NASCAR: David Starr signs 3-year deal for Xfinity ride with TriStar

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Veteran NASCAR driver David Starr competed part-time with TriStar Motorsports last year in the Xfinity Series.

Now, he’ll compete with them full-time for the next three seasons as part of a new deal announced today by the team.

Zachry Group will serve as primary sponsor for Starr and his No. 44 Toyota Camry, which will have Greg Conner as crew chief.

“We are looking forward to having David back behind the wheel of one of TriStar Motorsports Toyota Camrys in 2015,” said team owner Mark Smith in a release.“David will be an instrumental part in the continued growth of our team.”

Starr ran 13 Xfinity races last year for TriStar with a top finish of ninth at Talladega. Many of those races saw him drive the same No. 44 car that he’ll now be in every weekend.

Known primarily for his long career in the Camping World Truck Series (where he’s won four races in 317 starts), Starr has never ran a full Xfinity schedule.

The 14 Xfinity events he ran overall in 2014 were the most that he’s done in a single year. Altogether, he’s made 41 starts in NASCAR’s No. 2 national series.

“Words cannot express how excited I am to partner up with Zachry Group for the next three seasons in the NASCAR Xfinity Series,” Starr said in a statement. “It will be an honor and privilege to represent a company with such integrity and commitment to their customers, employees and communities where we work.”

Starr will be teammates with Cale Conley, Blake Koch, and Mike Bliss. Conley joined TriStar last December, while Koch and Bliss were both confirmed to return earlier this month.

Eddie Pardue will be Conley’s crew chief on the No. 14 team. Bruce Cook has the same role for Koch and the No. 8 team, and Paul Clapprood will continue to work with Bliss on the No. 19 team.

Marvin Musquin’s Indy win may have come too late

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Marvin Musquin answered one question at Indianapolis last week, but the biggest one may well plague him for the next six weeks.

Musquin has won a battle, but can he win the war?

After standing on the podium in eight of the first 10 races, Musquin finally showed the field he was capable of winning in Indy when he grabbed the holeshot and led every lap on the way to Victory Lane. He was never seriously challenged and it was the Musquin that Supercross fans expected to see all season.

It was a long time coming. Musquin must have felt like victory was just around the corner after finishing second in the overall standings in Anaheim II’s Triple Crown race. He was third in the first Main that night and second in the last two Mains.

As it turned out, that single race defined his season until last week. Musquin stood on the podium all night, but he finished two spots behind Cooper Webb in the first Main and was one spot back in the second. It was only as time ran out that he was able to beat Webb by a single spot in the third Main. If Musquin had won either of the first two Mains, he would have had the overall victory – denying Webb his first career win in the process.

Webb’s Anaheim win revitalized the rider and gave him the confidence to rattle off four more wins in the next seven races.

Meanwhile, Musquin scored podium finishes in the next seven races, making him almost perfect. In another season, a record like that would have been enough to give him a comfortable points lead. In 2019, he sit 14 markers out of first, which is the points’ equivalent of the difference between first and 11th in one race. In other words, Webb cannot lose the points lead at Seattle unless he finishes outside the top 10 while his teammate wins.

Looking at the numbers another way the scenario is not quite as hopeless. Musquin needs to shave only 2.3 points off Webb’s lead each week to win the championship. Three points separate first and second. Five points differentiates first from third, which is where Webb finished in Indianapolis. Webb is vulnerable as his 10th-place finish at Glendale and an eighth at San Diego attest.

Those bobbles came early and Webb seems to have forgotten how to make a mistake.

A third-place is Webb’s worst finish in the last six weeks and since Anaheim II when Musquin started his impressive string of podium finishes, Webb has recorded an average finish of 2.2. That came with a worst finish of eighth on an extremely muddy and heavy track in San Diego. Musquin has a worst finish of only sixth, but his average of 2.8 still lags behind Webb.

Worse still, since Anaheim II Musquin has finished behind Webb in every race except for the outlier of San Diego.

It is no longer a question of keeping pressure on Webb. Musquin cannot expect his teammate to make a mistake; he has to find a way to pass him on the track. If Webb adds only two points to his lead at Seattle, Musquin’s fate would no longer be in his hands. He would need to gain 3.2 points per race. With that scenario, Webb could finish one spot behind Musquin every week and still win the championship.