Lap Leaders: Logan Schuchart 1-17, Kyle Larson 18-25; KSE Hard Charger Award: 2-Carson Macedo[+20]

Kyle Larson wins Knoxville
Kyle Larson celebrated with his family and team after the first night of The One and Only (Trent Gower/World of Outlaws).