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TC Daily Pit Stop: No. 24 Has New Life After Escaping Martinsville; Mayer Taking Advice from Allgaier, Earnhardt; Truck Drivers Confident; Parsons Has Late-Practice Issues
TC Daily Pit Stop: Friday, November 2nd, 2023
William Byron, 25, is set to compete for the NASCAR Cup Series championship for the first-time, after nearly seeing his hopes at the Championship 4 evaporate after suffering through an ill-handling car at Martinsville, finishing 13th.
“We were [nervous], no doubt. We put together such a good year. To make it all the way to Martinsville and feel like your chances are slipping away was definitely kind of demoralizing, depressing,” Byron said. “Now we have a new life for our team. This is what our goal was, to make the Championship 4. I think any team would say that. Now we feel like, I mean, we have nothing to lose.”
With nothing to lose, if Byron is able to score the championship on Sunday afternoon, he’ll be the first driver to win a NASCAR Cup Series championship in the No. 24 car since Jeff Gordon, whose slogan was Refuse to Lose, pulled off the feat 22 years ago in 2001.
“Listen, man. You can be sad all you want, but you can’t fix the past. You can’t go back to a week ago and do it again. The only thing you can do is make it worse or you can make it better.”
That was the advice that Justin Allgaier, a fellow Championship 4 contender, gave Sam Mayer as the four-time winner this season fights to capture a NASCAR Xfinity Series championship on Saturday. Mayer also took advice from team owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
“I knew he was fast, but he’s young and mistake-prone,” Earnhardt said of Mayer. “And so this year, I would pick with him a lot about hitting the wall on Lap 1. He did that quite a bit the first probably 60 percent of the year. There were a couple of races where right at the very start he’s hitting the wall. He would hit the wall, get himself behind, and he’d end up coming back finishing fifth. He’d get out of the car, and be like, ‘I ran fifth, pretty good, huh?’ He was proud of his ability to come back from his mistake, but it was happening every other week.
The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will decide its champion on Friday evening at Phoenix Raceway, and heading into the winner-take-all-tilt, all four contenders seemed very confident in their chances at NASCAR Championship 4 Media Day on Thursday.
Corey Heim (No. 11) believes in his TRICON Garage team, that has provided him fast Toyota Tundras throughout the entire season, allowing him to collect 15 consecutive results inside the top-10.
Grant Enfinger (No. 23) feels like his pairing with crew chief Jeff Hensley is among the best in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, which he believes could propel him to his first championship. Enfinger hasn’t finished outside the top-20 all season.
Carson Hocevar (No. 42) feels like he is over-prepared for the season-finale at Phoenix Raceway, having done a bunch of time on the Chevrolet Sim, in preparation for both Friday’s Truck race, and Sunday’s Cup race.
Ben Rhodes (No. 99) isn’t the title favorite, maybe, but he’s the only one of the drivers in the battle that has won a championship before, making his experience invaluable.
Stefan Parsons has been a talented grinder, who constantly churns out results better than the perceived performance of the race vehicles he has driven over the years. Finally, the journeyman racer was given an opportunity to race behind the wheel of a Playoff contending vehicle with a call from Rackley W.A.R. to pilot the No. 25 Chevrolet Silverado in the season finale at Phoenix Raceway.
However, with roughly two minutes left in practice for Friday night’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship Race, Parsons suffered an issue on a mock qualifying run, which sent him shooting up into the outside wall. A shower of sparks followed Parsons on the path to the wall, and a thundering thud was heard as he collided with the wall.
“I felt like we cut a right front [tire],” Parsons explained. “We were doing a mock [qualifying] run, and went into Turn 3 and laid on the splitter and went straight.”
Jordan Anderson Racing (JAR) will welcome both Jeb Burton and Parker Retzlaff back to the NASCAR Xfinity Series in 2024, with the announcement on Thursday that both drivers will return to their respective posts.
Retzlaff, who contested his first full-season in the Xfinity Series in 2023, will return to the No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro, with FUNKAWAY returning as a primary sponsor of the Jordan Anderson Racing machine.
Burton, who has been a fixture in NASCAR’s top-three series for nearly a decade, will return to the No. 27 Chevrolet Camaro on a full-time basis in 2024, with support from long-time partner State Water Heaters.
Cole Custer, who will compete for the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship this weekend at Phoenix Raceway, will officially return as the driver of the No. 00 entry for Stewart-Haas Racing in the series in 2024.
Custer, a native of California, has enjoyed a great return to full-time competition in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this year. Custer has two victories, 13 top-fives, and 20 top-10s through the 32 races this season. Now, he has a chance to score his first-ever Xfinity Series championship this weekend in the Championship Race.
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